December 17, 2014

OPINION: Washington Nationals might have blown best chance for this group to win championship

It’s never easy, the end of the baseball season. And make no mistake, it’s over. Sure, you can follow the rest of the playoffs until its conclusion, but for fans of the Washington Nationals, the end of the baseball season came late Tuesday night in San Francisco.

It came in a bitter, frustrating, disappointing manner — they weren’t so much defeated, but done in by their own mistakes and mismanagement.

It’s an unimaginable conclusion, after winning their way to the best record in the National League to be dumped in the division series, unceremoniously, on the road, practically in the middle of the night.

Most fans would like nothing better than to praise the winners for a job well done, victors in a meritorious fashion. But the bottom line of this NLDS is that the Giants, while victors, were no better than the Nats. Neither team hit at all, rather the Nats continued to make errors and mistakes, and as one of the analysts on the terrible postgame shows said, “If you aren’t scoring runs, you can’t give away outs.”

The Giants didn’t, the Nats did.

Both teams scored nine runs in the series. Four of the nine runs came via solo home runs, three of which came from the youngest player on the team — who could be the youngest player on the majority of AA teams.

It just wasn’t enough.

Manager Matt Williams was criticized — rightly — in three of the four games for decisions he made with his pitching staff, most notably how he managed his bullpen. Veterans Denard Span, Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos were non-existent.

Werth and LaRoche, the three-four hitters combined for two base hits in 35 at bats in the four games. In the game Span reached twice, the Nats won. Other than that, he was transparent. Desmond and Ramos are still swinging at sliders away.

It’s hard to fault the pitchers that didn’t come through, considering they gave up just nine runs in four games. Aaron Barrett and Tanner Roark looked in over their heads. Gio Gonzalez got rattled after a physical error. Drew Storen gave up base hits when he needed strikeouts. But it’s nit-picking.

They gave up NINE RUNS IN FOUR GAMES. They should have won all of them.

Yes, this one’s gonna hurt. They all do. But this will hurt differently than 2012 did. The Nats were one pitch away from advancing on several occasions in a ten minute period and it was ripped away from them. Most thought they weren’t ready.

This year, they were ready. Full of veterans. Playoff tested. Best record in the league. Young players coming into their own. The best starting staff and bullpen in the league. Yet, it all blew up. Rather, they just didn’t show up.

The window’s still open with this group of players, but it won’t be forever. Denard Span and Adam LaRoche both have team options for next year. We don’t know if either will be back. Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann are free agents after next season.

We have no idea where — or even if — Ryan Zimmerman will be able to contribute in a meaningful way the rest of his career.

For a team that’s as veteran as this is, there are a lot of questions. The sobering conclusion is that this very well might have been the Nats best chance to win a championship with this group of players.

And they blew it. It’s hard to type that. I’m sure it hard to read it. But it’s true.

Washington Nationals NLDS Game 4: Nats fall short in San Fran; eliminated from playoffs

The San Francisco Giants scored three runs — without the benefit of a base hit — and beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 to eliminate the Nats 3-1 in the five game National League Divisional Series.

The game was filled with poor umpiring, bad defense by the Nats, and questionable managerial decisions. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals NLDS Game 3 Review: Fister, 3-run seventh give Nats another shot

Doug Fister pitched seven shutout innings, an uncharacteristic error led to a 3-run inning, and the Washington Nationals beat the San Francisco Giants 4-1 to cut their deficit in the best of five series to two games to one on Monday at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

The win snapped the Giants N.L. record 10-game postseason winning streak.

The pitching matchup came off as advertised. Fister took on 18-game winner Madison Bumgarner and both pitchers were sublime for most of the game.

In the top of the seventh, though, Ian Desmond reached Bumgarner for a single to lead off the frame. Bryce Harper then got himself into a 3-1 count, then spit on an 88-MPH slider for ball four.

Wilson Ramos was asked to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but couldn’t get it done on the first two attempts. Usually, Ramos wouldn’t be asked to sacrifice, and he hadn’t successfully sacrificed since 2011, but with runs at a premium in this series, the Nats didn’t take the play off with two strikes.

Ramos was able to get a bunt down in fair territory with two strikes, and Bumgarner made the play. But instead of taking the easy out at first, he tried to cut down the lead runner, Desmond, at third. His throw was late — and wide of the bag.

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval tried to reach for it and stay on the bag, but it sailed down the line, through the Giants bullpen, and into the right field corner. Desmond scored easily, and Harper followed him without a play, with Ramos ending up at second.

Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a clean single through the hole, and Ramos came chugging home with the Nats’ third run.

Bumgarner gave up three runs — two earned — on six hits and a walk, striking out six.

Fister gave up a single to Brandon Belt to lead off the home half of the seventh, but then retired three straight to get out of the inning and turned things over to the bullpen.

Fister gave up four hits and three walks in seven innings, striking out three.

Tyler Clippard tossed a perfect 12-pitch eighth inning.

Harper added an insurance run in the top of the ninth, homering off reliever Jean Machi.

Manager Matt Williams called upon Drew Storen in the ninth with a 4-0 lead. Storen, once again, had some trouble, as a single, double and sacrifice brought home a run. But he was able to get Travis Ishikawa to ground out to close the game and deliver a victory in Game 3.

The Nationals face the Giants again Tuesday at 9:05 pm Eastern, with Gio Gonzalez facing Ryan Vogelsong.

Buckle Up, Nats Fans, This Is Baseball at Its Finest…

It’s do-or-die time for the Washington Nationals as they take on the St. Louis Cardinals tonight in Game Five of the National League Division Series in primetime at Nationals Park.

For a city that’s been starved of playoff baseball for 79 years, this is baseball at its finest – and the biggest game in franchise history since the Nationals arrived in the nation’s capital in 2005.

For the first time in MLB history, all four matchups in the NLDS and ALDS this week have reached Game 5, but for Nationals, the outcome of tonight’s game determines whether or not the team will advance to face San Francisco in a rematch of Washington’s 1933 World Series Championship against the New York Giants. [Read more…]

Jayson Werth walk-off homer forces Game 5 of NLDS

After a 13-pitch at bat in the bottom of the ninth, Washington Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth, crushed a 3-2 pitch into the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen, delivering a 2-1 win and forcing a Game 5 in the best-of-five National League Division Series.

“He’s a remarkable guy,” Nats skipper Davey Johnson said. “He can force a pitcher to throw a lot of pitches, and he did that time.”

“That’s the way that game should have ended.”

Ross Detwiler turned in the start of his career, allowing one unearned run on three hits and three walks over six innings, and Jordan Zimmermann, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen all pitched shutout innings in relief to keep the Nats in the game.

We’ll have much more soon at District Sports Page.

Nats gather at home plate to greet Jayson Werth after walk-off – NLDS Game 4: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 11, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

__________________________

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Nationals coverage on Twitter @NationalsDSP.

PHOTOS: Washington Nationals First Playoff Game in DC

The Washington Nationals hosted their first playoff game ever at Nationals Park.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Washington Nationals 8-0 in game three of the NLDS on Wednesday, October 10, 2012.

In a nutshell:  It was a picture perfect day for baseball, however, the game did match the weather. Former Nationals Manager Frank Robinson threw out the ceremonial first pitch. You can read DSP’s game re-cap for details.

Here are a few photos of Wednesday’s NLDS home game one with descriptions under pictures. All photos were taken from the stands. Enjoy and feel free to leave comments! Thanks.

NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Stephen Strasburg was smiling during BP – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Today’s attendance was the highest game ever at Nationals Park – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

It is fun to see postseason signs at Nats Park! NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Rally towel wave – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Postseason batting helmets – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nationals Intros – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nats intros: Gio is always smiling – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nats intros: Manager Davey Johnson! – pNLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

During Nats intros, I bet Harper looked down, saw Zims highsocks and said, “Oh no, it is a day game! I’m supposed to be wearing my stirrups!” – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nats intros – Morse giving fist pump to John Philbin – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nats intros – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Love the Postseason paint on the field – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Flyover after intros – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nats former Manager Frank Robinson threw out the ceremonial first pitch – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Ian Desmond and Frank Robinson – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Looks like Frank Robinson made the umps laugh before game – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Former Washington Senators Announcer Charlie Brotman – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nationals starting pitcher Edwin Jackson – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-4 – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Racing Presidents do Gangnam Style and then Teddy won! – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Ian Desmond doubled in the 4th inning – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Christian Garcia – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Ryan Mattheus – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Matt Holliday hit himself with a foul ball, twice and still was able to hit a 2RBI single in the 8th inning – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Country Joe West said something to Michael Morse before his at bat in the 8th inning – Was Joe asking for the lyrics to “Take on Me?” – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Michael Morse hit a long ball to RF, however, Carlos Beltran makes the catch in the 8th inning – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Drew Storen pitched a scoreless 9th inning – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Drew Storen threw 11 pitches for a scoreless 9th inning – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Jayson Werth threw his bat and took his walk in 9th inning – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

My last photo of the day says it all (Thanks Jayson)…..NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

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 welcome Frank Robinson back for ceremonial first pitch

There were a lot of folks in the stands today at the Washington Nationals Game 3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series that frankly had no idea why Frank Robinson, mostly known in this area as the Triple Crown winning outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles, was throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. The influx of new fans that have invaded Nationals Park, caught up in the excitement of Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, and the first playoff appearance in team history since the relocation, has either blurred out — or are just ignorant of — the first few years of the team in D.C., when they called dilapidated RFK home after being wards of the state, treated as second class citizens under stewardship of MLB itself.

Nats former Manager Frank Robinson threw out the ceremonial first pitch – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

The man who managed those clubs — first in Montreal, then between Montreal and San Juan Puerto Rico, then finally at RFK — was the very same Frank Robinson.

Wednesday, D.C. baseball fans that did remember the many contributions Frank Robinson made to the Expos, Nationals and Major League Baseball in general, finally got their chance to salute and celebrate Robinson, the living legend.

“It was very delightful and quite an honor,” Robinson said. “I enjoyed doing it. I thank the Lerner family for asking me to do it.”

Robinson, now 77,  pulled on the familiar No. 20 jersey and strode to a red mat in front of home plate and delivered a strike to the current No. 20, Ian Desmond. Informed later Desmond changed his uniform number to 20 to honor the Nats former manager, Robinson replied, “Really? That is very nice of him to say that. He has worn it well and I wish him good luck with it for the future.”

Ian Desmond and Frank Robinson – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Robinson went on to admit it felt nice to put the No. 20 back on, but confided, “Not as good as it was before.”

The Hall of Famer spoke well of his two seasons in D.C.

“People were saying that baseball wouldn’t go here with the Orioles just down the way and I told them they were wrong,” Robinson said. “.I said these are great baseball fans here. You put a good product out there, they’ll come out and root for the team. It’s good to see this, and well-deserved.”

Robinson, who now works as an executive vice president for MLB, reminisced about the 2005 and 2006 seasons when he guided the undermanned Nats against the N.L. East.

“We thought we had a good chance to [make the playoffs] in ’05, the first year,” Robinson said. “We had a terrific first half, and someone turned the switch off at the break, and a different team came back after the break. But it was fun the first half of the season.”

Asked why his time in the District was so important to him, even though it represented such a short stint in the entirety of his career, Robinson replied, “The fans have always been nice since we got back here. That is one of the reasons why it was so nice being here, playing here and managing here, because the fans are really great. They were excited today, sure. It was nice to hear them say the nice things they had to say. I wish them well. They deserve it what has happened here today.”

Looks like Frank Robinson made the umps laugh before game – NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

__________________________

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Nationals coverage on Twitter @NationalsDSP.

Washington Nationals NCDS Game 3 Review: Nats face elimination after 8-0 loss to Cardinals

NLDS Game 3: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals, October 10, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

In the first MLB playoff game in Washington D.C. since 1933, things certainly did not go as planned for the home team. The scene was all set: a sellout crowd decked out in red, a ceremonial first pitch by the still-beloved first manager of the team after the move to the District, and a flyover by a quartet of F-16s. Unfortunately, the Washington Nationals that took the field could not complete the day, as for the second game in a row the St. Louis Cardinals dominated every facet of the game, beating the Nats 8-0, to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five National League Division Series.

As it turns out, the highlight of the day for the Nats was former manager Frank Robinson throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of the game, finally getting his curtain call from the organization that he meant so much to, first in Montreal, then in the first two seasons after the move to the District in 2005.

As for the play on the field, well, there wasn’t a whole lot to talk about. The Nats managed to play a cleaner game than the mess that was Game 2 in St. Louis, but the result was quite the same. Starter Edwin Jackson gave up four runs in the second inning, Craig Stammen and Ryan Mattheus provided little relief, and the Nats hitters stayed dormant with runners in scoring position.

Jackson calmed down after giving up four in the second, but the Nats bats just couldn’t help him out at all. In total, the righty allowed eight hits and one walk, striking out four in five innings. The most damaging blow against Jackson was a three-run home run by No. 8 hitter Pete Kozma, who’s hit two home runs in 89 MLB at bats over two seasons.

But the Nats stranded 10 runners through the sixth inning and didn’t have another one reach after that point until Jayson Werth’s walk with two outs in the ninth.

Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter got the win, going 5 2/3 inning of shut out ball, allowing seven hits and two walks, striking out two.

We’ll have more coverage of the Nats 8-0 loss later at District Sports Page.

__________________________

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Nationals coverage on Twitter @NationalsDSP.

NLDS HOME GAME 1: Information

Here are a few tidbits of information to prepare fans for the very first postseason game ever played at Nationals Park on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 1:07 p.m. when the Washington Nationals host the St. Louis Cardinals.

Allow extra time to get to park, get through gates, get food and get to seats. It will be a full house and you don’t want to miss a single minute of the action! And Frank Robinson is scheduled to throw out the first pitch!

NATIONALS ARE ENCOURAGING FANS TO WEAR RED AND IGNITE THEIR NATITUDE!

WEATHER:
Weather will range approximately from 65-68 degrees during the game with only a 10% chance of rain.

GAME TIME:
First Pitch 1:07 p.m.

GATES OPENING TIMES:
ALL Ballpark gates will open at 10:30 a.m. (2.5 hours prior to the announced game time).

PARKING/METRO:
Since it is a day game, parking will more limited than night games. Cash parking lots will be limited. There is still some parking available online. Navy Yard is the Metro closest to Nats Park.

IMPORTANT TICKET INFO.:
*Make sure to bring the correct ticket!* See Nats page regarding tickets.

TICKET BOX OFFICE HOURS:
On game days, the Nationals Park Box Office is open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. until the conclusion of the game, and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. until the conclusion of the game. For all games with a start time of 2:00 p.m. or earlier, the box office opens at 9:00 a.m. and closes at the conclusion of the game. Box office hours on non-game days are Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

STANDING ROOM ONLY TICKETS:
A limited number of Standing Room Only tickets will be made available at the Nationals Park Box Office on the day of the game on a first-come, first-served basis. Fans can purchase up to two (2) tickets per transaction. Standing Room Only tickets are non-exchangeable and non-refundable. Standing Room Only tickets allow access to Nationals Park and the ability to watch the game without providing access to a specific seat. We ask that fans in the lower bowl standing room areas stand one person deep to allow for easy mobility for other guests and guests in wheelchairs.

Standing Room Only locations within Nationals Park, available on a first-come, first-served basis include:
– Red Loft to the end of the Scoreboard (behind Section 240)
– Left Field Ramp
– Behind Sections 138 – 143
– Outside the Stars & Stripes Club, 1st Base side (on the landing at the end of the ramp)

ENJOY IT!
Bring your NATITUDE, have a great time and cheer on the Nats!

Frank Robinson to throw out first pitch on Wednesday

Former Washington Nationals Manager Frank Robinson will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the first ever playoff game at Nationals Park on Wednesday, October 10, 1:07 p.m.

Longtime Nats fans have been looking forward to having Robinson back since his departure so plan to arrive early.

As first reported by Bill Ladson of mlb.com and then confirmed by Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.

Frank Robinson on his last day as Manager for the Washington Nationals, 10/01/2006 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Fans express their love for Frank Robinson on his last day as Manager for the Washington Nationals, 10/01/2006 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

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.

%d bloggers like this: