Skip to content

So close, yet so far away

Apr 12, 2014, 1:19 AM EDT

USA Today Sports Images USA Today Sports Images

ATLANTA — There’s something about these games between the Nationals and Braves, something that elevates them from mere afterthoughts in a 162-game season into epic clashes with twists and turns and oddities that just don’t seem to happen against any other opponent.

There’s also something about the most-common result of these nip-and-tuck games: The Braves keep winning them.

Friday night’s 7-6, 10-inning affair at Turner Field was only the latest (and possibly wackiest) in this ongoing rivalry, which for the last season-plus has tilted considerably in Atlanta’s direction. This was the 14th 1-run  game in the last 27 meetings between these two clubs, with 10 of those 14 games won by the Braves.

Fluke occurrence, or is there something more to this trend?

“I don’t know if it’s fluke,” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “They’re two good teams. Unfortunately they’ve come out on top quite a bit the last year-and-a-half. It’s our job to try and figure out a way to change that.”

To date, the Nationals haven’t been able to do that. Oh, they put up a colossal fight Friday night, battling back from an early 4-0 deficit to take a 6-5 lead late, only to watch as Tyler Clippard gave up the tying run in the eighth and Jerry Blevins surrendered the winning run in the 10th.

And that’s to say nothing of the wackiness that ensued during the 3 hours and 49 minutes that preceded Justin Upton’s game-winning, bloop single to right. This game featured three stoppages for potential managerial challenges (though only one actual challenge), an umpire (Angel Hernandez) falling to the ground after getting struck by a line drive, a Nationals player (Denard Span) falling to the ground after getting bowled over by a Brave (Dan Uggla) and Adam LaRoche trying to score on a wild pitch … from second base.

And then the game was decided when Atlanta pinch-runner Jordan Schafer scored all the way from first base on Upton’s bloop base hit, a sequence that was ripe for second-guessing.

Just prior to the game-winning hit, Blevins made three consecutive pickoff attempts, none of them close to getting Schafer, each of them only encouraging the speedy outfielder to attempt to steal once Blevins did finally throw a pitch. Sure enough, he bolted right after that.

“They put him in the game to steal second base right there,” said manager Matt Williams, who called for the pickoffs from the dugout. “We just want to try to prevent that as much as possible. And it ended up that the ball he hit, he was going anyway. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

As Schafer took off for second base, so too did Anthony Rendon, assuming he’d be receiving a throw from catcher Jose Lobaton. Except Upton popped up Blevins’ 2-2 pitch into shallow right field. With Rendon covering and Bryce Harper (who just replaced an injured Jayson Werth in right field) playing deep in a no-doubles alignment, the ball wound up being perfectly placed, out of reach from both fielders.

Would Rendon have had a shot at the play had he been in his normal position?

“I don’t know,” he said. “It was slicing. Running from second base, I felt like I was running forever. It was just one of those situations.”

The Nationals might still have had a shot, except Harper couldn’t get a hold of the ball as he came charging in, allowing Schafer to score the game-winning run without drawing a throw. Thus, Schafer scored from first base on a single.

“The first instinct it to try to get them to make weak contact, so it was a success there,” Blevins said. “But baseball is pretty crazy. Sometimes they fall. Sometimes they don’t.”

True enough. It just seems like they always fall in for hits when it’s the Braves at the plate and the Nationals in the field.

And that continues to eat at the players inside the visiting clubhouse at Turner Field, who can’t figure out why they haven’t been able to win more of these head-to-head showdowns.

“I think the thing that stings is that they’ve been beating us these last few years,” Clippard said. “That’s kinda what it comes down to. It’s just the competitive side of it. When you play these close games, you want to win them, and especially against these guys, they seem to have been coming out on top. And that’s what’s frustrating. That’s pretty much what it comes down to. Obviously, they’re a good team, and we feel like we’re the top two teams in the division. To lose to them, it’s always frustrating.”

  1. Sonny G 10 - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:02 AM

    Clipp, what it comes down to is you threw another gopher ball!

  2. NatsLady - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:04 AM

    Ha, the Mets give it up to the Angels in the bottom of the 11th with a walk-off HBP.

  3. David Proctor - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:52 AM

    Harper is hitting .270 now. Still only a .659 OPS, but the power and OBP will come. Amazing what one 3 hit game can do for your average in early April.

  4. Joe Seamhead - Apr 12, 2014 at 7:05 AM

    Three pinch hitters last night and all reached base.

    ATR is either leading the team, or is second, in virtually every positive offensive category.

    Zimmerman , Rendon and ALR all had incredible games in the field last night.

    Rendon’s 9 game hitting streak to start the season came to an end.

    I wonder if Werth got hurt the night before last when he and Espinosa almost got tangled up on that fly ball near the RF line? For him to leave at that point in the game last is worrisome.

    • Joe Seamhead - Apr 12, 2014 at 7:43 AM

      ATR? You’d think we have a new guy on the team, Adam ThaRoache.
      Where the heck’s the edit button around here?
      Coffee is in order here,too.

      • Sonny G 10 - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:42 AM

        :) Don’t worry Joe, my brain did an automatic translation as I read your post..

  5. laddieblahblah - Apr 12, 2014 at 7:33 AM

    Only 10 games into the season and its playoff baseball. Roark just did not have it last night, and that was the key to the game: up in the zone, wild, 3 HBP, gives up a 3-run gopher to a Punch and Judy bat, gets his team deep in the hole and then the overworked pen has to come in and try to salvage the mess.

    FP blamed it on Roark’s long layoff, and Tanner also had to undergo a mid-game correction to his mechanics, engineered by his pitching coach. Not a performance he is likely to repeat for the rest of the season. Better to get that one out of the way in April, than to have it in October. He’ll be back.

    The team did not quit. Came back from behind, again, not once, but twice. Tremendous defensive effort from Zim, with a bad wing, yet, and from Rendon, on those DPs. When you play D like that, and pound Teheran for 10 hits and chase him early, the position players have done their jobs. If ALR slides away from the plate, and away from that swipe tag, instead of right into it, they might have won in regulation. Why does every Braves game seem to feature Moses getting thrown out at the plate?

    Clip obviously missed his spot on that FB, but why was he throwing a FB to a dead FB hitter in that situation? For the first time, Barrett looked a little nervous, but it was a good learning experience for him. Throw him into the fire, and see if he tempers with the heat, or melts.

    The Nats have the better team, but they have yet to prove it on the field. Only 15 more games to make the case. Those Braves have no business scoring 6 runs against the Nats’ pitching staff. I put this one on the pitchers. They did not do the job last night, especially Roark. When the offense puts up 5 runs, they should win, against almost anybody, but especially against the low-scoring Braves.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:39 AM

      Absolutely… the pitching was very sub par yesterday. Roark was able to settle down but a lot of damage was done. IMO, he was more lucky than anything. Quite a few of his throws could have (and possibly should have) been in the seats…

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:42 AM

      And I owe you a drink too Laddie… It all came rushing back to me when I read Clipp’s comment… and I didn’t even read the comments…

    • Eric - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:46 AM

      Glad to see you emphasizing Roark’s role over Clip’s. Did Clip screw up? Sure. But not nearly to the extent that Roark did. 3 hbp? Weird. I was really impressed with how well he righted the ship on the fly, though.

      Overall an amazing game. Heartbreaker of an outcome, though.

      • NatsLady - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:58 AM

        Apparently all the Soriano hate has transferred itself to Clip…

  6. Section 222 - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:04 AM

    I’d love to see more of the Nats employ the Christian Guzman slide, going way to the right and reaching over with the left hand to touch the plate. That would seem to be a good approach in this new day of catchers always setting up in fair territory and swiping the tag.

    Great to see Harper heating up. And the Nats have been very impressive in fighting back and scoring runs late in games. We definitely didn’t see that last year.

    I was once again impressed by Zim’s courage. The double plays were amazing, but just as impressive was the throw for a force to end the inning as he was falling to the ground. That was an overhand throw with Rendon again making a nifty stretch and pickup. It wasn’t pretty but he got the job done.

    I still disagree with the second guessing of the Blevins throw overs. Does anyone think that if he didn’t throw over three times, Schaffer doesn’t go? Of course he would have. That’s why he was in the game. Would it have been better to let him steal second, and not cover the base? I just don’t get this line of criticism. It was especially funny to hear FP say, “no one ever throws over a third time,” and see Blevins do just that. And then FP says, “no one ever throws over a fourth time so he’ll get a good jump.” Well sure, if you’re going to do that, sooner or later you’re going to be right or else the game would still be going on and we’d be on the 1,357th throw over.

    • Joe Seamhead - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:32 AM

      I’m with you on the griping about the throw overs to first. Blevins is a seasoned veteran LH reliever and should be able to hold a runner, no matter how many times he throws over. I wasn’t particularly impressed with anything he showed in his throws over though. Blevins got beat by two cheap hits by two good hitters, a great job by a very good pinch runner, and in my opinion by two mediocre plays by two corner outfielders that were both playing out of position. I watched Moore’s play in left again and he got no jump on that ball, then had to keep the ball in front of him because he doesn’t have the skill, or confidence, to come in and make that catch. Harper would’ve had a good chance of nailing Schaffer at the plate if he had picked the ball up.
      On Werth’s poor throw to the plate earlier,I have to wonder if he wasn’t already affected by the “tweaked” groin injury.

      • Section 222 - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:57 AM

        Excellent points Joe. Too bad McLouth was no longer available for that late inning substitution. Moore pretty much just occupies that position out there.

        Schaffer is very fast and a good baserunner. You’re probably not going to pick him off, but I have no problem trying to hold him close with as many throwovers as you want. I’m still at a loss to figure out what the critics (FP, Ray Knight, and, it appears, Mark) think we should have done.

        And yes, Werth had a very good chance to throw out that runner. His throw was strangely bad.

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

        Kept wondering why Hairston wasn’t in LF. Forgot he was on the DL ;).

        Extra Pain, No Gain
        Was up late last night, lots of videos. Don’t know why they sometimes don’t put up a game recap for the Nats.

  7. natsjackinfl - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    My aggravation is with Clippard entirely, He has totally abandoned any semblance of a breaking ball allowing every hitter to sit on either his change up or his fastball.

    Without a third pitch, he depends entirely on command and he’s never been that precise with his command.

    • nats128 - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:30 AM

      What happened to that shiny new split finger that was used a few days ago

      • natsjackinfl - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:32 AM

        That splitter is just another changeup with more downward movement.

      • nats128 - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:40 AM

        Its still another look that he could have thrown Upton. Clip also has a curve.

        Instead he decideds to challenge Upton and got beat bad.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:33 AM

      Sorry, natsjack… I didn’t read any comments and I think I owe you a beer…

    • laddieblahblah - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:34 AM

      He got Stanton out the other day on a split-finger that dropped off just as it reached the plate. Stanton must have missed it by 6 inches. I don’t know why he didn’t use that one against Upton. It’s in his arsenal.

      • nats128 - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:50 AM

        laddieblahblah, thats exactly what I was thinking.

      • Eric - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:36 AM

        Agreed…

    • Section 222 - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:59 AM

      Didn’t you read DP’s comment last night? No reason to worry about Clip. He always starts slowly.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:46 AM

        How many runs has he given up this year… 3?

      • Section 222 - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        He’s given up four runs in seven games. One run in 4 of the 7 games he pitched. Clip’s job is to “hold” the other team to no runs. He doesn’t come in games where we have a big lead or are far behind Last year, which was far from his best year, he gave up 19 runs in 72 appearances. He held the other team to no runs in 58 of those 72 appearances. He’s already failed in four games. I sure hope he gets it together, and he very well might, but there’s reason for concern no matter what DP says.

  8. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    I think the thing that stings is that they’ve been beating us these last few years,” Clippard said.

    =====

    No Clip, they own you. Gotta come up with something else besides a change up and fastball. Game 10 and I didn’t sleep well… All thinking about that stupid meatball he served to J Upton (a fastball feasting HR hitter)

    Just inexcusable…. I am still pissed…

    • Eric - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:34 AM

      I get that you perceive Clip as the anti-Christ, but his mistake pales dramatically in comparison to Roark’s mistakes, imo. I still am a huge Roark fan, especially given how he recovered, but dude was a mess to start out. I can live with JUp going long on us a lot more readily than Pena…again…for 3 runs. And, three hbp? I don’t get how Clip overshadows this for anyone.

      5 runs are hung on Roark vs two for the pen. The starter lost this one with a little “help” from Barrett.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:45 AM

        You can get starky all you want… but lets not let facts get in the way..

        Oh wait, lets… going back to last year, Clippard hasn’t fared well against the braves… in the last series, Clipp, once again didn’t fair well against the braves.. matter of fact, this year he hasn’t done well.

        when Roark left the game, it was a tied game. Sure, he didn’t have his best outing… our #6 pitcher went against their #1.. on too many days rest etc. No one is excusing Roark for giving up 5 runs.. he had a lousy game..

        but relivers are supposed to come in and throw strikes… and what does Clip do, when the we have the lead, he throws a dumb meatball across the the plate…

        Had Clip done his job then none of this would have happened.. Braves own Clip.. Their announces and fans know it, which is why they salivated when he came into the game…

        But lets not let facts get in the way.. but then again, maybe we should..

      • Eric - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:57 AM

        Snarky? You clearly perceive Clip in a very negative light. I apologize if I was a little too loose with the hyperbole, though.

        In any case, I’m not saying Clip is blameless, I just don’t understand how his performance overshadows Roark’s for some folks (not just you by any means). Do relievers have a role? Absolutely. But, so do starters…

  9. Joe Seamhead - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    I’d like to know what happened to the trademark high fastball that Clippard threw so often a couple of years ago and successfully had batters often looking bad swinging through it.

    • nats128 - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:51 AM

      His riser looking fastball hasnt been seen for a long time.

    • ehay2k - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:02 AM

      I want it know where that splitter was that he threw against the Mets. The one where The Lobaton tapped his glove on the ground asking for it down.

  10. iseebeautyallaroundbyrobpaine - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    these braves games are driving me nuts!

  11. ehay2k - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:00 AM

    These games are always so tense. One thing last night, we had a lot of crazy stuff thrown at us and didn’t fold. So far, I am liking this year’s Natitude.

  12. emdash01 - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    Love Clippard, but isn’t it time to stop letting him pitch to the Braves in high-leverage situations? It seems like the sample size is big enough now – they have him figured out. I wish Williams would use the creativity he uses to mess with the lineup constantly to have some flexibility with the pen. Just because Clip is the eighth inning guy doesn’t mean he has to use him there every time – matchups are important, and Clip vs. Upton is a bad one for the Nats.

  13. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    If there was ever a time to pitch around Justin Upton it would have been with bases loaded in the 8th. I can only tell you what the official Pitch F/X says and Clip’s chart says he only threw Upton fastballs and 1 splitter and no changeups.

    If you can make sense of that let me know.

  14. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    Let me write this again with “bases empty” inserted for “bases loaded”

    If there was ever a time to pitch around Justin Upton it would have been with bases empty in the 8th. I can only tell you what the official Pitch F/X says and Clip’s chart says he only threw Upton fastballs and 1 splitter and no changeups.

    If you can make sense of that let me know.

  15. DB69 - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    We are where we were last year, just taking a new route. Our hitting is better, but our pitching is worse. Blame rests primarily with Rizzo. After 2012, Atlanta re-tooled and brought some high-ball hitters like Upton and Gattis. We simply can’t win the Division without a better record against the Braves. Clip should have been traded for pitchers who keep the ball down. Stats are irrelevant at this point. If we can’t beat the Braves, we won’t go anywhere. The Braves just have a better organization. This series is like Groundhog Day.

    • Joe Seamhead - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      Yeah, right. That Rizzo guy really deserves all the blame.

      Thumbs down…

    • emdash01 - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:16 AM

      Actually the pitching should be much better this year, given proper health, with no Haren, and the pen not having to carry two mop up men in Duke and H-Rod…they have better personnel. Using them differently against the Braves will be the key.

    • Sonny G 10 - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:00 AM

      DB69, I think you’re looking through the wrong end of the telescope. :)

  16. JW - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    Clipboard has been getting by on smoke and mirrors for a long time. The Braves figured him out a while ago, and now the rest of the league seems to have made the adjustment.

  17. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    Whatever medicine Ryan Zimmerman took seems to be working. He made spectacular plays on defense and took advantage of Teheran who previously “owned” him.

    • Eric - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:38 AM

      Huge, huge bright spot last night.. Like 6 times over! Unbelievable how much action he saw. So happy for him that he was able to rise to the challenge so competently…even heroically a couple times!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        Nobody needed it more than Ryan did and like he did in 2012 many times carried the team. Unfortunately the pitching wasn’t up to the task.

  18. NatsLady - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    Relievers run hot and cold. When you get a bad streak by one reliever you think it’s over. The bullpen still has an ERA of like 1.85. It’s the starting pitchers that have the ERA of 3.93.

    • emdash01 - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:19 AM

      Not worried about Clip in general, just against the Braves. When you give up at least a run in every appearance against a team in your division, that makes it a bad matchup.

    • DB69 - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      Don’t look at his stats. We lost the Division last year by our record against the Braves. We can hope to shave a few off that deficit this year by luck or hope the Braves’ rotation falters, but beginning last April Rizzo knew the Braves were beating us by getting to our bp, in particular Storen and Clip. Something should have been done about that.

  19. Joe Seamhead - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    Agreed, Ghost, re: Ryan. That was a spectacular game by him.Blew most of us away!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:20 AM

      Every position player stepped up except Rendon. This game was lost on the lousy pitching.

      • Section 222 - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:50 PM

        Wait, Rendon didn’t step up? Did you see him turn those two double plays? And corral Zim’s throw with a stretch for a forceout too. Ok, fine he went 0-5. But give him a break. He had a hit in every other game he’s played this year. No one on the team can say that.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:56 PM

        222, I love the guy. No issues with me.

      • Section 222 - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        I know you do. That’s why I was a little surprised to hear you say that. We all assume that Espi will make every single play at 2B, but I have to say that the double play he turned on the broken bat ball to Zim was extraordinary. Amazing balance and strength.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:02 PM

        Thanks. I just know I should be fair even on players that I really like that he was the offensive black hole last night and it will happen. Can’t expect it every night and the same for Aaron Barrett.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:05 PM

        BTW, Rendon could have the 2nd strongest 2nd base arm in the Majors only behind Espinosa. That was amazing. A weaker arm and the runner is definitely safe at 1st as that was bang bang.

      • Section 222 - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        Exactly. Sometimes it looks like he’s going to take ALR’s hand off with his throw. The guy has a gun as we saw when he made that great play at 3rd on a bunt, and his throw to get the third out in the last game against the Marlins. He can get something on the ball even when he’s totally off balance. Very impressive.

        Hard to call him an offensive black hole when he has a .980 OPS after 10 games. I was skeptical of batting him second, and still think Zim or Werth might be a better option there over the course of the season, but with Harper in a funk, he has been a godsend.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:16 PM

        222, can’t be the offensive star every night and my post yesterday was very predictive of who needed to step up last night. I even suggested Harp in the 2 since he hits Teheran with ownership. I had a feeling Rendon would not have a good night against Teheran. No biggie. The offense did their job overall.

      • Eric - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:05 PM

        I had my concerns about Rendon’s fielding last year, no doubt, but they’re becoming an increasingly distant memory. He was money yesterday for sure.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        Last year was acclimation time OJT for Rendon. He looks legit this year.

        As John said, TyMo could even improve defensively in LF with reps. I think his arm as shown in ST was surprisingly good, but I’m in agreement with Drew that the last spot needs to be a super fast outfielder.

  20. natsfan1a - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    Didn’t see the game because of an evening appointment and then dealing with kitty health issues overnight. Lots of yard work and errands to do, so not sure that I’ll watch the replay.

  21. natsfan1a - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    That said, and again not having seen the game, somewhat encouraging that the offense tied it up a few times last night and has battled back from deficits in a number of games already this year. I can recall seasons past where the Nats were in a hole early and it was difficult to have faith that they could come back. Now I feel more confident when they’re in a hole. So, er, silver lining, I guess…

  22. llf0701 - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    I wish I had some confidence when Clippard enters the game. It is not a good thing to be surprised when he does the job. Other options?? Or keep the faith?

    • Eric - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:52 AM

      I think he’ll come around… Hopefully soon!

      As for having confidence in him, he often pitches in tense situations and has zero margin for error, which is not a confidence-boosting situation to begin with. It also puts a magnifying glass on him when he screws up.

  23. sjm308 - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    The great thing is that you do have options. I think MW will still use Clip in those tough 8th inning situations but Storen has very quietly shown that he can also be used there. I see a difficult decision here because you will need both of them as the season plays out. I would make sure I let Clip know what I am thinking if Storen gets the call in a tough game instead of him. I am not sure how much Davey communicated last year and don’t know what Matt is doing this year but this is a big part of managing.

    Go Nats!

  24. Joe Seamhead - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    I know that quite a few on here like having Tyler Moore on the roster, and somebody said in an earlier post last night that there was no way that Tyler could make that catch of Chris Johnson’s 2 out single and that his job was to hold the runner to a single. I’ll agree that there’s no way that Tyler makes that catch, and if he tried to considering the “jump” he got on the ball Johnson probably would have ended up on third. That said, I think even Scott Hairston makes that play. Moore is adequate on balls hit to him, as he does have an ok glove, but let’s face it, he isn’t ever going to make many highlight films with his outfielding.

    • therealjohnc - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      I agree that he’s not going to make any highlight films with his outfielding (except by accident – the “get a bad jump, stick your glove up and the ball finds it” sort of play). But I don’t think that any LF makes that catch, certainly not Hairston, for all the reasons that I gave yesterday.

  25. Joe Seamhead - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    I, for one, am not giving up on Clippard. He’s had rough spells before. But he did throw a meatball to Justin Upton last night.

    Aaron Barrett actually looked a little shaken during his appearance.

    Jumpin’ Joe’s 56 game streak is again safe.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      Barrett appeared human last night… Was a little surprised that MW went and got roark… he started to settle down, some… no where near where he really needed to be…

      Clipp hasn’t proven he can pitch against the braves… at some point, hopefully he does…

      gotta hope that today, TJ does what he did last time to the braves…

  26. unkyd59 - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    Loved Zim last night! But what I really took from this game is more evidence of TR being an uncommonly mature youngster. He had nothing, and battled his way through nearly 5 innings… He’s a tough guy, and I like him. No problem having him in the 4-5 conversation for a few years, at this point.

  27. sjm308 - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    I really hate losing to the Braves, so I am still not OK with last night but I do realize we have a few more games to play this season.

    It is interesting to me that JZimmnn and Roark both had what could be called disappointing outings and almost everyone on here gives them a pass. If SS does the same thing (and this year so far, he has not!!!), people would be jumpinig down his throat and calling him all sorts of things. All of our pitchers will have difficult days and all of our fielders will have brain f@@rts, and our hitters will slump. But this is a really good team and I am excited to see how MW manages them.

    • Eric - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:45 AM

      He did kinda the same thing on Saturday, no?

      Anyway, I agree he’s held to a bit of a different standard… Of course, he’s also held out as being at another level, so I think expectations are different.

      I do think Stras will ultimately reach his potential…I think it will be this year or next. He has been evolving on several fronts since TJ surgery (new pitches, holding runners, going deep in games, recocering from surgery itself, etc), and I have the sense that’s all just about to come together… I think it might also have made the last season or two trickier than they might have been.

  28. sjm308 - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    One more thing. Games like last night make me appreciate all the various strategies that go into a game. Would I have liked to have McClouth in Right Field in extra innings yesterday? Of course, but he delivered a key hit to get us to extra innings. Was Barrett the right move in the 5th. Not yesterday, but how do you know that? It goes on and on and it has to be incredibly hard to think ahead to what may or may not happen. Glad I am just watching and not making those calls but I bet secretly we all think we could do it.

    Go Nats!!

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:51 AM

      Really hoping that JW’s injury isn’t too significant… We cant deal with more…

      • Eric - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:54 AM

        Very nervous to hear about that one..

  29. philipd763 - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    Typical cheap hit ending to a Braves win against the Nationals.

  30. Sonny G 10 - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    NatsLady – Apr 12, 2014 at 8:58 AM
    Apparently all the Soriano hate has transferred itself to Clip…

    We can forgive a player having a bad day, but when it becomes a pattern, we tend to lose patience with said player.

  31. philipd763 - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    Clip has become the staff’s gopher ball specialist. He’s been overworked for 5 seasons and it is beginning to show. Wish I could say the same about Craig Kimbrell.

  32. Whynat - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Clip is two great outings away from being an NI favorite.

  33. Baseballswami - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    No Fister, no Ramos, Zim tweaked, BH struggled, JZ sick and worst outing ever— but still in ok shape for 10 games. Bench and bullpen looking good. Bryce coming on. Rendon– oh, my. Det thriving in a new role. Lots if good things here- patience. After this weekend 6 of the 19 down, though with the evil ( and lucky) ones.

  34. Section 222 - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    The Nats have already have had subpar outings from Stras, JZnn, and Roark, and are 7-3 to open the season. I think we should feel pretty good about that.

Archives

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.

Follow us on Twitter