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Nats 2, Braves 1

In Washington's 2-1 victory against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, the Nationals had seven hits and two extra-base hits, both doubles from Ryan Zimmerman. They found themselves in a precarious bottom-of-the-ninth jam, with runners on the corners and two outs. And indeed, Omar Infante's skipping grounder toward the shortstop hole might have scooted into the outfield if not for a diving stop by... you guessed it... Zimmerman.

Washington's season has tested the endurance of almost everybody on its roster. But even now, interim manager Jim Riggleman said, Zimmerman is "finishing strong."

On this night, he doubled twice to the gaps, showing that classic Zim power to the middle third of the field. Double No. 1, in the fourth, drove in the Nats' first and only run against Tommy Hanson. Double No. 2, in a 1-1 top of the ninth against closer Rafael Soriano, set the stage for the go-ahead run on a Pete Orr single.

Throw in the game-finishing defensive play, and you've got just another standout night from Washington's all-star.

"I wouldn't even know where to start, to tell you the truth," starter Garrett Mock (six innings one run) said. "Especially offensively and defensively. Because he is so good in so many aspects of the game. To have a guy like him there, I know there's been a lot of talk lately about him getting the Gold Glove and all that -- I think he's earned it. He's older than I am, and the way he's carried himself has just been unbelievable... So hopefully after everything is said and done he gets the credit he deserves."

The offensive numbers, too, tell the story of how Zimmerman is holding up. Right now, he's the only member of Washington's 3-4-5 who's finishing with any sort of oomph. Adam Dunn is in an 0-for-26 slump, and his average is down to .266. And Josh Willingham, who had the night off on Thursday, went 13-for-78 (.167) in September.

Meantime, Zimmerman has duplicated, if not improved upon, his first half numbers.

Pre-all star break: .288, 14 HR, 52 RBI, 347 ABs
Post-all star break: .284, 19 HR, 52 RBI, 250 ABs

Just a few other notes from this one...

* Another stellar relief outing from Tyler Clippard (2-2/3 IP, 0 R, 4 Ks), who was just one out away from finishing the game before Mike MacDougal took the ball for the last batter. Thirteen times now this year, Clippard has thrown two or more innings of relief. Plenty, especially in the last two months, have come in tight ballgames like this one. He hasn't allowed a run in his last six appearances.

* So why didn't MacDougal immediately start the bottom of the ninth inning? "It was really a combination of things," Riggleman said. "MacDougal has just been doing a great job for us, but he's battling a little tightness in his leg. During the course of the day he said, 'You know, I can go.' But I really felt like we could use him, but we're going to minimize it as much as possible. I told Steve [McCatty], 'Let's see what develops here.' ... The less we had to do with Mac the better, and Clippard gave us an opportunity to do that."

By Chico Harlan  |  October 1, 2009; 11:00 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Maxwell, Detwiler and a One-Liner From Riggleman
Next: Some Appreciation for Tyler Clippard


playin well, lets extend the season, go nats!

Posted by: cabraman | October 1, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Looks like everyone went to bed? This offseason almost promises to be interesting. Have to see what unfolds.

Posted by: periculum | October 1, 2009 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the offseason has a rhythm of a game all by itself.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | October 1, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Just a crazy thought--how long has it been since the last player-manager?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | October 1, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

@sec3: Pete Rose, 1986.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | October 1, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

We Are Young on mlb network, 2 hour special about meat hook, his dad, and nephew delmon. absolutely must see television.

Posted by: formerlylove1 | October 2, 2009 4:09 AM | Report abuse

younger bro*

Posted by: formerlylove1 | October 2, 2009 4:11 AM | Report abuse

I've seen that one a few times and enjoyed it, fl. I suspect that MLB Network will be my salvation this winter!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 2, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Hey, look what I found. I suppose it was in the Nats Insider, too, but I don't recall seeing it:

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 2, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Riggleman vs. Bobby Cox and Riggleman made the right decisions at the key times like taking out Clippard with 2 outs. Good to see he had MacDougal warming up in the bullpen to make the move.

Posted by: dmacman88 | October 2, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Oh, for goodness sake, where have these guys been all year? Four fabulous games in a row. Here's hoping they can pick back up in the spring, but that seems hardly ever to happen.

Posted by: markfromark | October 2, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Just going by memory, but I think the Nationals have never had a win in the last game of the season. It would be a small milestone, but I'd like it.

Posted by: KenNat | October 2, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Way to go Pete Orr; can't believe someone wanted AG to play instead!

Posted by: Bill-CH | October 2, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Congrats to Mock and Clippard for finishing up strong!

Posted by: markfd | October 2, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

For those who missed them, found an even better Big Donkey/Dunnkey pic on the Natstown blog:

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 2, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

First, in response to the previous post about the improvement in Maxwell's hitting after some coaching from Eckstein and Grissom, it will be interesting to see if any coaches are retained next year, regardless of who is the manager (I really don't think it'll be Riggleman). Judging from what we've heard about him and the results we've seen, it would be a shame to lose Eckstein. The others seem competent as well.

Second, if there is a baseball god in heaven, Dunn will get two home runs this weekend. It just has to happen.

Posted by: baltova1 | October 2, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Quoth Mock: "He's older than I am."

Just a very gentle reminder to those of us playing Whom-Do-We-Keep that anyone who can say the above about Ryan Zimmerman, it's too soon to think you know what kind of ballplayer he'll be. Especially if the guy in question is a pitcher.

This is a minor thing, and most of us already know it, but it's worth restating every so often. One thing kid pitchers very often do is look bad. Another thing they very often do is get better. I dunno who will and who won't, but then, neither do you.

Posted by: Scooter_ | October 2, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

BIN M: I agree that Eckstein should be retained if Rizzo cleans house,Maxwell(not the singer)needs to play winter ball what do you think? Clippard looked good last night but what can we draw from anything since the Braves were eliminated earlier in the day,my wife asked me would i mind if she took up the game she's not a sport's fan exceot for track and field our oldest daughter(Michah's mom) was a distance runner in high school. What do you fellow posters think?

Posted by: dargregmag | October 2, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

did you guys see this from Mariner's television analyst predicted the exact situation of this rookie's hr:

Baseball always surprises.

Posted by: NatsNut | October 2, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

"Quoth Mock: "He's older than I am."

Just a very gentle reminder to those of us playing Whom-Do-We-Keep that anyone who can say the above about Ryan Zimmerman, it's too soon to think you know what kind of ballplayer he'll be. Especially if the guy in question is a pitcher."

But Zimmerman is not older than Mock, he's a year and a half younger. (Mock born 4/25/83, Zim born 9/28/84.) Did Mock mis-speak, or did Chico Harlan misquote him?

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | October 2, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I was wondering about that. Seems like the quote makes more sense with "younger" than "older."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 2, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Well, now we know who to root against in the postseason. From the Harvard Crimson:

When the reporter said he had only ever been to a Nationals game, Lucchino had a ready retort, flashing his team allegiance. “You can’t go see the Nationals,” he said. “That doesn’t count.”

Go Angels!

Posted by: VPaterno | October 2, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

mock probably misspoke. zimmerman has more major league experience.

Posted by: longterm | October 2, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

hey guys. expect a new post soon, once it's edited, but i fear i did misquote mock. don't know how i messed that up, but indeed, mock is older than zim, and said as much. his point was, zimmerman is still an incredibly young player, but doesn't carry himself (or perform) as such.

sorry for the confusion.

Posted by: Chico Harlan | October 2, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Chico. We'll chalk it up to jet lag, and the grind of a long season. However, if you *really* want to make for it, maybe you could turn up a spare media guide. I've not been able to find one at the team stores this year and would be happy to pay shipping and the cover price if you could find a spare. Seriously. My media guide purchase streak will end at 4 years otherwise. :-(

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 2, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

If the Nats had a contending, or even a decent team, Zimmerman's numbers this year and his defense would make him an MVP candidate.

Posted by: icefandc | October 2, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

A guy sitting behind me at Wednesday's game said he'd get rid of Zimmerman.

"An ordinary third baseman," he kept saying, "and he doesn't pay attention."

What an idiot.

Posted by: Meridian1 | October 2, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

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