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No Harper? No Werth? No problem

May 11, 2013, 4:05 AM EDT

Associated Press
Ian Desmond gets high-fives after his fourth-inning home run.

Considering how much the Nationals as a whole were struggling to score runs not that long ago, the lack of both Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth from their lineup Friday night could easily have spelled disaster.

These days, though, the Nationals are getting contributions from just about every slot in their lineup, more than enough to overcome the losses of a couple of key starters.

So it was Friday that they pulled off a rather easy, 7-3 victory over the Cubs thanks not to the contributions of Harper or Werth, but of Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki, who combined to drive in all of the Nats’ runs during the club’s fifth straight win.

“It’s big when your 3-hole hitter’s out of there and you score a bunch of runs,” manager Davey Johnson said. “That’s big.”
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  1. Eric - May 11, 2013 at 4:16 AM

    8 – 2 Giants…nice.Really can't wait until our lineup is all the way back, all the way healthy, and operating a full potential…been getting some nice teases lately, though!

  2. Anna Peregrina - May 11, 2013 at 6:39 AM

    Totally OT, but did anyone notice Buck Showalter's remark praising his team after their impressive comeback win? "They stay within each other and do what they do." Perhaps best not to speculate what that might be.

  3. Laddie Blah Blah - May 11, 2013 at 7:45 AM

    It is a pleasure to watch these Nats when they have good pitching backed up by solid defense. I knew Span was good, but he is better than I thought he would be. Rizzo definitely made the right move there.The only remaining underperforming piece is the bench. Tracy, Bernie and Moore are all under the Mendoza Line, and Lombo has been heading that way for the past month. They may have over-perforemd last year, but they are not as bad as they have looked this year, so far.It's been ALR and Desi carrying the offense, lately. With that rotation and bull pen, they don't need to score a lot of runs. When Harper, Werth and Ryan get back in the groove, they will be a dominant team, once again, just as they were last year.I expect Suzuki to come through, just as he did last night. He has a great approach at the plate. It was Espinosa's double that was the surprise of the game, at least to me. He dialed back his swing, and leveled it off, trying just to make solid contact on the ball in that situation (runners on 2nd and 3rd). He hit it on the screws all the way to the CF wall, driving in 2 runs. I haven't seen all his ABs this year, but I don't recall a better situational AB by Espinosa in a long, long time.I have also seen him successfully modify his approach at the plate several times before, notably by taking outside pitches to LF, instead of always trying to pull everything into the RF seats. But he has always reverted to type, over the long haul.Maybe this time will be different. I hope so. But I'll believe it when I see it.

  4. Joe Seamhead - May 11, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    I like waking up and seeing that we have pretty much closed the gap with the Braves, not to mention getting some perverse joy at seeing Tim Hudson with a .470 ERA and Justin "5 Tool" Upton sporting a .153 BA. It was nice seeing the park near capacity and having the crowd pretty rambunctious. Can an angel Hernandez crew get through even one game without blowing an obvious call. It's to the point where their credibility is seriously in question, and MLB should be concerned. I guess for Joe Torre to come out and say that they blew it on the HR video replay is as close to a slap that they are going to give him.Adam LaRoche is hitting singles, but he is not a liability in the order. He's not hitting dingers right now, but he is keeping the line moving and we're scoring more runs than the other team. It's called winning, and who cares whether it's by a home run 3 or 4 base hits?I hope that we can get today's game in. The weather doesn't look promising. On a personal note, Mrs. Seamhead really wanted a white Span jersey, which of course they don't have in the team store. So for a Mother's Day present I got them to make one up for her which she rocked with last night. Now she wants to get that nice, white mesh jersey muddied up so it looks more Span-like. That's my baby!

  5. sjm308 - May 11, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Seamhead – I have lots of weeding and yardwork over here (its north of 308 from the park). Just send her over and I guarantee I can help you out.Glad to hear she is another voice rallying to keep Span on the field instead of the bench.Go Nats!!

  6. sjm308 - May 11, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    My thoughts this morning are pretty obvious but it is amazing to me how injuries are definitely a huge part of the equation to any team's season. The Braves lose Heyward and McCann and are still in first place. The Yankee's actually have 4 players getting closer to coming off the dl (can you imagine not having Desmond, Span, LaRoche and Zimm and still being competitive?) We actually have lost Zimm & Werth and continued to get better. Just another reason Rizzo has to be a step ahead of others. I think the one injury we all dread here is to one of our 5 starters. I think we can handle pretty much any position loss for a week or two but I am still waiting for a name of who is coming up if one of our "fab five" goes down.Go Nats!! Stay healthy my friends.

  7. NatsJack in Florida - May 11, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    What a great day!When I first saw the 4:05 start for todays game, I assumed that the Nats were a Fox regional broadcast and I'd lose out to the Braves/Giants game. But low and behold, today is a FOX FREE SATURDAY!GYFNG!!!!

  8. Joe Seamhead - May 11, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    sjm308, our son played CF and RF in HS and college and wore #2 which made the Span jersey even more appropriate for Mom's day. We became Span fans in ST. It was so obvious that this guy was way above any we had play CF before. Incidentally, Yuri Perez also gets great jumps and has that glide in CF. He doesn't have much of an arm though, but we need a reliable back up outfielder to back up the back up outfielders.As to Denard, I am thrilled to watch this guy play ball. I sure am glad Rizzo didn't get BJ Upton or Ben Revere. He got the right guy, imho.As to ALR and his opposite field singles, I wouldn't be surprised if that wasn't part of Chipper's advice. i have watched a lot of slumps ended by guys concentrating on going the other way, and then as they get that down, they gradually go back to their normal swing as their confidence improves.GYFNG!!! Relax! We got this.

  9. Joe Seamhead - May 11, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    Jack, the later afternoon start may allow them to get the game in, too. The forecast is much more ominous for the earlier part of the day, if you can believe anything they say.I assumed it was a Fox broadcast, too. So thrilled to hear that it isn't.

  10. NatsLady - May 11, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    I wish I could have gone to the game, that's for sure. My students had a recital (no one ended up crying–which is always my goal for student performances), but it was over by 6:15 and I considered staying on 395… I would have if parking weren't such a hassle. That's one thing I miss about RFK. So a warm night, a fastball pitcher, and the Cubs? Who could ask for anything more? Will be at the game Sunday–via Metro.

  11. NatsJack in Florida - May 11, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Joe…..re: Eury Perez's arm….I think you are going to be suprised. His arm is alot stronger than you would think.

  12. Joe Seamhead - May 11, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    Well then, Jack, I sure hope to stand corrected on Yuri's arm. I only was privy to see him in a couple of games last year when he came up.I was really impressed with his radar out there, but his throws in didn't look all that strong. Not sure how much chance he'll get, but I'm sure he'd play a good LF when needed.I love good outfield play!

  13. Steady Eddie - May 11, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    Nats Lady –my Saturday and Sunday-only trick is to park for free in the Anacostia Metro garage (it's immediately off the Howard Road exit off 295) and take Metro the one stop against traffic. Metro can be incredibly slow way to travel on weekends with all the track work but they put on extra trains to turn around at Anacostia.

  14. Doc - May 11, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    The hitting was productive and timely, but the defense was spectactular!Span and Espi were awesome at grabbing balls.

  15. Joe Seamhead - May 11, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    I agree Doc. Bernadina's throw resulted in an out at the plate, but from our angle it looked like Suzuki deserved a ton of credit for the way he turned and made the tag.

  16. Sec. 3, My Sofa - May 11, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    Who's "Yuri"?

  17. NatsJack in Florida - May 11, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    Maybe Yuri Gagarin (?) but most likely he means Eury Perez.

  18. NatsJack in Florida - May 11, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    Since he's filling Jayson's spot on the 25 man, I fully expect he'll be positioned in a corner out field spot. I mean, there is certainly no need to replace Dennard.Eury's throws from both right and left field always seemed stronger than when he played center during ST.

  19. Joe Seamhead - May 11, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    Bartender, can I get a coffee over here? Of course i meant Eury! Thanks for the secondary auto-correct, guys!Anyway, I just watched the replays of the call on Ryan at 2nd, and the play at the plate. The play at 2nd was right in front of the umpire. I really am questioning that whole crew's integrity. On the Suzuki tag, all I can say is "Wow!' and I guess we should be thankful Angel didn't blow that one ,too.

  20. Joe Seamhead - May 11, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    Jack, Harper reportedly will be back today, and if so, then I see EURY as being primarily an emergency LFer, or maybe a late inning pinch runner/defensive replacement.

  21. Gonat - May 11, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    Laddie Blah Blah said… It is a pleasure to watch these Nats when they have good pitching backed up by solid defense.________________________Agreed. It was good to see and the real nice surprise is Bernadina who keeps making defensive plays to save runs which is nice since his bat is quiet.

  22. NatsLady - May 11, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    Re: yesterday's discussion on JZ. Have a look at Shelby Miller. He wiped out the Rox yesterday, and they can hit.Millerhttp://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=millesh01&t=p&year=2013

  23. Joe Seamhead - May 11, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    Meanwhile, down on the farm, Rendon went 3-4 with 2 doubles and an rbi. Raised his BA to .338. I think the call up gave him a boost, [in spite of calls for Davey's head for mishandling Anthony].

  24. Harpo - May 11, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    "Laddie Blah Blah said… a pleasure to watch these Nats when they have good pitching backed up by solid defense."Totally disagree with you. Just because the scoreboard is 7-3 against a lousy team the Nats were out-hit by these lousy Cubs and just because you give up no errors doesn't translate to solid defense.Ryan Zimmerman waved as 3 doubles went by him. Forget about his arm, his range is actually rated worse than Chad Tracy and Steve Lombardozzi at 3rd and its no fluke. He's in concrete shoes. The Nats won't move him because they don't have the guts. He finally dove for a ball well after the ball was by him on the 3rd double.Good pitching? Not sure what game you were looking at. Detweiler was torched against a team thats almost as bad offensively as the Nats.

  25. Candide - May 11, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    Mark has a tweet off to the right with a photo of Harper's toe post-surgery.Warning: Once you have seen something, it is impossible to un-see it.

  26. Harpo - May 11, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    Davey should really consider playing Zimm at a no doubles defense the entire game. He has better range to his glove side.

  27. Candide - May 11, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    Harpo said…Good pitching? Not sure what game you were looking at. Detweiler was torched against a team thats almost as bad offensively as the Nats.Actually, the Cubs' offense is BETTER than the Nats. They've outscored the Nats this season 131-128; their OPS is .712 to the Nats' .679.

  28. Knoxville Nat - May 11, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    Fox free Saturday! I love it. GYFNG!

  29. Sec. 3, My Sofa - May 11, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Of course i meant Eury! Thanks for the secondary auto-correct, guys!Samardzija's revenge — spellcheck makes you foul one off!

  30. Doc - May 11, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Harpo, watching those Cubbie doubles down the third base line kinda made me think about how much better RZim is at going to his left than his right.Unless the spray charts were completely off kilter, it would seem like a 3B guy should have caught at least one of them

  31. Sec. 3, My Sofa - May 11, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    Ryan Zimmerman waved as 3 doubles went by him. Forget about his arm, his range is actually rated worse than Chad Tracy and Steve Lombardozzi at 3rd and its no fluke. He's in concrete shoes. The Nats won't move him because they don't have the guts. He finally dove for a ball well after the ball was by him on the 3rd double.Good pitching? Not sure what game you were looking at. Detweiler was torched against a team thats almost as bad offensively as the Nats.Fair enough, but which is it? Zimm waved at routine ground balls, or Det got torched? Can't have both.There were other good plays on defense, though, from several positions.

  32. baseballswami - May 11, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    Apparently Grienke is starting against us on Wednesday! Should be interesting., one rehab start, back early, went like 40 pitches last night in the minors.

  33. natsfan1a - May 11, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    I think he's a poet (though he might not know it).Sec. 3, My Sofa said… Who's "Yuri"? May 11, 2013 8:00 AM

  34. Harpo - May 11, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    Sec 3, the defense was great last night except for 3rd base. Detweiler was not good and was overall helped out by his defense even considering the earlier 2 doubles that went by Zimmerman as the last double was on Stammen's stat sheet.

  35. Sec. 3, My Sofa - May 11, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    Another poster with a pseudonym? Doc is really Yuri?Боже мой! Now I'm *really* confused!

  36. Section 222 - May 11, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Over 37K last night. Remember a year ago when some theorized that a Caps game was responsible for poor Nats attendance? What a difference a year makes.Great night out there, and so great to finish just in time to miss the storm. Between Desi's homer and double, Bernadina's throw, Zuki's tag, and Span's catch (it's all about the route) there was a lot to like. Zim's defense down the line, not so much. I watched the replay of Span and heard FP say that Span says he never dives for the ball. Anyone hear more details on that? Would be an interesting followup for Mark.I was expecting H-Rod to get some work last night, maybe in the 9th. If you can't pitch him for an inning leading 7-2 against the Cubs, when can you pitch him? Maybe we should just go with a 6 man bullpen and bring up get another bench bat.

  37. Doc - May 11, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Thanks for the info, Swam!Time to grind Grienke into a meat ball while he's fresh from rehab–our past would-be trade piece!! Haren pitching? If so, he'll have lots of room for some fly ball outs.

  38. Harpo - May 11, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    Candide, re-read what I wrote "torched against a team thats almost as bad offensively as the Nats"I was acknowledging that the Cubs were slightly better than the poor Nats offense.In fact there are 26 teams in the MLB better than the Nats but lets face it the Cubs still stink.

  39. NatsLady - May 11, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    Eh, I'm happy.♫I got doubles,♫ I got Desi, I got my D-Span, who could ask for anything more? Who could ask for anything more? ♫♫♪♫♪ No, Det was not great. He needed web gems from Span, Bernadina, Suzuki, etc. But the good news is, he got them.Mr. Strasburg: your turn.

  40. Harpo - May 11, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    "Doc said… Harpo, watching those Cubbie doubles down the third base line kinda made me think about how much better RZim is at going to his left than his right.Unless the spray charts were completely off kilter, it would seem like a 3B guy should have caught at least one of them"Very astute observation. Just like all the Nats making adjustments from early in the season Zimm has to do the same. Think back to the ball hit by Justin Upton in the game against the Braves and Zimm was in poor position to field it and made the wide errant throw to 2nd base that tied that game.Zimm can still charge the ball and play off of his glove hand and his throws are getting better. He just needs to play closer to the line.

  41. Sec. 3, My Sofa - May 11, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    "Not dominant" is not the same as "not good." Take away the doubles you said Zim should have had, and the consequences of them, and he had a good night. A pitcher can still get hit hard a half-dozen times a game by a major league team, even if they are classic patsies. To borrow a phrase, "It doesn't have to be larger than life. It can be life-sized, and still be good."

  42. Harpo - May 11, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    NatsLady, precisely said. You take the win and don't sugarcoat it. A win as a team.

  43. NatsLady - May 11, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    Weather will be chancy, passing thunderstorms. Might have to wait out some delays. Stras–DEAL WITH IT!

  44. Sec. 3, My Sofa - May 11, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    I like sugar-coating. Tastes better than vinegar, and it gives us energy. Just be sure to brush afterwards.

  45. Sec. 3, My Sofa - May 11, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Probably another late start tonight … see you in 314.

  46. Section 222 - May 11, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    I heard Greinke had 80 pitches last night. Amazingly fast recovery from a broken bone. What is he, bionic man? Maybe Quentin's slump will now end too.

  47. natsfan1a - May 11, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    Ix-nay on the Icy-way Ot-hay.NatsLady said… Weather will be chancy, passing thunderstorms. Might have to wait out some delays. Stras–DEAL WITH IT! May 11, 2013 9:19 AM

  48. sjm308 - May 11, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    OK – besides the excellent comments on Zimm, hitting, catching, pitching and throwing we now have Russian (at least I think that was Russian) and musical notes! How the hell do you guys do that?? I can barely type the letters on the keyboard. Go nats!!

  49. NatsLady - May 11, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Eddie, my Metro secret is to take Circulator bus to Eastern Market and get on the Metro there (I'm on the blue/orange line). That way I avoid the mob at L'Enfant Plaza. You can grab the Circulator when it's empty if you walk a couple of blocks. Takes extra time but it's worth it.

  50. NatsLady - May 11, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    sjm, that was my game comment on Word, where you can select a menu for special characters. (I was writing up my weekly Nats Stat post, which I try to do daily, then post weekly. It's amazing the highs/lows that happen in a week). From Word I copied it over here and it worked.

  51. MicheleS - May 11, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Cupcakes & Gio this morning

  52. Candide - May 11, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    Harpo – so you did; my bad.

  53. MicheleS - May 11, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    Got to meet Gio this morning. His foundation was doing a signing event at the Think Fluffy bakery. Buy a dozen cup cakes and you got to get his autograph. And yes Gio is adorable!

  54. baseballswami - May 11, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    I don't know how to do the little blue link up thing, but you should be able to find this— Fantastic , comprehensive story on Jordan. ESPN. Com. Stuff I did not even know. Awesome. You should definitely read it!

  55. Doc - May 11, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    Right on NatsLady with respect to Stras!Jeeezas SS, keep the line moving!! Sometimes, Stras reminds me of former Expo Steve Rodgers. Rodgers would fuss about everyting, including the position of the hotdog vendor, before he would throw the ball! Grieke was like that earlier in his career, not so much now.

  56. natsfan1a - May 11, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    mmmm…cupcakes…Jordan story.

  57. natsfan1a - May 11, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Take two.

  58. SonnyG10 - May 11, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Went to the game yesterday on metro. Coming home I discovered they shut down all stations west of Ballston (East Falls Church, West Falls Church, Dunn Loring, and Vienna). Had to take a shuttle bus to West Falls Church to get my car and make it home. I think these stations are going to be shut down all weekend so if anyone is planning to ride the orange line, you might want to take that into consideration.

  59. DWS - May 11, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    Ignore me as I post only so often, but it is amazing what winning a few games can do. Everything is so semi-civil.Worried about Stras? Two hits maybe…

  60. SonnyG10 - May 11, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    swami, thanks for the JZ article. It was great.1a, thanks for the link.

  61. peric - May 11, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    Moore and Desmond looked particularly good at the plate. LaRoche looking like a near-term #2 hitter like Nick the Stick but with a tad less power. That might actually be useful if he can continue to raise the OBP by getting on base one way or the other. Not sure Davey would put him there as FRobby and Acta did Nick the Stick.

  62. peric - May 11, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    No, Det was not great. He needed web gems from Span, Bernadina, Suzuki, etc. But the good news is, he got them.A couple by Danny and a LaRoche scoop.

  63. peric - May 11, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    I got Desi, I got my D-Span, who could ask for anything more?Rick Ankiel is still out there they could use his rifle arm as a backup defensive replacement. ~smiles~ In spite of what Natsjack says Perez has a weak arm for an outfielder but he is right in perhaps thinking it isn't any worse than Denard Span's. It will work in CF and LF but iffy in right field. Might be the weakest arm of all the outfielders except perhaps Lombo although that might be a toss up.

  64. peric - May 11, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    Zimm can still charge the ball and play off of his glove hand and his throws are getting better. He just needs to play closer to the line.I don't care about Zimm's fielding as long as its competent. He can impress the Marx brother and Natslady with web gems and then go on the DL, get a cortisone shot, and end up in surgery again.I want the bat to wake up and outshine Harper as it should. And that's what the Nats need. Stop worrying about Zimm's fielding its the bat that's important at this point.

  65. MicheleS - May 11, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Today's weather reminds of that game that Stras pitched vs the Cards over Labor Day weekend. Just a light rain and mostly misting. He pitched really well that day. So I have no worries about him today. Plus, he has now seen Gio/Jordan/Haren/Det all pitch brilliant to good all week. He will come through.Thanks for the Link 1A and for the story Swami. Love Jordan

  66. peric - May 11, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    [in spite of calls for Davey's head for mishandling Anthony]As both Mark and Rizzo said: he has to be somewhere where he can play every day and get the reps in that he needs. Just like Harper. The difference is Davey was willing to let Harper finish his training in the majors. As Davey himself admitted he couldn't do that with Rendon. Rendon needs a full year in the minors to hone his skills. After that all bets are off.

  67. nats guy - May 11, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Peric,I don't always mean to pick on you so badly, but I can't stand people who are "know it alls" about players they have never even seen and passing it off to others on this blog who are sometimes naive enough to believe them. You sir have been the king of 4A players for a long time because you read some Nintendo statistics and think you know it all. Until you have either actually played this wonderful game at a high level, been a scout, or have actually seen the player play be kind enough to admit that you know as much of the rest of us.

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