Friday, July 6, 2012

Another day, another rally

Associated Press photo
Adam LaRoche wound up driving in the game-winning run, with help from the Giants.
As the ball struck Adam LaRoche's bat and began its trek straight toward Giants second baseman Ryan Theriot, the Nationals dugout tried to maintain some positive thoughts and believe LaRoche could get down the line and prevent a tailor-made double play that would send this game into extra innings.

"Hopefully Adam's fast enough," teammate Ryan Zimmerman thought before correcting himself. "Actually, I know he's not fast enough. Hopefully they mess it up."

Prayers answered. The Nationals didn't pull off a wild, 6-5 win because of LaRoche's legs. (Even the veteran's 9-year-old son, Drake, later told his dad: "You got lucky.") They pulled it off because San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford's throw to first bounced and Brandon Belt couldn't make the short-hop scoop.

Not that the Nationals were any less thrilled to win this game via the opposition's mistake. The way things are going for them these days, they just assumed they'd win this one eventually, whether in regulation or extra innings.

"Those are the things that have happened to us this year," Zimmerman said. "We got some opportunities, we've caught some breaks, and more importantly, we've taken advantage of those breaks. Good teams do that."

At 48-32, the Nationals are better than good right now. They're the best team in the NL, they just swept the team that owned the league's second-best record when it arrived in town Tuesday and they've earned the respect of the entire sport.

"We've played Texas, and we've played Anaheim. That's two really good teams," Theriot said, citing a pair of American League powers. "In my opinion, these guys are right up there."

If nothing else, the Giants can attest to the Nationals' resiliency during this series. They beat up on Tim Lincecum Tuesday night in a 9-3 victory. They rebounded from an early three-run hole Wednesday morning to win 9-4. And Thursday night they spotted All-Star Matt Cain a 5-1 lead through six innings and still stormed back to win in dramatic fashion.

All the more remarkable: Prior to Wednesday, the Giants were 74-1 over the last two seasons when they led any game by at least three runs. They're now 74-3.

"There's no quit in this ballclub," manager Davey Johnson said. "There's a lot of character on this ballclub."

On Turn Back the Clock Night -- with both clubs wearing replica 1924 uniforms to commemorate that year's World Series between the Senators and Giants -- the Nationals waited until the seventh inning to finally get their gears cranked up. Stifled all evening by Cain, they eventually got to the right-hander when Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa clubbed back-to-back homers, trimming a 5-1 deficit to 5-3.

After Desmond launched his solo shot (his 15th in 80 games this season), Bryce Harper turned to LaRoche in the dugout.

"We're going to win this game," the 19-year-old told his veteran teammate. "Just be ready for it."

"Yeah," LaRoche said, confirming the exchange. "He was feeling pretty good about it."

Harper played a key role in completing this comeback, starting with his two-out, RBI double later in the seventh. That clutch hit came seconds after he was called for a check-swing by third base umpire Jerry Meals on a 2-0 pitch despite barely moving his bat into the strike zone.

"If it was a 1-1 count and he got me 1-2, I would've been kind of fired up," Harper said. "But it was still in my favor, so I wasn't that upset. I got a pitch I could handle a little bit and flicked it off for a base hit."

The crowd of 29,819 -- which in the throwback spirit of the evening was treated to minimal in-game entertainment and music -- roared with approval. Those fans stayed fired up throughout the game's final three innings, culminating with the Nationals' winning rally in the bottom of the ninth.

That rally was ignited by Tyler Moore, another rookie who managed to turn on an 0-2 slider from Giants closer Santiago Casilla and drill a leadoff double to left-center.

"Last year, I'd go up there and just hack 0-2," said Moore, now hitting .328. "I'm just trying to cut down your swing once you get two strikes, take it the other way. It's just something I've been working on."

Steve Lombardozzi, yet another rookie in the Nationals lineup, then dropped a sacrifice bunt attempt that Casilla couldn't handle, leaving runners on the corners with nobody out and Harper at the plate with a chance to deliver in the clutch again.

Harper did just that, sending a 3-1 pitch from Casilla into right field to bring Moore home with the tying run.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy elected to intentionally walk Zimmerman, loading the bases with nobody out for cleanup hitter Michael Morse, but creating a potential force out at any base. That move paid off when Morse rapped a grounder to second, with Theriot firing to the plate to get Lombardozzi for the inning's first out.

Theriot got another chance moments later when he fielded a tailor-made, double-play grounder off the bat of LaRoche, who had only one thought as he made contact.

"Run as fast as I can -- which isn't very fast -- and put a little pressure on them," he said.

Whether it was LaRoche's blazing speed, the pressure of the moment or some other cosmic force, Crawford and Belt couldn't complete the 4-6-3 double play. LaRoche saw the ball hit the dirt, pumped his fist in celebration and then was mobbed by teammates.

Hundreds of miles away in the clubhouse at Turner Field, members of the Atlanta Braves (who had just won their game) were watching on television and reacted with a loud exclamation and a few inappropriate words.

That may be the prevailing sentiment across the National League right now as 15 other teams wonder what, if anything, can be done to derail Washington's juggernaut of a ballclub.


Steady Eddie said...

Another throwback expression (this one just to the 60s):

How sweet it is!!!!

kc21 said...

Where do people think Werth hits when he returns? I hate to move Desi back to #7. Might we move Harper to leadoff, then slot Werth at #2? That's a great looking lineup. Also, who goes down or gets cut to make spot for Chad Tracy and Storen?

The Fox said...

I think after this game we need to stop asking is this team good enough to get into the playoff. The question now is, How Good is this team?

We sweep the Giants with their best pitcher on the mound and our two all-star pitchers did not even pitch in the series.

Everybody keeps looking at our weaknesses but when the argument is about our 5th starter or a bench player we really have little to complain about.

I've always had a good feeling about this team but now I think I've been selling them short. I think this team is even better than the sum of its parts and as Zimmermann said yesterday I would not be surprised if they ran away with it.

Life is good. Enjoy!

Grandstander said...

I'm gonna come right out and say not having the "in-game entertainment" was the thing I enjoyed most about the throwback game. Things got pretty loud and raucous during the late innings without the scoreboard telling fans to "get loud" and playing crappy pop music.

In fact, I think the absence of all that jazz actually added a lot to the atmosphere that was rocking as soon as the bats started lighting up. We should do this thing once a year!

Unknown said...

I keep waiting for the ghost of 2005 to descend upon us and snatch any hope for a strong second half. I remember that 50-31 first half record like it was yesterday. The team even traded for Preston Wilson to plug a hole in the lineup out in left.

And then it happened and the Nationals finished the season at 31-50 and a .500 record.

My worry is that this team actually is as good as they've been playing. The only hole the may have is their 5th starter (actually, it was a whole in 2005; today it is a pinprick).

If we could get Zack Greinke on a trade-n-sign, I'd give up Tyler Moore, John lannan, Nathan Karns and one more good-but-not-great minor leaguer.

That would allow the Nationals to rest Strasburg at 160 innings still have a formidable rotation.

Drew said...

The play of the three youngsters -- Lombo, Moore and Harper -- in this come from behind win is particularly exciting.

I was glad to see Rizzo's comments that he won't trade prospects for a short term fix. The Nats' great success in finding stars in other teams' minor league systems -- ie Tyler Clippard, Michael Morse and Wilson Ramos -- should be a cautionary tale.

Speaking of Nats prospects, Matt Skole homered again Thursday. He has 20 homers in 80 games.

Also, when Davey mentioned the Nats' amazing depth at catcher, he named Ramos, Flores, Solano, Leon and Maldonado. But he did not mention the guy Peric has mentioned here a couple of times -- Potomac backstop David Freitas.

On Thursday night he had two homers and five RBIs.

Adamnational said...

Those uni's just might stop Harper from going to the yanks. Very classy.

Jim Webster said...

Grandstander... we should cut the extraneous bull not only once a year but every game. It would be nice to get back to pure baseball.

rabbit34 said...

The reason some liked it much better without all the crappy music and prompts, is because it turned the ballpark back into a ballpark, not a carnival's atmosphere.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

What a different team this is. In years past, it would have been Felipe Lopez making some bonehead play that would have handed victory to the other guys. This year, our guys play great D against a team that had 15 hits and constantly put the ball in play.

TyMo's clutch double came on a 2-strike breaking ball toward the outside of the plate, but not so outside that he could not make good contact. Good adjustment, TyMo!

Poor Bruce Bochy and Matt Cain. Cain was superb, until he obviously tired and lost his command. He gave ALR a high cookie just begging to be blasted into oblivion right before he gave up those back-to-backs by Desi and Spinner, but ALR just hit a lazy fly ball to left.

And then Bochy's 9th inning defensive replacement at SS throws the ball, and the game away, on what should have been an inning-ending DP. Heck, the force out at 2nd would have ended the inning, except that his closer could not pick up Lombo's sac bunt that was an out for the taking.

Since when have the Nats had such a stable of rookies? And the Onion didn't even play last night. I did say before the season started that the Nats would win the NL East, and after Zim got that cortisone shot, that they were now a dominating team.

They are, and they will.

MicheleS said...

That was a great game and agree with all that the lack of in game "entertainment" made it even better!

When it was 5-1 I was doing some scrolling through the line up to see who would be coming up in each inning. In the 7th, I was praying to scratch out a run or two so we could turn the line up over. In the top of the 9th, I was mentally checking off all the players that we used and was trying to figure out who the PH would be for Clipp. Took me about 30 seconds to realize it was TyMo!!! Got really excited and then watched it unfold!

I really do like those throwback uni's. just goes to show you that our guys could play in any era.

The best part was that I finally got to take the nephew to a game this year - got him off double secret probation so I think he will be able to go to more games! He had a blast (sporting his new Byrce Harper Replica jersey - yup, he is spoiled)

Matt Gilman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laddie Blah Blah said...


"Potomac backstop David Freitas."

Good hit, not so good field. The guys Davey mentioned are all outstanding defensive backstops. Freitas has time to improve on his backstopping ability, or to be moved to another position, like Harper was. If he keeps hitting, they will make a place for him, eventually.

Rizzo & his scouting organization have found a number of guys who can pick 'em up and lay 'em down. Zach Walters has also been tearing the cover off the ball, of late, and we all know about Corey B. Brian Goodwin has been on a tear, as have many more. And that's not including the best hitting prospect of them all, Anthony Rendon.

Pitching is where the minors are coming up short. Signing Giolito could change that, and getting Solis and Purke back to where they can pitch, again. Meyer has been a bright spot. He is scheduled to start the Futures Game this coming Sunday.

Tim said...

The sky IS the limit... but we MUST stay healthy down the stretch.

Re: Werth's spot in the batting order. Very good question. If there's anyone on our club who takes a bunch of pitches, it's him. I think he's the leadoff man.

Or maybe Solano. ;-)

Laddie Blah Blah said...


"I really do like those throwback uni's. just goes to show you that our guys could play in any era."

Did you get a load of the grounds crew? That was cool. I wish they would do away with the walk-up music. Save the music for the national anthem, God Bless America, and Take Me Out to the Ballgame. The Nats should commission a team song, like the Skins have, so the fans could break out in chorus during a late-inning rally, like last night. The place would really rock.

I was kinda hoping the Phillies would beat the Mets last night, but it felt even better to see them lose in a walk-off to the Mets. The Phils cannot sink low enough after what their fans did to Werth when he got hurt.

MicheleS said...

Excellent story on our

Wonderful Radio Voices

I have a small radio that I take to the game -barely gets reception, but just enought to hear Charlie and Dave.

Laddie, yes I loved the grounds crew.. I also loved the Hats on the Ushers and vendors

Nats In Athens said...

If one can pick a single decision why we are where we are today it is probably the decision in December 2010 to not resign Adam Dunn and go with LaRoche instead. Rizzo stated back then that we need to favour defense over offence and last night's game showed us why. A mistake at 1b gave us the game and a mistake by the RF gave the Mets the walk off as well.

baseballswami said...

It would be easy to say that we won because the giants made a mistake. We won because from the 7th inning on, or even earlier, the nats just started to push relentlessly. That Harper long at bat was epic. Desi and Danny smelled Cain getting tired and by the 9th every single guy pressed . Each of those 3 rookies did exactly what matched his own skill set and did it with poise. Our minor league instruction has to be really good. So proud of the scrappy win.

Mr Baseball said...

Just like the 24 Series, Nats win in last at bat. The Nationals look so much better in the BLUE uniforms, even Ted Lerner looked so much more professional in his BLUE cap. The stadium looked better with the score board and signs lighted in green. We had the look of an old stadium (Boston) and the conveniences of a new ball park. Nationals management, I hope you learned something! Last night showed what baseball is all about. Good job and make the changes permanent!

MicheleS said...

The SF Site for those that would like to read the opposition:

Swami, how nice was it to see Danny hit one from the left side.. it was really a shot!

NatsLady said...

MicheleS, I got a headphone radio that gets excellent reception except in the concourse. The lady who sits next to me has a radio around her wrist with earplugs. Gotta have me some Charlie&Dave at the ballpark. Don't get too far ahead of ourselves, people. Got pretty excited after the sweep of the Jays/BoSox and then what? Lot of season to go. Keep it steady, take 2 of 3 from the Rox and enjoy the break.

snopes1 said...

Let's hope there's good scoreboard watching tonight. If the Nats win and the Yankees and Rangers both lose, Washington will reach the 81-game halfway mark with the best record in baseball.

NatsLady said...

Got this line from the Giants' site, a good summary of the series. Just have to keep playing good, fundamental ball, pitchers field your position, etc., and keep up the offense. This was an unexpected win for Davey, but I figured after Henry got through his innning this one was OURS.
In three days, the best team in the National League gave the Giants a lesson in how to play postseason-quality baseball.

Joe Seamhead said...

I read the Phillies blog after Papelbon blew it in the 9th last night and they are calling for heads from top to bottom. I question the decision that they supposedly are going to activate Ryan Howard this weekend. I saw a film clip and that man looks very fat and very slow. I predict he won't make a month before going back on the DL. I'm not feeling much pity for the Phillies, as a matter of fact, I'd rather slip on a bar of soap then see them win a game.
A Nationals song would be great, though I don't like the walk up music either. Does anybody remember when ABC tried to do Monday Night Baseball with Howard Cosell? It was an awful failure because they tried to make a weekday game into an extravaganza. I think even Bill Veeck would have hated it.
shhh...when do we start printing playoff tickets? I've been able to cross a lot of things off the list of things I wanted to do in life, but going to a Nationals World Series game would be the holy grail. GYFNG!!!

Gonat said...

Mark, kudos to you for one of the most enjoyable reads. Glad you got the Theriot quote and even the Braves sentiment.

I am also one of those that likes to hear what the opponents have to say especially about our starting pitching. Nobody tells you how it was like the guys standing at the plate.

Like Bryce, when Desi hit that HR, I felt the momentum shift. It was Game On!

baseballswami said...

Daily baseball dilemmas. I really wanted the Mets to lose, but Papelbon is one of my least favorite players, ever. I saw some clips of Howard running. He can still hit, but his running is very slow and quite awkward. They could be risking his career. Nice segue into the Strasburg article. Well written. I support the Nats on this One Thousand percent. SS deserves a full career and is not exactly a horse yet. His body hasn't even matured fully. I am with Rizzo on this one.

LoveDaNats said...

I was unable to watch the game after the 6th inning last night but woke up eager to read Mark's summary of how they won yet again. It sure beats a couple of years ago when an opponent's lead that large meant there was no way in hell they we're coming back. Love those boys.GYFNG!

D'Gourds said...

Jim and Grandstander--I couldn't agree with you more. I understand why the Nats had initially put the prompts to get loud on the scoreboard and have inane Nats Pack entertainmen--because the city was largely baseball naive. But we've had baseball for 7 years now and our fans understand the game. The team is awesome. We don't need some idiot waving a flag on top of the dugout to generate excitement. We don't need the Nats Pack to cheer lead. We've moved on to a higher level. Frankly, it's embarassing having those things. I sit behind the visiting dugout where there are often visiting fans. So often I hear derisive comments how moronic our cheerleaders/scoreboard promts are with absolutley no response from the crowd. Please, get rid of them!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

If the Mets weren't playing such good baseball themselves, I would feel more comfortable discussing the "P" word. Too much baseball ahead and the trading deadline impact and Strasburg's innings will be big.

Just look at how Dickey got hit well last night and was set up to lose that game. The Philthies had that game all wrapped with a bow with Papelbon in and .198 hitting Ike Davis leading off. Davis starts off with a double.

Their 9th inning walk-off was very similar to the Nats except they got some singles with 2 outs.

As much as I would have liked the Mets to have lost another, I had a grin watching the replay last night of Papelbon imploding. He is just one of the cockiest p---ks in MLB.

The Fox said...

Nat's Lady said,
Don't get too far ahead of ourselves, people. Got pretty excited after the sweep of the Jays/BoSox and then what?

Ah come on Nat's lady let us cut lose a little here. We just sweep the Giants and sent a message to the NL that we can play with any of you. I've even given Zimmerman off Sunday so he can have 5 days rest;-).

Who has a better team in the NL? There are some good teams and we are not going to win them all but the Nats are now the tough guys on the schedule. Teams now worry about playing us. Sure we will have a few bad stretches but this team is one hot streak from putting this away.

Health is my only concern.

Life is good! Enjoy!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

By the way, don't torture yourselves comparing 2005 to 2012. There are only a few common demoninators like Ryan Zimmerman was on both rosters (Zim was a '05 Sept call-up).

ESPN does a segment as the season goes on called Contenders or Pretenders and the panel on BBTN gets to weigh in. In 2005, that team was pretenders. This team is contenders.

I have said any time you are real, you need an X Factor. I said before the season that Bryce Harper could be that guy. He certainly started off as the team's X Factor right from the get-go.

Now you have more guys trying to be that spark. TyMo, wow. What can you say. He single-handedly carried an entire team to a win in Toronto and again last night steps up in a High Leverage situation and in a 0-2 count smokes that double in a pinch-hit leadoff situation. Are you kidding me?

Even DeRosa contributed HUGE in his earlier pinch-hitting appearance. He was the guy I picked at his signing with the cavaet if he was healthy would be the linchpin to this bench and possibly be the tipping point to help this team.

The bench has been a weakness for so many years here and now with the Goon Squad is one of the strengths.

You now have Lombo hitting again, Espi getting confidence from the left-side, Zim and Morse terrifying opposing pitchers, and Ian Desmond playing like the All Star he is.

Yes, read that again, Ian Desmond playing like the All Star he is!

A DC Wonk said...

The Fox wrote:

We sweep the Giants with their best pitcher on the mound and our two all-star pitchers did not even pitch in the series.

I just wanted to see those words again ;-)

Actually, if I could word-smith it a bit to:

We swept the Giants, who _had_ the second best record in the NL, with their three best starters going, and our two all-star pitchers did not even pitch in the series.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Don't get too far ahead of ourselves, people. Got pretty excited after the sweep of the Jays/BoSox and then what?

Well, it's not as if our getting excited had anything to do with the team losing a few games out of 162. Or if somehow not getting everything we want in life takes away from the good things we do get. Where is the joy in that, eh?

baseballswami said...

We baseball fans are superstitious and sometimes neurotic. Adds to our charm, don 't you think? I giving myself the day to bask in this series. As much as I want the guys to get a break, I hate to see theiir momentum broken. Ejax and det are already done until miami. Yes, we come back with four games in Miami. Start agonizing now like true baseball fans.

A DC Wonk said...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

By the way, don't torture yourselves comparing 2005 to 2012.

Totally agree. That team was made up of a lot of aging vets, Cordero, chewing gum, and bailing wire.

I would love to see what their "run differential" when they hit 51-30 in '05. Nats are at +60 right now.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Wonk, they were dead even on runs scored and allowed, as I recall.

m20832 said...

Anybody want some Koolaid? I'm drinking from the pitcher!

Rockies next!


Ghost Of Steve M. said...

I've always said some of the best trades you make are the ones you don't make.

Where would this team be right now if BJ Upton was on this team? If you read back to all the trade suggestions on here last year from the armchair GM's this team would be without Flores, Ian Desmond, and John Lannan which seems to be the most common suggestion.

If the Nats had BJ Upton, its possible Bryce Harper would still be in AAA and the Nats CF would be slashing .241/.297/.364/.661

Please, think real hard before you make suggestions of trades. Many trades have been busts in the past while depleting teams of top prospects.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

The scissors-paper-rock thing keeps moving on -- Nats without Morse or much of Zim catch the Dodgers when they're hot. Dods without Kemp or Ethier get a three-day wedgie from the Giants, and then SF comes in here and melts like butter to a nearly-complete Nats lineup.

I love this game.

stublues33 said...

Loved the throw-back unis, hope they find other occasions for these and others. Understand Phil Wood was involved with this. A note about the Nats vs. the Giants starters: The combined line for Lincecum, Bumgarner, & Cain
15IP, 24H, 13K, 4BB. Their collective ERA was 10.20. Nats batters combined for .348BA, .397OBP, .691SLG against the three SF starters. Wow!

Shedd said...

One more demon to exorcise: the Marlins right after the All Star break. Take down the Fish & Ozzie and everyone can drink as much Koolaid as they want as the Nats bandwagon heads toward the playoffs.

MicheleS said...

What I love the most is the reaction in the Braves clubhouse. Just goes to show you we are no longer the push over and other teams take the Nats seriously and see them as THE threat!

JamesFan said...

Let's talk about something really important--uniforms. I want the Nats to adopt some version of the throwback to their home uni. It is clean, simple, distinctive. Get rid of the clutter--stripes, numbers all over the place, rainbows, animals....make it classy, simple, clean modern. The 1924 model was better than what we have now.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

What I love the most is the reaction in the Braves clubhouse.


The Fox said...

Ghost of Steve M I spoke to the ghost of 2005 last night and it assured me that it is dead and will not reappear.

Davey has all these guys believing in themselves. This is a Team with a capital T. They are all coming together and barring injury I only see them getting better.

Losing a few games in baseball is not a sin, how you lose games does matter. San Francisco was worried that they might lose. They were worried about this most of the game. SF had 15 hits and 2 walks and only scored 5 runs. Can you imagine what people on this board would be saying if the Nats did that?

Teams have started to realize that they have to play near perfect ball to beat us, this adds pressure and humans perform differently under pressure. That is why we won the game. Confidence can carry this team a long way.

Maybe I'm wrong but I have a very good feeling about this team.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

DC Wonk, if my math is right, at 80 games in 2005 the Nats were in 1st place with a 49-31 record and up 5.5 games in the NL East with a +1 run differential. Hard to believe, just a +1.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...
Ghost of Steve M. said...What I love the most is the reaction in the Braves clubhouse.


July 06, 2012 9:36 AM

That comment was based on Mark's story above:

"Hundreds of miles away in the clubhouse at Turner Field, members of the Atlanta Braves (who had just won their game) were watching on television and reacted with a loud exclamation and a few inappropriate words."

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Thanks, Ghost, I saw that. I was asking for a link, if anyone has one, to whatever he must have been watching.

Speaking of links, and speaking of the X-Factor, and calling up rookies, and 2005: Read the whole thing, there's a lot of fun stuff in this story, which is maybe also from Mark, now that I think of it.

MicheleS said...


David O'Brien‏@ajcbraves

There was a loud, exasperated sound in #Braves clubhouse, with a few words that can't be printed, when DP got botched in Nats-Giants game

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

The Fox said...
Ghost of Steve M I spoke to the ghost of 2005 last night and it assured me that it is dead and will not reappear.

That was a bunch of veterans that were on short-term deals and playing for their 2006 contracts. They had no ownership in place and no farm system to make a deadline trade to make a difference. They were clearly pretenders that caught everyone by surprise, and it didn't last long.

If the 2012 Nats don't make any trades, its okay because they are getting back Storen and Werth and will have to persevere and have Gio, JZim and EJax step up as the big 3.

The biggest impact I see for the 2nd half is Gio Gonzalez making adjustments and pitching like an Ace again. Nobody in the press corp wants to ask him what is statistically evident in his arsenal. The curveball isn't breaking like it was, and for strikes. It also doesn't take a genius to see what his stats have been since May 28th.

Even with all the sub-par pitching performances the last 2 weeks (except JZim), the Nats offense has risen to rescue of the pitchers numerous times. Its like a role reversal. Can't wait to see the offense clicking with great starting pitching in the 2nd half.

baseballswami said...

Love, love, love the unis! I hope they keep those around or use some of the design for future styles. The clean white and the nice, straight line W are very cool. Speaking of cool - 19years old - epic, many pitch at bat, a couple of high-pressure rbi's. And one thing I noticed is that when he arrived at first he gave a quick hand slap to the first base coach and then immediately focused on a conversation about what would happen next. Tell me he doesn't fire up the older guys? TyMo and Lombo got it done, also. Still so giddy over last night's game, which in a lot of ways was the best of the 3 - not the most well-played, but the most exciting overall. Go Nats!!!!!

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

What, no video??

I bet Hal Mcrea would have video (and no, don't click that if you're at work).

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

They were clearly pretenders that caught everyone by surprise, and it didn't last long.

I always thought they were just so [darn] glad to have a city and a ballpark, even an old, funky one, with actual people in it, that it carried through the entire first half.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

baseballswami, how's about some old school music "Takin Care Of Business" by the youngsters. None bigger than TyMo who had been mired in a mini-slump.

baseballswami said...

TyMo and Lombo are both having the expected ups and downs in the majors. Both are generally handling it really well. LaRoche did an interview last night where he talked about the kids watching how the veterans handled tough times and learning not to panic. It was very good and I hope someone can provide a link to it. Nothing exciting, just profound. I am so proud of those 4 kids - an unexpected silver lining to the injuries. Not every team is lucky enough to have their rookies step up in such a big way. Especially last night, they all kept calm and did their jobs under pressure. Style points don't count in a game like that - just doing anything it takes to win. I know Bryce is known for power, but I love it when he just very quickly flicks his bat and dumps the ball in the grass. He has extremely fast hands.

Kiterp said...

So if we all become patient and keep Harper and stop SS at 160 and let the cards fall where they may for the remainder of 2012 and wait until next year, who are the Nat’s at risk of losing off-season. Can they put the same but more mature team out there next year:

Edwin needs to be signed again...perhaps

LaRoche but I don’t think he’s a free agent;

Clipp and Zimm are up with 1 year contracts but contracts will be very dooable

Ian & Danny are going to command all kinds of $$. Ian will want a forever contract.

And what’s the deal with SS … contract expires this year so it will go to arbitrage?

So, there’s a lot of money talk at the end of the season. There is a lot of youth for a couple more years to come and then Boras will open the flood gates and the Nat’s will have to lose 1-2. Is the time now in 2012????

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

He has extremely fast hands.

He has ungodly fast hands. Isn't he still using that 35 or 36 oz. bat?

natsfan1a said...

In fact, that deprivation only makes it sweeter when we do get something, or so I believe, at any rate. This season has been one heck of a journey to date, that's for sure, and I'm enjoying it. :-)

Or if somehow not getting everything we want in life takes away from the good things we do get. Where is the joy in that, eh?

baseballswami said...

The media contract situation needs to be watched as it could provide some cash. I am hearing that the time is now for the wallets to open wide. That could allow us to keep what we want to keep and get what we need. How sweet is that? I don't mind them delaying the media decision - our price is going up every single day. Our value is going up every single day.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...
Ghost Of Steve M. said...They were clearly pretenders that caught everyone by surprise, and it didn't last long.

I always thought they were just so [darn] glad to have a city and a ballpark, even an old, funky one, with actual people in it, that it carried through the entire first half.

July 06, 2012 10:10 AM

Strangely, the turning point in 2005 seemed to be July 7th 2005 when the Nats lost in 11 innings. Their lead dropped to 2 1/2 games and slowly started slipping away.

I still felt that if the Nats made deadline trades they could have possibly salvaged 2005 but they had no prospects to make trades.

Drew said...

Stat of the day: Ten years from now Bryce Harper will be in his 20s.

Call me crazy (I heard that!) but with his promising early start, I think there's a real chance that Harper will challenge Henry Aaron's all-time record of 755 home runs.

Try this crude thought experiment: If Harper were to merely homer his age -- hit 19 at 19, 20 at 20, etc. -- he would have 649 home runs after hitting 40 at 40.

Of course that formula way undervalues his early stardom and his peak years, but it balances out lost time due to injuries and the expected decline phase for a clean, aging athlete who doesn't suddenly need a bigger hat at age 38.

This is why I think the people who prefer Trout to Harper are a bit premature. Trout's a marvelous player. Harper will be historic.

MicheleS said...

Swami, I would like to have a glass of your batch of Koolaid this morning!!! Barkeep around for all of us!!!

natsfan1a said...

So does my husband, who has been, er, somewhat more skeptical about the team than I in prior seasons. I started to say something about, er, things autumnal after the game last night, then I stopped myself. He said, "I was thinking about that, too, but I didn't want to say it. I poured him another glass of that refreshing red beverage. :-)

Maybe I'm wrong but I have a very good feeling about this team.

natsfan1a said...

Dang, I dropped this "

MicheleS said...


ALR Inteview

I will be sporting my new ALR Shersey tonight!

natsfan1a said...

swami, I think you may have been referring to this LaRoche video.

natsfan1a said...

lol, one caffeinated beverage coming your way, Michele. :-)

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Kiterp, most of those guys are under team control for anywhere from one to several more years, Jackson being an exception on a straight one-year contract. Arbitration isn't the same as free agency. Another advantage of having youngsters.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Fun fact of the day. The 2005 Nats held 1st Place for 53 days. The 2012 Nats are currently at 70 days in 1st Place and guaranteed to be in 1st Place when the season resumes after the All Star break.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Just a quick google hit, probably not the very best source, but basic info on the contract rules in MLB.

baseballswami said...

Thanks for the links to the ALR interview - more thoughtful than most of the very pat cliches we get but really gives insight into the dynamics of the team and being an everyday player. More evidence to the character of the guys on this team. And yes, I am serving up the red beverage by the gallon this morning!

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Call me crazy (I heard that!) but with his promising early start, I think there's a real chance that Harper will challenge Henry Aaron's all-time record of 755 home runs.

Well, not crazy, but perhaps just the teensiest bit premature. The guy's been in the majors for what, two months?

Rodney Weaver said...

Dang! Juggernaut! That brought tears to my eyes! The last time I can remember a Washington team being referred to as a juggernaut was the 1991 Redskins who rolled over everyone on the way to winning their last Super Bowl! Dang! Sniff, sniff! I'm just so happy!

baseballswami said...

And for those of you who have not watched it - you have to get into the meat of the interview for a bit to get what I was talking about. ALR talks about how it is good for the young guys to watch the veterans struggle and how it will jump start their careers to learn how to handle it. The whole interview is the most I have ever heard ALR talk and he is one smart, thoughtful guy.

realdealnats said...

Peric: Maybe need to trade?
Ghost: Be careful when you propose trades...
KC: What to do when Storen & Tracy & Werth come back?
I usually agree with Ghost's sentiments, and I love these guys and this chemistry so much, but this morning:

I've been re-thinking my position on Greinke in that maybe we do have the players to trade that might outdo ATL. Since we have a logjam in the bullpen, and the infield/LF, how about--being realistic--Det, Lombo, Wang, and Henry if we have to? But only for a Greinke with an extension.

Is that not enough to do it? Too much? It solves our bull pen issue (and I'm a Henry lover); it get TyMo more time (and I love Lombo but not quite as much); It switches out our #5 Det (who I love too) for a #1--that in the weird way a trade makes you look at things, makes, trade-wise, Greinke a better #5 than Det and when Stras sits, a better #4 (even though he would be our what--#1, #2 or #3 starter? Wang gives them a project to work on that just possibly still work out to be a steal. So they get a good starter who will get better, a second starter who is a reach, a relief pitcher who could be a lights out closer...or not, and a utility infielder/left fielder who knows how to play the game, is clutch, and will probably become a starter. Opinions?

Steady Eddie said...

Also, re Jackson, I think the Nats are going to reap the benefits of getting so many Boras-represented players here, in that it will be Jackson's desires and not Boras' "max $ for ME" that drives the conclusion. I rarely predict but reading individuals, I think Jackson will resign with the Nats for multiple years at a not-break-the-bank contract. EJax clearly LOVES being on this team with this group of guys and wants terribly to settle down for multiple years, and what more attractive team is there? Plus, here there's the unique knowledge that not maximizing his own contract helps make it affordable to keep the larger team together goin forward. Anywhere else he signs for more $, he will have great pressure on him to be a #2 type; here he's "just" one more of a phenomenal rotation.

That kind of contract will not please Boras but that he will not be able to say or do much because all the Boras clients on this team will feel exactly as EJax does. Serve yourself by serving the team. Unlike most playoff contenders, this is not a bunch of guys having career years at the same time.

The best is yet to come and won't it be fine?

Rizzo is already smiling like the cat that ate the canary.

baseballswami said...

Oh -- ( sorry, I am just so giddy today) lost in the shuffle -- Ryan Zimmerman got walked in a critical situation. Now we know he is back to form. His dangerous potential for a clutch hit is being respected again.

Kiterp said...

Thanks Firm Possession ... haven’t looked closely. So patience may be a virtue as this team only gets better with age and some tweaks here and there and more revenue from tickets and TV

realdealnats said...

And Det, Henry, and Wang with their no-option issues become: Greinke.

I dunno maybe it takes another really solid player or some adjustment of sorts...just thinking about what it would take that would not cripple us...

Bigfish said...

"Call me crazy (I heard that!) but with his promising early start, I think there's a real chance that Harper will challenge Henry Aaron's all-time record of 755 home runs."

How about the actual record, by , um, Barry Bonds? (whether we like it or not ;-)

MicheleS said...

Steady Eddie, look back at the jared weaver situation last year with the Angels. He is there#1, Boras client, and clearly took less to stay with Anaheim. I hope the same thing for EJax and he is our #4.

Realdeal, Brewers will want more than that for Greinke and they won't want Wang

realdealnats said...

Eddie--agree with re-signing EJax. And LaRoche for that matter.

Steady Eddie said...

realdealnats -- While Grienke is attractive, I think that "logjam" is the wrong way of thinking about it. The best teams that stay good for a sustained period have exactly that kind of logjam, because with injuries and off-years, you have to have guys who could start for most teams but are blocked here as insurance, fill-ins for off-days, and quality bench guys. Lombo is exactly that kind of player -- and wouldn't we all feel better with him as an injury fill-in for anywhere from 2d to 3d than a Tracy or DeRosa? Heck, I'd rather have him in LF than DeRosa.

Stand pat is fine. Resign EJax, extend JZimm and we have a great rotation, and between Det and Purke/Meyer/hopefully Giolito/maybe Rosenbaum or Karns, we have plenty. The opportunity cost of trading for and extending Grienke -- in solid "logjam" players who help win you championships, and affordability of the whole team into the future -- is just almost certainly too high to be worth it.

Now I'll contradict myself. Send Det, Lannan, Sandy Leon, and somebody from the bullpen who's not Clip or Store, and maybe the cost isn't too high.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

I don't agree there's a "logjam in the bullpen." There are a few roster issues, that will resolve this winter at the latest, and can probably be managed in the meantime, as Rizzo has done so up to now, with some coincidental injuries. But there is no such thing as too much pitching, and anyhow, good teams don't trade *from* surplus, they trade *for* need. And they don't need Greinke.

I also don't think there's a surplus in the middle infield. Desmond and Espinosa have mostly been healthy all year, and that's an anomaly in MLB. They need Lombardozzi here. Likewise the outfield, which is only a problem if you don't want Harper or Werth in center, and go get somebody else. LaRoche might well be back, and healthy again, next season, or maybe not. Keep Tyler Moore.

Of course, if somebody like Carlos Gonzales or (pre-extension) Matt Kemp is in fact available, that's different.

Drew said...

Bigfish: I don't count Rosie Ruiz.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

How about the actual record, by , um, Barry Bonds? (whether we like it or not ;-)

We are all so busted. How do we miss that one?

realdealnats said...

Mecheles--I was figuring that might be the case. So you throw out Wang, what else would it take do you think in terms of particular players?

And basically I don't want to do it if it cripples us. It just seemed like those guys worked out for us in clearing a bit of the log jam of no-options, and too many players and the same position. I would not want to give up TyMo for instance.

Bigfish said...

"Call me crazy (I heard that!) but with his promising early start, I think there's a real chance that Harper will challenge Henry Aaron's all-time record of 755 home runs."

How about the actual record, by , um, Barry Bonds? (whether we like it or not ;-)

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

I really should preview. Let's try again.

RealDealNats, the Brewers are said to be asking for something like the Ubaldo Jimenez deal--so start with offering Tyler Moore and Drew Storen, they'll say no, we want Moore and Jordan Zimmermann and Solano, and then start negotiating.

For a guy who didn't want to be here.

realdealnats said...

Eddie and Ghost--I'm pretty much with you guys on this, just thinking out loud. And as much as I agree with the bulk of your comments, I am even more with you in your final paragraphs.

So while I'm all for standing pat, and love a surfeit of riches as insurance, I am always looking to have my cake and eat it too. Just like I will be if CarGo or Kemp come along.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Eddie and Ghost--I'm pretty much with you guys on this, just thinking out loud.

So that's how Ghost gets credit for saying everything first!

; )

realdealnats said...

Sofa--sorry about that last post, I wrote it, lost it piggybacking on wifi up here on Cape Cod, and miswrote it.

To your last point. I've heard that too, and that has seemed like their hard line position. Others have mentioned much less--who are probably dreaming--which is why I tried to come down somewhere in between. I wouldn't give up Drew or JZimm either.

But who would the Braves likely offer that would compete with an asking price of Drew/JZimm that has NJ concerned?

jeffwx said...

There is no comparison to 2005...Our pitching staff today is one of the best in the majors.
Was at the game and the crowd was as electric as I've ever seen...standing for key at bats from the 7th inning on.
My friend wanted to stay in the S&S club but I had to go out in the humidity to feel the thunder.

The logjam may be on our bench when Tracey comes back ???

baseballswami said...

I am still in the Wandy Rodriguez camp. He has that quiet, bulldog demeanor that will fit well here. My guess is that he will give us the results we want with about half the sacrifice. He has the skills now, just give him over to McCatty and the other starters and we are good to go. I have my doubts about Greinke's Wang-like lack of flexibility. I also just think they are going to ask waaaaaaay tooooo much for him.

A DC Wonk said...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

DC Wonk, if my math is right, at 80 games in 2005 the Nats were in 1st place with a 49-31 record and up 5.5 games in the NL East with a +1 run differential. Hard to believe, just a +1.

ANd that is the proof that we're nowhere near anything like 2005. When you're run differential is close to zero, you're a .500 team. Period. And if you're record is not .500, then you've been a bit lucky (or unlucky). Anybody who knew anything about "Pythag" back then knew the 2005 Nats record could not be sustained, and they were lucky as heck.

Conversely, anyone who looks at the run differentials this year has got to conclude that the Nats are solid, for real, have had about equal good/bad luck, and have just about the best chance of any NL team to make the playoffs.

Run differential tells a lot. It's telling us great news right now.

baseballswami said...

And jeffwx - you fans who were at the game last night were awesome - I was pumped up from home just listening to you. Did you love the lack of nonsense going on during the game last night? It just didn't seem like that many people left - it still looked full. You might think that by the seventh, down by 4, hot night, people might be leaving. But, don't ever count the nats out!

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Well, "Others have mentioned much less..."
depends on who the others are. All opinions are not created equal.

If I were the Brewers, I'd want two ML-ready, controllable guys, minimum, for proven #1 starter. I'd be asking for something like the A's got for Gio, to start with.

realdealnats said...

And say we stand pat--And I think we can get to the playoffs as is, and then we're down to 3 starters to worry about with EJax as 4--So next year we also stand pat with:
1) Strass
2) Gio
3) JZimm
4) EJax
5) Det

and wait a year or two or three for the new crop to push these guys? That sounds good to me too. Especially if we sign Giolito.

A DC Wonk said...

baseballswami said...

Oh -- ( sorry, I am just so giddy today) lost in the shuffle -- Ryan Zimmerman got walked in a critical situation. Now we know he is back to form. His dangerous potential for a clutch hit is being respected again.

I don't think that was the case last night. At all. The Nats had runners on second and third with no out -- walking Zimmerman creates a force a home. If I'm the manager, I walk _anyone_ who's at the place (except for a weak hitting pitcher).

And, sure enough, next guy (Morse) grounds a force at home; and ALR grounds into an almost DP.

Walking Zim is generic textbook strategy in that situation -- and it came awfully close to working.

jeffwx said...

The Nationals will win the NL East this year, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes. Bryce Harper appears to have solved the team's center field dilemma in the short term and the team's run prevention has been tremendous. General manager Mike Rizzo says his team's first half success isn't a fluke.

realdealnats said...

Sofa--Yeah that feels right.

So it sounds like Det and Lombo more than fill the first half of that bill?

It's the Henry/Wang part that lags.

And I'm not up for throwing in TyMo or even Rendon--who I fear might always be injury plagued--and certainly not a Storen or JZimm.

OK. over and out on this one--

jeffwx said...

Yes, Swami, I really preferred the atmosphere last night. I think the loud music/sounds are a distraction from the game and interrupt the building excitement of back to back homers, clutch hits, key strikeouts etc rather than contribute to it. That's what I liked about Fenway...The fans initiate the cheering, not the DJ.
And Our bullpen dominates over all others I've seen.

realdealnats said...


I'm back to gratitude over the Natitude we already got.

Steady Eddie said...

Wonk -- and on top of everything you wrote, with the score tied, Harper at 3d as the winning run was the ONLY runner who mattered. The only effect of loading the bases was to create the force at home.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

Wouldn't The Heuristics be a great name for a rock band that only does songs by request?

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

And I have gratitude for the natitude in the latter dude.

Ron In Reston said...

I keep reading "Grienke didn't want to be here". That's true, to a point. He didn't want to come here in a trade that involved us giving up the future, which IIRC, consisted of JZim and Desmond at the very least. I remember him saying he didn't want to come here if the future of the team was being traded away. Well, the future is now and under team control for the next 5 years or so, so trading bench guys (Moore, Lombo) plus prospects won't be as much of an issue. That being said, by my "calculations" Strasburg will make his last start in early September, like JZim did last year. That will leave 4-5 starts that need to be covered. Since it's September, we will have a full 40-man roster to choose from, so Lannan, Maya and Duke will all most certainly be here and there is the possibility that Wang had this hip issue all along and was trying to pitch through it and will come back fine. Not holding my breath on that one, though.

Now, going back to kc21's question about Werth and where to bat him when he returns, Tim hit it on the head (and this may sound insane):

He becomes our leadoff hitter.

He has a .372 OBP this season and career .360. The lineup from 2-7 -- Harper, RZim, Morse, LaRoche, Desi, Espi -- is firing on all cylinders right now and I wouldn't mess with it. Werth will still get RBI chances with the way our pitchers AND catchers are hitting these days.

Finally, what to do when Tracy and Storen return:

I think we finally bid adieu to Rick Ankiel to make room for Tracy, a significantly more solid left-handed bat off the bench. True, I will miss that cannon from the outfield, but I miss Livo, too. There's just not a spot for either anymore. From the bullpen, to make room for Storen, I think it's time to part ways with Gorzy, or it might be Mike Gonzalez. It's nice to have the righty and lefty long guys in Gorzy and Stammen and we already have the one-inning lefty in Burnett. BUT, Gonzalez has been ptiching great and Gorzy....well, not so much. Flip a coin, but I'd stick with Gonzalez and let Gorzy go. Or maybe, since he still has options, they send Mattheus down, since it looks like Henry has his head screwed on right (small sample size, I know).

Steady Eddie said...

As to the crowd, agreed, that was one of the best crowds of any games I've been to -- reminded me (but was a better version) of the late inning come-from-behind 8-6 win over the Cards in May last year. The "lets' go, Harper" cheers in the seventh and ninth especially were the kind of thing The Kid just feeds on. (The more this fan base gives him that kind of motivating love, and team jells into a juggernaut with him at its heart, the more he won't think of going anywhere else.)

The crowds Tuesday night and Wednesday weren't bad, though -- in most of the Nats' early inning scoring, the crowds did a lot of rhythmic clapping that speeded up as the Giants' pitchers started their motions and really did create the feeling of momentum that built into our offensive explosion.

I didn't even mind the wave that much because they only did it when the Nats were at bat. And just as Burnett did earlier this year, the Giants' reliever spent a lot of time walking around the mound waiting for the wave to move into the outfield.

Ron In Reston said...

Oh, one other thing:

In our last 162 games, we are 88-74. Pretty Frickin' Bueno, and only getting better.

slidell2 said...

I'll add my voice to the "entertainment" issue. PLEASE cut all that mess out and leave it out. It is not needed. It is so phony that it detracts from the game experience.
I was there last night, and the atmosphere was so nice, apart from the Presidents Race, which few (in my area at least) paid any attention to.

Joe Seamhead said...

Well, for all of those of you that say not to get ahead of ourselves, I understand, but please excuse me if I don't wait up for you. Folks, we're not just good, but as each piece comes off of the DL we are getting to be very, very good. We've got the players, even after Strasburg gets shut down, to go a long way, maybe all the way. I have all the faith that Mike Rizzo has prepared for it. Trade? Maybe, but not if it means a huge mortgage payment. Look where that has gotten the Phillies. We are set up for years of being very competetive, starting now, not next year.

baseballswami said...

Re: - the Zim walk - yes it was good strategy to load the bases and set up the force at home. But the Zim of a couple of weeks ago would have been an automatic out or dp and so why not pitch to him? The Zim of yesterday? Scary to pitch to. The fact that it was a very hot Ryan Zimmerman had to help Bochy make his choice to walk him.

A DC Wonk said...

Folks, we're not just good, but as each piece comes off of the DL we are getting to be very, very good.

Try to imagine this . . . there's a first place team, and they pick up two free agents: a solid outfielder and hitter; and one of the best closers in MLB last year. At no cost. Free.

Nice position to be in, eh?

A DC Wonk said...

baseballswami said...

Re: - the Zim walk - yes it was good strategy to load the bases and set up the force at home. But the Zim of a couple of weeks ago would have been an automatic out or dp and so why not pitch to him?

Because even when he was bad, he could hit a grounder to second, which makes it easier to score the guy from third if there's not a force play there.

I agree -- walking a good hitter makes sense. But when the winning run is on third with no outs, and first base is open, you walk the guy no matter who it is (unless it's an automatic K). There's not a single guy on the Nats (except for perhaps the pitchers, or some of them) that doesn't get walked in that situation.

Now, if there had been _two_ outs and they had walked him -- different conclusion.

But who walks a hot RH batter (RZim) to get to another hot RH batter (Morse)?

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

They pitched to Casey with the tying run on second and first base open, bottom of the ninth. Just sayin.

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