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Game 68: Nats at Cardinals

Jun 15, 2014, 12:44 PM EST

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Losers of three straight, the Nationals enter Sunday looking to salvage their series against the St. Louis Cardinals with a win. They have scored a total of two runs over those three games as their offense has gone dormant.

Given all of that, now is probably the perfect time to have Doug Fister (5-1, 2.68) on the mound. The right-hander has won his last five starts and lately has been arguably the Nationals’ best pitcher. Today Fister will face the Cardinals for the first time in his career.

Starting for St. Louis is lefty Jaime Garcia (2-0, 4.26). Garcia has pitched against the Nats five times, holding a 3-1 record and 3.29 ERA.

As you’ll see in the Nats’ lineup, Ryan Zimmerman is starting at first base for the first time in his career.

Enjoy the game and check back for analysis in the morning…

Where: Busch Stadium
Gametime: 2:15 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, Ch. 9, MLBN
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 869,
Weather: Cloudy, 85 degrees, Wind 21 mph

CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Scott Hairston
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Sandy Leon
RHP Doug Fister

3B Matt Carpenter
2B Kolten Wong
LF Matt Holliday
RF Allen Craig
1B Matt Adams
SS Johnny Peralta
CF Jon Jay
C Tony Cruz
LHP Jaime Garcia

HP Marty Foster
1B Rob Drake
2B Alan Porter
3B Joe West

  1. dcwx61 - Jun 15, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    Wow…Zimm’s MLB debut at 1B.
    Will righty Espi come thru
    Will Scott Hairston catch all fly balls
    Will Denard show patience

  2. veejh - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    Come on guys…Zuck used the term must win in the last thread. I need to hear this.

    • dcwx61 - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:04 PM

      nope…not gonna do it…..still premature.
      Baseball seasons have short memories

    • Whynat - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      I believe Mr. Z qualified it with “At least, must-win if they want to avoid getting swept by the Cardinals and heading home from what looked like a fantastic road trip a pedestrian 5-5.”

      I think we would all stipulate to that statement of fact.

  3. Whynat - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    I think DSpan first pitch swinging comes from him implementing is mom’s advice from last year. Remember when he broke out of his slump and went on the hitting streak it was because him mom told him to swing early. He is going with that approach again to try to break out.

    I’m looking forward to seeing Zim play first. Hope he does well. I’m going to send in a late ballot for Coach’s plan #4. Musical positions. It is a team sport afterall.

  4. unterp - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    I’m always hoping to avoid 80 loses, which means going 83-79. 83-79 might win the division…

  5. Candide - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    I’m looking at this lineup and it looks like Death Valley again, from Desmond through Fister, and then back again to Span. Five straight spots in the order where we can expect little production. And Zimmerman hasn’t been hitting so well lately either. Fister better bring his A+ game to the park today.

    • dcwx61 - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:27 PM

      Hairston can hit the leftys so there’s that….I expect Zimm to be ok but we’ll see about the rest

    • adcwonk - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:39 PM

      OTOH, the Nats generally kick butt in the hitting department against lefties.

      The Nats as a team bat a whopping 56 points higher against LHP starters. So what may seem like Death Valley at first glance, isn’t nearly so much.

      Rendon is hitting .370 against LHP., Danny .269; Hairston .412 . . .

      • adcwonk - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:40 PM

        … and Werth .420 against LHP

      • dcwx61 - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:45 PM


  6. NatsLady - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    I’m fascinated by some of the comments. Raise your hand if you thought the Nats were never going to lose three straight for the rest of the season. Raise your hand if you think three losses against the Giants/Cards is somehow more demoralizing than four straight losses against Cinncinati and Pittsburgh or getting swept in Oakland. The Oakland losses don’t matter at all (except as losses) because the A’s are not in our Division or League.

    We compete against Cards/Giants/Cinn/Pitt only insofar as those teams are in the Wild Card race. Other than that, they might as well be the Mariniers. There are no extra points for beating “good” teams. Period.

    The only games where losses or wins count double, in effect, is in our Division. Because every win against the Barves also means they lose, that’s where we move up (or stay up) under our own power toward winning the Division.

    • adcwonk - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      NL, nice post. Thanks for putting things into perspective. Your post, as well as “realdealnats – Jun 15, 2014 at 12:58 PM” in last thread are “best big picture posts” of the day, imho.

      • realdealnats - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:08 PM

        Thanks Wonk. Appreciate the nod.

        I should take the George Costanza approach and leave on a high note, but Nats Lady reminded me of something else I’ve been thinking lately, and that is once the post season arrives–and I do think we’ll make it–but just for the sake of argument let’s ‘all pretend to agree we do–I would not want to be the Cards hosting us in St. Louis, because then we come in having lost so many in a row, and weirdly the pressure could just as easily be on them. As in wow we’ve beat these Nats so many times, this is NOT the time to blow it and give up a loss on the home field. Same with the Braves. All teams are superstitious and I know the Braves–and I believe the Cards too–have commented on their own surprise at our imploding and beating ourselves whenever we play them. Come playoffs I have this feeling we’re going to surprise even ourselves and go in loosey-goosey and steal many of these games against these very teams who have had our number.

      • naterialguy - Jun 16, 2014 at 9:33 AM

        God I hope you’re right.

    • dcwx61 - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:44 PM

      Is a loss to the Braves loss more meaningful than a loss to the Marlins ?
      or another Redsox loss to the yankees or a B. Dodgeres loss to the Giants ?
      Statistically, of course not…but there’s more to sports than is visible in our statistics, Horatio
      A win today in St. Louis would show the boys that mistique and aura are nothing more than names.

    • Nats fool - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:09 PM

      The only problem is we have lost 5 out of 6 to the Barves. This game is mental, and this team has consistently proven to be mentally weak. Watch the upcoming Barves series. I love this team, but they are choking dogs. We’ve seen this for two years. It just is.

  7. Zona - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    How come the nats have score 7 runs to get half price pizza? All the cards have to do is win.

  8. adcwonk - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    they are choking dogs…

    That’s pretty amazing that they could be choking dogs, be missing more starters than anyone in the NL, and still missing Harper, and somehow be in first place in the middle of June, eh?

  9. Burned once - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    Sorry to say it but if the pitching isn’t mediocre or worse, the Nats can’t hit. This year it’s looking like we have to hope for 80 pedestrian pitchers or good pitchers having a bad day. I agree with the comment made earlier that the team lacks mental toughness especially at the plate.

    • NatsLady - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:55 PM

      Yeah, because we didn’t beat the following

      (ahem) Jonny Cueto
      Michael Wacha
      Andrew Cashner
      ahem Zach Greinke

      …That’s just off the top of my head.

      • NatsLady - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:58 PM

        Anyway, by definition, hitters can’t hit the top pitchers when they are on their game.

  10. texnat1 - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    Ok so is Hairston going to get benched and publicly called out for that? No excuse not to be on second.

  11. texnat1 - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    That’s a run if Hairston hustled instead of admiring his fly ball.

  12. stoatva - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    If Scott Hairston returns for the bottom of the second i will double down on every bad thing I’ve ever said about Matt Williams.

  13. David Proctor - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    Hairston not running directly cost us a run. That’s wayyyyyyyy worse than what Bryce did.

  14. realdealnats - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    Nats fool–hard to argue with the how the facts have shaken out over the last two years. So not arguing at all.

    My only reply is some teams are choking dogs until they aren’t. And I think this team is that kind of team.

    I look at Rizzo’s tough horse trader mentality. I look at a scouting system that was smart enough to scoop up as many high quality players as possible before the rule change, and I look at a minor league system that seems to have a real knack for developing pitchers other systems have been unable to. I don’t really see a minor league system churning out a ton of hitters at the major league level, but I do see what I think are smart selective additions to the team through free agency. Contrary to some, I like Span, Frandsen, Fister, LaRoche, even McLouth. And I like how Rizzo has traded over the years: Gio (who I actually have the least confidence in of our starters), Ramos, Roark, etc…

    Many want to write off Ramos, not for his hitting but for his penchant for injuries, and I think of the Redskins years ago. Monte Coleman, one of the finest cut physical specimens you’d ever see on field was always hurt his first few years. Then he was healthy for the next 100. A Dave Butz cost the Skins two first rounders, as I recall. Took him about three years to become one of the most dominant goat-footed defensive linemen of the decade. So, a long winded way of saying sometimes things take time, and then suddenly you’re there.

    PS But we won’t get there if the Scott Hairstons of the world don’t run out those should-be doubles.

  15. texnat1 - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    Are the Nationals TV guys talking about Hairston’s failure to get to second?

    The Saint Louis guys praised the outfielders play but noted that Hairston failed to run it out.

  16. stoatva - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    Shame, Matt Williams.

    • stoatva - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:45 PM

      I suspected at the time that TBM’s motivation was just to bring Harper down a notch. This proves it.

      And the baseball gods are punishing.

      • texnat1 - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        Yeah, Williams seemed to have that agenda from jump street. He also needlessly moved him down in the lineup to start the year if you recall. Strange and unnecessary.

  17. coop202 - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    Matt Adams…. single handedly winning this series for them

  18. stoatva - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    Matt Williams is triflin’.

    That. Is. All.

    • micksback1 - Jun 15, 2014 at 4:12 PM

      I have had my doubts on MW since early on, he may be the Nats version of Danny Ozark who was a loser of manager with a talented Phillies team in the late 70’s, never won a single post game, phillies finally won it in 1980 with Dallas Green who kick his team in the ass when they deserved it. I have yet to see a single thing MW has done differently than Davey that has any postives

  19. natsfan24 - Jun 15, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    Matt Adams has come back for thirds… And this time it’s not at the Golden Corral. This time.

  20. stoatva - Jun 15, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    Scott, when you hit one like THAT you can jog.

  21. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 15, 2014 at 3:08 PM

    Nats offense better get moving.

  22. David Proctor - Jun 15, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Fister was due for an off start. He’s been amazing every time out since his debut. I just wish it didn’t have to be today.

  23. veejh - Jun 15, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    Streaky baseball team, we have.

    • secretwasianman - Jun 15, 2014 at 5:24 PM

      not streaking. Average. baseball is about consistency. this team has none. hence the near .500 record. time to shake things up. Span is bad. Ramos must go. hes always hurt. Hairstons antics unacceptable

  24. micksback1 - Jun 15, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    firs time this season i am posting during the game. observation, Nats remind me of the our pro football team from 1988-1990 when they could not beat the Giants. Nats can not beat cards and Braves because they are just soft and with the exception of Werth, this team consists of a bunch of head cases. Joe Gibbs, fixed that eventually, i doubt if Rizzo or MW can fix it with the some of these guys. RZim’s at bat was TERRIBLE but he exemplifies the face of franchise that just can not run with the big dogs when it really counts. Yes, nats will probably win the East and will not do much after that. The good news is that they are only few solid players away of being a championship team. This series has exposed them as simply a playoff team, that is one and out. very very disapointing performance this weekend and not much heart at all. as far as Ramos goes, his hamstring problem is old , either he gets in better shape or get a new trainer on this team

  25. micksback1 - Jun 15, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    do not blame Fister, nats should have won either friday or sat, at least 1 game, i do no feel sorry for them at all, they need an ass kicking by someone, enough of this accepting losing to the Cards.

    • secretwasianman - Jun 15, 2014 at 5:28 PM

      AMEN MICK!! too many excuses on this team. Werth 20 mil and cant even put ball in play. Nats are a middle of the pack team. put them in NL central and they are only ahead of Cubbies.

  26. micksback1 - Jun 15, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    so half of of Matts Adams homers are off Nats

  27. NatsLady - Jun 15, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    MW conceded this one before it started, played his Sunday lineup, and used the game to let RZ try out at first base. The trip is 5-5. Cards mean nada until October. Davey did that ALL the time, if you recall.

    And for those with all the angst about the Barves, yes, Nats are 1-6 against them and STILL tied for first. Wins are what matter. In some respects, I’d rather win against the teams that ware weak (or dispirited). Takes less effort.

    I think the Padres and Giants series took it out of them. The travel, the adrenalin, etc. Plus, there is always an adjustment, no matter what, when a big piece like Ramos leaves the lineup.

    The funniest thing. I was listening to a podcast from Thursday. Kirkjian (sp?) said the Nats had no grabbed first place and he and Buster agreed they would never give it up for the rest of the season. I wanted to say, “Have you NEVER watched a baseball season before this?” Yes, the Nats looked good as of Thursday, and had won a bunch of series in a row.

  28. NatsLady - Jun 15, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    BTW, with Atlanta losing in the worst possible way last night, here is where we see what THEY are made of–is there any carryover?

  29. veejh - Jun 15, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    We looked unstoppable 4 days ago. This team is frustrating.

  30. secretwasianman - Jun 15, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    back at Hotel from game. Cards fans are nasty. calling Nats chokers… the Nats stink of mediocrity. once again out played and outcoached. Will Hairston be suspended for not running on what he thought was a homerun? beat the Astros, everyone will get excite and then the Barves will kick our tails once again.

  31. rmoore446 - Jun 15, 2014 at 5:27 PM

    I have been in Atlanta the last several days. I listened to a talk show Friday on the station that carries the Braves games and the host was marveling that over the past month far more callers wanted to talk about the Marlins as if they took beating the Nats for granted. He praised the pitching of the Nats and said the series against them in Washington was an important one. Not critical, perhaps, but one of the most important in the first half of the season. Funny he felt he had to sell the importance to Braves fans.

    Every loss hurts–those games are gone forever. And in October we may be scuffling with the Cards for a Wild Card slot.

  32. natsfan1a - Jun 15, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    Did get to see all of this one. Ick.

  33. chaz11963 - Jun 15, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    a lot of venting this afternoon. they finished a long tough road trip 5-5, including 3/4 at one of the best teams in baseball. they’re doing fine, not great, but ok.

    • veejh - Jun 15, 2014 at 5:45 PM

      How this team goes from juggernaut baseball to straight garbage is beyond me.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 15, 2014 at 6:06 PM

        Charlie and Dave theorized losing Ramos from the middle of the lineup changed the dynamics.

      • chaz11963 - Jun 15, 2014 at 6:24 PM

        yup… hard to figure… I can only think they’re tired- mentally and physically from this road trip. they’ll bounce back. big opportunity this week with games against the braves at home.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 15, 2014 at 6:26 PM

        Steve it changes the dynamics drastically. Forget today’s lineup, but with MW’s “set” lineup without Wilson you have a huge hole with #’s 7,8,9, and now 1 also. That’s a huge change in the whole dynamic.

      • veejh - Jun 15, 2014 at 6:32 PM

        I don’t see how losing Ramos makes everyone else forget how to hit.

      • NatsLady - Jun 15, 2014 at 8:48 PM

        I agree with Charlie and Dave on Ramos. (I didn’t hear them, I promise). My theory is that when a starter leaves the lineup and also his position, it leaves a hole, like a sinkhole, that sucks other players down into it until it can be patched over. Just like the guys in the bullpen have their “roles,” so do the guys in the lineup. They have an idea what the guys before them will do, and the guy after. If they are smart (and I think they are), the can plan out their at-bats, even “deke” a pitcher. On base, they know when they can run, they know when they can steal, just by body language and knowing their teammate from game after game in similar situations.

  34. Joe Seamhead - Jun 15, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    Post of the day, IMHO:

    NatsLady – Jun 15, 2014 at 4:52 PM
    MW conceded this one before it started,

    (I’m only quoting the first part of her first sentence, but it summed up my feelings before the game. I have no problem with giving guys a day off, but 3 in one game, plus playing another in a new position in the same game is bush league.

    • chaz11963 - Jun 15, 2014 at 6:25 PM

      yeah, very odd management decision. but I guess we don’t know everything MW does either.

      • NatsLady - Jun 15, 2014 at 9:06 PM

        Sorry, I meant five games in a row.

    • chaz11963 - Jun 15, 2014 at 6:27 PM

      also, I get giving Lobatn the day game off following the night game, but the whole team is off tomorrow and they really needed a win today. Leon is awful.

      • NatsLady - Jun 15, 2014 at 9:06 PM

        No they didn’t. Why did they particularly need a win today, as opposed to two wins Tuesday and Wednesday and later? That’s the calculation you make–how can you maximize your wins over a period. The team is tired. Why use the better catcher? He will play probably six games in a row starting Tuesday.

    • NatsLady - Jun 15, 2014 at 8:41 PM

      See, I don’t agree. If you are going to “concede” a game, might as well do it whole hog. The road trip was 5-5. Span was hurting. RZim needed time at a new position, and you knew it was a day game after a night game so you were playing Leon, backup to the backup catcher. Hairston needed ABs, etc. Do it all in one game, don’t spread it around. You can only lose the game once.

  35. Joe Seamhead - Jun 15, 2014 at 6:28 PM

    chaz,two things everybody thinks they can do better: run a restaurant, and manage a baseball team.

    • chaz11963 - Jun 15, 2014 at 6:29 PM

      LOL… very true!

  36. chaz11963 - Jun 15, 2014 at 7:48 PM

    FWIW, Giants just swept by the Rockies at home. I wonder how much of a toll that 4 game series took on both the Nats and Giants.

    Fangraphs still have the Nats as easily taking the NL East and best odds of a NL team to get to the World Series:

    • NatsLady - Jun 15, 2014 at 8:38 PM

      Not only did the Rockies sweep, prior to that they had been 3-15 at AT&T Park, and the Giants were ahead in every game. So you can worry about how many games the Nats have or have not won at Busch Stadium, but it’s the actual game they are playing that matters.

      Also, this “they are not mentally tough,” is HOGWASH, pure and simple. There could be things wrong, but it is the rare “mentally weak” player that makes it to the majors in the first place, and I would very much doubt there are “weak” players on the team and certainly not as a whole.

      The causes of a losing streak by a talented team are far simpler, fatigue, good playing by the opponents and probably, minor injuries. If Denard has tweaked his back, and is in pain every time he swings, that explains a lot.

      There was a lot of good in this road trip, especially the rotation being on track and the lack of errors. I just don’t see Zim going back to third base the way Rendon is playing.

      Two of our best players, RZ and Werth, came up in situations with the bases loaded (two out) and neither one got a hit. That won’t happen very often, but it does happen.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 15, 2014 at 9:37 PM


      • npb99 - Jun 15, 2014 at 10:29 PM

        Whether an MLB player is mentally weak or strong isn’t a comparison to players that didn’t make the majors. Rather, it’s a comparison to other MLB players. I think it’s legit to ask whether the Nats are overall mentally weak or strong compared with other teams and players. They are playing at lower levels than their talent should produce. And blaming it on injuries is becoming a cliché.

      • conatsguy - Jun 15, 2014 at 11:20 PM

        First Rox sweep in SF since 2008. Also played the Barves tough- even with 2 callup starting pitchers.

        Nats are right where we hoped they would be- in the hunt.

        I was worried about the Card series- a trap- with a rested home team playing a Nats squad coming back east from 7 day WC trip with no off day.

        Take a deep breath Nats Town. Still lots of baseball to get excited about!

  37. David Proctor - Jun 15, 2014 at 8:58 PM

    We’re on the longest errorless streak since 2011. And not only that, but we’re making great defensive plays. Showing range, etc. Our defensive efficiency has improved A LOT since early in the season. That’s a good sign.

    Also, Braves already down 3-0.

    • conatsguy - Jun 15, 2014 at 9:56 PM

      + 1 I feel good about this squad

  38. edshelton2013 - Jun 16, 2014 at 7:52 AM

    Four runs in four games?? Good thing we didn’t face Wainwright or Wacha.
    Yes, we need Ramos and Harper back. But where are the rest of the hitters???

    • NatsLady - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      Tired, jet-lagged and banged up. Let’s see how they do this week.

  39. naterialguy - Jun 16, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    It seems too me the quality of this blog has steadily declined pretty much ever since the switch to the new format. I feel that it is now more of an after thought or chore than the superior dedicated Nats blog it once was. The comments section seems to be carrying the majority quality content.
    Just sayin………
    Marks success is our loss. And overall I guess that’s a good thing. But for selfish reasons…not so much.

    • natsfan1a - Jun 16, 2014 at 1:05 PM

      I’ve followed this blog since the “Viera or bust” days. I disagree regarding any perceived decline in blog post quality and regarding the thought that comments provide the majority of quality content here..

  40. NatsLady - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    I thought about it. Why wouldn’t the Cards outplay the Nats in this series? The teams were evenly matched going as far as records and rankings (I know, I did them myself). BUT

    (a) Cards were at home
    (b) Nats were on the last leg of a long, West Coast road trip, going East (jetlag) and coming off the “high” of the Giants series
    (c) The Cards got Matt Williams back fresh off the DL, rested and ready to hit
    (d) The Nats lost Wilson Ramos, leaving a sinkhole in the lineup

    Yes, we didn’t see Wainwright or Wacha, and yes, they did see Stras and JZ. But they didn’t get a lot of RUNS off either Stras or JZ. Pitchers rest for five days, sometimes they even fly ahead (I don’t know if JZ did or not) to make sure their bio rhythms are in sync. Position players don’t have that “luxury.” So what failed us in this series was, in fact, the offense–not the pitching, not the defense. Jayson Werth said hitting is the hardest thing–it’s got to be even harder when you are tired, jet-lagged, and banged up. What won it for the Cards wasn’t their pitching, which was adequate but not great except in the first game. What won it was their offense.

    • NatsLady - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:14 AM

      Sorry, Matt ADAMS off the DL.





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