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Instant analysis: Nats 3, Mets 0

Sep 11, 2013, 10:00 PM EDT

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Game in a nutshell: For the third straight night, the Nationals got a dominant performance from their starting pitcher early against the depleted Mets lineup, with Dan Haren tossing six scoreless innings of 1-hit ball. But they couldn’t breathe easy, stymied for five innings by rookie Zack Wheeler before Ryan Zimmerman clubbed a solo homer in the sixth. Anthony Rendon’s two-out, two-run double in the eighth provided some much-needed cushion — and represented the Nats’ first hit in nine tries with a man in scoring position — and the bullpen took over from there to secure the club’s fifth straight win. The Nationals have now won 22 of their last 31 games, but with the Reds’ earlier win against the Cubs, they remain 6 games back in the NL Wild Card race with 17 to play.

Hitting highlight: It’s been a disappointing season for Zimmerman, both offensively and defensively, but he’s shown some significant improvements in both areas of late. At the plate, Zim has suddenly rediscovered his power stroke, blasting seven homers in his last nine games. Incredibly, he just went through a stretch when his last six hits all were home runs. In the field, Zimmerman also has started producing highlight-reel plays on a nightly basis. Most impressive, though, is his throwing accuracy and velocity, which have improved by leaps and bounds over the last month or so. Perhaps that surgically repaired shoulder finally is healed. The on-field evidence certainly suggests it.

Pitching highlight: After a month of dominance but then back-to-back ragged starts, who knew what to expect from Haren tonight? Turns out he reverted right back into top form, tossing a gem. The right-hander issued a second-inning walk to Josh Satin and a fourth-inning single to Juan Lagares. And that was it. Over six splendid innings, Haren struck out eight and mixed in all of his pitches to keep the Mets completely baffled. The only surprising aspect of the evening: Davey Johnson’s quick hook of his veteran starter. Despite his dominance and a pitch count of only 86, Haren was removed in the top of the seventh in favor of pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi.

Key stat: Jayson Werth has recorded multiple hits in 26 of his last 36 games.

Up next: The series wraps up at 1:10 p.m. Thursday when Tanner Roark tries to continue his dominant and surprising rookie season by improving to 6-0. Veteran Aaron Harang, recently signed by the Mets, will oppose Roark on the mound.

  1. nats128 - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    What a game!

  2. Section 222 - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    UNTUCKED baby! And 10 straight saves for Sori.

  3. David Proctor - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    Aaron Harang, he of 5.76 ERA, is pitching for the Mets tomorrow.

    • sjm308 - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:25 PM

      and what was Haren’s era before tonight?
      please don’t count on something this late in the year. strange things are happening but its not a lock

      • David Proctor - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:29 PM

        Good point. Still have to go out there and execute.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:40 PM

      As I’ve written before, please knock on wood (or imitation wood grain).

  4. nats128 - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:08 PM

    The Haren highlights are impressive. Glad he picked a great time for a gem!

    Team shutout!

  5. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:09 PM

    Great game…. This may have been Haren’s best performance this season… Just a great game for him…

  6. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:09 PM

    I think Davey just wanted to get Zack Walters and Zack Wheeler in the same box score.

  7. natsfan1a - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    Atta way, Danny! Untucked here, and the cat just had a victory treat.

  8. breakbad1 - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:13 PM

    Ray Knight just described Zack Wheeler as “one of the true treasures in baseball.”

    Our entire TV team is addicted to exaggeration.

  9. nats128 - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    Davey says laughing that “we arent moving him to 1st” talking about Zimmerman.

    • David Proctor - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:29 PM

      Zim deserves a full healthy offseason. I really think he’ll be better next year. If he’s not, then all bets are off.

      • scmargenau - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:44 PM

        I have gone back and forth on this…but I agree, he deserves another season. Did u hear about the weight training he usuall does off season but couldn’t? So with that I think he’s good to go for a few years.

  10. natsfan1a - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:27 PM

    Re. sofa’s link in the game thread, imo the book written about Mike Coolbaugh’s life and death was an excellent, although heartbreaking, read: “Heart of the Game: Life, Death, and Mercy in Minor League America.”

  11. Baseballswami - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:33 PM

    Davey does realize that where Zim plays in the future is not his decision, right? His defense has been breathtaking of late. Maybe the shoulder just took more time, because the power and defense seem to be arriving together. Sweet.

    • scmargenau - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:42 PM

      Agree

    • ArVAFan - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:49 PM

      That would be consistent with what Zim told our mutual acquaintance last week of August: that his shoulder finally felt 100%. Looks as if he’s trying to make up for the first five months in the last five weeks: probably won’t help the final outcome of the season, but (1) it’s making for some great games, and (2) cuts down on the “move Zim to 1st” arguments over the winter.

  12. NatsLady - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    Dan Haren is a mystery.

    Now you can see what the Nats missed with the Face not being healthy until the 2nd half of August.

    • David Proctor - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      Now if only we could get ALR going. He’s been a little bit better in September, but he hasn’t had one off his TORRID streaks since May.

  13. breakbad1 - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    Thanks 1a. Great stuff. I read about Coolbaugh on Wikipedia just now (had not heard of him before) and will try and find that book. The book is not mentioned in the Wikipedia references–hopefully someone will add it.

    Thanks again.

  14. scmargenau - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    Say what u want bout Harren…but he is humble and seems like a great dude.

  15. David Proctor - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:13 PM

    Reds have off tomorrow. If we win, we’re 5.5 back with, I believe, 17 to play.

  16. sjm308 - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:28 PM

    This sure is a lot more fun then what we were dealing with in May – June – July. Just want to see Zimm and Werth continue to rake and if Harper, LaRoche, Desmond and Ramos can chip in its going to be interesting to say the least.

    Go Nats!!

  17. sjm308 - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    This is not huge but it is something I have been looking at all season. For the first time in what seems forever, our lads now have a POSITIVE run differential. It was amazing for me to look at us hovering around .500 and yet we were giving up way more runs then we were scoring. As of tonight we are now a +3. Lets just keep on doing what we are doing. Catch the ball, throw the ball, run hard and smart on the bases and pitch like we are capable and I think this could be something special.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:47 PM

      Although Nats are still playing a bit better than their Pythagorean projection, as they have been almost all season. Some of that is just random noise, some is luck. Pittsburgh, for example, is also playing beyond their projection by five or six games, while the Cardinals are four or five games below theirs.

  18. nats128 - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:40 PM

    Davey did the smart thing pulling Haren when he did. 2 lefties were leading off the next inning.

    Its very nice complementing Davey about good moves then all the games where he was blasted for poor moves.

    Some may say that the players are executing. Yes, that helps. If Cedeno unravels, Davey gets blasted.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 57 46 --
ATLANTA 58 48 0.5
MIAMI 52 53 6.0
NEW YORK 51 55 7.5
PHILADELPHIA 46 60 12.5
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WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 p.m.
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