Nationals 2, Royals 1: Second Look

Lots of things going on around here today - plus, my seemingly endless waffling about the Mac-vs.-PC decision goes on with more research this morning - so I’ll get right to it. Here are the awards from last night’s 2-1 Nationals win over the Royals, plus some things you might have missed and the Talking Points from the night:

Golden Geese
Livan Hernandez: After an erratic start last week in Detroit, Hernandez came back impressively on Monday night. He gave up eight runs against the Tigers, walking six and allowing seven hits. Afterward, he studied the film with pitching coach Steve McCatty, and realized his left arm was flopping downward when he delivered. In addition to leaving his forearm sore from snapping and hitting his thigh most of the night, it pushed Hernandez’s line to the plate off track. Pitching with his glove tight to his body, he got back to being the Hernandez we’ve seen most of the year, allowing one run in seven innings.

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Michael Morse: Every time Morse is in the lineup, he seems to do something to change the game. He did again on Monday night, blasting a home run that nearly landed on the left-field concourse to tie the game in the second inning. He’s hitting ,390 this season, and has homered three times despite limited at-bats. “It was a good one,” Morse said of his homer. “It felt really good off the bat. It was loud.”

Cristian Guzman: It’s not often the infielder goes deep, but he picked a good time to do it on Monday, blasting a solo shot off Bruce Chen in the sixth inning to give the Nationals the lead for good. He’s batting .300, and as long as Adam Kennedy continues to struggle offensively, he’ll probably be in the lineup.

Goose Eggs
Adam Dunn: The slugger was 0-for-4 on Monday, coming up three times with Ryan Zimmerman on base. He hit a number of deep fly balls, which left manager Jim Riggleman encouraged, but couldn’t come through on Monday night.

Nationals Park crowd: Only 13,592 attended Monday’s game against the Royals, who aren’t exactly a marquee opponent - I went back and looked at the 2002 Twins schedule (the year I had season tickets), and there were four games against the Royals that drew less fans than Monday’s did - but on the longest night of the year? You’re better than that, NatsTown. Maybe the “Clipp and Save” shirts will get it done for you tonight.

In Case You Missed It:
--Ivan Rodriguez threw out three runners, picking off Alberto Callaspo on a key play in the seventh inning. With Callaspo at second and Yuniesky Betancourt at the plate, Hernandez threw an outside pitch that Betancourt took after initially showing a bunt. Rodriguez fired down to second, and Ian Desmond did a brilliant job of blocking second base with his leg, tagging Callaspo out and killing the Royals’ threat to tie the game. From a win-probability-added standpoint, it was the fourth-most important play in the game last night,

--Nyjer Morgan is quietly starting to rediscover his game in the field. He made a tremendous running catch to rob David DeJesus of a go-ahead base hit in the third inning, and he’s made a handful of plays like that in the last week. Morgan also got on base twice in three plate appearances, though he was picked off and then caught stealing, the league-leading 11th time he’s been caught this year.

--Before what turned out to be the final pitch of the game, Rodriguez went out to the mound to talk to closer Matt Capps, who was facing pinch hitter Mitch Maier with a 1-2 count. Maier had fouled off two outside fastballs. Rodriguez wanted the next one inside, but if it missed, it needed to miss far inside. “I said, ‘When we come in, you have to come in,’” Rodriguez said. The result was a high 95-mph fastball that clipped the inside of the plate as Maier stood frozen, watching strike three.

Talking Points:
1. It’s the Royals, and it was Bruce Chen on the mound, but how big of a win was this for the Nationals. Or put another way, how distraught would you have been if they’d come in, after losing six straight, and gotten beat by Chen?

2. There were lots of players doing little things well in this win, much like the Nationals did early this year. What was your favorite moment of the game? And can the Nationals get back to winning games that way?

Leave your answers in the comments, as usual, and feel free to bring up anything else that stood out from this game. Also, if anybody knows anything about Apple’s PC recycling program - like how much money they give you for your old computer - I’d love to know.