May 5, 2015

Washington Nationals Game 26 Review: Fister owns Mets in 1-0 win

NATIONALS WIN CONSECUTIVE 1-0 GAMES FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FRACHISE HISTORY

The Washington Nationals have only scored two runs in their past two games. But it doesn’t matter how many you score if you don’t give up any.

For the second day in a row, the Nats shut out the New York Mets 1-0, the first time in Nats/Expos history that’s happened and the first time it’s happened in DC baseball history since 1915.

Doug Fister allowed five hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out three, and the Nats (12-14) made a first inning run against Dillon Gee stand up. The win is the third in four games against the Mets over the weekend, and trims the Nats deficit in the N.L. East to four games.

Fister has had trouble so far this season pitching up in the zone, where his 86-87 MPH fastball has served as batting practice at time. On Sunday, he was able to pitch in the lower half of the strike zone much better, and generated six ground ball outs, to go along with six fly outs. Fister was able to keep his sinker out of he middle of the plate, and Mets batters didn’t make solid contact when they were able to put it into play.

On the other side, Gee was solid as well against the Nats hitters, who after producing back-to-back 13 run games against Atlanta earlier in the week are back to scuffling again. Gee allowed six hits over five innings, but also walked five, which contributed to his early exit.

The Mets pen allowed just one hit and one walk over four innings. The Nats relievers didn’t have to pitch as long, but were just as good. Matt Thornton walked two in the eighth, the only runners to reach against four Nats relievers.

Drew Storen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save of the season.

Washington scored the lone run in the first inning. Denard Span led off with a walk, but was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Yunel Escobar. Escobar in turn was erased on Jayson Werth’s grounder to third. Bryce Harper laces a single to center to move Werth up to second, and the veteran left fielder scored on Ryan Zimmerman’s broken bat looper over first base.

The Nationals threatened in the fifth and sixth innings, getting a runner to third with no outs in both frames, but rallies ended with no more runs pushed across.

Ultimately, they weren’t needed.

HERO: Doug Fister. Like Gio Gonzalez Saturday night, the tall righty came through with a stellar outing, helping the Nats take the series against the Mets and cut into what was once close to a double-digit deficit in the division.

GOAT: Everyone but Jose Lobaton a stranded multiple runners, but Denard Span was the biggest culprit, leaving five runners on the bases.

NATS NOTES:

  • Ian Desmond went 2 for 3 with two doubles, and is maybe showing signs of life of breaking out of his horrendous hitting slump.
  • Jayson Werth, however, is not. His 0 for 4 day drops his season battin average down to .159, a gaping hole in the middle of the order.
  • After playing in Friday’s game for AA-Harrisburg, Anthony Rendon did not play again over the weekend, still nursing “tightness” in his right side.

NEXT GAME: The Nats return home for a much-needed homestand. Monday, Jordan Zimmermann (2-2, 4.88) hosts the Miami Marlins and David Phelps (1-0, 3.38)

Washington Nationals Game 23 Review: Nats trump Mets again at Citifield

With the Washington Capitals playing across town at Madison Square Garden in Game 1 of their second round matchup with the New York Rangers, the Washington Nationals took the field in Queens to faceoff against the New York Mets at Citifield, a ballpark that they’ve had quite a bit of success at the past two years.

Game 1 of this four-game series found the Nats having success once again. Stephen Strasburg settled down from a tough second inning, and the offense bailed him out and more as the Nats handed the Mets an 8-2 loss while the Caps got a goal with 1.3 seconds remaining to take their Game 1 against the Rangers.

Strasburg really had the fastball going in this one, routinely hitting 95-96-87 on the radar gun, but the big righty had trouble locating his changeup all night and eventually relied almost solely on the fastball against the Mets, who repeatedly had trouble catching up to it.

The Mets got to Strasburg in the second, who labored all night throwing a lot of pitches. With one out, Wilmer Flroes doubled to left, then scored on Kevin Plawecki’s double to center. Plawecki scored on Curtis Granderson’s two-out single to right to make it 2-0.

But the suddenly resurgent Nats offense got that back — and more — in the fourth against Mets starter Jacob deGrom. Denard Span walked following a seven-pitch at bat and moved up when Flores botched a routine ground ball off the bat of Yunel Escobar. Jayson Werth reached down and lined a single to left which scored Span and send Escobar to second.

Bryce Harper walked to lead the bases, and when Ryan Zimmerman’s long fly ball to right was caught, Escobar walked home with the Nats second run. Wilson Ramos then grounded out to short, but Werth came home on the play to make it 3-2.

Washington (10-13) added on in the sixth. Escobar reached on a single, went to third on Harper’s double into the right field corner, and came home when a ground ball from Zimmerman bounced through the middle of the infield for a single. Ramos followed with his own single up the middle, and the Nats went up 5-2 and chased deGrom from the game. Ian Desmond walked against reliever Erik Goeddel, but Danny Espinosa flied to medium center, and Zimmerman was gunned down by Juan Lagares trying to score on the out.

The Mets got men on the corners with one out against Strasburg in the sixth, and with his pitch count high already, manager Matt Williams went to Aaron Barrett. Barrett used a wicked slider to retire Eric Campbell on strikes and got Flores to line out to left to quash the rally.

Strasburg finished 5 1/3 innings and allowed just the two earned runs on six hits and one walk, striking out seven, to earn his second win of the season.

Sammy Solis came on in the seventh for his MLB debut and was impressive. The lefty induced Plawecki to ground to short, pinch-hitter John Mayberry Jr lined out to left, and Curtis Granderson looked at strike three to end the frame.

The Nats tacked on three more in the ninth. Clint Robinson led off with a single and went to second on Escobar’s single. Jayson Werth loaded the bases with a single and Bryce Harper cleared the bases with a double to the left center gap.

HERO: Several hitters had good nights, including multi-hit performances by Escobar (3 for 5), andWerth, harper and Zimmerman all with two hits apiece. But let’s go with Solis, in his MLB debut, with two scoreless innings of relief in what was a 5-2 ballgame at the time.

GOAT: Mets reliever Buddy Carlyle. Carlyle got the save opening day against the Nats when Jenrry Mejia came up lame, but he was lit up in this one in the eighth inning. Three earned runs on four hits in 1 1/3 innings.

NATS NOTES:

  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first time the Nationals have had at least four players make their Major League debuts in April since 2007, when Levale Speigner, Kory Casto, Matt Chico and Jesus Flores all made the jump.
  • The last time the Nationals had four-plus players debut in the same month was Sept. 2011: Tommy Milone, Corey Brown, Steve Lombardozzi, Brad Peacock and Atahualpa Severino.
  • Bryce Harper finishes April hitting .286/.440/.545 with 5 doubles, 5 homers, 15 RBI and 22 walks. In case you forgot, he’s 22 years old.

NEXT GAME: Friday night at 7:10 pm Eastern. Max Scherzer (1-2, 1.26) faces Matt Harvey (4-0, 3.04).

Washington Nationals Game 14 Review: Nats need extras, but beat Cardinals 2-1

Yunel Escobar homered in the bottom of the 10th inning, delivering the Washington Nationals a hard-earned win over the burgeoning rival St. Louis, 2-1, before a raucous but depleted Nationals Park, on a night when both the Washington Capitals and Wizards were playing road playoff games.

All three teams won in dramatic fashion, with the Caps taking an overtime win over the New York Islanders to even their series at two games apiece, and the Wizards blowing away the Toronto Raptors to go up 2-0 in their first round matchup.

Starting pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Lance Lynn battled pitch for pitch in Tuesday night’s season-series opener between the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park. Both pitchers were impressive, gathering 11 strikeouts between them, though neither factored in the final decision.

The Nationals struck first in the third inning. Ian Desmond smacked a double off the wall in right field, followed by a walk to Jayson Werth on five pitches. That brought Bryce Harper to the plate with two men on and just one out, and Harper delivered a single to left, scoring Desmond and giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead.

That’s when things went off the rails a bit for the home team. Ryan Zimmerman hit a long fly ball to right center, where center fielder John Jay went a country mile to make the play. Both runners had advanced, and returned to their bags, but Bryce Harper appeared not to have re-touched second base having just stepped off the bag before retreating. On appeal, the Cardinals threw him out at second base for not tagging properly. Though there was some argument as to whether or not Harper had left the bag at all, he turned toward the shortstop, and that was enough for second base umpire Adam Hamari, who punched out Harper on appeal.

You might as well call Gio Gonzalez by his nickname after tonight. Houdini made it through six full innings, scattering eight hits and four walks, allowing no runs. The Nationals’ defense outperformed tonight, slicing and dicing the infield on 10 groundouts, with a pair of double plays, and some great play that stranded 12 Cardinals runners aboard. The Cards went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position tonight.

After six full — and 107 pitches — Gonzalez was done for the night, and duties fell to Tanner Roark, Matt Thornton and Drew Storen to finish up the night. Roark gave up a hit in the seventh, but worked around it to notch another scoreless inning. With lefties due to bat, Matt Thornton came on to pitch the eighth, and made short work of John Jay, Yadier Molina and Matt Adams, allowing only Kolten Wong to get aboard on a single.

The Nationals made a go of it in the late innings, but couldn’t get the runners across. In the eighth, Ryan Zimmerman was dismissed on strikes on a ball that was down around his ankles, with Jayson Werth at second. The death of that rally would seem costly in the ninth, when Drew Storen blew his first save of the year.

Storen gave up a single to Matt Carpenter to lead off the ninth, and a pair of wild pitches during Jason Heyward’s at-bat sent Carpenter to third without much of a challenge. Matt Holliday, who went 4 for 4 with a walk, singled him in to tie the game.

The bottom of the ninth was as full of drama as any April game could be. Danny Espinosa drew a five-pitch walk after Wilson Ramos struck out to start the action. Dan Uggla, pinch-hitting for the pitcher’s spot, put together the second best at-bat of the night, drawing a walk on eight pitches and battling hard against Matt Belisle. That was enough to bring out Mike Matheny from the dugout, and bring in Jordan Walden to face Denard Span.

Span’s at-bat was by far the best of the night. He fought Walden tooth and claw, with five fouls, before a loping grounder couldn’t be fielded cleanly by defensive replacement Matt Adams at first. Span would be safe on the play, bringing Desmond to the plate with the bags all full and one out. Desmond’s at-bat was the polar opposite from Span’s, and he strike out on five pitches. Desmond had just misread Walden’s entire approach.

It looked like the game might end on a deep fly ball from Jayson Werth, but for the third time Tuesday night, Jon Jay was right where he needed to be. Jay dove, laying out completely flat, to scoop the ball up before it hit the ground, and it was on to extra innings.

Aaron Barrett worked a scoreless 10th for the Nationals, putting them in the position to be the victors. The bats of Bryce Harper and Mr. Walkoff, Ryan Zimmerman, were leading off the 10th against Carlos Villanueva, but both remained silent. Bryce Harper struck out swinging, and Ryan Zimmerman lined out to rally-killer Jon Jay, leaving everything on Yunel Escobar. He delivered.

Escobar launched the very first pitch into the Cardinal bullpen, and Nats Park exploded. On a night when the Caps battled back into overtime, and scored a winner off the stick of Nicklas Backstrom, the Nats win might have been the second most impressive of the evening.

HERO: Yunel Escobar has his first walk-off in a Nationals uniform, with a yard shot in the 10th inning. Honorable mention: Ian Desmond, for his outstanding defense. Yes, that sentence is English. Desmond made a series of excellent picks from shortstop tonight, and a pair of double plays hinged on his relays. Maybe his April woes end early?

GOAT: Drew Storen, for blowing the save in the ninth. After giving up a base hit to Carpenter, two wild pitches gave Carpenter third, and let him score on a single by Matt Holliday.

NATS NOTES:

  • Storen’s blown save was his first in five save situations. He converted the other four.
  • Gio Gonzalez’s 107 pitches is the most from a Nats starter in 2015.
  • Escobar’s walkoff is his first since April of 2011 with the Jays.

UP NEXT: Rematch vs. the Cards tomorrow at 7:05pm, Doug Fister (1-0, 0.69) vs. John Lackey (1-0, 2.77).

Washington Nationals Game 11 Review: Nats top Phils on strength of Harper and Espinosa homers.

The Washington Nationals made it three straight wins, picking up a 7-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on an overcast and occasionally rainy Friday night in Washington. Max Scherzer made short work of the Philadelphia offense, and Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa each went yard as the Nats topped a divisional foe.

Max Scherzer took it to a depleted Philly lineup tonight, making quick work of their order. Through eight, Scherzer threw 100 pitches, scattered five hits, and struck out nine. The Phillies’ only run came in the third, as an Odubel Herrera double to right field became a triple as Harper tried to leap for it in vain. Herrera would come around on a grounder from Freddy Galvis on the next pitch. Had Harper played the ball off the carom, it’s entirely possible Herrera never would have scored.

Bryce Harper once again made waves in the first with a crushing blast. With Escobar (single) and Desmond (hit by pitch) aboard in the first, Harper would absolutely crush a ball to dead center field over the 400-foot sign. Danny Espinosa would join the party in the 4th with a blast to right center just next to where Harper hit his homer in the first.

The Nationals weren’t content at 4-1, and pressed hard into the Phillies’ bullpen in the seventh inning. Ian Desmond would get things going with an infield single (ruled an error) that he was able to beat out on the basepaths. With two out, the Phillies saw a chance to get Harper with a lefty, and brought in Jake Diekman. Harper, whose career approach against lefties would best be considered a struggle, showed some of the discipline and focus we’ve seen in his early season, and drew a critical walk. Ryan Zimmerman would lace one down the right field line to score both Desmond and Harper, and Wilson Ramos would drive a run in with a well-hit ball that just caught Chase Utley off-balance, and he’d throw it away to let Zimmerman score.

Yunel Escobar would leave the game after running out a grounder in the fourth. The ball was hit deep into the pocket at short, and Escobar was hustling up the line to beat the throw. As he reached the bag at first, he came up short, putting his hand along his inner thigh at the groin. After being attended to by trainers, he left the game. Dan Uggla took over at second, with Danny Espinosa moving to third.

The Nationals have moved to 5-6, just 2.5 games back of the division-leading Mets.

GOAT – Sorry, no goat tonight. While Ian Desmond’s 7th error was less than pleasing, his 3-for-4 night at the plate, reaching on an error and a hit-by-pitch, I can’t give him the goat for this one.

HERO – Let’s give this one to Ryan Zimmmerman for a combination of incredible defense and a 2-run double in the 7th to put this one away. His diving plays today saved runs for the Nats, and his late double put the game out of reach.

NATS NOTES

  • Felipe Rivero made his MLB debut for the Nats in the 9th, going 1 full, with a strikeout, and giving up three hits and a run.
  • Matt Williams’ 100th win was last night, and he was the fifth fastest to the century mark. Congratulations, Matt!
  • Depending on the results of Yunel Escobar’s examination, the Nats may need to call up another infielder tomorrow, and the only one on the 40-man roster is Wilmer Difo. Could it be Difomas? Difo Day? Difotacular? One of those. Could be.

Washington Nationals Game 7 Review: Nats Drop 9-4 Laugher to Boston

While most Washington Nationals fans were probably saying “Mookie who?” before today’s game began, they definitely know who Mookie Betts is now. The young Boston Red Sox outfielder single-handedly outplayed the entire Nationals lineup in Monday afternoon’s 9-4 laugher, stealing a home run from Bryce Harper with an athletic leap, taking advantage of yet another defensive miscue and stealing a pair of bases on a single pitch, and then putting the nail in the coffin for the Nats with a three-run homer over the Green Monster.

With all the trappings of Opening Day in one of baseball’s most hallowed cathedrals, the Nationals struggled to acquit themselves as one of baseball’s most favored teams. Despite being the odds-on favorite for the World Series, the Nationals appeared to be lost in the field and at the plate Monday, and no one showed it worse than Jordan Zimmermann. The hurler struggled mightily with control, racking up 2-0 and 3-0 counts like so many broken peanut shells in the aisles, at one point in the third hitting back to back batters with away pitches.

By the end of the third inning, the Nationals found themselves in an 8-0 hole. For a Nationals team that could only manage seven runs against the Phillies for their entire three-game series, an eight-run lead might as well have been a hundred runs. Still, the news wasn’t all bad in Boston: the offense did equal their season-high four runs, nearly getting six, had Mookie Betts not robbed Harper in the first.

At times, the Nats’ defense looked lost in the field. Outfield communication was not a strength today, as Jayson Werth in his return from shoulder surgery misplayed a ball in the first, and Michael A. Taylor watched two very catchable balls drop in the afternoon sun. These are the sort of plays that one might have seen in AA or A ballgames, but not at the major league level.

Things settled down after the disastrous first trimester of the ballgame, and the Nats offense found its stride: Ryan Zimmerman and Danny Espinosa each pounded a home-run, and Clint Robinson narrowly missed one for his first career triple. It wasn’t nearly enough though, as Boston starter Rick Porcello skated to a win with eight innings of solid work, striking out six and walking one for his first win of the year.

The Nationals have much to fix after just a week of the season in the books. Defensive miscues have ruled the day, the bats have yet to put up dominant numbers, and while starting pitching has been largely quite good, the bullpen has been a danger zone for the club. Today’s game was, in many senses, a microcosm of the frustrating 2-5 start.

HERO: Let’s give this one to Tanner Roark, who relieved Zimmermann in the third and shut down the Boston offense for 3 2/3 innings, surrendering just a solo home run to David Ortiz.

GOAT: Michael A. Taylor, Jordan Zimmermann. The young center fielder needs to adapt to big league communication, as he was behind a pair of terrible plays in the outfield that left that lead to several runs coming in. And Zimmermann, quite simply, had one of his worst days command-wise as a big leaguer.

NATS NOTES:

  • Back in time: Jayson Werth returned to the Nats lineup today, returning from shoulder surgery in the off-season. He finished his day 0 for 3, with one miscue in the outfield on a line-drive, but no one suggested that left field at Fenway is a great place to play.
  • The old lefthander: Danny Espinosa’s yard shot in the eighth came from the left side of the plate, his second extra base hit of the year from that side.
  • Sign of the times: The four runs the Nationals scored against Rick Porcello are the most they’ve picked up off any one pitcher.
  • Tough all around: Xavier Cedeño  had another rough inning, giving up a pair of walks and throwing a pair of wild pitches in the eighth.

NEXT GAME: At Boston at 6:10pm. Stephen Strasburg (0-1, 5.06 in ’15) vs. Justin Masterson (1-0, 3.00 in ’15)

Washington Nationals Game 6 Review: Nats salvage Sunday in extras

Thus far into the 2015 campaign for the Washington Nationals, we’ve seen the offense struggle to score runs. Sunday in Philadelphia in the finale of the three-game set was no different. But the Nats scored twice in the top of the tenth, then survived a shaky bottom of the inning from Drew Storen, to salvage the matinee, 4-3, before 30,094 at Citizens Bank Park.

Yunel Escobar led off the decisive inning with a double to right field. After a failed sacrifice attempt, Bryce Harper grounded to first and Escobar moved up to third. The Phillies brought in Justin De Fratus, and the new reliever preceded to throw one away and Escobar came in to score.

Clint Robinson then doubled to center, and he scored on Wilson Ramos’ line drive single to left.

Storen came on in the bottom of the inning, and walked Freddy Galvis and Cody Asche to lead off the frame. Storen got Grady Sizemore swinging and Chase Utley flied out to right, with Galvis tagging and going to third. But rookie Odubel Herrera’s infield single brought in Galvis to cut the lead to one.

But Storen coaxed a grounder to the right of first baseman Ryan Zimmerman by Cesar Hernandez. Zimmerman snagged the grounder and tossed to Storen covering, recording Storen’s second save of the season.

Max Scherzer made his second start of the season, and once again was staller with no decision. He allowed one run on six hits and two walk in six innings, striking out eight. He left with a 2-1 lead, but reliever Xavier Cedeno gave up a solo home run to pinch-hitter Darin Ruf, the first batter he faced in the seventh inning.

The Nats took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, as Bryce Harper drilled his second homer of the year. against Phillies starter Sean O’Sullivan. They picked up another run in the fourth. Ryan Zimmerman singled to left to lead off. Robinson singled to right and Zimmerman went to third. Ramos lofted a sacrifice fly to right, and Zimmerman made it 2-0.

HERO: Wilson Ramos. The catcher was 1 for 4, but drove in two of the Nats’ four runs.

GOAT: Matt Williams. Asking Harper, who homered earlier in the game, to bunt in the 10th was more than just a curious choice. The Nats pushed across the winning runs in the inning despite their manager’s poor strategic choice. Simply, asking your best power hitter and third place hitter to bunt is wrong.

NATS NOTES:

  • Back in the saddle: Jayson Werth, after a short rehab assignment with High-A Potomac, rejoined the team for its road trip to Boston and is expected to be reactivated for the series against the Red Sox on Monday.
  • First win: Aaron Barrett made his first appearance, notching the win. He pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out two.
  • Unforced errors: The Nats made another error on Sunday, with Wilson Ramos charged with a throwing error.
  • Making the most: Clint Robinson was 3 for 5 and he owns a .400 batting average so far this season.
  • Tough day: Michael Taylor went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.

NEXT GAME: At Boston at 3:05 pm. Jordan Zimmerman (1-0, 1.50) faces Rick Porcello (0-1, 4.50).

 

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 Game 2 Review: Zim’s homer stands up as Nats beat Mets

Even though the Washington Nationals got some good news about their leadoff and No. 3 hitters before the game, they’ll still be without them for a little longer and will have difficulty scoring an excess of runs. For now, the Nats will have to rely on strong pitching and timely run production.

They got both Wednesday, as Jordan Zimmermann pitched six strong innings, Ryan Zimmerman homered in the first inning, and the Nats beat the New York Mets 2-1 at soggy Nats Park.

Escobar congratulates Ryan Zimmerman after hitting a 2-run homer.  Washington Nationals defeated the New York Mets 2-1 at Nats Park on April 8, 2015 after a rain delay (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Escobar congratulates Ryan Zimmerman after hitting a 2-run homer.
Washington Nationals defeated the New York Mets 2-1 at Nats Park on April 8, 2015 after a rain delay (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Before the game, manager Matt Williams said Jayson Werth will report to High-A Potomac to start a rehab assignment and might be ready to return to the lineup soon after he’s eligible on Saturday. Denard Span will go back to extended spring training in Viera to play in a few more simulated games before beginning his rehab assignment, but he’s well ahead of schedule.

As for the game, after an hour rain delay in which no rain actually fell, Zimmermann made short work of the Mets in the first. Then in the bottom half, Yunel Escobar singled with one out ahead of Ryan Zimmerman’s first home run of the season, a no-doubt shot to left on an 1-1 count off Jacob de Grom, last season’s N.L. Rookie of the Year for a 2-0 lead.

New York got one back in second, as three consecutive ground ball singles, the last by Travis d’Arnaud, cut the lead in half. But with the bases loaded, Zimmermann struck out Curtis Granderson looking on a high slider, one that Granderson thought was too high.

The Nats got a leadoff double by Wilson Ramos in the sixth looking to add to a tenuous lead, but Ian Demsond whiffed at a slider, Dan Uggla popped up and Tyler Moore grounded to third.

Zimmermann didn’t return for the seventh. He threw 91 pitches in six full innings, allowing the one earned run on five hits and no walks, striking out four.

A one-out double in the seventh by Michael Taylor was wasted, as he ran into an out at third on a grounder, and Zimmerman struck out to end the inning.

Blake Treinen pitched a scoreless eighth, including nabbing a line drive by Lucas Duda, then doubling up David Wright at first. Drew Storen had an uneventful ninth inning for his first save of the season, including a punch-out on a nasty slider following a 94-MPH fastball on the black.

HERO: Ryan Zimmerman. He provided all the scoring the Nats needed, and turned in several sparkling plays on defense.

GOAT: Ian Desmond. No errors unlike opening day, but 0 for 4 with two Ks. He’s lost at the plate right now, swinging at everything with very little contact.

NATS NOTES

  • Feeling it at first: Zimmerman seems to be settling in fine at first base. In the second, he made a full out dive toward home plate to catch de Grom’s popped up bunt. The Face of the Franchise made another diving stop in the eighth, robbing Curtis Granderson of potential extra bases.
  • Second time’s a charm: In the fourth, d’Arnaud hit a high pop to second base and Dan Uggla camped underneath of it, similar to the play that Ian Desmond committed an error on opening day. This time, Uggla emphatically called for it, waving his arms, and Desmond demurred.
  • Holding ‘em to one: In the sixth, Lucas Duda’s line drive one-hopped the wall in right. Harper made a clean pick-up of the carom and fired a laser to second, holding Duda to a single. Duda was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder on the next at bat.

UP NEXT: Thursday at 1:05 pm. Stephen Strasburg (14-11, 3.14 in 2014) hosts RHP Matt Harvey (9-5, 2.27 in 2013).

Mets Kirk Nieuwenhuis was safe when the ball popped out of Nats 2B Dan Uggla's glove. Washington Nationals defeated the New York Mets 2-1 at Nats Park on April 8, 2015 after a rain delay (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Mets Kirk Nieuwenhuis was safe when the ball popped out of Nats 2B Dan Uggla’s glove. Washington Nationals defeated the New York Mets 2-1 at Nats Park on April 8, 2015 after a rain delay (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Nationals Opening Day Review: Scherzer strong, defense does Nats in

Fans lining up at Center Field Gate waiting for the gates to open at Nationals Park for home opener, 4/6/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Fans lining up at Center Field Gate waiting for the gates to open at Nationals Park for home opener, 4/6/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Clear, azure blue skies. Temperatures in the low 70s. A full house at Nats Park, home of the 2018 All-Star Game. A 4:05 pm start, free from rush hour traffic both getting to and returning home from the park. One could not have asked for a better day for baseball in April.

Unfortunately, the home team couldn’t comply. Ian Desmond made two errors, which both contributed to unearned runs against starter Max Scherzer, and the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 before 42,295 at Nats Park.

Scherzer came as advertised, not allowing a hit until Lucas Duda’s RBI single in the sixth inning, and he finished with eight strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Nats pound four homers to beat Marlins

As opening day approaches, the regulars are starting to get more at bats and more innings in the field. On Sunday in Viera, Florida, the Washington Nationals fielded close to their opening day lineup and they mashed four home runs to top the Miami Marlins 11-7.

Michael Taylor, Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Jose Lobaton all went deep for the Nats. Taylor went 3 for 3 with a walk, Harper was 2 for 3 with three RBIs. Ramos went 3 for 3 and Lobaton’s homer was a three-run shot.

The Nats pounded out 14 hits with four walks against three Marlins pitchers. They clubbed starter Tom Koehler for six runs and 10 hits in four innings.

On the other side, Doug Fister wasn’t particularly sharp either. He allowed six runs on eight hits and a walk over four innings. He gave up three homers on the day, to Marcel Ozuna, Jarrod Saltalamachia and Giancarlo Stanton.

On bit of pitching good news came late: Craig Stammen, who had been roughed up his last couple of times out, pitched a scoreless 1 1/3 innings with two strikeouts.

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