Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Instant analysis: Nats 3, Rays 2

US Presswire photo
Steve Lombardozzi slides in safely in the bottom of the first.
Game in a nutshell: First of all, rest assured there were no pine tar incidents in this one. Just a clean, well-played ballgame featuring a couple of dominant pitching performances. Stephen Strasburg's dominance (seven innings of two-run, 10-strikeout ball) was expected. Chris Archer's dominance (he retired the last 11 batters he faced in his big-league debut) was not. In the end, the three runs the Nats scored in the first inning held up the entire way. Strasburg made it through seven innings on 111 pitches, then turned things over to Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard to close it out and snap the Nationals' four-game losing streak. Oh, and Joel Peralta did manage to retire two batters out of the Tampa Bay bullpen without getting ejected.

Hitting highlight: There weren't many to choose from, since the Nationals scored three runs in the bottom of the first and then did nothing after that. But that early rally did feature a couple of impressive at-bats. It began with Steve Lombardozzi's leadoff double, with the rookie showing off some nice hustle. It continued with Bryce Harper's RBI single to center, with the rookie hustling to advance to second on the throw home. And it concluded with Ian Desmond's two-out RBI single to left. Desmond now has 35 RBI for the season, second only to Adam LaRoche on the roster.

Pitching highlight: Strasburg would probably say he didn't have his very best stuff tonight. Amazing what the guy can still do without it. Though he served up a homer to Jose Molina in the second and then gave up another run in the third on back-to-back two-out hits, Strasburg wound up notching the sixth double-digit strikeout start of his young career. And most impressively, he dialed things up a notch to finish off his night. The right-hander's 111th pitch of the game was a 98 mph fastball blown past Desmond Jennings for his 10th strikeout. People have often tried to compare Strasburg to Justin Verlander. Well, that final inning was a good example. Verlander is known for ratcheting up his fastball a few extra miles per hour in his final inning, and Strasburg showed he could do that, too.

Key stat: Archer walked 5.3 batters per nine innings this season at Class AAA Durham. The Nats managed to draw only one free pass off the rookie over six innings.

Up next: This emotionally charged series concludes Thursday night when a pair of really talented, young left-handers squares off. It'll be Gio Gonzalez for the Nationals, Matt Moore for the Rays at 7:05 p.m.


MicheleS said...


Drink up people! I am buying a round of Koolaid!

Gonat said...

To all the Neganons, even when the Nats are ahead you all are spreading your doom and gloom.

Drew said...

At 16-12 with four to play, the Nats clinch at least a .500 record for the 32-game gantlet against the beasts of the NL and AL East

Pretty impressive.

NatsFanChris said...

Wow, that really is "Instant".

Anyone notice how nervous Lombo seemed in the postgame interview? Even ballplayers get nervous around beautiful woman haha

sm13 said...

Now, that's Nats baseball. Great pitching from our ace and the bullpen and just enough offense to squeak by. Reminds me of those cool breezy April evenings. Go Nats! Go Gio on Thursday!

Doc said...

No hits after the 1st inning. Apart from the great pitching, its' better to be lucky than good!

Soul Possession, My Hitterish Sofa said...

Let 'em spread 'em, Gonat, they don't affect the outcome of anything.

Soul Possession, My Hitterish Sofa said...

NFChris, ummm, he did seem to have trouble keeping his eyes front and center, didn't he?

"I'm UP HERE, Steve!"

Gonat said...

Soul, I was at the game. Too difficult to post. Easy to read. Glad NatsJack blasted the one guy.

The big question was whether Archer was that good or the Nats batters that bad. Maybe a little bit of both. This team some nights can make anyone look good.

This was a very big game to win and take 'em as you can get 'em!!!!

Soul Possession, My Hitterish Sofa said...

Gonat, given the history, I'm going with "Nats hitters didn't do [anything]."

NatsJack in Florida said...

No team in baseball has better pitching talent though out their organization than the Rays. This kid was the first non-drafted starter to start a game since Matt Garza for them. Their scouts and evaluators know what they are doing.

For a 23 yo nobody had heard of (except me and peric), this Rays kid is good.

NatsFanChris said...

Big win. Only 3 hits and another DP from Zim hurts. Morse looks like hes seeing the ball better. Him and Zim will likely come around near the same time.

Looking forward to Gio tmrw! GYFNG

Anonymous said...

The post says Archer's performance was not expected. Except it was, by several commenters, in an earlier thread. Basically, I expect a dominant pitching performance by anyone we face. I'm truly shocked when it's anything but that.

Gonat said...

Morse hit the ball hard. That liner to RF was just scouted real well. RF was in perfect position. Have to like the way Beast is swinging it.

On the other side, LaRoche, Espi and Flores were all 0-3 with 2 K's a piece and Zim's 0-3 really hurt with that GIDP.

Harper again made things happen. When are the rest going to step up?

Gonat said...

baseballjones said...
The post says Archer's performance was not expected. Except it was, by several commenters, in an earlier thread. Basically, I expect a dominant pitching performance by anyone we face. I'm truly shocked when it's anything but that.

Davey said the kid wasn't controlling his fastball but was getting the Nats with his breakers.

If you look at the stats, the kid pitched like an Ace, but that can be misleading given how the Nats have been struggling offensively. In actuality I think it was mostly the ineptness of the the Nats batters and moderate credit to Archer.

rogieshan said...

Johnson said the other night that he would talk to Zimmerman one-on-one about why he's struggling. Any idea what was learned from that conversation?

ExposedinDC said...

For the love of baseball.....please, please give Zim the day off tommorow...Bro needs a mental break

Gonat said...

rogieshan said...
Johnson said the other night that he would talk to Zimmerman one-on-one about why he's struggling. Any idea what was learned from that conversation?

June 20, 2012 10:28 PM

He assured Davey he was healthy which means Zim is in a slump.

Should have taken a page from the "team player" move Morse did on Sunday when Morse told Davey he was hurting the team and should be moved down in the batting order. Would Zim as a team leader do that? Doesn't appear he did.

Zim looked better with the bat even though the results weren't great. At some point he will get on a hot streak.

Placido Polanco was struggling with the Phillies and got moved from the 2 hole all the way down to the 7 hole.

I don't think Zim should be an untouchable.

Gonat said...

Looks like Jair Jurjjens is being brought back up from AAA. The loss of Beachy for a year as good as he was pitching is a huge loss to the Braves.

JaneB said...

I feel for the Braves. But on the other hand...I clearly see the silver lining here.

NCNatsie said...

It is often said, including recently on this blog, that a pitcher’s won-loss record is a poor measure of his effectiveness. I don’t disagree at all when you’re talking, say, about a high-ERA guy who wins 9-6 games because his team is giving him run support up the wazoo.

But in the case of Strasburg, I think his 9-1 record may be the best measure of his greatness this year, and tonight’s game was an excellent example. He seems to understand that winning, is, after all, what the game is about. Tonight, he willed the win for the Nats. He just refused to give up the tying run, knowing that if he could go seven with the lead, Burnett and Clippard would lock it down. He does what he has to do, and nine times out of ten, exactly, he is able to find a way to do it. He’s not 9-1 because of run support. He’s 9-1 because he knows how to pitch. And even more than that because he has the strength of will to make winning happen.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Excellent points, NCNatsie, and well written, especially: "He's 9-1 because he knows how to pitch."

And as Davey said after the game - Hi Davey! - "He's only going to get better."

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

Our pither's deserve better than this. the hitters are just not executing like they need to.

First two batters with solid hit, and the only other hit was a seeing eye hit by Desi (knocking in the deciding run as it turns out).

Zim another double play. had Harper been on first in the first, that too would have been a double play Zim hit. Move him to 6th and move Ian to 3rd. Please.

they can switch back once Zim is through the slump.

By the way I know many think firing Eck will do nothing, but it sure worked wonders for the Angels firing Billy hatcher. Can't hurt can it.

I ahve seen o impovement from from 2010 to now, and Eck is the common donominator.

baseballswami said...

I was at the game tonight - pretty fast game as basically there were not many base runners at all. Lombardozzi's hit, right in the beginning of the game was a well hit, hard hit ball. The rest of the inning was a bit lucky. There were some good defensive plays. Morse scorched one. What a strange game, though. It felt like any minute something was going to happen and then it was the status quo. When Strassie pitches, he always looks like he is experimenting with all his pitches at first. Then, you can almost tell when he has things where he wants them - sometimes it's right in the middle of a jam. Then he flips the switches and really pitches for the last couple of innings.Good crowd tonight - lots of those group of teens in matching shirts that never sit down, but a good crowd. In the ninth inning it was very , very loud and everyone was behind Clip, who did not disappoint. I don't usually get up and move around a lot, but I didn't see a single Rays shirt the entire night. The atmosphere was really good, especially for a hot Wednesday night. You wouldn't have known it was a week night at all - lots of enthusiasm. Good night at the park , ending with a curly W!

TimDz said...

Did anyone else notice Zimm grimmace after grounding out at his (second or third) at bat?

sjm308 said...

My son & I made the easy switch of games that the Nationals make available for even 20 game packages and boy are we glad we did. We thought after the 1st inning that we would finally get that nice relaxed win and were we wrong.

I keep score and its the first time that the last 8 innings have all Zero's for the Nats. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors and 0 left on base! And yet a curly W it is!!

I don't read the post from the game, even when I am home. Its just going to be fire this guy and bench that guy and what the hell is Davey doing.

I was impressed with their pitcher, not just his ability to settle down but the way he was able to make contact with Strasburg on both of his at bats and how he hustled down the line like Harper and made each play a "bang/bang" situation. Can you imagine coming up to play in your first game and having to face SS when you probably don't hit in the minors and definitely don't hit in the American League.

I was not impressed with our offense and honestly think Davey should consider moving Zimm out of the # 3 spot. Gonat said he thought Zimm looked better but not from 308 he didn't. His grounder in the first was weak, his double play was typical of what we have seen the last few weeks and his fly to the outfield was not that well hit either. He is struggling, plain and simple.

Couple nice plays by Harper & Lombo in the outfield and remember, this is their first real season in those positions. Morse also looked pretty comfortable out there so I am not in a hurry to sign that free agent.

Great to stay in first by 3 games and the crowd was super.

Go Nats!!

MicheleS said...

Offense - see 2010 SF Giants. That's what we are in for. Let's hope we get the same end result.

SJM.. in game post has had it's ups and downs

natsfan1a said...

Second that re. the 2010 Giants.

On a game note, I did feel for the kid in the bottom of the first*, when we, um, scored all of our runs for the evening. But he settled in after that. And we got another curly W, ensuring at least a .500 record for the dreaded NL/AL stretch.

On the postgame, Lombo did seem to have a bit of trouble with, er, focus, but I suppose that's understandable given her attire. :-)

*Welcome to the bigs, kid. Now, I just need to check your glove. kaythxbai.

(Love the Only the Lonely cover, sec3.)

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