August 27, 2015

Washington Nationals Game 103 Review: Third-inning surge give Mets sweep of Nats

The Washington Nationals last woke up without sole possession of first place in the NL East on June 20, and will do so again on Monday morning, unlikely as that may have seemed even a week ago.

Their post-All Star break swoon hit a new low on Sunday night, as starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann gave up three home runs in the third inning and the New York Mets won 5-2 in a nationally televised game at Citi Field. The win moves the Mets into a tie for first place in the division and a desperately needed three-game sweep against Washington.

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Washington Nationals Game 102 Review: Duda powers Mets to win over Washington

Lucas Duda homered twice, and went 3 for 3 as the New York Mets moved to within a game behind the Nationals in the N.L. East with a 3-2 win on Saturday night at Citi Field in Queens.

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Washington Nationals Series Preview: New York Mets

It looked for all the world like we were right back where we were when the Mets and Nationals met July 20-22, with the Nats (54-46) two games in front of the Mets (52-50).

Instead, Washington holds a 3-game lead over New York (more on that in a minute), as the two teams open a 3-game series at Citi Field.

The Nationals, after taking two of three in Miami, are now 3-4 on their 10-game road trip. The Mets are coming off a series with the Padres where they won the first game and have lost two straight.

*The Last Time…

In that last three game series the Nationals took two of three from the Mets. The Nationals are 6-4 on the season against the Mets, including 3-1 in New York.

*In The Other Dugout

Just how bad a 24-hour stretch was it for Mets fans beginning at 7pm on Wednesday night? First the Padres soundly beat the Mets, 7-3, on Wednesday night in a game that was no contest from the start. During the game, word spread over social media, on game broadcasts, and into the Mets dugout that the Mets had traded Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler for Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez. After the game, of course, the deal was revealed to have fallen apart, and the Mets were right back at it on the field Thursday afternoon. They took a 7-1 lead, which after a Derek Norris grand slam turned to a 7-5 lead which the Mets held until there were two outs in the ninth. At that time the rain at Citi Field got so bad that the umpires decided to delay the game, and when the 9th inning resumed 45 minutes later the Padres put together back-to-back singles, and a home run by Justin Upton gave San Diego the lead. Another rain delay followed, and the Mets lost just before 7pm Thursday evening, losing another game in the standings to the Nationals, who saw their new trade acquisition, Jonathan Papelbon, secure a one-run win. Don’t be surprised if the Mets pull off one more move before the deadline ahead of the opening game of this series.

*Matchup To Watch

Bryce Harper is still hitless against Matt Harvey, now 0 for 14, but Harvey looked to be pitching Harper very carefully the last time the two faced off. It’s worth watching how Harvey approaches Harper Friday night, especially since he was mostly ineffective against a Nationals team that did not feature Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth about ten days ago.

Two Mets worth watching: Daniel Murphy, not a huge home run threat, is 19 for 56 (.339) against Jordan Zimmermann with three homers in his career. Juan Lagares is 10 for 22 with 3 doubles, a triple, and a homer against Gio Gonzalez.

*Probables

Friday, 7:10pm: Gio Gonzalez (8-4, 3.83 ERA) vs. Matt Harvey (9-7, 3.16 ERA)

Saturday, 7:10pm: Joe Ross (2-3, 3.03 ERA) vs. Jacob deGrom (10-6, 2.05 ERA)

Sunday, 8:00pm: Jordan Zimmermann (8-6, 3.36 ERA) vs. Noah Syndergaard (5-5, 2.70 ERA)

Washington Nationals Game 93 Review: Taylor, Espinosa lead comeback over Mets

TAYLOR DRIVES IN THREE IN COMEBACK WIN OVER SECOND PLACE METS

Michael Taylor and Danny Espinosa delivered clutch hits in the eighth inning to trigger a three-run frame, helping the Washington Nationals to come from two runs down and beat the New York Mets 4-3 at Nationals Park, rescuing the rubber match of the three-game series.

The Nats (51-42) lead in the N.L. East returns to three games over the Mets. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 92 Review: Ross Starts Strong, Nats Fall to Mets

What started as a potential pitcher’s duel ended in favor of the New York Mets on Tuesday night when they beat the Washington Nationals 7-2 amid a sticky summer evening.

The arms on the mound – 2015 All-Star Jacob deGrom from the Mets and rookie call-up Joe Ross from the Nats – faced the minimum nine batters through the first three innings pitched before New York scored took to the scoreboard first. [Read more…]

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 Series Preview: New York Mets

The National League East is about to get a whole lot more exciting…or a whole lot more boring. The Nationals (49-41) open up a three game series with the Mets (48-44), a team they enter the series leading by just two games in the National League East. Six of the Nationals’ next 13 games are against the Mets, so by the first weekend in August we’ll probably have a better picture of how the East will shake out.

For the Nationals the series also marks the end of a “homestand” where they haven’t had to travel far since July 2nd, when they were in Atlanta to face the Braves. The Nationals had two home series and then a series in Baltimore before the All Star break (when players traveled for different reasons), then this six game homestand. Next the Nationals play ten games on the road, in Pittsburgh, in Miami, and then in New York against the Mets again.

By that series at Citi Field the trade deadline will have passed, and we’ll get an idea if the National League East will be a two-team race…or whether the Nationals will have put some distance between themselves and the pack and can focus on getting healthy for October.

*The Last Time…

The Mets and Nationals haven’t seen each other since early May, when the Nationals took three out of four against the Mets in New York. In that series the teams split the first two games before the Nationals posted back-to-back 1-0 wins, a sign of offensive struggles to come for the Mets. The Mets took two out of three in the season-opening series between the two teams.

*In The Other Dugout

Just how badly do the Mets need an offensive spark? Their starting pitchers have out-hit their bench players, for one thing. Pitching is far and away the Mets’ strength (on the mound as well as at the plate). Jacob deGrom gave the baseball world a peek at just how strong when he struck out the side on 10 pitches in his inning of work during the All Star Game. The Mets adjusted their rotation coming out of the All Star break so that deGrom and Matt Harvey would face the Nationals in this series…Noah Syndergaard will start the third game. What Mets fans really want to see, though, is an adjustment to the lineup, so those pitchers get the run support they have lacked most of the season.

*Matchup To Watch

The Mets could get an early indication of how their offense will go against Washington in the first game. Juan Lagares (.421), Michael Cuddyer (.375), and Daniel Murphy (.350) have all hit well against Gio Gonzalez. If those core lineup pieces hit, the Mets might actually score some runs. Also worth noting for Monday night: Bryce Harper is 0 for 12 with 6 strikeouts against Matt Harvey.

The best pitching matchup could very well come in Wednesday’s early start, and not just because Noah Syndergaard will be sending an extra vowel against Jordan Zimmermann’s double consonants. The day game after the night game is one factor, but Noah Syndergaard has also given up just three runs and struck out 19 in his last two starts.

*Probables

Monday, 7:00pm: Matt Harvey (8-6, 3.07 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.99 ERA)

Tuesday, 7:05pm: Jacob deGrom (9-6, 2.14 ERA) vs. Tanner Roark (4-4, 4.43 ERA)

Wednesday, 12:35pm: Noah Syndergaard (4-5, 3.05 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (8-5, 3.27 ERA)

Washington Nationals Game 26 Review: Fister owns Mets in 1-0 win

NATIONALS WIN CONSECUTIVE 1-0 GAMES FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FRACHISE HISTORY

The Washington Nationals have only scored two runs in their past two games. But it doesn’t matter how many you score if you don’t give up any.

For the second day in a row, the Nats shut out the New York Mets 1-0, the first time in Nats/Expos history that’s happened and the first time it’s happened in DC baseball history since 1915.

Doug Fister allowed five hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out three, and the Nats (12-14) made a first inning run against Dillon Gee stand up. The win is the third in four games against the Mets over the weekend, and trims the Nats deficit in the N.L. East to four games.

Fister has had trouble so far this season pitching up in the zone, where his 86-87 MPH fastball has served as batting practice at time. On Sunday, he was able to pitch in the lower half of the strike zone much better, and generated six ground ball outs, to go along with six fly outs. Fister was able to keep his sinker out of he middle of the plate, and Mets batters didn’t make solid contact when they were able to put it into play.

On the other side, Gee was solid as well against the Nats hitters, who after producing back-to-back 13 run games against Atlanta earlier in the week are back to scuffling again. Gee allowed six hits over five innings, but also walked five, which contributed to his early exit.

The Mets pen allowed just one hit and one walk over four innings. The Nats relievers didn’t have to pitch as long, but were just as good. Matt Thornton walked two in the eighth, the only runners to reach against four Nats relievers.

Drew Storen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save of the season.

Washington scored the lone run in the first inning. Denard Span led off with a walk, but was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Yunel Escobar. Escobar in turn was erased on Jayson Werth’s grounder to third. Bryce Harper laces a single to center to move Werth up to second, and the veteran left fielder scored on Ryan Zimmerman’s broken bat looper over first base.

The Nationals threatened in the fifth and sixth innings, getting a runner to third with no outs in both frames, but rallies ended with no more runs pushed across.

Ultimately, they weren’t needed.

HERO: Doug Fister. Like Gio Gonzalez Saturday night, the tall righty came through with a stellar outing, helping the Nats take the series against the Mets and cut into what was once close to a double-digit deficit in the division.

GOAT: Everyone but Jose Lobaton a stranded multiple runners, but Denard Span was the biggest culprit, leaving five runners on the bases.

NATS NOTES:

  • Ian Desmond went 2 for 3 with two doubles, and is maybe showing signs of life of breaking out of his horrendous hitting slump.
  • Jayson Werth, however, is not. His 0 for 4 day drops his season battin average down to .159, a gaping hole in the middle of the order.
  • After playing in Friday’s game for AA-Harrisburg, Anthony Rendon did not play again over the weekend, still nursing “tightness” in his right side.

NEXT GAME: The Nats return home for a much-needed homestand. Monday, Jordan Zimmermann (2-2, 4.88) hosts the Miami Marlins and David Phelps (1-0, 3.38)

Washington Nationals Game 24 Review: Pitching duel ends with defensive gaffe in loss to Mets

Friday night’s matchup promised to be a pitchers duel, and it did not disappoint. The Washington Nationals sent Max Scherzer up against the New York Mets’ Matt Harvey, and the two matched each other — almost completely — for seven innings.

But Jayson Werth misplayed a routine fly ball in the eighth inning, which turned into a three-run double and the Mets topped the Nats 4-0, snapping the Nats modest three-game winning streak.

Scherzer allowed one earned run — Michael Cuddyer’s fourth inning solo home run — on five hits and a walk, striking out 10. Harvey did him one better, throwing seven shutout innings on five hits and a walk, striking out three.

Scherzer routinely hit 95-96 on the radar, with a biting slider. He retired the side in order in the first two innings. He hit Dilson Herrera leading off the third, then with one out walked Curtis Granderson on a full-count high fastball. But he came back to get Juan Lagares swinging at one of those sliders.

Meanwhile, Harvey was mowing down the Nats (10-14). Michael Taylor, who started for Denard Span nursing soreness around his abdominal surgery site, reached on a infield single in the first, but was erased on a double-play grounder from Yunel Escobar. Wilson Ramos reached on two-out infield single in the second, and Taylor doubled with two gone in the third, but both were left stranded.

The Mets finally got to Scherzer in the fourth. After Lucas Duda struck out swinging, Cuddyer ripped a 0-1 fastball to right center that kept carrying over the wall at Citifield, which was moved in as part of the restructure of the outfield configurations.

Both pitchers breezed through the seventh innings, then were removed for pinch-hitters.

The Mets got something going in the eighth against reliever matt Thornton. Granderson struck out swinging to lead off, but Lagares and Duda both singled, and manager Matt Williams went for righty Blake Treinen.

Treinen immediately walked Cuddyer to load the bases. Then, on a 3-1 count, Daniel Murphy hit a soft, routine liner to left. Jayson Werth misread it and broke in on it, then slipped trying to recover and the ball went over his head and to the wall, clearing the bases.

The Nats went quietly in the ninth inning off Jeurys Familia.

HERO: Max Scherzer. Just another tremendous outing that was wasted by no offense and porous defense.

GOAT: Jayson Werth. He blew a routine fly ball that if had played correctly would not have advanced a runner and been the second out of the eighth inning. He’s got to have that at any time, let alone a one-run game.

NATS NOTES:

  • The whiff: With 10 Ks, Scherzer notched his 26th MLB double-digit strikeout game.
  • No offense: Michael Taylor and Wilson Ramos had two hits apiece. The rest of the Nats combined for two.

NEXT GAME: Saturday at 7:10 pm at Citifield. Gio Gonzalez (1-2, 5.01) faces Jonathan Niese (2-1, 2.74).

 

Washington Nationals Game 23 Review: Nats trump Mets again at Citifield

With the Washington Capitals playing across town at Madison Square Garden in Game 1 of their second round matchup with the New York Rangers, the Washington Nationals took the field in Queens to faceoff against the New York Mets at Citifield, a ballpark that they’ve had quite a bit of success at the past two years.

Game 1 of this four-game series found the Nats having success once again. Stephen Strasburg settled down from a tough second inning, and the offense bailed him out and more as the Nats handed the Mets an 8-2 loss while the Caps got a goal with 1.3 seconds remaining to take their Game 1 against the Rangers.

Strasburg really had the fastball going in this one, routinely hitting 95-96-87 on the radar gun, but the big righty had trouble locating his changeup all night and eventually relied almost solely on the fastball against the Mets, who repeatedly had trouble catching up to it.

The Mets got to Strasburg in the second, who labored all night throwing a lot of pitches. With one out, Wilmer Flroes doubled to left, then scored on Kevin Plawecki’s double to center. Plawecki scored on Curtis Granderson’s two-out single to right to make it 2-0.

But the suddenly resurgent Nats offense got that back — and more — in the fourth against Mets starter Jacob deGrom. Denard Span walked following a seven-pitch at bat and moved up when Flores botched a routine ground ball off the bat of Yunel Escobar. Jayson Werth reached down and lined a single to left which scored Span and send Escobar to second.

Bryce Harper walked to lead the bases, and when Ryan Zimmerman’s long fly ball to right was caught, Escobar walked home with the Nats second run. Wilson Ramos then grounded out to short, but Werth came home on the play to make it 3-2.

Washington (10-13) added on in the sixth. Escobar reached on a single, went to third on Harper’s double into the right field corner, and came home when a ground ball from Zimmerman bounced through the middle of the infield for a single. Ramos followed with his own single up the middle, and the Nats went up 5-2 and chased deGrom from the game. Ian Desmond walked against reliever Erik Goeddel, but Danny Espinosa flied to medium center, and Zimmerman was gunned down by Juan Lagares trying to score on the out.

The Mets got men on the corners with one out against Strasburg in the sixth, and with his pitch count high already, manager Matt Williams went to Aaron Barrett. Barrett used a wicked slider to retire Eric Campbell on strikes and got Flores to line out to left to quash the rally.

Strasburg finished 5 1/3 innings and allowed just the two earned runs on six hits and one walk, striking out seven, to earn his second win of the season.

Sammy Solis came on in the seventh for his MLB debut and was impressive. The lefty induced Plawecki to ground to short, pinch-hitter John Mayberry Jr lined out to left, and Curtis Granderson looked at strike three to end the frame.

The Nats tacked on three more in the ninth. Clint Robinson led off with a single and went to second on Escobar’s single. Jayson Werth loaded the bases with a single and Bryce Harper cleared the bases with a double to the left center gap.

HERO: Several hitters had good nights, including multi-hit performances by Escobar (3 for 5), andWerth, harper and Zimmerman all with two hits apiece. But let’s go with Solis, in his MLB debut, with two scoreless innings of relief in what was a 5-2 ballgame at the time.

GOAT: Mets reliever Buddy Carlyle. Carlyle got the save opening day against the Nats when Jenrry Mejia came up lame, but he was lit up in this one in the eighth inning. Three earned runs on four hits in 1 1/3 innings.

NATS NOTES:

  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first time the Nationals have had at least four players make their Major League debuts in April since 2007, when Levale Speigner, Kory Casto, Matt Chico and Jesus Flores all made the jump.
  • The last time the Nationals had four-plus players debut in the same month was Sept. 2011: Tommy Milone, Corey Brown, Steve Lombardozzi, Brad Peacock and Atahualpa Severino.
  • Bryce Harper finishes April hitting .286/.440/.545 with 5 doubles, 5 homers, 15 RBI and 22 walks. In case you forgot, he’s 22 years old.

NEXT GAME: Friday night at 7:10 pm Eastern. Max Scherzer (1-2, 1.26) faces Matt Harvey (4-0, 3.04).

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