Thursday, May 10, 2012

Instant analysis: Nats 4, Pirates 2

US Presswire photo
Stephen Strasburg struck out 13 batters over six dominant innings.
Game in a nutshell: Stuck in a three-game losing streak and in danger of getting swept by the Pirates, the Nationals needed their ace to deliver. And boy, did he. Stephen Strasburg struck out 13 batters over six innings, coming up one K shy of his career high (set in his big-league debut against Pittsburgh). A Nationals lineup, meanwhile, that had looked lost at the plate throughout this series came up big at last in the sixth when both Roger Bernadina and Adam LaRoche homered to deep left-center. Relievers Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Clippard and Henry Rodriguez then closed it out, preserving the victory and keeping the Nationals in first place for the 30th consecutive day.

Hitting highlight: Stymied all night by Kevin Correia and seemingly pressing to try to make something happen and snap out of their offensive funk, the Nationals finally broke through in the top of the sixth, thanks to a pair of titanic blasts. Bernadina started things off by crushing a pitch into the back bullpen in deep left-center, perhaps a 440-foot, opposite-field homer. After Ryan Zimmerman walked, LaRoche nearly duplicated Bernadina's feat, crushing a ball just shy of the same spot. With those two blasts, the Nationals took the lead and for the first time in days were able to breathe a little easier.

Pitching highlight: Uh, was there really any question about this one? In his most-dominant performance since the last time he faced the Pirates, Strasburg dazzled with nearly every pitch. He wasn't perfect, particularly during a two-run fourth inning that featured three hits and during a tense sixth inning that featured three straight walks. But when he needed to come up big, he did in a big way, striking out Pittsburgh batter after Pittsburgh batter. No pitch was more important than his 103rd and final one of the night: a 96 mph fastball to Garrett Jones with the bases loaded, preserving a one-run lead.

Key stat: Combining the latter portion of his major-league debut and the first portion of this game, Strasburg at one point had struck out 14 of 16 Pirates batters.

Up next: The Nationals head down the Ohio River a few hundred miles for the start of a weekend series in Cincinnati. Gio Gonzalez faces Mike Leake at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Great American Ball Park.

48 comments:

That old-school, prestigious way of Scooter said...

Yippee!

I must confess -- and it doesn't make me proud -- that I'm feeling a bit more charitable toward Ramos after watching Flores drop and almost-drop a bunch of pitches tonight. For what that's worth.

But mostly, Yippee!

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

May 10: Still in soul possession, first place, NL East.

"WOOO-HOOO!!"
(Copyright, MicheleS, 2011).

terpman33 said...

Good game. Strauburg is on point as usual. He basically gave up 1 run. I had a feeling Hrod would come through. See, he's not a "mental defective". We have to stick with him till Storen comes back. And if I said it once, I'll say it again: as long as we don't lose 4 or more in a row, we will be fine. GYFNG!

NatsJack in Florida said...

The next 13 games are HUGE! Going 9 - 4 should send a message to everybody that the Nats are in it for the long haul.

MicheleS said...

Reposting (cause you can't say it enough)

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

We are still in FIRST PLACE!!!!

hokiepokster92 said...

Agreed Terpman, H-Rod needs support and encouragement instead of the lynching he receives from some. Heck he's 7 for 9 in save opportunities people.

Cwj said...

Strasburg was outstanding!
When pitching in the clutch, he's proven many times over that he is as good as any pitcher in baseball.
We really need to appreciate the fact that the Nats have one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, no doubt :-)

Go Nats!
They pulled through in a "must win" type of game.

rdexposfan said...

Where are all the naysayers now?? Espi gets a hit. HRod doesn't have a meltdown and not 'mental defective'. 1st place 30 days.
"WOOO-HOOO!!"
(Copyright, MicheleS, 2011)

Steady Eddie said...

Interesting (after I could start breathing again) to see HRod have n in-between night that was enough, barely. Which reinforces my view that it would be good for HRod as well as the team for him to share closer duties with Burnett. Hardly a low to his ego when he started th season expecting to share with Lidge, Whatis Davy's thing against Burnett -- 10 games, 10 Ks, 7.2 IP, no ER?

natsfan1a said...

Nats win! Atta way, Henry! Just saw the top of the first and the last three, but got to see the bulk of the Nats offense, evidently. Will watch what I missed on the DVR tomorrow. (Pirates fans must hate Adam LaRoche.)

natsfan1a said...

Does that runner even reach if Flores doesn't slip while making the throw? Not sure that he would have.

natsfan1a said...

(In the 9th, that would be.)

ehay2k said...

Nice win! Very happy for Ankiel, Bernie, and Henry. Flores really called a great game, and was also great with MPHrod, helping to settle him down.

I have never been down on LaRoche for last year, but I assumed his "usual slow start." I am so happy that a good guy like that is carrying the load.

Harper shows he is still young with the ill-advised throw home, but also showed right away he knew he had misplayed that. I love watching that kid grow.

And that Strasburg kid has a right future, just sayin'.....

First place! WOOO HOOO (Copyright MicheleS, 2011-2012)

natsfan1a said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ehay2k said...

No Natsfan1a, he does not make it. He only made it because the bad hop made the ball hit LaRoche's glove in the palm and bounce out.

baseballswami said...

Woo Hoo - a nice win with some OFFENSE -- 4 runs feels like ten. By the way , Mark -- I LOVE the instant analysis this year.

NatsNut said...

Hooray for Good Henry and Nats who hit!

We just missed Leake and Strasburg facing each other. I remember what Leake said about him and I'd like to see Strasburg shut him down.

ehay2k said...

Anyone read Amanda Comak's piece? DeRosa may have re-injured himself high-fiving Harper. Funny and sad at once. Kind of like our hitting. :-)

natsfan1a said...

NatsNut, that's okay. Strasburg probably told Gio about it. "Oh, really? He said that? Interesting..."

ehay2k said...

NatsNut, thanks for the reminder. Didn't Leake say Strasburg "cried a lot"?

I suppose we could go "old school" on him.

JaneB said...

Henry makes me so nervous. The good news is, we have to be winning for him to make me nervous. And more often or not, we are still winning when he leaves the mound.
Go Nats!

natsfan1a said...

Would that old school be Hamels-style or Harper-style? I vote for door number two. :-)

natsfan1a said...

Pretty much every closer we've had has made me nervous at one time or another.

ehay2k said...

JaneB, Henry is now something like 7 out of 9 in save opportunities.
"More often than not" idps not fair to him. To our strikeout ratio, perhaps, but not to MpHrod's save percentage.

Dryw Loves the Nats said...

CWJ: ONE of the best pitchers in baseball? I'm going with at least two and maybe more.

1a: if you think they hate LaRoche, how do you think they feel about Stras???

MicheleS and all: WOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

ehay2k said...

Oh natsfan1a, you complete me. "Harper style" is exactly what I meant.

natsfan1a said...

You had me at "old school." :-)

natsfan1a said...

Mere boos are not enough to convey how they feel about Stras. The futility of their bats must speak for them.

1a: if you think they hate LaRoche, how do you think they feel about Stras???

ehay2k said...

OK, natsfan1a, that was damn funny!

natsfan1a said...

Glad you enjoyed it. ;-)

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

77% in save opportunities is not considered great, but is better than a lot of teams.

Flores almost caused me to have a heart attack. As Johnny Bench told Bob Costis once, if it is close enough for them to swing it is close enough for me to stop, He said no pitch should ever be called a wild pitch when it is swung on and missed, the catcher must do his job.

As for the hitting a couple good poles, Espi gets another hit, still below the Mendoza line, so I won't rejoice but will give him a night off from complaining though did still look pathetic on4 different swings.

HRod hit the plate better though he loves the breaking ball more than I do. Should have pitched that well tuesday.

My biggest complaint tonight is batting Harper in front of Espinosa. I am starting to think I like him at leadoff.

baseballswami said...

I hope things are starting to settle in with the line up. I know J-dub will be missed on the field, in the dugout and in the clubhouse. Time for them to move on without him and adjust. Games in the SmallPark coming up!

A DC Wonk said...

While HRod is 7-for-9 in save opportunities, he's also had four other appearances in the 9th (or 10th) inning where he threw a no-hit inning and for whatever reason, didn't get a save (3 of those times he entered when it was tied, and left when it was tied; the fourth time, he was protecting a 4-0 lead)

(and don't look know, but Espi has a two-game hitting streak ;-)

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Off-topic Alumni News: Jason Marquis lasted only four innings in Minny's 6-2 loss to Toronto. Marquis allowed seven hits and six runs — five earned — while walking three and striking out two.

John said...

I agree with Manassas. Let Harper leadoff and bat Desmond second.

Gonat said...

For all the crap Bernadina takes, he got the Nats on the board tonight with a big blast and that got things started. Maybe with some regular playing time he will keep getting some big hits.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

I have always like Bernadina and thought if he got solid time he would be OK (though maybe not great).


Let's hope Epinosa can extend it to a 3 game hitting streak tomorrow.

Gonat said...

"They try to hit the ball too hard," the manager said. "They try to make up for the lack of power we have in the lineup. And I don't want that. We're not that kind of ballclub. Everybody's different. But all of the guys have the capability to be a good hitter."
______________________________________

This is a good quote. Like last night with bases loaded, Espi just needed to get it out to the outfield and Ankiel just needed a hit. Both tried to hit it 500 feet and both struck out.

Gonat said...

Bourjos back on the trade radar:

http://mlbbuzz.yardbarker.com/blog/mlbbuzz/sources_nationals_angels_have_talked_about_bourjos/10766882

JB said...

1a's point is spot on: if you thought Rodriguez was melting down or middling tonight, you weren't watching. Recorded 4 outs with relative ease, but had to redo on one when Flores straight dropped it.

Catcher is my favorite positiob on the field, and I love our two guys, but there has not been very good defenaive play by either of them this year. I wonder what's up with them.

(that said, 20 wins! Who's up for 70 more?! GYFNG
NatinBeantown

John said...

Gonat said, "Bourjos back on the trade radar."

Would Gorzelanny and Flores get it done?

Gonat said...

John said...
Gonat said, "Bourjos back on the trade radar."

Would Gorzelanny and Flores get it done?

May 10, 2012 11:58 PM
_____________________________

I bet they want Stammen or Clippard.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

ABC: Anybody But Clippard.

NatsLady said...

Mattheus. That's as high as I would go. They wouldn't take Gorzy, too expensive unless they can use him as a starter.

That old-school, prestigious way of Scooter said...

Well, I just checked Bourjos's numbers for this year. The good news is, it looks like he'd fit right into our current approach. Heck, Johnson could bat him sixth!

Gonat said...

Bourjos slash is worse than Bernadina .192 .259 .288 .547

jeffwx said...

We could get Gardner for clippard from earlier reports.
I agree with NL or Gorz and Gonzalez

MikeinDC said...

Remind me again why Clip isn't the closer right now? HRod is awesome when he's on but you never know when he's gonna Nuke LaLoosh it. For the extra 1 or 2 mph, hardly seems worth it.

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