August 29, 2015

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 116 Review: Gio roughed up, Nats lose fifth straight

BRYCE HARPER LEAVES GAME IN SEVENTH AFTER FOULING BALL OFF BACK LEG

When it rains, it pours.

Gio Gonzalez had his shortest outing of the year, the bullpen allowed more runs after that and the Washington Nationals lost their fifth straight game, 12-6 to the San Francisco Giants, on Saturday night.

The Nats pitchers walked four in the game, and all four came around to score. Each of the four pitchers used by the Nats allowed runs.

The Nats fell to .500 (58-58) for the season and remain 4 1/2 games behind the New York Mets, 5-3 losers to Pittsburgh in extra innings. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 111 Review: Desmond powers Nats over Dodgers

DESMOND HOMERS TWICE TO BACK SOLID OUTING BY GONZALEZ

Desperately in need of starting a 10-game west coast road trip of on a successful note — and with pitchers of stronger pedigree looming — the Washington Nationals bats busted out against Los Angeles Dodgers starter Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez was solid over eight innings, and the Nats beat the Dodgers 8-3 at Chavez Ravine.

The Nats (58-53) remained a game and a half back of the New York Mets, 4-2 winners over Colorado earlier in the night. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 101 Review: Nats lose 2-1 to Mets in 12 innings

WILMER FLORES HOMERS IN THE 12TH BEAT NATS

Wilmer Flores, who Thursday thought he’d been traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, homered in the 12th inning off lefty reliever Felipe Rivero, sending the Washington Nationals to a bitter 2-1 defeat to the New York Mets, trimming the Nats lead in the N.L. East to two games.

Matt Harvey pitched 5 1/3 innings of perfect baseball on Friday night before a sellout crowd at Citi Field, as Gio Gonzalez struggled through 4 2/3. Harvey worked with a 1-0 lead from the fourth inning onward, working through the Nationals’ order with little difficulty.

Gonzalez struggled with his control tonight, walking four, but striking out six. Gonzalez pitched with runners aboard in the fourth and the fifth, loading the bases in the fourth before retiring the side, and giving up a single and a double in the fifth before being lifted for Tanner Roark with two outs in the fifth.

Roark pitched 2 1/3 innings in relief, getting the Nationals clear of the jam in fifth, and retiring the Mets in order in the sixth and seventh. His corner work was stellar on Friday night, and he struck out four batters out of seven.

The Nationals struggled mightily against Matt Harvey, with Harvey working 5 1/3 perfect innings before Jose Lobaton singled to right to break up the perfect game. Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth added two more hits in the sixth and seventh, but until the eighth, Matt Harvey was Superman.

Sadly for the Mets fans in attendance, Harvey was human in the eighth inning. With 100 pitches under his belt for the evening, Harvey hit pinch-hitter Clint Robinson with a 1-1 pitch in the dirt. Anthony Rendon singled up the middle to move pinch-runner Danny Espinosa to second base, bringing up Yunel Escobar. On a 98-mph fastball down the middle, Escobar drove the ball through the gap to score Espinosa and tie the game at one apiece. That would be all for Harvey, replaced by familiar reliever Tyler Clippard to face Jayson Werth.

In a simulated game at the end of the 2014 season, Tyler Clippard pitched to Jayson Werth on a wager. Werth ended up shelling out $100 when Clipp struck him out. It took 13 pitches tonight, but Clippard repeated his earlier performance. On a pitch on the lower left-hand corner, Werth left the bat on his shoulder, expecting to get the call for a walk. Instead, he owes Clippard another $100.

Aaron Barrett worked the eighth for the Nationals, giving up a single before retiring the side. The slider that Barrett was throwing was fearsome and fooled both Juan Uribe and Travis d’Arnaud for strikeouts.

Bryce Harper lead off the ninth against his former teammate with his 45-road-game on-base streak and 23-game on-base streak on the line, flew out to start the ninth inning. Clippard went on to walk Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond to end his night after just the two outs. Jeurys Familia was successful at protecting the Mets’ tie, getting Michael A. Taylor to swing at a ball in the dirt, and then neutralized Jose Lobaton on a fly ball.

Barrett came back out to face the Mets in the ninth, and though he’s a high energy pitcher usually good only for one inning, he rocketed through the Mets order. Barrett retired Flores, Lagares and Campbell in order, getting two short pop-ups and a ground out to send the game into extra innings.

Familia pitched the tenth, and faced the minimum, getting three easy ground outs to retire the Nationals, and Felipe Rivero matched him in the bottom. Rivero worked through Kelly Johnson (flyout), Curtis Granderson (strikeout), and Ruben Tejada (soft grounder) and looked very impressive.

In the eleventh, the Mets turned to Hansel Robles for pitching duties. Jayson Werth grounded out, and then things turned ugly. On a pitch that was well out of the strikezone, home plate umpire Jerry Meals rung up Bryce Harper for the second out of the inning. Harper objected vehemently to the strike call, and said some uncharitable things. He was ejected. Keep in mind that, due to Tyler Moore pinch-hitting in the ninth, and Clint Robinson pinch-hitting in the eighth, the Nationals were entirely out of outfielders on the bench.

Jayson Werth moved over to right field, and Ryan Zimmerman ran out to left field. Dan Uggla slotted into Harper’s spot in the order, and took over at first base. This is not what you would call a defensive matchup in the Nationals’ favor. It didn’t factor into the eleventh inning, as Rivero retired the Mets in order.

Carlos Torres pitched the twelfth for the Mets, and retired the side on three strikeouts. At one point, final remaining position player Wilson Ramos warmed up and swung a bat in the on-deck circle, while pitchers Max Scherzer and Jordan Zimermann were both spotted stretching and preparing to pinch hit. They were not necessary in the twelfth. Or at all on Friday night.

Wilmer Flores lead off the bottom of the twelfth against Felipe Rivero and a fastball down broadway got driven into the Party Deck in left center, just 48 hours after he was in tears on the field over a potential trade. If anyone deserves a good day, it’s Flores, but it was tough to see the Nationals drop such a critical game.

For reasons not yet explained, Jonathan Papelbon, Matt Thornton, Drew Storen and Casey Janssen never entered the game, despite the high pressure situation and facing a divisional opponent only just a few games back. Lack of offense remains a frequent problem for the Nationals, and tonight’s onr-run effort was definitely indicative of a larger problem.

The Nationals’ lead in the NL East shrinks to two games.

HERO: Tanner Roark, for his relief work, and Yunel Escobar, for a clutch single in the eighth to tie the game when the Nationals needed it most.

GOAT: Bryce Harper, who argued yet another called third strike and found himself ejected, but this time when the club had no spare outfielder. Dumb move, Harper. Dumb move. Bad call, but dumb move.

NATS NOTES:

  • Mike Rizzo met with Drew Storen and his agent Brodie van Wagenen on Friday, according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson
  • At 45 games, Harper’s on-base streak is second in franchise history, and the longest since the Nationals returned to Washington.

NEXT UP: Nationals vs Mets continues tomorrow night, Joe Ross (2-3, 3.03) vs Jacob deGrom (10-6, 2.05) at 7:10pm at Citi Field.

Washington Nationals Game 96 Review: Nats Bats Crack in Pittsburgh

OFFENSE STRONG AS NATIONALS TOP PIRATES

The Washington Nationals broke a short skid against the Pirates on Saturday night, picking up a 9-3 victory against the Wild Card leaders. Gio Gonzalez cruised through 5 innings, scattering 5 hits and not issuing a single walk. A.J. Burnett proved too wild for the Pirates’ own good, hitting two in a crucial fourth inning failure, and throwing a wild pitch in the second that would score Ian Desmond.

The Nationals were due a night where things went their way, after a pair of hard luck losses in the Pittsburgh series. They got it Saturday night, as bounces went their way, and as the defense behind Gio Gonzalez was solid enough to keep the crafty lefty in business. Gio would go 5+ innings before departing after a wild bottom of the sixth.

Working with a 5-0 lead, the particulars of which we will get to in a moment, Gio’s day ended poorly. A single by Pedro Alvarez, followed up by a fielding error by Clint Robinson on a ball put in play by Gregory Polanco put Gio at a disadvantage. The Pirates would capitalize on singles from Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen, driving Gio from the game.

With no out, and two men on, Aaron Barrett was summoned from the pen to douse the nascent fire. Barrett got an easy double play off Aramis Ramirez, before walking Jung Ho Kang and giving up a single – and Gio’s third charged run – off the bat of Paul Cervelli. Manager Matt Williams saw enough, and got Barrett before things got worse. Felipe Rivero finished the job Barrett could not, and with four pitches got Neil Walker to pop up to right.

The Nationals would strike back in the top of the seventh, putting two back up on the board. A double from Yunel Escobar off the left field wall, followed by an Ian Desmond homer off a Deolis Guerra changeup clocked at 81mph.

The Nationals’ offense quieted the Pittsburgh crowd early, with a run on a Burnett wild pitch in the second for a 1-0 lead. In the fourth, Burnett would give up a double to Escobar, then hit Clint Robinson and Jose Lobaton with curve balls at their feet to load the bases. Burnett would get a key strikeout of Matt den Dekker to bring up pitcher Gio Gonzalez to the dish.

This is where things started to really go the Nationals’ way. Gio hit a comebacker to Burnett, who couldn’t react fast enough, and the ball rolled away into no-man’s-land, scoring Escobar. Michael A. Taylor drove the ball through the left side of the email, and Bob Henley sent both Clint Robinson (who scored), and Jose Lobaton (who didn’t), but the damage was done.

Matt den Dekker would add one more to the tally in the fifth on a pair of singles, and a pair of sacrifices, with Anthony Rendon – in his first game off the disabled list – getting the RBI for den Dekker’s run. That would end Burnett’s night at 5.2 IP, 11H, 5ER and 8K.

After the Pirates’ rally in the sixth, the Nationals would add four more runs on monster home runs from Ian Desmond and Michael A. Taylor, both with no-doubter shots into left field at PNC Park. Desmond’s hot streak is music to Nats’ fans ears, who had started to wonder if it would ever come. With the Nationals’ roster decimated by injuries to other starters, the Half Street Regulars might not be the team you were dreaming of in February, but they are the team with three games up on the Mets and now 8 games over .500.

It’s hard to think that this season has been a disappointment, but when the expectations were so high coming into Spring Training, this season has been a challenge for the Nationals. While Jayson Werth, Stephen Strasburg, and Ryan Zimmerman are all returning in the near term, there’s still a lot of baseball to play this season. Getting Desmond back from a season-long slump around the same time might be the catalyst this team has needed to get back on 90-win pace.

HERO: Let’s give this one to Ian Desmond, who is just having a stellar week. He’s 10-for-19 this week, with 4 HR, 7 RBI, and 4 BB. His night was pretty stellar. Good to see Desmond finally getting hit.

GOAT: No goats tonight. Well, except these adorable fainting goats.

NATS NOTES:

  • Ian Desmond is a pretty strong player of the week candidate for the NL right now.
  • Anthony Rendon returned to the lineup tonight, with Abel de los Santos optioned back to AA. His 0-4 was, at least productive, with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
  • Michael A. Taylor had his first four-hit game of the season tonight.

NEXT UP: The series finale is tomorrow at 1:35pm, Joe Ross (2-2, 2.70) vs Gerrit Cole (13-4, 2.31).

Washington Nationals Game 91 Review: Nats take advantage of unsharp Harvey

Matt Harvey had a very un-Matt Harvey-like start, Gio Gonzalez pitched six solid innings and the Washington Nationals took the first of a three-game series from its closest competitor, knocking off the New York Mets 7-2 at sweltering Nationals Park.

Gonzalez (W, 7-4) allowed two runs on six hits and three walks, striking out four. His only bad inning was the fourth, when — all with two outs — he loaded the bases and gave up a two-run single to Harvey. As anemic as the Mets offense has been these days, maybe they’ll consider giving Harvey at bats when he doesn’t pitch.

As for his work on the mound, Harvey hadn’t pitched in nine days due to the All-Star break and it showed. He walked four to go along with five hits over seven innings, striking out just three. He had men on base in just about every inning. He was taxed with providing innings for the beleaguered Mets staff, which suffered through an 18-inning affair on Sunday.

The Nats (50-41, +3 in NLE) had several hitting heroes. Danny Espinosa went 2 for 4 with two runs scored and ignited the offense with a bunt single off Harvey in the two-run first inning. Clint Robinson had a booming two-run double in the third and finished 2 for 4, and Ian Desmond got into the act, delivering a first-row two-run homer in the eighth off reliever Alex Torres.

NATS NEWS: The Nats sent struggling reliever Blake Treinen to Syracuse and recalled RHP Abel de los Santos from Harrisburg. de los Santos was acquired along with SS Chris Bostick from Texas in the Ross Detwiler trade. Detwiler was DFA’d by Texas last week and he signed with Atlanta.

 

Washington Nationals Game 70 Review: Offensive Miracle in the First Allows Sweep

NATIONALS BAT AROUND IN FIRST, SCORE NINE IN SWEEP OF PITTSBURGH PIRATES

It didn’t take long for the Washington Nationals to build an insurmountable lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates, completing a three-game sweep, with a 9-2 victory. The Nationals sent 12 men to the plate in the first inning, scoring nine runs, and knocking out Charlie Morton before 2:15pm.

The first inning was a disaster for Pittsburgh, as the Nationals gathered 8 hits and a walk against Charlie Morton before he was finally relieved of his duties. Bryce Harper and Yunel Escobar each hit no-doubt home runs, and Clint Robinson and Gio Gonzalez added doubles. Before the end of the first, eight of the nine Nationals had reached safely. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 59 Review: Span singles Moore home in 11th to beat Yanks

Denard Span beat out an infield single, allowing Tyler Moore to scored from third in the 11th inning, lifting the Washington Nationals to a 5-4 win over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

The Nats (31-28) snap a three-game losing streak and momentarily tie the New York Mets for first in the N.L. East depending on the result of the Mets late game. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 49 Review: Reds beat Nats late, Nats lose first series in ten

JANSSEN HAS DISASTROUS EIGHTH, NATS LOSE 8-5

Late mistakes from Casey Janssen cost the Nationals the game on Saturday afternoon, despite incredible defensive efforts to limit the damage. Michael A. Taylor had a 3-run homer in the sixth to put the Nationals ahead 5-2 before Janssen’s denouement. Gio Gonzalez pitched 5.1 IP of 4-run ball, and was hit twice by Reds pitching, the second HBP potentially contributing to Gio’s rough sixth inning.

The roster moves before the game almost overshadowed the action on the field Saturday afternoon. Before the game, the Nationals announced that Stephen Strasburg was off to the 15-day disabled list, and Taylor Hill had been called up in his place. In addition, Bryce Harper was a late scratch with a tight back, caused by yesterday’s drilling at the hands of Anthony Cingrani of the Reds.

Raisel Iglesias started for the Reds, and the young Cuban defector was frustrating for the Nationals hitters at times, but as his command fell apart in the sixth, the Nationals sent him to the showers. Iglesias struck out seven, mastering a breaking ball and a high fastball to combine for some unlikely devastation through the Nats order.

It wasn’t all domination for Iglesias, though, as Michael A. Taylor obliterated one of his pitches late in the sixth for a three-run homer amid Iglesias’ control failures. Clint Robinson and Danny Espinosa had each ripped singles off Iglesias ahead of Taylor’s moonshot off the scoreboard on the fascia of the second deck in left field. The Nationals lead stretched to 5-2, and everything looked solid for the gents in grey.

Gio Gonzalez struggled early with his control, in no small part due to a narrow strike zone from home plate umpire Andy Fletcher. In the first he’d load the bases on a walk and two singles before escaping unscathed. In the third, he gave up a two-run homer to Joey Votto on a pitch that just got away.

After that, Gonzalez largely settled into a rhythm, working counts well, and finding a devastating curve placement to strike out six. Disaster would strike in the top of the sixth for Gio, though as an errant Iglesias fastball would drill him right in the left tricep. He’d remain in the game — for reasons not yet explained, despite a rested pen — and the bottom of the sixth did not go well. Gio lead off the bottom of the sixth with a walk to Joey Votto, and a double to Todd Frazier, putting runners at 2nd and 3rd with no one out. An agitated Gio Gonzalez paced around the periphery of the mound, chewed on his glove, and talked to himself at length, but manager Matt Williams remained in the dugout.

The early part of the Nationals bullpen did yeoman’s work today against the Reds. Blake Treinen came on in relief of Gonzalez in the sixth and dialed in two strikeouts on 98mph sinkers that just weren’t fair. He did have a pair of wild pitches that allowed the remaining runner to advance to third, but his sinker was devastating against Zach Cozart and Marlon Byrd, enough to seal the leak. Matt Thornton buzzed right through the Reds in the seventh, throwing just 10 pitches to retire the side in order.

Casey Janssen had a rougher go in the eighth, but some spectacular defense by Denard Span and Dan Uggla kept the Reds at bay, to start. Denard Span would leap to the top of the fence in left center and sweep a ball bound over back into play limiting Frazier to a double. With runners at the corners, a ball deflected off Ryan Zimmerman’s glove ended up right in the hands of Dan Uggla preventing a run to score, but Janssen’s bad coverage let the runner aboard safely. Zach Cozart would make him pay for all those missed pitches, and stroked a double to the deepest part of the park, bringing around a pair of Redlegs, and Billy Hamilton would bring around two more on a single through the gap to right.

That Janssen gets left out there as long as he did is one of the reasons that there are questions about Matt Williams’ managerial chops with regard to bullpen management. Pulling Janssen earlier there might have put the Nats in a better place to stop the Reds, especially when the bullpen’s got fresh arms.

The Nats gave Aroldis Chapman a scare in the ninth, drawing a pair of walks off the fireballer. Denard Span and Ian Desmond each claimed a free pass on full counts, with the final pitch of their at-bats at 99mph. Chapman would dial it up a notch for Dan Uggla and Ryan Zimmerman, though, and both struck out on 102mph fastballs to end the threat.

This was the Nationals’ first series loss in over a month.

HERO: Michael A. Taylor for his three-run yard shot in the sixth. He was 2-for-31 since his memorable grand slam in Houston, he definitely needed it. Honorable mention to Denard Span for his highlight reel non-catch of Todd Frazier’s double to left center in the 8th.

GOAT: Casey Janssen abysmal eighth inning was his worst outing of the year. He gave up four runs on four hits with two walks, despite the fact that Denard Span and Dan Uggla each performed miracles to limit the damage.

Secondary Goat Award to Yunel Escobar, ejected for arguing balls and strikes when he knew the Nats were down a player already. The call wasn’t that egregious, but Escobar had to jaw. Fletcher gave Escobar two chances to back off before giving him the hook, which was more than fair.

NATS NOTES:

  • Bryce Harper’s Friday night hit against Aroldis Chapman came on a pitch clocked at 102.2mph. It was the fastest pitch hit in the Pitch Trax era.
  • The Reds hit Gio Gonzalez with pitches twice on Saturday, which is, as far as I can tell, the only time a Nats starter has been hit twice in the same game.

NEXT UP: Tanner Roark vs. Michael Lorenzen at 1:10pm as the Nats try to avoid a sweep.

Washington Nationals Game 40 Review: Zimmerman Hits His Tenth Career Walk-Off Home Run, Nats Beat Yankees in Extras

ZIMMERMAN JOINS IMMORTALS MUSIAL, PEREZ, SCHMIDT, PUJOLS AND BONDS WITH 10-PLUS WALK-OFFS

The Washington Nationals and New York Yankees held the same record of 22-17 going into Tuesday night’s game at Nationals Park.  But after ten innings of baseball played in the nation’s capital, the Nats emerged victorious beating the Yankees 8-6 thanks to a two-out, two-run walk-off home run hit by Mr. Walk-off himself — first baseman Ryan Zimmerman — against left-handed reliever Andrew Miller.

Offense is what kept the Nats in the game despite a shaky starting appearance made by left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez. The Nats got a jump start with home runs hit by shortstop Ian Desmond and outfielder Bryce Harper off right-handed starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi in the first inning making it a 2-0 game in favor of Washington. [Read more…]

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