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A Five-Game Winning Streak

I dare say that no 103-loss team in Major League Baseball history has ever been as hot as the Washington Nationals.

The Nats defeated the Braves on Friday night 6-3. They've now won five in a row. No team in the National League has a longer winning streak. On this night, the Nats got plenty of production from their September call-ups (Justin Maxwell and Ian Desmond), their down-the-stretch acquisition (Livan Hernandez) and their slumping power hitter (Adam Dunn).

Livo turned in his sixth quality start in eight since joining the Nats.

Desmond went 2-for-3 with a homer and a two-RBI triple.

Maxwell, 2-for-5, tripled against Derek Lowe to start Washington's three-run third.

Dunn, breaking an 0-for-26 slump, swatted two opposite field doubles.

And everybody is enjoying it.

Talking about his "valley" -- that's how Dunn normally terms his rough patches -- Dunn said, "It's OK to call it a slump. That was a full-fledged slump. But it's over with." He grinned. "My goal is to win player of the month this month."

Said Desmond: "Winning is fun. We need this momentum to carry us into spring training, into next season. It's so important. It's just good to see all the guys doing well. Dunner had a couple doubles tonight, [Mike] MacDougal got another save, Maxwell is swinging the bat great. This is all stuff that we need to go into spring training with so we can start it rolling earlier next year."

Hernandez, meantime, made a nice closing argument for his value. Down the stretch, the 34-year-old righty became a stabilizing force in the Washington rotation -- a counterpoint to the fifth-starter types that took the mound on other nights. Though Atlanta had six hits against him through four, and though Hernandez lucked into several outs on liners, he never buckled. His final line: 6-1/3 innings, nine hits, three earned runs.

So will Livo be back in 2010?

"All that kind of stuff is relative to what Mike Rizzo sees out there [in the free agent market]," Jim Riggleman said, "but certainly Livan is going to pitching somewhere, and I would say the odds are it'll be with us. He's really impressed us, and he goes deep in the game -- that's the thing.

"I got a chance to come back and I'd love to play here next year," Hernandez said. "It's something I'd love to do. We can play and win some games."

By Chico Harlan  |  October 2, 2009; 11:27 PM ET
 
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Comments

So maybe this is what they mean by the team not quitting. They were always trying, they just weren't very good, so when they get meaningless games, they're competitive.

That sounded harsh, didn't it?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | October 2, 2009 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Livo, again, wins almost half his games, which is more than you can say for the team. I'd like to see him stay.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | October 2, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

@Sec3: It would be easy to dismiss this September run except for a few things:

1. They found Ian Desmond, a real SS.
2. J-Max might have found a big league batting stroke to go with his other tools.
3. Livo showed he has plenty left in the tank.
4. Dukes appears to have learned how to lay off that outside slider.
5. Most importantly, they seem to respond to Riggs in a way quite in contrast to Manny. I think Riggs just earned himself a managerial job for 2010.
6. Morse is pure gravy. Who knew?
7. Dunn seems perfectly adequate at 1B.
8. But mostly, and I hate to be corny, but this guys haven't quit. Even when having every reason in the world to quit.

As Dylan said, "There's something here...

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | October 3, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

I'm up watching the Rockies and the Dodgers, a little late for me given the fact that i have a nine am appointment with a client and he's mr.hoity toity, he and his trophy wife he's about twenty years her senior and man she's high maintinence anyway back to the Nats i'd like to see them sweep those tomahawk chopping front running we want to get rid of Bobby Cox fans so some hack at the AJC can write about the supposed rift involving Frank Wren(Braves gm) and Cox and how Cox should be shown the door,he's retiring at the end of the 2010 season anyway, but my office mates are split about Cox,nice game by Livan and the bullpen held it together for once.The Braves announcers poked fun at Riggleman for going to the bullpen so many times for a quote "meaningless game" adding that he's managing like this is the seventh game of the world series,whatever! Go Nats!

Posted by: dargregmag | October 3, 2009 12:31 AM | Report abuse

Dunn has two games to overcome his Septemberitis. But I don't care if he doesn't snap the Babe's record this year. He's been one heck of a hitter for us, and there's no heir apparent at 1B to make me think we shouldn't sign the guy to an extension. His effect on Zimm seems obvious, and he does appear to relish his role in DC. To me, the question is "to extend, or to not extend?"

Posted by: JohninMpls | October 3, 2009 1:22 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and the Braves TV announcers - as good as they are - got pretty snide in the late innings.

Boog Sciambi derided the late pitching change from Rivera to Villone, sarcastically alleging the Nats, amid a rare winning streak, were in World Series mode.

The snickers were too much to bear. I don't like to be the butt of the joke to a team that failed to make the playoffs (and not just on a "What was Matt Diaz thinking?!?" play, either).

Posted by: JohninMpls | October 3, 2009 1:31 AM | Report abuse

It's a major league game, and you play it that way. If you don't want to, get out of town. We deserve that much for sticking around this year. Go, Riggs.

Thank goodness, we've exceeded my bottom line '63 Nats. Hallayulla!

But I don't like the knocks on Bobby Cox. We should have a manager that successful.

Posted by: nats24 | October 3, 2009 2:05 AM | Report abuse

What am I, chopped liver? Hel-loo! Two bagger.

Fake Livo

---

Desmond went 2-for-3 with a homer and a two-RBI triple.

Maxwell, 2-for-5, tripled against Derek Lowe to start Washington's three-run third.

Dunn, breaking an 0-for-26 slump, swatted two opposite field doubles.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 3, 2009 6:33 AM | Report abuse

Here's what's impressive to me. Thursday night they face Hanson and outlast him after he pitched a gem because the Nats pitching and bullpen went toe-to-toe with them. Hanson only gave up 1 run in 7 innings.

With Derek Lowe, the Nats jumped on him early and often which you have to do with Lowe.

This afternoon is Jurrjens who has had the Nats number all year so hopefully they can bash him around!.

Posted by: dmacman88 | October 3, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

FWIW Boswell reported earlier this season that Bowden wanted 4 years for Dunn but Lerners would only approve 2.

I don't see why Dunn would agree to an extension now. He's on by far the worst team in baseball, learning a new position. If he becomes an adequate 1b, which appears to be happening, why not become a free agent without the outfield defensive skill albatross around his neck?

I hope the Nats do keep him long term, just why would his agent recommend he re-up now? If the Nats stay terrible next year - you gotta admit the evidence to the contrary is all based on stuff that might or might not happen - then grab a $20 million lifeboat and move on.

Posted by: utec | October 3, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Last night Dibble and Knight made a great statement about how hard the Nats have played for the better part of the year (at least since the ASB). This of course flys right into the face of what the Braves broadcasters had to say. Basically the Nats have had to play from behind in almost every game so they have the mentality to never give-up, that a good thing. Got to give Riggs credit, he knows that he is getting to audition for a job and he is doing the right thing by building confidence in a team that has been beat down by not only themselves but by the usual suspects.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | October 3, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

"i have a nine am appointment with a client and he's mr. hoity-toity, he and his trophy wife he's about twenty years her senior and man she's high maintenence"

You *had* a nine-o'clock.
--Charles Hoytee-Toy, Atlanta

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | October 3, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I *am NOT* high-maintenance! Charlie, make him take that back, or else!

--Tyffinee Bryzynski-Hoytee-Toy

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | October 3, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

>I dare say that no 103-loss team in Major League Baseball history has ever been as hot as the Washington Nationals.

God help me. I'll be glad when this p.o.s. season is over. They've got a lot of work to do over the winter. A lot more than Rizzo thinks. September numbers will get you fired (T. Boswell).

Posted by: Brue | October 3, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

All these are "Maybe; maybe not." Ryan Zimmerman was clearly "a real third-baseman" by this point in 2005. None of the rest of this (except Livo) is nearly that certain. You can't judge much by how someone hits September pitching. But Dukes and Maxwell will probably go into spring training competing for one job, unless (and I think this is very possible) one or more of Willingham, Maxwell, Dukes gets traded.
Morse and Willie Harris won't both be on the 25-man roster next April. If he has a good spring, Morse probably has the tiebreaker (age), but that, too, remains to be seen.
Livo--If the Phillies can win the division with Jamie Moyer, the Nats can benefit from keeping Livan Hernandez. Just sign the guy and start marketing now.
Dunn is getting OK at first base, which is not surprising, really, but as utek points out, he's not going to re-up now. Lerners seem to have pooched themselves there.

So I don't disagree, really--it's just that it's always easy to dismiss September, because come March, it really won't matter.

***********************
@Sec3: It would be easy to dismiss this September run except for a few things:
(8 points)
As Dylan said, "There's something here...
Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | October 3, 2009 12:04 AM |

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | October 3, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Calling Desmond a real live shortstop is a bit premature. He has played one very erratic month, both offensively and defensively, and that is all. I think he should be given a chance but think we don't need options would be a mistake.

That said, I really hope the kid makes it.

Posted by: soundbloke | October 3, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I had to watch the Braves TV cast also, but, I listened to Charlie & Dave via the inet...it is the only way to go.

Posted by: cokedispatch | October 3, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

"I dare say that no 103-loss team in Major League Baseball history has ever been as hot as the Washington Nationals."

Although I seem to recall the Royals getting it together enough at the end to avoid losing 120, a few years back.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | October 3, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

...or Tigers.

Posted by: smirkman | October 3, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Cokedispatch: Are you out of the area, because i can't get Charlie and Dave via the internet here in the A-T-L.

Posted by: dargregmag | October 3, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

dargramps, are you trying audio through mlb.com's subscription package? If so, you can choose the feed you want. C&D are on WFED.

if you don't have the subscription, i highly recommend it. i think it's something like $15 for the year for audio only.

Posted by: NatsNut | October 3, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

...cont'd

or try this:

http://tinyurl.com/yanltgc

Posted by: NatsNut | October 3, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

dargramps: MLB.com offers radio feeds (via subscription). It was $10 for the entire season (including some ST games) & the best money I spent this year.

Posted by: BinM | October 3, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

NN: You beat me to it - nice assist.

Posted by: BinM | October 3, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

> September numbers will get you fired (T. Boswell).

Unless your name is D. Trembley.

Posted by: nunof1 | October 3, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Morse and Willie Harris won't both be on the 25-man roster next April. If he has a good spring, Morse probably has the tiebreaker (age), but that, too, remains to be seen.
----------------------------
The big difference is Willie Harris already has a $1.5 million contract for 2010.

The formula for 2010 is what you saw the last 2 nights. Thursday, Nats pitching only gave up 1 run. Friday Nats batters put up 6 runs. Both games the bullpen was great.

Fast forward to 2010, shore up the bullpen and get 1 "ACE" veteran from Free Agency.

I just wonder if re-signing Livo for 2010 would be a Medium Risk-Medium Reward deal. He is very inconsistent in his outings and probably won't end up with a winning record overall. The reward side on him is he can go deep into games and keep the bullpen fresh.

1) Free Agent Acquisition
2) John Lannan
3) Craig Stammen
4) Livan Hernandez
5) JD Martin or Detwiler

In June 2010, you can see if Stephen Strasburg is ready to join the team.

Posted by: dmacman88 | October 3, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

dmac: Your projected pitching rotation looks about right, but Mock, Martis & Olsen might still be in the mix as well, come spring. We'll see where Strasburg starts the year (my guess is high-A POT) & let nature run its course with his progression.

Posted by: BinM | October 3, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

dmac(cont'd): In the bullpen, Clippard, Burnett & MacDougal are keepers, imo. Bergmann is a 50-50 case, but Segovia & Garate both need to go back to the minors for more experience.

Rivera, Kensing, M.Estrada, & Villone all seem expendible, for one reason or another. The others on the current 40-man (M.Chico, T.Young, J.Estrada, Mattheus & Atilano), only time will tell.

At any rate, it could be an interesting off-season.

Posted by: BinM | October 3, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang...the paucity of posts has provoked me to pontificate....yeh, right! Well...as happy as I am to see us on this mini-streak-I hope it doesn't rosy up our glasses too much, as "My Sofa" points out. Actually, it ain't OUR glasses I'm worried about, it's the powers that be.And I don't actually think it'll rosy up the Slow Lerners,either-just provide them more cover to avoid making a seious attempt to put a WINNER on the field. Not just in the future, but NEXT YEAR. Seattle, anyone? September performances are just that. And we all know how long the season is. Right now Andre Ethier(and most of the rest of the Dodgers-except for Ronnie B.-are struggling). Rather have Maxie?Reading Ian Dee's comments made me laugh and wince. A late season, call-up rookie- calling Adam "Dunner"?And talking about setting the tone for next years' start? Either he's really gonna be something or his talking like an experienced star is ....well, you decide. Hope he's the real deal and not someone who doesn't know his "place"! Ahh, the Nats....ya gotta love it!
Go Nats......

Posted by: zendo | October 3, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

SAD FACT of the year, the team under Manny Acta won only 26 games out of 87 for a .299 winning percentage. If that winning percentage was a lifetime batting average, Manny would be headed to the Hall of Fame!

Starting on the wrong foot, Opening Day leadoff and CF was Lastings Milledge. Opening Day RF, was Austin Kearns.
The Milledge situation was dealt with quickly, the big mistake with this team for the past few years was constantly writing Kearns into the lineup. Kearns appeared in almost 1/2 the games (80) and turned in 2 highlights with his walkoff hit and an amazing bases loaded forceout from Rightfield on a liner that he got on the shorthop and threw out the runner at home which was a top play of the year and unfortunately the rest was tough to watch. Final batting average was a stealth .195 OUCH!!! Didn't think he could do worse than his 2008 batting average of .217???

Daniel Cabrera was a buddy of Acta's and was a disaster. Enough said.

High risk acquistions have hurt this team in probably 80% of the cases and Elijah Dukes and MacDougal may be the only successes of the high risk pickups to work out (any others?). This team has to stop showcasing their garbage for trades. It didn't work last year and it didn't work this year. Belliard clearly wasn't showcased under Riggles. Ronnie was given a chance and took advantage of it and proved he was a good player and was rewarded with a trade to a contender.

Lessons for 2010, don't put out the mistakes on display at the detriment of the team.

1) Nyjer CF
2) Dukes RF
3) Dunn 1B
4) Zim 3B
5) Willin LF
6) Guzy SS
7) Desm 2B
8) Nieves C (Flores on DL)

Bench: Morse, Maxwell, Orr, Brian Schneider, W. Harris

I see Bernadina being Maxwell's competition for the #1 option in the outfield and Gonzalez competing for #1 middle infield with Orr. Morse has shown he can pinch hit and be a good replacement at 1st base.

Cristian Guzman is my starting SS and this year needs to see more days off early in the season so he doesn't get burned out in June.

Posted by: dmacman88 | October 3, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

BinM - If the Nats sign Bergmann without arbitration, then I agree he is a keeper. I don't see them taking the chance in arbitration.

Olsen is due for arbitration again and becomes a High Risk proposition unfortunately. Didn't show much when he was healthy last year. His upside potential is good with innings pitched. Again, would have to sign outside of arbitration to make this roster and take the #5 spot in the rotation or cause the team not to re-sign Livan.

Top off-season priority is a true #1 starter in Free Agency.

I like the fact that he is lefty which bodes well when facing the Phillies.

Posted by: dmacman88 | October 3, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

BinM - I agree that Martis will be in the mix for the #5 too.

Mock is way too inconsistent for me and just when you want to kick him to the curb he shows you that he can pitch at this level.

Can Rizzo get a good bullpen arm in exchange for Mock or Martis?

Posted by: dmacman88 | October 3, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I have to admit -- it appears that Guzman can hit. He's becoming a bit of a liability at SS, however. Why don't we move him to 2b and go get Jack Wilson for SS? Wilson hits OK and is a plus defender. Putting a halfway-decent SS at 2b will cover for some of Dunn's weaknesses, Guzman can continue to hit near the top of the lineup, Wilson makes a pretty nifty #8 hitter, and the team gets a big defensive upgrade.

That gives you:
Morgan CF
Guzman 2b
Zimm 3b
Dunn 1b
Willingham LF
Dukes/other RF
Flores C
Wilson SS


Offseason money needs to go to:
1) the very best starting pitcher we can buy. Cost no object there.
2) Jack Wilson.
3) another starter. Livan has the inside track.
4) one or two "project" starters. Sign them to minor-league deals.
5) 2 former setup men (or other known-good relievers) and 3 or 4 "we'll see" guys.
6) a good backup catcher who we can be proud of for a month at a time. Love me some Jesus, but he's hurt a lot.
7) sign Adam Dunn to real money. You'll still be able to get him at a good price this winter, and lock him up for 5 years. It's not like he's likely to fall apart when he's 32.

From there, see if JMax can hit better than Morgan. (I'm concerned that Morgan's success this year was a career year) See about spinning Willingham, Dukes, Harris, Desmond or whoever else is in the minors for some very good corner outfielder in his walk year. Probably won't happen, but it's worth finding out. We need another "jeez, this guy's scary good" player like Zimmerman.

Draft Harper and Pay The Man. At his age, it's just not worth a million dollars to spend 3 months arguing over the price. Just get it done in June and get him to Vermont.

It's a long shopping list, but as Boswell said, if you want to be taken seriously, you have to do this. But if you do the things I outlined here you should be able to win 75 games in 2010.

Posted by: Section406 | October 3, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut and others thanks for the heads up on the audio,well two more games and that's it for our boy's all in all a season where everyone's paitence was tested to the enth degree but we all hung in there i am going to make it back home next season for a couple of games since i haven't seen the inside of the new stadium(only the outside from the sw freeway).Good post by dcmacman88,zendo,Binm,Natsnut, and others.

Posted by: dargregmag | October 3, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like either Riggleman or Guzman won't be back.
from Ladson:
********
Interim manager Jim Riggleman said he wouldn't mind going into Spring Training with Desmond as his starting shortstop next year.

"I think anybody would want him as the starting shortstop," Riggleman said. "I think anybody who has seen him play will say, 'You know what? That's the kind of guy you build on.' He is going to have a long big league career. Whether it continues in April, it will depend on what [general manager Mike Rizzo] does this winter. I would be very satisfied with him out there."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | October 3, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Good ideas & dialogue - Love it. To carry the string...
- Desmond needs to be the starting SS in either SYR or WSH.
- Guzman is becoming "high-maintenance", imho; He needs to get his bunion taken care of in the off-season. IF he comes into spring training healthy, then the team can either keep him at SS, look at him as a 2B option, or possibly move him to an A.L. with needs.
- The team needs to go after an experienced "top-of-the-order" starter, willing to sign a 1 or 2 year contract as a place-holder until Strasburg is ready & JZimm is healthy.
- Possibly move a couple of the #5SP candidates (Balester, M.Estrada, Martin, Martis, Mock, Olsen) & "prospects" for some depth at C/MI/SP/Bullpen in spring training, rather than overpay in what looks like a soft free-agent market.

It looks like there are as many as 20 players currently on the 40-man+ roster who may not be with the team when spring training opens again in February. As a fan, I can only hope that Rizzo chooses wisely.

Posted by: BinM | October 3, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

@BinM,

T. Young was the rule 5 guy the Nats tried to return to the Reds. The Reds balked because he was damaged goods and the Nats had to keep him on the DL. I imagine he will be DFA'd after the season unless the Reds want him back.

Posted by: WashOut | October 3, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

WashOut re: T.Young; I had him targeted as one of the "reduce to 40" cuts a few strings back, along with DaMeat, Kearns (on the buyout), Burke, & some others. I only mentioned him earlier because he's still on the roster.

Posted by: BinM | October 3, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

An idle thought - If the team gets Dunn to sign an extension, what do they do with Marrero? Try to convert him to LF, or move him in an off-season trade?

Posted by: BinM | October 3, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

BinM -- or let someone take him in Rule 5?
What's his status there? I'm too lazy to look it up.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | October 3, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Sec3: I don't think Marrero is Rule-5 eligible until next year (drafted in '06).

Posted by: BinM | October 3, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Guzman doubles, scoring RZim & Dunn - YES!

Posted by: BinM | October 3, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Stay w/Segovia, or call on Clippard, M.Estrada, Garate or Kensing. Outside of Clippard, yikes!

Posted by: BinM | October 3, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me - Six wins in a row, and Kensing picks up a save? WOW!

Posted by: BinM | October 3, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Happy-happy, joy-joy; Another curly-W in the books. Regardless, Kensing is still an arsonist, imho.

Posted by: BinM | October 3, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

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