November 19, 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 119 Review: Strasburg’s Solid in Colorado, Nats Squeak by Rockies

The Washington Nationals beat the Colorado Rockies 4-1 on Wednesday night thanks to a tie-breaking two-run triple hit by Jayson Werth in the eighth inning.

Colorado took an early 1-0 lead over the Nats in the second inning when first baseman Ben Paulsen scored on a wild pitch thrown by Washington starter Stephen Strasburg.

Strasburg ended up with the win on Wednesday, tallying his seventh of the season. He threw 93 pitches and 68 strikes in seven innings while giving up two hits, one run, and striking out five batters. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 118 Review: Offense Awakes, Rockies Stunned, Nats Win 15-6

NATS SLIDE STOPS AT SIX, OFFENSE EXPLODES FOR 15 RUNS, 10 WALKS

With the season on the line, and a new batting order in place, the first ten minutes of Tuesday night’s game held a lot of hope for the Nationals. Bryce Harper drew a walk in the three slot, and Yunel Escobar crushed a homer to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead.

And then the Rockies came to the plate.

The Rockies scored three in the first, and added another in the seconds, on a pair of home runs off Jordan Zimmermann, and some horrific defensive miscues by Jordan Zimmermann, Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond.

Carlos Gonzalez was the first to strike for Colorado, sending a 1-1 fastball high in the air over the fence in right field. Jose Reyes came in ahead of Gonzalez after a smooth single. The Rockies would add one more on some ham-handed defense by Ian Desmond. With Nolan Arenado at third, Nick Hundley hit a routine grounder right to Desmond, who couldn’t pick it cleanly, nor hold on to the ball

The Nationals fought back in the third, getting a Danny Espinosa double, and a Bryce Harper walk to put the tying run at first base with one out. Escobar singled up the middle, scoring the fleet-footed Espinosa, and Harper gunned it for third on the play. Ian Desmond followed with the world’s luckiest bunt single, badly misread by David Hale. Hale came charging in, but didn’t complete the charge to cover home as Nick Hundley fielded the ball. Harper spotted the miscue and snuck right down the third base line to score the tying run, knotting the score at 3.

In the fifth, newly-minted leadoff hitter Jayson Werth racked out a single on the sweet spot with two outs, and Espinosa knocked him right in on a double to the right field corner to take the lead. Next frame, the Nationals would strike on another gutsy baserunning play, this time by Ian Desmond. With Wilson Ramos batting, and Desmond at third, Hale threw a wild pitch that just got away from Hundley at the plate. Desmond broke as soon as the pitch looked wild and charged the plate well ahead of the relay back from Hundley, making it 6-4.

The Rockies tied it in the sixth on a monster shot from Jose Reyes, leading many to question why perhaps Zimmermann was still in the game. Clearly struggling after five innings, he had given up five runs, but there he was, batting for himself in the top of the sixth.

With the game tied, the Nationals had to make a push. The Mets had finished their victory over the Baltimore Orioles, and moved to a five-game lead over the NL East. And push they did. The Nats put up nine runs from the seventh onward, including four in the eighth and ninth. Bryce Harper drew his fourth walk of the night, Danny Espinosa drew up a 3-for-5 with 2 RBI, Jayson Werth went 2-for-5 in the leadoff slot, and Yunel Escobar racked up 4 RBI in a 3-for-4 with two walks.

The bullpen did a remarkable job of shutting down the Rockies, with Drew Storen throwing a scoreless eighth and Tanner Roark doing the same in the ninth to shut the Rockies down for good. Jordan Zimmermann did surrender six runs, including a pair of unearned runs thanks to bad defense, but the young pitcher looked gassed after five full, and why he was left in despite that remains a mystery. Thankfully for the Nationals, the Rockies had their own troubles Tuesday night.

HERO: Let’s give this one to Matt Williams, who shuffled the lineup to some actual success. Whether it was the movement, or some other psychosomatic change, let’s give this guy one. After all, if they lose the next two he might still be in the BLS report next month.

GOAT: Wilson Ramos puts up an 0-for-5 on the day and looked atrocious at the plate.

NATS NOTES:

  • Harper’s four walks are a career high
  • Escobar’s four RBI match a season high
  • The Nats’ 15 runs and 10 walks are both season highs

NEXT UP: Rematch! Nationals/Rockies return tomorrow night at 8:40pm. Strasburg vs De La Rosa.

While the division slips away, day dreaming about opening day

The Washington Nationals are hard to watch right now. They aren’t hitting nearly enough. The bullpen gives up runs on a nightly basis, failing to protect leads or allowing insurance runs to make comebacks impossible. Even the stalwart starting pitchers are struggling post- All-Star break. Defensive miscues abound, mental mistakes are staring to creep in and, all the while, the manager is starting to make panic moves like having a .300 hitter bunt a runner over to third with no outs in the first inning. It’s getting ugly.

So… let’s pause from this for a moment and distract ourselves, shall we? Regardless of how this season eventually shakes out, there will be big changes on the field. There may be big changes off the field as well, but that depends on the next six weeks of baseball and that’s what we’re trying to forget for a moment. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 111 Review: Desmond powers Nats over Dodgers

DESMOND HOMERS TWICE TO BACK SOLID OUTING BY GONZALEZ

Desperately in need of starting a 10-game west coast road trip of on a successful note — and with pitchers of stronger pedigree looming — the Washington Nationals bats busted out against Los Angeles Dodgers starter Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez was solid over eight innings, and the Nats beat the Dodgers 8-3 at Chavez Ravine.

The Nats (58-53) remained a game and a half back of the New York Mets, 4-2 winners over Colorado earlier in the night. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 110 Review: Storen Struggles in the Eighth, Rockies Beat Nats 6-4

The Colorado Rockies beat the Washington Nationals 6-4 on Sunday afternoon after a rough eighth inning relief appearance by Nats pitcher Drew Storen.

Starting pitcher Max Scherzer pitched six innings for Washington. He gave up four runs (and three home runs) on eight hits while hitting a batter, intentionally walking a batter, and throwing one wild pitch. Scherzer tallied ten strikeouts and threw 84 pitches (63 strikes). For Scherzer, this particular 10-strikeout performance marked his seventh such outing this season and the 32nd of his career. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 109 Review: Strasburg dominant in return from D.L.

STRASBURG STRIKES OUT 12 IN FIRST START OFF DISABLED LIST

Stephen Strasburg was masterful in his first start back from being activated from the disabled list and the Washington Nationals beat the Colorado Rockies 6-1 on Saturday.

Strasburg made a triumphant return from the D.L. after missing a month with assortment of ailments, all stemming from the sprained ankle he sustained during spring training. His performance reminded all that when he’s healthy, he’s still capable of being special. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 108 Review: Nats blow 4-0 lead, lose 5-4

ZIMMERMANN SOLID, STOREN DREADFUL

Everything looked great for the Washington Nationals on Friday night, right up until it didn’t. Jordan Zimmerman had the Colorado Rockies guessing through six, and only allowed a single run to score. The Nationals’ offense worked out well, scoring four on three separate skeins of decent offense. And then Drew Storen, who’d been untouchable all season long, gave up a grand slam to Carlos Gonzalez in the eighth, now trailing 5-4. The Nationals couldn’t get to Tommy Kahnle or John Axford in the late innings, and that was that. Everything was fine, right up until it wasn’t.

Danny Espinosa got the Nats started off right in the first tonight, with a double to the left field corner that got past Kyle Parker, allowing Espinosa to race into third. Espinosa has been a spark plug for the Nationals in 2015, a bright spot amid an offensive grey zone. Bryce Harper would plate Espinosa on a grounder to the right side, giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead in the first.

Ryan Zimmerman continued his hot streak, returning from injury. With Harper aboard, Zimmerman drove a double to the right field gap. Harper was hustling from the crack of the bat, and scored standing up, coming all the way home from first.

Jordan Zimmermann continues to impress this season, retiring 16 of 17 in the middle innings, and scattering four hits through 6.2 innings at Nationals Park. Zimmermann’s fastball was his strength tonight, but his slider gave him a number of outs the second time through the order. The Rockies got to him in the seventh, scoring their first run of the night on a double and a single. Zimmermann gave way to Casey Janssen, who retired Nick Hundley on one pitch to end the threat.

Drew Storen ran into some trouble in the eighth, as Jose Reyes singled with Daniel Descalso aboard after a walk. With two out, Storen faced Nelson Arenado as the tying run, and Arenado hit a swinging bunt single down the third base line to load the bases. Carlos Gonzalez took a challenge fastball into the Nationals’ bullpen for to give the Rockies the lead. Storen would finish the eighth with a strikeout up in the zone to end the inning.

John Axford pitched the eighth for the Rockies, allowing Ian Desmond aboard on a walk. Desmond would steal second, and advance to third on a grounder. With clutch hitter Michael A. Taylor at the plate, the Nationals had every chance to even the score. Alas, Taylor struck out, stranding the tying run 90 feet from home.

The Rockies bullpen-by-committee sent Tommy Kahnle to the mound to finish the game. Pinch hitter Clint Robinson was a strikeout victim, but Yunel Escobar saw everything he needed during Robinson’s short at-bat. Escobar drew a five-pitch walk as Kahnle’s change-up couldn’t find the plate. Danny Espinosa popped up, bringing Bryce Harper to the plate as the winning run.

Tommy Kahnle opened the at-bat with a 96mph fastball right down the pipe, which Harper took for a strike. Ball one came on a fastball to the outside of the plate, and then Harper swung through an 88mph changeup to fall back 1-2. He fought off a fastball up, but succumbed to another changeup to strikeout and end the game.

54 games remain in the 2015 campaign, 108 are past. The Nationals will need to win at least 32 of those if they want to be in the mix for the post-season. They need to win games like tonight if they want to be in the hunt for October. Alas, it wasn’t to be tonight, and the Nationals fall further behind the surging Mets in the NL East.

HERO: Danny Espinosa had a helluva night, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored

GOAT: Drew Storen, for giving up two walks, a hit and then a grand slam to Carlos Gonzalez.

NATS NOTES:

  • Bryce Harper reached base for the 200th time this season in today’s game.

NEXT UP: Rockies/Nats continues Saturday night, Stephen Strasburg’s return from the DL (5-5, 5.16) vs. Eddie Butler (3-8, 5.45), 7:05 first pitch.

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 100 Review: Scherzer shuts down Marlins

DREW STOREN PERFECT IN EIGHTH, JONATHAN PAPELBON THE SAME IN NINTH FOR FIRST NATS SAVE

Max Scherzer rebounded from his rocky last start to pitch seven shutout innings, Ryan Zimmerman homered for the first time since returning from the disabled list, and the Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 1-0 on Thursday.

The Nats (54-46) extend their lead in the N.L. East to three games with the Mets loss to San Diego.

Scherzer (W, 11-8, 2.22) allowed just three hits and walked three in his effort, striking out six. He threw 75 of his 109 pitches for strikes, generating nine ground ball outs with just two fly ball outs.

Drew Storen, moved into a set-up role after the acquisition of closer Jonathan Papelbon, struck out two in a hitless eighth inning. Papelbon earned his 18th save of the season — in 18 tries — with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, striking out former Nats Michael Morse for the final out.

Morse was then traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-way trade with Atlanta, then designated for assignment by L.A. before ever getting on a plane.

Miami’s Dan Haren did a good job of limiting the Nats, giving up just four hits in six innings. But two of those were from Zimmerman, who’s 4 for 11 since being activated, and he hit his first homer since May 19 against the Yankees.

The Nats travel to New York to face the Mets in a three-game weekend series. Gio Gonzalez (8-4, 3.83) faces Matt Harvey (9-7, 3.16) on Friday night.

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