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More thoughts on Wednesday’s wild win

Sep 4, 2014, 6:00 AM EST

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Ample time has now passed since the Nationals wrapped up their 8-5, 14-inning win in Los Angeles yesterday evening, enough time to process everything that happened during the longest game in club history (5 hours, 34 minutes). And the primary takeaway continues to be this notion: That was simply an epic baseball game, no matter how it ended.

It would’ve been an epic game had it been played in mid-May by a couple of struggling teams. That it was played in September by the top two teams in the National League — two teams that very well might see each other again sometime in October — only adds to its significance.

Given how much transpired, and how many times the storyline changed over the final, oh, 2 1/2 hours, it’s worth revisiting several key aspects of this remarkable ballgame.

Adam LaRoche carried the Nats on his wounded back. There’s no two ways about this. LaRoche’s performance and effort yesterday were phenomenal given the situation. Out of the starting lineup for the second straight day due to a lingering back injury that had left him 1-for-23 on the road trip, he came up to pinch-hit for Tyler Moore in the top of the ninth and with the Nationals trailing by 2 runs. At which point he proceeded to launch the game-tying homer off Kenley Jansen. That would’ve been enough, but LaRoche was just getting started. He was hit by a pitch on his elbow in the top of the 11th, left writhing in pain. He singled home two more runs in the top of the 12th, giving the Nats a lead they would not hold. And then came his best effort of them all in the top of the 14th, when he had no choice but bust down the line to beat out a potential inning-ending double play, his hustle allowing Ian Desmond to score what proved to be the winning run. You can only imagine how LaRoche’s back felt at that moment; it couldn’t have been pleasant. But the soon-to-be 35-year-old sacrificed his body for his team, and it was well worth it. That gave LaRoche five RBI on the day, a remarkable (and record-tying) achievement considering he wasn’t even in the starting lineup. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is only the second player since 1961 to enter a game in the ninth inning or later and drive in five runs, along with the Orioles’ Harold Baines in 1999. Mighty impressive.

Bryce Harper is on a tear at the plate, and he’s not about to slow down. LaRoche got all the attention postgame, but much of what he did wouldn’t have been possible without the guy hitting directly in front of him in the lineup. Harper had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-6 with a walk and setting the stage for LaRoche. He opened the top of the ninth with a single off Jansen. He singled with two men on in the top of the 12th, putting LaRoche in position to deliver another of his big hits. And he showed patience to draw a walk in the 14th that advanced Desmond to second (putting him in position to take third on a pitch in the dirt and ultimately score on LaRoche’s grounder). How good has Harper been lately? Over his last 22 games, he is now hitting .329 with a .371 on-base percentage, seven homers and .968 OPS. More than that, he is playing with supreme confidence, the kind of stuff we haven’t seen from him since April 2013. And there’s no reason to believe he won’t keep this up the rest of the way (provided, of course, he stays healthy).

Xavier Cedeno, Aaron Barrett and Jerry Blevins all came up huge in relief. Any one of those three relievers easily could have given up the game-winning hit. Each faced a bases-loaded jam in extra innings, but each escaped the jam not by luck but with brilliant pitches. Cedeno entered with one out and the bases juiced in the bottom of the 10th, then proceeded to strike out Adrian Gonzalez on a fantastic, 1-2 slider. Barrett immediately followed and struck out Juan Uribe with a high-and-tight fastball. And one inning later, Blevins got out of his own, self-made, bases-loaded jam by getting Drew Butera to pop out and Dee Gordon to whiff at a curveball down in the zone. For Cedeno and Barrett, this was perhaps the first of several opportunities to prove they deserve a spot in a potential postseason bullpen. And for Blevins, this was an opportunity to deliver a big performance in a big spot near the end of a frustrating season. All three displayed — as the late, great, Gorilla Monsoon would’ve called it — “intestinal fortitude” to come up huge in those situations.

Matt Williams managed a very good game. Aided in part by an expanded September roster, Williams nonetheless pushed all the right buttons to help make this win possible. He was willing to set up advantageous matchups late thanks to mid-inning pitching changes. He managed to have Tyler Clippard available for a save situation in the 12th (even if Clippard wound up blowing the save). He had two fresh arms available late in case the game kept going in Blake Treinen and Ross Detwiler. He wound up using a club record 26 players (10 of them pitchers) to pull this one off, and he deserves credit for it.

The Nats just beat two very good teams on the road in September. There seems to be a perception that the Nationals can’t beat good teams. Perhaps this has to do with their longstanding struggles against the Braves and Cardinals, but it’s not particularly accurate. They just took two of three from the Dodgers on the road and went 4-2 against L.A. for the season (the two losses were to Clayton Kershaw). They also took two of three in Seattle against a playoff contender. And get this: They’re now 15-11 this season against the four other NL clubs currently in position to make the postseason (the Cardinals, Brewers, Dodgers and Giants).

165 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Pete "Hit 'n Run" Wood - Sep 4, 2014 at 6:12 AM

    This was simply the Nats best game of 2014! Epic. Good analysis MZ. Yes they can beat good teams.

  2. Joe Seamhead - Sep 4, 2014 at 6:42 AM

    Mark, you have also been amazing over these past 48 hours with your coverage and instant wrap-ups. Not to mention your moderation over the blogs. My hat’s off to you for a job well done. I think I can be so presumptuous as to say ” Thank you,” from the whole Nats Insider community.

    • TimDz - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:47 AM

      Nicely stated…

      +7 (hopefully it will be +8 soon….)

    • wearenationals - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:39 AM

      A superb recap Mark! I am sooo rev-ed up again, I am re-watching the last 2 innings right now. An epic game indeed.

    • janebeard - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:01 PM

      Joe, you speak for me for sure!

  3. ArVAFan - Sep 4, 2014 at 6:45 AM

    Noted from the MLB write-up: LaRoche was using Werth’s bat for his homer. So Natfan1a, putting out the Gnome may have helped after all!

    I had a class at the Smithsonian last night at 6:45. With a 3:10 start, I was sure the game would be over by the time it started. Not. Not only that, it was still going when we finished: I first thought that my At Bat wasn’t updating until I looked at the top line and saw the 14.

    Definitely going to watch this one after I retire (11/29. And counting).

    • dryw4nats - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:16 AM

      ArVA, my class last night was at 8:10. I REALLY thought there’d be no problem seeing the end of that one. I ended up tearing myself away from the car radio right after the Crawford homer. And I had the same thought about At Bat! I was just proud of myself for not breaking out in cheers in the middle of class when I finally did get the update. WHAT A GAME!!

    • scbilly - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      The rest of my family went to choir practice in the 10th inning. Imagine their surprise to find that the game wasn’t (quite) over when they got home.

  4. joemktg - Sep 4, 2014 at 6:50 AM

    1) And without Ramos in the lineup. Nice to see Leon make that run-saving stop with Cedeno on the bump.
    2) It’s a different game pre-September 1.
    3) Imagine this same game during an evening playoff game in front of a sellout crowd and worldwide audience. Damn shame only a few hundred were in the stands during the extras.

    • karlkolchak - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:24 AM

      It’s LA–they got to get out of the sun so they can get to their tanning salons on time. :D

      • natsfan1a - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:27 AM

        Ha – good one!

      • joemktg - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:01 AM

        Not the guy you’ll see here: go to Deadspin and see the post “Large, Half-Naked Dodgers Fan Is Living The _______________ Dream.”

      • adcwonk - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:55 AM

        Not the guy you’ll see here: go to Deadspin and see the post “Large, Half-Naked Dodgers Fan Is Living The _______________ Dream.”

        O….M…..G….. . . . totally awesome. As the article says: This guy knows how to live!

      • Hiram Hover - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:57 AM

        I do think the headline writer is taking some liberties with the term “half-naked.”

      • natsfan1a - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:10 AM

        ummm, I don’t really have anything against a good, old Anglo-Saxon word, but I think maybe joemktg advised us to Google it to avoid posting the full URL.

      • adcwonk - Sep 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

        ummm, I don’t really have anything against a good, old Anglo-Saxon word, but I think maybe joemktg advised us to Google it to avoid posting the full URL.

        You’re right. Or, I should have just made it a link.

        We want to keep this family-friendly. My bad.

  5. Joe Seamhead - Sep 4, 2014 at 6:50 AM

    While giving out thank you’s, here’s a shout out to Davey Johnson, wherever you are for your insistence that Mike Rizzo re-sign Adam LaRoche. His performance yesterday was the epitome of true grit.

    • laddieblahblah - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:31 AM

      Remember when so many wanted Rizzo to dump La Roche and sign Prince, Harper included? Many of those same folks would now be ripping Mike for making such a dumb move, had he been dumb enough to make it. And how many still wish Rizzo had kept Morse and let ALR go?

      Rizzo has not only made so many good moves, he has backed off many others which would have been really, really bad for the team. Moses may be the least-appreciated player in baseball, but he epitomizes the Nats, to me. It wasn’t just the clutch HR and the clutch single, it was also the determined way he forced his cranky back to outrun the DP relay to first to prolong that last, game-deciding rally, allowing Desmond to score from 3rd and bringing Cabrera to the late for the coup de grace.

      Even though he didn’t enter the game until the 9th, he was the player of the game, by far.

  6. natfan33 - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:17 AM

    I think MW’s one mistake was not having Desmond bunt late in the game with runners on 1st and 2nd and no one out. FP said Desmond is not a good bunter, but seeing that he was 0-5 at that point with 3 strikeouts, you got to try to move the runners. Instead, Desmond swung at 3 pitches low out of the strike zone for his 4th strikeout of the day.

    • bisonaudit - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:37 AM

      If he bunts there you’re taking the bat out of Harper’s hands. The Dodgers bunted in the same spot w/ Peterson and took the bat away from Kemp. It’s dumb. You’re giving up an out and substituting poorer hitters in exchange for one shot at a deep fly ball scoring a run. Williams was correct not to bunt there.

      • rlndtln - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:21 AM

        He should have bunted with Desi.Of course they would have walked Harp but we would avoided a Desi double play and would have had Adam with the bags loaded.We wound up with the same situation after the Harper hit but had much more risk to get there.

      • bisonaudit - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:56 AM

        You don’t get away from a double play because they walk Harper and Adam can hit into one to end the inning. You’re giving up an out for the chance to score a single run on a deep fly ball. It’s dumb. It’s dumber yet on the road when you don’t know how many runs you’re going to need.

    • NatsLady - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      Desi is a terrible bunter. He could easily have bunted into a doubleplay.

      • natfan33 - Sep 4, 2014 at 5:29 PM

        And he could have easily struck out in a tight game, which is what he did.

  7. natsfan1a - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:20 AM

    It was indeed epic. (fogey – fogette? – allusion alert) Nats to Dodgers: turn off the bubble machine.

    Seconding the thanks to Mark for his efforts. And thanks to ArVaFan re. the gnome. Maybe I’ll give him another appearance off the shelf.

  8. Muddy Ruel - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:32 AM

    Bryce’s slide into 2nd base in the 14th inning yesterday to break up the double play and allow Desi’s run to count should be mentioned among all his other stellar work yesterday and lately. Great hustle play in the 14th. If fact, since his bone-headed play last month where he got thrown out in a run down after singling to right field and inexplicably standing between 1st and 2nd looking at the right fielder, he and his play has been very “pro”. Salute to Bryce.

  9. Candide - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:34 AM

    Once more, just because:

    • natsfan1a - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      Niiice, again.

  10. natsjackinfl - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:37 AM

    I’m still amazed that Mattingly waited till Ellis got to 3rd on Puigs single to pinch run. It was like he realized he had made a huge mistake.

    Matheny pinch ran for Molina the instant he got to second base in the 9th against the Pirates yesterday. Sure enough, a base hit up the middle brings home the winning run.

    When it’s time to go for the walk off, you do it.

    A glaring managerial mistake. Thank you Don.

    • masterfishkeeper - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:06 AM

      Yes, that was hilarious. Sent the pinch runner out one at bat too late!

    • Section 222 - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:13 AM

      NJ, Molina scored the winning run for the Cards yesterday. You can look it up.

      Everyone’s having a great time dumping on Mattingly for the supposed blunder yesterday. The fact is, he had his reasons. He discussed them in the postgame presser. He may very well have made the wrong decision, but it’s a little too pat for everyone to say it was an obvious move, and by now everyone’s just piling on.

      MW pulled the right levers yesterday and it turned out. Mattingly got burned.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:18 AM

        I thought it was the right move… To hold the runner… What if Puig hit into a DP, then that’s a waste… Don’t think anyone would have thought it was smart to burn someone at that point… I read where they also lost some people earlier….

        No one expected Jayson to bobble it either… Never thought the ball was hit deep enough.. And can you imagine if Jayson got him out, they would be screaming about their 3rd base coach….

        And I owe you a drink, my page didnt refresh when I saw your comment …

      • Section 222 - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:23 AM

        GMTA. I was just going to stay silent about the decision until someone just made up the Molina thing.

        Mattingly said in an extra inning game he wasn’t going to use up a player unless it was absolutely necessary, which he felt it was when Ellis got to third. He also didn’t think a pinch runner would have scored on the single. That may or may not be true, but while it’s awfully easy to second guess, it’s not an easy or obvious call when you have a dwindling bench.

        Did the Dodgers bring up a 3rd catcher?

      • adcwonk - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:01 AM

        I thought it was the right move… To hold the runner…

        Absolutely. One of the announcers (I was listening to both TV and radio, so I can’t remember who said it) mentioned that Elias had been thrown out at the plate four times this year, and they didn’t want to make it a fifth.

        Did the Dodgers bring up a 3rd catcher?

        Yes, they did, and they used him (after Elias had been PR for later that inning).

      • Section 222 - Sep 4, 2014 at 1:22 PM

        wonk, on the catcher issue, it turns out that they actually started their September callup, 3rd catcher, Tim Fedorowicz. They double switched him out when replacing Brian Wilson with Jansen in the 8th. That’s when A.J. Ellis came in the game. He caught two innings and then walked and was eventually pinch run for in the 10th, replaced by Drew Butera, which meant they didn’t have a catcher left on the bench. Butera caught the last four innings of the game.

        I’d say not wanting to bring in your last catcher, as well as not burning a pinch runner in an extra inning game until absolutely necessary, are at least decent reasons for not pinch running for Ellis when he as on second. You could certainly argue that Ramos was a better pinch hitting option than Frandsen in the top of the 11th when the Nats had men on 1st and 2nd with one out, but MW didn’t use him. (Leon was already in the game after Espi pinch ran for Lobaton in the 9th.)

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:15 AM

      Uhm, Molina scored the winning run…. He booked it around 9th…

      • natsjackinfl - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:23 AM

        My bad. I was watching when the Pirates broadcast team were expressing their thoughts on running for Molina, especially since he seemed to be in some discomfort. I changed the channel back to the Nats and when I switched back McCutcheon was throwing to the plate and it did not look like Molina sliding in but I sure was wrong.

        Again, my bad.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:00 AM

      Puig was sure he had just won the game. Bat flipped and everything. He could NOT believe they held Ellis at third. You could see him ranting at Davey Lopes, his 1st base coach, for quite some time.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:10 AM

        That was the best with the bat flip. Reminded me all the times Sosa would do that on his HR trot and the ball would be caught on the warning track.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    • adcwonk - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:03 AM

      Should also mention: Mattingly was not the guy who struck out twice with bases loaded. That they didn’t score that inning is not on him.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:12 AM

        Exactly. It was still bases loaded and 1 out. Even with the Pinch Runner you never know if he holds him.

  11. breakbad1 - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:51 AM

    I watched the MASN post-game show, the MLB wrap–called it the game of the year–and all the local news/sports I could find. This after a combination of watching and/or listening to the game itself for 5 and 1/2 hours. Then sending happy texts to everyone.

    What a game. WHAT a game.

    • laddieblahblah - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:14 AM

      MLB’s “Quick Pitch” immediately labeled it a “classic.” You watch every game hoping you might see one like that, and every once in a long while, you do.

  12. natsjackinfl - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:53 AM

    The other in game maneuver that ended up biting Mattingly in the butt was the moving of Justin Turner to shortstop.

    I don’t know what other options he had but when it happened, I posted on twitter “Advantage Nationals”.

    Sure enough, the ball found Turner and Desmond did his only positive action of the day.

    • joemktg - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:59 AM

      He fielded that grounder with a heavy dose of hubris, and it came back to bite him right in the butt.

  13. Theophilus T.S. - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    Does anyone know LaRoche’s numbers against the shift?

  14. Doc - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:59 AM

    Giving ALR some periodic rest, the remainder of the season, may pay off in the play-offs.

    Hope MW looks at the expanded roster as an opportunity to pace the starters too.

  15. laddieblahblah - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    I can’t believe I watched the whole thing!

    Earlier this year, the Nats would have lost that game, and they tried to give this one away on multiple occasions. But new guys like Blevins, Barrett, Cedeno and Treinen picked up Soriano and Clippard. Old man Moses shuffled on from stage right and saved the usually stalwart Jayson Werth from a miserable 6-hour flight home. And the new guy, by the exotic name of Asdrubal Cabrera, applied the coup de grace. The Dodgers? They provided the background scenery for what was a dramatic and epic presentation of Washington National’s baseball grit. This is not the 2012 Nationals’ team, nor the early 2014 crew of bumblers. These guys are really, really good, and baseball tough.

    A great west coast swing, for sure, and a big difference between a 3-6 road trip and a 4-5.

    A few other observations – the Z-mann and Strasburg are the 2 best pitchers the Nats have. They were dominant on that trip, yet again. The Nats have acknowledged that Gio continues to battle a “tight shoulder,” whatever that is, but Gio has learned how to pitch through it, and made his 3rd straight solid effort, in spite of it. Those 3 are still the Nats Big Three. Fister was victimized by some bad luck and poor defensive support, but he is still a great no. 4, and Roark proved, once again, that when he does not have his command he is very ordinary and very hittable. Still, I will take those 5 over any other rotation in baseball.

    Finally, Desmond resumed his downward spiral on that trip. A week or two ago he was driving the ball up the middle and taking outside pitches to RF and right center, and very successfully. I allowed myself to believe that he finally woke up and was about to embark on a very productive run down the stretch.

    But something happened. Maybe it was that blast he hit in Seattle. Whatever it was, he has reverted to the pull-mode cave man swing that has characterized most of his season, with the predictably miserable results. He has struck out 13 times in his last 23 ABs. That is not bad, it is God-awful, especially for a guy hitting in the heart of the order.

    What has bugged me all season long is that Desi, unlike Espinosa, has the talent to be a .300 hitter, with pop, but he chooses not to be that hitter. It is the choice that he has made that makes no sense to me. He prefers to go up there, time and time again, trying to kill the ball, trying to drive it as far as he can into, or over, the LF bleachers, thereby making of himself easy pickings for even minimally competent ML pitching.

    He has the same turbo zone as the left-handed Espinosa, down and on the inside of the plate. Both men can drive that pitch to Kingdom Come if a pitcher makes a location mistake and gives either man that one to hit. He also has the same holes in his swing, breaking balls down and away, and 2-strike FBs up in the zone – the kill pitch for both men.

    We have seen how a formerly highly productive batsman has deliberately morphed himself into a Danny Espinosa clone. Those who do not believe there is a psychological component to the game will not find the answers as to why he has made that choice by looking at any stat sheet. The answer lies somewhere in the billions of neural networks encased between his ears. Maybe there is a short-circuit in there, somewhere. Maybe someone a lot smarter than I will figure it out. No one on the Nats has been able to, up to now.

    For the sake of the team, I hope Rizzo moves him in the off-season and makes him someone else’s problem. Maybe the change of scenery will do him some good, as it apparently has for Cabrera. Droobs has now hit 5 HRs since joining the team about a month ago, making him one of the team’s leading power guys for the month of August. Funny that, since you will never see Cabrera swinging for the downs the way Desmond and Espinosa so often do.

    • Muddy Ruel - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:24 AM

      One more observation re Desi: He seems to put pressure on himself that affects him negatively. He wants to be Nats’ team captain. He got a nice contract in the off season but not the long-term one he wants. He may be wanting to prove to the Nats he’s a guy they should sign long-term for lots of bucks. He seems to hit better when he’s battling lower down in the other. He doesn’t seem to do well battling second or fifth. (Fangraphs or other such site may have that stat …) So, in short, pressure seems to have a negative effect on him …

      • dcwx61 - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:45 AM

        +1, and I wonder if batting cleanup puts even more pressure on him

      • adcwonk - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:07 AM

        +1, and I wonder if batting cleanup puts even more pressure on him

        I was thinking the exact same thing.

      • laddieblahblah - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:33 AM

        Agree 100%. He has always done his best out of the 7-hole, and has always done less well the higher the Nats slot him in the batting order.

    • Hiram Hover - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:49 AM

      Ian is having a down year, no doubt, and what to do with him long-term is not an easy question.

      But it doesn’t contribute much to a serious answer to resort to over-the-top comparisons (a Danny E clone? Danny at his very best could barely match Ian’s #s this year) and Sagan-esque flights of fancy about the billions and billions of neurons in his cranial cosmos.

      • laddieblahblah - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:30 AM

        “But it doesn’t contribute much to a serious answer to resort to over-the-top comparisons (a Danny E clone? Danny at his very best could barely match Ian’s #s this year)”

        Really? Danny is actually a better hitter from the right side than Desmond, this year, and by a wide margin. You can look it up.

        Desmond’s strike out totals are on pace to exceed the worst strike out totals that Espinosa has ever put up in his entire career, let alone this year. You can look it up.

        “Sagan-esque flights of fancy about the billions and billions of neurons in his cranial cosmos.”

        OK. Let’s hear your rationale. I’m game. And there are actually trillions of neurons in everyone’s cranium, not just billions. That is not a flight of fancy, it is scientific fact. If you know of another, better explanation for human thought, send it to Scientific American. You could end up with the Nobel for Biology, if you’ve got one.

      • Hiram Hover - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:03 AM


        Citing Danny’s #s only vs LHP doesn’t mean much when most MLB pitchers aren’t lefties. Against RHP there’s no comparison.

        As for strikeouts–it’s the rate that really matters, not the overall #s. Nobody is happy with Desi’s K rate, and it is definitely up this year – almost 29%, vs about 22% for his career. Danny is at over 28% on his career, and over 33% on the year.

        But you can’t focus only on Ks and ignore the other 70+% of his ABs. Even with all the Ks and during a down year, Desi is putting up a wRC+ of 100, which means he’s a league average hitter–or in other words, an above average hitter for SS.

        Is that good enough to warrant a long term extension approaching 9 figures? In itself, probably not. So the Nats have to evaluate whether this is an aberrant year, or the new normal for Desi, or a trend that will get even worse in the future. But I don’t think hyperbolic comparisons and selective quoting of stats contributes much to that evaluation.

        As for the Sagan-esque bit: if you want to discuss the number of neurons in the human brain, fine by me. But I doubt this is the right place for it, and I am sure it does not contribute to the discussion of whether to extend Desi. So yes, a flight of fancy.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:14 AM

        I kinda like flights of fancy, but that’s just me.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:50 PM

        “I kinda like flights of fancy, but that’s just me.”

        That’s because you sit in first class.

    • therealjohnc - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      Hooray! A wild, crazy victory over a likely playoff opponent in a game with real postseason implications (the #1 seed, and being able to avoid a short series vs. a team with Kershaw).

      So let’s celebrate for two paragraphs – Woot! And then spend six paragraphs complaining.

      Geez Louise, what a tough crowd

  16. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    If the dodgers want to be mad at anything…. They should be upset that they are hitting 179 with bases loaded… Think league average is 220 or something…

    But whatever… Nats won in a helluva game…. Gonna watch it again when it comes on MASN in 45 minutes.

  17. Hiram Hover - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    An awesome game, and awesome performance by Adam.

    Many players contributed,which tends to happen when 26 guys take the field at one point or another.

    I have to enter a word of caution about Blevins, tho–I wouldn’t lump him in with Cedeno and Barrett as a “guy who came up huge in relief.”

    If Blevins “came up huge,” it was only in the sense that he cleaned up the huge mess that he created for himself in the first place.

    Glad he got out of it, but I can’t say I come out of it really feeling better about him.

    • adcwonk - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:08 AM

      If Blevins “came up huge,” it was only in the sense that he cleaned up the huge mess that he created for himself in the first place.

      It wasn’t as bad as it looked in the boxscore, however.

      The two singles were grounders up the middle, and the first one might have even tipped Blevins’ glove. I.e., I think he was BABIP’d.

      • Hiram Hover - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:31 AM

        I was watching, and it looked bad enough in real time.

        I had to retreat to the kitchen and put dishes away to distract myself during that inning (tho that did increase the chances that I would hurl something breakable if he blew it.)

        Fortunately, he didn’t, and the crockery is intact.

      • nats106 - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:04 AM

        I appreciate it when houseguests clean up their own mess as well. It’s the ones who trash it and say “thanks for having us” that irate me. You could see on Blevins’ face that he was either both very lucky and/or very relieved that the inning turned out the way it did. Good for him.

        And of course, good for the Nats. Anyone who has not been a LaRoche fan has GOT to be one now. I appreciate it all the more as one who has had back problems in the past. It isn’t that easy just to run in linearly much less swing a bat and hustle down the line.

        These guys are like a football team (at least for now) they played as a unit and picked each other up. Can’t wait for the weekend series at home to welcome them back.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        Also on a kitchen note, I went to make dinner before he came in (hey – I was hungry) . When I came back, the bases were loaded and I saw him escape the jam. Timing is everything. ;-)

      • natsfan1a - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:17 AM

        The look on his face was priceless.

        “I appreciate it all the more as one who has had back problems in the past. It isn’t that easy just to run in linearly much less swing a bat and hustle down the line.”

      • nats106 - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:51 AM

        Hiram, I also must add, I did the exact same thing when Blevins was pitching. Clean dishes out of the dishwasher, dirty ones in. Nervous energy. Had it been on the East Coast I’d been screaming for my favorite beer vendors.

      • adcwonk - Sep 4, 2014 at 3:05 PM

        I was doing worse than cleaning dishes. I was parked in front of the TV trying to mentally prepare for a loss and to not be too frustrated about it, etc. (I’m a big believer that if being a fan causes too many negative feelings, then it’s not worth it — so I try to be happy at the good times (I actually jumped up and down when ALR beat out that potential DP) and to shrug off the bad times. Life’s too short, ya’ know?

  18. Joe Seamhead - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    Though it happened early in the game, relatively speaking, Denard Span’s running catch has received very little mention. It was pretty impressive:

    • NatsLady - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:34 AM

      It’s been on Quick Pitch all morning, eclipsed only by Kolten Wong, who laid out in the Cards-Pirates game.

  19. Steve - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    One more thing about Harper. For the second time in the last two weeks, he busted up a double play on a hard slide to permit a slow-running batter (yesterday LaRoche, earlier Ramos) to beat the relay (both LaRoche and Ramos busted their tails down the line to first) and allow a runner from third (I believe Desmond in both cases) to score a crucial run.
    Also, all-in-all, this team has run the bases real well in the past several weeks.

    • laddieblahblah - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      They have been dynamite on the base paths of late. Matt has wanted them to become that kind of running team since day one of ST. I give him a lot of the credit for the new, improved Nats running game.

  20. stoatva - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:36 AM

    At which point he proceeded to launch the game-tying homer off Kenley Jansen. That would’ve been enough,


    • adcwonk - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:09 AM


      +18 !

      • natsfan1a - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        Glad to see that comment wasn’t passed over.

      • NatsLady - Sep 4, 2014 at 1:48 PM

        I thought it was great. Went back to find it when I made my game post. I almost renamed the post, but I still liked Ray Knight’s interjection better, because I just laughed and laughed.
        I Don’t Really Care How They Feel

      • adcwonk - Sep 4, 2014 at 3:06 PM

        Glad to see that comment wasn’t passed over.


  21. Candide - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    Someone commented somewhere that Mattingly is getting roasted by the Dodgers’ fans.

    I went to the LA Times website, and the three stories I found about the game had a total of about a dozen comments.

    Looks like the tens of thousands of fans who didn’t show up at the park yesterday didn’t have anything to say online.

    Has anyone ever trotted out that old cliche, “We have the best fans in the world” when talking about LA?

    • natsjackinfl - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:03 AM

      I went to the Dodgers MLB website for the comments on Mattingly. There were 1,166 comments this morning. A lot were the typical banter back and forth with Giants fans but once you got to about the 700 mark (or thereabouts) you get into the game comments.

      I very seldom read the newspaper comments. I’ll read the articles but just as I do with the WaPo, I skip the comments.

  22. dcwx61 - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:48 AM

    I was driving home listening to the game but had to stop at Ledo’s bar in College Park….couldn’t wait to get home.
    A small crowd but larger than those left in Chavez Ravine.
    Couldn’t believe what we saw even with glasses on.

  23. bisonaudit - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    @ NYM 0.2%
    @ Atl 14.4%
    @ Mia 49.3%
    idle Atl v Pit 5.5%
    v. NYM 24.2%
    v. Mia 5.9%
    tie 0.3%
    not 0.2%

    Sa 9/13 @ NYM <0.1%
    Su 9/14 @ NYM 0.2%
    Mo 9/15 @ Atl 1.3%
    Tu 9/16 @ Atl 4.3%
    We 9/17 @ Atl 8.8%
    Th 9/18 @ Mia 6.5% Atl idle
    Fr 9/19 @ Mia 13.9%
    Sa 9/20 @ Mia 14.9%
    Su 9/21 @ Mia 14.0%
    Mo 9/22 idle Atl v Pit 5.5%
    Tu 9/23 v NYM 11.2%
    We 9/24 v NYM 7.9%
    Th 9/25 v NYM 5.1%
    Fr 9/26 v Mia x2 4.2%
    Sa 9/27 v Mia 1.1%
    Su 9/28 v Mia 0.5%

    • ArVAFan - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:59 AM

      Be careful with Philly. From

      “Phillies: Series-ly good
      By taking two of three in Atlanta this week, Philadelphia has won four of its past five series. Each victory has come against a winning team as the Phillies have taken down the Mariners, Cardinals, Nationals and Braves.

      Philadelphia finished August at 14-13, its first winning month since September 2012, and the Phillies have opened September with a 2-1 record.”

      Here’s hoping that we even things up for them in September. I mean, we wouldn’t want them to have two winning months in a row and go into the offseason feeling good about themselves now, would we?

      • adcwonk - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:12 AM

        Hey — Phillies might be playing well enough for Amaro to dream they have a chance next year, and will keep their senior citizens yet another year — good news for the rest of the division.

        OTOH, they do have a seriously good 7-8-9-inning tandem in Deikman, Giles, and Papelbon — I’m not surprised that those three were able to finish a no-hitter started by the always good Hamels.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        Let the Phillies play well…Nats have three games against them (in Washington), Braves have three games against them (in Philadelphia).

  24. edshelton2013 - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    Totally agree with you re: Desmond. Every team has the “book” on him: make him chase low and away, then K with high heat above the letters. FP mentioned it at least twice yesterday. And why does MW put him at clean-up? Maybe to show confidence in him? He should hit seventh till he figures it out.
    Rizzo needs to move him before his contract expires. He can find another SS via trade, if not in our ML system.

    • Candide - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:07 AM

      He can find another SS via trade, if not in our ML system.

      I assume you have someone in mind?

      A shortstop who’ll hit 20 HRs, steal 20 bases, play decent defense, durable, clubhouse leader, always with his head in the game?

      Yup, lots of guys like that. They’re all over the place. You could probably pick one up on waivers.

      • Joe Seamhead - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:15 AM

        Candide? I think Asdrubal Cabrera gives Rizzo a viable bargaining chip in the negotiations with Desmond, if nothing else.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:16 AM

        Oh, and busts his ass down the line to beat out a routine ground ball to short in the 14th inning of the last game on a West Coast trip, even tho he is 0-7, and scores the winning run.

        Hint: it ain’t Hanley.

      • Hiram Hover - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:24 AM

        Cabrera is a free agent after this season and there will be a healthy market for his services.

      • Candide - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:25 AM

        I think Asdrubal Cabrera gives Rizzo a viable bargaining chip in the negotiations with Desmond, if nothing else.

        The ripples from that move don’t strengthen the team. Fine, unload Desi, move Drubes to SS. Then who goes to second? Rendon, of course. And who goes to third? Zimmerman. Ouch.

        Result: You’ve weakened your defense at third without strengthening anything else.

        I’ve never been the head of the Desi cheerleading squad; I find his swing-from-the-heels approach immensely frustrating, because I think he could be a .300 hitter without losing much power if he just disciplined his approach.

        But it’s one thing to say he isn’t as good as he could be, and something else entirely to blithely claim we could easily unload him for someone better.

        Again, give me a name.

      • laddieblahblah - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:49 AM

        The Nats do not need a SS who can hit 20 homers, but if Cabrera hits 5 more this September he will end up with 19 for the year. He has hit 5 homers since joining the team, just about a month ago, more than Desmond over the same stretch. He also seems to be better able to catch and throw a baseball, a major consideration for the position.

        He is a better option at SS than Desmond, and Rizzo might be able to get a good 2nd baseman or 3rd baseman for Desmond in trade, with Rendon as the wild card alternative to fill in at whichever position, as needed.

        “Yup, lots of guys like that. They’re all over the place. You could probably pick one up on waivers.”

        They’ve already got one, now playing at 2nd, who wants to go where he can play SS. Why not here?

      • bowdenball - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:15 AM

        Desmond has a higher OPS than Cabrera this year. His had a higher OPS than Cabrera last year (by almost 100 points). He had a higher OPS than Cabrera in 2012 (by almost 100 points even though Cabrera was an all-star). Desmond has been the better defensive player by any reasonable measure, and is by far the better baserunner. Saying that Cabrera can simply replace Desmond based on a month of data and observation and ignoring the previous three seasons’ worth doesn’t make a lot of sense.

        Could Cabrera take over for Desmond? Sure, I guess, if you want to save money and spend it elsewhere and ignore what Desmond has meant to the clubhouse and the community. There’s nothing wrong with having Cabrera as your starting SS at all, he’s a solid ballplayer. But he’d most likely be a significant downgrade on the field, and obviously off it as well.

      • Candide - Sep 4, 2014 at 1:51 PM

        They’ve already got one, now playing at 2nd, who wants to go where he can play SS. Why not here?

        Because, as I said before, the ripple effect is ultimately a weakened infield defense. Cabrera at short means Rendon goes to second. Okay, fine, I have no doubt Rendon would be an excellent second baseman. But that leaves third base vacant, and I don’t think any sane person considers RZimm to be anything more than adequate there any more.

        You could argue that RZimm at third and Rendon at second is a net offensive plus compared to Rendon at third and Cabrera at second. But if Bowdenball’s claims above are to be believed – and I don’t have any reason to doubt them – then Cabrera at short vs. Desi at short is a net offensive minus.

        So overall, moving Cabrera to short weakens the defense without strengthening the offense.

        I’d love to keep Drubes, if we can get him to live long and prosper at short. Otherwise… hmmm, I dunno. But that’s what Mike Rizzo gets paid the big bucks to figure out.

    • laddieblahblah - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:39 AM

      “And why does MW put him at clean-up? Maybe to show confidence in him? He should hit seventh till he figures it out.”

      I do not understand that, either. Cabrera is not only a much better contact hitter, he has displayed more power than Desmond since joining the team. And then there is a guy named Bryce Harper. Desmond has been, without a doubt, the worst hitter in the lineup ever since Matt moved him into the 5-hole to replace Zim.

      He was even worse than that as the clean-up hitter replacing La Roche.

  25. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    So, in hindsight, since this was an epic win for the fans but hard-won for the players, a hypothetical: if Matty had put someone fresh in right for Werth in the ninth (and don’t lie, you were wishing they had Taylor at some point during extras), Soriano gets the save, and they get a nice come-from-behind, 9-inning win in the rubber game, and a normal flight home, but not the morale boost of that Beethoven symphony of a game. Will it help more than it hurt?

    • adcwonk - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:14 AM

      I don’t know if “fresh” had anything to do with it. It was, indeed, right in the sun lane. Check out Werth’s shadow if you look at the replay. The ball is definitely coming at him directly from the sun.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:22 AM

        Tough sun, no doubt. Another guy might have missed it, too. But it shoulda been caught. he got there a little late with a tough read.

    • natsfan1a - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:22 AM

      Is it me, or is it annoying when they play Beethoven’s 5th? (Yeah, yeah, I get it. Fate knocking at the door and all.)

      “but not the morale boost of that Beethoven symphony of a game”

      • Candide - Sep 4, 2014 at 1:56 PM

        Well, I’m never annoyed to hear Beethoven’s 5th. My car’s license plates say, “OP 67.”

        (BTW, Beethoven almost certainly never said that “fate knocking at the door” business. Story comes from a friend of his, Anton Schindler, who had a strong reputation for making stuff up…)

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        Maybe Op. 55 would be more appropriate for this one?

  26. Candide - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    the morale boost of that Beethoven symphony of a game.

    Beethoven’s Ninth runs something under 75 minutes, tops.

    This was more like Wagner’s Gotterdammerung, Five hours.

    Or if you want something with a happy ending, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, also about five hours.

    • stoatva - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      Wagner’s music, as Mark Twain famously commented, is better than it sounds.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      I was going more for the “missed so many chances to end” thing.

  27. NatsLady - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    Mark, I don’t think Detwiler was a “fresh arm.” MW would only have used him in the extreme, like if Treinen went five innings or something, and even then he might have used a starter…

    • NatsLady - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:39 AM

      Also, if I understand FP, the FB was poor pitch selection on Clippard’s part, given the shadows. FP said a fastball would be the only thing they could hit, and lo, he threw one. That third out played hard to get, again.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:45 AM

        FP said that but the location was meatballish. Perfect time for the splitter just to fool him but even before Crawford stepped in, Asdrubal has to get that grounder from Uribe.

      • Section 222 - Sep 4, 2014 at 1:28 PM

        Ghost, I agree with you on Uribe’s single before the Crawford homer. Cabrera was there, he just didn’t get down in time. Definitely a makeable play. You have to expect some mistakes like that by the 12th inning though. Those guys must have been really tired by then.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 1:55 PM

        My comment at the time on that single was “Even 4 innings ago, he gets to that.” I think that’s about right.

  28. stoatva - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    I continue to be fascinated by Mike Trout’s sub-par second half performance. He’s hitting .238 since the All Star break (and that represents an improvement over a couple of weeks ago). Power numbers still good, and he could get hot at any moment, but I seem to recall that he faded toward the end in 2012. This will be his first experience playing meaningful games in September and beyond. I will watch with interest.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:22 AM


    • Candide - Sep 4, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      Maybe he needs to go down to AAA for a few weeks to work things out ;-)

  29. lowstrikes - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    Great insights and observations on this board today. Here’s mine: with these improbable, Indiana Jones escapes, and from-the-jaws-of-defeat victories, this Nats season has set us all up for a lifetime of renewed baseball passion. We are getting an overdose of something behavior psychologists call intermittent reinforcement, which pumps life and breath into the weather-beaten old cliche “it ain’t over ’til it’s over”. Bottom of the ninth, two down, two strikes…sure, technically something good could happen…well, now, it’s, “Hold on, man…we’ve still got a strike to burn…”. And when the opponent steals second, apparently successfully…”Hold on, man…he might have come off the bag…”. And when the game is on the line and we hit the batter with a pitch…you get the idea. What a season. And plenty of baseball left to play.

    We’ll never, ever forget Adam LaRoche.

    • letswin3 - Sep 4, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      You got it, LS. Improbable, yes, but sounding a little Nattish.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:10 PM

      So, a Top 5 All-Time Nats performance? Close to Zim’s walkoff of the Yankees in 2006, or better?

  30. NatsFool - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    I like the plate approach from the lineup, with the exception of Desmond. With Cabrera, I notice pitchers really have to work. Having that in the 8-hole makes for a balanced, potent attack. I thought Desmond had worked his problems out with the 10-pitch at bat against King Felix, but it appears he has reverted to form. That poses a number of issues. With Bryce’s power returning, you need a table-setter. There have been too many solo HR’s. I would move Cabrera in front of Harper. Second, we need to sign Cabrera. I think Desmond is the more expendable of the two. Plus his defense is terrible and I’m worried about what he will do in the playoffs.

    • bisonaudit - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:01 AM

      Desmond is a better defensive SS than Cabrera.

      • jd - Sep 4, 2014 at 12:36 PM

        Desmond is an overall better player than Cabrera by all measurable parameters. Desmond is clearly not a perfect player, far from it but he does rank as the 4th best short stop in the NL this year (behind Peralta, Rollins and Castro).

        It’s a reasonable question as to whether to sign Desmond long term or not based on cost and potential for decline (same questions apply to Cabrera) but I don’t think that his play has been as negative as some suggest.

    • Joe Seamhead - Sep 4, 2014 at 11:01 AM

      I want to go on record that I am not throwing Ian Desmond under the bus and I hope that he is back next year, though more on terms similar to what ALR got last year, that is, two years with an option. My mention of Cabrera above was made strickly to point out that there may be another option if Desmond’s demands, or the markets for him, are too outlandish,
      That said, the guy does frustrate the hell out of us all sometimes.His plate disipline is often horrible, but he is at, or near, the top of the club in many key categories. And he makes the vast majority of routine plays at short, with web gems thrown in. He also makes plenty of errors at short, but most guys playing that position do. I believe that though he is not infallible, ALR saves him from a lot more errors with his picks at first.

      • masterfishkeeper - Sep 4, 2014 at 11:14 AM

        I’m pretty sure that Ian’s still with the Nats next year, just like JZimm, unless he is traded in the offseason, which would greatly surprise me.

        I agree that resigning him after that will be a difficult choice.

  31. Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    I still see posts about the Jayson Werth drop in the 9th inning. Personally, off the bat I thought it was a HR off the foul pole and was thrilled to see Werth in position to catch it. Sh-t happens. I don’t know if it was sun or his positioning or why the ball wasn’t caught but kudos to Soriano for stranding the runner at 2nd and keeping it a tie game.

    We all know Jayson’s defensive skills aren’t what they once were and we saw Carl Crawford take the extra base on him in the game.

    As good as Jayson looked a week ago when he had the off-day and the DH is how quickly he seems to lose his legs.

    Thank the baseball gods for September callups and getting some of these players some more rest. Desi, Rendon, Werth and ALR are due some days this weekend to be ready for the Barves.

    • David Proctor - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      I thought Jayson got to that bloop reasonably well, he just made a poor throw. If the throw is on the bag, Crawford is out

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:18 PM

        I agree. The Dodgers were the aggressive running team all series and none bigger than Kershaw going 1st to 3rd on Bryce which I still think was dumb having your MVP risk it.

        The one time they weren’t aggressive was Ellis holding at 3rd on the Puig hit.

  32. nats128 - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    I still think that come from behind 5 run deficit against the San Francisco Giants was more improbable. This was a nice win and luckily there was little panic on the NI while it was unfolding. Different story on the Twitter.

    You wouldnt want to change the story but how nice would it had been if the Nats took it to Frias??? They had there chances early and squandered them.

  33. Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 4, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    “natsjackinfl on September 4, 2014 at 7:53 am
    The other in game maneuver that ended up biting Mattingly in the butt was the moving of Justin Turner to shortstop.

    Sure enough, the ball found Turner and Desmond did his only positive action of the day.”

    Desi didn’t do much offensively but scoring the eventual winning run which he did on hustle and instinct.

    He caught Turner napping as he raced it down the line and caused Turner to have to then rush a throw.

    After Harper’s walk moved Desi to 2nd he took a great secondary lead and got to 3rd on what was scored a wild pitch which most runners wouldn’t advance on.

    I credit Desi for both which set up scoring on the attempted 6-4-3 doubleplay which failed.

    Many Dodgers fans said it wasn’t hit hard enough for a doubleplay but again credit Desi for going on contact and scoring the winning run.

    As you see, Desi made several good plays even though the box score doesn’t look spectacular.

    • nats128 - Sep 4, 2014 at 11:10 AM

      Great synopsis and how soon they forget. If Desi is jogging to 1st, hes easily out. If Desi doesnt take the big secondary lead he doesnt make it to 3rd and score on the Laroche fielders choice.

      The man scored the Game Winning Run! A total team win.

      The Dodgers fanbase is wondering what had just happened.

      • rayvil01 - Sep 4, 2014 at 11:23 AM

        “The Dodgers fan base is wondering what just happened. ”

        They aren’t alone. I was watching it and was doing plenty of wondering myself.

        Without having a rooting interest for one of those teams that game was probably mildly interesting. But for the emotionally invested it was a ride in a fighter jet…air sickness bags at the ready.

      • NatsLady - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:03 PM

        I’m still not sure why Hanley came out.

      • nats128 - Sep 4, 2014 at 5:59 PM

        Was it a double switch

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 3:03 PM

        Hanley has been hurt on and off, mostly on, all year. He’s hitting something like Jose Altuve’s weight, nevermind his own, since he got off the DL.

  34. micksback1 - Sep 4, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Watched it all, Wow, what game, my thoughts….

    one of the funnest games I have ever watched, I played in a game like that back in the day and was on the losing end.

    As I posted yeterday about what to do when R Zim is healthy, I said If ALR is not 100% he should be the odd man out…ALR you were a beast yesterday and if he is healthy, clearly he should not be taken out. I do think Zim could still end up playing 1st base at some point in the post season and I did document that back on june 15, MW stated Ryan was natural playing first and that there are no issues! Also, some of you act like RZim playing first is something fans made up. Are you serious….

    I also am convinced that Crebrera has to be in the line up period. So, the question is does nayone think Werth, Bryce or Span should sit….hell no!!

    So, who sist, right now and since Crebrera has been playing short stop for the past sseveral seasons, Desi shoud sit if he continues to have horrific at bats. yes, I am happy Desi showed he is a team player by his basde running and still finding a way to help the team when his offense is terrible, but, if he does not become competetive at the plate, he should be the odd man out. Why Desi was batting clean up at all is a mystery to me. This is nota question of solid hits that are outs, this is a question that when you are 0-7 in one game and not even close to havinga solid hit and were 1 for 18 on this road trip should you be in the line up??

    Soriano i suppose did his job and I felt bad for Werth.

    Clip is another issue, I simply think he is going to cost this team in a game in october, that pitch was TERRIBLE froma veteran pitcher.

    Overall, the Nats showed guts and heart yesterday and they are in a great place!

    • lowstrikes - Sep 4, 2014 at 11:32 AM


    • jd - Sep 4, 2014 at 12:46 PM


      Desi isn’t gonna sit in the post season, ain’t gonna happen. You don’t go through a full season with a key player (one who leads the team in home runs and RBI’s not to mention all of the other small things he does well) and then sit him in the post season.

      For starters I haven’t seen anything on a firm return date for Zim. If and when he returns and if he’s at full strength I am reasonably sure that we go back to the alignment before he got hurt (Cabrera will come off the bench). The other thing to consider is that things generally take care of themselves, teams are not normally completely healthy for long stretches.

      Let’s let this play out and will see what happens.

    • bowdenball - Sep 4, 2014 at 1:15 PM

      What’s being said here about Desmond is virtually identical to what was being said about Bryce Harper a month ago.

      Talent always wins out. That’s why front offices don’t respond to hot or cold spells with wild overreactions like fans do. They understand the talent, and because they monitor hundreds of ballplayers at a time instead of 25 they know that players often run hot or cold and it almost always balances out in the end.

      I do agree that Desi should not have been hitting cleanup, though. That was a weird decision.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:08 PM

        +1 on all three points.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:35 PM

        I do agree that Desi should not have been hitting cleanup, though. That was a weird decision.

        Matty threw a lot of stuff up against the wall yesterday. It won’t all stick. Most of it did, though. So there’s that. Which is nice.

  35. bowdenball - Sep 4, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    People are focusing on this win as more exciting than meaningful, and rightfully so. But the importance of this one to the postseason picture shouldn’t be lost.

    The Nats are now two full games clear of the Dodgers for best record in the National League and hold the tiebreaker as well. This puts them in a great position to avoid what I consider the two worst possible scenarios for the NLDS: facing the resurgent, healthy Cardinals with Wainwright potentially making two starts, and facing the Dodgers with Kershaw making two starts. The only way to assure that you don’t find yourself in either situation is by grabbing the top seed, since the Cards and Dodgers would either meet in the NLDS, or in the unlikely event that one of them falls to the wild card they’ll use their ace in the wild card game.

    Yesterday probably didn’t mean much to the Nats’ chances of making the postseason. They’re going to win the NL East as long as they take a game or two from the Braves in their six head-to-head meetings, simple as that. But I think it meant a lot for their chances to advance to the NLCS.

    • bowdenball - Sep 4, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      After I posted this I saw that Boz had written something similar for his column today, albeit with the focus entirely on Kershaw and not the Cards/Wainwright. Oops!

    • thomaswell - Sep 4, 2014 at 1:19 PM

      I agree that avoiding Dodgers and Cards in NLDS (best of 5) is good strategy. i’ve always hating the 5 game format for DS. I think they should change to 7 game format. you play 162 games and your fate is decided by whoever might capture lightning with 3 wins.

    • Section 222 - Sep 4, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      Great point on the top seed chase. As others have said, pedal the medal for that too. Plus, the Dodgers have to feel a little worried about the Nats at this point, should we face them.

      By the way, is the first tiebreaker in the case tie for first seed the record in the season series?

      bb, I also wondered whether you had definite info on the timing of the WC games and the division series. Last year, the NL played the WC game the day before the AL’s WC game, and the NLDS started a day earlier than the ALDS as well. Isn’t that likely to be how it’s scheduled this year as well? Perhaps with the AL going first because they go back and forth, or because the World Series home team is potentially given an extra day’s rest?

      • bowdenball - Sep 4, 2014 at 1:48 PM

        Nothing definite, 222. I was going off this website:

        which says the wild card games take place the same day. That’s also my recollection from 2012, although that year they tacked on the wild card late and had to scramble to make the schedule work.

        But that site also says that all four series would start the next day, which doesn’t sound right to me at all. So who knows?

        BTW that site also has a useful projection of the odds for each team finishing in each spot:

        After yesterday they have the Nats at 62% for the top seed.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:11 PM

        The TV networks will have a lot to do with setting the schedule, based on the size of the media markets (and national following) represented.

      • Section 222 - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:24 PM

        Probably right Eugene, which is a good indicator that they will schedule both WC games for prime time. I think last year’s schedule is probably the model they’ll follow, which would mean the NLDS would kick off on Oct. 2 or Oct 3.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 4, 2014 at 3:19 PM

        Right, I would think the WC games would attract lots of viewers.

        “Probably right Eugene, which is a good indicator that they will schedule both WC games for prime time.”

  36. letswin3 - Sep 4, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    Maybe it’s just me, but the bubble machine in the dugout is just bush. I can’t imagine it remaining there in October. Some may look at the batting helmet basketball routine as less than class too, although I consider it just having a little fun……..of course, that same argument can be made for the bubble machine.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      “Maybe it’s just me, but the bubble machine in the dugout is just bush.”

      You say that as if it were necessarily a bad thing. Everything that’s fun isn’t unprofessional. And I say this as a lifelong Giants fan, who has “Dodgers Suck” tattooed on his bones.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:02 PM

        Ooops. Must not have closed that tag. That shouldn’t be allowed.

  37. slidell2 - Sep 4, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    I haven’t noticed any one commenting on Fister’s leading off the 13th, pinch-hitting for Clipp. Was it because he’s pretty good at laying down a bunt, or was it because the bench was nearly empty?

    • masterfishkeeper - Sep 4, 2014 at 1:44 PM

      The bench was empty. Only Ramos left. The others choices were Roark, Stras (former Silver Slugger), and Gio.

      • NatsLady - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        Best to use Fister, because he pitched the day before. If you have to use a starter to pitch in the 17th inning,, you have to pick from the others.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM

        The roster expansion will continue shortly with Michael A Taylor and Mattheus and hopefully Kobernus, Solano and Eury because as you saw yesterday, you never know when you could need that extra player.

        Not sure where Taylor Hill is on innings and any other starter in Cuse that could eat innings.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:26 PM

        Well, that’s the one thing LaRoche didn’t do yesterday–pitch the 14th and get the win!

      • Section 222 - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:30 PM

        Another reason for Fister is that there would be no one to pinch run for Stras if he got a hit.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 4, 2014 at 3:16 PM

        Is it wrong that I was rooting for the Nats to pile on and turn it into a blowout so that could happen? No, don’t answer that.

        “Well, that’s the one thing LaRoche didn’t do yesterday–pitch the 14th and get the win!”

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      He was all set to hit for the pitcher in the 12th, had the inning continued, too. And he did bring a decent AB, as it happens.

    • ArVAFan - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:06 PM

      Based on my first-hand observations earlier this year, Fister is the team’s best-bunting pitcher (12 for 15 in the bucket). Gio has some talents, but bunting is not one of them (1 of 15 in the bucket). I’m sure Matt knows that–not to mention what we’ve all seen in the games.

    • Section 222 - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      Pretty certain it’s because there was no one left on the bench other than Ramos. Managers are pretty reluctant to use their last catcher as we saw with Mattingly not pinch running for Ellis until he was on third base….

  38. waddueyeno - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    and for all you kids out there who don’t remember:

    • Candide - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      Cunegonde went to Rice, and can claim Lance Berkman and Anthony Rendon.

      I went to Ithaca College, and can claim Gorilla Monsoon and Gavin McLeod (from The Love Boat.

      I win.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:24 PM

        I dunno about that. I think Berkman and Rendon could give GM and McLeod a pretty good tag-team match. And they certainly beat them in 2-on-2 home run derby.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 4, 2014 at 3:17 PM

        Yeah, but McLeod wins the boat race, hands down (or would that be all hands on deck?).

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 4, 2014 at 3:30 PM

        A boat race against a Monsoon? Hardly sounds fair.

  39. websterj2014 - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:34 PM

    Since baseball came back to Washington 10 years ago, I figure I’ve watched more than 1,600 Nats games, either in person at RFK, Nationals Park, Space Coast Stadium or nearby Florida parks (plus a couple of trips to Camden Yards and Citizens Bank Park), or on television. The only time that can top last nights roller coaster of emotions had to be the final game with STL to end the 2012 season. This one ended much more rewarding. I don’t expect to see the likes of it again.

    • Section 222 - Sep 4, 2014 at 2:52 PM

      Not Game 4? That was pretty awesome too.




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.
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