September 1, 2015

Washington Nationals Game 129 Review: Strasburg Pulled Early, Nats Beat Marlins

The Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 7-4 on Sunday afternoon despite starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg being pulled after four innings pitched.

Strasburg threw 60 pitches and 43 strikes in four innings while giving up four runs and two home runs on seven hits while striking out three batters. According to the team after the game, Strasburg left with an upper back injury not considered to be serious. [Read more…]

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 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 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 Game 119 Review: Strasburg’s Solid in Colorado, Nats Squeak by Rockies

The Washington Nationals beat the Colorado Rockies 4-1 on Wednesday night thanks to a tie-breaking two-run triple hit by Jayson Werth in the eighth inning.

Colorado took an early 1-0 lead over the Nats in the second inning when first baseman Ben Paulsen scored on a wild pitch thrown by Washington starter Stephen Strasburg.

Strasburg ended up with the win on Wednesday, tallying his seventh of the season. He threw 93 pitches and 68 strikes in seven innings while giving up two hits, one run, and striking out five batters. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 118 Review: Offense Awakes, Rockies Stunned, Nats Win 15-6

NATS SLIDE STOPS AT SIX, OFFENSE EXPLODES FOR 15 RUNS, 10 WALKS

With the season on the line, and a new batting order in place, the first ten minutes of Tuesday night’s game held a lot of hope for the Nationals. Bryce Harper drew a walk in the three slot, and Yunel Escobar crushed a homer to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead.

And then the Rockies came to the plate.

The Rockies scored three in the first, and added another in the seconds, on a pair of home runs off Jordan Zimmermann, and some horrific defensive miscues by Jordan Zimmermann, Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond.

Carlos Gonzalez was the first to strike for Colorado, sending a 1-1 fastball high in the air over the fence in right field. Jose Reyes came in ahead of Gonzalez after a smooth single. The Rockies would add one more on some ham-handed defense by Ian Desmond. With Nolan Arenado at third, Nick Hundley hit a routine grounder right to Desmond, who couldn’t pick it cleanly, nor hold on to the ball

The Nationals fought back in the third, getting a Danny Espinosa double, and a Bryce Harper walk to put the tying run at first base with one out. Escobar singled up the middle, scoring the fleet-footed Espinosa, and Harper gunned it for third on the play. Ian Desmond followed with the world’s luckiest bunt single, badly misread by David Hale. Hale came charging in, but didn’t complete the charge to cover home as Nick Hundley fielded the ball. Harper spotted the miscue and snuck right down the third base line to score the tying run, knotting the score at 3.

In the fifth, newly-minted leadoff hitter Jayson Werth racked out a single on the sweet spot with two outs, and Espinosa knocked him right in on a double to the right field corner to take the lead. Next frame, the Nationals would strike on another gutsy baserunning play, this time by Ian Desmond. With Wilson Ramos batting, and Desmond at third, Hale threw a wild pitch that just got away from Hundley at the plate. Desmond broke as soon as the pitch looked wild and charged the plate well ahead of the relay back from Hundley, making it 6-4.

The Rockies tied it in the sixth on a monster shot from Jose Reyes, leading many to question why perhaps Zimmermann was still in the game. Clearly struggling after five innings, he had given up five runs, but there he was, batting for himself in the top of the sixth.

With the game tied, the Nationals had to make a push. The Mets had finished their victory over the Baltimore Orioles, and moved to a five-game lead over the NL East. And push they did. The Nats put up nine runs from the seventh onward, including four in the eighth and ninth. Bryce Harper drew his fourth walk of the night, Danny Espinosa drew up a 3-for-5 with 2 RBI, Jayson Werth went 2-for-5 in the leadoff slot, and Yunel Escobar racked up 4 RBI in a 3-for-4 with two walks.

The bullpen did a remarkable job of shutting down the Rockies, with Drew Storen throwing a scoreless eighth and Tanner Roark doing the same in the ninth to shut the Rockies down for good. Jordan Zimmermann did surrender six runs, including a pair of unearned runs thanks to bad defense, but the young pitcher looked gassed after five full, and why he was left in despite that remains a mystery. Thankfully for the Nationals, the Rockies had their own troubles Tuesday night.

HERO: Let’s give this one to Matt Williams, who shuffled the lineup to some actual success. Whether it was the movement, or some other psychosomatic change, let’s give this guy one. After all, if they lose the next two he might still be in the BLS report next month.

GOAT: Wilson Ramos puts up an 0-for-5 on the day and looked atrocious at the plate.

NATS NOTES:

  • Harper’s four walks are a career high
  • Escobar’s four RBI match a season high
  • The Nats’ 15 runs and 10 walks are both season highs

NEXT UP: Rematch! Nationals/Rockies return tomorrow night at 8:40pm. Strasburg vs De La Rosa.

Washington Nationals Game 115 Review: Scherzer hit hard in Nats 4th straight loss

HARPER, ESPINOSA HOMER IN FIFTH TO DRAW WITHIN ONE, BUT PEN GIVES UP TWO MORE

The Washington Nationals fell to 1-4 on their current 10-game west coast road trip as Max Scherzer was roughed up early and the bullpen gave up two late runs after the Nats managed a four-run fifth inning to get back into it. It added up to an 8-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants and a four-game losing streak for the Nats.

The Nats fell to 58-57 on the season, and remain 4 1/2 games behind the division leading New York Mets, who lost to Pittsburgh 3-2 in 10 innings. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 113 Review: Greinke, Puig too much for Nats

HARPER SITS IT OUT WITH INJURED LEFT KNEE

Mama said there would be days like these.

Zack Greinke was his normally dominant self, Yasiel Puig had a monster night and the Los Angeles Dodgers spanked the Washington Nationals 5-0 at Chavez Ravine in the second of a three-game set.

The Nats fell to 58-54, and dropped to 2 1/2 games behind the New York Mets, 4-0 winners over Colorado. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 109 Review: Strasburg dominant in return from D.L.

STRASBURG STRIKES OUT 12 IN FIRST START OFF DISABLED LIST

Stephen Strasburg was masterful in his first start back from being activated from the disabled list and the Washington Nationals beat the Colorado Rockies 6-1 on Saturday.

Strasburg made a triumphant return from the D.L. after missing a month with assortment of ailments, all stemming from the sprained ankle he sustained during spring training. His performance reminded all that when he’s healthy, he’s still capable of being special. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 108 Review: Nats blow 4-0 lead, lose 5-4

ZIMMERMANN SOLID, STOREN DREADFUL

Everything looked great for the Washington Nationals on Friday night, right up until it didn’t. Jordan Zimmerman had the Colorado Rockies guessing through six, and only allowed a single run to score. The Nationals’ offense worked out well, scoring four on three separate skeins of decent offense. And then Drew Storen, who’d been untouchable all season long, gave up a grand slam to Carlos Gonzalez in the eighth, now trailing 5-4. The Nationals couldn’t get to Tommy Kahnle or John Axford in the late innings, and that was that. Everything was fine, right up until it wasn’t.

Danny Espinosa got the Nats started off right in the first tonight, with a double to the left field corner that got past Kyle Parker, allowing Espinosa to race into third. Espinosa has been a spark plug for the Nationals in 2015, a bright spot amid an offensive grey zone. Bryce Harper would plate Espinosa on a grounder to the right side, giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead in the first.

Ryan Zimmerman continued his hot streak, returning from injury. With Harper aboard, Zimmerman drove a double to the right field gap. Harper was hustling from the crack of the bat, and scored standing up, coming all the way home from first.

Jordan Zimmermann continues to impress this season, retiring 16 of 17 in the middle innings, and scattering four hits through 6.2 innings at Nationals Park. Zimmermann’s fastball was his strength tonight, but his slider gave him a number of outs the second time through the order. The Rockies got to him in the seventh, scoring their first run of the night on a double and a single. Zimmermann gave way to Casey Janssen, who retired Nick Hundley on one pitch to end the threat.

Drew Storen ran into some trouble in the eighth, as Jose Reyes singled with Daniel Descalso aboard after a walk. With two out, Storen faced Nelson Arenado as the tying run, and Arenado hit a swinging bunt single down the third base line to load the bases. Carlos Gonzalez took a challenge fastball into the Nationals’ bullpen for to give the Rockies the lead. Storen would finish the eighth with a strikeout up in the zone to end the inning.

John Axford pitched the eighth for the Rockies, allowing Ian Desmond aboard on a walk. Desmond would steal second, and advance to third on a grounder. With clutch hitter Michael A. Taylor at the plate, the Nationals had every chance to even the score. Alas, Taylor struck out, stranding the tying run 90 feet from home.

The Rockies bullpen-by-committee sent Tommy Kahnle to the mound to finish the game. Pinch hitter Clint Robinson was a strikeout victim, but Yunel Escobar saw everything he needed during Robinson’s short at-bat. Escobar drew a five-pitch walk as Kahnle’s change-up couldn’t find the plate. Danny Espinosa popped up, bringing Bryce Harper to the plate as the winning run.

Tommy Kahnle opened the at-bat with a 96mph fastball right down the pipe, which Harper took for a strike. Ball one came on a fastball to the outside of the plate, and then Harper swung through an 88mph changeup to fall back 1-2. He fought off a fastball up, but succumbed to another changeup to strikeout and end the game.

54 games remain in the 2015 campaign, 108 are past. The Nationals will need to win at least 32 of those if they want to be in the mix for the post-season. They need to win games like tonight if they want to be in the hunt for October. Alas, it wasn’t to be tonight, and the Nationals fall further behind the surging Mets in the NL East.

HERO: Danny Espinosa had a helluva night, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored

GOAT: Drew Storen, for giving up two walks, a hit and then a grand slam to Carlos Gonzalez.

NATS NOTES:

  • Bryce Harper reached base for the 200th time this season in today’s game.

NEXT UP: Rockies/Nats continues Saturday night, Stephen Strasburg’s return from the DL (5-5, 5.16) vs. Eddie Butler (3-8, 5.45), 7:05 first pitch.

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