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More observations from last night’s loss

Apr 12, 2014, 10:48 AM EDT

AP AP

ATLANTA — There were no shortage of storylines to emerge from last night’s wild, 7-6, 10-inning loss at Turner Field. I focused more on the big picture in my game story, about the Nationals’ penchant for losing these kind of games to the Braves, but there were plenty more nuggets worth revisiting.

Here’s a run-through of several other observations and news items from a crazy night at the ballpark…

— If you haven’t heard yet, Jayson Werth left the game in the 10th inning with what Matt Williams described as “a little groin tweak.” “We decided it was best to get him out of there and re-evaluate tomorrow,” the manager said. “A little bit of tightness.” We won’t know the extent of this injury until later today, but it did arguably play a role in the outcome of last night’s game.

With Werth in the trainer’s room and Nate McLouth already burned up as a pinch-hitter, Williams had to insert Tyler Moore to play left field and slide Bryce Harper over to right field. Moore wound up getting a bad break on Chris Johnson’s sinking liner to left, a base hit that ignited the Braves’ game-winning rally. Not saying Harper definitely would have made that play if he’s in left field, but he probably would’ve had a better shot at it.

Harper, meanwhile, couldn’t get a handle on Justin Upton’s subsequent bloop base hit to right. If he does, he might have a play at the plate on pinch-runner Jordan Schafer. Again, not saying Werth definitely makes that play. But the fact Harper was in right field for the first time in 2014 (spring training included) certainly couldn’t have left him as comfortable in that spot as a healthy Werth would have been.

— The 10th inning, of course, never would have been necessary if not for Upton’s eighth-inning homer off Tyler Clippard, which came with the Nationals leading 6-5. This continued a particularly rough start to the season for Clippard, who already four times has entered either with the Nats leading or tied but departed with them trailing.

“Obviously the results aren’t there, but I feel good,” he said. “I’m making good pitches, and the occasional home run, unfortunately, is kind of part of who I am. These outings I’ve been in this year — tie games, 1-run games — a few walks here and there have hurt me, but overall, it hasn’t been that far off. Just trying to stay the course and basically stick to my game and the results will come. I’m not worried about that. It’s just frustrating, especially against these guys and the games that we’ve been in to not get the results.”

Clippard noted his struggles against the Braves, and it’s certainly true. Actually, it’s mind-boggling. He has now faced Atlanta nine times over the last two seasons. He’s been scored upon in eight of those nine games.

“They know me,” he said. “They know me well. But I think it just comes down to I haven’t really executed the way I needed to against these guys in particular. There’s no real rhyme or reason. It’s just kind of coincidental, I think. It’s just one of those things.”

Ryan Zimmerman had a remarkably eventful night, especially at third base, but emerged having made several outstanding plays that helped put the Nationals in a position where they could have won it late. He dodged a broken bat to field a hard smash to his left and fired from his knees to second base to start a double play, one of three twin-killings he started in the game. The sidearm throws weren’t always pretty, but they did get the job done.

“The one with the bat flying is unique,” he said. “You can’t really practice that one. The other ones are plays I expect myself to make, and tonight I made them.”

Tanner Roark slogged through the worst start of his brief career, and there wasn’t a whole lot of explanation for it. The usually precise right-hander lost all semblance of his command, hitting three of the first 14 batters he faced, walking another and lasting only 4 2/3 innings in the shortest of his seven big-league starts.

“I felt great out there, I just didn’t really have the command of all my pitches that I wanted,” said Roark, who had seven days off since his previous start. “Obviously I hit three guys today. That’s not what I usually do.”

— Lost amid all the craziness of the game were two fantastic performances out of the Nationals bullpen. Ross Detwiler helped bridge the gap from Roark’s short start to the back end of the pen with two scoreless innings, facing the minimum. And Drew Storen was absolutely electric in the bottom of the ninth. Entering just after Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the top of the inning and left the crowd in a frenzy, Storen duplicated the feat, striking out Ramiro Pena, Ryan Doumit and Jason Heyward, all on changeups. Really impressive stuff.

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Mark, you summed it up well. Emotions high and emotions low. Today is a new day and without Jayson these Nats must dominate.

  2. Baseballswami - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    So happy to see Drew have a good outing and excel– Det also. And Clip will be fine. Relief pitchers have ups and downs.

    • NatsLady - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:37 PM

      Agree. Many studies have been done about whether a certain player “owns” a pitcher, or vice versa. None have proved much–usually it’s random clusters.

  3. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    Great article Mark… Makes me upset all over again, lol… but great article..

    Storen was absolutely filthy last night.. Ive always like Drew and think (maybe hope is better) that he will be our future closer… Det did well too… but Storen really took the cake right there…

    Ryan’s defense yesterday was sick… That DP where the bat was flying at him… as to be a top 10 play..

    yesterdays game was why I love baseball… so many emotions – happy, excited, sad, ticked off beyond reason… it an awesome, awesome game… with the unfortunate ending for us…

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

      Agreed. Not only the love of baseball but the unpredictable plays that happen which makes each game unique.

      Flying bats, plays at the plate, and lucky bounces. The Baseball Gods need to help the Nats.

  4. A Fly Moses - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    Even if Werth did field that ball cleanly, it would’ve been a moot point since his throw would have been 10 feet wide. The bigger issue was playing no doubles, which only resulted in letting two singles beat them.

    Without overstating it, since he’s been our best hitter, Werth is officially a problem in right–he’s lost most of his range and all of his throwing accuracy. Harper needs to move over there sooner rather than later.

    As for Clippard, that’s the downside of defining roles and sticking to them blindly–the 8th was the real save, and given the team and the part of the order (specifically Upton, who has crushed Clippard), that inning had to go to Storen, who has indisputably been our best reliever all year; Clippard should’ve been given the softer part of the order in the 9th. All around, not Williams’s finest game.

    • Doc - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:38 AM

      Correctomundo!

      Managers should be looking at BP match ups, not so-called inning roles.

      Not sure if any manager has the cojones to do it, and avoid player criticism, but he’ll be a more successful manager!!!!!!!!!

      As far as BP guys wanting to know when they should come in,a little of that goes a long way.

  5. NatsNut - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    This game was a bummer, but I didn’t get that same sinking feeling in my stomach that I got last weekend. Maybe cuz we kept challenging them and giving them just as much grief as they give us. Great job boys! We’ll get ‘em.

    • Eric - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      e either. I feel like it was oddly a net positive because so many storylines were reversed:

      -Zim got to Teheran
      -Zim not only didn’t blow the game, he saved it numerous times by bat, arm, and leather
      -THEY had an error that resulted in losing a lead, and a healthy one at that
      -Espi was IBBd (I know it was situational, but still, strange to see).
      -Storen was absolutely stellar
      -Pitching was the problem, not offense. And, I trust our pitching to rebound from this more so than I trusted our offense to rebound last year.

      In the end it felt like a legitimate battle, not us being escorted to a loss by bad luck and mistakes.

      • Eric - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        Make that
        -WE got to Teheran, not just Zim

    • Section 222 - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:13 PM

      Totally agree with this. I was disappointed, but not crushed. They played a great game, coming back from a 4-0 deficit and getting the go ahead run off Carpenter. Not at all the same as the games last weekend. Too many positives to be completely down, especially Zim, Storen, Rendon’s D, Det, and Lobaton.

  6. therealjohnc - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    To be fair to Tyler Moore, he had absolutely no impact on the outcome of the game. With the OF back in “no doubles” and Johnson taking a big swing and hit a floater – which is very hard to read and get a jump on for any outfielder. Given where the ball landed, even an excellent outfielder would have, at best, had to make a diving play on the ball … which he wouldn’t have done because of the game situation. Two outs, no one on, if you dive and miss the ball you are putting the winning run on second, possibly on third (with a fast runner if the CF doesn’t get over and back up the play the batter may score – moot in this case, since Johnson isn’t that fast). So you lay up and keep the ball in front of you to keep the winning run on first base.

    Please stop with the “having Moore in LF set up the winning run” meme, because it’s just not true.

    • natsjackinfl - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      Other than the fact Josh Willingham is a step up over Tyler in left field.

      • therealjohnc - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:31 PM

        True, although Josh had been at it longer even when he got to DC. And even then he was never “good.” T-Mo is still learning OF, so could theoretically improve

    • Doc - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:53 AM

      Good analysis!

    • Section 222 - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:35 PM

      Moore is not young, and he’s not going to improve. He’s a 1B who can play outfield in a pinch. Not the guy you want out there in the 10th inning in a tie game. But I agree with your main point, he did not lose the game for us.

      I’d love to see the whole “no doubles defense” reevaluated. Is there any data on how much it really helps maintain leads or ties? I’m skeptical.

  7. Drew - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    That was one entertaining ballgame, despite the disappointing result.

    Jordan Schafer’s Enos Slaughter scamper is precisely why I would give the Hairston/Moore bench spot to Kobernus.

    Speed can win close games.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      Totally agree with you but they weren’t going to eat Hairston’s contract. I believe MWs remarks about Hairston in ST were a clear message when he didn’t guarantee Hairston made the team when he was asked in an interview.

      Kobernus was getting OF reps as a preview of how he was going to join this team. Unfortunately he has a huge setback with the broken hand.

  8. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    Thursday I made mention of Justin Upton 2 HRs and that he was heating up. My hope was the advanced scouts that Weidemaier oversees would stifle him like the Nats finally did to Giancarlo Stanton.

    With the lead in the 8th and the game on the line, why throw him fastballs anywhere close to the plate. Get him to chase and expand and if you walk him so be it. Usually Clippard uses that tactic and Upton has a history of chasing pitches. Pitch 4 was a chase pitch he fouled off. Just poor execution as the Save once again was in the 8th inning like the day before.

  9. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    Yesterday was the cold slap in the face that Rendon wasn’t going to be clutch every game and woukdnt break DiMaggio’s record and Aaron Barrett isn’t Craig Kimbrel.

    Barrett probably has been over-used and Rendon looked tired. He got no lift and pop yesterday.

    That’s the reality of the situation that good players have off-days.

    • Drew - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:33 PM

      I thought Barrett pitched well. In the pivotal at bat the Braves’ hitter — was it Johnson? — spoiled some nasty sliders.

      Sometimes we need to tip our caps to the worthy rival — then go get ‘em next time.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:54 PM

        We definitely do and BABIP helped but he was struggling I think from over-use as I noted

    • therealjohnc - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      Rendon didn’t look tired at all to me; were you watching while he sprinted around the field? Rendon played a great game defensively. He just didn’t get a hit. It happens.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:03 PM

        Werth sprinted also. Tired people can sprint. Rendon’s bat was tired. It happens. No big deal John. This was pointing to the people that were expecting Rendon to hit every game for the next 48.

  10. Max - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    I’m worried about Clip. With the innings he’s given us the past few years, I’m concerned he might not ever quite be the same. He seems optimistic though, so hopefully he’ll turn it around. Meanwhile, AB and Storen look awesome, as do Det and Stammen.
    Very excited about our potential this year. Hopefully we will be hitting on all cylinders when it really counts.

    • NatsJim - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:51 PM

      Don’t let the calendar fool you, last night “really counted.” Would do wonders for our confidence to take these next 2 and leave the April portion of the Braves season series with a split…

  11. micksback1 - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    A terrific game last night to watch. my observations

    1) RZim played like an All Star
    2) Storen should close or be 8th inning pitcher,I posted that last week
    3) Clip has given up one run to many in his 4 appearances, in fact, he has given up a run in 3 out of 4. He really let his team down and he should be mad at himself. He looks scared and has a look of uy lacking confidence.
    4) Bryce last at bat was terrible, but overall i think he is back
    5) Blevins and/or MW/cat did not look very smart tgrwoing over 3 times to firast, that is on Blevins but all 3 displayed some really stupid baseball
    6) HP umpire sucked period, his strike zoen had zero consistency and he stikes me as a bit of am a-hole like most MLB umpires

    over all, I am happy with the team’s play and could see us winning the next 2.

  12. natszee - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    “The 10th inning, of course, never would have been necessary if not for Upton’s eighth-inning homer off Tyler Clippard”

    That is true … it’s also true that maybe if Tanner Roark does not give up a homer to Pena in the 2nd or Barrett does not give up single to Chris Johnson in the 5th, the 10th inning would also not be necessary! Bottom line is we can’t keep digging a hole early and trying to climb out … ESPECIALLY against the Braves.

    Clip has not been as sharp as we have come to expect but enough mistakes were made in this game (by the pitchers and the fielders) to hang it on one guy.

    I have a good feeling about tonight … GO NATS!!

    PS is it just me or is that obnoxious Chop getting to you guy’s too? I don’t mind the fans chanting to cheer their team, but the organ prompted Chop 20 X’s or more a game grates on me.

  13. natsfan1a - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    It’s not just you. I detest the chop

    PS is it just me or is that obnoxious Chop getting to you guy’s too? I don’t mind the fans chanting to cheer their team, but the organ prompted Chop 20 X’s or more a game grates on me.

  14. David Proctor - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    I’ll reiterate what some others have said: we’re 7-3 despite a lot going wrong. We don’t have Fister (and paid for it last night). We don’t have Ramos and we’re still scoring runs. Harper was awful until the last couple games. Zimmerman’s hurt again. JZimm had the worst start of his career. Clippard’s been bad. This team has the potential to be much better than it currently is and yet they’re 7-3.

    I realize that losing to the Braves is getting old, and fast. But it’s 4 games. Win the next two and the season series is tied at 3-3. Aaron Harang vs Gio on Sunday is a game we’ve got to win. Tonight’s could go either way, but we won the Wood vs Jordan matchup last time around.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:09 PM

      Great summation and if the Nats win tonight then yesterday is just another L out of the 50 to 65 this team will have this year.

    • Section 222 - Apr 12, 2014 at 4:21 PM

      I definitely agree with this. Want to point out though, since several people have said this, that JZnn’s start was not the worst of his career. Last year’s start against the Dodgers on July 21 was worse — 8 H and 7 R in 2 innings. I remember it well.

      We’ve seen many times before that pitching matchups don’t tell you much about your chances in a game. I remain encouraged about the rest of this series given the fight shown by the Nats last night.

  15. DB69 - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    Clip has 9 appearances against the Braves over the last two seasons and has been scored on 8 times! No reason for him to be in the game at all. That is not random. He absolutely needs to be traded or moved to safe relief situations. This should have been addressed in the off-season.

  16. ehay2k - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    I’ll take all the series losses to the Barves if we continue to sweep everyone else !

    As good as the Barves think they are, they just dropped a series to the Mets. At home.
    Kimbrel is getting a lot of work. That arm can’t pitch in 100 games. The seem to be barely getting by, like the Nats last year. The Nats have had some struggles, but we are hitting and pitching pretty well. Stop sending Moses on mad dashes home and we are probably up two more games.

    Lastly, this team is just playing better ball than last year. They looked prepared. And preparation can create relaxation, which maybe happening here because the Nats are not pressing. Not at all. There is a huge difference between “We got this one” (2012 & 2014) and “We gotta get this one.”(2013)

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 88 64 --
ATLANTA 76 76 12.0
MIAMI 74 78 14.0
NEW YORK 73 80 15.5
PHILADELPHIA 70 83 18.5
x-Clinched NL East title

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON 88 64 --
LOS ANGELES 87 66 1.5
ST. LOUIS 85 68 3.5
-----------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 68 4.0 +2.0
PITTSBURGH 82 70 6.0 --
MILWAUKEE 79 74 9.5 3.5
x-Clinched division title

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

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ON THE RADIO

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MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
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THU: 2:30 p.m.
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