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Instant analysis: Nats 4, Dodgers 0

May 6, 2014, 1:21 AM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: This was supposed to be a big-time pitchers’ duel between two of the NL’s best right-handers: Zack Greinke and Jordan Zimmermann. Mother Nature, though, had something very different in mind. A 3-hour, 17-minute rain delay in the middle of the fourth inning prevented two starting pitchers from going deep into the game, left everything in the hands of two bullpens and left only a couple hundred fans to watch the final five innings of a game that resumed at 11:40 p.m. and ended at 1:21 a.m.

The Nationals held a 2-0 lead throughout the delay, thanks to Anthony Rendon’s first-inning homer. There wouldn’t be another run plated in this game until six hours later, when Danny Espinosa homered into the right-field bullpen, setting off a late-night/early-morning blowing of the stadium submarine horn.

In the end, the Nationals bullpen proved the star of this game. Five relievers combined to finish off Zimmermann’s shutout, blanking the Dodgers without burning itself up too much considering most of these guys are likely to be needed again on Tuesday.

And at the end of a very long night at the ballpark, there was no sweeter news than this: Thanks to the Braves’ seventh straight loss earlier in the evening, the Nationals (18-14) have taken over sole possession of first place in the NL East.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Does anybody remember at this point how the Nats scored their first two runs tonight? You have to go all the way back to the bottom of the first, when Denard Span sent a leadoff double into the left-field corner. Up stepped Rendon, who fell behind in the count 0-2, then nearly hit the dirt after a brushback pitch from Greinke. Rendon had no trouble with the subsequent 1-2 breaking ball. He crushed it to left-center, into the Red Porch for a 2-run homer, his fifth of the season. Little could anyone have known at the time that would be enough to hold up the entire night.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Let’s give this one to Johnny Wholestaff, who pitched one heck of a game. Zimmermann was highly effective during his four innings before the rain delay. Desperately wanting to save both Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen for Tuesday’s game, Matt Williams had no choice but to pitch everybody else in his bullpen, one inning at a time. And it worked. Aaron Barrett pitched the fifth. Jerry Blevins pitched the sixth. Drew Storen pitched the seventh. Tyler Clippard pitched the eighth. And Rafael Soriano finished it out to extend his streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 24. That’s what you call a collective team effort, folks.

KEY STAT: The latest a Nationals game has ever ended was 2:07 a.m., a 3-1 win over the Phillies at RFK Stadium on Sept. 28, 2006 that began at 11:32 p.m. following a 4-hour, 27-minute rain delay.

UP NEXT: These two teams will be right back at it later today for the second game of this series. Clayton Kershaw will be making his return to the Dodgers after spending more than a month on the DL with a strained upper back muscle. The Nats will call up right-hander Blake Treinen from Class AAA to start, with Detwiler available to back him up from the bullpen.

  1. Sec 3 My Sofa - May 6, 2014 at 1:22 AM

    Untuckef

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 6, 2014 at 1:22 AM

      That’s “untucked.”

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 1:28 AM

        It wasn’t a save. Technically no untuck according to Soriano’s rules of engagement.

  2. David Proctor - May 6, 2014 at 1:25 AM

    It doesn’t matter on May 6, but we’re in first place in the NL East.

  3. scmargenau - May 6, 2014 at 1:26 AM

    Now I can’t sleep, too wired. Great night of dc sports!

  4. Mrsb loves the Nats - May 6, 2014 at 1:27 AM

    Wiz Kids won…. Nats won….

    My kinda of night…. :-)

  5. Eugene in Oregon - May 6, 2014 at 1:28 AM

    Well that was fun. Where’s MicheleS with her trademarked victory cheer?

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 6, 2014 at 1:33 AM

      WooooooHoooooooooo!
      TM Michele

  6. Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 1:29 AM

    1st Place feels good.

  7. adcwonk - May 6, 2014 at 1:30 AM

    So — we have, what: Detwiler and Stammen as the main guys tomorrow?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 1:32 AM

      Treinen has to be on the plane back to replace Mattheus.

  8. Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 1:31 AM

    Ray, is crazy. Calls McLouth’s catch the “Play of the decade”. It was great and could be the best catch of the year for the Nats, but the play of the decade.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - May 6, 2014 at 1:32 AM

      Lol… He’s extra hyped… I was like dude, really…. Lol.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 1:36 AM

        Greatest play in my mind was Bernadina doing that over the head catch with his back towards the infield sliding on the warning track. 2nd was Bernadina in Houston and 3rd was Span last year running into the gap in the 9th inning.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 1:40 AM

        That Bernadina Web Gem was the #1 for several weeks.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - May 6, 2014 at 1:48 AM

        Yeah…. Well you know any and every web gem by Bernadina will forever be rated high with me… Hahahaha… That Houston catch was just sick…. Just unforgettable, really…..

    • ehay2k - May 6, 2014 at 7:18 AM

      Well if you choose to start the decade at around 11:00 last night, then I think a very strong case could be made that it was indeed, the catch of the decade, and still is! But they play tonight, so….

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 8:15 AM

        With that logic, yes . Didn’t even get top play nomination on MLB Network or ESPN. Probably because the producers already spliced everything together hours before. Now you know how the West Coast teams feel with the East Coast bias.

  9. Sec 3 My Sofa - May 6, 2014 at 1:31 AM

    I think Nate broke that hand. Looked bad.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 1:34 AM

      You think? I saw the gash. Hopefully no broken bones. Still might have to go on the DL. With Ramos coming back he needs to take someone’s spot.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 6, 2014 at 1:37 AM

        It just looked awkward and out of shape, distorted, as he walked off. And he seemed to be favoring it very carefully.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 1:39 AM

        Uh oh.

      • Eric - May 6, 2014 at 1:44 AM

        Agreed, Sec. Looked… wrong. Possibly compound fracture was my thought.

      • Eric - May 6, 2014 at 1:47 AM

        PS – Clip’s face after was ***priceless***

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 1:50 AM

        It was like his face when Bernadina saved his game in Houston.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 1:52 AM

        Adam Kilgore ‏@AdamKilgoreWP 1m
        Nate McLouth, who is apparently made of iron, is fine, Williams said.

    • coop202 - May 6, 2014 at 1:57 AM

      Oh no…. What are the chances espi can find bit of range in the OF if this is true?

  10. Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 1:46 AM

    Danny Espinosa should send Baez a gift for his MLB Debut. 7 years in the Minors and Danny gave him an ERA.

  11. Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 1:50 AM

    Me: Ghost of Steve M. – May 6, 2014 at 1:32 AM
    Treinen has to be on the plane back to replace Mattheus.

    Dan Kolko: ‏@masnKolko 28s
    Blake Treinen will be called up to start tomorrow. Ryan Mattheus optioned.

    Me: I have been saying that for a few days that Treinen would replace Mattheus. Also, Souza homered for Syracuse tonight.

    • David Proctor - May 6, 2014 at 1:51 AM

      I like starting Treinan. For one, there’s little risk. We probably aren’t going to beat Kershaw anyway. Let’s put the kid in there against a good lineup and see how he does. If he starts to fall apart, Detwiler can back him up and go long.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 1:54 AM

        Exactly. It’s Kershaw. Maybe Treinen confuses them and pitches a Roark gem.

      • adcwonk - May 6, 2014 at 1:57 AM

        We probably aren’t going to beat Kershaw anyway.

        Ehhh, I don’t like that. For one, he may be rusty. For two, the best pitcher in baseball over the last 10 months or so has been Grienke, not Kershaw, and we just beat him.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 7:36 AM

        adcwonk, he didn’t say beat the Nats couldn’t beat the Dodgers. Nats can still win the game by beating their bullpen and of course if Treinen is great good things can happen vs Kershaw.

      • dcwx61 - May 6, 2014 at 10:30 AM

        This is Kershaw’s 1st game back. Let’s hope for rust

  12. NatsLady - May 6, 2014 at 1:52 AM
    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 1:55 AM

      He isn’t fine because he has that gash on his hand. Guaranteed to feel like he was in a fender bender when he wakes up tomorrow.

      Glad nothing is broken.

  13. adcwonk - May 6, 2014 at 1:55 AM

    adcwonk – May 5, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    Break the streak!

    Greinke has gone 18 consecutive starts of pitching 5 or more innings with 2 runs or less allowed. (A good argument could be made that during that time he’s been the best pitcher in MLB)

    Time to stop that tonight!

    OK, so, the rain helped, but, still . . . . ;-)

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 1:58 AM

      You are correct. He also took the L.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 1:58 AM

        Was the longest run since 1914.

      • veejh - May 6, 2014 at 5:29 AM

        Kind of impressive. Seems like the stat guys are coming up with something new every other day.

      • adcwonk - May 6, 2014 at 10:02 AM

        I think in that 18 game streak he also had a loss, fwiw. (I’m vaguely thinking he was 10-1 or something?)

        But, no matter, the loss last night is what counts.

        And he does keep his streak of: 19 straight starts allowing 2 runs or less. But if my vague memory is correct, during that streak he’s now 10-2!

  14. sjm308 - May 6, 2014 at 2:04 AM

    From last post
    I hit the place in their Central Market – pretty ave. beers but a neat place to eat and drink.
    Thanks to all who responded
    Not much hops in Italian Beer, had to laugh because that word threw them for a loop.
    One bartender showed me Newcastle as his hoppy beer.
    They do try to help which is great.

    • Eric - May 6, 2014 at 10:04 AM

      Ha! Good stuff re: New Castle.

  15. Section 222 - May 6, 2014 at 2:33 AM

    That was the most enjoyable half game I’ve ever attended. What a blast out there. The crowd, such as it was, was totally into it. Some were fueled by alcohol I’m sure, but still. And what a show the bullpen gave us. Very, very impressive. And even though we used a lot of relievers, I think Blevins had the most pitches — 15. So even though we had to go to the bullpen after four innings, it’s hard to see it as over taxed or burned out. Smart work by MW to save Det and Stammen for tomorrow when Treinen might go four or five.

    I called into Phil Wood afterward with this plea, to which of course he gave the back of the hand: Games like this with a three hour rain delay happen once every few years. Maybe. When it happens, why can’t the Nats put out the word that fans are welcome to come over and will be let in without a ticket? Open the parking lots for free and let people in. What would be the harm? The concessions are closed. There’s no one there to sell tickets. They let people in who left if they have a ticket stub. Surely the Nats would appreciate a few thousand in the stands rather than a few hundred.

    Unfortunately, I know for a fact that they were turning away people who didn’t have tickets. That’s a shame.

    • veejh - May 6, 2014 at 5:25 AM

      Interesting concept. I like it. I say let anyone in thats there to watch the game. Could get weird. I dunno. Hmmmmmm. Yeah.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 7:41 AM

      One reason, MLB requires notice on tickets of disclaimer. The way around that could be handing them Comp tickets. It’s a great idea to say show up in Nats gear for free tickets.

      • Section 222 - May 6, 2014 at 8:07 AM

        Good point, and good idea. Turning people away at midnight is bad karma.

        In the postgame, JZnn said the atmosphere reminded him of his first start in April 2009, which was also a rain delayed game. I was at that one too, watching from almost exactly the same place behind the dugout. Good times.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 8:21 AM

        Sect222, I doubt any team would ever get progressive and do it but that would be a fun discussion with your STH rep.

        Even if they wanted to manage the size of the crowd they could make it the 1st thousand to show up in Nats gear.

    • dcwx61 - May 6, 2014 at 10:34 AM

      Woo hoo….I think we heard you on the TV
      And Keep Metro open until 2 AM…This is a real city now.

      • Section 222 - May 6, 2014 at 10:39 AM

        I agree. Although keeping the Metro open for 150 fans to use might be hard to justify. But just think if the Nats decided that for any rain delayed game where the delay has been more than 2 hours and the game resumes after 11 pm they would pay to keep Metro open and give a free ticket (taking care of Ghost’s good point about the legal notices and disclaimers) to anyone who shows up. They’d get a ton of good publicity and I’ll bet a lot more fans would stick around or come down to join the fun and support the team. They might end up with 5,000 fans in the stands for the rest of the game rather than 300. And it would cost virtually nothing because it would happen once a year…. maybe.

      • dcwx61 - May 6, 2014 at 10:50 AM

        Yes…It would definitely be a party atmosphere…You shouldn’t charge for tix after a long delay. They’d make it up with concessions.

      • Section 222 - May 6, 2014 at 11:58 AM

        When I got there last night, it seemed like all the concessions were closed. This would be pure PR for the Nats, maybe a long term benefit for their ticket sales, and a way to have more people in the park supporting the team. But I doubt they’d make money on it.

      • letswin3 - May 6, 2014 at 3:19 PM

        You guys are onto something here. Can you imagine how fast the word would spread around Georgetown that there was a free Nats game restarting after 11:00, and the Metro ride is free too? And that crowd, unlike me, would know the words to Take On Me. The more I hear, the more I like it.

    • dcwx61 - May 6, 2014 at 10:48 AM

      The danger is too many dodger fans who look like Wilson’s brother may show up and wreak havoc to the stadium.
      The bald dodger fan with the big black beard behind home plate was quite animated. A great Bluto? look-alike too.

  16. veejh - May 6, 2014 at 5:27 AM

    1st place, baby (in May)!!!!!

  17. Joe Seamhead - May 6, 2014 at 6:06 AM

    Well, I didn’t make it through the rain delay. Just woke up on my sofa at about 5:00 a.m., checked and read NI, went to the box scores, saw the video of the Braves losing 4-3 with 2 on and Justin Upton watching a 3rd strike right down the middle of the plate. For his 4th K of the night.

    A good night for the Nats, other than McLouth getting cut up. I hope that he really is fine, as reported.

    A very good night for Span going 3-4 with 2 doubles and a fine catch against the wall early in the game.

    And the bullpen did a fine job. How about that streaking Soriano? 24?

    Going to the game tonight. I’m excited to see Kershaw in person, also excited to see Treinan.

    Thanks, Mark and a Chase, for sticking it out and giving us the lowdown!

  18. DaveB - May 6, 2014 at 7:29 AM

    I know “it’s the rules”, but it sure seems like they should be able to award the W to JZ for a game like this.

    • Joe Seamhead - May 6, 2014 at 7:34 AM

      I agree, Dave. It just shows again how suspect wins and losses are as a stat.

    • Section 222 - May 6, 2014 at 8:04 AM

      Kill the Win!!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 6, 2014 at 8:18 AM

      +1 given extenuating circumstances. A rain delay like this will skew both starters stats on QS and I/G.

    • ArVAFan - May 6, 2014 at 8:29 AM

      Yes, it does seem odd that a pitcher who pitched one inning gets the W, but the one who pitched four doesn’t. Nothing against Barrett, but JZimm deserves it more. But no one died and left me in charge. (But if they did, I would let fans in after a two-hour rain delay).

      • 3on2out - May 6, 2014 at 10:11 AM

        +1

  19. Joe Seamhead - May 6, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    How can you say he’s Up when you know he’s down….

    So far for May Justin Upton is 1-15 with 11 strike outs.

  20. natszee - May 6, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    Nice win and lets hope we can roll a few more off. One point of concern, Danny did hit a HR but also K’ed 3 times. In fact, he has K’ed in 9 of 13 AB’s in May. That compares to 19 K’s for 80 AB’s in April. I noticed last week that he was reverting to the “swing out your socks” swing that got him into trouble last year.

    Let’s hope this was a minor interruption to a great start. We really need the 2014 Danny to keep us in the hunt … especially with our RISP and LOB stats …. contact trumps power!

    • Brookstoor - May 6, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      Good point about Espi. I’ve noticed that too. I get the feeling he has to fight to contain that aggression at the plate. He really wants to contribute runs but you can see him revert to his old habits by swinging at some of these pitches. The good news is it seems like he really can become the player we all want him to be, it just takes constant work.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 58 47 --
ATLANTA 58 50 1.5
MIAMI 53 54 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.5
PHILADELPHIA 47 61 12.5
Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 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.

*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.

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