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Instant analysis: Orioles 8, Nats 2 (11)

Jul 7, 2014, 10:48 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: If the opener of this 4-game Battle of the Beltways is a sign of things to come, get ready for an entertaining, tense week of baseball between two very good teams in front of rabid fans supporting both clubs. A crowd of 35,126 decked out both in red and orange was treated to a highly compelling ballgame tonight, with Stephen Strasburg and Chris Tillman each dealing gems before this one went much deeper into the night … and then turned ugly from the Nationals’ perspective.

Each right-hander made one mistake. Strasburg served up a 2-run homer to Nelson Cruz in the top of the fourth. Tillman served up a 2-run homer to Anthony Rendon in the bottom of the sixth. Each departed after the seventh, leaving this game in the hands of the bullpens.

Tyler Clippard pitched around Ryan Zimmerman’s first errant throw since returning to third base to escape an eighth-inning jam. Rafael Soriano then tossed a scoreless top of the ninth to set the stage for his teammates to deliver the game-winner. They put themselves in position to do it, with Zimmerman smoking a 1-out double to right-center and forcing Buck Showalter to intentionally walk Bryce Harper and pitch to Ian Desmond. Sidewinder Darren O’Day, though, wriggled his way out of the jam, striking out both Desmond and Wilson Ramos and sending this game to extra innings.

For reasons unexplainable, the Nationals have struggled all season in extras, going 2-8 with a team batting average well below the Mendoza line. That has put immense pressure on the bullpen to be perfect, and tonight it wasn’t. Craig Stammen was torched in the top of the 11th, serving up back-to-back homers to Chris Davis and J.J Hardy and giving up four total runs before getting yanked in favor of Aaron Barrett … who immediately served up a 2-run homer himself. The Nats couldn’t produce a last-ditch comeback, so they dropped the opener of what promises to be a very competitive and compelling Battle of the Beltways series.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: For all the thunder in the heart of the lineup, the guys who have made the Nationals go all season have been the two guys at the top: Denard Span and Rendon. And they teamed up yet again tonight, producing the game-tying rally in the bottom of the sixth. Span got it started by battling through a tough at-bat against Tillman, fouling off a couple of 2-strike pitches before lacing a single up the middle. Rendon didn’t need to battle. He went right after Tillman’s first pitch and drove it on a line to right-center, clearing the fence for his 13th homer of the year.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Against one of the toughest lineups he’ll face all season, Strasburg turned in a very nice start. Manny Machado went 3-for-3 against him. Everybody else went 1-for-22. Now, that one was a pretty big one (Cruz’s homer). But Strasburg did a nice job battling back after the fourth-inning homer, striking out the next four batters he faced. And after his teammates produced the game-tying runs in the bottom of the sixth, Strasburg took the mound for the top of the seventh and delivered the kind of shutdown inning you expect from a frontline starter. He wound up with no decision, but this was no mundane start for the right-hander. This was among his better performances of the year.

KEY STAT: Even after striking out in the ninth inning tonight, Ian Desmond is 11-for-18 in his career when the batter in front of him is intentionally walked.

UP NEXT: The D.C. segment of the series concludes at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday when Doug Fister looks to improve to 8-2 against Baltimore right-hander Bud Norris, who is making his return from a groin strain.

  1. Danny - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:51 PM

    Well that was a tough one.

  2. micksback1 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:52 PM

    your 3,4, 5 hitters can not go 1 for 18
    Desi looked like crap at the plate

    Stammen and Barret are just losers and heartless, get them the hell out of here.

    Nats will not win crap with a bum like Stammen

    • adcwonk - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:13 AM

      You expect every single guy in the bullpen to be able to shut down any team at will? With no off-nights?

      Stammen has had some darn nice performances. Twice he’s come out of the pen to throw 3+ shutout innings.

      And just two weeks ago he bailed Tanner Roark out good. With the Braves threatening in the 6th — they had two guys on base and one out, and the Nats were beating them 3-1 — Stammen came in, got two outs, and then threw a 1-2-3 7th inning, to help the Nats win.

      Not bad for a guy who’s not even in the top three of the bullpen of his team.

  3. David Proctor - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:52 PM

    This one is painful, but this team has proven to be VERY resilient after some gut-wrenching losses. Get ‘em tomorrow, win one or two in Baltimore and all will be fine.

    • David Proctor - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:58 PM

      Because we’re still 8 games over .500, still right in the midst of things and it’s one game of 162. It hurts, but they’ve shown they can come back from things like thhis before. They’ve done it all year

    • Eric - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:17 PM

      +1

  4. pchuck69 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:52 PM

    This team needs to grow a collective pair.

    Two runs against Chris Tillman?

  5. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:53 PM

    SS was excellent tonight (outside of the Cruz hit)… Really good game by him, too bad they couldn’t get him a win… Most nights 2 runs ain’t gonna do it….

  6. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:54 PM

    We need to win in 9 cuz we clearly can’t win in extra innings…

  7. micksback1 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    O’s BP was tired from the red sox series and our guys just stunk hitting

    • manassasnatsfan - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:00 PM

      We swing at too many balls, and let hittable strikes just go by. The hitting coach needs to go over the plan better. Low sliders are almost never strikes, but our guys are weak and recognizing a slider.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:03 PM

      There not trading for hitting. We got hitters, we just need to hut. We don’t gave the wrong players. They need to quit swinging at crap and swing at all fastball strikes.

      So many people gate first ball swinging, but generally, the best pitch to hut his strike 1 fastball.

  8. manassasnatsfan - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    Davis homer was further outside then ball 2.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:58 PM

      I was surprised Stammen didnt throw a slider… He just threw a BP session to him…..

  9. Joe Seamhead - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    I agree with Mark in that Strasburg pitched a great game. Like I said in the game thread, this game was lost in the bottom of the 9th. Zimm gets a one out double, Harp gets the IBB. You can’t leave him stranded. Horrible ABs by both Desi and Ramos. I don’t get blaming Williams, nor the bullpen in general. Clippard, Soren, and Soriano kept them in it. You can’t keep that group down forever.

  10. senators69 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:57 PM

    I F’ing hate to lose to the OOOOOs!
    Reminds me of when I was a kid and the OOOOOs used to lord over the Senators.
    My teams I hate to lose to the most: Braves, OOOOs, Cards
    WTF is with our bats??? NO bats, except for Rendon…and I’d still take Rendon over Machado!

  11. manassasnatsfan - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:58 PM

    Zim is right handed and he doubled, where the lefty ALR looked awful, so how do you explain that?

    I thought strike 2 to Ramos was the pitch that should have won the game, He just staired a hanging slider inside part of the plate.

  12. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:58 PM

    Justin Upton with a horrible throw. Mets with a good chance here in the 11th

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:07 PM

      Justin is so over-rated as an outfielder. He makes some great plays, but he has more than his share of brainfarts.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:10 PM

        I agree. He’s a top 60 player in the Majors but not elite, and if he wins the Final Vote for the ASG, that would be a shame.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:10 PM

        And I thank the baseball gods every day he nor his brothers are A part of the Nats organization.

  13. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    Someone ask R Schu and MW what the batting approach was supposed to be tonight…

    Hopefully B Norris is rusty and we beat him to a pulp…. Can’t believe the Nats got 2 damn runs off Tillman and that’s it….

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:02 PM

      We’ll get ‘em tomorrow.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:06 PM

      None the reporters ever ask the questions we want to know. I know I have a different philosophy than many, I simply think strijev1 is the best ball to hit.

  14. pchuck69 - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:02 PM

    No wonder this team is so passionless. They take after their manager.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:02 PM

      You obviously don’t know Matt Williams.

      • pchuck69 - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:04 PM

        I watch how he manages. That’s all I need to know.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:05 PM

        I see your posts. I know how you watch.

    • stoatva - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:08 PM

      I haven’t yet figured out what Matt Williams supposedly brings to the table. He strikes me as a cautious, take no chances, by the book bureaucrat. “Big Marine,” my tuchus. Big Jarhead.

      • Rick - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:20 AM

        Hiring a rookie Manager was taking a BIG chance.

  15. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:02 PM

    Mets win!

  16. David Proctor - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:02 PM

    Mets win. Softens the blow.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:03 PM

      Not for me…. This was just bad…

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:04 PM

      Did you see how they won? Crap throw by Justin Upton allowing a single into a double!

  17. veejh - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    Don’t feel as bad now that the Mets walked off. Move on to tomorrow. Forget this game.

  18. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    Well at least no ground was lost…. Thanks Mets….

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:09 PM

      Yep, softens the blow a little bit.

      The soft spots are being magnified. No excuse not to fix them. How many more times will Hairston be trotted out to make another unprofessional AB or Barrett to throw more BP. I don’t know what you do with Stammen, maybe a DL stint. He has to get that slider back. His fastball is not good but works when his slider is working.

      • manassasnatsfan - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:12 PM

        Last 10 appearances Stammen has given up runs in 3 of them. Not particularly good.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:14 PM

        I was over Hairston last off season… I guess I don’t get why he gets trotted out there to face righties either… And he had that hot 2 weeks or so and has done absolutely nothing… I’d rather they bring Souza Jr back up…

        As I said earlier, I was surprised CS didnt throw CDavis a slider on that 3-2 pitch… I’d rather he walk him with an ineffective slider than throw a damn BP session…

        Gotta wonder if the whole balk/delivery messed with Barrett…

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:17 PM

        I don’t think Souza is the answer. You need a veteran who can come off the bench. Souza needs to be a starter. TyMo isn’t the answer but probably a better solution, but I think Rizzo has to find someone. Alfonso Soriano could be worth a try. He’s a freebie but I can’t watch another first swing out by Hairston.

      • adcwonk - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:04 AM

        Last 10 appearances Stammen has given up runs in 3 of them. Not particularly good.

        Not particularly bad, either. Particularly for a guy who is not among the top 3 relievers on the team. His ERA before tonight was 2.68 in 26 appearances. They can’t all be as good as Storen, Clip, and Soriano.

  19. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:05 PM

    SS change up really was a beauty tonight….

    • veejh - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:06 PM

      Great outing. Shame we lost that game. 9th inning….ugh

      • manassasnatsfan - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:09 PM

        Ramos letting a hanging slider go had me sink, I saw that ball in the hammer zone. Its things like that, our hitters need to correct, they like to swing at low sliders but refuse to swing at high ones.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:13 PM

        If that’s what you are focusing on you are grasping. Ramos got 2 hits tonight. He wasn’t the problem.

      • manassasnatsfan - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:18 PM

        Ramos kooked good in those two at bats. However tgey hanging slider was the game winner, you can’t stare at it. Was shocked he did, as he rarelynkets a hanger go.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:22 PM

        Really Mannassas, so every hanging breaking ball should be deposited for a hit. He was looking outside and got an inside slider. It happens.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:28 PM

        I don’t know, Steve. Ryan gets in scoring position, and two guys that are counted on both strike out? I see that as it was a problem tonight, but both of those guys have come through many times in the past, and I’m quite sure that they’ll both come through many more times in the future. It’s a long season,gotta just put this one behind and get ‘em tomorrow.
        Mrs. Seamhead and I will be there tomorrow to do our part to cheer them on, and to shut up some O’s fans.

  20. manassasnatsfan - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    We got the AL EAST easy. I see winning by 6 games. We got all the guys back, we will be fine with our starters.

  21. manassasnatsfan - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    Don’t worry be happy, we got the east easy.

  22. NatsLady - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    On a different topic, looks like we could be sharing a Spring Training Complex with the Stros in a few years.
    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20140707&content_id=83568682&notebook_id=83568688&vkey=notebook_hou&c_id=hou

  23. Nats fool - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    We do need to trade for hitting. We have some good young pitchers in the minors. Go all in and get a good bat and sit Desi’s a@@ until he can recognize a strike. I’m sick of his approach.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:16 PM

      No way

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:18 PM

        Desi? Do you see his clutch stats? His RBIs? If he succeeds in 3 of 10 situations he’s doing great. You can’t live on every pitch.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:32 PM

        That may be the most “foolish” post in the last year.

      • therealjohnc - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:00 AM

        Well it’s up there, but the competition is pretty stiff

  24. manassasnatsfan - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    SS becoming humble, says he has to pitch better.

  25. manassasnatsfan - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    I hate O fans so much, I am going to game Thursday now,

    • senators69 - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:22 PM

      +1

  26. stoatva - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:18 PM

    I got LaRoche 2 for 22 in July. Any tough lefties coming up, I hope?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:19 PM

      He hurt his back on Thursday. I was hoping it was nothing.

      • stoatva - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:22 PM

        Chen tomorrow. Good opportunity for him to take a day off, and maybe young master Harper as well.

        I’ll be there, so I guarantee the win okay?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:29 PM

        Thanks!

    • Danny - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:24 PM

      I think it is Norris tomorrow.

      • stoatva - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:26 PM

        MLB At Bat says Chen, but it wouldn’t be the first time it’s wrong, if it’s Norris.

      • NatsLady - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:12 AM

        I have it as Norris, It was tweeted out that Norris Tuesday, Chen Wednesday is what the team’s game notes state.

  27. Nats fool - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    Desi leads the league in strikeouts, has a low OBP, and is hitting around .230. What’s to love?

    • senators69 - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:33 PM

      He needs to hit 8th. Period!
      Ramos should hit higher…been saying that for a while.

    • scmargenau - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:36 PM

      30 hr and 100 RBIs

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:38 PM

      15 homers, 53 RBI’s and great defense.
      I hate all the K’s ,too, but Desi is here to stay, and with good reason.

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:38 PM

      1. He’s turned his defense around after a shaky start to the season;

      2. He’s one of the best slugging SS in the game;

      3. Combining defense and offense, he’s one of the 10 best players at his position, even in a year when he’s scuffling on offense; looking back over the last 2.5 years, he’s second only to Tulo.

      But sure – kick him to the curb, send him to the bench, trade him for a bag of balls, etc. etc. etc.

      • Nats fool - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:46 PM

        RBI’s are a situational stat. It’s as much a product of where you hit in the lineup as any skill. He hits so many home runs because he sells out on everything. His HR per AB can’t be good. His defense is suspect. He is at best a top 8 SS in the NL. Too many fanboys on this site.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:09 AM

        He is at best a top 8 SS in the NL.

        If by “at best top 8″ you mean “top 2-4,” yes.

        Over 2012-14, Desmond ranks 2d in fWAR among SS, with only Tulo ahead of him. By rWAR, he is 4th, behind Tulo, Hanley,and Andrelton Simmons.

        True facts.

      • Rick - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:16 AM

        The last two years have been excellent for Desi. His problem this year is too many poor at bats. The league knows how to make him chase bad 2 strike pitches. He’s over swinging and not protecting the plate. I was watching Trout when the Angels were here and the first thing I noticed was with 2 strikes he moves up a foot in the batters box and completely changes his approach. Desi does not.

  28. senators69 - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:30 PM

    Check out Stammen’s game-by-game stats on the ESPN site. So up and down. Some periods of solid performance intermixed by periods/games where he is a$$raped. I count about 4 such terrible appearances so far this year where he has allowed 2 or more runs. He also has 5 additional games where he has allowed 1 run. So 9 bad appearances out of 27 total appearances. Not good enough for us.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:51 PM

      He is hot and cold.

  29. Rick - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:09 AM

    Player/Manager Harper going 0-3 didn’t help. I’d say move him to 8th in the order to utilize Ramos hot bat. Tough to watch Machado live up to the hype and Bryce not doing so. It’s only a matter of time before he’s a Yankee like he secretly wants to be anyway. He’s potential poison in the club house as well. Dump the dumb ass. Think of what you could get for him!

  30. Nats fool - Jul 8, 2014 at 7:32 AM

    The general rule of thumb is to jump on a first-pitch fastball when facing a stud pitcher on his game. However, Tillman is hardly a stud pitcher. He threw a four pitch walk in the first inning. Make him demonstrate control of the strike zone and pound the meatball. Don’t let him off the hook. My biggest gripe with the Des/Espi duo is that they don’t adjust. I’m not sure at this point whether it is lack of talent. Certainly the O’s have more hitting talent. All the more reason to make their mediocre pitchers work.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 72 53 --
ATLANTA 66 61 7.0
MIAMI 63 63 9.5
NEW YORK 60 68 13.5
PHILADELPHIA 56 71 17.0
Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: Diamondbacks at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
FRI: Giants at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Giants at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Giants at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Nats at Phillies, 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.

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