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Instant analysis: Phillies 3, Nats 2

Aug 25, 2014, 9:55 PM EST

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals arrived in Philadelphia sky-high after a 9-1 homestand that left them the hottest team in the majors. Now they faced the opener of a tough, 3-city, 9-game road trip, hoping to carry over some of the positive momentum from D.C. That proved more difficult than anticipated tonight, thanks to a lights-out performance from the Phillies’ A.J. Burnett.

The veteran right-hander dominated over seven innings, striking out 12 while allowing only one run (Anthony Rendon’s solo shot in the sixth). The Nationals simply couldn’t get anything going at the plate, forcing Tanner Roark and the rest of the pitching staff to be perfect.

They weren’t. Roark gave up two runs in six innings to keep things close, but Jerry Blevins served up a homer to Carlos Ruiz in the bottom of the seventh, giving the Phillies a 2-run lead. After a week full of dramatic rallies at home, the Nationals couldn’t quite pull one off against the Philadelphia bullpen. Wilson Ramos launched a solo homer off Jonathan Papelbon with two outs in the ninth, and pinch-hitter Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a sharp single to right. But Nate Schierholtz roped a sharp grounder right to shortstop Jimmy Rollins to end the game and start this road trip off on a down note.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: The Nationals have seen Burnett look good before — he carried a shutout into his last start against them in this ballpark a month ago — but the right-hander took things to a whole new level tonight. He struck out 10 of the first 18 batters he faced, allowing only one single, one walk and one hit batter along the way. The Nationals never put more than one man on base in any of their seven innings against Burnett, making for a wholly frustrating night at the plate.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: This was by no means a poor start for Roark, but he did have to battle some. The Phillies really made him work early, forcing 32 pitches to only five batters in the first inning. Their first run off him came via three straight hits, though the Nationals didn’t exactly play crisp defense behind him. Jayson Werth misplayed a ball off the wall in right, and Danny Espinosa couldn’t get to a hard grounder to his right that could’ve turned into a 4-6-3, inning-ending double play but instead brought a run home. The other run off Roark, though, was entirely on the pitcher. He hung a 2-0 offspeed pitch right over the heart of the plate to Cody Asche, who tattooed it to left. In the end, Roark gave up two runs in six innings. Solid, but not enough to earn him the win tonight.

KEY STAT: Danny Espinosa has struck out 65 percent of the time when he has two strikes on him this season. For comparison’s sake: Jayson Werth has stuck out 33 percent of the time.

UP NEXT: Game 2 of the series features a matchup of lefties. Gio Gonzalez (6-9, 3.83) hopes to pick up where he left off last time out against the Diamondbacks, while Cole Hamels (7-6, 2.53) tries to keep his strong season going at 7:05 p.m.

  1. David Proctor - Aug 25, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    This was a game that would’ve been nice to have. We have Hamels tomorrow. Felix Friday. Iwakuma. Kershaw. This road trip is going to be very tough.

    The difference was a bunch of “small” things. Two leadoff doubles, neither moved beyond second base. There was a ball off Rendon’s glove that could’ve been a DP (though he made up for it with a gem later). Danny not fielding the ball that should’ve been a DP.

    And of course, Blevins facing Ruiz.

    • Danny - Aug 25, 2014 at 9:59 PM

      Fortunately for us those teams have to face our arms. Start Cabrera tomorrow. Bryce make contact.

  2. coollikelivo - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:00 PM

    Ugh, looked pretty pedestrian. Need to be on the lookout for late-season spoiler teams…..

    • coollikelivo - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:03 PM

      especially in your own division.

  3. veejh - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:00 PM

    Ok…losing 2 of the last 14 is ridic good, but this game was winnable. When is MW gonna realize Blev is just a LOOGY? I mean, come on, he gives up a run almost every time he comes in where it’s close. Stupid, stupid.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:01 PM

      Usually every game is winnable if you break it down. 2 leadoff doubles and the next batter in each case didn’t do his job with a productive out to move them over.

  4. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:00 PM

    Asdrubal talked himself in which is just the reason to never count these guys out unless you know for sure the severity. I’ve heard MW 3 times say a player wouldn’t play, just to see them play but in this case only heard he wouldn’t play on NatsInsider.

    • manassasnatsfan - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:13 PM

      On the ore game show he stood Charlie he could play.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:16 PM

        Yes, it was reported by several the same. Read the 1st comment on the game thread. One person stated Cabrera will get at least two days off.

        Didn’t even get one.

  5. manassasnatsfan - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:04 PM

    2 little things killed us

    MW allowing Blevins pitch to righty. When will he learn?

    Just as bad Defensive specialist ESPI looked like bull fighter allowing a playable double go, and gives up a run.

  6. manassasnatsfan - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    A third thing, terrible pitch recognition most of the night to all. Swinging at balls letting strikes go.

  7. nats128 - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    Good fight to the end. Ramos HR. Asdrubal with a pinch hit. I guess he doesnt care what people write on NatsInsider.

    • manassasnatsfan - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:11 PM

      They fight, but we made more mistakes than they did

      • nats128 - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:13 PM

        Nats didnt execute.

  8. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:16 PM

    Just a frustrating loss… Blevins… 2 lead off doubles… Inefficient defense…

    Get them tomorrow….

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:24 PM

      You can point at the big mistakes but all in all the game was there to win if the Nats bullpen holds them. Blevins couldn’t. He didn’t even get the leadoff lefty, Bryce did on the single and out at 2nd.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:28 PM

        When Blevins went in… I felt MW conceded the game…. As I do each and every time he goes in… He had that stretch where he pitched well but it’s clear to me, he shouldn’t face multiple batters and definitely not righties….

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:36 PM

        Players have to execute. Blevins didn’t do his job.

      • manassasnatsfan - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:35 PM

        I concur that the last 10 weeks Blevins is a white flag from MW. I would live to put him on waivers and see if someone would take him and bring up Cedano.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:41 PM

        Why bother. Reinforcements coming next week.

  9. ArVAFan - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:24 PM

    Off topic, but we had our “lunch with an umpire” last week. Here’s what we learned:

    1. They are generally happy with the replay system. Needs some tweaks, but overall working well. I found the stated reason kind of interesting “the system was designed by the players and the umpires, and they kept the lawyers away.”

    2. The players they like best are the ones that don’t get in their faces. (I think you can figure out the reverse).

    3. The one thing they want people to know about umpires: They’re human.

    • manassasnatsfan - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:33 PM

      I understand missing bang bang plays.

      What I want to know is why when follow pitch track to verify what I see, can 10 pitches on the same spot can be a strike 5 times and a ball 5 times. The strike zone should not float.

      My question would be are they aware that this happens in a game or are they in denial?

      Though I would prefer laser calls for strike zone, I would accept, human call, but a report in the box score saying how much agreement the laser and ump had. Then we could judge umps better, and I believe we would see improvement.

    • Eric - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:54 PM

      Interesting, thanks for sharing. Cool that you got to do that.

  10. manassasnatsfan - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:27 PM

    What is our record against Braves

  11. Hiram Hover - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:29 PM

    About Blevins

    Folks are complaining about MW’s choice to leave Blevins in vs righties, and I obviously understand why. But remember that Blevins has not really been a LOOGY over his career, and that the Nats BP currently–and unusually–has 3 LHP and only 4 RHP, which makes it harder for MW to convert him to a LOOGY now.

    In the short term, this problem will be solved by Sept call-ups, which will give MW more RH options. But I don’t see the Nats going with 3 lefties in the BP during the post-season (knock wood), and it’s hard to see right now how Blevins should be one of them.

  12. natinalsgo - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    Repost:

    Nats are scheduled to face AJ Burnett tonight, Hamels on Tuesday and King Felix, Chris Young, and Iwakuma in Seattle over the weekend and Kershaw in the Dodgers series.

    Why would anyone declare the Nats have the Division. After this tough stretch the Nats have 6 games in September vs the Barfs.

    • nats128 - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:38 PM

      Thats right. Just not the right time to make bold declarations. 20% of the season remaining.

      • manassasnatsfan - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:40 PM

        I am a lot more confident 7.5 up the 7.5 down

    • manassasnatsfan - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:38 PM

      I think we will go 4-5 or 5-4 on the trip. I don’t see the Barfs doing a whole lot better.

    • Section 222 - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:50 PM

      And the answer is still the same — except now we are 7 1/2 up with 32 to play. Yes, I know that bigger leads have been blown in a shorter time, but there’s a reason we remember the collapses — because they happen so rarely. The Braves aren’t that good, and we’ve won 3 of our last 5 games against them. And the Nats are a very good team right now, not a paper tiger ready to fold. Do you really think the Braves are going to sweep two series from us, including one at Nats Park? Jeff Sullivan on Fangraphs says it succinctly today: “The East, for all intents and purposes, has been decided.”

      It’s fine if you don’t think we have a big enough lead yet. If it makes you feel better, go ahead and continue to be nervous until the magic number is down to 0. I’m not trying to convince you to feel any differently. But don’t insult people who do feel differently by acting like it’s ridiculous to be confident at this point. It’s not.

      • Hiram Hover - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:54 PM

        +1 – nicely said.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:59 PM

        You said it nicely but to each their own. Nobody is calling anybody a jerk just pointing out this next 10 days is the toughest of the season.

      • veejh - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:04 PM

        …..and then we go back to waxing teams. It’s pretty much all NL East soon. I’m 100% confident.

      • Hiram Hover - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:11 PM

        I’m 100% confident that I’m 90% certain.

      • Section 222 - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:50 PM

        Exactly Ghost. To each their own. That’s a nice summary of what I just said. If Gonats wants to say, “Hey, I’m nervous and I’m not ready to declare this race over,” that’s totally fine. I don’t really care how he feels, nor should anyone else. But he didn’t. He said, “why would anyone declare the Nats have the Division?” That’s not “to each their own,” that’s “I know best and anyone who thinks differently is stupid.” And then after we lose a game, he decides he needs to repeat it, to underline the point. As if one loss to the Phillies changes the underlying situation at all. I’m sorry, but that’s obnoxious.

        And another thing — what’s with adopting as your handle the uniform fail of the Adam Dunn era? Might be time to reconsider that, eh? :-)

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:56 PM

        That, and …
        Suppose, arguendo, that we’re wrong. It’s mathematically possible. The Nats could blow this lead, and the Braves could finish it first.

        So what? Not to put too fine a point on it, but If we declare the race over, and it is, in fact, not over, and we are wrong, who fricken cares?

    • therealjohnc - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:36 PM

      I don’t think that the Nats are going to see Hernandez. He last pitched on 8/22 against the Red Sox. Unless they hold him back (and why would they; they’re fighting for the playoffs) he is set up to pitch Wednesday against the Rangers – which would mean he doesn’t pitch again until Monday, after the Nats head for LA

      • David Proctor - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:40 PM

        They pushed him back, they announced it today.

      • therealjohnc - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:42 PM

        I’ll correct myself; the Mariners are holding Hernandez back for King Felix Bobblehead night on Friday. With all the attendant hoopla he’ll probably get an even bigger zone than Burnett did tonight (and Burnett got an extra baseball or so all around the zone).

        According to pitch track, the ump set up Ruiz’s HR nicely by calling a pitch by Blevins a ball on a pitch that was as close to dead center in the zone as you’ll ever see. I look forward to automated balls & strikes.

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:52 PM

        Not the most even-handed strike zone tonight, for sure.

    • Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:50 PM

      Yes, it is a tough stretch. We still think they will come through it in first place, and the Braves won’t. That’s why we declare. You should try going to the Braves blogs and listen to what they are declaring — the end of civilization as we have known it.

  13. Eric - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:39 PM

    “I guess he doesnt care what people write on NatsInsider”

    At least someone doesn’t, so props to him for that, as well as the solid overall play. The way things go around here sometimes, you’d think the game was Comments Gotcha and baseball just a side show.

    Get ‘em tomorrow Nats!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:46 PM

      I remember the post-game when MW declared that Desi would sit one game of the doubleheader which was the next day. Desi played both games.

      Just not sure I would count anybody out until they are put on the DL.

    • Eric - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:50 PM

      Me either.

      I’m also not sure why it matters that someone else *would* count them out, especially in a comments threas. I literally just don’t understand the drive to revisit that sort of thing. Nothing against it by any means, just confusing.

    • David Proctor - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:16 PM

      “you’d think the game was Comments Gotcha and baseball just a side show.”

      Bingo. Certain posters feel the need to make prognostications and remind everyone ad nauseum when they are correct. They are also quick to point out when others make predictions that turn out to be wrong, as if they are correct 100% of the time. Which is fair to an extent, but the phrase “beating a dead horse” comes to mind.

      I’m not sure what point this serves or what it adds to the conversation and frankly the constant self-congratulating becomes nothing short of obnoxious at times. I suppose it helps reinforce their own belief that they are just the smartest and most in-tune Nats fan in all of Nats land.

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:07 AM

        Well, it might be regrettable, but the zeitgeist here for some time has been narcissism and an aggressive illiteracy, pushing against an insistence on civil discourse and fact-based rhetoric at the same time, sometimes all from the same posters. Overall, I think it’s getting better, but I miss the old days, when we had a sense of humor, and the trolls were smart.

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:08 AM

        And oh, yeah, we didn’t spend so much time in here, talking about how to talk in here.

      • natsfan1a - Aug 26, 2014 at 7:57 AM

        Yeah? Well, I said the same on December 13, 2011, and I said it first. So there. But, seriously? I miss the old days, too.

        Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa – Aug 26, 2014 at 12:07 AM

        Well, it might be regrettable, but the zeitgeist here for some time has been narcissism and an aggressive illiteracy, pushing against an insistence on civil discourse and fact-based rhetoric at the same time, sometimes all from the same posters. Overall, I think it’s getting better, but I miss the old days, when we had a sense of humor, and the trolls were smart.

      • Section 222 - Aug 26, 2014 at 8:25 AM

        sofa and 1a, you’re right, of course. And to the extent I play a part in the zeitgeist, I apologize.

        As for missing the old days, I’ll take a pennant winner over those 100 loss seasons any day. :-)

      • natsfan1a - Aug 26, 2014 at 9:50 AM

        Oh, right. Well, maybe we were talking about 2005. Yeah, that’s the ticket… :-)

        “As for missing the old days, I’ll take a pennant winner over those 100 loss seasons any day. :-)”

      • Eric - Aug 26, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        Ugh…accidentally reported DP’s comment from 8/25 @ 11:16 p.m. Please disregard.

  14. Nats fool - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    Why didn’t MW have a righty up to face Ruiz? Blevins’ pitches move in to righties. If he starts the balls on the middle of the plate, it will end up inside. If he starts the ball on the outside, it goes right to the barrel. His out pitch is the breaking ball starting on the front hip of lefties. You try to put your team in the best position to win every game. It seems like MW loses games to make a point.

    • David Proctor - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:42 PM

      He only has four righties. Stammen, Storen, Clippard and Soriano. Your options are very limited.

      If it were me, I don’t go to Blevins there to begin with.

      • Nats fool - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:53 PM

        I would have gone with Storen. It was the 7th. He does well against lefties.

  15. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:43 PM

    Tim Lincecum moved to the bullpen officially.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:04 PM

      Well I’ll be danged….

    • Eric - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:09 PM

      New meaning to the phase “knocked the starter out of the game.”

    • Hiram Hover - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:09 PM

      They pretty much telegraphed it over the weekend, but I guess now it’s official.

      Sorry for him–not that the Nats kicked his butt, but at this turn in his career. When he was on, he was fun to watch, and a great personality. The last part still seems to be true, at least….

      • veejh - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:55 AM

        Same thing happened in 2012, and what happened? They won the WS and Timmy kicked total azz in the playoffs. I don’t think this is too big a deal.

      • nats128 - Aug 26, 2014 at 6:28 AM

        Tim Lincecum threw a no hitter earlier this season. I suppose that only buys you a few weeks of job security. I saw Dallas Braden 3 years removed from a perfect game doing some sideline reporting for ESPN Baseball.

      • Hiram Hover - Aug 26, 2014 at 7:22 AM

        veejh

        If “by the same thing happened,” you mean Timmy sucked, yes.

        But in 2012 they didn’t move him to the BP until the post-season, when they no longer needed a 5-man rotation. Doing that now, in the midst of a playoff hunt and when they are already missing Matt Cain, is a big deal.

      • natsfan1a - Aug 26, 2014 at 8:00 AM

        Agreed. I think he’ll probably take it okay, though, in my opinion, but I could be wrong, possibly. I’m not sure. Anyhoo.

        “Sorry for him–not that the Nats kicked his butt, but at this turn in his career. When he was on, he was fun to watch, and a great personality. The last part still seems to be true, at least….”

      • natsfan1a - Aug 26, 2014 at 8:01 AM

        Yes. Yes, he did.

        “Same thing happened in 2012, and what happened? They won the WS and Timmy kicked total azz in the playoffs.”

  16. thomaswell - Aug 26, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    right now, i’m undecided on LHPs out of pen for the October roster. Obviously Thornton gets the nod. But it is almost a toss-up between Det and Blevins….. although that 5.13 ERA is awful for Blevins and favors Det (3.63 ERA). I think we may see in Sept an audition for Cedeno to POSSIBLY make the playoff roster as the 3rd LHP out of the pen in place of Blevins.
    The only other possible pitcher candidates I see MW looking closely at keeping for Oct is Mattheus. Again, i think it is low probability as he would be replacing Stammen, IMO

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