Skip to content

Instant Analysis: Nats 10, Rangers 2

May 31, 2014, 2:53 PM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Coming off a much-needed laugher of a win on Friday night, the Nationals kept the good fortune going with another blowout victory over the Rangers on Saturday afternoon. This one ended with a score of 10-2, as their offense continued to roll and Doug Fister pitched another gem of a start.

The Nationals hit three homers in the first four innings to put eight runs on the board. That gave them 17 runs over a stretch of nine frames (dating back to Friday’s game), as many as they had recorded in their previous 54 innings.

Anthony Rendon led the way with a solo homer (6) in the first inning. He finished 4-for-5 with three runs and an RBI, having recorded hits in six consecutive at-bats before he struck out in the eighth. Adam LaRoche also had a big day with two hits and a walk, including a three-run home run in the fourth inning. Jose Lobaton and Scott Hairston also homered to give the Nats four total on the day.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The Nationals took the lead in the first on Rendon’s home run, but it was a big second inning that put them ahead comfortably. Four total runs came across in the frame, beginning with Lobaton’s second homer of the season. Danny Espinosa had doubled in the previous at-bat to set up the two-run shot.

Denard Span and Rendon then each got on with two-out singles, setting up a big swing for Jayson Werth. Werth hit a double to left field, a hit that scored Span. Rendon then came home thanks to an error by Shin-Soo Choo in left field. With Fister pitching as strongly as he was, the Nationals gave him far more run support than he would need.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Fister has been the Nats’ best starting pitcher for several weeks now, and on Saturday he was excellent once again. The right-hander began the game perfect through 3 1/3 innings, finally allowing a baserunner in the fourth on a double by Elvis Andrus. The sinker was in full-effect, consistently fooling a Rangers lineup that apparently left their offense in Texas.

Fister finished with six innings of two-run ball. He gave up four hits, a walk, and struck out six. The walk was just his second of the season so far through 29 2/3 innings pitched. He now sits with a 3.34 ERA on the year.

Fister’s first start of the season in Oakland was a disaster, but since he’s gone 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA with 21 strikeouts and two walks in 25 1/3 innings. That’s pretty good.

KEY STAT: The Nationals scored five runs through the first two innings, the most they’ve recorded through two in any game this season. It also extended their streak to seven consecutive innings with runs, starting with Ian Desmond’s home run in the fourth inning of Friday night’s win. That’s the longest stretch in club history and the first for the franchise since the Expos did it in 2003.

UP NEXT: The Nationals and Rangers close out their three-game series with a Sunday matinee (1:35 p.m.). Tanner Roark (3-3, 3.47) will get the ball against his former team with ace Yu Darvish (4-2, 2.35) pitching for Texas. The Nats have a chance for their fourth sweep of the season.

  1. veejh - May 31, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    Can I in get a woop, woop!

    • senators69 - May 31, 2014 at 3:23 PM

      Being and older guy, I always love it when the Nats beat the old Senators franchise!
      Hope Bob Short is watching from above…(or is it from below ;<)

      • Sonny G 10 - May 31, 2014 at 4:24 PM

        definitely from below! :-)

      • Candide - May 31, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        I didn’t live in DC when Short moved the Senators, so I never got a detailed view of what happened back then.

        But in the car last night after the game, we heard Phil Wood talk about what happened. He says the Senators had a really bad lease at RFK stadium and asked the city to renegotiate it to be on a par with the indians’ lease (whether that was a great lease or just an average one, he didn’t say). Phil claims then-Mayor Washington told Short to take a hike, betting that no baseball team would ever leave the nation’s capital.

        Anyone know how accurate a summation this is?

    • mauimo22 - May 31, 2014 at 4:07 PM

      Woop, woop!
      ’bout time we got some O.

  2. Joe Seamhead - May 31, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    Nothing but carnage for the carrion fowl to pick over!

    Get used to it. They finally woke up after Wednesday’s debacle.

  3. Eugene in Oregon - May 31, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    “Fister’s first start of the season in Oakland was a disaster, but since he’s gone 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA with 21 strikeouts and two walks in 25 1/3 innings.”
    He, and the Nats, should get a do-over on that Oakland game.

  4. stoatva - May 31, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    “There’s 110 games left. Step back from The Ledge.”

    Just because I wanted to see it again.

  5. stoatva - May 31, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    Trade Jordan Zimmermann for a second baseman?
    Which one?

    • stoatva - May 31, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      The point being… Rendon is not going back to second base. Manny Machado has nothing on him (and not being an idiot, I love Manny). Espinosa can’t do it. Do you think Kevin Frandsen can be the second baseman on a Nats championship team? And are you going to want to pay Jordan Zimmermann the Uber-bucks at the end of the year?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 31, 2014 at 3:07 PM

        Wait for the trade deadline and see who is available. Would you take Aaron Hill?

      • stoatva - May 31, 2014 at 3:08 PM

        Oooooh. Aaron Hill!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 31, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        Rizzo is going to trade for a 2nd baseman I would guess. Aaron Hill seems a logical fit and Matty knows him. I think it will happen soon.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 31, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      HUH WTF? Why would you trade Jordan Zimmermann for any 2nd baseman?

      • stoatva - May 31, 2014 at 3:07 PM

        What about Altuve?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 31, 2014 at 3:08 PM

        Straight up for Jordan Zimmermann? NOT A CHANCE.

      • stoatva - May 31, 2014 at 3:09 PM


      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 31, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        Jordan Zimmermann is an elite starting pitcher that you get a large package for. Other than Cano (who isn’t worth the freight) I wouldn’t trade JZim straight up for any 2nd baseman.

        Now if Houston gave Rizzo Cosart and Altuve, that would be a start, but I just don’t see Rizzo ready to part with JZIm so it’s a moot point.

      • texnat1 - May 31, 2014 at 3:17 PM

        I’m not in favor of trading him at this point either, but, speaking of the Rangers, I would think both Profar and Odor would be pretty enticing. No way on Altuve.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 31, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        Tex, they wanted a ton for Profar last year. There’s good options out there for Rizzo.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 31, 2014 at 3:35 PM

        My wishlist guy would be Neil Walker. He’s a big upgrade and 2 years left of team control.

        The 2nd base position is having a down year in the Major. Guys like Hicks and Gyorko are hitting worse than Espi and there’s plenty of veterans struggling.

        I think some teams will settle for a light hitting 2nd baseman who can play good defense.

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 31, 2014 at 3:18 PM

      And your fifth starter would be…?

      • stoatva - May 31, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        I was mistakenly thinking that JZimm would be a free agent at the end of this season, not 2015 as is actually the case. So to make a trade we’d probably need a solid MLB starter as well as a second baseman.

        I like the Aaron Hill suggestion, and again… I wonder what it would take.

  6. stoatva - May 31, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    I was thinking that JZimm was a free agent at the end of this season, but I was thinking wrong. His two year contract extension runs through next year. Obviously that changes the calculation enormously.

    Aaron Hill is a great idea. What do you think it will take?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 31, 2014 at 3:24 PM

      Aaron Hill is owed a ton of money going forward. 32 years old and has regressed in his career. He’s not a major upgrade but a decent upgrade on offense. He only has a .314 OBP but another guy who gets it done with RISP as he hits much higher which is nice .271/.339/.396/.735

      My big concern about Hill is he is not good on the road.

      What would it take to get him? I really think AZ would need to eat a lot of his salary and probably would take Espi straight up.

      He’s not my 1st choice for a trade but he won’t cost much to get. First thing to consider is can he get back to his career norms. He’s on a regression but still is an upgrade over Espi.

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - May 31, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    MW with some interesting comments on Rendon. He also answered that misconception about 3rd being his “natural” position.

    Sounds to me like the Nats will be trading for a 2nd baseman.

  8. stoatva - May 31, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    I think Altuve, for all his, uh… shortcomings… would be a jolt of electricity for this team.

    • stoatva - May 31, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      And I think playing for the Nats in a championship run would up his game considerably.

      • texnat1 - May 31, 2014 at 3:28 PM

        Altuve has never been even a 2 WAR player. He hits for a good average but hasn’t put up huge on base numbers (last year only .316) and doesn’t hit for power. Fangraphs doesn’t like his defense either.

        He is putting up good numbers this year so we will see if he maintains that.

        In any event, Houston is rebuilding and he is a young controllable player, so they won’t want to move him.

        The Rangers on the other hand, have a surplus of middle infielders, all of which have higher upside than Altuve.

      • stoatva - May 31, 2014 at 3:32 PM

        The Odor suggestion does not stink.

      • texnat1 - May 31, 2014 at 3:35 PM

        I laughed.

  9. texnat1 - May 31, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    So Ghost, do you think the Nats are looking at RZim in LF long term? If so, does this mean Harper back to center or do you think they are considering moving Werth to 1B next year?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 31, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      I think Rizzo will look real hard at Span who is on has a team option and LaRoche who has a mutual option and weigh his moves.

      Harper to CF could be a move if Span’s option isn’t picked up. The RZim in LF is very intriguing and Werth to 1st base I’ve liked for a while which means Bryce could go to RF and RZim in LF and retain Span.

      What if the Nats trade for a 2nd baseman here? The pickings are slim.

      • texnat1 - May 31, 2014 at 3:48 PM

        I don’t think the pickings are that slim when you consider that the Rangers actively need to trade one of Profar or Odor.

        If you are talking about a small scale trade for the immediate future, then yes I agree there is not a lot out there.

        But you could also trade for a 3B instead and move Rendon back to 2B for the rest of the year.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 31, 2014 at 3:58 PM

        Yes, 3rd base has slimmer pickings

  10. natsfan1a - May 31, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Nice win, and I enjoyed Fister’s postgame where he talked about how his plan going in was to focus on ground balls, limit strikeouts, and get out of there fast. I’m glad he’s a Nat. Hope he rubs off on some of our other starters.

    Just hope they saved some for tomorrow, when I’ll be in attendance. Remember, boys, at the gala tonight, focus on glad-handing, limit tippling, and get out of there fast so you’ll be fresh for tomorrow’s game. :-)

    • natinalsgo - May 31, 2014 at 3:44 PM

      Rizzo has been in search of that X Factor pitcher for a long time. First it was EJax, then Haren and looks like he found his guy in Fister. 3rd time is the charm!

  11. stoatva - May 31, 2014 at 3:56 PM

    All this would be a lot simpler if Espinosa could do anything useful with a bat. If I ran the zoo I’d get him a batch of those big bottleneck bats like Ted Williams gave Ed Brinkman and fine him $10k every time he hit something to the warning track.

  12. Section 222 - May 31, 2014 at 4:51 PM

    Great day at the park. Absolutely perfect weather, and an easy and entertaining win. Watching Fister work is such a joy. Once again, he’s showing what a great pickup he was. Robbie who?

    When Ron Washington didn’t PH for Baker in the 5th it was pretty clear he was conceding the game. MW followed suit with his mass substitutions. I felt like I was at a college basketball game where the scrubs get in for a few minutes at the end of a blowout.

    I really find this discussion of trading for a 2B humorous. And the idea that next year Zim will play LF and Werth will move to 1B is just crazy. If ALR is gone, why not just move Zim to 1B? Does anyone really think his candy arm will play better in the OF than it would at 1B? Is our defense better with Zim in LF and Werth at 1B than with Zim at 1B and Werth in RF (or LF)? Come on! And this totally ignores the fact that Rizzo thinks Harper is better off in a corner OF position than CF. I also wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him re-sign Span to a one or two year deal.

    I honestly think the best position for him now is 3B. Move Rendon back to 2B and send Espi to the bench to be a late inning defensive replacement and 2B in AL parks when Zim can DH. Zim knows how to play the position. He’s going to be more comfortable there and be able to settle in and get his stroke back, rather than throwing him into a new position, whether it’s 1B or the OF. And honestly, I see disaster written all over the idea of him playing LF regularly. What does he do on a smash into the corner? Virtually every single to left becomes a potential double.

    The only wild card here is what someone noted in another thread about MW having taken Espi on as a personal reclamation project. He was happy last night because he made good contact. Today after the game he said, “Danny is going good.” Going good? One double and 3 Ks? That’s going good? I think Rizzo will end this silliness when Zim comes back. If Espi continues to start at that point, they have lost their minds. And I will lose mine. :-)

    • veejh - May 31, 2014 at 4:58 PM

      I’m with ya. Trading for a 2nd baseman would effectively relegate Zim to LF, until Harper returns, or backup 3rd or 1st baseman. Once Harper returns, what then? Is he now a bench player? No way $10M Zim becomes a backup 1st or 3rd baseman, ever.

  13. chaz11963 - May 31, 2014 at 5:39 PM

    All of you talking about Zim going to LF as part of the new Nats should perhaps wait to see how does out there. He has never played OF in the minors or majors and this is likely to be big adjustment.

    Secondly, getting rid of Espi causes another problem- who will be the back-up SS? Espi has value for a lot of reasons as a bench guy, part of that value is Desi.’s back-up.

  14. Joe Seamhead - May 31, 2014 at 5:40 PM

    Deuces, I agree with your general thought process on your post above.

    My first thought is: If I’m a pitcher, who do I want in the outfield in general, and in CF specifically? Span makes every pitcher on this team better.He also makes both corner outfielders better. [And yes,before I get trashed, I admit that he doesn’t get to every single ball that some folks think that he should]. And as you said, Rizzo wants Harper in a corner outfield position. Hell, Harper is a great athlete and he has has a tough time developing into a good outfielder.

    Second thought: Though it may work out having Ryan Zimmerman in LF, it is amazing to me that people just want to trade Span, move Harper to CF, move Werth to 1B, etc. all based on conceding that Ryan plays a position that he never has had one inning at in his entire career! Look, he’s a good athlete, I’m sure that he can catch fly balls in left field. Can he make a strong throw in to the plate? A few years back when my son was a high school senior he played on a very good travel team. There was a catcher on the team that had secured a full boat D1 scholarship.He was a horse.The team was playing an unimportant doubleheader and said catcher caught the first game, but wanted to also play in the 2nd game. Coach put him in LF, and of course with the game on the line a fly goes to left, runner on 3rd tags, our hero throws to the plate. I can’t even remember if he got the guy, but he hurt his shoulder, never was right again, in spite of the best athletic surgeons in the country’s best efforts. Folks, it isn’t always that easy to make the transition.

    Third thought: Ryan Zimmerman may, or may not be able to play 3B anymore, but I am glad that I am not the one to make the call that says he can’t even try again.

    Espinosa? We keep him, regardless, for the foreseeable future. As a utility guy. Unless he proves that he isn’t that guy.Either way.

    No matter what we do when Zimm and Bryce come back, it’s a first world problem, baseball wise. Too many choices is better then not enough! Wherever they play I hope that they excel.


  15. sunshinebobby - May 31, 2014 at 7:03 PM

    No, wait, I have a better idea. We can take every position player we have, move them one position to the left, shuffle the deck, put all the names in a hat and draw a lineup that way. That would make as much sense as all this talk about moving Werth to first, Zim to left, Harper to center, etc. etc.

    Puh-leeze, people, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. Either Zim plays third or first next season, depending on whether ALR comes back and whether Espi ever finds it (highly doubtful). If Espi doesn’t return, Rendon goes to second and Zim goes back to third and we hold our collective breaths every time a ground comes his way.

    This LF option is purely a stop-gap for this season until Harp comes back. And it wouldn’t hurt if he learns another position.

    As usual, I stand with 222 and Mr. Seamhead.

    And I am totally for re-signing Span. He solves two gaping holes we had before he arrived. A good defensive center fielder (anybody remember Nyjer’s fly routes to the wall?) and a solid leadoff guy (anybody remember Werth leading off?). I am all for giving him a 1- or 2-year extension.


  16. edshelton2013 - Jun 1, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    The jury’s still out on both Span and ALR. Rizzo has two-thirds of this season left to evaluate whether to re-sign either one. Then the dominoes will fall in place: Zim, to 1B?, Goodwin/Taylor or trade for new CF?, new 2B?
    Do you extend JZim and/or Desi during the off-season?? Plenty of options.
    At least we’ll have lots of NI discussion to help us through the winter doldrums.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 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: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter