August 29, 2015

Washington Nationals Game 127 Review: National drop opener to Marlins 4-3

NIHILISM COMES TO THE NATIONALS CLUBHOUSE, LOSES 4-3.

August is where baseball seasons go to die, and the Nationals’ campaign is all but dead.

Though their elimination is not yet complete, you’d have struggled to find evidence of that Friday night at Nationals Park. The Marlins leapt out to a 4-1 lead off Nationals ace Max Scherzer, and a lackluster injury-depleted lineup could not compete with the 51-77 Miami Marlins, who remain without the service of their mammoth offensive machine, Giancarlo Stanton.

Scherzer completed seven full, surrendering two home runs among the six hits, and striking out eight. The blasts from Marcel Ozuna and Martin Prado were enough to put the Marlins on top for the evening. Though Scherzer would recover to throw four strong innings after giving up the runs, it was enough to doom his outing.

Trea Turner, starting at 2nd base, was a bright light for the Nationals in the field, making a series of nice plays that demonstrated his incredible speed. He left the game in the eighth inning as part of a double switch.

Danny Espinosa started in left field tonight, only moving to 2nd base as part of a double switch in the eighth. Espinosa acquitted himself well in the outfield, including making a long run to retrieve a foul fly ball.

Ian Desmond put the Nationals on the board in the 2nd to tie the game at one, and Wilson Ramos would deliver another blast in the 5th to narrow the lead to 4-2. The Nationals had every chance to take the lead in the sixth inning, as the wheels came right off Marlins starter Adam Conley. A double by Jayson Werth into the bullpen, a single by Anthony Rendon and a Bryce Harper walk loaded the bases with no one out.

Kyle Barraclough came out of the bullpen to face Ryan Zimmerman, who delivered a sacrifice fly to make it 4-3. Ian Desmond struck out swinging, but Espinosa walked to re-load the bases for Wilson Ramos. Despite Ramos’ earlier towering blast, Barraclough came in to attack the zone against the Buffalo, getting him to ground out to end the threat.

Felipe Rivero pitched 1.1 innings of perfect relief, his stellar control on display before the Nationals Park crowd. Blake Treinen finished off the 9th, despite allowing a double and a hit batsman.

The 9th inning saw the Nationals get the tying run to 2nd, but that was all they could muster against A.J. Ramos. Ian Desmond started things off with a single, and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Espinosa. Wilson Ramos struck out on a pitch in the dirt. Clint Robinson, batting for the pitcher’s slot, flew out harmlessly to end the threat.

HERO: Ryan Zimmerman gets half a hero for his RBI tonight, but sac flies are pretty terrible.

GOAT: Yes. Every last lily-livered player. There’s no fire out there right now, no passion, just workman-like losses over and over and over again.

NATS NOTES:

  • Per the Nationals and Elias: Ryan Zimmerman has now driven in a run in 12 of his last 13 plate appearances with the bases loaded (dating to July 2014).

NEXT UP: Your next appointment with sadness is tomorrow at 7:05pm. Tom Koehler vs. Jordan Zimmermann. Bring all of the bourbon you can.

Washington Nationals Minor League Report for August 27

Compiled from team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs fell to the Rochester Red Wings, 6-0, Thursday night as the five game home-and-home series shifted to Frontier Field. The Red Wings strung together six runs in their first seven batters to take an early lead off Chiefs starter Taylor Jordan en route to the win.

Syracuse (59-74) allowed just four hits the rest of the game after the six run first, thanks to four and one-third scoreless innings of relief by Bruce Billings. Offensively, the Chiefs could not solve Michael Bowden, who held Syracuse scoreless in seven innings of work. Matt Skole did pick up two hits for the second straight night.

Syracuse and Rochester play the finale of this five-game series Friday night at 7:05 p.m. Paolo Espino is scheduled to start for the Chiefs opposite Taylor Rogers for the Red Wings.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern): Isaac Ballou went four-for-four with a home run and two doubles, but it wasn’t enough for the Senators as they fell to Erie 5-4. With the loss the Senators drop 62-69 while Erie improved to 57-73.

The Senators took a 1-0 lead in the first on a single by Wilmer Difo and a run scoring double by Reggie Corona. Trailing 2-1 into the 2nd, Isaac Ballou homered and Derrick Robinson drove in Adrian Sanchez with a single to give the Sens a 3-2 lead. They extended the lead when Corona scored on a wild pitch in the fifth.

Austin Voth started and took the loss, going five innings and allowing all five runs. Wander Suero and Gilbert Mendez pitched the final three scoreless innings for the Senators.

Along with Ballou’s four hits, Corona had three in the game drove in a run and scored a run.

Game two of the four-game series is Friday night at 7:05 p.m. with RH Brian Rauh on the mound for the Senators.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): Salem (59-70-Overall, 30-36-Home, 21-38-Second Half) broke a 1-1 tie with two runs in the bottom of the seventh before adding two more in the eighth and cruising to the 5-2 win over the Potomac Nationals (60-69-Overall, 29-37-Road, 27-32-Second Half) in the series opener at LewisGale Field on Thursday night.

The bottom of the seventh, where Salem broke the tie was a wild one with RHP Jake Johansen (1-7, 5.84) on the mound in relief of the Starter RHP Austen Williams, who logged six innings and allowed three hits, one run (earned), four walks and he struck out four. RF Franklin Guzman laced a triple high off the left-centerfield wall but was then called out on appeal at second base for the first out. 1B Jordan Betts then reached on the third error charged to 3B Drew Ward and after a fielder’s choice ball allowed 3B Deiner Lopez to reach safely, an infield single by SS Mauricio Ramos loaded the bases. 2B Wendell Rijo laced a two-run single into left field to break the tie and give Salem a 3-1 lead. On the play, Rijo was caught in a rundown between first and second base after LF Estarlin Martinez’s throw came to the plate. Ultimately Ramos tried to score from third and the putout went 7-2-4-3-2 with Ramos being tagged out at the plate by C Craig Manuel. CF Forrestt Allday then grounded out to end the inning but the damage was done.

Salem took an early 1-0 lead against Nationals the starter Williams, who was making his ninth start of the season with Potomac. In the bottom of the second after a scoreless first frame, Williams issued a one out walk to C Jordan Procyshen. Guzman singled and then Betts took a free pass to load the bases. Lopez then worked an RBI walk, pushing home Procyshen for the 1-0 Salem lead.

Potomac, against RHP Kevin McAvoy (10-9, 3.93), was held off the scoreboard through the first six frames. The Nationals offense generated only four hits in those six innings and had their best chance to score in the fifth. They got back-to-back singles from 3B Drew Ward and SS Stephen Perez to begin the frame. Ward was retired on a fielder’s choice ball by 2B Khayyan Norfork and then a double play ball from Manuel ended the inning.

Williams, after walking in the run in the second, faced only two hitters over the minimum from the third through the sixth. Williams finished with six innings, allowing three hits and one run (earned) with four walks and he struck out four. He didn’t factor into the decision.

Potomac scored the equalizer in the top of the seventh in McAvoy’s final frame. A one-out walk to RF Brenden Webb, who then stole second base, began the rally. Two batters later, with two out, Perez came up and laced an RBI single in left-centerfield to tie the ballgame at 1-1.

McAvoy earned the win for his seven innings of work. He allowed one run (earned) on five hits, he walked two and struck out five.

Salem broke the tie against Johansen, who took the loss, in the seventh before adding two more insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. DH Kevin Heller walked against J.J. LF Yoilan Cerse dropped down a sacrifice bunt to push Heller to third after he swiped the second base bag and Procyshen brought him home with a sacrifice fly for a 4-1 lead. Guzman then hit a ball that might still be going over the left field wall for a solo home run, his fifth of the year, to push the lead to 5-1 Salem.

Johansen pitched two innings and gave up four runs (three earned) on four hits, a walk and he did not record a strikeout in the outing.

RHP Kyle Kaminska (SV 3) came in and pitched a scoreless eighth inning before Salem added to their lead and then closed out the 5-2 win. Potomac did push across a run in the ninth after 1B Grant DeBruin extended his hitting streak to three games with a lead-off triple. Webb brought him home for his third RBI with the Nationals by lofting a ball out to right field and the score was 5-2.

Kaminiska pitched two innings, giving up one run (earned) on two hits and he struck out one.

That was final in the opener from Salem. Lynchburg picked up another come-from-behind win over Carolina so the elimination number for the Nationals is now at 3 with 10 games to play and Potomac falls to 6-9 against the Red Sox in 2015.

Game Two tonight at 7:05 will see LHP Matthew Spann (2-6, 4.67) against LHP Daniel McGrath (2-6, 4.05) for the Red Sox.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic): As an 11th-round draft choice out of Tennessee this June, Andrew Lee was hardly considered a hotshot major league prospect.  But the Hagerstown Suns right-hander has been brilliant in his first few months of professional baseball.

On Thursday night, Lee pitched five dominant innings, getting the Suns off to a good start in a 3-1 win over the Lakewood BlueClaws.  In his third minor league start, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Lee allowed two hits — both singles — didn’t walk a batter and fanned five.  Lee retired the final 13 he faced and didn’t allow a runner past first base.

In his hop, skip and jump through three Single A stops this summer, Lee has pitched 36 1/3 innings, allowed just 14 hits and six walks while fanning 38. He hasn’t allowed a home run and his ERA (0.28) and WHIP (.066) are microscopic.  After working in relief in his first 11 minor league appearances, Lee has taken over a spot in the starting rotation for Hagerstown. In his three starts — each lasting one inning longer than the previous — Lee has allowed only three hits, two walks and one run in 12 frames.

On Thursday, Hagerstown (64-63, 29-30 second half) got all the runs it needed in the third and fourth innings.  Jeff Gardner led off the third with a single, moved to second base on Conor Keniry’s walk, to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a sacrifice fly by Osvaldo Abreu.  In the fourth inning, Bryan Mejia had a two-out RBI triple and scored on the play as Lakewood right fielder Herlis Rodriguez committed a throwing error to put the Suns up 3-0.

Lee wasn’t the only Suns pitcher who excelled.  David Napoli fanned four in 2 2/3 relief innings and Koda Glover earned his fifth save, escaping jams in the final two innings.  Entering in the eighth with two out and runners on second and third base, Glover fanned Drew Stankiewicz with a 96 mph fastball.  In the ninth inning, when Glover surrendered three hits and a run, he induced a pop out from Deivi Gruilon with two out and runners at the corners.  Lakewood (65-62, 32-27) can win the series tonight when it hosts Hagerstown in the finale of the four-game set.

Washington Nationals Game 126 Review: Nats Squeak by Padres, Injuries Arise

The Washington Nationals beat the San Diego Padres 4-2 on Thursday night in D.C. but suffered quite a blow in regards to injuries.

Outfielder Michael A. Taylor and third baseman Yunel Escobar were down for the count by the end of the night but Washington still managed to sneak by the Padres.

Taylor ran into the outfield wall tracking down a fly ball and came up lame and needed help get off the field with a knee contusion. Escobar was hit by a pitch in his wrist — which drove in a run — and left the game.

Starting pitcher Joe Ross threw six innings of one-hit, one-run ball while walking two batters and striking out seven for the Nats. He threw 77 pitches and 48 strikes. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Minor League Report for August 26

Compiled from team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs were shut out 6-0 by the Rochester Red Wings on Wednesday night at NBT Bank Stadium. Jose Berrios struck out 12 Chiefs and allowed only three hits in seven shutout innings of work. Matt Skole had two hits against the Red Wings in the loss.

The Chiefs and Red Wings continue their five-game home-and-home series on Thursday night at Frontier Field in Rochester. Syracuse sends right-hander Taylor Jordan to the mound against right-hander Michael Bowden. The game is set to start at 7:05 p.m.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern): The Harrisburg Senators got shutout at Richmond 3-0.  The Senators will travel to Erie for a four game series beginning tonight at 7:05

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): On Wednesday night at Pfitzner Stadium, the Potomac Nationals (60-68 Overall, 31-32 Home, 27-31 Second Half) rocked the Frederick Keys (61-68 Overall, 28-38 Road, 29-30 Second Half) 10-0 in their rubber match series finale.

The Nationals’ triumph represented their 15th shutout victory this season (most in the Carolina League).

This was the final meeting between the Northern Division “Battle of the Beltway” rivals in 2015.

Potomac pounded out 11 base hits and scored in each of the first four innings of the game while Frederick scattered just six base knocks in the clash.

The Nationals jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Keys starter, LHP Luis Gonzalez (5-11), the losing pitcher, in the opening inning as Potomac 1B Grant DeBruin smacked an RBI double down the left field line that scored the leadoff single of CF Rafael Bautista. P-Nats RF Narciso Mesa, who collected four RBIs in the affair, cranked his second home run of the season, a three-run shot off the very top of the left field foul pole. Rehabbing Washington Nationals 2B Dan Uggla (back spasms), who ripped a first-pitch single into left field, and DeBruin were both summoned home on the blast.

Uggla went 1-for-4 with one run scored and one strikeout. Washington Nationals LF Tyler Moore, who like Uggla was down with Potomac on rehab (left ankle sprain), walked twice while going 0-for-2 with one run scored.

Potomac plated three runs in the 2nd inning to make it a 7-0 game courtesy of a throwing error committed by Frederick 1B Yaisel Mederos, a DeBruin RBI walk, and a sacrifice fly from Mesa.

The home club added one run in the 3rd on a run-scoring double raked by Bautista before the Nationals brought home two runs in the 4th on a pair of wild pitches hurled by Frederick RHP Dylan Rheault. Moore, who walked, came around to score along with DeBruin, who doubled.

Gonzalez lasted just 2.2 innings and gave up eight runs (six earned runs) on eight hits, two walks, and a wild pitch in suffering his 11th loss in ‘15.

Washington Nationals RHP Tanner Roark, who was optioned yesterday to Potomac, was stellar through 4.0 scoreless frames in his first career start for the P-Nats. Roark allowed three singles, walked no one, and struck out five batters.

Roark did not go the minimum 5.0 innings to qualify for the win. P-Nats RHP Brian Dupra (3-0) came out of the bullpen to capture his third win and stay undefeated in the circuit. Dupra tossed 4.0 scoreless innings and turned in a near-identical line to Roark’s performance. Like Roark, Dupra fanned five and allowed three hits. Dupra walked only one.

Keys LHP Matt Taylor, RHP Stefan Crichton, LHP Donnie Hart, and LHP Cody Wheeler each dealt 1.0 innings of relief per arm and did not allow a run.

Nationals RHP Derek Self worked a perfect 9th inning to finish the game.

This evening in Salem, VA, the Potomac Nationals begin their final road series of the 2015 regular season, a four-gamer against the Salem Red Sox (Boston) at Salem Memorial Ballpark.

The set opener begins with a 7:05pm first pitch on LewisGale Field.

Nationals RHP Austen Williams (4-4, 2.62) opposes Red Sox RHP Kevin McAvoy (9-9, 4.08) in series Game One.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic):  After making the South Atlantic League playoffs for three straight seasons, 2015 has been an uncharacteristic waltz around the .500 mark for the Hagerstown Suns.  Never this year has the team been better than four games over the break-even mark or worse than four games under.

Wednesday night at Lakewood, Hagerstown’s gravitational pull toward .500 continued with a 7-6 loss to the BlueClaws.  After 126 games, Hagerstown (63-63, 28-30 second half) is right where it has been for much of the season — stuck in neutral and unable to put together any kind of definitive streak, positive or negative.

Hagerstown got all of the runs back in the top of the second inning, scoring them with one swing of the bat.  After Raudy Read and Matthew Page singled and Bryan Mejia reached on an error, Jeff Gardner ripped a grand slam home run to right off Lakewood starter Elniery Garcia.

The Suns obliged with a Mejia solo home run in the fourth inning and a run-scoring single an inning later from SAL RBI leader Jose Marmolejos which tied it 6-6.  Hagerstown will try to salvage the final two games of the series, playing tonight and Friday in New Jersey.

Washington Nationals Minor League Report for August 25

Compiled from team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs beat the Rochester Red Wings, 4-1, on Tuesday night. Syracuse starter A.J. Cole pitched a gem for the Chiefs, striking out seven and only giving up three hits. The win improved Syracuse to an International-League-best 17-6 in August.

Syracuse (59-72) scored first against Rochester after being shut out in Monday’s game. Second baseman Scott Sizemore led off the bottom of the third with a double to deep right-center field, his second hit in as many Chiefs at-bats. The next batter, Steve Lerud, flied out to center, deep enough to advance Sizemore to third. With one out, Darin Mastroianni singled in Sizemore to give the Chiefs an early 1-0 lead.

The Chiefs continued the scoring in the bottom of the fourth off of Rochester starter Pat Dean. With one out, Jason Martinson singled. Following Martinson, Matt Skole singled to center and advanced Martinson to third. Ricky Hague continued the rally with an RBI single to left that scored Martinson and pushed Skole to third. Mario Lisson then stepped to the plate, grounding into a fielder’s choice that scored Skole to bring the Chiefs’ lead to 3-0. With two outs, Sizemore walked to put runners on first and second, and then Lerud lined a single to right field that scored Lisson.

Rochester (67-64) ran into myriad trouble against Cole. The right-hander pitched six and two-thirds innings, allowing one run and striking out seven while only allowing three hits and one walk. This was Cole’s fifth straight start in which he left the game with a lead.

Syracuse and Rochester will play the final game between the two teams at NBT Bank Stadium on Wednesday night before the series shifts to Rochester for two games. Right-hander Taylor Hill will be on the hill for the Chiefs to face right-hander Jose Berrios with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern): For the second night in a row, the Senators entered the ninth inning trailing and for the second night in a row, they put two runners on with no outs but on Tuesday they couldn’t move the runners around the bases and lost 2-1. Richmond evened the series with the win, improved to 63-64 on the season while the Sens dropped to 62-67.

Lucas Giolito started for the Senators and went 6.2 innings allowing two runs, both earned, while striking out eight. He was bettered by Kelvin Marte of the Flying Squirrels who went eight innings and struck out a career high in moving to 10-5 on the season. Brian Harper retired the only batter he faced and Wander Suero pitched a scoreless eighth for Harrisburg.

Trailing 1-0 in the fourth, the Senators scored their lone run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Reegie Corona, scoring Chris Bostic which tied the game. Richmond came right back with a run in the bottom of the fourth to take a 2-1 lead and from there, the pitchers really took over. The Senators went oh-for-six with runners in scoring position while Richmond was one-for-eight. Both teams stranded six on the bases and both teams stranded three runners in scoring position. The Senators managed just four hits, all singles.

The rubber game of the three-game series is Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. at the Diamond in Richmond. RH Colin Bates is on the hill for the Senators against LH Matt Lujan for Richmond.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): The Nationals (59-68-Overall, 30-32-Home, 26-31-Second Half) and the Keys (61-67-Overall, 28-37-Road, 29-29-Second Half) traded shutout victories in the twin bill with Frederick picking up a Game One 4-0 win and Potomac coming back with a Game Two 7-0 win on Tuesday night at Pfitzner Stadium.

RHP Taylor Mapes (4-3, 2.70) made the start in Game One that featured Washington Nationals 2B Dan Uggla and OF Tyler Moore in the lineup behind him.

Uggla made three trips to the plate, finishing 0-for-3 with a strikeout but did make three defensive plays in the field at second base. Moore started at first base and finished 0-for-2, reaching on an error and then flying out to left field.

RHP David Hess (9-3, 3.58) was brilliant for the Keys, logging the first complete game victory in his professional career in the 4-0 shutout win for Frederick. Hess gave up just one hit in his seven innings of work while issuing one walk and striking out five Nationals and improving his second half record to 7-0 with an ERA of 1.34.

The game was scoreless until the top of the third when Frederick scored three times when SS Adrian Marin walked to kick off the rally. 1B Yaisel Mederos singled, putting men on first and second. After a DH Conor Bierfeldt comebacker, 3B Derek Peterson lined a two-run single into centerfield for a 2-0 Keys advantage. LF Josh Hart then put a double into the left-centerfield gap bringing home Peterson for a 3-0 lead.

Frederick added an unearned run in the top of the third when C Wynston Sawyer struck out against Mapes but was able to reach base on a passed ball charged to C Craig Manuel. A RF Tad Gold groundout moved Sawyer to second base and Mederos reached on an error charged to 3B David Masters that brought home Sawyer from second base, an unearned run, that gave Frederick a 4-0 advantage.

Mapes lasted five innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on four hits, two walks and he struck out three. Mapes hurled 85 pitches with 55 hitting the zone in the loss.

LHP Justin Thomas came out of the bullpen and was exceptional for Potomac. Thomas pitched two perfect innings and of the six men he retired he struck out five of them.

Potomac mustered only one hit against Hess and he issued one free pass. The Nationals also had two men reach on errors in the ballgame but both were erased on the base paths.

Game Two saw RHP Ian Dickson (3-2, 3.57) make the start against RHP Mikey O’Brien (3-5, 1.94), who was coming off a seven inning no-hit effort against the Lynchburg Hillcats.

Potomac cracked the scoreboard first in the bottom of the third when LF Estarlin Martinez reached on an error charged to 3B Anthony Caronia and then scooted to second base on a CF Rafael Bautista groundout. After a wild pitch from O’Brien moved Martinez to third, DH Alec Keller brought home Martinez with an RBI infield single for a 1-0 advantage.

The Nationals added two runs in the bottom of fifth, which proved to be O’Brien’s last inning, when 2B Khayyan Norfork walked. Two batters later Martinez hit an RBI double into the left-centerfield gap that scored Norfork from first base and pushed the National advantage to 2-0. Martinez moved to third on a Bautista infield single and then scored on a wild pitch, the second of the ballgame, by O’Brien for 3-0 lead.

O’Brien didn’t last the fifth inning, pitching 4.2 frames and three runs (two earned) scored against him on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts in the loss.

Dickson danced through five innings of work just allowing one hit but walking four and setting a new season high with six strikeouts, throwing 85 pitches with 44 in the strike zone.

LHP R.C Orlan pitched a scoreless sixth inning, issuing two, two-out walks but ultimately ending the inning.

RHP Garrett Cortright entered the game and the Nationals, in the bottom of the sixth, blew the game open with four runs in the inning. With two outs and a runner, RF Brendon Webb, on second base after doubling, SS Stephen Perez snuck a ball through the right side for an RBI single to make it 4-0 Nats’. Norfork then walked and C Zach Wright lined an RBI single into left field for a 5-0 lead. Martinez hit a little comebacker and Cortright air-mailed the ball over the first baseman allowing both Norfork and Wright to score for a 7-0 lead for the Nationals.

That was the final as RHP Phillips Valdez entered in the top of the seventh and faced four men closing out the 7-0 nightcap victory for the Nationals.

Potomac is now 14-9 in shutout ballgames and 8-8 in double header games in 2015. The Nationals are now 8-13 against the Frederick Keys and their elimination number is down to 6.

The rubber match series finale tonight will see the newest member of the Potomac Nationals, RHP Tanner Roark (0-0, 0.00) make his first start in the Carolina League this season against LHP Luis Gonzalez (5-10, 6.79) for the Keys.

First pitch is set for 7:05 pm from Pfitzner Stadium.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic): The Hagerstown Suns are on the verge of elimination from the postseason in the South Atlantic League.  On Tuesday night they showed why as they were out-hit, out-pitched and out-fielded by the Lakewood BlueClaws in a 6-3 loss.

Lakewood got nine hits to five for Hagerstown and played flawlessly in the field while the Suns made two errors, both coming in run-scoring frames for the BlueClaws.

Lakewood (64-61, 31-26 second half) got all the runs it needed in the second inning when its first five hitters reached via base hits off Suns’ starter Will Amlung (3-3).  Lakewood starter Austin Davis (4-5) got the win, giving up four hits in five innings and surviving a momentary fitof wildness in the fifth when he surrendered all of the Suns’ runs.

On consecutive at-bats, Davis hit Austin Davidson and Stevenson with pitches and then issued a bases-loaded walk to Osvaldo Abreu. Jose Marmolejos followed with a two-run single, expanding his RBI lead in the SAL.

Entering the evening, the first baseman had driven in 77 runs, seven more than any player in the league.   In the final four innings, Hagerstown (63-61, 28-29) went quietly getting only two men on base against Jairo Munoz, who fanned four in three innings, and Matt Hockenberry, who pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save.  The series continues tonight at 7:05 p.m.

Washington Nationals Game 124 Review: Opening Day Lineup At Long Last

IDEAL LINEUP FINALLY PLAYS, WINS

The Washington Nationals were so befouled by the injury bug this season it took four months and 123 games for them to field their ideal “opening day” lineup. When their starting nine took the field Tuesday night against the San Diego Padres, the Nationals put everything together for a 8-3 win.

Stephen Strasburg started Tuesday night, and from the end of the second through to the end of the sixth, retired 15 straight batters. He did surrender a two-run bomb to Jedd Gyorko, a no-doubt homer into the visiting bullpen in the second inning, but other than that, Strasburg was on his game against the Padres. Aside from the mistake to Gyorko, Strasburg struck out 7, and walked one in six full, giving up two earned runs on two hits.

The Nationals tied it up almost immediately, as Wilson Ramos hit his 11th homer of the year off James Shields in the bottom of the second with Yunel Escobar aboard. In the third, the Nationals would go ahead for the night on an Escobar double down the line, scoring Anthony Rendon, and add to the damage in the fifth with a Desmond double scoring Bryce Harper.

The Nationals caught a lucky break in the sixth to break the game wide open. With two outs, Anthony Rendon started the rally with an infield single that deflected off James Shields. Marc Rzepczynski took over for Shields at this point, as the deflection and 121 pitches on the day were too much to risk leaving Shields in to face the heart of the order.

This is where it all went to hell for San Diego. With the count at 2-1, Bryce Harper hit a 92mph sinker down the first base line, right to Padres’ first baseman Yonder Alonso, who stepped on the bag, and it should have ended the inning.

But it didn’t.

Harper tripped out of the swing, and home plate umpire David Rackley read it as a foul ball off Harper’s foot. He called it a foul ball, and Harper stepped back in. Padres skipper Pat Murphy took some umbrage at the situation, but due to the way that the replay rules are written, had no play he could challenge. Play continued. Harper drew a walk.

Escobar would walk right after Harper, and the bases were now loaded for Ryan Zimmerman. With a 2-0 count, Rzepczynski leaned on a 96mph fastball down the groove, which Zimmerman deposited in the right field bleachers, giving the Nationals an 8-2 lead on the umpires’ mistake.

Jedd Gyorko added a second home run off Casey Janssen in the seventh, which triggered a bit of a meltdown from Padres’ skipper Pat Murphy. Former Nationals’ prospect Derek Norris singled his way aboard, and that was all Murphy could take. He should have the winning run at the plate in Melvin Upton, but instead he’s down five. He expressed his deep and abiding frustration and his contention that Harper should have been out.

But he expressed that in a way that managers are not suffered to do so for long. Rackley ejected Murphy for his commentary before Murphy had even come to the top step of the dugout. Of course, Murphy ran out to vehemently express his disapproval of Rackley, Rackley’s mother, Rackley’s mother’s dog, and the neighbor’s goat, though it’s not immediately clear what the goat had to do with it, before being talked back into the visiting clubhouse.

Janssen would complete the seventh without further damage.

The bullpen had a bit of a scare in the eighth, sending Matt Thornton to the hill. The Padres (save for Jedd Gyorko) had more success against Thornton in a third of an inning than they had against anyone else all night. Singles from Yangervis Solarte and pinch hitter Clint Barmes chased Thornton from the game with one out in the seventh.

Blake Treinen mopped things up with a quick round-the-horn double play to end the threat in the eighth, and would retire the side in order in the ninth to end the Padres’ day.

For a moment, Nats fans across the country could take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy a fun night at the ballpark. This was the team that they had waited to see, one that could hit you just as hard in the eight slot (Ramos, 1-for-3, HR, BB) as it could in the six slot (Zimmerman, 1-for-5, HR, 4 RBI), or the three slot (Rendon, 2-for-5, 2 R, 2 H).

For one night this season, the Nationals looked as-advertised. With only 38 games to go, they’ll need to look it every one of those nights.

HERO: Ryan Zimmerman, for his grand slam in the sixth, and Stephen Strasburg for a shutdown performance.

GOAT: No official goat tonight, just old man fate for keeping this team starcrossed for four months.

NATS NOTES:

  • Zimmerman’s Grand Slam in the sixth was the Nationals’ second all year. It was Zimmerman’s first since 2013, and fifth in his career.
  • Per Nationals PR, the Nats are hitting .487 (19-for-39) with 20 RBI when batting with two outs since Saturday night.

NEXT UP: Nationals vs. Padres, 7:05pm Wednesday, Tyson Ross (8-9, 3.32) vs Gio Gonzalez (9-6, 3.98).

Washington Nationals Minor League Report for August 24

Compiled from team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs fell to the Rochester Red Wings, 9-0, on Monday night.

Syracuse (57-72) could not solve Rochester starting Logan Darnell who pitched a complete game shutout. The left-hander pitched a gem for Rochester, throwing a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Emmanuel Burriss broke up the no-hitter on an infield single in the seventh.

Syracuse and Rochester play the second of five consecutive games on Tuesday at NBT Bank Stadium with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. Right hander A.J. Cole will get the start for Syracuse against left-hander Pat Dean of Rochester.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern): For just the fourth time this season the Senators won a game when trailing after eight innings, rallying for three in the ninth at Richmond to beat the Flying Squirrels 4-3. With the win the Senators improve to 62-66 while Richmond falls to 62-64.

Trailing 3-1 into the ninth inning, Brian Jeroloman singled with one out. Isaac Ballou and pinch-hitter Adrian Sanchez followed with walks to load the bases off of Richmond closer Derek Law. After the walk to Sanchez, Richmond summoned Tyler Mizenko in to pitch. Wilmer Difo reached on an infield single, scoring Jeroloman, and trimming the Richmond lead to 3-2. Brian Goodwin followed with a two-run single driving in the tying and go ahead runs for the Senators. On the play Difo was thrown out trying to advance to third.

Paul Demny pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth, pitching around a leadoff single, to record his fifth save on the season. Nick Lee pitched a perfect eighth inning to earn the win and move to 2-0 with the Senators.

Harrisburg scored their first run in the second inning when Ballou hit into a bases-loaded fielder’s choice, scoring Shawn Pleffner. Chris Bostick was the only Senator with two hits in the game.

John Simms started for Harrisburg and pitched six shutout innings allowing five hits while striking out nine but took a no-decision when Richmond scored three times off Erik Davis in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Game two of the three game series is Tuesday night with RH Lucas Giolito on the hill for the Senators against LH Kelvin Marte for Richmond.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): Tonight’s series opener between the Potomac Nationals (58-66-Overall, 29-31-Home, 25-30-Second Half) and the Frederick Keys (60-66-Overall, 27-36-Road, 28-28-Second Half) was postponed at Pfitzner Stadium due to weather and has been rescheduled for tonight as part of a double header.

A late blooming storm came in about an hour before first pitch was scheduled and rained consistently for over an hour creating an unplayable baseball field.

First pitch in Game One of the twin bill is set for 5:00 pm with the gates opening at 4:30 pm. Game Two will follow 30-40 minutes following the conclusion of Game One and both games will consist of seven innings.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic): OFF.  The Suns will travel to Lakewood to begin a four game set tonight at 7:05

Washington Nationals Minor League Report for August 23

Compiled from team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bisons, 3-0, Sunday afternoon at Coca-Cola Field. Paolo Espino allowed just one hit in seven shutout innings to lift the Chiefs to their first series win of the season against the Bisons.

Syracuse (58-71) started the scoring in the first inning. Matt den Dekker hit his eighth home run of the season to give the Chiefs an early 1-0 lead.

The Chiefs scratched across a second run in the second inning. Caleb Ramsey tripled to lead off the frame, giving him a season-high six game hit streak. He scored a batter later on Mario Lisson‘s groundout to short to push the lead to 2-0.

Syracuse finished off the scoring in the seventh. Ricky Hague led off with a double, and scored two batters later on den Dekker’s single to push the lead to 3-0.

Buffalo (65-64) couldn’t solve Espino, managing just a Ty Kelly fifth-inning single in seven innings. After picking up 18 hits Friday night, the Bisons managed just eight in the final two games of the series.

Syracuse returns home Monday and opens a five-game home-and-home series against Rochester at 7:05 p.m. Richard Bleier is scheduled to start for the Chiefs opposite Logan Darnell for the Red Wings.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern) via pennlive.com: The Portland Sea Dogs gave the Harrisburg Senators a taste of their own medicine with an 8-run fourth inning to win going away, 9-0. Harrisburg (60-66), which scored nine runs in the first inning on Saturday night, was shutout for the tenth time this season.

Senators starter Brian Rauh cruised through three innings before running into trouble in the decisive fourth. Rauh (1-4) allowed six runs on seven hits while striking out two as he made his first start with Harrisburg since May 13.

“For the first three innings I thought he did a pretty good job keeping the ball down in the zone and also getting the ball in on some guys,” pitching coach Chris Michalak said. “In that fourth inning, it didn’t seem like that there were that many pitches going in. And then the fact that the pitches away were elevated, those are easy balls to put in play especially with two strikes because you’re looking for pitches out over there.”

Nationals’ reliever David Carpenter, in Harrisburg on a Major League rehab assignment, worked a scoreless 2/3 of an inning before his outing was cut short by sprinkler system malfunction that forced the right-hander to stand around longer than Michalak thought was in his best interests.

The Senators were only able to scratch out three singles off Portland starter Aaron Wilkerson and reliever Williams Jerez. Denard Span, Adrian Sanchez, and Wilmer Difo got the base knocks for Harrisburg which only batted once with a runner in scoring position.

The Senators head out for their final road trip of the 2015 season as they begin a series in Richmond on Monday evening with John Simms on the mound, starting at 7:05 p.m.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): Lynchburg (65-61-Overall, 34-28-Home, 32-24-Second Half) plated two runs in the bottom of the first and three pitchers combined to shutout the Nationals (58-67-Overall, 29-36-Road, 25-30-Second Half) 2-0 in the rubber match at Calvin Falwell Field to win the series.

RHP Michael Peoples (10-3, 3.55) made his 21st start of the season for the Hillcats and he did not disappoint the first place ball club. Peoples shutout the Nationals through seven innings and relinquished only four hits, two walks and he struck out one, earning his tenth win of the season.

RHP Justin Brantley entered in the eighth and fired a scoreless frame allowing one hit and striking out one batter and RHP Trevor Frank (SV 1) was summoned to close out the 2-0 win, which he did by retiring all three men he faced in the ninth, sealing the 2-0 series winning victory.

Against newly promoted RHP Jeff Howell (0-1, 3.00), the Hillcats scored two runs in the home half of the first inning and that proved to be enough. DH Levon Washington walked against Howell to begin the ballgame for the ‘Cats. 2B Claudio Bautista followed with a double that pushed Washington to third. CF Clint Frazier knocked in Washington with an RBI groundout to the left side and the score was 1-0. After a walk to 1B Joe Sever, LF Dorssys Paulino doubled home Bautista for a 2-0 advantage.

Howell pitched six-plus innings and allowed only five hits and the two runs (both earned) on four walks and he struck out two, taking the loss in his Carolina League debut, despite a quality start.

After the two run first, the knuckleballer settled in nicely for Potomac, facing only one man over the minimum of 15 from innings two through six and never allowed a Hillcats runner to reach second base during that stretch.

Peoples faced only three men in four of his six innings and only allowed a man to reach second base three times in the entire game. Potomac had rallies cut down in the second inning due to a caught stealing, the fourth inning due to a 5-4-3 twin killing and in the fifth inning courtesy of a 4-6-3 twin killing. Potomac’s last real rally was in the sixth when they picked up an infield single by RF Narciso Mesa and then DH Alec Keller extended his hitting streak to four games with a single to push Mesa to second, but with two outs. 1B Grant DeBruin lined out hard to left field to end the threat.

RHP Jake Johansen came in from the bullpen when Howell ran into trouble in the bottom of the seventh. Paulino reached on an infield single that saw 3B John Wooten make an incredible diving stop in foul territory behind the third base bag but the throw was late and then RF Mike Papi singled him to third base. Johansen entered struck out C Eric Haase and 3B Paul Hendrix before he got SS Ivan Castillo to pop out to end the inning. Johansen came back out for the bottom of the eighth and faced only four men, giving up a two-out single but that was it. Johansen logged two scoreless innings giving up one hit and striking out three.

Frank entered for the top of the ninth and inked his first save of the 2015 season with the perfect ninth inning.

Potomac falls, once again, to 6.5 games back of Lynchburg with only 14 games remaining on the schedule and their elimination number is now down to eight. The Nationals were shutout for the eighth time in 2015 and will end the season 12-12 against the Hillcats, their Northern Division rival.

Tonight from Pfitzner Stadium Potomac will send RHP Tyler Mapes (4-2, 2.51) to the mound against the Frederick Keys RHP David Hess (8-4, 2.78).

First pitch from the friendly confines is set for 7:05 pm.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic): The Hagerstown Suns (28-28, 63-61) put up four runs in the bottom of the third inning on Sunday afternoon and cruised to a 7-4 win over the Lexington Legends (21-33, 52-72), salvaging a split of the four-game series. The season series between the two clubs is now split at four wins apiece, and Hagerstown improved its record on Sundays this season to 14-6.
Going into the bottom of the third on Sunday Hagerstown held a slim 1-0 lead, but that quickly changed. Center fielder Andrew Stevenson led off the inning with a fly ball single to left. The next batter, SS Osvaldo Abreu, was hit by a pitch. First baseman Jose Marmolejos then brought both runners home with a double to left, making it 3-0 Suns. Catcher Raudy Read followed with a double of his own to plate Marmolejos and put Hagerstown up by four. Two batters later, Read moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored from third on a sacrifice fly by RF Dale Carey to make it 5-0 Suns.

Lexington responded by scoring its first run in the fourth. Second baseman Austin Bailey hit a one-out double to left, giving the Legends their first hit and base runner of the game. Bailey went to third on a single by catcher Chad Johnson. He scored from third on a passed ball by Read, making it a 5-1 game.

Hagerstown then took its largest lead in the fifth. Read hit a one-out line drive single up the middle. Two batters later Carey stroked a single to right, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Second baseman Bryan Mejia then stepped to the plate, and he delivered with a line dive double to right, driving in both Read and Carey to make it 7-1.

In the seventh Lexington closed the gap by plating three. Center fielder Anderson Miller led off with a double to center field. Following a pop out by RF Brandon Downes, DH Chase Vallot and LF Samir Duenez drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. First baseman Mike Hill then hit a line drive single to right, driving in Miller and Vallot to make it 7-3. Duenez scored the final run of the inning on a groundout to first by SS Luis Valenzuela.

Starting RHP Luis Reyes (6-7) limited Lexington to one unearned run on two hits and one walk over six innings while striking out four to earn the win for Hagerstown. Starting RHP Yunior Marte (4-3) suffered the loss for the Legends. He lasted just three innings, giving up five earned runs on four hits and two walks while striking out one. RHP Ryan Brinley pitched the last 1.1 innings for the Suns to earn his first save of the season in his second attempt.

After a day off tomorrow, the Suns next head to Lakewood, New Jersey to begin a four-game series against the Lakewood BlueClaws (30-26, 63-61) starting on Tuesday, August 25. The Suns will send RHP Justin Amlung (3-2) to the mound on Tuesday for his sixth start and 17th appearance for the Suns this season. He will square off against LHP Austin Davis (3-5) for Lakewood. First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 7:05pm.

Washington Nationals Game 123 Review: Nats take 2 of 3 from Brewers

SUNDAY: Wilson Ramos and Anthony Rendon homered, Danny Espinosa drove in three with a double and the Washington Nationals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 9-5 to take two of three in the weekend series.

The Nats (62-61) remain five games behind the New York Mets, 5-1 winners over Colorado.

Jordan Zimmerman got the win, improving to 10-8, but he wasn’t particularly sharp. The veteran righty allowed four earned runs on eight hits and a walk, striking out seven. Drew Storen allowed a solo home run to Kris Davis leading off the eighth inning, but struck out the next three batters, and Jonathan Papelbon made a rare appearance in a 1-2-3 ninth to lock down the win.

Bryce Harper doubled twice in five trips and Rendon drove in three.

SATURDAY: Rookie Joe Ross was sublime, giving up just one run on six hits and no walks, striking out four, to lead the Nats over the Brewers 6-1.

Blake Treinen and Matt Thornton both pitched a scoreless frame in relief.

Michael Taylor extended a recent power surge, homering for the 13th time this season, and Anthony Rendon finally hit his second of the year, going 2 for 2 with two walks. Wilson Ramos and Taylor had two hits apiece as well.

FRIDAY: The Brewers rocked Gio Gonzalez and knocked him out of the game after just five innings as the Nats dropped the series opener 10-3.

Gonzalez had one of his worst starts of the season, allowing four earned runs (five total) on eight hits and two walks, striking out five. His defense let him down with a pair of errors and several other miscues.

Doug Fister took over and was no better, surrendering four runs (three earned) on four hits and a walk in just 1 1/3 innings. Tanner Roark gave up a run on two hits in an inning and two-thirds.

Bryce Harper hit his 31st homer in the sixth inning off Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson (W, 10-9, 3.60) and Michael Taylor connected for his 12th of the year in the seventh off Kyle Lohse.

Washington Nationals call up No. 2 prospect Trea Turner

The Washington Nationals promoted SS Trea Turner from Triple-A Syracuse and placed 1B/OF Tyler Moore on the disabled list, reportedly because he stepped on a ball during batting practice Thursday evening and sprained his ankle.

To make room on the 40-man roster, Aaron Barrett was transferred to the 60-day DL.

Turner, 22, was hitting .314/.353/.431 at Syracuse with three home runs and 15 RBIs and 14 of 16 steals in 205 plate appearances. He’s had three stops in the minors this season and is a combined .322/.370/.458 in 500 plate appearances.

Turner came to the Nats in the Steven Souza trade, along with Joe Ross, from the San Diego Padres. Up until the last two days, Turner had exclusively played shortstop as a professional. He’s played the last two days at second base in Syracuse, presumably to ensure he could be used as a utility player at the big league level for now.

It’s hard to envision where Turner will get playing time in the bigs at this point, other than pinch-hitter and pinch-runner. Ian Desmond was once a strong candidate to be benched, but he has hit .262/.331/.500 with eight homers and 21 RBIs since the All-Star break. Yunel Escobar continues to hit, and between Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa, second base is already pretty crowded.

Turner is athletic, fast and has good baseball instincts. His batting average is propped up by a pretty high BABiP, one that’s unsustainable at the MLB level, but his speed allows him to reach base on a high number of infield hits. He has the range and arm strength to stick at shortstop and while he might not be the second coming of Ozzie Smith, he should play MLB-average defense at the position.

With the Nats still carrying an extra pitcher, this move leaves the Nats with a bench of Jose Lobaton, Clint Robinson, Espinosa and Turner.

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