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It may not be easy this time, but that’s OK

Aug 14, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT

AP AP

There was Kevin Frandsen’s complete mishandling of a routine fly ball, letting the game’s first run score. There were two more errors by Adam LaRoche and Wilson Ramos. There was a mini-meltdown of sorts by Jordan Zimmermann in the bottom of the seventh. And there was, of course, a heart attack of a ninth inning provided by Rafael Soriano.

This was not the prettiest of ballgames. And yet the Nationals emerged last night with a 3-2 victory over the Mets.

This hasn’t necessarily been the prettiest of seasons, either. And yet the Nationals went to sleep last night 5 games up in the NL East, with a better than 90 percent chance of winning the division and a better than 93 percent chance of making the postseason (according to Baseball Prospectus’ daily playoff odds algorithm).

It’s not always easy to remember this, because if you watch this team play every day, you’re left with an uneasy feeling. This doesn’t seem to be going as smoothly as it should. This team should be playing better, should be winning more games in more convincing fashion, should be leaving little doubt about its status as one of baseball’s few real World Series contenders.

But it’s not. There seem to be more question marks than definitive answers. There seem to be more underperformers than overperformers.

Nothing seems to be coming easy to the Nationals.

Here’s the thing: That’s OK. It’s not the end of the world. So, the Nats aren’t utterly destroying everything in their path. Neither is anybody else in the National League.

There isn’t one team in the NL right now that feels like it’s playing up to its full potential. Nobody’s perfect, nor is anybody even close to perfect.

The Nationals, though, have fewer problems than pretty much anybody else. Maybe anybody but the Dodgers. The Brewers have a suspect pitching staff. The Pirates are missing Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole. The Cardinals are missing Yadier Molina and Michael Wacha and can’t score runs. The Reds are missing Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips and also can’t score runs. The Giants are 21-36 since early June. And the Braves? Well, since April 27 the only NL clubs with worse records are the Phillies and Rockies.

So, yeah, the Nationals sorely miss Ryan Zimmerman. And Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez aren’t pitching the way they should be pitching. And Bryce Harper isn’t hitting the way he should be hitting. And the bench has been awful. And the closer is a nightly high-wire act.

On the other hand, Jayson Werth was NL Player of the Month in July. Denard Span dramatically has morphed into the best leadoff hitter in the league over the last six weeks. Ian Desmond has 22 percent more RBI than any other MLB shortstop. Anthony Rendon, Adam LaRoche and Wilson Ramos all contribute on an above-average basis. Doug Fister is pitching like an ace. Tanner Roark and Jordan Zimmermann are right behind him. The bullpen still ranks fourth in the majors. The defense has committed a total of 19 errors over its last 52 games (including last night’s 3-error performance).

The Nationals are a good team. Are they a great team? Perhaps not. But, again, there don’t appear to be any great teams in the NL this season. At least not as we sit here on August 14.

So why so much angst and hand-wringing? Maybe we all remember 2012 too well, remember how easily the Nationals cruised to the NL East title and an MLB-best 98 wins. We all think the 2014 Nationals should be better, and thus should have an easier time in their march toward October.

Here’s the problem: It doesn’t usually come that easy. Rarely does a team cakewalk its way through the 162-game grind. And those that do don’t always win come October anyway. Only three times in the last 15 years has the team with the majors’ best regular-season record gone on to win the World Series.

So take a moment this morning and stop pulling out your hair. Stop worrying about this lineup’s inconsistent results. Stop fretting about whether Strasburg or Gonzalez would be left out of a postseason rotation. Stop questioning Soriano’s ability to close out a game when it really matters.

Are those all legitimate areas of concern? Sure. But you know what? It wouldn’t be a real pennant race without some level of concern.

Yes, Washington’s baseball team is in a pennant race. It’s something that could be said perhaps only four times in the last 80 years. Enjoy this for what it is.

Because it sure beats the alternative.

162 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2014 at 7:01 AM

    I loved the bottom of the ninth! I probably ought to double up on my blood pressure meds, but I have always loved dramatic endings to baseball games, especially when my team is on the winning end of them. I will never understand the Soriano hate. The guy gives us exciting endings, but most often with a win.
    GYFNG!!!

    • knoxvillenat - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:24 AM

      And it’s not as if Soriano is the only reliever walking a high wire. Craig Kimbrel made the ninth inning pretty interesting for Barves fans last night himself.

  2. Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2014 at 7:13 AM

    Also, let’s hope that Michael Taylor was just emotionally drained from his whirlwind introductory first couple of days in the majors. He didn’t look so good on a couple of those K’s last night.
    How about our new second baseman? He is looking like a great move right now, even with Walters’ game winner last night considered.

    • Sonny G 10 - Aug 14, 2014 at 12:43 PM

      I expect there will be adjustment times as teams look for the holes in his swing and he adjusts to them, hopefully.

  3. stoatva - Aug 14, 2014 at 7:17 AM

    Also, tied with Dodgers for fewest losses in NL (although Nats have played four fewer games).

  4. scnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 7:27 AM

    But Mark we embrace the pain, it keeps us warm!

    Excellent points, excellent article. Points I needed to hear.

  5. sjm308 - Aug 14, 2014 at 7:48 AM

    Mark, are you trying to minimize the number of posts?
    What will David Proctor do if no one is complaining?
    Who wants to hear nothing but compliments?
    Come on! It’s baseball, there has to be back and forth.

    Seriously, nice article and thanks as always.

    Go Nats!

  6. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 14, 2014 at 7:58 AM

    A picture says a 1,000 words.

    • rayvil01 - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:06 AM

      I’m guessing Span got his last night off. LOL

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:12 AM

        7 innings.

      • rayvil01 - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:28 AM

        The last 7 that Frandsen gets in Left.

        OTOH Harp, Span, and Taylor is a pretty good looking outfield.

      • masterfishkeeper - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:32 AM

        So, when Souza, Ryan, and McLouth come back, it likely will be September, and there won’t be any need for tough roster decisions, until (we hope) the postseason.

        Interesting to think, however, how you would construct a 25 man roster with those guys. I’d be tempted to drop Frandsen and Hairston, and send Taylor back down, but I doubt that would happen.

    • Section 222 - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:33 AM

      Watched the replay of that dropped fly ball. The best adjective to describe it is not “unlucky,” it’s “lazy.” Remember when Harper used two hands in fly balls when he first came up? What is it with major league players? Playing the game the “right” way soon becomes playing the game the “cool” way.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:48 AM

        Totally agree. I called it nonchalant last night as it happened.

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:48 AM

        I’ll never forget Albert Bell, in a playoff game, had plenty of time to get under a fly ball, but instead stuck his glove up and just missed it. My son was young then and I used that as the example of why you should always make the plays using fundamentally correct form.

  7. scmargenau - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:00 AM

    This was a great article! My favorite to date. Nice job. A very refreshing perspective.

  8. unkyd59 - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    Not quite a “nightly high-wire act”…
    But all great points! I’ll add to them that any and all of the things which are currently frustrating some of us, could click between now and season’s end, and we could be hitting on all cylinders at the end if September…

    It could happen…..
    GYFNGOGIGOGIGO!!!!

    • Section 222 - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:28 AM

      I owe you a drink unky!

  9. Section 222 - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:27 AM

    The meme reappears so I must swat it down, even from our fearless leader. Soriano is *not* a “nightly high wire act.” You can look it up.

    • adcwonk - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:55 AM

      +1

    • 6ID20 - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:38 AM

      Okay. He’s a frequent high wire act. You could look it up. Start with last night. Don’t just look for “clean innings” either, because many of those clean innings contain drama – warning track fly outs, great defensive plays behind him, etc. As FP pointed out last night, he’s a pitch to contact closer without put away stuff. That’s a recipe for high-wire drama.

      • Section 222 - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:34 AM

        Oh, so now the standard for a high wire act is if he gets an out or two in a clean inning from a long fly ball or a great defensive play?

        That’s absurd.

        The man has appeared in 47 games and has given up an earned run in six of them. He’s converted 27 of 31 save opportunities. His WHIP is 0.97. Would I rather have Chapman or Kimbrel. Sure. Jansen? Maybe. But to call Sori anything other than an excellent closer is to raise the bar way, way too high.

      • bowdenball - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:44 AM

        +1

      • adcwonk - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:55 AM

        His WHIP is 0.97.

        Anybody with a WHIP of less than one is pitching extremely well.

        And did anyone mention yet that he’s the *only* pitcher on the Nats with a WHIP of under 1.00?

      • 6ID20 - Aug 14, 2014 at 12:20 PM

        You fail to grasp the concept of metaphor. In how many actual high wire acts does the walker actually fall off the wire? The percentage has got to be minuscule compared with Soriano’s blown save percentage.

      • bowdenball - Aug 14, 2014 at 12:22 PM

        If you’re comparing literal failure rates of high wire acts and closers, I think maybe it’s you who doesn’t grasp the concept of a metaphor.

      • adcwonk - Aug 14, 2014 at 12:43 PM

        If you’re comparing literal failure rates of high wire acts and closers, I think maybe it’s you who doesn’t grasp the concept of a metaphor.

        Ha! My first out-loud chuckle of the day — thanks

      • 6ID20 - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:26 PM

        People say Soriano is not a high wire act closer because he gets the job done. As I point out, real high wire acts get the job done too. The point is that they are walking a tightrope to get the job done – as is Soriano. When you watch him, it’s like watching a guy on a tight rope. He could fall off at any time. Unlike power closers such as Kimbrel or Chapman who just blow batters away, except on the rare occasions when they don’t. There’s no suspense in their pitching. They either have it that night or they don’t. Not so with Soriano. He could come unwrapped at any moment. Like a guy walking a tight rope.

      • NatsLady - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:42 PM

        A tightrope walker wouldn’t keep his job very long (or his life very long) if he weren’t good at it. So Soriano may walk the tightrope but is unlikely to fall off it, or if he does, he grabs the rope and gets right back onto it (which he usually does), OK then.

      • 6ID20 - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:56 PM

        Again, you miss the metaphor. It has nothing to do with Soriano’s success at his job or lack thereof. So let’s turn the metaphor into a simile. Soriano closes a game like a guy walking a tight rope without a net.

      • NatsLady - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        simile or metaphor, I’m missing what the problem with Soriano is. If he’s good at his job, he’s good at his job, no matter how he does it. Are the fielders complaining or something?

        If it worries you that he WON’T be good at his job in the future, in the playoffs, say, because of the way he does his job, there’s no evidence of it, is there? Closers come in many flavors.

      • 6ID20 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:49 PM

        Again, saying that Soriano operates like a tight rope walker is not saying that he has a problem. He is what he is. Chad Cordero was the same way.

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:45 PM

        That’s a recipe for high-wire drama.

        You say that as if it were a bad thing!?

      • Section 222 - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:32 PM

        Last night Sori was a high wire act. No argument about that. But I said he’s not “always” a high wire act. And he’s not even a “frequent” high wire act. A clean inning is not a high wire act. An inning with one hit or one walk is not a high wire act. That’s what he does most of the time. Regardless of what metaphor, simile, gerund, or past participle you employ, that’s a fact. Your re-definition — that’s he’s a high wire act in a clean inning if someone makes a great play or a batter hits the ball to the warning track is nonsense.

  10. natsjackinfl - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:34 AM

    Thanks, Mark. I am with Joe on this. Apparently, some fans don’t remember the time like in 2008 when a victory like this against the Mets on the road would have been considered a terrific victory.

    A performance by John Rauch closing out the game in the same manner as Rafael Soriano did last night would have been lauded as a truly gutsy performance.

    There are no style points given when that “W” gets posted.

    • ehay2k - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:01 AM

      Let us not forget Chad Cordero, who truly was a heart attack in a flat brimmed cap, but had over 40 saves one year.

  11. Section 222 - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:56 AM

    Anyone who thinks Soriano doesn’t care should watch the replay of the last out. He was pumped. And note, with the tying and winning runs in scoring position, he got a grounder to short and a comebacker. That’s just as clutch as Kimbrel getting a double play ball with the bases loaded last night.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:33 AM

      Soriano cares. A lot. I think that he is about the most misunderstood player on this team by many fans. He’s a quiet guy that often still has language difficulties and his post game quotes are often taken out of context, in my opinion.
      He will probably blow more save opportunities, and he’ll probably save a bunch more before this season is over. Will he blow the big one in the playoffs? Who knows, but I think he is our best man for the job in most situations.

      • nats106 - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        While this is a late comment on your post (and most everyone has moved on) I must agree with your comment that he cares. Of course, all ball players care, but it was especially evident last night when Soriano made that leaping grab-you could clearly see his excitement and he DID NOT want to let Zimmermann down after the defense had nearly failed him. Just my two cents.

    • destcl - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:09 AM

      I believe Soriano cares, but I don’t believe his dramatic reactions after saves demonstrate anything other than his ego. The time Jayson Werth, playing behind Soriano, was driven up against the wall to take away a homer that would have lost the game is ample evidence of that. Soriano darn near blew that game in odious fashion, but he showboated then exactly the way he did last night. Werth, for his part, could not have looked more disgusted.

      I’ll tell you what I don’t like about Soriano: He won’t back up any base, which is eventually going to jump up and bite the Nats on the butt, and since he doesn’t have swing-and-miss stuff, when his control is off he’s either horrible or horribly scary. In the playoffs, with a team that has never won on the big stage and in fact melted down two short years ago, the last thing you want is a closer who inspires fear rather than confidence.

      And if the fans feel this way, you don’t think the players do too? Of course they do.

      • Section 222 - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:24 AM

        Baloney.

      • sjm308 - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:56 AM

        Sure, professional athetes have the exact same mental outlook as a fan!! NOT

      • natsjackinfl - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        Double baloney.

      • adcwonk - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        when his control is off he’s either horrible or horribly scary.

        Isn’t that true of every single pitcher in MLB?

      • David Proctor - Aug 14, 2014 at 12:56 PM

        He strikes out more batters than anyone in our bullpen but Clippard.

  12. adcwonk - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    Thanks Mark.

    As Boswell noted earlier this week: would we notice when we’re living through good times?

    This is a first place season! This is what we wanted! Enjoy!!

    • nattyboh1 - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      yeah, wonder where he got the idea for the theme of this post?

  13. adcwonk - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    And the Braves? Well, since April 27 the only NL clubs with worse records are the Phillies and Rockies.

    Just… wow

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:17 AM

      And that is not a small sample size.It’s almost a four month period!

      • snerdblurter - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        So they’ve basically been one of the worst teams in the league for almost 80% of the season so far….

    • nats106 - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:08 PM

      Bwwwaaahhahahaha. Couldn’t happen to a better choice of teams or fans.

  14. 6ID20 - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:00 AM

    It seems that many of Soriano’s blown saves (eg Miami) and other assorted meltdowns (eg last night) are occurring near the end of road trips when he’s presumably been out of the hyperbaric chamber too long. If the Nationals make the playoffs, they will have to start carting that thing on the road with them.

    Random thought: Given his road woes, is Strasburg also a hyperbaric guy?

    • rayvil01 - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:59 AM

      I thought about that myself as he was coming in. LOL. Maybe the team needs to buy a portable chamber for road trips.

  15. micksback1 - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    9th inning last night I was Fred G. Sanford; “Oh no, you big Dummy, now you went and did it, hear that Elizabeth, I’m comin to join you, with an untuck shirt”

    LOL

    • jd - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:18 AM

      That’s pretty funny Mick. I actually told my son right after Young stole 2nd that we’re not winning the game. He kicked me out of his room.

      • npb99 - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:26 PM

        My son also scolds me for being a pessimist. I’m very happy when I’m wrong.

      • therealjohnc - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:45 PM

        Ah, being a pessimist is easy. It’s like hedging your bets. If you’re wrong then HEY! the Nats won! But if the Nats lose (for whatever reason), then there is the grim postgame satisfaction of “well, I saw it coming, why couldn’t THEY?!?”

        You want tough? Try being an optimist!

      • micksback1 - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        until the DP I was feeling that too and calling out to Elizabeth

        you know Soriano kinda looks like Aunt Esther

        lol

  16. natszee - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    Thanks Mark for giving us the proper perspective. Great article.

  17. jd - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    Our run differential (+86) suggests that we have been more dominant than we realize. I think that when you look at all the games through a microscope as we fans do you tend to over focus on all the errors and misplays that inherently happen throughout a long season.

    Soriano’s exceptional season really befuddles me. When you see him throw 90 MPH fastballs the way he did to most hitters last night, with not much movement you wonder how he ends up with the fantastic results he does. He still makes me nervous every time out. I don’t quite embrace the stress the way Joe does but I did enjoy the ending.

  18. Nats fool - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    I guess I’m just one of the few who likes Soriano. I love his intensity. He seems to embrace the high-leverage situation. He and Roark are my favorite players. I love the interview Roark did for the Post. On the other hand, I don’t like Frandsen. Focus less on hazing the rookie and play fundamental baseball. On the bright side, I got to tell my son “this is why you use two hands.” Really, there was no excuse for the drop, but my kid got a big kick out of it.

    • jd - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:25 AM

      Nats fool,

      Don’t get me wrong. You can’t take away from what Soriano has done this year, results are simply amazing, I just don’t know how he does it. He simply doesn’t have that many exceptional weapons. I think he just knows how to pitch and he definitely does not get flustered. Storen on the other hand has great weapons but does get flustered.

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:35 AM

        I see Soriano as a crafty, seasoned veteran. Drew’s still a puppy.

      • Nats fool - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:51 AM

        I’ve never been in their shoes, but the mental aspect must be critical. Closers are usually hard-throwing stuff guys. One theory is that the closer is less important than the 7th or 8th inning pitchers. Storen’s two batters were critical. You could argue that the best relief pitcher should be the first out of the pen if the starter gives you a borderline QS.

  19. Doc - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    MLB.tv forces me to listen to listen to the other team’s announcers during away games.

    The worst, the Atlanta guys; the best, the NY guys. Hernandez, Darling, and Cohen stood up for Ramos on the play at the plate, before, during, and after the replay. Hernandez particularly likes Ramos and Rendon.

    Commenting on Fransden’s play, they reinforced Section 222 above. Hernandez called out Fransden for “trying to act like an all-star” and using one hand where good players use two. It wasn’t a ‘lazy’ play, it was a play that professional ball players shouldn’t make.

    • jd - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:22 AM

      Doc,

      Good points. I think it was Hernandez who said something like: ‘If they overturn this play it’s completely ridiculous’. I think Cohen was hoping the Mets get the call but they really are extremely objective. BTW, the worst is Ken Harleson of the White Sox who is really a glorified cheer leader.

      For a fringe player like Frandsen it’s really bad form to screw up the way he did.

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:39 AM

        Agreed on all points. I got a call from a friend in Toronto last night that was watching the Met’s feed and he said that they were really upset that the play was even being reviewed. That new rule for plays at the plate is ambiguous and needs to be modified.

    • Doc - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      Correction: It wasn’t a lazy play should read: ‘It wasn’t an unlucky play……..’

    • Smyrcok - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:29 AM

      Doc I’ve been hearing a lot about the NYM broadcast. I’m a big Hernandez fan. I’ll have to give them a listen on mlb TV tonight

      • Doc - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:59 AM

        It’s hard not being a ‘homer’ when you’re an announcer, but the NY guys do provide that which I consider to be excellent game and player analysis.

    • scnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:57 AM

      I agree, was refreshing to see Darling stand up for Ramos in the ninth and even apologize to Mets fans for agreeing the run was no good. Think a Braves announcer would do that?

      • natszee - Aug 14, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        I just got back from Atlanta last night … the Braves announcers promo the game “As the Braves march to win the division” … makes you sick. On the Mets side, you have two really good former Mets for analysis (Hernandez and Darling) and a good play by play guy in Cohen. What really helped is that these former players were interviewed by and broadcast with Ralph Kiner who was a great broadcaster and analyst (and one heck of a ballplayer) .. they learned a lot from him!

        OBTW, if I am not mistaken, both Charlie & Dave spent time in the Mets organization on the radio in the minors. I think Carp was a play by play guy for a while for the Mets.

        http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/team/broadcasters.jsp?c_id=was

    • adcwonk - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:30 AM

      Put me down in the camp who also thinks the NY announcers are top notch. (Well, to be honest, I haven’t heard them in a couple of years, and mostly I’ve heard the radio guys (guy?)) — but, yes, top notch, smart, incisive, objective, etc.

      I am amazed at hearing some radio guys from other cities (on Sirius, when I’m late night driving) who are completely awful. Often the “color man” gives the impression of your sterotypical former-player-dumb-jock who had a few too many right before the broadcast, and who add nothing more penetrating than a “what a great play”

      The good ones are to be cherished. (Or something ;-) )

      • adcwonk - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:31 AM

        (I should clarify: NY _Mets_ announcers. I never listen to the guys from the Evil Empire ;-) )

      • NatsLady - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:42 AM

        I don’t mind them, but if you listen to a lot of games, they gossip a lot and repeat themselves a lot. They’re fine with the actual game, objective and sharp. But when they get to the “color” stuff, it’s superficial and repetitive.

  20. coop202 - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    Love the article. I may have been in the minority but I felt similarly in 2012 when the nats won 98 but were in a battle for the east with a better braves team until long after August 14th 2012. Anxious, but loving every moment of it

    • Smyrcok - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      2012 was magical with the braves on our heels for most of the year. Up through the double header in that 4 game series where it seemed like the magic may run out. But an old hero emerged by the name of Lannan to save us and guide us to the post season. Sort of.

      • adcwonk - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        That Lannan effort will remain in the hearts of all Nats fans that year. Talk about “stepping up!” (after being relegated to the minors because he was a “#6″, etc. What a story, what a performance . . .

  21. Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    Some people want their entertainment to be boring, I guess. Never had much use for that, personally.
    “It’s supposed to be hard. Hard is what makes it great.”

    • scnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      Oh what Michael Scott would say to that statement. Miss the glory days of that show.

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:33 PM

        Never saw it.

  22. topnat - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    No excuse for the dropped fly ball, the play should have been made. Frandsen is not a lazy or non-chalant player and actually came thru later in the game. Span had to adjust for the wind on his chance in left center in the 8th.
    Surprised no one here mentioned the way the nats are protecting J.zimms arm since the biceps issue. Don’t think he’s gone over 90 pitches since.

  23. peewilly - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    Watching Frandsen all year as well as his time with the Phillies I don’t see where he’s a lazy player. No doubt, that fly ball should be caught by anyone over 12 years old. That last second adjustment with the wind caused some problems but it’s not as if he was loafing to get into position. Remember he’s an infielder by trade.

  24. sjm308 - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    I also don’t think of Frandsen as a lazy player.

    I remember a home game early in the season, easy fly ball to right field and just like last night Jason lets it fall out of his glove on a one handed catch (or attempted catch). No harm as I remember and can’t even remember who was pitching – probably not Strasburg since like I said no runs scored – Anyway, errors happen. Easy ground balls to infielders sometimes go right through their legs. Its baseball, these guys are not perfect. I am not saying it was unlucky, he just missed it.

    Still contemplating an earlier post and how ridiculous it is that some fans actually think the players are thinking like the fans think.. That comment just blew my mind. These guys are professional and have reached this high level because they have huge faith in their ability, have worked hard to perfect their craft and have short memories as far as failure is concerned. Not one player last night thought that Soriano was going to blow that lead but I bet over 50% of our fans did.

    Go Nats!

    • NatsLady - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      Frandsen is the opposite of a lazy player. If anything, he’s TOO intense. He slams against walls, gets thrown out at third, etc. You can drop a ball in the blink of an eyelash, he got a little overconfident if you ask me. I don’t think it was showboating or laziness–he though he had it, and he didn’t.

    • micksback1 - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      Coach

      he has played very well his last 2 starts

  25. laddieblahblah - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    They are winning without any contribution from either Zim or Werth, and with Desmond not contributing much of anything to the offense, either. Although Frandsen dropped that easy fly ball, he also drove in the go-ahead run. And Cabrera’s homer turned out to be the game winner.

    They won because of stellar pitching, especially by JZ and Storen, and clutch hitting by Ramosand Frandsen with men in scoring position, and from Cabrera, who picked the right time to go deep as a Nat for the first time.

    The defense was really awful, but Desi and Ramos combined to prevent the tying run in the bottom of the 9th. They weren’t great on either offense of defense last night (except for the pitching) but they found a way to win.

    Werth should be back by this weekend, and that shot should carry him all the way through the post season. With Cabrera proving to be a productive bat out of the 2-hole, Matt has the option of using Rendon and Werth to best advantage when Jayson returns. Those two will probably be sandwiched around La Roche, with Harper hitting 6th, and Desi 7th. When Ramos is hitting 8th, that lineup is still very formidable, even without Zim.

    Maybe Zim comes back, maybe not, but they have the horses to do it without him, if they have to.

    • stoatva - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      with Desmond not contributing much of anything to the offense, either.

      Other than 72 rbi’s, of course.

      • adcwonk - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:46 AM

        +1

        (wow)

      • NatsLady - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:49 AM

        Desi’s GIDP yesterday made 15, the most on the Nats (Tony “Two-Outs” has only 8). However, Desi also contributed a key single, and alertly took second base on Lagares’ error. He plays every game, and he’s the first one to the mound to talk things over with the pitcher.

    • Smyrcok - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      Good stuff laddie. Do you see Werth and Rendon being the 3 and 5 hitters (or vise versa) with Druby staying at second for the time being? Or will it be a return to the old order once Werth gets back in?

  26. Section 222 - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    Just to be clear, I don’t consider Frandsen a lazy player. But the error he made last night was a lazy play, or a hot dog play. Both are unacceptable, especially for a guy playing out of position.

    • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:38 PM

      How one characterizes it — lazy, sloppy, cadillacing, unlucky, clumsy, whatever — doesn’t have much bearing on what happened. My impression at the time was that he misjudged it just enough, which got him off-balance, and on top of that, his technique sucked.

      But he *was* doing it wrong, and got busted for it.

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        So I guess my point is, making it into a moral failing (and calling it lazy, or hotdogging, is that) adds an unnecessary element, and IMO is generally unproductive to understanding.

  27. NatsLady - Aug 14, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    Listening to MLB Network. Dodgers– leading their Division. Barves – “in the middle of the pack for the Wild Card hunt.”

  28. bowdenball - Aug 14, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    By the way FP was wrong about Soriano being a pitch-to-contact closer. It was true last year when his K rate was at 18%, but this year he’s up above 25%. That’s higher than every starter but Strasburg and higher than every current member of the bullpen except Clippard and, surprisingly enough, Blevins. He’s not Aroldis Chapman to be sure, but he’s also not 2013 Rafael Soriano.

    • Section 222 - Aug 14, 2014 at 5:01 PM

      Not the first time that FP’s “analysis” has been upended by, you know, actual facts. Well done

  29. NatsLady - Aug 14, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    The funny part to me is if you lived though 2012, it didn’t seem that easy last time. On August 14 the Nats only had a 4.5 game lead, and you could have heard the worry-warts from here to California.

  30. David Proctor - Aug 14, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    Soriano has good stuff, if it’s working for him. His cutter is nasty, his slider is filthy. His problem is sometimes the slider is flat and he loses control of the cutter. His four-seamer isn’t that special, but he does get swings and misses on it up in the zone.

  31. David Proctor - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    Dodgers up 4-0

  32. mdmcommish - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    It’s worth discussing the following. At 14 million we simply cannot entertain picking up our option for Soriano next year, regardless of how he pitches down the stretch. This is not about stats. Sometimes you have to trust your eyes. We all see it. He is not a dominant closer, way too much drama. I get it, he gets results, I admire his tenacity with what he has to work with, but the ball needs to be handed to….well….CLIPPARD. I know, it’s Drew’s job to lose, but if you watch Tyler this year, doesn’t he look like the guy you want coming into a game in the 9th at this point? Drew moves to the 8th, Barrett/Thornton get the 7th. Spend some of that 14 million on JZim and Desi.

    • bowdenball - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      I don’t think the Nats will even consider picking up the Soriano option. so this should be a non-issue.

      • NatsLady - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:24 PM

        Agreed. Clip wants to close. He’s added the splitter and worked a lot on the curve (you know, the one that he sends high up over the catcher’s head to the backstop). He’s been great for five seasons, but I feel he’s even better this year with the added weapons–less predictable.

      • Section 222 - Aug 14, 2014 at 5:09 PM

        My consistent defense of Soriano against factually incorrect criticism by no means should be interpreted as wanting us to pick up his option. No way should we pay $14 million to a closer with the guys we have in the pipeline.

        I tend to think Clip should stay where he is because his innings are more often high leverage. But if it’s his turn, it’s his turn. Drew will make a fine set up guy.

  33. micksback1 - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    there are some great division races around MLB!
    I bet there are at least 2 divisions that will have a playoff game, both AL and NL Central

  34. micksback1 - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    question for Ghost or really anyone, I know I am looking a bit ahead, but let’s say status quo holds with standings and Dodgers have bes record, which i hope happens and here is my thinking:

    I think Nats match up better with Giants than Dodgers. Dodgers really are very good. In a 5 game series, assuming Giants win WC game, I think they could beat LA. I like Nats chances verse Brewers in 5 games. This would mean a Nats-Giants NLCS which i prefer.

    anyone agree or disagree

    • masterfishkeeper - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:36 PM

      Agree, but mostly because you want to avoid teams with two very high quality starters. Who wants to play Kershaw twice and Greinke once?

      • micksback1 - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:58 PM

        oh no, 5-3 runner on 1st, zero outs, whose pitching for LA Soriano’s brother, lol

      • micksback1 - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        good points and that is my thinking as well

  35. masterfishkeeper - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    Braves losing 5-1 in the 6th. Harang continuing to struggle.

  36. micksback1 - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    watching Barves at work

    5-1 LA middle of 8th but, Barves have runners 2nd and 3rd zero outs

  37. manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    Brian Wilson is giving away the lead again Mattingly is allowing him to continue on. Single double double. The game was under control til Wilson came in.

    • micksback1 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      yup. I see

      well 1 out runner on 3rd

      J Upton taken out, hurt his hamsting

  38. micksback1 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    Barves crowd seems down, ha ha ha, not a lot of enthusiasm even during this inning

    interesting

    • manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:06 PM

      Wilson let the crowd back in. What a bafoon act.

  39. micksback1 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    OK 2 outs runner at third, Wilson coming out

    can’t believe I’m doing this, slow slow day at work

    • manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:08 PM

      Wilson belt high fast balls clobered. My question is why managers don’t squash bad outings fast enough.

  40. manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    After Wilson screws up Mattingly comes out way too late.

  41. manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:10 PM

    Brought in the closer who immediately gives up a hit. Wilson set all this up with his antics. Matting threw gas on it by not stopping Wilson.

  42. manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    Gattis clobbered one foul.

  43. manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    They let the damn chop back in the game.

    Most closer are just like Soriano. They cannot do anything easily.

    Wilson though is unexcusable. A manager cannot let one pitcher come in that late in the game, with plenty of guys in the bullpen, just give up 3 runs before you get off your butt and manage.

  44. manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    Top of the 8th Either was 2 feet from hitting a 2 run homer.

  45. nats2005 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    Dodgers up 5 – 4 top 9.

    Gordon on 1st with 1 out.

  46. manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Gordon bunt single, Pig HBP 1 out Gonzo up

  47. manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    No one is at the game.

  48. manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    Gordon scored on a double. Puig out by a mile,

    As bad as our third base coach on that play.

  49. manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    What a great throw by Simmons

  50. manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    Intentional walk to face Jensen

    • jd - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:45 PM

      You worry way too much !!

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:55 PM

        +1

  51. nats2005 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    Dodgers up 6 – 4 with 2 outs in 9th. Heyward at 1st.

    Justin Upton left game with an apparent leg injury

  52. nats2005 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    pretty big since Freeman doubled and Justin would be up, but now it’s BJ

  53. nats106 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    Freeman doubles to set the stage for Upton to either K or win the game. Place your bets!

    • manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      K

      • manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:51 PM

        K it is. 5.5 up

  54. manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    Every closer is the same. Cannot do anything the easy way.

    • nats106 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:53 PM

      Gotta look for the matchups. It would be too easy to just give Freeman the walk to get to Upton. Good thing Freddie didn’t put it over the fence.

  55. nats2005 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    Ball Game – 5 1/2 back.

  56. nats106 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    Anyone ever wonder what the over/under is for BJ Upton on his strikeouts? 4 pitches, 5? I could make a fortune betting against him.

    • npb99 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      Another reason to praise Mike Rizzo. Look at the CF he got our team a couple of years ago – Span – when the media was full of hype about BJ Upton.

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:57 PM

        To be fair, at least some of that hype was generated by Rizzo; whether as a distraction or genuine interest, we may never know.

      • manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:58 PM

        I liked Span on Minnesota. He has played better than I thought.

  57. manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:56 PM

    Justin Upton hurt some part of his leg early and left the game before the top of the 9th.

  58. nats2005 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:57 PM

    If Nats go .500 the rest of the way 22 – 22 and finish with 87 wins, that means the barves need to go 26 – 15 in their last 41 to tie.

    That’s a .634 winning percentage which is better than Oakland all season. They have to win almost 2 out of 3 to catch the Nats if we play mediocre the rest of the way.

    Get to 90 wins and it goes up to 29 – 12 or .707. That’s rough.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:00 PM

      I follow your thinking, but one day at a time. Let’s win tonight!

      GYFNG!!!

    • manassasnatsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:01 PM

      Wassen…. would say Nats no good anyway.

    • nats106 - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:01 PM

      Yes, and no rest for the weary-they have the A’s and Pirates for 3 then the Reds for 4. After that, their next 6 games are with the Mets and Marlins. By that time they might be chasing the Fish instead of us.

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:03 PM

        They are chasing the fish as we speak. Marlins win tonight, and their season is sleeping with the fishes.

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:13 PM

        OOPS. Looks like I’m a few days early.

    • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:02 PM

      That’s the hole they dug themselves right before the Nats got to Atlanta. Like I said, even if they had swept the Nats, they would probably have to spend themselves doing it, right before the Dods and A’s got in.

      The only thing they have going for them is the fact that they only have to catch one team–oh, wait, they are now one game back of the Marlins in the loss column. Nevermind. Stick a fork in them if they Marlins win tonight.

      • nats106 - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:04 PM

        One can only hope. I’d like to see the Marlins catch the gulf stream and go on a run.

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:08 PM

        Oh, wait — CORRECTION — Atlanta is now 61-60, Miami 59-61

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:12 PM

        But they’re playing AZ this weekend, so …

  59. Joe Seamhead - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    I am usually not like this but I really get some smug, perverse satisfaction out of seeing BJ Upton strike out with two guys on to end the game. Ha! Oh happy day!

  60. nats2005 - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    Nats still have a tough home set with the Pirates and Giants and then go out to the WC later and have to play LA and a hot Seattle team at the end of the month, so not saying it’ll be a cake walk, but we can play .500 ball.

    Barves have Pittsburgh the last week of the season. They’ll be in it for a wildcard, so they’ll play the Barves tough. After the Reds though, they don’t have much left. All within the division.

    Both teams get at least 6 games with each team in the division (Nats get Mets for 7 and Miami for 8 due to the rainout).

    Outside the division, Nats have
    Pittsburgh for 3
    Arizona for 4
    SF for 3
    @ LA and Seattle for 3 each

    Barves
    @ Pitt for 3 and Cincy for 4
    @ Texas for 3 and Pitts for 4

    Our schedule is a little tougher down the stretch, but not much.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 88 64 --
ATLANTA 76 76 12.0
MIAMI 74 78 14.0
NEW YORK 73 80 15.5
PHILADELPHIA 70 82 18.0
Through Thursday's early games
x-Clinched division title

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

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

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

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

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

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