November 20, 2017

Washington Nationals Game 113 Review: Nats blanked by Kershaw

TWO-RUN THROWING ERROR BY RENDON IN EIGHTH SEALS NATS’ FATE

Facing Clayton Kershaw in the rubber match of a three-game series is a daunting task. On Wednesday, the Washington Nationals — with Bryce Harper less than 100 percent with a bum knee — were not up to the task, falling to the overpowering lefty and the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-0, starting the Nats almost do-or-die 10-game west coast road swing at 1-2 in the City of Angels.

With the loss, the Nationals fall 3 1/2 games behind the New York Mets in the N.L. East, 3-0 winners over Colorado.

Kershaw (W, 10-6, 2.39) allowed three hits — and no walks — over eight innings, striking out eight. Kanley Jansen mopped up in a hitless ninth for his 22nd save.

The hard-luck loser was Jordan Zimmermann, who was pretty good in his own right, though no perfect, which he would have had to have been to outduel Kershaw. Zimmermann (L, 8-8, 3.34) allowed one run on two hits and a walk, striking out nine, in his seven innings.

Drew Storen struggled once again, allowing two runs in two-third of an inning. Though his defense let him down in a big way as well.

The Dodgers scratched a run out against Zimmermann in the third. Rookie Joc Pederson drew a walk, went to second on fellow rookie Jose Peraza’s ground out and scored on Carl Crawford’s line drive single to left.

It was goose eggs the rest of the way until the eighth.

Storen struck out Alberto Callaspo, but hit Pederson on a 1-2 count. Pinch-hitter Andre Ethier then laced a line drive to right for a double, with Pederson stopping at third. Harper played the relay into Anthony Rendon, and he inexplicably threw the ball up the third base line and over everyone’s head and into a camera well, allowing both runners to score on the out-of-play ball.

Storen has allowed eight runs in his past three outings.

If you were looking for offense out of the Nats, well, there was none, save for Michael Taylor’s 2 for 3 night. Other than that, Kershaw was dominant against a Nats lineup that lately has been making the mediocre look like Cy Young.

NEXT GAME: The Nats move up the coast to play the defending World Champion San Francisco Dodgers in a three-game set. Stephen Strasburg (6-5, 4.76) takes the hill against Ryan Vogelsong (7-8, 4.26) at 10:10 pm ET.

Washington Nationals Game 104 Review: Diamondbacks top Nats 6-4 despite late rally

NATIONALS CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE WITH LIMP OFFENSE

The Washington Nationals succumbed to a dearth of offense Monday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks, losing 6-4, despite a ninth inning rally. Zack Godley threw six innings of shutout baseball, giving up just three hits and walking a pair. The rookie was dominant against the Nats, throwing just 83 pitches, and striking out six. Doug Fister struggled with the long ball against the Diamondbacks, who hit three home runs off the sinkerballer. The Nationals made a valiant effort with the late rally, but were ultimately rebuffed and fell for the eighth time in 11 games. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 3 Review: “Dark Knight” makes gloomy day for Nats

It was billed as a pitcher’s duel, with Stephen Strasburg hosting Matt Harvey in his return from Tommy John surgery in the third game of the season. Unfortunately for the Washington Nationals, only one of the pitchers really lived up to his end of the bargain.

Strasburg gave up six runs — but just three earned — over 5 1/3 while Harvey, who has “Dark Knight of Gotham” carved in the knob of his bats, was masterful, striking out nine in six innings and the New York Mets took the rubber match of the three-game series, 6-3, before an announced 25,327 at Nationals Park. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Opening Day Review: Scherzer strong, defense does Nats in

Fans lining up at Center Field Gate waiting for the gates to open at Nationals Park for home opener, 4/6/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Fans lining up at Center Field Gate waiting for the gates to open at Nationals Park for home opener, 4/6/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Clear, azure blue skies. Temperatures in the low 70s. A full house at Nats Park, home of the 2018 All-Star Game. A 4:05 pm start, free from rush hour traffic both getting to and returning home from the park. One could not have asked for a better day for baseball in April.

Unfortunately, the home team couldn’t comply. Ian Desmond made two errors, which both contributed to unearned runs against starter Max Scherzer, and the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 before 42,295 at Nats Park.

Scherzer came as advertised, not allowing a hit until Lucas Duda’s RBI single in the sixth inning, and he finished with eight strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 138 Review: LaRoche saves game and wins it — twice — in 14 innings

Adam LaRoche didn’t start this game, but he saved it — then ended it. TWICE.

LaRoche’s homer in the ninth inning tied the game to force extra innings, then a two-run single in the 12th gave the Washington Nationals another lead that went awry. Finally, in the 14th, his ground ball fielder’s choice brought home Ian Demsond and gave the Nats a tense, hard-fought win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, 8-5 in five hours and 34 minutes.

With the Atlanta Braves win over Philadelphia, the Nats lead in the N.L. East held at seven games. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 104 Review: Offense leaves Strasburg out to dry against Marlins

When the offense dries up, it dries up hard.

With Ryan Zimmerman out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, and Jayson Werth out resting a sprained ankle acquired when unsuccessfully trying for an extra base Monday, the Washington Nationals were missing two of their most productive hitters entering Tuesday’s rematch with the Miami Marlins.

The results weren’t pretty. The Nats wasted six walks by four Marlins pitchers, went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base, spoiling another strong outing by Stephen Strasburg, to fall 2-0 to Miami at Marlins Park. [Read more…]

OPINION: Nats offensive problems nothing new, it’s who they’ve always been

Over at Nationals Journal this morning, Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore finally saw the light. Well, he got part of the way, anyway.

“Consider: The Nationals have scored 14 percent of their base runners – dead-on league average. As of Sunday morning, they had produced 2,343 base runners – the fewest in the National League.

Also consider: The Nationals are hitting .242 with the bases empty this year. With runners in scoring position, the Nationals are hitting – you guessed it – .242.”

This really isn’t news. In fact, if you’ve been reading this space for the past few years (first, thank you), you’ve known about this problem all along. I first wrote about it in May 2011, when the bulk of this team was still young enough to be capable of changing their approach.

“Rizzo and Riggleman are absolutely correct that the team isn’t hitting well with runners in scoring position.  But as the statistics show, they aren’t hitting well period, hitting .230/.301/.361 overall (15th, 15th and 13th in the N.L.), and the difference between their numbers with RISP and not is, well, statistically negligible.”

I have to admit, it was kind of fun to go back and look at that article that quoted Jim Riggleman. Seems like that was forever ago. But the point still stands. Teams’ batting average with runners in scoring position is meaningless. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 103 Review: Mets unmercifully pound Nats in first game

In what might actually be the low point of the 2013 season, the Washington Nationals were completely shut down by a pitcher making his season debut while giving up 11 runs on 13 hits — including a six-run ninth inning, en route to a 11-0 shutout by the New York Mets, who are now just one game behind the Nats in fourth place in the N.L. East.

To make matters worse, the Nats have no time to dwell on the shellacking, as they face these Mets again at 7:05 pm in the split double-header.

Jordan Zimmermann, who has not been especially sharp since his last appearance before the All-Star game, gave up five runs in 6 2/3 innings on six hits and three walks. Uncharacteristically, Zimmermann needed 118 pitches and did not complete seven innings. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 97 Review: Offense leaves 12 on base in 3-1 loss to Dodgers

The Washington Nationals received a terrific pitching performance from their starter, but the offense stranded runners seemingly in every inning, and the Los Angeles Dodgers found just enough hitting against the bullpen to beat the Nats 3-1 in ten innings, before 41,816 at Nationals Park, a sellout and eighth-highest attendance this season.

It was the Nats seventh loss in their last nine games.

The Nationals left 12 men on base, and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. They fall to 48-49 for the season, mired in third place in the N.L. East. The only saving grace for the Nats was that Atlanta and Philadelphia both lost earlier in the day, thus they did not lose any ground in the N.L. East standings.

For the better part of Saturday night’s game, Gio Gonzalez and Zack Greinke traded zeroes on the scoreboard, albeit using vastly different methods. Greinke allowed base runners at every instance, escaping big innings by stranding runners in just about every inning. Gonzalez, on the other hand, had a big strikeout night and generally did not face much difficulty at all keeping the Dodgers hitters at bay.

They both departed after six innings, with the Nats clinging to a very tenuous 1-0 lead.

But Craig Stammen continued his struggles of late, allowing two runs in the tenth, as the Dodgers beat the Nats for the second straight night coming out of the All-Star break.

Gonzalez was the star of the night for the Nats. On a brutally hot and muggy night, the Florida native fed off the sweaty conditions to pitch six unassailable innings, striking out a career high 11 in the process. Gonzalez, who threw 61 of his 98 pitches for strikes, gave up just four hits and two walks. lowering his ERA to 2.89 for the season.

The Nats broke through against Greinke in the sixth inning. With two outs, Chad Tracy singled to right, his third hit of the night off Greinke. Wilson Ramos then drew a walk, moving Tracy up. Manager Davey Johnson asked Roger Bernadina to pinch-hit for Gonzalez, and the little-used and slumping outfielder came through in a big spot, delivering a broken-bat single to short right field to plate Tracy with the game’s first run.

The Dodgers got that run right back in the top of the seventh against embattled reliever Drew Storen. With two outs, Skip Schumaker pinch-hit for Greinke and smashed a double to deep center field. He scored on Mark Ellis’ soft single to left field, eliciting boos from the gathered crowd.

The teams went back to trading outs again until the tenth inning. Craig Stammen allowed back-to-back doubles by Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez to break the tie. Ramirez was moved up to third on Juan Uribe’s sacrifice, and Stammen was lifted in favor of Ian Krol. But the Dodgers got a sacrifice fly from Andre Ethier to score Ramirez to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.

THE GOOD: Gio, obviously. But Chad Tracy gets recognition for his three-hit night. Tracy entered the game hitting .149/.187/.276 for the season and was 5-for-36 back to June 1. Ryan Zimmerman had three hits as well.

THE BAD: For the second straight night with runners in scoring position, Bryce Harper struck out against lefty reliever Paco Rodriguez. Much has been made of the #Nats struggles against lefties this season, and Harper is no exception, hitting just .182/.286/.318 against southpaws.

THE UGLY: 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. 1. For. 12.

THE STATS: 10 hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks. 1-for-12 with RISP, 12 LOB. E: Zimmerman (15, throw), Tracy (3, catch).

NEXT GAME: Sunday at 1:35 pm against the Dodgers. Jordan Zimmermann (12-4, 2.58) hosts Clayton Kershaw (8-6, 1.98).

NATS NOTES: Before the game, manager Davey Johnson told beat reporters that LHP Ross Detwiler, on the 15-day D.L. with a strained muscle in his lower back, not only will not return for his turn in the rotation this week, but could miss a couple more weeks. Detwiler threw a bullpen session before Tuesday’s game and both Johnson and GM Mike Rizzo were not enthusiastic about getting their left-handed back into the pennant chase.

“We’re going to definitely have him not rush back out, force him, push him,” Johnson told the assembled media before Saturday’s game. “He’s a gutty young man. He’d take the ball and go out there the way he is. But we want him to have no discomfort. He’s got too great a future.”

Washington Nationals Game 90 Review: Nats fall 4-2 to lefty Hamels

The Washington Nationals’ struggles against left-handed pitching was on display again, as Cole Hamels became the latest southpaw to dominate the team, despite manager Davey Johnson subbing recently obtained Scott Hairston in for left-handed hitting Denard Span at the top of the lineup.

Hamels allowed just a solo home run in eight innings to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-2 win over the Nats, taking the first two games of the four-game set. The Nats record falls to 46-44, 5 1/2 games behind Atlanta, pending their late result.

Hairston led off the game with a clean single (and was erased on a double play), but the Nats were unable to muster any attack against Hamels (W, 4-11. 4.17) the rest of the way.

The Nats did dent the scoreboard first in the second inning, when Jayson Werth yanked a 1-1 outside fastball over the left-center field fence for his ninth home run of the season. That was the Nats second hit of the game and they would not get another one until the seventh inning.

The Phillies got to Taylor Jordan in the fourth. With two outs, Chase Utley doubled to center. On Domonic Brown’s single, Utley came around to score on a close play at the plate, except Kurt Suzuki couldn’t handle the catch. Brown went to second on the throw, and advanced to third when Suzuki threw the ball away and into center field. Brown was stranded as Jordan struck out Michael Young to end the frame.

Jordan (L, 0-2, 3.45) found more trouble in the sixth. Ben Revere led off with a single to center, and Jimmy Rollins followed with a single to right field. Utley grounded to Adam LaRoche at first, but LaRoche’s throw went in-and-out of shortstop Ian Desmond’s glove and into left field. Revere scored and Rollins went to third on the play. After Brown popped out for the first out, Michael Young doubled to the warning track in center, plating both Rollins and Utley, ending Jordan’s night.

Jordan, in his third big league start, gave up four runs — three earned — on eight hits and a walk, striking out two. He threw 61 of his 89 pitches for strikes, and generated eight ground ball outs against three fly outs.

The Nats finally got to Hamels in the eighth inning, loading the bases on an infield single by Hairston, a wall-scraping single by Desmond that Hairston had to hold on, and a walk by Harper. But contentious at bats by Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth ended up as outs and the Nats rally fizzled.

Washington did score in the ninth, courtesy of an Anthony Rendon walk against reliever Antonio Bastardo and double by Wilson Ramos, but it was too little, too late.

THE GOOD: Scott Hairston. 2-for-4 in his first Nats appearance. He did what he was brought here to do.

THE BAD: Ryan Zimmerman. 0-for-4, 2 Ks, 3 LOB.

THE UGLY: Nats vs. left-handed pitching. They made contact on Hamels (only 4 Ks) but it was nothing but ground balls and weak fly balls. Even the rally in the eighth was keyed on an infield single and a walk.

THE STATS: 7 hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. 0-for-6 with RISP, 8 LOB. E: Suzuki (5, throw), LaRoche (6, throw); 3 DPs.

NEXT GAME: Wednesday at 7:05 against the Phillies. Gio Gonzalez (6-3, 3.14) faces Cliff Lee (10-2, 2.73).

%d bloggers like this: