May 28, 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

Nats Nightly: Nationals 2-1 over Phillies – Max Scherzer does it all in D.C.

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and Doghouse of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

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

Washington Nationals recall Wilmer Difo, place Werth on DL

The Washington Nationals placed OF Jayson Werth on the 15-day DL with a left wrist “contusion” and recalled 2B/SS Wilmer Difo from Double-A Harrisburg for his Major League debut, thus starting the clock on Difo’s MLB service time.

Difo is clearly one of the Nats best hitting prospects. He was a fairly unheard of minor league player until last season when he exploded for Low-A Hagerstown, hitting .315/.360/.470 with 14 home runs, tripling his three-year minor league career total in one season, and 49 stolen bases.

So far this year, the 23-year-old hit .320/.386/.533 in 83 plate appearances for High-A Potomac, earning him a promotion to Harrisburg, where he slashed .308./339/.500 in 56 plate appearances over 14 games.

Difo’s bona fides are solid. He more than held his own in spring training with the big league club and has passed every test the Nats have thrown at him thus far. Plus, he’s a switch-hitter, which helps in late-innings matchups.

It’s just curious that with Werth going down, he’s the choice for the promotion. Werth is exclusively and outfielder — the team’s starting left fielder. That job will go to Michael Taylor for the time being. Difo is exclusively an infielder — 282 games at short, 94 at second and 13 at third in his six minor league seasons.

The Nats passed on OF Matt den Dekker, who is on the 40-man roster, to recall Difo, who along with Dan Uggla are backup infielders for the Nats now. This means, the team’s current backup outfielders become Tyler Moore and Clint Robinson, neither of whom should keep a glove in their lockers.

I suppose the theory is that between Taylor, Denard Span and Bryce Harper, there’s no need to keep a defensive outfielder on the bench, as all three are more than capable and would never be replaced defensively. Moore or Robinson could complete a game in the case of an injury and a move could be made to recall den Dekker or someone else should another outfielder go on the DL.

Still, at 23 you’d think the Nats would want Difo playing everyday somewhere, not sitting on the bench at the Major League level, available for pinch-running and pinch-hitting.

As for Werth, x-rays and MRIs didn’t reveal any fractures in his surgically repaired left wrist, so he must be experiencing a lot of soreness in the wrist after getting hit the other day. Hopefully that’s the case and a couple of weeks off for Werth allows the soreness and swelling to dissipate and he can get back into the lineup.

 

DC United Game 11 Recap: Union knocks off United in stoppage time

Zach Pfeffer scored in second-half stoppage time and the Philadelphia Union beat D.C. United 1-0 on Sunday, snapping DCU’s eight-game undefeated streak.

United, the Eastern Conference leader, fell to 6-2-3, while Philadelphia upped its mark to 2-7-3 and ended a five-game winless streak.

Fabinho sent in a cross in the 93rd minute that Sebastien Le Toux let play through his legs. Pfeffer settled the ball with his right and slotted a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Bill Hamid at the near post.

It was Philadelphia’s first goal since April 25.

Washington Nationals Game 39 Review: Harper powers Nats over Padres

NATIONALS GO 5-2 ON WEST COAST ROAD TRIP

The Washington Nationals are officially on a roll. No-hit through four innings, the Nats bats finally woke up, and when they did, they were loud. Bryce Harper homered again to lead the Nats over the San Diego Padres 10-5 at Petco Park, completing a seven-game West Coast road trip at 5-2.

What set up as an interesting pitching match-up between Stephen Strasburg and Ian Kennedy ended up a rout. But with Strasburg getting yanked early in his past two starts, it was a big test for the righty, who has battled ankle and upper back problems this season. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 38 Review: Scherzer Ks 11 in win over punchless Padres

Max Scherzer struck out 11 in seven innings and the Washington Nationals cruised to a 4-1 win over the San Diego Padres at Petco Park Saturday night.

Scherzer had everything working while dominating the offensively-challenged Padres. The big righty (4-3, 1.75) allowed just four hits and two walks and threw 104 pitches in his outing. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 37 Review: Bats alive as Nats pound Padres

The Washington Nationals pounded out 10 runs on 16 hits and three walks while Jordan Zimmermann cruised through six innings and the Nats pounded the San Diego Padres 10-0 before a subdued crowd at Petco Park.

Bryce Harper, has he has all season, led the hit parade with three, including his 13th home run of the season, and also drew his league-leading 34th walk of the campaign. [Read more…]

Nats Nightly: Nationals drop 8-3 decision to Padres in rainy Petco Park

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 8-3 loss to the San Diego Padres.

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

Washington Nationals Game 36 Review: Fister hammered after long rain delay

“It never rains in California. But girl, don’t they warn ya. It pours. Man, it pours.”
Albert Hammond

Before Thursday night, the San Diego Padres have had to delay five games in the history of Petco Park — four due to rain and one because of bees. No, seriously. And it’s been 337 games since the last one. Well, add one more to the list, as the Washington Nationals and the home team started their game under preposterous conditions, then waited out an extended rain delay before getting started.

Maybe the Nats wished they’d just washed it out.

Starting pitcher Doug Fister got hammered in his two innings, and the Padres crushed the Nats 8-3 on a wet Thursday night in Southern California. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Second Round Game 7 Recap: Heartbreak, thy name is Caps

The Washington Capitals will not advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

A rebound goal by Derek Stepan 11:24 into overtime lifted the New York Rangers over the Caps 2-1 and into the ECF against the Tampa Bay Lightning while the Caps will head back to Kettler Capitals Iceplex to clean out their lockers and dwell on the missed opportunities of Games 5 and 6.

They should not dwell on “what could have been” in Game 7 because Game 7 was a classic, in every sense of the word.

The Caps and Rangers played even for 60 minutes, with a first period goal by — who else — Alex Ovechkin — and a second period equalizer by Kevin Hayes the only transgressions against the ledgers of Braden Holtby and Henrik Lundqvist, who were both superb yet again.

So of course, more time was needed to settle it. As if anyone concerned could have imagined any other scenario.

Much has been written, and much more will be added, to the storied and sordid history of the Caps not being able to close out playoff series. The loss to the Rangers makes the 10th time in franchise history this franchise has been unable to win a series they led by two games. They are 0-5 now in Game 7 after leading a series three games to one.

When history looks back on this series, it will be painted as just another blown series for the Caps, the perennial “choking dogs.” Lazy sportwriters will dwell on it, in fact, thinking it will make them look cool, smart or funny. They are none of those things.

The Capitals played Game 7 with total effort from start to finish. It was simply one of the best games in these playoffs, let alone the series. They lost in overtime to the team with the best record in the league and the best goalie (for my money) on the planet. They played these Rangers toe-to-toe the entire series and lost to the better team.

No choke. No curse. No conspiracy.

The Rangers were simply the better team. But it wasn’t by much. In fact, the narrowest of margins.

There will be plenty of folks that will mock these words, using bravado and arrogance to deflect their disappointment that the Caps — these Caps, not the Caps from 1987, 1992, 1995 or 2010 — lost in the most agonizing of fashions. It’s always hard to accept defeat.

But this version of the Washington Capitals proved that when they play with complete effort for 60 minutes they can play with the best team in the league, losing only on the bounce of a puck.

For the long haul, there are lessons to be learned, and holes to fill. Young players got a tremendous amount of particular experience. The veterans found out how Barry Trotz manages his team in the playoffs.

But for now, there is heartbreak.

Hockey is hard.  If it were easy, everyone would win a Cup. Twenty-nine teams lose every year. Be disappointed, but keep the faith. Next season will come sooner than you think.

HEARTBREAK

The Washington Capitals will not advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

A goal off a rebound by Derek Stepan at 11:24 of overtime lifted the New York Rangers over the Caps 2-1, sending the Caps home from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

We’ll have more coverage very soon at District Sports Page.

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