May 25, 2015

Washington Nationals Game 40 Review: Zimmerman Hits His Tenth Career Walk-Off Home Run, Nats Beat Yankees in Extras

ZIMMERMAN JOINS IMMORTALS MUSIAL, PEREZ, SCHMIDT, PUJOLS AND BONDS WITH 10-PLUS WALK-OFFS

The Washington Nationals and New York Yankees held the same record of 22-17 going into Tuesday night’s game at Nationals Park.  But after ten innings of baseball played in the nation’s capital, the Nats emerged victorious beating the Yankees 8-6 thanks to a two-out, two-run walk-off home run hit by Mr. Walk-off himself — first baseman Ryan Zimmerman — against left-handed reliever Andrew Miller.

Offense is what kept the Nats in the game despite a shaky starting appearance made by left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez. The Nats got a jump start with home runs hit by shortstop Ian Desmond and outfielder Bryce Harper off right-handed starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi in the first inning making it a 2-0 game in favor of Washington. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 33 Review: Offense lights up Arizona

Everything came up Nats in the first game of a seven-game west coast swing as the Washington Nationals plated 10 runs before the end of the second inning and Max Scherzer pitch seven solid innings to register an 11-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks before a paltry crowd at Chase Field.

The Nats (18-15) have won five straight and climb to within 2 1/2 games of the first place New York Mets. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 32 Review: Nationals Sweep Braves on 5-4 victory

NATIONALS SCORE TWICE IN EIGHTH TO RALLY, SWEEP BRAVES

Jordan Zimmermann had a semi-rough outing, but the Washington Nationals offense bailed him out. A two-run rally in the bottom of the eighth lifted the Nats to a 5-4 win over the Atlanta Braves, completing the three-game sweep of a division opponent.

The Nats have won four in a row and 8 of 10. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 31 Review: Bryce. Harper.

BRYCE HARPER WALKOFF LIFTS NATS ABOVE .500 FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS YEAR

The Washington Nationals blew a five-run lead and found themselves in a tie game in the ninth inning. No matter, though, as the hottest hitter in baseball was due up in the bottom half.

With one on and one out, Bryce Harper turned around a slider over 400 feet into the right center bleachers, lifted the Nats to an 8-6 win over the Atlanta Braves. With the win, the Nats move above .500 (16-15) for the first time this season. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 28 Review: Strasburg Struggles Due to Shoulder Issue, Marlins Take Advantage

A previous streak of success against the Miami Marlins didn’t provide much solace for Washington’s right-handed starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday night. The Nationals fell to the Marlins 2-1 while Strasburg made an early exit after three innings of work due to discomfort under his right shoulder blade.

Miami took advantage of the opportunity presented to them while Strasburg struggled to settle due to the shoulder irritation. Strasburg’s problems were apparent from the start. Outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna singled and walked with two out in the first inning. Strasburg got out of that situation unscathed but the Marlins found a way to get ahead of the Nats and score.

Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto led off the second inning with a triple hit past shortstop Ian Desmond, off of Strasburg, before scoring on a RBI-single hit by outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. A bunt attempt by Miami’s starting right-handed pitcher Mat Latos with nobody out and two men on base initiated an error made by Strasburg allowing Ichiro to score and giving the Marlins a 2-0 lead.

Washington answered back with a run in the bottom half of the second inning thanks to a  patient yet aggressive offensive appearance at the plate by first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman led off the second inning  against Latos by drawing a walk in an eleven pitch at-bat. Catcher Wilson Ramos followed Zimmerman with a double off Latos moving Zimmerman to third. Second baseman Dan Uggla drove in the only run with a RBI-groundout sending Zimmerman home, allowing the Nats to score, but Miami’s starting pitching proved superior when compared to Strasburg’s short-lived appearance.

Strasburg’s three innings of work included four hits, two runs, two walks, two strikeouts, and one hit batter. He threw 64 pitches and 37 strikes before being replaced by recent call-up and left-handed reliever Sammy Solis in the fourth inning.

Solis made his second Major League appearance with three innings of work while giving up one hit and striking out two batters. Manager Matt Williams was impressed by the amount of strikes Solis has thrown in his pair of outings with Washington thus far. He has thrown five scoreless innings and retired nine of 10 batters faced, including seven straight.

Unfortunately, Washington’s offense tallied only three hits and left eight men on base while drawing six walks against Miami. The Nats’ bullpen posted six spotless innings of work thanks to right-handed relievers Blake Treinen and Aaron Barrett and left-handed reliever Matt Thornton — in addition to Solis, but the lack of offensive productivity left the Nats a run behind; Marlins 2, Nats 1.

HERO: The bullpen for preventing the Marlins from scoring any more runs from the fourth inning onward and Ryan Zimmerman for showing patience in his first at-bat of night, ultimately allowing the Nats to score their sole run.

GOAT: Stephen Strasburg. He’ll be getting his shoulder looked at on Thursday. The silver lining here is that there was mutual acknowledgement from Strasburg and the coaching staff indicating that the best choice for the starter’s health and the team as a whole was to remove him from the game shortly after identifying the issue. Washington made the right move taking him out in order to play it safe and not have him alter his mechanics.

NATS NOTES:

  • Nationals Manager Matt Williams said it seemed unlikely that Strasburg’s shoulder strain will warrant a trip to the disabled list but his condition will be reviewed on Wednesday.
  • Doug Fister had a solid pinch hit at-bat when he hit in Strasburg’s place during the third inning. He had a hard-hit single drop in the outfield but was called out due to a double play induced by outfielder Denard Span. Great piece of hitting though.

UP NEXT: RHP Tom Koehler (2-2, 4.67) and the Miami Marlins face RHP Max Scherzer (1-3, 1.26) and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park at 1:05 p.m. on Wednesday.

 

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 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).

Washington Nationals Game 15 Review: Cardinals capitalize on Nationals mistakes, win 4-1

With the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals tied at a game apiece in the series, Thursday’s getaway day matchup was intense. Michael Wacha and Max Scherzer went toe-to-toe in a pitchers’ duel at Nationals Park. The cool weather didn’t deter the crowds, nor did the 7pm faceoff of the Capitals game. The cool heads, though, weren’t to be found. The Cardinals capitalized on the Nationals’ defensive miscues again, and won 4-1, despite an excellent start from Scherzer.

The Cardinals scored their first run early on a Matt Carpenter double, a Jason Heyward single, and a rare wild pitch from Scherzer, and that was all the offense the Cardinals assembled until the sixth inning. The Nationals responded in the fifth, getting a double off the bat of Danny Espinosa, who moved to third on an error by first baseman Matt Adams on a grounder off the bat of Scherzer. Denard Span drove in Espinosa — and Scherzer went from first to third! — on a single to the right field gap. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 14 Review: Nats need extras, but beat Cardinals 2-1

Yunel Escobar homered in the bottom of the 10th inning, delivering the Washington Nationals a hard-earned win over the burgeoning rival St. Louis, 2-1, before a raucous but depleted Nationals Park, on a night when both the Washington Capitals and Wizards were playing road playoff games.

All three teams won in dramatic fashion, with the Caps taking an overtime win over the New York Islanders to even their series at two games apiece, and the Wizards blowing away the Toronto Raptors to go up 2-0 in their first round matchup.

Starting pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Lance Lynn battled pitch for pitch in Tuesday night’s season-series opener between the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park. Both pitchers were impressive, gathering 11 strikeouts between them, though neither factored in the final decision.

The Nationals struck first in the third inning. Ian Desmond smacked a double off the wall in right field, followed by a walk to Jayson Werth on five pitches. That brought Bryce Harper to the plate with two men on and just one out, and Harper delivered a single to left, scoring Desmond and giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead.

That’s when things went off the rails a bit for the home team. Ryan Zimmerman hit a long fly ball to right center, where center fielder John Jay went a country mile to make the play. Both runners had advanced, and returned to their bags, but Bryce Harper appeared not to have re-touched second base having just stepped off the bag before retreating. On appeal, the Cardinals threw him out at second base for not tagging properly. Though there was some argument as to whether or not Harper had left the bag at all, he turned toward the shortstop, and that was enough for second base umpire Adam Hamari, who punched out Harper on appeal.

You might as well call Gio Gonzalez by his nickname after tonight. Houdini made it through six full innings, scattering eight hits and four walks, allowing no runs. The Nationals’ defense outperformed tonight, slicing and dicing the infield on 10 groundouts, with a pair of double plays, and some great play that stranded 12 Cardinals runners aboard. The Cards went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position tonight.

After six full — and 107 pitches — Gonzalez was done for the night, and duties fell to Tanner Roark, Matt Thornton and Drew Storen to finish up the night. Roark gave up a hit in the seventh, but worked around it to notch another scoreless inning. With lefties due to bat, Matt Thornton came on to pitch the eighth, and made short work of John Jay, Yadier Molina and Matt Adams, allowing only Kolten Wong to get aboard on a single.

The Nationals made a go of it in the late innings, but couldn’t get the runners across. In the eighth, Ryan Zimmerman was dismissed on strikes on a ball that was down around his ankles, with Jayson Werth at second. The death of that rally would seem costly in the ninth, when Drew Storen blew his first save of the year.

Storen gave up a single to Matt Carpenter to lead off the ninth, and a pair of wild pitches during Jason Heyward’s at-bat sent Carpenter to third without much of a challenge. Matt Holliday, who went 4 for 4 with a walk, singled him in to tie the game.

The bottom of the ninth was as full of drama as any April game could be. Danny Espinosa drew a five-pitch walk after Wilson Ramos struck out to start the action. Dan Uggla, pinch-hitting for the pitcher’s spot, put together the second best at-bat of the night, drawing a walk on eight pitches and battling hard against Matt Belisle. That was enough to bring out Mike Matheny from the dugout, and bring in Jordan Walden to face Denard Span.

Span’s at-bat was by far the best of the night. He fought Walden tooth and claw, with five fouls, before a loping grounder couldn’t be fielded cleanly by defensive replacement Matt Adams at first. Span would be safe on the play, bringing Desmond to the plate with the bags all full and one out. Desmond’s at-bat was the polar opposite from Span’s, and he strike out on five pitches. Desmond had just misread Walden’s entire approach.

It looked like the game might end on a deep fly ball from Jayson Werth, but for the third time Tuesday night, Jon Jay was right where he needed to be. Jay dove, laying out completely flat, to scoop the ball up before it hit the ground, and it was on to extra innings.

Aaron Barrett worked a scoreless 10th for the Nationals, putting them in the position to be the victors. The bats of Bryce Harper and Mr. Walkoff, Ryan Zimmerman, were leading off the 10th against Carlos Villanueva, but both remained silent. Bryce Harper struck out swinging, and Ryan Zimmerman lined out to rally-killer Jon Jay, leaving everything on Yunel Escobar. He delivered.

Escobar launched the very first pitch into the Cardinal bullpen, and Nats Park exploded. On a night when the Caps battled back into overtime, and scored a winner off the stick of Nicklas Backstrom, the Nats win might have been the second most impressive of the evening.

HERO: Yunel Escobar has his first walk-off in a Nationals uniform, with a yard shot in the 10th inning. Honorable mention: Ian Desmond, for his outstanding defense. Yes, that sentence is English. Desmond made a series of excellent picks from shortstop tonight, and a pair of double plays hinged on his relays. Maybe his April woes end early?

GOAT: Drew Storen, for blowing the save in the ninth. After giving up a base hit to Carpenter, two wild pitches gave Carpenter third, and let him score on a single by Matt Holliday.

NATS NOTES:

  • Storen’s blown save was his first in five save situations. He converted the other four.
  • Gio Gonzalez’s 107 pitches is the most from a Nats starter in 2015.
  • Escobar’s walkoff is his first since April of 2011 with the Jays.

UP NEXT: Rematch vs. the Cards tomorrow at 7:05pm, Doug Fister (1-0, 0.69) vs. John Lackey (1-0, 2.77).

Washington Nationals Game 13 Review: Strasburg crushes Phillies, Span returns.

In a baker’s dozen of games so far, the Washington Nationals have given their fans plenty of reasons to be concerned about their viability as a team able to go the distance this season. Sunday’s victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-1, showed no signs of concern whatsoever. Stephen Strasburg was as dominant as ever, and the top half of the lineup went 6 for 18 with four walks.

The Nationals looked closer to their ideal lineup on Sunday, starting Denard Span, Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, and Ryan Zimmerman, in that order, for the first time this season. In the fifth inning, the five of them created a two-out three-run rally that put the home squad on top for good on Sunday.

Denard Span, fresh off the disabled list after abdominal surgery in March, started things off with a two-out single, followed by and Ian Desmond double, scoring Span from first. Jayson Werth sent one back up the middle for a second single, scoring Desmond, followed by an intentional walk to Bryce Harper. Ryan Zimmerman laced a double down the right field line to score Werth, and nearly score Harper. Bob Henley held back Harper to avoid a tight play at the plate, and that’s as far as he’d go, as Wilson Ramos would ground out to Freddy Galvis.

Stephen Strasburg went 7.1 IP, giving up a run on five hits, just two walks and seven strikeouts for his first win of the year. Through 4 2/3 innings, the Phillies were hitless against Strasburg, and his changeup and curve were being used to devastating effect. Matt Thornton got let Strasburg off the hook in the eighth, and Drew Storen assembled a five-batter ninth to finish it out.

The Nats face a tough foe in the Cardinals starting on Tuesday, but could return to .500 with a win on Tuesday.

HERO: No one is happier to have Denard Span back than Ryan Zimmerman. Zim got the two-run double in the fifth to put the game out of reach for the Phillies.

GOAT: Today’s game had no goat. Here’s a goat gif.

NATS NOTES:

Ian Desmond continues his offensive reign of terror. Since Friday night, he is 8 for 13 (3 for 4, 3 for 5, 2 for 4) with four runs scored.

Drew Storen notched his fourth save on Sunday, but gave up two hits and made things a little more exciting than Nats fans might have liked. Thankfully, longstanding Nats fans were brought up on Chad Cordero cardiac saves.

UP NEXT: The Nationals are off on Monday. Tuesday, the Cardinals come to town for a three-game set. Lance Lynn (1-1 1.64) vs Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 5.11) at 7:05pm.

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