Skip to content

Caught in a fog

Jun 27, 2014, 12:20 AM EDT

USA Today Sports Images USA Today Sports Images

CHICAGO — Denard Span saw the ball go off Luis Valbuena’s bat, looked up to the sky and saw nothing but a cool fog that had enveloped Wrigley Field in the bottom of the sixth inning Thursday night. So the Nationals center fielder did the only thing he could in that moment: Throw his arms out helplessly and hope to avoid disaster.

“I didn’t even know it was coming at me, to be honest with you,” he said. “I didn’t know where it was. I finally figured that the ball was coming towards me, because everybody was looking at me and pointing in my direction. But it is scary, because … once I figured out the ball was coming towards me, I didn’t want to look up. Because the last thing I wanted was to let a ball hit me in my pretty face.”

Span could laugh a bit at the end of the night about the strangest moment of a strange night in Wrigleyville, because though that ball hit in his general direction turned into a gift triple for Valbuena, that wasn’t the play that sent the Nationals to a 5-3 loss to the Cubs.

There were other mistakes made, particularly during what proved to be the pivotal seventh inning, but thankfully none were the byproduct of the highly unusual weather conditions on this cool, moist, late-June evening one mile west of Lake Michigan.

“I’ve seen it on TV, never experienced it live,” said manager Matt Williams, who played much of his career in San Francisco. “It’s difficult if that ball goes in the air. … It’s not like rain, where you’ve got radar and you can see: ‘OK, we’ll delay it 15 minutes and it’ll be gone.’ You just have no idea. But both teams had to play with it.”

The mistakes that truly cost the Nationals their series opener against Chicago came in a variety of situations. Doug Fister labored through an uncharacteristic, 39-pitch inning, giving up three runs in the process. Ryan Zimmerman was easily thrown out at the plate in the second inning after a curious send by third base coach Bobby Henley. Span, after delivering a clutch, game-tying double in the top of the seventh, was caught straying too far off second base and brought the Nats’ rally to a screeching halt. And then Craig Stammen immediately gave back both runs in the bottom of the inning, killing what momentum had begun to tilt their way.

Start with Fister, who managed to post his seventh quality start in 10 outings this season but was done in by a laborious fourth inning in which he allowed four hits and needed 39 pitches to face only seven batters.

“They battled well tonight,” the right-hander said. “I didn’t execute a couple pitches, got them out over the middle of the plate, up in the zone, whatever it may be, and they capitalized on them. … A lot of shoulda, woulda, couldas. It’s just a matter of going out and getting it done. Five days from now, we’ll go back out and get it done.”

Despite the 3-0 deficit, the Nationals clawed their way back, getting one run in the sixth on Anthony Rendon’s RBI single and then tying the game one inning later on Span’s shot off the right-field wall. That big hit came moments after Williams decided to send Fister to plate instead of pinch-hitter Scott Hairston, with Fister executing a perfect sacrifice bunt but putting the pressure on Span to deliver against left-hander Travis Wood.

“Denard had just doubled the at-bat before, and their starter is going deep in the game,” Williams said. “They’ve seen him. That would be his fourth time coming up. It’s a situation where we can get guys over, and Denard came through. He was seeing the ball really good tonight. Figure we’d get those two guys in scoring position and tie it with one swing as opposed to trying to go after it with more than one.”

“Honestly, I knew whether he decided to bunt there or not that I was going to have to have a big at-bat coming in either way,” Span said. “But obviously knowing that [Williams] did that … it made me feel good, I guess. In the moment, I’m not really thinking about that. I’m just trying to get a good pitch and drive in those runs, or at least drive in one run, if anything.”

The game now tied, Williams turned to the majors’ most-effective bullpen through the season’s first half. Stammen, though, immediately gave both runs right back, allowing a 1-out double to No. 8 hitter Darwin Barney, then walking pinch-hitter Chris Coghlan, then allowing a 2-run double to Justin Ruggiano on a 2-1 fastball down the middle.

“Gotta shut them down after we get the momentum and keep the momentum somehow,” Stammen said. “And I made a couple pitches that got the momentum in their favor and they capitalized.”

  1. pburm9qp - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:22 AM

    Stammen has to remind us that he is a human being sometimes, right?

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 27, 2014 at 6:31 AM

    6th inning. Span doubles off Wood to leadoff the inning. Rendon singles him home then Werth walks with no outs. Wood is on the ropes at this point.

    LaRoche steps up to the plate after the walk to Werth. Wood looked wild to most of us after walking Werth on 5 pitches. LaRoche goes 1st pitch swinging. The ball looked outside to me (see chart below) and instead of LaRoche taking the pitch after the walk, he swings at it! Not only does he swing at a ball on the extreme outside of the zone that he should be sending oppo, he pulls the ball on the ground to the 2nd baseman for an easy 4-6-3 doubleplay.

    By the way, the next batter was Ryan Zimmerman after LaRoche and RZim took a walk.

    The Nats were losing at that point 3-1 but had just scored their 1st run in the inning. While it’s hard to criticize LaRoche who has been the Nats best offensive player, it’s also hard not to criticize LaRoche in this situation and I don’t see it mentioned by Mark in his “Caught In A Fog” game report.

    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/numlocation_io.php-pitchSel=475243&game=gid_2014_06_26_wasmlb_chnmlb_1&batterX=42&innings=yyyyyyyyy&sp_type=1&s_type=3&league=mlb&cache=1.gif

    • natszee - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:04 AM

      Excellent analysis!

    • Brookstoor - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:06 AM

      This team has a horrible problem with getting a pitcher on the ropes… And then letting him off completely unharmed or with only scoring one run.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:17 AM

        I would agree with that on starting pitchers. They have been good at taking advantage of relievers when given the opportunity.

      • masterfishkeeper - Jun 27, 2014 at 10:29 AM

        It seems to me that the LaRoche example is another case where a Nat was too aggressive with a wild pitcher. Seems like I’ve seen that a lot this year, but it may just reflect my bias to be patient at the plate.

    • jd - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:33 AM

      As a general rule I have no problem with swinging at the 1st pitch. Many times that’s the best pitch you’l get based on the fact that the pitcher wants to get ahead on the count. In last night’s situation Ghost describes it was a dumb ass move by ALR. The pitcher was struggling with his control and was in teh process of handing the game back to the Nats as evidenced by the fact that he walked the hitters before and after ALR.

      In that situation there is no way ALR should take the bat off his shoulder until Wood throw 2 strikes, 1 at a minimum. That just wasn’t smart baseball.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:44 AM

        jd, the fact also it was a borderline strike. Who knows, could be called a ball as wild as he was. ALR probably hasn’t done that all season so I don’t want to be overly critical but it needed to be said.

        I rewatched the Cubs broadcast. They were critical of the Nats poor decisions and rightfully so. Most of it laced in humor with the fog as it was “foggy decisions”. They had a camera covering the 1st base side and behind the plate that showed how bad that send by Henley was. They questioned whether Henley normally has such a weak windmill to send runners like RZim in the 2nd or he wasn’t fully committed to the send. They were spot on. Henley’s send was less than energetic.

  3. micksback1 - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:27 AM

    Not to be too critical of MW, but with the BP rested the day before and Ruggiano 5 of 8 verse Stammen, why not make a change at that point

    just asking

    • nats128 - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:40 AM

      Keep in mind that was Stammens 1st inning of work in the 7th. Even though Stammen got himself in trouble there were 2 outs when Ruggiano stepped in. Ruggiano is right-handed. It’s a tie game and a manager has to think what if this goes extra innings. Stammen had a job to do and didnt do it.

  4. Joe Seamhead - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:37 AM

    Steve, I agree regarding Adam’s AB, certainly not one of his finer moments this year. No excuse for that first pitch swing, but it was only the fourth time he has GIDP all year.But in the scope of things there are two other issues that concern me more. Ian Desmond is now 2nd in MLB in strikeouts with 94. He has even passed BJ Upton.He had 2 more last night, leaving Rendon at 3rd after ALR’s bad AB. We can only hope that with Ramos back, and with Harper’s imminent return that Desi will have a bit more protection and cut down on his K’s. My other concern is Ryan’s arm in LF. I think it is pretty obvious that every third base coach in the league is in danger of throwing their shoulders out from waving every runner from 2nd home on anything hit to left.I understand that he has done better than fine with his glove, and has done a fine job getting to the balls, but his throws in are weak, and the book on hIm is “GO! He can’t get you.” Last night on the play that Desi made a poor throw home on the relay from Zimm, the throw to Desi was no better than throws from Lombardozzi last year. Even on the earlier play when the Cubs scored two, a better arm might have been able to hold the 2nd runner at third.That earlier ball wasn’t hit that deep. Where MW plays Zimm starting next week will be very interesting, but Harper should be the everyday LF, in my opinion.

    • nats128 - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:51 AM

      Laroche wasnt seeing Wood well all night. When I saw the lineup against this lefty Im wondering why wasnt RZ playing 1st base and Frandsen in leftfield against the lefty? I know people hate small sample sizes and thats all that exists but it was a good game to give Laroche a day off. Small sample size Frandsen was 1-3 against Wood and Laroche was 1-6 before last nights game (now 1-9)

    • unkyd59 - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:55 AM

      Good analysis, zoe, but I just can’t see any defender not named Desi or Ramos playing in the same spot “everyday”, barring injuries, from here out. Too many good players to sit any one of those 7 regularly. Another concern will be how to get the actual bench players more than a couple of PH ABs per week… Those butts will be full of splinters!

      • unkyd59 - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:56 AM

        Joe… Not zoe…(sheesh!)

  5. ehay2k - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:55 AM

    I wonder how the fog impacted the approach at the plate, if even only subconsciously. Did hitters get anxious because they couldn’t pick up the ball as early as they would like, so they just started hacking? Both the Nats and Cubs looked to me like they hacked away at some pitches out of zone, but the Cubs just caught a lot of the ones in the zone.

    I never fret weird games. We still battled. I do worry about about the baserunning blunders, but unlike a lot of other things in baseball, those are more easily fixed. Henley needs to think a bit more about his options on any given play. He just doesn’t yet seem to have a good feel for the game situation, the runner, and the defender’s arm. I really can’t remember very many good decisions relative to the really bad ones, whether it’s sending people or holding them up. He needs to step it up.

    • adcwonk - Jun 27, 2014 at 8:13 AM

      I pretty much aagree with you, except for that Henley has had a lot of good sends — we just don’t seem to notice them. But, really, any time a guy scores on a close play it was a good send, no? And we haven’t had too many thrown out at the plate.

      E.g., Lobaton scored on a fairly close one the other day, if I remember correctly.

      That’s not to take away from, however, that last night’s send of RZ was awful.

  6. scnatsfan - Jun 27, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    Any quotes from our 3B “coach” (I can’t really call him that after that amazing decision) on why he he sent Ryan to slaughter?

    • bowdenball - Jun 27, 2014 at 8:36 AM

      It was a horrible decision but he’s made a lot of excellent decisions this year. This was the first really bad one I can remember. His decisions have gotten us more runs then they’ve cost us.

      • Brookstoor - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:09 AM

        He has been pretty good all year. His worst send was in the first game against the braves and I believe it was sending Zimmerman again. This one as just bone headed though. The left fielder had the ball before Zim was even getting around third.

      • knoxvillenat - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:47 AM

        I seem to recall in an earlier game Henley sent ALR froom second base on a hit to left field that he had no chance of scoring (unless the ball got by the catcher) but I can’t recall who the opponent was in that game.

    • bowdenball - Jun 27, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      I know there have been other sends by Henley that didn’t turn out well but some are reasonable chances to take based on situation: how many outs, who is due up, the score, etc. Last night was the first truly inexplicable decision I remember this season, although I could easily be forgetting some.

  7. Nats fool - Jun 27, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    The LaRoche at bat is emblematic of why the team is so poor offensively. I remember the last Gio start where he had a couple of 30-pitch innings. FP was saying the batters needed to give him time but there were three quick outs on pitches out of the zone. There seems to be no adjustments at the plate. Desi strikes out way too much, consistently putting the bottom of the order in a hole. I know there are a lot of Desi defenders here, but I just don’t see it. He is net offensive liability.

    • bowdenball - Jun 27, 2014 at 8:40 AM

      The Nationals are 8th of the 15 NL teams in runs scored despite having lost far more offensive firepower to the DL than any other NL team. I don’t think it’s accurate to say that they are “poor offensively.” Even if you dismiss the injuries as an excuse they’re still in the middle of the pack in runs scored.

    • natsbro - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:08 AM

      I can’t say Desi is a net offensive liability. Say what you want but he has a .289/.368/.458 slash line with runners in scoring position with 30 RBI’s…that’s got to be best on the team..I know people don’t like “clutch stats” but the numbers don’t lie. Yes he’s having a down year average wise…it happens.

      • DaveB - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:24 AM

        Just curious, does anyone know the status of Desi’s attempts to quit “dipping”. It was widely publicized at the beginning of the season, but some speculation that he had relapsed (perhaps coinciding with some resurgence in his BA), and you have to wonder if Tony Gwynn’s death perhaps re-energized his efforts. (Also, wondering if Strasburg’s decision to quit might be having any affect on his struggles in the last couple of outings).
        What a horrible insidious addiction, and I hope they are both able to kick the habit.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:39 AM

        Desi is an overall huge plus for this team, errors and strike outs included. The guy has played an overall terrific short after his early season defensive gaffes and as noted, has delivered a ton of times “in the clutch,” but his strikeout rate is worrisome. Again, let’s hope the K’s go down with the holes in the line up being plugged with the return of Ramos and Harper. He not only is getting very few fastballs, a huge percentage of the curves that he is whiffing on nowhere near to being in the strike zone.

  8. natsfan1a - Jun 27, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    Didn’t see the game in real time and may not have time to watch the recording today, given other commitments and early start for today’s game. Sounds like it was a weird one.

  9. knoxvillenat - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    “Start with Fister, who managed to post his seventh quality start in 10 outings this season”

    I understand that Fister pitched what is considered a quality start but I question just what are the qualifications for a “quality” start? 3 earned runs in six innings? If that is the level considered to be quality I would have to say that is a generous definition. Maybe 2 earned in six innings or perhaps 3 earned in eight innings might be a better measure…….just saying.

    • natsbro - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:12 AM

      Yes a quality start is 3 earned in six innings. I agree 2 seems like it would be better..but since the league average I’d say is normally above 3 runs per game (probably around 4)…I think it’s deemed that giving up 3 runs should put your time in line to win the game the majority of the time.

      • natsbro - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:13 AM

        I guess though that’d also be assuming you had a shutdown bullpen…haha

  10. mrnat7 - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    The Nationals have a big decision to make next year with Ryan Zimmerman. Do they move him to first and let LaRoche depart or do they trade him to an AL team so he can be a DH? Zim’s arm is never going to improve with his throwing motion. His mechanics are all missed up! Is it because his arm is still bothering him? With his throwing motion, I don’t know if he can make the throw for a 3-6-3, double play. (The ball will probably end up in right CF) The Nats may have to bite the bullet and trade him (for his own benefit) and get someone that can help us in the future. Sometimes you have to face reality and do what’s best for both parties. I love Zim but we have to face the facts!

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      I don’t see Ryan Zimmerman playing anywhere other than in DC for his entire career. The terms of his contract extension make it very difficult to trade him.

      • therealjohnc - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:24 AM

        He has a “no trade” clause in his contract, so there’s that.

    • bowdenball - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      There’s no decision to be made. He’ll be playing LF or 1B depending on whether they prefer to keep Span or LaRoche. He won’t be traded for any number of reasons, including his contract (too long expensive for a DH, they would get zero return) and what he means to the fan base and the city. He’s essentially already under contract to work for the team after his playing career is over. He’s not going anywhere.

      There is no reason to be concerned about his ability to turn a 3-6-3 double play. That’s the kind of thing that happens maybe once a month and it’s not a difficult throw anyway. It’s not like his arm fell off or something, it’s just not strong. There are few things less important to a baseball team than the quality of the 1B’s arm.

      • sjm308 - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:51 AM

        Pluses to Bowdenball for several replies this morning. How many times do you think Mr. Loser is going to post how woeful we are offensively and you have to respond with actual facts?

        Agree also with Zimm analysis. Combination of unweildy contact and his impact on this franchise.

        That being said, our offense can be so much better and I, like others will be cringing when he plays 3rd. I realize you can go entire games with no significant plays, but you can bet that each ground ball to Zimm, will be significant just because of his issues.

        On Desmond. I would like to see him get more days off. I don’t care if he is vocal about it, this is what MW’s job is. Make tough decisions. We lose little defensively with Danny at SS, Desmond gets a day to rest and figure things out, and hopefully comes back strong.

        We win two of the next three and come home 4-3 on a road trip. I will take that.

        Go Nats

      • knoxvillenat - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:52 AM

        Agreed. If teams could play a Dick Stuart at first base or other poor fielders (wasn’t Stuart’s nickname Dr. Strangeglove??) I would think the Nats would be comfortable with a good fielding weak arm Zimmerman at that position.

    • natsbro - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:47 AM

      I think they will certainly keep him and in the end it comes down to whether Laroche or Span leaves. I’m sure Laroche will be looking for a multiyear contract to finish his career and I’m not sure the Nats would go down that road given his age..my guess is Laroche leaves, Zim gets first and they either resign Span, find a new outfielder or maybe someone gets promoted. I’d personally like to keep Span, I love his defense out there..he hits for extra bases well. Only difference between here and Minnesota really is his walks…which brings down his OBP. He’s a good hitter, I just don’t think he should be batting lead off…unfortunately I don’t know who should. I think Rendon has a little too much pop for leadoff.

      • sjm308 - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:55 AM

        I think, even as he gets older that Werth is the perfect leadoff guy. He is not afraid to take a strike or two, works the count, is always thinking, still runs well etc etc. problem is, Werth has informed MW that he wants to hit in the middle of our lineup. I like Werth, always have but this disappointed me when I read it. Might not be true but the reality is, he has hit 3rd pretty much all season.

        Go Nats

      • natsbro - Jun 27, 2014 at 10:42 AM

        I agree that Werth should bat lead off, despite reports he doesn’t want too. He had a case last year, as he was having a career year and should’ve been batting in the heart of the order.

        But let’s face it, his power has taken a drastic hit so far this season. He’s gone deep 6 times thus far and his slugging % is hurting, at .381..that’s about 80 points under his career average. Of our everyday starters only Espinosa and Ramos have lower SLG…and I’d bet Ramos’ will climb quickily.

        His OBP stands at .353…about 13 points below his career norm. And as been stated he’s very patient, takes a lot of pitches and runs well. I think he should be moved up and Denard moved back…Denards ability to hit for extra bases this season (I think he’s in the top 5 in the league in both doubles and triples) would suit him better with people on base..instead he’s got Espino-hit and the pitcher in front of him.

      • jd - Jun 27, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        natsbro,

        Having pop at the top of the order is not a bad thing. I too agree that Span is miscast as a leadoff hitter. I don’t know if they’ll extend Span but they may pick up the option for next year letting the Taylor/Goodwin situation sort it’s way out for 2016.

        Werth has really struggled lately. It could be that he simply needs to let his body rest for 2-3 days now and then, it could be just a little slump or he could be declining, I,m sure no one really knows. I am certain that with Harper’s return shortly MW will be able to give Werth days off on a semi consistent basis, let’s see if that helps.

    • texnat1 - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:53 AM

      I tend to agree he will stay with Washington. But its possible that he would want to play for an AL team because he may not like struggling with these arm issues any more than we like watching them and he could be an elite DH.

  11. natsbro - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Also if no one has seen this yet:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/tanner-roark-and-the-importance-of-strike-one/

    Nice article on Tanner Roark from Fangraphs. Check it out. Comes with nice photos of his grips.

  12. Nats fool - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    SJM, if you want to call names fine. Here are some facts: the team was second to last in the NL in OPS in May and third to last in June. As to runs scored, they were 9th in the NL in June and second to last in May. Is that a team that is good offensively? Let’s look at May of last year. They were 12th in OPS in May. In June they were 11th. This was before Harper’s injury. They haven’t good for a long time.

    • therealjohnc - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:34 AM

      They did score a helluva lot of runs in July and August last year, so there’s that. And they are right in the middle of the NL (8th of 15) in runs scored so far this year even with all the injuries. Now that’s not good, it’s the very definition of mediocre. But it should improve as the bats come back online. It’s not surprising that those numbers went down in May (no Harper, Ramos, Zimmerman and LaRoche missed some time) and rebounded some in June as LaRoche came back and they had a couple of weeks of Ramos. If you track their offense/scoring, it seems to correlate strongly to how many of their best hitters are healthy. Which isn’t exactly surprising, but does offer some basis for cautious optimism going forward.

    • sjm308 - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:36 AM

      natsfool – not calling names – you have twice posted bascially the same thing and twice Bowdenball has correctly pointed out we are not horrible with his numbers. You have now responded with yours which I do appreciate

      We are not GOOD, I understand that but I don’t think I called you any type of name.

    • adcwonk - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:08 PM

      Awesome example of selective stats.

      You cite last May and June to prove we weren’t good the entire year last year?

      I would say “too clever by half”, but even that is overstating it.

    • bowdenball - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      I’m not sure why you feel the need to look at OPS and break it up by month. They’re 8th of 15 teams in runs scored. If you want to talk about the offensive production, runs scored on the season is the only number that matters.

      If your argument is that they’ve been bad since the injuries, great news! The problem you’ve identified has been addressed. As of next week they’ll likely be fielding the opening day lineup. Problem solved.

      This team was never built to be the Rockies or the Tigers. They were built to be average to above-average in run production and elite at run production. They have mostly delivered on that promise. They’re in first place. If they’d been better in extra innings and one-run games they’d be running away with the NL East. If you want to criticize that, you’d have a point. But criticizing the offensive production generally is not valid. They’ve been exactly as advertised- in fact I’d argue they’ve been better than we would have expected if we’d known about all the injuries.

      • bowdenball - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:42 PM

        Sorry, that should say “average to above average in run production and elite in run PREVENTION.”

  13. scnatsfan - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    If ALR continues to put up these numbers then someone will pay the man next year but I can’t see it being us

  14. NatsLady - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    Report from Chicago. It was foggy. It was also so cool (59 degrees) that I had no compunction leaving the kitties in the car for the game (of course, the car was in a garage at a private house, that is how you park at Cubs games.)

    (1) The contrast between Miller Park and Wrigley Field is pretty extreme. Miller Park was built for fans’ convenience and it IS convenient. Parking is easy and cheap ($10). They would have closed the roof long since for that kind of weather conditions. As at Nats Park, there are no bad seats. There is a big, HD scoreboard with lots of nerdy stats. Tailgating is not only encouraged, there are tents for parties, some quite large, and the local cops partake (I assume not of the alcohol).

    (2) The parking at Wrigley–well, you have to know the system. At the box office when you say you want a seat NOT under the overhang so you can see the game they look at you like you’re crazy. Finally the ticket girl (which the world’s heaviest Chicago accent and dressed like, well, Chicago stereotype), consults the guy next to her, and I get a nice seat, but unfortunately near field level where there is a constant stream of vendors and tall people blocking my view. However, I look up through the fog and I think there are reasonable seats on the second level, first base side. The food at Wrigley is good and way more varied than at Miller Park. I had some tater tots with bleu cheese and spicy sauce. (And a hot dog from a vendor). In Miller Park the concourse is mostly for kids, with booth games, and the like. At Wrigley, there is merchandise upon merchandise upon merchandise for sale. It’s like a shopping mall.

    There are a lot more of those “rooftop” seats than you think from TV. I’d say maybe 2,000 seats all told. Between that and the parking, locals can make a nice dime, plus plenty of restaurants (all CLOSED after the game, curiously, I guess because it was a Thursday night). There’s no tailgating at all–none. Complete contrast to Miller Park, which is tailgate city and reminded me of RFK at a soccer game.

    The game was weird and frustrating. I was on the third base side, so I couldn’t see quite into the corner, but they are really going to run on Zim’s arm. The Cubs radio guys (who are knowlegable and not homers at all) noticed it and said the Cubs should start taking advantage, since 7 of the next 10 games are against the Nats. They also seemed to think he misplayed the ball and could have saved a run, so it would have been 4-3 instead of 5-3. Desi goes WAY into the outfield for the relay so Zim only has to toss it about 5-6 feet, and, in essence, it will be DESI’s arm they will run on, not Zim’s. Desi is everywhere. He runs deep into Zim’s “territory” for every fly ball. I sense they are all trying to protect Zim, and he could actually play pretty deep with that strategy because Desi is fast.

    For some reason the game is at 3:05 (central time) today. It’s beautiful, sunny and 75 degrees. Kitties have to stay in the motel room. Family has all split up and gone to their various domiciles, but it was a blast in Miller Park Wednesday with the grand-nephews at their first baseball game.

    • rmoore446 - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:23 PM

      Great report NL. I feel like I was there.

      • sjm308 - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:54 PM

        wonderful report – thanks

    • letswin3 - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      You say it was 59 degrees …. I could see the players breath, and I’m pretty sure I saw several players knocking ice off their cleats. Seriously, I was worried about the coolness and Wilson’s legs.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      Boy, thanks, NL, for the report. I’m glad that I’m not the only one that sees that Ryan is a liability with his arm in LF.

  15. natsfan1a - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Thanks for the reports, NL.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 78 58 -- 19
ATLANTA 72 66 7.0
MIAMI 67 69 11.0
NEW YORK 64 74 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 63 74 15.5
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

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)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter