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Nats Cap Home Stand With 8-5 Win Over O's

Ok, be honest: When you first heard that first baseman Nick Johnson had been scratched from the starting lineup at the last minute, how many of you figured he had been traded (or was on the verge of being traded)?

That was the consensus up in the press box. Turns out, Johnson is still a member of the Nationals. He just was reeling from stomach discomfort that had festered since Saturday night. Johnson was taken to the hospital for examination, but, according to Manny Acta, everything is fine. Acta said Johnson should be ready to play tomorrow at New York.

As for the game, well, everything worked out pretty well for Acta and the Nationals in that regard, as well. Washington's starter, Shairon Martis, battled control problems all afternoon and departed after allowing a two-run blast to Adam Jones in the seventh. He allowed five runs on seven hits, two walks and a hit batsman, and did not sound pleased with his performance.

But Washington pulled out the victory because of two elements the team has lacked so far this season and one element it had lacked prior to this season. The Nationals' defense and bullpen executed admirably on Sunday against the Orioles. Both of those components previously had been, shall we say, insufficient.

But the star of the day undoubtedly was Adam Dunn, who drove in a career-high six runs on two homers. The second of Dunn's two dingers was a grand slam that put Washington in the lead to stay in the seventh inning.

"Our coaching staff just keeps talking about how when he hits a ball in the air, it's not like the rest of our guys or the league," Acta said. "The ball just keeps going and going and going. It has that type of spin on it.

"He showed today the difference that he makes in our lineup and how much we need him here ... It's a totally different story when you have a guy like Dunn behind Zimmerman."

By Steve Yanda  |  May 24, 2009; 6:39 PM ET
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Posted by: jpt1002 | May 24, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

I am so happy we won, and the circus catches by Kearns and Hernandez were nearly as thrilling as Dunn's GS. And no one in the bullpen messed up. Wow, if we can only keep this up. I am assuming this was just a not-very-good day for Martis and that next time he'll be back in usual form. But here's a question--are people (incl Manny) saying that Dunn's presence helps Zim hit better? Cd someone explain how that works? Sure Dunn might drive Zim home, but why wd it help him hit better, beyond taking some of the pressure off him? Or is that all it is?

Posted by: Section109 | May 24, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

great win . . .cant wait to go to Camden Yards and sweep the sorry O's

Posted by: jpt1002 | May 24, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

well sec 109, its kinda like the Manny effect with David Ortiz, Manny's gone and Ortiz . . .well has pretty much fallen off the Earth. Dunn isnt Manny but it does mean you dont want to walk the guy in front of him. so Zimmerman gets a lot of good pitches to hit. and walking Zim to get to Dunn is only something a team like the O's do.

Posted by: jpt1002 | May 24, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Dunn's 14 homers equal the team high from last year (Zimm and Milledge). It won't be terribly long at this rate until the RBI lead of about 60 from last year is met.

The team stinks, but not the offense. This at least has been a lot of fun.


Posted by: kevincostello | May 24, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

The grand slam is the exact reason why Zim is a better hitter with Dunn behind him. Have to throw quality pitches to Zim or face Dunn and get this result.

Posted by: sec218 | May 24, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

I think it was William Faulkner who once said, "Sometimes stomach discomfort is just stomach discomfort." Welcome back to the team, NJ.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | May 24, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

And Dunn can hit over .300 and walk more if the guy behind him is a tough out and a dangerous hitter. Zimm not only has Dunn behind him he also has Nick in front. Today he had Guz. I think it works best if you can surround your best sluggers with good hitters.

Posted by: periculum | May 24, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Great game...and now, having seen someone else take up this query with Boz in his thursday chat, I bring this up again as I do in my infrequent posts to NJ: WHEN WILL THE LERNERS PUBLICLY APOLOGIZE/EXPLAIN/ETC!!??
Listen, I think I speak for many, if not most of us, when I say we really WANT to LIKE the Lerners. I'm not looking to publically scourge 'em, and as for public humiliation...well, seems like they've already done that to themselves. I just want a public acknowledgment of what they have done to us, of the goodwill they've squandered...ya know, a little Clintonian "feelin' our pain". And-IF they feel that WHATEVER the public perception, they really do HAVE a plan, and one they believe in-well, then step forward on that score, too. Like I said, we WANT to like 'em and believe 'em because we LOVE OUR/THEIR NATS! But their absence just heightens our dissatisfaction and discontent. C'mon Mark or Ted or SOMEONE!-Step up to the PLATE! Go Nats!.....

Posted by: zendo | May 24, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, jpt1002, sec218, and periculum.

Posted by: Section109 | May 24, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Periculum: I'm not sure about Dunn hitting .300 even with a solid/dangerous hitter behind him he's too prone to the off speed stuff once Dukes and Flores get back i think this team continues to be scary when its their turn at the plate.Question: do we keep sending the youngsters out there(Stammen,Detweiler)with NY and Philly comming up this could challenge their confidence.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 24, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

On Baseball Tonight, they flashed an amazing stat about Dunn this year. Something like 12 of his 14 home runs are off of fastballs and he's hitting close to .300 on fastballs. All other pitches - 2 HRs and an average around .200.

2 questions - why does he ever swing at a breaking ball?
- why does anyone ever throw him a fastball?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 24, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm feeling pretty good about the next two games against the Mets. The pitching matchups:
Lannan (3.63 ERA) vs. Maine (4.53)
Stammen (5.68) v. Hernandez (4.93)

Obviously, Zimm'nn vs. Johan Santana (1.50 ERA) in the third game is a very tall order, but we're going up to NYC with a tiny bit of momentum. Maybe we can take 2 of 3 from these guys.

Go Nats!

Posted by: usmc53 | May 24, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully we can have the opposite road trip from the home stand and take 4 or 5 of 6. Pleasant dreams to all loyal Nat fans, a hearty bunch.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 24, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, this home stand was brutal. I NEVER would have believed that coming off a 4-4 west coast road trip (that could/should have been 6-2), we'd go 2-9 on this home stand.

Maybe the road is where we need to go to turn things around a little bit.

Go Nats!

Posted by: usmc53 | May 24, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Chico is right: My first thought on hearing he was out of the lineup late was that NJ was gone. Of course, if he read this NJ's trade talk, you couldn't blame him for feeling sick.

As a kid, when it got to that point in the season when I knew the '60s Nats had no hope, I always took what little solace there was in seeing somebody from Washington in the league leaders. It wasn't often, but heck, today's Nats, for all the losses, have three guys in the top 10 in hitting, and Martis (who's turning out to be pretty lucky) still the top pct. pitcher (tied) as 5-0. It's a little bit of comfort -- but I'd trade it for a winning streak.

Posted by: nats24 | May 25, 2009 1:10 AM | Report abuse

oops, shudda noticed Yanda did the gamer.

Posted by: nats24 | May 25, 2009 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Why was Dunn taken out of the game after his home run? For defense? Ronnie Belliard at first base is a defensive improvement? Ummmm....I don't think so.

Plus Acta robbed the fans of a chance to cheer Dunn when he came back on the field after the grand slam, and robbed Dunn of getting some love from the fans. Would have been a nice moment.

Not to mention that even a three run lead is not safe with this bullpen. It worked out okay today, but taking Dunn out when there is a good chance the other team is going to come back and score some runs is really not too smart.

I wish someone from the media would have asked Manny Acta about this.

Posted by: raymitten | May 25, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

We are 2-8 over the last ten games against the Orioles and Pirates among others. There is no "momentum" of any kind. Nick Johnson is my favorite Nationals player, but this is his walk year and since free agent compensation--should he not re-sign--is calculated on a three year average, we are unlikely to get a compensation pick. So rather than get nothing, the Nationals would be wise to trade him. Lastly, this team is not a failure because of the Lerners. Granted they are new owners, but they were saddled with Bowden and Kasten by Major League Baseball. Stan is a nice guy and Bowden was and is a moron. But they put this team together not the Lerners. I don't know where Manny Acta fits into all of this, but he has some responsibility. The Lerners are only to blame for the tasteless sculptures of Josh Gibson, Frank Howard, and Walter Johnson.

Posted by: Juliasdad | May 25, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

"Lastly, this team is not a failure because of the Lerners."

Posted by: Juliasdad | May 25, 2009 9:17 AM

I wouldn't be so quick to absolve the Lerner's of any blame here. The bottom 5 payroll the last 3 years and commitment to doings things on the cheap, entitles them to some of the blame.

As I've said before, you can have it both ways. You can build for the future and spend a some money on the ML roster at the same time. They refuse to spend money on the ML roster. Hence the poopy-arse product we have to endure year after year.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 25, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

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