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Nats keep rolling in San Francisco

Jun 12, 2014, 9:32 AM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

The Nationals traveled to San Francisco this week looking to challenge the Giants and their best record in baseball, but so far through three games it’s been Washington who has looked like the better team.

On Wednesday night they again beat the Giants in convincing fashion, controlling the game from start to finish. Tanner Roark outpitched Matt Cain and Adam LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman came up with big hits in the first inning to lead the way on offense.

It was the Nationals’ fourth consecutive win and their 10th in their last 12 games. They now sit atop the NL East thanks to a Braves loss to Colorado. It’s the first time since May 5 the Nats have been alone in first, and a far cry from the six-games back they were at this point last season.

The Nationals and Giants still have one game to play Thursday afternoon – and Tim Hudson stands in the way of a sweep – but either way Washington will leave with the series win. With that in mind, let’s look at this series at a glance:

–The Nationals have outscored the Giants 17-5 through three games this series. San Francisco entered this series 22-9 at home with a 132-96 (+36) run differential.

–Nationals starters Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister and Roark have thoroughly outpitched Ryan Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner and Cain. Nats starters have combined to allow just three runs through 19 innings pitched. Fister is the only one to have allowed a walk so far.

–Giants starters, on the other hand, have allowed 12 earned runs in 18 innings. That equates to a 6.00 ERA, nearly double their 3.53 mark as a unit this season. They have also allowed eight walks, for comparison.

–The Nats have had 32 at-bats with runners in scoring position in the three games, coming up with eight hits in those opportunities. In Monday’s game alone they went six for 18. Through three games the Giants have only seen 19 total at-bats with RISP.

–With the win, the Nats matched their longest winning streak of the season at four. The Giants also matched their longest losing streak of three. This was after San Francisco entered the series winners of five straight and 10 of 12.

–The Nats are now 8-2 overall in the month of June. Through those 10 games the Nats’ rotation has combined to go 8-1 with a 1.27 ERA, 62 strikeouts and four walks, with a .208 batting average against.

–In their 10 June games, the Nationals have outscored their opponents by a total of 51-17. Only twice in their last 12 games has an opponent scored more than two runs.

The Nationals will go for the sweep tonight against a guy who has long had their number. Hudson is 16-5 with a 2.45 ERA against the Nationals in 29 career starts. They have a chance to take four games from the Giants and make it six of seven on their road trip.

Wednesday night was another big win for the Nationals, but the story of the game had to be Zimmerman’s performance in left field. Check out this diving catch he made in the victory.

100 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Hiram Hover - Jun 12, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    Reposting from earlier thread:

    Went to bed at 4-1, after Werth’s homer. Wake up to 6-2 final score. I’ll take it!

    BTW – Roark has been awesome. I was at most cautiously optimistic after 2013–he was great but in limited innings and against some weak opponents. He looked like a legit contender for the #5 spot but I didn’t have faith that he would be a lot more.

    Most projections didn’t think too much of him either. Fangraphs’ pre-season write-up had Roark splitting his time bwn the BP and the rotation and pitching to a 4.20 ERA and 4.30 FIP. Right now, in mid-June, he owns a 2.92 ERA and a 3.41 FIP in 13 starts.

    Now, I still don’t really think he’s that good–if he could sustain a sub-3 ERA, he would be one of the 6-8 best pitchers in MLB. But he’s damn good, and I’m enjoying it.

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    1 Diamondbacks Justin Upton  SS
    2 Royals Alex Gordon ( 3B
    3 Mariners Jeff Clement  C
    4 Nationals Ryan Zimmerman 3B
    5 Brewers Ryan Braun  3B

    That is the 1st 5 picks in the 2005 Draft. What do you notice? How’s about 4 players drafted as infielders and 3 of those 4 particularly as 3rd baseman and that all are all All Stars that are all now playing the outfield. Alex Gordon has been a Gold Glover 3x.

    • ehay2k - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:06 AM

      Wow Ghost, that’s amazing.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:19 AM

        The combined WAR of that group may end up as the highest in Draft history for a group of Top 5 picks. That Draft also included Tulowitzki, McCutcheon, Ellsbury, Jay Bruce, Garza, Buchholz, Rasmus, Romero, Pennington, Lowrie, and on and on and that’s just the 1st round!

        Round 2 was Yunel Escobar and Chase Headley. Round 3 Brett Gardner. Round 4 Jeremy Hellickson

        Round 6 was Doug Fister by the Yankees but Fister didn’t sign with them and got drafted the next year in the 7th round by the Mariners.

    • chaz11963 - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:13 AM

      Yes! MW has sated they will move Zim back to 3B when Harper returns. I think the world of Zim, and very impressed with his transition to LF, but he hasn’t been good at 3B since 2009. I suspect Zim knows that, and is very happy with the move to LF. Getting Harper back should give MW more flexibility. Putting Harper in CF with Zim in LF actually allows the Nationals to be strong defensively at three positions (Danny Espinosa at second over Anthony Rendon; Rendon over Zimmerman at third; and Harper over Span), and have the best offensive lineup.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:22 AM

        “Zim is just conditioning. He’s not playing the outfield” You better watch the video. There’s plenty of time to change minds. It’s Span vs Espi as far as I can see when Harper comes back.

        Go to 2:45 on the video: http://www.masnsports.com/media.php?show_id=2219320&p=

        He gets very uncomfortable with the question from Ladson. It isn’t as if MW didn’t know the question would be eventually asked.

      • 6ID20 - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:45 AM

        Harper is not stronger than Span defensively.

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        Where did you see that, chaz? I’d like to read what Matt said, in context. Putting Zim back at 3rd would be a bad move, unless they can get him to make strong, accurate throws to 1b. Otherwise, Zim at 3rd is a defensive blow-up waiting to happen.

      • chaz11963 - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        Laddie- I have seen it a couple of places actually, but most recently last night in the post game press conference. Ghost just posted the link for it.

      • scbilly - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:23 AM

        I’d like to hear the case for Harper as a defensive upgrade over Span in CF – it doesn’t pass the eye test for me but I’m willing to educated. Given that in 2014 Harper is plus .056 in OPS but strikes out nearly three times as frequently, he’s not even a huge offensive upgrade until he demonstrates he’s healthy enough to improve on his early season performance there.

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:26 AM

        Found this interview with Zim where he talks about playing LF:

        http://www.pressboxdc.com/2014/06/04/ryan-zimmerman-makes-move-to-left-field-for-nationals

        “The last couple of years at third have been tough for me, mentally and physically,” Zimmerman said. “I have really had to grind it out. I feel I can do well enough [in left] to help us win. This gives us the best chance to win. I am ready to get back in there and help us win games.”

        I really don’t know why Matt would tinker with what is working so well. Everybody, including Zim, is happy, happy, happy now. I suspect moving Zim was Matt’s idea, but he and Rizzo considered every possible implication of doing it before the move was actually made. Rizzo probably has options within options given such and such a contingency, which is one of his great strengths as a GM.

        One of the events they both knew would occur is the return of Bryce Harper. I suspect they had that covered, as well, even before sending Zim to the OF to prepare for his new position. Rizzo just does not fly by the seat of his pants. He probably has several options in mind, and is waiting to see how things play out before exercising the one which is most advantageous to the team, or which he believes is the most advantageous to the team.

        We don’t know what we don’t know, but that’s us, not Rizzo, or Matt.

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        Thanks for that link, Ghost. The “no choice” comment struck me as his actual sentiment, but it totally lacked any discernible enthusiasm for moving Zim back to 3rd.

        He bragged about the Nats D last night, as well he should have. They were terrific. I am a bit disheartened that he would mess with that by restoring the biggest hole to what has become an airtight IF. There must be a better “choice” than to mess that up. To me, it is one of the key reasons for the Nats recent success.

      • davebinmd - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:51 AM

        6ID20 beat me to it, but it’s shocking that anyone would think Harper is better defensively than Span in CF, although Harper does have a cannon arm and Span is no more than slightly above average at best in that dept. but Span grades-out higher on everything else. There’s only one player who is going to make Span expendable in DC, and fortunately for the Nats, he’s already on their payroll, and that’s Michael A. Taylor. He’ll have CF locked-down for the Nats for a long time, and the way he’s hitting now, he’ll be in DC (possibly for good) by Sept. of this season. BTW: He’ll be in Bowie, MD, by tomorrow for a weekend series vs. the Baysox, it might be the last chance to see him nearby before he gets promoted to Syracuse.

        Also, while Zimmerman did make a couple of nice catches last night, he also showed-off a shortcoming when he threw what Ray Knight later called “a grenade” that couldn’t even reach the cut-off (Desmond) on the fly. I know Ryan’s momentum was taking him the other way, but that throw was sad and scary to watch, it was Nyjer Morgan-like. Most leftfielders in the Majors could have held that particular baserunner to a single. I’m sure the word has got around to the Nats upcoming opponents that they should challenge Ryan’s arm from LF any chance they get.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:55 AM

        Laddie

        I really don’t know why Matt would tinker with what is working so well.

        That’s the thing, tho–when Harp returns, he HAS to tinker with it one way or the other, whether it’s sending Zim back to 3B or Span to the bench.

        Completely agree about the brain trust having gamed out multiple options. Some posters here are making absolute declarations–“There is no way X happens” or “They must do Y.” I suspect there are options still under consideration that have them doing either X or Y, depending on how various things shake out.

    • tcostant - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:40 AM

      Although Braun was thought of as a butcher at 3B and teams knew he end up elsewhere. It one of the reason the Nats like Ryan better…

      • nats1924 - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        agree that Zim should NOT be at 3B. He’ll destroy any kind of positive momentum once he throws an errant throw at a crucial moment of a ballgame.

        …so you all think a trade is possibly brewing in July when Harp returns? who do you think is more likely to be dealt? Span or LaRoche…

        even tho i do like LaRoche, a leadoff guy and a gold glove caliber CF i think is more valuable to us. So I would stick with Span.

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 12, 2014 at 2:25 PM

      George Brett and Mike Schmidt were both in the first round of 1971. Not a bad group there, either. Jim Rice, Ron Guidry, and Keith Hernandez were all pretty good, too.

  3. laddieblahblah - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    You forgot to mention how much better the defense has been playing, which, I think, is a key factor in how well the team is performing.

    The rotation has been better partly because the IF defense behind them has been superb during the latest winning binge. That has to have a positive effect on the starting rotation. The move of Zim to LF has been an unqualified success, so far, and last night Zim was able to make a positive contribution to the team defense, as well, an occasion which the entire team celebrated. That move has not split the team, at all, but brought them closer together as a unit.

    And it is now the Nats who are playing fundamentally sound baseball, and the other guys who are screwing up. Last night, it was the Giants who gave the Nats 8 free base runners, and the old vets (Werth, ALR, and Zim) cashed in all 6 runs, which were largely gift-wrapped by Matt Cain and the Giant’s pen. Remember when it was the Nats rotation that was giving games away – like that 3-game fiasco in Atlanta (Gio, Roark and Taylor Jordan) that was so disappointing? And I don’t think it necessary to bring up how disruptive the IF defense had been during those early difficulties.

    It has all turned around, and if it were not for a gopher ball with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th in San Diego, the Nats would be undefeated on their West Coast swing.

    The odds are against them, today, with Tim Hudson on the mound against the still developing Blake Treinen, but the way they are playing, I would not bet against the Nats.

    Most important of all, I will be able to get back to a normal sleep schedule.

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:06 AM

      +1 for pts about the defense.

      + another for pt about getting back to a normal sleep schedule. I haven’t even been making it to the end of these games, and have still been overshooting my usual bedtime!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:23 AM

      “The odds are against them, today, with Tim Hudson”

      Big odds against the odds. The question to me is Treinen up to throwing Zeros for 6 innings and the bullpen after him?

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:00 AM

        Yeah. I don’t think the Giants have seen Treinen yet, and that will tend to work to his advantage, and the Nats have seen so much of Tim Hudson that he can’t really ambush them with something they haven’t seen before.

        And Matt has been masterful at managing his pen during this series – Barrett and Detwiler to close out the last 3 innings of game 1, then Clip and Soriano to close out the last 2 innings of game 2, then Storen, Clip (again), and Blevins to close out the last 3 innings of game 3. Except for Clip, his entire pen is ready to use against the Giants in the final game, if needed.

        Matt doesn’t get enough credit for that, and I think a well-managed, well-rested pen has been a key to its effectiveness.

  4. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    Here’s some news while you were sleeping. Freddie Freeman went 0-4 yesterday with 2 K’s to fall to his season low since Opening Day at .279. He was batting .321 on May 9th and looked like he would carry his team on offense.

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    Tommy Milone now pitching well on the road. Shutdown the Angels yesterday. Last 7 starts has only given up 9 runs.

    • laddieblahblah - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:01 AM

      I’ve been tracking Tommy, and he is better than I thought he would be. Billy Beane does it, again, or so it would seem.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        Beane likes his command and control pitchers and doesn’t like the free pass pitchers. Milone is putting up #3 stats overall.

  6. ArVAFan - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    For those of you who watched the game last night:

    I watched Werth’s home run at-bat. Was he trying to fool the pitcher into being careless with those awkward first swings? He’s a smart guy–I wouldn’t put it past him to try something like that. Thoughts?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:29 AM

      That’s Jayson in many at-bats. I’m more impressed with his short swing.

      Do you golf? There’s a point where you are close to the green and in between a chip and a pitching wedge so you shorten up your swing to guide the ball in. That’s how Werth does it.

      • ArVAFan - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:44 AM

        Thanks, I’ll remember that next time I’m (miniature) golfing.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:51 AM

        That’s how you get thrown out of miniature golf ;)

  7. Hiram Hover - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    To pick up on pt from earlier thread, about MW’s quotes yesterday–in WaPo story and in post-game presser–about Zimm returning to IF:

    1. Just ’cause MW says it doesn’t mean it’s true. Remember what he said about roster and lineup construction in ST, about Zimm shagging balls in LF in the first place, etc. Not calling him a big fat liar. Sometimes, managers are cagey or intentionally misleading in their public statements. Sometimes they really don’t know.

    2. In regard to these particular comments, MW left himself plenty of wiggle room, saying that Zimm returns to 3B in a “perfect world” and that “all things being equal … I don’t see much of a choice” (a formulation he repeated 2x). Last time I checked, all things are rarely equal, and this definitely ain’t a perfect world.

    • Section 222 - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      I don’t think anyone has made this point yet. (I didn’t read all 458 comments on the last post, so pardon me if I’m not being original.)

      Remember when I and a few others pointed out that an injury could make Rizzo’s decision on what to do when Harper returns easier? Well, it just happened and we didn’t notice — Ramos went down So Bryce, get out that old catcher’s mask!

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:33 AM

        Ha!

        Of course, all that crouching probably isn’t the best thing for a guy who’s already had knee problems at 20-21.

    • zmunchkin - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:23 AM

      I agree. And posting here what I just said on the NJ at the WaPo.

      MeThinks MW is being a bit creative with the truth, and we are reading too much into what he said. He did not say he was going to 3B full time. And remember what he said about conditioning when RZ began working out before coming back.

      I suspect that you will see Ryan at 3B about half of the time. He will likely be the DH when they play in AL parks.

      And a few more points about Ryan’s throws:
      – his sidearm throws are fine – and he was working on throwing that way all the time before he got injured. I suspect that he will continue to do that.
      – it is the inflammation in his shoulder that is the cause of the bad throws. Perhaps that is minimized if he does not play every day at 3B
      – even with his throwing problems, he is still a better than average defensive third basemen.

      And you use this as an opportunity to keep players fresh. Let Werth have a day off a week – Ryan in LF. Likewise give Adam a day off and play Ryan at first.

      Bottom line is that the Nats need to try out various options to see what works.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:37 AM

        I like your ideas on giving rest. With the marathon these guys need more rest and Ramos playing in the cold weather in hindsight was costly.

        You hate sitting your studs but at some point you have to rely on your bench to come through.

        I still like the idea of of 4 outfielders in which you have the 2 lefties and 2 righties and MW can get creative with McLouth as the 5th outfielder when Harper returns.

  8. Section 222 - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    Oh thank God, a new post. That last thread was looking like a war zone. Mark and Chase, what gives with WordPress. Is it growing pains or are we doomed to have an incomprehensible thread after a few hundred comments. Maybe we can send WordPress down to learn a new position.

    • Eric - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:24 AM

      It would be one thing if it only happened after a few hundred comments; unfortunately, it sometimes shows up after a mere few tens of comments.

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:29 AM

      Sometimes it happens because a comment disappears–either deleted by admins or after someone hits the “report comment” button (accidentally or on purpose). When that happens, all the comments that were threaded below the original disappeared comment get kicked to the bottom of the thread and the hierarchy among them is lost.

  9. zmunchkin - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    <SARCASM>
    The Nats still have not proven they can beat a good team consistently. They have to sweep the Giants!
    </SARCASM>

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      That deserves a LMAO

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:34 AM

      Exactly. Three wins only proves you could win a five-game series. Need four to prove you can win a best-of-seven.

      • Eric - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:38 AM

        Yeah, seriously. Can’t be going 4-3 in the NLCS!

  10. natsfan1a - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    Also reposting, seeing as how there’s now a game results thread:

    OMG, another happy game results email? Awesome. Will watch the game, which I recorded, later. I do feel a little bit guilty, as I told my old friend in SFO that the Giants might a bit of an advantage going into last night’s game (no offense, Tanner – heh). Eh, what the heck. SFO can go back to winning after the Nats leave town. :-)

  11. Hiram Hover - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    I told my old friend in SFO that the Giants might a bit of an advantage going into last night’s game

    Not that I’m superstitious, but could you tell your friend the same thing about this afternoon’s game, just to be safe?

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      +1

    • natsfan1a - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:13 PM

      Not that I’m superstitious, but will do. (It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.) :-)

      “Not that I’m superstitious, but could you tell your friend the same thing about this afternoon’s game, just to be safe?”

  12. water47 - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    Odd question, but, have the Nats signed any of their draft picks? I have not seen anything here or on MLBtradeRumors about the Nats draft pick signings.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:49 AM

      I think they have to spend wisely with their cap and probably want to get the #1 Fedde inked so they know where they are. I’m intrigued by Jakson Reetz in the 3rd round. A kid who moved up on charts based on his MVP at Perfect Game seniors tourney had him move up to the 33rd best High School player on BA’s list.

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:54 AM

      Fedde is also a client (advisee? when do they switch over?) of Boras, whose guys usually take a while to sign.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:10 AM

        Exactly. I doubt any of the Boras stable has signed with anyone yet.

      • davebinmd - Jun 12, 2014 at 3:41 PM

        Scott Boras really got chopped-off at the knees under the new draft pick signing system that is now in it’s third(?) year. He may still hold-out slightly longer than others, but the timeframe he has to do that is greatly reduced and what he can hope to gain by it is insignificant. Anything that upsets Boras tends to make me very happy.

      • water47 - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:09 AM

        Thanks for the update. It just seems that most teams are knocking off signings left and right. Granted, the top pick might be delayed but most teams try to sign some mid round and lower round picks in hopes of getting a good idea as to where their pool stands.

        It just seems that there has been some unusual stagnation.

    • NatsLady - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:06 AM

      Here is the full list of who has signed and who has not.

      http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/team/draft.jsp?c_id=was

      • NatsLady - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        If you look at previous years, you will see that the Nats routinely sign every one of their picks in the higher rounds. The lower rounds are usually high school types who decide to go to college. Teams draft them to show their interest. The Nats drafted Tyler Moore three times before he finally signed, if I recall.

    • DaveB - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      The NationalsProspects.com Draft Tracker has been doing a good job of tracking down posts from players, etc. to be more current than the official Nats page:

      https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AmkEIm1TLiXQdGhVRjRfNW81SG8xRlROQ1ZxZzNfbUE&hl=en#gid=0

  13. Another_Sam - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    I’m as reluctant as anyone to tinker with a winning lineup but we all know what will happen when BH returns. And I think we’ll see the defensive replacement every day – Rendon to third and Espinosa inserted at second – in the late innings every day. I’m as saddened by it as anyone but RZ shaky in the field wherever he is.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      “RZ shaky in the field wherever he is.”

      Has looked great with the glove and all the routes except the 2 he had in his 1st few days in LF. He was as happy as I have seen him in a long long time in that postgame interview.

      • laddieblahblah - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        I saw that interview, too. He looks as relaxed as I’ve seen him since the season started. I am really happy for Ryan.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:11 AM

        If Harp doesn’t get injured and Ryan didn’t have his rehab time I doubt this LF thing ever happens.

        Crazy thing about his offense is how many times he’s been robbed. 9th inning last night he crushes one and Morse is playing 10 to 12 feet off the bag with bases loaded and snags it in his tracks.

        Wait for Ryan to go “En Fuego”

      • Eric - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:39 AM

        “Wait for Ryan to go “En Fuego””

        Do I have to? I WANT IT NOW!!! ;)

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:40 AM

        When he starts hitting to RF he’s getting locked in.

      • Another_Sam - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:02 PM

        Shaky: I was using my laid back understated southern courtly style. He’s worse than shaky. At any point he could have to make that one throw to save a game. And we know where that will lead. I regret this as much as anyone. But it’s going to be the elephant in the room from now on.

        At the getaway game prior to this delightfull west coast swing, he made that one throw right in front of me. Folks in my section LOL’d. The cutoff man had even sprinted out to him. Then I checked my twitter feed and saw some writers raving about the throw. Go figure.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:07 PM

        Yes, his arm is suspect. He is on the Juan Pierre noodle meter and could be worse.

        Ultimately he will be the Nats 1st baseman next season and JDub will move to LF and Harp to RF, IMO.

      • Another_Sam - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:12 PM

        Ghost: his arm isn’t at all suspect.

      • Another_Sam - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:15 PM

        But he is the heart of the club.

      • natsfan1a - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:15 PM

        Zimm looked happy going back to the dugout after his run-saving dive as well. The other players looked as happy as he was, or more so. It was almost as though he’d had a game-ending hit. It warmed my heart, actually.

    • NatsLady - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      Well, “we all” may know, but I don’t.

      – I don’t know if someone will get injured, in particular, if Span or Werth will need DL time (or just a break).
      – I don’t know if Harper will come back at full strength or will need to be eased back in.
      – I don’t know how important it is to the team’s “chemistry” that the Face is happy and productive, rather than in pain,, worried about every throw and a candidate for more cortisone shots and DL stints.

      But I suspect it’s VERY important, and that even Bryce, who calls Zim “the Captain,” will be brought to understand that. If him playing every inning of every game means Zim starts making daily errors at third base and shaking up the pitchers, well…

      • NatsLady - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:19 PM

        What Ghost said (longterm) is what I also believe. That’s why I think Werth will tutor Harper in RF this season, especially at home where he can become very familiar with the wall, the angles, and the weather conditions. Harper will also be “studying” with Denard Span, and there are none better at dealing with “bad” outfielders. Neither Span or Werth is afraid to let someone know when they make a mistake.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:24 PM

        Good points, NL.

        I would add, as to the short term: whatever the merits of Span vs Harp in CF in the abstract, I think Zimm is helped by having Span in CF, in a way that he would not be by Harp.

  14. stoatva - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    “We could put the big, scary guy back in his cage and save him for tomorrow,” Werth said. [of Soriano]

    Awooooo.

    • davebinmd - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:12 AM

      Scary for who though, his own teammates and Nats fans? lol

      The underlying thing at work here is that Soriano is going to get very, very few chances to close games in a non-save situation because the Nats are going to make absolutely sure he doesn’t reach the 62 Games Finished mark this season, which would total 120 for last year and this year.

      Background: Soriano’s deal includes a $14 million club option for 2015, which becomes guaranteed if Soriano finishes 120 games in 2013 and 2014 combined. Half of the money for that option also would be deferred, increasing the annual 2018-24 payments to $3 million.

      • scbilly - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:31 AM

        Despite the way his deal is structured, Soriano has made it pretty clear that he doesn’t want to pitch in non-save situations. I wonder if the deal was written that way to encourage him to adjust his attitude, but he hasn’t. It’s a good thing when the team’s interests and the players interests are aligned I guess.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:38 AM

        Soriano is currently on a pace for ~51 games finished for the regular season.

    • Candide - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:50 AM

      Werth – the Nats’ Yogi. Is anyone else on this team as quotable?

      “…eat somebody’s face…”

  15. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    Thanks goodness they leave the WC tonight… My red sleep deprived eyes may not have been able to take it anymore… :)

    • Another_Sam - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:08 PM

      Msrb – getaway day game today!!!!

      And elaborating and clarifying my negativity above – I feel very strongly that RZ is the heart of the franchise.

  16. Theophilus T.S. - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    You can’t pin-point one part of the Nats’ game to receive credit for the surge. Infield defense superb, other than a couple of kefluffles by Fransden. OF defense mostly superb, coincident with fewer appearances by Fransden, Hairston. (It’s not that I’m dumping on Fransden, it’s just that he’s a stop-gap solution at a number of places. He’s been average in the field and has had a few outstanding ABs.) Pitching superb, with the discovery of the strike zone — and teamwork among individuals playing a team game (e.g., Strasburg comments on watching Fister pounding the strike zone, picking up a new position on the pitching mound from watching Zimmermann). Offense stellar, improved by returns of Ramos (for a while) and Zimmerman, not having to dig out of a two- or three-run hole in the early innings (see above, re pitching), unexpected contributions from Espinosa (allowing him to play regularly and improve the IF defese (see above).

    I agree that Hudson v. Treinen is not a matchup that appears favorable for the Nats. But (A) Hudson’s gotta lose sometime; (B) Giants appear to have some issues (2B, LF, maybe 3B); (C) Treinen has found the strike zone; (D) for both teams, it’s a six -inning game: if Treinen can go six, Nats’ BP is good to go, if Hudson can’t go beyond six. Giants BP is vulnerable. I think the chances of a sweep today are at least even.

    These are good days to be a Nats fan.

    • knoxvillenat - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:30 AM

      ” B) Giants appear to have some issues (2B, LF, maybe 3B);”

      Some rumors starting to pick up that Utley might be traded to SF by the Phillies. I don’t know what the Giants would have to give up to make that trade but he would certainly strengthen their offense.

      However, Reuben Amaro, Jr. might just hold on to him and others thinking the Phils have one last run in them for a playoff spot. I certainly hope he thinks that is true.

  17. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    very good run. I am enjoying it. worried that hudson will finish this run today.

    • jd - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      Faraz,

      Why Worry?

      This game is gravy. How many of us thought at the beginning of the trip that we’ll be in position for a 4 game sweep?

      The pressure is all on the Giants. I am gonna enjoy this game.

      • texnat1 - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:48 AM

        Agree, the Nats are playing with house money today.

      • natsfan1a - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        Yup.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:56 PM

        I know you are right but…

  18. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Nats on Tuesday and Wednesday vs the Astros face Keuchel and Feldman which are their 2 best pitchers.

    The schedule won’t let up given the way the Nats keep having to face the other team’s best pitchers and depending how Wainwright’s cortisone shot went the Nats could now face Waino this weekend.

  19. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    The Utley rumors are big and so are the ones from the DBacks. They have some real good AA and AAA middle infielders like SS Nick Ahmed who is doing real well in AAA batting over .300 with excellent defensive metrics.

    • knoxvillenat - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      Ghost,

      Any idea what the Giants would have to give up to make a trade for Utley? How deep is the Giants minor league system?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        Phoolies want 3 studs for him which I don’t think they get and Utley has veto power but I think he wants another shot at a ring.

        Probably would have to give up Crick and Ty Blach and a lower level middle infielder. The SFG prospects aren’t doing well at all which is why they would have to give up package.

        The Phoolies have to trade him and will get good return. Seems everyone needs a 2nd baseman. Neil Walker and Aaron Hill are good alternatives but Walker just had an appendectomy and Hill hasn’t lived up to his big contract but is still a .250 guy with some pop and solid defense.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:07 PM

        Braves will give them Dan Uggla for a lot less than that — maybe just a nice dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf.

      • jd - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:13 PM

        Utley is a great player but he’s 35 and is very injury prone and is signed through 2018 at $15 mil per. At the end of the contract he’ll be 40.

        If you are a championship contender and you need a 2nd baseman Utley can very well be what you need but if you are giving up 2 – 3 major prospects and are saddled with that contract for 5 years there’s some food for thought, that’s for sure.

      • jd - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:14 PM

        Eugene,

        I don’t think that dinner will be necessary. The Braves will even drive him to the airport..

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:20 PM

        Whoever trades for Utley might only be on hook for 2 years.

        His contract is guaranteed thru 2015, and has a series of options for 2016-17-18 that vest if he reaches 500 PA in the prior year; otherwise, it reverts to a club option at a reduced cost.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:36 PM

        Speaking of Utley’s age and injury prone, how fortunate has the Giants been as they have only had 1 serious injury all year and that was to Brandon Belt.

        Chances are they will get hit with another injury or 2.

  20. therealjohnc - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    For perspective, the Nats are now six games above .500 ((35-29); that is a season high and a .547 winninge percentage (an 88-89 win pace). Prior to this week the team reached +5 on April 10 (7-2) and again on May 2 (17-12). With all the injuries, from April 10 to May 28 the team went 18-25 (.418, a 68 win pace).

    All those things that many of us said to the Legion of Doom about the length of the season and “you’re never as bad as you look as when you lose, or as good as you look when you win” now equally apply to the jubilationistas. Still 98 games to go; this story is still being written.

    Fasten your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen – it’s going to be fun ride!

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jun 12, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      +1

  21. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    Frandsen starting at 2nd today.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 12, 2014 at 1:00 PM

      Surprised Desi, Span and Werth are playing… Not surprised LaRoche is playing…

  22. Section 222 - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    Great comments this morning. Lots of fun to read. The Ghost, NatsJack, NatsLady, and 308 camps on what happens when Harper returns are well represented. I’ve said more than my piece on that. I think it’s fair to say that we don’t know what will happen, and that’s fine. Baseball is full of surprises and having options, while a little scary, is a pretty good place to be when you think about it.

    One thing I thought I’d mention about the Nats’ success (so far) against the Giants. The Giants great season (up till now) was defined by lots of late game comebacks. Something like 12 this year, when they were behind in the 8th inning, or something like that. Basically they’ve feasted against opponents’ weak bullpens to an even greater extent than the Nats have. Which means they were ripe for a fall when they came up against a team whose starters are going deep into games and whose bullpen is rock solid. Our pitching has been simply outstanding in this series, and the result is that the Nats are very much in the conversation now for who is the best team in the NL.

    • rayvil01 - Jun 12, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      Good comment about SF comebacks. Hard to do against top shelf bullpen like Nats.

  23. scmargenau - Jun 12, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    Just caught up sleep! Ahhhh. Great comments guys. A bit of work, some food and then I’m settling in for the SWEEP!!!!! Gyfng

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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)...

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