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Nats run into rolling Wainwright

Apr 24, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today

Struggling to score over their previous two games and missing two regulars in their lineup, the Nationals could have used a game against some run-of-the-mill, meatball tossing pitcher. Perhaps the last man they would have liked to face on Tuesday was Adam Wainwright. 
Not only is Wainwright one of the hottest pitchers in baseball, he took to the mound a source of extra motivation. Knowing he had trouble with Washington hitters in particular last season, and knowing he wasn’t at his best the last time he pitched at Nationals Park in Game 5 of the NLDS, Wainwright had an axe to grind. 
Unfortunately for the Nats, they had to be sacrificed.
“That start, even though we won the game, that served as motivation,” he said. “That game to me was a game that I live for and I was disappointed in the effort I put out there. It just gives you incentive to work harder in the offseason and come back stronger.”

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  1. Navy Nats Fan - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    What a beautiful day – need an excuse to come to the game and see the results when Davey gets a little mad?I have a few groups of extra tickets in the right field mezzanine to today's game – I am selling them at a deep discount. Contact me at navynatsfan(at)gmail(dot)com for details!

  2. Tcostant - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Wainwright ain't so good, he gave up a walk.

  3. JD - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    There are 2 basic differences from last April to this April: 1)Stephen Strasburg. 2)Gio Gonzalez.

  4. Tcostant - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    In D.C. on business Thursday so I just picked up a club seat for $22 on stubhub; life is grand.

  5. Section 222 - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    JD, I might switch the order, but I think you're absolutely right. Remember last year when most of the experts (including our fearless leader and most of the "experts" who comment here), picked the Phillies to win the AL East even though Ryan Howard had yet to come back from his Achilles tendon injury and Utley could hardly walk? They did so because of the supposed dominance of the team's starting rotation. And then it took quite awhile for it to sink in that Halladay, Lee, and Hamels were not as unhittable as everyone thought. Even as late as late August, some folks feared the Phillies would make a run. Reputations die hard. This year, even though we have a highly touted, balanced lineup and made some improvements in some people's eyes by trading for Span and re-signing ALR, the real reason that the Nats were the preseason favorite was our rotation. And it's the rotation's reputation that is keeping the experts (on MLB Network for example) for abandoning us quite yet. It's too early to tell whether Stras and Gio are this year's Halladay and Lee, but all the lineup tinkering in the world isn't going to make a bit of difference if they don't return to their 2012 form. So we can debate Lombo vs. Espi, Moore vs. ALR, and Rendon vs. Zim all we want, but the real issue is whether Stras vs. Stras and Gio vs. Gio.

  6. JD - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    Bowdenball, I have often taken your position regarding Espi/Lombo but there is one caviat. There is a chance that Lombo has gotten better. I am not opposed to giving Lombo an extended look. Espi is the current poster boy/punching bag but in the current slump everyone not named Harper is producing pretty much at the same level.

  7. Eric - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Re: Espi, I really think it would be insane to bench or send down the only extremely solid ranging infielder we have going so far this season. ESPECIALLY just as the D finally seems to be gelling. His hitting is frustrating, but if/when everyone else gets going, his D will more than compensate. There's certainly precedence for this: http://www.funtrivia.com/en/subtopics/Good-Field-No-Hit-Shortstops-214882.html

  8. Eric - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    Er, while that's a list of short stops, I think the point translates to Espi.

  9. EmDash - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    I feel like this is the kind of loss we would shrug off outside of the context – the poor pitching/defensive start to the year and Atlanta's hot start. Not being able to muster much against one of the best pitchers in baseball so far this year, who's getting every single borderline call in his favor (and some clearly wrong calls in his favor)? That's kind of understandable. But I hope they come alive in a big way today, they may need the burst of confidence.

  10. peric - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    To the Espinosa bashers stop saying he's a liability and Lombo is better over x amount of at bats because you are just plain wrong.2012: Espinosa .315 OBP .400 SLG2012 Lombardozz: .317 OBP .350 SLGLombo either needs to get A LOT better defensively, learn to walk, and hit for more power. Can he do all of that? Probably not at this stage. Is he a good pinch hitter and decent UTL; except he is a defensive liability and MOST banjo hitters had better get on base.If Kobernus keeps hitting the way he has been seems likely he could move ahead of both of them.

  11. peric - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Now Adam LaRoche on the other hand? 22 K's already in the #4 slot behind Harper is a gaping hole which Tyler Moore might be able to fill but with a loss of some defensive prowess. A healthy Ryan Ziimmerman's bat should fill the hole nicely. He doesn't slump for long when he's healthy.

  12. Eric - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    peric, methinks you're enamored of call ups ;) .

  13. JD - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    Sec222, I am concerned that the coaching staff has gotten into Stras's head about pitching more efficiently.I watched him very closely against the Mets and he was throwing an assortment of 2 seam fastballs/curveballs/changeups right from the start and he had a hard time commanding his assortment ending up with a high pitch count which is exactly the opposite of what he's trying to accomplish. Ron Darling commented and I agree that when you have Stras's stuff you should use your secondary pitches sparingly at least the 1st time through the lineup and probably the 1st 2 times just like Harvey was doing. It's time to start blowing people away.

  14. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    JD said… Bowdenball,I have often taken your position regarding Espi/Lombo but there is one caviat. There is a chance that Lombo has gotten better. I am not opposed to giving Lombo an extended look.Espi is the current poster boy/punching bag but in the current slump everyone not named Harper is producing pretty much at the same level. April 24, 2013 10:18 AM To Peric, you can't compare Espi overall as his problem is LH plus you are assuming that Rookie Lombo who swan dived the last part of 2012 is indicative of what he will do in 2013.You must try to improve. Lombo is hitting albeit a small sample size and Espi is batting 40 pounds below his weight.Davey has to shake it up. Get TyMo and Lombo in there for some more looks.I still think the answer will be Rendon at 2nd and Espi can fix himself in Syracuse.Time to get real.

  15. JD - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Peric, LaRoche is coming off a 30 HR 100 RBI season and has historically been a slow starter. It could be that his skills have left him completely between last September and now but it's not all that likely. I would like to see Tyler Moore play a bunch of games in a row if only to give Werth and LaRoche a blow.

  16. JD - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    Ghost, What have you seen from Rendon that implies he's ready?

  17. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    JD said… Ghost,What have you seen from Rendon that implies he's ready? That double and the fact I know he's a born hitter. He's just needs to get in a groove.If he doesn't show he's ready by the time RZim comes back, then we know where he's going. He can go back to AA or straight to AAA and make some adjustments and show Rizzo he deserves another chance.

  18. bowdenball - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    JD said…"I have often taken your position regarding Espi/Lombo but there is one caviat. There is a chance that Lombo has gotten better. I am not opposed to giving Lombo an extended look."I can understand that. But he would have to get a LOT better to compensate for the gulf between the two career-wise to date. Especially when you consider that he can't possibly make up the gap in power no matter how much he improves. Also, my posts weren't intended to criticize people who think Lombo is worth an extended look over Espi, although I disagree with that too. My posts were aimed at the people who think it's obvious and that Lombo should be in the lineup starting today, against a left-hander. That's a MUCH easier question. There is no argument for Lombo over Espi against LHP unless Espi is hurt or something.

  19. Tcostant - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    JD I think Darling and you are correct about Stras. As a side note, isn't it amazing how far Darling as come in the years since he was part of the Nationals broadcast team.

  20. Eric - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    "That double and the fact I know he's a born hitter. He's just needs to get in a groove."This describes half of our slumping line up right now, including RZimm. I see no reason to give Rendon–with his total lack of MLB history–more benefit of the doubt during a slump than the proven starters.

  21. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    bowdenball, agreed that Espi batting RH is better than Lombo batting RH.Davey may really want to get Lombo some LH at-bats however. If it doesn't work out it doesn't work out but at this point Davey has to jump start this offense and pump some excitement back into this team.Espi isn't the biggest problem, it's been LaRoche who has been a K machine in key situations and clearly other players like Werth have to step up.

  22. peric - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    That double and the fact I know he's a born hitter. He's just needs to get in a groove.He understands the strike zone and is clearly not going to be a 'K' machine. He's not a replacement for Zimmerman. He's the way and means to keep his bat healthy.

  23. JD - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Ghost, Rendon will get his chance in the next 2 weeks and I hope I am wrong but I see a young hitter who can still be dominated by veteran pitchers. I think a trip to AAA would be very beneficial because that's where you face a lot of older veteran pitchers.

  24. peric - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    LaRoche is coming off a 30 HR 100 RBI season and has historically been a slow starter. It could be that his skills have left him completely between last September and now but it's not all that likely.Historically, he doesn't get started until the team he is on is out of the running. Except for last year. Not as much pressure when the team is out of the running. LaRoche needs to step it up. He's in the 4-hole behind Harper and they've all decided to stop pitching to Harp. And that's because they like the way he is hitting right now. That IS NOT GOING to work. Not with the new improved Braves franchise. And its not like the Phillies and Mets are that far away.

  25. peric - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    Rendon will get his chance in the next 2 weeks and I hope I am wrong but I see a young hitter who can still be dominated by veteran pitchers. I think a trip to AAA would be very beneficial because that's where you face a lot of older veteran pitchers.And that likely is where he is going in order to get exposure to major league caliber breaking pitches and relief pitchers. I hope you are wrong and he doesn't go down mostly because I want to see Zimmerman get completely healthy again. LaRoche as a middle of the order bat looks pathetic and I'm not so sure that will change. Look at his age? I'm sure Davey is getting an earful from the FO about that.

  26. peric - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    They need a healthy Zimmerman and his bat or they aren't going anywhere this season.

  27. peric - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    I see no reason to give Rendon–with his total lack of MLB history–more benefit of the doubt during a slump than the proven starters.Who you got to play gold-glove caliber third base? Lombo and his arm just don't cut it. Tracy? You've got to be joking right? Plus Rendon is the system's TOP PROSPECT period. And will remain so given that Giolito still has a lot of time left in his rehab. So, HE WILL get the benefit of the doubt over a lot of veterans who are either declining rapidly (LaRoche/Werth) or haven't really proven themselves long enough yet. (Desmond)

  28. Eric - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Re: LaRoche's age, he's younger than Werth! Both are slumping!Conclusion: we're screwed.

  29. Eric - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    "Who you got to play gold-glove caliber third base? Lombo and his arm just don't cut it. Tracy? You've got to be joking right? "Er, I suppose I could've been if I'd said "Tracy"?Anyway, again, I see no reason to think a slumping, unproven entity the benefit of the doubt over a slumping, proven entity.Sure, LaRoche and Werth may have utterly collapsed in the off season. But, it also seems possible that Rendon won't (yet) reproduce his minor league success in the majors over the next two weeks.Lots of possible outcomes here, and I forgot my crystal ball.

  30. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    JD said… Ghost,Rendon will get his chance in the next 2 weeks and I hope I am wrong but I see a young hitter who can still be dominated by veteran pitchers. I think a trip to AAA would be very beneficial because that's where you face a lot of older veteran pitchers.Rendon got over-matched yesterday along with almost every player.His first few starts he was opening up with his head coming off the ball which caused his bat to come off the ball. Most of that was nervousness and trying to hit the ball 500 feet.His AB where he hit the double was textbook.He has to get it going or like I said he will be back in the Minors. If he can get it going, I really think he will be Davey's new 2nd baseman when RZim comes back.

  31. Eric - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    peric – I think our wires are crossed. My only point in the "benefit of the doubt" argument is that I find it odd people give Rendon more benefit of the doubt to "find his groove" than they seem to give Werth, Desmond, or LaRoche. I'm not at all suggesting we remove Rendon from third because he's in a slump.

  32. Alphabet Soup Erik - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    Ghost-Agree 100% that Rendon may very well be at 2B when Zimmerman returns. Espinosa has been given 3 years worth of chances to learn how to hit an outside fastball and a low and inside breaking ball…still can't do either. Wasn't he about Rendon's age when he got all of his chances. So tired about hearing how Rendon isn't ready…blah, blah, blah!!! Those same idiots said Harper wasn't ready and needed to be in the minors also. Talent is talent. He just needs MLB at bats. I really don't think the 2 decent pitchers a week he might see in AAA are going to make any difference to his progression. This kid can hit.

  33. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    Thanks Erik!Oh NEW POST

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