Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and Doghouse of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 4-error loss to the Atlanta Braves
Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and Doghouse of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 4-error loss to the Atlanta Braves
Nothing is going the Nationals way right now. Not a blessed thing.
Monday night, the Washington Nationals gave up runs early and often to the struggling Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in an 8-4 loss, their sixth in a row. Doug Fister continued his struggles with sinker location, walking a pair in the first, and giving up a double and a sacrifice fly to stake the Braves to a 1-0 lead right off the bat. He struggled with velocity and placement most of the evening, bringing into question his health.
The Nationals battled back in the third, with a leadoff ground rule double from Danny Espinosa from the right side of the plate to the right-center stands. Ryan Zimmerman followed up with a double to the left field wall to score Espinosa, but that would be all the offense could muster as they struggled against a Braves lineup that has given anemic a new definition this season.
Doug Fister left his sinker up a bit in the fourth inning and the Braves jumped all over it. Alberto Callaspo and Kelly Johnson each had line drive singles to put runners at the corners with nobody out. Jace Peterson hit a fly ball to center field, letting both runners tag, and Callaspo score, but Denard Span gunned down Johnson to wrap up the double play and let Fister off the hook. The Nationals trailed 2-1 after four.
Fister did it again in the sixth and it lead to his ouster. Kelly Johnson smacked a two run homer that Bryce Harper had to watch into the stands. Fister did himself no favors in the field tonight, twice botching pickoffs and allowing runners to advance two bags. In the sixth, Jace Peterson took advantage of one such miscue, and then scored on Eric Young Jr. bunt to make it 5-1.
The Nats were hurting in the field as well as at the plate, and the Braves compounded that in the fifth on a slide that sent Yunel Escobar’s glove into the Braves’ stands. Fister threw over to Ryan Zimmerman at first to try to catch Andrelton Simmons on the move, only the throw got away and Simmons bolted for third. Escobar had him dead to rights, only Simmons raised his cleat and got Escobar square in the glove. The glove was sent flying, and Escobar came right out of the game with an unspecified hand injury.
After the game it was revealed Escobar got spiked and was cut. Reports said he would miss a game or two but it was nothing serious.
Rafael Martin settled that particular score in relief in the seventh, putting a fastball into Simmons’ ribs to lead off the inning. Martin, however, missed the part of the lecture that says if you’re going to give a runner a free base, you’d best make sure he doesn’t advance past it. Instead, Ian Desmond botched a routine double-play ball and the Braves managed to get a pair off Martin to bury the DC squad for good.
There were no highlights in tonight’s game worth mentioning for the Nationals, save for the broadcasting crew’s ability to valiantly resist torrents of profanity at regular intervals.
HERO: There were no heroes tonight. Sorry. None. If there were any heroes, they might have been Dan Uggla, with a two-run little league homer. But there weren’t any heroes tonight.
GOAT: Doug Fister gets a goat for the pair of throwing errors and high sinkers exploited for run after run. Ian Desmond gets a goat for his 9th error of the year. Rafael Martin gets a goat for his plunking of Andrelton Simmons that lead to a run. So. Many. Goats. This many goats:
UP NEXT: A.J. Cole (MLB debut) vs. Julio Teheran (2-1, 4.64) at 7:05pm tomorrow night. Pray for rain.
With the Washington Nationals’ slow start to the 2015 season, we’re already hearing stories of a fractured clubhouse and lack of leadership among the players. This team is one of the oldest in baseball, with veterans up and down the order and in the rotation. Hell, even the bench is old. With Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Denard Span, Max Scherzer and Ian Desmond, the clubhouse is not where the Nats are lacking.
It’s on the field they’ve been stinking it up.
No one illustrates that more than Ian Desmond. In his contract year, Desmond has gotten off to an historically bad start in the field. With eight errors already to his credit, and several other miscues that weren’t awarded errors, Desmond typifies the Nats struggles.
Desmond is a “max want to” type of guy. He wants to be the guy up to bat with the game on the line. He wants the ball hit to him in every situation. He wants to be the guy that makes the big play. It’s evident in the way he carries himself and the way he plays.
That’s not a bad thing. He has exceptional talent. He’s been the only player in the bigs the past three seasons to hit 20-20 each season. He is capable of scintillating defense, we’ve seen it on occasion this year despite the troubles.
But it can work against him as well. Unlike guys that allow the game to come to them (see: Zimmerman, Ryan), Desmond also goes out of his way to try to be the hero, even if he does is subconsciously.
The play on opening day, where he ranged well over to second base only to flub what should have been Dan Uggla’s routine pop up? He didn’t do that on purpose. He just kept drifting and drifting until he was out of position and caused a problem. He gets overanxious fielding routine grounders and kicks them away. He tried to make a hero throw to first when eating it is better idea. We’ve seen it time and again.
Some players thrive on playing in their contract years. Perhaps, and I’m just speculating, Desmond’s the type of guy that won’t let it get out of his head. Maybe Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Span handle it better. So far, it’s been a recipe for disaster.
As for the real problem plaguing the Nats right now, no one is hitting. It’s systemic, and has manager Matt Williams grasping at straws, shuffling the lineup every day trying to find the right combination.
Picked as everyone’s preseason favorite to represent the National League in the World Series, the Nats have stunk up the joint thus far. As a team, they are hitting .218/.288/.349. Livan Hernandez had better years. The slash numbers are 15th, 14th and 13th in the N.L. It’s bad. Yunel Escobar and Bryce Harper are the only players hitting .270 or above. No one other than Harper has more than two home runs.
As of today:
Ryan Zimmerman: .205/.284/.384
Jayson Werth: .171/.255/.220
Denard Span: .240/.296/.240
Ian Desmond: .263/.309/.395
And it gets worse. Dan Uggla and Danny Espinosa are both under .170. Tyler Moore and Reed Johnson are hitting .167 and .176 respectively. There’s been less than zero contribution from the bench, which were the players playing when Span and Werth were out, and are still subbing until Anthony Rendon returns, which should be some time this week.
It will get better, but will it be in time? Werth and Span clearly aren’t in 100 percent baseball shape. There’s a huge difference between an injury being healed and being ready to face 95-MPH fastball and knee buckling curves. They are playing their way into shape. Pundits make fun of the 40 days of spring training and 25-30 preseason games, but they do it that way for a reason.
Werth and Span (and Rendon, when he comes back next week) are all going to need time to build strength back up in their injured areas and play their way into baseball shape. Will it take to Memorial Day? All-Star break? It’ll be different for the different players.
Will the Nats be in striking distance at that point? The Mets aren’t going to play .750 baseball all season. After the three-game sweep, the Marlins are just starting to pick it up. The Braves and Phillies are going to be bad.
If the Nats lose the series against the Braves this week, it’s trouble. But don’t write them off just yet. Yes, it’s bad. But the Nats should get healthy eventually, and in a weak division should be able to make up ground. Let’s just hope that happens sooner than later. It gets late early around here.
by John Sucich, DSP contributor
The Braves came out of the gates strong in 2015, starting the season 5-0. They’ve only gone 4-9 since, including 3-6 on a nine-game road trip that concluded with a 5-4 loss in Philadelphia on Sunday. The Braves (9-9) welcome the Nationals (7-12) to Turner Field as they open up a 10-game homestand.
The Nationals have played the role of accommodating guests thus far in April. They come off a three-game sweep by the Marlins in Miami, dropping them to 2-7 on the road to open the year. The Nationals have lost five games in a row overall.
Anthony Rendon’s return can’t come soon enough for the Nationals, who scored a total of four runs in the three games against the Marlins. And the news gets worse before it gets better: though there has been no official decision made yet, the Nationals say Max Scherzer will probably miss his scheduled Tuesday start in Atlanta.
The Last Time…
This is the first time the Nationals are meeting the Braves in 2015. Atlanta is one of the few teams who had a winning record against Washington in 2014. The Nationals were 8-11 versus the Braves last year, going 3-6 in Atlanta.
In the Other Dugout
The Braves have had their share of offensive struggles to start 2015. While outfielder Nick Markakis has been a nice addition and they’ve gotten better-than-expected production from catcher A.J. Pierzynski, the team won’t go far without a productive season from first baseman Freddie Freeman. Freeman has hit four home runs in 18 games, but he’s hitting only .235, with 18 strikeouts in 68 at-bats. He’s hit Nationals pitchers hard in the past (.323 average, 6 homers, 22 RBI), so this could be a telling series for how 2015 will shake out for Freeman.
Matchups To Watch
(Bearing in mind Max Scherzer is likely to be pushed back until he recovers from his thumb injury)
Monday, 7:00pm: Doug Fister (1-0, 2.37 ERA) vs. Eric Stults (0-1, 4.50 ERA)
Tuesday, 7:10pm: Max Scherzer (1-2, 1.26 ERA) vs. Julio Teheran (2-1, 4.64 ERA)
Wednesday, 7:10pm: Jordan Zimmermann (1-2, 5.23 ERA) vs. Alex Wood (1-0, 3.00 ERA)
Compiled from team press releases:
SYRACUSE (AAA-International League): The Syracuse Chiefs dropped the series finale to the Rochester Red Wings, 6-4, Sunday afternoon at Frontier Field. Syracuse put up three runs in the ninth inning, but Michael Tonkin came out of the bullpen to get the final out and his fifth save.
Rochester (9-7) started the third with a walk from Chiefs starter Taylor Jordan to Aaron Hicks. Two batters later, with Hicks on second base after a stolen base, Josmil Pinto singled in Hicks to give the Red Wings their third 1-0 lead of the series. Jordan then walked Reynaldo Rodriguez and allowed a single to Brock Peterson. After a force out at the plate, Jose Martinez singled in two more runs, ending Jordan’s day.
Syracuse (6-11) got one run back in the top of the fourth. Tony Gwynn, Jr. singled with one out off Pat Dean. Three batters later, after a strikeout and Mark Minicozzi walk, Kila Ka’aihue singled to centerfield, scoring Gwynn and getting the Chiefs on the board.
Syracuse mounted a ninth-inning rally off Stephen Pryor. Minicozzi doubled, Ka’aihue walked and Jason Martinson singled to load the bases. Matt den Dekker hit into a 4-6-3 double play, which scored Minicozzi to get the Chiefs within four. Cutter Dykstra then worked the count to 3-2 and launched a two-run shot to left field to make it a 6-4 game. Tonkin came out of the bullpen and got Steve Lerud to strike out for the save.
The Chiefs hit the road and open a four-game series with the defending Governor’s Cup Champion Pawtucket Red Sox tomorrow. A.J. Cole is scheduled to start for Syracuse opposite Brian Johnson for Pawtucket. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35.
HARRISBURG (AA-Eastern League): A home run by Reading’s Gustavo Pierre in the top of ninth inning proved to be the game-winner in the Fightin’ Phils 4-3 victory over the Harrisburg Senators in front a lively crowd of 4,386 Sunday at Metro Bank Park.
Tony Renda was 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the third inning that put the Senators up, 1-0. Harrisburg’s Paolo Espino pitched well in four scoreless innings to start his outing, but in the fifth inning he allowed a solo home run to Gabriel Lino that tied the game at 1-1. Espino walked the next batter and left with an apparent injury. Derek Self relieved Espino and allowed the runner to score via an RBI single that pushed Reading in front, 2-1. Self then allowed a solo homer in the sixth inning, but finished his outing with one run allowed in 1.2 innings. Sammy Solis impressed again with two scoreless frames in which he struck out a batter. Paul Demny was saddled with the loss after allowing Pierre’s game-winning homer in the ninth.
Harrisburg quickly put two runners on against left-handed reliever Ethan Stewart in the eighth inning. Reading replaced Stewart with Stephen Shackleford, who allowed a single to Harrisburg’s Derrick Robinson that loaded the bases with one out. Two batters later and with two outs, Brian Goodwin bounced a game-tying two-run single back up the middle. Harrisburg left two runners when the eighth inning ended. As a team, Harrisburg struck out 14 times – a season-high.
The Senators continue their home stand by welcoming in New Britain for a three-game series tomorrow night. Monday’s game will begin at 6:30 p.m. with Brian Rauh making his first start for Harrisburg this season.
POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): The Potomac Nationals (9-8 Overall, 4-6 Home) dropped both of their doubleheader contests on Sunday at Pfitzner Stadium to the Lynchburg Hillcats (7-10 Overall, 4-6 Road) in series Games Two and Three by the final scores of 6-5 and 6-3.
The Hillcats scored a total of 12 runs on 18 hits while the Nationals plated eight run tallies on 14 base knocks.
In Game One, Potomac starter, RHP Dakota Bacus also did not factor into a decision after throwing for 3.0 innings and surrendering three earned runs on four hits while walking two, fanning one, and allowing one home run.
The Nationals struck first with one run in the 1st inning on an RBI infield single from catcher Spencer Kieboom. Potomac pulled ahead in the second courtesy of a run-scoring two-bagger from SS Wilmer Difo, his first of three doubles in the contest. The P-Nats put up a two-run spot in the fourth on a two-run double blasted down the right field line by Difo making it a 4-3 lead.
Nationals RHP Jake Johansen (0-1), the losing pitcher of record who took his first loss of the campaign, allowed three unearned runs in the fifth inning to give the Hillcats a 6-4 advantage after a throwing error committed by Difo. Johansen walked two, struck out two, and surrendered three base hits in his 1.2 innings.
Reliever David Napoli tossed 2.1 innings, hit one batter, and sat down a pair via the strikeout.
In the de facto “nightcap,” the Hillcats got out to an early 2-0 1st inning lead thanks to a two-run four-bagger from Rodriguez, his second tater of the afternoon, over the center field barrier to virtually the same spot as his first dinger in Game One of the double dip.
Game Two’s losing pitcher of record, LHP Matthew Spann (0-3) held Lynchburg scoreless in the 2nd and 3rd frames before the Hillcats brought home one run in the 4th on a run-scoring single from 2B Joe Sever to tie the game at 3-3.
Spann allowed four earned runs on eight hits in 5.0 innings while walking one and fanning four.
The series finale tomorrow night (Monday) will pit Potomac RHP Nick Pivetta (1-1, 0.53) against Lynchburg RHP Michael Peoples (0-1, 3.48) at 7:05pm. Gates to Pfitzner Stadium will open at 6:00pm on Monday night.
HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic League): The Hagerstown Suns (8-9) managed to win a pair of one-run games against the Lakewood BlueClaws (8-10) over the weekend, coming away with a split of the four-game series in Lakewood. With the split the Suns record on the road this season now sits at 4-6.
Hagerstown secured its split of the series in New Jersey by registering a 3-2 win on Sunday afternoon. The win came despite the Suns getting out-hit by the BlueClaws 7-4. Hagerstown went up 2-0 in the first inning thanks to back-to-back RBI singles by 1B Grant DeBruin and catcher Raudy Read and never looked back. Starting RHP Austen Williams (3-1) limited the BlueClaws to one earned run on four hits over six innings while striking out five to earn the win. LHP Joseph Webb kept Lakewood off the scoreboard for the final 1.2 frames to record his first save of the year.
The Suns next head home to Hagerstown to resume a game against the West Virginia Power (4-3) that was suspended due to rain in West Virginia on April 15. The game will be resumed beginning at 5:05pm in Hagerstown on Tuesday. Following the completion of that game, the Suns will then begin their originally scheduled three-game series against the Power, the first game of which will also be held on the 28th. Both the suspended game and the originally scheduled game on the 28th will be played as seven-inning games.
Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 6-2 loss to the Miami Marlins to complete a three-game sweep and extend a five-game losing streak.
The Washington Nationals sent Gio Gonzalez to the mound on Sunday looking for a spark and hoping to avoid a sweep and turn things around from what has been a mostly dreary April. Unfortunately for the Nats and their fans, things remained status quo.
Gonzalez got roughed up at the end of his appearance, the offense couldn’t muster much fight against Dan Haren and a parade of Miami Marlins relievers, and the Nats fell 6-2 at cavernous Marlins Park, extending the losing streak to five games. [Read more…]
Compiled from team press releases:
SYRACUSE (AAA-International League): The Syracuse Chiefs, Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, split a doubleheader against the Rochester Red Wings Saturday afternoon at Frontier Field. Syracuse took game one 5-4 in come-from-behind fashion, and dropped game two 5-2.
In game one, Chiefs starter Scott McGregor surrendered three straight singles to Reynaldo Rodriguez, Danny Ortiz, and Jose Martinez, which plated the game’s first run.
The Chiefs (6-10) rallied in the sixth inning. Kila Ka’aihue started the inning with a single. Two batters later, Matt den Dekker hit a pop up right behind the mound which fell to the turf for an infield single, putting runners on first and second. Cutter Dykstra walked to load the bases. With two outs, Michael Taylor singled to bring the Chiefs within one. Tony Gwynn, Jr. then singled, bringing in Dykstra to tie the score. Ian Stewart followed with a ground-ball single, allowing Taylor to score and give the Chiefs their first lead.
In game two, the Red Wings broke the game open in the third. Jose Ortiz doubled to start the inning. Chiefs starter Bruce Billings then walked Eric Fryer, and Nate Hanson reached on an error by the shortstop Jason Martinson. With the bases loaded, Farris was hit by a pitch to force in Rochester’s third run. Diaz then singled home a fourth run, over the pulled-in infield. Billings was relieved by Mitch Lively, who walked Hicks to force in a fifth run before getting out of the frame.
The Chiefs and Red Wings play the finale of this three game set Sunday at Frontier Field. Taylor Jordan is slated to start for Syracuse opposite Pat Dean for Rochester. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35.
HARRISBURG (AA-Eastern League): Pedro Severino and Mario Lisson both hit two-run singles in a four-run eighth inning as the Harrisburg Senators beat the Reading Fightin’ Phils 7-4 in front of 3,672 fans at Metro Bank Park Saturday night.
With the score tied at 3-3, Tony Renda, Brian Goodwin and Shawn Pleffner all walked to load the bases with one out for Severino, who poked a line drive into left field to score two. Stephen Perez was hit by a pitch and Lisson followed with a two-run single to provide insurance for the Senators.
Joe Ross was outstanding in the first seven innings, shutting out Reading while allowing just two hits. Ross walked two batters and struck out a season-high eight batters. Abel De Los Santos allowed Reading to tie the game in eighth inning with three runs on four hits. However, De Los Santos picked up the victory despite being saddled with his first blown save of the season.
In his second rehab game with Harrisburg, Anthony Rendon played second base and went 1 for 2 with a walk and a run scored.
The final game of the four-game series will begin at Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Harrisburg will shoot for a series win with right-hander Paolo Espino on the mound against Reading’s Tom Windle.
POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): The P-Nats (9-6-Overall, 4-4-Home) and Lynchburg Hillcats (5-10-Overall, 2-6-Road) had Game Two of their four-game series at The Pfitz rained out on Saturday night. The game has been postponed and re-scheduled as part of a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon consisting of two seven-inning contests.
The gates will open at 12:00 pm with Game One slated to begin with a 1:05 pm first pitch and Game Two to begin approximately 30-45 minutes following the conclusion of Game One.
HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic League): A spirited Lakewood BlueClaws comeback fell one hit short on Saturday, as Carlos Tocci struck out swinging to end the game with the bases loaded in the 9th inning as Hagerstown topped the BlueClaws 6-5 on Saturday at FirstEnergy Park.
Hagerstown (7-9) got its first win of the series after the BlueClaws (8-9) had won the first two games of the four-game set, which wraps up on Sunday.
RC Orlan (1-0) was credited with the win after allowing two runs over three innings. Sam Johns allowed an unearned run in the 9th inning but got his first save.
The series concludes on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 pm. LHP Elniery Garcia (1-1) starts for the BlueClaws against RHP Austen Williams (2-1).
Thus far in the 2015 season, the Washington Nationals have made a habit of squandering good starting pitching with lackluster offense and spotty relief pitching.
On Saturday in cavernous Marlins Park, the equation stood, as Stephen Strasburg turned in a performance that should have been enough to be competitive, yet the offense remained moribund, looking completely inept against journeyman Tom Koehler, reliever Rafael Martin got clobbered, and the Nats lost 8-0, their fourth loss in a row. [Read more…]
Compiled from team releases:
SYRACUSE (AAA-International League): Due to inclement weather, Friday’s game between the Syracuse Chiefs and the Rochester Red Wings was postponed, marking the second straight postponement between the two teams. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Frontier Field in Rochester, with game one beginning at 12:35 p.m. Game two will start approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one.
Right-handers Scott McGregor, in game one, and Bruce Billings, in game two, are slated to start for Syracuse. Mark Hamburger and Pat Dean are scheduled to start for Rochester. The teams will also play a doubleheader in Syracuse on July 10 after yesterday’s postponement at NBT Bank Stadium.
HARRISBURG (AA Eastern League): In Anthony Rendon’s first rehab appearance, the Harrisburg Senators were unable to come back from a six-run deficit in a 7-4 loss to the Reading Fightin’ Phils before 3,265 fans at Metro Bank Park.
Rendon played five innings and went 1-for-2 with a double.
In his fourth start of the season, Austin Voth struggled, allowing seven runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. Reading’s four-run fifth inning pushed it ahead, 7-1. James Simmons followed Voth with 1.1 scoreless frames. Paul Demny impressed in two scoreless innings of work, allowing just one hit and striking out a batter. Bryan Harper finished off a solid collective bullpen outing by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.
Game three of the four-game series will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday night. Joe Ross will take the mound for Harrisburg against Reading’s Zach Eflin.
POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): Potomac’s (9-6-Overall, 4-4-Home) Wander Suero set a season high pitching seven innings while holding the Lynchburg Hillcats (5-10-Overall, 2-6-Road) to one unearned run on four hits and seven strikeouts in a P-Nats 3-1 win in Game One of the four game series at The Pfitz on Friday night.
It was Suero’s (3-0, 2.50) third start of the season and the third time he toed the rubber against Lynchburg in 2015, a winner in both previous starts against the Hillcats.
Saturday night, a 6:35 pm first pitch, will feature RHP Dakota Bacus (0-0, 2.57) making his second start of the season for Potomac against LHP Michael Rayl (0-1, 4.50) of Lynchburg.
HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic League): The Lakewood Blue Crabs manufactured a run in the bottom of the seventh inning and beat the Hagerstown Suns 2-1 on Friday in Lakewood, New Jersey.
Phillips Valdez allowed just one run — unearned — on four hits and no walks, striking out five over five innings for the Suns, but did not factor in the decision. Ryan Ullman relieved, and in his second inning of work was victimized for the game-winner. He gave up four hits and a run in his two innings of work.
The Suns got their run in the fifth. Jose Marmolejos-Dias singled, went to second on a groundout and scored on Grant DeBruin’s double. DeBruin finished 3 for 3 and is hitting .304 this season.
The series continues Saturday at 4:05 pm.
Cheryl Nichols....................Managing Editor, Photos
Tom Bridge..................................Staff Writer -- Nats
Rachel Levitin..............................Staff Writer -- Nats
Katie Brown................................Staff Writer -- Caps
Chris Teale.........................Page Editor -- DCUnited
Eric Hobeck............................Staff Writer -- General
Neil Dalal................................Staff Writer -- General
Derek Norin...................................Staff Writer -- Wiz
JJ Regan.....................................Contributor -- Caps
Chris Garosi............................Contributor -- Fantasy
Erika Schnure..................Contributor -- Caps Minors
April 11, 2015 By Cheryl Nichols
HAGERSTOWN, MD – The Hagerstown Suns announced today that the team will unveil its special 35th anniversary jersey on Monday, … [Read More...]
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