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Nats 13, Astros 2

I'm back up in the press box now, looking back over tonight's scorecard. There is dark pencil everywhere -- heavy shading, hits denoted next to every Washington starter's name, and a particular HR-HR-HR sequence in the sixth inning that seems... well, incompatible with a team known for hapless baseball.

Tonight, in a 13-2 trashing of the Astros, the Nats were anything but hapless. Judged by almost any offensive statistic, this was their best game of the season. Looking at the names in this lineup, you knew it could happen. But until tonight, it was just talk.

"Yeah, this is the first night we actually broke open a game and had a very fun -- I mean, that was a very fun game to be a part of," Dunn said. "We got 20-some hits and 10 extra base hits and everybody contributed."

Here's a rundown:

* The 13 runs, 21 hits and 40 total bases were all season-highs.

* The 10 extra-base hits match a Nats (2005-09) record.

* In the sixth, 1B Nick Johnson, RF Josh Willingham and LF Adam Dunn hit three consecutive homers off Houston reliever Felipe Paulino. Those homers came in a span of eight pitches. (In their previous six games, the Nats had hit two homers total.) For those interested in franchise (WAS-MON) history -- or in verbose last names with Zs -- here's the trivia: Last time this franchise connected on back-to-back-to-back homers came on Aug. 23, 1997. The trio responsible? Andy Stankiewicz, Mark Grudzielanek and Mike Lanischeiwitz.

* OK, so the third guy was actually Mike Lansing.

There were plenty of stars to pick from tonight, but Josh Willingham rises to the top of the list. He went 3-for-5 with two homers (Nos. 11 and 12), 4 RBI and three runs scored. Also, Alberto Gonzalez went 4-for-5, raising his average to .327. Take away his April stretch of spastic defense, and Gonzalez looks like somebody deserving of more playing time. Especially at second base. Oh, and we also have Craig Stammen, who threw a 107-pitch complete game. "The offense made it pretty easy for me to just go out there and throw strikes and get some quick outs," Stammen said. "That allowed me to go deep in the game."

By Chico Harlan  |  July 11, 2009; 11:18 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Burnett And The Rest Of The Bullpen
Next: Lineups From Minute Maid


Drunk walks into a bar and the bartender exclaims: "Did ya hear about the Nats tonight? They scored 13 runs and had 21 hits."
Drunk replies: "Did they win?"

Posted by: jdschulz50 | July 11, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Very enjoyable game tonight. At first, I was worried with the baserunning blunder. Then even when they had made it 5-2, they only added 1 run after having the bases loaded with no out. But, then they came through in very big fashion and piled on the runs and hits--great to see! Willingham's been terrific lately - I sure hope the team doesn't trade him. I also agree that Gonzalez should see more playing time. Finally, the young pitching staff continues to grow--great to see Stammen have very strong back to back outings and his first professional complete game--Congrats!

Posted by: curlyWfan | July 11, 2009 11:40 PM | Report abuse

@jdschultz: LOL! :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | July 11, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

"Drunk walks into a bar and the bartender exclaims: "Did ya hear about the Nats tonight? They scored 13 runs and had 21 hits."
Drunk replies: "Did they win?""

LOL...that's good.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | July 11, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

I've been looking at projections for the Nats after Spring training - most were around 71 wins. Anyone know what Nate Silver had to say w/Pecota? One guy, Dan Hughes at the College Baseball Examiner predicted wins as follows: "The pitching staff is below average at best. The five projected starters combined for a record of 29-48 last year with an ERA nearing 5.00. This team will be blown out quite a bit and could lose even more than 107 games, but that's where I stand for now."

Maybe that's been remedied, and we can enjoy a 50-32 2d half. I'd be happier with 60-22.

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 12, 2009 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Not to pile on my beloved Nats, but --

Drunk walks into a bar and the bartender exclaims: "Did ya hear about the Nats tonight? The pitcher threw a complete game, and gave up only two earned runs."
Drunk replies: "Did they win?"

Posted by: ammonite88 | July 12, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

That's even better, ammonite88! Thanks.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | July 12, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

And they won 13-2 w/Belliard at 3rd and Zimm on leave!

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 12, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

So now that they've scored a lot of runs, will Acta keep the same lineup? NO. Like always, he'll make several changes and they'll end up scoring only a run or two in the next game.

Posted by: cmecyclist | July 12, 2009 12:21 AM | Report abuse

@flynnie2 Baseball Prospectus projected Nats to go 59-103. How're they so good?

Posted by: tmp2234 | July 12, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

My favorite, Diamond Mine Projections, says PECOTA projects 75.1 wins. And 6000 iterations produced 73 wins, with a high of 76 and a low of 69. With this caveat:

"Why they might be better than projected: Maybe Cristian Guzman will actually be the MVP candidate PECOTA seems to think he is. Maybe Nick Johnson will play in more than five games.

Why they might be worse than projected: Their pitching staff is a little frightening."

I like 50-32 for the 2d half, and can't wait to see it start tomorrow!

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 12, 2009 12:40 AM | Report abuse

"Drunk walks into a bar and the bartender exclaims: "Did ya hear about the Nats tonight? They scored 13 runs and had 21 hits."
Drunk replies: "Did they win?""

LOL...that's good.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | July 11, 2009 11:52 PM |

An oldie, but a goodie. A classic, even. Maybe the only true baseball joke.

Ya gotta believe.

Posted by: fischy | July 12, 2009 1:54 AM | Report abuse

You don't get many of these, so you have to savor them. Yes, Mr. Stammen! Well deserved.

BTW, that "drunk-walks-into-a-bar joke is a variation on an old '62 Mets joke. Guy calls up the paper to ask for the Mets' score. "They scored 19 runs,'' is the excited response. Caller asks, "Did they win?"

Well, the Nats won! Let's hope Zimm wins tomorrow, and the hitting is contagious

Posted by: nats24 | July 12, 2009 2:03 AM | Report abuse

Mmmmmm... this Kool-Aid is pretty good... :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | July 12, 2009 2:31 AM | Report abuse

Mike Wise's column on Frank Robinson:

Posted by: Juan-John | July 12, 2009 2:43 AM | Report abuse

Bring Frank back!!!

Posted by: big_game_lannan | July 12, 2009 3:01 AM | Report abuse

If we don't honor him during the season next year (during the O's series @ home) we should be ashamed of our team. How many bad decisions are we gonna make?

Posted by: big_game_lannan | July 12, 2009 3:03 AM | Report abuse

At least no one has worn ol' #20 since he left. That's the least we've done. In fact that's all we've done. Other than invite him to Spring Training in '07 that is. Ridiculous!

Posted by: big_game_lannan | July 12, 2009 3:07 AM | Report abuse

From Mike Wise's article, it indicates that after the first 2 years (since Frank left) the Nats management has stopped trying to get him to come back for a "Honors Day". That is sad, particularly since Frank indicates (in the article) that we would be amenable (sp) to one now.

Posted by: bigmook | July 12, 2009 3:18 AM | Report abuse

@Hendo: Steinberg has always been a little condescending, which, ok, i get--he wh0res for clicks. But now he's taken to whining like he's got no choice but to make fun of the team and then begs us to forgive him: "please don't be mad at me, i just HAVE to do this, it's not my fault and i know you'll be mad, but i really, really want you to like me, blah, blah, blah." It's disgusting and I won't give the man another click. (Although this rant probably got him a few extra clicks, dammit)

Posted by: NatsNut | July 12, 2009 4:42 AM | Report abuse

-From the Astros blog:
Stat of the night
pitches thrown by Stammen, who threw a complete game for the Nats: 102.
pitches thrown by all the Astros pitchers combined tonight: 203.
No wonder the Nationals won They got twice as many pitches to try to hit

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 12, 2009 5:46 AM | Report abuse

In my prior post, forgot to give props to Stammen for his pitching and hitting. It just makes me laugh (in a good way) to see how our young pitchers have been hitting lately.

Thanks to nats24 for the joke background. I knew it was old but my first thought was the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Haven't read the Robinson piece or gamer yet so can't comment on that front.

And what NatsNut said. I know this won't go over well but I have to do it anyway and some people think it's funny and they're real fans who go to games and everything and blah blah blah (in other words, "[RF] you if you can't take a joke"). Yes, we get it: it's all about the clicks/money. This is a business after all. Salons, Fail pieces, whatever it takes to bring in the bucks is the way to go.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 12, 2009 6:41 AM | Report abuse

BTW, see Steinberg's most recent chat for context on my comment.

I've read the Robinson piece now. My initial thoughts (1) good for him for bucking up Acta and (2) hard to tell from the outside in but not sure whether the FO has made any progress on the personnel relations front.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 12, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

I love Steinz, as the Caps call Dan Steinberg. He's funny and he's honest, in the sense that he's terrified of losing his job and of the Post going under. He makes no secret of it. As the breadwinner for a host of family members, I share the same terror, and will turn to God and Steinz during the day to calm my fear. (I believe in God but not situational hitting - go figure. I guess situational hitting doensn't give me the comfort that God does.) And he made NatsNut and O's Exec famous by devoting a column to them last year, complete with photos! Who else lavished such care upon us? So everyone give the SportsBog a click - you will be rewarded with laughs. Even the name is funny. He asked Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen did he blog, to which Ralph replied, "What's a bog?"

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 12, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

A bog is where they ought to throw Steinberg. That is, if a big enough bog can be found to contain his massive mound of ego mixed with insecurity. The one good thing about the Post going under in the near future? We won't have to be subjected to them turning Steinberg into the next Tony Kornheiser.

Posted by: nunof1 | July 12, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

"I guess what I think in general is that the Washington Post has to make its own editorial judgments based on a whole host of factors, including how things play in the paper, how things play online, and its responsibility to be the paper of record on D.C. sports. Whereas my only responsibility is to get as many Web clicks as I can without resorting to porn." From Steinberg's chat last Tueday.

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 12, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

as for steinberg, once les wiz go to training camp and if agent zero is healthy he'll go back to being gilbert's caddy and coat holder and he'll forget that DC even has a baseball team. a blessing for us all.

Posted by: surly_w | July 12, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

And a cheery good morning to you, 417, nunof1, An Briosca Mor, John!

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 12, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

More from Dan Steinberg's Tuesday chat, which I liked a lot:

Washington, D.C.: So now that the Nat's pitching is really stepping up, the offense dissappears completely. Not just last night's game, but it seems to me that they just aren't scoring like they used to. I realize that this is because of many factors, but you gotta' think this team is cursed, right?

Dan Steinberg: Oh, absolutely. The graph of their offense and defense would be a pretty sight this year.

"That's why the Pythagorific stats for the Nats are so out of whack; while their record should absolutely be bad, it absolutely shouldn't be this bad. Which is why you have to figure there's at least one six-game win streak in their future, which will make any true run at 120 losses pretty much impossible. They're bad, but they're not historically bad."

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 12, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Good article on the O's:,0,6172138.column

Angelos has been a terrible owner over many years because of his short-sighted approach to team building. Like Dan Synder, Angelos has always been willing to spend. But Angelos has chosen to just patch from year to year rather than have a plan for the future. Nonetheless, Angelos over many years has demonstrated a commitment to invest in the O's, unlike the Lerners.

These days, however, Angelos has turned the reigns over to a wise president of baseball operations. The O's are not afraid to have some payroll. They are willing to make a trade even if the player they receive in the trade makes a decent salary. The O's are willing to go for a free agent now and then. Consequently, the O's payroll is much higher than the Nats' payroll, even though the Baltimore region is much smaller than Washington's and less affluent as well:,0,6172138.column

More important, the O's are now focused on the future. They target young guys in trades. The O's do not try to save money on the draft. They sign drafted players even if they have the market value to demand over-slot money. The O's are not much at present, but they are clearly building, in a patient and steady way.

The Nats also have a wise president, and if the ownership listens to Kasten, the Nats can build a winner. I doubt that Kasten goes along with the paltry investment strategies of the Nats' owners. If the Nats do not improve their budgets to get up to MLB standards, then Kasten will be gone. He is probably waiting for his ownership share to be vested, so that he is free to leave.

Posted by: EdDC | July 12, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Here's the payroll site:

Posted by: EdDC | July 12, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Actually, that joke was first told about the Bedrock Pterodactyls.
There's a "true" version about the very-low-scoring Dodgers of years ago: Drysdale, flying home ahead of the team, gets off a plane and is told Koufax threw a no-hitter.
I was saving this for an off day, but the mohawk is too good to wait:

The headline is a little disingenuous, but the idea that monkeys can spot bad grammar is bad news for a lot of posters, but may be good news to the Post.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 12, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

In addition to honoring Frank, here are some others who should have a fday in the sun on S. Capitol Street to more tightly bond the current team to past heroes.

* Somebody in the Nats front office should have realized that this is the 40th anniversary of the only winning team in expansion Senators history. Invite some of the '69ers back to DC before the end of the season.

* Next year, honor some of the '60 Senators like Killebrew, Kaat and Pascual who began their careers at old Griffith Stadium.

* 2011 is the 50th anniversary of the '61 expansion team.

These are "The Boys of Summer" who still reside in the memory banks of Washingtonians of certain ages.

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 12, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

@flynnie2: Huh? WTF are you talking about?

Posted by: nunof1 | July 12, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Stammen says that the offense scoring all those runs made it easy for him to just throw strikes and get quick outs. Why can't you pitch like that no matter what?

Posted by: cokedispatch | July 12, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

"* Somebody in the Nats front office should have realized that this is the 40th anniversary of the only winning team in expansion Senators history. Invite some of the '69ers back to DC before the end of the season."

They gave Frank Howard several additional arms and bats, coated him with slime and enshrined him for eternity in centerfield. They're having Frank Howard bobblehead night on Aug 22nd. What more do you want? Miniature Ted Williams freeze-dried heads with no body for them to bobble on?

Posted by: nunof1 | July 12, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

returned from the primordial ooze, nunof1?

Posted by: surly_w | July 12, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

>Stammen says that the offense scoring all those runs made it easy for him to just throw strikes and get quick outs. Why can't you pitch like that no matter what?

Don't you know anything about baseball? Or do you just wave a pompom? What he means is that he didn't have to mess around with his breaking pitches because it was like the 7th game of the world series all over again. He could ride his fastball until he got into trouble, instead of worrying about getting into trouble in the first place. When you're way ahead, you can let them hit the ball at the expense of saving pitches because it would take a huge amount of hits to get back in the game. Meantime you're saving pitches, and getting at least 7 out of 10 of them out. It's code for a one-pitch approach, especially with him, since his fastball takes on various characteristics because it drops so much.

Posted by: Brue | July 12, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

nunof1 has been waiting for that setup.

I think there should be more emphasis on the old team, but the problem is - they were bad too by and large. The statues this year are a serious nod to those days. But the Senators name is owned by the Rangers, and all the HOF records and such went to the Twins.

Now I'm all for some such press announcement that the Nationals 'reacquire' their heritage but that'll cost dollars - which are probably better spent on Strasburg. All things in time I suppose.

Go Nats!

Posted by: dand187 | July 12, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

They must have fired their copyeditors, too (or maybe the O's franchise is a monarchy or a dukedom - or would that be a duckdom?).


These days, however, Angelos has turned the reigns over to a wise president of baseball operations.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 12, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Loved the pompom reference Brue.

Posted by: dand187 | July 12, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

hehe, that's good, sec3. If you put a bunch of them in the room with a typewriter (or access to the web, I suppose), the monkeys could probably write stories, too.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 12, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Just thinking out loud, you could put it on a stick and call a tedsicle. Uh, never mind.


Miniature Ted Williams freeze-dried heads with no body for them to bobble on?

Posted by: nunof1 | July 12, 2009 9:49 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 12, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

A friend sent me this link: I don't know where the medical station is at Nats Park, but perhaps the all-you-can-eat sections could be close by:

Posted by: paulkp | July 12, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Yes, MLB has been doing that for a few years now. Perhaps teams could also sell vomitorium sponsorships.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 12, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Consider the fact that very few people in upper management actually know anything about the history of the Senators,StanK,Rizzo,the Lerners? even though the Lerners for all intent and purpose are natives of the DC area,if they know anything you can't tell it by their actions here's an idea hire Phil Wood as a consultant on the history of the Senators he probably knows as much about the history of this franchise as anyone, add Dick Heller(wash.times) to that list and you'll have a credible foundation on the history of the Nats.

Posted by: dargregmag | July 12, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

cokedispatch is a valuable asset to this blog, lives in Atlanta, and is a Nats fan, for which all of us should be grateful. Yes, he knows about baseball, Brue, and he ought to be able to ask a question without being insulted. Not all of us know as much as you.

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 12, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Flynnie. While I don't live in Atlanta, rather South Carolina, I grew up in the Va. burbs and was an original Senators fan in the 50's and 60's. Yes, I understand the mindset of having a big lead or not, but still, it just seems they want to overcomplicate (if thats a word) todays game. Sometimes you need only to look at the history of the game to see the flaws of todays game. Not really that complicated. You can look at stats, run the numbers on computers and all that, it's still played between the lines. Who would have ever thought that Johnny Sanchez had it in him to throw a no hitter the other night. You never know what you will see when you go to a game. That is what makes it a beautiful game. GO NATS, heres a pom pom wave for yall.

Posted by: cokedispatch | July 12, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I think it's a legit question, too. There's been much argument about "situational/clutch" hitting. What about situational pitching?

Clearly there is a difference between the mental outlook of a starting pitcher who can "afford" a bad first inning, and a reliever who comes into a tied game in the 8th with 2 men on base and can't even afford a bad pitch.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 12, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Carpenter and Dibble last night when on and on about how "necessary" it is after your team puts runs up that the pitcher, in the next inning, put up a zero, to "keep the momentum going in the dugout". I suppose it could be discouraging to hitters if the pitcher "gives away" their gains, but why are they not just focusing on the ball being thrown at them in the inning they are in? Same argument would apply.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 12, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

NatsLady, I didn't hear what you're talking about, but I suspect that it's just over-analysis. These guys are paid to talk for a few hours each night, and they gotta fill it with something. So things tend to get a bit overblown.

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 12, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Say, dargregmag, not to be snarky or anything, but don't you ever use punctuation?

I have the impression you have some interesting and insightful things to say, and I think maybe I agree with most of what you post, but I'm sorry--I just cannot read your comments. They are generally made up of one or two humongous run-on sentences, with no clue where a thought starts and stops.

Commas and periods are your friends.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | July 12, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Ha ha, Scooter. No doubt they over analyze, and I guess the best answer to cokedispatch's question is "because they are human beings and not machines."

So, psychologically, if you are a starting pitcher and in there for the long haul, and you know you have room for error, you can relax and (ironically) not make so many errors. Whereas if you know that your next walk could mean you are getting the hook, you tense up and guess what?? Make mistakes.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 12, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I think that Nats_Lady is onto something with the pitchers' potential mindset, and it didn't seem to me that the guys were being too analytical in the case she mentioned (OTOH, we really didn't need to know about Bob's bathroom break). I would also think that it could affect a hitter's approach (and morale) to capture the lead only to have it given back by his pitching in the next half-inning. As a yogi once said, baseball is 90 percent mental; the other half is physical. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 12, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Shepdave2003, I didn't have the smallest problem understanding dargregmag's post and his point. Not to be snarky or anything...

Yesterday I hit the "enter" button too soon and posted complete garbage about the Nats' bullpen's W/L record. Even when I corrected it, there was still an arithmetic error. Sorry, sorry, sorry.

Anyway, there were two MUCH better posts than mine later that day on the same topic. I would hate to feel that those of us who are not expert in--take your pick and you may pick more than one--baseball, grammar, punctuation, typing--are excluded from this forum.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 12, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Is there a statute of limitations for pointing out that Brue got publicly b---- slapped by Ray Knight for his ill-informed opinions about pitching?

Just sayin'.

Posted by: joebleux | July 12, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm going for a walk before it gets too hot :). See you peeps at game time.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 12, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I saw that, that's what you deserve for hating on lannan

Posted by: bford1kb | July 12, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Thanks NatsLady: I thought i was using punctuation in my post although i tend to run on from time to time(fustration about this team will do that to you). Shepdave2003, thanks for the reminder didn't think you were being snarky, but i think most readers on this blog get my point.

Posted by: dargregmag | July 12, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Hey, on Wise's column, let's none of us forget how monumentally difficult a man Frank Robinson is. Just like I have no doubts that the team ownership strung him along, I have no doubts that Frank did not give them a single opportunity to make leaving any easier.

Frank Robinson is a great baseball man, but -- outside of the batter's box -- Frank Robinson is never graceful.

Posted by: Section506 | July 12, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

The game before the All-Star break could be challenging for a team with a record as bad as the Nationals. Players getting ready to scatter for a three-day break, and some might already be "on the plane", so to speak. I'd hope that after last night's breakout win, that this won't be the case.

With a RH on the mound for HOU this afternoon, I'd normally look for a lot of LH-hitters in the WSH lineup, but Moehler has been tough on NJohnson (17PA, .176BA, 1HR, 5RBI), Dunn (21PA, .143BA, 1HR, 3RBI), and Morgan (14PA, .143BA, 1RBI) historically; On the other side, Kearns(!) has raked him consistently (16PA, .563BA, 1HR, 3RBI). Go figure.

Posted by: BinM | July 12, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Lineups are up.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 12, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

26 wins ... thank you Lord.

Posted by: periculum | July 12, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

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