Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Instant analysis: Nats 3, Dodgers 1

Associated Press photo
Ian Desmond turns a double play in the top of the first inning.
Game in a nutshell: The Nationals' 2012 season will extend to at least a 163rd game. And if you don't think that's significant, you don't fully appreciate the mostly sad history of Washington baseball. With a victory in the first half of today's doubleheader against the Dodgers, the Nats secured their 90th win of the season and lowered their magic number for clinching a playoff berth to 1. Another win tonight would officially secure at least the Wild Card, but even in the absolute, worst-case scenario, the Nationals know they could do no worse than tie for the final Wild Card berth and thus guarantee at least a tiebreaker game the day after the regular season ends. How did they pull off this victory? They got a quality start out of Jordan Zimmermann, even though the right-hander labored through much of his six innings. They scored three runs, even though none was plated via a base hit. And they got some shutdown work out of their bullpen, with Sean Burnett, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard recording some big outs down the stretch to secure the win that put the Nationals within one step of the postseason.

Hitting highlight: Who says you need to come through with clutch hits to produce runs? The Nationals disproved that theory in this game, scoring all three of their runs on outs. Kurt Suzuki lofted a sacrifice fly to bring home Michael Morse in the bottom of the second. Ryan Zimmerman scored Bryce Harper with a fifth-inning groundout to second base. And Tyler Moore tapped a slow roller to the right side in the sixth, bringing Ian Desmond home. The Nationals don't usually play "small ball," but in this case they showed some nice ability to produce productive outs, a skill that absolutely helped them earn their 90th win of the season.

Pitching highlight: He was by no means in peak form, but Zimmermann did manage to get the job done. The right-hander put eight of the first 16 batters he faced on base yet allowed only one run. He got better as his start progressed, and made some big pitches when he needed them, ultimately throwing 106 of them over his six innings. Zimmermann has struggled sometimes when working on extra rest, actually feeling too strong and thus losing the sink on his sinker. That might well have been the case today, because he was actually pitching on seven days' rest instead of the usual four, thanks to two off-days and last night's rainout. In the end, the Nationals happily took the quality start they got out of Zimmermann, who certainly needed one.

Key stat: Harper's fifth-inning triple represented his 49th extra-base hit of the season. That's now the most ever hit in a major-league season by a teenager.

Up next: Don't go anywhere, folks. Game 2 begins in 30 minutes. John Lannan takes the mound trying to improve to 4-0, with Josh Beckett hurling for the Dodgers.


Ghost Of Steve M. said...

9 & 1

natsfan1a said...


Secret wasian man said...

Wheeeeeeeew. Nice job fellas. I just finished climbing down off the ledge.

btharner said...

Went to this website while watching the game on on Roku. Forgot there is a slight delay with online broadcasts. It was nice to relax during Kemp's final AB, knowing the outcome.

Great job guys. 90 wins, that's four straight years of 10 win improvement, which is realatively rare.

MicheleS said...

6 up on the Braves. That is nice!

natsfan1a said...

Heading back down to the tv room.

Go, John-Boy! Go, NATS!! Go, cortisone!!!

Candide said...

Cunegonde came home in time for the 9th inning.

When Clipp got to two outs, she hollered at me to "Stand up! It's the last out!"

"Huh?" I cleverly responded.

"Get up! It's the last out! Everyone is standing up, you have to get up too!"

Is this normal behavior when you're at home????

Or have I created a monster?

mick said...

What a feeling, 90 wins, and post season 1 game away since 1933.... when you think of the history that has passed since that time, my goodness!!!!

mick said...

1933.... FDR only in office 6 months (back then the term began in March), Baseball was one of the few diversions people had during the Great Depression and the Nats provided it well, but it is all humbling as well, the horror and night mare in Germany was just beginning..... but alas, we are here today on the eve of something special!

Gonat said...

Let's Play Two!!

median said...

The post season is NOT 1 game away. Every beat writer (and Carp) has it wrong. They must all be getting the info from the same place.

Simple math: Nats have 57 losses with 15 left to play. Cards have 70 losses right now. For Nats to clinch a WC spot, they can lose 12 more, so they need 3 wins. The magic number is 2 in order to clinch a play-IN game vs. Cards.

Santangelo for President 2012 said...

Median what you are forgetting is if the Nats fall to the wild card spot the Braves win the division. In that scenario the Cardinals have the first wild card spot so their record is not relevant. The magic number is one.

median said...

Santangelo - you are completely correct. I gave myself a dope-slap.

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