September 17, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 89 Review: Bats go quiet against Lannan in 3-2 loss

The Washington Nationals offense, missing much of the season, had been flourishing the past week or so, scoring eight or more runs in five of their last eight games, all wins. But this season, they’ve hit lefties at an atrocious pace, .218/.283/.343. Unfortunately, the Philadelphia Phillies will trot out three left-handed starters in the first three games of the series, starting with former Nats starter John Lannan.

Lannan dominated the Nats for eight innings, leading the Phillies to a 3-2 win over the Nats, busting up Washington’s four-game win streak. The loss drops the Nats record to 46-43, 4 1/2 games behind Atlanta pending their late result.

Dan Haren, the Nats $13 million off-season free agent prize, came off the disabled list for the start and the Phillies didn’t waste any time laying into him in the first inning. Ben Revere singled to right on the second pitch of the game, and after a pickoff attempt, Jimmy Rollins did the same. Haren got Chase Utley to, um, chase a cutter for strike three, but Revere and Rollins executed a double steal on the play.

Domonic Brown then lashed a ball off Haren’s shin, which caromed toward the first base line. All hands were safe, and Revere scored on the play. Michael Young drew a base on balls, and Delmon Young struck out. Darin Ruf, in his first appearance up from the minor with the Phillies assignment of Ryan Howard to the D.L. with impending meniscus surgery, walked to force in a run to make it 2-0 at the end of the first inning.

Haren (L, 4-10, 6.00) didn’t really “calm down” all that much for the next four innings, but he did keep the Phillies from scoring again. In his first start off the disabled list, Haren gave up two runs on seven hits and three walks, striking out seven along the way. He threw 59 of his 95 pitches for strikes.

Fernando Abad took over in the sixth and ran into trouble of his own. With two outs, Revere doubled to left field and scored when Rollins singled to right field, just beating the throw home.

Phillies starter John Lannan, the Nats two-time opening day starter, held the Nats in check over his eight innings of work. Lannan (W, 2-3, 4.23) allowed just four hits and two walks with four Ks, earning his second win of the season, both over the Nationals.

The Nats finally broke through against Phils closer Jonathan Papelbon, but it ultimately wasn’t enough. Bryce Harper led off the ninth with a single up the middle, and went to third on Ryan Zimmerman’s double off the base of the wall in right center. Jayson Werth rode one to center that Revere caught up to on the warning track and Harper scored easily with Zimmerman moving to third. Adam LaRoche plated Zimmerman with a sac fly, but Chad Tracy’s soft pop fly to center ended the comeback.

THE GOOD: Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman had two hits apiece and fueled the Nats comeback attempt in the ninth inning. Ross Ohlendorf gave them two innings of scoreless relief, striking out three in the process.

THE BAD: Lack of offense. The Nats have been hitting of late, but they need to have some success against the lefties in the Phillies rotation this week. Expect new acquisition Scott Hairston, who has great career numbers against Cole Hamels, to start Tuesday.

THE UGLY: Ian Desmond. 0-for-4 with 3 Ks against Lannan. Chased everything, Lannan really carved him up.

THE STATS: 6 hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. 0-for-1 with RISP, 5 LOB. E: Ramos (4, fielding); no DPs.

NEXT GAME: Tuesday at 7:10 pm against the Phillies. Taylro Jordan (0-1, 2.70) faces Cole Hamels (3-11, 4.38).

Washington Nationals Game 69 Review: Chad Tracy’s homer too little, too late as Nats fall to Phils 5-4

In a matchup between two over-5.00 ERA pitchers on two teams struggling to find the .500 mark, the Philadelphia Phillies (34-37) topped the Washington Nationals (34-35) 5-4 in walk-off fashion Monday night.

It’s been a frustrating road trip for the Nats, who have managed to win three of seven thus far despite their offensive woes.

With former National John Lannan (ND, 0-1) on the mound for the Phillies, Washington had a legitimate shot at erasing memories of Sunday afternoon’s frustrating loss to the Cleveland Indians.

In fact, the Nats struck first – and early – against Lannan. With one out in the first inning, Anthony Rendon drew a walk before Ryan Zimmerman took first on a hit-by-pitch. Jayson Werth singled to left to drive in Rendon and give the Nats a 1-0 lead before Ian Desmond grounded into a double play to cut the inning short. [Read more...]

NATS: Happy Birthday, John Lannan

HAPPY 28th BIRTHDAY JOHN LANNAN!

Washington Nationals LHP John Lannan was born on 09/27/1984 in Long Beach, New York.

Happy Birthday #31!

John Lannan could be an integral piece for the Nats stretch drive. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

 

Washington Nationals Game 155 Review: Nats’ bats come alive in 8-4 win over Phils

Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond and Kurt Suzuki each homered in the Washington Nationals’ 8-4 win over the third-place Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park Wednesday night.

At the start of the game, the Nationals seemed well-deserving of the top spot in the NL East. Against Phillies’ right-hander Kyle Kendrick (L, 10-12, 4.08) they looked as though they were taking pitches in batting practice rather than facing off against a team struggling to clutch onto a playoff berth. After Jayson Werth led off the top of the first with a five-pitch walk, Harper got things started quickly by sending one deep to left center to put the Nats on the board first, 2-0.

John Lannan (W, 4-0, 4.23) forced three groundouts in the bottom of the inning and, at the top of the second, Desmond led off with a solo shot to left center field. Steve Lombardozzi reached first on a throwing error by Chase Utley, and Suzuki capitalized on the opportunity by driving one into the seats in left field to make it 5-0 Nats. Suzuki’s home run represented the third in only eight of the Nats’ at-bats against Kendrick.

And, the slugfest would seemingly continue. Adam LaRoche led off the third inning with a walk and Michael Morse singled on a sharp ground ball to third baseman Kevin Frandsen.

However, the Nats’ bats went silent once the Phillies went to their bullpen to bring in right-hander B.J. Rosenberg. In fact, aside from a fourth-inning walk to Lannan, the Nats failed to put a runner on base again until the eighth inning.

Luckily, Lannan took matters into his own hands.

He wasn’t by any stretch perfect. He started off the second inning by hitting Ryan Howard with a fastball up and in, and in the third, he gave up a lead-off double to Kevin Frandsen before Rosenberg laid down the perfect bunt to drive inthe  Phillies’ first run of the game. John Mayberry and Chase Utley went on to hit back-to-back singles later in the inning, but Lannan regained control of his breaking ball in time to strike out Howard and force Carlos Ruiz into a groundout to end the inning.

Unfortunately for the Nats, Frandsen continued to hit well off Lannan, however, and in the fourth, he fired a triple into center field. Rosenberg hit a fly ball that tripped up Harper, who wound up backpedaling for the catch but could not keep up with the ball. Rosenberg was awarded the single and the Phillies drove in their second run of the night, but Lannan went on to force Jimmy Rollins into a ground out to end the inning.

The Phillies tacked on an additional run on Rollins’s homer to right field in the seventh inning, and in the eighth, Davey Johnson turned to Tyler Clippard to keep the Nats on top.

As has been the case recently, however, Clippard failed to deliver. Chase Utley led off for the Phillies with a line drive down the right field line for a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Clippard then walked Ruiz on five pitches and gave up a sacrifice fly to Domonic Brown, who drove in Utley to put the Phillies back within one run, with the tying run on base. The Phillies’ recent call-up, Darin Ruf, singled softly to right to load the bases, but Clippard managed to strike out Frandsen to end the inning.

In the ninth, right-hander Justin De Fratus walked Desmond, who advanced to second on a stolen base. Suzuki followed up with a one-out single to center and Danny Espinosa struck out swinging to bring Werth to the plate with two outs.

During his at-bat, Werth gestured to a fan as though he were going to toss them a souvenir baseball to take home. When he, instead, flicked the ball into the Nationals’ dugout, the boo-birds came out in full force. As if relishing in the moment, Werth fell behind in the count by two strikes before lining one up the middle for a single and two RBI, bringing the Nats’ lead to 7-4. Harper then followed up with a triple against Phillies’ left-hander Antonio Bastardo, driving in his third run on the night and bringing the Nats to the final score, 8-4.

Drew Storen pitched a one-two-three inning in the bottom of the ninth in a no-save situation to seal the Nats’ win and bring Washington’s Magic Number down to four.

THE TAKEAWAY: Amidst talks in the media that the Washington Nationals might let nerves get the best of them in the days leading up to the playoffs, the Nats, instead, looked as relaxed as ever Wednesday night. John Lannan maintained control of his fastball and breaking ball, allowing just five hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings.

THE GOOD: Jayson Werth not only pulled through in the clutch, but he went 2-for-4 on the night with two runs, two RBI and a walk.

Bryce Harper went 2-for-5 with a home run (20), three RBI, one run and a stolen base, his 17th of the year.

THE BAD: Yet again, Tyler Clippard nearly blew the lead for the Washington Nationals. Davey Johnson had Sean Burnett warming in the seventh but, instead, went to Clippard who has been inconsistent in his last several appearances.

The Nationals also managed to strand 13 runners on base against a subpar Philadelphia pitching staff.

THE UGLY: The Washington Nationals’ bats were silenced for nearly five full innings against the Phillies’ bullpen. They’re going to have to prove they can face tougher pitching than they have in recent weeks as the playoffs inch closer.

THE STATS: 9 hits, 4 BBs, 9 Ks, 2-for-8 with RISP, 13 LOB, 2 GIDP, E: Suzuki (5, throw), 1 DP.

NEXT GAME: Thursday at 7:05 against the Philadelphia Phillies. Gio Gonzalez (20-8, 2.84) against Tyler Cloyd (2-1, 3.86)

Washington Nationals Game 148 Review: Kemp’s 9th inning homer wastes Nats’ furious 8th inning rally

A playoff-clinching victory will have to wait at least one more day.

Things were set for a storybook conclusion. John Lannan, opening day starter for a 100- and 90-loss Washington Nationals team, was on the mound with an opportunity to clinch the Nats first post-season berth since the relocation in 2005. Despite a thrilling six-run eighth inning Nats rally to tie the game, it just wasn’t to be, as Matt Kemp crushed an 0-2 pitch from Tyler Clippard to the seats at the Red Porch, delivering a 7-6 win for the Los Angeles Dodgers before 26,931 in the nightcap of the traditional single-admission double-header.

Coupled with the Atlanta Braves 3-0 win over the Miami Marlins, the Nats division lead is five games and magic number to clinch the division stays at nine.

Ryan Zimmerman makes anassisted play at 3rd and tags Adrian Gonzalez for the third out of 4th inning, however, umps ruled that Matt Kemp had scored before tag by Zimmerman – Los Angeles Dodgers v. Washington Nationals, Game Two of Doubleheader on September 19, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

The Nats fell behind early in this one, as Lannan was roughed up for six earned runs in 3 2/13 innings. It looked like the story of this game was going to be how Lannan got clobbered and the Nats’ bats were silenced by the much-maligned Dodgers starter Josh Beckett. Already exiled from Boston where he pitched poorly and acted worse, Beckett was masterful most of Wednesday night, facing the minimum number of batters through five innings and just one more through seven. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 143 Review: Nats Complete the Sweep in New York as Lannan Steps in for Strasburg

by Alyssa Wolice, Contributor to District Sports Page

In the wake of the Strasburg Shutdown, Washington Nationals southpaw John Lannan threw 5 2/3 shutout innings in his return to the Majors as the Washington Nationals completed a three-game sweep with a 2-0 win over the New York Mets.

Despite media doubts surrounding his ability to fill Stephen Strasburg’s spot in the rotation, Lannan (W, 3-0, 2.41) allowed only one walk and five hits in his first start at Citi Field since 2010. Backed by stellar defensive plays by Ryan Zimmerman and Steve Lombardozzi — who started for Danny Espinosa as second due to the death of his gandmother, Lannan’s two-seamer frustrated the Mets, who batted into 10 groundouts during his stint.

Washington’s (89-54) bats were quiet as Mets starter Matt Harvey (3-5, 2.92 ERA) struck out the first four Nats to come to the plate. The Mets (65-78) threatened in the second inning with back-to-back singles by Lucas Duda and Kelly Shoppach, but Zimmerman fielded JasonBay’s chopper in time to get the force out at second. After Andres Torres’s line drive to Roger Bernadina, Harvey bounced one to Zimmerman, who fielded it from his knees to keep the Mets scoreless.

The Nats put their first run on the board in the fourth as Zimmerman belted his 22nd homer of the season into the seats in left center.

Zimmerman looked to get things started again in the sixth with a leadoff walk. Adam LaRoche followed with a line drive single to right and Ian Desmond walked to load the bases. However, the Nats failed to tack on any insurance runs as Tyler Moore popped to first, Kurt Suzuki popped to second and Lombardozzi flied to right.

The Mets batted into a similar situation in the bottom of the inning as David Wright singled to center and Duda drew a walk to leave two on and two out for Christian Garcia, who faced another high-pressure situation just eight days after his MLB debut with the Nats. After hitting Shoppach on the first pitch, Garcia settled down in time to force Ike Davis to fly to center to end the inning.

The Nats would yet again strand three in the top of the seventh after pinch-hitter Mark DeRosa singled and Jayson Werth drew his sixth walk of the series. Bryce Harper laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt to advance the runners and Zimmerman drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases, but Adam LaRoche grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, keeping the Nats’ lead at just 1-0.

Craig Stammen pitched a one-two-three seventh and Desmond provided some breathing room with a solo shot to left center – his 23rd homer of the season.

In his first appearance in 10 days, Sean Burnett took to the mound in the ninth in a save situation. However, after singles by Dudo and Torres, Davey Johnson called upon Drew Storen to close it out for the Nats and secure the shutout.

THE TAKEAWAY: With the Braves’ loss to the Brewers tonight, the Nats’ magic number for the division is now down to 11 heading into the Atlanta series.

THE GOOD: Despite facing backlash about the Strasburg Shutdown, the Nats proved they still boast one of the sharpest rotations in the league as John Lannan tallied his first win since his most recent call-up from Syracuse. In addition to keeping the Mets scoreless, Lannan proved the Nats do, in fact, have a starter with a decent pickoff move as he successfully nabbed Ronny Cedeno on first in the third inning.

The Nationals bench delivered once again as DeRosa led off with a single in the seventh, batting in place of Roger Bernadina.

Ryan Zimmerman extended his NL-leading current hit streak to 16 games and has now batted in a run in nine consecutive games – breaking the Nationals/Expos previous franchise record of eight.

THE BAD: Michael Morse was out of the lineup due to a sore left wrist, which has been bothering him over the past few weeks. Tests were negative but Davey Johnson said he would wait to see how Morse looks during batting practice Friday before deciding to play him in the Atlanta series.

THE UGLY: The Nationals left nine runners on base, including five in the sixth and seventh innings alone.

STATISTICS: Seven hits, 5 BBs, 11 Ks. 1-for-5 with RISP, 9 LOB, 1 GIDP. 1 Error (Zimmerman, 16), 1 DP.

NEXT GAME: Friday at 7:35 pm against the Braves. Ross Detwiler (9-6, 3.23) faces Kris Medlen (8-1, 1.64).

Alyssa Wolice is a Contributor to District Sports Page. An American University alum, Alyssa worked as a political blogger and financial reporter before making the switch to sports journalism. As a former production assistant, she covered the Nationals, Redskins, Capitals, Wizards, D.C. United and local collegiate teams. A New Jersey native, Alyssa currently serves as a community and sports reporter for a number of small-town newspapers in her home state and works full-time as a marketing communications specialist with a trade association based in Washington, D.C. You can follow her on Twitter @awolice.

Washington Nationals to recall Lannan, others for September

John Lannan could be an integral piece for the Nats stretch drive. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson announced before Friday night’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals that the team would add several players when the rosters expand after Sept. 1. Johnson listed LHP John Lannan, C Sandy Leon, OF Eury Perez and veteran INF Mark DeRosa as definites, with OF Corey Brown and another AAA pitcher — likely to be RHP Christian Garcia — to be added Sept. 3 after AAA-Syracuse finishes their season. [Read more...]

John Lannan tossed second complete-game shutout for Syracuse

John Lannan could be an integral piece for the Nats stretch drive. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Great news for Nats fans. It sounds like John Lannan is ready to ready to Washington.

The southpaw tossed his second straight complete-game shutout, becoming the first Syracuse pitcher with two shutouts this season, in his final start of the season for the Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

Lannan struck out a season-high 10 and scattered eight singles without walking a single Charlotte Knights batter with 122 pitches. The complete-game shutout was the second straight for the left-hander, who also aced Gwinnett on August 25.

Lannan is expected to join the Nats rotation when rosters expand in September.

Cheryl Nichols is a Columnist and Photographer for District Sports Page. She is credentialed to cover the Washington Capitals and has reported on the community service and fan events for Nats News Network and Caps News Network since 2006. Cheryl is an accomplished action photographer and has been published in The Washington Post and many other local media. She was a credentialed photographer for the 2010 season covering the Washington Nationals. You can follow her on Twitter @cnichols14.

Washington Nationals: Potential candidates for September callups

John Lannan could be an integral piece for the Nats stretch drive. (photo by Cheryl Nichols)

During his pre-game press conference Wednesday, before the Washington Nationals 5-1 loss tot he Atlanta Braves, Nats skipper Davey Johnson was asked if he was looking forward to seeing some of the potential candidates for the Sept. 1 roster expansion. [Read more...]

Strikeouts do not drive pitch counts; control and contact do

Here we go again.

In theory, getting an out on one pitch is better than using three. But in practical application, it doesn’t work like that. You can’t make a batter swing at a pitch. In fact, most batters would be better off not swinging at all. But that’s a whole separate argument.

Here’s a partial list of the things that can happen once a batter puts a ball in play: Fly ball, ground ball, line drive, pop up, bunt, foul ball, home run. Any of those things can lead to a batter being safe or out. Except, of course, the home run part.

Here’s a complete list of the things that happen when a batter makes strike three: Out*. [Read more...]

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