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Instant analysis: Nats 4, Cubs 2

Aug 20, 2013, 11:23 PM EDT

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Game in a nutshell: After a blowout loss on Monday night against their least-effective starter, the Nationals turned to their best pitcher to stop the bleeding and author a gem. Who would have imagined a month ago Jordan Zimmermann would fit the first description while Dan Haren would fit the latter? Obviously, it's been a strange season for the Nationals. Behind yet another dominant start from Haren, they put themselves in position to beat the Cubs. They had to scratch and claw their way to four runs, but that was enough, with Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard each retiring the side in the seventh and eighth and Rafael Soriano navigating his way through a shaky ninth to earn the save. So the Nationals avenged Monday night's 11-1 loss. They also gained a game on both the Braves and the Reds, who each lost.

Hitting highlight: It's been a chore for the Nationals to score runs. It never comes easy. And it certainly didn't tonight, though they somehow cobbled together enough key hits at the rightRead more »

  1. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    O's lost again.

  2. Section 222 - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    Untuck baby. There's no joy in WODL-ville tonight.

  3. MrsB loves the Nats - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    Depot – I would…. For the BP… And move Det to the BP while they Are at it….Move Jordan to the starting rotation and get another LHP next year…And I don't even like Haren like that but I am glad to see him finally playing well and consistent while in DC….

  4. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:28 PM

    There is joy, $%%%, because the Nats won. Ignorant comment.

  5. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    And your thinking that Soriano had a good performance tonight indicates to me that you do not understand baseball. Giving up homers is bad, not good. I know it is hard to follow for newbies….

  6. Manassas Nats' Fan - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    We are 14th in runs and average but looking at numbers you wonder why.Ramos 299ALR 235Rendon 262Zim 269Desi 274Harper 270Span 265Werth 330

  7. MrsB loves the Nats - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    Ray with some cruel/real words….

  8. David Proctor - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:34 PM

    I don't necessarily agree with Ray. His low 90s fastball is good enough when he can command the slider. He's done it well throughout his career. He does have swing and miss stuff, but it's all predicated on the slider. And right now, his slider is hanging and, like FP said, it's not sliding and the cutter ain't cutting. Right now all Soriano can command is the fastball and even that's been shoddy at times.

  9. Manassas Nats' Fan - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    Ray means to say hitters have poor basell IQ

  10. David Proctor - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    Ian Krol to AAA to make room for Ohlendorf. Krol will be back on September 1, Davey said.

  11. Manassas Nats' Fan - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:40 PM

    Baseball IQ.What he is saying exactly as I have understood for over 40 years.Many batters do not study baseball.

  12. MrsB loves the Nats - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:41 PM

    I would rather have Krol than Abad…

  13. NatsLady - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:41 PM

    So Davey is back to one lefty in the BP? Well, only for 10 days.

  14. David - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    When will Davey insert Clippard as the closer? I think it would give the team a shot in the arm. Performance matters… Clippard has been better all year. He deserves it.

  15. Steady Eddie - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    MNF @ 11:29 — look at Boz's WaPo chat on Monday. He had a great comment with lots of stats that made exactly your point — and while giving some responsibility to Desi's slight drop off and Zim and ALR's, he largely and appropriately blamed the bench, which has more ABs than Ramos, Werth, Harper, and Rendon combined.Think back to May and June where we got maybe 5 hits a game too often, and then July and August where the bats you outlined above would geta couple of hits and then run into the bench's part of the order.Most amazing stat was that MLB average is tht teams win 60% of games where they give up 3 runs, 70% giving up 2 runs — and we were something like 17-24 giving up two or three. With league average hitting we'd be 10 games better than we are and in real WC contention. Pitching has been good enough to be at least a winning team, but it's mostly the bench that has done us in.

  16. baseballswami - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:45 PM

    I thought for sure they would throw Tyler back. You know, Drew's actual stuff is better than Soriano's . Sori has more experience. If Drew has conquered his mental demons, he is going to be money. I love the Clip and Store back together again even if they are in backwards order. I really like most of these guys as individuals and I like the organization ( mostly), but they sure are frustrating to watch.

  17. Manassas Nats' Fan - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:45 PM

    Ray knight 62 career sac flies 5 seasons 8 or more sac flies.We dont hit many sac flies.

  18. Steady Eddie - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    Mrs B — choose your poison between Krol and Abad. Certainly Saturday night Krol gave us two wobbly but adequate innings while Abad gave up a 2 run HR that cut our lead in half.On the other hand, Krol has much less MLB experience and was brought up awfully fast. Both stunk equally last night, but that was garbage time.

  19. Manassas Nats' Fan - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:50 PM

    No doubt Haren and Jim had a Freaky Friday encounter.

  20. NatsLady - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:52 PM

    Interesting comments from Doc on Cholly. I don't think the boys have given up, they were just tired yesterday, with the Atlanta series catching up to them. However, I'm seeing lack of fundamentals. We would have lost this game against a better team. Desi not a good read, caught in a double play. Did Haren miss a squeeze sign? Even Werth with chancy baserunning. Long list. halladay-approves-firing-says-issues-overlookedhttp://www.csnphilly.com/baseball-philadelphia-phillies/halladay-approves-firing-says-issues-overlooked

  21. Manassas Nats' Fan - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:54 PM

    My z didnt print. That is JZim

  22. MrsB loves the Nats - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:54 PM

    No doubt on the bench being a bigger issue than some want to give credit for… I mean I remember we weren't hitting like that last year, prior to Colorado, but we found ways to win including the bench contributing admirably… This year, DJ kept trotting out line ups with 3/4 automatic outs in the beginning of the year due to injury and the bench wasnt contributing….But yeah Eddie, I realize that Krol hasn't been as good as before in a while… He needs more work up I trust him more than Abad…

  23. Steady Eddie - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    Here are the key grafs from that Boz comment — "If you lumped together the slash lines of Werth (up this year), Harper (also up), Desmond (down, but not much), Zimmerman and LaRoche (down, but not awful) and Rendon (subbing for Espinosa at about the same OPS level) youi'd say, "Well, they'll probably be in the middle of the league in runs scored.Why aren't they? As I wrote about 10 days ago, they have shown awful fundamentals this year. If there is a way to NOT advance a runner or hit poorly with RISP, they'll find it. But the disappearance of the bench –and the bad hitting this year of Suzuki and Espinosa — is a HUGE but hard to notice factor. Six Nats, all with more than 100 at bats — have 999 total at bats and are hitting .203! Their slash line is lower than Dan Haren's career as a hitter.The ENTIRE bench this year has 1,111 at bats — an easy number to remember — and is hitting UNDER .200 with only 19 homers. This is historically pathetic. And it completely neutralizes anything good that has been done by Werth (371 abs), Harper (353), Rendon (286) and Ramos (163) who have a combined 1169 at bats.Here is, perhaps, the key to the Nats season: Their inability to score runs — at all — in many of their best-pitched games. When a team gives up only two runs, it wins 70 percent of the time. When it gives up three runs, it wins about 60 percent of the time. That's exactly how the Nats played last year — like a normal team with normal support for good pitching.EVERY team in baseball is at or above .500 this season in games where it allows only two or three runs. EXCEPT the Nationals who are an almost unimaginably bad 17-24! Normally, an average team would win more than 65 percent of those games or, in the Nats case, go about  about 27 wins instead of 17."

  24. Steady Eddie - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:58 PM

    Here's the link to the full comment–http://live.washingtonpost.com/ask-boswell-130819.html#Hitting-stats

  25. David Proctor - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    Dan Kolko ‏@masnKolko 32sDenard Span says when he's coming off the bench, he just follows Chad Tracy's every action. "He moves, I move. He farts, I fart." #TMI

  26. Steady Eddie - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:05 AM

    NL — agree on the fundamentals point. That base running play by Werth was just weird — why wasn't he sliding into second when he saw Castro caught the grounder? It clearly wasn't a play where he had a chance to go to third, so why did he go in standing? He's usually so sound on the fundamentals that it was weird, not like the brain freezes you sometimes see from Span or Desi (and too often saw from the Shark).

  27. NatsLady - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:07 AM

    Eddie, thanks for that quote. So, whatever happens with DeJesus, you have to understand part of Rizzo's motive. The bench MUST be better. Ghost always lobbies for it. When you see the amount of at-bats the bench takes it really makes the point.

  28. baseballswami - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:09 AM

    I remember watching Ray Knight play. He certainly has a resume. But he is just insufferably arrogant. And Davey's lapdog. I would love to see a fresh pre and post- game next year. The act is old. Now FP? He is the best we have had. He is direct and honest without puffing himself up or being personally judgemental. He has given Bob Carpenter a new lease on life. I am so afraid one of the national outlets will poach FP.

  29. NatsLady - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:09 AM

    One of the things I noticed last year about the Yanks when they were here was the quality of their bench–guys on it who would be regulars on other teams. Granted, they can afford it. But it was impressive.

  30. NatsLady - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:11 AM

    FP is excellent. Fans from other teams don't like him because he is definitely a homer. But he really analyzes the game, predicts what pitch should be made, times the pitcher for steals, etc. etc., just as if he were in there coaching. Not afraid to correct Carp (though usually polite about it).

  31. Steady Eddie - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:20 AM

    NL — you're on target re the bench. Especially between Harper playing all out and Werth dogged but taking more time to heal with age, a good bench outfielder will play a lot on this team (and that's not even considering CF, though DeJesus' better position these days us in the corner). It ain't just pinch-hitting and the occasional start when a regular gets a day off.

  32. David Proctor - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    I'm honestly perfectly fine spending 6.5 on DeJesus if that's what it takes. According to Fangraphs, he's far outperformed his contracts so far with the Cubs. Obviously his value goes down as a 4th outfielder. But you can pretty much bank on Werth missing time. Assuming Span is back (he might not be, but I think he is), he's been lucky this year–he's had injury issues in his career. Harper is an unknown. A 4th outfielder is going to get a ton of ABs and I want it to be a guy who can actually produce. DeJesus is a quality defender and a good, but not great, bat. He's got some pop, but not a ton of it. I think he fits that role fine. Everyone says we can find that guy cheaper after the season is over. if that's true, show me where.

  33. SonnyG10 - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    So happy to have a win. Lots of good points made in the posts tonight. Enjoyed it folks. Good night!

  34. c715e5d6-9d22-11e1-a89a-000f20980440 - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:35 AM

    Completely random notes from Chicago (not about the games, per se: those have been covered more than adequately by others).Wrigley definitely is "the friendly confines." Everyone was friendly, including the Cubs fans we sat with. "Confines"? Definitely as well. The stadium can be described as cozy, traditional and comfortable. Traditional means minimal video, live organ music, and no need to coach the fans when to make noise. Somehow they figure that out for themselves. I could learn to enjoy that a lot.Speaking of traditional, they water the ground around home plate with a regular watering can.However, the ushers didn't attempt to stop people from moving during play. That could be improved.Tanner Roark has not spent his major league money on a haircut. Apparently channeling his outer Werth?Since it's the Cubs, the food discount only requires that the Cubs score 3 runs in a game. However, since it's the Cubs, they are already announcing the Cubs 3-day conference in January–make your reservations now!No one plays a ball on a carom off the wall. Balls do not bounce off ivy.Most local people I talked to were pleased with the renovation plans that will take place over the next five years. The plans are respectful of the history, while adding amenities such as updated mens' restrooms (I had second-hand input on that issue) and an electronic scoreboard.ArVAFan

  35. The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. - Aug 21, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    FP was great with the predictions last night. Talks about how Haren is good enough to be a closer. Boom, Haren gives up a homer. Goes on and on about how Harper's two-strike approach reminds him of Barry Bonds, then Harper whiffs on strike three. It's a shame FP never joined the Espinosa Sucks brigade earlier in the season, or the season might not be over now.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 78 58 -- 19
ATLANTA 72 66 7.0
MIAMI 67 69 11.0
NEW YORK 64 74 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 63 74 15.5
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

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.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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