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Among The Surprises: A Win, A Complete Game

I am typing this blog post at 10:32 p.m. If Daniel Cabrera had started this game, it would be about the fourth inning right now. But this was a night when the Nationals did just about everything right: The game sailed, the starting pitcher cruised, the offense reawakened, even the defense turned in five double plays.

Much of this will be recapped in the gamer, but here's an itemized list of the surprising/unlikely occurrences from this night.

1.) The perfect weather and the large crowd. An announced 31,456 were out at Nationals Park, and for once, I actually believe the figure.

2.) The win itself. This helped the Nats avoid the ol' 14-40 start, the odious 120-loss pace.

3.) Not only the win itself, but a win against an NL East opponent
. The Nats had been 5-26 against the NL East before tonight.

4.) The three home runs, from Adam Dunn, Elijah Dukes and Nick Johnson. The Nats had scored a total of three runs in their previous three games.

5.) The complete game from John Lannan. A masterpiece, and the first complete game of his career. It was a four-hitter. Because of all those double plays, he actually entered the eighth still having faced the minimum. One of those double plays, a fourth-inning confusion that ended with a 9-3-6 forceout at second base, was so unconventional that even those on the field didn't quite know what happened. But no matter the methods, Lannan was sharp. He needed just 96 pitches, and ended up facing just 30 hitters.

6.) The win by a starter. No Nats starting pitcher had picked up a win since May 13. (Shairon Martis, against the Giants.)

By Chico Harlan  |  June 6, 2009; 10:44 PM ET
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Next: This Afternoon's Lineups


Go get 'em for the rubber match, Nats! It would be a great thing for the self-esteem of the kids if they could take a home series from the Mets, get the homestand back to .500, and build some momentum before facing the Reds. And they go into tomorrow's game with a rested bullpen and the flexibility to make moves.

And to top it off Ballester, had another quality start tonight at Syracuse and has started to settle down in AAA.

Posted by: souldrummer | June 6, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

I was sitting in sec. 313. So somebody tell me: was that goober who threw the homerun ball back onto the field NOT ejected? I'm pretty sure they tossed a Nats fan who did that last year.

From my seat under the pressbox it looked like a lot of yellow-shirted usher types were milling around that section for quite awhile after the HR. I was just hoping somebody was being escorted out of the ballpark.

Winning 7-1 takes away the insult of that throw-back. Incidentally, a game like tonight also tends to shut up the obnoxious NY fans who populate so many sections of the park. They tried to do their stupid "Let's Go Mets" thing in the 8th, but they really were overwhelmed--at least in the upper deck.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | June 6, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

For those who didnt watch the post-game, Manny had a comment that really pissed me off. He said something like "Its amazing how smart you can get in 1 day." You didnt get smart Manny, the team was on auto-pilot so you didnt have to make any stupid decisions, or non-decisions.

Posted by: alm1000 | June 6, 2009 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Waitaminnit -- what??? The Nats hit AND pitched well?!? In the SAME GAME?!? Wotta concept...

May this concept repeat itself many, many more times this season...

Posted by: Juan-John | June 6, 2009 11:36 PM | Report abuse

"b/c - it's a harmless tradition, throwing Mets fans---er, home runs-- back on the field."

Sec3, throwing the ball back is a tradition at Wrigley (like Sweet Caroline is a tradition at Fenway). Anywhere else it's just fans being idiots -- these same dopes that throw home run balls back would cheerfully trample over pregnant women, Make-A-Wish Foundation kids, and both of their grandmothers to get to a foul ball.

For the record, I have no problem with throwing Met's fans onto the field, although I think it would preferable to toss them the other way (towards the Capitol) -- less work for the grounds crew.

Posted by: joebleux | June 6, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

And that, my friends, is why I'm still watching this god-awful team. You want a bright spot for the season? Keep your eye on Lannan. I've been digging this kid since he debuted.

Way to go, John!

Posted by: beardo1 | June 7, 2009 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Way to go J.Lannan!! It sure buoyed up my spirits again to see a Nats win in grand fashion: Good defense; Pitching of Lannan; and good power offense.....Wonder now if Nats will trade NJohnson(??)now our leading hitter....and if we do, we should ONLY obtain a good player in return. Here's hoping Nats win this series to show Mets we aren't pushovers! Go Nats!

Posted by: fbacolod29 | June 7, 2009 3:35 AM | Report abuse

ESPN said that this was the third complete game pitched by the Nationals this year. Who the hell else has gotten a CG for us?! Did I miss something?

Posted by: Wittan | June 7, 2009 5:11 AM | Report abuse

um, alm1000, I also watched the postgame, and I believe that was sarcasm on Manny's part, speaking to the idea that after a loss the manager is a stupid bum to some fans. He was not taking credit for the win.

Speaking of wins, let's get 'em today, Nats! See you at the park!

Wittan, Martis is the only other one who comes to mind for me this year, unless I missed something while I was away.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 7, 2009 6:36 AM | Report abuse

Glad that somebody finally told Johnny Boy to forget about trying to strike everyone out with big breaking balls and just work the corners of the plate with fastballs and changeups. As long as he's hitting his spots with those pitches, he tends to get people to hit the ball off a bad part of the bat, hence the need to keep the ball out of the middle of the plate where the fat part of the bat is. When he's on, he keeps the ball right around the knees. Seems like he's got a wiggle on most of his pitches, and you can't really teach that. It's something that develops over time the more curved your arm becomes from pitching all those innings.
McCatty probably told him to let the hitters do the work. Which was obvious through the fact that it only took 2 hours to get it done. Finally got a pitching coach with some cajones. We'll see how the youth responds to it.

Posted by: Brue | June 7, 2009 7:13 AM | Report abuse


technically, detwiler's rain-shortened outing in gm 2 of the doubleheader this week was a complete game.

Posted by: chicoharlan | June 7, 2009 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Deefense! 4 legit double plays - 3 in the first 3 innings IIRC. Lannan's gem probably wouldn't have happened otherwise. The outfield/basepath DP was pretty funny, I think the ump blew the call on the catch and it actually helped us for a change. A crisp 2 hour win.

Posted by: utec | June 7, 2009 7:23 AM | Report abuse

I'm bummed I had to miss being at the game last night, but I'm heading to the stadium today, looking forward to another big Nats win!

Go Nats!! It's a great time to get a winning streak started!

Posted by: usmc53 | June 7, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

On that funny double play that went 9-3-6, I don't think that was a force out at second. It appeared to me that he was tagged out and the umpire waited and looked for the tag before pumping the out at second.

Posted by: cokedispatch | June 7, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse


Martis was the other.

Posted by: SaveOurTeam | June 7, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the info on the complete games, Chico.

I'm heading to the park today, too. BTW, the last time I saw Livo start against us in person was at RFK in 2006 (he was with the D'backs then). We beat 'em.

Go Stammen! Go Nats!!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 7, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Chico, not to be picky (as Krusty the Klown points out, "we kid because we love"), but in the gamer you wrote that Dukes "unleashed a rifle throw from his rear toward the infield."

Wouldn't that have been more felicitously phrased as something like "while seated, Dukes unleashed a rifle throw toward the infield"?

The first version results in a mental image of, um, well, you know.

Posted by: greggwiggins | June 7, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

To further whiff, er, riff, on gw's comment, I'm carrying forward sec3's earlier comment and my reply:

From the gamer: "Meantime, Dukes unleashed a rifle throw from his rear toward the infield."

Wow. That must have been some sight to see.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 6, 2009 11:03 PM

Okay, now *I'm* the one laughing out loud. Thanks for that, sec3. (I would think that a couple of other senses may have been engaged in witnessing such a throw as well.)

And tomorrow is here, but I'm still savoring the win. So there.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 7, 2009 6:29 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 7, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

It was interesting listening to the Mets post-game show last night. Almost every caller wanted some combination of; the manager and general manager fired, at least five players traded, five players sent to AAA, and ten free agents signed.

Posted by: MKadyman | June 7, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

6.) The win by a starter. No Nats starting pitcher had picked up a win since May 13. (Shairon Martis, against the Giants.)

Chico - With all due respect, there could have been at least 5 more wins by starters in that time span if the Offense backed up their starters, and the defense didn't blunder some balls! Amazingly, can't blame the relievers for any missed Wins by starters in that time span!

Then again, John Lannan circa 2008 can tell you all about it too.

Oh well coulda, shoulda, woulda!!!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | June 7, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Nice to see the posters here in a good mood for a change.

The Kool-aid flavor for today is cherry. I'll still say this team is not as bad as their record. Losses are losses, and I'm not saying wild card or anything, but this team is due for a hot streak. The bullpen is no longer a problem for the time being, the starters (our early Plan graduates - as green as they are) are beginning to get into a rhythm, the hitting which tapered off is due to warm up again...and it still is just June...

Spiffy game last night. The weather was great, and it was fun to see them ping on all cylinders. Hope you folks can make it out today. I'll be there! You can tell the team loves a good crowd. Go Nats!

Posted by: dand187 | June 7, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Sarcasm be dammed Manny is a dumb azz and he is responsible for this season of hell so far for this ballclub. I'm of the mind that some of the coach's on this team especially the veteran's(20+yrs.) are just sitting back letting Acta make fool of himself(so far so good)probably because he won't listen i.e.(Hanrahan as closer,batting Kearns above the ninth spot,pitch count for starters) They decided that since Manny won't listen that maybe he'll get himself fired, what they didn't figure was that ownership would be as inept as the field manager and allow this charade to continue, go figure.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 7, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Hey gang...a quick note before my Sunday begins....altho I've only posted recently,i.e. this season-I've been an avid reader from the start. The other day, I noted that I was tired....this unending stream of incomprehensible incompetence...I mean, really-is there any aspect of operations that this team does well? Anywhoo. I notice some of the long time contributors to this site have also been absent-or at least less frequent-in their contributions. Folks who I looked forward to reading. Or the pieces are of much shorter length. Hard to believe, but this team seems to be exhausting the interest of even the obviously passionate fans of baseball who only recently felt like we'd died and gone to heaven when we got our own home-town nine. I mean, what can you say? Well, ....Go Nats. Hope we all get a second-or 15th!-wind!

Posted by: zendo | June 7, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Natsfan1a, at least Dukes' "rifle throw from his rear" wasn't a Big Picture/Moment of Levity on the Baseball Insider blog next door.

Posted by: greggwiggins | June 7, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

And it just struck me as I was getting dressed to attend this afternoon's game how we should be grateful Mr. Harlan didn't write that Dukes "uncorked a rifle throw from his rear toward the infield."

(Chico, remember what Krusty the Clown had to say.)

Posted by: greggwiggins | June 7, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

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