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"We Needed One Of Those"

The game story in tomorrow's print edition will focus primarily on Jesus Flores, who has a knack for situational hitting (stats, 2008 ed.: .222 batting average and .335 slugging percentage with nobody on, .370 and .609 w/ RISP), and whose second-inning home run today helped trigger an easy 8-1 win.

For now, then, just a few post-game notes...

* The Nationals are now 4-1 in games started by 22-year-olds, 0-12 in games started by anybody else.

* If you'd heard Jordan Zimmermann talking after his second big league win, you would have been certain he had just lost. A sampling of what he said: "I didn't have the control." ... My fastball was "all over the place." ... "It was a constant battle all day long." ... "I don't know what the problem was."

As it was, he learned a lot about himself. Despite all that battling, he lasted 5-1/3 and got better as the game went deeper. He struck out David Wright three times, and showed a willingness to use any of his four pitches deep in counts.

* Maybe 8-1 games shouldn't draw particular attention to the bullpen, but let's not forget that today's trio of relievers -- Mike Hinckley, Garrett Mock and Kip Wells -- absolutely refused to let this game become dramatic. None allowed a run. None allowed a hit.

"Yeah, it was good that we had an 8-1 ballgame," Manny Acta said. "That's what we needed so those guys could come in and not be thinking for a minute, Hey, we're one or two pitches away or a walk away and I could be the next victim of a blown save or something. We needed a game like this. I was watching the scoreboards last night and saw a couple of games 10-2. And I just said, we need one of those."

* Trivia: Who was the last full-time starting pitcher in this franchise's history to earn the win in his initial two major league starts?

* Answer: Randy Johnson, in 1988.

By Chico Harlan  |  April 26, 2009; 6:35 PM ET
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Next: Morning Reading (And Some Numbers)


Good to see his realistic assessment of his outing.

Early in the game, especially, he wasn't commanding the fastball. He didn't seem like he had any idea where it was going to move. Sometimes, it seemed like he was getting by on raw stuff.

That's a good sign... even when he's not 100% sharp, he can still shut down a good lineup.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | April 26, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Man. Who was that lead-off hitter? On base 3 times?

Posted by: 6thandD | April 26, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Hrmpf. Franchise. Pfft. Here's how I want it phrased (and looked up): "full-time starting pitcher in this franchise's or DC baseball history. Sure, the answer would be the same (this time, becuase I DON'T want to disenfranchise those who have rooted for "this" team for a long time so I'm happy to embrace the Expos records [and the three year overlap is a bonus]), but... Urgh! I want Walter Johnson's (greatest right hander EVER) records to be be here in DC!

Oh, and Maxwell has to go down because he needs to play every day so we can see what he has, _I_ think (unless you are one of the "AAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHH, 1 mistake, sit him!" crowd, in which case he stays up here and plays in place of Dukes till he makes a mistake).

Posted by: OldDude | April 26, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Sweet Je-sus delivers! He seems to have a knack for rising up and carrying the team. Dont't forget he also gunned down Beltran so bad he just came in standing up!! Of course, solid pitching, timely hitting from others and respectable defense always helps with the added bonus of doing it on the road. Kudos to the bullpen for avoiding any kind of comeback drama as in based loaded walks, hit batsmen, etc. This lineup can hit, just give the kid pitchers some decent defense to keep their jocks from getting too tight.

Posted by: SackMan | April 26, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Isn't there a way to clear some space for Maxwell? He's 25. AK is hitting more than last year--package him and Nick for pitching? I'm willing to live with Maxwell's and Dukes's mistakes because they're young and don't play like they're entitled to be up here. Milledge needed to play everyday and had the entitlement thing; plus, he's younger than Maxwell and less solid defensively. Ideally, with Dunn at 1B and Kearns gone, Willingham plays and then gets traded so both Dukes, Maxwell, and Milledge play in the outfield up here. Maybe by the end of the season?

Posted by: tmp2234 | April 26, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Face of the franchise? which Zimmerman? Jordan's got it going on and I like the fact that he wasn't satisfied with his performance today he's looking to get better if any of you heard the broadcast on MASN Dibble said "never mind the scouting report the kid's got something special let him get out there and pitch he'll figure it out" certain players come along that don't need tinkering or overcoaching and Jordan may be that player. Nice win today Maxwell looked good in CF, Flores is on a tear he is a dangerous hitter right now, that being said Acta is still on the hot seat Philly will be tough, they slapped the Marlins around like a red headed step child this weekend, the Nats need to end April on an upswing.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 26, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

ESPN reports that Shawn Hill has been placed on the 15 day DL with elbow inflammation. Sorry to see it but the Nats are better of going with their kids. Also, Beltran pulled up on his steal attempt because he thought he heard a foul tip.

Posted by: SackMan | April 26, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

OldDude...a franchise is a franchise. I'm sure the Dodgers are annoyed right now about the Mets taking some Ebbett's field history and almost seem to be claiming Jackie Robinson too.

The Expos/Nationals franchise is a proud one with a great history.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | April 26, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Man. Who was that lead-off hitter? On base 3 times?

Posted by: 6thandD | April 26, 2009 6:52 PM
Don't want to burst your bubble, its only 1 start. I did like the stolen bases.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 26, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

AnonymousSources - Dont care much for the Mets but I think its great that the Mets are claiming Brooklyn history. That abomination in Los Angeles should be forced to change the name and surrender any other history/property to Brooklyn.

Sorry cant be rational on the Brooklyn Dodgers and, yes, my family (4 generations) is from Brooklyn. Still love the joke - you are in a room with Hitler and O'Malley and you have a gun with two bullets - what do you do? Shoot O'Malley twice to make sure he is dead.

Posted by: CountDemoney | April 26, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Enough of the rant. Great day for DC. The Nats and the Caps won and beat NYC teams.

Posted by: CountDemoney | April 26, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Hey AnonymousSources, a franchise might be a franchise but a city is a city. Washington Senators history as well as Homestead Grays history should be included in the history of the current franchise in town.
Just my opinion.

Posted by: HALjr | April 26, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

@Count...Better go back and double check your history. Then save at least one of those bullets (maybe both) for Robert Moses. He chased O'Malley out of Brooklyn, since it was more important to build bridges and highways to the exurbs than to rebuild part of a great city.

Re: Flores' numbers. I'm having difficulty swallowing this. It goes counter to one of my pet theories, which says that there are no clutch hitters. Rather there are hitters who remain at their average when in clutch situations and those who, errr..., fall way below average when in clutch situations. He may simply be a freak.

Posted by: Catcher50 | April 26, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

And you blew the setup, too, Count. "You're in a room with Hitler, Mussolini, and O'Malley, and you only have 2 bullets; what do you do?"
See, there's 3 guys there, 2 bullets ...

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 26, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Anonymous Sources et al,

To count the "franchise records" from the Expos will nullify more than a half century of major league baseball in Washington. The records should be measured and compared to players who have played for Washington. Baseball has a long and sometimes frustrating history in Washington but the sportswriters and MASN need to remember that this is the Washington Nationals now not the Montreal Expos. Washington will warm much quicker to this team if people stop referring to the records as Montreal records. Walter Johnson, and the rest of the distant line of players who wore the Washington name on their uniform still speak to us from the past. If Walter Johnson, Camilo Pasqual or any other Senator got his first two starts as wins then that is the record, not Randy Johnson, who never played for Washington. For those of you who have been loyal fans of the Expos my heart goes out to you, for I too have lost two teams to other cities in my lifetime. I followed the paths of the Griffith owned Twins and the Short Rangers because of the vacuum caused in my soul from the moves. But it must be said that every homer that Killebrew hit for the Twins was not a Washington Senator record, that became a Minnesota record. In that vein, Montreal records will be relevant again if that city ever regains a major league team, but they are irrelevant here.

Posted by: driley | April 26, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

About Flores' numbers: earlier in the season, wasn't everyone complaining about him striking out every time he came to the plate with the bases loaded (which if I remember correctly, happened more than once)? So perhaps this recent streak is just averaging those out.

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | April 26, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

"AK is hitting more than last year--package him and Nick for pitching?"

Wow, that's a lot of salary for a lot of unproven players. Remember, Nick's the guy that has never played a full season of baseball, and Austin is the guy who sometimes gets tense and gets too close to the plate and skies a bunch of fastballs off his knuckles into infield pop-ups.

Not that I don't love 'em and believe in 'em, but GM 506 isn't pulling the trigger on that deal.

Nor is he keeping Maxwell in the bigs the minute Willie Harris gets better. Dukes and Maxwell need to be batting every day, but there's only one of those players that has already proven he can do that in the majors.

He is also working full time to trade Josh Willingham for a High-A or AA middle infield or first base prospect.

Posted by: Section506 | April 26, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I did blow the joke, but the history - not really. Moses didn't help the situation with the Dodgers (and was a disaster for many NYC neighborhoods), but O'Malley did not need to be chased. O'Malley still gets both bullets in my book. See this for some viewpoints -

Los Angeles still needs to return the name and history, and Montreal should keep its history. Admittedly, the Nats have an advantage on this issue - there is DC baseball history.

Posted by: CountDemoney | April 26, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Sorry if this has been brought up, but did everyone see Filip Bondy's anti-Nat hissy fit in the Daily News yesterday?

Posted by: imissrfk | April 26, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, I love stats. But the awe over records are stupid. Records themselves are stupid.

A strong wind from home to left will increase the number of home runs hit in a game. Will that wind come again? More importantly, would that home run leader be the home run leader if the wind hadn't helped that day.

Zimmermann today missed two strike-outs because the moron umpire didn't call a checked swing. Will he miss out on having the most strike outs as a rookie in Washington, because he didn't get those calls? How many more strikeouts did Walter Johnson get because the opposing batter was drunk?

Josh Gibson hit as many as 80 home runs. Why as many? Well, because no one kept track of Negro-league records, because they were bigoted pricks, so we don't really know how many he jacked. Ah, but the Negro-leagues were also frequently in the pockets of bookies (as were the majors), so how many of those home runs were served up?

Could John Lannan ever be the hardest working pitcher in Washington? Who knows, Manny will always pull him after 100 pitches.

There's a 5-man rotation, these days, meaning a perfectly durable starter on a ball club will get 32.4 chances to get a win every year. Fifteen years ago, with a 4-man rotation, he would have had 40.5 chances. Will the Washington ever have another 300 game winner?

Records are all so era-based, so random, so manipulated. It's fun to know them, but there's no reason to worship them. They ALL have asterisks.

Posted by: Section506 | April 26, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that Filip Bondy story is really, really bad. Not to mention inaccurate, since the Cards had more errors than the Nats going into last night's game.

It reminds me of that part in Ball Four, when Bouton is explaining that you only have character problems if you don't hit .300. You can be a child molester and it's fine with everyone if you're batting .320.

Posted by: Section506 | April 26, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

"I want to be home in time for the Nat's game" I told my wife.

"let it go' she said. "All it does is make you miserable. Can we just have a nice day together?"

"you're right, they're only going to get wrecked again".


Posted by: soundbloke | April 26, 2009 11:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm so glad to see OldDude and others come to the defense of Washington baseball history. Chico, we don't care about Montreal, just like we don't care about the Twins and the Rangers. We care about DC baseball. And one other thing for the Post: I don't want to see to frickin' O's game story on the Nats' page I link to. I know space in limited in the dead tree edition, but not on the Web.

Posted by: nats24 | April 27, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Can someone explain this quote from Manny. Talk setting standards.

"I've always said, in my three years that I've been here, that you shouldn't put pressure on yourself playing for this ballclub because we're not even expected to win. The only people that expect us to win is ourselves. We're playing in half-empty stadiums, except when you come over here [to New York]. I think everybody just needs to be themselves and do what they can do."

Posted by: mjames0 | April 27, 2009 7:34 AM | Report abuse

"Seriously, I love stats. But the awe over records are stupid. Records themselves are stupid."

Well, 506, you know I could not let this go unchallenged. Of all sports baseball treasures its records the most. It's like baseball itself has a natural gyroscope, some internal mechanism that tells us what the true path should be. When the system becomes stressed by such things as steroids or juiced balls (things that in retrospect are judged not to be healthy for baseball) these bad behaviors become obvious when compared to the stats of other eras. So far baseball has been able to right itself when it drunkenly lurches from one side to the other.

The second reason to treasure records is that it humbles those who throw out terms like "great" to everyday accomplishments. Broadcasters, sportswriters and others who have a duty to have a long knowledge of the sport that they cover have to be aware that the inflated use of superlatives devalues true greatness. Records, (as in the long history of baseball in Washington), keep in check such bluster. And when a modern player rises to actually surpass a long posted milestone then the accomplishment is truly deemed superlative. By these standards even negative accomplishments, such as longest losing streaks, can take on a greater significance.

Posted by: driley | April 27, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Manny says "We needed one of those." ?? We need to win comfortably at least once every 3 weeks? No duhhh. The club is now 4-13, all in Division games. ONE road win. This has to fall on Acta's shoulders. It is time to waive good bye to Manny Acta.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 27, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

The good news is our youngsters, the Zimm Reaper and SMarti, have accounted for our wins...the bad news is they have combined for 5 starts and only 26 2/3 innings which averages out to only 5 1/3 innings per start, which means two out of every 5 days the bullpen has to pitch 3 2/3 innings...that makes for a tired bullpen in August and September.

Posted by: markfd | April 27, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse


One of Martis's starts was 3 innings because of a rain delay. So the stat is a little inaccurate.

Posted by: BillyBeane | April 27, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

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