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Steps in the right direction

Jun 22, 2013, 4:09 AM EDT

Associated Press

A dominant performance from the presumptive ace of the staff. Some clutch hits late from a couple of star position players. Big strikeouts in big spots from a key reliever late. And some spectacular defense at critical moments to preserve a 1-run lead and close out an impressive victory.

Not a combination of events seen on a regular basis out of the Nationals over the last three months, but developments that have become more commonplace over the last three nights and were all on display Friday night during a 2-1 win over the Rockies that featured plenty of impressive performances.

There was Stephen Strasburg tossing seven innings of one-run ball, striking out nine and showing some emotion on the mound after Ryan Zimmerman’s circus catch ended the seventh. There was Zimmerman delivering the game-tying double in the sixth and Ian Desmond delivered yet another go-ahead homer one inning later. There was Drew Storen striking out Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer back-to-back with a man in scoring position in the eighth. And there was Adam LaRoche sprawling to his right to snag a hot shot to end the game and give the crowd of 34,917 one last reason to roar.

Above all else, there was the entire Nationals roster gathering at the center of the diamond, exchanging high-fives for the third straight night, having just secured their longest winning streak in six weeks.

“I think most of all, we’ve been playing better baseball,” Zimmerman said. “That’s the most important thing. You get wins and kind of win ugly. They’re wins and they’re great, but it doesn’t really get that momentum going. The past four or five games, we’ve really started playing like we should have been playing. Hopefully that’ll carry over into some more wins.”
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  1. Bob Saget Nats Fan 101 - Jun 22, 2013 at 4:24 AM

    From the previous thread.At the game tonight , my parents were right next to johnny holliday in the elevator going up to our seats.And when we were leaving. FP was right next to me in the elevator. FP was talking about zombie and getting zombie masks so everyone can look like Jzimm

  2. Laddie Blah Blah - Jun 22, 2013 at 4:24 AM

    Meanwhile, the Braves lost another, 2 – 0.

  3. SonnyG10 - Jun 22, 2013 at 4:28 AM

    I don't know if its going to continue, but it sure feels good right now the way they're playing the past three games. We just need to get Harper back soonest, then Ramos.

  4. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 22, 2013 at 4:30 AM

    Good win guys. Let's keep rolling.

  5. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jun 22, 2013 at 5:37 AM

    #EatFaceWe need to see 2010 Dan Haren tomorrow, Nats starters 1 earned run in their last 23 innings.

  6. 5c3cd06e-cef8-11e1-abe6-000bcdcb2996 - Jun 22, 2013 at 6:00 AM

    Lombo in LF is still frightening. With Rendon starting to own the 2B and Harper coming back he'll find his way back to the ph spot on the team. Lombo will be a trade chip for a power bat if I know Rizzo.

  7. D'Gourds - Jun 22, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    the big moment of the game was when storen didn't melt down after his error. if we get some consistent outings from him and some production from haren, good things will happen.lombo is still pretty valuable to the team in a utility role.

  8. jeeves - Jun 22, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    Not sure where that power bat would play 5c. Assuming Harp and all are healthy.Shows how dominant Harper was when Desi has just tied him for the team hr lead. Or how undominant (is that a word?), everyone else has been. Harp has been out for close to a full month I think.

  9. Rabbit34 - Jun 22, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    And, now we come to the stopper of winning streaks. Haren. Want to add salt to the wound? I'm going to the game! I will definitely direct all my positive vibes toward him. Hopefully he'll appreciate it and not give up seven homers….with runners on base!

  10. NatsLady - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    So. The Barves made a random pitcher look like Cy Young (actually, W. Peralta has potential, he's just raw).Wily Peralta – he of the 4-8 record with a 6.08 ERA coming in – shut out the Braves for seven innings on the way to a 2-0 victory. The Braves drew six walks but managed only two hits, only one of which left the infield, and went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.The shutout loss was the Braves’ 10th of the season, which leads the majors.http://www.ajc.com/news/sports/baseball/braves-offense-quiet-in-loss-to-brewers/nYRz3/

  11. baseballswami - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    Stadium sounded loud last night!! It just feels like there is more intensity, digging in, better all around play, guys just selling out to make plays, hustling. That is the kind of play that I will watch. It's not like an accidental win that you get when someone else fails. Grittier and more determined. They are eating some face!

  12. NatsLady - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Stadium was pretty quiet until RZ hit that double. Man, at that point it exploded. After that, total focus on the game. I went to the facility in the bottom of the 8th and it was vacant, people glued to their seats.

  13. ptindc - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    Back from the dead. They truly are in Zombie Mode.

  14. m - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Good win last night led by excellent pitching. Hitting is still troublesome. I agree that with the return of Harper and Ramos we could see a real pick up in hitting. One troublesome spot which the Ramos and Harper tandem will not help is our lead-off spot. This guy Span was back to old ways last night – Weak ground balls to first base side all night. He is out ahead of his pitches. That tells me he is either guessing wrong, cannot recognize the pitches or does not think he is fast enough to catch up to fastballs. He is nullifying the contribution Rendon is making with his hitting. Right now we do not have a leadoff hitter, a LF than can hit with any regularity and catcher that doesn't hit. Harper and Ramos cannot get here soon enough.

  15. Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    NatsLady, the Braves opened the season hot and went 12-1 to start. They have played exactly .500 ball since.

  16. Candide - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    "Steps in the right direction?" Maybe. But imagine how easily this story could have been rewritten if the Rockies had managed one or two timely hits:Another strong effort from Stephen Strasburg went to waste tonight as the Nats' hitting woes resulted in a disappointing 3-2 loss to the Rockies.Strasburg gave up only one earned run, but errors by Anthony Rendon and Drew Storen were all the Rockies needed to push across two more runs.Meanwhile, the Nats' bats remained in their months-long slump. Ryan Zimmerman drove in a run with a double, and Ian Desmond continued his recent hot streak with a solo homer. But the Nats scored fewer than three runs for the fourth time in their last ten games.At the post-game presser, a visibly annoyed Davey Johnson chewed the face off a reporter who asked him if he intended to fire hitting coach Rick Eckstein…This team is scoring only in fits and starts. With Haren pitching today, I doubt two runs will be enough.

  17. Candide - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    BTW, the Nats have scored double-digits runs in a game once this season. they scored 10 on April 15, which was the last time they had their opening day lineup playing.

  18. Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    Also, even though we've gained three games on the Braves in a week, we are still not quite running on all cylinders at the same time, but we're getting closer.Span had a bad game, Span had a good game, Span had a bad game at the plate. Werth had two good, then two bad, etc. We're are gaining a little bit more consistency.We really need more from Span, and from Suzuki. If we can get those guys going, stay healthy otherwise, and get the kid back, we will overtake the Braves. Speaking of the Braves, it seems they discovered that Uggla wasn't seeing very well and was fit with contact lenses.

  19. BigCat - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    Davey….Riz….please don't send Haren out there today to suck the wind out of this team. We are getting on a possible roll. All we need is for this guy to go out and give up 3 bombs and 6 earned in 2 innings. Go with Stammen for 5 and then go to pen.

  20. MrsB loves the Nats - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    Going to the game today… I swore off going to any more D Haren games but dang if i don't get to see him, yet again, today… *sigh*Hoping impressive Haren shows up for 5 innings then Ohlendorf for 2, Abad for 1 and Soriano for the save…Nats – 8Rockies – 4Lets go Nats!Later folks!

  21. BigCat - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    Just say Haren tweaked a hamstring at his house or something.

  22. NatsLady - Jun 22, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    Here, Drew Storen will be at T-Mobile on Monday. Eventshttp://events.washington.cbslocal.com/washington/events/drew-storen-tmobile-/E0-001-058410432-8

  23. NatsLady - Jun 22, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    With the early game and the gala tonight, Haren will get Solano and the B-team (my prediction). He's been a good sport about that. The odds are against him–but stranger things have happened than him pitching 7 innings and only giving up two runs…

  24. Candide - Jun 22, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    NatsLady said…The odds are against him–but stranger things have happened than him pitching 7 innings and only giving up two runs…True, but that's not how the smart money bets.Cunegonde and I will be at both games this weekend.

  25. Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2013 at 8:15 AM

    We need Haren to come through if we are going to win the division. We also need Stammen in the pen. He can't do both.I'm with Mrs. B in that let's get five innings out of him today. Today would be a good day to have three outfielders playing instead of two outfielders and two second basemen.With Haren's tendency to give up a lot of hard hit balls to the outfield, I'd sure rather Bernadina be out there today.Candide, you are of course correct that without a little luck, this morning's Nats story could be reading differently. I am still marveling over the play LaRoche made to end the game. If he doesn't make that play…

  26. natsfan1a - Jun 22, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Now, if only they could get his jerseys to fit…Speaking of the Braves, it seems they discovered that Uggla wasn't seeing very well and was fit with contact lenses.

  27. NatsLady - Jun 22, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Candide, I will be at the Sunday game. Will try to get there early for a bobble head. I didn't do All-Star ballots this year, just didn't have time.

  28. NatsLady - Jun 22, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    LOL on the "smart money." Vegas has the Nats on short odds to win. We ain't taking that, right?betting lineshttp://www.vegasinsider.com/mlb/odds/las-vegas/

  29. sjm308 - Jun 22, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Good Morning -Funny how people want just 5 innings from Haren. When he was originally signed, one of his strengths was that he would be an innings eater. I realize some of the innings he has "eaten" have been pretty miserable but I still think he can turn this around. One good thing though, except for Soriano who has pitched 3 days in a row, we are pretty much set in the pen. I would expect Clip to close today if needed.Go Nats

  30. natsfan1a - Jun 22, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    I'll be at the Sunday game, too. Planning to get there early. I took some A/S ballots with me to Denver, but my baseball buddy and I never got around to completing them. I left them with her and will do some (but not 1,000) at the park tomorrow.

  31. sjm308 - Jun 22, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    Seamhead – agree with you on Bernadina.Also, besides LaRoche's great play to end it, we had three others that I gave stars to in my scorebook. Zimm's catch in foul ground and then I gave two stars on one play to the ground smash by Helton snared by Zimm in the 4th and also to LaRoche for his pickup of another weak throw.Go Nats!

  32. natsfan1a - Jun 22, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  33. natsfan1a - Jun 22, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    Yeah, another cup of coffee over here, waiter. Thanks.Just noticed that tomorrow is scout day as well as bobbleheads. Hope that our kids protect the house as well as the camp day kids did at Coors Field. Man, they were just brutal. Booed us down something awful. Not that I'm expecting a lot of Rockies fans to be in the house.Also, a leftover oddity from our Denver trip. The Rockies have a Papa John's discount deal of 40 percent, but there is no run total associated with it (just a win). I guess they would have had to make it like, a zillion runs scored, at least for home games.

  34. Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    308, I agree on your stars given, though it was short, Zimm's throw was on line and Adam seems to have a patent on that scoop play.As to Dan Haren, and getting five from him today, don't get me wrong, I'd love see a great eight from him today. What were the odds of the Brewers getting seven innings of 2 hit shutout ball from Wily Perralta against the Braves last night?

  35. Candide - Jun 22, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    Hey, everyone going tomorrow – can we do a meetup before the game at the section 312 picnic tables? Looks like we have ArVAFan, NatsFan1a, NatsLady, Cunegonde, and me. Would like to see what the other NIers look like – only one from this group that I have a clue about is NatsLady, and only because she's used a photo of herself (I assume it's her…) as her avatar.Best way to recognize us – Cunegonde is slender (she doesn't think so, but whatever…) about 5' 1" with white hair. Me – pretty nondescript.

  36. natsfan1a - Jun 22, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    Sure, will look for you there. I'm similarly height-challenged (5'3") and blond. I'll have on my off-white, red curly W cap; some sort of red Nats top (which one depends on the weather); and shorts. Will wear one of my RFK exploding fireworks pins as well.

  37. Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    We're going today, but not tomorrow. Anyway, the Brewers are throwing a guy named Donavon Hand against the Braves. Hand is a relief pitcher and this will be his first start of the year. His opponent? Tim Hudson. If we want to keep pace, we better win today.

  38. natsfan1a - Jun 22, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Mr. Hand? Oh, noooo, not Mr. Hand!

  39. natsfan1a - Jun 22, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    One can only hope that Sluggo won't show up for the Bravo.

  40. natsfan1a - Jun 22, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    (s)

  41. Candide - Jun 22, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    natsfan1a said…One can only hope that Sluggo won't show up for the Bravo.This isn't Mr. Hand. It's Mr. Bill.THIS is Mr. Hand (in the striped hat).Please, let's not confuse South Park with Saturday Night Live.

  42. Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    Candide said…Please, let's not confuse South Park with Saturday Night Live.I hate it when that happens. Don't you just hate it when that happens?

  43. Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    And can you believe Hamels in Philly?They are 2-14 in his starts. The lefthander is saddled with 11 losses, which ties a career high. The last Phillies pitchers with 11 losses before the end of June were Wayne LaMaster and Claude Passeau, both in 1937.Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/20130622_Hamels_falters_again_as_Phils_fall_to_Mets.html#3vaTiPXQhFfr4kD1.99

  44. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 22, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    Not sure why you all are calling for Haren to go 5 innings as the 5th inning is his worst inning of his games this season with a 11.12 ERA for 5th inning of work. Get Haren to 4 innings and get the bullpen going to start the 5th. 1st sign of trouble yank him. This philosophy of trying to get him to go 5 to get him a W is the wrong approach.His stats are so troubling based on his last 3 starts that all you can do is hope that today is the day Haren pitches a gem.

  45. natsfan1a - Jun 22, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    Believe it or not, I've never seen South Park, so no issues there.Candide said… natsfan1a said…One can only hope that Sluggo won't show up for the Bravo. This isn't Mr. Hand. It's Mr. Bill. THIS is Mr. Hand (in the striped hat). Please, let's not confuse South Park with Saturday Night Live. June 22, 2013 9:34 AM

  46. Candide - Jun 22, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    Ghost of Steve M. said…His stats are so troubling based on his last 3 starts that all you can do is hope that today is the day Haren pitches a gem.How about hoping that RZimm has another 3 HR day, with Span and Rendon on base a couple of times? That should provide a little cushion against that 5th-inning collapse, give Davey a chance to bring Stammen or Ohlendorf in.And speaking of Ohlendorf, why haven't we seen him since his great start? Does he have terminal bad breath or something?

  47. SCNatsFan - Jun 22, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Danny and Tyler still struggling at AAA si I agree with the other posts that a power rh bat is needed and I'd bet Rizzo is trolling for it on the cheap

  48. NatsLady - Jun 22, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    #Nationals lineup vs. COL: Span 8, Rendon 4, Zimmerman 5, LaRoche 3, Werth 9, Desmond 6, Bernadina 7, Solano 2, Haren 1As predicted, Haren gets Solano.

  49. NatsLady - Jun 22, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Nationals PR ‏@NationalsPR 5mTrue fact: 9 of Ian Desmond's 12 home runs this season have been go-ahead blasts. #beingIan

  50. Section 222 - Jun 22, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Glad the Shark is in the lineup. After the Big 3 delivered, it's time for Haren to step up Haren. For some reason I have a good feeling about that.I'll be at the game in 309E today. Will try to drop by the 312 meetup if I get there early enough. Cheers everyone.

  51. Section 222 - Jun 22, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    The key is to get Haren out at the first sign of trouble in the 4th, 5th, or 6th. We have RossO in the bullpen, but if I'm not mistaken he hasn't been used since his great start. That's ridiculous. Come on Davey, for once pull the trigger at the right time.

  52. Eric - Jun 22, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    Agreed about getting Haren out the moment he gets into trouble, unless we have a big lead, in which case we just need to have someone warm in case it starts to get out of hand.Key to that IMO would be to get someone up in the pen as soon the bottom of every inning ends from the 4th on, regardless of how well he did in his last top frame. Who knows, maybe it will really motivate him to perform…But, I have no idea what effect, if any, that would have on general pen readiness going forward, particularly if we do that and then Haren goes 7+ innings.

  53. Eric - Jun 22, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    Oh, and agreed re Shark. I like Lombo well enough overall, but Shark is significantly better in the outfield, IMO.

  54. natsfan1a - Jun 22, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    Would be nice to see you, 222, but I believe that the meetup in question was for tomorrow's game and I don't have today's game. That said, maybe some of today's NI folks can meet up with you.

  55. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Jun 22, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    1a, that's Mr. Hand.This is Mr. Bill with Mr. Hands.

  56. Scooter - Jun 23, 2013 at 3:48 AM

    And the South Park character is Mr. Hat.Man, I just can't fall behind around here. Look what happens.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 89 64 --
ATLANTA 76 77 13.0
MIAMI 74 79 15.0
NEW YORK 74 80 15.5
PHILADELPHIA 70 84 19.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Friday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON 89 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 88 66 1.5
ST. LOUIS 86 68 3.5
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 69 5.0 +1.0
PITTSBURGH 83 70 6.0 --
MILWAUKEE 79 75 10.5 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Friday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
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