HAPPY 21st BIRTHDAY BRYCE HARPER!
Washington Nationals Outfielder Bryce Harper was born on 10/16/1992 in Las Vegas, NV.
Follow Bryce Harper on Twitter (@BHarper3407) and be sure to wish #34 a Happy 21st Birthday.
HAPPY 21st BIRTHDAY BRYCE HARPER!
Washington Nationals Outfielder Bryce Harper was born on 10/16/1992 in Las Vegas, NV.
Follow Bryce Harper on Twitter (@BHarper3407) and be sure to wish #34 a Happy 21st Birthday.
Now that the Washington Nationals have been eliminated from the playoff hunt, everyone, their brother, and their Uncle Junior is going to have opinions on what went wrong this season. It’s pretty simple to me. Heck, I outlined the reasons in my Aug. 7 column during the Braves sweep that unofficially ended the Nats season.
And no, the Nats struggles of the first two-thirds of the season have nothing to do with karma, the baseball gods, pressure to live up to expectations, the Nats decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg last season or the team signing Rafael Soriano.
Now that the Nats have played almost two months at the level everyone thought they would play all season, let’s take a look at what kept the Nats from doing so the first 115 games of the season.
1) Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos spent a significant portion of the year on the disabled list or futilely playing through injury.
No one likes to use injuries as excuses, but that’s a third of your everyday lineup on the shelf, forcing inadequate backups into way too many at bats (as we’ll outline below). Harper missed 40 games, Ramos 45 and Werth 30 – all before Aug. 9.
Up until Aug. 9, when the Braves completed that sweep, the Nats were at or very near the bottom in team batting average, on-base percentage and slugging and averaging just 3.7 runs per game, which would be next to last in the N.L. this season (ahead of only Miami) extrapolated for 162 games. That’s pretty much the Bermuda Triangle of offensive futility. Since that time, though, they’ve averaged exactly 5.0 runs per game, which would clearly lead the league. That pace might not be entirely sustainable, but it’s not far off of the true capability of this offense.
The Nats will finish the season sixth in the N.L. in runs per game, eighth in on-base percentage and fourth in slugging, even considering how atrocious they were for the first 115 games. The final 47 games of the season showed a remarkable turnaround in offensive performance, and it was primarily due to the team being healthy again and keeping their bench players on the bench.
2) The Nats wasted 150 at bats on Danny Espinosa.
We all knew Espinosa was hurt. During the winter meetings, the team announced Espinosa tore the rotator cuff in his left shoulder last August (and played through it, including his dismal performance in the playoffs). Then, Espinosa broke his right wrist getting hit by a pitch in early April and either he hid it or the team allowed him to play through it until they could no longer take it.
Espinosa “hit” .158/.193/.272 in 44 games before being placed on the D.L. and was not much better in his exile in Triple-A. His poor health decisions, going back to when he originally injured the shoulder during last season’s pennant run, could end up costing the better part of three seasons instead of one — if not jeopardizing his entire career.
Combined with the other injuries, during May and into June the Nats essentially played with four pitcher’s spots in the batting order.
3) The strength in Ryan Zimmerman’s surgically repaired right shoulder did not return to him until August.
Up until that Braves series the first week of August, Zimmerman hit .269/.340/.427 with 12 homers in 115 games. Not terrible, but certainly not numbers fit for an All-Star in the prime of his career.
Zimmerman hit a home run that night on Aug. 9. In the 42 games since, all he’s done is hit .300/.367/.556 with 13 home runs and 23 RBIs, primarily out of the two-hole. It’s been a remarkable, and much welcomed, turnaround for the face of the franchise.
As for his fielding, it too is noticeably better in the last two months than it was the first four months of the season. It’s apparent that his shoulder is much stronger now that it was early in the season and hopefully Nats fans don’t have to worry about moving Zim to first any time soon.
4) It took Denard Span three months to adjust to the National League.
I normally scoff at notions such as this. In the “old days” there was a perceived difference between how pitchers pitched in the two leagues. I don’t think it was ever really as pronounced as some oldsters might lead you to believe, and I don’t think there’s any difference now, with as much team-hopping and interleague play that there is these days.
However, and this is a big however, this was the first time in his career Span was told “You are the man.” It’s the first time a team has told him that he would unequivocally play every day and lead off every day (not that he did). It was also the first time he had to bat behind the pitcher’s spot, so perhaps that went into his mindset as well.
Regardless, he did not get off to a good start. He was very patient, as his history suggested, and even more so very early on. That limited his aggressiveness and he found himself in plenty of bad hitter’s counts, which resulted in a LOT of grounders to second. He was also completely anemic to left-handed pitching – a trait he was not alone in with the Nats this season.
Davey Johnson moved Span to the seventh spot in the order for a couple of weeks in late-July and early August and he was just about at his lowest slash of the season (.259/.311/.357) on – you guessed it – the start of play on Aug. 9, when he was put back in the lead-off spot. From that point forward, Span hit .326/.366/.425. Coincidence the Nats played their best baseball when their lead-off hitter was playing his best? I don’t think so.
5) There was no viable left-handed relief presence (and other bullpen meltdowns).
Rizzo allowed Sean Burnett, Tom Gorzelanny and Michael Gonzalez all to walk last off-season. Zach Duke made the team out of spring training as the sole left-handed reliever, and in a long-man role at that. The theory was that Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen were as tough, if not more so, on lefties as they were righties. Storen has limited lefties to a .242/.302/.355 slash in his career, marginally worse than he’s done against righties. Clippard is actually tougher on lefties (.181/.264/.315) that righties (.203/.293/.374), so the theory was good.
Except – Davey Johnson only uses Clippard in the eighth inning and Storen was a mess until he was demoted and came back with a revamped delivery, scrapping the slow, straight leg action for a more traditional kick which restored the tilt on his slider. The other problem was who was left to face lefties in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Duke was a disaster, Henry Rodriguez wild pitched his way out of town and Ryan Mattheus punched a locker.
The team had no other option. They called up Ian Krol, who mixed bouts of effectiveness and batting practice equally, and Xavier Cedeno and Fernando Abad, two players Houston let go this season. Both have done a decent enough job when called upon, but neither is a long-term option.
6) The bench, which performed admirably in 2012, was dismal in ’13.
Last season, when the Nats went through their injury phase, players such as Kurt Suzuki, Steve Lombardozzi, Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina and capably filled in for the injured starters, as we noted above. This year, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Suzuki showed some promise to return to his 15-homer seasons of his early career after coming over to the Nats mid-season last year. Five homers in 164 plate appearances gave hope. But he was abysmal at the plate in ’13 (.222/.283/.310) while playing full-time most of the first half while Ramos was out.
Lombardozzi has a level and he played to it this season. It’s just not very high, and certainly a drop-off from a healthy Harper or Espinosa, the two positions he’s filled in at the most. There’s just no way a contending team can give Lombardozzi 400 at bats an expect good things to happen.
Moore simply was overmatched and didn’t get regular enough at bats to get on track. He’s had a better approach since his return from the minors and may very well platoon with Adam LaRoche at first base next season. I’m not sold on Moore’s potential as an everyday player, but he could succeed in this role if he can keep himself fresh with semi-regular at bats.
You can almost understand the long leash with Bernadina this season. He was properly used last season (almost exclusively against RHPs) and gave the Nats his career year. Pressed into more general duty this season, he was exposed. Some also think he might have been hiding a nagging injury, carried over from the World Baseball Classic.
Chad Tracy, at 33, is at the end of the line. His overall numbers (.184/.221/.288) are pitcher-esque. He’s hitless for September in nine plate appearances and is 5-for-25 since Aug. 1.
Rizzo traded for Scott Hairston in early July to be the right-handed bat off the bench. He has a .683 OPS for the Nats in 57 plate appearances. Hairston has another year on his contract and is capable defensively, but he’s hit just .221/.267/.500 against lefties this season.
7) Dan Haren was the worst starting pitcher in baseball for the first three months of the season.
Haren was signed in the offseason for a not-so-meager $13 million. In the fifth spot in the rotation, the Nats only needed him to be a .500 pitcher for the team to have success. Unfortunately, for the first half of the season he was the worst starter in baseball. He was two different pitchers this season.
Before he went on the D.L. (it was either that or be released), Haren made 15 starts. The team went 4-11 in those starter. His record was 4-9 with a 6.15 ERA and his opposition slash was a dismal .306/.340/.548 against, with an NL leading 19 home runs allowed in 82.0 IP. Essentially, he made every hitter look like an All-Star.
When he returned, he was a different pitcher. He was able to get more separation between his four-seam and cutter and he was able to keep hitters off-balance again. In 14 post-D.L. starts, Haren has gone 5-5 (team record 7-8) with a 3.57 ERA and one save in that marathon game. Opponents have hit .234/.277/.365 against him, and he’s limited the homers to 9 in 80.2 IP.
So, attribute all the intangibles you want to why the Nats played poorly the first 115 games of the season. Call it karma, pressure or curse. But this team perfomed pretty much as expected the final 47 games of the season, and I have no reason to doubt they will next season as well.
Bryce Harper and Gio Gonzalez helped the Washington Nationals trim their NL Wild Card deficit to five games and clinch a winning season in their 3-2 victory over the Miami Marlins Thursday night.
Gonzalez was solid, allowing just two earned runs on seven hits, two walks and three strikeouts through 6.0 innings pitched. His first trouble spot came along with the first two batters faced, as Donovan Solano doubled and Ed Lucas singled him home to start the game, 1-0 Miami.
In the bottom of the inning, though, Harper more than evened things out for the Nats’ southpaw, who celebrated his 28th birthday on the mound. With one out, Ryan Zimmerman singled and Jayson Werth walked, allowing Harper to gift Gio a three-run shot off Henderson Alvarez (L, 4-5). The long ball marked Harper’s 20th home run of the season.
From there, the Marlins made some contact off Gonzalez, but failed to score through the next four innings. Gonzalez found himself in a trouble spot in the third after Donovan Solano and Ed Lucas hit back-to-back again, this time in the form of two singles.
Luckily for the Nats, Christian Yelich grounded into a double play in the next at-bat before Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Ruggiano each drew walks. After a coaching visit, Gonzalez regained control in time to jam Placido Polanco with a 94 MPH fastball for the third out.
The Nats went on to threaten in the bottom of the third, but Alvarez, too, pitched out of the jam. [Read more...]
The Washington Nationals have been playing some of their best baseball of the season, with Sunday afternoon’s 11-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies as no exception.
Jordan Zimmermann tallied his 18th win after allowing just two runs on seven hits, two walks and seven strikeouts through seven.
Wilson Ramos ignited the Nats offense, tying career highs of five RBIs and four hits against Phillies’ pitching, including starter Tyler Cloyd (L, 2-5).
Believe it or not, Philadelphia struck first – in the second, after a double, hit-by-pitch, single and sacrifice fly brought home Domonic Brown to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead.
The Nats quickly answered in the bottom of the inning after Bryce Harper led off with a double, advanced to third on a fly ball and came home on Ramos’s first single of the day.
The Phillies’ second – and final run – of the day came in the top of the third after former Nat Roger Bernadina doubled and came home on back-to-back grounders by Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. [Read more...]
On a crisp, cool night in the nation’s capital that had the look and feel of October baseball, the Washington Nationals topped the Philadelphia Phillies 6-1 to extend their winning streak to seven games.
Perhaps more importantly, with the Cincinnati Reds’ loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, the Nats narrowed their focus on an NL Wild Card slot by pulling within 4.5 games.
Things looked grim before the first pitch was thrown on Friday as would-be starter Stephen Strasburg was scratched due to forearm tightness. In his place, however, Ross Ohlendorf provided the Nats with a solid five innings.
The Phillies notched one on the scoreboard in the top of the first after Cesar Hernandez walked and Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz hit back-to-back one-out singles to put Philadelphia up 1-0.
After Ohlendorf received a pep talk, he struck out Darin Ruf and Cody Asche to end the inning.
And, from there, the Phillies failed to tally a second run on the night.
In the meantime, Ian Desmond singled off starter Kyle Kendrick (L, 10-13) to tie the game in the bottom of the inning after Ryan Zimmerman singled and Jayson Werth walked.
Wilson Ramos put Washington on top in the second after leading off with a solo shot to left center.
And, Ryan Zimmerman repeated the feat in the bottom of the third with a lead-off solo shot in a similar spot to make it 3-1 Nationals.
By the time Ohlendorf stepped off the mound, he had achieved a final line of 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K on 59 of 88 pitches thrown for strikes.
Before Craig Stammen could take the mound in the sixth, the Nats tallied another run on a single from Zimmerman, a walk from Werth and back-to-back singles by Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond to make it 4-1.
Cesar Jimenez took the mound in Kendrick’s relief to strike out Adam LaRoche before Luis Garcia relieved Jimenez. With Garcia’s first batter faced, Ramos chopped one back to the mound. The ball took an awkward hop and deflected off Garcia’s glove, allowing both Werth and Harper to score to bring the Nationals to a final score of 6-1 for the win.
THE GOOD: The Nationals’ 17-5 record since August 20th marks the best in the Majors in that time frame, according to ESPN. At long last, it seems their much-awaited comeback streak has arrived – but is it too late? With the Reds’ loss, an NL Wild Card slot no longer appears unattainable, but the Nats would have to do much more than fare well against Kyle Kendrick.
THE BAD: Adam LaRoche went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
THE STATS: 6 R, 11 H, 3 BB, 5 K, 4-for-9 with RISP, 8 LOB
NEXT GAME: Saturday, 7:05 p.m. ET at Nationals Park – Cole Hamels (7-13, 3.45) vs. Gio Gonzalez (10-6, 3.31)
STRASBURG STRONG FOR SIX BUT CLIPPARD COUGHS IT UP IN EIGHTH
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before — Stephen Strasburg threw six strong innings, allowing no earned runs, but the Washington Nationals couldn’t muster any runs of their own. Eventually, the bullpen faltered, and the Nats lost another one-run game that they had a late lead in.
Monday night, it was Tyler Clippard that couldn’t hold the eighth inning lead, and the Philadelphia Phillies escaped with a 3-2 before just over 30,000 at Citizen’s Bank Park.
Since the Cincinnati Reds won their against the Cardinals earlier in the day, the Nats deficit in the Wild Card standings grew back to 7 1/2 games.
Strasburg allowed just two hits and two walks in six innings, striking out 10. But the only run the Nats managed while Strasburg was in the game was Ryan Zimmerman’s solo home run in the first inning, his 16th of the season.
The Phils only run off Strasburg came in the fourth inning. Jimmy Rollins led off with a walk, then while left-handed Chase Utley was batting, WIlson Ramos tried to pick off Rollins at fiorst. Instead, Ramos hit Utleys bat with the throw, and Rollins moved up to second on the play and scored on Carlos Ruiz’ single to center two batters later.
The Nats broke the tie in the top of the eighth. They loaded the bases with one out, courtesy of an Anthony Rendon single and walks to Chad Tracy and Harper. Scott Hairston then lifted a medium-deep fly ball that was enough o score Rendon to make it 2-1.
The lead didn’t last long. Clippard entered, as he has so many times this season, to preserve the one-run lead, but it wasn’t his night. He got two quick outs, but then lost lead-off hitter Cesar Hernandez after having him down 0-2. Rollins doubled on the eighth pitch of his at bat to knot things up again, and later scored on Ruiz’ ground ball single, barely avoiding the tag at home from Ramos on a throw by Harper that was just a bit up the third base line.
The Nats got runners at the corners in the top on the ninth, but Ramos and Rendon both struck out, with the assistance of home plate umpire Jerry Meals.
THE GOOD: Strasburg. In 20 of his 27 starts this season, he’s given up two or fewer earned runs and has been the winning pitcher in five of those games.
THE BAD: The Nats managed just five hits against Cole Hamels and four relievers.
THE UGLY: After the game, Harper revealed that he’s been dealing with a hip problem, which came as news to manager Davey Johnson. Harper said that if it was bothering him enough he would have taken himself out of the game, but it’s become obvious that Harper has taken over the role of his own person trainer, for better or worse. Anyone watching the games the last couple of days has been able to notice Harper wincing after missed swings and after he runs hard through first base.
THE STATS: 5 hits, 2 BBs, 11 Ks. 0-for-3 with RISP, 6 LOB. E: Ramos (7, throw).
NEXT GAME: Tuesday at 7:05 pm at Philly. Gio Gonzalez (8-6, 3.56) faces Ethan Martin (2-3, 6.39)
In my guest blogging gig for MASNSports.com today, I wrote about Bryce Harper’s eighth inning sacrifice, Win Probability Added, and human evolution. It was a bit of a rambler, but my biggest point was this:
You don’t get to pick and choose which stats you think are the right ones. They all are.
It drives me absolutely crazy to hear fans, players, managers or executives dismiss certain statistical evaluators, like we’re fabricating these numbers or pulling them out of thin air. WAR, or WPA, or wOBA, or wRC+, or ISO, or FIP, or UZR… all of those numbers are in the game every bit as much as batting average or earned run average.
It’s just that those “in the game” have been using the traditional statistical evaluators for over a century and some others were “invented” by folks not actually “in the game” in the past two decades.
Just because a statistical evaluator was created by math whiz doesn’t mean it’s any more or less legitimate than those we’ve been using for 120 years.
Each, in their own way, tells part of the story about what’s going on out there. No single statistical evaluator can tell us exactly how efficient a particular player is in his chosen craft. Some of them give us a better idea than others. But each should be taken in the context it is presented.
The “new stats” weren’t created to make following the game more difficult. They were developed to help us more deeply understand the game. Or help us compare players on a more neutral field. Or help us compare current players against the past more accurately. They weren’t created to confuse, but enlighten.
Fangraphs.com has a glossary of many of the “new stats”. They don’t hide their formulas. There’s a lot to take in, but if you take a couple of minutes most of the “new stats” are pretty simple to understand. Sure, there are some concepts that might take a few moments to think about before they make total sense. But they are all as rooted in the game as ERA, which is not a particularly good or accurate method to evaluate a pitcher.
Here’s another chunk of my MASN column to think about:
Back in the old days, they invented batting average and earned run average as a method of evaluating players side-by-side since they weren’t able to watch every game in person.
Yes, there was an era before computers. Before television. Even before radio was popular. If you wanted to know what type of ball player a guy was, you has to see him in person. You had to travel for days and hope for no rain out. There was little scouting and even less statistical evaluation. That’s why they started to keep track of these things, in order to be able to evaluate players without actually seeing them in person.
Even though every single game is now on TV and we have video of each player going back to their middles school games, we’re still looking for more clear statistical evidence to measure a player’s effectiveness. PITCHF/x and batted ball data are taking us into the next phase of statistical evaluation, and it all helps us better understand the game.
Statheads and seamheads have been at odds for decades. They don’t have to be. Each individual statistical evaluator only tells part of the story. Taken in context, they are part of the big picture. If you love the game, it’s worth your while to become more familiar with these concepts. It’s just a little math, that’s all.
NATS PULL WITHIN 6 1/2 GAMES OF CINCINNATI IN NL WILD CARD RACE
The Washington Nationals were on the fast track to the all-too-familiar result. Trailing the New York Mets 3-1 into the third inning in the Sunday night baseball time-slot, the outlook was poor for Ross Ohlendorf and the all-but-eliminated contenders for a second spot in the NL Wild Card hunt.
But, a series of singles and a bunt by Bryce Harper ignited a sought-after eighth-inning comeback by the Nats that amounted to a 6-5 win, on national television, no less. The victory allowed the Nats to narrowly avoid what would have been a dejecting sweep by New York.
To get to that point, however, Washington had to hold on as Ohlendorf allowed RBI hits by Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda in the first, as well as a solo homer by Matt den Dekker in the second.
The Nats added one to their own half of the scoreboard in the bottom of the second off starter Jon Niese after Jayson Werth doubled and Tyler Moore singled him home.
To make things interesting, the Nats chipped deeper into the Mets’ lead in the bottom of the fourth after Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos singled, allowing Scott Hairston to single in Desmond to make it 3-2 New York.
The Mets quickly earned back the run, however, in the top of the fifth after Niese doubled and advanced on Eric Young’s sacrifice bunt. Murphy followed through with an RBI single to make it 4-2 Mets and the Nats went back to the drawing board until Craig Stammen took the mound in the sixth. [Read more...]
They still have quite a bit of work to do, but it’s starting to look like the Washington Nationals might actually make a run at the final wild card spot.
In defeating the Miami Marlins 9-0, sweeping the bottom feeders of the N.L. East, the Nats have now won eight of their last nine games and 14 of their last 19 to raise their record to three games over .500 and cut their deficit in the wild card race behind idle Cincinnati to 6 1/2 games with one game still in hand over the Reds.
Scoring nine runs, including three home runs, might make it easy to overlook the masterful work starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez put in. The lefty went seven scoreless, allowing just three hits and three walks, striking out eight along the way. The first couple of innings were his toughest, needing 43 pitches to record six outs, while allowing all three walks and two hits. But Gonzalez (W, 8-6, 3.56) was resilient, gutting out the first couple frames to cruise through the next five without incident.
The Nats offense broke out in the fourth inning against Marlins starter Tom Koehler (L, 3-9, 4.72). Ryan Zimmerman (3-for-3, two runs) drew a lead-off walk before Bryce Harper’s 19th home run of the season, which came on a first-pitch changeup.
They broke things open in the sixth. Zimmerman led off with a single and went to second on Harper’s walk. Jayson Werth then continued his assault on N.L. pitchers, crushing his 21st home run of the season to make it 5-0. The Nats tacked on another later in the inning. Ian Desmond singled and Adam LaRoche walked. After Wilson Ramos flew out to deep right, Anthony Rendon came through with a ground ball through the left side to score Desmond easily.
Desmond capped the scoring in the bottom of the seventh, smacking his 20th home run of the year on a 1-2 changeup, a three-run shot that sealed the deal.
Tanner Roark relieved Gonzalez in the eighth and the rookie gave another strong outing, retiring six of the seven batters he faced, allowing one hit and throwing 12 of this 13 pitches for strikes.
THE GOOD: POWER! When your 2-5 hitters combine to go 10-for-14 with three home runs you’ve got a pretty good chance to win that game. Also, props to Gio for figuring out what troubled him in the first two innings and dominate the rest of the game.
Also: Denard Span singled to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. In the Nats’ last 19 games, in which they’ve won 14, Span has hit .333/.390/.467. Coincidence? I think not.
THE BAD: Wilson Ramos went o-for-4.
THE UGLY: Adam LaRoche. 0-for-3 with a walk, lowers his slash to .237/.336/.476. Just kind of a lost year for a guy who had his career year just last season.
THE STATS: 12 hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. 4-for-9 with RISP, 3 LOB. No errors, no DPs.
NEXT GAME: Friday at 7:05 pm against the New York Mets. Jordan Zimmermann (15-7, 3.32) hosts Dillin Gee (9-9, 3.69).
UNLIKELY HERO RUNS RECORD TO 3-0 IN ANOTHER STRONG LATE SEASON START
The Washington Nationals offensive attack has been near the bottom of the National League all season long, but there’s one team that’s been consistently worse: the Miami Marlins. Tuesday night, Ross Ohlendorf and four other Nats pitchers combined to allow just seen base runners, leading the Nats to a 2-1 win over the Marlins before 24,616 at Nationals Park.
The win is the Nats sixth in their last seven games and, coupled with Cincinnati’s 6-1 loss to the Cardinals, cuts the deficit in the Wild Card standings to seven games with just 31 games remaining in the regular season.
Ohlendorf (W. 3-0, 2.49) retired the first nine batters he faced before giving up a single to Marlins rookie outfielder Christina Yelich to lead off the fourth inning. The journeyman right-hander with the old-timey wind-up then allowed just one more hit and walk up to the leadoff batter in the sixth — Yelich again.
This time, however, after seeing four straight “changeups” Yelich finally got a hold of one he liked and ripped the offering into the Nats bullpen, where Tanner Roark was already warming up. Manager Davey Johnson decided the five terrific innings, on just 78 pitches, was all he needed to see out of Ohlendorf and he turned things over to the bullpen.
“He just kind of ran out of gas, like he did before [in the start that precipitated his trip to the D.L.],” Johnson said. “But you never know with him because he puts a lot on it. Other times, it’s like he’s changing up off his fastball. But when he takes 10 miles off, he gets to scaring me a little bit.”
Roark started off shaky. After getting Donovan Solano to fly out, he then walked the next two batters he faced. But the rookie reliever regained focus to strike out Ed Lucas and Justin Ruggiano to leave the runners stranded.
From there, the Nats cruised. Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano all pitched scoreless innings, with Soriano allowing the only base runner, what turned out to be a harmless two-out single before coaxing one more groundout to earn his 34th save of the season.
The Nats got all the runs they needed in the bottom of the first inning off Nathan Eovaldi (L, 2-5, 3.76). Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper both connected for one-out singles. Jayson Werth grounded out to third, but Zimmerman scored on the play. Ian Desmond followed with a single that plated Harper from second base, and that’s all the run support that Ohlendorf and the four relievers needed.
THE GOOD: Ohlendorf continues to amaze. After a shaky first start coming off the disabled list last week (4 ER in 4.1 IP) he got right back to doing what he’s done all season for the Nats. He has a career 4.87 ERA in 120 MLB games (and that includes his stellar 2.49 in 12 games this season), so who knows if it will continue, but the guy has resurrected his career and someone will give him a shot in a rotation next spring.
Honorable mention to Ian Desmond, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI, and Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche both had two hits apiece.
Also, Denard Span went 1-for-4, which means he extended his season-high hitting streak to 10 games.
THE BAD: Jayson Werth has been the Nats offensive MVP this season, but even MVPs take the collar. 0-for-4 in this one.
THE UGLY: Wilson Ramos went 0-for-4 and stranded four in the process. Desmond and LaRoche were on base all night ahead of the Buffalo but it just wasn’t his night.
THE STATS: 9 hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. 1-for-8 with RISP, 8 LOB. No errors or double plays.
NEXT GAME: Wednesday at 7:05 pm against the Marlins. Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 3.00) hosts Henderson Alvarez (2-3, 3.86).
NATS NOTES: Before the game, the Nats recalled RHP Ryan Mattheus from AAA-Syracuse and returned LHP Xavier Cedeno to the Chiefs.
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