Another week of minor league baseball is in the books. Here are some names around the Washington Nationals’ organization that are making headlines. Notice that the Auburn Doubledays have begun their schedule. [Read more...]
In an afternoon duel between two pitchers, the Washington Nationals needed a ninth inning rally to defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix, 5-1.
From the early going, runs were at a premium as we witnessed a duel in the desert on the mound. Both Washignton’s Doug Fister (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 6 K, 100 PC) and Arizona’s Brandon McCarthy (8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 7 K, 101 PC) brought their ace material to the diamond. It wasn’t until the third inning that either team’s offense started to make some noise.
As a whole, the Washington Nationals return mostly intact from the teams that won 98 games in 2012 and 86 games in 2013. This is a veteran team with high aspirations of competing in the World Series. I hardly think rookie manager Matt Williams will boldly proclaim “World Series or Bust” as his predecessor did, but the implications are there.
If the team overachieved in ’12 and underachieved last season, what is the logical progression for 2014? If the ’12 and ‘13 results had been flipped, I think everyone would be riding the Nats as an odd-on favorite this season. They may be anyway.
With a rotation as solid No. 1 through No. 4 as any in baseball, a deep bullpen, an infield full of silver sluggers and a versatile outfield led by a burgeoning superstar, the Washington Nationals seem poised to make noise this season on a national level.
For the next two weeks, District Sports Page will preview the Washington Nationals 2014 season. This week, we’ll do profiles of the players on the 40-man roster and significant non-roster invitees, players that have a chance to make an impact on the Nats roster this season.
Here’s the schedule:
Monday: The Infield
Tuesday: The Outfield
Wednesday: The Catchers
Thursday: The Rotation
Friday: The Bullpen
In week two, we’ll profile the manager and front office, reveal our Top-25 minor leaguers and prospects, examine the “big picture” the Nats this season, and do a little statistical analysis and projecting.
With no further adieu… [Read more...]
What more can be said about Jordan Zimmermann that we have been saying all season long?
The stoic right-hander threw another gem, leading the Washington Nationals to their fifth win in seven games, a 3-2 decision over the Arizona Diamondbacks Wednesday evening, before 31,172 at Nationals Park. The win moved the Nats to within 5 1/2 games of division-leading Atlanta, pending the result of their game against Kansas City.
Zimmermann was, again, exceptional. He raised his record to an N.L. best 11-3 and lowered his ERA to 2.28, limiting the D-backs to two runs on three hits and two walks over seven innings. After a somewhat shaky first inning, he gave up just one hit and one walk over his final six frames.
The Diamondbacks only damage of the night against Zimmermann came right in the first inning. With one out, Aaron Hill drew a walk after a 12-pitch at bat and scored when the next batter, Paul Goldschmidt, laced a double to right field, maybe taking a little advantage of Jayson Werth’s still-tender groin. Zimmermann got Miguel Montero to fly out, but Martin Prado singled to right to plate Goldschmidt.
The Nats (39-38) got one back in the bottom of the inning. Anthony Rendon (3-for-4, run) singled and scored on Ryan Zimmerman’s RBI double to cut the lead to 2-1 after one inning.
Both starters settled in for several innings, but the Nats eventually got to D-back starter Wade Miley (7 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR). In the fourth, recently recalled Tyler Moore jumped on a fastball and lined shot to left center for his third home run of the season. Then in the fifth, Denard Span led off with a single, took second on a passed ball, and moved up to third on Rendon’s second hit of the night. Zimmerman hit into a 6-4-3 double play, but Span scored to give the Nats a 3-2 lead.
Tyler Clippard (H, 12) pitched a scoreless eighth inning with a strikeout and Rafael Soriano gave up a hit and a walk, but earned his 21st save of the season.
THE GOOD: Zimmermann, obviously. But Rendon’s three-hit night raises hit slash line to .354/.402.485.
THE BAD: Jayson Werth. 0-for-4, 2 Ks, 4 LOB and some very tentative defense in right field.
THE UGLY: We’ll give Ugly a pass for this evening.
THE STATS: 8 hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. 1-for-7 with RISP, 6 LOB. No errors, one DP.
NEXT GAME: Thursday at 4:05 pm ET against Arizona. Stephen Strasburg (4-6, 2.40) hosts Patrick Corbin (9-0, 2.19).
INJURY UPDATE: Bryce Harper made his second rehab appearance for the Potomac Nationals. He played five innings at DH and went 1-for-3 with a home run.
Week: (1-4, 2 PPD) Season: (27-40, 6th in IL North, 12.5 GB)
Danny Espinosa, 2B: The Nats injured second baseman is on a rehab stint with the Chiefs. He’s gone 2-for-9 this week with no extra base hits, four Ks and two walks.
Tyler Moore, OF/1B: Since being sent down by the Nats, Moore has continued his season-long struggles. He went 3-for-19 this week but making his few hits count with a double, homer and seven RBIs. He has struck out five times and has not drawn a walk. Season: .158/.182/.368 with one home run and 7 RBIs.
Corey Brown, OF: The left-handed hitting outfielder went 2-for-18 this week with two doubles and three RBIs and a whopping six strikeouts against two walks. Season: .250/.319/.528 with 10 HRs and 28 RBIs. [Read more...]
In the regularly scheduled 1:35 game Sunday, the Washington Nationals tied their season benchmark for runs in a inning. In the nightcap, a rescheduled affair prompted by the rainout Friday night, the Nats came from behind by three runs to win a game for the first time all season. The result: a sweep of the Minnesota Twins in the day/night doubleheader, which pulls the Nats back up to the .500 mark at 31-31.
The early game was all about two big innings… and Jordan Zimmermann. The leader of the 2013 staff did it again, pacing the Nats with seven innings of two-hit, shutout ball. Rookie Ian Krol and Xavier Cedeno — lefties both — kept the Twins off the scoreboard in the eighth and ninth innings to preserve the shutout.
The late game was a case of chipping away at a deficit, one run at a time, until the Nats overcame the hole they’d dug themselves, with four different players driving in runs and four different players scoring runs. Then a parade of relievers shut the door and kept it that way until the Twins’ last out was exhausted.
In the early game, the Nats exploded for their seven runs in the fourth and fifth innings off Twins starter Scott Diamond. Consecutive singles by Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche set the table for Ian Desmond in the fourth. Desmond singled to center and third base coach Trent Jewett sent Werth, who was cut down at the plate on a great throw by center fielder Clete Thomas. But Anthony Rendon followed with a smash off shortstop Pedro Florimon’s glove, and LaRoche and Desmond both came around to make it 2-0.
In the next inning, Diamond intentionally walked Werth to load the bases after Jeff Kobernus walked and Ryan Zimmerman doubled. LaRoche made him pay, with a single to the left side which plated Kobernus. A visit by the Twins pitching coach did no help, as Desmond followed with a two-run single three pitches later. Rendon put the cap on the inning, doubling off reliever Ryan Pressly to drive in LaRoche and Desmond.
The rest was up to Zimmermann, who was equal to the task yet again.
In the nightcap, Nathan Karns was not very good and put the Nats in a hole early, allowing four earned runs in the first three innings, on five hits and two walks. Washington got a run in the third on three consecutive singles by Roger Bernadina, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth. But an Adam LaRoche strikeout and Ian Desmond double play ground ball halted the threat there.
Two innings later, LaRoche came though, with a two-out RBI sacrifice fly, which brought home Denard Span to cut the lead to one and moved Bernadina to third. Again, the rally stalled at just one run as Desmond was called out on strikes.
The Nats tied the game finally in the sixth. Anthony Rendon singled off shortstop Pedro Florimon’s glove and scored on Span’s two-out triple. Bernadina walked to give Zimmerman a chance to take the lead, but the Nats No. 3 hitter struck out looking to end the frame.
The very next inning, though, back-to-back doubles by LaRoche and Desmond did the trick, putting the Nats up 5-4.
The entire bullpen were the heroes in the second game. It started with Craig Stammen, who came on for Karns in the fourth and blanked the Twins for two innings. Erik Davis, Fernando Abad, Tyler Clippard (W, 5-1), Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano (S, 16) all did their jobs to earn the Nats 31st win of the season.
THE GOOD: Jordan Zimmerman. We’re out of superlatives for the stoic righty. Two hits, two walks and 8 Ks over seven shutout innings for his ninth win of the season.
In the early game, Desmond went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Rendon went 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs. In the evening game, Roger Bernadina went 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored. Nice game for The Shark.
THE BAD: Kurt Suzuki went 0-for-3 with 4 LOB in the first game.
THE UGLY: Karns. He left everything up in the evening game and paid for it. With Detwiler coming back this week, Karns will probably find himself back in Syracuse for more seasoning.
THE STATS: First Game: 14 hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. 5-for-10 with RISP, 8 LOB. E: Rendon (4, fielding), Zimmerman (11, throw).
Second Game: 10 hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks. 3-for-14 with RISP, 9 LOB. E: Rendon (5, fielding); one DP.
NEXT GAME: Tuesday at 8:40 ET in Colorado against the Rockies. Dan Haren (4-7, 5.45) faces Jhoulys Chacin (3-3, 4.59).
NATS NOTES: Before the games, the Nats recalled 1B Chris Marrero from AAA-Syracuse. The right-handed hitter was hitting .306/.355/.502 with 10 homers and 44 RBIs in 55 games for the Chiefs. After the games, the team sent 1B/OF Tyler Moore to Syracuse. Moore has struggled all season and the team hopes that he’ll find his swing playing every day in the minors.
It was a day of unlikely heroics for the Washington Nationals (17-15), who topped the Pittsburgh Pirates (17-14) 6-2 at PNC Park Sunday afternoon.
The Gio Gonzalez (W, 3-2) of old returned to the mound in the nick of time, holding the Bucs to five hits, two runs and two walks over 6.0 innings pitched. [Read more...]
It’s been a struggle to score runs for the Washington Nationals thus far in 2013. They entered play Saturday against the Pittsburg Pirates third to last in the Majors in runs per game. They continued to struggle to come up with the big hits, going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position which stranded 11 runners, but found a way to push a run across late, earning a 5-4 win before 29,975 at PNC Park.
Stephen Strasburg continued his erratic 2013, giving up two two-run home runs, but otherwise limiting the damage to keep the Nats in the game until the late innings. Strasburg allowed four earned runs on five hits and one walk, striking out eight. He hardly looked in control much of the game, missing his target often and even hitting two batters, but the big righty found a way to wiggle out of most of his jams.
The Nats (16-15) got on the board first against Jeff Locke in the third inning. Roger Bernadina got on base the hard way — he was hit by a pitch. He went to third on an error by Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes, which allowed Strasburg to reach first. Danny Espinosa was called out on strikes, but Ian Desmond hit a fly ball to center that looked like it might go, but the wind knocked it down and resulted in a sacrifice fly to score the run.
The Pirates (17-13) answered in the bottom half. Clint Barmes lifted a ball to right field leading off, but Tyler Moore misplayed the ball and it fell in front of him for a single. Locke sacrificed Barmes up 90 feet, but that didn’t matter, as Starling Marte jumped all over Strasburg’s first-pitch fastball, drilling it to right center for a two-run home run that should have been a solo shot.
Barmes got to Strasburg again in the fifth. After a leadoff single by Jordy Mercer, Barmes ripped a 1-0 fastball through the breeze into the home team bullpen — which is behind the visitor’s pen in right center — to put the Pirates up 4-2.
The Nats tied the game in the sixth inning. Bryce Harper led off with a soft single to center, and Ryan Zimmerman drew a walk against Locke. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle asked for lefty reliever Justin Wilson to face Adam LaRoche. Wilson walked LaRoche on a 3-2 count to load the bases. After a Tyler Moore strikeout, Wilson Ramos laced a single up the middle — to break an 0-for-16 streak — and both Harper and Zimmerman scored to even the game. Unfortunately the rally ended as Roger Bernadina struck out on three pitches and Strasburg K’d as well.
The Nats loaded the bases again in the seventh, but Moore struck out to end the inning. Moore stranded six runners in consecutive innings without putting the ball in play.
The Nationals — and Moore — finally broke through in the ninth inning. Harper struck out leading off, but Pirates reliever Tony Watson hit Zimmerman on the front leg on a 2-2 count. LaRoche singled to move Zimmerman up, then two of the slower Nats base runners pulled off a double steal with Moore up to bat. After a foul ball, Moore lifted a fly ball to deep right, and Zimmerman raced home ahead of the throw.
Rafael Soriano earned his 10th save of the season to make the one-run lead stand up. He was helped by Roger Bernadina, who threw out Russell Martin trying to stretch a single into a double on his leadoff hit. Tyler Clippard was awarded the win with a scoreless eighth inning, where he made a nifty snare of a soft line drive to start a double play.
THE GOOD: Adam LaRoche. The first baseman is off to a rough start this season, but he was on base four times with a single and three walks. He must be seeing the ball better and that should start to lead to better contact.
THE BAD: Ian Desmond. 0-for-4, 2 Ks, 3 LOB. Desmond really expanded his strike zone for a down offensive day.
THE UGLY: Strasburg gutted out seven innings, but Clint Barmes has no business making solid contact against Strasburg, let alone clubbing a homer into the second bullpen in left center.
THE STATS: 6 hits, 6 BBs, 8 Ks. 1-for-10 with RISP, 11 LOB. E: Ramos (3, throw). 2 DPs.
NEXT GAME: Sunday at 1:35 pm against the Pirates. Gio Gonzalez (2-2, 5.34) faces Wandy Rodriguez (2-1, 3.91).
Ross Detwiler allowed just one run in 4.0 innings pitched in his return from the World Baseball Classic, but the Washington Nationals’ bullpen nearly handed the Detroit Tigers a win Sunday afternoon.
Detwiler threw 34 of 57 pitches for strikes and gave up just three hits and one walk. The one run he allowed came in the form of a solo shot off the bat of Torii Hunter in the bottom of the first inning. [Read more...]