April 19, 2021

Washington Nationals Game 49 Review: Reds beat Nats late, Nats lose first series in ten

JANSSEN HAS DISASTROUS EIGHTH, NATS LOSE 8-5

Late mistakes from Casey Janssen cost the Nationals the game on Saturday afternoon, despite incredible defensive efforts to limit the damage. Michael A. Taylor had a 3-run homer in the sixth to put the Nationals ahead 5-2 before Janssen’s denouement. Gio Gonzalez pitched 5.1 IP of 4-run ball, and was hit twice by Reds pitching, the second HBP potentially contributing to Gio’s rough sixth inning.

The roster moves before the game almost overshadowed the action on the field Saturday afternoon. Before the game, the Nationals announced that Stephen Strasburg was off to the 15-day disabled list, and Taylor Hill had been called up in his place. In addition, Bryce Harper was a late scratch with a tight back, caused by yesterday’s drilling at the hands of Anthony Cingrani of the Reds.

Raisel Iglesias started for the Reds, and the young Cuban defector was frustrating for the Nationals hitters at times, but as his command fell apart in the sixth, the Nationals sent him to the showers. Iglesias struck out seven, mastering a breaking ball and a high fastball to combine for some unlikely devastation through the Nats order.

It wasn’t all domination for Iglesias, though, as Michael A. Taylor obliterated one of his pitches late in the sixth for a three-run homer amid Iglesias’ control failures. Clint Robinson and Danny Espinosa had each ripped singles off Iglesias ahead of Taylor’s moonshot off the scoreboard on the fascia of the second deck in left field. The Nationals lead stretched to 5-2, and everything looked solid for the gents in grey.

Gio Gonzalez struggled early with his control, in no small part due to a narrow strike zone from home plate umpire Andy Fletcher. In the first he’d load the bases on a walk and two singles before escaping unscathed. In the third, he gave up a two-run homer to Joey Votto on a pitch that just got away.

After that, Gonzalez largely settled into a rhythm, working counts well, and finding a devastating curve placement to strike out six. Disaster would strike in the top of the sixth for Gio, though as an errant Iglesias fastball would drill him right in the left tricep. He’d remain in the game — for reasons not yet explained, despite a rested pen — and the bottom of the sixth did not go well. Gio lead off the bottom of the sixth with a walk to Joey Votto, and a double to Todd Frazier, putting runners at 2nd and 3rd with no one out. An agitated Gio Gonzalez paced around the periphery of the mound, chewed on his glove, and talked to himself at length, but manager Matt Williams remained in the dugout.

The early part of the Nationals bullpen did yeoman’s work today against the Reds. Blake Treinen came on in relief of Gonzalez in the sixth and dialed in two strikeouts on 98mph sinkers that just weren’t fair. He did have a pair of wild pitches that allowed the remaining runner to advance to third, but his sinker was devastating against Zach Cozart and Marlon Byrd, enough to seal the leak. Matt Thornton buzzed right through the Reds in the seventh, throwing just 10 pitches to retire the side in order.

Casey Janssen had a rougher go in the eighth, but some spectacular defense by Denard Span and Dan Uggla kept the Reds at bay, to start. Denard Span would leap to the top of the fence in left center and sweep a ball bound over back into play limiting Frazier to a double. With runners at the corners, a ball deflected off Ryan Zimmerman’s glove ended up right in the hands of Dan Uggla preventing a run to score, but Janssen’s bad coverage let the runner aboard safely. Zach Cozart would make him pay for all those missed pitches, and stroked a double to the deepest part of the park, bringing around a pair of Redlegs, and Billy Hamilton would bring around two more on a single through the gap to right.

That Janssen gets left out there as long as he did is one of the reasons that there are questions about Matt Williams’ managerial chops with regard to bullpen management. Pulling Janssen earlier there might have put the Nats in a better place to stop the Reds, especially when the bullpen’s got fresh arms.

The Nats gave Aroldis Chapman a scare in the ninth, drawing a pair of walks off the fireballer. Denard Span and Ian Desmond each claimed a free pass on full counts, with the final pitch of their at-bats at 99mph. Chapman would dial it up a notch for Dan Uggla and Ryan Zimmerman, though, and both struck out on 102mph fastballs to end the threat.

This was the Nationals’ first series loss in over a month.

HERO: Michael A. Taylor for his three-run yard shot in the sixth. He was 2-for-31 since his memorable grand slam in Houston, he definitely needed it. Honorable mention to Denard Span for his highlight reel non-catch of Todd Frazier’s double to left center in the 8th.

GOAT: Casey Janssen abysmal eighth inning was his worst outing of the year. He gave up four runs on four hits with two walks, despite the fact that Denard Span and Dan Uggla each performed miracles to limit the damage.

Secondary Goat Award to Yunel Escobar, ejected for arguing balls and strikes when he knew the Nats were down a player already. The call wasn’t that egregious, but Escobar had to jaw. Fletcher gave Escobar two chances to back off before giving him the hook, which was more than fair.

NATS NOTES:

  • Bryce Harper’s Friday night hit against Aroldis Chapman came on a pitch clocked at 102.2mph. It was the fastest pitch hit in the Pitch Trax era.
  • The Reds hit Gio Gonzalez with pitches twice on Saturday, which is, as far as I can tell, the only time a Nats starter has been hit twice in the same game.

NEXT UP: Tanner Roark vs. Michael Lorenzen at 1:10pm as the Nats try to avoid a sweep.

Washington Nationals Game 48 Review: Nats Bats Not Clutch, Strasburg Hurt

STRASBURG LEAVES EARLY, NATS DROP SERIES OPENER

The Washington Nationals, riding high on nine straight series victories, rolled in to Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati to face the Reds Friday night. They wouldn’t stay that way. Leaving 12 runners aboard and going 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position, the Nats fell to the Reds, 5-2.

Stephen Strasburg started the evening on the bump for the Nationals, but wouldn’t make it out of the second inning, Not because he was getting shelled, but rather because he appeared to be struggling with command and a potential physical problem. An already hobbled Nationals team, missing Jayson Werth (broken wrist), Anthony Rendon (strained oblique, sprained knee), and Doug Fister (strained flexor), was dealt a blow when Strasburg began to struggle in the second. After just one batter in the second, and sixteen pitches on the night, trainer Lee Kuntz walked Strasburg back to the clubhouse. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 45 Review: Nats 2, Cubs 1

NATIONALS EKE OUT 2-1 WIN AGAINST CUBS ON THE LONG BALL

The Washington Nationals turned to their number six starter Tanner Roark for his first start of the season Monday against the Chicago Cubs. Wilson Ramos and Denard Span each had home runs, and kept the Nats in it against a parsimonious Cubs staff as the Nats won 2-1. Kris Bryant homered off Roark for the Cubs’ only run.

The best part of having a pitching staff as talented as the Nationals is being able to go to your long man for a spot start and have it come out as well as it did Monday. Tanner Roark made his first start of the year at Wrigley today, going five innings and striking out three. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 40 Review: Zimmerman Hits His Tenth Career Walk-Off Home Run, Nats Beat Yankees in Extras

ZIMMERMAN JOINS IMMORTALS MUSIAL, PEREZ, SCHMIDT, PUJOLS AND BONDS WITH 10-PLUS WALK-OFFS

The Washington Nationals and New York Yankees held the same record of 22-17 going into Tuesday night’s game at Nationals Park.  But after ten innings of baseball played in the nation’s capital, the Nats emerged victorious beating the Yankees 8-6 thanks to a two-out, two-run walk-off home run hit by Mr. Walk-off himself — first baseman Ryan Zimmerman — against left-handed reliever Andrew Miller.

Offense is what kept the Nats in the game despite a shaky starting appearance made by left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez. The Nats got a jump start with home runs hit by shortstop Ian Desmond and outfielder Bryce Harper off right-handed starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi in the first inning making it a 2-0 game in favor of Washington. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 28 Review: Strasburg Struggles Due to Shoulder Issue, Marlins Take Advantage

A previous streak of success against the Miami Marlins didn’t provide much solace for Washington’s right-handed starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday night. The Nationals fell to the Marlins 2-1 while Strasburg made an early exit after three innings of work due to discomfort under his right shoulder blade.

Miami took advantage of the opportunity presented to them while Strasburg struggled to settle due to the shoulder irritation. Strasburg’s problems were apparent from the start. Outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna singled and walked with two out in the first inning. Strasburg got out of that situation unscathed but the Marlins found a way to get ahead of the Nats and score.

Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto led off the second inning with a triple hit past shortstop Ian Desmond, off of Strasburg, before scoring on a RBI-single hit by outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. A bunt attempt by Miami’s starting right-handed pitcher Mat Latos with nobody out and two men on base initiated an error made by Strasburg allowing Ichiro to score and giving the Marlins a 2-0 lead.

Washington answered back with a run in the bottom half of the second inning thanks to a  patient yet aggressive offensive appearance at the plate by first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman led off the second inning  against Latos by drawing a walk in an eleven pitch at-bat. Catcher Wilson Ramos followed Zimmerman with a double off Latos moving Zimmerman to third. Second baseman Dan Uggla drove in the only run with a RBI-groundout sending Zimmerman home, allowing the Nats to score, but Miami’s starting pitching proved superior when compared to Strasburg’s short-lived appearance.

Strasburg’s three innings of work included four hits, two runs, two walks, two strikeouts, and one hit batter. He threw 64 pitches and 37 strikes before being replaced by recent call-up and left-handed reliever Sammy Solis in the fourth inning.

Solis made his second Major League appearance with three innings of work while giving up one hit and striking out two batters. Manager Matt Williams was impressed by the amount of strikes Solis has thrown in his pair of outings with Washington thus far. He has thrown five scoreless innings and retired nine of 10 batters faced, including seven straight.

Unfortunately, Washington’s offense tallied only three hits and left eight men on base while drawing six walks against Miami. The Nats’ bullpen posted six spotless innings of work thanks to right-handed relievers Blake Treinen and Aaron Barrett and left-handed reliever Matt Thornton — in addition to Solis, but the lack of offensive productivity left the Nats a run behind; Marlins 2, Nats 1.

HERO: The bullpen for preventing the Marlins from scoring any more runs from the fourth inning onward and Ryan Zimmerman for showing patience in his first at-bat of night, ultimately allowing the Nats to score their sole run.

GOAT: Stephen Strasburg. He’ll be getting his shoulder looked at on Thursday. The silver lining here is that there was mutual acknowledgement from Strasburg and the coaching staff indicating that the best choice for the starter’s health and the team as a whole was to remove him from the game shortly after identifying the issue. Washington made the right move taking him out in order to play it safe and not have him alter his mechanics.

NATS NOTES:

  • Nationals Manager Matt Williams said it seemed unlikely that Strasburg’s shoulder strain will warrant a trip to the disabled list but his condition will be reviewed on Wednesday.
  • Doug Fister had a solid pinch hit at-bat when he hit in Strasburg’s place during the third inning. He had a hard-hit single drop in the outfield but was called out due to a double play induced by outfielder Denard Span. Great piece of hitting though.

UP NEXT: RHP Tom Koehler (2-2, 4.67) and the Miami Marlins face RHP Max Scherzer (1-3, 1.26) and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park at 1:05 p.m. on Wednesday.

 

Washington Nationals Game 27 Review: Late Offense Lifts Nats Over Fish, 6-4

BATS WAKE LATE, POWER NATS OVER FISH

The Miami Marlins went blow-for-blow with the Washington Nationals on Monday night for eight innings. It wouldn’t be enough. Despite a strong seven inning outing from Jordan Zimmermann, in which he surrendered just two runs, the Nats’ bats fell silent until late on the game. The Nationals staged a comeback on the bats of Ian Desmond, who crushed a ball into the center field batter’s eye to tie the game in the eighth, and Yunel Escobar, who went 5 for 5 and drove in the go-ahead runs in the eighth.

All told, the Nats won 6-4, but it wasn’t decided until Tanner Roark — filling in for Drew Storen — punched out Giancarlo Stanton a runner on in the ninth.

What happens when two hot teams collide? After a 3-11 start, the Miami Marlins have gone 9-2, and their defensive lock on the infield was in full display Monday night against the surging Washington Nationals. The home team, on a 5-1 tear themselves, was just as ready to put on a defensive show themselves.

Adeiny Hechevarria for the Marlins and Denard Span for the Nationals each made highlight reel plays to rob their opponents of runs and perpetuate the pitchers’ duel.

Jordan Zimmermann was impressive on Monday night, working through six innings on just 65 pitches. The one run he did give up in the first was unearned, as Jayson Werth misread a bullet off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton, which allowed Martin Prado to advance on his way around the basepaths.

Zimmermann’s only mistake of the night came in the seventh inning against Justin Bour, who took a 3-2 four-seamer just out of the park to left field, landing just past the flower beds atop the wall. His 7IP, 6H, 2R, 1ER, 4K, 0BB performance went just 81 pitches before he gave way to Clint Robinson as a pinch hitter in the seventh.

Down 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh, the Nationals staged an unlikely comeback. Robinson, batting for Zimmermann, drew a four-pitch walk with one out. Michael A. Taylor came on to pinch run for Robinson as Matt Williams opted for speed on the basepaths. It almost came back to bite him. Yunel Escobar singled to right, notching his fourth hit for the night, and on the hit-and-run, Taylor didn’t pick up third base coach Bob Hendley and missed an opportunity to score, and had to settle for third as Stanton booted the ball ten feet. It would’ve been a tight play had Taylor gone full bore from the get-go.

Jayson Werth, at the time 0-for-3 on the night, and with many wondering exactly what he was doing in the three hole for the Nationals, poked a timely single to right to score Taylor from third. Bryce Harper wasted an opportunity with runners at the corner on a pop-up to end the inning with the game just tied at two.

With Zimmermann gone, the Nationals turned to Blake Treinen in relief. Rolaids were in evidence all over Nationals Park as he came in. Almost immediately, he was in over his head.

A five-pitch walk to Dee Gordon, followed by a stolen base, put Treinen in a nearly untenable position. The Nats opted to give Stanton a free pass to setup the best force play, and that was it for Treinen. Matt Grace came in to face Jeff Baker, who promptly put the Marlins ahead 4-2 on a single down the right field line. The bullpen had collapsed a touch and all looked lost.

Neither Ian Desmond nor Yunel Escobar were ready to let things go quietly into the May evening. Ryan Zimmerman lead off the eighth with a full-count walk, Ian Desmond just crushed the ball into the batter’s eye in dead center, about 420 feet from home to tie the game at four.

The Nats weren’t done yet.

Tyler Moore, pinch-hitting for Grace, singled to right, and went first-to-third on a double from Denard Span, which set up the critical at-bat. Escobar was the only National who hit all night long, with five singles off Marlins pitching, and he took 1-1 slider to right field, which plated both Moore and Span.

That meant the Nats took a 6-4 lead into the ninth against the Marlins who’d nickeled and dimed them all night long. With Drew Storen unavailable, having pitched three games of the last four, Matt Williams turned to Tanner Roark, in his first ever save situation. He did not disappoint.

Roark quickly retired Reid Brignac on a brutal curve, a strikeout victim. Dee Gordon racked his first hit of the night on a single up the middle, and that setup the evening’s most dramatic moment. You can’t ignore Giancarlo Stanton when he’s anywhere but ninth in rolling order. You especially can’t ignore him when he’s in the on-deck circle.

A double play would avoid Stanton coming to the plate as the tying run — perhaps one of my own worst nightmares — but that did not come to pass. Martin Prado popped out, bringing Stanton to the dish to face Roark as the tying run. At first, it appeared that Roark would issue an unintentional intentional pass to Stanton, falling behind 3-0. But Roark dialed in a two-seamer for strike one, before fooling Stanton consecutive 87 mph sliders for his first ever save.

HERO: Yunel Escobar was on fire tonight, going 5-for-5, and his eighth inning single drove in two to put the Nats ahead for good. Ian Desmond, honorable mention for his two-run bomb in the eighth.

GOAT: Blake Treinen, for the walk to Dee Gordon, where they needed an out. Treinen has struggled in his eighth inning role, and the Nationals are going to need to streamline the roles in the bullpen.

NATS NOTES:

  • Anthony Rendon was in DC today to see the team doctor. He has been sidelined with left oblique tightness for the last few rehab starts, and it was announced after the game he would be shut down with a strain.
  • Casey Janssen will begin a rehab assignment later this week and could join the Nationals late next week.
  • Reed Johnson is possibly done with the season after undergoing foot surgery to repair a ruptured tendon.

NEXT UP: Nationals/Marlins continues Tuesday night at 7:05pm, Latos (0-3, 6.86) vs. Strasburg (2-2, 4.60)

Washington Nationals Game 4 Review: Gio Falters Late, Offense Quiet

Having dropped two of the first three against the Mets, the Nationals arrived at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia with something to prove. Gio Gonzalez (0-1) was on the bump for the Nats in his first start of the season, facing off with Jerome Williams of the Phillies. With a streak of 7 consecutive quality starts to end the 2014 season, Gonzalez was primed to deliver in his first start of the year.

Gonzalez would get close.

After six scoreless innings, Gio would find himself in trouble in the seventh, surrendering two walks, followed by a hit batsman to load the bases. Gio would throw a quarter of his pitches for the night in his third of the seventh. Visibly frustrated with the strike zone and his control, the Nationals’ number four starter would head for the showers with the bases loaded, one away, and Xavier Cedeño headed in for relief.

He’d make it two batters.

Cedeño wasn’t the lights-out reliever he’d been against the Mets, and allowed a 2-RBI single to Cesar Hernandez, before hitting Ben Revere with his next pitch. Manager Matt Williams was out to give Cedeño the hook shortly thereafter. Craig Stammen would come in and do little better, surrendering a single and a sac fly before finally closing out the inning. In the end, the Phillies scored four runs in the seventh, on 2 singles, 2 walks, 2 HBP and a sac fly. That would be enough to finish the Nationals, as the Phillies triumphed 4-1.

To leadoff the game Michael A. Taylor, doing his best Rickey Henderson impression, lead off the first with a long homerun to the left field corner. Taylor’s first home run of the 2015 campaign would stake Gonzalez to all the lead he’d get for the night. Taylor has started of the year strong, and if he continues his current pace, the Nationals may have some hard decisions to make when Denard Span is once again healthy. His early 5-for-17 (.294) include 3 RBI, and an .882 OPS. If Taylor continues his tear, do they let Span take his time coming back to give the rookie some extra playing time?

The Nationals would threaten in the second and fourth, but struggled to move runners from scoring position. Unfortunately, Ian Desmond’s rough April continued with a base-running miscue in the fourth. With one out, and Ryan Zimmerman at 1st, Desmond got wood on the ball and drove one to the left-center gap. Grady Sizemore fired a strike to veteran second baseman Chase Utley who applied the tag. While it looked like it might be the Nationals’ first coach’s challenge of the year, Matt Williams opted for safety, and the Nats wouldn’t be able to capitalize. The Nationals remain 3-for-22 with runners in scoring position this year.

Jerome Williams had a solid night for the Phils, going six full, scattering five hits and a walk, and giving up only Taylor’s homerun. He would strikeout six – including Harper, twice – and limited his damage to one bad pitch.

HERO: Michael A. Taylor, who continues his offensive tear in the Spring. His leadoff home run gives him 3 RBI for the season, and the club lead.

GOAT: Xavier Cedeño. The whole point of relief pitching is actually being relief. Cedeño was anything but. Honorable Mention to Matt Williams for leaving Gio out to dry in the seventh.

NATS NOTES:

  • Harper had 3 strikeouts for the second straight game, bringing his total to 8. He has the club lead by 3.
  • Blake Treinen pitched a scoreless eighth, with blazing velocity and pinpoint accuracy. Have the Nationals found their 8th inning man? He broke a pair of Philly bats.

UP NEXT: Nats at Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday at 7:05pm. Doug Fister (16-6, 2.41 in ’14) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (9-9, 2.46 in ’14).

Washington Nationals Spring Training Preview: The Starters

This week, District Sports Page will review the players currently on the Washington Nationals 40-man roster and their potential contributions to the Major League roster this season.

Monday: Catchers
Tuesday: Infielders
Wednesday: Outfielders
Thursday: Starters
Friday: Bullpen

Max Scherzer
2014 AL: 33 games, 220.1 IP, 18-5, 3.15 ERA, 1.175 WHIP, 10.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 (6.0 WAR) [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 157 Review: Nats drop early game to Mets

In the early game of a day-night doubleheader caused by Wednesday’s rainout, the Washington Nationals fell to the New York Mets for just the fourth time in 18 games this season, 7-4, before an announced crowd of 28,629 at Nationals Park.

In reality, with the almost insignificant, unscheduled day game being played in gloomy conditions, there were probably less than 10 percent of that announced crowd actually on hand. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 144 Review: Nats Lose As Braves Strike Late

NATS CAN’T OVERCOME ATLANTA’S LATE SURGE AGAINST BULLPEN

Looking for a sweep, the Washington Nationals fell to the Atlanta Braves in a Wednesday afternoon contest at Nationals Park, 6-2.

In the first two games of the Nats three-game series with the Braves, Washington used some early offense to boost them to victory. On Wednesday afternoon, Braves’ starter Aaron Harang kept Washington’s offense in check while Atlanta slowly built a lead in the latter innings of the contest. [Read more…]

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