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Instant analysis: Cardinals 2, Nats 0

Sep 24, 2013, 10:38 PM EST

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Game in a nutshell: With nothing left to play for but pride after getting eliminated Monday night, the Nationals still hoped to deal a blow to the Cardinals’ hopes of winning a division title, so Davey Johnson fielded his regular lineup tonight against Michael Wacha. It didn’t matter. Wacha was brilliant from the start, retiring 14 straight batters before Adam LaRoche reached on an error in the fifth. The 22-year-old rookie, drafted last summer out of Texas A&M, issued a walk in the seventh and another in the eighth, but he took the mound for the ninth with a no-hitter intact. And he came oh-so-close to pulling it off, getting within one out before Ryan Zimmerman barely beat out a chopper to short. The Nats may have avoided the ignominy of being no-hit for the first time in club history, but they did still suffer a 2-0 loss that helped St. Louis inch closer to the NL Central crown.

Hitting lowlight: It’s tough to find a highlight when you don’t get a single hit until two outs in the ninth, so we’ll focus instead on the guy who mowed down the Nationals lineup. Wacha was a highly touted prospect, drafted 19th overall last summer and placed on a fast track to the big leagues. This was only his 15th career appearance, his ninth start, but he looked every bit like a seasoned (and dominant) veteran. The 6-foot-6 right-hander barely broke a sweat and had the Nats lineup fooled all night. There weren’t really any close calls, either, only a couple of hard-hit line drives by Wilson Ramos and Anthony Rendon. Props, though, to Zimmerman, who motored down the line on his chopper just over the mound and just barely eluded Matt Adams’ swipe tag to record the Nationals’ lone hit of the night.

Pitching highlight: Gio Gonzalez certainly deserved a better fate, because he certainly pitched well enough to win. The lefty’s only real mistakes came in the third and fourth innings, in which he twice allowed a pair of hits to open the frames. Yadier Molina’s RBI double in the fourth was particularly frustrating, because it might have been cut off had Jayson Werth and Denard Span not been playing surprisingly shallow. Instead, the ball rolled to the wall, and that allowed Matt Adams to score a big run. Gonzalez buckled down after that and didn’t allow another run. On most nights, that would have been good enough. Not on this night, not with Wacha on the mound for the Cardinals.

Key stat: The last pitcher to throw a no-hitter against a Washington ballclub was Cleveland’s Sonny Siebert, who did it to the Senators on June 10, 1966.

Up next: The series wraps up with a Wednesday matinee at Busch Stadium. Jordan Zimmermann makes his final start of the season, seeking his league-leading 20th win. But he’ll face a stiff challenge in young right-hander Shelby Miller, trying to earn his 15th win.

  1. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 24, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    Another ‘tough luck’ loss for a Nats pitcher. Let’s hope they can get some runs for Jordan Zimmermann tomorrow.

  2. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 24, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    Had we been playing for something, I would have been livid… But since we aren’t… Another under-whelming performance…

    Tip the cap to Wacha… He pitched a gem.

  3. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 24, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    And I’m hoping the B squad shows up soon… Give Tyler some at bats, Z Walters, Kobernus, Lombo…

  4. Baseballswami - Sep 24, 2013 at 10:48 PM

    World Series or bust. We want to be spoilers. Anything else? Or maybe be quiet now.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 24, 2013 at 10:53 PM

      Well put.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 24, 2013 at 10:59 PM

      Spoilers for who? That’s all irrelevant at this point… We aren’t making it and that should be the first and only concern…

      I not sure if your comment was directed at me,

  5. David Proctor - Sep 24, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    I’m amused by the guys on MLB Network saying this was a must-win game for us. Did they miss the memo that we were eliminated yesterday?

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 24, 2013 at 11:02 PM

      Maybe so we can win another series/streak or something… Idk….

  6. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 24, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    I missed DJ’s press conference…. Did he say anything irrelevant….

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 24, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      Relevant… Jeez, need that edit button back….

  7. NatsLady - Sep 24, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    The Pirates won. Cards magic number is 3. We won’t have to watch them celebrate, at least, not tomorrow.

  8. David Proctor - Sep 25, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    If you want to lose all faith in humanity, check out this twitter account:

    • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 25, 2013 at 7:13 AM

      WOW! Unbelievable! I hope Nats fans never become that unhappy with our players.

      • Candide - Sep 25, 2013 at 7:34 AM

        Oh, I’m sure there are Nats fans like that; there just isn’t someone aggregating their tweets. Good account; witless jerks deserve to have their ugliness dragged out into the daylight.

  9. natsfan1a - Sep 25, 2013 at 7:55 AM

    Wow. Just looked at the game results email and then the team site. Can’t believe that (almost) happened. Le. Sigh. Anyway, I’m hoping to watch the game in real time today. How’s about you beat the Redbirds today, boys, and then head for AZ? Yeah, that’d be nice.





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