June 23, 2017

About Tom Bridge

Tom Bridge is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Nationals. Tom has been in love with baseball since he was 10. He is a founding editor of We Love DC, where he covered the Nationals and Capitals as a credentialed writer for four seasons. He grew up as an Oakland Athletics fan in the Central Valley in California, where he learned to appreciate Bill King, Mark McGwire and even Tony LaRussa. By day, he is a partner at Technolutionary LLC, where he handles IT operations. He cannot abide the Cardinals. You can follow Tom on Twitter @TomBridgeDSP.

Nationals Fire Entire Coaching Staff

The Nationals let their entire coaching staff go this morning, including manager Matt Williams, pitching coach Steve McCatty, bench coach Randy Knorr, hitting coach Rick Schu, third base coach Bobby Henley, first base coach Tony Tarasco, bullpen coach Matt LeCroy, and advance coach Mark Weidemaier, according to MLB.com.

Matt Williams amassed a record of 179-145 in two seasons at the helm of the Nationals, but lost the division series in 2014, and failed to make the postseason despite a tremendously talented squad in 2015.

Washington Nationals Game 160/161 Review: Scherzer Throws No-Hitter as Nats Sweep Mets

SCHERZER STRIKES OUT 17 IN NEAR-PERFECT GAME TWO AS NATIONALS SWEEP DOUBLEHEADER

Geoffrey: My you chivalric fool… as if the way one fell down mattered.
Richard: When the fall is all there is, it matters.

The Lion in Winter, James Goldman

I ran into a friend at the grocery store between games today. Tony’s a long-suffering DC sports fan, and as we passed each other in the parking lot, he said, “Of course, now we can beat the Mets.

That’s how a lot of Nats fans must have felt on Saturday.

Not Max Scherzer.

After a 3-1 victory in the first game against the Mets, the Nationals sent Scherzer to the mound for the nightcap, and Scherzer pitched as if the Nationals were still in it. They might not have been, but Scherzer could’ve fooled anyone.

Even the most meaningless baseball isn’t devoid of meaning. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 158 Review: Nats Shutout in Atlanta

THE FLOGGING WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES

Jordan Zimmermann drew the loss on Wednesday night at Turner Field in what was likely his final outing in a Nationals Uniform. The offense was sluggish and unable to produce, which surprises precisely no one at this point. A.J. Pierczynski and Michael Bourn added RBIs for the Braves in the first and second frames.

It’s hard to overstate the value of a pitcher like Zimmermann to the Nationals over the last half decade. He finishes his Nationals career at 70-50, a 3.32 ERA, and some of the most memorable mound moments in Nationals history.

The Braves struck early in the first, on a Nick Markakis double, followed by a single from A.J. Pierczynski. Michael Bourn singled in Todd Cunningham to add a second run in the second inning, marking the end of the offense for the night. Zimmermann settled down into a groove, scattering two hits after the second, and walking one and striking out another.

The Nationals couldn’t break through on Wednesday night, going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. They left seven runners aboard, more than once leaving a pair aboard, having gotten them there with one out. The Nationals offense has been a source of much frustration for fans this year, and Wednesday night everything came up zeroes.

Jordan Zimmermann deserved a better farewell from his teammates, but given the farewell he was given from management last week at Nationals Park, I suppose that’s to be epected. Nothing is going right in Natstown these days. And that’s an awful pity.

HERO: Thanks for everything, Jordan Zimmermann. We’ll miss you.

GOAT: No goats, not tonight.

Washington Nationals Game 151 Review: Machado beats Scherzer, Nats fall 4-3

LATE HOME RUN IS DIFFERENCE-MAKER AS ELIMINATION NUMBER DROPS TO FIVE

A late home run by Manny Machado ruined Washington’s night on Wednesday. As Nationals fans celebrated the arrival of the Pope — in part hoping for a miracle — the Orioles doused the coals of the Nationals season. Max Scherzer racked up 11 strikeouts, but surrendered a pair of home runs. The Nationals assembled 3 runs on extra base hits from Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos.

There’s a point in every season where a fan’s emotional investment evaporates. Some years, that’s after the last out of the last game your team plays, others it’s late in the season when your team has moved from dark horse to longshot. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 141 Review: There’s No Bottom, Jim, Nats Lose 2-0 in Miami

NATS LOSE FIFTH IN A ROW

The Nationals couldn’t wipe the grin off Jose Fernandez’s face Saturday night, try as they might. The Marlins’ young hurler was in rare form against the Nationals, racking up 7 strikeouts through five innings of work in his first start since Tommy John surgery last October. Tanner Roark returned to the starting rotation for 4.2 innings of work, giving up two runs on five hits, before leaving on the hook for the loss.

The Nationals’ made good contact on Saturday, but their deep fly balls were all contained by Marlins’ Park, with several deep knocks contained by its mammoth bounds and lack of any kind of weather patterns. Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Tyler Moore, and Michael Taylor all hit balls that might have left a smaller park, but were just long outs.

The Marlins put together two runs on moxie, seven hits, and a hit batsmen. J.T. Realmuto drove in Christian Yelich in the fourth, and Justin Bour drove in Yelich again in the fifth. The Marlins put up seven hits in the fourth and fifth innings, sending 13 men to the plate in two frames. Martin Prado continues his Nationals-killer role, going 2-for-3 with a walk. Ichiro Suzuki went 3-for-4, moving 70 short of 3,000 hits.

Only Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper were able to put hits on the board for the foundering Nationals. Jayson Werth and pinch hitter Trea Turner both drew walks, as well, but that was the limit for the foundering Nationals. Danny Espinosa, Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos, and Tyler Moore all put up 0-fers.

You can’t sugar-coat the struggles this team is experiencing, nor should you. The cold light of day shines poorly on this roster, and the march of time will only shrug in disappointment. This roster had every opportunity to turn Washington into a baseball town, but games like Saturday’s will only turn this town colder to the siren song of a summer’s night at the ballpark.

Twenty one games remain.

HERO: No heroes tonight, mostly because one hit does not a hero make.

GOAT: No goats, either, unless you put it on the whole squad.

NATS NOTES:

  • Drew Storen punched a locker in frustration Wednesday night, and broke his thumb. He’s done for the year, in all likelihood, and a cursed ending to his cursed time as a National. I wish Drew the best going forward, knowing that he’ll likely be dealt in the off-season.
  • Joe Ross and Tanner Roark swapped places Saturday, as Ross worked from the bullpen in the sixth inning.

NEXT UP: Sunday finale against the Fish. Scherzer vs. Hand, 1:10pm.

Washington Nationals Game 138 Review: Heartbreaking Loss to Mets Likely Ends Season Hopes

WELL, THAT HAPPENED.

“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.” — Bart Giamatti, Green Fields of the Mind

I have seen many strange things in 27 years of watching baseball. I have never seen a game quite like this one.

As dusk settled in at Nationals Park, and the crowd streamed in, the Nationals staked themselves to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. The Nationals would add one in second and four in the sixth, to make it a 7-1 lead. The bullpen would surrender that lead in fantastical fashion in the seventh, walking six men, and giving up six runs. The Mets would go ahead in the 8th on a home run by pinch hitter Nieuwenhuis off closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Jordan Zimmermann gave up just three hits, including a home run, through 5.2IP. Though he was far from parsimonious with his pitches, Zimmmermann faced just three batters more than the minimum. The only run came on a sky-high home run to David Wright in the second, which landed just inside the foul pole down the left field line.

The Nationals’ staked their lead early, getting two runs on four singles in the first, and added another in the second on a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a single down the line.

Things fell apart in the sixth for the Mets, as Matt Harvey loaded the bases with no one out. Yunel Escobar lead off with a single, Clint Robinson walked, and Ian Desmond hit a tapper back to the mound that Harvey inexplicably threw to third. Everyone was safe. Wilson Ramos struck out looking, bringing Michael A. Taylor to the plate with one out.

What followed wasn’t anything anyone expected. He stroked it up the middle, where it somehow went right under Cespedes’ glove and all the way to the wall. Escobar scored, Robinson scored, and Desmond scored easily. Even Taylor came sprinting around third as Bob Henley waved him on with both hands. He came bounding in, and scored without a throw, to make it 7-1.

I’m just going to stop here for a moment to dwell on the fact that the Nationals lead this game at 7-1, and Fangraphs put their win percentage at about 98.5% at that point. Seven runs, to one run. Got that in your mind? Okay good.

Blake Treinen came on to start the seventh inning, in relief of Thornton, who got the last out of the sixth. David Wright lead things off with a single, and for a second, it looked like Treinen might survive it. He got Duda and d’Arnaud to fly out, and suddenly there were two outs. Everything went bananas from there.

Conforto walked. Flores singled, loading the bases. That was it for Blake Treinen. On comes Felipe Rivero to face pinch hitter Juan Uribe. Uribe battled an RBI walk, making it 7-2. Things only got worse from there. Granderson drew a walk, making it 7-3, ending Rivero’s night with two walks, both for runs. Matt Williams called for Drew Storen to close out the inning, and if you thought it was bad already, it was the Gas Can Boys out to throw fuel on the fire. Storen threw fifteen balls to five batters, giving up a double, and three walks, and the Nats were suddenly tied.

Neither Rivero nor Storen pitched well at all, but Matt Williams said that he and his staff had full confidence in the bullpen after the game: “We’re confident in [Storen], we’ll get him out there as quickly as possible.”

Asked about the difficulty of the game, Williams launched into a soliloquy:

“There’s times where things go well, and you understand that there are times on the other side of that coin, so what do you do? You pick yourself up by the bootstraps, and you go. You don’t have a choice at this point. In all of those guys lives, and in mine, there have been good times and bad times. Certainly learn from the bad, appreciate the good, take nothing for granted, and come with a fresh attitude tomorrow and go to work.”

Jacob deGrom vs. Stephen Strasburg at 7:05pm tomorrow could completely finish any sliver of hope left in Natstown.

HERO: Michael A. Taylor for his hustle.

GOAT: Drew Storen, Felipe Rivero and Blake Treinen for their dumpster fire effort in the seventh. Matt Williams for having Rendon bunt in the 9th.

NEXT UP: They play again tomorrow, but it probably doesn’t matter.

Washington Nationals Game 137 Review: Brutal Loss for the Nationals

NATS DROP OPENER TO THE METS 8-5, FALL FIVE GAMES OUT

Some series are more important than others. Some series are where your team distinguishes itself from the competition, comes alive, and works to show their championship pedigree. On Monday afternoon, that was the New York Mets at Nationals Park. Their come-from-behind 8-5 win was the sort of game a playoff-bound team wins.

This Nationals-Mets tilt is the most important either team has played all season, and the atmosphere at Nationals Park was electric on Monday afternoon. The two teams traded haymakers on a holiday afternoon for a sold out crowd at Nationals Park, before it all fell apart for the Nationals in the seventh. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 136 Review: Rendon, Harper and Werth Come Up Big

NATS SWEEP BRAVES, NARROW DIVISION GAP TO 4

The Washington Nationals went for their first four-game sweep of the season Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park, and they got it, finishing the Atlanta Braves with an 8-4 thumping. The Mets lost in the ninth inning, and the Nationals won, bringing the deficit to be overcome to four games, just in time for a three-game series against the division leader. Powered by home runs from Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon, and with 4.2 IP of scoreless ball from the bullpen, the Nationals completed the sweep. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 131 Review: Nats Collapse Continues, Lose 8-5

THE FLOGGINGS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES

It wasn’t Joe Ross’ night, Tuesday in St. Louis. The young rookie just didn’t have his usual pinpoint command. In 2.2 IP, he walked six, struck out three, and gave up just one hit. It’s not the sort of line score that you hope for out of your recent slumpbuster. The Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals battled it out to 5-5 after eight full.

That’s when the bullpen imploded, again, and the Cardinals stole an 8-5 decision over the Nats.

Ross got the top of the third inning off to a start, raking a single to right off Marco Gonzalez, making his first MLB Start. Jayson Werth followed with another single, and Anthony Rendon drove in the first run of the night with a double down the line. That’s likely where Mike Matheny should’ve gone out to calm his pitcher down, but he left him out to hang, instead. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 130 Review: Dark Night in St. Louis

NATIONALS BLOW TWO LEADS, DROP OPENER TO CARDS 8-5

If there was a game as badly mismanaged as this one anywhere else in the majors, it would’ve cost the losing manager their job.

Sadly, no such luck on Monday night in St. Louis.

The St. Louis Cardinals’ Pat Matheny managed just ever so slightly better than Matt Williams, and the Cardinals’ triumphed 8-5 after nine painful innings of baseball every Nationals fan cringed through.

Coupled with the New York Mets win over Philadelphia, the Nats fell to 6 1/2 games back in the division with 32 games to play. [Read more…]

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