This game was mostly painful to watch; it dragged on way too long. The Nats bats just weren’t there for most of the game. In fact it is a minor miracle I was awake for the really exciting 14th inning (thanks to my anticipation for the hockey playoff game soon to start in Wash, D.C.).
So, the 14th inning starts with the game tied and our star pitcher grabbing a bat and heading to the batter’s box as a pinch-hitter! That was actually not so far fetched since he was hitting .286 with several key RBIs to his credit. Anyhow, Max hits a clean single up the middle, and then we fans could hope maybe Max would try to steal 2B again:))) Wilmer Difo then hits a shot in the right-centerfield gap that goes all the way to the wall. Max takes off from first clearly pushing himself to top speed. I began to worry about him pulling a hamstring (I have painful experience with that!). But as I watch him approach 3B I see Bob Henley signaling Max to try to score! I see the cutoff man bobble the throw a bit and then try to catch Difo stretching for a triple, so I know Max will score and put the Nats ahead.
They ended up winning the game 5-3, and pulling to only a half game out of first place. And the 2 minor-league players in the game (Soto and Keiboom) had more hits (5) than the rest of the team combined!
They are good enough to possibly win the NL-East division. But the Mets seem to have all their starting pitchers healthy and also have a chance to win it. The Braves and Phillies are better. So this division is up for grabs. The Nats are slightly better now than they were at this time last year, but not by much.
They need the following: a 5th starter and a stronger bullpen. Their starting pitcher depth is not strong at all; they have Hellickson and Jackson who are nearing the end of journeyman careers, and they have A.J. Cole and other AAA arms who are not ready for The Show.
Are they ready for October? Not really. To get past the first round of the playoffs they need to acquire a stronger #3 starter; Gio has never won a game in the playoffs. The Nats need to do what the Astros did last year at the trade deadline, go get a starting pitcher who can win playoff games. In addition they need to upgrade the bullpen by 2 better arms than they now have. As the season plays out up to the trade deadline and some teams realize they are not going to be playing in October, candidates for the above needs will likely appear on the market.
Sweeping Cincinnati gave the Nats a great start to the new season. In general the pitching, defense, hitting and base-running have looked pretty good. Adam Eaton has been phenomenal as he played a major role in getting the Nats on the scoreboard in the first inning of each road game. That is huge in any away from home series, but to start the season in this way, and with a new manager, can pay dividends in so many ways. For sure the starting pitchers love that!
I strongly support Dave Martinez batting Trea Turner down in the order. With his penchant for swinging at anything near the plate, not working the count and resistance to bunting, he does not belong near the top of the order. I hope the new hitting instructor will help him with a more productive and mature approach to hitting. Turner played a leading role in ensuring the Nats failed to get past the first round last October.
Last night’s game was exciting and was baseball at its best. Baseball’s unpredictability is one of the main reasons we love the game. I was happy to see StEvIE pitch the game of his life. And now Mikey Taylor, the hitting hero, is leading the team with his .273 batting average. The Nats showed heart and character (2 qualities that have been in short supply recently).
The after-game interview with StEviE made me laugh when he was asked about the ridiculous media circus (created by the media solely to sell their BS). He basically said “what circus, I ignored it.” And so did his teammates, according to other interviews. Glad to see the Nats being so grounded in reality.
Tonight’s game 5 will be “must see!”
Stephen Strassburg says he is sick, due to mold exposure, and can’t pitch today. The media and fans have gone ballistic. We know Strass is fragile and many call him a head case. I think there is some truth there. But it is what it is, and Tanner Roark will pitch today and it’s do or die. Both Gio and Max will be ready to come in from the bullpen. So lets fasten our seatbelts!
Max Scherzer is on the mound today and nobody (including Max) knows if he will be able to throw more than 5-10 pitches. And THAT explains the fortunes of the Washington Nationals in this post-season, in 25 words or less:)))
I am a “baseball lifer” and am still playing the game we love. Therefore I too have encountered “hamstring problems.” Solving them can take as long as several months; Max is trying to pitch today only 10 days or so after “tweaking” his hamstring! If Max can’t pitch his usual 7 strong innings, the Nats have almost no chance of getting past the Chicago Cubbies to the National League Championship series of the 2017 playoffs.
The game begins at 4pm; enjoy it:))
As the Nats face the Mets for the first time this season, here are my comments.
A lot is on Max Scherzer’s shoulders tonight. And the hitting as well as the bull-pen have to show up if the team is to prevail in the hot NL East. The production from the lead-off spot has been awful. The team hitting with runners in scoring position is terrible. Harper has cooled off, partly since teams are walking him A LOT! And the bull-pen has been “average” at best.
For the season my predictions are slightly worse than they were previously, mostly due to the fact that BOTH the Phillies and Marlins (without Dee Gordon!) are playing very good baseball. Bottom line is I still think the Nats will finish in third place in the NL EAST, pretty much what I said before the season began.
Last night’s win was wonderful! Especially after being swept by the lowly Phillies.
But we now see that the offensive woes of 2014 onward are still in the lineup. Indeed two of the pitchers are hitting better than 4 of the starting position players! Can anyone name the pitchers? The team batting average with runners in scoring position is .225; that is BAD!
So far the defense and starting pitching is doing very well. The bullpen is getting the job done this far, but I don’t think that will continue over the course of the full season.
I predict the Mets will pass the Nats in the coming week and never look back. I was about to predict again that the Marlins will have a better season than the Nats. But now with Dee Gordon gone for 80 games, the Nats might just hold onto second place.
A couple of months ago I predicted 75 wins. After a good Spring Training I now think they could win 85, but only if they keep the injuries down from 2015. Their weak bull-pen will let them down again. And Gio and Joe Ross will have mediocre seasons. They won’t make the playoffs and will finish behind the Mets and Marlins in the NL East.
We can now add Cespedes to the list of excellent players (Hayward, Phillips, Chapman, etc) who have spurned lucrative offers from the Nats. The Lerners and Mikey-Boy Rizzo know that unless they can tweak the bull-pen (Dump Paps and pry Andrew Miller from the Yankees) and also the starting rotation (replace Gio with someone better), they will be lucky to finish the 2016 season ahead of the Marlins, but behind the Metropolitans of Gotham.
You read it here!