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Instant analysis: Nats 7, Mets 1

Aug 6, 2014, 9:37 PM EST

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: On the heels of a tough loss, who do the Nationals give the ball to? Doug Fister. The formula has worked all season, and it worked again tonight.

Fister was dominant yet again, shutting out the Mets into the eighth inning without so much as breaking a sweat before getting charged with an unearned run. In the process, he improved to 7-2 this season when pitching after a Nationals loss (11-3 overall). The right-hander was aided by some stellar defense behind him and by an opportunistic Nats lineup that produced a couple of big blasts for a change.

Adam LaRoche and Danny Espinosa each homered off Jonathon Niese, staking Fister to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and then a 6-0 lead in the sixth. LaRoche added another homer in the eighth, continuing his recent surge at the plate. Newcomer Matt Thornton showed off his 97 mph fastball out of the bullpen in relief of Fister.

Put it all together, and you’ve got a convincing victory by the Nationals, who finally took advantage of a Braves loss to gain ground in the NL East. They now lead Atlanta by 4 games and thus cannot emerge from this weekend’s series at Turner Field in anything other than first place.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Amazing what a couple of big bombs with men on base can do for a lineup that has struggled to score runs in bunches. The Nationals got exactly what they needed tonight, thanks to big home runs by both LaRoche and Espinosa. LaRoche sent one flying off the facade of the second deck in right-center in the bottom of the first, only his second homer off a left-hander this season. Espinosa, meanwhile, has been killing lefties when given the chance to face them all year. So when he stepped up to face Niese with two on in the bottom of the sixth, he seized the moment. Espinosa blasted a 3-run shot over the left-field wall, giving the Nationals the cushion they needed to put this game away.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Fister has become so good, he’s actually kind of boring. The right-hander was completely workmanlike tonight, scattering six singles over his 7 1/3 innings. He didn’t walk a batter. He struck out seven. He worked fast. He threw strikes. He got good defense behind him. And now his season totals are looking mighty impressive: 11-3 with a 2.49 ERA, 13 walks and 66 strikeouts over 104 2/3 innings. If not for the lat strain that landed him on the DL until early May, he’d be having a Cy Young-caliber season.

STREAK WATCH: Once again, Denard Span didn’t make us wait long. He singled to left in the bottom of the third, extending his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 32. He also has now recorded a hit in 10 straight games.

KEY STAT: Espinosa, against left-handers this season, is now hitting .310 with a .383 on-base percentage, .524 slugging percentage and .907 OPS.

UP NEXT: The series concludes with a 12:35 p.m. Thursday matinee. Jordan Zimmermann faces NL Rookie of the Year candidate Jacob deGrom.

  1. veejh - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:38 PM

    I appears a 2nd base platoon is the move. Go Espi.

  2. sjm308 - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:39 PM

    Woooo Hooooo!!
    Miss Michelle on here

    • Nolite Irrumator - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:42 AM

      OK, I read that as “Miss Michele [is] on here” instead of “[ I>] miss Michele on here.”

      Which we do. Maybe now she’ll be back? At least for the next week?

      • natsfan1a - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:09 AM

        I read it that way as well. Miss ya, Michele.

  3. Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:40 PM

    4 up friends!

    We will be in first when we leave Atlanta

    Good stuff!

    • knoxvillenat - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:43 PM

      As I said on the gamer, I’ll be disappointed if we don’t stretch the lead in Atlanta.

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:47 PM

        Me too, but it’s a pressure drop. Win tomorrow and press even less.

      • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:48 PM

        We can start by making it 4.5 tomorrow.

        But, deGroom is, of late, the best pitcher the Mets have. Work cut out for us.

  4. veejh - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:40 PM

    Fister is now boring? GTFO.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:41 PM

      LMAO

      • veejh - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:44 PM

        Ya know? I haven’t been able to watch many games this past month, and I know I’d never become bored with watching one of our pitchers dominate once again.

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

      OMGWTF?

  5. janebeard - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    It’s so much better when they win.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:44 PM

      Everybody will be in their happy place tonight,Jane.

  6. coollikelivo - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:45 PM

    Adam Bomb x 2!!! woooohooo!

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:45 PM

    Looks like Fister is the 7th rated pitcher in the NL.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/pitching/_/league/nl/order/false/minip/100

    • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:53 PM

      That’s seventh in ERA. Sixth in WHIP.

      And, BTW, Roark and JZ in the top 20 in both of those stats, too.

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

        Oh yes. Absolutely! 11 to 12 more starts for Fister also.

    • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:54 PM

      Wow — they updated those stats rightaway, eh? Cool.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:57 PM

        Sometimes in real time. Tonight it was when the game ended.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:10 PM

        Jake Arrieta blew up tonight giving up 9 earned over 5 innings. That pushes Fister to 6th best!

  8. knoxvillenat - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:45 PM

    ” Fister has become so good, he’s actually kind of boring.”

    I like boring….give me some more of it.

    • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:48 PM

      +1!

    • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:50 PM

      It’s only boring if you’re facing him.

      When he’s on your team, it’s a painter painting a masterpeice.

      (And, those few times he gives up a single, waiting for the beautiful DP-grounder executed by our terrific infield).

      No, not boring at all . . .

    • natsfan1a - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:05 PM

      Yes, I’ll take one order of boring, please. Oh, and could I get a side of ho-hum with that? That would be awesome. Thanks.

  9. Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    “Is Fister your best pitcher?”

    Seriously? What kind of question is that to ask a manager?

    • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:50 PM

      Yikes — I hope MW answered “I got five great starters”

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:54 PM

        More or less

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:51 PM

      Unbelievable. Perfect response from MW.

    • David Proctor - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:51 PM

      Matt: “I wouldn’t say he’s our best, they’ve all been good.”

      Media tomorrow: “Matt Williams bashes Doug Fister”

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:52 PM

        L/CMAO. Sheesh

    • Hiram Hover - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:57 PM

      What a f–king stupid question.

      A fine answer, but it just reminds you: if any of us got asked this many stupid questions, we’d occasionally give a stupid answer too. And his are broadcast.

      • natinalsgo - Aug 7, 2014 at 6:26 AM

        Seems like that’s asking a parent of 5 children who their favorite is. Not a great question.

  10. Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:51 PM

    Really interesting conversation with Espi re: switch hitting.

    • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:54 PM

      I’m not watching post-game — fill us in?

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

        He was asked from which side he has more pop…he kinda giggled and was like, “The right side. The pop comes easier from the right side.”

        They also noted the leg kick from the right side as opposed to the lack of leg kick from the left side. They asked him how that came to be a difference. He basically said he’s always had the kick from the right side; on the left side he’s always worked on different approaches. Said right now he’s just trying to get comfortable and get his timing right batting leftie.

        They also asked about his home run. He said it was a tricky AB because Niese is quickish to the plate with men on. That interrupts the timing of his leg kick (hence the follow up leg kick convo), so he just spread out and kept it simple.

        All heavily paraphrased. One of the better player interviews I’ve seen, I think.

      • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:17 PM

        so he just spread out and kept it simple.

        OK, how can I put this politely . . .

        HE NEEDS TO ALWAYS DO THAT!!!

        And I don’t mind splitting an infinitive to tell him so!

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:22 PM

        +1 and LMAO

    • knoxvillenat - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:55 PM

      I’m with Ghost, have Espinosa try hitting right handed only but do it in winter ball. Now is not the time.

      • natinalsgo - Aug 7, 2014 at 6:35 AM

        Also as Ghost says the 1st part of knowing you have a problem is admitting you have a problem. We’ve known it for years that Espinosa can’t hit consistently left-handed. He’s a natural right-handed batter. We’ve heard a laundry list of excuses from Espinosa.

        Finally Espinosa admits that it might be time for a change. What about all the geniuses who have said Espinosa can’t change with excuses like he’s been a switch-hitter his entire life.

        If you don’t try you aren’t going to get better.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:56 PM

      Its all about making contact, and making good contact. Swing and miss is no contact.

  11. stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:57 PM

    Do they pick sportswriters for their haircuts these days?

  12. natsfan1a - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:07 PM

    Happy for Doug, and for Danny, and for Adam, and for, well, everybody. Oh, and Papa John’s 50% off? Yeah, that’s nice, too.

  13. Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:10 PM

    Oh yeah, for those that missed it, apparently Werth tweaked the right side of his neck down near the shoulder on a swing about a week ago. Has some “tightness”. Might get a day tomorrow.

    The coveted Souza start may be imminent!!!

    • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:22 PM

      Werth is such a beast. OK, so, in the last 8 games he only has 6 hits, 6-for-28 (.214)

      But two of them were doubles, and he has 5 RBI’s.

      Even when slumping he’s been hitting them at the right time . . .

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:27 PM

        Yeah. He’s the man. Span > Rendon > Werth is such a great 1-2-3.

      • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:30 PM

        Or: Spandon > Werth, a great 12-3 ;-)

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:41 PM

        Indeed!

        Spandorth. Too far? ;)

      • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:48 PM

        Not too far, but you have a spelling error.

        Spanderth.

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:57 PM

        I considered that, but it’s all about balance (three letters from each) and NOT about de[a]rth ;)

      • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:58 PM

        hmm . . ok, I hear that

        g’night all!

  14. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    We will all sleep well tonight…

    DeGrom will be tough… Good thing I got a budget to work on tomorrow.. So I should be able to listen to the Nats game uninterrupted… :-)

    See ya later!

    • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:23 PM

      I have an important meeting from 2 – 4+. Ugh.

      • ArVAFan - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:36 PM

        I have one, too. 12-4. Out of the office message already in place.

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:41 PM

        Well played!

  15. Danny - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    Work on extending Fister in the offseason.

  16. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    That’s almost my verbatim quote earlier tonight!

    “@ZuckermanCSN: Espinosa admitted he’s thought about giving up switch-hitting but says he’d need time to work on it. Most likely in offseason.”

    • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:26 PM

      When he was describing his left v. right approach tonight, all I could think was, “if it comes so easy from the right, and it’s been a never ending string of adjustments from the left, what compelled you to switch hit in the first place?”

      Was he ever consistent from the left at lower level ball?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:58 PM

        He has claimed in the past that his lefty swing has always been his stronger side. Certainly has never been that case in the MLB. It’s what concerned me immediately about Walters.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:12 PM

        “manassasnatsfan – Aug 6, 2014 at 8:44 PM
        I wish someone he respects would tell him to dump the left batting.

        Ghost of Steve M. – Aug 6, 2014 at 8:49 PM
        It could be that he is nothing more than a platoon player in a system that would accept it.

        Other choice is to go to Winter Ball and try only righty swinging.”

  17. stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:29 PM

    Barves now equidistant between Nats and Mets. +/- 4 games.

    • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:33 PM

      I suspect the Braves and Mets will be switching places next year . . .

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:59 PM

        I think I have made my predictions a few times for 2015 and have 1. Nats 2. Miami 3. Mets 4. Atlanta 5. Philly

      • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:02 PM

        I agree with that . . . except that I might reverse Miami and Mets. I’ll need to wait until next year spring training to make that call. Mets might have 5 good starters next year, Miami will have 3. Miami has Cishek and better hitters. We’ll see. . .

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:05 PM

        Sure, we need to see how the off-season goes and both team has Aces recovering from TJ.

  18. stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:35 PM

    Just watch the highlight clip that included Bryce congratulating Danny after his HR. Nice.

    • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:42 PM

      That was awesome

  19. sjm308 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:47 PM

    As much as I liked the eye candy after a game, have you people noticed what decent questions Dan asks in what can’t be a fun situation. I also think the players appreciate someone who actually knows what is going on.

    Go Nats!!

    • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:51 PM

      Agreed. I thought Julie Alexandria was big step up from the ones prior to her. The prior ones asked inane questions. Julie asked decent questions.

      But Kolko is even a bigger step up from Julie — he not only asks very good questions, but he does some actual reporting (i.e., asks questions off camera and then gives us an insight).

      • Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:54 PM

        I don’t have much context prior to Julie, but I think she did quite well. I like that Dan will ask a question of LaRoche like: “you’re a streaky hitter; how do you find your way out?”

        Chutzpah.

      • adcwonk - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:00 PM

        prior to Julie:

        “this was a special night for you, wasn’t it?”

        “how did you feel when you hit that HR?”

        uggh . . . .

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:02 PM

        I think you all give too much credit. I think the basic questions are set up by the producer and they improvise on the followup questions. Julie Alexandria did a good job. I thought Kristina was the best.

      • Section 222 - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:29 AM

        Debi Taylor was abominable. Kristina was better. Julie was also decent. Dan is the bomb. There is no way that the producer sets up the questions, even the first one. If that’s really the way it’s done, why was Debi’s first question so awful. Dan is a reporter first. And he knows baseball. He can compose a complex question that elicits an interesting answer and followup and followup on the fly. None of this predecessors could do that.

      • sjm308 - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:54 AM

        I am going to pull rank on Ghost here – I actually know the producer a little bit and he definitely does NOT set up any questions in the post game interviews. He is also very pleased they went away from the previous set up if you can read between the lines. With the exception of Debbie, all of the others were looking to move up from this job as soon as they landed it. He liked working with all of them but there was no way they were staying on a sideline working for MASN. I think you can see with what Kristina has done and is doing at MLB network that she has done well for herself. So its all Dan out there Ghost. Sorry

  20. Eric - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:48 PM

    Joe Seamhead, if you’re reading, my wife confirmed that she cracked up when you bellowed “BRING THE GNOME HOME.”

    I appreciated your support on the howl after being chastised by her and my parents… Not sure they appreciated the encouragement ;)

  21. waddueyeno - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    and i get to go tomorrow! go jzim!

    gyfng

  22. thewerthwhisperer - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:43 PM

    I was there. One of the sweetest sounding highlights of the night was Souza’s very loud foul ball that was absolutely crushed. Would love to see him give JW a break now and then, Harper too against tough lefties

    • stoatva - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:45 PM

      You gotta find a spot for a bat like that. And he’s no slouch in the field.

  23. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:57 PM

    Speaking of Haren, he has a No-hitter into the 6th inning!

  24. coop202 - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:07 AM

    I know someone else has note this but its odd seeing the marlins 2.5 back from the braves.

    • Eric - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:35 AM

      Also 3 back from the wild card, with Pittsburgh 2.5 ahead of them.

      Big opportunity this weekend.

  25. Eric - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:42 AM

    Ugh… Sorry coop, I accidentally reported your comment about seeing the Marlins only 2.5 back from the Braves.

    Mods, please disregard.

    • Andrew Wallace - Aug 7, 2014 at 3:18 AM

      For those predicting marlins being a second place team over the mets next year….u realize Jose Fernandez will be missing most of the year right? Harvey will be back for full year as will syndergard. Although I’m gonna predict braves still the second place team. Mets just have no bats to speak of and the braves will go get a pitcher (like Lester)

      • natinalsgo - Aug 7, 2014 at 6:57 AM

        Fernandez is due back on May 1st. If it goes to “missing most of the year” then sure. Do you see where the Marlins are without Fernandez? They only got 7 1/2 starts from him and they aren’t far from .500 When you lose your Ace and replace him with a #6 pitcher which was Jacob Turner it’s probably a difference of 10 wins. Remember its not like Wins Above Replacement where Replacement is an average player. That is the difference between being 2nd place and 3rd or 4th place. Jacob Turner before his DFA had a 5.97 ERA.

        Their starters for next year on May 1st is: Jose Fernandez 2.44 Henderson Alvarez 2.48 Tom Koehler 3.70 and I pencil in for their #4 and #5 Brad Hand 4.03 Jarred Cosart 4.51 but they have kids in the Minors who will compete for the #4 and #5 and will probably sign 1 veteran FA.

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