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Instant analysis: Nats 6, Marlins 3

Apr 16, 2014, 9:48 PM EST

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Desperate to close out a rough road trip on a high note, the Nationals found themselves in a familiar position tonight: Trailing early. Derek Dietrich’s fourth-inning homer off Tanner Roark left the Nationals in a 3-0 hole and surely left some wondering whether this would continue to spiral downward as several other games have in the last week.

But after they were stymied for five innings by Jose Fernandez, the Nationals’ depleted finally came to life in the sixth. Jayson Werth’s three-run homer tied the game and reinvigorated the dugout. Zach Walters’ second homer in as many nights then gave them the lead in the eighth, with Ian Desmond tacking on a couple of insurance runs shortly after.

Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano closed things out and secured a series victory for the Nationals in Miami, sending them home with a 2-4 record on this road trip and surely looking for better days ahead with an 11-game homestand next on the docket.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The Nationals had nothing to show for their first five innings against Fernandez, but they did consistently make solid contact against the young Marlins ace. You had to wonder if eventually those hard-hit balls would fall in, and sure enough they did in the sixth. None, of course, was hit harder than Werth’s three-run blast to right-center. It was the latest in a string of clutch home runs by the veteran slugger, who since late-2012 has truly established himself as the guy the Nationals turn to when they need to be saved late.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Roark was fantastic the first time through the Marlins’ lineup, breaking four bats (including Giancarlo Stanton’s) and keeping the ball down in the zone. But the right-hander started leaving pitches up the second time around, and Miami’s hitters started to pick him up. Dietrich’s 3-run homer in the fourth could have spelled doom for Roark, but to his credit, he battled back from that ragged inning and kept the deficit at 3-0 through five innings. He even got a chance to take the mound for the seventh after the Nationals had rallied to tie the game. Roark wasn’t the pitcher of record by night’s end, but his efforts over his final 2 1/3 innings undoubtedly helped his team win.

INJURY UPDATE: Bryce Harper was a late scratch from the lineup with tightness in his left quadriceps muscle, an ailment that bothered him during Monday’s game. Meanwhile, Denard Span (concussion) is expected to begin a brief rehab assignment Thursday and come off the 7-day DL when eligible on Saturday. Also, Doug Fister (strained lat) will throw two innings at extended spring training in Viera on Thursday.

KEY STAT: The Nationals have outscored opponents 48-16 after the fifth inning this season.

UP NEXT: After a mostly disappointing road trip, the Nationals return to D.C. for a long stay. They’ll open an 11-game homestand Thursday when the Cardinals come to town. Taylor Jordan faces Adam Wainwright in the series opener at 7:05 p.m.

  1. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:51 PM

    Great win…

  2. dgourds - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    This game was my dream come true. Ryan Zimmerman on the DL and therefore not at 3rd, Rendon at third, Werth showing last year wasn’t a fluke, the bench filling in for a hurt Harper, Espinosa playing a great 2b (that double play in the 6th was AMAZING), Zack Walters hitting too well not to be played every day, and…..TANNER ROARK COMING UP BIG AGAINST THE BEST PITCHER IN BASEBALL. I love it!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:59 PM

      Defense was sharp tonight all over if you remove Tanner’s throwing error.

    • wearenationals - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:33 PM

      Great win! Love the fight this year’s team has and my new fave catchphrase… ZACK ATTACK!

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:56 PM

    Thanks for the Instant Analysis.

  4. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    I expected 2 wins in this series for the Nats. I just didn’t expect this order W-L-W

    • veejh - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:03 PM

      Hmmmmm….baseball isn’t predictable?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:05 PM

        No it isn’t which why they play the games.

  5. nats128 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    I didnt post in game as I didnt want to jinx anything. Nice Win after yesterdays crapper.

  6. nats128 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:04 PM

    Nats continue there dominance of the other teams bullpen.

    • veejh - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:06 PM

      See that stat above…outscored opponents 48-16 after the 5th inning. Boom.

      • snerdblurter - Apr 17, 2014 at 4:33 PM

        Little different than last year, huh? When a 2-run deficit in the 6th was basically a death knell…

  7. Section 222 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    Nice to have the return of the Instant Analysis. Need to add a fielding highlight — the DP in the seventh. Especially because next up was none other than G. Stanton.

    Don’t want to jinx him, but Soriano has yet to give up a run in six appearances. Very impressive given that his fastball velocity is down around 90.

    • veejh - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:07 PM

      No comment.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:11 PM

      Why do you give a hoot about his fastball velocity? The difference between 90 and 92 is just timing it. Any Major Leaguer can hit a fastball up to 95 that is straight. Did you see what Wood did to the Nats with fastballs in the high 80’s. Its about location, movement, and deception.

      • Section 222 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:24 PM

        Oh please Ghost. Must you nitpick every single comment? Enjoy the win and let people who aren’t as darn brilliant as you are say things that you might not completely agree with.

        But to answer your question, I give a hoot because it seems like he’s not throwing his fastball as hard as he has in the past. That doesn’t mean he can’t be effective, but at a certain point it’s an indication of declining skill. There’s a reason that closers aren’t usually soft tossing lefties. Less margin for error. Wouldn’t you rather he have his location, movement and deception combined with a 96 mph fastball?

        I thought so.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:37 PM

        I always nitpick Velo comments when a pitcher is doing his job. People said it about Haren also and its when he overthrew that he wasn’t effective. It’s when a player tries to change and not play within himself that you have a problem so you have to accept things we can’t change and let natural regression in this case take its course.

        Of course I’d love 96 with movement but he will never throw mid 90’s again so we have to accept it and move on. That’s why I think Barrett, Treinen or Detwiler (longshot) can be the 2015 closer of this team.

        I do like heat by my closer BTW but would never want to go the route again of a HenRod where you have no clue about location and generally he had little movement which meant deception was compromised.

  8. 3on2out - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    The Ghost said it. Last night…our #1 versus their #5. Outcome? Got our ass handed to us. Tonight…baseball’s #1 versus our #5. Outcome? Not what you’d expect. That’s why baseball is so fascinating!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:12 PM

      How satisfying was that. Tomorrow is the same type of game- Wainwright vs Taylor Jordan.

      • David Proctor - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:15 PM

        Bryce has hit Wainwright very well, so I hope he’s back in the lineup tomorrow.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:16 PM

        Game 5 they all owned him. Most other times he’s been Aces.

      • David Proctor - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:19 PM

        Harper is 8/16 against Wainwright with a homer, 2 doubles and a triple. He has a 1.439 OPS against him.

  9. Sonny G 10 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:36 PM

    What a nice win tonight. Sure made the outlook brighter.

  10. Attitude of Natitude - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:37 PM

    Didn’t watch; I’m a radio fan, so curious: ghost you said the defense looked sharp. It sounded like Desi bobbled multiple times and made at least one bad throw that ALR dug out (which, how good has he been defensively!). True? Or did Desi look better in the field than he has so far?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:55 PM

      Desi bobbled one and it dropped out of his glove and right into his throwing hand. In the 1st inning he buried a ball in the dirt to LaRoche. FP and Bob didn’t even comment about the throw (not surprising) as ALR just makes it so routine.

      There wasn’t a ball that was fieldable that they didn’t get to and McLouth ran down everything. Notice that almost everything in-play was up the middle to SS, 2nd, and CF. Desmond on that doubleplay got to the ball and gunned a throw to Espinosa who sacrificed his right leg and threw a high bullet to LaRoche.

      I was most disappointed in pitch selection in Innings 2 to 4. Lobaton had been really good all season but was not prepared and on the page he should have been on with Roark. I think Roark was counting on Lobaton and went with his game planning. Yes, the HR pitch missed the location and that’s on Roark but why do you throw a 4 seamer after you already threw it in the pitch before it to a lefty when you have slider, changeup and 2 seamer and keep in mind you are hunting a doubleplay.

      • NatsLady - Apr 17, 2014 at 7:59 AM

        Didn’t Desi also bobble (and recover) a ball in the 8th or 9th? It was fine, but not smooth.

      • therealjohnc - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:59 AM

        I am most disappointed in pitch selection in Innings 2 to 4

        Doubtless because some of those pitches got hit, and one of them was simply crushed. But on the merits I find it hard to believe that Lobaton was prepared and on the page with his pitcher in innings 1 and 5-9 but not innings 2-4. If there’s anything easier than second guessing pitch selection I can’t think of it off the top of my head. It reminds me of a passage in the classic book Ball Four where pitching coach Sal Maglie in the dugout complains about a pitcher falling behind to a hitter by missing with offspeed stuff instead of getting ahead with the fastball, then later in the game when the same pitcher to the same hitter starts off an at bat with a fastball and gives up a home run Maglie goes ballistic – “that guy’s a first ball fastball hitter, and you’ve got to be aware of that!”

        There are many, many considerations that go into pitch selection, and I have no reason to believe that Lobaton was equally on top of those considerations throughout the game.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:18 PM

        I obsess over pitch selections and 1st inning matchups are fresh in the mind of pitchers and catchers.

        I play along in the game on what I would throw. Nobody is better today than Yadier Molina. Lobaton has been good but as a team they need to throw more purpose pitches to setup a chase pitch.

        Roark missed his spot to the lefty but why a 4-seamer to a lefty where even an inside pitch can be yanked. You showed him the 4 seam in Pitch #1 which I liked. Did Roark miss the sign?

        Did anyone interview Roark to ask him? I’m curious more than anything. It’s a learning experience.

  11. Sonny G 10 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    One thing I noticed after the Desi-Espi-Roachie double play that made me happy. On the way back to the dugout, Rendon and Espi exchanging high fives. I’m glad there seems to be no animosity because of the competition at 2B.

    • Section 222 - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:14 PM

      I noticed that too, and smiled. Rendon is a happy go lucky guy. Desi called him Smiley, didn’t he?

      I do want to say that based on the DP he turned with Zim in the first game in Atlanta, among others, I have every confidence Rendon would have converted the DP tonight as well. Maybe he would even have cleared himself rather than get hit. His arm strength is incredible. But Espi deserves huge props for making that play. It really sapped the Marlins’ will to win the game.

      • dgourds - Apr 17, 2014 at 7:46 AM

        I love Rendon, but I really think Espinosa is the only one on the team who could have made that dp. He’s so tough. He took a big shot from Yellich and fired a perfect BB to LaRoche. I don’t think there are too many 2 B’s in baseball who could have made that play. It was the major moment in the game imo. That is why I prefer Rendon at third and Espinosa at 2b over Zim at third and Rendon at 2b. As long as Espinosa is adequate at the plate.

  12. letswin3 - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    I hope I’m not beginning to sound like a broken record in constantly trying to find a way to get Walters bat in the picture. But he did it again tonight …. that ball was crushed y’all. I guess I’m remembering how we overlooked Mike Morse’s defensive short-comings in wanting to see him in the lineup as often as possible, and Zack is a little like Mike. The big difference, I guess, is that in ’11 and ’12 we didn’t have as many solid choices at virtually every position as we do today .. that is to say “who would have to sit down in 2014 in order to get Walters bat in play”? Earlier this spring I felt that he was the kind of guy that should have been given a shot at the bench utility infielder spot, but Danny has shown real promise over the first couple of weeks this season and, if he keeps it up, that argument becomes weaker. So, do we really have too much hitting depth, or is that a stupid question?

    • Sonny G 10 - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:52 PM

      No such thing as too much hitting depth (or pitching depth). The tough part is being able to hang onto that depth in case its needed for injury replacement.

    • scmargenau - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:12 AM

      MW in post game was asked about Zack. He basically alluded they want to see him play more and don’t know exactly how. Anyone have the quote?

      • nattyboh1 - Apr 17, 2014 at 10:50 AM

        Can he play catcher for the next month? I know he can’t…

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