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A Walk-Off Win

Wow, that happened fast. Nats down 4-2, bottom of the ninth. Closer Leo Nunez pitching. Easy save, right? The Nats had lost eight games in a row. They hadn't owned a lead -- any lead -- since Saturday, Aug. 29, somewhere around 8:30 ET. Plus, the Nats had already used their rally in this one, fighting from 2-0 down in the bottom of the eighth, only to squander it in the top of the ninth.

Well...

"I think sometimes it just shows the world that that team doesn't quit," interim manager Jim Riggleman said after the 5-4 Washington win.

"Just a true team effort," Ryan Zimmerman said.

"The way we won that game," Willie Harris said, "it was huge for us."

Huge and fast. Nunez is a fastball-changeup guy, a power pitcher with a nasty offspeed counterpunch. Against Nunez, you guess; you have no choice. Harris guessed fastball, thinking Florida would expect him to take the first pitch. Instead, he swung, and an 94 mph fastball roared into the right field stands.

So just like that, it was 4-3.

Next batter was Cristian Guzman, who beat out an infield hit -- barely.

Zimmerman dug in. He was 0-for-4, defeated all day with offspeed pitches. So he guessed he'd see more of the same.

Zimmerman saw a 1-1 changeup, cocked his bat, and unloaded. Off it went, on a sizzling line into the Red Porch seats -- a walk-off. Zimmerman tossed his bat and trotted. Nationals Park went wild. Teammates mobbed home plate, awaiting. Zimmerman touched home plate and disappeared in a pile of red. Nunez walked off, having allowed three runs on only five pitches.

The Nats, with their season down to the final month, need some wins like this. Painkiller kind of wins. They won't do much to improve Washington's record, but they can sustain a team for the final weeks. And to think, the Nats had entered the ninth weighted by that here-we-go-again sensation. For one thing, they were playing the Marlins, their nemesis. They'd wasted an efficient 6-2/3 from J.D. Martin by again and again squandering two-out, runners-on-base opportunities against Anibal Sanchez. (Doesn't help when Wil Nieves and Alberto Gonzalez et al are being relied upon for clutch hits.) Even when Mike Morse delivered his unlikely pinch-hit 2 RBI single in the eighth, he was thrown out advancing to second -- a rundown that resulted when he got tangled up with the lead runner. When Mike MacDougal allowed two in the top of the ninth -- with Nick Johnson delivering the go-ahead single -- the Nationals looked cooked.

"It just shows that we're never going to quit," Zimmerman said. "You play to the last out, you never know what's going to happen. And we're going to play hard to the end, no matter how many games we lose or how many games we're back or whatever."

By Chico Harlan  |  September 6, 2009; 5:37 PM ET
 
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Next: Off-Day Musings

Comments

Maybe someone DVR'd the game and could grab the clip for you before they erase it.

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) it really sucks that MASN will talk to fans in the stands, but those fans will never get to see that interview. asked MASN about getting a copy of the less-than 30 second spot my dog was on TV last night and they said they don't give out clips. it's not like it's actually part of the game, it was between inning banter.

Posted by: sec231 | September 6, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Hey, we won!

Elijah Dukes, two hits and a walk. Not worthy of any special mention in the newspaper, I realize, but he's really hot. You'd have to say he's figured out what his problem was in August. Now, will it stick? Will the pitchers figure out something else? Too early to give up on the guy.

Posted by: markfromark | September 6, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, letter-for-letter, what my sister texted me when I texted her that the Nats won after just telling her the Nats had tied the game and then it was 4-2.

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Wow, that happened fast.
By Chico Harlan | September 6, 2009; 5:37 PM ET

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

"Austin Kearns, trying to recover from a bruised right thumb, is still unable to swing a bat"

so what was his excuse BEFORE the injury?

Posted by: surly_w | September 6, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of erasing the clip, I just got home from the game and watched Zimm's homer again. Did I hear Dibs' comment right? Did he really say "take that to New York with you, (rhymes with witch)"

It's right at the end of the video clip on the Nats' website.

_______________________

Maybe someone DVR'd the game and could grab the clip for you before they erase it.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 5:54 PM

Posted by: greggwiggins | September 6, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Glad to hear that the Nats came back! After the P-Nats lost we were hoping that at least one Nats team would win. (We did get our bobbleheads, so there's that.)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 6, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure Rob said, "Take that to NY with you, Fish"

Posted by: BoltV | September 6, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

It's an OUTRAGE that the Nats are off on Labor Day, the last major official holiday of summer. No MLB in the nation's capital on a major holiday? It's an OUTRAGE!

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 6, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I just listened to it. I think he said "Fish."

I agree re. Labor Day, leetee. The P-Nats are home tomorrow, FWIW.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 6, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

P-Nats will have $1 seats (grandstand, I think) and $1 hot dogs as well.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 6, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know why there weren't any fireworks at the ballpark today? None during the national anthem, and none after the great HR / victory.

We were at Friday's game (our seats are in 317) and were showered with a bit of paper debris after a series of fireworks went off ... was the Fire Marshal at the game again?

Posted by: MCarroll63 | September 6, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

I too heard Dibble's comment at the end about the Fish taking THAT with them to NY.

I kinda enjoyed it.

Posted by: bigmook | September 6, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

We are guessing no fireworks so as not to frighten the puppies. But it could have been the Fire Marshall again. Maybe Chico could look into this URGENT issue.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for the fellas having a day off, but I won't get another one until Thanksgiving and I SO would have gone to a Nats game on Labor Day. Maybe the P-Nats lobbied for this schedule?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

There were no fireworks Saturday night either, and I think the dogs are the most likely explanation.

Posted by: Traveler8 | September 6, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Willie Harris made a wonderful heads-up play in the top of the 9th to throw out that little @#$%^ Bonifacio at the plate. I enjoyed that almost as much as the drama in the bottom of the 9th. Course Boni has fallen so far from grace that it is hard to generate as much animosity as I once did when he was such a pest.

Dodgers on ESPN2 at 8 for those of us who hope for a look at Belliard in Dodger Blue. We sure missed his hot bat in the Fish series.

Posted by: longhorn64 | September 6, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

laughing here--saw the replay, and yes, he did say "Fish"--but it was close. (It would probably be plural otherwise, anyway.)

Hey, at what point in this are the Marlins no longer the Nats's nemesis? There was that three-game sweep, and this game that fits right in with those in style and outcome.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 6, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Let the record show that longhorn was in fact calling him "that little Fish Bonifacio".
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Willie Harris made a wonderful heads-up play in the top of the 9th to throw out that little @#$%^ Bonifacio at the plate.
Posted by: longhorn64 | September 6, 2009 7:08 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 6, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

When we get Hanley Ramirez on our side.
=============================================
Hey, at what point in this are the Marlins no longer the Nats's nemesis?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

There are Moral Victories, Pyrrhic Victories, and Palliative Victories. Who knew?
************
The Nats, with their season down to the final month, need some wins like this. Painkiller kind of wins. They won't do much to improve Washington's record, but they can sustain a team for the final weeks.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 6, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

That would be the final indignity for them, indeed, Nats_Lady.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 6, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo needs to get right on it. Otherwise we will be walking him intentionally all the way to Kansas City.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

I hear they got a crazy way of lovin' there, though...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 6, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

I understand H.R. (very appropriate initials, I hate to say) has a no trade clause in his contract. But when we get Austin Kearns back--and Riggs wants him back, he said so today--when we get Austin Kearns back our clubhouse will have such a great atmosphere Hanley won't be able to resist.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Update from the Milledge/Morgan trade:

"Lastings Milledge is red hot of late, and Hanrahan has a 2.05 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings for his new team. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 10 appearances."

Milledge is now hitting .300 on the year. This was not a good trade for Rizzo, no matter what the scribes and the casual fans think.

But Rizzo did make a nice move in getting a legitimate prospect for Belliard. We could do worse for a GM (hello Brian Sabean, Ned Colletti).

Posted by: B2O2 | September 6, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Hey stat geeks out there ... how many walkoffs has RZ hit for Nats? How does it compare to others?

Posted by: JamesWebster | September 6, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Ha! Well, they sure are trying their best to love Bryce Harper. Didn't KC lose again today? (smirk--Nats won, now what kind of "victory" is that again?)

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I hear they got a crazy way of lovin' there, though...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 6, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

but that's a question for NatsNut, now that I think of it--The Marlins are, colloquially, The Fish. Not "The Fishes"--plural. Why is it not The Fishes?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 6, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

On Nats talk I believe they said this is Zimm's 4th walkoff home run.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Fish, like Deer and Sheep, is a noun both singular and plural.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad Milledge and Hanrahan are doing well with their new team. They were not doing well for US (especially Hanrahan), which is the critical factor. Burnett and Nyjer (before his injury) are doing just fine for us, so that's a good trade.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

B, may I suggest you're looking at this wrong. Yes, Morgan is hurt and therefore useless, but that's not Rizzo's fault, and anybody, anybody at all, can get hurt. Morgan doesn't have, say, Nick Johnson's DL resume.
But my point is, it is not dispositive that Milledge and Hanrahan are succeeding with Pittsburg, because they could have stayed here for the rest of their natural lives and never done that.
And, a good trade for both teams makes other GMs more likely to trade with you, which may pay dividends down the road, and can't hurt (unless Rizzo really is a bad judge or talent, in which case they're [RF]'d, anyway.

*************
Milledge is now hitting .300 on the year. This was not a good trade for Rizzo, no matter what the scribes and the casual fans think.

But Rizzo did make a nice move in getting a legitimate prospect for Belliard. We could do worse for a GM (hello Brian Sabean, Ned Colletti).

Posted by: B2O2 | September 6, 2009 7:24 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 6, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

How about "beef" and "pork"?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 6, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

OF talent...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 6, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

There ya go!
-----------
How about "beef" and "pork"?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 6, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm especially glad that Hanrahan is doing well. I think it is one of those trades that is turning out to be a win-win. Milledge is playing left field a lot.

I'd still take Morgan's CF defense and lead off ability over Milledge, even though he is heating up.

Burnett and Hanrahan are close to even so I think it comes down to getting the right guy (Morgan) for the position (CF defense and leadoff).

So much of putting a team together is getting the right guys for the right roles and I think Rizzo did that.

I'm glad he made that trade and my guess would be that the clubhouse is glad that he made the trade as well.

Posted by: derwink | September 6, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

OTOH, I believe NatsNut would correct this one:

Hey, at what point in this are the Marlins no longer the Nats's [sic] nemesis?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

"They were not doing well for US (especially Hanrahan), which is the critical factor."

So there is something magical in the water in Pittsburgh that allows these players to perform well only there? They are talented, and Rizzo gave up on them too early (albeit with an assist from a rabidly impatient fan base).

"B, may I suggest you're looking at this wrong. Yes, Morgan is hurt and therefore useless, but that's not Rizzo's fault..."

My assessment of that trade had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Morgan is hurt. I've been saying it was a mistake from the day the trade was made. In fact, if Morgan were playing, he would only be busy regressing to the .275-with-zero-power he projects to be (very nice 5th outfielder with his speed and glove), hastening the clarity of this mistake for all observers.

I will grant you that getting fleeced in a trade does increase the odds that other GMs will want to trade with you. And yes, I understand that isn't *exactly* what you were saying. :)

Posted by: B2O2 | September 6, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Both the P-Nats and the Wash Nats played at home on July 4, methinks. I doubt that the P-Nats have much if any influence over the big club's schedule. I think it's up to the MLB suits.

---

I'm all for the fellas having a day off, but I won't get another one until Thanksgiving and I SO would have gone to a Nats game on Labor Day. Maybe the P-Nats lobbied for this schedule?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 6:49 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 6, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

will tomorrow's off day break the nats' momentum?

Posted by: surly_w | September 6, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

They might take a train; might take a plane...

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I hear they got a crazy way of lovin' there, though...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 6, 2009 7:20 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 6, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

"So there is something magical in the water in Pittsburgh that allows these players to perform well only there?"

Maybe there is. The same magic water that allows MacDougal to perform well here when other teams gave up on him, and maybe Livo as well. The coaching is different, the player "mix" is different. Morgan was playing a different role here than in Pittsburgh--a much needed and valued role. His skillset and personality fit this idiosyncratic town in a way that might not fit in a sober, hardscrabble city--and don't forget he was playing in line "behind" other outfielders, not as an everyday leadoff.

Bottom line, building a team is much more than looking at stats.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Could "Fish" be the new [AB]? What the fish?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 6, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

1a: I know. Just my idea of a little humor.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

I LIKE it!! So fitting in several respects.

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Could "Fish" be the new [AB]? What the fish?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 6, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Dunno, remains to be seen. :))))
----------------------------------------
will tomorrow's off day break the nats' momentum?

Posted by: surly_w | September 6, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

But, see, we were not looking for a power hitter. We have that in the 2-5 lineup positions. Nyjer's value was in getting on base, in distracting the pitcher, in the threat of a steal so Guz et al would see more fastballs because Nyjer would move on a curve or slider. So Nyjer hitting .275 average doesn't bother me in the least. You have to look at more than batting average.

Also, we needed that vacuum cleaner in CF, especially before Dunn moved to first base. '
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In fact, if Morgan were playing, he would only be busy regressing to the .275-with-zero-power he projects to be (very nice 5th outfielder with his speed and glove),

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Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Oh, sorry. I think that sitting in the sun all afternoon addled my pate even more than usual.

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1a: I know. Just my idea of a little humor.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 7:54 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 6, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, Nats_Lady.

---

But, see, we were not looking for a power hitter. We have that in the 2-5 lineup positions. Nyjer's value was in getting on base, in distracting the pitcher, in the threat of a steal so Guz et al would see more fastballs because Nyjer would move on a curve or slider. So Nyjer hitting .275 average doesn't bother me in the least. You have to look at more than batting average.

Also, we needed that vacuum cleaner in CF, especially before Dunn moved to first base.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 6, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

In other news, interesting about the Foli call-up. As a noted player once said, "Don't look back; they may be gaining on you."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 6, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know our record in games with Morgan v games without?

Also, with that defense, I'd really be fine with below-average offense. The defense is consistent and he's saving enough runs that it's worthwhile.

According to this site, he has the most fielding runs of anyone in the majors (Dunn is worst)
http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=6&season=2009&month=0

Posted by: 202character | September 6, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

This also is interesting.

The Washington Nationals on Friday fired director of player development Bobby Williams, general manager Mike Rizzo said.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

If I recall, the Nats were 22-27 with Morgan. They are 1-8 since his injury. Prior to the trade for Morgan the Nats' record was so bad the manager got fired.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

That sounds about right on the record, Nats-Lady.

Yes, that was interesting about Williams.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 6, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

LISTEN TO ME!!!! Thers is no way you can spin the Milledge/Gascan swap for Morgan/Burnett trade as a win-win, Milledge was a know it all "ain't nuthin you can tell me about this game" jerk who had to be embarrased into taking his craft seriously before he got the message while Nyjer is everything you would want in a major league ballplayer and he's got skills(ya think?) as an older african american baseball fan who watched the likes of Chuck Hinton,Willie Tasby,Hank Allen,Paul Cassanova,Bennie Daniels and many others lay the foundation for other black players of this franchise i took umbridge at Lastings attitude and lack of work ethic when Rizzo pulled off the trade i was excited and when i saw Nyjer play and his enthusiasm i said "now that's a ballplayer" i've got three grandson's who i hope one day will play baseball when the time is right,who do you think i want them to emulate?

Posted by: dargregmag | September 6, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

202: that is an interesting chart. Milledge's fielding doesn't look great on that list for 2008, I guess not enough time to evaluate him fully for 2009.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

dargramps: I think you hit the nail on the proverbial head. Attitude is EVERYTHING. You can have all the "tools" in the world, but if you don't want or know how to USE those tools they are USELESS.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

In contrast to Milledge, I think Elijah Dukes has come back with the right attitude. He is still far from perfect (esp. his fielding, which kind of surprised me) but he is working on improving. I say, "keep up the good work."

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 6, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

According to ESPN, Zimmerman now has five walk-off homers. Three of them are against the Fish. Going by memory, I believe they are Father's Day 2006 against the Yankees, Fourth of July 2006 against the Fish, Mother's Day 2007 against the Fish, Opening Day 2008 against the Braves, and today. Thus today's would be the first one that did not occur on a holiday or at a special game. Today was just your everyday walkoff HR.

Posted by: nunof1 | September 6, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Great post, Chico.

Your writing has been the saving grace of this season.

Posted by: JohninMpls | September 6, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse


"The coaching is different, the player "mix" is different. Morgan was playing a different role here than in Pittsburgh--a much needed and valued role. His skillset and personality fit this idiosyncratic town in a way that might not fit in a sober, hardscrabble city"

Ah, the magical "chemistry" argument. Very popular because it is impossible to argue with (you can't see it, and you can claim that it's there when it's not, and who's going to prove you wrong!). I'm sorry NatsLady, but that is all very nice sounding BS. Those are the kind of time-honored, handwaving things people say when they cannot get their minds around the phrase "Nyjer has hit very very lucky since he's been here". That phrase is borne out by cold hard facts. According to the Hardball Times PrAVE regression equation, based on the kind of balls he's hit since being in DC, i.e. if he were to perform exactly as he has going forward, he would be hitting .280. With no power. That ain't a great addition to the lineup, and it doesn't matter if he's doing it in the magical #1 spot or the #4 spot.

There probably is some miniscule value to having a base stealer in front of someone who really lives and dies by the fastball (incidentally, this kind of thing can be examined... statistically! see, it's not such a scary word). How much do you figure he raises Guzman's average that way? Ten points? Twenty? Other than that he becomes just a black hole in the lineup. The old canard about it being acceptable for the leadoff guy to be a punch and judy hitter because "it's not his job to hit for extra bases" has been proven spurious time and again by people who look at this stuff. You want all of your hitters to produce as much as possible to maximize your run scoring, simply put.

"--and don't forget he was playing in line "behind" other outfielders, not as an everyday leadoff."

He was the starting LF for Pittsburgh. Which would have been a sorry situation on a contending team, but the shrewd Neal Huntington figured if he gave him some time to rack up some steals, some sucker old schooler who still believes that "a good mix of speed, power and dribblers to the second basemen are what every team must have" would come along and give him something good for him. Mr. Rizzo did just that.

By the way, you can't simply look at the Nats records with and without Morgan and attribute it to him. Rumor has it there are 8 other guys on the field. But that's a number, so maybe it is "just one of those stat things".

Anyway, enough harping. Rizzo probably makes up for his deficit in team-assembly skills with his raw talent evaluation accumen. He seems like an adequate GM overall for that reason (though he'd be better as head of scouting while a smarter quantitative guy were GM, but someone decided "it was his time" to move up).

Posted by: B2O2 | September 6, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Dibble said "take that fish!" haha. you can go to the Nats home page and watch the highlight, he clearly said fish.

Posted by: rachel216 | September 6, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Milledge heats up and Nyjer's hurt so now folks will go back and reevaluate the deal.

I have no problems with that deal. Milledge as a corner outfielder doesn't work on this team and Milledge's defense was awful. If you value defense at all, you have to respect Nyjer Morgan's contribution. Hopefully, he will be moved to cut back on the basestealing when he comes back from his injury. If he hits .280, plays great defense, and improves his steal percentage he's a solid defensive contributor and complimentary player.

Centerfield was a major problem for this team and it's now adequate with Morgan.

The real deal is how do we address our situation up the middle of the infield. Desmond should be called up and given mucho playing time to see if he can continue his progress and most importantly his plate discipline at the major league level.

Not getting rid of Guzman, even if we had to pitch in some salary, while he had value was borderline criminal. Now without Nyjer in front of him he's being revealed in all of his no OBP glory.

Very, very glad to see JD Martin put together a solid outing against a good hitting team. It would be nice to see Martin remain in the competition and in the Nats system for next year.

Posted by: souldrummer | September 6, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Now that the Nats have shown they can lose almost as readily with Riggleman as they did with Acta, is Tim Foli auditioning in some weird way? Will Stan ask Zim what he thinks about Foli? I loved him as a scrappy ballplayer.

Posted by: paulkp | September 6, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

How hot is Dukes over the past two weeks? I think he's been getting on base twice a game for the past nine or ten games. Any chatter on Dukes adapting a different stance or approach?

Posted by: mcdonougha | September 6, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Dukes aimed that liner into the RF corner today - he's been flailing at outside pitches much of the year. Working on driving them the other way is a big improvement. Also great batting eye. I've been a Dukes pessimist this year, thinking the league's adjusted to him, but he's looked good recently. Love the right field power. Might have to change my mind.

Did anyone else think Maxwell should have been charged with an error in the top of the 9th? If the ball hadn't kicked off the heel of his glove the second run wouldn't have scored from first on a single to short left center. An insignificant point I admit - but interested in what you all thought.

Posted by: utec | September 6, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

"Hey, at what point in this are the Marlins no longer the Nats's nemesis? There was that three-game sweep, and this game that fits right in with those in style and outcome."

There is a long way to go to erase the stink of the Fish. This year the Nats are 4-11 against them. The Fish have a winning record BECAUSE they routinely beat the Nats. The must beat the minnows in order to be competitive in the division, and until they do, they are the first hurdle. My opinion anyways.

Posted by: dand187 | September 6, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

dand187

that's why i asked yesterday if the phish make the playoffs, are the nats eligible for a postseason share?

Posted by: surly_w | September 6, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

He had to do his Labor Day walk-off today because they're off tomorrow. hehe...

---

According to ESPN, Zimmerman now has five walk-off homers. Three of them are against the Fish. Going by memory, I believe they are Father's Day 2006 against the Yankees, Fourth of July 2006 against the Fish, Mother's Day 2007 against the Fish, Opening Day 2008 against the Braves, and today. Thus today's would be the first one that did not occur on a holiday or at a special game. Today was just your everyday walkoff HR.

Posted by: nunof1 | September 6, 2009 9:05 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 6, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

B- I'm calling shenanigans. You can't try to wave off Morgans production while a nat and then cite milledge's production in the burgh like it means something. Either the sample size means something or it doesn't.

Aside from that, nyjers career is .303/.362/.391 - so he isn't really the .275 hitter you suggest. Aside from THAT, milledge's hot streak with the burgh is over 129 ABs and he's 40 points over his career obp. Nyjer's streak was over 200+ ABs and he was "only" 30 points over his. Tell me, who seems liklier to sustain?

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | September 6, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

It was worth noting Sunday afternoon that the first player to greet J.D. Martin, when he reached the dugout steps after "an efficient 6-2/3 innings" (and to a standing ovation from many of the 20,000) was No. 61, Livan Hernandez.

Posted by: JamesWebster | September 7, 2009 5:26 AM | Report abuse

Nice, James.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 7, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

I think that's true for fans as well, Willie. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

---

You just have to keep your character and keep pushing," Harris said. "I mean, your character is tested when you're down. Anybody can be a good guy when you're on top. But when you're down and out, losing games, that's your character test."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 7, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Milledge may live up to his potential, but as disappointed as I am that he failed for us, I still want Rizzo to stop Jim Bowden's habit of trading for high-risk reclamation projects.

As for proof of improving in a new environment, we need only look at Felipe Lopez. His attitude in DC and poor play was such that we had to simply let him go. As soon as he went to the Cardinals and now to Milwaukee, the bum has played himslef into being a Type A free agent. There was no injury involved, no time elapsed. The second he left the Nationals he was a changed man.

I do believe that the concept of "Last Chance" probably did wonders for Milledge. He wants to be a star, but this probably finally made him get that he isn't one simply by proclamation.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | September 7, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

> The same magic water that allows MacDougal to perform well here when other teams gave up on him, and maybe Livo as well. The coaching is different, the player "mix" is different. Morgan was playing a different role here than in Pittsburgh--a much needed and valued role. His skillset and personality fit this idiosyncratic town in a way that might not fit in a sober, hardscrabble city--and don't forget he was playing in line "behind" other outfielders, not as an everyday leadoff.

The thing with MacDougal is probably that nobody had enough patience with his control problems. Therefore he couldn't stick around long enough to master a second pitch. He's got both now, to a large extent.
The Pirates didn't need Morgan because they had McCutcheon coming up, who's 7 years younger. They also knew that Milledge can hit for power, and his problem was solely immaturity. There's nothing wrong with his stroke other than pitch selection. He's the type of immature ballplayer that has trouble being threatened, so they just tell him the LF job is his and it clears his mind.
They probably took Hanrahan just so they could get Milledge. He throws hard enough, and the team was bad enough that there was no pressure on him to save numerous games. Plus, he's ultimately cheaper than Burnett.

Posted by: Brue | September 7, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

I agree. I also appreciate that you don't seem to lose sight of the fact that the players you are covering are human beings like the rest of us, as with your observations about Z'mann in the prior thread. You're totally throwing strikes, dude.

---

Great post, Chico.

Your writing has been the saving grace of this season.

Posted by: JohninMpls | September 6, 2009 9:07 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 7, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Amen to that, PHS. Speaking of Lopez, I noticed at Saturday's bark in the park that somebody's pup was sporting a red bandana with Zimmerman's name written on it. It occurred to me that it might have been funny to put a Lopez bandana on a pooch. Yes, I'm a bad person.

---

I still want Rizzo to stop Jim Bowden's habit of trading for high-risk reclamation projects.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 7, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

On the Tony Plush front, a sartorial suggestion for the fan club:

http://tinyurl.com/m27xsc

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 7, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

trading Milledge/Hanrahan was the right move then, and its the right move now.

I'm glad he finally got the message in Pittsburgh and got his stuff together, but he had no future here.

people were bashing Milledge and were overjoyed when we traded him. now that he's doing well, these same people are crying tears of remorse for shipping him out.

bleh.

also, I'm not quite sure if you guys remember...but Hanrahan was HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE for us. I still say good riddance to him.

Posted by: MrMadison | September 7, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Thinking about September call-ups now.

We all knew that the Nats would call up players after today, but that was dependent on whether Syracuse made the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, they did not, losing both ends of a double header yesterday. However, the local paper had some nice things to say about the first year affiliated with the Nats, and thoughts about the coming year:

http://www.syracuse.com/chiefs/

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | September 7, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

LISTEN TO ME!!!! Thers is no way you can spin the Milledge/Gascan swap for Morgan/Burnett trade as a win-win, Milledge was a know it all "ain't nuthin you can tell me about this game" jerk who had to be embarrased into taking his craft seriously before he got the message while Nyjer is everything you would want in a major league ballplayer and he's got skills(ya think?) as an older african american baseball fan who watched the likes of Chuck Hinton,Willie Tasby,Hank Allen,Paul Cassanova,Bennie Daniels and many others lay the foundation for other black players of this franchise i took umbridge at Lastings attitude and lack of work ethic

Posted by: dargregmag

Milledge's attitude wasn't a product of being a badass from the streets, it was because he was spoiled. Just like so many white athletes over the years. Welcome to the new reality. It's just like all the NBA players who've gotten special treatment, money, shoes and everything else from the time they're 12 years old. Surrogate fathers (coaches) from the AAU traveling teams who tell them what they want to hear. They're spoiled. They have no moral baseline for their behavior. That crap was just starting up when I was at Five-Star in the '70's, and it's had 30 years to pollute a couple of generations. You see it all the time in the other sports.

Posted by: Brue | September 7, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Potomac will also miss the playoffs, victims of the system rewarding 1st and 2nd half champions:

http://www2.insidenova.com/isn/sports/minors/potomac_nationals/article/kinstons_bats_cool_off_p-nats/42850/

The Nationals need to keep up the good work of making the minor league system competitive while rebounding from such pathetic failure for the major league team itself.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | September 7, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link, PHS. I hadn't realized that they had a Chiefs forum as well (link was on the same site):

http://www.syracuse.com/forums/chiefs/

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 7, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

ugh. Check out page one of the sports section of the DTE (dead tree edition) of the WP. You wouldn't know that we even had a baseball team, let alone that they had a walk-off win thanks to the Z-man

BTW: I was watching it on TV. And noticed the way he just glared into the Washington dugout after tossing his helmet before trotting down to first. I wonder what the message/deal was there?

Posted by: twinbrook | September 7, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

also, for the guy who keeps harping on about Morgan "hitting very lucky" and "regressing" back to being "the .275 hitter he always was" or whatever...

I wonder if he actually took the time to look at Morgan's career stats....

cause umm...Morgan's never been a .275 hitter.

with the exception of one Minor League season, he pretty much consistently hovers around .300 year in and year out.

his 162-game average is .303/.362/.391

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/morgany01.shtml

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=morgan001nyj

Posted by: MrMadison | September 7, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

New post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 7, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

So there is something magical in the water in Pittsburgh that allows these players to perform well only there?

Well, getting dumped by two teams may have focused Milledge on the need to play up to his capacity. And a change of scenery may have helped Hanrahan get over being shell shocked. You don't know what the truth is, any more than the scribes or us casual fans who aren't as smart as you. (I always wonder, if you know more than the GM and the writers and all the fans, why aren't you working in baseball?)

But I like the idea that the Nats fanbase, suffering through two hundred loss years, is rabidly impatient. What is the Yankee fanbase?

Posted by: markfromark | September 7, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I turned on the radio after the P-NATS game yesterday! I almost called my friends (one here) on the cell phone! Thought better of it and went home grinning ear to ear!

Gotta love a RZ walk-off!

BTW, nice meeting some of you at the P-NATS game yesterday! Trying to rest injured leg today!

Posted by: CALSGR8 | September 7, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, the main man of Syracuse, its ace continues to improve in the Bigs now pitching better than anyone else on the staff. JD Martin continues in his effort to prove he belongs. He isn't relaxing because the end of the season looks bleak. He can't stop, give up as the other starters appear to have, because if he does he is DFA'ed the next day.

If this is about the Nats not giving up it starts with JD Martin.

Posted by: periculum | September 7, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

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