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A headache for the opposition

Apr 4, 2013, 4:02 AM EDT

As he warmed up for his first start of the season, Gio Gonzalez felt something he never before had on a baseball field: A massive headache.

Whether it was the frigid conditions at Nationals Park (45 degrees with a stiff wind at gametime), the stress of a season debut in front of the home crowd or just some freak of nature, Gonzalez took the mound with pulsating temples, severe enough he had to be careful not to clench his facial muscles as he delivered each pitch for fear of making the pain even worse.

“It started from the bullpen, and it ended up being right off the first batter,” the left-hander said. “I was just working my way through there. I was just trying to stay focused and let the Advil take over and do what it does.”

If Gonzalez can perform like this — six scoreless innings, not to mention a solo homer to lead the Nationals to a 3-0 victory over the Marlins — with a migraine, imagine what he might be able to do when he takes the mound feeling 100 percent.
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  1. baseballswami - Apr 4, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    Always good to get that first start out of the way. Gio is always an adventure.

  2. Anna Peregrina - Apr 4, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    So here's our strategy, guys: appoint someone (anyone) the designated homer hitter of the day, then don't allow any runs. Works every time!

  3. sjm308 - Apr 4, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    Not that I expected the video when I clicked on "read more", but that is a nice tie Mark!! Also liked the shot and the lighting (or lack of it) and the empty seats. You also have some pretty decent material to work with so far. The 1926 white hat stays on for another day! Go Nats! Say, just wondering, do you keep the same tie on during a win streak?

  4. Doc - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    I see an Advil commercial coming for Gio. "If you want to have a shutout game, take Advil."

  5. #4 - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    Went last night. It was cold but bearable. Here are a few observations and perhaps a subject for discussion:1. I watched Zim closely between innings. His overhand throwing is so labored right now. I would say at least 50% of his warm-ups tosses to Laroche either bounced or were off-line. It made me wonder whether he could get away with throwing everything side-arm.2. My friend and I were discussing whether a one run game was the best time for Storen to make his 2013 debut. I was happy Davey put him in there, although the lead was two by the time he was inserted. I was concerned that if he didn't use him, it would send a bad message.3. In the 8th inning, I found it interesting that Davey didn't leave Bernadina in the game to play right field. He had pinch run for Tracy and Werth had made the last out. Davey could have inserted Storen in Werth's spot and left Roger in the game. He's clearly a better OF than Werth. As my friend pointed out, exchanging Morse for Span in the line-up really limits the opportunity for Bernadina to get in the game, particularly if Davey's not going to use him to replace Werth defensively.4. The cold and the wind killed about six or seven balls that should have been extra base hits – maybe 5 for the Nats and two for the Marlins. It made Gio's HR all the more impressive. Remember though it's much easier to hit a curve ball a long way than a fastball. Ask any physicist. It's a common misconception that fastballs travel further when hit.

  6. #4 - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    I'm also wondering what the record is for consecutive scoreless innings by a pitching staff to start a season. I haven't been able to find it on-line.

  7. Teddy Rochlis - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    #4 im taking a college physics class and i can tell you the distance the ball travels depends on numerous things but the speed of the ball as it hits the bat is one. It just doesn't make as much a difference as people think it does. The reason why hanging curves usually get out to 100 mph fastball is because the hanging curve is a meat pitch going 80 and a 20mph difference isn't much in the overall outcome. Other variables such as momentum of the bat (mass x velocity) where the ball hits the barrel, temperature, and wind all go into account. In the overall picture yes the momentum of the ball (mass x velocity) hits the bat and bounces in-elastically (some energy is dispersed as sound and heat)and travels a certain distance based on the velocity the ball + the wind + temperature in the atmosphere + the angle at which it left the bat. Just wanted to point that out.

  8. Teddy Rochlis - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    There are even more things involved such as the angle at which the ball is hit and differing wind and temperature, plus the spin of the ball based on the pitch, but it starts to get extremely complicated.

  9. A DC Wonk - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    I'm also wondering what the record is for consecutive scoreless innings by a pitching staff to start a season. I haven't been able to find it on-line. I think I read that the record for shutouts to open the season is three, held by the 1963 Cardinals.

  10. waddu eye no - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    watching the replay now – top of the 5th. 1-6-3.before that, noticing the canned DC scenery shots before commercials. no scaffolding on the washington monument. old film or do they take it down at night for safekeeping? probably a good idea with all the tourists in town this week that can't take home cherry blossoms. can't wait to see the Gio HR in a few minutes. gyfng

  11. Theophilus T. S. - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    Johnson shot down his own explanation for using Clippard the night before. Monday he says he's bringing in Clippard because Clippard has a better record against Dobbs (presumptive fourth up) than Storen (3/5). Last night he brings in Storen to face leadoff hitter Dobbs. In other words, it's all random.

  12. Candide - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    NIDO Spreadsheet Update Alert:I added a sheet, called "Who's Going."If you're going to a game, you can enter your location in the cell that intersects your name and the game date.I built this because I've noticed, "Hey, I'll be there Tuesday…" spread out over several posts, and figured folks might like to be able to look up everyone in one place.I've plugged in all my games, but there's no reason anyone has to make an entry before game day (or at all, for that matter).Hope people find this useful. If not, what the hell, I'm retired anyway…

  13. #4 - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    The physics explanation I have heard and read is that the most important factor is spin. Curve balls have mostly over spin, while fastballs have back spin. Therefore, the batter has to reverse the spin of a fastball to create carry. With a curve ball, he is hitting "with the spin" in essence. That is the reason hanging curve balls are generally the pitches that are hit for tape measure HRs.

  14. Doc - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    Thanks TeddyR.I thought that IssacN. ressolved this matter a few hundred years ago. All the variables that you mentioned are inplay on any given pitch with all the physics involved.But basically the faster it comes in, the faster it goes out. The faster it goes out, the farther it travels. One can hypothesize that the bat speed on a hanging breaking ball probably makes up for the difference in speed of the pitch–I think we could call it the 'holy cow excitement factor'! One baseball analyst speculated that most HRs are hit on hanging breaking pitches. Some baseball techies in the past,tracked a Randy Johnson pitch at 98 mph, which was hit by some homerun stud, and went out at 103 mph.

  15. Timothy Folk - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    Interesting Candide/Doc…Peric is annoying

  16. A DC Wonk - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Candide — thanks! Great idea!BTW, last night, I posted an "I'm going" post (holy cow it was cold!), but then I lost my internet connection. Apparently a bunch of folks were sitting fairly close to me.Oh well — we'll catch y'all next time!

  17. Gonat - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Doc said…I see an Advil commercial coming for Gio. "If you want to have a shutout game, take Advil.________________________________Good one!

  18. Gonat - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    Theophilus T. S. said…Johnson shot down his own explanation for using Clippard the night before. Monday he says he's bringing in Clippard because Clippard has a better record against Dobbs (presumptive fourth up) than Storen (3/5). Last night he brings in Storen to face leadoff hitter Dobbs. In other words, it's all random.April 04, 2013 9:24 AM________________________________I missed Davey J. explaining his decisions. What I like is that he was able to alternate them. It will be interesting if Clippard becomes the closer tonight since Raf-no pitched a long inning last night.

  19. Doc - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    Great work Candide!

  20. NCNatsie - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    #4, Carp and FP would disagree with you re Werth as a defensive right fielder. Because you were at the game and not watching on TV, you missed their extensive analysis on how his play in holding Polanco to a single on a ball hit down the line saved a run, and also holding Ruggiano to a double on a ball in the corner when it might have been a triple, like Zimmerman's was. They made a point of crediting him with a big role in winning the game, even though he didn't get a hit.

  21. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    Bob Carpenter saw HenRod scurrying in the bullpen and thought he was coming in to close last night.

  22. Gonat - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said… Bob Carpenter saw HenRod scurrying in the bullpen and thought he was coming in to close last night. April 04, 2013 9:54 AM ______________________________So far no Henry, Zach Duke, or Stammen.

  23. Laddie Blah Blah - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    "He's clearly a better OF than Werth."I hope you're not serious about that. Bernadina is the most inconsistent OFer the Nats have. He makes spectacular plays but then turns the routine into Bernie-style disasters. His favorite trick is to watch a blooper land between him and whoever is playing to his left or right. Next favorite is to go back on a ball hit short, or to come in on a ball hit over his head. Next favorite is to throw in to the wrong base or to miss the cutoff man, or to do both on the same play. I have seen him do those things over and over, again.Werth made 2 brilliant plays, just last night, right in front of you, when he held Polanco to a single and Ruggiano to a double on shots hit into the deep RF corner. You can look at how Werth handled those chances and compare his defense to Stanton's botching the same kind of play, allowing Zim to get his first triple of the year on the same kind of ball.Any time Bernadina is in the OF I get nervous. It's a little like watching Henry take the mound. You don't know if the good Bernie or the bad Bernie is going to show up. Bernie's blundering has cost the Nats in the past, as much, or more, than his great plays have helped them.

  24. #4 - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Thanks, NCNatsie. That's interesting about what Carp and FP said. Of course, it doesn't mean that Werth is a better OF than Bernadina, just that he made a couple of good plays. I agree about holding Polanco. He anticipated well the ball caroming off the angled wall. My view of the extreme RF corner unfortunately is blocked where I was sitting, so I can't comment on Ruggiano's ball.I still think Roger is more likely to make more game-changing defensive plays than Werth. Perhaps though the difference is not enough to warrant a change in that situation given how irritated it would make JW.

  25. Candide - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    waddu eye no said…before that, noticing the canned DC scenery shots before commercials. no scaffolding on the washington monument. old film or do they take it down at night for safekeeping? probably a good idea with all the tourists in town this week that can't take home cherry blossoms. Thieves Take Record Amount of Copper in Utah Heist

  26. #4 - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    Laddie Blah Blah,I am serious about it. I find JW an extremely awkward OF on balls hit over his head. RB may have had some issues in the past years, but I thought his play in 2012 was pretty good. Every time a ball is hit over JW's head, I get the same feeling you apparently get when RB is out there.

  27. Laddie Blah Blah - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    "It made me wonder whether he could get away with throwing everything side-arm."A lot of 3rd basemen throw sidearm. David Wright, last year's NL gold glover, predominantly throws sidearm. The guy who had trouble with accuracy last night was Desi, who threw wildly to first base on 2 occasions. Even ALR could not snag one of them, which went for an error against Desi. Desi throws mostly overhand.So far, Zim has been right on target with his throws to 1b. Last night he passed another big test. He made a head first slide into 3rd to get his first triple of the year. He came to bat later in the game and showed no sign of any problem swinging the bat, lacing an RBI single into CF for his 2nd hit of the night. Zim is looking better and better with each passing game, knock on wood. His throws to first have been far more accurate than Desi's. So far, it hasn't even been close between those two.Danny also appeared to land on his left shoulder when he tried to make that catch of a wind-blown foul ball in the 9th. He did not appear to be affected by the shock of hitting the ground on that shoulder.

  28. Joe Seamhead - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    #4, you're right about one thing on your outfielder argument, Bernadina is definitely more likely to make game-changing defensive plays than Werth, just not in the direction that you are implying. To state that Roger is clearly a better OF is a statement that has little credibility, IMHO. Laddie Blah Blah pretty much sums it up @ 9:59.

  29. Candide - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    When I see Roger make a spectacular, full-horizontal snowcone catch that I know will end up on WebGems, I wonder if some other center fielder might have made that play a lot less dramatically, simply because he was positioned better in the first place.I remember reading somewhere that you never see any old videos of Joe DiMaggio making spectacular plays, because he was exceptionally good at positioning himself. Story (possibly apocryphal) was that during one game, a batter hit a long drive to the warning track in right center, and DiMaggio got to it easily for the out. Five or six innings later, same batter hit a long drive to LEFT center, and DiMaggio was again right there.The pitcher asked him about it later. "Why did you move towards left after the guy had almost teed off on me to right?""I knew you were tired and your fastball would be slower, so he'd be more likely to get around on it and pull it to left."

  30. 2019work - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    Hey. Nats trainers. Pay attention. Gio's headache? Tree pollen. Get the man, and the entire staff, some Claritin. Have them take it every day.

  31. #4 - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    JoeSeamHead,I was waiting for someone to jump on that. I realized after posting it that the line could interpreted both ways. I guess I will need to happily sit in the minority on this one. My point in posting though remains. It is going to be hard for Davey to get RB much playing time this year because he believes that all three OFs are superior to Roger in every category, unlike last year.

  32. #4 - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Oh and as for credibility… i'm not sure any of us has much credibility. This is a fan blog after all.

  33. Joe Seamhead - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    4, Roger plays CF and LF a lot better then he does RF. If you're going to play him, I'm not sure where and when right now.

  34. Joe Seamhead - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    Ok, sorry about the cruddy credibility line. It was out of bounds, I apologize.

  35. Laddie Blah Blah - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    "I find JW an extremely awkward OF on balls hit over his head."Were you watching last night? Werth made 2 catches on balls hit over his head, and had them scoped out as soon as they were hit. On one of them he bounced off the RF scoreboard and made it look easy.Maybe you weren't watching last year when Bernie stood and looked a blooper into the ground between him and Werth in right center, and another time when he let one drop late in the game when he was in LF (I can't remember who was in CF on that play). He immediately pointed to himself on that play, and he knew who was responsible for that one.And then there was the time late last year when Bernie uncorked a throw from CF to 3rd base, completely bypassing his cutoff man. That was bad enough, but one runner was crossing the plate, and the batter took advantage of that throw to advance to 2nd. There were no base-runners in play at 3rd base at all. That was an away game, and even the normally supportive FP could not help but comment on the weird choice made by Bernie to throw to the only base of the four where there was no play, at all. Zim was caught so much by surprise that he almost didn't see it coming.If Bernie was consistent in the field you would see him out there a lot more consistently. But you won't, and there is a long history to justify why you won't. Span is a much better CFer, Werth is a much better RFer, and even neophyte Harper is a much better LFer. Sending Bernie out there in place of any of them would be a downgrade to the best defensive OF in the majors.Perhaps you have not noticed, but in the first 2 games played this year, Pierre's lead-off single against SS is the only ball hit in the air to the OF that has touched the ground. Those guys have tracked down every other ball hit in the air to the outfield and snagged every last one of them.Jeez, people don't know when they've got it this good, and by that I mean the Nats have got the best defensive OF in the major leagues.

  36. #4 - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    No worries, Joe Seamhead. I appreciate the apology and the civility.

  37. Candide - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    Alexandria high school pitcher with fastball in mid-90s. "…sent scouts into a frenzy."

  38. Sec. 3, My Untucked Sofa - Apr 4, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Candide, thanks for that link … interesting.

  39. RPrecupjr - Apr 4, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    Just adding my two cents to the Bernardina debate, the line of reasoning that he makes spectacular plays that others may make routine because he's not positioned well reminds me of the 80s/90s debate over who was the better shortstop, Ozzie or Ripken. Clearly they were both tremendous defenders, but everyone thought Ozzie was the superior player because of his highlight reel plays. Ripken, on the other hand, didn't have to make the same kind of plays because he was always in the right place to begin with. Ozzie won 13 Gold Gloves with his flash, while Ripken, whose lifetime FPCT is .979 (as SS) to Ozzie's .978, won only two…and NOT in the season where committed only THREE errors in 161 games for a blistering .996 percentage.Anyway, that's my two cents. My guess is you'll see Bernardina only in CF as a replacement in games that are out of reach in either direction, just to give Span some down time. My guess is TyMo gets time in left and Harper moves to right to give Werth a breather every now and then as well.

  40. RPrecupjr - Apr 4, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    Argh….the above was posted by me, Ron in Reston….I gotta get this thing figured out.

  41. Joe Seamhead - Apr 4, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    LOL, Ron on the sign in.



x-WASHINGTON 96 66 --
ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
NEW YORK 79 83 17.0
MIAMI 77 85 19.0


WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)

FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
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MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
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Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.


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