April 18, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 12 Review: Nats blasted by Braves 10-2

The Washington Nationals would just as soon forget about the past weekend and get the heck out of Atlanta.

For the third day in a row, the Atlanta Braves took charge early and knocked off the visiting Nats. On Sunday, the Braves scored six run off Gio Gonzalez in the first two innings and cruised to a 10-2 win.

Gonzalez (L, 2-1, 3.50) gave up six earned runs on nine hits and four walks, striking out six. Atlanta scored three runs in both the first and second innings, including Justin Upton’s fourth home run of the season in the first inning, and Freddie Freeman’s fourth of the season in the second. Upton went 8-for-10 with two homers and five RBIs in the three-game sweep.

Gonzalez gutted out another four innings, going six total. Ross Detwiler took over in the seventh, and promptly allowed four more runs — through just two were earned — on two hits and a walk, and Andrelton Simmons’ first homer of the season.

The Nats got a run in the fifth inning. Kevin Frandsen doubled to lead off, took third on Danny Espinosa’s bunt single, and scored on Jose Lobaton’s ground out.

Adam LaRoche homered in the ninth inning off reliever Gus Schlosser.

The Nats move to Miami to face the Marlins on Monday. Jordan Zimmermann (0-0, 8.10) takes on Brad Hand (0-0, 3.24) at 7:10 pm.

Washington Nationals Game 6 Review: Jordan Solid as Nats Top Braves to Avoid Sweep


With Bryce Harper out of the lineup Sunday afternoon, the Washington Nationals tallied just four hits to top the Atlanta Braves 2-1 by the skin of their teeth.

Taylor Jordan (ND, 1.42 ERA) allowed one run, six hits and two walks over 6.1 innings pitched, but he kept the Nats in contention despite their slow-to-produce offense.

Manager Matt Williams gave Bryce Harper the day off after the 21-year-old outfielder went 0-for-4 Saturday in the Nats’ 6-2 loss to the Braves. Harper, who is 3-for-21 with 10 strikeouts, has shown visible frustration over the past few days, throwing down his helmet and stomping back to the dugout in dismay.

The Nats also sat Ryan Zimmerman for the start of Sunday’s matchup due to shoulder soreness, but he pinch-hit for reliever Tyler Clippard in the eighth, alleviating some fears for now.

Testing yet another new lineup, the Nats took an early lead in the first off left-hander Alex Wood (L, 1-1).

Leading off for the first time in his MLB career, Anthony Rendon reached on a bunt single and advanced to second on a single by Kevin Frandsen. Jayson Werth hit an infield single, allowing Rendon to come home on a throwing error by second baseman Dan Uggla. To bring the Nationals to a halt, however, Wood retired the next three batters.

In fact, Washington failed to send another runner to base until Sandy Leon reached first on an error by Chris Johnson in the fifth.

Before that point, Jordan found himself in a bit of a jam in the fourth after walking Johnson and Justin Upton with one out. The situation went from bad to worse on a throwing error by Danny Espinosa, which allowed Dan Uggla to reach first to load the bases. But, Jordan pitched himself out of the inning, retiring Gerald Laird and Andrelton Simmons to end the inning.

And, in the top of the sixth, the Braves seemed to figure out Jordan’s repertoire. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 4 Review: Nats fall to Braves and umpire review in home opener

2014 Opening Day

2014 Opening Day


Expect another dozen and a half of these.

The Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves played in a tightly-contested, low scoring contest that came down to which team made the most critical errors — and maybe benefitted from a peculiar interpretation of a ground rule — as the Nats fell to the Braves 2-1 in the Nats home opener before a capacity crowd of 42,834 at Nationals Park.

Jordan Zimmermann rebounded from the illness that forced him to miss Thursday’s start in New York to pitch five quality innings, but the Braves scored a run off Tyler Clippard in the eighth inning and the Nats were futile in a comeback against Craig Kimbrel, in addition to making three outs on the basepaths during the game which contributed greatly to stifle the offense.

The play in question was a ball off the bat of Ian Desmond in the fifth inning, which came to rest under the padding of the fence in left field. Outfielder Justin Upton originally lifted his arms to signal the ball was stuck. The on-field umpires did not rule timeout, and Desmond rounded the bases for an apparent inside-the-park home run.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez asked for a replay, and the replay umpires in New York overturned the play on the field, ruling the ball was “stuck” under the padding, though Upton eventually retrieved the ball easily when it became apparent the umps would not stop the play.

Regardless, the Nats had four more ups to right the perceived damage, and could do nothing against the Braves pitching.

After the pomp and circumstance of the home opener, the teams got down to the business at hand and both starters cruised through the first three innings. Zimmermann allowed a second inning single to Dan Uggla; David Hale back-to-back singles by Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond in the bottom — though the hits were sandwiched around Harper being caught stealing 2-4-3-6.

Zimmermann’s big inning came in the fourth. Following a leadoff single to Freddie Freeman, 2013′s 19-game winner proceeded to strike out Chris Johnson, Justin Upton and Dan Uggla in succession, with Uggla being rung up on an inside curveball. All Uggla could do was shake his head in acknowledgement.

The Nats had Hale on the ropes in the bottom of the inning, but let him off the hook. With one out, Adam LaRoche drew a base on balls. Ryan Zimmerman nailed a liner to left that Justin  Upton misplayed into a double. But third base coach Bob Henley decided to send the not-fleet-of-foot LaRoche and Andrelton Simmons’ relay beat LaRoche to home by several feet, and LaRoche was out easily. Harper then K’d to end the frame, and slammed his bat and helmet for good measure.

Braves Catcher Evan Gattis waiting patiently for Nats Adam LaRoche

Braves Catcher Evan Gattis waiting patiently for Nats Adam LaRoche

Predictably, after the Nats wasted the opportunity, the very next Braves batter was Evan Gattis, and he sent a mammoth clout over the bullpen in left center for his first home run of the season, breaking up the scoreless tie.

Ian Desmond led off the bottom of the inning with a line drive into the left field corner. The ball came to a rest underneath the lip in the padding of the fence, and Desmond raced all the way around the bases for an apparent inside-the-park home run. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez requested a review, and the umpires then ruled that the ball was lodged under the padding and brought Desmond back out of the dugout and awarded a ground rule double, much to the anger of Nats fans.

Desmond was promptly thrown out trying to steal third base.

In the sixth, Anthony Rendon led off with a single and took second on reliever Gus Schlosser’s wild pitch. Werth walked, and Adma LaRoche followed with a ground ball to second. Werth was able to break up the double play attempt, and Ryan Zimmerman’s fly to center was deep enough to bring home Rendon from third to tie the game.

The Braves got to Tyler Clippard in the eighth. He walked leadoff hitter Jason Heyward. After B.J. Upton struck out — for the third time on the day — Heyward went first-to-third on Freddie Freeman’s single, then scored on Chris Johnson’s sacrifice fly to right.

The Nats got a single from Anthony Rendon and walk from Werth to start off the bottom of the eighth, but David Carpenter settled down for the Braves to strike out LaRoche, Zimmerman and Harper — the last looking — to squelch the rally.

The Nats went quietly in the bottom of the ninth against All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel, with Desmond and Jose Lobaton striking out before pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen popped up to end the game.

The Nationals host the Braves Saturday night at 7:05 pm. Stephen Strasburg (0-0. 6.00) hosts Julio Teheran (0-1, 3.00).

Nats second opening day comes with added enthusiasm

The Washington Nationals play the Atlanta Braves in the first of a three-game series Friday at 1:10 pm. Sounds clinical when it’s put in those terms. That could describe any series opening game at any point in the season.

But this series opener is also the home opener on the schedule — the first of 81 games in the regular season for the Nats to play with a homefield advantage. It’s also the first time for many in attendance — yours truly included — to see the Nats for the first time in person this calendar year. Unless you were fortunate enough to make a pilgrimage to Viera for Spring Training, or shuffled up to New York to see the Mets series, you’re in the same boat.

This game would have been special – for fans, the players, the organization, the city – regardless of circumstances. But it comes on the heels of a three-game sweep of the division rival Mets. Most opening days come with as much uncertainty as excitement. But Friday’s home opener comes with added enthusiasm. We’ve already seen a lot of what the Nats could be this season in just three games

We’ve already seen Stephen Strasburg recover from a shaky start to strike out 10 in six innings. We’ve seen Gio Gonzalez dominate an undermanned Mets team — and smack a home run to boot.

Ryan Zimmerman’s second inning blast Thursday reminds us of just how important a player he is for the team, just as his throwing error Wednesday reminds us that his defense isn’t what it used to be, and may never be again.

Tanner Roark showed more of the promise in Thursday’s emergency start that he gave a glimpse of at the end of last season. Denard Span, Adam LaRoche and Danny Espinosa all had a promising opening series after last season’s disappointments. And Jayson Werth kept on hitting.

What we haven’t seen yet is Bryce Harper bust out with any noise yet. Manager Matt Williams indicated in his pregame press conference that Harper’s swing was a “tick off” so far. Asked to elaborate, Williams declined, saying he was not at liberty to talk about it. Cause for concern? Maybe, but worry? Not yet.

The Nats have won coming from behind late. They’ve dominated a game. And they’ve grinded a win out for a late-blooming prospect. We’ve seen a lot so far in just three games, and that makes the home opener that much more exciting for the home fans. This is a season of big possibilities. It’ll take six months to play out.

But we’ve already seen a lot.

Happy Opening Day everyone.

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Nats drop a pair in split-squad games with Braves and Astros

The Washington Nationals had a split-squad day on Wednesday, with half the team travelling to Lake Buena Vista to face the Braves and the rest in Kissimmee taking on the Astros. Unfortunately, the results were similar, as both home teams scored in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the Nats.

The group in Disney fell to Atlanta 3-2. Veteran starter Chris Young, trying to resurrect his career, allowed tow earned runs on three hits and a walk, striking out three. He gave up a two-out, two-run homer to Freddie Freeman in the first inning.

The Braves got the winning run in the ninth inning off minor league closer Robert Benincasa. Joe Leonard singles to start the inning, then pinch-runner Jose Peraza stole second and scored on a single by Elmer Reyes.

Denard Span went 2-for-3 with a triple, raising his spring average to .429.

In Kissimmee, the Astros got to lefty Xavier Cedeno for three runs on four hits in the ninth to send the Nats to a 10-9 loss. Cedeno struck out leadoff hitter Gregorio Petit and Jesus Guzman ground out. But Rene Garcia singled to right and Adron Chambers ran for him. Cedeno uncorked a wild pitch, sending Chambers to second. He scored on a Delino DeShields single. Marwin González followed with a double, plating DeShields. Gonzalez scored the winning run on a George Spring single.

Tanner Roark, battling for the fifth spot in the rotation, started. He allowed three runs on three hits and two walks, striking out three, in 3.1 IP. He gave up Jason Castro’s two-run homer in the third inning. Craig Stammen allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits in two innings, striking out four.

Will Rhymes went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, Nate McLouth homered and Mike Fontenot drove in three and scored twice.



Washington Nationals Spring Training: Nats comeback late but lose to Braves 3-2

Jordan Zimmermann made his second scoreless appearance of the Grapefruit League season, and the Washington Nationals were tied with the Atlanta Braves at 2 entering the bottom of the ninth, but the Braves pushed a run across against Danny Rosenbaum and the Nats fell 3-2 in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

Braeden Schlehuber singled with pinch-runner Joey Terdoslavich on third base with two outs to give the Braves the win. Terdoslavich entered the game after Ernesto Mejia walked. He took second on an error by Mike Fontenot and went to third on a wild pitch by Rosenbaum.

None of which should take away from Zimmermann’s sterling three-inning stint. The 2013 All-Star gave up two hits and a walk, striking out four. He faced 12 batters and got four ground outs and one fly out.

Ross Ohlendorf gave up three hits and a walk, leading to two earned runs, without retiring a batter.

Anthony Rendon went 2-for-3 leading off, and Will Rhymes went 2-for-3 as well. Catcher Chris Snyder homered in the ninth inning to tie the game up for a short time.

The Nats struck out 12 times against seven Atlanta pitchers, including four by starter Julio Teheran.

Washington hosts the Houston Astros at 1:05 pm on Friday from Space Coast Stadium in Viera.

Nats Nightly: Somber loss to Braves, Strasburg scratched for Thursday

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.

Washington Nationals Game 152: With 10 games left, Nats take hard fall back to reality

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...]

Washington Nationals Game 151: Roark stellar as Nats take doubleheader vs. Braves

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...]

Nats Nightly: Emotional doubleheader sweep of Braves

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and Doghouse of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals critical doubleheader sweep of the Atlanta Braves.

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