July 25, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 94 Review: Nats Struggle with RISP in Loss to Brewers

The Washington Nationals tallied ten hits against Milwaukee Brewers’ starter Kyle Lohse, but managed to fall 4-2 in the second-half opener at Nationals Park Friday night.

Stephen Strasburg (L, 7-7) was out-pitched, despite the fact he gave up fewer hits than his counterpart. Through seven innings pitched, he allowed seven total hits and four earned runs while walking one and striking out nine. Lohse, on the other hand, allowed 10 hits and managed just three strikeouts, but held the Nats to 1 run through his seven innings of work.

The Brewers earned an early run when, number-2 batter Scooter Gennett hit the first of the Brewers’ two solo homers off Strasburg to make it 1-0.

In the second inning, Khris Davis repeated the feat with a one-out solo shot of his own to give Milwaukee a 2-0 lead.

To double their efforts, the Brewers tried small ball in the third. After Lohse struck out to start the inning, Carlos Gomez grounded to short for the second out. Then, Strasburg handed Gennett a walk before Ryan Braun doubled and Aramis Ramirez singled to plate Gennett and Braun and double the Brewers’ lead.

The Nats didn’t have an answer until the third, and even then, they put up a small fight.

Ryan Zimmerman led off the inning with a double before Ian Desmond brought him home on a one-out double to make it 4-1 Brewers.

Despite several opportunities for progress – most of which began with a single – the Nats waited until the ninth to post another run.

With Francisco Rodriguez pitching for Milwaukee, Bryce Harper led off with a 389-foot solo shot to trim the Brewers’ lead in half. The deficit remained intact as Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos and Kevin Frandsen went down in order.

THE GOOD: The Nationals tallied 11 total hits on the night – more than the Milwaukee Brewers could produce. While the long ball hurt Stephen Strasburg, he still provided a fairly solid outing – the Brewers merely capitalized on his mishaps. Bryce Harper, who has struggled a bit since returning from his injury, went 3-for-4 on the night with one run and one RBI and the solo homer. Denard Span also tallied three hits and Ryan Zimmerman added two and a run.

THE BAD: The Washington Nationals went 1-for-10 with RISP – only Ian Desmond brought home someone on the left side of the diamond

THE UGLY: The first inning featured a brief delay, courtesy of an obstruction call on a play involving Denard Span and Anthony Rendon. Span led off with a single before Rendon hit a grounder to short. Span outran the throw to second and was called safe but second base umpire Angel Campos called Span out for obstruction because of how he rebounded from his slide just in front of Scooter Gennet

THE STATS: 2 R, 11 H, 6 K, 1 HR (Harper), 1-for-10 with RISP, LOB 7

Washington Nationals Game 91 Review: Zimmermann Exits Early, Nats Lose to Phillies 6-2

ZIMMERMANN LEAVES IN 4TH INNING WITH “BICEPS CRAMP”

In front of just over 30,000 people at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, the Washington Nationals dropped game one of their three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies 6-2. In the process, they were also delivered quite the injury scare. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals vs Chicago Cubs Series Preview

Currently riding a season-high five-game winning streak, the Washington Nationals now welcome the Chicago Cubs to town for a three-game set. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 83 Review: Strasburg, Nationals Shut Down Rockies with 7-1 Win

In the wake of all the drama surrounding Bryce Harper’s return – and ensuing commentary on how manager Matt Williams should do his job – the Washington Nationals did the only thing they could do to relieve any lingering tensions: they won a ballgame.

For the third night in a row, the Nats posted seven runs, this time topping the Colorado Rockies Tuesday night by a final of 7-1 at Nationals Park.

The win marked a big one for Stephen Strasburg who lasted just 4 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs in his previous start, citing mechanical issues.

Whatever tactic Strasburg (W, 7-6) applied to Tuesday night’s matchup against lefthander Christian Friedrich (L, 0-3) worked as the Nats’ starter allowed just a solo home run to DJ LeMahieu, along with five hits and a walk, in 7 2/3 innings.

The Nats, however, had a field day in the batter’s box as Jayson Werth paved the way, going 2-for-3 with two doubles, three RBI, two runs scored and two walks. Anthony Rendon and Denard Span each crossed home plate twice, while Rendon batted in another two runs on the night. And, Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-3 with an RBI to round out the night.

Washington wasted little time jumping ahead. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 82 Review: Zimmermann Secures Win in Harper’s Return

At long last, balance is restored at Nationals Park. After missing 57 games with a torn ligament in his left thumb, Bryce Harper returned to the Washington Nationals’ lineup Monday night, helping his team to a 7-3 win over the Colorado Rockies.

Perhaps reenergized by Harper’s return to the lineup, the Nationals tallied seven runs for the second night in a row to ensure Jordan Zimmermann walked away with his sixth win of the season.

Zimmermann’s six innings pitched featured a fair share of missteps. The Nats’ right-hander gave up two runs on seven hits and a walk, while striking out five. But, with the team’s offense firing away, it was more than enough to stifle the Rockies.

Harper batted in a run on a night that appropriately featured his bobblehead giveaway. Even more, Ian Desmond batted in three runs and Adam LaRoche hit a monster solo shot to further aid the Nationals’ efforts. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals vs Colorado Rockies Series Preview

After splitting their four-game series with the Chicago Cubs, the Washington Nationals now return home for a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Minor League and Prospect Report for Week of June 29th

Another week of minor league baseball is in the books. Here is a look around the Washington Nationals’ farm system at some players making headlines. [Read more...]

Bryce Harper’s Homer and Wilson Ramos’ 2 RBI Highlight Rehab Game in Woodbridge

In Woodbridge, Virginia on Tuesday night, Washington Nationals’ Wilson Ramos and Bryce Harper continued their rehab stints with the Potomac Nationals. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals vs Milwaukee Brewers Series Preview

After splitting their four-game series with the Atlanta Braves, the Washington Nationals now hit the road. They open their trip with a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers. [Read more...]

Nationals vs Phillies: Washington Overthrowing The Latest NL East Dynasty

Between 1995 and 2005, the NL East division, and much of baseball, belonged to the Atlanta Braves. Following the arrival of the Washington Nationals in 2005, control of the division switched to the Philadelphia Phillies. In the past several years, however, we’ve seen another change of power. This time, the torch is being passed to the Nationals and it hasn’t always been a pretty transition.

Over the six season span between 2005 and 2011, the Phillies won five NL East division titles and made two World Series, winning the league championship in 2007. Head-to-head, the Nationals put together a dismal 49-79 record. Washington struggled to perform even in front of the home town crowd, defeating their rivals just 26 times for the D.C. faithful.

The Phillies treated the Nationals as though they were their younger brother. They picked on them and the fans had no troubles doing the same. Washington wasn’t exactly a national power at the point in time, though, as for many years they finished with a below-.500 record. All the while, however, Mike Rizzo and company continued to quietly build a team anxiously awaiting to take over not just the NL East, but Major League Baseball.

As the 2012 season arrived, the Phillies seemed poised to win their sixth-consecutive division title. Coming off of a 102-win season and returning much of their talent, it was hard to argue against the expectations set for them. In Washington, the talent was there and Davey Johnson was the right manager for the job, but the expectations were set low due to the youth in the team’s clubhouse.

In the offseason prior to the 2012 season, Washington acquired Gio Gonzalez via a trade with the Oakland Athletics to solidify a talented starting pitching staff. Jordan Zimmermann entered his first full season after Tommy John Surgery and Stephen Strasburg was back from his procedure, albeit on an innings limit. Bryce Harper was called up in early April of that year and Jayson Werth was finding his swing again.

As mentioned before, they were talented, but they were young. It was a group rag-tag guys in the field and on the bench. The sky was the limit, but the expectations were low. With the Phillies still viewed as the king of the division, not many were paying close attention to the boys in D.C.

That is, until one Sunday night in late May when young Bryce Harper delivered the first shot in Washington’s overthrow of their division rivals in Philadelphia.

At home in front of a national TV audience, the young 19-year old made his way to the batters box with two outs in the first inning. Then six-year veteran pitcher Cole Hamels promptly drilled Harper in the small of his back. Harper took his base, but the drama was far from over.

After going from first to third on a single, Harper stole home when Hamels threw to first in an attempt to pickoff the runner. Following the game, Hamels admitted to throwing at Harper, claiming that he was trying to continue an old way of baseball. While Hamels and the Phillies may have been more concerned with the good old days, the Nationals were more interested in dethroning them atop the division.

While Washington lost that contest 9-3, they ended up splitting the season-series with Philadelphia, 9-9. The Nationals, however gained the upper hand where it mattered most: the standings. The same year Hamels beaned Harper, the Nationals ended Philadelphia’s reign over by winning their first NL East Division title since moving to Washington.

The following year, while underwhelming for the Nationals, saw the tables turn even more in favor of Washington. After breaking even a year before, they won the season series with an 11-8 record, including 7-2 at home. Including their early season series with Philadelphia this year, they’ve gone 21-19 against their rivals going back to 2012.

While the Nationals have risen, the fall of the Phillies has been swift and with a thud. After their 102-win season in 2011, they went 154-170 over the next two years, including a 73-win season a year ago. Their highest finish in the division standings has been third, and currently sit at 15-14 this season and fourth in the division.

The final shot in the overthrow may have been delivered this past Friday night when the little brother stood up for itself in the fifth inning of their series-opening bout. As Denard Span settled into the batters box, pitcher Cliff Lee fired a pitch high and tight, forcing Span to turn his shoulder out of the way. Span would not be picked on and the rest of the club wouldn’t stand for it, either.

Span then grounded out to end his at bat. As he jogged back across the field, Lee began to bark at him. Standing his ground, Span turned to face the 35-year old veteran. Backing up their comrades, both benches cleared and the bullpens soon followed. No punches were thrown; no shoves were made. Words were exchanged, and with them a message was reiterated.

The Washington Nationals are no longer the NL East’s, and the Philadelphia Phillies’, younger brother. While they may have had their way with them for a while, there’s a new reign beginning in the division.

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