Friday, August 3, 2012

Instant analysis: Marlins 5, Nats 2

Associated Press photo
Gio Gonzalez dominated for five innings but gave up three runs in the sixth.
Game in a nutshell: Retaking the field only 25 minutes after earning a 7-4 victory in the first half of this doubleheader, the Nationals had an opportunity to improve to 22 games over .500 for the first time since the franchise arrived in town and gain some ground on the Braves in the NL East. Instead, they were shut down by a dominant Josh Johnson, who went 8 2/3 innings and nearly went the distance, ultimately handing it off to Steve Cishek to record the final out. The Nationals' only runs came in the first and then the ninth. In between, they barely threatened against Johnson. Gio Gonzalez was equally as effective most of the night, but the left-hander was done in by a three-run sixth inning, which proved all the offense the Marlins needed to salvage a doubleheader split. The Nats' lead in the NL East is now down to two games.

Hitting lowlight: Remember when Danny Espinosa was on fire at the plate and appeared to have turned his entire season around? Well, he's fallen back into another slump, and the results haven't been pretty. He's now 3 for his last 37, with 17 strikeouts in the process. His 124 strikeouts for the season lead the NL. And it appears the loop in his left-handed swing has returned. The Nationals may need Espinosa to lead off down the stretch after Ian Desmond returns from the DL and bumps Steve Lombardozzi to the bench. But the way he's going at the plate right now, Davey Johnson might not be able to afford to do that.

Pitching highlight: If you look at the final numbers (four runs, nine hits) this doesn't look like a dominant start from Gonzalez. But the final numbers are misleading because three of the runs and five of the hits came in the sixth inning alone. Gonzalez was otherwise brilliant, striking out 10 without walking a batter and keeping his pitch count low enough that there was no question he would take the mound for the eighth inning for the first time this season. The night didn't end well for the lefty, though. After Jose Reyes scored from second base on a grounder to short, Gonzalez turned around and appeared to yell at Espinosa for not looking the runner back around third and preventing him from scoring. For a guy who is normally the consummate teammate, that was not a shining moment for Gonzalez.

Key stat: With a fifth-inning double, Michael Morse extended his hitting streak to 12 games. That's the longest of his career.

Up next: After what surely will be a good night's sleep, these two teams return to the park at 7:05 p.m. tomorrow. Jordan Zimmermann looks for his 20th quality start in 22 tries against Mark Buehrle, who dominated the Nationals in Miami last month.

48 comments:

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Mark, you nailed the hitting lowlight. Ever since Danny hit a couple of homers he lengthened his swing again almost immediately. All the progress to shorten his swing has been lost and tonight we saw how his strikeout streak is hurting the offense.

rogieshan said...

Much like Henry Rodriguez, there's no telling which Danny Espinosa will show up from day to day. Hopefully, he can find enough consistency in his swing down the stretch so that he won't be a liability with the bat in the post-season like he is at the moment.

peric said...

Maybe Danny needs to starting using Roger Bernadina's lighter bats?

Ugh here come the calls to option him to the minors, trade him, DFA him ...

I think Ghost hit this one smack on the head. Young player, known for his stubbornness (probably because he is a unique, amazing athlete) going back to old habits like Rick Ankiel did this season from last. Fortunately, there is still time for him to learn ...

SCNatsFan said...

No one on this time maddens me more then Danny. The only reason I can think the Nats continue to allow him to flail away from the left side of the plate is because they don't want him to go right-righty for the first time in his career against MLB pitching. He has proven over the last year and a half he is two different players; with the amount of strikeouts I have to think something has to be done, you can't expect him all of a sudden get a clue and become a major league hitter from that side.

SCNatsFan said...

peric, I don't think the minors is at all appropriate for him but I can't see why he shouldn't be in winter ball learning how to just be a right handed hitter.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

You don't see many players swing at a ball that is so far inside that they get plunked on their back leg. Obviously not seeing the ball well. Davey says Danny is just being too aggressive.

rmoore446 said...

It's hard to watch any player in as bad a slump as Danny is in now. Just painful.

peric said...

peric, I don't think the minors is at all appropriate for him but I can't see why he shouldn't be in winter ball learning how to just be a right handed hitter.

If he isn't too beat up after the season that would certainly make sense. Of course the catchers, Flores, Solano, and Leon will likely be in winter ball and it hasn't exactly been easy on them.

Who knows maybe Rizzo already has that in mind? It does look like they need to do something to cure his bad tendencies.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

SCNatsfan, Davey said correctly that Danny isn't hitting well from either side.

Can't sit Danny because the alternative is DeRosa. Just need to hope he quickly works his way out of it.

mick said...

feel bad for Gio, he really pitched well. I felt he probably should have been pulled at 2-1. I love Danny's glove but his slumps are getting old, fast.

mick said...

having said all this, Johnson was fantastic!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

I agree, time to try RH in Winter Ball. 2 years of Mendoza stats and tons of strikeouts.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Mick, Johnson was great. Tough with that slider on the lefties. Probably the best performance Nats faced this year.

peric said...

Meanwhile, it sure looks like the Nats will be going with a two-man catching rotation of Ramos and Suzuki. Makes sense given Ramos injuries and the fact he has yet to complete a full season in the majors.

Kind of depletes the catching prospects pool. I guess we may see a number of catchers drafted next June as we did when Freitas was drafted along with Leonida and Mayo plus two more drafted the following year at the bottom o the draft.

SCNatsFan said...

peric I agree about the rest but if he continues like this he'll be getting plenty of time off to rest when Lombo is playing second next season

mick said...

Ghost... agreed, that was best pitching verse Nats in 106 games

mick said...

in theory, fatigue should set in with Marlins tomorrow

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Vogelsong with a 4 run 7th means Jordan Zimmermann is now #1 in the MLB in ERA!!!

mick said...

and in theory... there is no significant difference with beer number 9 verse beer number 10, lol

mick said...

Ghost lets hope Jordan maintains that tomorrow

peric said...

Can't sit Danny because the alternative is DeRosa.

Based on recent moves it looks like its Zach Walters who played in the AFL last season as a top prospect. However, he isn't on the 40-man and you really can't replace Danny's amazing fielding prowess. If you think the catching has been bad ... wait til you see what it would be like with a crappy shortstop again ... been there done that, got the t-shirt, wasn't pretty.

mick said...

by the way Reyes is one hell of a player!!!

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Flores, after the game, looked like he had just been hit by a truck when he was discussing Suzuki.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

mick, I take Desi over Reyes. Pass the Kook-aid.

BTW, any word on Bonifacio?

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Wow, Greinke blew up again! 6 earned runs! Rizzo looking smart by just saying NO

mick said...

Ghost... I agree, hamstring strain on Bonifacio

PChuck said...

Josh Johnson had the most generous strikezone I've seen in a while.

That homeplate umpire gets an assist for his performance tonight.

mick said...

I am floored by Grienke, Ghost... wow

mick said...

PChuck agreed... as the game went on his zone got wider

Gabor Mehes said...

What we can say for sure is that Gio is an excellent five innings pitcher. His six is usually shake an the seventh inning is nonexistent. Either the pitch count or a bad sixth finishes him. In the reglar season this is good but it is a recipe for disaster in the playoffs.

sjm308 said...

Just got home from a loooong day of baseball. Would have loved a sweep but I get wings!!
Also got to meet and chat with sec 222 for the last innings of the 2nd game.
No fun losing but the sting was lessened by the first game.
Leon struck out 3 straight times, wonder if he had an idea this would be his last game for awhile?

With the loss, this will not make much of an impact but there were two separate hits to the wall in right field that Bryce held to singles, and I am not certain about the Reyes play in the 8th but he sure looked out from 308. He really does some nice things even when he is not hitting.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

@Gabor:

When you've got a bullpen of Stammen-Storen-Burnett-Clippard, being a five-inning pitcher is not the "recipe of disaster" you portend.

Gio pitched great tonight. One freaky inning. How many times are teams going to get six straight hits off him?

baseballswami said...

I have been at Wolf Trap for hours and completely off the cel phone grid. When I checked in I saw that we had lost a game to the fish. ouch. I have been reading and reviewing things and a couple of things stand out. Lannan has no stuff but seems to be able to beat other teams. For the first time this season I am hearing things that are not classy about our team - gio apparently showing up Danny on the field and Flores not knowing about Suzuki. For all the talk about good team chemistry and a team that is still in first place - these are not good signs. I always worry about this team due to its youth and lack of high-pressure experience. Their team unity has helped them through and they always seem to falter a bit when there is a roster transition. I hope these are not signs of trouble. How did things look? Are things shaky?

PChuck said...

>>>gio apparently showing up Danny on the field<<<

That didn't happen.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Bonifacio out for the year after reinjuring his thumb on that play in the ninth.

Oh. Gee. That's a shame.

NatsLady said...

Just got home from the games. Not much to say about the first game, except that Davey's management was pretty d*** close to brilliant, and Storen is going to take longer than we hoped to get back to form. (I've thought that for a while). I wonder what Lannan thought when he saw the B-lineup, but he did just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Oh, and the doubleplay on the popped-up bunt was the coolest thing I've seen in a long, long time! We gotta find a way to keep LaRoche.

In regard to the second game. I read about Suzuki during the first game, and the internet is very spotty, so couldn't look anything up and was relying on comments here and in Hardball Talk.

My impression is this: we would have won this game 1-0 with Gio going CG shutout (or at least 8) if Suzuki or Desi were in the game. Gio was great but he lost it when he gave up the hit to Johnson. Any experienced catcher (or Desi) would have known right away and settled him down. (You can't expect McCatty to go out after the first or second bad thing, but you can expect that of the catcher or the captain.) Also pitch sequence in that inning STUNK.

Morse's swing is a thing of beauty. His baseball IQ isn't. He got a very poor jump on a ball that even Lombo would have caught--and what on earth happened on Bernie's single, that was weird.

So, yes, along with JayB, I wish Suzuki had gotten here (at least) a day earlier, but he will get here tomorrow and have a crash course on the Marlins' hitters. He sounds like exactly what we need for Stras, Det and Gio.

However, I think JayB needs to get past his Chapman envy. Chapman is not a character guy, and short-relief is not the problem on this team.

Section 222 said...

Back from the games (I arrived in the fifth inning of the first game -- great to see a big lead already when you walk in the park). Lots of positives to take from today. After all, we took the first game with our No. 6 pitcher on the mound and the loss was to the Marlins' ace, one of the best pitchers in the NL, so he's out of the way for the rest of the series. ALR continues to impress in the field. Morse didn't seem hindered by the stomach bug. And Bryce continues to be Bryce taking the extra base whenever it's offered to him. (I will point out that he looked taken by surprise by Reyes in the 8th. Bryce got Bryced.

Disappointed in Danny from the left side, although, again, it was JJ he was facing. I think I was more upset about his failure to nail Reyes on that scoring play in the 8th. It looked like he glanced at Reyes, but he must have been the only person in the park who didn't know he was going to try to score.

Of course, the highlight of the second game was getting to meet sjm308. He's a great guy surrounded by a great group of Nats fans in section 308.

Add to a long fun day at the park the improvement in our catching fortunes and locking in six strips of playoff tickets, and I'd call this a good day.

NatsLady said...

Gio didn't show up Danny on the field, at least not so that I saw it. Gio was upset, but with himself, not the fielders. Danny is terrific on defense, and he won't make that mistake again.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

@Swami: I wouldn't worry about the Gio-Danny thing. Reyes just made a great heads-up play. Stealing third base and just kept running home on a grounder to short. Espi didn't look Reyes back enough, but it was more just a great play on Reyes' part. Gio said as much after the game.

As for the Flo thing, I think he had to know something was coming. Leon wasn't getting it done. Rizzo saw a chance for an upgrade, and he took it. Flo looked like he was hit by a truck afterward. But these are big boys. If Suzuki helps get us deep into the postseason, nobody cares about Flo's feelings.

Of bigger concern is Espi is back in a funk. He actually swung at a pitch in the ninth that hit him on the knee. I am not kidding. He leads the NL in strikeouts, 127.

pRAA said...

The reason Flores didn't know about Suzuki is because the trade went down right before both he and Leon had to play a doubleheader. You don't tell your catching crew "Enjoy the games, boys. One of you is going down right after they're over." Not if you expect them to perform for you tonight, that is.

Section 222 said...

NL, if you're referring to Bernie's bloop single after Morse's double, it looked like the LF had a very good shot at catching the ball, and Morse didn't appear to go halfway. But even if he had, it would have been dangerous to try to advance since the throw to third was so short from where the ball fell along the line in LF.

Agree on Storen. I'm done taking victory laps over the fact that he has yet to appear in the 9th inning. I just want him to get his mojo back. We need him to be solid in a setup role.

PChuck said...

>>>Bonifacio out for the year after reinjuring his thumb on that play in the ninth.<<<

It should have been Reyes if it had to be somebody.

Section 222 said...

Sunshine, I just watched the postgame show. Flores was asked about Lannan's performance. I didn't see any discussion of Suzuki. Where did he look like he was hit by a truck? Was that after the first game?

I really liked his response to the reporter who asked if it was fun to have Lannan around for a day. Flores looked at it from Lannan's point of view, and said, essentially "no, there's nothing fun for him at all. He's trying to do whatever he can to get back here and I feel for him because I've been in that position." Very classy to not go along with the leading question and say, "oh yeah, it's great to have our old buddy around for a day and then he gets back on a bus to Syracuse and we stay here."

NatsLady said...

Sunshine, have to agree on Flo. Once he thinks about it, he'll realize that Rizzo bringing Suzuki on board was not a slam on his (Flo's) performance, but that we were only one sprained ankle away from Leon/Solano/Maldanado for the pennant run. I like that Rizzo aimed higher than a Torrealba type.

pRAA said...

Zuckerman tweets Unfortunate situation: Flores asked by reporters about Suzuki trade and didn't know it happened. Obviously couldn't say much at that moment.

More like unprofessional situation. Said reporters would probably also publish victims' names before checking to be sure that next of kin had been notified.

NatsLady said...

PChuck, when that injury happened, I was thinking, y'know, I would hate to win the game off Bonifacio's injury. Luckily, it wasn't close. And he got charged with an error, which reminded me of when Morrow lost the game in Toronto when he was injured in the first inning.

Reyes was sucky all day, don't know why he suddently decided to wake up and score on the single... But there you are.

NatsLady said...

Even if Flo was upset by the trade, who is to say he was thinking of himself? Don't you think he's buddies with his countrymen, the guys he's been coaching and helping out as they yo-yo up and down from the minors?

Gabor Mehes said...

Sunshine..
Goi pitched great for 5 innings. This was my point exactly. But he unraveled in the sixth and good bullpen or not , the Nats lost. In the sixth, his pitches were up a little, in the zone and he got hit. This is his and Strassburg's recurring problem in the sixth inning. Until they can correct this, they will be electrifying but not great.

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