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State of the Nats: Williams’ homecoming

May 12, 2014, 10:06 AM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Top storylines:

Nats get swept in Oakland – The Nationals just played a very good team in the Oakland Athletics, the two-time defending AL West champions and current holders of the most wins (23) in the American League. Though the Nats had their chances on Saturday, the A’s outscored the Nats 21-4 over the three games.

After getting swept by Oakland, the Nationals have now lost six of their last eight games. In four of those six losses the team gave up seven runs or more, a troubling trend for a team that looked like it was turning a corner earlier this month.

After 37 games on the season, the Nationals are 19-18 and in third place in the NL East. The Braves have recovered to win their last three in a sweep over the Chicago Cubs this week, while the Marlins remain a half-game in front of the Nats. Looking past the top three in the division, the Mets have started to slip with eight losses in their last 10 games, and the Phillies are in last place having lost six of their last 10.

Arizona Diamondbacks up next – After losing three straight to the Athletics, the Nationals have a decent chance to rebound against one of the worst teams in the majors. The D-Backs have been a mess this season with a 15-25 record and the league’s worst pitching staff. Arizona’s staff ranks last in MLB in runs allowed (214), home runs allowed (45), and second to last in batting average against (.265).

Though they can’t pitch, the Diamondbacks do have some offensive talent, particularly in first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt has been brilliant this season, hitting .321 with seven home runs, 23 RBI, 28 runs and a league-leading 52 hits.

Williams’ homecoming – Despite their overall record, Arizona is actually moving through their best stretch of the season. They’ve won four of their last five games, including a series win over first place Milwaukee. The D-Backs could be finally getting it together just in time to face a former friend.

This week will mark Matt Williams’ return to the team he left to become the manager of the Nationals. Williams was the D-Backs’ third base coach last season before taking the job in D.C.

Williams also has a history there as a player. He was an original member of the team in 1998, a starter on their 2001 World Series team and it’s where he played out the final years of his career. After retiring as a player, Williams served in the Diamondbacks’ broadcast booth before joining their coaching staff, and was a minority owner before making the move to Washington. He still has a home in the Phoenix area, as well.

NL East Standings


Offensive game of the week: Denard Span 5/5 vs. Dodgers – 3 for 4, 2 2B, R, 5 TB

Pitching game of the week: Tanner Roark 5/10 vs. Athletics – 7.2 IP, ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 5 SO, 95 pitches, 62 strikes

Quote of the week:

Doug Fister on his unfortunate Nationals debut:

The game of baseball is pretty difficult when it comes to ups and downs. It’s a matter of trying to stay as even keel as possible. Kinda forget about it tonight and make sure that tomorrow is a new day. Obviously make the adjustment, know what I need to work on tomorrow and do that.

Tweet of the week:

Bryce Harper on Jadeveon Clowney going No. 1 in the NFL Draft:

Road ahead

MON – 9:40 p.m. at Arizona Diamondbacks (Zimmermann)
TUE – 9:40 p.m. at Arizona Diamondbacks (Strasburg)
WED – 3:40 p.m. at Arizona Diamondbacks (Fister)
FRI – 7:05 p.m. vs. New York Mets (Roark)
SAT – 4:05 p.m. vs. New York Mets (Gonzalez)
SUN – 1:35 p.m. vs. New York Mets (Zimmermann)

  1. dcwx61 - May 12, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Change wordpress…not the Nats

  2. Section 222 - May 12, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    Somehow WordPress repaired itself last night, but not before driving away the last of the commenters. Or was that the Nats.

  3. sunshinebobby - May 12, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    WordPress = Manny Acta of sofware

  4. Theophilus T.S. - May 12, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    “The Nationals have a decent chance to rebound against one of the worst teams in the majors.” Unfortunately, these Nats have proved there is no team in the majors to whom they are incapable of losing, except the Mets — so far, we’ll know more later this week — and the Astros. AZ has a number of good hitters in addition to Goldschmidt, Nats pitchers, with the possible exception of Roark (how ironic is that?) seem to have a hard time locking anybody down, and the ball jumps out of that ballpark making any game unpredictable.

  5. Candide - May 12, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    Reading this, I don’t get much sense of the state of the team. We all know the physical state – who’s injured, who’s healthy, who’s on the DL, who’s playing through aches and pains.

    But we don’t know much about the mental state, which, after yesterday’s team meltdown, is a real concern. Is this turning into a bunch of guys snarling at each other, focusing more on who in the dugout they’re ticked off at than how they’re going to handle their next AB?

    I think this is where we find out what MW is made of – does he take a firm hand, and let everyone know that nobody is playing so well that they have any business calling each other out?

    • Section 222 - May 12, 2014 at 10:37 AM

      +1. MW was closed mouth in the postgame, as was Gio. That suggests he learned a lesson from the reaction to the public dressing down of Harper. I hope so. He needs to fix what’s going on in there, but he doesn’t need to do it publicly.

    • Sonny G 10 - May 12, 2014 at 10:54 AM


    • NatsLady - May 12, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      You’re not going to know about the “mental” state of the team. At lease, I very much hope not!! Keep that stuff in the clubhouse. Anyway, difficult to judge from 3,000 miles away.

  6. Section 222 - May 12, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    As of Saturday night/Sunday morning, we’ve now completed two of the nine 18 game sets that make up the season. 10-8 for the first one, and 9-9 for the second. Last year at this time, we had gone 10-8 and 10-8, so if Soriano had been able to close out that game on Saturday, we’d have identical records. Of course, last year many people had plenty of confidence (“we got this”), whereas this year, there is signfiicant worry in Natstown. What a difference expectations make.

    Last year’s third 18 game set really set the stage for the disappointing season that 2as 2013. We went 7-11, including a disastrous West Coast roadtrip (Espi’s perhaps wrist-induced collapse, Harper’s wall incident) and losing 3 of 4 in our home and home series against the O’s. It’s very unfortunate that the team is now decimated by injuries, but they need to dig deep and try to keep our hopes alive between now and the end of the month. As someone noted in the last thread, the pitching staff, which is now at full strength for the first time, needs to put this team on its back.

    19-17 in the first 36 games extrapolates to an 85 win season. As we found last year, that’s not good enough.

    • natsguy - May 12, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      Actually 19-18 and 4 games under .500 since Game 9. Just like last year.

      • Section 222 - May 12, 2014 at 10:54 AM

        I was just looking at the first 36 games, but you’re absolutely right. So we’re just where we were last year. In contrast to the prevailing attitude last year, everyone knows the situation is serious (though perhaps not dire) and the next few weeks are critical.

    • 6ID20 - May 12, 2014 at 10:54 AM

      It’s too early to be extrapolating out to a full 162 game season. Just ask the 100-62 2005 Nats about that.

      • Section 222 - May 12, 2014 at 11:05 AM

        No one’s extrapolating, certainly not me. But these 18 game sets are an interesting window on how the season’s going. The difference between a 90 win season and .500 season and is one winnable game going the wrong way in every set. That’s why games like Saturday night matter, no matter how early in the season they are.

        Last year, there were people saying, “don’t worry, it’s early, we got this” all the way through May and into June. I think the attitude is much different this year, both in the clubhouse and in the fanbase.

      • natsguy - May 12, 2014 at 11:09 AM

        That’s a great theory but their record at this point was very good. The rule of thumb in MLB is look at the record after 40 games and 9 times out of ten it extrapolates pretty accurately. These guys are just an OK team. They might get better but probably not. They better start getting it together pretty soon or the season will get pissed away till its too late like last year.

        They also need to get their heads out of their asses and not play like little leaguers (i.e. Soriano’s play on Saturday). Pretty disgraceful. Bad enough to get wooped like Friday and Sunday, but to hand a game over by stupid plays wow.

      • Eric - May 12, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        natsguy, doesn’t 2005 shoot down the 40-game bench mark just as effectively the 18 game sets?

      • natsguy - May 12, 2014 at 1:23 PM


        Actually not when you look at their record after 40 games that is about what they eventually extrapolated to. They had a very good June and then collapsed to where they had been playing through mid May.

  7. natsguy - May 12, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    Last years team had different problems but this team is just as screwed up.

  8. nats106 - May 12, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    This team has bigger issues than injuries and field performance failures. Don’t know if it’s chemistry, pressure or the combination of the two, or something else but somebody needs to either lighten that place up or re-focus their energies. Agree with the above post that we will find out what MW is made of.

    “An error a day keeps the playoffs away”

    • bowdenball - May 12, 2014 at 11:11 AM

      They may have other issues than injuries, but I’m pretty sure they don’t have bigger issues.

      Every team in baseball would struggle mightily if you removed hitters of the caliber of Harper, Zimmermann, and LaRoche/Ramos from their lineup. Pick a team and give it a try; I promise you you’ll find 30 severely weakened lineups that wouldn’t intimidate a AAA pitcher.

      We all knew that when the injuries occurred. I don’t really understand why everyone is now acting surprised that something nearly everyone predicted a month ago is coming to pass.

      • bowdenball - May 12, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        Zimmerman, that is. One n.

      • micksback1 - May 12, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        when a team loses 9-1 and 7-0, they stink period

      • bowdenball - May 12, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        micksback1 said:

        “when a team loses 9-1 and 7-0, they stink period”

        A team that loses by 8 runs and 7 runs stinks period, you say? Interesting theory.

        It appears that the 2013 Boston Red Sox lost 13-0 on April 23, 7-0 on May 3, 15-8 on May 8 (to the Twins no less), and 12-4 on May 12.

        Did the 2013 Boston Red Sox suck?

      • nats106 - May 12, 2014 at 11:42 AM

        Yes, I absolutely see your point, because 37.5% of our starting position players have been MIA due to injury for a whole lot of games, but when there’s reactions like Gio’s in the dugout and comments made by players about others that on the surface seem to be funny, but may have a bit of truth to them, you’ve got to wonder. Too tight, not focused, who know, but those errors may be symptomatic of some sort of internal problem (in my opinion, of course).

        I’m not going to re-mention the state of the other teams, but this year, unlike last, no NL East team is taking the reins and running away from the chase group like the Braves last year.

        And while I would never compare Matheny to Williams at this point of Williams’ ML managing career, the Cards were 40-38 at the mid point in 2012. Who knows where we will be in September. Challenges are ahead, but I’ll still be in Sec106 (unless I score cheap DC seats) for 2 of the 3 games this weekend. And I won’t be wearing a Mets hat!

        Can’t write off my team yet. Otherwise the only thing I have to look forward to in October is season 5 of the Walking Dead……

    • micksback1 - May 12, 2014 at 11:18 AM

      we are a sub 500 team and a joke

      • bowdenball - May 12, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        Nobody’s forcing you to watch them and talk about them, micksback. If you really think the team stinks and is a joke you can probably find better ways to spend your time and money. I promise you the team and its fans won’t miss you.

  9. Doc - May 12, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    So was Gio mad at Lobaton for missing the pop foul?

    The video only shows Gio, and Cat trying to restrain him.

    • 6ID20 - May 12, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      No matter who he was yelling at, Gio was mad at himself. Wanting to look good in front of his old home crowd, needing to stave off a sweep after Soriano blew the save, he had a lot of pressure piled on him for that game. And he wilted under it.

      • snerdblurter - May 12, 2014 at 11:34 AM

        Not to mention that one of his trade counterparts, Norris, was the one who did most of the damage with those two 3-run bombs. Combined with the stuff mentioned above, that’s one badly bruised ego.

        I will give props to the A’s fans though, they gave him multiple standing ovations (Blevins, too), although I guess it pretty easy to be magnanimous when you’re up 7-0…

  10. snerdblurter - May 12, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    Thanks for showing up this weekend, Nats. It really meant a lot to us Bay Area fans that spent months looking forward to it. Ugh.

    Although I can’t complain too much. We had great seats and my wife caught a bouncing foul ball while holding our 11-month old son in her lap! (Coincidentally, it the same ball that Lobaton dropped on that flyball on the previous pitch). Doesn’t get much better than that for my wife’s first mothers day and my son’s first baseball game! (you know, minus the actual on-field results and all…)

    • Section 222 - May 12, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      Very cool post. Thanks for sharing. She should have made ESPN or MLB Network for that feat!

      • snerdblurter - May 12, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        Thanks 222 – I checked the MASN broadcast when I got home and unfortunately they were still talking about the botched foul pop so they didnt show us. Still will be a great memory though, and the ball is now on my son’s shelf right next to his strasburg doll.

  11. micksback1 - May 12, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    I have continued to stick with my goal of not posting during games. Being busy helps with that too. So, after sleeping on another miserable effort, I feel like every time I feel confident with this group, they always find a way to piss me off. I am sick of the injury excuses, only losers use that as a reason. Injuries have zero to do with Ian Desmond being perhaps the biggest bust in 2014 for any MLB team. i think he simply is not a prime time player, only a little above average, right now he simply sucks. Gio is a head case and his antics are childish. McClouth just sucks, lets face it. Soriano gets a pass for his crappy outing, I wish he would stop with the untuck crap. MW s over his head and I think Rizzo blew it with him. The defenders who say will look at the NL East, all the teams are flawed, my response is… Only one, the nats were picked by the exoerts to not only win the division, but win the WS. Clearly this experts are clowns, just like our tam appears to be right now. Injury excuse is for losers period. DC sports pro teams are frauds, Wiz showed why they are just cursed, Wall is another clown as well too.

    bad Monday morning

    • davecydell - May 12, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      Nice to read an objective observation, and not more homey-homer crap.

      • micksback1 - May 12, 2014 at 12:54 PM

        TY, now the old goat will go after you too, lol

  12. davecydell - May 12, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Any runner is out when —
    (b) He intentionally interferes with a thrown ball; or hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball;

    Gentry clearly interfered on that high pop up as he had time to score, and with two outs no other option.

    Mush Mouth Williams again [2nd time after his silence in the Desmond HR/2B debacle] showed no sign of fire in the belly.

    • 6ID20 - May 12, 2014 at 11:42 AM

      In order to interfere he would have had to make contact with a fielder or the ball. He didn’t. Rendon could have run into him after he stopped in the baseline to avoid hitting Lobaton, that might have drawn an interference call.

      • Candide - May 12, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        In order to interfere he would have had to make contact with a fielder or the ball.

        Really? Where do the rules say that? 7.08(b) says the runner is out if he <i?hinders the fielder.

        What was Gentry’s purpose in slowing down to a stop the instant he got close to Rendon and Lobaton, if not to hinder them? Was he resting from his exertions from jogging halfway down the third base line?

        He had no good reason to stop, other than to hinder Lobaton and Rendon. The umps should have called him out on the spot.

        Not that it would have changed the final result of the game.

    • snerdblurter - May 12, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      That’s actually a great point. I know Carp/FP kinda touched on the possible interference call during the broadcast, but that was a perfect opportunity for MW to come running out of the dugout like his hair was on fire and show his guys that he has their backs. Thats what your manager is there for, isnt it? Regardless of whether or not he got the call, he couldve shown a pulse and fostered some team unity that mightve offset some of Gio’s negative reaction (especially if Gio knew that the runner had gotten in the way).

      • laddieblahblah - May 12, 2014 at 12:29 PM

        I watched the replay and the runner had to stop in order to avoid running into Lobaton, who was, at that point, standing directly in the base path. If he had simply run into Lobaton, that would have required an interference call by the ump. If he had tried to go around Lobaton, and Lobaton backed into him, that would probably also have been an interference call. In stopping, he also blocked Rendon’s path to the ball, and Lobaton eventually had to navigate around the runner (Gentry) to make a stab at the ball, to which he could not get close enough to even lay a glove on.

        The runner’s safest option was to remain still, thereby allowing him to interfere with the play without technically being guilty of interference. I don’t know how the ump could have called him for interference for remaining perfectly still while being clearly within the base path he is required to occupy, by rule, and when his own path to the plate was blocked by a defensive player.

      • snerdblurter - May 12, 2014 at 12:34 PM

        yeah, I re-watched it and agree. He was trying to give Lobaton space to make the catch, but in doing so, blocked Rendon. Probably would never get called, but MW sure as heck shouldve been out there raising H-E-double hockey sticks to support his guys.

    • Section 222 - May 12, 2014 at 11:49 AM

      I agree that Williams should have come out and talked to the umps about this, and waited for the replay guy in the clubhouse to check it out. The intent may not have been clear. But both Lobaton and Rendon were hindered in following that sailing popup by both the runner coming in from third and the batter. Lobaton, in particular, at the last minute tried to reach out for the ball and the runner was in the way (play is at about 0:55 of this clip):

      • laddieblahblah - May 12, 2014 at 12:39 PM

        As you can see from the replay, Lobaton blocked the runner’s path to the plate, so he stopped, but as soon as Lobaton cleared that base path, the runner headed straight for the plate. Where do you see interference on that play from the base runner? Neither Rendon nor Lobaton complained, nor did Gio. It was a freak play that you can blame on the baseball gods’ sense of the absurd. I give Lobaton and Rendon a pass on that one, and kudos to Gentry if he had the presence of mind to stop in the exact spot where the ball eventually came down. Gentry could not back up (Rendon blocked his retreat) and he could not move forward as long as Lobaton was in the way.

      • Section 222 - May 12, 2014 at 12:59 PM

        I agree it’s tough to call that interference, particularly since the runner couldn’t tell exactly where the ball was headed. But I don’t think there’s any doubt that his presence on the baseline in the middle of it all made it tougher for Lobo and Rendon to make the play. As I understand the rule, intent doesn’t matter if the runner interferes with a fielder. So the question is not what the runner should have or could have done to get out of the way, it’s whether he was in the way and interfered. All I’m suggesting is that MW should have come out and let our replay guys have a look and decide whether to challenge.

        Is runner interference a challengable call?

  13. philipd763 - May 12, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    This is just like last season, only worse! By the time the team gets everyone off the DL, if that ever happens, I fear that it will be too late.

  14. davecydell - May 12, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    I purposely omitted an additional portion of the MLB printed ruling:

    Rule 7.08(b) Comment: A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to make a play on a batted ball is out whether it was intentional or not.

    The question that had to be asked was: why was the runner in the line of play and not across home plate?

    There is nothing in the rule about contact.

  15. micksback1 - May 12, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    so Bowdenball attacks anyone who puts the Nats down with, garbage stats. You posted, asking me if the Redsox sucked in 2013 because of 3 blowout losses. My response to your condensending, question is simply this, The red sox’ record at the time of each of those blow out losses happen to be well over 500 and the BEST in MLB, and they were a clear front running team in the AL East, HELLO!

    You want to go after me, bring it on any time. I can only imagine what ridiculous defense you must have posted back in 2007-2008 seasons, I bet you thought Dukes was an all star. You started this you, i will not allow anyone to attack me least of all a flaming a-hole like you!

  16. micksback1 - May 12, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    One can understand 8-10 errors by a shortstop in 162 game season, but 8-10 in 22 games and then defending it and attacking a poster who not only points this out but points out that the so called All star shortstop is batting under 220? You can defend a terrible layer all you nat, but do not attack another poster when they point out FACTS, not an opinion

  17. theucane - May 12, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    State of the Nationals … Nate McLouth and his .078 batting average is getting starting minutes.

  18. micksback1 - May 12, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    well stated, McClouth was a BUST period. I will credit Rizzo with Frandsen, a good pick up, but he bombed on McClouth, it hurts because Angelos is laughing his ass off about now.. Also, Mike Morse is having his best season with the Giants, are we becoming another DC sports team whose ex players become all stars elsewhere?

  19. rabbit433 - May 12, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    We’ll just provide more fodder for the D-Backs.

  20. naterialguy - May 12, 2014 at 5:06 PM

    I just hope Williams homecoming is better than Gio’s and Blevin’s





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