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Game 92: Nats at Phillies

Jul 11, 2013, 7:46 PM EST

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

They hit four homers and knocked out Cliff Lee last night, so the Nationals have to like their chances in tonight's series finale against Kyle Kendrick, right? Well, not necessarily. Though they've historically had success against the Phillies right-hander, they were thoroughly dominated by him only three weeks ago, held to one run and two hits on June 19.

The good news: Jordan Zimmermann starts for the Nationals in his final tune-up before next week's All-Star Game. The right-hander has been brilliant all year, of course, though his last two starts haven't quite lived up to his usual lofty standards (seven runs, 14 hits in 11 1/3 innings).

I am not in Philadelphia for the series finale at Citizns Bank Park. Had to hoof it back to Bethesda for tonight's episode of The Baseball Show, which airs at 11 p.m. on CSN. Hope you'll tune-in, and hope you'll enjoy the conversation here as always…

Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500), XM 187
Weather: Partly cloudy, 85 degrees, Wind 7 mph LF to RF

CF Denard Span
SS Ian Desmond
LF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman

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539 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. paul brandt - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:25 AM

    WODL, today is 7-11 and just happens to be my wife's birthday…please get in your car and drive to the closest 7-11 to your abode, its free slurpee day, you need a dose of optimism and its free!

  2. MrsB loves the Nats - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:27 AM

    Desi is *too* aggressive as a 2… I can see the switch for Rendon and Desi… I can also see the platoon for Hairston(who I don't think is really the answer) for Span but I think that hurts us defensively as I'm not sure I care for this 'new' Harper in CF…

  3. jeffwx - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:27 AM

    do i get anything for putting up the 500th post ?

  4. MrsB loves the Nats - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:28 AM

    David – you'll like people walking Desi to get to Harp when he makes them pay, to which he hasn't done that lately….

  5. jeffwx - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:29 AM

    yes, and this year the cups are 12 oz

  6. David Proctor - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:29 AM

    I think way too much is being made of this "new" Harper. He looks fine to me. He's been hitting, he JUST missed a home run today, he has 3 stolen bases in the last couple games. I'm glad he isn't running into walls, but he's still playing just fine.

  7. sjm308 - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:31 AM

    Lineup? I love how Werth handles things deeper in the lineup – makes you understand what a team player he is as he never complained last year.Who leads off? To me, even though I have no numbers, it has to be Rendon. He is young and will probably embrace any spot. He gets on base, has decent speed and has to be better than what Span has produced. I bat Harper 2nd. He hit there last year and produced well. I follow him with Zimm and LaRoche although I can bat Werth 4th against tough lefties. Desmond hits 6th, Ramos 7th and Span 8th.

  8. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:34 AM

    When the hitters decide to get serious and hit we got the division won.If they decide to not hit like to often this year, wewill have a hard time.If it was to me they would hit. Unfortunately it is up to them and as a group they have been less than interested.

  9. David Proctor - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:35 AM

    I mean…MNF, do you think they're just choosing to not hit? Like they don't want to? I guarantee you the players are way more frustrated than any of us. Guarantee it.

  10. sjm308 - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:36 AM

    David – who is more frustrated? Davey, the players or Rizzo?

  11. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:38 AM

    sjm, moving Rendon to leadoff could ruin him. Probably not worth it. We know he can bat 2nd and 7th.Span had been fine vs. RHPs so the problem is twice a week when you face the LHPs.

  12. nats guy - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:38 AM

    David,Where can I get a pair of those Rose colored glasses. You must have had a bottle of the Nats not so kool aid tonight. On second thought maybe they are drinking too much of it.

  13. sjm308 - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:40 AM

    I think you are correct Ghost but on the days we face Lefties, who is your choice? I just can't be Span (if he is even in the lineup).

  14. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:41 AM

    MrsB loves the Nats said… I can also see the platoon for Hairston(who I don't think is really the answer) for Span but I think that hurts us defensivelyI agree with you. I have been saying for over a month that the Nats need a RH OF who can play defense. While Hairston was an upgrade over TyMo, it wasn't a sizeable upgrade but I guess you give it time.

  15. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:43 AM

    sjm, best choice is Hairston like they did on Tuesday.

  16. David Proctor - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:44 AM

    I don't have rose color glasses. I realize the team isn't putting up runs. But I'm not the only one who thinks the team is still very much alive. 4-6 games out with 70 to play is nothing. We have to play better. Most national analysts still think we can. All the MLBN people think we can.

  17. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:44 AM

    Part of the stuff with Span is what happens to a lot of guys who are talented and look better out there than their production. He simply looks like he has the tools to be doing far better than he is offensively. Maybe it is a huge slump. I am torn between hoping for improvement and being ready to move on to a platooning scheme, but he appears to have the skill level to be doing far more of the little things to help this team win.I don't care if his average is low. I do want him to stand in there and if he gets hit by the pitch, then take the base. I do want him to take the extra base. We need him walking much, much more. He only has 26 bases on balls. I want to see him go with the pitch and try for singles. If he could reach his lifetime average of four homers or so, a year, that would be nice, but we have all written that off. He almost hit one this year but it was foul and that was it.

  18. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:46 AM

    When I see the approach, Something is not right. Swininging at. Ball on a 2-0 count when we need a runner.Not bunting a man to third instead getting him out.Not shoting the swing on a 2 strike count.Trying to pull everything.These are just a few things that are easy fixed if the environment was cobdusive to being fixed.No way they are more frustrated than me. I broke my little squeezy anger ball. If they were they were tgey would fix it.Last year they started this way and started going with ball better, so far this year only a few drive the ball where it is pitched. Once they do that then I will say I am less frustrated.

  19. David Proctor - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:50 AM

    Welp, there's a video going around of Jayson Werth getting angry at the media. The Philly media is salivating over it.

  20. NatsLady - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:52 AM

    508 comments? Wow. Here is an article about Nats' spring training facility relocation possibility.Spring training

  21. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:52 AM

    WODL, Span gets into 3-1 and 3-2 counts and can't work the walks like he should. Again, his splits vs. RHPs is fine. Just hope some rest over the ASB does him well.The LHP splits are bad. Can't wait around for things to change as that is Espinosaitis Henroditis. Davey is supposed to be a math guy and baseball guy, it doesn't take a genius to see it.

  22. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:57 AM

    WODL, we traded for Denard Span, not Jimmy Wynn. Expecting him to hit home runs is totally unrealistic. I agree he should work counts more and take more walks, but let's cool the talk about him hitting home runs. Get real.

  23. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:57 AM

    Here's that Werth video

  24. David Proctor - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:59 AM

    Even that headline is hilarious. I saw a tweet from the CSN reporter that said "WAIT TIL YOU SEE THIS VIDEO, IT'S GOING TO MAKE YOU HATE JAYSON WERTH EVEN MORE!!" It's like they're the paparazzi. Very unprofessional. Could you imagine Mark doing something like that?

  25. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:01 AM

    Span hit 8 homers one year and hit several in other years although he has rarely made it through a full season. 4 homers is not unrealistic in terms of what we might have expected, although it clearly is now. But his low opb is made even worse due to his lack of ultimate power. His doubles and triples have done a lot to hide his issues but those are likely to come down as they exceed his career norms. The likelihood is that it is not getting better.

  26. David Proctor - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:03 AM

    A few of his doubles would have been home runs at any other park. I distinctly remember 2 home runs off the big scoreboard in right field at Nats Park. So perhaps that's why his doubles are up and his homers are down?

  27. NatsLady - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:09 AM

    Rendon would not make a good leadoff. He isn't fast and he doesn't steal. I would agree with him hitting 2nd and moving Desi down. Other than that, I wouldn't mess with the line-up, I would just wait out Span's slump. He wasn't slumping until this week, bear in mind that he had this April – .276/.349/.316 and thisMay – .275/.313/.422Although the OBP for May isn't great.My own feeling is that several factors are affecting Span's offense.(1) A different ("more aggressive") approach and swing, suggested by Davey/Eckstein that is not comfortable;(2) Heat and fatigue. Seriously. I have family in Fargo and Minneapolis. Yes, it is hot in Texas and KC. But you don't have the grinding, day after day heat/humidity in the upper Midwest that you have here. We have seen that affects JZimm and Stras–why wouldn't it affect Span, who is accustomed to playing half his games in Minnesota where they sell pansies in May? Really, they do. My jaw dropped when I was at the garden center when I saw pansies on Memorial Day Weekend. I said, "How can you sell those now, three 90-degree days in June they will be gone." The saleslady said, "we won't have three 90-degree days in June." And she was right. They might have three 90-degree days in an entire summer.

  28. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:15 AM

    Denard Span doesn't get on base and he doesn't steal. The canard about speed being necessary for a lead-off batter is truly dispiriting. It sounds like something someone might have said back in 1985.

  29. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:16 AM

    Well, it ain't getting any cooler in the Mid-Atlantic region, but it seems to me to be silly to argue that Mr. Span is not used to the heat. Talk about pulling something out of thin air.

  30. NatsLady - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:20 AM

    Good for Jayson! He’s hitting like .297 (.327/.412/.541 over the last 30 days, not counting 2 for 4 tonight.) What is he supposed to say, my teammates are letting me down? He would never say that. He will be the Nats manager one of these days, I sincerely hope.

  31. NatsLady - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:23 AM

    When a player who has a good track record isn't performing some people say "he sucks," or "Rizzo never should have traded for him." Other people try to diagnose what might be the problem.

  32. David Proctor - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:24 AM

    Yeah, I don't have a problem with Jayson being angry. Maybe it'll show those who think the guys don't care or something that it's hard on them. (Of course, Werth has been easily our most productive player over the last month or so).

  33. NatsLady - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:30 AM

    If you diagnose what might be the problem, you are part of the way to the solution. For example, if Span is fatigued (or maybe even slightly injured) then tinkering with his swing is not likely to be productive. You might want to rest him, or adjust his training regimen, or encourage him to take an IV before games.OTOH, if Span is in excellent health and feisty, then you wonder whether he his comforable with the tinkering to his swing.If neither of those is the root of the problem, you ask if there is a personal issue troubling him, and address that.If none of the above, then you just accept that slumps are mysterious and you have to wait them out.

  34. David Proctor - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:32 AM

    NL,People on here often confuse explanations with excuses. Anytime someone tries to explain something, you are accused of making excuses. There are no excuses for Span's poor offense, but we need to be able to explain it in order to fix it. "He just sucks" isn't a logical explanation given how low he is from his career norms. SOMETHING is off.

  35. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:40 AM

    Or it might be that he had one good season five years ago and has been on a slow and inexorable downward trend…. That certainly seems every bit as likely as blaming it on the lack of decent flower growing weather in the D.C. area…. Maybe it is the water? Don't they have lead in the pipes in D.C.?

  36. David Proctor - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:43 AM

    Last season, Denard Span had a 104 OPS+. The years before that, 90 and 88. The years before that, 115 and 122. So he's had an OPS+ of over 100 in 3 of his 5 years in the league, including last year. This year, he's at 84…the lowest of his entire career.Last season, he hit .283 with .342 OBP. This season he's hitting .256 with a .310 OBP. There is something wrong there, WODL. For as much as I get accused of wearing rose color glasses, everyone else here seems to have an agenda as well. Your narrative is wrong. Stop using it.

  37. NatsLady - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:44 AM

    DP–you and I are on the same wavelength. In regard to Espinosa, I always look for the simplest explanation–is it physical? Has his wrist healed? His shoulder? Did he get contact lenses? Did the hitting instructor at Syracuse succeed (finally) in reconstructing Danny's approach?A lot of people go for the "it's mental," or "Davey sent a message and it was received." That could be the case, becuase of course there is a mental aspect to the game. But if Danny was capable all along of hitting, why did he need to be sent to Purgatory (aka, Syracuse) to re-discover that capability? It's possible that he was cruising along, figuring he was indispensable, that Rendon wasn't ready, and that since he was a defensive wizard who had a lock on his major-league job. But I have my doubts. Why would a player of reasonable intelligence and talent "dog it" at the plate? No, I rather suspect there was either a physical issue (wrist, shoulder, eyesight) or a mechanical issue. And if that is "solved" we may not need to spend big $$ this winter, we may already have the solution at hand.

  38. pedrocerrano - Jul 12, 2013 at 6:02 AM

    It doesn't matter if it's because "he sucks" or "something is wrong"….. the only relevant undeniable fact is that he's gonna hit 4 ground balls to the second basemen if you play him tomorrow, SO DON'T PLAY HIM

  39. pedrocerrano - Jul 12, 2013 at 6:11 AM

    I actually like the idea of Ramos and Zuk rotating every day. Maybe 60/40 in favor of Ramos. I think it keeps them both fresh and I love the way zuk plays; there was a period early in the year (when LaRoche was in the tank) when he was the only one in the lineup taking professional at-bats.Also, Ramos is hot right now, but overall I think the offensive gap between zuk and ramos is not that large, Ramos just has more power.BUT, I think Davey really needs to consider Ramos in PH opportunities, like the one he should have taken tonight and the one he took on Tuesday (that resulted in an RBI double).





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