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Instant analysis: Nats 10, Marlins 7

Apr 9, 2014, 11:03 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Where to begin? We’ll start with Jordan Zimmermann, who was downright awful in getting roughed up for five runs in only 1 2/3 innings, putting his teammates in a quick 5-0 hole. Slowly but surely, though, the Nationals got themselves back into it. Craig Stammen was brilliant out of the bullpen, keeping the game within reach.

Bryce Harper then got the Nats on the board in a big way, launching a 3-run homer deep into the cold April night in the bottom of the fourth. His teammates added another run in the fifth, then two more in the sixth to take a 6-5 lead. Safe to assume their bullpen held that lead? Not exactly. Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard each gave up a run in the seventh and eighth innings, leaving the Nationals trailing once again.

And then the combination of Jayson Werth at the plate and Carlos Marmol on the mound flipped the script one last time. Werth crushed a grand slam off the beleaguered Marlins reliever, sending what remained of a crowd of 21,190 into a frenzy and earning Werth a curtain call. Rafael Soriano finally closed out a wild win, though he brought the tying run to the plate, leaving the Nationals 6-2 and in first place in the NL East heading into tomorrow’s series finale.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: It was only a matter of time before Harper got himself going. And once he did tonight … oh my lord. The slumping slugger completely destroyed a pitch from left-hander Brad Hand, the ball eventually landing five rows deep. In the third deck. Yup. Even more impressive, the towering home run came at the end of a fantastic, 10-pitch at-bat for Harper, who at one point fouled off five straight pitches. And yet … that became a footnote at night’s end thanks to Werth. His grand slam off Marmol soared into the left-field bullpen and put the Nats ahead for good.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Zimmermann’s disastrous start figured to be the story tonight. Then Craig Stammen’s gutsy 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief figured to become the highlight. But then the back end of the Nationals bullpen took over and changed the storyline yet again. Handed a 6-5 lead in the seventh, Storen immediately served up a homer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Clippard entered a tie game in the eighth and immediately issued a walk, then another. Was it any surprise those free passes came back to haunt him? Garrett Jones’ double, which skipped off first base, gave Miami the lead and put Clippard in line for the loss until Werth bailed him out.

KEY STAT: Zimmermann’s 1 2/3-inning start was the shortest of his big-league career.

UP NEXT: The series wraps up with a late-afternoon, 4:05 p.m. matchup at Nationals Park. Stephen Strasburg, bumped up in the rotation to pitch on normal rest, gets the start for the Nats and is still seeking his first win of the young season. Young right-hander Tom Koehler starts for Miami.

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:05 PM

    Dave Jaegler: “If you left early, you blew it!”

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:06 PM

    Jayson mashes 2 balls to dead center early that died in the cold air near the warning track. He deserved that Grand Slam. Almost the exact spot as his Game 4 Walkoff.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:08 PM

      That was one f the worst decisions by the Fish…

      • ArVAFan - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:10 PM

        Certainly from their perspective . . .

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:11 PM

        Their manager must’ve been in the can when Jayson launched 2 deep to CF. If it was a tie game he has to do it but he had a 1 run lead. Not smart and it backfired in a bad way on them.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:13 PM

        Jayson was hitting the screws out the ball al night… I remember 1 at bat went like 390, can’t remember the other one… But I think he made solid contact…

        But thanks Fish..

      • nats128 - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:23 PM

        Matt Williams in his presser addressed that IBB in a diplomatic fashion.

  3. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:09 PM

    What a great game.. So happy for this ending given how it began.. Hope Jordan just had an off night…

    Harp with his 3 run homer… Werth the beautiful GS… Zimm with no errors…. And of course, Sori with the extra excitement..

    Bummed I didnt record this game…

    But awesome job Nats, awesome job!!!

    *ps, did you see the bat flip b pay Jay Dubbs — loved it…

    • snerdblurter - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      +1 on the bat flip. Nice to see some swagger in their steps.

  4. adcwonk - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:12 PM

    Stammen is the unsung hero here. (Of course, Harper, Werth, but we’re all already singing their praises).

    3.1 IP, zero runs — held them at bay while we got back in the game.

    • Eric - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:40 PM

      Agreed… Just he did in Atlanta last year, only with a huge deficit this time

      • adcwonk - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:22 AM

        Good point.

  5. BombsOverNatsTown - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:13 PM

    The Jones double wasn’t the difference in the game. #tootooinstant

  6. adcwonk - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:16 PM

    Funny how little things . . . .

    Werth got the slammy because Rendon got IBB’d because of the prior error, b/c Span was bunting . . .

    • nats128 - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:21 PM

      Baseball Gods as the equalizer!

    • David Proctor - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:24 PM

      And because McLouth made no effort to avoid the HBP. Seems like nothing, but that’s a pretty big play when you think about it.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:26 PM

        David, glad you mentioned that. Small thing was huge. Crazy Marmol. He’s as bad as Henry Rodriguez..

      • adcwonk - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:22 AM

        Good point.

  7. Sonny G 10 - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    Sweet Fancy Moses, what a game. I must confess I had resigned myself to a loss twice tonight. Once when we were down 0 – 5, of course, but then when the fish retook the lead, I prepared myself for a loss again. When Jayson hit the Grand Slam, it was like being reborn. Then Soriano about gives me a heart attack. Never so glad to see him get out of the inning with a save.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:31 PM

      Sonny, come on, the Nats had it the whole time. I never doubted it as you could feel it. This team is special. They got quality people and a Manager who was flawless tonight. He saved McLouth for the perfect moment. Everybody had an approach at the plate at crunch time and I’ve been waiting to say that for years. Schu has these guys prepared.

      • Sonny G 10 - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:49 PM

        Yea, Ghost, I don’t know what I was thinking. Oh me of little faith. :)

  8. Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    That there is what you call your basic “intangible.” Walk this kid to get to me? I don’t think so.

    And Matty notes that Harper’s oppo hit after the bomb was more encouraging.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:32 PM

      I like that because I agree with Matty. Small things.

  9. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    “@AdamKilgoreWP: Jordan Zimmermann said he felt strong, never saw his rotten night coming. “I have no answer for you.””

    • Sonny G 10 - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:52 PM

      Well, Jordan. Sometimes you’re the bug, and sometimes you’re the windshield. I’ve had days like that.

  10. JW - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:42 PM

    The Nationals need to paint the seat where Harper’s homer landed either white (like the Frank Howard homer seats at RFK) or red (like the Zimmerman home run step at RFK). #painttheseat

    • soonernat - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:16 AM

      +1

      • Nattering Nat - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:38 AM

        +2

      • chaz11963 - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:10 AM

        +3

    • thenatom - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:40 AM

      +1 Another twist on that idea would be to paint every seat a Nats Walk-off lands. That would be pretty cool to see the outfield gallery slowly getting more red seats.

      • Eric - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:51 AM

        +1. If we start painting seats, Game 4 walk off should be first, imo.

      • Section 222 - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:11 AM

        Great idea to paint the seats. The Werth’s Game 4 shot went in the bullpen though, right?

      • adcwonk - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:26 AM

        Great idea to paint the seats. The Werth’s Game 4 shot went in the bullpen though, right?

        Yes. I was there, but I can’t remember if it hit the back bullpen wall or not — in any event, it would be cool to mark that spot. A constant reminder for opposing pitchers, eh? ;-)

      • Eric - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:14 AM

        Just watched the replay…hit the back of the bullpen wall.

  11. Eric - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:49 PM

    While Harper getting going is critical, and Werth’s slam was epic, I think the 3 runs in between those two events give me the most hope re: our ability to win consistently.

  12. Sonny G 10 - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:59 PM

    I recorded this game and I might just watch it again. Now that I know the outcome, I bet I can enjoy it even more. It almost feels surreal to be 6 and 2 after tonight.

  13. naterialguy - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:08 AM

    What a game. I’m happy and exhausted.

  14. soonernat - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:17 AM

    I believe Bryce is back…his 10 pitch AB was very impressive. He no longer looks “lost”!

  15. secretwasianman - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:22 AM

    Jeez oh flips. Fell asleep a 5 to 3. Just woke up because I drank a large iced tea. Whoo hoo. Sorry I missed this one. Looking for highlights now. For those who stuck with it great job

  16. sjm308 - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:26 AM

    So, I am at a dinner party & no Nats fans. I sneak my phone out early & its 5-0. Silently curse and go back to the idiotic small talk. Get back on the phone with Bryce at bat on MLB at bat and keep the damn thing on during the 10 pitch at bat. In the middle of whatever conversation was going on he goes deep and I go YES!!!. People turn to me & I just casually say, we are back in the game. My spousal equivalent has to let everyone know what I am talking about and talk goes on about travel, finances etc etc. I finally get the host to let me watch the game in another room after dinner and its the 8th inning. I see Clippard walk the lead off batter, curse at the results of that and then come back into the room after Werth delivers. Not sure anyone else understands what it is like to be a fan but even though I just saw bits and pieces, I had a nice ride home.

    Go Nats!!! Still feeling that sweep

    • Sonny G 10 - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:41 AM

      Good story, Coach.

    • scmargenau - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:13 AM

      Epic.

  17. sjm308 - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:05 AM

    Is it too early to think this team might be special??

    • Theophilus T.S. - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:26 AM

      A little too soon. As Wms. said after the game, the bullpen will be a little “tattered” — was that the word he used? — tomorrow and and it may take two or three days to get iit straightened out. I guess Stammen is out for tomorrow, and I wouldn’t want to call on Storen or Clippard either because there are no off days in the immediate future. Ordinarily you’d think Strasburg could give the pen most of the night off but that is by no means a given. The point being (A) the starters, including the so-called “aces,” need to start eating innings and (B) this bullpen has not, so far, shown that it is up to the standards of the 2012 pen. If the starters don’t improve, this offense could well score six runs every nite but the bullpen will be chum.

      • letswin3 - Apr 10, 2014 at 2:10 AM

        Strass goes 7 1/3 tomorrow. Mark it down. He reads this blog, and he’s a little ticked at the disrespect he’s been getting about being a prima donna …. moreover, he’s hoping that it’s near freezing and some stupid infielder bobbles a routine grounder into an early error. He’s mad as hell, and he’s just not gonna take it anymore. Well, I can dream, can’t I?

      • adcwonk - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:28 AM

        (B) this bullpen has not, so far, shown that it is up to the standards of the 2012 pen

        I beg to differ. If I recall, going into the game, the Nats had the best (or among the best) BP record in MLB.

  18. laddieblahblah - Apr 10, 2014 at 4:05 AM

    Just read the whole thread..;o)

    There’s still 154 more games to go! And, yes, this is a special team. This is another game where they have come from behind to win, and they are just getting started. They just don’t give up. They win when they don’t score, and they win when the staff doesn’t get anybody out.

    Best of all, there’s another game tomorrow.

  19. Joe Seamhead - Apr 10, 2014 at 6:13 AM

    I went to the game by myself because of a bit a snafu on the home front. Harp’s homer might not have gone as far as one of Dunn’s, and one that Laynce Nix hit, but I’ll tell you it was an absolute slump busting, memorable blast!

    By the time Jayson hit the slam much of the crowd had left the building. Phil Wood said after the game that this was one that in a few years 100,000 will claim to have been there.

    The relay from Werth to Rendon to the Lobaton was beautiful. Had a great view of the play at the plate and knew the runner had never touched the plate. Surprised it hasn’t been discussed much. It was text book perfectly executed. I also felt the new “no slam the catcher” rule was on display there.

    ALR had a great game at first. Several terrific picks.

    Craig Stammen? Jordan Zimmermann owes you a lobster dinner.

    Soriano had to make it interesting, didn’t he? You’d think he gets paid by the pitch, cause he sure threw a lot of them!

    Five teams passed on Rendon in that draft. They screwed up. This kid is really special!

    • sjm308 - Apr 10, 2014 at 7:27 AM

      “to the Lobaton” – I love it!!

      Nice job Seam!!

    • adcwonk - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:31 AM

      Five teams passed on Rendon in that draft. They screwed up. This kid is really special!

      That was one of a number of Rizzo’s gambles that paid off. Rendon had the “injury prone” tag on him — Rizzo picks up a lot of those. Some work out, some don’t. This one looks like it might pay off for a decade to come! The dude is still only 23!!

  20. ArVAFan - Apr 10, 2014 at 6:37 AM

    Morning memo to MLB managers: go ahead and walk the previous batter to pitch to Jayson. We won’t mind.

    Jayson, on the other hand, may feel differently.

    • adcwonk - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:35 AM

      In Miami’s defense — I do get, sort of, what the deal was. There was one out, so he was looking for a DP. And (happy to say) Rendon is our hottest hitter right now. Rendon was already 2-4, and was batting .419 and has hits in every game this year. Werth had indeed hit it hard, but was 0-4 at the time.

      The problem for Miami, of course, was that after Rendon, Werth has the second most hits on the team. ;-)

  21. chaz11963 - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    Wow, what a game! I can not believe they walked Rendon to pitch to Werth! You know Jayson took that personally. Can’t wait for the game this afternoon!!!

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