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Happy to win ugly

Aug 21, 2013, 1:42 AM EDT

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CHICAGO — Very little about the Nationals’ 4-1 victory over the Cubs Tuesday night was aesthetically pleasing. Dan Haren, feeling a bit off after making a surprise relief appearance only three days earlier, gutted his way through six innings on the mound. Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman committed errors on routine plays. Baserunning mistakes were made. Rafael Soriano gave up yet another ninth-inning homer.

And then there was the Nationals’ lineup, which merely put 21 men on base over nine innings, somehow managing to push only four of them across the plate. Two of them in the top of the ninth.

“Some of the ways we’re finding ways to get out is unbelievable,” Desmond said. “It’s bound to change at some point. It did in the ninth, and hopefully we can continue to do that and hopefully it carries over.”

There were no complaints from the Nationals clubhouse after this one, though. Wins have become too rare for this team, so they’ll gladly take them however they can.
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  1. BIGNAT33 - Aug 21, 2013 at 6:51 AM

    The final was 4-2, after Soriano allowed another home run. Let's see Drew start closing again!

  2. Teddy Rochlis - Aug 21, 2013 at 6:58 AM

    Let me be honest here the nationals are not just a unclutch team they are the unclutch team. In quote on quote clutch situations the nationals are batting a paltry .266 wOBA which is last in the mlb. Not only is it last but it is last by .019 points the same gap between 29 and 19. Also the article in the wapo on ramos was interesting.

  3. baseballswami - Aug 21, 2013 at 7:44 AM

    I feel that you should score one run for every two to three hits. I feel that the Nats score a run for about every five hits. Are there stats for that?

  4. JayB - Aug 21, 2013 at 8:01 AM

    Yea loses

  5. mick - Aug 21, 2013 at 8:09 AM

    swami…they went 29 innings and 4 runs until the 7th last night

  6. Another_Sam - Aug 21, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    I came late to an earlier thread, so forgive this wildly off topic post: what's the NI community thinking about cactus leage spring trainig? Is it likely? Would it be a good thing? [I've already checked airfare to Phoenix.]

  7. Another_Sam - Aug 21, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    Last night — I went to sleep thinking that there's no way they hold this lead. I checked the box this morning. It is again clear to me who the closer should be.

  8. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 21, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    Steady Eddie, great quotes and stats on the bench from Boz which I have been saying since April with the demise of Espinosa and the slumps of LaRoche.JD told me repeatedly that the bench impact is small. Keep believing it and see why the B _& B of the Barfs have been good. Bench and Bullpen.

  9. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 21, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    For the stats people (almost said geeks; sorry): what is the statistical probability Haren (seven more starts) ends up w/ more wins than Zimmermann? Small but measurable, eh? Maybe not, but how does that grab all of the people who want to give Z'mann a five-year contract? I'll take 14 hits and four runs over six hits and one run any day. At least the bat is hitting the ball — not necessarily at the right times but it's better than 20 Ks. These guys need to see ## in the hits column to give them an incentive to keep swinging. (Don't laugh; I'm serious.)Cooley on WTEM last nite got me focused on the idea that players are tuning Johnson out because of his lame duck status. (Thinking also about his snarky "Some of them have a long learning curve" remark.) Made me wonder if some of them have been tuning him out all season long. If that is the case, Rizzo/Lerner need to do a Loria on that roster. Keep Harper, Strasburg (too much hype to throw away), Rendon, Roark (too young, not guilty), Werth, Clippard, Ramos (performing) and ship all of the rest off to the AL West.

  10. JaneB - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    I nominate Drew for the 9th.

  11. derwink - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    Zimmermann is making not helping out on the contract side of things. Physical or contract pressure?Hopefully Rizzo now realizes that sending players down to work on things (Moore, Storen) is better than letting them underperform at the MLB level.

  12. The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    The guy who's relying on a washed up tight end/failed potter for insight on the Nationals is the one who should be tuning out.

  13. JD - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    Ghost, The impact of the bench is meaningful; that's stating the obvious but it's less meaningful than the impact of every day players and starting pitchers. That's the point I was trying to make. If you think that Chad Tracy is the reason the team fell off by about 20 wins they I will disagree with you. Collectively I think the bench has cost us between 3 and 5 games and the bullpen (compared to last year) 1 or 2. That still leaves 15 games.

  14. sjm308 - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    Hey everyone. Just got into a nice little cafe in Dubrovnik and its nice to land on a winning day. Will check the box score later but it sounds like even in our wins we are struggling.Hope Davey will play Moore vs. all lefties for the rest of the season. Doubt if Drew replaces Soriano but happy to see him back and doing well.Don't think Espinosa will have the same results if/when he returns.Off for Montenegro tomorrow. Not sure what I will be able to find out. I am now just hoping for .500 by the time I get back which I think means winning 5 and losing only 2.Go Nats!

  15. Tcostant - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    If the Nationals win every game from here until the end of the season, they could match last year's record.Boy was last year fun!

  16. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    JD, with the injuries the impact has been greater. They are collectively the 2nd worst bench in the Majors and Hairston was the perfect add as another negative WAR player. Read Boz and see if you have a change of opinion. He's obviously lumping in Suzuki as a culprit but it was Davey who overused him when he had Solano. Suzuki went from serviceable to broken down with all the innings Davey put on him. It happened down the stretch last year too.

  17. Candide - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    The contrarian viewpoint:I don't want to jump on the hate-Soriano-love-Drew-all-over-again bandwagon too quickly.All this turning on Soriano and loving Drew is based on the last three or four appearances by both of them. Every player goes through a dry patch, no matter how good he is, and to throw a guy over the side based on that is pretty short-sighted. Doubters should google the name, "Dan Haren."I'm not saying Soriano is wonderful and Drew is awful; I'm just saying that people seem to be making their conclusions based on a very short history.My take: Keep Soriano in the closer role. It's not like we're inches away from grabbing that last playoff spot and one blown save is going to keep us out of the playoffs. If he's really no good, if he's really lost it and is washed up, shouldn't we try to find out during the next five weeks, so we know what our bullpen needs are during the off-season?And, conversely, shouldn't we be trying to find out if Drew really has his mojo back (I think he does, frankly) by giving him lots of opportunities to hold that one-run lead in the 8th before giving him the closer job next year?

  18. Candide - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    Tcostant said… If the Nationals win every game from here until the end of the season, they could match last year's record.Hey, it's still early yet!(…ducks, runs…)

  19. mick - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    sjmnice vacation your on coach, but you more than deserve it…I am big on redemption and comeback kids..Dan Haren you have the heart of a Giant!!!forgive me of my nasty posts on you most of the season..I hope you come back next season

  20. mick - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    candidelolyou know what the old sayings are about "if" I had a coach back in the day, to paraphrase (so Mark does not yell at me) he said "son, if your Aunt hada certain body part, she'd be your Uncle" the body part rhymes will allhee hee

  21. Muddy - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    The Nats baserunning was atrocious last night and generally it has been this year. Examples: Desi doesn't doesn't slide into home in the 1st inning and almost gets tagged out, and he doesn't get back to 1st base on Zimm's liner later and gets doubled off; Rendon gets picked off badly; Desi gets thrown out trying to steal 2nd base but it looks like Zimm may have missed a hit and run sign 'cause Desi looks puzzled after being tagged out; Werth doesn't slide into 2nd and stumbles over the bag and gets tagged out. Combine this with their inability to stop opponents from stealing, their errors, and failure to move runners over and hit with RISP and you're faced with a massive coaching/managing failure this year.

  22. mick - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    come to think of it…i did have an aunt that may have…lol

  23. JD - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    Mick, This is the Jim Bowden approach. You have a good few months and we give you a 2 – 3 year extension (remember Dimitri Young and Ronny Belliard). Haren's 1st half is a major reason we fell hopelessly behind and his total body of work doesn't suggest that he'l be better when he's one year older. As a full disclosure I admit that I supported bringing Haren here for 1 year, actually quite enthusiastically but I do not support bringing him back unless he does 1 year and at about half of what he was paid this year.

  24. mick - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    JDagreed, good postI would assume haren would take a cut if he came back.Nats really will not need him

  25. mick - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    JDyou had to remind me of Young and Belliardlol

  26. JD - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    Muddy, These are very good points. It's especially disturbing considering that holding runners was a huge problem last year. How you don't address that in spring training is beyond me. That one is on Mc.Catty.Base running has been horrific and by people who were considered good base runners before this year like Span and Desmond, I don't know who is responsible for that area (Tarasco?). All in all I think it goes back to Davey. But that ship has sailed so there's no point in beating it to the ground.

  27. mick - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    Muddy's post was excellent! my theory has been that Davey and his staff believed that they could overlook those important fundamentals by playing long ball. that arrogance came back to haunt them

  28. JD - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    Mick, I don't think he'll take much of a cut especially based on how well he's pitching now and based on his desire to play close to home I don't think we're getting a home town discount. I think we will need someone from the FA class because I don't think it's prudent to have all your eggs in the Detwiler/Jordan basket and no one else is close to ready.

  29. mick - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    JDgood point…i am actually counting on Det and Taylor..maybe I am wrong

  30. JD - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    Mick,I don't think it was arrogance as much as over confidence based on last year's success. Next year's ST really needs to be more of a working event than what happened this year.

  31. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    Excellent post, Muddy. I think many of this baserunning blunders can be chalked up to the loss of Bo Porter to the 'Stros.Bring Back Bo!

  32. JD - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    Ghost, I think DeJesus and Hairston can be very good bench players if used properly. They have a good history to support that. I think Moore can be a very good platoon 1st baseman too. I think the Nats can upgrade the backup infielder position with someone who can play more positions and has a bit more pop than Lombo and we also need a good backup catcher (I don't think Solano is the answer).

  33. Nats106 - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Muddy's posts regarding baserunning errors is excellent. I'll also add Desmond's error in the 1st on a routine grounder. Somehow I feel that there is a general lack of concentration. It's been mentioned during the Braves games that baseball is not a sport that lends itself to "getting angry" like, say in Dodgeball, but it is certainly a game of concentration. The guys mentioned here should know better. They are not rookies out there making mistakes, they've been around the block more than a few times. More than lack of coaching, it seems to be a lack of attention, of course, all in my humble opinion.

  34. Nats106 - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Rookies except for Rendon…

  35. natsfan1a - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  36. natsfan1a - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    My houseguests left about 10 AM and I get to play grocery/cleaning catchup now. Yay. And the cat gets to decompress (he's shy around company). Yay. Still haven't seen any games but may watch the recording of last night's game today. Way behind on reading posts and comments as well. Tonight's start time is late for me but may get to watch tomorrow's game in real time. Yay. We'll see. Oh, and my nephew gave me a cold. Yay. I may just go and collapse for a while. Later, folks.

  37. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    Hope you feel better, 1a. Nothing like house guests…in your rear view mirror.

  38. Get Your Re(n)d On - Aug 21, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    Who was on deck when Desi was coming home? It's that guy's job to signal if he should come in sliding or not.

  39. Steady Eddie - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    Ghost — Boz properly focused on the bench because they got a lot of injury starts. But he also recognized the role of Espi and Suzuki as starters (well, at least 1 1/2 starters!) whose bad bats dragged down the offense as well. Danny was definitely not a bench guy but there's not much more to say about his mistake, that management facilitated, to think he could recover his midsummer 2012 form (which was much better than some here remember) with his shoulder as it was/is.Suzuki actually started the season doing pretty well at the plate but was exposed by constant daily play, without an MLB-ready backup to spell him adequately. But the underlying point is that even with Haren's terrible start and JZimm's recent meltdowns, that unbelievable (or too believable) 17-24 record in games where all our pitchers gave up only 2 or 3 runs means that the lack of professional ABs, particularly from the bench relative to last year, has amounted to a 10-win difference (relative to NL-average performance, which is what we got from our hitters last year).

  40. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    Rendon was stealing and took off a tick early. That isn't the most egregious base running issue of the night.Desi not sliding is on the on-deck batter and in fact Desi slowed for an instant. That could have been a disaster.

  41. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    Steady Eddie, I'm all for what Boz wrote but the difference between me and Boz is I have been saying it since Spring Training on the bench formation and then of course the slow start and the drag on the team.I've been making the same points and generally shot down by JD and others.

  42. Steady Eddie - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    Ghost — I recognize that, especially that you picked up that Tracy was good mostly in the first two months of 2012, and that reupping him was buying into a wasting asset. Maybe it wasn't so unreasonable to think that he might start off hot again this season, but when he did the opposite….

  43. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Steady, past performance is the best indicator of future results. Tracy had no power the 2nd half and there were other and better choices. Espinosa had the shoulder issue and prudent actions may have been to have a veteran at the ready. Unforseen was the Haren bad start and LaRoche's bad April.

  44. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    JD, hoping and legitimately thinking Hairston will all of a sudden become his 2012 self may never happen and Rizzo had 4 months of 2013 data to say it was a poor move especially since he can't play defense.

  45. natsfan1a - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Thanks, Sunshine, and good one. :-)

  46. JD - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Ghost, A couple of things: 1) As far as the bench goes (let's leave the Espinosa discussion out here) I think you are saying Reed Johnson instead of Tracy (I happen to agree). The difference between these 2 players in 2013 is 1.1 games which is significant for a bench player but let's not go crazy here. 2) I think you agree that at the beginning of the year is was reasonable to bring back Bernie, Lombo, TyMo and Suzuki so really as far as the bench is concerned your case is all about Chad Tracy. 3) Scott Hairston had good years in 2007,08,09 and 2012. His defense has slowly deteriorated but when you are talking about a right hand bat specialist who plays left field against lefties only is it such a big negative? especially if he comes close to his power output from last year?

  47. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    JD, we are on the same page except Hairston. He has failed miserably in all Medium and Hi Lev spots andoatly K's.Yes on the rest of the bench that it was a total.bench slump with Tracy, Bernadina, TyMo and then Suzuki with Lombo at .230 as the star.Daveys concept of the big bat was a pipedream and opponents happily pitched to Tracy and after a while wouldn't even bring in a lefty against him. 2 of his 3 HRs were wall scrapers.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 80 15.5
NEW YORK 76 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 85 20.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Monday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (4) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 67 2.5
y-ST. LOUIS 88 69 4.0
-------------------------
PITTSBURGH 85 71 +0.5
SAN FRANCISCO 84 71 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Monday's early games

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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.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
(End of regular season)
MON: OFF
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