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Ian Desmond is maturing at short

Morning roundup

The list of things Ian Desmond did to stick out Thursday night is long. He beat out a routine ground ball to shortstop for a single. He drove in two runs with a single. He made a tremendous backhand stop and a Howitzer throw to first for the second out in the 11th inning. His most standout moment came when he won the game with a sharp single up the middle in 13th.

The most significant thing Desmond did all night may have come in the fourth. Desmond ranged to his right, made a diving stop on what would have been a simple single with most shortstops and hopped to his feet. And then came the important moment.

Nothing.

Desmond just held the ball.

Along with swinging a hot bat as his rookie season winds down, Desmond is showed signs he can harness his elite athleticism and range. Desmond played for most of this season as if he never came across a play he didn't think he could make. His exuberance manifested as making needless throws and contributed to his 28 errors, eight more than any player in the major leagues.

On Wednesday, in his first game back from two days off with a sore thumb, Desmond displayed the maturation Nationals coaches wanted to see. In the third inning, Ryan Dempster rolled a bounding ball up the middle. Desmond made a lunging stop behind second, spun and cocked his arm. What happened next was most impressive: Nothing. In past weeks and months, Desmond may have gunned the ball into the camera well. Instead, he held on to it.

"That's probably eight of his errors right there," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "Nobody else gets to that ball. He gets to it and then throws it away. To recognize that, 'I better holds this instead of throw it,' I think was a sing of progress.

"I admire him for throwing those other balls. Because when you do that, you know, that's a team thing. He knows nothing good is going to come out of this except the slight chance I have of getting him out, but there's a chance I'm going to get charged with an error on this."

When necessary, of course, Desmond is capable of making the big play. He rifled down John Jay in the 11th. On Wednesday Starlin Castro, blazingly fast, chopped toward short. Desmond charged, scooped the ball and fired to first, getting Castro by a step. Castro could hardly believe.

It seems Desmond has also finally captured the ability to rein himself in when the time calls for it.

"I think that comes with playing everyday and being out there," Desmond said. "I think earlier in the season, I was playing four or five days and then sitting for a day. I was just trying to do too much. I was really trying to earn the respect of my teammates and my manager as an everyday player. I was probably putting a little too much pressure on myself. Now that I'm getting a chance to go out there every day, it just feels good. Everything seems normal."

FROM THE POST

Bryce Harper is a great distraction from a bleak present, Boz writes. Seriously, read that. Boz brings the pain today.

As Jordan Zimmermann returned, the Nationals beat the Cardinals 6-5 in 13 innings in a remarkable game.

Bryce Harper said hello to Washington and had fun doing it.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse 5, Buffalo 4 (14 innings): Chase Lambin went 1 for 5 with a home run and a walk. Erik Arnesen allowed three runs in six innings on nine hits and two walks, striking out four.

Harrisburg 3, Trenton 1: Chris Marrero went 3 for 4. Jesus Valdez went 2 for 4 with a double. Ryan Tatusko allowed one run on five hits and two walks, striking out seven.

Potomac was off.

Delmarva 11, Hagerstown 6: Eury Perez went 4 for 4 with two doubles. Rick Hague went 2 for 5.

Connecticut 7, Vermont 3: Russell Moldenhauer went 2 for 4. David Freitas went 1 for 2 with two walks. Kevin Cahill allowed no runs in two innings on two hits.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

It was a day of ups and downs for the Nationals, Mark Zuckerman writes.

Ian Desmond and Roger Bernadina showed why they're here to stay, Ben Goessling writes.

Here's some info on Albert Pujols's 400th home run from ESPN.

Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols are planning on attending Glenn Beck's rally Saturday, Joe Strauss reports.

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 27, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
 
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Comments

That's all Ian needed - matruity. Sorry couldn't resist. I was at the game last night and Desmond was impressive. He's become clutch and is making much smarter plays to go along with his athletic ability. Now bring up Espinosa in September and let's get a preview of things to come in that infield.

Posted by: mojo6 | August 27, 2010 7:03 AM | Report abuse

What does it say when Kilgore can't even write the headline for a Desmond piece without making an error?

Posted by: FeelWood | August 27, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

It says that he's feeding us hungry litle NJers at 6:30 after writing the gamer after a game that ended at midnight.

Posted by: utec | August 27, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

A few questions:

What does Kilgore and Desmond have in common?

They both are the king of errors.

Can we trade Kilgore to Japan for Chico?

Why was MASN doing a peice on Maxwell all game? Wasn't it Bryce harper day?

Posted by: hansenjo | August 27, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Desmond was indeed impressive last night. If someone knew nothing about these teams, they would have observed last nights game and called Desmond the best player on the field for either team.

Observations from last night.

Chris Carpenter is sick and tired of Felipe Lopez.
Pujols is a beast, but as long as you can win by pitching around him, the Cardinals are going nowhere.
Yadier and Carpenter have to be one of the most difficult tandems to steal against.
Nyjer's arm is too weak to play centerfield for a major league team.
Kennedy is a very capable first baseman. Too bad steroids are now frowned upon.
What a huge emotional lift this win must be for Drew Storen.

Posted by: Sunderland | August 27, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

So, next season do the Nats see Bernadina and Desmond batting 1 and 2, or more in the middle of the lineup like last night?

Bernadina
Desmond
Zimmerman
Dunn (fingers crossed)
Willingham
Right Fielder TBD
2nd Base TBD
Ramos/Pudge

Posted by: SpashCity | August 27, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

"Why was MASN doing a peice on Maxwell all game?"
hansenjo - give "piece" a chance. I guess that makes you the prince of errors. Couldn't resist that one either. If there's karma my next post will probably be full of typos.

Posted by: mojo6 | August 27, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I said the same thing to no one in particular when Desmond held that ball. And said it to friends at Wednesday's game when he did the same thing. He seems to be finally figuring it out.

Posted by: Meridian1 | August 27, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

This is the second time in three games where I saw Ian have a "just do nothing" moment when previously he likely would have thrown the ball into the dugout. A wonderful thing to see (the nothing, that is, not the ball sailing 8 feet over Dunn's head). Hopefully he will continue to progress, which is what players do in rookie years.

And as for the typo comments, please folks, I don't know when Adam gets a chance to eat and sleep. We should not whine about typos. We should be grateful that we have a real baseball reporter feeding us "hungry little NJers" so frequently. (I also hear he can leap tall stadiums in a single bound.)

Posted by: NatsFly | August 27, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

The team's future "is not a dream," Nats President Stan Kasten said. "And it won't [arrive in] '12. It's next year."
_______________________________________________________

Hope you are planning on spending a lot of money in FA this offseason, StanK because, the future can't happen in 2011 by standing pat and not spending.


Posted by: Section505203 | August 27, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

NatsFly +1

Posted by: frenchyb | August 27, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Section505203: Agreed, but don't get your hopes up they'll figure a way to bring in some mid-level wannabe who'll have his worst season in the majors as a Nat,anyway nice win last night because trust me i was boiling after the blown save but Roger and Ian came through; with the right coaching these two could be special.

Posted by: dargregmag | August 27, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

To his credit, Rizzo has believed that Desmond was the real deal at SS. Last Sept and in ST some were saying they'd try Desmond in rightfield or as a utility player but Rizzo was having none of it.

Posted by: RLFWDC | August 27, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Pujols and La Russa going to Beck's event? Disappointing, particularly Pujols.

Posted by: JamesFan2 | August 27, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

La Russa always did seem a bit of a pr!ck, but I thought he was at least smarter than the mindless dittoheads who follow Beck. I do wish he and Pujols had more sense, or better things to do with their time.

Posted by: fischy | August 27, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

NatsFly,

That is what he went to school for and he is being paid to do. So, excuse me if he does poorly at his job.

Mojo,

I ment to do that.

Posted by: hansenjo | August 27, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

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