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Instant analysis: Nats 5, Marlins 0

Apr 8, 2014, 10:06 PM EST

AP AP

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: On a chilly April evening, the pitchers figured to be ahead of the hitters. And sure enough, that was true for Gio Gonzalez and Henderson Alvarez. The two young starters combined to allow only one run through 5 1/2 innings. That’s not to say Gonzalez was in top form; he racked up a much higher pitch count than necessary and had to be pulled after six innings. But he got the job done before handing things over to a rested Nationals bullpen.

Alvarez, meanwhile, deserved a better fate, but the right-hander wasn’t helped by his defense and surrendered a couple of clutch hits. Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper used their legs to create a run in the bottom of the sixth, and Anthony Rendon used his bat to add three insurance runs late.

Toss in three scoreless innings of relief from Jerry Blevins, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Aaron Barrett, and the Nationals had themselves a nice-and-tidy, shutout victory to open this series. They’re 5-2 overall and feeling much better about themselves after a shaky weekend against the Braves.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Perhaps the name of this category should be switched to “Baserunning Highlight” tonight, because that was the difference for the Nationals. Matt Williams has been preaching aggressiveness on the bases, and while that sometimes comes back to haunt them (coughFridaycough) it can also pay big dividends as it did tonight. With two outs in the sixth and runners on the corners, a pitch got away from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, only about five feet. LaRoche didn’t hesitate, though, and took off for second base with abandon. Saltalmacchia’s throw did beat him to the bag, but second baseman Jeff Baker couldn’t make the tag, so LaRoche was safe. Meanwhile, Harper bolted off third base and scored without a throw. That’s a perfect example of the aggressiveness Williams would like to see from his team.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: This was kind of a classic Gio Gonzalez start. In both good and bad ways. The good: Gonzalez gave up very few hard-hit balls. All three hits he allowed were singles, one of them a bunt. And he didn’t let anybody cross the plate. Or even come close to crossing the plate. The bad: He rarely managed to get quick outs. He walked two, but worse than that, had trouble putting hitters away and thus wound up with a whopping pitch count of 101 after only six innings, even though he struck out a modest five batters. For one night, the Nationals can live with that kind of inefficiency. Over the long haul, that’s not what they want to see out of their lefty.

KEY STAT: Adam LaRoche, a career .214 hitter in March and April, is now hitting .348 through the season’s first seven games.

UP NEXT: The series continues Wednesday night, when Jordan Zimmermann (bumped up to keep him on normal, five days’ rest) takes the mound for the Nationals still seeking his first win of the season. Right-hander Jacob Turner starts for the Marlins. Ryan Zimmerman may be back at third base if he makes it through a pregame workout with no major shoulder issues.

  1. natinalsgo - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:10 PM

    Kolko with that stupid Wives Tale that LaRoche is a slow start to the season. Take out his injury filled 2010 and LaRoche has been just fine in April.

    • Candide - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:13 PM

      Mark Zuckerman @ZuckermanCSN
      Adam LaRoche, a career .214 hitter in March/April is off to a .348 start to this season. #SmallSampleSize

      • natinalsgo - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:26 PM

        In 2012 LaRoche was .329. In 2010 .296 . In 2009 .269 That’s not a slow starter. He’s an inconsistent starter but the numbers are skewed for injuries too.

        Take out his 2011 injury filled April and its .226 and that’s not really a slow starter. Its not great but acting like he’s a .136 like last year isn’t what he really is and has been over his career.

  2. Candide - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:11 PM

    Woo-HOOO!

  3. knoxvillenat - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    Dan Kolko to ALR after the game, “Adam what do you attribute your fast start this season?”

    It’s the beard Dan, it’s the beard!!

  4. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:14 PM

    What a great win… That Miami offense took a guy punch/check tonight…

  5. sunshinebobby - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:26 PM

    Mrs. B, I like “guy punch/check” even better! Ouch!

  6. Eric - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:26 PM

    I vote for “Offensive Highlight” instead of “Hitting Highlight”.

    GREAT game.

  7. natinalsgo - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    Mets hold on to win with bases loaded.

    • Eric - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:22 PM

      Good stuff

  8. David Proctor - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:35 PM

    Jose Valverde loads the bases and gives up a flyball to the warning track to Heyward…but survives and gets the save. Mets win.

  9. Eugene in Oregon - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:37 PM

    Leave it at ‘hitting highlight’ and give the nod to Anthony Rendon.

    • thelatencn - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:01 AM

      Absolutely. He deserves to have his name in the story for sure.

  10. natinalsgo - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    Nats in full possession of 1st Place. Just kind of cool to say since we haven’t been able to say that since 2012.

  11. Danny - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    Homer Haren back at it.

    • nats128 - Apr 9, 2014 at 7:07 AM

      Do you feel silly now? 1 earned run all game against the offensive powerhouse Tigers.

  12. Drew - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:43 PM

    The Nats have a nifty third baseman.

  13. natinalsgo - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:49 PM

    Brad Hand in place of Jacob Turner tomorrow.

    • natinalsgo - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:51 PM

      Retweeted by Adam Kilgore
      clarkspencer ‏@clarkspencer: #marlins Jacob turner will miss start Wednesday due to shoulder strain incurred during batting practice. Brad hand to start in his place

      • nats128 - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:53 PM

        I wonder if that changes Mattys lineup for tomorrow.

  14. David Proctor - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:49 PM

    Jacob Turner has been scratched from tomorrow’s game for the Marlins due to elbow inflammation. Brad Hand is coming out of their bullpen to start.

  15. Steady Eddie - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:52 PM

    Couple of years and Rendon will be in regular contention for NL batting champ.

    • nats128 - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:53 PM

      +1 Rizzo looking like the genius in that Draft!

    • trochlis318 - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:09 PM

      while i see a .300 hitter no way he is able to outhit votto in a couple of years unless he changes something about the way he hits which i wouldn’t recommend

      • natinalsgo - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:12 PM

        Eddie said “in regular contention” not necessarily winning it. I’m buying! +2

      • trochlis318 - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:15 PM

        yah just noticed that, so yah sure, but i think even at .300 he is still a good 20 BA points away from being in consistent contention

      • scmargenau - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:21 AM

        Oh shucks. I’ll take it!!!

    • sjm308 - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:10 PM

      as well as lead the league in doubles

  16. Sonny G 10 - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    Great win tonight. I got a big boost of confidence in Anthony Rendon playing 3B tonight. I had never seen him make a bare-handed pickup fielding a bunt ala Zimmerman before and wasn’t sure how good he would be in that situation. I now have complete faith in his 3B abilities.

    I was pleased with the way Espinosa swung the bat left-handed tonight, but thought he tried to crush home runs right handed. He needs to take the same approach right-handed as he has been doing left-handed. He did hit the ball on his second right-handed at bat so there’s that.

    • adcwonk - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:44 PM

      I dunno . . . from sec 308 (granted, not as good a view as on TV) it looked like he was taking big swings. I turned to my wife after swinging strike one and said: he’s gonna strike out. And he did.

      And the next time up: same thing. After the first swing it was obvious he was going to strike out. And he did.

      I’ve been a cautiously-optimistic booster of Espi this year — but tonight looked like “same ole’ same ole'”

      • scmargenau - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:23 AM

        He’s is. 2nd base needs help. Can’t rely on espi

      • nats128 - Apr 9, 2014 at 7:15 AM

        Yes he was and those were right-handed swings. I guess they fixed him up lefty and he needs the same help right-handed now. Still got that bunt hit.

  17. sunshinebobby - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    nats128 – Apr 8, 2014 at 10:53 PM says:
    I wonder if that changes Mattys lineup for tomorrow.

    The wind and atmospheric barometer readings change Matty’s lineup…

    • nats128 - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:19 PM

      Your right.

  18. ArVAFan - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    Good night at the park. The ecash worked, the picnic tables are back behind 313, my RCR points posted properly, ZMunchkin came by to say hello, the hot chocolate kept me warm enough . . . and, oh, yes, we won the game!

    • adcwonk - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:44 PM

      Sorry I didn’t stop by. As usual, we got to our seats with too little time to roam the park. We’ll try next time!

    • zmunchkin - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:59 PM

      Nice meeting you ArVAFan!

      Great game. And it is great that things are back to where they should be in the NL East – Nats in 1st!

    • nats106 - Apr 9, 2014 at 8:08 AM

      ArVAFan-just curious about the Red carpet points. Do you mean the updates for arriving at the park early? Or using the RC points for other rewards?

      Last night was just a great night. My only disappointment was that the Bullpen beer prices were raised significantly over last year. The Miller lite party deck now has the best deal for pre=game beverages.

  19. sjm308 - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:31 PM

    Going to be snarky here so apologies in advance

    I really used to like reading comments – maybe more so in spring training when several of you are actually on sight and give insight to what is going on

    I just read the game comments starting when Mark posted the lineups for tonights game.

    Do you people realize how many times you either start a comment or include in a comment something like the following – 1.”I wrote ——– back in 2012/11 ” or 2. ” remember when I said ——“- or 3. “I told you this would happen back on “—— etc etc.

    I realize I don’t have to read comments but I sure don’t need to read comments where you guys are all breaking your arms to pat yourselves on the back for something you said and I really don’t care what you wrote last week and especially something from last year.

    If someone writes something I agree with, I will let them know, if its against what I feel sometimes I will answer that as well but its a great game to second guess. Peric is now back with us and will stir some people up but its not horrible to have people with different points of view, especially if they can be civil.

    This group has some excellent baseball minds but we don’t need to be reminded of it 15 to 20 times in one post. I get that Ghost mentioned the “dirty little secret” but I bet that line was mentioned at least 5 or more times. Give it a rest people. He was hurt, you knew it, great.

    If that is offensive, well, its how I feel. I will still read what you guys post and I will still make comments but I will not remind you that I said something a week or so ago or even yesterday if it happens (much less a year ago). If I have done so in the past, I promise you it will now stop. You guys obviously have the right and ability to write anything you want, when you want but I just got tired of reading over and over what was said last year or even last week about Zimm and his shoulder. It’s hurt, we all hope it gets better. Tell me what you think about that today, not what you wrote weeks, months or years ago.

    Go Nats!

    • Section 222 - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:50 PM

      Fair point sjm, I’ll try to do better. Honestly, I wouldn’t have said any of that except that certain posters constantly act as if they are the only ones to have an original or prescient thought. In this case, it wasn’t true so I felt like I needed to point that out. Plus, some of the links I collected when I posted on the topic of Zim’s throwing a year ago make for interesting reading in light of current events.

      • nats128 - Apr 9, 2014 at 7:23 AM

        Section 222 you did comment on his arm and made other good points. The dirty secret was his defensive positioning and extreme loss of range which was specifically analyzed by the Ghost. His throws have been a issue for a long time.

      • Section 222 - Apr 9, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        Defensive positioning and Zim’s loss of range (reflected in a horrendous UZR) was discussed at length here last year. It may have been a secret to Boz, but not here. Whether it was Ghost who saw it first, I don’t know and I don’t really care.

      • JW - Apr 9, 2014 at 7:57 AM

        Perhaps those posters who think their comments on a frickin baseball blog are intellectual property should log that on their bueno spreadsheet. Then those other posters who are just commenting on a frickin baseball blog could check there first before commenting so they don’t infringe on others intellectual property. That would be pretty frickin bueno, wouldn’t it?

      • Section 222 - Apr 9, 2014 at 9:39 AM

        Welcome back Feel. We missed you. Not.

      • natinalsgo - Apr 9, 2014 at 8:38 AM

        JW, good stuff there! We aren’t figuring out the DNA chain here folks. Chill pill. Enjoy what it is.

    • scmargenau - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:27 AM

      +2

    • nats128 - Apr 9, 2014 at 7:20 AM

      Come up with something that sounds original sjm. Give it a rest. All you do is rag on Ghost. Do you want him to leave again. The guy gives insight that nobody else ever comes up with. Bozwell acts like he discovered fire. Hello Bozwell, this was mentioned on NatsInsider almost a year ago.

      If you dont like what Ghost and other people write, dont read his comments. Its clear you dont like him and your little childish cutdowns is old. Where has he ever cut you down?

      Give it a rest.

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 9, 2014 at 7:57 AM

      Just use the “ignore” key. It’s marked “scroll down” on most keyboards. So it’s boring, so what? He isn’t hurting anything.

      • natinalsgo - Apr 9, 2014 at 8:40 AM

        That’s way to easy. sjm has become the annoying one. smh

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 9, 2014 at 8:58 AM

        Of course, he isn’t hurting anything, either.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 9:34 AM

        Sec, I don’t get it. Read past my posts. You’d think I said something unkind to sjm. I’ve never said anything cruel to him.

        I have been getting a lot of emails from the weekend on the Atlanta series. One person emails me to say I’m wrong and stupid on Ryan Zimmerman’s throwing motion. Ok then don’t email me so I blocked his email. I love that feature. SJM, ignore me, block me, have a great life!

    • nats106 - Apr 9, 2014 at 8:37 AM

      In both 2012 and in 2013 I said that sjm would make snarky comments about how people said I told you so way back when.

      Sorry sjm308, I don’t know you that well, but I couldn’t resist. :-)

      Double good night last night. Nats win, Braves lose. Nice weather. It’s light when I go to work now and it’s light when I go home. Have a great day!

    • natsfan1a - Apr 9, 2014 at 9:11 AM

      I don’t generally read or comment in game posts so I don’t know what went on there (although I’m also not asking for anyone to rehash or repost items from the thread here). That said, I wanted to say that I don’t find sjm annoying or childish, and I value his contributions to the blog. Heck, I value *everybody’s* contributions to the blog. Doesn’t matter whether they’re giving insights into what takes place on the field or cheering on the team. Armchair GMs? Personally, I scroll through a bunch of that, but many others enjoy it. There’s a little something for everybody here. Sure, sometimes we get on each other’s nerves, and sometimes we might get a little defensive (ideally in an ad hominem-free manner). But we’re all pulling for the same team (I think). On that we can agree (maybe). Um, go NATS?

    • Brookstoor - Apr 9, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      Completely agree sjm. I said the same thing the other day, although maybe my words came off as harsh. I got accused of being jealous of not having my back patted… My whole point was that the back patting is useless and quite frankly pretty annoying. I thought I was taking crazy pills.

    • Eric - Apr 9, 2014 at 9:30 AM

      Who cares if people feel good about themselves for having predicted something correctly?

      On the flip side, to those of you telling sjm to “chill, it’s a beisbol blahg brah!”: surely you are coming from a place of deep and subtle irony…right?

  20. ehay2k - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:33 PM

    Nice win. Will be at the park tomorrow and Thursday. Anyone from NI going to be there?

  21. Section 222 - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:53 PM

    http://prettyfrickenbueno.wordpress.com/whos-going/

    Don’t forget to note your planned attendance folks.

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