Friday, May 31, 2013

Instant analysis: Nats 3, Braves 2

USA Today Sports Images
Denard Span slides into third base on one of his two triples tonight.
Game in a nutshell: The opener of a crucial series for the Nationals against a Braves team standing in its path in the NL East got off to what looked like a disastrous start from Washington's perspective. Stephen Strasburg was pulled after two innings with what a source familiar with the situation called a "muscular issue in his lower back." Strasburg clearly wasn't happy when told by manager Davey Johnson and pitching coach Steve McCatty he would be leaving the game,but the club decided not to take any chances. That put a tremendous strain on the Nationals bullpen, but Craig Stammen saved the day with four perfect innings in emergency relief of Strasburg. A pair of triples by Denard Span, a pair of sacrifice flies by Steve Lombardozzi and a manufactured runs in the bottom of the second gave the Nationals a 3-1 lead entering the seventh. Tyler Clippard made things very interesting when he allowed one run before loading the bases, only to strike out Dan Uggla and Chris Johnson to escape the jam. Drew Storen then pitched a scoreless eighth, setting the stage for Rafael Soriano to finish this off in the ninth. With that stress-filled victory, the Nationals climbed back over the .500 mark and drew to within 4 1/2 games of the Braves.

Hitting highlight: Too often, the Nationals have tried to generate offense with power. Tonight, they decided to manufacture their runs, and it worked. Span twice led off innings with triples, scoring moments later on Lombardozzi sacrifice flies to right field. The other run came when Roger Bernadina and Danny Espinosa each singled through the right-side hole and Kurt Suzuki beat out a potential double-play grounder, allowing Bernadina to score. It may not be pretty, and the chicks may not dig it, but for a struggling lineup that sometimes feels like it relies too much on the longball, this was a welcome change of pace.

Pitching highlight: While the Strasburg injury obviously took center stage, Stammen's job in emergency relief was nothing short of remarkable. Thrust into the game with little time to warm up or mentally prepare himself for the task at hand, the right-hander nonetheless took the mound and dominated the Braves' potent lineup. He faced 12 batters and retired every one of them. He struck out three, obviously didn't walk anybody and was highly efficient, needing only 49 pitches to complete four innings of relief. Stammen often goes unrecognized in the Nationals' bullpen because of his unglamorous role. But make no mistake, he is one of the most versatile (and valuable) pitchers in baseball and the Nationals certainly are thrilled to have him.

Key stat: In five career starts at Turner Field, Strasburg now has a 5.24 ERA. He's averaged only slightly more than four innings per start here.

Up next: The series continues at 7:15 p.m. Saturday night when Gio Gonzalez faces Tim Hudson on Fox.

66 comments:

JaneB said...

Man did they need this Curlie W. So did we. Ouch Kurt! Mend fast Stras!

Secret wasian man said...

Great pitching tonight. Span Lombo excellent. Time for victory swim. Lets get them tommor.

Secret wasian man said...

Lombo and span. Local kids make good

MicheleS said...

WOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Way to go Craig! You Deserve the Win!!! Span with the triples! How great was that

NatsLady said...

Not an easy win, but a GOOD win. Time for Gio to step up. Stammen and Span the heroes today.

sjm308 said...

How tough is Kurt Suzuki?

I think you have to find a spot for Lombo in most games until he proves otherwise. Look how many times we have left runners at 3rd and Lombo was 2 for 2 today in bringing them home.

Stammen was just super and boy was SS not happy being pulled. Just have to hope he is going to be OK.

So I can wear the same hat tomorrow and breath just a little easier.

Go Nats!!

RickH said...

How 'bout that Craig Stammen?!!!

db9b4774-ca64-11e2-9ff2-000bcdca4d7a said...

Small ball works. Pitchin too

db9b4774-ca64-11e2-9ff2-000bcdca4d7a said...

Sweet win we needed. Clutch suzuki too

NatsJack in Florida said...

And how about 2 sac flies by Lombo? Espinosa, take a seat PLEASE.

db9b4774-ca64-11e2-9ff2-000bcdca4d7a said...

Sweet win we needed. Clutch suzuki too

Exposremains said...

I say Lombo deserves a lot of credit for the 2 sac flies. Most of the time, the rest of the lineup combined struggles to get one.

David Proctor said...

Davey says Strasburg had strained R oblique. Going back to DC to be examined by team doctor.

So he'll be out for what? A month?

sjm308 said...

Amen NatsJack!

One other point. Those people who screamed about Soriano. Take a look at both Clip and Storen tonight. Clip took 32 pitches and was all over the place (hell Stammen threw 49 in 4 innings!). Storen threw more balls than strikes tonight in his inning.
Soriano came in - threw 9 pitches, 8 of them strikes and that is what is supposed to happen.

I guess Lombo's numbers are not great but I really think he is a solid #2 hitter. He handles the bat well, he can bunt, he obviously can drive a ball as well, he has decent speed and is hard to double up and again, I don't do stats but I am willing to bet he looks at a decent number of pitches as well. If you bat Lombo 2nd and people get healthy you can then go
Span - Lombo - Harper - Zimm - LaRoche - Werth - Desmond - Suzuki which might be as good as we can do.

go Nats!

NatsLady said...

Stras’ll go get a back massage and agitate to pitch on Sunday.

David Proctor said...

I still like Werth in the 2 spot when he's healthy, but Lombo should definitely be in the lineup.

sjm308 said...

David P - you are assuming our "crack" medical staff has made the correct diagnosis. I say they keep him on the 25 man roster for 5 or 6 days and then realize he is really hurt before moving him to the dl. Why change what they have done all year.

That was sarcasm people.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

If Stras needs to miss one game, we are off monday so Gio and Karns(Det) can move up.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

With starters the delay makes sense. With the hitters make no sense.

sjm308 said...

I can live with Werth at #2 and Lombo down at 7 or 8 but Werth could drive in a bunch of runs at 5 or 6 and you could also move he and LaRoche depending on a lefty or righty throwing.

NatsLady said...

sjm, with respect, Soriano hasn't pitched in a week. Clip and Storen have been out there in the mix... Just take it and love it.

natsfan1a said...

How about that Denard Span as well? He untucked, I untucked, and now I'm tuckered. It's off to bed for me.

natsfan1a said...

Tatiana, please pick up the white courtesy phone.

NatsLady said...

Stras’ll go get a back massage and agitate to pitch on Sunday.
May 31, 2013 10:50 PM

NatsJack in Florida said...

SJM...you and I are on the same page. I came here to do the same thing.....state the pitch count of the "guys in training" and the pro.

9 pitches to close the deal.

David Proctor said...

Strasburg had some discomfort before the game but it wasn't bad. It got worse during the game, apparently. He also had some issues last time out, but it loosened up and didn't bother him when the game started. Not sure what to think.

Caps Fan said...

Unfortunately Tatiana is no longer with the Nats.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I'll go on record that this was the teams toughest win to date.

But guess what? ....It's over. ..And there's another one tommorrow....and another one the day after that.

So bring on tommorrow.....It's why I watch the games.

David Proctor said...

I have a good feeling about tomorrow. Gio has certainly had his fair share of bad starts, but I don't recall back to back bad starts (maybe ever as a National). He had a bad one last time out so I think he'll be good this time.

Eric said...

Stained oblique for Stras... That's not comforting news...

Stammen was jammin tonight! Damn!

Loving the small ball win.

Eric said...

Also, Espi wasn't sharp but he got a hit and played a critical roll in getting a run scored.

Good on Lombo with the perfect sac fly execution... twice.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Not so sure it's a strained oblique. I'll wait till he sees the Dr.'s.

David Proctor said...

I'm relieved by the strained oblique. Obviously, I'm not "happy" about it, but I feared the worst. I feared an elbow or shoulder. This is RELATIVELY good news.

David Proctor said...

What are you thinking NatsJack?

baseballswami said...

Holy crap!! Just finished a concert- pull out my phone in the parking lot only to find-----WHAT????????? So Stras has been hurt for several starts with an oblique, but Stammen comes in and saves the game, along with Span( who has no power, right?) and Mr. RISP-ect, Lombo, who was back in the line up driving in runs. So Stras is out after two and the pen holds the Braves to only two, even though Clip terrified everyone. Am I caught up? DVR tomorrow as this storyline is barely credible.

baseballswami said...

And apparently even though ATL is in first place, no one goes to their games?

David Proctor said...

Pretty much Swami. I wouldn't really say he was hurt for his last starts, but he felt it slightly. Today it went from feeling it to being painful. Stammen was nothing short of amazing. Clippard was...bad Clippard, but somehow survived. Drew was great. Soriano had a 1-2-3. Lombo was Mr. Sac Fly. Espinosa was...Espinosa.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

Here is what my crystal ball sees

Sat Braves. Gio
Sun Braves Karns
Tues mets Zim
Wed Mets Haren
Thurs Mets Gio
Fri Twins karns

Det off DL Stras on Dl retro 6/1)

Sat Twins Det
Sun Twins Zim
Tues Rockies Haren
Wed Rockies Gio
Thur Rockies Karns
Fri Indians Det
Sat Indians Zim
sun Indians Haren
Mon Phillies Gio

Stras off Dl Karns back to Harrisburg

Tue phillies Stras
Wed Phillies Det
Thur Rockies Zim
Fri Rockies Haren
Sat Rockies Gio
sun Rockies Stras

David Proctor said...

Gio needs to step up now. He needs to step up and be the ace that he was last year. We need him to be consistently good, no more of this good start, bad start crap.

NatsJack in Florida said...

David......relax.... I think it's less than an oblique.

baseballswami said...

I knew the game would be over- was holding my breath, but I almost had to rub my eyes and check again. Love Craig Stammen- so happy for him. Glad Lombo did the same smart, situational stuff. Doesn't make for flashy stats, but gets the job done. Almost incredible that Stras leaves after two, but the Nats win anyway. I love that the team pulled this one out. Who says they have no heart?

Eric said...

I mean, yeah I suppose the preliminary diagnosis could be wrong, but Davey was pretty definitive about it...

Definitely better than structural issues in the arm, but oblique stains seem to be persistent...

David Proctor said...

Dan Kolko ‏@masnKolko 1m
Stammen's great. "I was enjoying myself. Felt like I was a starter again." When can he go next? "I'll be here tomm. I'll have my cleats on."

Drew said...

Thank goodness it's not his arm, but I'm glad they are being cautious with Strasburg.

Remember Dizzy Dean. A comebacker in the 1937 All Star game fractured his toe. Dean came back too soon, changed his mechanics to compensate for his foot -- and wrecked his pitching arm.

My apologies if someone noted this in the game thread, but there's some good news on the injury front. Rendon and Christian Garcia played for Harrisburg tonight.

Eric said...

"oblique stains seem to be persistent..."

Of course it's nothing a little tide with bleach can't handle...

Drew said...

In other news on the farm, how about Chris Marrero?

In 50 games he's hitting .307 with 10 jacks and 42 RBIs.

I know he has limited usefulness in the field, but it seems his bat is earning another look.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

Oblque brucitis arg all these ailments

David Proctor said...

MLB Network talking about the Shutdown last year. What a surprise.

Eric said...

Oh yeah any word on Werths start tonight?

baseballswami said...

Off the subject, but is everything ok with Tony Tarasco's new baby? Worrisome that he is not back. Not for the team, for the family. Need to call up a coach from the minors. Or maybe the hitters are better off without Eck and his notebook. A little see ball hit ball.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Man, the idiots on the Baseball Network are in full raving mode, arguing that because Stras got hurt tonight, they shouldn't have shut him down last September. Huh, what?

In a related illogical development, Mitch (Idiot) Williams says that because it's raining in St. Louis tonight, the games in Pluto could be affected.

baseballswami said...

Single, double, walk- five at bats, seven innings for Werth. I sure hope that is a good sign.

Eric said...

Good question about Tarasco swami. My wife had some post partum complications with our first and it was about the scariest experience I've ever had (all turned out totally fine).

I wish him and his family all the best.

Eric said...

Sounds like a good sign top me swami!

David Proctor said...

The key for Werth is "exploding out of the box." He's not been going 100% out of the box yet and they're not going to bring him back until he does that. Now he may have today since he hit a double. Not sure.

Eric said...

Yeah... It's pretty encouraging that he legged out a double unless it was of the Haren-in-Miami variety... ;)

Eric said...

I did read that he planned to do 3 rehab starts, which makes me think this would be the 100% test... But we'll see. Hard to imagine he'd just sit the rest of the weekend, but as always, what do I know?

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Rendon to Syracuse

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Werth 2-4 with a run.

David Proctor said...

Will be very interesting to see where Rendon plays at Syracuse.

Gonat said...

Is that official that Rendon got promoted?

David Proctor said...

All the beat reporters were saying that Rendon was being congratulated on his promotion after today's game. As close to official as possible. I expect the Nats/Chiefs will announce tomorrow.

Gonat said...

David, thanks. I have been away and just saw GoSM's post and hadn't seen it anywhere.

Gonat said...

BTW, how great was Denard Span, Lombo, Bernadina, Stammen, Storen and Soriano!

Honorable mention to Suzuki!

David Proctor said...

Erik Davis called up. Strasburg to DL?

natsfan1a said...

I know, right? I was saying the same thing to my husband at the start of the game. But we've seen that before with the chop-chop fans.

baseballswami said...

And apparently even though ATL is in first place, no one goes to their games?
May 31, 2013 11:16 PM

biggoose said...

LOMBO---enough said

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