September 3, 2015

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 110 Review: Storen Struggles in the Eighth, Rockies Beat Nats 6-4

The Colorado Rockies beat the Washington Nationals 6-4 on Sunday afternoon after a rough eighth inning relief appearance by Nats pitcher Drew Storen.

Starting pitcher Max Scherzer pitched six innings for Washington. He gave up four runs (and three home runs) on eight hits while hitting a batter, intentionally walking a batter, and throwing one wild pitch. Scherzer tallied ten strikeouts and threw 84 pitches (63 strikes). For Scherzer, this particular 10-strikeout performance marked his seventh such outing this season and the 32nd of his career. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 107 Review: Nationals Earn Split, win 8-3

OFFENSE REAPPEARS AFTER LONG ABSENCE; HARPER REACHES FIVE TIMES

The Washington Nationals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-3 in a game that could encapsulate their entire infuriating existence. Starting pitcher Joe Ross pitched six innings, allowing just one run on five hits, striking out seven. Jeremy Hellickson did not last through the fifth, and gave up a pair of runs before departing with two outs. Ian Desmond clubbed his twelfth home run of the season, Clint Robinson smashed his fifth home run of the season in the eighth, and Wilson Ramos added two RBI in the victory.

It wasn’t all that simple, though, and the Nationals struggled in new and unique ways as the game plodded through its three hour and 32-minute run. A 4:05 p.m. start on a day when rain was forecast, the Nationals played all afternoon like they were begging for a rain delay.

The Nats jumped out to a lead on Desmond’s moon shot into the left field bullpen, rattling Hellickson. In the fourth, the meat of the order produced some additional offense. Desmond led off with a double that just missed the top of the wall, followed by a line drive by Wilson Ramos for a single. The contact was late, and Desmond was left at third, for Michael A. Taylor.

The rookie centerfielder grounded into an RBI force out, catching Ramos at second in a play that was appealed, as shortstop Cliff Pennington appeared to come off the bag at the time of the play. Joe Ross put down a perfect sac bunt, moving Taylor to second, but Yunel Escobar flied out to end the fourth at 2-0.

Ross’ only mistake of the day came in the fifth inning, giving up a longball to Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a changeup that hung up in the zone. Ross worked around that and a follow-up single to retire the side. Up 2-1, he trusted the offense deliver in the fifth. And deliver they did.

Bryce Harper, on his way to a perfect day at the plate (2 for 2 with three walks), singled with one out. He advanced to third by way of a wild pitch and a passed ball. The wild pitch with two strikes put Jayson Werth aboard with the rare strikeout-turned-into-single. Ian Desmond (2 for 4, BB, RBI) drew a walk to load the bases. That gave Tuesday night’s hero, Ramos a chance to put the Nats up for good, and he delivered. Ramos, who has found something in old videotape from 2011 about his swing, crushed a double to give the Nationals a 4-1 lead.

Arizona narrowed that lead in the seventh as Casey Janssen came apart at the seams. The veteran reliever gave up a leadoff walk to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, followed by singles to Yasmany Tomas and pinch-hitter Welington Castillo with no one out. With the bases loaded, he didn’t fare much better. Ender Inciarte knocked him out with a two-run double down the first base line, ending Janssen’s day.

It was at this point when the frustrations of Nats fans crystalized into a horrified Boschian hellscape. The Nats had a lead, but their fabled “A” bullpen was failing them, and four runs was the most than they’d scored since July 29. Would this really be an oncoming train instead of the light at the end of the tunnel?

Ryan Zimmerman calmed fans’ fears in the seventh, adding an RBI double as a pinch-hitter, to give the Nats a 5-3 cushion. Clint Robinson added three more in the bottom of the eighth on a towering home run off the Diamondbacks’ Brad Ziegler.

Blake Treinen, freshly up from Syracuse in swap for Aaron Barrett, struck out the side in the ninth to bring a merciful end to the four-game series, a split, between the Nationals and the Diamondbacks. A game and a half back of the Mets, while they travel to Tampa Bay, the Nationals aren’t out of the NL East, but it sure feels like the road to October is all uphill right now.

HERO: Joe Ross for his continued excellence, plus a thank you to Wilson Ramos for showing up with a 2 for 5 with a clutch double.

GOAT: Casey Janssen, for an abysmal seventh inning that put this game far, far too close.

NATS NOTES:

  • Bryce Harper’s 1.119 OPS continues to be absurd, and his OBP of .455 continues to lead NL Hitters.
  • Joe Ross’ command today was tremendous and something that Nats fans should be excited to see him stay up as long as possible. Matt Williams said after the game that Ross would stay in the rotation through the west coast swing, and Doug Fister would move to the bullpen.

NEXT UP: Colorado is coming to town tomorrow night. 7:05pm start, Jorge De La Rosa (7-4, 4.87) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (8-7, 3.54)

Washington Nationals Game 105 Review: Late Rally for Washington tops Dbacks 5-4

NATS RALLY LATE AND BEAT DIAMONDBACKS

The Nationals and Diamondbacks traded 3-run rallies on Tuesday night in a game delayed 30 minutes by rain at the beginning. The Nationals knocked out Patrick Corbin after just an inning and a third, as he gave up six hits and two walks. Max Scherzer went six full, throwing 114 pitches, retiring his last eight hitters in a row. A late rally was the difference-maker, as the Nats dropped a pair of runs on the Arizona bullpen in the eighth to setup Jonathan Papelbon’s first save at Nationals Park.

The Nationals struck early, sending nine men to the plate in a 25-minute bottom of the first. Yunel Escobar lead off with a home run, to get things started. Anthony Rendon followed it up with a single, and Bryce Harper crushed a double to give the Nats 2nd and 3rd with no one out. Ryan Zimmerman singled to left to plate the Nationals’ second run.

It was at this point that the Diamondbacks started showing concern with Corbin’s health. A visit to the mound was made, but Corbin was left in to face Jayson Werth with no one out. Werth, still recovering from a broken wrist, pulled the ball on the ground to first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who wheeled it to shortstop Nick Ahmed for the runner at 2nd, but a hustling Werth dove into first to break up the double play, allowing Bryce Harper to score.

The Nationals would load the bases on a walk to Wilson Ramos and a single from Michael A. Taylor, but that would be it for the Nats in the first. All told, a 36-pitch effort from Corbin, and he would be near the end of his rope. As the Nats would put Escobar and Harper back aboard in the second, Corbin’s night drew to a close, hooked with one out recorded.

It was the Diamondbacks turn in the fourth, putting three hits and a walk together in a four-batter span to tie the ballgame. Max Scherzer gave up a walk to David Peralta, singles to Jake Lamb and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and then a double to Chris Owings to complete the 3-run rally. Max Scherzer racked up a 30-pitch fourth inning.

Josh Collmenter was the shutdown man for the Diamondbacks, limiting the Nationals to one hit and one walk in 3.2IP. Though Collmenter’s pitches were fairly weak, the Nationals could not spot them to save their lives. Andrew Chafin threw scoreless sixth and seventh innings, handing over the ball to David Hernandez.

Ryan Zimmerman lead off the eighth with a walk, and went to third on a double from Jayson Werth over the head of the third baseman and into the corner. Ian Desmond, on his way to an 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts, grounded out softly to Paul Goldschmidt (0-4, 4K). Wilson Ramos dug deep and muscled a ball over Goldschmidt’s head to score both Zimmerman and Werth to put the Nationals on top for the night.

Casey Janssen, Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon each worked an inning tonight, and preserved the victory for the Nationals. Janssen and Storen were both lights out, retiring the side in each frame facing just the minimum. Things got more interesting for Jonathan Papelbon, though. Jonathan Lamb lead off with a single to right, and advanced to second on the fly-out by Saltalamacchia. Welington Castillo grounded out to Ian Desmond, but Lamb broke ahead of the ball to make it into third with two away. Nick Ahmed, representing the tying run, hit into what should have been an easy ground out to Yunel Escobar, but Escobar botched the throw to first, letting Lamb score, and letting Ahmed make it into scoring position. Fortunately, Cliff Pennington grounded the ball right back to Papelbon to let the Nats’ newest reliever pick up his first save in a Nationals uniform at Nationals Park.

HERO: Wilson Ramos for his clutch single in the eighth to put the Nats up for good.

GOAT: A small goat goes to Escobar for that ninth inning error

NEXT UP: It’s Chia Jayson Werth’s Beard night at Nats Park tomorrow night, Rubby de la Rosa (8-5, 4.59) vs. Gio Gonzalez (8-4, 3.75), 7:05pm! Don’t be late.

Washington Nationals Game 97 Review: Pirates Top Nationals 3-1

GERRIT COLE QUIETS NATS OFFENSE, PIRATES GET TO ROSS

The Nationals hit the board first in the third inning, with Michael A. Taylor stroking a perfect pitch from Gerrit Cole. Taylor took a 1-0 fastball deep into the right field bleachers to continue his excellent road trip.

The Pirates would respond immediately, putting a single by Chris Stewart, a sacrifice by Gerrit Cole, and a Gregory Polanco RBI-single together for their first run. While Stewart is not the fleetest of feet, the throw from Taylor in center was a little off-line, not that it mattered much with Ramos unable to make a play on the ball.

Joe Ross hit Starling Marte to follow up the scoring play, resulting in a warning for the benches from home plate umpire Chris Conroy. Cole had drilled Yunel Escobar in the second inning as he worked the inside half of the plate. Andrew McCutchen followed that with a single up the middle, good enough to score Polanco from second, making a 2-1 lead for the Pirates.

Neil Walker added his second home run of the series in the fourth inning, taking a 2-0 sinker to deep center field and making it 3-0. Ross calmed down at that point, retiring the next nine hitters in order, his slider finally locating with devastating effect. Ross ended his day at 6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 7 K, 1 BB. The rookie continues to put forth strong effort in spot start situations.

Gerrit Cole was nigh unstoppable for the Pirates on Sunday, holding the Nationals to their single run through 7.2 IP, throwing 103 pitches, and notching 8 Ks and surrendering just 6H. In the 8th, he was lifted after giving up singles to pinch-hitter Anthony Rendon and 2B Danny Espinosa, as Tony Watson was called in to face Bryce Harper in a very high leverage situation. Harper pulled the ball hard to the first base side, and defensive replacement Sean Rodriguez made a nice dive-and-pick to his right to retire the side with no damage done.

Casey Janssen threw a scoreless eighth for the Nationals, continuing his excelent performance of late. In the ninth, the Nationals sent Yunel Escobar, Clint Robinson and Ian Desmond to the dish to face Mark Melancon. Escobar popped out on the first pitch, Robinson struck out, and Desmond grounded out.

In 2 hours and 18 minutes, the Nationals dropped the series finale 3-1

HERO: Michael A. Taylor had the Nats’ only run, and had several stellar catches to bolster the defense.

GOAT: Wilson Ramos, for lackluster defense at the plate.

NATS NOTES:

  • The Nationals are off on Monday, resuming play in Miami Tuesday
  • In two innings, the Nats bullpen shut down the Pirates entirely.

NEXT UP: Jordan Zimmermann vs. Jose Fernandez, 7:10pm Tuesday July 28th in Miami

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 95 Review: Pirates out-slug Nationals, win 7-5

NATIONALS DROP BRUISER BATTLE TO PIRATES 7-5

The Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates battled like heavyweights on Friday night before a sold out crowd at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The Pirates would blast a trio of knockout home runs off Scherzer – with Pedro Alvarez’s two-run shot in the second inning ending up in the Allegheny River – before forcing him from the game after five innings. The Nationals would strike for four runs against Jeff Locke in the fourth inning, and Ian Desmond would tie the game at five in the sixth with a muscled home run.

Sammy Solis would surrender a pair of runs in the sixth inning, putting the Pirates back on top just after the Nationals had tied the game. Francisco Cerelli started the rally with a single to right, and scored on Brent Worel’s pinch-hit double. Gregory Polanco, fresh off a moon shot home run off Scherzer, singled up the middle to score Worel, and give the Pirates a 7-5 lead after six.

Scherzer’s night (5IP, 7H, 5ER, 8K, 1BB) was marred by three mammoth home runs by the Pirates. The first, by Pedro Alvarez, would come to rest in the river beyond right field. The second, a two-run blow by Gregory Polanco, would end in the last row off the right field leachers. The third, a solo shot by Neil Walker, landed on the berm past the center field wall. The Pirates had their A-game on Friday, hitting Scherzer’s secondary pitches, and reading his rhythm very well.

Aaron Barrett threw a scoreless seventh inning for the Nats bullpen, giving way for Casey Janssen to do the same in the eighth. Both are pitching like they know who’s going to get cut if there’s a trade for Aroldis Chapman.

The Pirates’ pen combined for three scoreless innings after Desmond’s solo shot, with Hughes, Watson and Melancon shutting down the Nationals without much effort. Robinson, a late scratch, would ground into an untimely double play in the ninth to shut down their only rally attempt in the late game.

The Mets dropped their game to the Dodgers on Friday night in New York, keeping the division lead to three games.

The Pirates and Nationals return to PNC Park on Saturday night, the Nationals facing a 0-2 deficit in the series.

HERO: No hero tonight. Honorable mention for Ian Desmond for his 101st home run.

GOAT: Games like this one are a team effort, no goat tonight.

NATS NOTES:

  • Clint Robinson was a late scratch today, moving Moore to 1B and putting den Dekker in the lineup.
  • The Pirates’ three home runs off Scherzer matches a season high.

NEXT UP: Rematch with the Pirates tomorrow, Gio Gonzalez (7-4, 3.93) vs A.J. Burnett (8-3, 2.44), 7:05pm.

Washington Nationals Game 94 Review: Fister is Shaky While Pittsburgh’s Offense Comes Alive

The Pittsburgh Pirates pounced all over starting pitcher Doug Fister on Thursday night at PNC Park beating the Washington Nationals 7-3.

Fister pitched five innings and gave up nine hits and four runs while walking one batter, striking out six, and giving up one home run. He threw 99 pitches and 65 strikes.

Pittsburgh scored first and early with one out in the bottom of the first inning when outfielder Andrew McCutchen went home on a triple hit by Starling Marte. The Pirates tacked on another run in the second inning with a solo home run hit by first baseman Pedro Alvarez, putting the Pirates up 2-0 over Washington.

The Nats eventually got on the board in the fifth inning when outfielder Clint Robinson reached home on a wild pitch thrown by Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano.

But Pittsburgh answered right back in the bottom half of the fifth inning with two more runs scored when Marte scored on a one-out double hit by third baseman Jung Ho Kang, making it a 4-1 ball game. Then, a pair of home runs — including a two-run shot by McCutchen in the seventh and a solo bomb off rookie reliever Abel De Los Santos in the eighth — widened the score gap to 7-1 before the Nats made a last-ditch effort to score more than one run.

Shortstop Ian Desmond came up big against Pirates reliever Arquimedes Caminero and hit his hundredth career home run – a two-run shot – bringing a Nats closer to beating the Pirates at 7-3 but that was it for Washington’s offense after the blip sign of offensive production.

THE HERO: Desmond. A career milestone moment in the bottom of the ninth is something worth special note and recognition.

THE GOAT: Fister. The Pirates hit him. And they hit him hard.

UP NEXT: Max Scherzer (10-8, 2.09) and the Washington Nationals face Jeff Locke (5-6, 4.01) and the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

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.

 

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