September 2, 2015

Washington Nationals Game 129 Review: Strasburg Pulled Early, Nats Beat Marlins

The Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 7-4 on Sunday afternoon despite starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg being pulled after four innings pitched.

Strasburg threw 60 pitches and 43 strikes in four innings while giving up four runs and two home runs on seven hits while striking out three batters. According to the team after the game, Strasburg left with an upper back injury not considered to be serious. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 126 Review: Nats Squeak by Padres, Injuries Arise

The Washington Nationals beat the San Diego Padres 4-2 on Thursday night in D.C. but suffered quite a blow in regards to injuries.

Outfielder Michael A. Taylor and third baseman Yunel Escobar were down for the count by the end of the night but Washington still managed to sneak by the Padres.

Taylor ran into the outfield wall tracking down a fly ball and came up lame and needed help get off the field with a knee contusion. Escobar was hit by a pitch in his wrist — which drove in a run — and left the game.

Starting pitcher Joe Ross threw six innings of one-hit, one-run ball while walking two batters and striking out seven for the Nats. He threw 77 pitches and 48 strikes. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 119 Review: Strasburg’s Solid in Colorado, Nats Squeak by Rockies

The Washington Nationals beat the Colorado Rockies 4-1 on Wednesday night thanks to a tie-breaking two-run triple hit by Jayson Werth in the eighth inning.

Colorado took an early 1-0 lead over the Nats in the second inning when first baseman Ben Paulsen scored on a wild pitch thrown by Washington starter Stephen Strasburg.

Strasburg ended up with the win on Wednesday, tallying his seventh of the season. He threw 93 pitches and 68 strikes in seven innings while giving up two hits, one run, and striking out five batters. [Read more…]

While the division slips away, day dreaming about opening day

The Washington Nationals are hard to watch right now. They aren’t hitting nearly enough. The bullpen gives up runs on a nightly basis, failing to protect leads or allowing insurance runs to make comebacks impossible. Even the stalwart starting pitchers are struggling post- All-Star break. Defensive miscues abound, mental mistakes are staring to creep in and, all the while, the manager is starting to make panic moves like having a .300 hitter bunt a runner over to third with no outs in the first inning. It’s getting ugly.

So… let’s pause from this for a moment and distract ourselves, shall we? Regardless of how this season eventually shakes out, there will be big changes on the field. There may be big changes off the field as well, but that depends on the next six weeks of baseball and that’s what we’re trying to forget for a moment. [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 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 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 99 Review: Nats Squish Fish, Harper Homers Twice

HARPER HOMERS TWICE AS NATIONALS SURGE OVER MARLINS 7-2

Bryce Harper homered twice off Miami pitching, each time reaching the second deck at Marlins Park, as the Nationals experienced their first power surge in weeks. Michael A. Taylor added another long shot in the eighth. Doug Fister went six innings of sinker-ball excellence for the win, and Dylan Koehler was tagged for the loss. The Nationals will look for the series victory tomorrow with Max Scherzer on the mound.

The Marlins struck first on Wednesday night, a double off the bat of Ichiro Suzuki scoring Derek Dietrich, who was hit by a pitch. The Nationals responded in the top of the fourth with a Harper single, a Desmond triple, and a sacrifice fly from Michael A. Taylor. Taylor and Harper combined for six RBI on Wednesday night, going a collective 4-for-7 with three home runs.

Fister gave up a one-out single to Justin Bour ahead of an Ichiro Suzuki single up the middle. In trouble, Adeiny Hechavarria added to Fister’s woes with a single to left, scoring Bour. With a heads up play, Ian Desmond didn’t throw the cutoff home, but rather caught Ichiro in a rundown to end the inning.

With two outs in the fifth, the power explosion hit Miami. Singles from Yunel Escobar and Jayson Werth put Harper at the dish in a high leverage situation. He delivered. Harper hit a massive bomb to the second row of the upper deck in right field, easily a 450-foot shot.

Fister cruised through six innings, his sinker finally working. Fister got five ground ball outs on Wednesday, and four more strikouts, walking just one. Given his last starts where he struggled this was a substantial improvement.

The Nationals added a game to their lead in the NL East, as the Mets lost to the Padres.

HERO: Bryce Harper for his monster bombs at Marlins Park.

GOAT: No goats tonight! Here’s a cute ungulate.

NATS NOTES:

  • Every Nationals position player save Ryan Zimmerman had a hit tonight
  • The second of Harper’s home runs landed practically on the concourse in the upper deck.

NEXT UP: Rubber match is tomorrow, 12:10pm, Max Scherzer (10-8, 2.33) vs former National Dan Haren (7-6, 3.51)

Washington Nationals Game 98 Review: Marlins top Nationals 4-1

FERNANDEZ QUIETS NATS BATS, ZIMMERMANN VULNERABLE IN LOSS

The Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins dueled on Tuesday night in Miami, with the Nats falling 4-1. Jose Fernandez, recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2014, went six full, allowing one run on four hits, walking four, and striking out five. Jordan Zimmermann matched Fernandez for five innings, allowing one run on five hits, striking out two and walking none, but came apart in the sixth, surrendering three hits, two more runs, two walks (both intentional) and left the game after six.

The Nationals’ only run came on a sacrifice fly in the second. Wilson Ramos drove in Bryce Harper on a deep fly ball to right field, having advanced to third on Ryan Zimmerman’s double to the wall in left. That was all the Nationals could do off Fernandez, who was working the edges like a professional.

The Marlins answered in the fifth with a pair of singles from J.T. Realmuto and Ichiro Suzuki with one out. Adeiny Hechavarria popped the ball out to Bryce Harper, and that looked like all they would get on the night. The sixth inning told a very different story, unfortunately for the Nationals.

Dee Gordon (2-for-3 on the night) started things off with a long fly ball to the wall, a stand-up triple. On the next pitch, Martin Prado singled to left to score Gordon, making it 2-1. Christian Yelich singled to right, letting Prado advance to third without issue. With no one out, the Nationals opted to walk Derek Dietrich to set up the force at home. J.T. Realmuto would drive in Prado on a ground ball to Escobar that was just far enough in and slow enough to put Escobar’s only play at first, making it 3-1. Zimmermann would issue another intentional pass, this time to Ichiro Suzuki to load the bases with two out. Thankfully for the Nationals, Hechavarria would ground out to Ryan Zimmerman to end the inning with limited damages.

Sammy Solis was called on to pitch the seventh inning, and it did not go well for the young left hander. Cole Gillespie, entering the game as part of a double switch, immediately pounced on the rookie, raking it up the middle. Dee Gordon laid down a beautiful bunt to move him up, just barely out on a quick relay from Solis. The Nats would issue their third intentional walk of the night to noted Nat-killer Martin Prado,

Against Miami closer A.J. Ramos, the Nationals would put up some fight. Michael A. Taylor drew a one-out walk, followed by a pinch-hit double for Clint Robinson off the bench. A borderline walk to Anthony Rendon gave them the go-ahead run at the plate, but an unfortunate grounder from Yunel Escobar ended the game on a 6-4-3 double play without a run scoring.

HERO: Ryan Zimmerman got aboard three times in his return from the DL, going 2-for-3 with a walk.

GOAT: Sammy Solis for his lamentable 7th inning performance.

NATS NOTES:

  • Tonight marks the first game since May 15th that seven of the Nationals “expected” starters appeared in the starting lineup. They have yet to have all eight expected position starters this season.
  • Jayson Werth was 1-for-4 with a single in his return from a broken wrist.

NEXT UP: Doug Fister vs. Tom Kohler at 7:10pm tomorrow night.

MLB Trade Deadline: Nats all-in on Kimbrel?

The Washington Nationals have been linked to talks with the San Diego Padres on closer Craig Kimbrel. In fact, by the time you read this the deal may have been done. Kimbrel is owed $11M in 2016 and $13M in 2017, with a team option for $13M in 2018.

Now, the Nats already have a pretty good closer (whom they used a first round pick on), but they seem to want to replace him at any chance they can get.

It strikes me strange that GM Mike Rizzo would be willing to assume $24 million over the next two seasons on a redundant part, especially since he can’t have any idea what he’s going to get health or performance-wise from his aging and injury-prone left fielder and first baseman, if and when they take the field.

Thus far, Rizzo has been very judicial in how he’s managed the Lerner’s money. He’s willing to allow Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Denard Span to walk at the end of the season. He traded Tyler Clippard instead of paying him. The only big contracts he’s doled out were Jayson Werth’s original deal (when the Nats were still a very bad team), Ryan Zimmerman’s extension, and Max Scherzer this off-season.

Trading for a closer still on the hook for $24 million over two years, when they already have an affordable one on the roster, just seems, to me, counter to how Rizzo’s managed this roster thus far.

But it’s not just about the money, either. National baseball writers had the Padres asking for Trea Turner back in a deal for Kimbrel. Rizzo will balk at that, but that’s the level of prospect the Padres want, and they’ll want more than one. Can the Nats afford to deal one top-flight prospect and a couple of lesser ones with the holes this roster is going to have over the next season or two with free agents moving on?

Of course, if Rizzo thinks Werth and Zimmerman return to their pre-injury production down the stretch and Kimbrel is the last piece of the puzzle, then we’ll have to reserve judgment and see how things play out. But color me skeptical on any of those three propositions being fulfilled.

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