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Left on base

May 29, 2014, 12:52 AM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

After the Nationals’ sixth loss in their last seven games – this an 8-5 defeat against the Marlins in 10 innings – one all too familiar stat jumped out of the boxscore.

The Nats’ inability to bring home runners in scoring position has been a problem all season, and it once again proved costly on Wednesday night.

Eleven times Nationals players stepped into the batter’s box with men in scoring position and only twice did they record a hit. Seven times a Nats player batted with the bases loaded and only once did they hit safely. Ten innings and 15 hits later, and 15 total were left on base by the Nats.

The opportunities squandered led to second chances for the Marlins and an eventual four-run outburst for the visitors in the 10th inning.

“It’s frustrating,” manager Matt Williams said. “Everybody’s frustrated by it, but there’s nothing we can do about it now except prepare for Friday. Certainly to have a chance like we had with the bases loaded, nobody out, you want to score that run. Didn’t happen tonight… just couldn’t get it done.”

Williams’ reference to no outs was a nod to the eighth inning. After Nate McLouth and Scott Hairston walked, Denard Span bunted safely to load the bases. Anthony Rendon – who has been in a month-long slump – stood in to face left-hander Mike Dunn.

Rendon saw 10 pitches and fouled off six – including five in a row at two strikes – before whiffing on a 90 mile per hour slider. Jayson Werth then popped out and Adam LaRoche grounded out to end the inning. The game remained tied at 4-4 as the inning was over.

Rendon said he was aiming for a sacrifice fly in the at-bat.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” he said. “We had our opportunities and that’s what we take BP for. We have those situations and that’s what we practice for. To not come through is obviously disappointing and that’s why we lost. We didn’t come through in those situations and they did.”

McLouth pointed out the fact the Nationals’ two, three and four hitters were due up.

“With Rendon, Werth and LaRoche up, those are the three guys I’d want up there every time,” he said. “And they put some really good at-bats up. They just weren’t able to come through. Those are the three guys I’d want up there every single time in that situation.”

The Nats would see more runners reach base in the bottom of the ninth. Three players hit singles, but no runs came across. The first single turned into an out at second base as Wilson Ramos tried to stretch his hit into a double. Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton fielded the ball, did a spin and gunned him out with a perfect throw to second base.

Williams gave credit to Stanton instead of faulting Ramos.

“It’s an in-between bounce for him, and he turned around and made a perfect throw. You can’t take that aggressiveness away from them and say that’s not a good play. He’s going away from the base and he turned around and made a good throw.”

The Nationals are hitting .210 as a team with runners in scoring position this season, good for third-to-last in the majors. They are giving themselves chances to win, yet falling just short night after night.

After Wednesday’s loss the Nationals are now 9-15 in the month of May. That breaks out to a .375 winning percentage, or a 61-win pace over a full season.

The Nationals have two more games left this month, Friday and Saturday. If they don’t win both, it will be the worst month the team has posted since August of 2010 (.379).

With their season hitting its lowest point so far, the Nationals preached positivity late Wednesday night. They have an off day Thursday and the banged up Texas Rangers coming to town Friday to play without a designated hitter. For now, it’s on to the next one.

“That’s how baseball is,” Rendon said. “Thats how the last couple days, the last couple of weeks have been going for us. The baseball will turn around, though. The ball rolls both ways.”

“It’s never easy to lose, and this stretch has been a tough one, but the attitude is there and it’s good,” Williams said. “Unfortunately, we’re in the results business, so if the result is not what we want it to be, it’s not a good thing.”

  1. veejh - May 29, 2014 at 2:32 AM

    Had to watch the game recorded, super late, but anyways, breezing through the comments, I didnt see anyone skewer Werth for that toss to Frandsen that resulted in the Marlin’s 4th run. Instead, I saw a bunch criticism of Frandsen with regard to his defense, justified, of course. Werth not only sucked on that toss, but he also sucked at the plate. Booooooooooooooo Werth tonight!!!!!!! Great way to lead.

    • David Proctor - May 29, 2014 at 3:16 AM

      The throw wasn’t great, but that’s a 2B has to catch that (or block it) 100/100 times. In fact, I’m not even sure the throw was all that bad. It was a one hop throw in, but I see OFers make those throws all the time. Frandsen just botched it.

      • veejh - May 29, 2014 at 3:19 AM

        Excuses. That throw has to be arm to glove. Instead, blame Frandsen. Nonsense.

      • veejh - May 29, 2014 at 3:23 AM

        The scorer didn’t give Werth the error for no reason.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 7:53 AM

        Veejh, it wasn’t a great throw BUT most 2nd baseman anticipate a dying duck throw and step up 2 feet to catch it before it hits the ground like a cut-off man is supposed to do. It wasn’t like Frandsen was fielding it like a forceout on the bag! This discussion was just brought up on Ryan Zimmerman playing LF and the responsibility of the cut-off man. They have to go out there and get it.

        Frandsen also played the hot smash to his right when the score was 1-0 like a Minor Leaguer. Critical moment and he blew it. Clearly not an error but right to him.

      • natinalsgo - May 29, 2014 at 8:28 AM

        Cutoff men are not stationary non-moving targets. They have to adjust to the ball. Yes, technically an error on Werth and even FP & Carp were quick to blame Frandsen.

        That’s Baseball taught at most advanced levels.

  2. wmlsays - May 29, 2014 at 2:49 AM

    Last place, here they come! Thanks for building this great WS championship caliber team, Mike Rizzo!

  3. wmlsays - May 29, 2014 at 2:50 AM

    So basically, the Nats are on their way to being back on what has been true and tried territory for most of their history. Mediocrity or worst.

    • veejh - May 29, 2014 at 3:25 AM

      Get a grip, dude. Aren’t we 3 games back with 4663373782 games left?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 8:31 AM

        Just another of the stupid comments from a spoiled petulant child. I hope wmlsays is younger than 10.

      • wmlsays - May 29, 2014 at 9:06 AM

        I don’t know about you. One playoff series in nearly a decade in DC isn’t exactly what one would call top caliber team play. In their entire history, they are one of two teams in MLB never to have played in the World Series. I don’t know about you, but that I think the word “mediocre” is an apt description of the franchise.

        You may not agree with my comment, but the facts don’t lie. Last year, the same arguments were made about the Nats (that they were an okay team that was bound to miss the playoffs). They’re not much better this year. The big difference, of course, is Atlanta isn’t that great either.

        So if being frank in one’s assessment is now confused as being petulant, then we’ll just have to wait and see if the Nats are, as many people here hope, a great team playing badly.

  4. David Proctor - May 29, 2014 at 4:17 AM

    Ryan Zimmerman has some very interesting quotes to Boz in the Post.

    “I’ve come to some self-realizations. I’ll be the first to say it. I’ve never shied away from the truth. The last two years have been rough for me [at third base]. I’ve had to do an excess of work to be able to do what I used to do naturally,” said Zimmerman, alone at his locker. “People keep asking me if six weeks off will help my [surgically repaired] shoulder. Six weeks off? Go six years back, maybe. It’s tough. It’s bone and joint.

    “I’m comfortable playing wherever it helps the team. That’s why we’re all here. Down the road,” he said, not specifying whether that was in days or years, “left field is probably better than first base for me.”

    “You only have so many years in your career when you’re in that period where your team can contend for pennants or a championship. We’re in those years. I’d like to win some of those,” Zimmerman said. “Everyone in here, we’d all do whatever we needed to do to get that accomplished. I’ll play anywhere they want me, bat anywhere they want.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/thomas-boswell-zimmerman-says-hes-ready-to-move-to-left-field/2014/05/28/2970b6ae-e699-11e3-afc6-a1dd9407abcf_story.html

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 7:57 AM

      Much respect for those comments by Ryan. For me, I’ve wanted to hear it. They say the 1st step in knowing you have a problem is admitting it. I saw Brooks Robinson play and Ryan Zimmerman in 2006 was the best 3rd baseman since Brooks. To watch him have these problems has been toughest of all on Ryan.

      I just wish they did a position change sooner than later but can understand the process.

      • dcwx61 - May 29, 2014 at 7:05 PM

        Nettles…Nettles

    • Hiram Hover - May 29, 2014 at 9:04 AM

      So interesting that he’d rather go to LF than 1B. I’d like to here more about his reason why.

  5. lplipty - May 29, 2014 at 5:20 AM

    I’m done, Nats have now taken the offseaon Paper Champ Title from the Redskins.

    I will now be focusing my time back to the Skins

    • sjberke - May 29, 2014 at 5:54 AM

      And if RGIII and DeShawn Young get hurt in Game 1 and aren’t due back til Game 8, and the Skins go 2-3 through five games, will you give up on the Skins and turn to the Wiz and Caps?

      • lplipty - May 29, 2014 at 6:52 AM

        Sjberke, I’m too damn old to be getting frustrated over a game….yes, I will then turn to wiz/caps. Hell, I might even start watching the Kastles if they can win.

        27 years of losing in this city had gotten to be strenuous and pathetic.

      • wmlsays - May 29, 2014 at 9:12 AM

        The Nats pitchers, even when healthy, have not been overwhelming. Aside from Fister, who gives up runs but wins anyway, the rest of the starting rotation hasn’t been that great this year. And they’re missing Zimmerman and Harper at the plate. That much is certain, but their lack of depth is plain for all to see. They’re a decent team, but perhaps the belief (in 2012) that they were a team on the verge of greatness is greatly flawed. From what I have seen, the Marlins are soon to eclipse the Nats as contenders in the East. The Mets aren’t bad. The Braves, like the Nats, are a mess. Who knows, though. The Nats may get some major mojo and be dominant the rest of the year. Until then, they’re an okay team than has under performed. Or has been over hyped.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 8:00 AM

      I’m a Redskins fan as well but plenty of time left in this baseball season but if you’re just a bandwagon fan…..

    • Hiram Hover - May 29, 2014 at 9:09 AM

      To all those declaring that the season is over, that they’re done with this team, going back to pointy ball, etc etc:

      The rest of us receive this news with extreme regret, as we have valued your insightful contributions during what has been a tough time for both this team and its fans.

      We will do our best to soldier on in your absence, comforted by the knowledge that somewhere out there in cyberspace, visitors to a Redskins blog are enjoying the kind of keen observations that you have so generously shared with us.

      With warmest regards, and best wishes for your future,

      Hiram Hover

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 29, 2014 at 10:00 AM

        +1

      • natsfan1a - May 29, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        ++1

  6. pchuck69 - May 29, 2014 at 5:30 AM

    >>All Nats can do, “keep battling”

    How about getting a few more hits with RISP? They can do that too, in addition to “keep battling”, can’t they?

    And the Rendon and Werth hits AFTER the game had been decided were like hot salt in the infected wound.

    • bowdenball - May 29, 2014 at 9:29 AM

      Baseball’s not an effort sport, pchuck. You can’t just get hits with RISP by trying harder. If you could there would be a super-hard-working player out there who hits 1.000 with RISP.

      So yes, all they can do is keep battling, and hope the hits with RISP come.

      • pchuck69 - May 29, 2014 at 10:03 AM

        Oh, in this case, I’m not concerned about the method just the result. However they do it, they need to get to the result of more hits with RISP. If that means trying less hard, so be it.

        I’m most concerned about the hits they got in the 10th, though. I’ll bet the pitches they saw weren’t nearly as different than the pitches they saw in the 8th as the situation in the 8th compared to the 10th. You can’t hit in the batting cage or whatever practice method they use for hitting and fix this. You just have to be able to handle the big situations and last night they were completely incapable.

  7. flnatsfan - May 29, 2014 at 6:53 AM

    After I got over the disappointment of the loss…I was actually really encouraged about this game.

    First, 15 hit. 15. 15 hits! With our pitching, we start getting 15 hits a game and we’re going to win significantly more than we lose.

    Second, McLouth. If McLouth starts hitting even half of what he did this game, we’re going to start winning. No more automatic out McLouth.

    Third, Ramos. If Ramos can get hot…Buffalo! We’re going to win some games.

    Yes, leaving that many runners on base was extremely annoying, but we really played good baseball. Our infield defense this game…incredible. How many runners did we catch on the bases again?

    15 hits! 15!

    • NatsLady - May 29, 2014 at 9:05 AM

      Once Alvarez came out of the game, the Nats took advantage of weak middle relievers, which is EXACTLY what they should do. Needed to keep the pressure on, and win what didn’t start out as a winnable game, but turned into one. It’s troubling that JZ put the boys in a deep early hole, which they would probably not have gotten out of the way Alvarez was throwing. I’ve now watched Frandsen play 2B a few times now, and although he can make the occasional good play, there is a reason he’s not a starter.

      Ironically, if Dobbs had gotten a hit in the 9th inning, it would have been the “bench” coming through.

  8. rabbit433 - May 29, 2014 at 6:55 AM

    Ho Hummmm. ZZZZZzzzzzzz

  9. rabbit433 - May 29, 2014 at 6:59 AM

    “That’s how baseball is,” Rendon said. “Thats how the last couple days, the last couple of weeks have been going for us. The baseball will turn around, though. The ball rolls both ways.”

    Haven’t we heard that before!

    • Doc - May 29, 2014 at 7:50 AM

      Go munch on a carrot!

    • bowdenball - May 29, 2014 at 8:37 AM

      Yes, we have. We heard it last year. And guess what? The team went 34-20 in August and September.

      It was correct then, it’s correct now. Only question is whether it starts rolling the other way too late or not.

      • wmlsays - May 29, 2014 at 9:14 AM

        Atlanta isn’t doing that well. The Marlins may be the 2012 Nats though. In that case, they will have a tough task ahead of them. With a starting rotation that is sub par, there is much to worry about.

    • Hiram Hover - May 29, 2014 at 9:14 AM

      Rendon didn’t end up to show for it, but I find it hard to fault a lot in his approach and performance yesterday – a couple of hard hit balls that got caught, a 10-pitch at bat that unfortunately ended in a K.

      In other words, he’s right. If he sticks with a fundamentally sound approach, things will work out. The worst thing he could do is let this get in his head, question himself, and start making adjustments that will only end up making things worse.

  10. chaz11963 - May 29, 2014 at 7:31 AM

    It was even more frustrating at Nats Park last night. We were surprised the rain held off. It was a very small crowd at the game. That was truly one of the most painful losses I personally think I have experienced as a Nats fan and season ticket holder, probably ranks up there with 2012’s Game 5. ZNN was again surprisingly ineffective despite to seemingly have great velocity and movement. Just seemed to be barely missing on some wipe out pitches. The offense was dead for most of the game, then magically came alive in the 6th and for the rest of the game they kept at the Marlins. It was shocking they couldn’t score in the 8th. Marlins did a good job of backing up the bad throw to first on Spann’s bunt, that should have scored McLouth. Then 2, 3, and 4 hitters can’t put the ball in play. You could feel the exasperation in the crowd (those that were still there). Then again in the 9th, with a runner making it to third and they can’t get him across the plate.

    I just keep telling myself that the team is playing a lot of bench players, Rendon in a bit of a slump, missing Harper and Zim’s bats, and just getting Ramos back. Desi has also been struggling, but showing sign of improvement. The starting pitching has got to improve, I can’t see them staying at this level all season. There is still plenty of time and I still think these guys will get it together and be the team they were projected to be. I just hope when that happens it isn’t too late.

  11. Doc - May 29, 2014 at 7:53 AM

    There’s no one cause for anything, but as Mark did a good job of analyzing a few blogs ago, our starting pitching isn’t quite what it was in 2012.

    JZim is wild in the zone and needs to watch a few Greg Maddux tapes.

  12. Theophilus T.S. - May 29, 2014 at 8:09 AM

    “All we’ve got to do is keep battling . . ..’ or words to that effect. Eerily akin to the “we’re going to turn it around any day now” we heard all last season — up until August, anyway. I hear resignation, not urgency. Instead of expressing their post-game bewilderment they should just lock the damn door and sneak out the back way; rationalizing won’t drive in baserunners.

    The Nats can abide with less than stellar play from Span; they can’t abide with less than stellar play from Rendon (from whom I expect a comeback), Desmond and Werth. (Werth has 20 RBI playing virtually the full season; Nelson Cruz, the former(?) juicer had 44 the last I looked.) After I dinged Ramos yesterday for lack of power he turned things on last night; good for him, good for us. McLouth shed the “bad luck” people have assigned to him and fell into some “good luck” (tweener bloop single, two walks); another night like last night and I’ll be ready to assign him to the leadoff slot. Second base is a black hole — I was skeptical about Fransden when he was acquired and it’s sad to feel vindicated. With the probable exception of Fransden, who really has very limited talent, all the problems the underperforming position players are experiencing are between their ears. How can you (A) spend all Spring Training re-learning how to hit, Danny Espinosa; (B) apply it throughout April, and (C) forget everything you learned in May?

    It seems we’re still two weeks away from getting any relief from the M*A*S*H unit. It can’t come a moment too soon.

  13. numbskull111 - May 29, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    I always hear that saying, “the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results….” That saying fits the Nats perfectly this season.

    Why don’t the Nats ever try to manufacture some runs. I know squeeze / safety squeeze plays in the majors are fairly high risk / low reward plays, however why not try it at this point. We have tried to hit runners in with HRs, base hits, sac flies, ground balls, etc. and failed repeatedly. I have yet to see MW try to squeeze a run or do something to “manufacture” a run.

    Last night with good speed in McClouth at third and good speed with a slumping Rendon at the plate and no outs….why not try a bunt? Sure Rendon has the potential to blast one to the gap and empty the bases…but he (nor anyone else on this roster) has proven capable of doing that on a consistent basis this season. In that situation, MW should have taken a chance on a squeeze / safety squeeze. Worst case scenario they turn a double play… we still would have a runner in scoring position with Werth and Laroche due up. I know this is somewhat of a case of hindsight being 20/20…but just looking at the history of this season, I knew watching it last night that our chances of getting a run that inning were two….slim and none.

    It gets frustrating watching these games and knowing that if the other team scores more than 2 runs, our chances of winning are almost zippy.

    • bowdenball - May 29, 2014 at 8:39 AM

      Are you talking about when the bases were loaded?

      I think trying a squeeze play when there’s a force at home might be a better definition of insanity than the one you gave.

      • numbskull111 - May 29, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        K…lets just keep swinging for the fences and leaving 14 runners on base a night.

        You obviously would have to push the bunt past the pitcher…but with McClouth’s speed it gives you a shot. We saw how they misplayed Span’s bunt…if it weren’t for a heads up second baseman, that game would have been over.

        My point is, what you are doing right now isn’t working….try something else.

        Or we can keep hoping that when Zimm and Harper get back all will be well and this team will skyrocket into first place.

      • bowdenball - May 29, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        The chances of scoring a run if you swing away are generally better if you swing away than if you bunt with a force at home. Yes, even for this Nats team.

        Plus it was only the 8th inning, so simply scoring the go-ahead run might not have been enough. That puts even more value on swinging away and giving yourself a better chance to score 2+ runs.

        You can’t just say that “trying something else” is the right thing to do simply because a current approach isn’t working well. Danny Espinosa’s current approach at the plate clearly isn’t working well, but that doesn’t mean that swinging blindfolded with only one arm after 9 tequila shots would be a good move.

      • numbskull111 - May 29, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        Bases Loaded Bunt

        As I said before…high risk / low reward play…but given how we have failed to plate runners these first 50 games….you might steal a win last night if you do it….or you might not and still lose 8 – 5.

        As that article above states, it isn’t widely used, but maybe it should be more often. Even if you just show that you “might” do that, it forces defenses to respect it which can open up other holes.

        As for trying to score 2 + runs…that is EXACTLY the Nats problem right now. They play for big innings when simply playing for one run at a time would have won us a lot of games this year. Big innings are like home runs….you don’t try to hit them, they just happen. Big innings are no different. You put pressure on the defense by forcing them to make plays, scoring runs, etc. and the big innings just happen.

        I would much rather take my chances going into the top of the ninth up a single run with our bullpen than being tied and forcing our offense to pull it out for us. I have seen that movie before and know the ending already.

  14. Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    Stanton’s play on Ramos was a “Play Of The Day” on MLB Network. They showed the distance he covered to cut the ball off before it hit the wall plus the amazing throw.

    That guy is amazing. I’ve only seen Puig make that play and now Stanton.

    • NatsLady - May 29, 2014 at 8:58 AM

      So was Ramos foolish to try for the double, if it takes a “Play of the Day” to beat him? Seems like between Harrison and McCutchen we are gettng a lot of those against us… or maybe it’s just a streak… anyway, should Ramos be less aggressive on the bases? Of course, I worry about his legs…

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        When Ramos went for it I’m sure he thought standup double. Like you said, add that to Harrison, McCutcheon and don’t forget Phillips and Billy Hamilton and Aaron Hill and Pollock.

        It’s been 2 weeks of the Nats being the victims of Web Gems.

      • natszee - May 29, 2014 at 11:28 AM

        So I guess Tony Tarasco had a big stop sign up when Wilson ran through it. NOT! What do you expect a runner to do when his coach is waiving his arm to round the bag?

        So who was foolish?

  15. chiefwj - May 29, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    Was at the game last nite (home after midnite) and have a number of observations:

    1) Over a three-year period, Werth has gone from being a pretty good outfielder to being an average outfielder to being a defensive liability. Doesn’t go back well or move laterally, although he comes in on balls pretty well. And his throwing can be poor, as we’ve seen; in any case, his arm is not scaring anyone.
    2) Kudos to Rendon for taking responsibility, but he had a good AB. Yeah, he struck out, but it was 10 pitches and he had a good approach. Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the other guy.
    3) Werth did not have a good AB right after that.
    4) As Steve M. points out, Stanton’s play was amazing. But, amazing for Stanton is not an aberration–you need to expect and respect that running the bases.
    5) Frandsen’s deficiencies get exposed the more he plays. Yes, he’s valuable for his versatility, and I love his walk-up song. But he’s not good defensively. This can be hidden in LF or 1B, but not 2B.
    6) The worst luck of the entire night (other than Rendon’s homer being blown back into the field by a 30 mph breeze) was on Span’s bunt. The throw was awful; should have gone into the RF corner but wound up right at the 2B. He was in the right position for that, but still luck.

    • Candide - May 29, 2014 at 9:38 AM

      He was in the right position for that, but still luck.

      What, he just happened to have wandered over behind first to scope out a good seat for the Presidents’ race, and as luck would have it, he happened to be standing right where the errant throw went?

      Branch Rickey: “Luck is the residue of design.”

      • chaz11963 - May 29, 2014 at 9:43 AM

        Hahahaha… good one.

        Good observations though chief.

    • knoxvillenat - May 29, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      “He was in the right position for that, but still luck.”

      I’ll disagree with this statement. The second baseman was in the right position because he has been well coached in the past and taken what he learned from that coaching and put it into practice. Luck had nothing to do with it.

      • adcwonk - May 29, 2014 at 11:49 AM

        FP put it humorously last night: “if you don’t know where to go, back somebody up.”

  16. scnatsfan - May 29, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    Simple solution here – reduce your expectations about this team.

    You look at the Marlins last night, hustling to backup and saving runs at least twice – that’s a team that knows it has to play harder to win against more talented teams. Does that remind you AT ALL of us?

    • NatsLady - May 29, 2014 at 9:29 AM

      I’m not sure it’s lack of hustle or fear of hustle–the string of injuries might make the regulars a wee bit cautious. I think you are getting hustle out of McLouth and Frandsen, for example, and Dobbs when he plays, but you need talent AND hustle. When Stanton is healthy and motivated, it’s a beautiful thing to see–unfortunately.

      • scnatsfan - May 29, 2014 at 9:33 AM

        If you are afraid to hustle because you might get injured then go the the AL and DH. The difference between winning and losing is razor thin in MLB, you cant give away an edge. Playing cautious is getting us lots of 1 run losses.

    • therealjohnc - May 29, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      The Marlins hustled their way into at least three outs on the basepaths, including some true “baseball comedy” moments. They also got deked into not running by McLouth on the ball hit to LF in the 10th. The Nationals actually ran the bases better than the Marlins last night.

  17. NatsLady - May 29, 2014 at 9:14 AM

    Werth has always liked to play shallow and go back, but I think he will need to reconsider. Yes, you may give up singles, but too many balls are going over his head for doubles. He also probably needs two weeks off, but doesn’t look like that’s happening until the All-Star break unless Rizzo can find a good pickup on the waiver wire or he brings Souza up again. The price of Hairston/Dobbs/Frandsen is you don’t have a good late-inning defensive outfielder on the bench if McLouth is starting. Of course, we’re never ahead in the late innings, so moot point, I guess.

    • NatsLady - May 29, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      Oh, and Moore. The bench is overloaded with LF/1B types… and if Zimm comes back with the “plan” of playing LF/1B occasionally, that’s another one.

      • Hiram Hover - May 29, 2014 at 9:21 AM

        It was my sense going back to spring training that Zimm was resisting the effort to have him spend time at 1B, and this seems like another step along those lines.

        1B, not LF, is where the Nats have greater chances of a vacancy next year, and Zim seems to be saying, thanks, but I’ll take LF.

      • NatsLady - May 29, 2014 at 9:33 AM

        Yeah, I was figuring Werth for LF, with Harper and his arm and his hustle in RF (with, hopefully better knowledge of fences) and if Moore doesn’t cut it or is traded, then LaRoche for another year. I don’t see how Werth can do another season at RF, at least not a full season. I guess that’s next year’s problem and a lot could change.

      • knoxvillenat - May 29, 2014 at 9:57 AM

        Maybe Werth goes to first base in 2015 with Harper to RF and Zim to LF?

    • Hiram Hover - May 29, 2014 at 9:16 AM

      Agreed – I am cringing more and more at Werth’s D.

      • NatsLady - May 29, 2014 at 9:25 AM

        The time he missed that easy foul ball made me wonder if he’s having intermittent but serious pain, rather than a dull continuous ache. That’s the kind of thing that happens when you feel a sudden twinge and lose focus.

      • scnatsfan - May 29, 2014 at 9:44 AM

        We all agree. And his fluid style makes it look like he is loafing which just makes it worse.

  18. NatsLady - May 29, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    BTW, whatever his deficiencies, Frandsen is still an improvement over Steve Lombardozzi. who came up to breathe major-league air for ONE DAY (May 24), and is now back at Norfolk.

    • natszee - May 29, 2014 at 11:34 AM

      -1

  19. Candide - May 29, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    We’re about 1/3 of the way through the season, and the Nats have one of the worst team batting averages in MLB with RISP – and it’s significantly worse than their overall batting average.

    So you can’t chalk this failure up to “small sample size,” or bad luck on BABIP. This team doesn’t do well in clutch situations. They obviously can hit, because they get those runners on base. But when a guy gets to second, they somehow forget how to hit. The problem is between the ears, and it seems to have infected the entire lineup.

  20. Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    HiramHover @9:09AM. Brilliant letter to the D&G crowd.

    This was a spirited comeback and it fell short. We can do a post-mortem on went went wrong but sometimes it’s also credit to the other team. They are making plays. On Span’s bunt there’s a horrific overthrow but in dog their players is backing it up and saved them 2 runs. Stanton on Ramos was amazing.

    Werth and his teammates need to watch the film and see the hustle that Miami team plays with. They are playing unbelievable baseball. People talk about payroll? It starts with talent and heart. Plenty of players with talent and no heart.

    That’s why a generally love these heart and soul players but I can tell they are not as heartful and soulful as they were a few weeks ago.

  21. Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    I’ve said it for over a year that Werth just isn’t the dynamic outfielder any more and either has to move to LF or 1B.

    He’s better when he’s rested. Man he looks old right now.

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 29, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      To address a question above, I can think of at least half of dozen reasons that Ryan Zimmerman might prefer LF to 1B, but I’ve got to wonder — speculation only — whether one or two of them don’t include keeping that position available for Jayson Werth and/or hoping to keep Adam LaRoche around another year.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 10:07 AM

        ALR is having an All Star year but every new contract year has been a dud. I think the page is turned. Werth isn’t a prototypical power 1st baseman, but what do you do with him? I say regular rest as a good first start. He’s just dropping in efficiency and last night he hit bottom.

      • NatsLady - May 29, 2014 at 10:08 AM

        That was exactly my thought (see above on LaRoche). They are all veterans, and Werth and Zim are long termers. It’s possible they’ve thought about the future., you know. Maybe even discussed it in those winter training sessions at Werth’s abode. Just possible. :)

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 29, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        Ghost: Believe me, I don’t think the Nats should re-sign Mr. LaRoche either. But I wonder if — just as he reportedly wanted them to re-sign Adam Dunn — that’s what Mr. Zimmerman would be most comfortable with.

        NatsLady – Exactly.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 10:36 AM

        NatsLady, ALR for one more year? That’s playing with fire.

        Only 3 key players not set for next year and all 3 are in option years and that’s Span, LaRoche and Soriano. LaRoche has a mutual option and I don’t see Rizzo paying that kind of coin.

        With positional flexibility, Ryan can help this team in a reshuffle.

        NatsLady, what’s your 2015 infield and outfield look like?

      • Hiram Hover - May 29, 2014 at 10:51 AM

        Great discussion here.

        Count me among those who are grateful for what ALR is doing this year, but do not think it would be a good idea to being him back for 2015.

        As Zimm – his move away from 3B seemed inevitable (and welcome) in the long term, but I have not quite got my head around the idea that he won’t be back there in 2014. I think this is in part because I shudder at the idea of the Espi/Frandsen platoon at 2B.

    • adcwonk - May 29, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      I agree he’s looking old right now.

      I attribute that to the fact that he almost single-handedly (with a bit of help from Rendon) carried the team on his shoulders for too long. He needs an off day here and there, but the line-up is weak as it is. So he plays on.

  22. NatsLady - May 29, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Ghost, too far away to answer that question for the entire infield. Absolutely depends on the results of this year, because even Desi is not a lock. But, as I said, if not Zim or Moore at 1B, then who?

    • NatsLady - May 29, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      You need left-handed bats in the lineup, that’s clear! If Werth goes to 1B, if Span is not renewed, if ALR is not renewed, that just leaves Harper (although Goodwin bats lefty, if he’s ready–but would you give a fulltime center field job to him in April?)

    • 6ID20 - May 29, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      Desi is not going anywhere in 2015. He’s already under contract.

      • NatsLady - May 29, 2014 at 12:32 PM

        He could be traded. I would not discount that possibility if the Nats don’t make the postseason and Rizzo decides to re-stock.

    • dcwx61 - May 29, 2014 at 7:17 PM

      Werth

  23. manassasnatsfan - May 29, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Here are averages runs, HR RBIs for May

    Spab 287 17 1 5
    ALR .342 3 2 9
    Desmond 224 9 5 13
    Werth 294 15 2 6
    McHit 222 1 0 2
    TyMo 200 5 2 7
    Frandsen 228 5 1 4
    Rendon 190 1 0 4
    Lobiton 143 1 0 4
    Espinoza 147 6 4 7

    Want to know know why we are losing altogether not in RISP only 3 batters are above .228.

    ALR missed half the month too.

    That is really weak.

  24. ptindc - May 29, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    Not sure if it’s been noted elsewhere, but I see that Zach Walters has been playing 2nd base since his demotion to AAA. Perhaps he’ll change places with Espi?

  25. breakbad1 - May 29, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    We are becoming the laughingstock of baseball. Two years we’re predicted to go to the World Series, and two years we choke and fail. If we finish 2014 like we finished 2013, we’ll be a joke in baseball for ten years and players will start running to the exits.

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 96 66 --
ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
NEW YORK 79 83 17.0
MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE

NL WILD CARD GAME
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)

NLDS
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
OCT. 7: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
*if necessary

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.
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