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Breaking down the Nationals 2-game stand against New York

Game 1: 8-6 10-inning win on Tuesday night (May 19)

Game 2: 3-2 win on Wednesday night (May 20)

What I liked:

1. Furious end to the first quarter – This series essentially marked the end of the first quarter of the Nats’ season.  They are now 17-4 since their 7-13 start.

2. The offense – The Nats blasted six homers and worked 10 walks over the two games.

Ryan Zimmerman’s walk-off two-run homer in Game 1 was the 10th walk-off homer of his career.  To put that into perspective, Jim Thome holds the major-league record for career walk-off homers with 13.  And Zimmerman is in just his age-30 season.  He had two walks and a stolen base in Game 2.

Ian Desmond had a solo homer in each game.

3. Jordan Zimmerman’s start in Game 2 – Zimmermann allowed two runs in seven innings, giving up two runs in the first and then tossing six scoreless innings.  He now has a 2.08 ERA over four starts this month.

4. The bullpen – Nats relievers combined for seven scoreless innings in the series, including five scoreless innings on just two hits and a walk in Game 1.

5. Wilmer Difo hopefully burying the Smiley Gonzalez scandal once and for all – The corresponding roster move to Jayson Werth going on the 15-day disabled list (see below) was the the Nats recalling Difo from Double-A Harrisburg.  Signed out of the Dominican, his pinch single in Game 1 made him the first player signed by the Nats out of Latin America to play in the major leagues since the 2009 Smiley Gonzalez scandal.  Difo’s call-up is expected to be short-term, as he spent all of 2014 at low-Single-A Hagerstown and has played only 33 games this season between Harrisburg and high-Single-A Potomac.

What I didn’t like:

1. Bryce Harper getting ejected in Game 2 – Harper had a solo homer and a walk in Game 1 but then got tossed along with Matt Williams by home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson in the bottom of the third of Game 2 for arguing balls and strikes.

The trouble started when Hudson called strike one on a pitch that was low according to MLB.com’s Gameday strike zone.  Harper questioned the call as he stepped out of the batter’s box.  Hudson told Harper to get back into the box.  Williams and others in the Nats’ dugout then began yelling at Hudson, who responded toward Williams.

Harper said Hudson then told him to get back in the box, but Harper replied that he wouldn’t because Hudson was still talking to Williams.  Harper said that he made it a point to keep his head down as he talked back to Hudson so he wouldn’t think that Harper was showing him up.

Hudson after the game to a pool reporter: “Had nothing to do with the box.  “[Harper] didn’t like the pitch, and I let him have his say going and coming.  The dugout didn’t like it, and one thing led to another and I had to run him.  I had to eject him.”

Regarding Williams, Hudson said, “He said something he shouldn’t have.”

Harper after the game: “I don’t think 40,000 people came to watch him ump tonight.  Plain and simple.”

Hudson and Harper have history.  In 2013, Harper yelled at Hudson after Hudson said that Harper did not check his swing in the ninth inning of a game against Atlanta.  In 2012, Hudson ejected Davey Johnson from a game.

This was the second ejection in eight days for Harper and Williams.  The bottom line is that you’re not supposed to argue balls and strikes.  Harper again entered into that arena and again got tossed.  Being right doesn’t justify getting ejected.  Harper’s fire is part of what makes him great, but he needs to know when to calm down.  He’s the Nats’ best batter right now, and he does the team no good from the clubhouse.

2. Gio Gonzalez’s start in Game 1 – Gio tossed three perfect innings before unraveling in the fourth and fifth innings, giving up four runs on four hits and two walks in the fourth and then two runs in the fifth on a single and then two-run homer by Mark Teixeira.  The six runs in five innings left Gio with a 4.94 ERA and 1.54 WHIP over eight starts this season.

3. Jayson Werth going on the 15-day disabled list – The Nats placed Werth on the D.L. with a left wrist contusion on Tuesday, retroactive to May 16.  Werth hasn’t played in a game since getting hit by a pitch on his left wrist in the 10-0 win at San Diego on May 15.  X-rays were negative, and an MRI exam revealed no fractures or tendon damage, but this is the same wrist that has been broken twice before: 2005 with the Dodgers and 2012 with the Nats.

Werth was the Nats’ best overall offensive player 2012-2014, but there is no ignoring his injury history with the Nats.  He missed 75 games in 2012 due to the broken left wrist.  He missed 28 games in 2013 due to a right hamstring strain.  He missed the first week of this season due to arthroscopic surgery on his right AC joint in January and has struggled both offensively and defensively so far in what is his age-36 season.  Now he is back on the D.L.

4. The end of Wilson Ramos’ 19-game hitting streak – Ramos went 0-for-4 in Game 2, ending what was the longest hitting streak in the majors so far this season.

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