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Instant analysis: Nats 9, Rangers 2

May 30, 2014, 9:52 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: After an agonizing loss Wednesday night in which they couldn’t produce the one clutch hit that would’ve won the game — a theme that has been all too familiar this season — the Nationals came back refreshed today hoping for better results in their series opener against the Rangers. Then they got one massively big blast from Ian Desmond, which proved to be the hit that finally opened the floodgates and let this lineup relax and produce at the plate.

Desmond’s 3-run homer off Colby Lewis in the bottom of the fourth gave the Nationals the lead and sent the crowd of 31,659 into a tizzy. It also prompted the rest of the lineup to get into the act. They wound up getting a clutch pinch-hit double from Tyler Moore and at least two hits from four different starters to pace their best offensive showing in awhile.

The beneficiary of all that run support: Stephen Strasburg, who shook off one brief, bizarre sequence in the top of the second to put forth one of his best starts in awhile and shut the door on a Texas club that had visions of mounting a comeback. By night’s end, the Nationals were able to coast their way to a comfortable victory, one that may prove as cathartic as it was necessary.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: How much did the Nationals need Desmond’s bomb in the bottom of the fourth? Well, consider this: It was their first 3-run homer since … April 16 when Jayson Werth took Jose Fernandez deep in Miami! Yeah, that’s a long time. Of the Nationals’ last 36 homers, 27 have been solo shots. They simply haven’t been delivering really big hits in really big spots. So you can understand why Desmond was handing out emphatic high-fives to everybody within range after he circled the bases tonight. His team-leading 10th homer was needed in the worst possible way.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: If you happened to step into the kitchen for two minutes during the top of the second, you would have thought Strasburg pitched the game of his life. You would’ve missed a bizarre, three-batter sequence that saw the right-hander butcher an easy comebacker, get a quick visit from head trainer Lee Kuntz, manager Matt Williams and pitching coach Steve McCatty, then give up back-to-back singles that left the Nats in a 2-0 hole. Other than that, though, Strasburg was absolutely brilliant. He struck out nine while walking only one, showed command of all three of his pitches and when handed the lead back by Desmond shut out the Rangers over his final two innings. He easily could’ve come back out for the seventh, but Williams decided to go for some offensive insurance in the bottom of the sixth, and that move paid off, helping make Strasburg a winner tonight.

KEY STAT: The Nationals now have three relievers with ERAs under 1.00: Drew Storen (0.95), Aaron Barrett (0.92) and Rafael Soriano (0.86).

UP NEXT: Set your alarms earlier than usual, because Saturday’s game starts at 12:05 p.m. (a byproduct of the Nationals’ annual Dream Foundation Gala later in the evening). It’ll be Doug Fister looking for his fourth consecutive strong start against Rangers right-hander Nick Tepesch.

  1. veejh - May 30, 2014 at 9:54 PM

    Isn’t winning so much more fun?

  2. David Proctor - May 30, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    Needed this one. Glad to see the offense come alive, though I cringe when I see all those bloops fall in. Save some of them for games like Wednesday!

  3. Mrsb loves the Nats - May 30, 2014 at 9:56 PM

    So glad the Nats balled tonight… But lets not crap the bed tomorrow…

    • veejh - May 30, 2014 at 10:00 PM

      Fister has been rock solid. We got this.

  4. manassasnatsfan - May 30, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    This is what we all needed.

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - May 30, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    I sleep well after solid Nats wins. No earned runs given up.

  6. knoxvillenat - May 30, 2014 at 10:00 PM

    Glad to see Nate the great continue his fine play. Two more hits tonight and his batting average and OBP continue to climb. Hopefully he is over his early season blues.

  7. veejh - May 30, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    Just be happy, Matt. Sheesh.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - May 30, 2014 at 10:09 PM

      What happened? Was watching the Bball game…

      • veejh - May 30, 2014 at 10:17 PM

        Opening question was about nice to see the offense work and he replied about the extras game w the Fish w attitude that the offense was working then, too.

      • Eric - May 31, 2014 at 8:57 AM

        Its a fair point. 15 hhitsis nothing to sneeze at, frustrating as the outcome was. I take his reaction as standing up for the players.

  8. micksback1 - May 30, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    a much needed win,, they need to start winning series. finally a fun game to watch…. btw, Dobbs is one of the most worthless pickups n the Rizzo era, just a really bad player period

  9. chaz11963 - May 30, 2014 at 10:10 PM

    Ok… MW critics… ? Hello…???

    • micksback1 - May 30, 2014 at 10:11 PM

      I am one and will be until i see what Mw fans see that nobody else does. every time MW allows a player like Dobbs to pinch hit, i rest my case

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 30, 2014 at 10:44 PM

      I’m not a member of the G&D and I’m not a member of the MW haters club, but I will say Matty has made many poor decisions so do you sit back and say nothing? The reason you know he made poor decisions is because he’s corrected most of them in subsequent games.

      His hook on Fister after a 4 game losing streak I complimented him for. His bunting Span with men on 2nd and 1st with no outs in the 8th was the right move even though his batters couldn’t score the runner from 3rd.

      His decision to PH with TyMo today was actually a smart move so Texas didn’t go to the pen and it worked.

      I think most don’t compliment him when he makes good moves which I try to do in fairness to MW. Yes, it seems people forget to say nice things and the criticism stands out.

      • veejh - May 30, 2014 at 10:50 PM

        +1

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 30, 2014 at 10:52 PM

        I just put a criticism of MW below. I should probably be pegged as a hater! LOL

  10. micksback1 - May 30, 2014 at 10:10 PM

    McClouth is showing me something and better late than never

  11. micksback1 - May 30, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    I hope r Zim is healthy and is not rushing back, that would be very stupid

  12. natsfan1a - May 30, 2014 at 10:27 PM

    Nice win, and half-off-pizza for dinner tomorrow. Oh, yeah…

  13. knoxvillenat - May 30, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    Interesting game at Fenway tonight. Red Sox had their manager thrown out, his bench coach tossed a couple of innings later. Apparently Price hit Ortiz in the first with a fastball in the back, warnings immediately issued to both benches and Ferrell tossed for complaining about the quick warnings. Price then hits Carp in the fourth and is not tossed. Bench coach for the Sox is besides himself over this and he gets tossed. Workman pitching for the Sox later throws one behind Longoria’s back in the rain and he gets tossed right away. I don’t think the umps tossed the coach who was running the Bosox at the time but I might have missed it. With warnings having been issued the designated manager (my term) would have automatically been ejected. Don’t understand why he would have been allowed to remain in the game, if in fact he was.

    In any event 2-2 game in the bottom of the ninth. Could be an interesting weekend in Beantown!

  14. Ghost of Steve M. - May 30, 2014 at 10:35 PM

    Giants smash Wainwright for 7 earned in 4 innings. Morse on fire! If he continues at this pace he’s an All Star and more.

  15. Candide - May 30, 2014 at 10:40 PM

    Just back from the game. Gonna have to find out what happened with the 5-ball walk to Ramos; Cunegonde and I were keeping score and we both went, “W-h-h-h-h-a-a-a-a-t???”

    Cunegonde will testify that before we left for the park, I told her, “I have a good feeling about tonight; they’re gonna bust out.” By the third inning, I was grinding my teeth – at the end of the third, I was yelling at the field, “Will you guys score some RUNS!!!???” So imagine my delight when they scored runs in five straight innings after that. Amazing what a little encouragement from the stands will do for a team.

    Gonna have to tell the grandkids how I once saw the Nats score in five straight innings. As soon as Cunegonde and I make some kids that can make grandkids…

  16. David Proctor - May 30, 2014 at 10:46 PM

    Kilgore reporting that Danny went to the park yesterday on the off day to work on his swing. I’m not sure if anybody noticed, but his stance was noticeably different. Much more open stance and off the plate. Only downside to being off the plate is that it will hurt his HBP totals and that’s his best tool to get on base.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 30, 2014 at 10:49 PM

      They moved him off the plate a couple of games ago. It sure didn’t help with that awful at-bat with RISP. He has no outs and runners on 2nd and 1st. 1st ball lousy swing can of corn to center.

      He really needs a few weeks at AAA to get on track. Best way to do that is a blister on the finger for a DL stint.

      • David Proctor - May 30, 2014 at 10:55 PM

        He made several plays today look easy that Frandsen doesn’t. If Zim can play 3B and you put Rendon back at 3B, fine. But you can’t demote him otherwise. We saw Frandsen’s work at 2B.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 30, 2014 at 11:00 PM

        Yes, he did, read my comment in the “in-game” about one groundout that Espi got to and squared up that Frandsen I think would’ve been trying to back-hand and missed.

        Frandsen’s best position is LF. In my opinion, if Espi was playing 2B on Thursday the Nats win.

      • veejh - May 30, 2014 at 11:03 PM

        Ghost…probably so, but if Werth had not been playing, we probably win, too.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 30, 2014 at 11:05 PM

        Nope because there was nobody to take Werth’s place in reality.

  17. veejh - May 30, 2014 at 10:46 PM

    Scream at the TV tomorrow. I find that works occasionally.

    • veejh - May 30, 2014 at 10:47 PM

      For Candide

      • Candide - May 30, 2014 at 11:02 PM

        Thanks; I’ve tried that. Last time was when RZimm revealed his throwing problems ‘way back when, by airmailing a throw five feet over ALR’s head on a routine grounder.

        “(VERY UNPRINTABLE WORDS!!!) WHAT THE (DIFFERENT VERY UNPRINTABLE WORD) WAS THAT, ZIMMERMAN???”

        Didn’t help. Plus it scared the cat out of two or three of her remaining lives.

  18. Ghost of Steve M. - May 30, 2014 at 10:51 PM

    1 criticism I do have is that Desmond, Werth and especially Ramos could have all been relieved in the 8th inning with a very early game tomorrow and a 9-2 lead.

    It’s the small points that Matt Williams keeps missing. That stuff drives me crazy.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 30, 2014 at 10:53 PM

      And I did post that comment in the 8th when I saw Ramos back behind the plate.

    • veejh - May 30, 2014 at 10:55 PM

      Meh..it’s not like they labored. How dare you critisize MW.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 30, 2014 at 10:57 PM

        LOL, early game tomorrow. Sure would’ve like to have seen Ramos get the rest of the night off.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 30, 2014 at 11:03 PM

        Its these little details and again I wonder if Knorr is day-dreaming. Yes, they just had a day off but its just smart to make these adjustments.

      • veejh - May 30, 2014 at 11:09 PM

        Knorr was day dreaming…memorized at the amount of hits and runs….

      • natinalsgo - May 30, 2014 at 11:15 PM

        If the plan is to sit Ramos tomorrow for the very early day game after a night game then it doesn’t matter that Ramos played all 9. If MW starts Ramos tomorrow then the decision not to rest Ramos for 2 innings would make it a poor decision. Davey did that often last year in blowouts where he didn’t think to give the vets the rest of the night off.

        With the off-day yesterday, I’m sure MW is thinking nobody needs a rest but I agree that those 2 innings for a squatting catcher who just legged out a single with a 2 base error would make it appropriate to probably even lift him for a pinch-runner! ;)

  19. Faraz Shaikh - May 30, 2014 at 11:16 PM

    Not bad.

  20. secretwasianman - May 30, 2014 at 11:17 PM

    Very relaxing very well played. Looked like the 2012 team tonight. Keep it rolling. Still not a MW fan

  21. David Proctor - May 30, 2014 at 11:25 PM

    There’s an off day Monday too. So between an off day Thursday and one Monday, I can’t see why anybody (Ramos included) would need a rest.

    • natinalsgo - May 31, 2014 at 12:12 AM

      Why do you find it so difficult to agree with someone on a typical move by many managers in a blowout game.
      ” I can’t see why anybody (Ramos included) would need a rest.”

      As I mentioned above the Thursday dayoff matters because most players looked fresh today including Werth. If Ramos doesn’t catch Saturday then a moot point. If he does catch early Saturday why does Monday matter for him on Saturday? I don’t get your logic. You are asking him to catch 18 innings in less than 24 hours and that’s the issue at hand.

      I’m thinking Ramos gets Saturday off and a moot point.

      • David Proctor - May 31, 2014 at 12:21 AM

        I was referring to a day off for Ramos tomorrow, not whether to rest him today. Matt could’ve given Ramos some innings off, but I don’t think it’s a big deal either way.

      • natinalsgo - May 31, 2014 at 12:28 AM

        If Ramos sits on Saturday then then like I said I have no issue.

  22. natsguy - May 30, 2014 at 11:44 PM

    Any time they beat the Texas Rangers I’m a very happy man. They broke my heart in 1971 and they’re the only team I hate worse than the Balmer 0′s. I hope we sweep this weekend. They need the wins for a confidence builder and I need the Rangers whooped badly. I wish we could bring Bob Short back to see what he missed in Washington.

  23. Faraz Shaikh - May 30, 2014 at 11:52 PM

    SS bashers please take a note that SS could have pitched longer if not a manager’s decision.

  24. dcwx61 - May 31, 2014 at 12:05 AM

    Just getting in foro the night…i see you all were busy….’Happy day, everyone gets on base. These NAts showed their winning formula…better pitching than the other guy. Rangers pithing hurting. Gotta check out the boston summary.

  25. natinalsgo - May 31, 2014 at 12:34 AM

    There’s a reason I rarely post any more and its because people want to argue for the sake of one upping someone else.

    • veejh - May 31, 2014 at 1:53 AM

      Really? There’s definitely opinionated people with their views on baseball, but being new to this forum this year, I really don’t get that feeling. Most posters are courteous, unlike myself, and I kind of like the ecclectic mix of supposed know-it-alls to the opposite end of doom and gloomers. I only wish we could mix in the opposing fanbase during the games, and this place would be hopping.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 55 44 --
ATLANTA 55 46 1.0
NEW YORK 48 53 8.0
MIAMI 47 52 8.5
PHILADELPHIA 43 57 12.5
Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 p.m.
Full season schedule

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