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Instant analysis: Braves 2, Nats 1

Apr 4, 2014, 4:13 PM EST

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: With fanfare, somber event remembrances and award presentations, the Nationals took the field for their home opener amid plenty of buzz. Then baseball took center stage, and a tense, nip-and-tuck ballgame between two talented division rivals broke out.

Jordan Zimmermann, still battling the stomach virus that prevented him from starting yesterday in New York, gutted his way through five innings of 1-run ball, allowing only Evan Gattis’ solo homer. Right-hander David Hale one-upped his counterpart, tossing five scoreless innings — with an assist from MLB’s replay crew in New York, which overturned Ian Desmond’s apparent inside-the-park home run — before turning things over to the Braves’ dominant bullpen.

The Nationals did scrape out a sixth-inning run off Gus Schlosser, with Ryan Zimmerman’s sac fly scoring Anthony Rendon to knot the game 1-1. But Tyler Clippard issued a leadoff walk in the top of the eighth and paid the price for it, with Jason Heyward eventually scoring on Chris Johnson’s sac fly to put Atlanta back on top 2-1.

The Nationals had a golden opportunity to rally in the eighth off David Carpenter, but Adam LaRoche, Zimmerman and Bryce Harper struck out in succession with the tying man in scoring position. That forced them to take one last shot against Craig Kimbrel in the ninth, and that hardly — if ever — ends well. The All-Star closer wrapped up a tense victory for the Braves, spoiling the Nationals’ home opener in front of a rowdy crowd.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: You can’t say the Nationals didn’t have their chances at the plate. Or on the bases. They ran themselves into three outs, with Harper caught stealing second, Desmond caught stealing third and new third base coach Bobby Henley making a poor decision to send LaRoche home on a ball to left field in the bottom of the fourth. But their biggest missed opportunity came in the bottom of the eighth, when Carpenter put two on with nobody out and the heart of the lineup up. LaRoche got ahead 2-0, then struck out on a high fastball. Zimmerman struck out on three pitches. And Harper, despite battling to a 3-2 count, was caught looking at a fastball on the inside corner, killing the Nats’ best chance to tie or take the lead.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Taking the mound at something less than 100 percent, Zimmermann figured to be something less than his usual self. That he wound up allowing just one run while striking out nine is testament to his pitching talent and approach. Mixing in some sharp sliders and curveballs to go along with his mid-90s fastball, the right-hander was effective throughout. But he still wasn’t quite the full Jordan Zimmermann. He left a fat fastball up in the zone to Gattis in the top of the fifth and labored throughout the remainder of that frame. And with his pitch count at 81 — and his spot in the lineup due up third — that was it for him on this day. Five innings of one-run ball while under the weather certainly was satisfactory enough for the Nationals.

RULES EXPLANATION: Desmond’s fifth-inning drive into the left-field corner brought the sellout crowd of 42,834 to its feet, with the Nats shortstop racing all the way around the bases for what appeared to be an inside-the-park home run. The Braves, though, immediately argued, with Justin Upton claiming he couldn’t retrieve the ball from the gap underneath the fence. After a lengthy conference, the umpires agreed to go to New York for the official review, which came back with an overturned call, granting Desmond only two bases instead of four. The official explanation: Ground-rule doubles are reviewable under the new system, under Rule 7.05(f). Whether Upton actually could have picked the ball up, however, remains up for debate.

KEY STAT: Aaron Barrett has now faced six batters in his MLB career. He has retired all six, four by strikeout.

UP NEXT: With the hubbub of their home opener now over, the Nationals get back to the daily grind. Stephen Strasburg makes his second start of the season, seeking his first win, with Braves ace Julio Teheran also back on the mound. First pitch Saturday night is at 7:05 p.m.

  1. Danny - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    Brings back so many bad memories.

    • texnat1 - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:18 PM

      So they are throwing Stras tomorrow? Are they going with Gio or Jordan on Sunday?

      They should go with Gio. The Braves are on a four man rotation right now. This series is important.

      • nattyboh1 - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:21 PM

        No way they pitch Gio Sunday, that would be short rest, no reason for that.

      • texnat1 - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:23 PM

        Fair point. I forgot where that extra day came in. Disregard.

      • knoxvillenat - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:34 PM

        Strasburg on Saturday, Taylor Jordan on Sunday I believe.

  2. realdealnats - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    On Desi’s ground rule double fiasco, maybe if MW is out there lobbying as soon as Freddie is it never gets reviewed.

    • pdowdy83 - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:40 PM

      That’s not how it works. Whether MW was out there or not Freddie was making the challenge.

      • realdealnats - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:12 PM

        PD–

        Was it a formal challenge? I thought it was an ump’s decision. And my point is MW doesn’t have anything to gain until Freddie is already out there arguing his side, without formally challenging. Then it seems some fire from MW possibly argues everything to a standstill w/o going to the video.

        If it was a formal challenge then I yeah forget everything I just said.

      • realdealnats - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:22 PM

        Okay. I’m crazy. I swear Ray Knight said it was not a formal challenge, but MLB and Mark say it was so disregard the above.

    • Steady Eddie - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:50 PM

      No, MW had no basis to go out because the ruling on the field was HR and he had nothing to challenge. OTOH the Barves had the right to challenge.

      Nothing the Nats could do about it.

      The fault was in Jim Joyce giving a mindlessly literal interpretation of the rule, and not even a very accurate one as to literalism. The ball didn’t roll “under or through the fence”, it went under the padding which is on the playing field side of the “fence”. More fundamentally, the whole purpose of the “under or through” rule as part of the ground-rule double rule is that the ball would be physically inaccessible to the fielder, just as when it bounces into the stands. Which it was by definition not inaccessible because Upton ultately picked it up and threw it back to the infield.

      On this ruling, Joyce was an idiot.

    • laddieblahblah - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:35 PM

      This was one of those rare cases where a manager may have influenced the outcome of the game, namely Freddie Garcia. While Freddie was out there presenting his case and making his argument, Matt watched passively from the Nats dugout. Only after the umps had made their decision did he point out that there was neither visual nor empirical evidence to suggest that the ball was “stuck,” and that, in fact, Upton simply went over and picked up the ball without any trouble whatsoever.

      Good points to make, but too late. That argument should have been presented to the umps before they repaired to their review of the play. If the ball is not “stuck” under the fence, and it clearly was not, then it is still in play, and Desi’s dash around the bases should have stood as an inside the park homer.

      Joyce and his crew blew that one, with an assist from Garcia and Upton, and an abstention from Matt. You don’t wait to make your case to the jury until after they have rendered their decision.

      • realdealnats - Apr 5, 2014 at 2:39 PM

        I see it like you do Laddie. Glad I’m not alone on this. Even though I was going with Ray Knight’s at least initial take that it was not a challenge.

  3. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    Yes… I thought we got screwed… But Desi doesn’t help himself by trying to steal 3rd…. On a LHP (?? I think) and with no outs…

    And then Bryce decided to steal but doesn’t get a good jump…

    And of course, the cherry on the cake for me… Sending Adam Slow as Molasses LaRoche on the double/triple by Ryan…

    Disappointing loss but hopefully we win tomorrow and can erase this nasty taste out of out mouth…

  4. Hiram Hover - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    Mark needs a section today, “Baserunning Lowlights.” The competition would be tough.

  5. Eugene in Oregon - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    (1) I’m sorry, but just because a ball stops doesn’t mean it’s wedged under the padding. Justin Upton would seem to have had an obligation to at least try to pull it out.

    (2) In the coulda/shoulda/woulda category — and I know it’s impossible to say this woulda happened, but… — Ian Desmond’s ground-rule-double at-bat would theoretically have taken place with runners on second and third if the Nats hadn’t sacrificed Adam LaRoche by sending him home when he had zero chance of scoring. Oh well.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:30 PM

      I absolutely thought, and still think, Upton quit on the play…

      But I think I am more so disappointed with this loss becuz of the bad base running and sending LaRoche (had it been anyone faster I wouldn’t complain about it)…

      Also I’m not a fan of Clippard (never been one) but him giving up the Leadoff walk… Just frickin awesome…

      • natsfan1a - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:44 PM

        Agreed on both Upton and the base running.

      • Eric - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:48 PM

        I think Clip was pitching around Heyward…C&D were saying Heyward hits him well. If you look at Clip’s pitches, all but 1 of the called balls are as close as you can get without getting a strike.

    • chapjim - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:24 PM

      In my opinion, the 3B umpire is the one who kicked it.

      Upton did what every ballplayer from rec leagues on up should do — he raised his hands. No umpire called time, nor should have any umpire called time. The umpires properly allowed Desmond to score.

      What should have happened is Upton should have left the ball alone. The 3B umpire should have gone out to LF to see if the ball was lodged. (From the replay, it didn’t appear that is was lodged.) The 3B umpire decides if the ball was lodged. If it was, Desmond goes back to second.

      Compounding the error, they go to the replay officials in NY. How they determined from NY that the ball was lodged instead of just resting is the mystery. I don’t know that the standard is to overturn a call on the field — clear and convincing evidence — something like that. But, given the ease with which Upton picked up the ball, the standard didn’t seem to have been met.

      By rule, the play may have been reviewable but there’s no way that replay umpires in NY could say the ball was lodged.

      • Steady Eddie - Apr 4, 2014 at 7:04 PM

        Note who the third-base umpire was: Marvin Hudson, suburban Atlanta resident and long time known Braves homer. Just sayin’.

  6. Joe Seamhead - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    Matt says he has no problem with sending ALR. Know thy base runners, Coach. That was not a high percentage chance of that runner scoring. Oh,well, get ‘em tomorrow.

  7. secretwasianman - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    MW can live those base running errors???? A bit worrisome. Ran ourselves out of game. Upton should be fined for unsportsmanlike conduct. Never made an attempt on that ball. He’s a punk.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      If I recall… MW was very aggressive with the D-backs and would send, send, send… And liked the aggressiveness of base running…

      Harper didnt get a good jump at all and Desi, was just bone-headed, especially with Simmons being so close.. And against a lefty… With no outs….

      Hopefully tomorrow we can tie the series and get the curly W…

    • Hiram Hover - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:46 PM

      MW can live those base running errors

      Just ’cause he said it don’t make it true.

      He’s not going to start reaming out his players in public after Game 4 of the season–and of his big league managing career.

    • karlkolchak - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:51 PM

      Yep. There is a big difference between being aggressive and being flat out dumb. The Nats were getting their knocks, unlike in a lot of those frustrating losses last year. There was no reason to run themselves out so many chances.

      • micksback1 - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:03 PM

        what bothers me is that Coach Henley after the Spring does not know that ALR lack speed???? You do not send the runner period

  8. secretwasianman - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    We are hitting too well to run and play small ball

  9. Joe Seamhead - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    I get some wrapped satisfaction at this unreal reality: 2-31 with 16 k’s. That’s the Upton brothers line so far this season. If you added both of their batting averages together it would not match even BJ’s weight.

  10. David Proctor - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:51 PM

    Harper getting thrown out on a pitchout, I’m okay with. That was just Fredi outthinking us. It happens.

    The two I have a problem with: the LaRoche send. LaRoche is the slowest person on the team right now and frankly a faster runner is probably out, too. Secondly, Desi getting thrown out at third is just unacceptable in that situation. I think I understand the idea. Get to third with one out and score on a sac fly. Okay. But you can’t force it. And MW has said that. You want to be aggressive, but not stupid. We were stupid today.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:57 PM

      For me.. Harper was tipping it the entire time and didnt get a good jump… That was unacceptable to me….

      • texnat1 - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:22 PM

        I believe there were zero outs at the time Desi decided to try to steal third.

      • texnat1 - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:25 PM

        Yep, just confirmed. There were zero outs and Lobaton was ahead in the count when Desi took off.

        Would be a different story if there had been one out.

      • karlkolchak - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:29 PM

        Yep. I almost said out loud before the pitch, “bet the Braves do a pitch out.”

  11. philipd763 - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    I wasn’t at the game since I am in FL but I have to say this was a typical Braves/Nats game….the Nationals clutch hitting disappears and their luck turns sour. I had a feeling Clippard would serve up a gopher ball to Gattis as soon as I saw he was in the game because his high fast ball is raw meat for a power hitter. He’s been dodging the bullet with that high fast ball for quite a while but as he ages and his pitches lose speed his luck will run out. I have no idea whether Gattis hit a high fast ball today but I suspect that to be the case.

    • Steady Eddie - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:10 PM

      Gattis didn’t come up against Clip, he hit the dinger against JZimm.

      OTOH Clip should never have been in with his terrible record last year vs the Barves.I’m sure MW wanted to give h chance to banish those ghosts but it was not the right time — let Storen or Blevins do it so if they fall behind it’s not a negative for Clip and if they succeed and the Nats win, it sets a “this year is different” tone that Clip could benefit from in a Saturday or Sunday outing.

      • jd - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:22 PM

        Eddie,

        I don’t know. MW declared that Clip is his 8th inning guy and he’s usually money. I don’t think you can go Blevins in a game situation. It was gonna be Clip or Storen. I don’t have a problem with the decision, what I don’t like is the execution. You should never never walk the leadoff guy in that situation, you know he’s gonna score 80% of the time.

  12. micksback1 - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    You can’t win em all. Having said that a couple of things really stood out. First, I hope Coach Henley takes 100% responsibility for one of the dumbest decisions I have seen in a number of seasons. I am already not a fan of our third base coach. There was zero reason to send ALR, for one, he is slow, two, Simmons has one the best relay arms in all of MLB and three, there were zero outs and runners would have been at 3rd and 2nd. Next, the Desmond attempt steal was even worse because, the throw is going down to 3rd base and the Nats had a left handed batter up. You never steal 3rd with a left handed batter up. Was that Ian’s decision or was Matt Williams? Either way, it is not smart baseball.

    8th inning was the synopsis of why the Braves are a better team period and why Nats, although a playoff team are not ready to beat the Braves in a post series today. Clip gives up a run, in the bottom of the 8th period, that is the second time in 3 apperances he has done this so far. In Nats 8th, with 2 on verse Carpenter, (Not Kimbrell) with zero outs, Nats heart of the order is up, and all 3 KO. I love Bryce, I predicted on opening day that he will hit 35 HR and drive in at least 90 runs, but I gotta tell you after the first 4 games and that last at bat, taking a called third strike, I am wondering if that poll of players has some truth to it.

    Finally, I am not going to blame the umpires on the inside the park home run reversal, Nats should have scored after that period and if it were not for a knucklehead third base coach, they would have. having said that, the third base umpire was terrible on that play, he should have raised his arms up immediately to rule a ground rule double, that would have avoided all the controversy.

    JZim showed heart and pitched very well

    • texnat1 - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:27 PM

      The third base coach had nothing to do with Nats failure to score in the ground rule double inning, unless you think he made Desi try to steal third when it made no sense.

    • chapjim - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:30 PM

      No, the 3B umpire should NOT have immediately ruled a ground rule double. He should have let the play run, just as he did, but he should have gone out to LF to see if the ball was lodged.

      You can always put runners back.

  13. philipd763 - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    Steaky Eddie, Thanks for the clarification. My iPhone App (CBS Sports) had Clippard giving up a gopher ball to Gattis. So much for technology! Nevertheless, Clippard gave up the winning run.

    • David Proctor - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:19 PM

      Clipparrd walked Heyward, gave up a single to Freeman and then gave up a sac fly to Johnson.

  14. jd - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    Let’s also remember that Clippard has been our best reliever for the past 3 years.

    • Steady Eddie - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:35 PM

      But Clip was terrible against the Barves last year, and now there’s clearly a entail thing he’s going to have to overcome.

      • Steady Eddie - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:35 PM

        “Mental”, not “entail”!

  15. philipd763 - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:24 PM

    I have been watching the Marlins on a regular basis and off what I have seen so far in spring training and the regular season, this team is much improved. They have a starting staff of young, very impressive pitchers, especially 21 year old Jose Fernandez, who may be the best pitcher in the majors. The hitting is much improved too. They will not be a pushover for the Nationals this season.

    • adcwonk - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:48 PM

      I think they have one of the youngest pitching staffs in the majors . . . which means they could be tough for years to come . . .

    • jd - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:50 PM

      phillipd763

      I agree that the Marlins are a team on the rise and will be very interesting to watch at least until Loria has to shell out some money for Stanton and then Fernandez in a couple of years.

  16. letswin3 - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    If this is Matt Williams idea of aggressive base running, count me out. Sending Desi from second to third with nobody out is not aggressive, it’s illogical (unless Desi made that decision on his own, in which case he needs to be counseled). And trying to score LaRoche from first on anything other than a HR is just pure stupidity … and to think that I was happy to get a new third base coach … was I crazy, or what. If these thoughts have already been expresses many times (I haven’t read the other posts yet), I apologize, but I’m not surprised.

    • David Proctor - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:59 PM

      Desi said he thought he picked up something on the pitcher and once he went, he realized he hadn’t picked up what he thought he had.

    • letswin3 - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:07 PM

      Just read the last 30 or 40 comments, and many of you were way ahead of me. Glad to know that I’m not on my own here.

  17. veejh - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:52 PM

    Wouldn’t Blevins have been the move in the 8th w 3 lefties up to bat? The Braves own Clipp.

  18. laddieblahblah - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:55 PM

    Now we know why Matt spent so much time in ST on the little things, the kind of things that can win or lose games. Like trying to steal 3rd with no one out in a 1-run game, and being out by 20 feet. I’ll bet Desi does not make that little mistake, again, for the rest of the year.

    And our new 3rd base coach is, apparently, unaware that La Roche is the slowest runner on the team. I saw a replay after the game, and La Roche slowed down approaching 2nd, apparently thinking that ball might be caught. He never should have been sent. He was out by 10 feet. Simmons has one of the strongest and most accurate throwing arms in the bigs.

    Like walking the leadoff hitter in the 8th of a tie game. The Braves do not have the offense to score runs. They actually struck out more times than they had outs on balls in play. They need help, and Clip gave it to them.

    Regardless of all that, you cannot win a game where you score only 1 run, unless the other guys don’t score any. I put this loss on the offense. We had great clutch hitting against the Mets, but no hits, at all, with runners in scoring position against the Braves.

    Another factor, I think, is that the Nats had never seen Hale before today. They always seem to have trouble facing pitchers for the first time. Now they have seen him, and will adjust their approach to him, in the future.

    Tomorrow is another day. People learn from their mistakes.

    JZ was magnificent today, and Barrett was, literally, unhittable. When the staff holds the bad guys to only 2 runs, you should win the game. Instead of manufacturing runs, the Nats manufactured a whole inning of gift-wrapped outs.

    They can, and will, play better. Best news is that Desi is out of his early season slump.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:03 PM

      +100

      I’ve never been a fan of Clippard… So anything he does, I’m just not surprised..

    • letswin3 - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:14 PM

      Laddie, LaRoche isn’t just the slowest guy on the team, he is the slowest guy in the lower 48. The new third base coach had all winter, plus 6 weeks of hands on experience in Florida, to learn that fact, but choose to ignore it in a one-run game against our arch rival???? Am I missing something here?

      • laddieblahblah - Apr 4, 2014 at 10:47 PM

        “Am I missing something here?”

        I don’t think so. The coach should have seen that ALR slowed down rounding 2nd until he was sure the ball would not be caught. “Slowed down,” in La Roche’s case, means “hardly moving.”

  19. jd - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:55 PM

    veejh,

    Considering Atlanta only had 2 lefties in their lineup I don’t think there were 3 lefties due up. I also don’t believe that MW trusts Blevins in game situations just yet.

    • NatsLady - Apr 4, 2014 at 7:31 PM

      I don’t think MW would have used Blevins. Correct there were two lefties coming up, but Clip is usually excellent against them with his change-up. Blevins gave up two runs in his previous appearance against the Mets and didn’t look sharp.

      Of course, we all remember Clip coming in a tie game not once but twice against ATL and giving up a dinger that cost the game. I believe those were his only losses (I could be wrong, I’m too tired to check). MW will not have that memory, and won’t say to himself the Barves are Clip’s Kryptonite.

      All that said, it occurred to me that Barrett looked awfully good, and the Barves know Clip very well. If you want to go out of the box, forget about the platoons (Blevins) and let the Barves see someone they DON’T know very well. I would not be surprised to see Barrett taking more innings, especially if it is a tie game.

      Finally, in the end, you are skating on very thin ice if you only score one run. You are expecting your bullpen to be perfect. On any given day, someone is likely to give up a run in four innings, and today it just happened to be Clip. We needed to get that run back against Carpenter, who started HIS inning with a single and a walk.

      Pretty much everything else has been said by other commenters. I still can’t believe ALR got sent. I bet he can’t either.

  20. Drew - Apr 4, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    The Nats’ whole game seemed recklessly over aggressive. It was like a golden retriever puppy who runs and runs — ohboyohboyohboy — until he sticks his snout in a hornets nest.

  21. philipd763 - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    I cud not listen to the post game interview of MW. Did he accept responsibility for the loss? I hope he learned something from the game today.

    • Nats128 - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:13 PM

      You could tell it was going to be a low scoring game where 1 run was enough to take the lead or tie it and MW got greedy. He made smartball into dumbball.

  22. Nats128 - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:10 PM

    I just got home and the Nats had their chance and literally ran themselves out of that game. Very poor decisions and they could have made it a non issue if Laroche executed in the 8th with 2 on and no out.

    The umps blew that call on the Desmond HR. The ball was there for the taking.

  23. Doc - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    The Braves can be had.

    But it will take smarter baseball on the part of the Nats to do it!

    To-day they just didn’t play smart baseball!

  24. rmoore446 - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    I’m fine with aggressive baserunning but not stupid baserunning and sending LaRoche and the pickoffs of both Harper and Desi were stupid.

    Hope things go a little better tomorrow night. I’ll be there and would much prefer to cheer on a victory.

  25. letswin3 - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:26 PM

    Okay, I’m searching for a silver lining here …. and it ain’t easy. Lobaton again impressed me, both with his catching skills (a couple of nice blocks and the throw-em-out at second of a very fast runner) and his bat, plus he again looked to know his starting pitcher. Then there is Mr. Barrett … he was again LIGHTS OUT …. and FP and Bob see his value as a potential future closer, just as some of us do. Rendon looks comfortable hitting second every time he’s started there. And finally, we get another chance to prove ourselves against a very good team tomorrow.

    • natsfan1a - Apr 4, 2014 at 7:50 PM

      In the course of regaling my husband with the tale of the game just now, I thought of another silver lining. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Craig Stammen.

      • letswin3 - Apr 4, 2014 at 10:02 PM

        I agree.

  26. websterj2014 - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    The umpires get the Academy Award for script writing for the Great Train Robbery. Juston Upton gets the Oscar for best supporting actor.

    • veejh - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:36 PM

      Agree. All he had to do is pick up the ball. It wasn’t wedged one bit.

  27. JW - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    Pitching lowlight: Clipboard walks the leadoff hitter in the 8th, who ends up scoring the winning run for the Braves

  28. DB69 - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    Very disheartening loss today. Braves just a much better team until proven otherwise. I hope I’m proven wrong, but this feels like last year. Clippard plays too high in the zone. We need younger fire ballers in the bp and should have addressed the weakness at first. We are about where we were last season. Take a lesson from the Braves and Cards for once. Clip will not get it done.

    • David Proctor - Apr 4, 2014 at 7:04 PM

      Did you actually watch Clippard last year? He’s one of the best relievers in the game.

      • Steady Eddie - Apr 4, 2014 at 7:10 PM

        Not against the Barves he wasn’t. Did not pitch a scoreless inning against them in 6 appearances last year.

      • David Proctor - Apr 4, 2014 at 7:12 PM

        Sure. But that’s not what he was saying. I would have pitched Storen or Blevins.

      • DB69 - Apr 4, 2014 at 7:14 PM

        I’ve watched him the last couple of years. He gives up too many home runs and walks too many batters. He can’t induce grounders and relies too much on his change up.

      • David Proctor - Apr 4, 2014 at 7:15 PM

        He also strikes out over a batter an inning and had a 2.47 ERA last year.

      • Steady Eddie - Apr 4, 2014 at 7:25 PM

        DP, I agree with you on Clip in general — it was just his record vs Barves last year that really called for special handling in this first game, as I suggested above. Especially with the game on the line after the Nats had already given away so many scoring opportunities with bonehead baserunning.

  29. ehay2k - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:53 PM

    I’ll leave the replay debacle alone, for now. This is only game 4, so no reason to worry, yet. (But the umps OWE us, just sayin’)

    But for me there are lots of things to take away from this game, and the number one thing is that the Nats seem to still be pressing – like they have to PROVE they are better than the Barves. And of course, if they just played solid baseball, that would become self-evident. How MW handles this will speak volumes about his approach vs. Davey’s.

    Everyone was trying to be a hero, but these are easily corrected, and I am betting on a Matt Williams team, they are. Zimm had the worst swings on inside pitches I have ever seen him take. I bet Schu fixes that. Sending LaRoche home, without his hunter’s ATV? I bet that won’t happen again. ALR slowing down around second? Bet that won’t happen either, even if they don’t ever send him again.

    Desi caught taking 3rd with a LH hitter in the box against a LH pitcher? Won’t happen again.

    Hey Nats – You can’t force a win. Stop trying. Just play ball!

    Next two games are big not from a W/L standpoint, but we will have an opportunity to learn a lot about their character, win or lose. I am as interested to see Williams’ influence as I am to see the end of the Nats’ influenza, real or imagined.

    GYFNG!

    • Eric - Apr 4, 2014 at 7:50 PM

      I honestly think Clip was pitching around Heyward. C&D were saying Heyward always hits him, and if you look at Clip’s pitches, three of the called balls are as close as you can get without getting a called strike. The fourth missed by a mere half ball more. IMO, he was just trying to avoid a solo shot.

      Freeman’s hit was on what would’ve been called a ball for sure.

      Not that it was necessarily the right approach with Heyward, I just think Clip pitched him according to plan.

    • Eric - Apr 4, 2014 at 7:53 PM

      Ugh… Sorry that was supposed to be a top level reply, not a reply to you eBay.

  30. veejh - Apr 4, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    The way MW has been mixing up the lineup, I wasn’t going to put it past him to not start Clipp in the 8th with 2 left handed batters coming up in Heyward and Freeman. The Braves own Clipp.

  31. DB69 - Apr 4, 2014 at 8:08 PM

    Don’t you want your set up man to be a hard thrower with good sink on the fast ball and a good cutter and/or slider. Clip would be eaten up in high leverage situations in the playoffs. Not saying we are that good yet, but we should be developing young arms with that repertoire, like Barrett.

  32. rabbit433 - Apr 4, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    Well, they stuck it to us again. It was a good game. We had our chances. We also had too many strike outs. Runners on first and second, no outs, 4-5-6 strike out. Yeah, tough loss.

  33. janebeard - Apr 4, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    We’ll get ‘em tomorrow.

    That’s all I can say. A little disheartened. I think Justin Upton really hotdogged his way to a ground rule double. I hate Marvin Hudson and always will. But that call got overturned by MLB in NYC.

  34. iconicwoodencap - Apr 4, 2014 at 9:29 PM

    I’m hoping for some perspective and insight here. I’m really confused. I was at the game today and when each of the nats players was introduced, there were appropriate cheers, etc.

    When Storen was introduced, however, there was a strong chorus of boos. I was shocked and dismayed. Is this booing remnants of the 2012 NLDS? Something else? Call it the polite Midwesterner in me or my fierce loyalty to my team’s players in both success and heartbreak, but I think it’s awful to boo one of your own. Send them to the minors, trade them or whatever, but how does booing them help? My buddy who is a Yankees fan laughs at this idea and thinks it’s fine to throw beer cans and invective against any Yank who happens to fall short on any given day. whatever.

    Thoughts?

    • Eric - Apr 4, 2014 at 9:32 PM

      I wasn’t there, but if memory serves, people often yell “Dreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew” and it sounds like booing.

      If it was booing, that really sucks.

      • Steady Eddie - Apr 4, 2014 at 9:41 PM

        I was there, and it was definitely “Druuuuu”.

  35. edshelton2013 - Apr 4, 2014 at 9:32 PM

    I live in SC and am forced to watch the Barves announcers since MASN is blacked out. They basically said they “own the Nats in close games” based on last year. We went 6-13 and 14 games were decide by one or two runs.
    They also focused on Zimmerman’s throwing, saying the Nats hold their breath with every sidearm throw, expecting an error. They made it appear that his job is in jeopardy. That’s wishful thinking.

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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.
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