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Kings of the comeback

Apr 10, 2014, 1:02 AM EDT

AP AP

It took 62 tries, not until a June 9 doubleheader against the Twins, before the 2013 Nationals came from three runs down to win a ballgame.

Only eight games into the 2014 season, the Nationals have already done it twice. And after Wednesday’s dramatic, back-and-forth, plucked-out-of-thin-air, 10-7 victory over the Marlins, it was perhaps fair to wonder whether this year’s club is already establishing itself as one capable of doing this sort of thing on a regular basis.

“You hope so,” said Jayson Werth, whose eighth-inning grand slam off Carlos Marmol proved the difference. “I never felt out of this game, that’s for sure.”

It took just about everything the Nationals had in them to storm back to win a ballgame in which starter Jordan Zimmermann was yanked after a career-worst 1 2/3 innings, having placed his teammates in a 5-0 hole. Even when they rallied to take a 6-5 lead in the sixth thanks to Bryce Harper’s monstrous homer into the third deck down the right-field line and some fortuitous bounces later on, the Nationals ultimately needed Werth’s blast after relievers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard let the Marlins recapture the lead.

The grand slam into the visitors’ bullpen came after Miami manager Mike Redmond elected to intentionally walk the .419-hitting Anthony Rendon, loading the bases for Werth in hopes of inducing a double play. Werth might have taken some offense to that strategy.

“Knowing Jayson, if a pitcher looks at him wrong, he’ll take that personally,” said Craig Stammen, the unsung hero of the game after tossing 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. “Them blatantly walking to get to him, you typically don’t walk to get to your 3-hole hitter, especially a veteran guy that’s proven he can get big hits. But they chose to, and it worked out in our favor this time.”

Werth was more diplomatic when asked about the Marlins’ strategy, but his on-field reaction upon making contact — he flipped his bat a good 30 feet toward the home dugout — said it all.

“When you’re put in that situation and the game’s on the line, you want to come through for your teammates,” the veteran right fielder said. “I was happy to do that.”

Werth’s fourth career grand slam, his first with the Nationals, stole the show and elicited a curtain call from those who remained from a crowd of 21,190. But so much was necessary to even get him into that position at night’s end.

Start with Stammen’s gutsy effort out of the bullpen, taking over for a stunningly ineffective Zimmermann and bridging the gap to the rest of the Nationals’ bullpen with his typical workmanlike style.

“Really surprising,” Stammen said of Zimmermann’s abbreviated start. “He’s like the one guy you can always count on for six or seven innings. We got to back him up just like we back up all the starters.”

The biggest turn of events might well have been Harper’s gargantuan homer off Miami left-hander Brad Hand, one that capped a fantastic, 10-pitch at-bat in which the slumping young star fouled off five consecutive offerings at one point.

Was this the big blast that finally gets Harper going after a 4-for-26 skid to open the season?

“I’m just happy it went over the wall and we got three runs out of it,” he said.

Whether Harper’s homer spurs him to greater things or not, it did re-energize the Nationals’ dugout.

“I think once he hit that home run, we felt like we were probably going to win the game,” Stammen said.

That’s the kind of attitude that seems to be permeating the roster these days. It’s early, barely more than a week into the season. But there is a confidence to these Nationals, the kind that helps turn an early 5-run deficit into yet another come-from-behind victory.

“If you look at the way we played down the stretch last year, in the second half, and the way we’ve played so far this year, that can become an identity, for sure,” Werth said. “We’ve just got to keep going, keep pressing, take opportunities when they’re given to us.”

  1. unkyd59 - Apr 10, 2014 at 5:24 AM

    Had to crash before Clipp allowed the go-ahead, but strangely, I felt the situation was well in hand…. Yep, I line this team…

    • unkyd59 - Apr 10, 2014 at 6:24 AM

      Like…

    • tcostant - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:12 AM

      I was calling for Jerry Blevins to start off the 8th, why is this guy on the team if your not going to use him. Clipp just doesn’t seeem right yet.

      • dgourds - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:37 AM

        Blevins has not shown much to me. A soft-tossing lefty who hasn’t demonstrated much command yet. Frankly, I wouldn’t trust him in that situation. Clip has a long track record of producing in pressure situations. Besides his being lefty, I don’t know why Blevins is on the team. With Det in the pen, we don’t need him.

      • tcostant - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:26 AM

        You need to play lefty matchups late in games, especially to start an inning, when a left is leading off. That baseball now a days.

      • letswin3 - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:14 PM

        Blevins was brought in in the off-season when everyone thought that Det was the number 5 starter in the rotation … and nearly everyone felt that one of the mistakes of ’13 was having only one lefty in the pen. I have a hunch that we are going to feel better about him before the season is over. Every reliever doesn’t have to throw 95 and give you a look like he want’s to eat your children.

  2. Joe Seamhead - Apr 10, 2014 at 6:29 AM

    “If you look at the way we played down the stretch last year, in the second half, and the way we’ve played so far this year, that can become an identity, for sure,” Werth said. “We’ve just got to keep going, keep pressing, take opportunities when they’re given to us.”

    Much of this “new” Nattitude really did start last August with the players, but has just looked even better so far this year, and the new blood that Matt Williams brings is a ton of fun to behold.

    • MicheleS - Apr 10, 2014 at 6:52 AM

      Like!!!

    • thelatencn - Apr 10, 2014 at 7:55 AM

      Has anyone ever done an analysis, with regard to teams or individual players, to determine if there is a corelation between how they end a season and how they do the next season. I’ve thought there is for decades, and the recent Nats have only bolstered that view.

      The mediocre ’11 Nats ended strong, and ’12 was spectacular. But the ’12 Nats, for all they accomplished, ended on a downward trend – a weak September, and of course, Game 5. The ’13 Nats picked up right where the previous late-season team left off, and were mediocre until mid-August, and then, as Jayson says, played great down the stretch. Now the ’14 team is off to the races.

      You can see it with many individuals, too, e.g. Desmnd from ’11 to 12, Rendon this year.

      I’m not saying its an iron law, but it does seem to be a tendency.

      • adcwonk - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:49 AM

        I dunno . . . my own theory is that teams that had a chance and didn’t make it, or teams that were overconfident, or teams that blantantly didn’t fulfill their potential, often come back strong the next year, as they are extra hungry and have a chip on their shoulder.

        The 2009 Nats won their last seven straight games (in their 103-loss season). They did follow that with 52 games of .500 ball — then the disaster in Houston and they ended up with a 93 loss season. Granted, a 10 game improvement, but they were in last place from the middle of June and one.

        The 2012 Nats didn’t have a weak Sept (despite getting swept in a 3 game series against Atlanta) — from Sept 1 till the end of the regular season they were 18-13. Not spectacular, but a pretty solid .580 clip.

  3. unkyd59 - Apr 10, 2014 at 6:35 AM

    I don’t think there’s anything a fan can say with more pride, than “This team has no “quit” in it…”

    Feelin’ fairly proud, right about now… :)

  4. MicheleS - Apr 10, 2014 at 6:53 AM

    That game was epic. seriously, I am drained.

  5. Section 222 - Apr 10, 2014 at 7:30 AM

    Well, that was something. More fun at the park than any game since Game 4. As Unky said, it’s a great feeling knowing that your team is not going to give up. And as my friend said as we walked out, “that’s a Nats Classic in the making.”

    Two things to note beyond the obvious. First, Bob “Don’t call me Don” Henley did not have a good night. Both Rendon and Zim ran right through his stop signs in their triples in the 5th and 6th (well, Zim’s was a double and an error). And second, since I’ve been tough on Zim these past few years, I have to give credit where credit is due. I fully expected him to eat that shot to his right where it was pretty clear he couldn’t do a sidearm thrown. Instead, he heaved the ball overhand, giving up his body for the team. That must have really hurt, and he must have known it would. The man is a gamer for sure.

    • Candide - Apr 10, 2014 at 7:51 AM

      Zim gets so much more on his sidearm throws I wonder why he doesn’t try to make all his throws that way. I understand the sidearm thing works when he’s charging the ball and he gets some kind of angular momentum on it that he can’t get when he plants his feet and throws, but maybe when he gets a ball hit straight to him, he could take a step or two (or three, time permitting) to get into that sidearm position.*

      Just watching his overhand throw scares me that he could end up on the DL or something if he keeps trying to do it in spite of the pain.

      * I’m sure nobody else in the world has thought of this…

      • Section 222 - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:05 AM

        I think he’s going to try to do sidearm throws on all routine plays, but on the plays last night, particularly that hard shot to his right, time was of the essence and he probably instinctively knew that taking the time to set up a sidearm throw would give him no chance to get the runner. His throw wasn’t pretty, but it was on target, and almost in time.

  6. sjm308 - Apr 10, 2014 at 7:33 AM

    Not to pat a fellow insider on the back but Seam has just made me laugh with his in game description from last night on the previous post – its just a simple phrase but the relay from Werth to Rendon “to the Lobaton” made me smile. Nice job Joe and way to hang in there for the whole game.

    Go Nats!! Go “To The Lobaton”!!!

  7. kirbs3256 - Apr 10, 2014 at 7:51 AM

    We just need SS to go 8 tonight…..no biggie right? BTW, i loved the Jayson comment “Where here tomorrow if anybody cares”.

    • snerdblurter - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:22 AM

      Subtle shot at the early departing fans?

      Hopefully it’ll get better as the less-invested see how much heart this team has…and the weather warms up a bit too…

  8. nats128 - Apr 10, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    Hard to describe what I saw last night. I went back to my MLB.TV subscription and watched again the 8th inning. Nate McLouth was a great pickup. How the bleep do you get this guy more playing time. I dont think you can.

    Bryce got going. Lobaton was just money once again behind the dish. Rendon has been Rendonculous. Werth got ripped on balls he stung all day and I will say it again the Baseball Gods gave him a I.O.U. and he cashed it in.

    • lplipty - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:06 AM

      my guess is Span, & Lobtan sits today.

      • Chazz - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:13 PM

        I think we need to call him “The Lobaton” from now on. Like a LannEn thing.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:26 PM

        Good call. We knew Lobaton would sit. McLouth deserves a start!

  9. nats128 - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    Marlins TV as Werth steps into the box with bases loaded they post up his game stats 0-4. 1st pitch strike they acknowledge was a generous call. 2nd pitch Werth goes yard “The gamble didn’t payoff”.

  10. Candide - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:29 AM

    In defense of the decision to walk Rendon and pitch to Werth: Yeah, Werth had been ripping the ball into bad luck, so you figure the BABIP gods would decide to even things out for him.

    But you have to consider how Rendon’s been hitting. The kid hits everything. Marlins looked at him with Nats at 2nd and 3rd and figured a two-run single was standing there in the batter’s box.

    • ArVAFan - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:32 AM

      And they were probably right. They just didn’t realize that they had the choice of a two-run single or a grand slam. 20/20 hindsight. Do you think any manager will do that again this year, faced with the same choice?

      I think I’d rather face a hot-hitting Rendon than a PO’d Werth.

      • Candide - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:39 AM

        I think I’d rather face a hot-hitting Rendon than a PO’d Werth.

        Not much of a choice. Of course, if you don’t put leadoff hitter McLouth on via HBP and kick Span’s bunt around the infield, you don’t have to face that ugly choice.

        Speaking of which… Clippard has shown an alarming tendency to walk the leadoff batter lately and we’ve paid for it each time.

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

        frankly, i would have walked Rendon too….try for the double play

      • Eric - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:23 AM

        I’m with ya, lplipty. I don’t think it was about Werth v Rendon so much as to set up a force play w/DP opportunity vs. no force play at all.

        Generally speaking, Werth is every bit as if not more consistent than Rendon, AND he has pop that Rendon doesn’t have (not that Rendon has none, mind you). Yes, Rendon is a hair hotter than Werth right now, but imo the pop balances it out. I seriously doubt any of this is lost on Redmond. I think he was just playing the odds: odds are better you’ll get an out or two with a force at every plate instead of just first, and odds are greater that you’ll get a ground ball or at worst a 2-run single than a grand slam.

    • adcwonk - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:53 AM

      Agreed (I posted as such in the previous thread).

      Fact is that Rendon was hitting .419 at the time, has hit in every game this year, and was already 2-4, and a base was open and a DP ends the inning.

      OTOH, Werth, despite ripping the ball, was 0-4 at the time.

      OTOOH, after Rendon, Werth has the second most hits on the team ;-) !

      • NatsLady - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:42 AM

        I think Clip was being squeezed (he thought so too) on the first walk. On the walk to Stanton, I think he was being VERY careful not to give up a two-run dinger. He got out of it with one run, not best, but FAR from worst. Someone wrote that being a “feel” pitcher, the cool weather may affect him more.

      • adcwonk - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:47 PM

        Indeed — he was nibbling against Stanton. And he did throw a 3-2 strike to him, but Stanton fouled it off.

        Nibbling against Stanton when there’s a tie score is not a bad strategy.

  11. dgourds - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    How about those Fight’n Matty W’s?
    I give most of the credit of that win to Matt Williams. He doesn’t mess around. It was awesome that he pulled Jordan Zimmermann after 1 2/3 innings. I bet you Davey would have let him stay in until the 4th. Stammen was the real hero. Love that guy. His slider was so good last night. He may be our best pitcher in the pen. I’d love to give him a shot at closer when Soriano inevitably fails. You can only walk a tight rope so far before you slip.
    Ryan Zimmerman still looked lousy at third. I just don’t see how we can march him out there in a major league game. LaRoche saved him from another error last night. Still waiting for Clip to find his groove. Storen still scares me. He fell behind Salty 2-0 and totally grooved a belt high fastball. Bad pitching. Period. What did he expect?
    Let’s hope Strass regains dominance and doesn’t get rattled by a Zim error so we can sweep these fish out of here. We’re winning, but we’re not yet playing good ball. Against better teams, that was an L last night.

    • adcwonk - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:57 AM

      Ryan Zimmerman still looked lousy at third. I just don’t see how we can march him out there in a major league game.

      He looked ok enough.

      As for “how we can march him out…” I think the answer is this: he’s second on the team in BA and SLG, and third in hits, despite missing two starts.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        He looked more confident but lets be real Rendon makes probably all those plays with room to spare. Luck be it that Desi picks up the deflected ball and gets the out on that diving deflection play. The ball where he cut in front of Desi was a nice play that Ryan did not make last year in a game the Nats lost on that exact play. The backhand long throw for the single was a play that didn’t factor in and even though it was close I thought discretion should have been to eat it and luckily he threw it on target.

        Ryan came through with the bat and that’s where the Espi vs RZim comes into play. On this game, Ryan was an overall positive if we assume Espi plays 2nd and Rendon plays 3rd and Espi bats 7th and has a 1-5 game.

      • dgourds - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:33 AM

        I agree that he is strong at the plate. But an error in the field simply isn’t equivalent to just getting another hit while you’re at the plate. A weak defensive player has a strong effect on the pitcher–especially Strasburg. McCatty has been trying like hell to get Stras to pitch to contact, lower his pitch count, become more efficient. It’s hard to do that if you don’t fully trust your defense. Our team’s identity is primarily defined by pitching. It needs good defense. Plus badly timed errors like the one on Saturday against the Braves with 2 outs and runners in scoring position in a close game can be devastating to the psyche of the pitcher who made a great pitch, induced an easy ground ball and was out of the inning until the error occured. I really don’t see a resolution to Zim’s throwing problem at third. It’s more than just the injury. He has the yips, plain and simple. There is rarely a cure for the yips. 1st base, DH and LF are the only real options. I feel really bad for Ryan, but the team must come first.

      • dgourds - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        Ghost, I agree with you that the question is between Zim vs. Espinosa. And that is a very tough decision. I have been underwhelmed with Espinosa’s “new” swing. It still looks very long to me. And he still is way too aggressive with 2 strikes. If he made any real strides with his hitting, I probably would choose Espi over Zim. But as it stands now, it’s tough. Now if Zack Walters improves his defense, we have a solution. But that may be years off. Walters reminds me of Desmond when he came up–good bat, strong arm, but tons of errors. I don’t know if we can risk him at second yet. Tough, tough decision. It will be interesting to see what Matty and Rizzo do.

      • adcwonk - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        That’s the obvious trade-off.

        Errors can’t be very damaging. But they don’t happen every game. Four at bats _do_ happen every game. RZ is actually has the second most assists on the team (despite missing two starts), so he’s not throwing _everything_ away.

        But, again: that’s the trade off: how much does the poor defense hurt us vs how much does the solid offense help us.

  12. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    I know Jayson and Harp will be heralded as the heros of the game, Werth more than Harper… but Craig S was the hero for me. He came in and effectively stopped the bleeding after that disasterous start by Jordan Z (Maybe he was getting over the ill effects of the flu???)

    I am sleepy as heck this morning. Ended up going to bed close to 1 as I watched the 3rd thru8th innings again…

    Never a doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t win that game…

  13. laddieblahblah - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    “We’re winning, but we’re not yet playing good ball.”

    They can play a lot better. And they are 6 – 2, playing as they are now. That tells me something. And Desi is still struggling, Ramos is on the DL, Stras and JZ have been inconsistent, and Fister won’t be back until May, at the earliest. They have some ammo that hasn’t fired, yet, and some that is not yet even in the magazine.

    The question is not who is going to let them, it’s who is going to stop them.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:53 AM

      Ya know… I totally forgot about Fister… Roark and TJ have impressed upon me that much… I figure that when Fister comes back, whoever doesn’t win the 5th spot, I would hop that other person goes to the BP…

      • laddieblahblah - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:57 AM

        Who do you drop? Whoever gets the short straw will likely head to AAA as a starter. If one of the front line guys goes down, they will have a proven ML pitcher to plug in. Most think it will be Roark as the 5th starter with TJ headed to Syracuse.

        Interesting that Matt has Roark and TJ as the first 2 starters against the Braves this weekend. Stras has not been successful against them, of late. Shows how Matt manages his staff to give the team its best chance to win. Better to have Stras pitch in a lower pressure environment to get him off the mark with his first win against the Fish.

        Roark seems oblivious to pressure. It was he who was victimized by Zim’s first wild throw of the year, against the Mets, but he hung in there like a bull dog, regardless. When Stras was victimized by Zim’s 2nd wild throw, against the Braves, he immediately imploded.

        That may not be why Matt is not saving Stras for the Braves, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is. The Braves seem to have a book on Strasburg, but they haven’t seen that much of either Roark or TJ. More likely to get a win with Stras against Miami, and with Roark and TJ against the Braves, IMO.

    • jd - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      All true Laddie but at the same time I doubt Rendon and Werth will hit .400 the rest of the way either.

      • jd - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:02 AM

        Laddie,

        I think it has more to do with the fact that MW wants his top 3 starters pitching on regular rest (and yes, Stras,Gio and JZim are still the top 3 starters) rather than a matchup issue.

      • laddieblahblah - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:03 AM

        They don’t have to. Don’t be surprised if both end up with OBPs around .400, though. The league has not yet learned to respect Rendon enough to pitch around him. Last night was the first time that someone did. It won’t be the last. Werth already has an insane OBP.

        Desi is not going to hit .200 for the rest of the year, either, and Ramos will not hit below Menodza, as Lobaton is now. Harp will end up well north of .200, as well.

        The Nats have one of the best offenses in the MLs, especially if RZ can stay in the lineup.

  14. NatsNut - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:48 AM

    You guys should go back and read the game thread. As Ghost pointed out, there was virtually no doom and gloom, even down 5 and Z’nn out in 1 2/3. So proud. :)

    • Section 222 - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:08 AM

      I read it quickly when I got home last night. Delightfully boring.

    • Eric - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:30 AM

      Agreed, it was awesome.

      At said, and at the risk of reversing that trend over a simple nitpick, imo the phrase “doom and gloom” might raise hackles in itself amongst those who get down or opt to critique the team and/or players during a rough game…

      So, I’ll just say, there was a refreshing lack of contentiousness last night!

      • NatsNut - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:50 AM

        Good point!

    • Faraz Shaikh - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      that was good advice. I had some time in the morning so I read it all. totally worth it.

    • adcwonk - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:06 AM

      The Nats win probability was down to 5% by the fourth inning (see http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WAS/WAS201404090.shtml). And _still_ we didn’t have those bummer comments. Truly awesome.

  15. alexva6 - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    I’m pretty sure Redmond did not want to face Werth but you have to set up the force play at home.

  16. ehay2k - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    Oh, I need to read the game thread I guess. Rare treat!

    Was at the game, had to leave after we tied it up (son was with me and it was a school night). As soon as we got in the car, we heard Storen give up the HR to Salt…ia, and I still wasn’t worried. Got home to see the entire 8th. You could feel the pressure on the Fish and I agree that with 1b open, they had to walk Rendon – they needed a DP and odds were very good that he was going to score someone. But Werth is the wrong guy to get to via IBB. looks in the mirror, scowls, and takes it personally, so you know he was amped. Next time, I bet people throw 4 bad pitches to Rendon, at least give the hint of a ligitimate AB!

    Soriano? Man, he needs a little drama methinks. But a win is a win, and a save is a save.

    We were in 129, 1st base line and I must say that I have heard Dunn crack quite a few HRs, and ALR too, and those boys hit the ball far. But the sound of Harper’s HR was different – when he hit it, it was so LOUD. We know it only had to stay fair, because that ball was going to go far. I think that is the biggest HR I have seen at Nats park, bigger than the one Morse hit to the glass at the Red Porch. It was definitely the loudest off the bat.

    • Eric - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:34 AM

      >give up the HR to Salt…ia

      So, I’ve been thinking on what Saltalamacchia might mean in English.

      Just googled “salta la macchia in english”

      The result:

      Italian for “skip the stain”

      That’ll help me remember for sure!

      • stoatva - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:04 AM

        I think ‘saltare’ is “jump” or “hop” in Italian.

        As for “la macchia,” well… there’s no telling how that might have been butchered at Ellis Island. ;-)

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

        True, although methinks a name as long as “Saltalamacchia” would’ve been very unlikely to survive intact. For instance, my great-great-grandparents had the last name “Klevitsky”; that apparently horrific mouthful was mercifully shorted to “Klevit”.

  17. jd - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    Mrs. B.

    The problem with moving Roark or T.Jordan to the pen is who do you move out? I’d rather see Jordan pitch every 5th day in AAA than sit around and believe me we’ll need more than 5 starters throughout the season.

    Unlikely some (most) of the posters I was concerned when the fish retook the lead that is until they put Marmol in the game.

    I think the general euphoria around these parts is a little over the top. There is a lot to like about this team not the least of which is Matt Williams but we also started out 7-2 last year and just 4 days ago we were all lamenting on how we can’t beat the Braves and probably never will.

    Perspective is tough to attain if you are a fan.

  18. jd - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    I was talking about the Nats lineup with Sam and we both agree that part of what makes it difficult for MW to establish a consistent everyday lineup is that Span is automatically assumed as the leadoff man. This came up some last year when Span was struggling but I’m not sure he is an above average leadoff man even when he’s hitting well. How about a lineup like this?

    Rendon,Harper,Werth,LaRoche,Zim,Desi,Span and Lobaton? when Ramos returns:

    Rendon,Harper, Werth,LaRoche,Zim,Desi,Ramos,Span? or you can flip Ramos and Desi. And this is assuming LaRoche continues to hit well.

    • chiefwj - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:22 AM

      Dropping Span to 7th has some merit.

      Span’s slash line hitting first: 279/348/381
      hitting 7th: 356/3780/381 (admittedly a small sample size)
      Leading off game: 247/329/338
      With men on base: 296/371/415

      The evidence suggests he would be more productive not leading off. I wouldn’t hit him 8th, though. Not sure his approach would be successful there. Also not sure how he would handle being bumped out of lead off role when he’s playing well. Why rock the boat? But MW doesn’t appear to be concerned about boat-rocking.

  19. Joe Seamhead - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    When one guy went for a walk, the werewolf came and ate some face last night…

  20. stoatva - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    From section 225 watching that ball of Harper’s soar up and away I assumed it was foul, although clearly it wasn’t. The only comparable moonshot I’ve seen at this park was by Dunn off Bastardo near the end of his tenure here. I thought that one was going to hit the Coke sign when it first took off.

    As others have said, I love the battle in this team. They know how to play the game, by which I mean that they don’t have to dominate to win.

    The line outs by Werth and especially Stanton that died on the CF warning track could not have been hit harder. I thought Stanton’s would land in the middle of the berm/batter’s eye.

    • adcwonk - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:20 AM

      The line outs by Werth and especially Stanton that died on the CF warning track could not have been hit harder.

      I heard that part on the radio. Charlie and Dave were saying something like the wind was holding balls up in LF and CF, but helping the balls fly in RF.

      If so — Werth musta _really_ crushed that slammy for it to go as far as it did.

      • stoatva - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        The Harper shot got up where the air is thinner, I think. :-)

  21. laddieblahblah - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    “Laddie,

    I think it has more to do with the fact that MW wants his top 3 starters pitching on regular rest (and yes, Stras,Gio and JZim are still the top 3 starters) rather than a matchup issue.”

    That could very well be. But I would have gone with Stras against the Fish, with Roark and TJ for the first 2 games against the Braves, regardless. Stras needs a win, and if Zim does one of his numbers on Stras against the Braves, just one more time…. well, it would not be good. With the Fish, not so much. As we have seen, these Nats can come back against the bad guys, unless they happen to be wearing Braves uniforms.

  22. Eric - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    BAT FLIP!

    • Section 222 - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:15 PM

      Love it. More like a disdainful toss than a flip. Good thing Brian McCann didn’t see it.

  23. Pete "Hit 'n Run" Wood - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    great bat flip J-dub!

  24. micksback1 - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    As I said on Monday, Bryce is ready to kick some ass. Last season, at this time, I have no doubt the Nats lose the game and do not even comeback to tie.

  25. davecydell - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    I’ve known guys like Werth. Kinda the “biker in the bar”, with the look that asks: “you got something to say?”
    Always hunting for an opportunity to be pissed off.
    Werth got his last nite.

  26. Eric - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    So, last night Ray Knight all but said outright that Zim received a cortisone injection…anyone else hear that? Was that scoop or loose talk?

    • stoatva - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:42 AM

      You can almost always count on Ray to tell you more than he knows on almost any subject.

      • Eric - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:57 AM

        lmao! That’s funny right there.

    • NatsLady - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      I didn’t listen to Ray Knight, but earlier in the day Zim said he wasn’t going to have one. Maybe he changed his mind. I would worry about the long-term effect of a lot of shots.

      • Eric - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:56 AM

        Yeah, I read that, too, re: Zim saying he’s not getting one, which is why I was wondering.

        Right after he said it, Knight mentioned he once got 12 cortisone injections in his shoulder in one season (!!!) . He ended up with crystals in his shoulder and had to have them surgically removed.

        I suppose it’s possible the cortisone is the “anti-inflammatory” medication Zim ingested? But, I’m not sure it works that way when taken orally…?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:01 PM

      Ray said that when he played he once had over a dozen cortisone shots and it crystallized I’m his shoulder to where he had to have surgery after the season to remove the crystals.

      He then said athletes do whatever it takes because they are athletes.

      You never know how much of what Ray says is factual.

      • Section 222 - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:17 PM

        Don’t forget to record the drink you owe Eric! :-) What a goofball that Ray is.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:19 PM

        That Eric is quick on the keys!

      • Eric - Apr 10, 2014 at 2:02 PM

        Cheers!

        Ray cracks me up.

    • stoatva - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:07 PM

      My knees got much more relief (although not enough, ultimately, to avoid bilateral replacements) from hyaluronic acid injections. I see there have been studies indicating that it’s also effective in treating shoulder pain. http://tinyurl.com/qysyqy9
      I’m sure it’s not unknown to Zim’s surgeons… wonder if they’ve considered it.

      Colloquially referred to as “rooster juice” since it’s derived from cock’s combs. TMI, I know.

    • Section 222 - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:19 PM

      As far as I know, players don’t play the day they have a shot. For one thing, the cortisone needs a few days to work. But Zim did say he always lies to the press, so there’s that.

  27. stoatva - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Oof.

    James Wagner ‏@JamesWagnerWP ·42 mins
    Jeff Kobernus, part of Nats infield/outfield depth at Class AAA Syracuse, was hit by a pitch on the left hand Monday. Has a fractured bone.

    • tcostant - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:44 AM

      :( Very sad.

      He almost made the team.

    • NatsLady - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:46 AM

      Sorry to hear this. Seems like a good kid, a real tryer, fast. Get well soon!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:06 PM

        They make pads that fit on top of the batting gloves and players won’t wear them. I discussed about Morse yesterday he still isn’t wearing a wrist guard. I would at least be investing in Kevlar laced gloves as the hands and the wrist are very exposed.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:35 PM

        I think Gordon Beckham was wearing (endorsement, no doubt) the Evoshield gloves and shield. I don’t think that one is kevlar (TM), though; not sure.

      • Section 222 - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:20 PM

        Ghost, did you see the bomb Morse hit yesterday in SF? Whoa!

  28. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    Zim back in at 3rd.

  29. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    Any thoughts of RZim sitting on Strasburg starts isn’t happening. Cedeno is in the clubhouse FYI

    “@Nationals: #Nats lineup vs. #Marlins: McLouth CF, Rendon 2B, Werth RF, LaRoche 1B, Zimmerman 3B, Harper LF, Desmond SS, Leon C, Strasburg P”

    • stoatva - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:10 PM

      cheers!

  30. stoatva - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    I almost wrote earlier that this would be a good day for McLouth to give Span a day off, and so it be.

    Also, too:

    Adam Kilgore ‏@AdamKilgoreWP ·3s
    Lefty reliever Xavier Cedeno is in Nats Park, outside the clubhouse. Not sure if he’s been called up or he’s contingency. To be continued.

    • Eric - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      Fascinating re: Cedeno…

      • stoatva - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        It may be that this is a move made with the Atlanta series in mind to give the team three left handed options out of the BP.

  31. Danny - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    Lineup

    McClouth CF
    Rendon 2B
    Werth RF
    LaRoche 1B
    Zimmerman 3B
    Harper LF
    Desmond SS
    Leon C
    Strasburg P

  32. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    dgourds, lots of good comments up top. I would just say any comparison between Desmond to Walters isn’t worth much. While there are clear similarities in stats they are not similar in athletic makeup. It would be like comparing Eury Perez to Denard Span.

    IMO, Walters needs to play 2nd as I’ve mentioned before to see if he can adapt there and if he can’t then LF or 1B. He needs to find a position that he can thrive in defensively and SS at best is a part-time gig.

    I don’t believe in coincidence, Walters played at 2nd yesterday.

  33. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    Nats appear to be making a bullpen move to activate Xavier Cedeño.

    Are either Blevins or Detwiler hurt?

    • Eric - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:34 PM

      Oh no…I just had a TERRIBLE thought.

      JZim is hurt, Det back to rotation, Cedeño to the pen.

      Please let that be very very wrong.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:37 PM

        JZim after the game said he felt fine and strong so I would hope not. Could be an extra arm if needed but Blevins, Barrett, Det should all be available.

        Other thought is they go 1 short on the bench and option TyMo back.

      • Eric - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:38 PM

        Assuming JZIm is fine, yeah, how do they bring up Cedeño without sending someone else back?

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 72 53 --
ATLANTA 66 61 7.0
MIAMI 63 63 9.5
NEW YORK 60 68 13.5
PHILADELPHIA 56 71 17.0
Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: Diamondbacks at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
FRI: Giants at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Giants at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Giants at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

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.

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