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Nats’ 9th win in 11 games is no cakewalk

Jun 11, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

AP AP

The Nationals’ most-dominant stretch of baseball in some time had been notable for the number of blowout victories this club had been stringing together over the last two weeks.

Last night’s 2-1 win in San Francisco, then, was the outlier of the group. This was no cakewalk. This was a nip-and-tuck ballgame the likes of which the Nationals hadn’t played in awhile.

At the end of the night, tension morphed into jubilation, the Nats having secured their ninth win in 11 games to keep pace with the Braves and remain atop the NL East standings for another day.

There was plenty to rehash from this one, so here’s a breakdown of the most-significant storylines from the Nationals’ latest impressive victory…

Doug Fister was not perfect. In fact, the right-hander walked a batter, thus putting an end to the Nats rotation’s remarkable streak of walk-less innings at 51 innings. Fister also seemed to be leaving the ball up in the zone more than usual, leading to 10 flyball outs in seven innings. Which isn’t to say he wasn’t effective. He did, after all, toss seven scoreless innings, authoring yet another quality start to extend his own run of dominance. Since his shaky debut in Oakland last month, Fister has made six starts. During that stretch, he’s now 5-0 with a 1.83 ERA, 29 strikeouts and only three walks. With each passing day, the Nationals are feeling better and better about that offseason trade they made with Detroit.

Tyler Clippard put up yet another zero, merely his 20th consecutive scoreless appearance. Unlike many of his previous appearances during the streak, this was anything but ho-hum. Handed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the eighth, Clippard promptly put two on with one out, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of Michael Morse. If you’ve followed Morse over the last few years — as nearly every one of you has — you know how daunting that encounter can be. Clippard, though, showed no fear in going right after the big slugger and ultimately getting him to whiff at a 3-2 fastball up and out of the strike zone. Clippard then got Gregor Blanco to fly out to center to end the inning, kill the Giants’ potential rally and for the 20th consecutive time he has taken the mound, lower his ERA, this time to 1.27.

Rafael Soriano battled through his own jam in the bottom of the ninth. Brandon Crawford’s leadoff triple got San Francisco in business and ensured the tying run would come to the plate. Soriano, as has been the case in the past when he’s struggled, was leaving a lot of pitches up in the zone. Not to mention missing the zone altogether. He threw first-pitch balls to the first three batters he faced in this game, falling behind 2-0 to two of them. But the veteran closer did manage to clamp down when he needed to do it, inducing a groundball, a popup and a flyout to end this game and secure his 13th save in 15 tries.

Anthony Rendon returned to the lineup after missing three games with a bruised right hand and didn’t miss a beat. Rendon went 2-for-4 and is now hitting .424 (14-for-33) with four homers over his last eight games.

Wilson Ramos provided the biggest scare of the night in the top of the ninth, when he tried to stretch a base hit into his second double of game and wound up tweaking his hamstring in the process. Ramos had to depart the game alongside head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz, which given his history, always is cause for alarm. The good news: Ramos and manager Matt Williams told reporters afterward they don’t believe the injury is serious, certainly not as serious as the major hamstring strain last year that twice landed Ramos on the DL. Those injuries both were sustained while Ramos was running the bases. And sure enough, that’s how he got hurt last night. The Nats can only cross their fingers and hope this one isn’t significant and doesn’t turn significant at some point.

— This has absolutely nothing to do with last night’s Nats-Giants game, but if you haven’t seen it, Yoenis Cespedes’ throw to the plate last night in Anaheim was beyond remarkable. The only reaction I could muster up after watching it: Sweet. Fancy. Moses.

102 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. natsfan1a - Jun 11, 2014 at 6:35 AM

    Nice. Another happy game results email (as well as one from my old friend in SFO – need to get back to her after watching). Atta way, boys. Hope that Wilson is okay.

    Oh, and on the Anaheim video, can I just say, da-yum…

  2. unterp - Jun 11, 2014 at 6:38 AM

    Ramos needs to just trot to first and only take second if he can trot to second, no stretching out base hits. Will he ever learn?

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 11, 2014 at 7:10 AM

      That’s tough to do. It would be like saying, “quit trying so hard.” Tough for a competitive athlete to do.

  3. Hiram Hover - Jun 11, 2014 at 7:13 AM

    Sounds like I should be happy I couldn’t stay up for the 9th.

    • veejh - Jun 11, 2014 at 7:23 AM

      Yeah. Thought Sori and Clipp were gonna blow the game. Waaaaay too many balls and fallen behind counts.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 11, 2014 at 7:25 AM

      As is often the case, Rafael Soriano made for a nail biting ninth. I find most of his tense offerings to be good examples as to why baseball is not boring. I was cussing him in the 9th this morning though.

  4. laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    The Nats win a 1-run game! And the other guys are the ones with a runner thrown out at the plate, and another runner doubled up after carelessly wandering off 1b on an IF line out!

    If the Nats win the 1-run games, then when are they ever going to lose?

    Ryan at 3rd base does not double up the Giant runner on 1b. Maybe Frandsen, maybe not. If you blinked you would have missed Rendon’s ball transfer and rocket to ALR at 1b, which hit Adam between the “i” and “n” on his jersey. I don’t know why Matt would ever put Zim back at 3rd base.

    Pitching and defense and just enough offense beat the best the Giants have to offer, at their place, and with the Nats 4th starter. And the Nats didn’t give this one away, although they could have found a way, as they so often have, this year, already.

    Roark has been as good as any of them. Looking forward to another great game tonight. I stayed up to watch both of the first two, and it was worth it.

    Hope the Buffalo can go tonight, or, if not, can catch tomorrow. He has found his groove, as have Rendon, Span, Werth, ALR, Desi, and even Espinosa. Zim will come around. They can’t keep it up, but as long as 3 or 4 of them are hitting, they will score enough for that rotation to win many more than they will lose.

    • Candide - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:08 AM

      I remember saying last season that Rendon looked like a great infielder, when I saw him go to his right (playing second), snagging a hot grounder, wheeling, and unleashing a perfect bullet to first BEFORE HE EVEN HAD HIS TARGET IN HIS SIGHTS. He just seemed to know instinctively where the ball had to go.

      If somehow RZimm returns to third when Harper gets back, and Anthony goes to second, yeah, we’ll lose defense at third, but we will lose little or no defense at second.

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:44 AM

        I didn’t realize he was that good at 3rd, since he played most of his games last year at 2nd, where he was pretty good, too. There is nothing he can’t do at 3rd. Ryan’s glove has been better than I expected in LF, too, especially this early in the transition. He is reading the ball’s flight trajectory and taking good routes, making that part of the position look easy. And Ryan looks very comfortable out there.

        His lollypop arm doesn’t hurt that much, since either Desmond or, sometimes, Rendon, will be his relay man. Zim will be like the guy loading the shell into the bazooka, in either case.

        The question is where does Harper play when he comes back? Zim in LF looks like a lock. Whoever dreamed up that move deserves a bonus. The Nats can now exercise ALR’s option for next year, too, since Zim has found a new home.

        There really is no place for Harper in the IF. I can see him playing LF when Matt decides to give Zim a day off, or when Zim is the DH against the AL, but does he go to RF or CF as his new regular position? Matt has a problem, but I think he would rather have that one than having Zim at 3rd. If either Werth or Span gets injured, then the problem is solved, at least for as long as the injured guy is out.

        We’ll know in July.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:04 AM

        So call me crazy… (yeah, yeah, whatever :) )… But Laddie, I think they don’t pick up LaRoche’s option and move Werth to 1st , Harper to RF, Span in C and Ryan to LF…

        *ducks flying objects*

      • masterfishkeeper - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:18 AM

        With Ramos’s hamstring issues, maybe Harper starts catching again? ;-)

        Or why not try Harper at third? He’s got the arm for it.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:26 AM

      Good point. The shoe was on the other foot with the other team making crucial mistakes and that big play at the plate. BTW, great play on that short hop by Ramos and accurate throw by Werth. Rendon with that slick DP.

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:47 AM

        Danny spit at those high FBs last night Ghost. Someone is talking and Danny is listening.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:50 AM

        His right-handed swing has always looked more professional. I sure hope he can lay off that sucker pitch.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:02 AM

        “His lollypop arm doesn’t hurt that much, since either Desmond or, sometimes, Rendon, will be his relay man. Zim will be like the guy loading the shell into the bazooka, in either case.”

        Good analogy and so far nobody has had a good opportunity to test his arm.

        We will see in 2 weeks the position Harp rehabs at. If he’s in LF for several games vs CF that could be a clue.

        RZim looks very comfortable in LF. Rendon can leadoff. Harp can play CF and bat 2nd. That seems like 3 possibilités. Where does Span go? To the McLouth role. The bench is strengthened.

        It doesn’t take much creativity to see that as a distinct possibility to the July starting lineup.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:41 AM

        I would be really curious to know the Nats internal thinking about Harp as a regular CF.

        In the comments here, we’ve hashed out time and again his defensive metrics in CF from 2012, which are encouraging but hardly inconclusive. That fact that Rizzo went out and got Span after that season suggests that he didn’t think Harp was the best CF option on a championship contender at that time.

        Whether their thinking about Harper and/or Span has changed in the meantime, I don’t know. The metrics don’t love Span’s D so far this season, but it’s an even smaller sample than Harper’s 2012 #s, and so I don’t put much stock in it.

        But since I don’t think Rizzo is going to call a press conference to release their internal metrics and plans, we will just have to see. And Harp’s rehab stints, as you say, will be an important tell.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        Situations dictate new scenarios all the time. RZim is a unique situation and has already dictated a move few of you saw coming.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        Ghost, you are one of my favorite commenters here, and I respect you a lot.

        But your tendency for condescension and self-congratulation are not the things I most admire about you.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:39 AM

        HH, I was not trying to be condescending rather pointing out to those with this constant mindset of narrowness that won’t think openly about the numerous options that maybe I’m right? I know people want to believe what Matt Williams said as gospel that Ryan was just conditioning doing outfield drills, but it was a flat out fib. The disinformation business in clubhouses and GMs offices is alive and well and has been for about as long as their is video and probably before that.

        I do get great satisfaction being right,when the same people over and over again tell me there’s not a chance.

        When will people give 1 second to ponder Option #3, that RZim has earned the right to request where he plays even if it displaces another player. It happens. I wish RZim was still the 3rd base GG. He’s not, and probably shouldn’t be unless he wants to be then the debate will rage.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:15 PM

        It’s ok to enjoy being right, and plenty of us know when you are–and we’ll know it with a little less crowing, too. :)

        Anyway–I agree with you about the disinformation. To pat myself on the back (I’m not immune to it either), that is something I’ve been saying about MW since at least his “sure we might carry 3 catchers” line towards the end of ST.

        I initially had a hard time getting my head around Zim to LF, not because of anything MW said, but because it was such a radical break with the past. I certainly don’t think I ever personally criticized you or anyone else who thought differently, tho.

        As for what happens next–I do see the argument for Harp to CF. I also see some arguments against it, which is why I wondered above about the Nats internal assessments of him. In any event, all the alternatives have downsides too, so I won’t try to make a prediction, and will just wait and see.

    • Section 222 - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:29 AM

      I totally agree that Rendon is superb at 3B. He’s great at 2B too. That rocket arm plays anywhere. But laddie, to say “I don’t know why Matt would ever put Zim back at 3B” ignores the obvious question. What do you think he should do when Harper returns? I anxiously await your advice to him on that.

      • zmunchkin - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:55 AM

        Zimm will play some at 3B when Harper gets back. He is still a good defensive player at 3B. Rendon is very good, but Zimm’s range is still just a tad better.

        And since Zimm’s throwing issue is supposedly mostly driven by inflammation in his shoulder caused by repeated overhead throws, perhaps that is minimized by not playing there regularly and by his sidearm throwing motion which has also been reported to not cause shoulder pain/inflammation.

        Right now there is no reason to play Zimm anywhere but LF. But when Harper comes back I think you will see him playing different positions (3B, LF, 1B) while others get a day off.

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:58 AM

        “What do you think (Matt) should do when Harper returns?”

        I don’t know. Matt is a smarter baseball man than I am, and he will prove it. If Span sits, then Matt will have to find a new leadoff guy. If Werth sits, then the middle of the order will see a shakeup. Maybe the guy who thought of putting Zim in LF can figure out how Harper can play 2nd.

        Matt and Rizzo may come up with something completely different – a trade, maybe. Your guess is as good as mine, but the pitching staff seems a lot more comfortable out there with Rendon at 3rd. Did you notice how well Stras pitched after Zim went on the DL? I’ll bet Matt did. Zim in LF, ALR at 1b, and Rendon at 3rd gives Matt and his pitching staff the team’s best defensive configuration – and what did Matt say in ST and every other time he has expressed an opinion? Pitching and defense, pitching and defense, pitching and defense.

        Zimmerman is not going to sit, for a variety of reasons, so we will see him in LF most of the time, if not all of the time.

        How’s that?

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:03 AM

        “He is still a good defensive player at 3B. Rendon is very good, but Zimm’s range is still just a tad better.”

        Not, and not. Zim is not nearly as quick as Rendon, and Zim is a terrible 3rd baseman – probably the worst in all of MLB. If Mat thought he was still a good defensive player at 3rd, that is where he would be playing now, with Rendon at 2nd and Espinosa on the bench.

        Zim, himself, believes LF is best for the team. He’s right.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:22 AM

        There are no perfect answers here, only trade-offs. They’d rather have Span’s offense than Danny’s. They’d rather have a 2B-3B defensive combo of Espi and Rendon than Rendon and Zimm.

        For the rest of 2014, we may see less of a permanent line up, period, and more platooning/shifting of players to play RH/LH advantages.

      • jd - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:58 AM

        Sec222,

        I don’t believe for a second that moving Zim to left wasn’t part of an overall plan. I think Rizzo considered the following and then came up with a plan the details of which are still a mystery to us:

        1) Zim playing 3rd full time is untenable.
        2) Zim needs to be in the lineup.

        I think a couple of things have transpired since Zim’s return that have further muddled the issue:

        1) Span has gotten very hot at the plate.
        2) Espinosa has become serviceable at the plate.

        I don’t think Rizzo will deviate from his plan based on small sample sizes of data so I think that whatever he had in mind still stands we just don’t know what it is yet.

      • Section 222 - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:32 AM

        laddie — OK, that’s not really advice, but at least you admit you don’t know. It’s a multi-faceted problem with no obvious solution.

        You make the case for Zim playing LF permanently, but some of your arguments are better than others. It’s a little hard for me to agree that Zim’s lollypop arm “doesn’t hurt that much” after seeing Werth throw out the Panda at the plate last night. What happens when that base hit is to left instead of right? I also expect teams to routinely test his arm by going 1st to 3rd on basehits to left and to stretch singles to left into doubles. Relays take too much time to stop any of that, no matter what kind of bazooka he is loading.

        Finally, you seem comfortable leaving Espi where he is, and you’ve been arguing for several days that he’s figured it out at the plate. I have my doubts about that, especially batting left handed.

        Fortunately, what MW will do when Harper returns has an actual answer. I’m going to predict that Zim sees at least some time at 3B because MW will choose to bench Espi rather than Span or ALR. We’ll see.

      • jd - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        Sec222,

        The problem with benching Espi is that you are you aren’t putting Zim at 3rd some of the time, you are making him the 3rd baseman most of the time. I could be wrong but I suspect Rizzo has determined that this can’t happen any longer if the team is to contend and moreover I think Zim agrees.

        Rendon was OK at 2nd, he wasn’t great. that alignment (Rendon at 2nd and Zim at 3rd) is way shakier defensively than just having Zim in left IMO.

      • Section 222 - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:21 PM

        jd, I understand that’s the problem. I disagree that Rendon is that big a downgrade from Espi, but I totally agree that Zim is a liability at 3B. You may recall I was expressing deep concern about his throwing years ago. But the problem with keeping him in LF is that you don’t have a spot for Span, or Harper, or Werth. We probably have different views on what the tradeoff should be. If Espi were a better hitter, I’d probably be arguing for trading Span while his value seems high, but Espi is a terrible hitter. People are fooling themselves if they think he’s going to be anything more than a K machine with occassional pop. And Zim in LF as a long term proposition is problemmatic too.

        It’s a conundrum that Rizzo will have to figure out. I just hope that another injury doesn’t figure it out for him.

  5. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 11, 2014 at 7:29 AM

    Nice play cespedes!
    Awesome that we won a close game. Kinda sad to see our walk less streak end.

  6. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 11, 2014 at 7:32 AM

    BTW cardinals shut out their opponents again last night, third consecutive.

    • Steady Eddie - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:12 AM

      Yeah, but we don’t face either Wainwright or Wacha. We counter Miller, Lynn, and Garcia — who have stopped us at times, but who we have each hit around at times — with JZimm, Stras, and Fister. I like our chances for a series win given how well those three are rolling right now.

      • Section 222 - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:30 AM

        This is very good news indeed.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:37 AM

        Didn’t know that.

      • Eric - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:11 AM

        That’s fantastic!

      • Zona - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        Expect Wainwright to be the Sunday starter.

  7. 6ID20 - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:34 AM

    Mark, you don’t consider Jayson Werth to be one of the most significant story lines of this game? He only singled in what turned out to be the winning run and threw out the Panda at the plate to end an inning and quash a Giants rally.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      +1

    • natsfan1a - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      Plus, his twin brother was in the stands and all.

  8. veejh - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    Every time Soriano has an outing like that I can only envision another game 5 meltdown, except now he will be the one blowing it.

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:52 AM

      Well, go ahead if you like, but that’s you doing that, not him. He did his job.

      • veejh - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:57 AM

        Barely. That was difficult to watch.

      • manassasnatsfan - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:20 AM

        Alonzo’s homer Saturday barely went out, but it did.

        Last night the triple was barreled up. but the two pop up hit the top of the bat, and grounder hit the bottom of the bat.

        I barely had enough Maloox though. Of to get some more today.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:53 AM

        There’s no stat for “barely.” You can win, you can lose, or it rains; that’s it. “Do. Or do not. There is no ‘try.’”

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:00 AM

      Come on man. It is either us mashing or blowing another game 5.

      • veejh - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:08 AM

        Well, we didn’t get no hit last night, right?

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:36 PM

        you are right. but that was closer than mash everyone else was expecting so I am still more right than you are. :P

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      You go awfully quickly to some awfully dark places.

      • veejh - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:30 AM

        I was at that game. I don’t ever want to have to witness something like that again. Games like last night just make you think….does Soriano really have what it takes to take us to the promised land?

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:37 AM

        Gotta separate the short term from the long term.

        Over a season, yes, he obviously has what it takes. That doesn’t mean he’s not going to make us nervous as hell getting there some nights.

      • bowdenball - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:59 AM

        It takes a special kind of negativity to watch one’s favorite team win their 9th game in the last 11, their 4th in 5 games of a brutal road trip and their second straight on the road against the best team in baseball and react with concern that the team’s 1.13 ERA, 2.83 FIP veteran closer (a man who has pitched in 9 postseason games, allowed only one run in the last 6 postseason appearances, and literally has never walked a batter in the postseason) might blow a save four months from now.

      • adcwonk - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:00 AM

        I was at that game. I don’t ever want to have to witness something like that again.

        My goodness! Did you forget who won the game?

        The infamous “Game 5″ — or the huge lead to the Braves in mid-season that year when we lost — that’s one thing. But we won last night. It got exciting when it shouldn’t have — but, heck, at least it was exciting with a win.

        Neither Fister, nor Clip, nor Soriano had their best stuff last night — yet, between them, they held the Giants, a team with the best record in baseball, to one run.

        And you never want to see something like that again? Are you expecting the 1927 Yankees? ;-)

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:46 AM

        I don’t ever want to have to witness something like that again.

        Then quit following sports. Because that’s the only way to avoid seeing your team lose, painfully.

        “Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble.”
        ― Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

      • 6ID20 - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        I’m more worried about him blowing a save tonight or tomorrow or this weekend or next week vs the Braves. His last few times out, he’s been all over the place. Can’t get the ball over the plate, and when he does he’s either serving up a meatball right down the middle or putting it inside to a lefty batter’s pull spot. He’s been living very very dangerously.

      • bowdenball - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:15 AM

        6ID20 said:

        “I’m more worried about him blowing a save tonight or tomorrow or this weekend or next week vs the Braves. His last few times out, he’s been all over the place. Can’t get the ball over the plate, and when he does he’s either serving up a meatball right down the middle or putting it inside to a lefty batter’s pull spot. He’s been living very very dangerously.”

        He’s issued one walk in his last seven outings and has given up one home run all year.

        I think perhaps the problem isn’t Soriano’s command but your unrealistic expectations? All closers sometimes blow saves. If worries about a closer blowing a save consume you you’re in trouble because that worry will never every go away. The Braves have the best closer in the sport and he’s blown three saves already this season.

      • natsfan1a - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        I was at that game as well, and the one that preceded it. I definitely want to witness something like Game 4 again. It was awesome. If that meant I’d have to witness a [stinky] postseason game as well, I guess I’d take my chances. But maybe the awesome/[stinky] order could be reversed next time. Yeah, that would work.

        “I was at that game. I don’t ever want to have to witness something like that again.”

    • hitmeimopen - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      I feel you, veejh

  9. tcostant - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    I was in and out of sleep last night, totally missed Clippers; inning, but saw Soriano’s inning and he just didn’t want to throw a strike, It was hard to watch. I’m hoping this is because he just has had a lot of work of late.

    • adcwonk - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      Didn’t want to?

  10. natsfan24 - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:55 AM

    Divine intervention must have woke me up in the middle of the ninth inning! Just in time to flick on my little am/fm radio in bed as I listened to Charlie and Dave sweat out another Soriano save. It was great to listen to Journey as I went back to sleep!!

  11. kirbs3256 - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    I wonder, why has nobody thrown out Zim playing 2nd?

    • adcwonk - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:56 AM

      My guess: moving from 2d to 3rd, you have to learn new angles, throws, etc.

      But moving from 3d to 2d, you have to learn the art of the 4-6-3 and 6-4-3 DP, the pivot, avoiding getting spiked on the pivot, etc etc. Seems much harder.

    • scnatsfan - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:20 AM

      When Steve SAx went bad the throw from B as an adventure; if Zim’s issues are mental as well as physical then we all would be on edge everytime he got a groundball. Kind of like we are now but its flyballs instead of throws.

      • scnatsfan - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:21 AM

        Damn wireless keyboard throws from 2B

      • Eric - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        I think Zim’s “issues” are swollen bone grinding on swollen bone and the fear of the feeling of swollen bone grinding on swollen bone.

        I think 2B would require way too many throws that are 100% arm strength (especially DP turns), which he has said is exactly the kind of throw that gives him the most trouble. In the outfield, he should be able to get his body behind it far more often.

      • natsfan1a - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        What kind of arm does it have?

        “Damn wireless keyboard throws from 2B”

      • scnatsfan - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:02 PM

        ha ha better then mine

      • natsfan1a - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:32 PM

        Mine, too, seeing as how I throw like, well, you know… :-)

        “ha ha better then mine”

  12. DaveB - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    I was kind of surprised (with mixed feelings, since it was a tie ballgame) that the Giants didn’t decide to test RZ’s arm on that shortish fly ball in the 4th inning, with the Panda on third. While these few games have clearly demonstrated that you don’t often need a strong arm in LF, it would be good to know whether Ryan can make a strong throw to the plate if he needs to.

    • stoatva - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:55 AM

      Panda had already been thrown out at the plate once. Twice in the same game is more than anyone wants to take responsibility for, I think. Otherwise, I’m inclined to agree.

      • adcwonk - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:03 AM

        That’s not correct. Panda (I love that nickname!) got thrown out in the 6th. DaveB’s talking about a play in the 4th inning.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:30 AM

        Wonk, I like his other nickname; fat ichiro. No idea who gave it and why.

  13. sjm308 - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    Joining in more on the thoughts from comments rather than Mark’s article

    Adding my two cents on what is really going to be a difficult decision for MW & Rizzo. I have long believed that players do better when they are settled into one position but I am going against that with this thought. The reason for that is that I want Rendon to play 3rd for the remainder of this season. Not every game, he will need rest but to me, he is our thirdbase guy for years to come. With that premise, what do you do with Harper/Zim/Span etc.??
    Here goes – I bring Harper back very very slowly, no rush (our team is not broke right now, why try and fix something that is not broke). When he is back he becomes my roving outfielder. I also start to give Werth/Span/Desmond/LaRoche/Espinosa/Zimm and even Rendon days off – not one a week but more then we have seen in the past. This keeps Harper in the lineup, maybe 5 days a week. I realize what a great player he will be in the years to come but with this plan we will go into Sept. a lot fresher then we have been in the past and by then, things will have worked out to show MW who his best guys will be in certain situations. I see the holes in this plan but right now, to me, Rendon is the one player I want to ride into the playoffs, and I am more than pleased with how Zimm has handled left field.. I also understand its a team game so hopefully everyone will handle whatever happens when Bryce returns.

    My other thought is how no matter how well we play there are certain posters that will just never be happy with our success. Some of that is what I call a football mentality that every game is the end of the world. Baseball is just not like that. Soriano will blow a few more games this season and those that hated him early will once again rise up and pound their chests and say “I told you so”!! To be slamming him after a huge win is just hard for me to comprehend but your glass, with our closer, will never be more than half full and usually it is more than half empty.
    I enjoy the back and forth that baseball brings and there is no doubt everyone wants us to do well but some of us are just a little more patient.

    Go Nats!!

    • 6ID20 - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      No. When Harper gets back, you want the opening day batting order out there every night if at all possible. That means Zim will play third most nights unless and until he shows he can’t do at least an adequate job there. Then when the season is over Rizzo will make the decision to keep Span or keep ALR. Zim at third will be like Werth leading off was – a short term solution brought about by the way things have shaken out.

      • sjm308 - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        I realize that is the popular option and it was the one I was certain would play out as well but just watching Rendon the last few weeks has me going rouge if you will. I also really like Span’s defense in CF and think Harper in LF will also be less demanding so I do understand your thoughts. The one great thing right now is that Harper can absolutely take his time getting ready.

        Making the argument against my plan is this – just like people were worried about Zimm’s arm in LF – there really are not that many tough plays to be made during a game – I think there are more at 3rd but its not going to be as many as people think. I still want Rendon making those tough plays but I can definitely see your plan working as well

    • jd - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:35 AM

      Again, I may be wrong but if making Zim the regular 3rd baseman again why go through the elaborate exercise of teaching Zim a new position? At the time Mc.Louth was hitting as well as Espinosa so why not jub put Zim back at 3rd and insert Mc.Louth in LF until Harper returns?

      I think the answer is that there is no going back to the opening day lineup because everyone concluded that Zim can’t play 3rd base on a daily basis any longer and by everyone I include Zim.

      SJM, for the record I don’t believe that Harper will be a ‘roving’ player giving everyone a chance to rest. I don’t think that’s Rizzo’s MO. When Harper returns he will have a regular position and play every day (IMO). I know that this does not clarify the situation at all but as I said I’m pretty sure that there is a plan in place and we’ll just have to wait and see.

      As far as Harper taking it slow, my position is that he should absolutely return only when he’s fully healthy but when he is fully healthy, he should return.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        jd, I’m in the camp that this is the July lineup

        Rendon 3B
        Harper CF
        Werth RF
        LaRoche 1B
        RZim LF
        Ramos C
        Desi SS
        Espi 2B

        Bench:
        Lobaton
        Span
        Frandsen
        McLouth
        Pick ‘em

      • sjm308 - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:23 PM

        Ghost – I can certainly live with that lineup. Will be interesting to see how Span & even McClouth handle that. I can see McClouth taking over for Zimm in the 7th through 9th depending on the how the game is going and when he batted last but when will Span play? I have no idea how many games Span has played at a position other than CF.

        I will repeat that the one place I do not want to see change is Rendon at 3rd.

  14. tcostant - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    Man I’m getting old:

    On my drive in, I heard Andy Pollin talk about how the O.J. chase was 20 years today (I cannot believe that was 20 years; I still remember where I saw it).

    Next, I find out just now, that Bob Wrlch died. I remember that 27 win Cy Young season. That was 1990, so that was 24 years ago. Wow.

    Tomorrow I’ll be telling my kids about the Stras debut after he retires and it will seem like yesterday.

    Time flys…

  15. Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    The guy battles through, clearly not having his best stuff, but shows up and does his job, and gets it done. The entire W goes to the Nats; there are no win shares. And people [complain] because it wasn’t a three-pitch inning. Sheesh.

    • 6ID20 - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:04 AM

      No, we complain because in a 20+ pitch inning from Soriano we’re lately not seeing even three good pitches. He’s flirting with disaster every time he goes out there.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        And if he walked on water somebody would complain that he can’t swim. HE GOT THE SAVE. His team won. That wipes the rest clean. You can choose to be dyspeptic about it, it’s a free country. But there’s a reason Philly fans have the rep they do, and that’s a big part of it.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:14 AM

        He’s flirting with disaster every time he goes out there

        Absolutely–except for the many times when he doesn’t flirt with disaster at all.

      • 6ID20 - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        It wipes last night clean. But not Saturday night against the Padres, or future nights that may yet come. The way he’s pitching now, relying on Soriano to get the save is like having unprotected sex. Most times you’ll be okay, but you always got to worry.

      • sjm308 - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:23 AM

        So 6lD20 – what is your plan?? You do realize that there will be no changes concerning closer for this season. Are you going to gripe every single game, win or lose?
        Do you remember Storen? Cordero? Capps? Hanrahan? all closers have blown saves, even Mariano but our guy for this season is Soriano. What is your purpose of pointing out just the negatives when the stats show us that he is not the best closer but certainly not the worst.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:36 AM

        Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

      • 6ID20 - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:40 AM

        Griping and worrying are two different things. Soriano is the closer until he starts blowing too many saves. The way he’s pitching lately I worry that will happen. He seems to have lost whatever adjustment he had made earlier this season.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        And you are free to do both, but what’s your point? “Sure, it’s sunny today, but it might rain tomorrow, or next week”?

      • adcwonk - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        “Every time”?

        Short memory much?

  16. wmlsays - Jun 11, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    Looks like I may have been wrong in calling the Nats dead. Well, if they can keep this up, I may end up eating a sock or two (figuratively speaking). If I am going to be wrong (which I often am), better be wrong where that ends up being a good thing. Hopefully, they can keep this up.

    And Ramos. Can you lay off those stretch play attempts? I know it’s hustle, but it’s better if you were actually in the game, in a lot of games.

  17. RPrecupjr - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    Ok, my two (or three) cents on things:

    First, the Cespedes play. I hope a lot of kids see this, because it’s a great teaching tool. The first point – keep your eye on the ball! The amazing throw never would have happened if he had fielded the ball cleanly, and the reason he didn’t is because he looked to see where the runner was as he went to catch the ball. The second point – once you’ve made a mistake, the play isn’t over, you hustle until the whistle….er, umpire’s call. The fact that he went right after the ball and in essentially one motion picked it up and threw a 300-foot, not-quite-a-laser-but-definitely-not-a-rainbow throw directly into the catcher’s mitt. IN. SANE. Norris didn’t even have to move a muscle to catch it. I don’t know if there are too many outfielders who could do that just standing on the practive field, let alone in the heat of the moment in a tie game.

    Ok, enough about that.

    Last night’s game. Wow. Fister stuggling with command all night, Clippard walking the high wire, and Soriano wiping me out of bourbon and Maalox…..and we come out of it with a guaranteed split in the series against the team with the best record in baseball. Now if only the Rockies could help us out. Great defense last night, timely hitting (wait….the Nats and timely hitting in the same sentence?), glad to see Rendon not missing a beat after missing three games…not glad to see Ramos possibly getting hurt. Here’s hoping it’s a “couple of days” thing and nothing more.

    Ok, one more thing.

    What to do with Harper when he returns. Up until a couple of days ago, I really had no idea. We have predominantly ground ball pitchers (last night notwithstanding), therefore you want your strongest infield defense, and that means Rendon at third and Espinosa at second. You also want a decently strong outfield, and that means keeping the general on the field, i.e. Span. Zimmerman has said several times how much Span is helping him out there, postiioning him and whatnot. I think just knowing Span is to his left is making Zim that much more comfortable out there. So here’s my plan: over the weekend it was mentioned more than once from the booth that Jason has been having some issues with his wrist, nothing major, just some soreness and stuff. So when Harper returns, I think Jason gets a much needed two week vacation on the DL for his wrist and Harper mans right field (except in LA or Atlanta, right, Bryce?). This gets the team to the end of July and we’ll see where we’re at then.

    I realize that may sound a little crazy, but if Werth is having some discomfort now, what will it be like in September if he doesn’t have time to rest it? Of course, if you had said two months ago that Zim would be our regular left fielder, I would have said that was crazy, too. Well, maybe not crazy…..

    Ok, off to get some sleep….I mean, work done ;)

  18. Eric - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    Taaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake ooooooooooooooooooon ME!
    Taaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake ME OOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!
    I’ll beeeeeeeeeeeeeeee gone…
    In a strike or threeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
    (click for action)

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      Yeah, but … guess what day it is!

      • Eric - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:25 PM

        But? That change up makes me happier than a camel on hump day! ;)

  19. Eric - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    Ah, and there goes WordPress…apparently it couldn’t handle Stras’ change up to the Beast! ;)

    • Eric - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      Whoa, it fixed itself!

      • Eric - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        Darn, broken again. Womp Womp

  20. Section 222 - Jun 11, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    No, we complain because in a 20+ pitch inning from Soriano we’re lately not seeing even three good pitches. He’s flirting with disaster every time he goes out there.

    This is rich. It’s not enough that he gets the save and we win the game, which he’s done in 13 of 15 opportunities this year. It’s not enough that he faces only 3 or 4 batters, which he’s done 19 out of 25 times this year, including, by the way, last night. It’s not enough that he throws fewer than 20 pitches, which, by the way, he’s done 20 out of 25 times this year. No, none of this matters because in your opinion he doesn’t throw enough “good” pitches, based on what you see watching on TV sitting on your couch. The standard, apparently, is whether he pitches well enough to avoid making you worry that he’ll blow the save and to avoid reminding veejh of Game 5, when he wasn’t even on the team.

    Incredible.

  21. Section 222 - Jun 11, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    Scroll up to see my 1:17 pm response to 6ID20′s 11:04 am comment about Soriano flirting with disaster. Dang you WordPress!

  22. akiterp - Jun 11, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    Harper gets healthy

    Takes a (long) while to find his groove

    With extra quality starter, players get rested with aggressive rotations…especially Werth, probably ALR

    Once it is certain folks are rested, no injuries, ready for playoff run, who’s hot, who’s not Rizzo makes huge trade

    Anger and support from everyone here

    Probably the trade of his life…. probably will define his success and his future as the Nats GM

    Boras is sitting in his office right now

    Nats win WS even though Soriano blows save in 5th game

  23. Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 11, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    Harper gets healthy
    Takes a (long) while to find his groove

    OK, I read that at first as “takes a (long) while to find his glove

    That would be a unique solution to the problem.
    “Sorry, Skip, I can’t find my gamer, and I can’t use Jayson’s because, darn it, Zim already has it.”

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 55 44 --
ATLANTA 55 47 1.5
MIAMI 48 52 8.0
NEW YORK 48 54 8.5
PHILADELPHIA 44 58 12.5
Through Thursday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
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.
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