October 22, 2019

Washington Nationals Game 120 Review: Rockies top Nationals 3-2

WHERE HAS ALL THE OFFENSE GONE, LONG TIME PASSING

Max Scherzer and Yohan Flande went blow for blow on Thursday night in Denver, the Cy Young winner vs. the youngster with less than 100 innings pitched in the majors. Max Scherzer allowed three runs on 8 hits through 6+ IP, while Flande allowed two and drove in one. The Nationals had just four hits in Thursday’s matchup, and fell four games back of the Mets with 42 games to play.

Flande was just as impressive at the plate as he was on the mound, sparking the Rockies’ rally in the fifth, and driving in their second run in the sixth. He finished the night 3-for-3 against Scherzer, tied for second on the year for most hits against Scherzer. Odubel Herrera of the Phillies leads with four in 13 at-bats.

Though Scherzer only gave up a trio of runs, he was not his usual impressive self on Thursday night. Scherzer walked three, and had a number of pitches in the dirt as he worked to locate his slider. Largely dependent on his changeup for his out pitch, Scherzer was having to grind to work his way through the Rockies’ lineup. His final line of 6+ IP, 8H, 3 ER, 3 BB (1 IBB), and 7 K won’t make it to any highlight reels.

The Nationals struck back in the top of the seventh, with Ryan Zimmerman getting a walk, and Michael A. Taylor destroying a fastball down the groove into the center field stands to tie the game at two. Taylor’s 493-foot blast was the 11th of his rookie year, and the longest on record in the majors this year.

The home half of the seventh inning was a peculiar thing to take in. Max Scherzer, at 90 pitches or so, came out to take the rock in the bottom of the seventh. Jose Reyes singled to center to start the inning, and Matt Williams came to get his ace. Felipe Rivero came in to face Carlos Gonzalez, who beat the defense the other way to move Reyes to second. Blake Treinen got the call from the bullpen, and came in to strike out Nolan Arenado on a slider up in the zone. He wouldn’t get so lucky against lefty Ben Paulsen, who drove in Reyes on a bloop single to center, shallow enough and slow enough to score Reyes from second.

Why Williams wanted Treinen with the lefty matchup is unclear to me at press time, especially given that lefties hit .322/.398/.471 against him this year. Given that the bullpen has had a restful series in Colorado, Williams had a panoply of options, and it seems Treinen was an odd choice. The inning would conclude on a wild pitch to another lefty, Daniel Descalso, as Carlos Gonzalez couldn’t commit to running home, or get back to 3rd fast enough.

The ninth saw a leadoff single for Bryce Harper – only the Nationals’ fourth hit of the day – against John Axford. The cagey closer would drop a perfectly placed 3-2 curve on the corner to Yunel Escobar to rack the first out of the ninth. Ian Desmond swung right through a 2-2 slider to put the game on the line with two outs. Ryan Zimmerman forced a walk from Axford in a beautiful at-bat, putting Taylor at the plate for the big moment. He’d swing through a high fastball, and that would end the game.

The Mets were off Thursday, and the Nationals fell to four games back of the Division with 42 to play.

HERO: Michael A. Taylor for his tape-measure blast in the seventh to tie the game at two.

GOAT: Max Scherzer and Matt Williams, for equal parts bad bullpen management and a rough night – his third straight start – with control problems to boot.

NATS NOTES:

  • 493 feet is 9 feet longer than Giancarlo Stanton’s league-leading 484-foot homers for Miami.
  • If the Mets finished 21-21, the Nationals would need to finish 25-17 to force a tiebreaker.

NEXT UP: The Nationals return home to face the Brewers on Friday night. Gio Gonzalez (9-5, 3.86) vs. Jimmy Nelson (9-9, 3.61) at 7:05pm.

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 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 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 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 Minor League Team-by-Team Awards

As the regular season comes to a close for minor league, District Sports Page now takes a look around the Washington Nationals’ organization and reflects a year that was in minor league baseball. (NOTE: These are not “official” awards. They have been selected by the writer.) [Read more…]

Washington Nationals’ Minor Leaguers Receive End of Year Honors

In the past several days, four players and one manager in the Washington Nationals’ organization earned awards for their spectacular performances on the diamond. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Minor League and Prospect Report for July 20th

Another week of minor league baseball is in the books. Here are players around the Washington Nationals’ organization that are making headlines. For this week, we’ll go over players that participated in All-Star Games, among others. [Read more…]

Trio of Harrisburg Senators Selected to Play in Eastern League All-Star Game

On Monday afternoon, the Harrisburg Senators, the Washington Nationals’ double-A affiliate, announced via a press release that three players had been tabbed to play in the 2014 Eastern League All-Star Game as members of the Western Division All-Star Team. [Read more…]

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