Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and Doghouse of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves and the news that Stephen Strasburg will be scratched from Thursday’s game with lingering soreness in his forearm.
No one imagined that the Washington Nationals would ride a perfect stretch through the end of the season. But, after two dramatic wins against the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, the now 81-71 ball club dropped an early lead to fall 5-2 Wednesday night.
Ross Ohlendorf (L, 4-1) began his second start in place of Stephen Strasburg by retiring 10 straight batters.
In the meantime, the Nats finally got to starter Alex Wood in the fifth. Anthony Rendon led off with a single before taking third on Freddie Freeman’s fielding error, which allowed Denard Span to reach first safely. Ryan Zimmerman walked to load the bases before Jayson Werth walked in the first run of the game.
As Manager Fredi Gonzalez came out to calm Wood, Wood shouted some choice words at home plate umpire CB Bucknor. Of course, Gonzalez himself earned an ejection as he followed Wood’s performance with one of his own. [Read more...]
The Washington Nationals are all but written out of NL Wild Card contention, but if the stars over Cincinnati should align themselves just right over the next week, this team may very well finish out the season doing everything it can to make its way back into the hunt.
With the Reds holding onto a 4 ½ game lead for the second spot in the NL Wild Card, the Nats face a daunting elimination number of just seven – meaning that any combination of Reds’ wins and Nats’ losses amounting to seven in the next 11 games would cost D.C. a playoff spot.
Nevertheless, the latest victory penned by the Nats came Tuesday night, in Game 2 of a day-night doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves. The leader of the charge was none other than starter Tanner Roark, who, with his seventh win, brought his ERA to an astounding 1.08 after tossing seven shutout innings of two-hit ball.
Unlike the case of their blown lead – and subsequent rally – in Game 1 of the doubleheader, in Game 2, the Nats eased in front of Atlanta starter Freddy Garcia and never looked back. [Read more...]
In a game postponed to Tuesday afternoon due to Monday’s horrific tragedy at Navy Yard, the Washington Nationals brought baseball back to the District in an incredible 6-5 walk-off win over the Atlanta Braves in Game One of a day-night doubleheader.
If the newly returned 60-degree weather didn’t stir up nostalgia for October baseball, the Nats’ fight to overcome a blown lead against one of the League’s most dominant closers served as a reminder that Washington’s boys of summer are down, but not out.
At least, not officially.
With the Game One win, the Nats sit 4 ½ games out of the second NL Wild Card spot, trailing the Cincinnati Reds, who face Houston tonight.
Come hell or high water, there is baseball left to be played in D.C.
A day on which the words, “Let’s play ball” were preceded by a stirring moment of silence to honor the victims of the lives lost just blocks away from Nationals Park, the Nats did what little they could to return a piece of normality back to the capital.
With 3.1 percent odds to make it into the playoffs, the Nats started Tuesday’s game with a three-run advantage against Atlanta starter Michael Minor. After Denard Span and Ryan Zimmerman drew back-to-back walks, Jayson Werth doubled and Bryce Harper hit an RBI grounder. Then, Adam LaRoche singled home Werth before the third out was recorded. [Read more...]
The Washington Nationals announced tonight’s game between the Nats and the Atlanta Braves scheduled for 7:05 pm has been postponed due to the incident at the Navy Yard this morning where 12 people have been confirmed dead by at least one gunman.
Nationals public relations tweeted the postponement at 3:12 pm ET and announced the teams will play a split doubleheader tomorrow at 1:05 pm and 7:05 pm.
According to reports citing law enforcement officials, the FBI and police are still searching for one potential suspect and the entire area around the Navy Yard and Nationals Park is still under lockdown. Government and military officials have instructed people to stay out of the area while the investigation continues to evolve.
The game is of critical importance to the Nats slim hopes of reaching the postseason as they trail the Cincinnati Reds by 4 1/2 games before play on Monday. But considering the still on-going investigation and out of respect for the families affected and law enforcement and military personnel, pushing the game back was the only good decision to be made today.
The Washington Nationals, in dire need of a winning streak to spark any chance at catching Cincinnati for a wild card playoff spot, instead traded wins with the Atlanta Braves over the weekend to drop the series to the division front-runners. The Nats fell to 60-63 overall and 4-12 to the Braves this season. After play on Sunday, the Nationals trailed the Reds by 9 1/2 games for the final playoff spot with just 39 games to play.
SATURDAY: In a marathon, 15-inning affair, the Nats dropped the Braves 8-7, courtesy of Adam LaRoche’s 18th home run of the season leading off the 15th inning against the Braves’ Kris Medlin. Medlin (L, 10-11), who was slated to start Tuesday’s gave for Atlanta, was in his third inning of relief.
Both teams used nine pitchers and had to use a starter to pitch their final innings. For the Nats, Dan Haren came in to the bottom of the 15th and recorded the first save of his career, retiring the Braves allowing just one hit and striking out two.
The drama of extra innings would not have necessary were it not for the efforts of Rafael Soriano, who allowed two runs in the bottom of the ninth, letting the Braves tie it up to force extra time.
The game had a strange feel to it all night, as neither starter made it two innings. Braves starter Mike Minor was done after 1 2/3 after he allowed four earned runs on four hits and four walks to put the Braves in a hole early.
On the other side, Nats starter Stephen Strasburg was tossed two batter into the second inning, after throwing three wild pitches — the last two behind batter Andrelton Simmons. Were it any other game, Strasburg would have been allowed to work out whatever problems he was having with his control. But Strasburg plunked Braves outfielder Justin Upton on the behind with his first pitch after allowing a homer to Jason Heyward in the first inning and both benches were warned.
After the two pitches behind Simmons, home plate umpire Marvin Hudson took matters into his own hands and ejected Strasburg and manager Davey Johnson, as per the rule after benches have been warned. Both Strasburg and Johnson face fines and suspensions as well.
The Nats built a 6-2 lead in through the sixth inning and entered the bottom of the eighth with a 7-4 lead. But Freddie Freeman homered of Tyler Clippard in the eighth, and Heyward hit his second of the night, a two-run shot, off Soriano in the bottom of the ninth to tie things up.
There were heroes abound for the Nats bullpen though, as Tanner Roark, Drew Storen, Ian Krol, Craig Stammen and Haren combined to throw 11 scoreless innings of relief. Stammen, who earned the win (6-5), struck out five in three hitless extra innings.
SUNDAY: The Nats went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position, stranding 11 runners total, in a 2-1 loss to the Braves in the series finale. Despite putting two runners on with less than two outs in each of the first three innings, the Nats were never able to dent Julio Teheran’s ERA.
The offensive woes made a loser of Gio Gonzalez, who allowed two first inning runs before shutting the Braves down for the rest of his seven innings pitched. Gonzalez (L, 7-6), struck out nine in seven frames. He had his share of issues all day long, allowing five hits and four walks, but after Saturday’s marathon, the bullpen was fried and Gio was able to gut through 120 pitches, giving the Nats a chance to stay in the game.
Unfortunately, the hitters weren’t up to the task. The Nats got good days from Denard Span (3-for-5) Bryce Harper (2-for-4) and surprise starter Chad Tracy (2-for-4, subbing for Ryan Zimmerman who took a hard foul of fhis lower leg in the Saturday marathon). But they weren’t able to sustain an attack, as only one other hitter in the lineup was able to hit safely.
That one other hit belonged to Jayson Werth (19-for-39 in his last 10 games, .334/.407/.531 for the season), who drove in the Nats only run with a single in the seventh off reliever Scott Downs, which plated Anthony Rendon, who walked earlier in the inning.
Drew Storen pitched a perfect eighth inning, needing just five pitches to retire the side. Since returning from the minor leagues, Storen has pitched three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and no walks while striking out five.
There was plenty of drama with the Atlanta Braves continuing to hit Bryce Harper with pitches – and the Washington Nationals having their hands tied by the umpires, not able to handle things on the field. The Nats and Braves had a little drama on the field as well, with a late comeback by the Nats to tie the game ruined by Justin Upton’s walk-off home run in he bottom of the tenth against Ian Krol, delivering a 3-2 win to the runaway division leaders.
The Nats are 3-11 against the Braves this season.
The Braves scored first in the opening frame against Nats starter Taylor Jordan, making perhaps his final start of the season, as he eclipsed the 140 inning mark. Jayson Heyward led off the game with a single, and was headed to second when Justin Upton drew a walk.
But catcher Wilson Ramos threw down to second as Heyward was running on the play, and Ramos threw the ball into the outfield, allowing the Braves right fielder to walk tot third base. Heyward then scored as Freddie Freeman hit into a double play.
Atlanta took a 2-0 lead in the third, again taking advantage of shoddy Nationals defense. Light-hitting shortstop Paul Janish led off with a single and after pitcher Alex Wood struck out trying to sacrifice, Janish went to second on Heyward’s single up the middle.
Justin Upton then grounded to short and Ian Desmond’s feed to Anthony Rendon nabbed Heyward at second. But Rendon’s relay was bad, earning his 14th error of the season and Janish came around to score.
The Nats got one back in the fourth. Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch — the first time of the night. Jayson Werth followed with a single and Harper moved over to third. Desmond grounded to short for a double play, but Harper was able to score on the play.
It stayed 2-1 until the top of the eighth, as Taylor Jordan and Braves rookie Wood traded zeroes to that point. Jordan, on an innings limit this season in his first full season following Tommy John surgery, went six innings. He did not allow an earned run and gave up seven hits and three walks, striking out three. He benefitted from three double plays behind him, as he generated nine ground ball outs against on fly out.
With two outs in the eighth, Ryan Zimmerman doubled on a line drive to center field. Harper was hit — again — by left-handed reliever Luis Avilan, drawing attention from the Nats bench, with every man rising to the top dugout step.
But cooler heads prevailed, and home plate umpire Marty Foster warned both benches about any further escalation, effectively taking any chance at the Nats taking care of business on the field as another beanball would have drawn ejection.
Regardless, the hit batter allowed the Nats hottest hitter to bat with a man in scoring position, and Werth delivered with a single to right field to tie the game.
Unfortunately, Upton’s game-winner spoiled what otherwise was a tough, tight ballgame. The result was yet another one-run loss to a Braves team that has simply and unquestionably dominated the Nationals this season.
THE GOOD: Werth continues his torrid pace with two more base hits and the tying RBI. Also, Drew Storen returned to the Nats and pitched a strong ninth inning, striking out two and allowing one hit. His slider appeared to have more bite and he was noticeably quicker to home plate, abandoning his slow, stiff leg drag for a more conventional delivery.
THE BAD: Denard Span. He avoids the “ugly” due to the beanball stuff. But 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and five left on base is lousy.
THE UGLY: Harper has been hit by the Braves now three times in their last three games. In this one, he was hit by a breaking ball and in a 2-1 game in the eighth, putting the tying run at second base, so it’s hard to imagine either were intentional. Regardless, the Braves are due some payback.
THE STATS: 9 hits, 1 BB, 10 Ks. 1-for-10 with RISP, 8 LOB. E: Ramos (6, throw), Rendon (14, throw), LaRoche (8, fielding). 3 DPs.
NEXT GAME: Saturday at 7:10 pm against the Braves. Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.83) against LHP Mike Minor (12-5, 2.87).
If there were any doubt that the Atlanta Braves have risen far out of reach of the Washington Nationals, the NL East leaders laid it to rest as the Nats fell 6-3 Wednesday night.
The victory marked the Braves’ 13th straight as they completed the three-game sweep. Worse yet for the Nats, it added salt to wounds opened by a week that featured everything from little run support and Twitter brawls to a hit-by-pitch and a benches-clearing incident.
Jordan Zimmermann never retaliated for Julio Teheran’s decision Tuesday night to hit Bryce Harper in the thigh with a fastball.
Worse yet, he gave up a first-inning run after Jason Heyward doubled and Freddie Freeman singled.
In the fourth, the Braves added a second run to the scoreboard after Dan Uggla walked and B.J. Upton and Andrelton Simmons hit back-to-back singles to load the bases. Pitcher Kris Medlen batted in the run on a sacrifice fly to center before Zimmermann overpowered Heyward and Freeman on strikes.
In the bottom of the inning, the one driving force for the Nats as of late came through once again – Jayson Werth.
With two outs, Bryce Harper drew a walk and, on a 1-0 count, Werth fired one over the right-center field wall to tie the game, 2-2.
At that point, Zimmermann’s night came to an early end, due in part – at least according to Davey Johnson – because his neck stiffness had returned. Either way, Zimmermann headed back to the dugout with a final line of 4.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K.
The Nats then called upon right-hander Tanner Roark of all people to keep them out of trouble. And, as a matter of fact, he did just that for two innings, allowing just one hit to B.J. Upton in the sixth.
But, when Fernando Abad took the mound in the seventh, it took little time for the Braves to retake the lead.
After Heyward grounded out, Justin Upton homered to left to make it 3-2 Braves.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Nats appeared to be on track for a rally. With one out, Werth and Adam LaRoche hit back-to-back singles, but Ian Desmond mustered nothing more than a ground out the brought home Werth to tie the game once more.
The Braves regained the lead once and for all in the eighth after Simmons doubled off Ryan Mattheus and Joey Terdoslavich walked before Washington called upon Ian Krol. Before the Nats could even attempt to right the ship, things got much worse as Ian Krol failed to pitch like Ian Krol. Instead, he allowed a single to Heyward and a double to Justin Upton, which ultimately resulted in a 6-3 lead – and win – for the Braves.
The Nats provided all with false hope in the bottom of the ninth after Harper led off with a double and Werth drew a walk. LaRoche and Desmond went down on strikes but Anthony Rendon battled for a walk to load the bases for Wilson Ramos.
On a 2-2 count, all Ramos could come up with was a line out to right and, just like that, the Braves edged even further ahead of the remainder of the NL East.
THE GOOD: It is now safe to say that any “good” worthy of recognition must be acknowledged underneath the dark cloud of reality – the Nats are all but officially eliminated from a playoff spot. While, in theory, an NL Wild Card spot remains in their reach, in practicality, they haven’t translated any desire to make the playoffs onto the field since long before the All-Star break.
With that disclaimer in mind, Jayson Werth’s hot streak continues. He went 2-for-3 with yet another two-run shot Wednesday night. The only other note to add to the list of positives is the fact that Tanner Roark allowed just one hit in two innings of relief.
THE BAD: Setting aside the obvious drawbacks of getting swept by the Atlanta Braves, neck stiffness or not, Jordan Zimmermann has endured a slow decline from a dominant force in the National League to an up-and-down right-hander who has struggled with command and efficiency in his last several starts. Prior to Wednesday night’s outing, he provided a solid stint against the Milwaukee Brewers, allowing just four hits, four walks and no runs scored over six innings. But, before that, on July 26, he gave up five earned runs on six hits and three walks in 6.2 innings pitched – all while striking out eight. The idea that Zimmermann’s starts can be preemptively chalked in as a “W” has gone out the window since the All-Star break – whether that is because of a nagging and under-reported neck injury or simply because the league has grown increasingly familiar with his repertoire remains to be determined.
THE UGLY: Stepping aside from the obvious 15 1/2 games out of first place and nine games out of a wild card spot, the Bryce Harper and Julio Teheran’s kerfuffle from the other night did nothing to reignite the Nationals’ offense. Jordan Zimmermann does not deserve criticism for opting not to plunk an Atlanta batter Wednesday night, but the Nats have needed someone all season to step up and show the resolve is there. Whether or not Harper did so in the appropriate fashion, everything about this week’s Atlanta series seems to indicate the fight is already gone.
THE STATS: 3 R, 5 H, 3 BB, 9 K, 0-for-4 with RISP, 5 LOB
NEXT GAME: Friday, 7:05 p.m. at Nationals Park – LHP John Lannan (3-4, 4.10) vs. RHP Dan Haren (6-11, 5.14)
With each new loss to the Atlanta Braves, the Washington Nationals’ vision of first place in the National League East slips further and further from view.
Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss featured a home run from Bryce Harper, a subsequent hit-by-pitch and benches-clearing tensions between the rivals. At 14 ½ games back, it’s an increasingly safe bet that now might be as good a time as ever for the Nats to rethink their “World Series or Bust” strategy. Perhaps, they should even adjust their goals to go all in for a Wild Card spot before it, too, falls quickly out of reach.
To a loyal viewer of the 2013 Nationals, there has been little evidence of a potential, end-of-season resurgence – a comeback or rally cry to power the Nats right back in the thick of things. And, if there ever were an opportunity for such a uniting factor to surface, it would likely come against the team that has tormented them all season – the Braves.
Yet, on Tuesday night, the Nats went hitless until Bryce Harper hit a solo shot onto the AstroTurf in center in the bottom of the third. They managed just one more hit – a single by Adam LaRoche in the fourth – before the Braves struck back.
In the top of the fifth, B.J. Upton singled on a line drive to left off Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez then walked Andrelton Simmons before the two runners took second and third respectively on a sacrifice bunt by pitcher Julio Teheran. With two outs, Evan Gattis singled in B.J. Upton and Simmons, to put Atlanta up 2-1. [Read more...]