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Resurgent Zimmerman leading productive lineup

Jul 21, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

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The Nationals pulled out Sunday’s 5-4 win over the Brewers because of the bottom-of-the-ninth heroics by Jayson Werth, whose 2-out double scored Anthony Rendon all the way from first base and gave his teammates reason to mob him in the center of the diamond.

Werth’s clutch hit, though, was made possible only by Rafael Soriano’s blown save in the top of the ninth. Had Soriano been able to wrap the game up, we might well be talking about a different, red-hot member of the Nationals’ lineup who has found his stroke in recent weeks: Ryan Zimmerman.

Zimmerman’s 2-run homer in the fourth had brought the Nationals back from an early deficit and set them on a course to win the game. And it was an impressive shot, belted to deep right-center and over the out-of-town scoreboard, an opposite-field homer from a guy who hadn’t done that very often since returning from a broken thumb last month.

Slowly but surely, though, Zimmerman’s power stroke is returning, especially to the opposite field. Over his last 15 games, the veteran third baseman is hitting .418 with two homers, eight doubles, 16 RBI and an 1.113 OPS.

Zimmerman was never worried it wouldn’t come back. He understood that, as has been the case for fellow teammates who also recently came back from the DL, these things take time.

“When you miss that amount of time, it’s tough to come back,” said Zimmerman, who missed seven weeks with his injury. “You’ll come back and get hits, but to really get in that groove and get your timing down to where you can drive the ball, it takes a little while. I think a couple of us have missed extended periods of time. [Wilson Ramos] missed a little bit. [Bryce Harper] obviously missed a bunch. It’s not easy to miss that many games and then come back, basically in spring training mode, playing against guys that are in mid-season form.”

Zimmerman was particularly effective in this weekend’s series against the Brewers, going 6-for-12 with five RBI. That last stat has impressed manager Matt Williams more than anything else.

“What I’m most pleased with is him delivering hits with men in scoring position,” Williams said. “Regardless of homers. That will come. We know that he’s got power. He knows certainly what to do when he’s up there. It’s one thing to swing for the fences. It’s another thing to drive a run in when it’s needed. And today he did, with both of them. He’s been good.”

Zimmerman’s renaissance has coincided with the entire Nationals lineup turning productive at last. Buoyed by Harper’s June 30 return from his own thumb injury, the Nationals’ full healthy lineup has posted the NL’s highest batting average (.275) and slugging percentage (.444) while scoring a league-best 5.2 runs per game.

The payoff has come not only in tangible results, but in the peace of mind it gives every member of that productive lineup.

“I think it makes us so that not one person has to do everything,” Zimmerman said. “Literally from 1 to 8, anyone can go off that day and have an amazing game and drive in four or five runs. You don’t know who it’s going to be. As a team, as an offense and as a lineup, it’s fun to be a part of something like that, because there’s no more pressure. You just try to go out there and do what you do. And if you don’t do it that day, someone is going to do it.”

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 21, 2014 at 6:27 AM

    “I think it makes us so that not one person has to do everything,” Zimmerman said.”

    That’s the key. Werth got into a slump by swinging for the fences when he tried carrying the team on his back when the Nats looked like a Spring Training split squad.

    • laddieblahblah - Jul 21, 2014 at 7:41 AM

      Well said.

      This weekend was very significant, IMO. The team has finally learned how to win, instead of finding ways to lose.

      Gio did not have his command, did not like the ump’s strike zone, and, I suspect, was having trouble with that shoulder, again, so that he could not slot his pitches where he wanted. He was not having a good day, and then Ryan takes one of those easy plays and turns it into a bases, one out situation. Earlier in the year, that scenario would likely have degenerated into a game-changing fiasco. It had all the elements.

      But, despite everything, Gio knuckled down and struck out the next two – inning over with no damage, other than Gio having to throw about 10 more high-stress pitches to get the job done. Afterwards, FP pronounced that as the turning point in the game. It was also one of Gio’s finest moments as a Nat. The next time Rizzo talks about the character and makeup of that team, think of Gio in that situation, and how he responded.

      Well, Stammen’s entry into the game was another turning point. He was doing so well that Matt chose not to pinch hit for him, with Lobaton, the leading run, standing on 2nd base with 2 outs. In that situation, the pitcher is going to bear down and try to strike out his counter-part. But Craig managed to put the ball in play – a “little” thing – just a squib that went, maybe, 12 feet in front of home plate. But Stammen ran his butt off, another “little” thing, and turned the squibber into a hit, prolonged the inning, and moved the line, mainly moving Lobaton to 3rd, where he was able to score the go-ahead Nats “magical” 4th run. We all know what that means, even if the Nats eventually had to score a “magical + 1″ run to win the game.

      One other takeaway from that game. I wrote a comment a few months ago about La Roche always running out the routine grounders to the right side, without ever having seen him actually beat one out. Yesterday, by God, he beat one of them out!

      Not a turning point, but an omen, I think, of how doing the little things pays off, in the long run. For La Roche, the “long run” has probably been his entire career – until yesterday.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 21, 2014 at 7:48 AM

        Glad you didn’t miss the little things. The Stammen and LaRoche infield hits were big. Make contact and hustle. Ks kill.

      • laddieblahblah - Jul 21, 2014 at 7:53 AM

        After the game, Mark quoted Werth:

        “We’ve been playing good ball, doing the little things: Baserunning, defense,” Werth said. “That’s what it’s going to take. If we want to play into the end of October, we’re gonna have to continue to do that and continue to win games and pitch and hit and do all the things that it takes.”

        Where have we heard that, before? That has been Matt’s mantra from the very first day of ST. The team has bought in, and it is beginning to show up in the W-L column. Don’t look now, but, as of last night, the Nats had the very best W-L record in the entire NL.

        No reason to stop now.

        Yesterday the team was led by the seasoned vets, with Span, Werth, ALR, Zim and Desi all playing key roles. It is important that those guys take the lead so that the blossoming stars (Rendon, Harp, Ramos) learn how it is done by guys who know how to do it. Takes the pressure off the youngsters, too. From 1 all the way down to the 8-hole, the Nats are the most talented team in baseball.

        To have the best record in the NL, after everything that has transpired this year, is remarkable. They have really been screwing up, and they did, again, yesterday, but found a way to win, regardless. Quite an improvement from the days “when the Nats looked like a Spring Training split squad.”

        They are playing like champs, now.

      • TimDz - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:37 AM

        I don’t think is was a shoulder issue for Gio…but above his shoulders….

        He needs to sit next to Fister and get some insight on how to deal with things when they don’t go your way…

  2. MicheleS - Jul 21, 2014 at 7:15 AM

    Love seeing the FOF get back in a groove. I wonder if he could win an MVP if he takes off even though he is w/o a position.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 21, 2014 at 7:33 AM

      LOL, Michele!

  3. NatsNut - Jul 21, 2014 at 7:43 AM

    First, how about Stammen and his base running giving us the chance for the go-ahead in the 4th? And also, I have to comment on Hairston. He’s, like, 1 for 2014, but he had the biggest smile and he was the first guy to pummel Jayson. I like it.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 21, 2014 at 7:56 AM

      True on Hairston and he got some hang time on that leap. I’m sure he’s a great guy and teammate which is probably what makes a decision on his future all the more difficult. There was none better than Chad Tracy who led the Goon Squad.

      • passedappetizers - Jul 21, 2014 at 8:31 AM

        Also noted that Espinos was front and center in the celebration. Also good to see.

      • Theophilus T.S. - Jul 21, 2014 at 8:43 AM

        The Nats have cut a lot of good clubhouse guys.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 21, 2014 at 8:47 AM

        Theo, yes they have.

      • laddieblahblah - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:38 AM

        These anomalies are a mystery to me. All of us were glad to see Zach Duke depart because he was terrible for the Nats. Seeing him pitching so well for the Brewers, now, is one of those mysteries. Why he was so bad for us, and is now so good for them, is not something I can explain, at all.

        It’s different with a guy like Espinosa, who has underperformed for years and has a well-established track record than it is for guys like Duke or Hairston, who seem to blow hot and cold. Rizzo hung onto Espinosa, and let Duke go, trading to get Blevens to take Zach’s place in the pen.

        And look at the AL AS team, with both Norris and Suzuki on that roster.

        Even Mike can’t figure it all out, and he gets lots of advice from people who are paid to get it right. But when I look at this team, I see that he has built the best all-around team in baseball. So my general approach is to give every Nat the benefit of the doubt, until and unless there is no longer any reasonable doubt left, and/or Rizzo makes up his mind that he can do better.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:10 AM

        I don’t blame Rizzo for trading Norris or letting Suzuki and Duke walk.

        One of the reasons Norris looks so successful is the opportunity Beane gave him where he plays platoon baseball with Jaso and it works. Norris is a .248 hitter vs RHPs but kills LHPs to a .361 BA and they get similarly good production from Jaso.

        Only the Brewers are better than the A’s fromthe catcher position:

        http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/team/_/stat/batting/split/78/sort/avg/order/true

    • ArVAFan - Jul 21, 2014 at 8:29 AM

      And did you see the hug Jayson gave Soriano? Way to pick up his teammate.

      Worth’s legs looked just fine on that leap.

  4. Theophilus T.S. - Jul 21, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    I don’t get it. People on this blog were ragging on Werth’s defense after he won the game and then we’ve got people treating Gonzalez like a hero for digging out of his own septic tank. Before giving Gonzalez credit for anything you first have to acknowledge that his performance — fueled mostly by what was going on (or not going on) in his head — was, in its entirety, worthy of the 2008-2009 teams and just give him a pass for another El Stinko. The only reason I can see for giving him a pass is the ten days between starts. I’m willing to be optimistic that he’ll have it straightened out the next time he takes the mound but I’m not betting my lunch money on it.

    • karlkolchak - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:06 AM

      Gio is as Gio does. He is by far the most inconsistent of the Nats’ starters and will just as likely go out and twirl a gem next time out. I’ve noted before how he is NOT the guy you want pitching in big games based upon his performance in the 2012 playoffs (you give a true ace a six run lead in a deciding game and it should be OVER) and at times last year when the team really needed a win. But he’s still a very good pitcher, especially for what the Nats are paying him.

      • hitmeimopen - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:23 AM

        Don’t know how you can leave Gio alone in that department…who is Stras but an “ace’ who doesn’t perform like one?

      • karlkolchak - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:37 AM

        @hitmeimopen – I can’t argue with that. Even Z-nn let them down in his one start in the 2012 playoffs. Basically, they have five very good pitchers in their rotation but no great ones ala Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw or Chris Sale.

  5. karlkolchak - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    Bottom line is despite his shoulder woes Zim’s bat is fine, and that is very good news both for this season and the next few years after he slides across the diamond to take up first base. The Face of the Franchise will live on!

  6. Joe Seamhead - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    There were plenty of screwups yesterday that the Nats overcame, but there was also a few heads up plays that don’t show up in my stats sheets. Stammen and ALR both had as mentioned great efforts on the basepaths, and though it didn’t amount to a run being scored, one play that wasn’t mentioned yesterday happened in the 3rd when Gomez “robbed” Rendon of an extra base hit with his catch at the wall. Span was on first, but was able to tag up and advance to 2nd. Most players would’ve been around 2nd when the catch was made, but Denard waited and was able to tag up and advance. Span often gets lambasted for his dumb mistakes on the bases, but many of the advances like yesterday’s go un-noticed and/or unmentioned. Also, kudos to Matt Williams for putting in Espinosa in the top of the 9th and moving Rendon to 3rd, replacing Zimmerman. Why? Because Espy covered Loboton’s throw perfectly on the double steal to nail Weeks, which was a huge play.Those nuances displayed yesterday by both teams are part of what makes watching baseball great.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:28 AM

      Joe, a good summation but don’t you think Rendon handles that throw from Lobaton also on the double steal?

      If the Nats don’t walkoff and it goes to extras, then people question MW for not having RZim’s bat in there. It’s a balancing act and the book in my mind says MW did the right thing and needs to consistently do it while he has Espinosa on his bench.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:42 AM

        Agreed about MW needs to effectively use the bench he has to work with. Honestly, nothing against Anthony Rendon’s defense at 2B,he and Espy are both terrific, but I think Espy is a surer bet to handle the throw down. I also think that both 3rd and 2nd are improved defensively in a one run game with bringing in Espy and moving Rendon over. I don’t think that Matt expected the Brewers to tie it up against Soriano.

        Speaking of Soriano, I really think that he was rusty from not only not pitching for 8 days, but also from the exhaustion of dealing with the whole All Star fiasco, not to mention the trip home and back over the break. He needs to pitch.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:10 AM

        Also, Steve, as good as Anthony has played at second speaks volumes as to how great of an athlete that he is, but be that as it is,, third base is his best position, in my opinion, and it’s where his future lies.
        One more point on the play when Span tagged up. Denard knew that if the ball didn’t go over the fence that Car-Go would catch it, so he only went half way to 2nd, allowing himself to tag up and advance.Does Tony Tarasco have a part in that, or was it all on Span?

    • NatsLady - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:20 AM

      Span’s done that before. He has a very good eye for when an outfielder’s going to make a catch.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:25 AM

        +1 NatsLady. I agree, but as I said, he gets blasted on here for his screw ups on the bases, but rarely gets accolades for those plays where he makes a smart baserunning play.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:40 AM

        +1 to both you!

      • dcwx61 - Jul 21, 2014 at 5:22 PM

        +2

  7. Doc - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    Some good news from Gio’s performance was that his velo was up from his previous post-DL starts.

    He touched 94 frequently,as opposed to 91-92.

    Gio needs to take some counsel from the ‘What Me Worry’ guys—–Roark & Fister!

    • coop202 - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:18 AM

      Most of me just thinks it’s the effect of a long-layoff plus the flight issues for Gio yesterday, but I guess we won’t know until the next start.

      6-4 over the next ten please and I’m happy

      • nats128 - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:33 AM

        Im not happy with putting any numbers on the road trip right now. Yes, win more then you lose

    • laddieblahblah - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      Gio’s velocity was fine just before he went on the DL for that shoulder problem, last time. He had the same look on his face yesterday that he had when that shoulder first started bothering him several weeks ago.

      His inability to properly slot his throwing arm because of that shoulder caused him to go on the DL last time. When he came back, he was lights out with his command. His lack of command was his biggest problem yesterday. Same problem as before, not being able to throw the FB for strikes.

      We’ll see. He can’t keep pitching like that. The Nats have Treinen, who continues to impress at Syracuse, even if he still does not have an off-speed pitch.

      The Nats keep injury issues very close. They denied, ad infinitum, that Zim had a shoulder problem when anyone paying attention could tell that he had. It looks to me like Gio has a recurring shoulder problem, not an attitude problem.

      • NatsLady - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:23 AM

        I don’t think Gio has an attitude problem, quite the opposite. He reached back and got the big strike out when he needed it. I do with his shoulder is bothering him, and that could also cause him not to be totally focused when fielding his position. He’s had trouble with that before (fielding his position) and if there is a physical problem, that might be distracting him.

  8. micksback1 - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    Positives, Nats found a way to beat a good team, Werth shows why he is Mr clutch, good defensive moves by MW late in the game, Stammen really stepped up when it counted.

    Negatives: Soriano, because he had plenty of rest and looked like crap, and Gio’s failure to lose the attitude. That has to change and as I said yesterday, maybe a veteran pitcher like Fister can get in his grill or MW privately. Gio needs to know that when he lets an umpire get under his skin, he is hurting the team

    • knoxvillenat - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:40 AM

      Well since this was only his third blown save of the year, and we won the game, I’m willing to give Soriano a pass on this one. Who knows, maybe the long layoff for him wasn’t so good?

      One other encouraging note over the weekend IMO was that Harper came back from the break and looks like he might have regained his hitterish mode. If I have it correctly, 5 hits in 10 AB’s for the series with 2 walks, a double and a HR. Not too shabby. Now about getting picked off first base………

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:01 AM

        Soriano got his doubleplay ball, only Desi was playing more towards the hole and it found grass and became the game tying single. I was impressed that Soriano didn’t melt down and give it up. He kept it at 4-4 and gave his team a chance to walkoff.

        The 4 pitch walk to Carlos Gomez is what did him in and credit to Gennett for getting the pinch-hit single. Anyone who has followed Nats baseball can appreciate a nice pinch-hit in a Med Lev spot.

    • nats128 - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:40 AM

      Gio started the game with a 3-0 count and was bailed out by Carlos Gomez.. I hope he sent him a case of his favorite booze.

      The Brewers tried to lose a game that Gio wanted to hand them and the RZ error is still a strange one. Gios best moment was pitching around that error. Gio had 3 walks in 3 1/3 innings and threw 88 pitches of which 41 were balls.

      I cant locate the site with the pitch charts. I wonder how many were called against Gio. His behavior on the mound was not in the professional demeanor we see other Nats pitchers carry themselves. I saw Kershaw squeezed last night. It happens. Get over it Gio.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:55 AM

        You want to be blown away? The umpire didn’t miss a call on Gio except giving him +1. That is probably why MASN wasn’t showing the K Zone because Gio was missing. Yes, the ball was hitting the glove but Gio’s curveball was going around the plate.

        Look, I thought Gio was being squeezed also but the official F/X says ump deserves an apology.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:22 AM

        We weren’t in our normal seats yesterday, but in dead centerfield, 180 degrees away from where we normally sit, so it was a different perspective watching the pitches with binoculars. From our “Great seats, hey, buddy,” it looked like Gio wasn’t getting anything close from the ump. Thanks for the pitch track, Ghost. Credit also to the Brewers for laying off of many of his balls thrown just out of the zone.

      • NatsLady - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:28 AM

        Yeah, well, Kershaw was hitting guys in “retribution” or “protection” or whatever you call it, so maybe not the best name to mention. In days past he would have been suspended, but apparently MLB has given up on the whole “he hit hit our guy so I’ll hit their guy” thing. Or maybe Kershaw is above being suspended.

      • nats128 - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:04 AM

        Ghost,

        Thats kind of a shocker since Gio was very animated that he was getting squeezed by the ump. I know many pitchers believe they earn the strike by hitting the catchers mitt even if the ball goes around the plate.

        Agree with Joe that its a credit to the Brewers for waiting for a strike and taking there walks. I suppose that goes for everyone except Carlos Gomez.

      • knoxvillenat - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        NatsLady,

        No doubt in my mind that Kershaw hit Holliday in retribution for Carlos Martinez hitting Hanley Ramierz earlier (and possibly for Puig being hit the day before) and the plate umpire did immediately issue warnings to both benches which is SOP. I’m not defending Kershaw for this as I don’t like it either, however my question is how did he allow Trevor Rosenthal to stay in the game after hitting Hanley in the ninth inning?

        Just like last year when the Braves hit Harper a couple of times (without any ejections on their side) I have often thought that a double standard exists in MLB for the Braves and Cardinals pitchers to get away with such actions, more so than the rest of the NL.

      • zmunchkin - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        First Ghost, thanks for pointing out that site with the strike zone maps.

        I agree that the pitches called balls, while close, were indeed balls. But before we can say the HP umpire deserves and apology, we need to look at how he called pitches for Gallardo:

        It is pretty obvious that Gallardo was getting a much wider and lower strike zone than Gio. So no apology is called for.

      • nats128 - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:08 PM

        That could be the umps way of giving Gallardo some calls since Gio was being a *****

        Remeber that Gio started his staredown with the ump in the top of the 1st

      • zmunchkin - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:23 PM

        Perhaps. But if you look at the calls that Gallardo got in the first inning:

        http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/pfx.php?s_type=3&sp_type=1&year=2014&month=7&day=20&batterX=&pitchSel=451596&game=gid_2014_07_20_milmlb_wasmlb_1/&prevGame=gid_2014_07_20_milmlb_wasmlb_1/&prevDate=720&inning1=y

        you can see that he was getting the bigger strike zone from the outset. Gio’s in the first inning were not that close however.

        And since umpires are pretty much protected from public criticism by players/managers, I think that MLB needs to tell them that they better be consistent no matter whether a player shows his disagreement with calls. The idea that frowning or making a face when you don’t get a call deserves retribution from the umpire is unprofessional conduct on the part of the umpire.

        I don’t want pitch track used to calls balls/strikes (lots of reasons). But what I would like is for the box score to include a percent agreement for called strikes between the umpire and pitch track. I suspect that would force umpires to be more consistent.

      • nats128 - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:44 PM

        Thats my point. Gallardo pitched after Gio. Gio already pissed on the ump and he gave Gallardo some pitches. Happens all the time.

  9. Section 222 - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    Funny how the long layoff didn’t effect Roark.

    Soriano’s “double play ball” was actually smoked. If Desi had been positioned right there we would have had a double play, but the ball was hit hard. Not a bloop or a dribbler. Sori just didn’t have it yesterday. But the team picked him up.

    I think Rendon makes the play on the double steal just as well as Espi, but I strongly endorse MW’s defensive move anyway. Particularly after Zim has already made an error, it’s a smart move for the 9th inning in a close game. Saving his bat for extras doesn’t make sense in my opinion. On the other hand, in a close game, he should not be replaced before he’s had his last AB through 8 innings at home or 9 on the road..

    All I want for Christmas is the Nats to hold serve against the Braves over this next road trip. That’s going to be a tall order since they’re mostly playing at home, but they are also playing 17 games in 17 days. Their bullpen could be a little ragged by the time they head to LA to play the Dodgers at the end of the month. The Nats have a well-timed off day before their series in Cincy this coming weekend.

    • nats128 - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:06 AM

      How come Cliff Lee didnt pitch Sunday against the Barves. He was the scheduled pitcher and instead they went to Kendrick who gave it up.

      • NatsLady - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:30 AM

        Cliff Lee is supposed to pitch today (coming off the DL). Lee had a rough rehab, maybe they didn’t want to through him right in against the Barves in their house, especially if they are looking for him to make a couple of good starts so they can trade him.

      • nats128 - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        Thanks NLady

      • NatsLady - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:31 AM

        ooops, THROW him right in.

        Not that the Giants are a piece of cake, but it’s a home game for the Phillies and a night game.

    • dcwx61 - Jul 21, 2014 at 5:25 PM

      I’ve heard that Gio prefers every 5th day….feels more affected by 1 or more days extra than some

  10. stoatva - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    I’ve been struck (pun mostly inadvertent) by how often good pitchers who are tasked with hitting a batter in retaliation seem to lose focus for an inning or two, or even unravel altogether. Thinking of JZimm in the Hamels/Harper game, Strasburg last year, and arguably Kershaw last night. Might be a coincidence, might not.

  11. Theophilus T.S. - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Of course Williams subs in Espinosa. First, he expects Soriano is going to shut down the Brewers so why not give him every advantage? Second, he’s going to have to pinch hit for the pitcher if there is a bottom of the ninth so why not make the double switch right there?

    • Section 222 - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:50 AM

      Of course he does. Except when he doesn’t. Or have you forgotten the mini-kerfuffle when MW made a defensive switch on July 2, and then didn’t make it on July 6? His answer when asked what the difference was: “No difference.”

      • nats128 - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:02 PM

        +1

      • therealjohnc - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:04 PM

        With the reminder that “no difference” from the manager can mean a lot of things, from “none of your business” to, more politely, “it’s not in the best interests of the team for me to tell you what the difference is.”

      • NatsLady - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        Zim had made a couple of throws (plus the error). I expect when MW asked him how his shoulder felt he got a shrug, and that was enough for the substitution.

    • masterfishkeeper - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      Except that he didn’t double switch, because McLouth pinch hit in the 9th, in the pitcher’s spot. I assume Espinosa was batting the 5th spot. I’m guessing MW realized the Brewers were going to bring in a RHP in the 9th, and didn’t want Danny to bat lefthanded.

    • 6ID20 - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      He didn’t make a double switch. McLouth had to hit for Soriano in the bottom of the ninth. Since he knew that Soriano would only pitch one inning no matter what, that shows that MW did not want to have Espi batting in bottom 9 if Soriano blew the save.

    • Section 222 - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      Pure speculation NL, but anything’s possible. My best guess is that (1) on July 6 Zim had just won the game with a hit in the bottom of the 8th and MW decided he was in the zone and would be fine at 3B in the 9th. Which as we recall, he was, making two decent throws, or (2) seeing the throwing error early in the game yesterday he didn’t want to take the risk in the 9th this time around; or (3) he realized he screwed up and made a low percentage decision in July 6; or (4) all of the above.

  12. David Proctor - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    Soriano is very good at not giving the other team the lead, even when he blows the save. In all of his blown saves this year, he’s at least kept it tied and given us a chance. Last year, in all but one game he did that (the exception is the Giants game where he gave up that 3 run homer to the backup catcher…that one hurt). It might not mean anything, but it’s just something I’ve noticed.

    • NatsLady - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:32 AM

      I’ve noticed the same. He doesn’t just give up when he gets the blown save, he remembers to pitch the rest of the inning.

    • Section 222 - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:54 AM

      Good point. He also doesn’t make excuses when he screws up. Others mentioned his 8 day layoff, as far as I know he didn’t.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:10 PM

      “Ghost of Steve M. – Jul 21, 2014 at 10:01 AM
      Soriano got his doubleplay ball, only Desi was playing more towards the hole and it found grass and became the game tying single. I was impressed that Soriano didn’t melt down and give it up. He kept it at 4-4 and gave his team a chance to walkoff.”

      I thought the same.

  13. TimDz - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    This is probably not original, but my take on Zimmerman is that he will cost us a run or so every once in a while with his throwing…

    But I believe that his bat will more than make up the difference.

    His arm cost us a run and his homer scored us two. If he can keep a ratio like that up, I’ll gladly accept the occasional throwing error

    • Section 222 - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      I think you’ve put your finger on the tradeoff, and I agree with you completely. Those of us who wanted Zim to play third when Harper returned didn’t think he’d be flawless there. Far from it. We just looked at the lineups that would result from the different options, and the likelihood that his arm would be costly in LF too, and decided the best approach is to swallow hard and accept whatever comes from his playing third base. So far, it’s worked out. Fingers crossed for continued success at the plate for him and for Span, and for continued good luck with the consequences of his throwing.

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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.

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