March 26, 2015

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Scherzer solid as Nats top Astros

Bryce Harper and Kila Ka’aihue homered and Max Scherzer allowed one run in five innings and the Washington Nationals knocked off the Houston Astros 7-5 in Kissimmee, Florida.

Scherzer gave up three hits in five innings, walked none and struck out six. The only run he allowed came on a solo home run by Astros catcher Jason Castro in the fourth inning.

The Nats exploded for four runs in the top of the first against starter Samuel Deduno. Danny Espinosa doubled to right to plate Tony Gwynn Jr. Tyler Moore brought Espinosa home with a single to left. After Deduno loaded the bases, he walked Jose Lobaton to force in a run, and Kevin Frandsen’s sacrifice fly made it 4-0 before most fans were in their seats.

Harper’s long homer came in the fourth off Jake Buchanan and Ka’aihue’s third spring homer was in the seventh off Asher Wojciechowski.

Ka’aihue added an RBI double in the ninth off Kevin Chapman.

NATS NOTES:

  • Jerry Blevins was perfect in one inning of relief with a  strikeout. Manny Delcarmen pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just one walk with a strikeout.
  • Xavier Cedeno was not as fortunate. The lefty gave up two runs on two hits, including a homer by Luis Valbuena, in one inning. Heath Bell allowed two runs on two hits and a walk without retiring a batter.
  • Sandy Leon was 2 for 2 in relief of Lobaton.
  • Tyler Moore was 2 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI.
  • Before the game, manager Matt Williams indicated doubt that OF Nate McLouth (shoulder) would be ready for opening day. “Right now, it’s probably in jeopardy because we haven’t been able to get him out there for a number of at-bats and get through a full spring, keeping in mind that he’s coming off of a pretty serious surgery,” said Williams.

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Nats tie Astros

The Washington Nationals got some production out of the middle of their opening day batting order but the Houston Astros put together a late rally to force a 6-6 at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida. The teams declined to play extra innings.

The Nats put together a three-run third inning behind RBIs by Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, all with two outs. Tony Gwynn Jr got the rally started with a single to right. Ian Desmond followed with a walk from Scott Feldman. [Read more…]

Nats Nightly: Washington Nationals mid-winter update; trades; Harper

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals offseason moves thus far, including the Steven Souza and Ross Detwiler trades and the Bryce Harper grievance non-hearing.

Check Out Baseball Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with District Sports Page Nats Nightly on BlogTalkRadio

Nationals avoid hearing with Harper with 2-year deal

OUTFIELDER SIGNS TWO-YEAR, $7.5 MILLION CONTRACT

Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper signed a two-year, $7.5 million contract Sunday evening according to reports, which will allow the sides to avoid a messy, potentially ugly grievance hearing which was scheduled for Tuesday.

The grievance stemmed from a complication in the original rookie contract Harper signed after his draft. The player’s agent, Scott Boras, believed Harper had the right to opt out of that original contract and be eligible for salary arbitration this season, as Harper qualifies for “super two” status.

The “opt-out” clause is common in the industry but not standard, and was not included in Harper’s original contract. There has been speculation why the language was not included, but the team reported said it was an oversight due to the speed of last-minute negotiations as the sides approached the deadline for a deal.

Harper will make $2.5 million in 2015 and $5 million in 2016, comparable to what he might have made in arbitration. He will then have two arbitration years before becoming a free agent after the 2018 season.

Washington Nationals NLDS Game 4: Nats fall short in San Fran; eliminated from playoffs

The San Francisco Giants scored three runs — without the benefit of a base hit — and beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 to eliminate the Nats 3-1 in the five game National League Divisional Series.

The game was filled with poor umpiring, bad defense by the Nats, and questionable managerial decisions. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals NLDS Game 3 Review: Fister, 3-run seventh give Nats another shot

Doug Fister pitched seven shutout innings, an uncharacteristic error led to a 3-run inning, and the Washington Nationals beat the San Francisco Giants 4-1 to cut their deficit in the best of five series to two games to one on Monday at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

The win snapped the Giants N.L. record 10-game postseason winning streak.

The pitching matchup came off as advertised. Fister took on 18-game winner Madison Bumgarner and both pitchers were sublime for most of the game.

In the top of the seventh, though, Ian Desmond reached Bumgarner for a single to lead off the frame. Bryce Harper then got himself into a 3-1 count, then spit on an 88-MPH slider for ball four.

Wilson Ramos was asked to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but couldn’t get it done on the first two attempts. Usually, Ramos wouldn’t be asked to sacrifice, and he hadn’t successfully sacrificed since 2011, but with runs at a premium in this series, the Nats didn’t take the play off with two strikes.

Ramos was able to get a bunt down in fair territory with two strikes, and Bumgarner made the play. But instead of taking the easy out at first, he tried to cut down the lead runner, Desmond, at third. His throw was late — and wide of the bag.

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval tried to reach for it and stay on the bag, but it sailed down the line, through the Giants bullpen, and into the right field corner. Desmond scored easily, and Harper followed him without a play, with Ramos ending up at second.

Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a clean single through the hole, and Ramos came chugging home with the Nats’ third run.

Bumgarner gave up three runs — two earned — on six hits and a walk, striking out six.

Fister gave up a single to Brandon Belt to lead off the home half of the seventh, but then retired three straight to get out of the inning and turned things over to the bullpen.

Fister gave up four hits and three walks in seven innings, striking out three.

Tyler Clippard tossed a perfect 12-pitch eighth inning.

Harper added an insurance run in the top of the ninth, homering off reliever Jean Machi.

Manager Matt Williams called upon Drew Storen in the ninth with a 4-0 lead. Storen, once again, had some trouble, as a single, double and sacrifice brought home a run. But he was able to get Travis Ishikawa to ground out to close the game and deliver a victory in Game 3.

The Nationals face the Giants again Tuesday at 9:05 pm Eastern, with Gio Gonzalez facing Ryan Vogelsong.

Washington Nationals Game 161 Review: Strasburg runs scoreless innings streak to 20 in win over Marlins

Stephen Strasburg threw six scoreless innings and the Washington Nationals topped the Miami Marlins 5-1 in the next-to-last game of the 22014 regular season.

The Nats jumped on Marlins starter Nate Eovaldi for multiple base runners in the early innings and pushed a run across in the second. Bryce Harper led off with a single just past lumbering first baseman Justin Bour. He went to second on Wilson Ramos’ infield single. Asdrubal Cabrara forced Ramos as second, but beat the relay to set up first and third with one out.

Strasburg sacrificed to move Cabrera up, and Harper waited until Eovaldi made the throw to first to break for home. He beat the relay and tag by catcher Jeff Mathis, sneaking his mitt-covered left hand just ahead of the tag to put the Nats up 1-0.

It stayed that way until the fifth. With one out, Denard Span singled up the middle and went to second as Anthony Rendon drew a base on balls. Jayson Werth’s line drive single to center brought home Span.

Span set the Nationals’ record for most multi-hit games in a season with 58 and tied Christian Guzman’s team record for hits in a season with 183. Obviously, Span has one more game to stand alone.

But the rally ended there. Adam LaRoche grounded out to short, and after an Ian Desmond walk, Bryce Harper struck out swinging to end the frame.

Strasburg was done after six terrific innings on just 83 pitches, 55 for strikes. He gave up a nere two base hits and walked one with seven strikeouts. He generated eight ground ball outs opposed to two fly outs. With six scoreless innings Saturday, Strasburg finished the regular season with 20 consecutive scoreless innings pitched.

After Jerry Blevins pitched a perfect seventh inning and Tyler Clippard a 20-pitch scoreless eighth, the Nationals blew the game open in bottom of the eighth.

Ryan Zimmerman — who entered in the sixth at first base — and Ian Desmond singled, then Bryce Harper drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. Wilson Ramos forced Zimmerman at home with a grounder to short, but Asdrubal Cabrera drilled a double to right center that cleared the bases to put the Nats up 5-0.

In the ninth, Drew Storen loaded the bases with a pair of one-out singles and an error by Zimmerman, and another error by Rendon allowed a run to come home. But Ian Desmond snared Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s line drive up the middle to end it without further angst.

Washington Nationals Game 147 Review: Nats Rain Runs in Win Over Mets

HARPER HOMERS AS NATS BLOWOUT METS

As a steady rain fell over Citi Field on Saturday night, the Washington Nationals poured runs on the New York Mets the whole night through, winning the third of a four-game series, 10-3.

The Nats reduced their “magic number” to clinch the division to six games over the Braves, and can eliminate them as early as Tuesday.

In the top of the second inning, Bryce Harper (3-for-4, 2 RBI) put the Nationals on the board with a towering home run that came back to earth half way up the upper deck in right field. Ian Desmond (3-for-4, 3 RBI) who walked to reach base, scored on the play as well to give the Nationals an early 2-0 lead. [Read more…]

Statistically Speaking: Bryce Harper’s Hot Hitting

Bryce Harper sporting his fantastic stirrups (1st inning) - Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals, 8/22/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Bryce Harper bats against Atlanta Braves in 2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

It’s another table-filled post this week at Statistically Speaking, but in a welcome twist, this week’s data dump and analysis will be looking at hitting, and in particular, the resurgent swinging of Bryce Harper. It’s been a lost season of sorts for Harper, with the lion’s share of the year spent recovering (disabled list and otherwise) from a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Not only has it been a long row to hoe from the anatomical aspects of the injury and surgical procedure involved, but also one from a mechanical and timing perspective of his prodigious but oftentimes complicated swing. Even with a clean bill of health, missing significant time and having an injury to the hand have briefly made Harper’s swing a bit of a reclamation project, with stretches seen where his mechanics were inconsistent, erratic, and ever-changing in an effort to once again find comfort and confidence in his hitting abilities.

[Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 137 Review: Kershaw too much as Nats lose in L.A.

Sometimes you just have to tip your cap.

Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher on the planet right now, dominated the Washington Nationals for eight innings to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 4-1 win Tuesday night.

The Atlanta Braves were shut out by the Phillies again, so the Nats lead in the N.L. East remains at seven games. [Read more…]

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