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Instant analysis: Mets 3, Nats 2

Aug 30, 2013, 9:30 PM EDT

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Game in a nutshell: After feasting on the hapless Marlins to begin this homestand, the Nationals hoped to continue the trend against a Mets club that has been decimated by injuries and trades. But the Nats forgot they had to face Dillon Gee, who for some reason has been as tough a foe as they’ve faced all season. Gee served up Wilson Ramos’ solo homer in the third but then dominated after that, inducing groundball out after groundball out. Jordan Zimmermann was just as good but made one mistake to Ike Davis that resulted in a two-run homer. The Mets added a big insurance run in the top of the eighth when Ryan Zimmerman made an ill-advised throw to first base, letting Daniel Murphy score all the way from second. That proved big when Steve Lombardozzi homered in the bottom of the inning, still leaving the Nationals down a run. They couldn’t push across the tying run in the eighth, then they couldn’t do it in the ninth against LaTroy Hawkins, suffering a tough loss. A potential bigger concern: Davey Johnson wasn’t in the dugout during the latter stages of the game; bench coach Randy Knorr took over at some point.

Hitting lowlight: It was kind of a last-ditch effort, but it was the only real chance the Nationals had to tie this game. With two outs in the eighth, Lombardozzi came off the bench to homer and cut the deficit to 3-2. Denard Span and Zimmerman then singled, knocking Gee out of the game and putting this one in the hands of Bryce Harper against left-hander Scott Rice. Harper took three straight balls, and with the red-hot Jayson Werth in the on-deck circle, you figured the kid would take the 3-0 pitch. He didn’t, instead fouling it off. Harper then grounded Rice’s 3-1 fastball to second base, where Murphy briefly booted the ball. Harper, though, wasn’t running hard down the line and so he had no chance to try to beat it out.

Pitching highlight: This was a perfect case study in pitching efficiency by Zimmermann, who (when he’s on) is as good at that as anybody in the game. The right-hander worked fast, threw strikes and got quick outs, everything a pitching coach could ever want from his starter. Zimmermann did make one mistake: a first-pitch changeup to Davis that wound up in the left-field bullpen. Otherwise, there was nothing to find fault with Zimmermann on this night. He completed seven innings on a scant 78 pitches, an astounding 61 of them strikes.

Key stat: Dillon Gee’s ERA in five starts against the Nationals this season is 2.16. Against everyone else, it’s 3.97.

Up next: The series continues Saturday night when rookie sensation Zack Wheeler gets the ball for the Mets against resurgent veteran Dan Haren of the Nats. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

  1. David Proctor - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    I kind of expected to lose this game. Gee just always has our number and we’re not going to win every single game. It’s frustrating the way it ended in a couple of different ways (Ryan’s poor decision, Bryce swinging 3-0 and that atrocious strike 3 call on LaRoche).

    This just means tomorrow’s game is very important. We need good Dan Haren.

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    During the Nats run, the 2 losses come on mental mistakes by the FoF Ryan Zimmerman. While you can’t hang a loss on one play, RZim also didn’t make the play on Murphy’s single where he scored in fron of Davis HR. This was a pitcher’s duel and the Mets D backed up Gee.

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    When do you bench LaRoche? He killed this team in April and just not getting it done lately.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:41 PM

      Once again… They are trying to kill the hot hand… Same thing happened with Kobernus… What you don’t want to happen is to have him continue to sit and then he goes cold…

    • Sonny G 10 - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:47 PM

      He sure isn’t. I would like to see Tyler Moore start at first, but I don’t think Davey trust him over ALR. As long as the Nats are still in it, they’re hoping LaRoache will get hot.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:52 PM

        It’s a couple of different things with this… Do you put your ‘better player’ in there as you still have play off hopes or are you aging for the future, so you have to see what you have…

        I think it’s a little more compacted but I mean if DJ is gonna platoon Span and Hairston then he should platoon Adam and Tyler…

  4. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    Many reasons why we didnt win tonight… Tough… The mistake by Rayn… The 3-0 swing by Bryce… Some pathetic at bats all in the line up at 1 point…

    Gotta get them tomorrow and the day after that….

  5. David Proctor - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    20-8 now to get to 88 wins. Roughly 7 out of 10. We just went 8 out of 10, including tonight’s loss, so we need another streak like that. Actually 2 or 3 of them.

    Nobody said it would be easy.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:42 PM

      It will make the road to the playoffs that much sweeter…

      #stillbelieve

  6. Faraz Shaikh - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:43 PM

    Reds need to lose tonight.

  7. David Proctor - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    Randy Knorr is calling Bryce out.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:46 PM

      I didnt hear it as calling Bryce out… But I mean Knorr did acknowledge that he gave him the have at it sign….

  8. paul brandt - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    Knorr…wow!!!

    i like this guy, he is not afraid to speak his mind…kind of refreshing but just wow!

  9. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    That 3-0 swing is going to be the death of me…

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:47 PM

      Yep, and the pitchers know the Nats are swinging at 3-0. Dumb with Werth on-deck.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:54 PM

        The batting approach has to change… I mean stop bailing these pitchers out,.. Take what is given… That is why I don’t like them swinging on it… But I digress…

  10. paul brandt - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    how can you not like Randy Knorr?

    he will be the next manager i think but it doesn’t matter what i think…

  11. David Proctor - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    Mrs B,

    Not about the swing 3-0. He was very unhappy with Bryce not hustling down the line on that grounder. He said he doesn’t think Harper does it intentionally, but he gets so angry at himself that he loses concentration and doesn’t bust it out of the box. Said that’s something Bryce has to fix or they’re going to start taking him out of the game for it.

    • Sonny G 10 - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:52 PM

      Yeah, Bryce gotta fix that. Hustle is one of the reasons we love him.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:55 PM

      Ah that part,., Knorr is absolutely right… But a lot of the Nats do that…

      • David Proctor - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:56 PM

        Well to be fair, they’ve specifically told some of them to not run. Ramos for example has been ordered to NOT RUN HARD.

    • paul brandt - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:58 PM

      DP, exactly right and maybe these guys need this type of manager…he reminds me of bruce boudreau the old caps coach who was never afraid to call out players but he is now in anaheim…i personally like these “types” but am not sure the players do.

      hate to say any games are must wins but think we need to win saturday & sunday…this was a game we should have won.

  12. Sonny G 10 - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    Knorr also was not afraid to pull Soriano out earlier in the year. He might do ok as a manager if Rizzo decides to make him manager next year. Have to see who the candidates are though.

  13. David Proctor - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    I think some of our hitters don’t understand that the 3-0 greenlight doesn’t mean “swing at 3-0 no matter what.” It means “if you get a ball exactly where you want it, swing.” Instead LaRoche is swinging at ball 4 that is up in his eyes and Harper is swinging at a pitch 6 inches inside. I think it’s time to take the 3-0 greenlight off except for maybe a guy like Werth who usually knows how to use it.

    • pchuck69 - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:23 PM

      Noone should have the greenlight on 3-0. They’ve shown they can’t handle it.

  14. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    Why oh why do we have problems with junk pitchers…. Ugh…

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:03 PM

      Gee is a sinker pitcher, I don’t consider him a junker. LaRoche should’ve been sitting. Like someone said he had 3rd base open all night for at least a single. Tonight called for small ball and better defense. I’m sickened by thepoor D by these corner infielders.

      • Steady Eddie - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:09 PM

        That was me about LaRoche not bunting to third against the shift and it’s infuriated me all season. The point is not to prove his manhood by hitting it through the shift but to make them pay for the shift so they stop shifting and open some holes in the right side of the infield. Not doing that just beats himself coming and going and hurts the team.

      • Sonny G 10 - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:34 PM

        Steady Eddie, I use to wonder the same thing until I saw him try to do it once. He failed miserably. I wonder if he even knows how to bunt.

      • pchuck69 - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:44 PM

        Sonny G 10, If LaRoche can’t bunt then he really needs to not be playing, even moreso than for the obvious reasons.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:55 PM

        His offensive stats and UZR say he should be riding the pine. He allowed the runner to get on that scored because he couldn’t make a play on a hard it grounder hit right at him.

      • Steady Eddie - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:54 PM

        Sonny, I saw him bunt for a hit against the shift at least once, maybe twice last year. I wonder if he thinks it’s not “legitimate” to raise his average that way when he really needs it. I would hope not, but there’s no strictly rational basis for him not to do it when the shift is taking away hits from him and it’s a game where the team needs baserunners any way it can get them.

  15. Faraz Shaikh - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    Nice, Helton’s 3 run blast gives Rockies lead 4-2

    • Faraz Shaikh - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:58 PM

      Arroyo is a flyball pitcher so hopefully he gives few more that leave the yard before he leaves the game.

  16. Steady Eddie - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    and Ludwick misplays Culbertson’s drive so two more Rockies’ runs score.

  17. Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:27 PM

    Any word on Davey?

    • David Proctor - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:28 PM

      Dehydrated and light headed. Went to go lay down. Said he’ll be fine.

      • nats128 - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:18 PM

        His veterans are making him sick! Hope Davey is OK.

  18. pchuck69 - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    LaRoche’s first at bat, Bob says that Gee had retired him in 14 of his last 17 at-bats. Does Davey know this? If so, why start him, all the while letting Tyler Moore get colder and colder.

    • nats128 - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:22 PM

      Laroche is having a really bad year and if he didnt have a hot May and beginning of June he would be near Mendoza. His glove is over rated unless its scooping Ryans wayward throws.

      Laroche has to be considered a huge mistake and put him on the bench next year in the Tracy roll. I hope the new manager has the balls to let Rizzo know that.

  19. Steady Eddie - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:06 PM

    Another three-run tater from Todd Helton, Rockies now up 9-3. Why couldn’t we have borrowed him for one of those tonight?

  20. David Proctor - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:08 PM

    Zach Duke has entered the game for the Reds…

  21. nats128 - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:16 PM

    I just got back from the game and hit with that sense of letting another game slip a way. Ryan Zimmerman a.k.a. Mr. Lead By Example failed again. 4 balls hit to him and he makes 2 plays. The 1st ball that went by him scored on the Davis HR and the 2nd ball he clearly should have known was the risk wasnt worth the reward and eaten the ball. I good deke throw probably gets the runner rounding 3rd.

    In less than a week 2 losses in close games and both by mental errors by the former Face of the Franchise.

    When is he really going to step up as a team leader and do what he says—lead by example!

  22. David Proctor - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    Randy Knorr on Harper, per Kilgore:

    Even before Harper’s groundout, the notion that Harper had not been hustling like last year had seeped into the Nationals’ clubhouse. By coincidence, Knorr had broached the topic early in the afternoon. After praising Desmond and Zimmerman for running out grounders, Knorr pointed out that Harper no longer did every time.

    “That’s just him,” Knorr said. “He’s just 20, and sometimes, he just pouts. Sometimes, he pouts. I don’t know why. That’s the thing about him. You can’t be this guy who says you’re going to play hard every time out and then not do it. You can’t do that. He’ll learn that. He’ll get better with it. He’s 20 years old. He’s still a kid, and sometimes kids pout if things don’t go there way.”

    • natsfan1a - Aug 31, 2013 at 3:39 PM

      Okay, now go tell that to Stras.

      “He’s still a kid, and sometimes kids pout if things don’t go [their] way.”

  23. NatsLady - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    I counted two “past a diving Ryan Zimmermans” and one really bad mental error. The one in the fourth inning was pretty far out of his reach and would have been a great play if he’d made it, but I’ve seen him make them before. If he had, the HR would have been a solo.

    On the mental error–don’t be a hero, just eat the ball. I’ve seen Desi do that a hundred times.

    Phil Wood made a good point though. You can’t assume that if the game were 2-1 that Lombo would pinch-hit (and get that HR). Tracy would pinch hit, since he is the “power” guy. At 3-1, Lombo’s job was to get on base.

    His second point was about Harper swinging on 3-0. Rice has just come in the game and can’t find the zone. What are the chances of him throwing three straight strikes? I also thought Bryce had a shot of beating it out, and blinked my eyes when he wasn’t close.

    Agree, BABiP was not our friend tonight. Several hard smashes right at someone. OTOH, Desi did make a nice leap.

    Random thoughts: Even though I wasn’t in the mood, I (and a lot of other people) stayed for the fireworks show. It was excellent.

    There are an awful lot of twenty-somethings who go to a Friday (or Saturday) night game.

    Also, sure seemed like there were more than 35,008 at the game. I was estimating about 38K. Must have given out a bunch of comp tickets.

    • Feel Wood - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:54 PM

      As FP pointed out on the broadcast, when Zimmerman fielded that ball he ended up with his back to the play. He had no idea where the runner was. (And isn’t a smart base runner supposed to stay at second when the ball is hit in front of him?) So yes, Zimmerman might have been better advised not to make the throw. But it wasn’t a “mental mistake”. He had no time to think, he just had to react. That’s why they call it the hot corner. So get off of Zimmerman’s back. He’s not the reason they lost this game.

  24. nats128 - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:40 PM

    Randy Knorr on Harper: “You can’t be this guy who says you’re going to play hard every time out and then not do it.”

  25. nats128 - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:53 PM

    Too much post game criticism of Harpers lack of hustle. May be he does deserve some criticism however he isnt the reason for the loss. He does become an easy target bcuz of his constant “play the game right” speech.

    Part of the problem is the green light on 3-0 counts. It just gets the pitcher off the hook when he knows the Nats love of swinging 3-0. Hard to ambush a pitcher who gets you to swing at a marginal pitch on 3-0. I blame that on Davey. The sample size of the success that even Laroche has had isnt statistically large enough in sample size to say swing a way.

    • Steady Eddie - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:56 PM

      128, if you look at the game thread you’ll see that pretty much everyone put the bulk of the blame on Zim where it belongs.

    • Steady Eddie - Aug 31, 2013 at 12:07 AM

      Besides which, 128, when the (in effect, acting) manager says that if Harper doesn’t stop pouting and not executing during the game, “eventually, we’re just going to have to take him out of the game,” that’s big news in itself and not “too much post-game criticism of Harper’s lack of hustle.”

  26. David Proctor - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    Reds did us a favor and lost. Yeah, if we win it’s 5.5 games right now so that sucks. But the Reds losing prevents it from being really bad. Gotta win tomorrow.

  27. NatsLady - Aug 31, 2013 at 12:09 AM

    This is what Zim said.

    “I’ll throw that every time,” Zimmerman said. “If Rochie fields it cleanly — I mean, he did everything right. It just took a funny hop. But that guy’s out by 89 feet at home plate. I got the ball clean and threw it.”

    He barely caught himself before he blamed the innocent party (LaRoche) on the play.

    The only good thing, and I guess it’s a good thing, is RZ has enough confidence in his throwing to think he COULD make that throw. I was watching in real-time, and I was certain he would eat the ball, just as I’ve seen Desi do. If I can think that fast, why can’t Zim? Answer is, yes can think in that situation==>no, he didn’t just “react,” he made a judgement, a mis-judgement. Tried to be a hero. Two out, runners on 1st and 2nd is not the worst thing. Trust your pitcher.

    • Steady Eddie - Aug 31, 2013 at 12:28 AM

      NL — first and third, actually, but doesn’t change your basic point.

      Even more, he should have tried to deke Murphy that he was throwing to first as he could well have caught him in a rundown (or at worst, end up first and third, same as if he’d not faked the throw). I thought of that as I was stewing over the misplay during the game, and even though it was hindsight on my part, that’s exactly the kind of baseball smarts that Zim is being paid the huge bucks to have in real time.

      Fact that he didn’t question trying the throw at all, and tried to throw ALR under the bus to boot, is disturbing.

      • Steady Eddie - Aug 31, 2013 at 12:32 AM

        I’ve watched the replay of that play multiple times and am even more convinced a deke throw would have worked. When Zim caught the ball, Murphy was about 8-10 feet away from third, barreling towards it at an unstoppable pace, and looking in Zim’s direction. Clearly he saw the throwing motion and equally clearly, given the speed at which he was running, could not have seen whether or not Zim actually threw the ball. No way he could have braked enough not to get tagged trying to get back or caught in a rundown.

  28. NatsLady - Aug 31, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    Also, that was a very surprising glimpse inside the clubhouse at players’ feelings about Harper. We as fans have been giving him the benefit of the doubt, bearing in mind he’s banged up. Just think how he came back when he fouled the ball off his foot the other day. He had plenty of “heart” in that game. He’s been getting hits. He was so p***ed off at the ump Werth had to drag him off the field.

    It’s a strange thing to say, but the kid has to learn how to fail, how to lose–because failing happens to everyone, especially in baseball.

    • Steady Eddie - Aug 31, 2013 at 12:44 AM

      Very insightful. I would just add a point that he has to learn how to fail without having it distract him into losing his focus.

      I’d suspect he’d think that “learning how to fail” meant accepting it, and that his being upset at it spurs him to do better the next time. But his emotions are too intermittently channeled, and too often make him lose focus and make unwise decisions. He’s fortunately learned not to do that nearly as much in the field like trying to make impossible throws to the wrong place that help the opposing team, but not so much at bat. Tends to get too caught up in the emotions of the moment and plays into the pitchers’ hands.

      • NatsLady - Aug 31, 2013 at 12:51 AM

        I was thinking Harper has to learn to “fail” more like a reliever has to have a short memory. You fail one night, but you have to forget that and win the next night. You can’t undo the past.

  29. NatsLady - Aug 31, 2013 at 12:30 AM

    Arizona lost, 1-0, to the Giants. They are in the same position as us, losing to a “bad” team. Well, the Giants (and Lincecum) didn’t look bad tonight, nor did the Mets (and Gee).

    Wow, Kurt Suzuki hit a three run homer of David Price. That doesn’t happen every day.

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 --
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
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.
Full season schedule

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