September 18, 2014

About Alyssa Wolice

Alyssa Wolice is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Nationals and Wizards. As a former production assistant, she covered the Nationals, Redskins, Capitals, Wizards, D.C. United and local collegiate teams. You can follow Alyssa on Twitter @awolice.

Washington Nationals Game 150 Review: Nats Clinch NL East with Commanding Win over Braves

EARN SECOND DIVISION CROWN IN THREE YEARS

For the second time in three years, the Washington Nationals are kings of the National League East and, come October, there will be baseball in the nation’s capital.

With a 3-0 win over the second-place division rival Atlanta Braves, the Nats clinched their spot atop an NL East that struggled to play catch-up through the bulk of the 2014 season.

As if to demonstrate how far the Nationals have progressed since April, the very team that struggled to top Atlanta even once through the first half of the season shut out the Braves to secure their ticket to October.

Even more, the starter who so many claimed would come back down to earth following the 2013 season, recorded his 14th win of 2014 after allowing just five hits over seven innings pitched. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 149 Review: NL East within Reach after Nats Top Braves

STRASBURG, RAMOS HELP NATS LOWER MAGIC NUMBER TO TWO

With their Magic Number now down to two games, the Washington Nationals could win their second NL East division title in three years Tuesday night should they continue to dominate against the Atlanta Braves.

Following a 4-2 win over their rivals Monday night, helped by a solid performance from Stephen Strasburg (W, 12-11), the Nats could very likely celebrate their 2014 playoff berth at Turner Field.

Despite reporting neck stiffness, Strasburg was sharp against a Braves team he frequently struggles to beat. Through 7.0 innings pitched, the Nationals right-hander allowed five total hits, no runs and no walks and struck out seven batters.

His one trouble spot came in the fifth inning when, after Jason Heyward led off with a single to right, Strasburg committed a throwing error in his attempt to pick off Heyward. Instead, Heyward made it all the way to third base on the error.

Fortunately for the Nats, Strasburg came up with three big outs to work out of the inning unscathed. After striking out Chris Johnson, Strasburg forced Christian Bethancourt to ground out to third, before B.J. Upton struck out to end the inning.

Before that point, the Nats had helped themselves to a two-run lead over Atlanta starter Ervin Santana (L, 14-9, thanks to a one-run double by Denard Span in the third and a lead-off solo shot by Wilson Ramos in the fifth. Ramos’ homer marked his 11th of the season.

With Luis Avilan on the mound in relief for Atlanta, Strasburg helped himself to another insurance run in the seventh inning.

After Nate Schierholtz drew a lead-off walk, Ramos lined out to center before Asdrubal Cabrera doubled to left. Then, Strasburg singled to center to plate Cabrera. The Nats threatened to tack on more runs as Span took first on a hit-by-pitch, but reliever Juan Jaime successfully struck out Anthony Rendon to end the inning.

The Nats earned one more run in the top of the eighth after Jayson Werth led off with a walk and came home by way of an Ian Desmond force out and Schierholtz RBI single.

After Craig Stammen delivered a solid eighth inning of relief, Rafael Soriano seemed to pine for his closer role. Having lost the job a few weeks ago, Soriano appeared in a would-be non-save situation in the ninth, only to immediately allow a double by Andrelton Simmons and a two-out, RBI double by Justin Upton.

Soriano got Heyward to fly out to left, but walked Chris Johnson, allowing the tying run to step to the plate.

Not surprisingly, Nationals manager Matt Williams opted to pitch Drew Storen for the save situation. Storen allowed an RBI single to Bethancourt, but successfully forced B.J. Upton ground out to end the game.

 

THE GOOD: Stephen Strasburg has without a doubt struggled against the Atlanta Braves this season, but he showed no signs of bad habits when he struck out seven and allowed no runs and no walks through seven innings pitched. Additionally, the Nats – who were out-hit nine to six by the Braves – did enough with relatively little, going 3-for-8 with RISP and stranding just six base runners all night.

Thanks to their collective efforts, the Nats will have cause to celebrate if they can secure a win against Atlanta Tuesday night.

THE BAD: Rafael Soriano nearly undid eight solid innings of work for the Nationals’ pitching staff. In just 0.2 innings pitched, he allowed two runs on two hits and a walk.

THE UGLY: Stephen Strasburg’s pickoff attempt in the fifth inning was a far cry from pretty. Fortunately, Strasburg was in the zone through his entire outing, and pitched out of the jam without allowing a run to score.

THE STATS: 4 R, 1 HR, 6 H, 4 BB, 9 K, 3-for-8 RISP, 6 LOB

Washington Nationals Game 142 Review: Fister Dominates as Nats Top Braves

WASHINGTON LOWERS MAGIC NUMBER TO 12 GAMES

Starter Doug Fister held the Atlanta Braves to just two hits and three walks over seven innings pitched as the Washington Nationals celebrated a 2-1 win Monday night and an eight game lead over the rest of the NL East.

Relying heavily on his fast ball, Fister (W, 13-6) shut down a sleepy Atlanta offense.

The Nats, on the other hand, posted a run early when, with two outs and two on in the bottom of the first, Ian Desmond hit the third single of the inning to plate Anthony Rendon.

It was the only run Washington managed to tally until the seventh inning, but in that time, the Braves hardly threatened.  Fister tossed three 1-2-3 innings, and his only two hits allowed – both singles – came in the first and second innings, respectively.

In the meantime, the Nats could have tacked on additional runs off Mike Minor (L, 6-10) in the third inning had it not been for Atlanta catcher Gerald Laird.

After Rendon drew a one-out walk, Laird fired to second baseman Tommy La Stella to nab him in his attempt to steal second. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 141: LaRoche Helps Nats Sneak Past Phillies with 3-2 Win

First baseman Adam LaRoche went 2-for-4 with two home runs to help the Washington Nationals to a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies Sunday afternoon.

In addition to LaRoche’s two runs scored, Ian Desmond crossed the plate once to account for the third run on a day in which both starting pitchers came through with decent outings.

Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez (W, 8-9) had the upper hand throughout the game, however. Through six innings pitched, he allowed just two runs – one earned – over five hits and three strikeouts. For Philly, Cole Hamels dealt three earned runs over seven hits, three walks and seven strikeouts through 6.1 innings.

Philadelphia came up with the unearned run early when, with two outs and Grady Sizemore on first, Marlon Byrd singled up the middle. On the play, Denard Span committed a throwing error, which allowed Sizemore to score and brought Byrd to third. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 139 Review: Nats Waste Five-Run Lead, Fall to Phils in 11

Washington Nationals reliever Rafael Soriano did little to ensure his job security Friday night.

In a game in which the Nats led by as many as five runs over the Philadelphia Phillies, the 34-year-old right-hander took the mound in the ninth with three runs padding the Nats’ pathway to a win.

Instead, Soriano allowed a lead-off single to Domonic Brown and a two-run homer off the bat of Carlos Ruiz, pulling the Phillies within a run as they trailed 7-6.

Just an out later, Philadelphia came up with that run, by way of a Ben Revere solo shot to right.

The blown save marks Soriano’s seventh of the season.

Meanwhile, Tyler Clippard did his part to keep a Curly W within reach, but Craig Stammen had no such luck thanks to two costly mistakes by Nats’ fielders.

The eleventh inning started off with a fielding error by Bryce Harper that allowed Brown to reach second base. Brown advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt laid down by Ruiz and came home on a fielder’s choice by Maikel Franco. On the play, covering first base, Tyler Moore committed a throwing error that allowed Franco to advance to second. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 125 Review: Nats Walk off Yet Again to Extend Win Streak to Nine

ANTHONY RENDON’S PINCH-HIT SINGLE HELPS NATS EDGE DIAMONDBACKS

For the fourth time in five games, the Washington Nationals won in walk-off fashion – this time, to record a 3-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks Wednesday night at Nationals Park.

Anthony Rendon started the day on the bench, but with one out and two on – and the game on the line – Nationals manager Matt Williams opted to insert Rendon into the order. And, in return, the Nats earned their ninth consecutive “Curly W,” improving their record to a National League-best 72-53 and extending their lead over the Atlanta Braves to seven games in the NL East.

Starter Tanner Roark was sharp as he allowed no runs on five hits and one walk through seven innings pitched.

The Nats provided Roark with a 1-0 lead in the second inning when, with runners on first and third, Wilson Ramos hit into an RBI fielder’s choice off the Diamondbacks’ Trevor Cahill. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 124 Review: Nats Shut Down Diamondbacks to Extend Win Streak to Eight

With their current win streak numbering eight games, the Washington Nationals would likely invite the Arizona Diamondbacks to stay in town if given the option.

Tuesday night brought their largest margin of victory of the Arizona squad thus far as Ian Desmond and Asdrubal Cabrera together batted in seven of the Nats’ runs en route to an 8-1 win.

The heavy hitting likely helped starter Stephen Strasburg (W, 10-10) find his comfort zone as he allowed just one earned run – a homer by David Peralta – on three hits and one walk through 8.0 innings pitched. He also threw 61 of 95 pitches for strikes, and struck out four batters.

Arizona pitching didn’t fare so well.

Starter Chase Anderson (L, 7-5) lasted just two innings, during which he gave up six runs on six hits and three walks. Perhaps surprisingly yet, all six of Anderson’s runs allowed occurred in the third inning – before an out was recorded.

It was actually the Diamondbacks who struck first – the only time in which they posted a run on the board.

After Strasburg retired the first two batters of the game, Peralta worked him to a 2-2 count on five pitches before powering a four-seam fastball over the right-center field wall.

Following two fairly quiet innings, the Nats answered. Oh, did they. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 123 Review: Nats Walk Off for Third Straight Game to Extend Win Streak to Seven

It’s been the same story for three consecutive games, but for the Washington Nationals, it hasn’t gotten old.

To cap off an up-and-down performance against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Adam LaRoche hit a solo home run to hand the Nationals a 5-4 walk-off win in 11 innings at Nationals Park Monday night.

The victory marked the Nats’ third straight walk-off win – a feat that has never before happened in Nationals history.

Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann came up with a decent performance, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks through seven innings pitched, while striking out only two. It was, however, enough to keep the Nationals in the hunt, although Zimmermann did allow the Diamondbacks to retake the lead in the eighth before being relieved.

Until that point, Zimmermann’s only run allowed came by way of a Mark Trumbo walk, Miguel Montero single and, following a sacrifice bunt, a sacrifice fly by Jake Lamb that made it 1-0 Diamondbacks. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 122 Review: Nats Top Pirates Again in Walkoff Fashion

For the second straight game, the Washington Nationals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in a walkoff scenario, this time in 11 innings by the score of 6-5 at Nationals Park Sunday evening.

Pinch-hitter Scott Hairston came up with the game-winning sacrifice fly that plated Jayson Werth, who reached base on a smoker double off the left-field wall.

Washington starter Doug Firster was solid through seven innings pitched, allowing just two unearned runs on five hits and a walk. Unearned runs proved a menace to both teams’ starters as Pittsburgh’s Edinson Volquez allowed four runs – only one of which were earned – on six hits and two walks through 6.1 innings pitched.

In the top of the sixth, Gregory Polanco reached on a fielding error by Ian Desmond to start things off before Josh Harrison singled to right.

Neil Walker then grounded into an otherwise easy fielder’s choice, but on the play, Anthony Rendon committed a throwing error which allowed Harrison to take third as Polanco came home.

Russell Martin then singled to plate Harrison to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead.

The Nationals earned one back in the bottom of the inning, however, after Rendon singled and Adam LaRoche drew a walk, allowing Desmond to bat in Rendon with a single of his own.

In the seventh, the Nats looked positioned to run away with the lead.

Michael Taylor took first with one out on a hit-by-pitch, before Kevin Frandsen and Denard Span hit back-to-back singles. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 121 Review: Nats Rally Late, Walk off against Pirates

ADAM LAROCHE, WILSON RAMOS LEAD LATE CHARGE FOR FIFTH STRAIGHT WIN

The Washington Nationals rallied late to top the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 in walkoff fashion Saturday night at Nationals Park to tally their fifth straight win.

The Nats struggled offensively all night against Pittsburgh starter Jeff Locke, who held Washington scoreless through 5.2 innings with just four hits and two walks allowed.

Meanwhile, Gio Gonzalez’s performance, yet again, was middle-of-the-road. The 6-9 starter allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks through 5.0 innings pitched in what later became a no decision thanks to Adam LaRoche & co.

All three runs came in the third after Gonzalez allowed a single to Josh Harrison and a walk to Russell Martin. The next batter, Starling Marte, doubled on a line drive to left to knock in a run, before Gaby Sanchez singled in Martin and Marte. [Read more...]

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