The small things added up to the difference as Nats score 4 in the 9th and lose 5-4

The score in the game through the 8 1/3 innings was 1-0 in favor of the Cubs after Gio Gonzalez pitched great and went 6 innings of 1 run baseball. The Nationals could not score a run for the first 8 innings of the game. The Nats did not play there best game, clearly, but they were in a position to win it after a spirited comeback in the 9th inning.

In the 8th inning with a 1-0 deficit, there was a very costly poor decision (here) by Daniel Murphy to throw to 2nd base for a force-out with one out instead of getting the sure out at 1st base which put men on 2nd base and 1st base with one out. That led eventually to a run on an aggressive squeeze that everyone knew was coming, but the Nats did not pitch-out rather allowed the pinch-hitter to push bunt it and the 2nd run of the game scored.

In the bottom of the 8th, Ryan Zimmerman came up with men on 1st and 2nd and he represented the winning run but he grounded out for the 3rd out to extend the 2-0 deficit to the 9th inning. Continue reading

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Game #76 Gio Gonzalez has a great opportunity to impress Joe Maddon as an All-Star

Gio Gonzalez is 6th in NL ERA this season, and a shutout by Gio in tonight’s game would move him into 3rd place and almost assure him of an All-Star pick. It is tonight’s opposing manager, Joe Maddon, who will have the pick of many of the starting pitchers for the 2017 NL All-Star roster.

The Nationals have had their share of issues with the Cubs and mostly in the way they kept walking Bryce Harper last year to pitch to Ryan Zimmerman. In the Sunday series finale on May 8th of last year, Maddon intentionally walked Bryce Harper 3 times and walked him rather intentionally 3 more times in front of Zimmerman who set an MLB record stranding 14 men-on-base in a game.

Harper seemed to go into a tailspin after that series, and Zimmerman has almost been traumatized since that series in bases loaded situations. It is hard to believe how poorly Zimmerman bats in bases loaded. Just this past week he grounded into a doubleplay with bases loaded to bring his batting average in those situations since 2016 to a 2-for-22 record (.091 BA) with a 50% K rate including the NLDS. In Zim’s career until the 2016 season, he was a .310 batter with bases loaded.

Many are hoping that Dusty Baker for those reasons bats Daniel Murphy after Bryce Harper to force Maddon to pitch to Harper. We will see what the line-up card looks like against the Cubs starting right-hander Eddie Butler. Continue reading

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Nats couldn’t dig out of 1st inning hole

The Nationals were behind quickly in a 6-0 hole in this Sunday series finale and only partially dug out to lose 6-2. Tanner Roark struggled early in this one and continues his June swoon as his 2017 ERA ballooned over 5.00 to finish at 5.15 which sends many pitchers with similar stats to new employment. In Roark’s case, this game was an improvement on his previous game, and many of the hits were of the “seeing eyeball” variety as manager Dusty Baker described it. Roark did stay in the game through the 6th inning and finish strong although he did have to throw a hefty 116 pitches.

Michael Taylor provided the only scoring for the home-team with a two-run home run to get the Nats on the board. In the 5th inning, the Nats mounted one more good scoring opportunity with a Brian Goodwin lead-off single followed by a Bryce Harper double with no outs, and third base coach Bob Henley sent Brian Goodwin from 1st to home where he was easily thrown out and essentially killed any momentum with Daniel Murphy on-deck. The Nationals offense basically checked-out after that point. The large crowd of over 35,000 fans had mostly stayed to the end wishing for another spirited comeback which just did not happen on this day. In fact, the Nationals only managed one-hit the rest of the game after Harper’s double in that 5th inning when Goodwin was thrown-out at the plate. Continue reading

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Game #75 Tanner Roark must get back on track

Tanner Roark is coming off of his worst start in years where he was pulled after only 2 2/3 innings and only 69 pitches. Roark has been the least efficient pitcher in baseball in 2017, and maybe it all started with the World Baseball Classic and the change in his pre-season routine. Maybe it was due to a career high 125 pitches as the calendar turned from April to May. Yes, Tanner Roark has been fighting his mechanics. His two-seam swingback fastball which is one of his must-have pitches hasn’t been moving and unfortunately has been grooving in the wrong spots. Some thought Roark is hurting and needed a DL move — who knows. He sort of got a break 6 days ago when he threw 36 less pitches than his average of 105 pitches per game this year, and Roark got an extra rest day due to the Thursday team scheduled day-off.

For the Nationals, they need a healthy and productive Tanner Roark as the pitching depth down on the farm is thin with A.J. Cole as the next man up. We all hope today is the day that Roark figures it out in his 5th start this month where his ERA for the month of June stands at 8.02 before 1st pitch today.  Continue reading

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An 18-3 blow-out as Trea Turner and Michael Taylor combine for 9 hits, 8 runs, & 5 RBIs

 

Photo by Kevin Nibley of Trea Turner earlier today!

The offense backed Joe Ross from the start in this 18-3 thumping of the Cincinnati Reds. Ross threw 7-innings of 1-run baseball, and the offense had his back again today. The run support in Joe Ross games now totals 104 runs in only 10 games. Yes, you read that right.

Michael Taylor was 4-for-5 with 2 home runs and a double. He was just a triple shy of the cycle. Trea Turner was 5-for-5 with a walk which is a career high for Trea Turner for hits in a game. Both batters pumped up their stats. Michael Taylor is surprisingly only in 4th place ratings for OPS behind Kolten Wong, Yasiel Puig, and Jordy Mercer for batters with at least 100 plate appearances while batting 8th. Continue reading

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Game #74 Afternoon baseball with a new CF

The Washington Nationals have Michael Taylor starting today in centerfield which essentially puts Wilmer Difo back on the bench today which comes a day after Difo debuted in centerfield last night. We still don’t know what kept Taylor on the bench the past 4 days.

In today’s game, Joe Ross will be pitching for the Nats and Homer Bailey for the Reds. It is Bailey’s 2017 debut for the Cincinnati Reds after he had surgery to remove bone spurs in his right elbow. Continue reading

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#Nats walk-off saves the team amidst some questionable decisions

Bryce Harper gets a walk-off single to win this game in extra innings and saves a game of many questionable decisions that started off as a key to starter Stephen Strasburg falling into a 4-0 deficit.

Who knew that Michael Taylor was available to play and the fans who questioned the decision to start Wilmer Difo in centerfield realized their worst nightmare as 4-runs scored after 2 misplayed balls in centerfield. On top of that, Adam Lind was used to pinch-hit in the classic bunting situation with runners on 2nd and 1st and no outs where you could use an excellent bunter like Max Scherzer off your bench. Joe Ross was not used as a pinch-runner when Matt Wieters was on first base. There were more questions when Michael Taylor also could have pinch run in a key spot.

The Nationals clawed back and into the game many times, and they had some amazing opportunities with bases loaded and one-out and Ryan Zimmerman bounced into a doubleplay and 2 innings later with men on 2nd and 1st and one out Zimmerman bounced into his 2nd doubleplay of the game. But it was the rookie Bryan Goodwin who had 2 HRs, 2 walks, and a key 10th inning single to get Bryce Harper up to the plate to win the game.

The Nats bullpen went 5 innings of shutout baseball while the Reds bullpen coughed up 4 runs and it should have been even more. It has been a while for us to say the lousy bullpen belonged to the other team and the Nats had the great bullpen. In fact the Nats bullpen threw a one-hitter with no walks. Continue reading

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Game #73 Nationals must get back to consistency, but roster is still a moving target!

The Washington Nationals roster took a surprising turn. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post was hinting that Sammy Solis could be called up today as A.J. Cole was optioned back to Triple-A Syracuse. In fact, it is Wilmer Difo taking Cole’s spot on the roster, and Cole never pitched during his latest call-up.

Yes, it made sense but not happening — today.

https://twitter.com/TalkNats2/status/878306508857004032

Stranger than that is there is no word so far on Koda Glover who was scheduled to come off of the disabled list yesterday. Jayson Werth is at Nationals Park today but he will not be playing this weekend although he is out of his walking boot and feeling better. Continue reading

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4th 18-gamer: Fits and Starts

For previous 18 gamers, click here.

The fourth 18-game set was the worst of the Nats’ season so far, 9-9. As regular readers of these 18-gamers know, averaging 10-8 in the nine sets in the season gets you 90 wins, and probably a playoff berth. 9-9 gets you just 81 wins, and an early trip to the golf course. So far this season, we’ve gone 13-5, 10-8, 11-7, and 9-9. A strong start to be sure, and more important, good for 14 games over .500 and an imposing 9 1/2 game lead in the NL East. But judging from the comments on this blog over the past several weeks, all is certainly not well in NatsTown. Continue reading

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The Day After: What Dusty said about the no-not!

Here is a transcript from Virginascopist of Dusty Baker’s post-game media session after yesterday’s loss:

 

QUESTION:  Dusty, Max [Scherzer] pitched so well for you today.  What are the factors that you’re kind of considering in that inning as things are kind of unfolding the way that they were?

 

DUSTY:  Well, you know, the thing about it is, you know, it was “his” game.  And he was still throwing the ball great and, you know, who could you bring in that was throwing better than him?  That’s how you’ve got to consider it.  I mean, you know, he worked two-and-a-half hours or two hours-plus, you know, to get in that position.  Started out with a little cheap infield hit, and then — you know, and then we had the error, and then we ‑‑ you know, these things are — it’s different if they’re hitting him around the ballpark, but they weren’t.
And then he [hit-by-pitch] Dee [Gordon], and then we had the wild pitch and, you know, Raburn almost come up with that ball, and, you know, to throw Dee out at the plate, you know, it was a heck of a play.  So, you know, those are the main factors that ‑‑ you know, it was his game.
QUESTION:  Had you guys ‑‑ I mean, was it kind of hard because I’m sure he probably didn’t want to talk about staying in that game, but was it hard to kind of get a sense of where he was strength‑wise, given that his pitch count was kind of climbing there in the seventh inning?

 

DUSTY:  No, but, I mean, Max knows how to close it out.  And, you know, we’ve got an extra day, you know, on our rotation because of the off day tomorrow.  And so, you know, you keep an eye on the radar gun.  He was still throwing 95, 96.  And, you know, he was looking strong, and he didn’t have any stressful innings, you know, so ‑‑ yeah, I mean, the thing about it is, I mean, you think about, well, who do you want to bring in out of the bullpen that’s throwing better than Max, and it’s his game. Continue reading

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