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The Nationals came through in the ninth

Morning roundup

With one out in the ninth inning last night, Manager Jim Riggleman sent Willie Harris to pinch-hit. Behind him lurked Nyjer Morgan and Cristian Guzman. In June, those three, the bridge to Ryan Zimmerman in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth, hit .077, .236 and .250, respectively.

The Nationals, just like most of their season, could not find clutch hits for much of last night - they went 0 for their first 8 with runners in scoring position. With the Nationals in need of a run, Harris, Guzman and Morgan shed their slumps for at least the moment and combined to create the game-winning rally.

If the Nationals are going to turn their season around, they need contributions from players who have provided little during their tailspin. When Ryan Zimmerman smacked the game-winning sac fly to right field, Harris slid across home plate with the winning run.

"It just feels great to be able to go out and contribute," Harris said. "I'm a strong cat mentally. I know how the game goes. I'm doing a lot of pinch-hitting right now. I just need to make the most of every opportunity I get."

Harris, who is hitting .155, added, "Last year this time, I was hitting .160," Harris said. "I hate to say this, but I'm right where I'm supposed to be."

Harris started off the inning with a six-pitch walk against Pedro Feliciano. Up came Morgan, who had already driven in the tying run with a single off of Johan Santana. He planned to bunt off Feliciano - "I always know when I'm going to bunt," Morgan said. He dragged one to the right side, into no-man's land between the mound and first. When Feliciano could not scoop the ball up, Morgan had the base.

Guzman followed by smoking a single to left, loading the bases with one out for Zimmerman. One inning and three plate appearances does not necessarily portend anything for either of those three slumping players. Maybe it's a blip. But Morgan in his short career has always been much better in the second half, and the rest of the struggling Nationals can only be so bad for so long.

What that one inning and those three players reaching base means is probably this: The Nats may not be good enough to contend, but they're not as bad as that 13-40 record since May 15, either.

"That's the ebb and flow of the season," Riggleman said.

Said Harris: "I know how the game is. Things are going to turn around. I know that."


The Nationals started July with a 2-1 walk-off victory over the New York Mets, winning behind Livan Hernandez's seven strong inning.

The first-place Braves are thriving thanks to their offseason deals, Dave Sheinin writes.


Syracuse 4, Lehigh Valley 2: Jason Botts went 2 for 4 with a home run. Chase Lambin went 1 for 4 with a home run. Jeff Mandel allowed two runs on 10 hits and no walks, striking out seven in seven innings.

Trenton 4, Harrisburg 1: Ross Detwiler allowed three earned runs on five hits and two walks, striking out four in four innings.

Potomac 5, Winston-Salem 2: Evan Bronson allowed two earned runs in seven innings on seven hits and no walks while striking out five. Josh Johnson went 1 for 4 with a home run.

Hagerstown 6, Lakewood 4: Jeff Kobernus went 3 for 5. Destin Hood went 2 for 4 with a double. Justin Bloxom went 2 for 3 with a walk.

Vermont 10, Tri-City 4: David Freitas went 2 for 5 with a double. Bobby Hansen allowed one earned run in five innings on three hits and a walk.


One GM polled by Buster Olney thought Mike Rizzo is the biggest figurative card player of any GM. An annonymous quote from Olney's GM: "He'll give you the kind of proposals that just end conversations. They're very one-sided."

The Nats finally got some clutch hits, Ben Goessling writes.

Nyjer Morgan wore the Silver Elvis wig and called Johnny Hollidy "Disco."

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 2, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
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Next: Lineups -- Nats vs. Mets


AK: "...the rest of the struggling Nationals can only be so bad for so long."

True, that. I predict they won't be this bad in October...

Posted by: gilbertbp | July 2, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

If memory serves, the "Disco" nickname is not new and was being used last year.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 2, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

fyi, I believe the derivation is from Holliday's DJ days.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 2, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

13-40 record since May 15th? Is that the new math? Their high water mark this year was 20-15. They're now 35-45. That means they've gone 15-30. Pretty awful, but it's not 13-40.

Posted by: slopitchtom1 | July 2, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Links to ESPN "insider" stories aren't very useful to those on the "outside." And yes, Nyjer's been calling Johnny, "Disco", since last season ...

Posted by: mgilham | July 2, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"Nyjer's been calling Johnny, "Disco", since last season"

Love the story about when they were introduced, and Plush said something to the effect of "Johnny Holliday?? What's your *real* name?"

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 2, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

God I love Hal McRae:

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | July 2, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I think the biggest story is that Morgan FINALLY bunted down the first base line! It was an OK bunt, but I think the shock of him bunting down that side completely fooled the Mets. I'm sure their scouting report says "Won't/can't bunt towards first". Amazing! That said, it's time to put Bernadina in CF and at leadoff and bench, platoon or send Nyjer to AAA to work on the fundamentals of baseball. He wasted too much time trying to get to the NHL and he's behind where he needs to be right now.

Posted by: Kolchak | July 2, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

In other news, evidently those fans who choose to get 99.5% of their Nats news from a (gasp) newspaper or team-related site like MASN, rather than from a "credentialed message board" may lack sophistication about the game. Say what, now?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 2, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Kolchak: Without taking a position on Nyjer in general, I would note that this was the second night in a row that he's bunted to the right side, getting a hit each time. A good sign.

Posted by: nats24 | July 2, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Natsfan1a1: You missed the part where he apologized for accidentally insulting the Federal Baseball readership, I see.

Posted by: ktrainor59 | July 2, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

ktrainor, the apology to Federal Baseball readership was what I was going by, actually. That's where the comments about this site and MASN appeared. I'm not a registrant or regular reader of the Federal Baseball site, but there was a link to said apology from another site, which is how I came to land on it.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 2, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Michael S. Steele posting on Federal Baseball, I guess.

Posted by: markfromark | July 2, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Call me pollyanna, but in last night's brief post game interview Zimm seemed so much more mature. My wife said "not a baby anymore," and it seemed true. Am I imagining things?

Posted by: markfromark | July 2, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

markfrommark, I've noticed it as well. "Our" Zim is growing/grown up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 2, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

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