Sunday, August 19, 2012

Instant analysis: Nats 5, Mets 2

Associated Press photo
Danny Espinosa is greeted by Michael Morse following his second-inning homer.
Game in a nutshell: A good number of the 33,764 who paid to attend this game actually stuck around through a 2 1/2-hour rain delay and then through the actual game, and were rewarded for their patience with another fine showing from the home club. The Nationals jumped out to a 5-0 lead thanks to a Danny Espinosa homer, a Ryan Zimmerman RBI single and an RBI triple and solo homer by Bryce Harper. That was plenty of run support for Gio Gonzalez, who labored through 5 2/3 innings but still held the Mets to one run. Craig Stammen, Michael Gonzalez and Tyler Clippard then closed it out to give the Nats another series victory. Coupled with the Braves' loss to the Dodgers, the Nationals now lead the NL East by five games heading into this week's showdown with Atlanta.

Hitting highlight: Maybe the most encouraging development of the weekend: Harper seemed to get his power stroke back. After recording a couple of hits (including a homer) on Friday, the rookie tripled and homered again in today's series finale. The home run was a blast to right-center, ricocheting off the facade of the second deck and was Harper's 12th of the season. The list of players in baseball history to record at least 12 homers in their age 19 season: Tony Conigliaro (24), Mel Ott (18), Ken Griffey Jr. (16), Mickey Mantle (13) and Bryce Harper (12). That's pretty impressive company.

Pitching highlight: Gonzalez has had better outings this season, but not many that required more guts than this one. The lefty gave up at least one hit in all six of his innings and was pitching from behind in the count all afternoon. Yet he made just about every important pitch when he needed to and emerged unscathed. Gonzalez actually had a shutout going into the sixth, only to fall victim to an Ike Davis double, a flyout and an RBI groundout. A four-pitch walk to Kelly Shoppach ended Gonzalez's day at a whopping 110 pitches, but he still departed to a standing ovation. And not without merit. Gio's 16 wins are now a single-season Nationals record, surpassing Livan Hernandez's total from 2005.

Key stat: Ian Desmond is now 0-for-11 since coming off the disabled list.

Up next: Bring on the Braves. The Nationals' lone remaining challenger in the NL East comes to town for a three-game series with major postseason implications. Jordan Zimmermann faces Tim Hudson in a fantastic pitching matchup to start things off at 7:05 p.m. Monday.

77 comments:

NatsFanChris said...

Big Win!! Way to go boys!!!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

5 games above .500 feels good!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Clip with an easy save!

Steady Eddie said...

Steve M. -- In first place and 5 games ahead of one of the hottest teams in baseball feels even better! ;-)

nats guy said...

I think you mean 5games above Braves. They are 29 games above .500.

ehay2k said...

Cue MicheleS (I used her trademarked W..H.. in the last thread without attribution. Sorry MicheleS! I got carried away.)

5 runs per game will do to get us to the playoffs. Bats are really working.

Pitching has "fallen off" from early in the season, but that is because the numbers were historically unsustainable. They have regressed only from "unbelievable" to "excellent."

Bring on the Barves!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

ehay2k, bringing it! Well said and you are correct. Also key to get early lead and add-on runs.

Swift Eagle said...

Should be a great series...Jordan v. Hudson (who owned the Nats until this year) is a big game...Braves have done well v. Stras (esp. Uggla...Going to be a great atmosphere...I'm looking for a BIG series for Ryan Z., he's been waiting a long time for games like this

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Thanks natsguy! My fingers typing ahead of my brain.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Swift, they were here on July 20th and the place was rocking.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Anyone have intel in Vogelsong? Pulled after 3 giving up 3 runs.

Swift Eagle said...

Braves are 19 above .500 and still 5 games back!!

The next best 2nd place team is Pitt, 12 games above .500

Swift Eagle said...

Haha Steve, I was at the DH in July, lots of stress until the comeback in game 2! 35K people going "PHEEEW" at the same time!

mick said...

The last DC major league pitcher to have won 16 games was Dick Bosman 16-12 in 1970.

mick said...

Swift Eagle said...
Braves are 19 above .500 and still 5 games back!!

The next best 2nd place team is Pitt, 12 games above .500

to add, you now have the Cards on Pitts heels, you have AZ on the heels of SF and LA

Swift Eagle said...

All you need to know about the National Sports Media is that this week, a guy pitched a Perfect Game, and it was the 3rd biggest baseball story behind Shutdown-Gate and Melkey's PEDs....

So thankful to have this blog, where we actually discuss the games!

Swift Eagle said...

Have to like St. Louis don't you Mick? They know when to step up...I'm hoping for Pitt, but waiting for them to turn into a pumpkin at any moment...

Another_Sam said...

Natsjack -- sorry I missed you last night. And did Third Eye Blind fans raise the energy level even more. LOL

We just showed up with no ticket last night; found an independent businessman in an alley as we walked from Capitol South metro, and presto -- great seats.

Sellout doesn't mean no tickets available; just means tickets are expensive.

mick said...

Swift... exactly.... National Sports Media I have ZERO respect for after this shutdown garbage, they are clueless... thank goodness for Mark and NI and all of you!

mick said...

Swift... Cards are a very impressive franchise

mick said...

Swift.. I don't think the Pirates will be as large of pumpkin as the Mets... but you may be right

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Swift, I hear good things about you. So it's called Boom instead of Doom. Boom goes the Dynamite!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

McCutcheon has a Golden Sombrero going but is that fair if it's an 18 inning game? 19 team K's

SonnyG10 said...

Another series win and 5 up on the Braves. Now is our chance to get more separation from them by taking the series. A sweep would really be nice.

Swift Eagle said...

Haha Steve, Boom or Doom, depends on the day, today it's BOOM!...And your rep is top notch, hope we can meet up at a game soon...

baseballswami said...

Have you noticed that every time a Nat is interviewed he falls all over himself to credit the team? They just deflect away from themselves every time. A true team.

ehay2k said...

Gio calls Kurt S. "Zuki" Love that name.

Faraz Shaikh said...

onto 19th inning. unbelievable! I have never seen a game this long.

baseballswami said...

I remember a game last year- maybe in Colorado? Position players were pitching. I stayed up way too late- can't remember how many innings it was, though. Cardinals are off tomorrow. Pit starting pitcher for tomorrow is pitching. Just crazy.

bluejeener said...

baseball swami said..every time a Nat is interviewed he falls all over himself to credit the team? They just deflect away from themselves every time. A true team...


Yes, I have noticed. AND noone ever seems to pout about losing playing time. They are the Anti RedSox.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Swift, you are a friend of 3 guys I respect so look forward to watching a game with you and having a cold beverage. Like NatsJack, I'm a traveler.

Swift Eagle said...

baseballswami said...

Have you noticed that every time a Nat is interviewed he falls all over himself to credit the team? They just deflect away from themselves every time. A true team.
August 19, 2012 7:50 PM

_____________________________________

A very good point swami...and I like their responses even more after losses and when in slumps...The only time they use "I" or "Me" in their quotes is when they say "I need to do better"

I think Ryan Z and ALR set the tone in that regard, but it's not a coincidence...Rizzo has gone out of his way to get these type of guys in the room...

Swift Eagle said...

You're on Steve, I'll keep October open....

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Road trip!

baseballswami said...

Is ALR cooling off a little bit? Seems like maybe he is? Are we worried about Desi? I was hoping on this post on Monday that Bryce spending the day playing ball with cute little kids would help his mind set and restore some fun to his game. I know he has also had a couple of days off, but maybe a combination of the two? He had 7 total bases today, a triple and a HR. The two hits today left his bat with incredible speed. Hoping he is settling back in. He is an exciting young player to be sure.

baseballswami said...

Oh, by the way - Heyward lost two balls in the sun today for ATL that changed the course of the game. Bad technique - didn't even try to block the sun with his glove.Can we switch our games to daytime?

MicheleS said...

WOOOOO HOOOOOOO! Belated. Just got home and I am exhausted! Thanks for picking me up Ehay2k.

Sunshine cookies were really good. Nephew was eating them!

Ok. Glad to see Bryce get some mojo back. Swami like your idea of him playing with kids.

Danny seems to be heating up. The BA is up over
.250

Now bring on the Braves.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Much better situation facing the Braves this time vs July 20th. Back then in a 4 game series and a 3 1/2 game lead, a sweep by them would have relinquished the lead. A 5 game cushion would be nice to pad so GYFNG!

baseballswami said...

So at Miller field today the roof was open and it was pouring rain. Puddles, mud. They had to stop play to fix the field and close the roof. So the have a roof but they don't have ----radar?????

peric said...

Desmond is getting his rehab at bats in the lineup ... sure hope Davey knows what he is doing ... he might want to consider moving Espinosa up given how hot he is starting to get. I suppose they could potentially end up with 6 players with close at or over 20 homers and doubles this year. Thanks to Harper the triples production has also risen quite a bit.

Bruno Caretti said...

Yes!

Bruno Caretti said...

Great piece Zuckerman! As always. In going to the Nats game Wednesday to see them scalp some Injuns!

natsfan1a said...

Got home about an hour ago. Fun game, even with the rain delay, and nice to see the Barves lose on the out-of-town scoreboard as well. :-)

NatsFanSinceStart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mick said...

food for thought items I notice... Nats last home game is 9/24, we are on the road the final week of season

and most interesting to think about....

Either the Nats or Braves will be one Wild Card at this point with the division winner with the best overall record in the NL. This means, that either Nats or Braves would have faced an elimination game to get to the first round of the NL playoffs and will host the first two games at their park. The question i pose, is... could that actually be an advantage for that Wild Card team?

NatsFanSinceStart said...

I'm expecting Davey to start Espi at SS and Lombo at 2B with Desi taking the night off.

Barn burner of a game tomorrow; the most important series of the year -- and many more important ones yet to come.

This magical season sure has been fun!!

natsfan1a said...

Mick, flip the calendar over to October. The Nats are home from the 1st through the 3rd vs. the Phillies.

mick said...

natssfan1A.... ahhh your right! TY

natsfan1a said...

You're welcome. We have tix for the 3rd, which is why I remembered. :-)

Section 222 said...

Harper has 12 homeruns in the 97 games he's played. If he plays all 42 remaining games (which he won't but bare with me) and hits homers at the same rate that he's hit them so far (including his horrible slump since the ASG), he would hit five more. That would give him more homers than any 19 year old in history except for Conigliaro and Ott. If he gets hot, he has a legitimate shot at passing Ott too.

I was at the game today. That shot from Harper was a thing of beauty. So was his triple. He saw 3 bases as soon as he hit that ball.

Wow. Just wow.

natsfan1a said...

OMG - just read this in the game thread. Thanks, Mark, we were wondering what that was all about. Oooh, a praying mantis, scary! :-)

I was telling my hubby after the game that the triple was my fave part. Kid runs like his hair is on fire.


6:05 p.m. -- Praying mantis delay in the outfield! Apparently Scott Hairston was too scared to touch the bug, so Andres Torres had to come over and scoop it up in his glove. Disaster averted.

Bzl. said...

Mick,

Nats close the season at home against Philly. You need to turn the page to October. (If I understand your scenario, game 5 at Home, and not having to burn your #1 starter for the play-in game are a bigger advantage.)
------------------
Swift Eagle said...
All you need to know about the National Sports Media is that this week, a guy pitched a Perfect Game, and it was the 3rd biggest baseball story behind Shutdown-Gate and Melkey's PEDs....

All you need to know about DC sports media is that Shutdown-Gate (not to mention the weekend series) wasn't even close in coverage to the 2nd exhibition game by a last place NFL team.

baseballswami said...

222 Seems as if Harper's two hits traveled through the air at a tremendous rate of speed. Carp just got out. " see you....." it was over. I wish there had been a radar gun on them. They were bullets. He runs the bases almost as fast!

pRAA with the ISO said...

peric said...

That was an enormous preying mantis too! Abnormally hot weather ... and a good amount of moisture ...


A couple of years ago I was in my seat up in the 300s when a praying mantis that same size dropped right into my lap. I knocked it off onto the deck by my seat where it freaked out some kids behind me, and then eventually it wandered away.

At another game on TV that season or the year after there was a shot into the Nats dugout of another praying mantis the same size perched on top of a player's cap, apparently unbeknownst to him.

I know there were some pieces of the Nats Park site where they had to do some environmental/hazmat cleanup during construction, so I wonder...

Section 222 said...

Having to start on the road does reduce the advantage of having the best or second best record in the league. You could make the argument that the division winner with the third best record might be best off. But no way do you want to be a Wild Card team. A single game playoff is a crapshoot, plus you have to use your best stater, putting you at a disadvantage for the NLDS.

The best position to be in is having the best record because you will then play the depleted WC team. As between having the second or third best record, hard to say which is better.

Steady Eddie said...

swami and Eagle,

I've noticed that "team first" ethic too. It struck me very strongly looking at the MLB stats, especially in batting, that there was no clear MVP candidate from the Nats -- because everyone contributes. For each regular player, you can identify half-a-dozen games that the Nats wouldn't have won without their heroism, and half that for bench guys like Lombo, Shark, and TMo.

natsfan1a said...

I remember the mantis in the dugout, too. btw, my second fave part of the game also involved a triple, the leadoff one after which Gio retired three batters. :-)

Section 222 said...

pRAA -- Wasn't it Livo that had the praying mantis on his hat? I remember some pretty funny pictures of that.

Swami, totally agree on the speed of Harper's hits. I guess that's his bat speed and it's pretty amazing. What's truly scary is to think of how good he's going to be five years from now, or even next year.

I can't wait to see how fast his home run trot was, but I think he's starting to slow down just a little. His trot on May 26 (16.35 seconds) is still the fastest trot this year in the majors. But Friday night's trot was up to 17.83 seconds, which while apparently his fastest since June wasn't fast enough to make the top ten fastest in MLB this year.

baseballswami said...

For a little while I was worried about the bullpen, thought they were wearing down. Mattheus was just silly last night, Drew pulled it back together , Stammen was strong today, clip has been better recently . That really is a great "relief".

Maurymania said...

Can I ask a question. Everybody refers to the Wild Card game and the likely scenario that teams will burn their "best pitcher." Is that really the case. The season ends on a Wed. On Friday, are they going to pitch their 'best", regardless of how many days off he is at? Would you rather pitch that 'best" on, say, 2 days rest? Somehow, I think that while it is true that those two wild card teams will indeed burn a "pitcher" I"m not at all sure it will be their #1. In fact, I can't imagine a scenario in which the teams in the hunt for the wild card, especially the second wild card spot, would align their rotation to "skip" their ace and hold him for the Wild Card play in game. If it were to the Nats, and Gio pitched the last day of the season against the Phillies to make it into the Wild Card play-in game, no way Davey starts him two days later. Thoughts?

peric said...

If it were to the Nats, and Gio pitched the last day of the season against the Phillies to make it into the Wild Card play-in game, no way Davey starts him two days later.

Davey will probably continue to adjust the starting rotation slots at least once or twice including the Stas shutdown.

If they do end up in a one game shoot-out the most important thing will be to have the entire bullpen rested and prepped. You can always yank a starter if you feel he doesn't have it on a give day and I'm sure Davey will if he does ... and it could happen to any starter as we've seen. Davey has left them in to work through it because for most of the staff its a learning experience in progress.

But playoff time would be different.

Maurymania said...

So, does a team like, say the Dodgers, struggling to get in as the second Wild Card Spot, pitch Kershaw on the final day of the season, get in, and then pitch him again on Friday, rendering him not available until maybe Game 3 or 4 of a 5- game NLDS?

peric said...

I know there were some pieces of the Nats Park site where they had to do some environmental/hazmat cleanup during construction, so I wonder...

Don't laugh anyone ... they did find that circa WWI (I forget where now) chemical weapons dump with live, unexploded weapons right in the heart of DC.

It is close the Navy Yard so ...

Section 222 said...

Maury -- You're absolutely right. The Wild Card teams are going to use the best pitchers they have available. Maybe someone on 3 days rest, but not someone on 2. The point is that whoever they use will not be available for game one or 2 of the NLDS on Sunday and Monday. That puts the WC team at a big disadvantage. The team with the best record in the league will have Thursday, Friday and Saturday off between the end of the season and the first game of the NLDS against the WC winner. It's rotation will be rested and ready.

btharner said...

Let's get the Braves started on the 2012 version of the Tomahawk Choke a little earlier this year.

pRAA with the ISO said...

But Friday night's trot was up to 17.83 seconds

He had to slow his trot so he didn't lap Werth, who was on first when he hit it. He crossed the plate about a yard behind Werth.

Maurymania said...

Section 222 comments above illustrate exactly WHY winning the division is just HUGE. Especially for the Nats having lost Stras at that point. Pedal to the Metal boys, this week Mon-Wed could be the "dagger". Buckholtz, where are you when we need you.

mick said...

The prey mantis was lucky that the SHARK was not out there, lol

Maurymania said...

By the way, if we tie at 96-46 with the Braves, will head to head by the tie-breaker? In which case, if I remember correctly, we lead the series 8-4, meaning we only need to win one more game of the last six to win the head-to-head for the season, essentially putting us up a game more than we think right now.

Maurymania said...

96-66, opps

SonnyG10 said...

Maurymania, that's an interesting question. It may depend on how good a team's rotation is. If there is a big drop-off after their 1 or 2, maybe they try to tweek the rotation to get their #1 for the wild card game. If it were the Nats, I think any of our starters could pitch a gem. By the same token, any of our starters could have a bad day. So I don't think it makes a lot of difference in our case.

Section 222 said...

He had to slow his trot so he didn't lap Werth, who was on first when he hit it.

Nah, not really. He did indeed almost lap Werth, but it didn't look like he slowed down for him. The increase in time probably came more from a wee bit of admiration for his blast. Awfully fun to watch him cruise around the bases though.

Section 222 said...

Sonny and Maury, I guess it depends on whether there's a dog fight for the WC spots, or if it's pretty clear who has them wrapped up by the last game of the season. Let's suppose the Nats have put some distance between themselves and the Braves, but the Braves continue to play well and have their spot sewn up by the weekend before the end of the season. They can line up Hudson to start that game, and I'm sure they will. But they'll have to burn him for the start of the NLDS. If the second spot is a toss up going into the last few days of the series, let's say between the Pirates, Dodgers and Cardinals, then those teams will end up using their aces on the second to last or last day of the regular season, possibly eaving that pitcher unavailable for the WC game but able to start the 1st game of the NLDS, if they win. Either winner is going to be sapped of some strength, which is why we have to avoid playing the WC game if we can.

peric said...

I kind of like the Shark cheer or clap. And that hats. I'd like to see FP wearing his ... but knowing MASN no chance ...

pRAA with the ISO said...

Maurymania said...

By the way, if we tie at 96-46 with the Braves, will head to head by the tie-breaker


If there is a tie for a division title, there would be a one game playoff between the two teams. Not sure how they decide who gets home field advantage for that. The loser would then fall into contention for one of the two wild card spots. Not sure if their record would include the tiebreaker playoff loss.

The interesting scenario is if two or more teams end up tied for one of the wild card spots, e.g. three teams that aren't division winners have the same record, or two teams are tied for the second spot. Not sure how that one would play out.

Anna Peregrina said...

What's with the "Barves" thing? Is it the plural of "barf"?

natsfan1a said...

Barves story here.

Post a Comment