No, that’s not the title to the blog post announcing that I’m finally getting back to covering the National’s run towards the playoffs. And I really mean it this time. No, that’s what the Nats pulled off last night against the Miami Marlins, after a sloppy start put Washington behind the eight ball.
Trailing 6-4 with one out in the bottom of the eighth, thankfully, the Marlins continued their second-half spectacular implosion, with Mike Dunn botching Carlos Lee’s toss on Adam LaRoche’s sure ground-out. So, instead of two outs with no one on, Dunn proceeded to walk Jayson Werth to put two on with only one out, thus limiting the harm that came when newly-acquired Kurt Suzuki then struck out. Four consecutive hits, including home runs by Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper then totaled six unearned runs for Washington, flipping the scoreboard to a much more attractive 10-6 lead. Tyler Clippard would cough up a harmless run in the top of the ninth to secure the victory, and with it, the Nats were able to stretch their lead in the NL East over the Atlanta Braves to three games.
Game ball(s): LaRoche. Ho, hum. I guess Adam got bored with just hitting one home run a game, so he went all Doublemint on the Marlins. Last four games: 8 for 16, 4 home runs, 7 RBIs, and 6 runs scored. This is just what Adam does. He gets crazy hot for stretches. Good thing his current stretch has been the entire second half so far.
Goat(s): Dunn. I love when pitchers with a 1.63 WHIP come into a game. You bring the WHIP, you get the WHIP.
Bryce Harper is still only 19: Espinosa. He is still only 25, which has its ups (three-run home run to push the Nats into the lead) and downs (two costly errors that led to three runs). I worry about how that will play come the playoffs, but then again, you could say that about a number of Nats come October. I’m sorry. I’m an auditor. I breathe and I worry.
Current Record: 64-43
12 runs on 21 hits. It took the thin air at Coors Field and baseball’s worse pitching staff (as measured by team ERA), but my gosh at last the Nats offense went nuts and posted double-digits on the scoreboard. After Washington struggled yet again at the plate Monday night, and then Stephen Strasburg melted down after plunking Marco Scutaro, I told myself to take a deep breath, refrain from penning something in frustration, and wait and see if Tuesday would bring better things. Oh, how I love when procrastination and rage make for a merry outcome!
Game ball(s): Edward Calvin Kendall. Could have handed out a half-dozen game balls to actual Nats, but Nancy Reagan started this nation’s conversation on drugs and I’m not about to go quiet now! I know in 1950 Kendall won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research related to the discovery of cortisone, but they’ve been handing out those Nobels like candy since 1901. Homer Simpson probably has one. But he doesn’t have a game ball, which Kendall now can now proudly claim in heaven for contributing to the resurgence of Ryan Zimmerman. I’m thinking maybe now the whole team should line up for cortisone shots and see where that gets us.
Goat(s): Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper. In the midst of the offensive breakout, Espinosa and Harper continued their struggles, going a collective 2 for 11 with just one run scored. This comes on the heels of Monday’s collective 0-7 performance. I understand the Nationals don’t have a lot of great options at the top of the order, but unless they generate more on-base productivity from their top two hitters in the lineup, I can’t foresee many more games like last night.
Bryce Harper is still only 19: Tyler Moore. All the kid does is hit when he is in the lineup. If he is going to play more (pun!), which it seems like he will (and should), may I humbly suggest that Davey consider moving Moore behind Adam LaRoche and sliding Ian Desmond up to the #2 spot against lefties (keeping Espinosa leading off since he has swung the bat well against southpaws)? And against righties, perhaps Desmond could lead-off while Harper could still hold down the #2 spot?
Current Record: 42-30
I never been to Boston but I have to imagine that there are many fine folks who call Beantown home. So I’m sure after the Nationals finished off their sweep of the Red Sox today with a 4-3 victory, they will cook up ways to lessen the sting of defeat.
Wait. What’s that? Those enterprising Bostonians have set up a Popeyes across the street from Fenway? Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! Enjoy Lester and the boys!
Game ball(s): Danny Espinosa. The best thing that happened to Espinosa’s season was me cutting him from my fantasy baseball team in early May. You’re welcome Danny.
Goat(s): Alfredo Aceves. I guess cutting you in fantasy didn’t have the same effect.
Bryce Harper is still only 19: Roger Bernandina. After Bryce Harper drew a one-out walk in the top of the ninth, Bernandina delivered the game-winning RBI double (much to the displeasure of Bobby Valentine). I have to give Roger credit. He doesn’t have all that many productive at-bats, but when he does, they sure do seem to be big.
Current Record: 35-23
I’m afraid that being under the weather, I’m going to have to roll out the modified-Twitter blog post about last night’s 2-1 victory …everything that needs to be said in 140 words or less.
Game ball(s): Jordan Zimmermann, who was dominant again, this time though, the Nats squeezed out just enough runs to give him the win. Really great to see the 9 Ks over 7 innings combined with the strong groundball tilt.
Goat(s): Washington’s injury curse which took down Wilson Ramos last night. Just as his bat has been coming around, his season-long defensive struggles start a sequence with an ending Davey Johnson is probably right about: I’ve got a bad feeling he tore something.
Bryce Harper is still only 19: Danny Espinosa, whose second home run in as many nights accounted for the winning run.
Current Record: 21-12
So Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post tweeted yesterday that it sounded to him that Davey Johnson was going to give Roger Bernadina an extended shot at laying claim to left field. I don’t know how this latest chance will go for Roger, but at least we can say that the man is a good listener.
Just hours removed from Davey’s proclamation, Bernadina posted the type of game which has raised Nats fans hopes before, going 2 for 5, with a homer, three RBI and a stolen base in Washington’s 7-3 victory over Cincinnati. And the best thing is that the Nationals got out of the gates quickly, posting all seven of their runs in the first four innings. Though the Reds would threaten multiple times to get back into the game, they came up short when it mattered most, going 3 for 14 with runners in scoring position.
Game ball(s): Two homers in two nights plus the added sparkles against the Reds nets it for Bernadina.
Goat(s): Mike Leake of the Reds had a brutal start and the Reds couldn’t hit with men in scoring position. But I’m curious as to the fall-out from Bryce Harper’s Bam-Bam moment. I’m guessing it is just the case of a very competitive player having a bit of misfortune in taking out his frustrations at the end of a tough night. Still, Harper is only 19 so it is always worth watching how he handles adversity, which will be most telling of his maturation as a big leaguer.
Bryce Harper is still only 19: Danny Espinosa. I’ve been tough on Danny, and for good reason. So it was nice to see him launch one out of Great American Ball Park. Maybe that bandbox is just the place to get his bat going.
Current Record: 20-12
So, about midway through last night’s 4-2 win over the Pirates, I was starting to think, “Your starting pitcher strikes out a baker’s dozen and you are going to lose. K.” It seemed to sum up the woeful state of the Nationals offense, which coming into the night, was tied for second in least runs scored and had the fourth-worst slugging percentage (.354) in baseball.
And then, BAM! Roger Bernandina solo homer to deep center. Adam LaRoche, two-run home run to center as well. Rick Ankiel solo shot to right. Well, Ankiel’s was a showy tack-on piece in the top of the ninth, but he’s a lefty so that’s to be expected. Anywho, even though the Nationals managed to post only four runs on their three home runs, it was enough to avoid the series sweep against the Pirates and for me to not use more annoying teenage quips. Yeah kids, I used quips.
Game ball(s): Sure, Strasburg whiffed a bushel, but without LaRoche once-again supplying the bulk of Washington’s offense, the Nats losing streak would have been extended to four games.
Goat(s): Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa because I can’t decide if weak pop-ups or grounding into double-plays annoys me more at the moment.
Bryce Harper is still only 19: Strasburg. A touch wild late and he ran up the pitch count in just six innings. But that tends to happen when you k 13 hitters. I could think of worse things cough playing golf the day after you miss a start due to an “injury” cough.
Current Record: 19-12
Productive and clutch. On back to back days. One of which was a Saturday. I hardly know who the Tracy’s are anymore.
But after today’s exciting 7-4 comeback victory over the Cubs, I will take a rebel with the Tracy name. And Chad Tracy, with his two-run single in the top of the eight to give the Nationals the lead, wasn’t the only Nats player to come out of the blue with a monster performance. Who saw LaRoche’s 4-5 day, with a 2-run home run coming? Evidently, Miss Cleo was too busy mocking to notice this big day in the crystal ball.
So granted it has been the Cubs, but two games, two comeback victories have felt wonderful so far. Hopefully, Washington’s bats get going a little earlier in the game tomorrow, helping support Zimmermann as he pitches for the series sweep.
Game ball(s): Tracy and the Nationals bullpen, especially Stammen and Mattheus, who combined to deliver 3 1/3 scoreless innings after a rough start from Gio Gonzalez.
Goat(s): Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol. It seems that they once again snuck off to the CubbyBear during the middle innings.
Bryce Harper is not as far off: Danny Espinosa, whose solo home run after a masterful 10-pitch at bat with two outs in the top of the eight, started the Nationals five-run rally.
Current Record: 2-0