Skip to content

Things still not adding up for Nationals

Aug 5, 2014, 11:57 PM EST

AP AP

Here is the current state of the Nationals, summed up in one inning of baseball played Tuesday night during a 6-1 loss to the Mets:

They scored a run without producing a hit. Then their first hit of the game actually prevented a run from scoring.

Something’s just not adding up at the moment for a Nationals club that at times looks like the most-dominant team in the National League yet lately has been finding creative and agonizing ways to lose ballgames, and as a result just can’t create much space between itself and the Braves in the NL East.

“I think the way the season’s gone, the way it’s happened with injuries and guys being banged up all year, I think we’re in a pretty good spot,” Jayson Werth said. “We’re finally healthy, and I think we’re playing pretty good baseball. I think the distance will come in time.

“I feel like we’re going to go on a run here at some point, too. I like where we’re at. I like the way we’re playing night-in and night-out. We’ve been pitching good, the defense has been good, the hitting’s been good for the most part. The last couple nights we haven’t been able to get the big hit. But all in all, I feel like we’re in a good spot.”

That may prove to be the case, but at the moment, the Nationals remain in first place in the NL East more a result of the Braves’ struggles — they carried a 6-game losing streak into last night’s late game against Felix Hernandez in Seattle — than as a result of their own consistently impressive play.

They’ve now lost 8-of-13 games since Ryan Zimmerman suffered a serious hamstring strain in Colorado, and their lineup appears to be suffering for it. Though they’ve averaged 12 men on base in each of those 13 games, they’ve scored an average of only 3.5 runs. (Throw out Saturday’s 11-run explosion against the Phillies and that number drops to 2.9.)

The opportunities certainly were there for the taking Tuesday against Zack Wheeler and the Mets. Wheeler put seven men on base during a 10-batter stretch in the second and third innings, yet the only run he surrendered came via a wild pitch (following three walks).

And the hit that actually prevented a run from scoring? It came off Jose Lobaton’s bat, with runners on second and third and one out in the second. Trouble is, it struck teammate Asdrubal Cabrera as he tried to advance from second to third. By rule, Cabrera was out, Lobaton was awarded a single and Ian Desmond had to return to third base. Had Cabrera avoided contact, the groundout would’ve scored Desmond. Instead, the Nats got nothing out of it.

“I didn’t see that ball coming towards me,” Cabrera said. “He hit it hard enough that I didn’t even know. I thought it was right to my left.”

That was probably the low point of the night, though it was hardly the Nationals’ only squandered opportunity at the plate. They also twice hit into double plays with two on and nobody out (Werth and pinch-hitter Steven Souza Jr. were the culprits), saw Werth thrown out at the plate on Adam LaRoche’s sixth-inning single and saw Desmond strand six men on base via two comebackers and a strikeout.

“There’s no common thread,” manager Matt Williams insisted. “There’s no way to say: ‘OK, this is because, this is why.’ No, I mean, I haven’t seen a guy get hit with a batted ball in a while. He tried to skip over it. The ball actually was hit pretty hard by Loby and it skipped off the grass and it just nicked him. It happens sometimes. It seems like it’s going the wrong way the last couple of days, but we can turn that around tomorrow.”

The Nationals will give it another shot Wednesday night. They’ve got two more games with the Mets before heading to Atlanta for a crucial weekend series, hoping they can create enough cushion between themselves and the Braves to ensure they leave town in first place no matter the result.

“We’re pretty much aware of everything,” Werth said. “We know what’s going on around here. I feel like we’re in control of our game and where we’re at in the season. I just feel like at some point we’re going to go on a roll and rattle off some wins. We’ve got some division games coming up. August-September is really the time to go on a roll if you’re going to do it. I feel like we’re poised to finish this thing off, but we’ve got to continue to play good.”

145 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. David Proctor - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:06 AM

    They’re in an okay spot, there’s no disputing that, but they MUST play better if they want to make some noise in October. They have to execute and be more crisp. Sometimes you get beat, or sometimes everything finds a glove like it did against Philly. That’s okay, but you can’t lose games the other team is handing you on a platter.

    • stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:09 AM

      What Mr Proctor said. Good night.

    • rayvil01 - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:44 AM

      Good comment. Was at the game. They were sluggish overall. Cabrera getting hit by the ball was key. Wheeler was throwing the kitchen sink at the game early and I thought would be gone before the end of 5. Just getting the game tied there would have changed the tone of the game.

      Mets and Marlins look to be the ascent. Braves are ghastly. I heard some talking head yesterday say they’d finish at .500. Who can argue with that right now? Nats are just a bit schizophrenic. Not sure what’s coming from day to day. It’s not how you’d want to see it go, but, we could herk-and-jerk like this all the way to the Division Title. I’d much rather they just caught a heater and took off.

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:31 AM

        I think they will go on another sustained run before all is said and done.

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:35 AM

        I seem to recall just before we took off early in the summer we had a couple of really frustrating games (maybe at home against the Pads?) where we left approximately 63 men on base, but lost.

        I feel like that’s how the last couple of games have gone. I think the most important thing is to hold steady and wait for the hits to start dropping again.

  2. Danny - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:09 AM

    Tough to watch lately. Pick it up Nats.

  3. breakbad1 - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:27 AM

    It seems to me the Nats equation is: huge crowds=small performances.

    That place was ready to rock tonight. It was truly like a festival crowd, with everyone laughing and joking about how we had rearranged our work and family lives to be at Nats Park at 431pm to get a garden gnome. This was going to be a win and a party in one.

    And then we did…nothing.

    Regarding making noise in October–a skid like this could put us out, repeat out, for good, by August 15th. It has happened to many, many teams in the past as we all know.

    How a middle infielder gets struck by a grounder on the basepath is absolutely beyond me. He should’ve at least got a force at second on the missed DP ball. We may have another bone head on our team–hope not.

    If this game is forgotten, that’s good news for us. But if it is remembered–if the best indication of a team’s future play is in fact its current play–then we are in trouble.

    • David Proctor - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:44 AM

      We’re up by 3. To be “out for good” by August 15, we’d have to lose every game until then. And the Braves would have to win every game. They lost their 7th in a row today, by the way.

    • bowdenball - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:44 AM

      “It seems to me the Nats equation is: huge crowds=small performance”

      I don’t know the numbers for all the sellouts, but I know they always sell out the home opener and they’ve won three of those in a row. So I suspect there’s no truth to this at all.

      • bowdenball - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:55 AM

        Sorry, we did lose the home opener this year. For some reason I thought we’d opened at home for a minute.

        Anyway, if you look at the schedule you’ll see lots of wins in front of large, loud home crowds this year. The win on Harper’s return to the lineup that also happened to be his bobblehead day stands out in my mind, as do the weekend salvage of the four gamer against the Braves in front of two sellout crowds and the Saturday night marathon win before the Austin Mahone concert.

      • 6ID20 - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:15 AM

        FWIW, Nats are 1-7 when playing in front of 40,000+ at Nats Park this year. Only win was on Sat 6/21, 3-0 over the Braves.

      • 6ID20 - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:18 AM

        Also, Harper bobblehead crowd was 33,660 which is barely over the season average of 32,012.

  4. breakbad1 - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:54 AM

    Sorry to be such a worrier. 3 game lead on August 5th, we should be fine.

  5. NatsLady - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:54 AM

    So the Yanks gave us this guy Thornton, and they brought up Rich Hill from the minors to take his place, they bring him into a tie game.

    Pitching Change: Rich Hill replaces Esmil Rogers.
    Coaching visit to mound.
    With Ezequiel Carrera batting, Victor Martinez steals (3) 2nd base.
    Offensive Substitution: Pinch-runner Don Kelly replaces Victor Martinez.
    4.Ezequiel Carrera hit by pitch.

    Yes, you read that right, VICTOR MARTINEZ stole a base!

    Also, things “not adding up” for the Nats is TWO games… Because just two games ago we shut out the Phils 11-0 and 4-0 and folks were giddy. So the Nats had a rough two games. And a few more ones before that… and a lot of bad luck.

    Here’s the good that I saw:
    Gio battled after a shaky start.
    LaRoche looked good, a couple hits, a couple walks. He’s seeing the ball.
    Werth looked okay, he’s playing through a sore ankle. Two outfield assists in three games…
    Span is still spanning. He got unlucky that Lagares made a great catch. Of course, Lagares is a great fielder.
    Cabrera got a solid hit.
    Lobaton got a good hit (plus the fake hit).

    The bad.
    Storen.
    Desi and Harper.
    Cabrera was not alert. After a couple of web gems in his first games, this one was a clunker (except for the hit).

    The mediocre.
    I don’t think Treinen is the answer. At least, not yet.

    • David Proctor - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:30 AM

      I thought Storen was fine. He got the doubleplay ball, Cabrera just didn’t come up with it. The easiest play ever? No, But that should have been a double play, period.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:54 AM

        +1 David

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:37 AM

        +1 more.

  6. adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:05 AM

    NatsLady — nice summary.

    In other (west coast) news . . . sucks to be a Braves fan this morning. As I’m sure most folks already know, Braves lost 4-2 — mostly because of this play:

    The score was tied at 1 with two outs in the fourth inning when Atlanta starting pitcher Alex Wood got Chris Taylor to hit a towering popup to shallow right field. Instead of ending the inning, the ball glanced off the mitt of second baseman Tommy La Stella. Two runs came around to score.

    A single followed which then scored Taylor.

    I.e., three unearned runs for the Mariners in a game that ended up a 4-2 loss for the Braves.

    Braves actually had a chance till the last out: down 4-2 with two outs in the ninth, they had a guy on and Evan Gattis up — Gattis struck out.

    Andrelton Simmons sprained his ankle and is, at this point, day-to-day.

  7. laddieblahblah - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:06 AM

    Matt needs to find a way to get Souza into the lineup. It’s one thing to have a black hole in the 8-hole, it’s quite another to have it in the 5-hole. Bryce is struggling. Put Souza in LF and hit him 5th. Too bad he no longer plays SS, because that would be even better, were it feasible.

    Souza has changed since his last cup of coffee. He reminded me of Werth last night, the way he patiently waited for his pitch, and then barreled it up when he got it. Hard hit ball, but right to the SS for a DP. He almost outran the relay with raw speed. The guy has the look of a man who knows he is the best hitter in the game, and maybe the best all-around player, too. He very well may be. If Desi wants to know how to work a pitcher, he should study the way that rookie did it last night.

    Play him.

    You cannot do worse than Desi has done in the 5-hole. The 2 days before Matt moved him there he had gone 7 for his last 8. That was weeks ago. He has not had 7 hits, total, in all the games the Nats have played since then. He has probably left enough men on base to win the rest of the games the Nats will play this month, already. Not to mention the mountain of strike outs, usually with men on base. Why add to those totals when you have a stud bat just waiting to rake, right on your bench? Put Desi back in the 7-hole and move Cabrera up to the 6th.

    Harper is still trying to find his groove. Souza has been in one, all year long. Last night, I could see why most GMs who contacted Rizzo were looking to get Souza. He is a strength that directly addresses the key weakness in the Nats offense. This is one of those cases where there is little to risk, with a great deal to gain.

    Souza will be important to a successful Nats stretch run and post-season, IMO. He is the right guy in the right place at the right time. Besides, they don’t have anyone else, anywhere in the organization, who is capable of filling that black hole.

    No brainer. Of course, that’s easy for me to say.

    • bowdenball - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:38 AM

      Souza’s “groove” was at the minor league level. Harper hit minor league pitching almost as well at age 18 as Souza did at age 25.

      You don’t bench a guy like Harper because his power hasn’t returned yet. You let him work it out until the bat comes around; and in the meantime his .368 OBP since the all-star break is a nice consolation prize. And in any event, imagine the fireworks if Harper is benched by Williams. It would be absolute madness, a certain distraction not just this season but for as long as both remain with the team.

      Souza will get plenty of chances. He can spell Werth here and there as he recovers from his ankle sprain, maybe he takes Harper’s spot against lefties on occasion, and he’s probably gonna be the first pinch-hitter off the bench. Thinking he’ll outperform Harper is just a “grass is greener” type fan bias IMO.

      I do agree with you on the batting order changes, specifically Desmond. He can’t stay at 5. Williams is too committed to Werth at 3 and LaRoche at 4; all it would take is some minor tinkering to make it work. Harper goes to 3 where his OBP keeps first inning rallies moving until his power returns. Werth to 4, LaRoche to 5, and Desi to 6 where his all or nothing approach isn’t as harmful.

      • laddieblahblah - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:45 AM

        “Harper hit minor league pitching almost as well at age 18 as Souza did at age 25.”

        That is not even close to being factually accurate.

        “You don’t bench a guy like Harper because his power hasn’t returned yet.”

        Of course not. You bench him because you have a better alternative.

        “You let him (Harper) work it out until the bat comes around.”

        And if he finally works it out during the last week of September the Nats’ season will likely be over.

        “And in any event, imagine the fireworks if Harper is benched by Williams.”

        Are you serious? Matt benched Harper in favor of Scott Hairston just the other day. I didn’t see any sign of madness, anywhere. And if Souza produces, no one is going to slash there wrists. And if he doesn’t, Matt just puts Harper back in. This is baseball, not Armageddon. Get a grip.

        “Souza will get plenty of chances.”

        This has nothing to do about Souza’s chances – it has everything to do with putting the best team on the field to give the Nats their best chance to win.

        “Thinking he’ll outperform Harper is just a ‘grass is greener’ type fan bias IMO.”

        From all the postings I’ve read, I have less fan bias than most, if not all, of the other contributors here. If there is a fan bias, it is yours in sticking with Harper while he is obviously struggling. Why would you want to do that? Fan bias?

        “I do agree with you on the batting order changes, specifically Desmond. He can’t stay at 5.”

        Matt has stated that he will keep Harper at a lower slot in the batting order until he believes that Harper is ready to move back up. Harper at 3 and Werth at 4 with ALR at 5 would work, but Harper shows no sign of being ready for that, as yet. I am with Matt on that.

        If that’s your solution, it is worthy of consideration, but putting Souza in the 5 slot is a better one. Again, high upside potential reward at very little risk. If Harper can’t handle the pressure of being at no. 3 (did you see him slam his helmet after flying out last night?), then you are taking an unnecessary risk with little indication that you will get the reward you seek.

        Harper is still immature, IMO. Souza has been to baseball hell and back. Five years of failure will temper one’s resolve, or destroy it. Harper’s psyche is as fragile as Souza’s is tough. Souza can handle it. All Harper has ever known is success and hype. He has difficulty dealing with less. Souza has proven he is tougher, and can handle anything the game can throw at him.

        Tell me when you first see that in Harper.

    • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:39 AM

      I agree it’s a shame Souza can’t play SS for a game. I really think Harper is fine, his power is just not there yet.

      • sjm308 - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:51 AM

        Eric – I love Harper but you might be a little too optimistic on Harper, at least last night.
        He looked lost on all but one at bat, still whining to the ump on the first called strikout, slamming his helmet down as his long fly to left was caught on the warning track. I hope he finds his swing and finds it quickly because I am not sure Desmond will find his first. Lets hope you are correct and I am wrong on this

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:58 AM

        I agree that last night was a bad game for him (although I think the fly out would’ve been a home run if he were 100%), but I seem to recall his slash since the all star break is rather strong, aside from slugging in the mid 300s.

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:02 AM

        PS – I think Harper is exceptionally talented, but he’s not even close to my favorite Nat. At least Zim, Werth, LaRoche, Span, and Zinn are above him for me. I’m waiting for him to ascend through that line, but so far it ain’t happening.

        Still, I think he’s doing OK given the injury he sustained, and that he should be allowed to play through his power outage.

      • therealjohnc - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:20 PM

        To be fair, the “strike” that Harper was called out on in his first at bat was both low AND away. Which is also IMHO why he struck out swinging on a pitch off the plate his second at bat – the umpire had already basically told Harper that if Harper could reach the pitch it was a strike, so at that point if you’re the batter you might as well swing.

        Whether it’s because of his perceived attitude or because he’s still seen as “paying his dues” or something, Harper seems to have the largest strike zone in the league. Umpires shouldn’t do that, but it’s hard to take the human element out if you’re going to leave it up to humans to make the calls.

  8. adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:08 AM

    Weirdest play of last night:

    A ball is hit to deep right for a double, but another ball comes out of the right field bullpen at the same time — one of the runners was following the wrong ball.

    http://seattle.mariners.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/bizarre-play-leaves-reds-indians-in-disbelief?ymd=20140805&content_id=88143102&vkey=news_mlb

    Bonus: during the second time they show this (from the other team’s broadcast) somebody uses the word “TOOTBLAN” !!

    • alexva6 - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:02 AM

      thanks for the TOOTBLAN reference.

      unfortunately the name Henley comes to mind

  9. adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:15 AM

    Other weirdest thing of last night:

    Adam Dunn pitches the ninth inning!

    (http://seattle.mariners.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/white-sox-adam-dunn-provides-entertainment-from-mound-in-blowout-loss?ymd=20140806&content_id=88184118&vkey=news_mlb)

    He was laughing as he was doing it. (he gave up one run in the 16-0 loss — second time in three days the White Sox gave up 16 runs)

  10. Theophilus T.S. - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:43 AM

    The Dunn article in WaPo noted that in his career he has struck out looking 653 times. Which made me wonder if someone keeps track of swinging strikes (including foul balls) that were outside the strike zone plus called strikes that were actually strikes, as a percentage of total pitches seen. This is important — right now, to me — because Desmond seems to have gone into another slide where he has no clue what pitches are worth swinging at and which ones he should ignore. He’s at an age where the chance of him learning to be effectively selective at the plate is squadoosh.

    FP has been saying all season that the reason the Nats can’t score RISP and have clunker games like the last two is their hitters are all — with the exceptions of Span and Rendon — swing-and-miss guys. When the time comes — sooner, I’m afraid, than we think — to rebuild this team fixing that problem has to be a priority.

    Re: Cabrera, there was a chilling moment right after they acquired him when a national blogger (whose name I don’t remember) said on WTEM that, despite shining moments on defense, “there are times when it looks like he’s taking the play off.” Last night was one of them. Excitement about this new toy needs to be tempered for a few weeks until we see what we’ve really got.

    • coop202 - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:54 AM

      Interesting re: Cabrera. Hopefully MW gets into him a little bit if that’s the case, seems like that’s the one thing that really gets under his skin.

      Still don’t understand the werth send or how Cabrera lets himself get hit by the ball. An error is unfortunately but I expect it almost from him in the transition back to second at some point despite the stellar historical numbers from 2009 and before.

      Goal’s still the same: 2/3 while the braves go 1/3 in Seattle. Would be nice to head into Atl with a little steam and a new Ramos. Would love tonight to see two doubles from harp and werth get a night off

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:03 AM

        FYI – Seattle is a 2-game set. Braves are off tomorrow.

      • coop202 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:30 AM

        0/2 then it is

  11. Joe Seamhead - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:05 AM

    Well, I had a heck of a time getting home from the game due to road closures. Tough to have sat through two losses in two nights but I take what positives that I can again from last night. I thought Gio looked pretty good, but not quite good enough. Let’s just say he pitched better than his line will show on paper. Span got robbed on the bloop to center, but it was a heck of a catch. He has now reached base in 31 straight games. Jayson Werth’s one hop throw to the plate to nail the runner was a terrific throw and a nice tag by the Loboton. Nice to see ALR raise his OBP back up a little bit.My daughter and her husband brought my grandsons, 9 and 10 years old, and they got 4 BP balls and long toss warm up balls between them! Very cool for the youngsters. Oh, yeah, I am now the proud owner of Washington Nationals MD license plates for my pickup truck. They were a Father’s Day present and they same in the mail yesterday. The best part of the evening? That dumb SOB that comes in here just to cause trouble has been booted out. Good call, Mark.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:08 AM

      edit:
      they came in the mail

  12. edshelton2013 - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    The heart of our batting order is slumping–Laroche (less so), Desmond, Harper.
    Are they each pressing to make up for the loss of Zimm or are they all streak hitters, “breaking bad” at the same time??
    Either way, it’s killing us.

  13. edshelton2013 - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    Laddie:
    I agree that MW needs to find playing time for Souza. He’s hot and we need his bat.
    I can’t see MW benching Harper, however. How about platooning him in LF vs. L/R pitchers?

    • unkyd59 - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:59 AM

      Why doesn’t anyone suggest giving Werth a few days off? , then maybe Adam…? Souza can spell both of these old guys, then let him have a few starts against lefties, in LF, or 1B, for that matter… I can’t see any OF or Adam in a straight up platoon situation, but you can pick your spots, and get him a day a week, or so, after you get him 4-6 to rest ALR and JW….

      • laddieblahblah - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        Agree with both of you, Ed and ukd59.

        Harper WAS benched against a lefty in favor of Hairston just the other day. Souza would be the better option for a platoon. Souza can hit righties, too. I think Souza is probably destined for RF, eventually, and giving Werth a rest, now and then, would keep him fresh, although I would prefer his bat in the lineup in crunch time (which is now, IMO) than Harper’s. Bryce struck out 3 times last night. That was against a righty.

        ALR has also had some recent problems against lefties, and seems to be of an age when he could use a day off, now and then, just to recharge the old battery.

  14. tcostant - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    Saw this write up on the wrap of last night:

    “Rangers 16, White Sox 0: Adam Dunn pitched. ADAM DUNN PITCHED. That’s all you really gotta know, dudes. Robinson Chirinos homered twice, J.P. Arencibia drove in four and Colby Lewis pitched a six-hitter. He coulda pitched a six runner and been fine. Maybe the most amazing part of this was that a sixteen-run game with position players pitching took less than three hours.”

    Had to share will long time group members here.

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/08/06/and-that-happened-tuesdays-scores-and-highlights-130/

    • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:31 AM

      Dude, you owe me a beer ;-)

      • tcostant - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:41 AM

        Looks like that.

  15. Joe Seamhead - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    Hey, Ghost? You may have been right about Bonahttp:
    //www.ajc.com/news/sports/baseball/bonifacio-starts-in-cf-fredi-wont-say-if-itll-happ/ngwWP/facio:

      • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:33 AM

        The answer may be in this paragraph:

        Upton’s .211 average was the lowest among National League lineup regulars before Tuesday and he led the majors in strikeouts with 139 in 413 at-bats. He initially showed some improvement after being moved into the leadoff spot, but since the All-Star break Upton was batting .188 (12-for-64) with eight walks, 23 strikeouts and a .288 OBP in 16 games.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:04 AM

      Yah, I was happy to see I was right which is why I was hoping Rizzo could have blocked that Bonifacio trade because Boni is a large upgrade over BJ Upton.

      Now lets see how long the Barves stick with it.

  16. alexva6 - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    They’ve now lost 8-of-13 games since Ryan Zimmerman…

    it’s all right there Mark, nothing more nothing less.

    as for Souza, getting him in the lineup will require more creativity than MW is capable of. he should have played him last night for Werth and tonight for Harper. and please not one more comment about the gnome

    • Candide - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:43 AM

      Sorry… my first post of the day.

  17. Candide - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    Had a look at eBay last night to see what people were asking for Werth gnomes.

    There was an auction where the seller claimed to have FOURTEEN gnomes on hand. Now how the hell did he do THAT???

  18. stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    I am deeply unsettled by the idea of the Nats heading to Atlanta with a lead of three games or fewer.

    • bowdenball - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:09 AM

      If heading to a weekend series in mid-August wht a two or three game lead in the NL East is deeply unsettling to you, be thankful you weren’t a Nats fan from 2005-2011.

      • stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:10 AM

        I was. That’s a silly, unresponsive comment.

      • bowdenball - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:14 AM

        It’s far sillier to be “deeply unsettled” by a three game division lead in mid-August. Get a little perspective, please.

      • stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:14 AM

        And attended my first Senators game in 1957, so I’ve had my fill of bad baseball.

      • stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:23 AM

        It’s far sillier to be “deeply unsettled” by a three game division lead in mid-August. Get a little perspective, please.

        I don’t get suicidal over sports, if that’s your concern. But I think any Nats fan who has hopes for the playoffs has to be apprehensive about the prospect of the team stumbling into Atlanta, having been unable to capitalize on the Barves’ epic losing streak. It will look like a lifeline to those guys, and recent history suggests they might just seize it. That would be a shame, don’t you think?

      • sjm308 - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:29 AM

        Going to sound like bragging but I have more years of bad baseball then you my friend. At 5 years old, I don’t think I realized how bad we were. Just thrilled to come to Griffith Stadium with my mom.

      • bowdenball - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:39 AM

        Apprehensive, yes. Deeply unsettling? No even close. But no reason to debate word choice I guess.

        Part of the reason I’m not very concerned is that I just don’t think the Braves are very good. If the Nats get swept this weekend I think they may be in a bit of trouble, but anything short of that and I think the Nats will be in good shape going forward. Especially when they arrive home for the next homestand and are greeted by a Pirates team likely playing without Andrew McCutchen and a Diamondbacks team playing without Paul Goldschmidt. That’s what I think the Nats will start putting this thing away.

      • natsbro - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:11 AM

        The Braves aren’t very good and if we don’t win the division it’s completely on us (as all of us realize by now I think).

        The Braves don’t scare me at all..it’s our mental problems when we play them that bothers me. We are certainly a better team and this stretch right now is the time to show it.

  19. stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:09 AM

    Harper hit minor league pitching almost as well at age 18 as Souza did at age 25.

    Actually, Bryce stunk the joint up in AA and AAA.

    • bowdenball - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:19 AM

      Harper’s aggregate minor league slash line for 2011, his Age 18 season, spent at A and AA: .297/.392/.501.

      He has a total of 84 plate appearances at the AAA level over his career. Not a useful sample size. The sample size is so small, by the way, is because he moved up to the major league level at age 19 and won Rookie of the Year.

      • stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:30 AM

        Indeed, the sample size is so small (and all the “good” numbers were accrued in Low A) that one begins to wonder whether, when we look back on it, the Nats might not have erred in bringing him up so quickly. Seems like he hasn’t learned to “grind” his way out of slumps. It’s harder than we can imagine, I think, to learn that at the Major League level as a 21 year old celebrity. I feel bad for the kid. I hopes it snaps into place for him soon, but I’m not seeing a guy who’s “just a little off,” I’m seeing one who seems lost and struggling.

      • bowdenball - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:42 AM

        The reason I think he’s just a little off is because he’s still drawing a lot of walks. It’s actually very impressive to sport a .368 OBP since the all-star break when you’re not really hitting at all. Says a lot about Harper’s approach. When his bat catches up with his approach I think he’ll look like the guy we all expect him to be. We’re gonna need that guy in September and hopefully October so I say they let him work it out now.

        BTW he did work his way out of a slump in 2012, so he’s shown he can do it at this level. After a red-hot start he faltered in midseason but bounced back nicely over the last month or two.

      • stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:52 AM

        bowdenball, I also take some hope from BH’s continued ability to draw walks. I think it’s time for him to move up in the lineup, despite his struggles, in hopes that he might see better pitches when 7-8-9 aren’t directly behind him.

        And I haven’t forgotten his 2012 late season “comeback.” I’m ready for the 2014 version to start, tonight.

      • laddieblahblah - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:14 AM

        Harper’s minor league numbers at 18 did not remotely compare to Souza’s at 25. Even Corey Brown had better numbers than Harper did in AAA when he got called up. He had a rate of offensive production equal to 182% of the average AAA player this year:

        http://www.federalbaseball.com/2014/8/4/5963925/the-case-for-nationals-outfielder-steven-souza-jr

        Harper has never come close to that level of production at any level at any time in his professional career. Comparing the 2 is like comparing a grown man to an immature young talent still trying to find his way, which is what they are.

      • therealjohnc - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:38 PM

        Corey Brown? THE Corey Brown? The guy who is … OK, who’s still stuck in AAA and may never get out for any length of time.

        Perhaps Corey Brown’s subsequent career might give one pause before claiming that dominating AAA when in your mid- to late-20’s is equivalent to holding your own in AAA at age 19.

  20. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:18 AM

    So Souza gets the start tonight for Harper against the lefty… then for Werth tomorrow in the day game?

    Maybe??

    Definitely time to jumble the line up as Desi is killing us in the 5 spot.. As much as I don’t want the duo of Span/Rendon changed, something has to give becuz batters 5 – 9 aren’t producing what we need them to do…

  21. Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    Win the next two and we’re guaranteed to leave Atlanta at least a .5 game up in first place. That would be a good thing. Win the next two and the Braves lose again tonight, we leave Atlanta at least 1.5 games up. That would be a VERY good thing. The less critical to the standings weekend series is, the better, imo, as it may allow us to relax and just play.

    GO NATS!

    • stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      Chris Young could repay the Nats for their patience and kindness the last couple of springs by defeating Teheran tonight. Not an easy task.

    • sjm308 - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:32 AM

      Your math is probably correct BUT if we leave Atl. Getting swept that will not be good no matter how many games we are ahead

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:49 AM

        sjm, my point isn’t that it would make a sweep tolerable, it’s that it would eliminate a lot of pressure and hopefully help us just relax and play.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:37 AM

      Hey, Eric, you mentioned in the post game blog that you were more bothered by the challange than you were by the send of Werth. Just want to let you know that a manager can request a review of whether a catcher blocked the plate on any play at home without it costing a challenge if the call is upheld.

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        I should have said even if the call is upheld. Anyway, that’s a freebie.

      • stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:43 AM

        Thanks, Joe. I didn’t know that. I assumed, at the game, that the Nats were out of challenges (I suppose I could have checked the scoreboard, duh).

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:45 AM

        Wait, so if you challenge to say a catcher blocked the plate, and you lose that challenge, you keep the challenge anyway?

        If so, was the challenge? I though it was just a question of whether or not the tag was made, or was made in time? If the former, I retract my criticism of the challenge, but I’m still OK with the send.

  22. stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    sjm308 – Aug 6, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    When you’re a kid and your team really stinks you take hope from every new free agent castoff the team picks up, and every hit that never quite turns into a rally. Blissful ignorance. But wasn’t the grass green?

    • stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:37 AM

      Also, the football team was even worse!

    • sjm308 - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:39 AM

      Amazing!!!
      That walk up the ramp is still in my memory bank even though I sometimes forget where I live
      1952 was special just for those experiences

      • sjm308 - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:40 AM

        I was taller than Eddie LeBaron at age 7

      • stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:44 AM

        That’s the year I was born! Okay, I’ll get off your lawn now.

  23. sjm308 - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    I took stova’s advice and actually delved into the In Game comments to see what David meant by losing a pest.
    I seriously never read them so I am not sure how bad or negative swm is or was.(surely can’t be as abusive as Peric).
    Having nothing to do with baseball, what is stopping swm from changing his name on here? And continuing to post. Peric does it with that long name of some baseball academy i think.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:43 AM

      Thanks for explaining who the pest is. Is SWM banned?

      Peric paid homage to Cayucos California Baseball. I think that’s where he lives now but not sure. At least when he posts here under that name he’s been civil.

      • stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:46 AM

        Don’t know whether his IP is blocked, or whether Mark was signaling that any comments/responses should be flagged.

        As many have said already, it’s a shame he has to waste his time and energy on nonsense.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:55 AM

        Hasn’t he been wasting his time here for several years? I used to never post during in-game for the reason of the negativity but then I figured I would as the voice of reason.

        This site can be so positive then turn so negative. Let’s face it, it’s hard to stay positive when the facts of the game were so negative and the last 12 innings of baseball have been p*ss poor.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      He never bothered me as I never read him anyway… Same with Mick…

      I live by my father’s words in situations like this — ‘If you don’t feed it, it wont grow…’

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:51 AM

        That’s about where I am. Only time I ever engaged was when personal insults started flying. The first time I did it, he went utterly silent until the next day.

  24. Joe Seamhead - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    I don’t see us getting swept in the last two games against the Muts, and I certainly don’t see us getting swept by Atlanta. Have a little faith, folks.

    • sjm308 - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:42 AM

      Agrees, I am stilling thinking a series win here and in Atl

  25. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    Nats have to play sharper. I haven’t seen this many mistakes since that 1st game of the season against those Barves.

    It started so quickly with that grounder that LaRoche stabbed at but didn’t get that went down the line for a triple and then Gio lost immediate focus and quickly gave up that RBI single to Wright.

    The numerous mistakes by Asdrubal acting like Assdrubal were complete head scratchers.

    The Henley “no outs” send of Werth was a flashback to said Barves game. What were you thinking Henley. It was hit hard, wasn’t deep and the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze. You want that 3rd and 1st with a struggling pitcher and no outs in a 2-1 deficit.

  26. Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    So, am I the only one who thinks it was OK to send Werth?

    On a side note, I thought I’d share a related anecdote: right before Werth’s double, I started doing a Werewolves of London howl. My mom, dad, and wife thought it was too loud, but a dude a few rows back was into it and joined in.

    SMACK! Werth doubles to the fence!

    Then, LaRoche stands in, and my dad says quietly, “Bring the gnome home!”

    My mom, wife, and I were big fans, so I yell it out, then others start yelling it out, and then we all went bananas on the LaRoche single until…Werth was thrown out.

    D’OH!

    • sjm308 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:00 AM

      Yes Eric: I did a quick sweep of my neighborhood and you are standing alone on this! (ha,ha)

      Seriously – runners on first and third – NO OUTS, pitcher has been struggling the entire game and his pitch count looks like he won’t last till the 5th inning. We are down a run. I don’t care what Werth said after the game, he is playing with a sore ankle as well.

      It is what makes Baseball great though, you can think one way and I think another

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:08 AM

        Yeah, I get the logic of not sending him, and I don’t mean to imply I think holding him was the wrong move. I would even say it was the better move to hold him. I just don’t think it was a bad move to send him. How many times last night did the bottom of the order have men on the corners or bases loaded and do absolutely nothing?

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:10 AM

        As far as the send? Get used to it. If the team is going to have the mantra of being aggressive, which Williams is insisting that they continue, then there are going to be times when it will look stupid, especially after the fact when it doesn’t work. I think you have to make Eric Campbell make that throw, as he doesn’t have a great arm.That is this team’s m.o. I’m with Eric on this one.

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        That’s where my lack of knowledge comes into play: I have no idea about the scouting on Campbell’s arm. Knowing that it’s not great pushes me even further into supporting the send.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:04 AM

      I also was yelling the howl, very loudly, in 314, along with “Bring The Gnome Home!”

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:09 AM

        Wait, where were you sitting? I was in 314, row D.

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:12 AM

        I was in row F. Did you have a grey tee shirt on?

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:14 AM

        I did…did we kinda smile and nod at each other during or just after Werth’s at bat?

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:23 AM

        You were around seat 12 or 13. If that was your wife next to you, she cracked up a little when I bellowed “Bring home the gnome.”

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:34 AM

        I can’t remember the seat number…my wife had on a two-tone hat (blue in front, cream in back) and has almost black hair. She was to my right; my mom (blond) was to my left and my dad to the left of her.

        I was wondering all game who in the stands might post here. Guess I should’ve checked and updated the spreadsheet! Next time…

    • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      So, am I the only one who thinks it was OK to send Werth?

      I thought it was an awful send.

      With first and third and no outs, even a double-play-grounder brings him home.

      If there had been one or two outs, I’d get it. Not with zero outs.

  27. stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    So Souza gets the start tonight for Harper against the lefty…

    Imma warn everyone right now, if it’s Scott Hairston I’m taking hostages.

    • Smyrcok - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:04 AM

      If it’s Scott Hairston I’m going to check my medicine cabinet to make sure I’ve not been taking crazy pills

  28. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    I, like others, am hoping that the Nats will have more than the 3 game lead by the time we enter into Braves country for a couple of reason…

    Seems like the Braves are just downright bad right now and I would hate for the lameness that are the Nats right now to help them feel better about themselves…

    Also, in the worst case of cases — the event that we get swept — we still have a lead over them.

    Hopefully the Nats win tonight and erase this nasty taste out of our mouths…

  29. natsbro - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    We had Wheeler on the ropes most of the night and just could not seize the moment. Some miscues, some bad luck. It’ll turn.

    With 5 hits in 12 AB’s against Niese and Doug Fister on the mound..maybe Espi at second tonight?

    Looks like a lot of the line up see’s Niese well:

    http://dailybaseballdata.com/cgi-bin/dailyhit.pl

    • stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      My last two games, 8/1 against the Phillies and last night, featured the most surreal run of bad luck BABIP I’ve ever seen. I may need to make a sacrifice to the Garden Gnome to appease the gods.

    • stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:14 AM

      Thanks for that link, by the way. Hairston, Espinosa and Frandsen all .400 or better. Desmond hasn’t hit him a lick. Hm. Good game for Espi at
      short?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:23 AM

        Where’s Nate McLouth (3 ABs) and Tyler Moore when you need them.

        Looks like Espinosa should be playing at 2nd. After Asdrubal’s multiple issues yesterday he needs a day off any way.

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:40 AM

        The LaRoche, Espi, Rendon, Desi infield has been really successful behind Fister…the fact that Espi will get to hit right handed until Niese is out of the game is a big plus. I might even hit Espi ahead of Desi…

      • 6ID20 - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:00 AM

        It would be Asdrubal at short, Espi at second.

  30. stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    I better start getting ready for work, but I have to say that Steven Souza has a Morse-like menace standing in the box that’s currently absent from this lineup. Give up a shot, and not just a game here and a pinch hit there.

    Ah haz spoken!

    • Smyrcok - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      People really seem to like what they saw from Souza, that’s good to hear. I was on the third base line so I saw him missing those sliders (?) over the top, but then he hit that sharp grounder which was unfortunately right at SS. I’m glad to hear he looked “menacing” and I also hope he gets some starts.

  31. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:05 AM

    An observation based on someone commenting on FP saying that the Nats have many swing and miss players. Reading the comments he said Span and Rendon are contact hitters and not sure if he mentioned the teams 2 best RISP guys.

    Werth is batting .311 with RISP and Ramos is batting .319 with RISP.

    How do you change the approach of Desi and ALR who are all or nothing swingers? The guy to change is Bryce Harper who is loading up the swing and miss and of course the team’s worse S&W guy is on the bench (Espi).

    Do you get Souza in today vs the lefty?

    • stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:08 AM

      And if so, at what position?

      That’s why Matt gets the big bucks, I guess.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:10 AM

        Exactly. Let MW decide. This is what you didn’t want to see with Souza that he would be sitting on the bench catching splinters.

    • laddieblahblah - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:25 AM

      “An observation based on someone commenting on FP saying that the Nats have many swing and miss players.”

      I’ve been saying that for so long my head hurts. Harper is still searching. Of course, he’s still so young that is probably to be expected. It didn’t help that he could not do his normal off-season work because of the knee operation last winter, and then had to sit and reload following the thumb surgery this spring. If he stays healthy the rest of this year, can do his normal prep work this winter, then we may see a different, and better, Bryce Harper next year.

      The conventional wisdom is that it takes 1 full year after surgery for the body to fully recover. Bryce has had 2 surgeries in less than a year.

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:31 AM

        I sure wish he would settle down a little regarding all of the different stances. Also, how silly that he is using a different bat in almost every at bat.

    • sunshinebobby - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      That may be the smartest thing FP has said in three years, and it’s also a screechingly obvious observation. We have strikeout hitters galore–Rendon and Span are the exceptions. When Zim’s in there, it’s even worse. So I can’t see where adding a big swing guy like Souza is going to help that. We need more contact guys. I think Souza will be OK in time, but throwing him into the middle of a pennant race, I don’t know about that. And I certainly wouldn’t bench Harp for him. I think Harp is really close to breaking out. Heck, he almost had an oppo-boppo last night. Benching him now would short-circuit his recovery, IMHO.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:39 AM

        Certainly plenty of people hoping he gets benched but you are right, that’s not what you want to do.

        If Bryce sits vs Niese he can come in later in the game.

    • rayvil01 - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:07 PM

      Ghost, good comment. Desi and too many others swing from their heels all the time. ALR could check swing a double to left on a ground ball against the shift at any time. TV does not do the shift justice. I don’t get the mindset.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:14 PM

        Absolutely, there’s 30 to 45 feet during most infield shifts open for ALR on the left side.

  32. stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Just watching the replay on the Souza DP. Man, that was close.

  33. langleyclub - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    Where has the power gone?

    Since the All-Star break:

    Werth – 0 HRs in 72 ABs
    LaRoche – 1 HR in 64 ABs
    Harper – 1 HR in 58 ABs
    Desmond – 1 HR in 67 ABs
    Rendon – 1 HR in 77 ABs
    Ramos – 1 HR in 49 ABs
    Espinosa – 0 HR in 29 ABs
    Cabrera – 0 HR in 19 ABs
    Lobaton – 0 HR in 20 ABs
    Span – 0 in 70 ABs

    Since the A-S Break, the Nats have 6 home runs. The worst in baseball. The team slugging % is the 5th worst in baseball. Hard understand the collective loss of power in a group that has reasonably strong power in the #2 through 8 slots in the lineup.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      Those numbers clearly have to improve. The Nats have to lead the league in warning track balls caught.

    • 6ID20 - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:08 AM

      They’re all pressing to try and make up for Zimmerman’s absence. You don’t hit homers by trying to hit homers. You hit them almost incidentally when you’re just trying to play your own game.

  34. langleyclub - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    Just to compare, 6 MLB players have 6 home runs since the AS Break (Duda, Ortiz, Arencibia, Gardner, Holliday and Santana).

  35. langleyclub - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    Finally, pitchers Travis Wood and Madison Bumgarner each have as many home runs this year as Bryce Harper (3). WTF?

    • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:47 AM

      Bryce Harper rent a ligament in his hand and then had a new ligament grafted in its place. What do you expect?

      • langleyclub - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:53 AM

        I expect him to have more home runs than any NL pitcher, Didi Gregorius and Ryan Flaherty. If his ligament injury has sapped him of his power, he needs to sit (his power seemed fine during his MILB rehab). Sorry, but a team competing for the playoffs can’t not give a spot in the everyday lineup to a corner OF that strikes out every third at bat and has no power.

      • bowdenball - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        Harper’s stats on the year aren’t really that much worse than Johnny Gomes’ for the 2013 Red Sox In fact I bet he ends the season with a better slash line than Gomes in 2013. Regular ABs for Gomes seemed to work out OK for the Sox last year.

        As I’m sure others here will attest, many Nats fans have made similar calls to bench (or cut/demote) every player in the Nats lineup at some point in the last few years. Go through the lineup and you’ll see it at every spot. Span for the first three months of 2013 and the first two months of 2014. Rendon out of the ASB in 2013. Werth for all of his first year of DC. LaRoche for most of last season right up until the opener this year. Desmond now and seemingly every April and May. Espinosa for most of the last two years. If Ramos could stay healthy long enough I’m sure there would be calls to bench him during his slumps too. Of all those players and all those complaints only Espinosa’s dropoff turned out to be more than a temporary setback.

        So, how about a little patience? Harper been starting when healthy most of the year and it’s worked out OK so far. Imagine what will happen if/when we see the return of 2012 and 2013 Harper.

  36. erocks33 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Batting lines for the past two weeks (just so happens to coincide with Zim’s injury):

    Span (13 GS): .449/.525/.469; 1 XBH; 6 RBI; 4 SO

    Rendon (13 GS): .283/.356/.415; 5 XBH; 9 RBI; 6 SO

    Werth: (11 GS): .220/.306/.268; 2 XBH; 7 RBI; 10 SO

    LaRoche (12 GS): .239/.321/.304; 3 XBH; 5 RBI; 7 SO

    Desmond (13 GS): .149/.241/.170; 1 XBH; 4 RBI; 18 SO

    Harper (12 GS): .178/.275/.200; 1 XBH; 2 RBI; 15 SO

    Ramos (9 GS): .281/.361/.375; 1 XBH; 4 RBI; 6 SO

    Something HAS to be done with the #5-6 spots in the lineup. Desi needs a day off. With a LHP today, I am fine with Espi starting (whether it’s at SS with Cabrera at 2B, or flip-flop them and put Cabrera at SS for one game I don’t care).

    Harper is obviously struggling, but it doesn’t help any batter (especially one coming back from surgery) if the umpires are constantly calling strikes on pitches well outside the strike zone. Harper doesn’t need any help expanding his strike zone, but the umps are doing a bang-up job helping him swing at almost everything.

    Werth is obviously hurt. He may need a day or two off just to rest his ankle/knee/bones.

    Span and Rendon are doing everything they can to set the table. Wish someone would be able to come along and do their part as well.

    • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      Harper (12 GS): .178/.275/.200; 1 XBH; 2 RBI; 15 SO

      Wow…I swear he was slashing along the lines of .300/.360/.350 for the second half just a few days ago. I guess you’re right, sjm: he’s struggling much worse than I thought.

      • coop202 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        It’s just the last two weeks, closer to what you expect if you go back to the asb

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        Yeah, I just didn’t realize he’d fallen off so badly of late.

  37. coop202 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    During this stretch run I have to imagine Souza gets a chance to spell werth, Harper and even laroche, but not sure he does more than that. I wish I believed he was the second coming, and I know he’s significantly better all around but it feels like the push for him is a t.mo/grass is greener push. he’s 1-9 at the bigs, and while I expect he’s better than that I don’t see him getting significant mlb-time this year. Hopefully I eat crow because he proves he needs to be out there like Rendon.

    • langleyclub - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:00 AM

      During his radio interview this a.m., It sounded like Williams was going to start Souza for Werth tomorrow afternoon. He also talked about resting Span, but said that he is too hot to sit down right now.

      I jump to as many conclusions as anyone, but cannot judge Souza after 9 MLB at bats. Willie Mays started his career 0 for 21. When Souza plays 13 games with a slash line like Desmond or Harper, I can see doubts starting to trickle in, but his AAA record was so phenomenal, that I will be surprised if he completely bottoms out if given a chance to play.

      • coop202 - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        Oh I agree he is better than that and that’s no sample to judge him on, just saying that I don’t expect him to force the decision like Rendon did. Same way I expected Cabrera to make a few mistakes transitioning back to 2b, just poor timing.

        Btw interesting piece by Harper gordek this morning on nats weaknesses. The 1st baseline defense is disturbing…

  38. stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    Only two possible problems for Matt with Souza: a) if he doesn’t hit, and b) if he does.

    • coop202 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:57 AM

      Eh of he hits he cycles through playing 3-4 games a week with a lot of games to make up over the last few months. If he doesn’t he probably goes back down to work out kinks (I guess rides the bench in September here but seems like a waste)

  39. erocks33 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Batting lines the two weeks prior to Zim’s injury:

    Span (14 GS): .328/.391/.397; 4 XBH; 0 RBI; 8 SO

    Rendon (14 GS): .274/.308/.452; 9 XBH; 5 RBI; 11 SO

    Werth (14 GS): .352/.444/.796; 14 XBH; 15 RBI; 15 SO

    LaRoche (14 GS): .154/.258/.250; 3 XBH; 7 RBI; 10 SO

    Zimmerman (14 GS): .358/.407/.585; 8 XBH; 15 RBI; 5 SO

    Harper (12 GS): .238/.360/.405; 3 XBH; 2 RBI; 16 SO

    Desmond (13 GS): .385/.418/.596; 7 XBH; 11 RBI; 13 SO

    Ramos (12 GS): .354/.367/.438; 2 XBH; 9 RBI; 7 SO

    Man, does this lineup miss Zimmerman’s bat or what?! How can Desi be so hot for two weeks, then so cold the next two? Is it simply his batting order? Harper needs help to find his stroke (or at least to make contact). 31 strikeouts in 24 games? That’s Espinosa-like!

  40. edshelton2013 - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    stoat:
    “Post of the day”!
    MW would never bench Harper. He couldn’t stand the pouting and being harassed by Bryce to pinch-hit in every game.

  41. natsguy - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    I swear to God, if Gio “tips his cap” one more time in an interview I will personally go to DC from Oregon and puke his hat all over his feet. Stop tipping and grinding, just say I didn’t pitch very well tonight/today and leave it at that. Geez, I can live with losing games and admitting some bad play. But stop with the worn out cliches. Stop the cap tipping already.

    • therealjohnc - Aug 6, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      Baseball players are taught those “worn out cliches” from the minor leagues on. Mostly for a reason, sadly, as an excess of candor gets one labeled as “colorful” or some such and eventually comes back to bite you on the [ankle].

      Bottom line – you might as well book your plane tickets now, natsguy, because cliches happen for a reason. Ever see “Bull Durham?”

    • natsfan1a - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:41 PM

      Eh, I don’t mind the cliches. btw, it’s I didn’t pitch “good” tonight if it’s a ballplayer speaking. You’re welcome. ;-)

      “just say I didn’t pitch very well tonight/today and leave it at that.”

      • natsfan1a - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:42 PM

        And Bull Durham was awesome. That is all.

  42. unkyd59 - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    tony two bags

Archives

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