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Confident once again, Nats’ lineup is on fire

Apr 29, 2015, 11:59 PM EDT


ATLANTA — On Tuesday evening, the Nationals fielded a starting lineup that included only one hitter with a batting average better than .250 and five with a batting average worse than .205. This was a source of concern for some who were worried such a putrid April at the plate could be a sign of a summer-long problem.

And then the Nationals went out and scored 13 runs during an historic, come-from-behind victory over the Braves. And then they went back out and scored 13 more runs Wednesday night in another historic performance.

And so now, in the wake of 13-12 and 13-4 victories at Turner Field, the narrative has been flipped onto its head. The supposedly offensively challenged Nationals suddenly can’t be stopped.

“We definitely needed to wake our bats up the past two games,” center fielder Denard Span said. “It’s fun when guys are putting good swings on the ball. The whole cliche: ‘Hitting is contagious.’ I think last night was a good win for us and it carried over to today.”

We won’t know for several more days, probably even weeks, whether Tuesday’s rally from eight runs down — the largest comeback in club history — was a legitimate turning point in the season for the Nationals. But if nothing else, we can probably say it played a crucial role in giving members of this slumping lineup renewed confidence, which was on full display during Wednesday’s blowout win.

How rare were these back-to-back offensive displays? So rare they had never before happened in franchise history. Nope, neither the Expos nor the Nationals had ever scored 13 runs in consecutive games during their 47 years of existence.

It had happened in the history of Washington baseball, but not in a long time, not since the Senators beat the St. Louis Browns 15-7 and 13-1 on May 4-5, 1952.

“We’ve got all the confidence in the world in everybody that goes up to the plate that they’re going to get the job done, no matter what,” right fielder Bryce Harper said. “And if the guy doesn’t get it done in front of him, it’s a matter of time. We’re having some fun right now.”

Harper used the word “confidence” four times during a 90-second session with reporters after the game. There seems to be a connection between that word and the success of this team, both on an individual and collective level.

“It’s a big part of it,” manager Matt Williams said. “This game is a lot mental. And if you’re not swinging it good and you don’t feel good at the plate, you tend to press a little bit. You tend to get outside of yourself and try to do things you’re not necessarily capable of doing. So, it plays a big role for us. For any team.”

That confidence only increases when teammates up and down the lineup are producing as well. On Tuesday, seven different Nationals batters recorded at least one hit, while six drove in at least one run. On Wednesday, eight different batters recorded at least one hit, while six drove in at least one run.

The contributions came from everywhere. Span homered for the second straight night. Jayson Werth snapped out of an 0-for-14 slump with an RBI single. Wilson Ramos had three hits, drove in a run and scampered around the bases to score twice. Danny Espinosa had four hits and two RBI to raise his season batting average to .277. Dan Uggla again victimized his former team, driving in two more runs to give him eight for the series.

But the biggest hit of all came from, of all people, Jordan Zimmermann.

At the plate with the bases loaded and two out in the top of the fourth of what at the time was a 3-2 Atlanta lead, Zimmermann calmly took three straight balls from left-hander Alex Wood, then two strikes, then fouled off a pitch, then smoked a base hit to left-center, bringing everybody around to score and giving the Nationals the lead for good.

Zimmermann, whose career high for RBI in a full season is four, was the recipient of a few playful jabs as he returned to the dugout. “[Expletive] the DH!” someone supposedly told him.

“Somebody might have said that,” the right-hander said, then throwing his own jab at rotation mate Max Scherzer, who sprained his thumb while at the plate last week. “I like hitting. I’m just not as fragile as some guys on this team.”

The Nationals could afford to joke around Wednesday night. Only 26 hours before, they appeared too tightly wound, on the verge of collapse.

Not anymore. Twenty-six hours and 26 runs later, this group was all smiles.

“We’re a great team,” Harper said. “It was a matter of time before we got going. I think we have a lot of confidence in everybody on this club, and we’re gonna have some fun.”

  1. Section 222 - Apr 30, 2015 at 12:18 AM

    The bats awake just in time for an early season showdown with the NL East leaders. Excellent. If we can take 3 of 4, their lead will be down to 4 games by Sunday night.

    • bowdenball - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:31 AM

      This is the biggest pre-Memorial Day series I can remember for this organization.

      That said, I think a split is fine. A six game deficit this early in the season is certainly manageable. They just need to avoid disaster. Eight games would be a much tougher task. And if it’s ten it might be time to turn our attention to the Wild Card.

  2. scmargenau - Apr 30, 2015 at 12:20 AM

    I can’t wait to see how we play tom night!

    • rabbit433 - Apr 30, 2015 at 5:58 PM

      I agree with what you just said. My knees are shaking, I so want to believe this wasn’t an anomaly. We have been beaten into the ground since the beginning of the season. After just these last two games, I still can’t believe the losing might be over, or that we will continue to win at a pace that is expected of us. Come on Nats. Show me.

  3. curlydub34 - Apr 30, 2015 at 12:31 AM

    The reoccurring theme in their comments is that they are having fun out there and they are joking around and smiling. Hopefully they can stay in that mindset cause it appears to keep them loose and on their game.

  4. homeparkdc - Apr 30, 2015 at 1:20 AM

    Being optimistic about Nats’ SPs – Scherzer is not perfect. Finally something to razz him about – the DH. Fister pinch running and Zimmermann saying he’s not so fragile as some on the team. Hope they’re having fun with this in the clubhouse.

  5. laddieblahblah - Apr 30, 2015 at 2:42 AM

    “We’re a great team,” Harper said. “It was a matter of time before we got going. I think we have a lot of confidence in everybody on this club, and we’re gonna have some fun.”

    Bryce spoke for a lot of us who share his sentiments.

    Wherever the real Jordan Zimmermann has been hiding, he finally made a public appearance last night. Werth and RZim continue to be complementary offensive players, with the big hits coming from other sources. But some of the other regulars are finally heating up – Ramos, Harper, Span. Uggla and Espinosa and, of course, JZ, had some of the biggest hits last night. No other Nats bench has been as effective as the current bunch, in my recollection – 5 more hits from Uggla and Espinosa, for example, last night.

    Have to take note, again, of Danny Espinosa’s new approach at the plate. He is now much more of a contact hitter than a strikeout machine, but they hadn’t been falling in for Danny until he scored 4 hits last night, mainly on bleeders and bloops, but that is all that is required to, say, drive in a pair of runs with RISP.

    Espinosa is now hitting a full 50 points above Desmond, with an OBP north of .400 while Desmond’s OBP sits below .300. Danny is about as likely, now, to draw a walk as to strike out with that new, more patient, more selective approach. And Desmond continues to strike out at a torrid pace, while Danny’s K-rate has taken a plunge. When Escobar is ready to return, the stats say that Espinosa deserves to remain at 3rd with Escobar at SS and Uggla at 2nd.

    Desmond is the guy who should be sitting down.

    • Joe Seamhead - Apr 30, 2015 at 3:06 AM

      Wow, Laddie,I see I’m not the only insomniac tonight.

      • Joe Seamhead - Apr 30, 2015 at 3:23 AM

        As to Ian Desmond, the guy is not just in a slump, a part of baseball that every player goes through. No, this guy is in a deep funk right now, and I bleed for him because he has been a class guy for this team. But his fielding, in spite of an occasional flashy play, has been worse than the stats are showing, and in addition to the errors he has been charged with, there have been many other miscues that don’t get recorded as errors.As to his approach at the plate, it has been dreadful, and there is nothing that anybody can say to defend it. I think the guy is human, and as such, his self confidence is in shambles right now. I really hope for his sake, and for the team’s, that he gets himself together.

      • coop202 - Apr 30, 2015 at 4:19 AM

        He went deep, but the real jzim did not show up tonight. He’s location feind, and clearly you did not follow his career of you think this was a good game. Great three Ribbies

      • natsjackinfl - Apr 30, 2015 at 5:35 AM

        What? You think because he scattered 8 hits in 7 innings, struck out 8 and only walked 1 giving up 3 earnies he pitched poorly?

        His location was the best he’s had this season and except for the 1st inning when he couldn’t locate down, he was his old self.

        Top velocity isn’t everything.

      • Eric - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:59 AM

        I said early in the game thread that we were finally seeing something akin to the velo and movement we expect from Zinn, but that his location wasn’t quite there.

        As the game went on, I realized his velo wasn’t quite there yet, either. But, it continues to climb.

        I think it’s fair to say we saw Zinn last night, but he still wasn’t in peak form. I’m looking forward to his continued ascent thereto!

    • Guapo - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:14 AM

      Desmond should have been sat long ago. Horrific defense. 1 for last 25 at the plate.

      Hopefully, the team gets Escobar and Rendon back soon and MW has more flexibility with the lineup. Perfect time to sit Desmond down for a few games and see what happens.

    • coop202 - Apr 30, 2015 at 2:13 PM

      Yes, I think it’s better. No I don’t think 4 runs (3 earned) to one of the worst teams in baseball and being probably his best game of the year is good enough for a guy who wants over 150 million in free agency. It’s all relative, but he pitched like 2-3 last night.

  6. Joe Seamhead - Apr 30, 2015 at 3:01 AM

    I am thrilled to see the team finally awaken, and am especially thrilled for Uggla, a guy I have been especially hard on, and for Espy, who has looked recently like the guy that we all were excited about when he first came up. Add in Denard Span, a guy many didn’t even think would be playing before late May, who is just looking better everyday in all phases of his game.There has been no shortage of key contributors over the past two games, but from my perspective the thing I am really appreciating is the maturation of Bryce Harper. As has been stated, he is drawing a ton of walks partially because he is being more patient, partially because he is being pitched around, and also the umpires are not shafting him with the “Bryce” factor. But a great example of his growth was in the top of the second when he hit the ball solidly to right and didn’t try to stretch it into a double with Markasis in RF. Then, when Ryan Zimmerman hit the ball to deep CF he stayed at first until Young caught the ball, and he tagged up and advanced to second. FP seemed to question him on it, but I thought it was heads up, smart baserunning, and he ultimately scored the Nats first run. I really think that Harper is growing into his own skin and his cockiness is turning into level headed confidence.

    • Another_Sam - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:12 AM

      It’s a lot more fun, Seam, when they’re doing this. Yes. I’m with you. But of course, just as losing six ugly games doesn’t define a season, winning two with lots of runs doesn’t either. I sure hope that this continues, though.

    • Section 222 - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:30 AM

      I totally agree with your late night musings Joe. Harper has taken it up a notch this year. He’s playing very intense baseball, yet smart as well. It’s the 2012 hustle Bryce with a dose of realism and perspective mixed in. And his vicious swing is a sweet sight to behold.

      I’m especially impressed with his plate discipline. When you’re swinging it well, it takes a lot of restraint to spit at pitches just out of the zone. But with every walk he takes, he’s making opposing teams understand he’s not going to chase, which will lead to more hittable pitches being thrown to him. Plus, he’s gaining the respect of the umps. I predict that in five years, he’ll be one of those guys who umps will be reluctant to call close strikes against because they figure he knows the strike zone better than they do.

      I too noticed the tag up play in the 2nd inning. And it’s even better than you recall because he actually charged to half way between 1st and 2nd when the ball was in the air, then quickly retreated when he saw it might be caught. He got back to the bag just as Young caught the ball and quickly reversed course to get to second. It was a very athletic play demanding a real sense of “court awareness.”

  7. Drew - Apr 30, 2015 at 4:39 AM

    Uggla’s 8 RBI in the Atlanta series make the next personnel move very interesting.

    If Escobar is healthy, someone has to go when Rendon comes back.

    Uggla is still hitting .196 with an on base percentage around .250 and let’s say he’s not a fluid second baseman.

    And yet … there’s some extra-base pop there. So we’re back to the same old question. Can Uggla produce off the bench? Has he frozen TyMo out?

    Do the Nats sell high and try to get a prospect for Uggla?

    Or do they just send Solis or MAT back down?

    • Guapo - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:20 AM

      Tyler Moore needs to go. He has trade value and no place on the Nats MLB roster. IMHO, I think TMo is a AAA stud and MLB flop. He’s just never shown that he can make that leap at least not with the Nats. Let him go elsehwhere and maybe he can break in.

      Uggla may be hitting .196 with an OBP of .250 and not pretty at 2B. But the Nats SS is hitting .225 with a .289 OBP and leading all of baseball with 9 errors. If we’re going to start using stats to make roster/lineup decisions, the first place to look is at #20.

      • therealjohnc - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:51 AM

        This may be true (that TMo is an AAA stud and an MLB flop); time will tell. But you’re kidding yourself if you think that TMo has much in the way of trade value. Not only are other organizations as fully cognizant of the concerns about TMo’s ability, but they also know that he is out of options and the Nats likely can’t hold him. Little value + no leverage = bag of baseballs return.

      • Guapo - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:54 AM

        I have no idea what his trade value is. I’ll trust you know the biz side better than I do. That said, Moore has almost no long term value to the Nats, so anything they get in return (even a dozen new balls) is a plus

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:48 AM

        FWIW, Moore is currently second on the Nats’ depth chart at first base. If Zimm gets hurt, it’s him or Robinson. And Tyler has done better when he’s starting, on occasion. So there’s that.

      • Guapo - Apr 30, 2015 at 11:55 AM

        Robinson is LHB. So despite less performance that Moore, he’s much more likely to stay. I actually like Tyler Moore. I think he deserves a shot somewhere, I just do see it happening here so for his sake and the teams, I think it make sense to move him.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 30, 2015 at 12:27 PM

        I think they have to keep TMo for now, which is a bad break for him, b/c I think he might do well enough if he had a chance to start for a while. Their minor league depth at first base seems to be Matt Skole, so without Moore, if Zim gets hurt (again), they would pretty much be obliged to either trade or find a free agent. So I don’t think he’s going anywhere for now.

  8. Doc - Apr 30, 2015 at 7:15 AM

    Great game and fun to watch Espi be the ballplayer that he should be, but JDub, Zim, and Desmond are still struggling. Meanwhile, TyMo sits on the bench–weeks at a time. Let Desi sit, and Espi put in some time at SS.

    Hope MW doesn’t make MAT sit around like TyMo.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:52 AM

      Espi is still batting .143 in RISP after his bases loaded hit last night but that’s a start for him to see results on what a 200 foot bloop can do as it goes into the boxscore as a line drive with 2 RBIs.

      I know people are willing to crown Espi as being fixed and quite possibly he is as his key walk in the 9th inning coupled with that bloop bases loaded single yesterday reinforces that this team needs quality at-bats and while HRs are great, quality at-bats are more important and contact over K’s is the key.

      • Eric - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:03 AM

        I’m still worried Espi’s performance so far is another early-season illusion, but I do believe it’s gone on much longer than it did last season, and the walk rate is really something. I don’t remember that coming into play at all last spring.

        In any case, I really do hope he puts it together. I have always really enjoyed watching him in the field when he’s playing regularly (he seems to rust quickly when he’s only getting intermittent starts). I would be thrilled if he could get it together at the plate well enough to become a regular again someday.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:14 AM

        Mirages come with warm weather. Still hoping he’s finally fixed.

      • masterfishkeeper - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:31 AM

        His K rate is way down, too. I’m as worried as you guys that he’ll regress, but his OPS+ is an astounding 140, and it’s not just BABIP, which is .297, right in line with his career .299. He’s being more patient and making more contact. But yeah, I’ll be worried about regression until mid-October.

      • natsdial8 - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:24 AM

        Espi is a ginder and hangs in . He keeps sticking around . Hopefully he can keep doing well after the pitchers readjust to his new found patience. We’ll see.

      • Eric - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:39 AM

        masterfishkeeper, his K rate was way down the first few weeks of last season, too…but coupling it with the high walk rate I think is an entirely new development.

    • natsdial8 - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:26 AM

      Espi is a ginder and hangs in . He keeps sticking around . Hopefully he can keep doing well after the pitchers readjust to his new found patience. We’ll see.

  9. micksback1 - Apr 30, 2015 at 7:36 AM

    Like is said yesterday, maybe Tues game is the spark they needed, wow

    Now lets see what happens in NY.

  10. natsfan1a - Apr 30, 2015 at 7:49 AM

    Nice win, boys. On to NYC.

    Also, I don’t care who you are, that’s funny:

    Zimmermann, whose career high for RBI in a full season is four, was the recipient of a few playful jabs as he returned to the dugout. “[Expletive] the DH!” someone supposedly told him.

    “Somebody might have said that,” the right-hander said, then throwing his own jab at rotation mate Max Scherzer, who sprained his thumb while at the plate last week. “I like hitting. I’m just not as fragile as some guys on this team.”

    • ArVAFan - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:00 AM

      Obviously Scherzer has a sense of humor (see, chocolate sauce, “right meow.”). Good thing. Sense of humor is necessary for a good team in the clubhouse–and on the field.

  11. natsjackinfl - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:08 AM

    What I’ve enjoyed most is that up until Tuesday night, the Nats have been hard pressed to score 3 runs a game. In the last 2 games, the Nats have scored 3 runs or more in 6 different innings.

    Hitting (and not hitting) truly is contagious.

    Let’s hope this carries forward for a long while.

    • Another_Sam - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:14 AM

      Sure is fun, Jack. Yes. I want more. Actually this doesn’t seem so implausible. This is the team we all thought that we had. haha

      • natsjackinfl - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:27 AM

        I agree Sam. It’s like finally, Spring Training is over for everyone except Ian Desmond. And I am not sure if he’ll ever become some semblance of consistent this season unless it’s consistently bad.

        He has not been fun to watch.

      • ICYMI - Apr 30, 2015 at 11:21 AM

        Yet Desmond is tied with Harper for the team lead in hits, with 20. He is what he is. Deal with it.

    • Eric - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:06 AM

      Agreed. Hopefully it lasts longer than the 5 or 6 game stretch of offense that got started in Boston. I LOVE the 13-run games, but a couple weeks of 5 – 8 runs a game sure would be nice. We need some consistency on this front.

      • therealjohnc - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:01 AM

        Are the Nats truly less consistent than other teams? As was noted in a Fangraphs article yesterday, the curve of run production is skewed to the right (higher numbers) because you can’t score less than zero. So while rom 2005-2014 the most common score for a team in a game was 3 runs – but that only happened 14% of the time. About the same amount of times teams were either shut out (6%) or scored 10+ runs (6.9%).


        I haven’t crunched the numbers (day job), but I suspect that what we perceive as maddening inconsistency on the part of the Nationals is, in fact, pretty typical for a major league team.

      • Eric - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:42 AM

        Makes sense…hence why I specified “a couple weeks”. In other words, I’d like to see us go on a real run!

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:52 AM

      I’ll feel even better when they do that against some other staff.

      • Section 222 - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:46 AM

        Like against the Mets starting pitchers, though their bullpen is still pretty weak, so some late inning explosions will be fine too.

  12. ArVAFan - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:21 AM

    In honor of them looking like a team worth looking at, I rearranged my bobblehead and “game used balls from significant games” shelves so there would be room for 2015’s. Now, guys, go out and have some significant games so I can fill in the space! (Yes, I’ve been in touch with Atlanta authentics for a game ball from Tuesday. But there’s plenty more space, because I agree that this looks like the team we thought had–even though composed of different players than we expected).

  13. rayvil01 - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:27 AM

    That must have been some kind of extraordinary closed-door meeting they had after Monday’s game. I’ve yet to hear any of them say a word about it. I haven’t even heard them admit they had one. But, I’ve seen references that they had one. Since then the bats came out. It’s only a couple of games. And the Braves are worse than bad. We needed it, though.

    This team was its own road block. Desmond is a team leader and he looks as high-strung as a piano wire right now. When Escobar comes back I’m hoping they give Ian a day or two off to clear his head. Not a “benching.” Just a pause to hit the reset button.

    Biggest question mark all weekend will be Fister. If he comes back to have a decent game things things will start taking shape.

    • natsfan1a - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:39 AM

      Maybe Matt stuffed a pillow under his jersey, called his shot, teed off, and ran around the locker room. Or not.

  14. edshelton2013 - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:30 AM

    Great win, but can someone explain why Desmond and Werth are hitting second and third?? They’re killing us!
    They belong at 6-7, at least till they start hitting, but MW is too hesitant to make that happen.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:43 AM

      Werth can handle the bat and he’s putting good wood on the ball and getting mixed results and he’s also getting walks and working the pitchers. At least he had 2 Sac Flys in Tuesday’s comeback game.

      As I suggested last night, it’s time for either Esco or Espi to play SS and give Desi some rest and get him out of the lineup for a “rest” day and go from there. Esco should be back in the #2.

      RISP BA got much healthier after the last 2 games.

      • Eric - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:09 AM

        Was there an at bat yesterday where Werth put the ball in play and DIDN’T have an RBI? His single drove one in, too, no?

        It’s frustrating to see him scuffle of all people, but he’s still managing to do damage.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:18 AM

        Small sample sizes and this is still his Spring Training. The 2 players who are really scuffling is Desi and RZim. I’ve seen Ryan swing through mistake pitches at 91mph. He’s hot into some tough luck also but he also leads the team in runners LOB in a competition with Desi.

        Rest days needed.

      • natsdial8 - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:29 AM

        Agree all points

    • Guapo - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:25 AM

      Doug Fister has higher BA/OBP/OPS than Werth. He’s simply lost at the plate right now.

      That said, when you score 10+ runs in back to back games you don’t change the lineup at all. For whatever reason, it’s working.

    • therealjohnc - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:05 AM

      Track record, especially for Werth. Trying to chase the “hot hand” in baseball is as foolish as guessing the stock market. The “hot hand” theory wouldn’t have had Span leading off the past two games and catalyzing the offense.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:18 AM

        As a good friend once told me, “At the end of the season, the .300 hitters will be hitting .300, and the .250 hitters will be hitting .250.”

  15. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:33 AM

    ESPN just ran a clip on Alex Wood that he hadn’t given up more than 3 earned runs in his last 15 starts…..until last night!

  16. thenattyprofessor - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:47 AM

    edshelton2013 I have wondered the same thing. I am hoping that when Escobar returns, Desmond and perhaps Werth can be moved down in the order. At least Werth is still getting back into the swing of things, so one could argue that getting him more at bats might be an investment. Desi, unlike Werth, has never hit well near the top of the order.

    If hitting is contagious, I wonder if approach is too? I hope so. Like others, I am most pleased with Harper’s patient approach at the plate, especially since he has had little or no protection so far this season and might have been tempted to win games by himself with one swing. I wonder if Escobar’s approach has influenced others, like Harper or Espi?

    So glad to see Espi finally making some solid contact. I’ve seen several posters argue that Escobar should replace Desi either for a few games at SS, or all of next year (assuming Desmond does not return, which seems assured). But if Espi can continue to hit even moderately well, I think the team is better off both this year and next with him spelling Desmond at SS, Rendon at third and Escobar at second.

    The thing that makes me most hopeful is picturing this lineup with some combination of Span, Rendon and Escobar near the top of the order. That is a lot of table setting.

  17. ehay2k - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:48 AM

    One thing I found pleasing was that the Nats are hitting pitches other than fastballs. Cahill has been the type of guy we all too often make look like a Cy Young candidate. Not last night. I really want to see the Nats keep that up. The stat about leading the league with 2-out hits was interesting. Perhaps they should pretend their are two outs every time they come to the plate?

    On to NYC! GYFNG!

    • Eric - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:15 AM

      Big +1 to this! I had this bizarre thought (not that uncommon 😉 ) last night when Harper stared down two perfect FB strikes in his last at bat that they’re intentionally avoiding fastballs. I seem to recall last season that they were low on the list of teams as far as hitting off-speed pitches.

      adcwonk posted a comment yesterday or the day before about using the first portion of the season to “see what you have” in certain players. I sometimes wonder if it’s also used to test out new strategies and approaches, undermine known tendencies, and otherwise find the team’s “personality” and/or throw off the competition.

      Then again, it’s been a rough April and sometimes I just need to convince myself it all makes some kind of sense ;).

  18. chapjim - Apr 30, 2015 at 8:53 AM

    Anybody remember ever seeing Wilson Ramos and “scamper” in the same sentence?

    • ArVAFan - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:28 AM

      As long as he doesn’t hurt himself or others, he can scamper all he wants.

    • Muddy Ruel - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:31 AM

      Ramos running the bases last night was awesome! Like a crazed buffalo doing ballet. Or maybe a tank on a short oval. However you look at it you gotta love to watch Wilson run … but, hey Wilson, watch those hamstrings! Ouch.

      • Joe Seamhead - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:43 AM

        Actually, though never a speedster, before the hamstring injuries Wilson was a pretty fair base runner.He had a tendency to come in really hard at 2nd on close plays, scaring the bejeebers out of defenders.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:03 AM

        That’s how he got the nickname, if you recall the story from 2011. Jerry Hairston Jr., IIRC, imagining what it would be like to try blocking the plate on Ramos coming in. “It would be like getting run over by a buffalo!”

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:29 AM

      Yes, just last week. : (

      Stanton tried rounding third to score on Ichiro Suzuki’s infield single, but he was able to scamper back to third when Wilson Ramos did not throw the ball to Yunel Escobar to tag Stanton out.

    • Doc - Apr 30, 2015 at 11:19 AM

      Only in baseball do buffaloes ‘scamper’. All other buffaloes, like elephants, charge.

      I must look more closely at Willy Ramos running next time. Maybe he’s exchanged his cleats for ballet slippers.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 30, 2015 at 12:37 PM

      • soonernat - Apr 30, 2015 at 1:14 PM

        Since the Thunder are not in the playoffs I will check and see if Rumble is available to race with The Presidents…

      • natsfan1a - Apr 30, 2015 at 1:39 PM

        I believe that they also sometimes roam.

  19. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:00 AM

    “Joe Seamhead – Apr 30, 2015 at 3:01 AM
    I am thrilled to see the team finally awaken, and am especially thrilled for Uggla, a guy I have been especially hard on, and for Espy, who has looked recently like the guy that we all were excited about when he first came up.”

    The reality will be coming soon when Esco comes back and then Rendon that there are 8 players that will be on the roster to play infield and unless you start to rest Ryan Zimmerman for CRob or TyMo and rest Desi or Esco, there is a log jam. A good problem to have.

    • Joe Seamhead - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:58 AM

      Hey, I’ll be honest, two games has not sold me on Dan Uggla being back to his all-star years, but I am happy for the man, not to mention for the team, for his past couple of games. CRob is in many ways a LH mirror image of Tyler in that he can play a decent 1B, a barely passable outfield, and will give you an occasional big hit. They are both career AAAA guys with great attitudes. When Rendon comes back, I see one of those two guys being the odd man out right now. BTW, I didn’t think circumstances were very fair to Uggla on the play that he got charged with an error last night. It started with a painfully slow toss from Desmond, forcing Uggla to rush his throw to try and get the double play.Then RZimm doesn’t get the scoop on the bounce throw. In time Ryan will save these guys from getting charged with those kinds of errors.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:10 AM

        Agree completely on the E-4, tough error. If Zim even keeps that ball close to himself, there’s no advance. Heck, if the first base ump hadn’t been in the way, he might have gotten to the ball fast enough to get the out.

        But Uggla doesn’t need to be “back to his all-star years.” And they don’t need him to be. He’s a bench guy. He only needs to have a few decent months of baseball left in him, anything above replacement value basically, and so far, it looks like he has that.

      • sec105rowwseat28 - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:13 AM

        An error had to be charged to someone after the batter-runner took second on the play. If it wasn’t a throwing error on Uggla it would have been a fielding error on Zimmerman. It was a bad hop throw, so the official scorer’s decision was definitely understandable.

        If the batter-runner hadn’t advanced, it would have simply been scored as a fielder’s choice under the “can’t assume the double play” rule.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:33 AM

        Yes. I’m not saying it was a tough error in the sense that it could have been scored any other way, just that he was put into a difficult position by Desmond, which is not Uggla’s fault. Certainly can’t score it E3.

      • Joe Seamhead - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:36 AM

        Sec105, read my post. I didn’t say that Uggla shouldn’t have been charged with the error. My point was that it was unfortunate that Desi took so long to get him the ball, and that Ryan didn’t make the scoop of the short hop.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:38 AM

        Healthy skepticism is good but the quality of swings is encouraging and that’s what I look for in small sample sizes. Pitchers still don’t respect Uggla and they’re going after him. Once he proves he’s for real he will get the pitch arounds for walks. Grilli went after him with the heater twice and missed his spot badly and they lost because of that.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:42 AM

        Joe, read mine please. I was agreeing with you.

      • Section 222 - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:52 AM

        JoeS and Sofa are absolutely right and agree with each other. 105 is also right, but, per usual, he expressed his point in a way that makes it seem like he’s putting other commenters down or disagreeing with them. He could simply have said “tough error on Uggla, but the official scorer had no choice…” and then gave his correct explanation. But that’s not how he rolls.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:53 AM

        Speaking of reading comprehension …

        Sheesh. Sorry, Joe.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:57 AM

        For the record, and FWIW, I did not get the impression 105 was putting anyone down, certainly not my post. He was making a point about scoring, which, if it was slightly off-point to what I wrote, was so because of an ambiguity of mine. He wasn’t coming in out of nowhere to throw in an unprovoked ad hominem shot, which would be beneath any regular commenter in here.

      • ICYMI - Apr 30, 2015 at 11:36 AM

        Was Desmond’s feed so bad that it forced Uggla to make that bad throw? If Uggla had made a better throw that the runner simply beat out, or if Uggla had just eaten the ball and made no throw at all, there would have been no error charged. If for instance Desi bounces a throw to first and someone points out that it was a bad hop to him or perhaps a tough play that led to the bad throw, you guys are all over them for “making excuses for Desmond.” Aren’t you all just making excuses for Uggla here?

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 30, 2015 at 11:44 AM

        Well, maybe a little, but I think they’re justified. Desmond did hang Uggla out to dry a little bit, by taking his time getting to the ball (he backed up for the hop, which bothered FP more than me, but FWIW), and then soft-flipped it to Uggla (which had me screaming NOOOO! HURRY UP!! in my head at the time), which left very little time to throw and clear himself. Maybe he could have held it, but the throw did beat the runner, and while it was on a hop, it wasn’t such a bad throw that he clearly didn’t have a grip on the ball. I think you have to make that throw and hope for the best. Like I said, even if Zim doesn’t come up with the (tough) pick, if it hadn’t flipped so far away from the force of Zim’s swipe at it, there’s no error because there’s no advance. So, tough luck for Uggla on a bunch of things he couldn’t control, therefore “tough error” (but still an E6).

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 30, 2015 at 11:45 AM

        ****E FOUR


  20. natsrnuts - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:31 AM

    Great win, but I have concerns with J. Zimm’s loss of velocity. I was watching the game on and he was pushing 91 on his four seamer. As a pitcher who pounds the strike zone, this spells disaster.

  21. Theophilus T.S. - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:36 AM

    Robinson is now officially an OF. If Rendon comes back anytime soon, the obvious move is to send Taylor back to Syracuse. If the point in sending Taylor down was to let him play every day, calling him up at this point is very puzzling. I thought maybe the point was to give Werth a few days off but I don’t see how that helps Werth right now. The only real spare IFs — when Rendon returns — are Espinosa (why — given how he has been playing?) and Uggla, and they need both spare IFs. I think Taylor (or den Dekker) should be considered an extended bench, it’s just that they’ll be sitting a plane flight away if needed.

    I am confident that Espinosa can continue to contribute at this level, or close to it. The changes he’s made in his approach — the short leg kick, laying off bad pitches — are so simple I don’t think he’s going to lose them.

    One mild level of concern, and one the Nats need to guard against in making their roster decisions, is that Escobar turns out to be ding-prone and needs frequent recuperative stays in the training room. Right now there’s no hurry to rush that groin injury.

    • Joe Seamhead - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:07 AM

      Theo, a good point on Taylor, but I really don’t believe that both Robinson and Moore would’ve made the roster out of spring training if Rendon had been healthy. MAT is a tough call. It’s not just that he needs AB’s, but he also needs to learn some outfielding nuances, not to mention baserunning skills. When I state the criticism of his OF and baserunning, I understand how much natural talent he has, but I also see where he needs to learn how to use the talent better. Too bad denDekker has looked so awful, because when the trade for Blevins was made he was supposed to be our backup outfielder.

    • natsdial8 - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:37 AM

      MAT is far from major league ready . He us up due to injuries of course – would like to see him given more time in AAA

    • DaveB - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:59 AM

      Robinson “is now officially an OF” only to the extent that RZ is healthy since his real position is taken. Clint and TyMo are mirror images and one will have to go as soon as we need the roster spot.
      MAT is up because denDekker and Gwynn are both struggling in Syracuse and so they couldn’t really promote either. Given that Werth, and to some extent Span, are both still working their way back into shape and can use some days off, they needed a real backup OF with both McLouth & ReedJohnson out, so MAT was the only choice.

  22. Eugene in Oregon - Apr 30, 2015 at 9:46 AM

    Delighted with the results the past two nights, but trying to avoid irrational exuberance based on two games. Will be watching closely tonight and this weekend to see if the Nats can extend their better play (or, at least, their higher scoring). And really anxious to know what’s going on with Anthony Rendon.

  23. natsjackinfl - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:17 AM

    I’m hoping that the last 2 games can carry them for a couple of weeks as I’ll be in DC for the Marlins and Braves series next week.

    I’m also hoping to get to see either Lucas Giolito or Reynaldo Lopez next Thursday in Woodbridge.

    One can hope.

    • DaveB - Apr 30, 2015 at 10:52 AM

      Yep … the weather is finally warming up in the DC area … I hope to see those guys soon.

    • Doc - Apr 30, 2015 at 11:23 AM

      Waiting for your reports on Giolito and Lopez.

  24. rlndtln - Apr 30, 2015 at 1:42 PM

    Need injury report





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