July 30, 2015

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.

 

Washington Nationals Game 73 Review: Fister Excels Against the Braves for a Series Sweep

Starting pitcher Doug Fister shut out the Atlanta Braves on Thursday afternoon leading the Washington Nationals to a 7-0 win at Nationals Park. Fister threw 111 pitches and 72 strikes in seven innings pitched. He gave up four hits, one walk, and struck out four batters while the Nats offense did their best to hit Braves starting pitcher Matt Wisler. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 72 Review: Desmond’s Sacrifice Beats the Braves

A sacrifice fly hit to left field by Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond off reliever David Ardsma in the eleventh inning with one out and the bases loaded led Washington to a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves in D.C. after a solid eight-inning performance from starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann on Wednesday night. [Read more…]

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 66 Review: Nats shutout 5-0 by Rays

NATS STRUGGLE AGAINST RAYS JUST A DAY AFTER 16-RUN OUTBURST, LOSE 5-0

The Washington Nationals were shutout 5-0 by the Tampa Bay Rays just a day after hanging 16 runs on the board. Stephen Souza Jr. and Curt Casali had home runs, and the Rays would score three additional runs after the Nationals defense fell apart in the rain.

When is a starter not a starter? When the Tampa Bay Rays come to a National League city. The Rays put Steve Geltz on the mound tonight in the first, knowing full well he wouldn’t pitch in the bottom of the third. Trying to combat an offensive deficit as an AL team playing in an NL city, the Rays pinch-hit for their “starter” Geltz in the top of third.

It didn’t work out quite like they planned. Pinch-hitter Brandon Guyer grounded into a double-play, ending a short-lived rally and leaving everyone scratching their heads just a bit. Matt Andriese took over for Geltz in the 3rd, after Geltz threw two perfect innings, and then departed in the seventh, scattering two hits and a walk through four. Kevin Jepsen pitched a scoreless seventh, and Ronald Belisario a scoreless eighth.

Former Stephen Souza Jr. brought his bat to face his former teammate on Wednesday. Famous for his no-hitter saving catch in the 9th inning of Zimmermann’s no-hitter in late September 2014, Souza was 3-for-4 on the night, complete with a solo home run in the fifth inning. Curt Casali followed Souza’s knock with one of his own on a pitch that got away from Zimmermann, making it 2-0.

Ian Desmond struggled with some defensive issues in the sixth, missing a grounder up the middle for what was arguably an unplayable ball, and then compounded the situation, bobbling what should have been an easy double play. The Nats would escape from the situation, giving up only one run, but the damage was done.

And then the rain came.

As the eighth inning began, a hard rain fell on Nationals Park, causing many to wonder if the game might be paused or even called as the storm cell arrived. With a runner aboard, and two men down, the umpires seemed not to want to suspend the game mid-inning, and despite a healthy downpour, let Blake Treinen pitch to Stephen Souza Jr.

Souza, looking to bunt his way aboard, put a squib down the third base line. Treinen would lunge for the ball with his bare hand, and threw the wet ball down the first base line over the head of Danny Espinosa, advancing both of the runners. Bryce Harper charged in on the errant throw, and attempted to fire a strike to Yunel Escobar at third. Only, the ball was still quite wet, and left his hand a little wild. The ball ended up in the Rays dugout, and Souza claimed his little league home run, making it 5-0.

The Nationals had two hits on the night, and no matter how good your starting pitching is (and Zimmermann went 7IP, 3ER, 8K, BB, a strong evening), if you can’t put runners aboard, you’re going to fall short. A night after they put 16 runs and 23 hits on the board, they made three fielding errors, got just two hits, and scored nary a thing.

Baseball.

HERO: No hero tonight, my friends. Well, maybe Stephen Souza Jr. But they traded him this off-season. So. There’s that.

GOAT: Ian Desmond, Blake Treinen and Bryce Harper for their error-laden performance.

NATS NOTES:

  • The 27-minute rain delay in the 8th was the shortest delay of the season so far for the Nationals
  • Former National Stephen Souza Jr leads all rookies in home runs with 13.

NEXT UP: Rubber match with the Rays tomorrow night, 7:05pm, Chris Archer (7-4, 2.00) vs. Doug Fister (2-2, 4.31)

Washington Nationals Game 60 Review: Washington Falls to Milwaukee After Late-Inning Throwing Error

The Washington Nationals fell 6-5 against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night after a throwing error by second baseman Anthony Rendon in the eighth inning allowing the eventual go-ahead run to move into scoring position in a tied game.

Starting pitcher Tanner Roark had a solid outing despite giving up nine hits. Roark gave up five runs, one of which was a solo homer to outfielder Gerardo Parra in the seventh inning, while walking one batter and striking out four. He threw 101 pitches and 67 strikes. [Read more…]

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