Insurance behind the plate paying off: Nationals' C Jose Lobaton fitting in nicely

Bob Levey

The Washington Nationals talked about being comfortable with their catching depth right up until the point they dealt for Tampa Bay Rays' catcher Jose Lobaton. With Wilson Ramos out, Lobaton's getting more time in the lineup than expected...

[ed. note - "Every Friday morning throughout this season, assuming that they will continue to have us, Federal Baseball will be writing a post over at's Nationals Buzz, "... as part of's season-long initiative of welcoming guest," writers to their site. I substituted the word "writers" for "bloggers" there. All opinions expressed are our own... A sample of our fourth... or fifth... we lost count... post of the season follows... You can read the entire post HERE or through the link included below."]:

Jayson Werth hit the big game-tying ninth-inning double last Wednesday night, on a 3-0 pitch from Angels closer Ernest Frieri. Adam LaRoche took Fernando Salas to left in the next at bat for a walk-off winner that capped off an improbable comeback in a game the Nationals appeared out of until catcher Jose Lobaton homered to start the bottom of the ninth inning.

"He's getting more and more comfortable with his teammates. And he's hitting the ball back through the middle..." - Matt Williams on Jose Lobaton during the last homestand

Both Werth and LaRoche pointed to Lobaton's blast to right field as the spark that got the offense started after they were held to one run on seven hits in six innings of work by Angels starter Jered Weaver and were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position overall through eight innings.

Lobaton fell behind 0-2 to Frieri, who has since lost his job as Angels closer, but got hold of a belt-high 94 mph fastball inside and lined it to right, just fair and into the Nationals bullpen.

"The damage was really done before my at-bat," LaRoche told reporters after the game.

"Some great at-bats. Lobaton comes up, puts a run on the board quick and I can't imagine anybody thinking (Werth) is going to swing 3-0 right there. It surprised all of us. Came up huge. So big win, needless to say. We needed that."

"I feel like the Lobaton at bat, it was the spark we needed," Werth said. "It seems like, the last few days really we just can't get it going. We have our chances, but I think that was the hit we needed and some good at bats after that."

Before that night's game, Nationals skipper Matt Williams spent a few minutes talking about the Nats' 29-year-old catcher getting comfortable at the plate after he was 4-for-7 in the previous two games leading up to his first home run of the year...

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