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Squandered opportunities prove costly in 2-1 loss

Apr 4, 2014, 9:00 PM EST

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Matt Williams wants his Nationals to be aggressive on the bases. That much he has made clear since the day he was introduced as the club’s new manager.

Williams, though, always adds one important caveat to that sentiment.

“We want to take advantage of it when it’s there for us,” he said. “But we also want to make sure we’re sure in that situation.”

The Nationals weren’t sure on three separate occasions during Friday’s 2-1, home opener loss to the Braves. In each case, they ran themselves into an out. And given the final margin of defeat, those outs on the bases proved every bit as significant — maybe even more so — than the overturned replay call that negated Ian Desmond’s apparent inside-the-park home run in the fifth.

“I’m not really too concerned about [the overturned call],” Desmond said. “It was more the mistakes that were made, especially me. It was probably a bigger story to me than that.”

The star shortstop would know. Moments after he was sent back to second base when his homer was changed to a ground-rule double, Desmond made a surprise decision to try to steal third base. He was easily thrown out by Braves catcher Evan Gattis, killing a potential rally.

“It was a little overaggressive,” Williams said.

“He’s giving us the leeway to go when we want,” Desmond said. “But that was a poor decision on my part.”

Three innings earlier, Bryce Harper was caught trying to steal second base, a decision made even worse when Desmond followed with a single up the middle.

And then there was third base coach Bobby Henley’s decision to wave Adam LaRoche around third base on Ryan Zimmerman’s double off the left-field wall. With Justin Upton quickly getting the ball back to strong-armed shortstop Andrelton Simmons, LaRoche was out at the plate by a good five feet.

Instead of having runners on second and third with one out and Harper at the plate, the Nationals wound up with only Zimmerman on third base and two outs.

“I think as players we like it when a third base coach is aggressive,” said LaRoche of Henley, in his first season as a big-league coach. “If you do that enough times, it’s going to pay off. … Be aggressive and keep pouring it on. I promise you, if we keep that approach, it’s going to pay off a lot more times than it doesn’t.”

Baserunning didn’t factor into the Nationals’ last good shot at producing a game-tying (or potentially game-winning) rally. Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth, they quickly put two men on base against Atlanta setup man David Carpenter, with the heart of their lineup looming.

Carpenter, though, struck out the side, getting LaRoche to whiff at a 2-2 fastball, mowing down Zimmerman on three pitches and catching Harper looking at a 3-2 fastball on the inside corner.

“He made good pitches on me,” Zimmerman said. “He quick-pitched me on the second pitch, and I just missed a fastball I could’ve done some damage on. Then I swung at a ball. But we had them where we wanted them. We had a chance in the late innings and just couldn’t get the hit when we needed to.”

  1. scnatsfan - Apr 4, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    Freaking braves. Our Achilles heel.

    • natinalsgo - Apr 4, 2014 at 9:29 PM

      Have to play it run by run. Another 1 run loss. Going for the big inning was costly. Matty can’t play every game like he is playing the Mets. The finesse teams like the Braves and Cardinals when you have your own ace on the mound like JZim calls for a different strategy.

      Sending slow LaRoche with only 1 out was a poor decision. Those poor decision when you add them all up is what doomed the Nats and overshadowed a great pitching performance by JZ and clutch at-bats by several Nats.

      Some really good posts today with indepth analysis and the quotes from the locker room of the Braves tell you they knew that Nats shot themselves in the foot.

      • laddieblahblah - Apr 4, 2014 at 11:05 PM

        Agree Gonat, except about the clutch hitting. The Nats did not have a single hit with runners in scoring position. Not a one. In spite of everything else, they could have won that game with a couple of clutch hits in key game situations. They had plenty of opportunities, but the only clutch blow with a RISP was Zim’s sac fly.

      • natinalsgo - Apr 4, 2014 at 11:10 PM

        Laddie, you are correct on the lack of clutch. I was talking moreso about Rendon leading off the 8th with a single and a great AB walk by Werth.

      • NatsLady - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:21 AM

        Well, the Barves also went 0-fer in the RISP category. The three runs were homer, sac-fly, sac-fly.

  2. David Proctor - Apr 4, 2014 at 9:16 PM

    What really hurts is that the Braves have their only legitimately good pitcher going tomorrow. We’re going to need a better effort out of Stras than on Opening Day. And for Clippard to not pitch.

  3. Doc - Apr 4, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    Like the way that Desi always owns up.

    I agree with ALR that aggressive shots at rounding 3B going home are going to produce more runs than not. But that was just plain poor decision making on Henley’s part—-not aggressive base running.

    • letswin3 - Apr 4, 2014 at 9:51 PM

      Right, Doc. Stevie Wonder wudda held LaRoche up at third on that double.

      • Nats128 - Apr 4, 2014 at 10:25 PM

        That is true.

  4. DB69 - Apr 4, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    It only appears that squandered chances cost us the game. It’s a repeat of the same old theme, if we don’t get a lead early, we can’t win against their power bp. We actually have little chance of winning tomorrow. A sweep is likely. We did not adjust in the offseason. We picked up another starter but did not address our weak hitting, especially at first. Clip should have been traded since we can’t get anywhere without getting past the Braves and they own him. Long season ahead.

    • naterialguy - Apr 4, 2014 at 10:00 PM

      -1

      • therealjohnc - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:51 AM

        Please do not feed the troll.

    • David Proctor - Apr 4, 2014 at 10:15 PM

      This, kids, is what we call grossly overreacting to one game out of 162.

      • Nats128 - Apr 4, 2014 at 10:35 PM

        Some people over react about winning by only 1 run. That’s the way some people are. This game should’ve been circled on everyones calandar as this was the first true test and the team blew it. Tomorrow is a new day. Don’t repeat the same mistakes but also execute!

        Nats had a golden opportunity in the 8th with 2 on and no outs and the perfect matchup and in succession Laroche, RZ and Harper failed.

        Even after all the screwups the Nats had a chance to tie or win the game in that 8th inning on the Braves before Kimbrel was even a factor. Game over after the 8th as Kimbrel is almost as automatic as they come.

      • natinalsgo - Apr 4, 2014 at 10:46 PM

        That’s why you beat the Braves between innings 1-7. Beyond that they have the best bullpen in baseball and they tried to gift wrap the 8th inning for the Nats and LaRoche found a good time to remind us of reality once again.

    • chaz11963 - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:47 AM

      Good grief… totally disagree. The Nats played well, the Braves played slightly better. They made a couple of mistakes, and the Braves played a tighter game… this time… I like this Nats team ALOT better against the Braves this year than last year’s team. This is a much improved team with a much improved approach and attitude.

  5. natinalsgo - Apr 4, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    By the way, did the Braves make any mistakes? Yes, only 1 when Justin Upton didn’t go after Desmond’s ball under the padding but the umpires bailed him out so I guess technically it wasn’t a mistake.

    That’s the difference. The Braves don’t make many mistakes and when they do make an error they seem to pick themselves up.

    Saturday is a huge game after today’s squandering of a game the Nats could have won. I’m not saying it is July 21st of 2012 all over again but its huge for 2014.

    • David Proctor - Apr 4, 2014 at 11:02 PM

      I’m just very wary of putting that much importance into the 5th game of the season. Obviously you want to set a tone that this year is different than last. And losing 2/3 or god forbid being swept would do nothing but the opposite. But we still play these guys 16 more times after this series is over. Winning tomorrow means nothing as far as how we perform or they perform in the long-term.

      • natinalsgo - Apr 4, 2014 at 11:08 PM

        David, I used to think that too until I heard what the Braves announcers said about the swagger their players had after sweeping the Nats in that series in April 2013. Can’t let them fly out Sunday with that swagger. I know the Nats are the better team but that’s on paper and Wins and Losses often are momentum up or momentum down.

    • NatsLady - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:24 AM

      Don’t forget Uggla botching the doubleplay that let to our lone run. They also got caught stealing. It wasn’t a perfectly played game (despite no “errors”). but what game is? Nats just made more mistakes than the Barves did.

      Here is my game post.

      • natinalsgo - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:35 AM

        I give credit to Werth who barrelled into 2nd base to disrupt the relay . The Braves aren’t better than the Nats, they just seem to rise to the occassion and do enough to win. Freddie Freeman serving that ball into RF to send Heyward to 3rd was the key at the most critical time.

      • chaz11963 - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:48 AM

        Totally agree.

    • therealjohnc - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:54 AM

      Actually Uggla misplayed a sure doubl play ball into a 4-6 forceout, and Simmons got himself gunned out stealng. The Braves also made mistakes, they just didn’t pay for them.

  6. natinalsgo - Apr 4, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    One compliment I need to make to the Nats is that my phone worked all game and I wasn’t hooked into WiFi. Last year there could be 25,000 there in attendence and my phone would be useless. Today during the sell-out I could follow the convos on Twitter.

  7. natinalsgo - Apr 4, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    David Proctor, please read this post below. The Braves are cocky. Only one way to reverse that, and that’s reverse the 6-13 record.

    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.

    • Nats128 - Apr 4, 2014 at 11:33 PM

      I was forced to listen to Braves radio in Spring Training. Lemke and that other idiot diss the Nats like a joke.

      The Nats get no respect and truthfully you have to earn respect and the Nats haven’t done that against the Braves.

      • Sonny G 10 - Apr 5, 2014 at 12:15 AM

        Yea, we seem to lose common sense when we play them.

  8. davecydell - Apr 5, 2014 at 12:27 AM

    The biggest mistake of the whole game , and there were quite a few, was pitching to Freeman.
    FP lauded Laroche for letting a bunt go foul and not taking an easy out while letting a runner advance to 2nd, suggesting that the Nats would then walk Freeman.
    But then the Nats failed to put Freeman on, move a Brave to second.
    The subsequent fly out and strike out would have kept it a tie game.
    Freeman is the single most dangerous player on the Braves, pitching to him in a tight game in late innings is inviting bad results.

  9. Sonny G 10 - Apr 5, 2014 at 12:27 AM

    The Nats better learn the difference between aggressiveness and stupidity. The two caught stealings and the sending LaRoche home were stupid.

  10. David Proctor - Apr 5, 2014 at 1:04 AM

    If you want a positive, we had lots of hits and men on base. Usually, some of those will come around to score. This game was an anomaly of sorts in that regard. As long as we keep hitting like we have, we’ll be fine over the long haul. Regardless of what happens the rest of the series.

    • JayB - Apr 5, 2014 at 6:58 AM

      What that game showed is that our homegrown Nats guys do not yet know how to win meaningful, tight games. Matt Williams is the right guy to teach them but this is not a playoff team at this point. They have to prove they can not choke and what they did in the 8th inning was choke. 3 strike outs in a row with the game on the line. David there is not positive to take from that. What is shows is they are not ready to win for that 85 games. Those 3 guys have to be able to put the ball in play with some confidence. They all looked like they were scared and hoping they could walk.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:36 AM

        The Braves showed even with all their injuries to pitchers they aren’t rolling over. As you say, Matt Williams is the right guy to teach and Henley better get his head straight. 1 run is going to decide this game. Situations guide you first and foremost and it was 1 out with the slowest runner on the field at that time. LaRoche wasn’t close enough to 2nd base when the ball was in the air. You hold him at 3rd and you then have runners at 3rd and 2nd with 1 out. It’s then up to Harper and Desmond to do their job.

        You are also correct on the 8th inning choke. Rendon with a nice leadoff single and JDub with a manufactured walk. I like that ALR took pitches until he saw a strike but then couldn’t make contact. It was disappointing and on this day how bad did we miss Wilson Ramos. The Nats RBI and RISP leader in 2013 was needed and missed just in a game like this. Lobaton did good on a 1-3 with a walk but he wasn’t batting in the heart of the lineup where LaRoche left FIVE runners on base and Harp left FOUR on base. LaRoche picked a fine day to lay an egg with the 0-fer and the 2 K’s.

    • unkyd59 - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:48 AM

      DingDingDing, DP!! Thes boys keep meeting the ball, and they’ll win plenty! GYFNG!!!

    • unkyd59 - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:51 AM

      DingDingDing, DP!!! These boys keep meeting the ball, and they’ll win plenty!!! GYFNGOGOGO!!!

  11. Nattydread - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:58 AM

    Strasburg needs to be Strasburg tonite. Beating up on the Mets is great. We need to put a bulls eye on Atlanta — and play much smarter. Three unnecessary outs on the base paths wasted opportunity and made the Nats look foolish.

  12. Candide - Apr 5, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    Apropos of nothing – did someone steal all the picnic tables behind section 312?

    As well as the hands off the big outfield clock?

    • Whynat - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:23 AM

      We better get Steinberg on the clock story.
      I noticed that too.

    • natsfan1a - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:27 AM

      The tables are no longer there? hmmm…

      • natsfan1a - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:10 AM

        But what is it’s not pups in the park day? Plus, I have a cat and…oh, never mind. Seriously, agreed on the scoreboard walk rant.

        /cranky_old_cat_lady

        “Might as well take your dog and beer and sit in the bleacher seats for a while until it’s time to go to your regular seats.”

      • natsfan1a - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:12 AM

        What *if* it’s not. No edit function? Fuhgeddaboudit.

        /cranky_commenter

      • natsfan1a - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:13 AM

        And don’t even get me started on the comment nesting function…

    • NatsLady - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:27 AM

      They seem to have taken all the tables away, except in the picnic section–and those you have to reserve in advance. Even the tables outside the Red Porch where you could stand. Some seating (and stand-up tables) near the “Scoreboard Walk.” I hope it’s not permanent, maybe just because of the new flooring they didn’t have time for the tables. Also the PA system was ker-flooey. Couldn’t hear James Brown. :(

      • natsfan1a - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:32 AM

        Bummer about the tables. I, too, hope that it isn’t permanent.

      • Candide - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:53 AM

        Some seating (and stand-up tables) near the “Scoreboard Walk.”

        I hatehatehate the Scoreboard Walk/Pavilion area. Jam-crowded like Times Square on New Year’s Eve, music so loud you can’t even think, let alone talk, lines ten-deep to get to the bar. Okay, I get it, some people like the “vibe” and the alleged excitement. But isn’t that what God invented mosh pits for?

        You put tables down so people can “take a load off” for a few minutes and maybe chat a bit. You could do that at the tables behind 312. In the scoreboard area? Fuggedaboudit… Might as well take your dog and beer and sit in the bleacher seats for a while until it’s time to go to your regular seats.

        /cranky_old_man

    • JW - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:33 AM

      There are now picnic tables on the overlook landing at the top of the ramp on the first base side. Those tables weren’t there last year.

      • natsfan1a - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:45 AM

        Okay, thanks. Will look for those.

  13. Section 222 - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    On the picnic tables, I heard that they need to give the new concourse paint more time to set before reinstalling the tables. They should be back at some point, but I did not hear when. The concourses look nice though, don’t you think?

    • Section 222 - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:10 AM

      Also, the Nats tweeted midway through the game that the PA problems on at the 300 level and above was fixed. By that time I was paying too much attention to the game to notice a difference. But the opening ceremonies and the anthem were truly awful up there. Too bad.

      • natsfan1a - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:16 AM

        Thanks for the info, 222. I’ll see the concourses at my first game on Sunday.

        Speaking of the anthem, at Citi Field they had a quartet called the “Whiptones” who were very good, I thought.

      • Section 222 - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:35 AM

        Thanks for sharing that 1a. Impressive. They’re from Joisey, and are auditioning for America’s Got Talent next week.

      • Candide - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:08 AM

        Re: Whiptones…

        I “grade” the performance of The Star-Spangled Banner at each game; Cunegonde doesn’t know whether to be annoyed, amused, or embarrassed – probably a mixture of all three…

        Anyway, these guys:

        1) Tempo was rather too slow. Not funeral dirge slow, but 60’s love ballad slow.
        2) And some of the harmonies were reminiscent of 60s love ballads. Blame the arranger (and I guess the singers for accpeting the arrangement).
        3) It’s “per-IH-luss,” not “per-OH-luss.” Hate that.
        4) Long pauses between sections were disconcerting.
        5) Harmony balances were somewhat off, though that could have been a function of the PA system.
        6) I DID like, in particular, the way they stepped up the energy towards the end.
        7) They sang in tune (you’d think I wouldn’t have to mention that, but a lot of singers don’t), breath control and phrasing were good.

        Overall – a solid B+, maybe an A-

        Ipse dixit

  14. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    Watching MLB Network. They said JZim has a career ERA against the Barves of 2.98. Impressive if he got run support—where have I seen that before?

    The only run he gave up was that Gattis HR. If you watch the pitch it was supposed to be outside and upper 3rd of the strike zone where Lobaton was set-up and JZim throws the fastball outside (now outside enough IMO but in the 1st at-bat threw a similar pitch for a looking strike) and the top of the strike zone and Gattis as he does so often gets his bat out early and pulls it. Thats credit to the batter but why are you throwing Gattis 2 fastballs in a row when you have curveball, slider and changeup in your arsenal? Well JZim’s 1st pitch in the at-bat was a surgically placed fastball on the outside edge for a strike and they went back to a fastball changing the eye level and treated Gattis like JZim had done to the Upton brothers and try to blow the fastball by him. It didn’t work.

    I have talked about the scouting report on Gattis many times. He is a poor breaking ball batter. How did JZim strikeout Gattis in the 2nd inning? Threw him 3 sliders and 1 fastball. Threw him a 95+ fastball dead red that Gattis didn’t swing at because he thought it was a slider. Sequence was slider outside for a swinging strike, fastball looking for a strike, slider in the dirt that he didn’t swing at for a 1-2 count then a slider 10 inches outside for a swinging K. Why would you throw Gattis 2 fastballs in the 2nd at-bat?

    Here is Gattis hitter chart for his short career vs RHPs:

    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/h_tabs.php?player=594828&gFilt=&time=month&minmax=ci&var=po&s_type=2&startDate=03/30/2007&endDate=04/05/2014&balls=-1&strikes=-1&b_hand=R

    Here’s the JZim strikeout of Gattis:

    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/pfx.php?s_type=3&sp_type=1&year=2014&month=4&day=4&pitchSel=519455&game=gid_2014_04_04_atlmlb_wasmlb_1/&prevGame=gid_2014_04_04_atlmlb_wasmlb_1/&prevDate=44&batterX=11

    JZim threw 6 curveballs in his outing yesterday and 1 changeup. He pitched brilliantly but every batter has pitches they handle well. Gattis doesn’t hit curveballs. Why didn’t you show him a curve? Why not more sliders which you peppered him with in his 1st AB or even a changeup off of the 1st pitch fastball.

    JZim’s chart for the day was beautiful. Almost 40% whiffs on his slider and mixed his pitches most of the day well.

    • Nats128 - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:54 AM

      Strasburg made a mistake pitch to Brown on Opening Day and the Nats bailed him out.

      On this day the Nats had a chance to pound Hale (who?) and failed to make the plays.

      Jordan Z or Lobaton called for 2 fastballs in a row which you say was a mistake. It was 1-0 in the 5th. Shame on the Nats for allowing it to 1 run to be the deficit. When your starter gives up just 1 run over 5 you should be winning that game given historical statistics.

      Nats need to pound the Barves today and that will shut the book on yesterday as just another loss in a long season.

  15. natsfan1a - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    Okay, that video was a little random. Here’s a better one I found of the group, now with bonus Nats shots (from behind):

    On a somewhat related note, seeing the home run apple in the “upright” position reminds me that it evidently got stuck after the opening ceremonies. I had made a jest about hoping not to see it up again for the remainder of the day. Evidently, I angered the baseball gods, because, although there were Mets dingers in the game, the apple never rose again. Maybe it froze shut, as it was pretty cold there on Monday… :-)

    • Section 222 - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:25 AM

      Guess I owe you a drink 1a. Sorry for the multiplicity of YouTube videos.

      • natsfan1a - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:38 AM

        Eh, it’s just the wacky nesting function.

  16. NatsLady - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    That stomach flu landed an Astros player (Dexter Fowler) in the hospital. Be thankful for small blessings.

    • natsfan1a - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:43 AM

      So, they weren’t just trying to psych out their opponent? ;-)

    • Nats128 - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:55 AM

      I heard that was food poisoning.

    • Section 222 - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      That’s one heck of a bug if the same thing that got JZnn in NYC got Fowler in Houston. But if your point is that we should be thankful that JZnn didn’t end up in the hospital for his flu, +1. Of course, that would have been taking the Opening Day starter ruse a little too far, right? :-)

      • natsfan1a - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:38 AM

        lol

  17. NatsLady - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    I got a snap of the clock with no hands.
    Baseball is timeless. That is all.

    • natsfan1a - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:19 AM

      Good call.

  18. Eric - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    Now that the dust has settled, and taking a page from David Proctor, I’m in encouraged by a few things yesterday:
    -8 hits
    -0 defensive errors
    -Zim sac fly
    -Barrett

    We made the Braves earn the win, we didn’t hand it to them on a 9th inning error, or any other error. We got a good number of hits. Our only mistakes were in pursuit of scoring (CS, sending LaRoche home), which imo is better than mistakes on defense. We were reckless and made stupid decisions on the basepaths, but it sets an expectation that we might be just a touch crazy on going forward. The Braves are tight so that may not fluster them… But maybe it will…

    I feel that while the errors on the base path were awful, failure with RISP is what sank us, ultimately. Without those base path errors, we might have had more RISP opportunities, but the fact remains: we had enough opportunities to win in spite of the CS plays and sending LaRoche.

    I think the worst thing the Nats could do here is change approach. Just keep getting hits and refine the running game and we’ll do just fine.

    • natsfan1a - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:19 AM

      -Craig Stammen.

      • natsfan1a - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:20 AM

        (Not that we didn’t already know about him.)

      • Eric - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:30 AM

        +1!

    • Section 222 - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:44 AM

      -Rendon! He’s the real deal. I was saying to a friend at the park yesterday that I’m fine with giving Danny enough playing time to keep him fresh and hopefully productive, but no matter how “rejuvenated” he is, he’s never going to be the hitter that Rendon will be.

      • Eric - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:50 AM

        Rendon has indeed been fantastic!

    • Candide - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      Without those base path errors, we might have had more RISP opportunities…

      Harper’s CS was a net zero, actually. Desmond followed with a hard smash in the hole at short and beat the throw to first. Had Harper not been CS, he would have been an easy force at second, so result would have been the same.

      But you still can’t give away an entire inning’s worth of outs on the basepaths.

    • Nats128 - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      You arent encouraged by Jordan Zimmermann’s domination coming off the killer flu? ;)

      1 run over 5 innings and probably could have gone 6 if they didnt pinch hit for him as he would have faced the end of the Braves order.

      • Eric - Apr 5, 2014 at 11:04 AM

        +1 again!

        But I was sticking to good signs for the future that are newish developments or improvements on last year (e.g., hits and errors), especially early. Barrett’s was the only individual performance that fit both criteria, imo. Stammen, Rendon, and *especially* Zinn are well established positives.

  19. Nats128 - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    Bill Rohland on 106.7 talking all Nats. Calls yesterdays aggressiveness “reckless”.

  20. rabbit433 - Apr 5, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    I was thinking about the “wedge” play in the left field corner. If that’s what it’s going to take to help the Braves win this year, they are going to have a long year. Also, looks like we have to make adjustment to the ground rule covering the ball under the wall thingie. The replay “officials” in N.Y. need to go back to common sense school. Now, let’s crush the Braves tonight and hope their mommies in the N.Y. replay center don’t give them too much help because they were crying.

    • chaz11963 - Apr 5, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      As much as I would luv to see the Nats rebound with a crushing of the Braves tonight, it’s more likely to be another close game with Teheran on the mound and cool/windy temperatures. They just need to be smart and play a tight game.

  21. Joe Seamhead - Apr 5, 2014 at 12:52 PM

    Some has to explain it to me, not sure that I understand. Start of the 7th inning Matt brings in the RH Clippard to face the LH Heyward. Heyward has a career .625 BA and 1575 OPS against Clip.Rizzo traded for Blevins because we need a LH reliever. Wasn’t this a good time to bring him in? Ghost, NatsLady, or anybody else got a plausible explanation?

    • Joe Seamhead - Apr 5, 2014 at 12:54 PM

      That was as bad as the base-running guffaws imho.

    • Eric - Apr 5, 2014 at 1:11 PM

      A good question. I definitely think Clip was erring on the side of caution with Heyward, hence the walk. Most of his pitches were exactly on the edge of the zone.

    • letswin3 - Apr 5, 2014 at 2:34 PM

      Sorry, I can’t help with an answer. Actually, I think I remember Blevins warming up just before Clip was called in?? Also, all spring everyone was suggesting that Blevins would fit that need perfectly … and I was one of those criticizing Rizzo for not including a second lefty in the pen last season, like Davey requested. So this season he makes things right and Matty ignores both convention and pitcher/hitter history?? Maybe Matty just hasn’t quite gotten his sea legs yet. But his “window” will be short for those of us who feel the “window” for this team is open and inviting.

  22. Joe Seamhead - Apr 5, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    BTW, the Braves batters as a team are collectively 0-10 against Blevins, though he has issued 4 walks to them.

  23. ehay2k - Apr 5, 2014 at 3:36 PM

    So early, so very early in the season, it’s hard to draw many conclusions about any team. The Barves just won a one-run game that was handed to them on a silver platter. Let them crow about it. Let them brag about their ‘pen. But only one run? Hmm… actually reminds of the Nats last year.

    But, since it is early in the season, it is interesting to note that Kimbrel and Carpenter have each appeared in 3 of 4 games so far. That is a big ratio, but I guess if those guys can each gut out 120 appearances, the Barves will shut down everyone from the 8th inning on and win 120 games. Somehow, I think not. Their over-reliance on their relievers will likely help them early but hurt them late.

    Looking forward to the game tonite, and to Sunday for my first game at the park this year.

    GYFNG!

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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.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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