May 4, 2015

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

Washington Nationals Game 26 Review: Fister owns Mets in 1-0 win


The Washington Nationals have only scored two runs in their past two games. But it doesn’t matter how many you score if you don’t give up any.

For the second day in a row, the Nats shut out the New York Mets 1-0, the first time in Nats/Expos history that’s happened and the first time it’s happened in DC baseball history since 1915.

Doug Fister allowed five hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out three, and the Nats (12-14) made a first inning run against Dillon Gee stand up. The win is the third in four games against the Mets over the weekend, and trims the Nats deficit in the N.L. East to four games.

Fister has had trouble so far this season pitching up in the zone, where his 86-87 MPH fastball has served as batting practice at time. On Sunday, he was able to pitch in the lower half of the strike zone much better, and generated six ground ball outs, to go along with six fly outs. Fister was able to keep his sinker out of he middle of the plate, and Mets batters didn’t make solid contact when they were able to put it into play.

On the other side, Gee was solid as well against the Nats hitters, who after producing back-to-back 13 run games against Atlanta earlier in the week are back to scuffling again. Gee allowed six hits over five innings, but also walked five, which contributed to his early exit.

The Mets pen allowed just one hit and one walk over four innings. The Nats relievers didn’t have to pitch as long, but were just as good. Matt Thornton walked two in the eighth, the only runners to reach against four Nats relievers.

Drew Storen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save of the season.

Washington scored the lone run in the first inning. Denard Span led off with a walk, but was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Yunel Escobar. Escobar in turn was erased on Jayson Werth’s grounder to third. Bryce Harper laces a single to center to move Werth up to second, and the veteran left fielder scored on Ryan Zimmerman’s broken bat looper over first base.

The Nationals threatened in the fifth and sixth innings, getting a runner to third with no outs in both frames, but rallies ended with no more runs pushed across.

Ultimately, they weren’t needed.

HERO: Doug Fister. Like Gio Gonzalez Saturday night, the tall righty came through with a stellar outing, helping the Nats take the series against the Mets and cut into what was once close to a double-digit deficit in the division.

GOAT: Everyone but Jose Lobaton a stranded multiple runners, but Denard Span was the biggest culprit, leaving five runners on the bases.


  • Ian Desmond went 2 for 3 with two doubles, and is maybe showing signs of life of breaking out of his horrendous hitting slump.
  • Jayson Werth, however, is not. His 0 for 4 day drops his season battin average down to .159, a gaping hole in the middle of the order.
  • After playing in Friday’s game for AA-Harrisburg, Anthony Rendon did not play again over the weekend, still nursing “tightness” in his right side.

NEXT GAME: The Nats return home for a much-needed homestand. Monday, Jordan Zimmermann (2-2, 4.88) hosts the Miami Marlins and David Phelps (1-0, 3.38)

Washington Capitals Second Round Game 2 Recap: Rangers earn split at Garden with 3-2 win

Coming off their last second win in Game 1 of their best-of-seven game series, on the road in Madison Square Garden, the Washington Capitals had to know they would face a desperate New York Rangers team in Game 2 on Saturday. The Rangers came out fast and furious, as despite the best efforts from the Caps’ captain, the home team forged a split of their home games, topping the Caps 3-2 before a somewhat subdued matinee crowd.

This one could not have started worse for the Caps. Just 38 seconds in Chris Kreider buried a rebound wide open from the slot after Derek Stepan and Jesper Fast combined to create the original shot on goal.

The Rangers continued to buzz the Caps ends the entire frame and at 15:40, with Joel Ward off for hooking, New York found paydirt again. This time, a clearing attempt by Troy Brouwer struck a linesman, deadening the puck at the blue line.

Dan Boyle collected and flung a shot toward the goal that sneaked past Holtby shortside as Rick Nash and Karl Alzner completely blocked Braden Holtby’s view. It was the first power play goal the Caps have allowed in this playoffs, after killing 17 consecutive penalties.

But the Caps had one more penalty to kill in the period, as Tom Wilson was called for charging with just over two minutes to play in the frame. They got the job done, but went to intermission down 2-0, and outshot 15-4 with total shot chances at 29-6.

The Caps woke up a bit after the intermission, cutting into their shots on goal deficit. Several good chances were spoiled by both goaltenders as the game opened up. With just over six minutes to play in the period, though, the Caps struck.

Evgeny Kuznetsov lost a defensive zone draw, but was able to recover the puck regardless. The young Russian skated through the neutral zone and sent the puck hard to the end boards, where Jason Chimera outraced the defense and sent a shot in against Henrik Lundqvist.

The King made the initial save but the puck came back into the slot. Trailing the play, Kuznetsov found the rebound between Dan Boyle’s legs and redirected the puck past Lundqvist to reduce the Rangers lead to 2-1.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Holtby was standing on his head. Twice he was forced to make point-blank saves on a streaking Kreider, who the Caps defense seemingly had no answer for in this one.

Indicative of the Caps picking up their play in the second period: they outshot the Rangers 16-12 in the stanza.

The third period started with the Caps lone power play of the game — against four for the Rangers — as Derick Brassard was called for interference against Alex Ovechkin. Despite three shots on goal, there was no result. As the penalty expired though, Brassard got behind an out-of-position Matt Niskanen, took a pass from Martin St. Louis and beat Holtby from point-blank, restoring the Rangers two-goal lead.

The Caps didn’t fold, getting the better chances in the third and they finally capitalized through great individual effort by their captain.

Ovechkin took a pass from Joel Ward at center ice and split a pair of Rangers’ defensemen. As Ryan McDonough was hauling Ovechkin down, the Great 8 was able to get an unbelievable wrist shot off as he was falling which eluded Lundqvist over his right shoulder to cut the deficit back to one goal.

See it yourself again. It’s the kind of individual effort that only Alex Ovechkin can bring to the ice, and simply because of familiarity Caps fans should not dismiss this goal simply as “Ovi being Ovi.” Regardless of the Caps playoff history, Ovechkin is the best pure goal scorer of this generation and this type of effort and commitment should not be taken casually.

Unfortunately, though, that was the Caps final hurrah. Lundqvist was tested several times down the stretch as the Caps tried to tie to force overtime, but was up to the task each time, even at 6-on-5 for over a minute at the end of the game.

Ultimately, the Capitals have to be happy stealing a game in the Garden and return to DC tied at a game apiece. The Caps have played much better at home thus far in the playoffs, and with a game already under their belts, they have to feel pretty good about themselves heading into Game 3 Monday night. The Caps looked pretty bad at times in both Games 1 and 2 and came out with a win and a one-goal loss so they know they can play with the Rangers, who were the class of the Eastern Conference this season.

Washington Nationals Game 24 Review: Pitching duel ends with defensive gaffe in loss to Mets

Friday night’s matchup promised to be a pitchers duel, and it did not disappoint. The Washington Nationals sent Max Scherzer up against the New York Mets’ Matt Harvey, and the two matched each other — almost completely — for seven innings.

But Jayson Werth misplayed a routine fly ball in the eighth inning, which turned into a three-run double and the Mets topped the Nats 4-0, snapping the Nats modest three-game winning streak.

Scherzer allowed one earned run — Michael Cuddyer’s fourth inning solo home run — on five hits and a walk, striking out 10. Harvey did him one better, throwing seven shutout innings on five hits and a walk, striking out three.

Scherzer routinely hit 95-96 on the radar, with a biting slider. He retired the side in order in the first two innings. He hit Dilson Herrera leading off the third, then with one out walked Curtis Granderson on a full-count high fastball. But he came back to get Juan Lagares swinging at one of those sliders.

Meanwhile, Harvey was mowing down the Nats (10-14). Michael Taylor, who started for Denard Span nursing soreness around his abdominal surgery site, reached on a infield single in the first, but was erased on a double-play grounder from Yunel Escobar. Wilson Ramos reached on two-out infield single in the second, and Taylor doubled with two gone in the third, but both were left stranded.

The Mets finally got to Scherzer in the fourth. After Lucas Duda struck out swinging, Cuddyer ripped a 0-1 fastball to right center that kept carrying over the wall at Citifield, which was moved in as part of the restructure of the outfield configurations.

Both pitchers breezed through the seventh innings, then were removed for pinch-hitters.

The Mets got something going in the eighth against reliever matt Thornton. Granderson struck out swinging to lead off, but Lagares and Duda both singled, and manager Matt Williams went for righty Blake Treinen.

Treinen immediately walked Cuddyer to load the bases. Then, on a 3-1 count, Daniel Murphy hit a soft, routine liner to left. Jayson Werth misread it and broke in on it, then slipped trying to recover and the ball went over his head and to the wall, clearing the bases.

The Nats went quietly in the ninth inning off Jeurys Familia.

HERO: Max Scherzer. Just another tremendous outing that was wasted by no offense and porous defense.

GOAT: Jayson Werth. He blew a routine fly ball that if had played correctly would not have advanced a runner and been the second out of the eighth inning. He’s got to have that at any time, let alone a one-run game.


  • The whiff: With 10 Ks, Scherzer notched his 26th MLB double-digit strikeout game.
  • No offense: Michael Taylor and Wilson Ramos had two hits apiece. The rest of the Nats combined for two.

NEXT GAME: Saturday at 7:10 pm at Citifield. Gio Gonzalez (1-2, 5.01) faces Jonathan Niese (2-1, 2.74).


Washington Nationals Minor League Affiliate Report April 30

Compiled from team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs dropped the four-game series finale to the Pawtucket Red Sox, 4-0, Thursday afternoon at McCoy Stadium.

The Chiefs (7-14) couldn’t solve Pawtucket knuckleballer Steven Wright all day, who allowed just four hits in seven innings on 114 pitches. Wright struck out seven and walked just two. Syracuse’s best chance to score came in the fifth, when it loaded the bases with one out. But Matt den Dekker grounded into a double play to end the threat.
Syracuse finishes the month of April at 7-14, even in the loss column with last year’s 11-14 record in the season’s first month. The Chiefs start May at home for the first of a nine-game homestand. Syracuse opens a three-game set with Columbus tomorrow at 7:05. Bruce Billings is scheduled for the Chiefs opposite Mike Roth for the Clippers.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern League): OFF

POTOMAC (High A-Carolina League): The P-Nats (10-11-Overall, 6-4-Road) withstood a ninth inning rally to hold on for a 5-4 win in the series finale with the Winston-Salem Dash (10-10-Overall, 4-5-Home) to snap their five-game losing streak on Thursday night at BB&T Ballpark.

Potomac sent swingman RHP Dakota Bacus (0-0, 3.21) to the mound trying to play stopper and get the P-Nats back into the win column.

SS Stephen Perez began the ballgame with a bang for Potomac in the bottom of the first with a one out, solo home run to right-centerfield. The Nationals added a run in the top of the third when C Spencer Kieboom extended his hitting streak to nine games with a one-out double. He moved to third on a groundout and came home to score on a throwing error.

The P-Nats got three more in the sixth.

Bacus pitched four innings, a season high, allowing six hits and no runs. He did not issue a walk and he struck out four.

RHP Jake Johansen relived Bacus and pitched 3.2 innings. He was hit for two runs on two hits and two walks but he struck out six in his outing. Johansen now has 22 strikeouts in 16 innings on the mound and he earned his first win of the year for his relief work.

1B John Wooten, who entered the game batting .208 put together a four-hit night, including a double in the win.

The Nationals now jump on the bus and head to Salem, VA to begin a four-game set with the Red Sox. First pitch in Game One is scheduled for 7:05 pm and features LHP Matthew Spann (0-3, 5.82) for Potomac vs. RHP Kevin McAvoy (1-1, 1.72) for Salem.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic League): The Hagerstown Suns (9-11) game against the West Virginia Power (13-7) scheduled for Thursday was postponed due to rain. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader at a later date.

The Suns open a four-game series at Municipal Stadium Friday against the Greenville Drive (12-8). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm.

Washington Capitals Second Round Game 1 Recap: Wardo wins Game 1 with 1.3 seconds left


Tied at one goal apiece after losing the lead late in Game 1 of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Washington Capitals were faced with overtime in Madison Square Garden. But flipping a script that has seemed to so often go against them, as time was expiring Nick Backstrom made a dicey, but ultimately clean, hit against Dan Boyle on a forecheck, Alex Ovechkin dug the puck away and found Joel Ward in front, who slipped it underneath a sprawled Henrik Lundqvist with less than two seconds remaining on the clock to win Game 1 over the second round series 2-1.

For years, it’s seemed that type of thing happened TO the Caps, not FOR them.

The Washington Capitals have met the New York Rangers eight previous times and four times in the past seven years in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including three previous meetings in the quarterfinals, in 2009, 2011 and 2013, splitting the eight series. With that history as a backdrop, the Caps once again find themselves in a best-of-seven in the second round with the Broadway Blueshirts.

In Game 1 Thursday night, the Caps took the early advantage, courtesy of their best players.

Ovechkin, Backstrom and Ward owned play much of the time they were on the ice, despite the Rangers tactics of lining up their best defensive duo against them whenever possible. And Braden Holtby was stellar once again with 31 saves, including 11 in the third period, to preserve the win.

The Caps withstood the Rangers hearty attack early in the first period, with the shots on goal at 7-3 at one point. But with 3:34 left in the frame, Dominic Moore held Jay Beagle along the wall and the Caps were awarded their first power play of the series.

Ovechkin took a cross-ice pass through the neutral zone from John Carlson on the rush and, as he’s done so many times in his career, used Dan Boyle as a screen and whipped a wrist shot past Henrik Lundqvist high short-side for his third goal of this playoffs and 11th goal in 27 career playoff games against the Rangers to put the Caps up 1-0.

With 21 seconds before intermission, Dan Kreider clipped Curtis Glencross up high in the Caps’ defensive zone and the Caps went back on the power play.

The Caps resumed the power play at the start of the second, but it was short-lived when Carlson clocked Rick Nash high along the boards and was whistled for interference. The resulting four-on-four and Rangers brief power play were both uneventful.

Both teams had decent chances throughout the second period, with the Caps having the better of play, reducing their deficit in shots on goal throughout the frame. The Caps did a very solid job keeping the Rangers from entering their zone with speed and when the Rangers did finally establish the zone, the Caps did well to keep shots to the outside against Holtby, who nonetheless made several difficult saves in the frame.

Perhaps the best save of the night, however, came from Lundqvist with about five minutes left in the period. The Caps came in on a three-on-two and when the defense collapsed, Nick Backstrom let loose with a wrister from the slot, which Lundqvist snapped up with his catching glove.

The period ended with the Caps still on top, 1-0.

It stayed that way with the Caps playing more of a defensive stance until 4:39 left, as the Caps got caught pinned in their own end and at the end of a very long shift. Kevin Hayes threw one through a mess of bodies from center point that was tipped along the way by Jesper Fast past Holtby to tie the game.

The Rangers’ goal only served to set up the heroics by Ward, assisted by Backstrom and Ovechkin.

After the final horn, Rangers coach Alain Vingneault verbally assaulted the referees about the Backstrom hit which led to the game-winner, but upon video review the hit was hard, but shoulder-to-shoulder, which only looked worse because Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle had his head down trying to dig out the puck.

Game 2 is Saturday at 12:30 pm Eastern Time.

Washington Nationals Game 23 Review: Nats trump Mets again at Citifield

With the Washington Capitals playing across town at Madison Square Garden in Game 1 of their second round matchup with the New York Rangers, the Washington Nationals took the field in Queens to faceoff against the New York Mets at Citifield, a ballpark that they’ve had quite a bit of success at the past two years.

Game 1 of this four-game series found the Nats having success once again. Stephen Strasburg settled down from a tough second inning, and the offense bailed him out and more as the Nats handed the Mets an 8-2 loss while the Caps got a goal with 1.3 seconds remaining to take their Game 1 against the Rangers.

Strasburg really had the fastball going in this one, routinely hitting 95-96-87 on the radar gun, but the big righty had trouble locating his changeup all night and eventually relied almost solely on the fastball against the Mets, who repeatedly had trouble catching up to it.

The Mets got to Strasburg in the second, who labored all night throwing a lot of pitches. With one out, Wilmer Flroes doubled to left, then scored on Kevin Plawecki’s double to center. Plawecki scored on Curtis Granderson’s two-out single to right to make it 2-0.

But the suddenly resurgent Nats offense got that back — and more — in the fourth against Mets starter Jacob deGrom. Denard Span walked following a seven-pitch at bat and moved up when Flores botched a routine ground ball off the bat of Yunel Escobar. Jayson Werth reached down and lined a single to left which scored Span and send Escobar to second.

Bryce Harper walked to lead the bases, and when Ryan Zimmerman’s long fly ball to right was caught, Escobar walked home with the Nats second run. Wilson Ramos then grounded out to short, but Werth came home on the play to make it 3-2.

Washington (10-13) added on in the sixth. Escobar reached on a single, went to third on Harper’s double into the right field corner, and came home when a ground ball from Zimmerman bounced through the middle of the infield for a single. Ramos followed with his own single up the middle, and the Nats went up 5-2 and chased deGrom from the game. Ian Desmond walked against reliever Erik Goeddel, but Danny Espinosa flied to medium center, and Zimmerman was gunned down by Juan Lagares trying to score on the out.

The Mets got men on the corners with one out against Strasburg in the sixth, and with his pitch count high already, manager Matt Williams went to Aaron Barrett. Barrett used a wicked slider to retire Eric Campbell on strikes and got Flores to line out to left to quash the rally.

Strasburg finished 5 1/3 innings and allowed just the two earned runs on six hits and one walk, striking out seven, to earn his second win of the season.

Sammy Solis came on in the seventh for his MLB debut and was impressive. The lefty induced Plawecki to ground to short, pinch-hitter John Mayberry Jr lined out to left, and Curtis Granderson looked at strike three to end the frame.

The Nats tacked on three more in the ninth. Clint Robinson led off with a single and went to second on Escobar’s single. Jayson Werth loaded the bases with a single and Bryce Harper cleared the bases with a double to the left center gap.

HERO: Several hitters had good nights, including multi-hit performances by Escobar (3 for 5), andWerth, harper and Zimmerman all with two hits apiece. But let’s go with Solis, in his MLB debut, with two scoreless innings of relief in what was a 5-2 ballgame at the time.

GOAT: Mets reliever Buddy Carlyle. Carlyle got the save opening day against the Nats when Jenrry Mejia came up lame, but he was lit up in this one in the eighth inning. Three earned runs on four hits in 1 1/3 innings.


  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first time the Nationals have had at least four players make their Major League debuts in April since 2007, when Levale Speigner, Kory Casto, Matt Chico and Jesus Flores all made the jump.
  • The last time the Nationals had four-plus players debut in the same month was Sept. 2011: Tommy Milone, Corey Brown, Steve Lombardozzi, Brad Peacock and Atahualpa Severino.
  • Bryce Harper finishes April hitting .286/.440/.545 with 5 doubles, 5 homers, 15 RBI and 22 walks. In case you forgot, he’s 22 years old.

NEXT GAME: Friday night at 7:10 pm Eastern. Max Scherzer (1-2, 1.26) faces Matt Harvey (4-0, 3.04).

Washington Nationals Minor League Affiliate Report April 29

Compiled from team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs beat the Pawtucket Red Sox, 5-1, Wednesday night at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket. The win snapped the Chiefs’ four-game losing streak. Richard Bleier was superb in a spot start, holding the PawSox to one run on six hits in six innings, working on just two day’s rest.

A three-run first inning paced Syracuse (7-13). Emmanuel Burriss led off the game with a walk off Henry Owens. Tony Gwynn, Jr. next reached on an error at first base by Matt Spring. Burris came around to score on an RBI double by Mark Minicozzi. Ian Stewart followed with a sacrifice fly to score Gwynn and give the Chiefs a 2-0 lead. A batter later, Jason Martinson singled home Minicozzi to bring the lead to three.
The Chiefs tallied again in the sixth. Stewart and Martinson hit back-to-back solo home runs, one off Owens and one off Miguel Celestino, to extend the lead to 5-1.
The Chiefs look for a series split tomorrow afternoon. Scott McGregor is scheduled to start for Syracuse opposite Matt Barnes for Pawtucket. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern League): In an odd sequence of events, Senators’ outfielder Brian Goodwin worked a walk with the bases loaded to cap off a three-run ninth inning as Harrisburg topped New Britain, 3-2, Wednesday at Metro Bank Park. The win prevented a New Britain sweep and improved Harrisburg’s record to 9-11 on the season.

Senators’ starting pitcher Austin Voth struck out five of the first six batters he faced before getting into trouble in the third inning. Voth settled in to pitch six innings, allowing five hits and striking out six. The quality start was Voth’s third of the season and lowered his season ERA to 3.77. Abel De Los Santos followed with two scoreless innings, and James Simmons pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Harrisburg’s offense didn’t score for the first time until the ninth inning when Kevin Keyes lined an RBI single into the right-centerfield gap to score Mario Lisson. A Caleb Ramsey intentional walk loaded the bases for Harrisburg with one out, and Tony Renda came through with an RBI single to tie the game at 2-2. Goodwin followed and worked a 3-2 count against Rock Cats’ closer Austin House before taking a pitch high to win the game. Goodwin was also 2 for 4 with two doubles in the game.

Harrisburg will travel to Bowie for a three-game set with the Baysox. Joe Ross will start for Harrisburg in the game on Friday night, which will begin at 6:35 p.m.

POTOMAC (High A Carolina League): The Potomac Nationals (9-11-Overall, 5-4-Road) never recovered from a four-run first inning orchestrated by the Winston-Salem Dash (10-9-Overall, 4-4-Home) and fell for the fifth straight time 6-3 to drop the series on Wednesday afternoon at BB&T Ballpark.

The ace of the P-Nats staff RHP Wander Suero (3-1, 3.60) took the ball for the fourth time in 2015 looking to play the stopper in Winston-Salem, but didn’t make it out of the third inning. Suero lasted two-plus innings and allowed six runs (three earned) on four hits, five walks and he struck out one, taking his first loss of the season.

Potomac’s offense mustered just two hits through the first five innings. It wasn’t until the top of the sixth when CF Narciso Mesa tripled, his first of the season, to begin the inning. DH Isaac Ballou followed with a two-bagger that scored Mesa and made it 6-1 Dash. Ballou turned in another three hit afternoon, including two doubles, and now has eight hits over his last three games. A Wooten groundout moved Ballou to third and he came home to score on an RBI groundout by RF Brandon Miller to cut the lead to 6-2 Winston-Salem.

A lead-off walk to LF Estarlin Martinez in the eighth was followed by a one out single by Ballou and a sacrifice fly for Wooten to make it 6-3. LHP Nick Lee pitched two scoreless innings to end the ballgame on a strong note for the P-Nats bullpen.

Wednesday’s Game Three is a 7:00 pm first pitch from BB&T Ballpark and features RHP Dakota Bacus (0-0, 4.50) for Potomac vs. RHP Robinson Layer (0-2, 4.20) for Winston-Salem.

HAGERSTOWN (Low A South Atlantic League): The Hagerstown Suns (9-11) got shutout for the second time this season on Wednesday night, falling to the West Virginia Power (13-7) by a final of 4-0.

Starting RHP Luis Reyes (0-2) surrendered two of the four West Virginia runs, and thus got tagged with the loss for the Suns. He went a season-long six innings, giving up the two earned runs on six hits and one walk while striking out one. RHP Mario Sanchez threw the other three innings for Hagerstown, allowing two runs (one earned) on one hit and one walk while striking out five.

These teams will conclude their three-game series at Municipal Stadium on Thursday April 30. The Suns will send RHP Phillips Valdez (1-1) to the mound for his fourth start of the season. He will square off against RHP Austin Coley (3-0) for West Virginia. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm.

Nats Nightly: Nationals 13-4 over Braves to take 2 of 3 in Atlanta

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and Doghouse of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 13-4 win over the Atlanta Braves.

Check Out Baseball Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with District Sports Page Nats Nightly on BlogTalkRadio

Washington Nationals recall Michael Taylor and Sammy Solis

The Washington Nationals recalled OF Michael Taylor and LHP Sammy Solis from AAA-Syracuse before Wednesday’s game against the Atlanta Braves. OF Reed Johnson was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left calf strain suffered in Tuesday’s 13-12 comeback win and the game’s starter, A.J. Cole, was returned to Syracuse.

From the Nats press release on Solis:

Solis, 26, joins the Nationals for the first Major League assignment of his career. Should he pitch in either of the Nationals’ next two games, he will become the fifth rookie to make his Major League debut this month for Washington.

Entering the season as the highest-rated left-handed pitcher in the Nationals’ system (No. 15), according to Baseball America, Solis is 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three games for Harrisburg this season. Joining the Senators from extended Spring Training just 10 days ago, Solis struck out three batters in four innings and allowed one earned run. Over the course of his Minor League career, Solis is 12-5 with a 3.30 ERA.

A second-round selection of the Nationals’ in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Solis has consistently been rated as one of the organization’s top talents. Working hard to come back from 2012 Tommy John surgery, Solis is 4-2 with a 2.58 ERA since returning in 2013.

It’s interesting the Nats would bring Taylor back up to be a bench player when at this point in his career he, and the team long-term, would be better off with him playing everyday. At Syracuse, Taylor was hitting .385/.452/.538, while Matt den Dekker, also on the 40-man roster, was at .196/.226/.196. Tony Gwynn, Jr, not on the 40-man, is at .167/.222/.227. The only other outfielder on the 40-man roster is Brian Goodwin, who just started his season at AA-Harrisburg after staying back at extended spring training.

As for Solis, he’s only thrown four innings for Syracuse and given up one earned run on four this and no walks, striking out three. Veteran lefty Rich Hill, not on the 40-man, has thrown eight innings and allowed one earned run on six hits and five walks, striking out 13.

Washington Nationals Minor League Affiliate Report April 28

Compiled from team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs dropped game two of the four-game series to the Pawtucket Red Sox, 4-1, Tuesday night at McCoy Stadium. The PawSox struck for two runs in each of the first two innings, enough for a second straight win to start the series.

The Chiefs got on the board in the fifth. Matt den Dekker reached on a bunt single off PawSox reliever Robby Scott. He made it to second on an error on the flip to first by Coyle charging from second base. Den Dekker moved to third on a single by Josh Johnson, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Michael Taylor.

Syracuse and Pawtucket return to McCoy Stadium Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. Richard Bleier is scheduled to start for the Chiefs opposite Henry Owens for the Red Sox.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern League): For a second consecutive outing, Tim Alderson pitched seven solid innings, but the Senators couldn’t hold a one-run lead after eight innings in a 4-2 loss to the New Britain Rock Cats Tuesday night at Metro Bank Park.

Alderson allowed one run on six hits and struck out four in his seven innings of work. He retired 16 of the final 19 batters he faced after allowing an RBI single in the second inning. Gilberto Mendez followed with a scoreless eighth inning, but allowed New Britain to come back and take the lead in the ninth. In 1.2 innings, Mendez allowed three runs on four hits while striking out two batters. Derek Self walked in one of the runners he inherited from Mendez, but secured the final out in the top of the ninth to avoid further damage.

Pedro Severino continued his incredible hot streak by going 3-for-4 in the game with three singles. Severino now has 15 hits in last eight games, raising his batting average from .000 (0-for-22) to .321. Tony Renda tripled in the first inning and was driven in by an RBI groundout from Mario Lisson. Harrisburg didn’t threaten again until the seventh inning when Ricky Hague led off with a double. Severino followed with a single, and pinch-hitter Brian Goodwin scored Hague with a fielder’s choice.

The final game of a three-game set starts Wednesday at noon with Austin Voth taking the mound for Harrisburg.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): The P-Nats (9-10-Overall, 5-3-Road) traveled to Winston-Salem (9-9-Overall, 5-6-Home) but fared no better away from home, dropping the series opener with the Dash 5-3 at BB&T Ballpark to lose their fourth ballgame in a row.

Toeing the rubber for the first time in 2015 after joining the P-Nats on April 24th was RHP John Simms (0-1, 7.36), who did suit up for Potomac for parts of 2014.

Extending his on-base streak to 13 games with an infield single to begin the ballgame was SS Wilmer Difo in the top of the first. Two batters later RF John Wooten moved Difo to second base on a groundout before C Spencer Kieboom brought him home for a 1-0 Potomac lead. Kieboom, with the RBI single, extended his hitting streak to eight games, the longest of the season for a P-Nat this year.

Simms was lifted after 3.2 innings on the mound allowing three runs (all earned) on two hits, three walks and he struck out two. Simms took his first loss of the season in the ballgame.

Wednesday’s Game Two is an 11:00 am first pitch from BB&T Ballpark and features RHP Wander Suero (3-0, 2.50) for Potomac vs. LHP Jace Fry (0-3, 2.45) for Winston-Salem.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic League): The Hagerstown Suns (9-10) and West Virginia Power (12-7) completed two games against each other on Tuesday, with the Power coming out victorious in the first matchup of the day while Hagerstown won the nightcap. After the day’s split the season series between the two teams now stands at two games apiece.

The first game that was completed on Tuesday had actually begun in West Virginia a couple of weeks ago. With the Suns up 1-0 in the bottom of the second inning the game had been suspended due to rain. When play resumed on Tuesday West Virginia quickly erased its 1-0 deficit with a five run frame.

Starting RHP Ryan Ullmann (1-2) was charged with all 10 of those Power runs as he suffered the loss for Hagerstown. He went four innings, giving up the 10 earned runs on eight hits and five walks while striking out two.

In the nightcap it was a three-run fifth inning the opened the game up as the Suns scored a 6-2 win. Up 3-2 entering the frame, Hagerstown got its first three hitters of the inning aboard thanks to a single, a double, and a hit batsman. That loaded the bases with no one out, and following a pitching change 2B Austin Davidson came to the plate. Davidson had hit a solo homerun in each of his two previous plate appearances in the game, and this time he hit another long fly ball to right, though this one stayed in the ballpark. It was deep enough, however, for catcher Raudy Read to tag up and score from third when it was caught to put the Suns up 4-2. Then, DH Grant DeBruin cleared the bases with a double down the right field line, setting the final score.

RHP David Ramos (1-2) got the win in relief for the Suns. He threw three innings without being charged for a run, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out five.

These teams will continue their series at Municipal Stadium on Wednesday. The Suns will send RHP Luis Reyes (0-1) to the mound for his fourth start of the season. He will square off against RHP Dovydas Neverauskas (0-1) for West Virginia. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm.

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