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Nats 3, Yankees 2

Tonight was cool. Classic and tense, in that rowdy, loud, kind of obnoxious Yankee Stadium way. Or let me clarify: Tonight, Yankee Stadium was loud until the final swing. With runners on first and third and one out in a one-run game, Mike MacDougal was fighting through a long at bat with Robinson Cano. MacDougal was throwing nothing but fastballs -- eight, before the final pitch -- and Cano had fouled off six of them.

The ninth pitch was a fastball, too.

Cano bounced to short. A perfect 6-4-3 double play. Game over.

Exhale.

Now it's time to let the vertebrae decompress.

The cynical side of my brain reminds me that I cover a 17-46 team, a team so far removed from contention -- or even contention for 29th place in the MLB standings -- that no one win will save them or change them. I know this. So I'm not suggesting this win will have lasting significance. But somehow, the Nationals needed to win this one. Before tonight, they'd blown four late-game leads in a row. Their manager's job is hanging by a dandelion spore. Before MacDougal came on for his first save opportunity since July 2006, John Lannan had pitched a masterpiece -- 8-1/3 innings, four hits, two Yankee Stadium right field solo homers. Lannan had grown up a Yanks fan. His family, from Long Island, was sitting up in Section 226.

So for a night, it all worked out.

"It meant a lot," Manny Acta said. "You're playing here, this huge crowd, a pressure situation, a big-time ballclub, and we've been needing a win."

Said Adam Dunn: "I forgot how happy I could be after a baseball game."

By Chico Harlan  |  June 17, 2009; 11:46 PM ET
 
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Comments

FIRST off finally, a win.

Posted by: jpt1002 | June 17, 2009 11:54 PM | Report abuse

I love the smell of victory in the morning.

Posted by: Cartaldo | June 17, 2009 11:54 PM | Report abuse

The horror (for Yankees fans, that is). Glad that they managed to pull it off in the 9th. It was pretty tense in my living room, too.

Congrats to Lannan on his fine work! And me, too, Dunn. Me, too.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 18, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Lannan is the real deal. It was extremely important for the team to reward him with a win in front of his family.
This win might seem insignificant for a 17-46 team, but it will pay huge dividends in the future as Lannan becomes "The Man".
Today, Strasburg is still just hype.
Today, Lannan is on the mound and winning big! THIS is the Nats future!

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | June 18, 2009 12:29 AM | Report abuse

WOOHOOO! Was at the game today...saw a few Nats hats and jerseys. Great game! Congrats to John Lannan...what a gem! ...and I only took a little abuse from rowdy Yankee fans...nothing unexpected though. Good times.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | June 18, 2009 12:50 AM | Report abuse

Had to watch via the YES network feed tonight, but they had a lot of good things to say about Lannan, and why not, he was masterful tonight. Its been so long since the Nats won a game like that, I'd forgotten the feeling. It was wonderful, hope to experience that again tomorrow. GO NATS

Posted by: cokedispatch | June 18, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Us too, Adam.

Posted by: tmp2234 | June 18, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

Yeah buddy ... finally a win, against the damned Yankees. Shweeeeeet!

Posted by: periculum | June 18, 2009 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Great win. Tonight we were able to forget 16-46, and just enjoy a fun, tight, ballgame. Great outing from Lannan, nice work from MacDougal. Pumping those mid-90s fastballs and not going away from it.

One thought - how do you think Hanrahan would have fared in the 9th inning tonight? Not good, I think.

Posted by: dlombardo1 | June 18, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Let's not falter tomorrow and let's take the series from the Bronx Bombers!

Posted by: tengoalyrunr30 | June 18, 2009 1:20 AM | Report abuse

Evil empire.........two.

Posted by: Ted_Striker | June 18, 2009 4:11 AM | Report abuse

Awesome gamer, Cheeks. I was out and missed it last night but your gamer put me right there.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 18, 2009 6:45 AM | Report abuse

Finally a game played the way it was meant to be played by our team. Finally a lineup that had a chance of playing defense in the outfield even though Lannan kept most of the outs away from them. I am perfectly content with Adam Dunn playing his natural position of DH. I wonder if the DH rule was not in effect would Manny have pulled Lannan earlier for a pinch hitter? In this game Manny used the right lineups and pulled Lannan at the right time--good job.

Manny is a manager of bad habits. I am hoping that he has started a good habit of giving his starting pitcher the best defense behind him that he can place on the field.

Posted by: driley | June 18, 2009 6:46 AM | Report abuse

I think that this was my favorite line from the gamer: "The Washington Nationals were playing for their sanity in front of 46,052 who do sanity no favor."

NatsNut, if you've not read the end-of-game comments in the last thread, I think that you might enjoy them as well.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 18, 2009 6:57 AM | Report abuse

Some props for Lannan in the NY Post and NY Daily News gamers.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 18, 2009 7:09 AM | Report abuse

Should be nice for his parents' scrapbook.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 18, 2009 7:10 AM | Report abuse

Great win last night, had me hanging on every pitch in the ninth, and when we won my shout woke the baby.

Gotta win today, just gotta.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | June 18, 2009 7:10 AM | Report abuse

Lannan's last three starts:

June 6: 9 IP, 0 earned runs.
June 11: 6 IP, 1 earned run.
June 17: 8.1 IP, 2 earned runs

Total since June 6: 23-1/3 IP, 3 earned runs. If he were pitching for the Yankees or Mets, his record would be about 8-2 right now.

Speaking the Mets and Yanks, his June 6 and 17 gems were against the two New York teams. Maybe we should start him again tonight.

Last year, I had my skiing club sponsor Lannan's page on www.baseball-reference.com. I wish I was as smart every day as I was that one.

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 18, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Nice win last night, I was pretty amazed Mike got the double play ball, and that the Nats actually didn't bobble it. Now I hope today we beat the Yankees again, cause that thing that a NY writer said about "they should stop them" was pretty harsh. Let's Go Nats.

Posted by: rachel216 | June 18, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

@sould: You posed a question last night about Patterson vs. Harris in CF. Patterson has more expierence, reads balls better & has a slightly better arm than Harris. The downside to Patterson is he can barely hit his weight - Think Willie Mays Hayes from "Major League".

Posted by: BinM | June 18, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

What a great gamer, Chico. It's 7:15 in the morning, I'm in my pajamas, and you somehow made me feel just as tense as I would have been at 10:00 last night.

Posted by: JohninMpls | June 18, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Three observations:

John Lannan has pitched much better since St. Claire left.

If Joel Hanrahan is sent in as the closer, he throws a wild pitch to Cano and we go on to lose in 12 innings. We could have had at least 5 or 6 more wins this year if we had someone else closing out games.

My gut feeling is that this game saved Manny Acta's job.

Rosenthal was on the MLB Network before the game and seemed pretty ticked off that Manny hadn't been fired yet. It was odd. Heyman seems irritated at Kasten too on his twitter page. Why do they care if Acta gets fired?

Posted by: raymitten | June 18, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Actually that's four observations. As Lou Pinella says...one...two....three...four!

Posted by: raymitten | June 18, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Don't blame St.Claire for any of Nat's pitching woes the Saint has forgotten more about pitching than anybody on the Nats staff will ever know.It's amazing how quickly a career can turn i.e.Corey Patterson, at one time i thought Corey would have a good but not great career in the league but it was not to be and he looks lost at the plate i don't know if his confidence is gone or what but i know he can play CF better than anybody that the Nats have in their dugout right now.Manny should start the same lineup this afternoon don't screw this up Manny!

Posted by: dargregmag | June 18, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Interesting piece about MiLB pitcher Clint Everts by Loverro in the OP. Hope that the workouts that Everts and Mock have had with Roger Clemens include pitching advice rather than tips on a "B-12" regimen.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 18, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

"Why do they care if Acta gets fired? "

Because they said he would be. Given Stan's relationship with the media, it wouldn't be terribly surprising if THEY saved Manny's job by reporting that story.

Posted by: Section506 | June 18, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Just saw a note over on nats320 that Nats designated bobbleheads for this year will be Adam Dunn on the 8th, and Frank Howard on the 22nd of August (as reported in an updated Bog post per nats320). Gotta get a Hondo bobble if that's so!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 18, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Points well taken about Heyman and Rosenthal. I wonder if the information from their sources was actually 'mis-information' planted by Stan the K for public consumption.

I've just got a feeling that Manny is going nowhere. At least for the rest of the year.

Posted by: raymitten | June 18, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Seriously, 506. This totally crossed my mind too. "Manny Keeps His Job for Spite."

*****************

Given Stan's relationship with the media, it wouldn't be terribly surprising if THEY saved Manny's job by reporting that story.

Posted by: Section506 | June 18, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: NatsNut | June 18, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

new post

Posted by: NatsNut | June 18, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

With the trade rumors about Dunn circling, there's a chance he won't even be around for his bobblehead day!

Posted by: mo_dc | June 18, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

One of the parts of the Season of Fail that annoys me the most is that Lannan gets NO recognition for how good he is - he's a solid #2 in a rotation, and he's carrying the staff. He's pitched to an ERA+ of 124 so far this year (after being a 112 last year) and he's going to be 200+ IP, barring injury. He's the best arm to come out of the system so far, bar none. Zimm, Martis, Detwiler have all shown flashes, but for now, Lannan is the Zimmerman of the pitchers.

He's had only one or two clunkers in the 14 starts so far, and if you just assigned him "average" run support - the Nats average 4.5 runs/game - he's be something like 9-3. He's way, way underrated, because he doesn't look like much and nothing about his peripherals (K/9, BB/9, etc.) says "dominant." He's just proven, over 300+ MLB innings that he gets guys to hit the ball on the ground more often than not. If we had anything approaching decent IF defense, he'd be great.

The only concern I have about Lannan is that his BABIP is .270 over his 300IP. History says that's unsustainable, and a regression back to around .300 would really show up. It'll be interesting to see what happens to him as teams get a little more used to seeing him - I know this is going to sound like blasphemy, but depending on how Martis, Zimm and Detwiler look, I think Lannan or Olsen might become really tradeable pieces around the A/S break.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | June 18, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Could not be more proud of Lannan whatsoever. He stepped up to those NY boys and threw lights out. We've definitely got some pieces to the puzzle on this ball team.

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

macdougal pumping 97 mph LOW moving heat has helped tremendously. Joel H's ball only gets up to 97 around the shoulders and is straight as an arrow. Set the closer position and watch everything fall into place for the bullpen.

Here's hoping the bats heat up again.

Posted by: right3 | June 18, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

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