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Instant analysis: Nats 6, Mets 3

May 18, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Amid the disheartening news that Gio Gonzalez was heading to the DL with a shoulder inflammation, the Nationals took the field this afternoon trying to overcome yet another injury to a key player, win their weekend series against the Mets and potentially take over first place in the NL East.

They got a pair of clutch hits from Wilson Ramos, who drove in four runs, and a towering home run from a heating-up Ian Desmond to inflict some damage on New York right-hander Zack Wheeler. Jordan Zimmermann wasn’t in top form, but he managed to limit the damage to three runs over six innings before turning things over to the Nationals’ bullpen.

That relief corps, the most-consistent and most-effective unit on the roster so far this season, continued the trend. Drew Storen cruised through the seventh inning. Tyler Clippard mowed through a 1-2-3 eighth. And Rafael Soriano finished it off for his 10th save in 11 tries.

Thus, the Nationals took two of three from the Mets, improved to 23-20 and moved into a tie with the Braves atop the NL East at least temporarily, pending the outcome of Atlanta’s series finale in St. Louis.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Though his numbers didn’t reflect it, Ramos had been swinging a better bat in recent days, hitting the ball hard and delivering some productive outs. It seemed only a matter of time before his stroke really paid off, and indeed it did today. Ramos belted a two-run double to the wall in left-center in the bottom of the third, then added a two-run single in the fifth to extend the Nationals’ lead. He entered the afternoon with only two RBI in 26 at-bats this season. He wound up tripling that number by the end of the game.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: It wasn’t Zimmermann’s best start of the season, but it was good enough. The right-hander allowed three runs on eight hits and two walks over six innings, but he was the victim of several soft singles through the infield, including a couple of balls toward second base that Danny Espinosa would’ve had a better shot at snagging than Kevin Frandsen. Zimmermann, though, needed to do a better job once handed a 5-1 lead in the sixth. With a chance to lock this one down, he instead gave up a pair of runs on three singles and a walk, bailed out in large part by Juan Centeno running into an out on the bases. It was a “quality start” and earned Zimmermann the win, but he knows he can do better than this.

KEY STAT: Opposing batters are now 7-for-50 with one walk this season vs. Storen.

UP NEXT: The Nationals open up a three-game series with the Reds at 7:05 p.m. Monday. A pair of top-10 picks from the 2009 draft go head-to-head in the opener: Stephen Strasburg (No. 1 overall pick) vs. Mike Leake (8th overall).

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - May 18, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    An easy 9th and Ghost toasts with a Red Rocket from Veejh favorite brewery!

    • veejh - May 18, 2014 at 4:26 PM

      LOL. That 6 pack should have been long gone by now. And I actually like Russian River Brewery more. Pliny the Elder!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 18, 2014 at 4:28 PM

        I had 2 in the fridge. Always save a couple of tall ones in the ‘pen. Then to Bud!

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - May 18, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    And the Cards just took the lead!

  3. Theophilus T.S. - May 18, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    Another win for the bullpen.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 18, 2014 at 4:26 PM

      Huh? Good outing for sure but JZim got the W.

      • Theophilus T.S. - May 18, 2014 at 4:33 PM

        The bullpen got in the game and saved it before Zimmermann could lose it — which is the way things were heading. Therefore, the bullpen won it. C’mon, GSM — you’re one of the people always telling me the “W” doesn’t mean anything.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 18, 2014 at 4:35 PM

        I was only saying statistically. Read my notes at the start of the 6th. Get the bullpen going. I think he pitched well. The ump was missing plenty and some key pitches.

  4. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    Schaeffer lost ball in the sun, cards up 5-4.

    Soriano relaxing pitching.

    Tied for first.

  5. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 4:29 PM

    Fantasy wise a great game for me. Zim a win Soriano a save. Then Ramos 4 RBI and a double which put me up in doubles. Should have had a second double.

  6. Section 222 - May 18, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    UNTUCK baby! Not that anyone will remember the next time he struggles, but that was a 1-2-3 inning ladies and gentlemen. The Nats bullpen is on fire. That’s a nice weapon to have given the struggles of the starters. Wonder when we’ll here who is going to replace Gio in the rotation.

    MNF index today just 37.0% compared to Saturday’s 42.4%. Start of a positive trend?

    • manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 4:36 PM

      Please remind me what that is measuring?

      • Section 222 - May 18, 2014 at 4:38 PM

        The number of comments in the game post from a single poster.

      • veejh - May 18, 2014 at 4:40 PM

        LOL

    • scmargenau - May 19, 2014 at 12:34 AM

      What’s worse is u having the time to figure that out! Oy

      • Section 222 - May 19, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        Ha! True. Luckily it’s an easy calculation. Just do a search for the name of the commenter. Then divide the number of occurrences by the total number of comments. And Voila. The MNF Index is born. I knew it was going to be a high number, but I was kind of blown away anyway. 42%??

  7. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    MW has identified Espi’s problem his heart rare increases when he comes up.

  8. Ghost of Steve M. - May 18, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    Not to be missed, Desi heats up and Ramos sees some better pitches.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 4:37 PM

      Desi we knew would heat up. We are less sure of Espi.

  9. 9rhrssy01 - May 18, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    New poster here ;I have enjoyed the regular posters here for a long time. Much better informed comments and no sniping like WAPO. I have learned a lot about the game from u folks. DOes anyone know why they have switched to a five man rotation lately(after Roark came back) and can that be affecting pitchers effectiveness? Pls excuse cumbersome name don’t know how to change it.

    • Section 222 - May 18, 2014 at 5:05 PM

      Welcome 9’r (niner?) That’s not a handle. They’ve always had a five man rotation. They were just skipping the fifth guy when off days permitted keeping Stras on 5 days rest. Start of the season, they had Stras, Gio, Znn, Roark, Jordan. Then Fister replaced Jordan. Now Treinen will probably replace Gio for a few starts. We’ll hear soon.

    • Section 222 - May 18, 2014 at 5:05 PM

      Should have said, that’s not a “bad” handle. :-)

  10. Theophilus T.S. - May 18, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    Some people on the last thread were bitchin’ about pitching to the No. 8 hitter w/ two out — a totally short-sighted complaint. You shouldn’t have a problem w/ a rookie catcher with a half-dozen major league ABs. You get him out — like a pitcher;s supposed to — and you get the pitcher, or the pitcher’s spot, leading off in the next inning. It’s a two-fer.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 4:39 PM

      In theory that is true.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 18, 2014 at 4:52 PM

      I disagree as JZim is a pitch to contact guy and you saw what happens with contact as it funds holes. With Stras I pitch to the #8 early in the game.

      • manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 4:54 PM

        Our number 8 guy today much weaker hitter than JZim

  11. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    Win every series.

  12. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    No structural damage on Gio just inflamation

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 18, 2014 at 4:50 PM

      I thought I posted that hours ago….. Haren redux.

      • manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 4:52 PM

        Wasn’t announced til after the game.

      • Section 222 - May 18, 2014 at 5:11 PM

        Oh jeez you guys. Kilgore reported that over 2 hours ago.

  13. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    Bottom of 8. Cards 5 Braves 4

  14. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    Headed for top of the 9th. Cards have left 11 on.

  15. veejh - May 18, 2014 at 5:08 PM

    Ruh roh…..Braves have a chance to spoil this

  16. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    Braves have bases loaded 2 outs.

    Cards were one strike away from winning a little while back.

  17. veejh - May 18, 2014 at 5:11 PM

    Treinen or Jordan? I’d much prefer Treinen.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 5:24 PM

      Treinen

  18. Doc - May 18, 2014 at 5:11 PM

    Dr. Williams should consider prescribing some beta blocker meds for his patient Espi!

    Here I always thought that Danny’s problem was Babe Ruth Syndrome.

  19. veejh - May 18, 2014 at 5:13 PM

    That ump looked dazed after being clocked

  20. veejh - May 18, 2014 at 5:15 PM

    Nooooooooo!!!!! Walked in the tying run. Blah.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 5:23 PM

      He struck him out on that pitch. Ump seeing double

  21. David Proctor - May 18, 2014 at 5:15 PM

    Wow, blue hands the Braves a run.

  22. natsjackinfl - May 18, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    Somebody posts way too much jibber jabber. It’s driven away most of the old time regulars. (And I do not mean you Veejh, Loved your stuff from Oakland.)

    • veejh - May 18, 2014 at 5:18 PM

      Right on

    • Section 222 - May 18, 2014 at 5:21 PM

      +1

    • Joe Seamhead - May 18, 2014 at 5:50 PM

      Me? You talking about me? Because you certainly are describing me. I can’t do the game blog lately It has become one man’s personal jibber jabber board

  23. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    Strike 3 not calked and the Braves tie it on a walk.

    Ump was hut in the face on a foul just before.

    No way that was a ball so all I can conclude is ump has a mild concussion, pitch track very clear as were my naked eyes.

    Eventually balls and strikes will go robotic as technology is showing they are wrong way too often 5-10%

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 18, 2014 at 5:19 PM

      Now a wild pitch

      • manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 5:21 PM

        The game should have been over, the ump still dealing from the foul off tge face

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 18, 2014 at 5:23 PM

        Yah, 3-2 pitch too close to take by the batter or the ump.

  24. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    Now a wild pitch. The game should have been over and the ump’s mistake cost the Cards. The relievers are nibbling too which doesn’t help

  25. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    Bases loaded again. I thought the Cards pen was good. Looks pathetic today.

  26. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    So far in the games I have watched the home plate umpires have been terrible.

    The strike zone prescribed, it is not a guess. How hard can it be.?

  27. veejh - May 18, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    The 3-2 walk was a little low, imo. Think the ump got it right (even though he may have still been seeing stars).

    • manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 5:29 PM

      Pitch track agreed with me a strike

  28. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 5:28 PM

    If the Braves win give it to Eric Cooper. Loss would go to Mike Matheney calling on the closer a 4th straight game

  29. veejh - May 18, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    Make my day and blow this save, Kimbrel.

  30. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 5:31 PM

    I hate the Braves. Umps love them

  31. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    Just need a single now

  32. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    Pirakta misses a hanging 3-1 pitch and pops it up.

  33. manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    Thank you Eric Cooper.

    • Nats Amore - May 18, 2014 at 6:24 PM

      Brooks Baseball appears to indicate that the last pitch from Rosenthal to Schafer was low and correctly called ball 4.

      http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/pfx.php?s_type=3&sp_type=1&year=2014&month=5&day=18&pitchSel=572096&game=gid_2014_05_18_atlmlb_slnmlb_1/&prevGame=gid_2014_05_18_atlmlb_slnmlb_1/&prevDate=518&batterX=75

      • veejh - May 18, 2014 at 6:29 PM

        I thought so, too. Stupid Cards blowing our 1st place.

      • Section 222 - May 18, 2014 at 7:16 PM

        But that’s impossible. MNF called it a strike.

      • manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 7:21 PM

        Ball right at his knees. The track the TV had, had it on the line. Had I been umping easy call.

        Looked at My are bat replay still like a strike. Knee high nit sure what your link is looking for.

        Of course Rosenthal had 0-2 count and he left the ball right over for a double.

      • manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 7:29 PM

        I just watched it for a third time it is right at the knees. I can’t see how it is below the knees.

        I guess I am getting to old to ump. If tgat is how laser are going to work, then forget them too.

  34. veejh - May 18, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    Matt Williams said Gio’s curveball spin rate was the best it’s been all season yesterday. I didn’t know they tracked that. Pretty cool. Get well, Gio.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 6:18 PM

      Maybe higher spin rate is not a good thing for the shoulder.

  35. MicheleS - May 18, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    I had a blast today! Great game. and HORNS UP WILLY RAY!! WOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOO!!!

    • natsfan1a - May 18, 2014 at 6:57 PM

      What she said. That was definiteliy a fun game to attend. :-)

  36. Eric - May 18, 2014 at 6:40 PM

    Woohoo! They’re still keeping pace with my hopes for May (30 wins on June 1)!

    Ghost, if you’re reading, I wanted to reply re: the mental side of the game.

    I pitched up until high school. I know about the mental side, although I was never refined enough to get to a point that I was ever derailed by anything, mental or physical, as I was still just starting to learn about the game.

    But, still, I know what it’s like to feel physically 100% and have almost zero ability to get your body to do what it’s done so many times before …and then to start thinking through every little moment that comes your way. It happens with playing live music just as readily, although you’re usually much less exposed in a band.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 18, 2014 at 7:05 PM

      The winner of the best mindset award is Fanner Roark. The guy doesn’t get flustered.

      With all the errors and mental mistakes behind him he just keeps going.

  37. NatsLady - May 18, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    All of you that were rooting for Kevin Frandsen over Danny Espinosa–TAKE IT BACK! Frandsen had the exact same number of hits you would expect from Danny and two or three fewer defensive outs. Maybe Danny wouldn’t have gotten to ALL the balls that went flying past Frandsen, um, yes, he would have.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 18, 2014 at 7:22 PM

      Frandsen chance of getting a hut much higher, his chances of out fielding Espi non resistance.

    • Section 222 - May 18, 2014 at 8:00 PM

      Even though I didn’t root for that, if I had, I wouldn’t take it back in the least. First of all, I really don’t care what Frandsen did in the field. Espi needed a day off. Hopefully tomorrow he comes back rested and quits trying to lead the team in homers. His time is running out.

      Second, let’s be honest. To say that Frandsen at the plate was no better than Espi would have been is just incorrect. Frandsen didn’t get any hits, but he also didn’t strike out. And as a result, he drove in an insurance run in the 8th by making contact with a man on third and less than two outs. You know when the last time that Espi drove in a run other than by hitting a homerun? April 26. You know how many games Espi has avoided striking out in the 14 games so far this month? Two.

      Espi now has 6 hits, no walks, and 23 Ks in 51 plate appearances in May. He is ice cold, and although I have not and will not go back and count how many times he has K’d with RISP, I would hazard a guess that he leads the team in that particular achievement. Do you disagree? The only possible contender would be Desi. He does have four more Ks than Espi. He also has 36 more PAs, 12 more BBs, and 24 more RBIs.

      • dcwx61 - May 19, 2014 at 7:54 AM

        +1

    • adcwonk - May 18, 2014 at 10:18 PM

      I wasn’t rooting for one over the other — but I did applaud the idea that after 12 straight games, it would probably do Espi some good to rest a game.

    • Sonny G 10 - May 18, 2014 at 10:40 PM

      I agree with you NatsLady. Danny would have gotten to them and saved a run or two.

  38. veejh - May 18, 2014 at 7:40 PM

    Cueto vs Fister on Tuesday. Can’t wait for that. Cueto’s on track for that CY.

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