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Instant Analysis: Nats 3, Marlins 2

Sep 19, 2013, 10:02 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Game in a nutshell: Gio Gonzalez had to pitch on Thursday night a day earlier than expected because of Stephen Strasburg being held out by Davey Johnson. It was also his 28th birthday. Though it may have been short notice, Gonzalez overcame a high pitch count after three innings to give the Nats six frames of two-run ball. He gave up one run in the top of the first to put the Nats down right from the start, but a three-run homer in the bottom half of the inning by Bryce Harper erased the deficit. Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano (42nd save) closed it out as the Nationals held on for their 82nd win of the year. That secures their second best season since moving to Washington and gains a half-game on the Reds. With Cincinnati having the day off, the win cut the NL Wild Card margin to five games.

Hitting highlight: The Nats put all three of their runs on the board in the bottom of the first, all on a big swing from Harper. Ryan Zimmerman hit a one-out single to right field and was joined on base by Jayson Werth who walked. Harper then took a 2-2 pitch from Alvarez into the first row of seats above the scoreboard in right-center field. It was a line drive smash and gave the Nats all the runs they would need.

Pitching highlight: Gio, the birthday boy, allowed a run in the first on back-to-back doubles by Donovan Solano and Ed Lucas to start the game, before he even recorded an out. He also threw 62 pitches through the first three innings. But after an eight-pitch fourth inning and an 11-pitch fifth, Gonzalez was able to go six and leave after 105 total on the night. His final line was as follows: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO. Gio also took home his 11th win of the year.

Key stat: Harper’s three-run homer was his 20th of the season, making him the fifth Nats player to reach that mark this year. Zimmerman, Werth, LaRoche and Desmond are the others. That sets a franchise record and ties them with the Braves and Blue Jays for most players on the same team to hit 20 this season.

Up next: Game 2 of this four-game set is Friday night with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch. Right-hander Jacob Turner (3-7, 3.51) takes the ball for Miami with Jordan Zimmermann (18-8, 3.33) pitching for the Nats.

  1. janebeard - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:04 PM

    I didn’t think he’d finish it. I’m so glad I was wrong.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:06 PM

      Ditto.

  2. David Proctor - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    I honestly think Soriano is concealing an injury. He looks like Haren did pre-DL, except he’s good at somehow escaping the damage for the most part. I watched Soriano in NY last year and he looks nothing like he did then.

  3. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    Sad to see Span’s streak come to an end but so glad we got the curly W!!!

  4. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    I wrote the other day that conjuring up scenarios for a wild card berth (or even a tie to force a playoff) reminded me of those day-before-an-election articles in which pundits are spinning out improbable ‘paths to victory’ for failing candidates. I look at the schedules for the Reds, Pirates, and Nats, and all I see are the same sort of ‘if it rains hard in Cleveland’ at the same time ‘northern Virginia fails to turn out in its usual numbers’ sorts of wishful thinking. That said, a W is a W and I’ll keep watching and hoping. GYFNG!

    • Candide - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:43 PM

      At this point, I think it all comes down to whether the Reds can sweep the Pirates in their – what is it? six? – remaining games.

      • David Proctor - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:52 PM

        The Pirates have been playing very poorly too. They just lost 3/4 to the Padres at home. Despite being a game up on the Reds, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Pirates fall more than the Reds. Either way, one team has to win 5 or 6.

    • Steady Eddie - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:59 PM

      Except, Eugene, that election stuff is pure gibberish because the dish is already cooked. Many votes get cast in advance, and the average of polls is accurate enough that it reflects what people are going to do when they vote.

      They haven’t played the remaining games yet. OTOH, no one ahead of us in the NL looks much like tanking. So while good performance through the entire season up to now is no certain indicator — or no team would ever melt down — that good performance combined with at least decent very recent performance does suggest the numbers have virtually run out.

      No one knows in advance for certain. Maybe the Reds have a demoralizing loss (last night sure would have helped if the Stros had walked off), get their heads screwed on backwards and start a tailspin. (I might have put a little money on that after the Cubs series but not now.) But that really needed to start in the past couple of days, and didn’t.

      This doesn’t look like a late tailspin year in either league. Rangers and Rays have both righted themselves by splitting their series.

  5. natsfan1a - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    What Mrs. B said.

  6. David Proctor - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    Davey said that Alvarez hit Desmond on purpose. Said last year in Toronto, after Harper hit that monstrous homer, Alvarez hit him. I forgot all about that, but sure enough it happened. Just goes to show these guys never forget.

    I hate retaliation, but I expect it to happen. Wouldn’t be surprised if Stanton gets plunked.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:38 PM

      Given the stakes, this may not happen until early next season. But you’re right, it will happen.

  7. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    Just had a chance to watch Jose Altuve’s 11th inning base-running gaffe from last night against Reds. If this race ends up being decided by one game, Reds will owe him a playoff share.

    • David Proctor - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:36 PM

      That was just awful.

    • Steady Eddie - Sep 19, 2013 at 11:21 PM

      Totally right, it was an even worse brain freeze than it looked on the field, where it was the literal opposite of heads-up (that is, heads down, paying no attention to what the runner on third was doing).

      Even before the play started, Altuve had no business even considering going past second. Barnes, the runner on third, was the potential winning run and Altuve was meaningless. His ONLY job was to get to second, the next base, and stay there, and he failed in it.

  8. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    Congrats on another .500+ season. Mathematically it seems unreasonable to celebrate W% of .536 but 14 other teams would disagree.

    While Span’s streak was nice, he was cooling off towards the end of it. Last 3 games at least I recall that he had only one hit each while having getting at the plate at least four times in each game. To me, he seems like a streaky hitter.

  9. David Proctor - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    Eugene, it really depends. There are a lot of situations where it makes sense to walk Stanton. I could see us hitting him instead of issuing the walk. Will depend on warnings though.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:52 PM

      Fair point. Cleveland just walked off against Houston. I would love to see them — the Indians — make the playoffs, especially over any AL East squad. I went to a game there this summer wearing a Nats hat and the fans with whom I engaged were friendly, knowledgeable, and sympathetic. Also, it’s a grand old franchise. I feel sort of the same about the Pirates, but I’d also gladly take a Pirates meltdown if the Reds insist on winning. Wishful thinking, I know, but that’s all we’ve got left.

      • NatsLady - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:59 PM

        It was really going to annoy me if the Stros won that game—after letting themselves get swept by the Reds…
        :)

      • natsfan1a - Sep 20, 2013 at 7:41 AM

        I’d also like to see Cleveland in, as it would make my 90-year-old aunt happy and she and I could talk baseball (well, email baseball) into October.

  10. David Proctor - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    Dan Kolko ‏@masnKolko 19s
    Span said #Nats players waited for him at the front of the clubhouse after his MASN interview. Gave him a round of applause for hit streak.

    That’s awesome.

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 96 66 --
ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
NEW YORK 79 83 17.0
MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE

NL WILD CARD GAME
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)

NLDS
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
*if necessary

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.
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