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Instant Analysis: Cardinals 4, Nats 3

Apr 19, 2014, 3:50 PM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Facing a team that has had their way with him in the past, Jordan Zimmermann pitched well enough against St. Louis to give the Nationals a chance to win on Saturday. But again, as they did two nights ago, the Nats committed defensive mistakes early in the game that cost them.

This time it was a throwing error by Anthony Rendon that helped lead to three unearned runs in the second inning. Jayson Werth also just barely missed a ball hit by pitcher Lance Lynn later in the frame that allowed a runner to score.

Zimmermann himself was solid with only one earned run through seven innings. The Nationals just shot themselves in the foot, once again giving up a significant lead in the early innings. It has become a trend this season, and this time they weren’t able to complete the comeback.

The Nationals’ three runs came on a Danny Espinosa solo home run in the fifth, an RBI double by Rendon in the eighth and a fielder’s choice groundball by Kevin Frandsen in the ninth.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Espinosa’s solo home run in the bottom of the fifth was his first smash since May 5, 2013. That’s almost an entire calendar year that featured him losing the starting job at second base, going to the disabled list and getting demoted to Triple-A.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Zimmermann pitched an excellent game despite taking the loss. He finished with one earned run through seven innings on seven hits, two walks and six strikeouts. After today’s start, Zimmermann is now 1-1 with a 3.92 ERA on the season through four outings.

DEFENSIVE LOWLIGHT: Though Rendon has looked very good at third base since moving there after Ryan Zimmerman’s injury, he made a throwing error in the second inning that was Zimmerman-esque. On a double play attempt he sailed the ball to Espinosa’s right at second base, and put Zimmermann in a situation with two on and one out. One at-bat later, Tony Cruz drove both runners home on a single, and Lynn then doubled home a third run. By the end of the second the Nats were down 3-0 and all three runs were unearned.

KEY STAT: The Nationals have now been outscored 39-12 in the first two innings through 18 games this year.

UP NEXT: The Nats and Cardinals finish off their four-game series with a 1:35 p.m. start at Nationals Park on Sunday afternoon. Stephen Strasburg (1-2, 6.00) will take the ball for his fifth start of the season, while Shelby Miller (1-2, 4.67) will start for St. Louis.

  1. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 19, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    Error really, especially hurts… We would have won that game… 3-2… Ugh…

    But it was a good game… Hopefully tomorrow we claim the victory and we split the series…

  2. David Proctor - Apr 19, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    This one hurts. The bad defense on Thursday didn’t change the outcome. It did today.

    I said beforehand we needed to win 2/4 against this team given how depleted we are and we still can. Get em tomorrow Stras.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Apr 19, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      +1

  3. Cam - Apr 19, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    Frustrating loss. Why can’t they play error free for just a few games?!?

  4. NatsLady - Apr 19, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    There were other chances after the error… bases loaded, etc. Don’t put the entire blame on Rendon.

  5. scnatsfan - Apr 19, 2014 at 3:57 PM

    I really thought this team could turn it around but, ladies and gentleman, meet your 2014 Nationals – same as your 2013 Nationals. Finding new and interesting ways to give games away.

  6. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    I liked the fight in these dogs with a good comeback attempt.

    • Attitude of Natitude - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:08 PM

      Was curious the other day and checked whether Werth is a clutch hitter, as I thought he was. He isn’t. Stats don’t lie. Still love him though.

  7. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    Uhm… What did MW say about Werth?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:07 PM

      He said Bryce was benched for lack of hustle!

  8. NatsLady - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    I don’t believe MW, I seriously don’t. I think Bryce is hurting (if not hurt) and he either didn’t tell Williams or MW isn’t telling us. If he really benched Harper for that reason, there is something SERIOUSLY wrong—there has GOT to be more to this.

    • Anon - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:24 PM

      Press conf was very clear. Benched Bryce for an inability to run 90 feet and lack of hustle. Went off on the importance of doing so every at bat. Noted that his place in lineup came up in the 9th. Asked if he said anything to B when he came out: “oh yeah I did.” Did he say anything back?. “I’m not going to go there. You can ask him”. Did say putting it behind, will be in lineup tomorrow

      • NatsLady - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:50 PM

        That suggests to me Williams lost his temper and made an impulsive move. That checks with his reputation as fiery and intense.

  9. stoatva - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    Couldn’t watch the game today so I can’t speak to what got Harper benched, but I am already on record as saying that Matt Williams is gutless manager, embodying all the worst aspects of vintage 2013 Davey Johnson.

    It appears, if he’s chosen to pick a fight with Harper, that we may be able to add “moron” to the indictment.

    He and Nate McLouth can hit the road as far as I’m concerned.

  10. secretwasianman - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    No matter what is wrong this thing looks like a photocopy of 2013. When do we play the Mets?

  11. secretwasianman - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    I agree with 4:16. This guy is not the answer. Sorry Davy for all the unkind words last season

  12. veejh - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    I like MW. Benching Harper for not hustling shows he not going to coddle our “star”. I hope Harper is mature enough to understand.

  13. NatsLady - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Remember when Desi said Bryce and Gio were the “divas” of the clubhouse? Maybe the guys got tired of it?

    I don’t think we know the whole story, but I don’t like going public with this. It leads to unnecessary public ridicule. Just keep your MOUTH SHUT AND PLAY.

  14. davecydell - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    Williams pulling of Harper was a good move.
    So when is Williams going to realize the same needs to be done to Werth as per his outfield play.
    If he is hurt, DL him, his 262 BA can be found at the minor level till all is well again.

  15. iowanatsfan - Apr 19, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    C’mon, guys-it’s a LONG season and 90% is still ahead of us. If they win most of the series that they should and split with the rest, they’ll be in the playoffs. Every team wins 60 games and every team loses 60 games. With the rose-colored glasses off, we won’t even know how good they are for another month or so.

  16. wmlsays - Apr 19, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    At least the Wizards are in the playoffs. They could be the only playoff bound team in this area this year. The Nats don’t have the look and feel of a contender. They’re the great pretender and until they prove otherwise, they’re just a team with a winning but not spectacular record.

    • micksback1 - Apr 19, 2014 at 6:33 PM

      I just hope Nats are not the Capitals of MLB, we may have too many softies on this team. the good news is that our young players in AA and AAA are excellent. If I am Rizzo and MW, I do not fool around and make the mistakes Ted Leonsis has done by trusting the so called suoer stars and thinking every season they players would grow up and play like champs. I see some guys already that I just do not believe will ever be champions

  17. micksback1 - Apr 19, 2014 at 6:26 PM

    I just hope April is the month this team gets all the knucklehead play out of their system. I have no problem with MW on Bryce. I will have a problem if he does not hold Stras to the same standard if he pouts like a little gal on the mound if things do not go his way.

  18. micksback1 - Apr 19, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    we are not hitting the damn ball when it counts. Pitching last night saved the Nats. we only scored on wild pitches. This bases loaded zero outs and not getting a sac or a hit will not fly as the season goes on. I really felt Nats would feed off last night’s win today, they did not

  19. topnat - Apr 19, 2014 at 6:43 PM

    After all of the posts I’ve read on this site from the beginning of spring training to his point I simply cannot believe what I see here today. How anyone can compare Williams to this point to Johnson at any point is ridiculous. It’s only my opinion but after actually watching Williams press conference, not commenting without watching, this is the best thing he could be doing for this team. Williams was clear why Harper was pulled and reiterated the point several times. There is no room to second guess motivation. Harper dogged it and got yanked. Good for the manager. There can only be one boss and he is it.

    • AlexandriaNatFan - Apr 19, 2014 at 7:30 PM

      Absolutely agree with topnat. I love Bryce and his talent and energy and he is a big part of this team. Operative word being “part” (and “team”). But MW is enforcing accountability in this instance and, generally, people don’t like that. But just because people don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not needed. Leaders make the tough decisions for the long term benefit of the team. Bryce expressed his understanding of the decision and respects it. Time to focus on the next game.

      • letswin3 - Apr 19, 2014 at 9:05 PM

        +1 and +1

  20. secretwasianman - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    A record of 10 and 8??? What’s that smell?? It’s mediocrity simmering for the next 5 months

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