April 25, 2015

Washington Nationals Minor League Affiliate Report April 24

Compiled from team releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA-International League): Due to inclement weather, Friday’s game between the Syracuse Chiefs and the Rochester Red Wings was postponed, marking the second straight postponement between the two teams. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Frontier Field in Rochester, with game one beginning at 12:35 p.m. Game two will start approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one.

Right-handers Scott McGregor, in game one, and Bruce Billings, in game two, are slated to start for Syracuse. Mark Hamburger and Pat Dean are scheduled to start for Rochester. The teams will also play a doubleheader in Syracuse on July 10 after yesterday’s postponement at NBT Bank Stadium.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern League): In Anthony Rendon’s first rehab appearance, the Harrisburg Senators were unable to come back from a six-run deficit in a 7-4 loss to the Reading Fightin’ Phils before 3,265 fans at Metro Bank Park.

Rendon played five innings and went 1-for-2 with a double.

In his fourth start of the season, Austin Voth struggled, allowing seven runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. Reading’s four-run fifth inning pushed it ahead, 7-1. James Simmons followed Voth with 1.1 scoreless frames. Paul Demny impressed in two scoreless innings of work, allowing just one hit and striking out a batter. Bryan Harper finished off a solid collective bullpen outing by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

Game three of the four-game series will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday night. Joe Ross will take the mound for Harrisburg against Reading’s Zach Eflin.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): Potomac’s (9-6-Overall, 4-4-Home) Wander Suero set a season high pitching seven innings while holding the Lynchburg Hillcats (5-10-Overall, 2-6-Road) to one unearned run on four hits and seven strikeouts in a P-Nats 3-1 win in Game One of the four game series at The Pfitz on Friday night.

It was Suero’s (3-0, 2.50) third start of the season and the third time he toed the rubber against Lynchburg in 2015, a winner in both previous starts against the Hillcats.

Saturday night, a 6:35 pm first pitch, will feature RHP Dakota Bacus (0-0, 2.57) making his second start of the season for Potomac against LHP Michael Rayl (0-1, 4.50) of Lynchburg.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic League): The Lakewood Blue Crabs manufactured a run in the bottom of the seventh inning and beat the Hagerstown Suns 2-1 on Friday in Lakewood, New Jersey.

Phillips Valdez allowed just one run — unearned — on four hits and no walks, striking out five over five innings for the Suns, but did not factor in the decision. Ryan Ullman relieved, and in his second inning of work was victimized for the game-winner. He gave up four hits and a run in his two innings of work.

The Suns got their run in the fifth. Jose Marmolejos-Dias singled, went to second on a groundout and scored on Grant DeBruin’s double. DeBruin finished 3 for 3 and is hitting .304 this season.

The series continues Saturday at 4:05 pm.

OPINION: Don’t let slow start get you down

When I started writing about the Washington Nationals in 2010 for We Love DC, they weren’t a good team. According to the official standings of the 2009-10 seasons, the Nats were among the worst teams in Major League Baseball. When I first moved to Washington, D.C. in 2005, the team was fresh on the scene with a yet-to-be-written future ahead of them. It’s within the context of this that I watch the Nats play baseball.

A lot can happen in ten years. The Nats have gone from hopeful newbies to cellar dwellars, which all led them to two recent division championships and subsequent playoff runs. Those playoff runs might have been short-lived but that’s certainly not a bad start for the MLB’s youngest team.

Washington is off to a moderately shaky start this April,  but this is expected to shift once manager Matt Williams’ desired starting nine is healthy and playing daily. Third baseman Anthony Rendon is currently on rehab assignment meaning he’ll be returning sooner than later.

Pairing Rendon with infielder Yunel Escobar for a second base-third base platoon could be an interesting experiment with potential for positive results on both defense and offense. They’ve got solid back-up with infielders Danny Espinosa and Dan Uggla to fill in as needed but having Rendon and Escobar in a lineup along with their quick defensive moves make for an even stronger Nats batting order.

One of the most entertaining stories outlining the legacy of a singular player within modern D.C. baseball history is the story of infielder Ryan Zimmerman. From being a September call up in 2005 to present day member of the starting nine, Zimmerman’s moved from being a Golden Glove and Silver Slugger-winning third baseman  (during Washington’s wort seasons on record) to a veteran leader at first base with grace, poise, and passion.

Watching players like Zimmerman in action, on the field and off, is one of the defining positive aspects of being an observer of Nationals baseball. As it stands, Washington is 7-10 and six games back in the National League East division. The Mets and Braves are currently ahead in the standings but it’s April and we all know this is a marathon sport. Ten years worth of baseball has been played in the name of Washington, D.C. in the modern era. Here’s to making the eleventh season a memorable one to commemorate how far this particular team has come since moving from Montreal to U.S. soil.

Washington Nationals Game 17 Review: Nats bullpen falters late again in loss to Marlins

It’s already an oft-told tale in this young baseball season. The Washington Nationals got a good performance from their starting pitcher, but the offense provided little backing and the bullpen faltered when it needed to be perfect. The result: the Nats fell to the Miami Marlins 3-2 before a sparse crowd at cavernous Marlins Park.

Friday night’s recipient of lack of support was Jordan Zimmermann, who allowed just two earned runs on six hits and no walks, striking out four.

The Nats (7-10) broke out on top in the fourth against Marlins starter Mat Latos. Ian Desmond extended his hitting streak to 10 with a leadoff double. He went to second on Jayson Werth’s sacrifice fly to right field, and then scored on Bryce Harper’s long sacrifice fly to center field that Marcell Ozuna tracked down at the wall some 410 feet from home plate.

Ryan Zimmerman followed with a double, but was stranded when Yunel Escobar grounded out to end the inning.

Zimmermann cruised through the early innings but ran into trouble with two outs in the fifth. Four consecutive singles by the Marlins (6-11), including an RBI single by pitcher Mat Latos, pushed across both runs Zimmermann gave up on the night. It could have been worse, but Bryce Harper threw out Dee Gordon on the last of the hits trying to extend it into a double.

The Nats tied it in the next inning, as Denard Span walked, stole second, and scored on Harper’s RBI single to right.

It stayed tied until the bottom of the eighth. Against reliever Tanner Roark (L, 0-2), in his second inning of work, Adeiny Hechavarria doubled to lead off.  After a failed sacrifice attempt lead to the first out, manager Matt Williams called on lefty Matt Grace to face Gordon. Gordon hit slow roller to second, but Dan Uggla couldn’t make a play.

Williams then went to Aaron Barrett, and Gordon stole second, then Martin Prado delivered a single against Barrett to push across the winning run.

The Nats went 1-2-3 against Marlins closed Steve Cishek in the ninth.

HERO: Bryce Harper. He was responsible for almost all of the Nats offense. 2 for 2, walk, 2 RBIs.

GOAT: Aaron Barrett. Hard to make a guy who gave up one hit a goat, but with the offense still struggling to produce runs on a regular basis, every mistake the bullpen makes is amplified.

NATS NOTES:

  • Super Slider: Jordan Zimmermann’s slider was biting early, striking out Martin Prado, Giancarlo Stanton and Michael Morse in succession split between the first and second innings.
  • Doubling up: Ryan Zimmerman’s double in the fourth inning was the 300th of his career.
  • Struggle Bus: Everyone’s on it, but Jayson Werth went 0 for 3 to lower his average to .152.

NEXT GAME: Saturday at 4:10 pm Eastern at Miami. Stephen Strasburg (1-1, 4.50) faces Tom Koehler (1-2, 6.75).

Washington Nationals Series Preview: at Florida Marlins

by John Sucich, contributor

Overview

The pre-season predictions would have had you believe the first matchup of the season between the Washington Nationals and the Miami Marlins would feature two teams fighting for dominance at the top of the National League East. This weekend’s matchup in Miami features two fighting teams, but not exactly for dominance…yet.

The 7-9 Nationals’ fight right now is to get on the right side of .500. They lost two straight to the Cardinals to end a 4-3 homestand that began when they took three out of four from the Phillies. The Nationals begin a 10-game road trip with three games in Miami followed by three in Atlanta and then they finish in New York to face the Mets for four. The Nationals have not fared well on the road thus far, going 1-2 in both Philadelphia and Boston before the just-completed homestand. Reinforcements are on the way — the team hopes to see the return of Anthony Rendon some time next week.

For the Marlins, a fight for a .500 record would be a luxury. Miami comes into the series against the Nationals looking to keep its season alive…and possibly to save manager Mike Redmond’s job. The team seems to have responded to rumors that its disappointing start could result in an early-season managerial change. The Marlins snapped a five-game losing streak with a win against the Phillies Wednesday night and won big on Thursday to up their record to 5-11 as the Nats come to town.

The Last Time….

The Marlins and Nationals last met on the last day of the 2014 season, a game you may remember: Jordan Zimmermann no-hit the Marlins in a 1-0 win where he walked one batter and struck out 10. The Nationals were 13-6 against the Marlins last year.

In The Other Dugout

Don’t expect to see much of Christian Yelich this weekend. Yelich is nursing a back injury that could well result in his being placed on the disabled list. Ichiro Suzuki is expected to pick up playing time in Yelich’s place.

Matchup To Watch

Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton has not had a great start to the 2015 season, but he will face Stephen Strasburg on Saturday. In his career Stanton is 10 for 28 against Strasburg, with three home runs.

Also worth noting, Mat Latos has had a rough start to 2015, but Washington might want to be careful Friday night: Nationals hitters have not put up good numbers against Latos in the past. He owns a lifetime .201/.307/.299 slash against the Nats.

Probables

Friday, 7:10pm: Jordan Zimmermann (1-2, 6.14 ERA) vs. Mat Latos (0-3, 10.24 ERA)

Saturday, 4:10pm: Stephen Strasburg (1-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. Tom Koehler (1-2, 6.75 ERA)

Sunday, 1:10pm: Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 3.44 ERA)  vs. Dan Haren (1-1, 3.32 ERA)

Washington Nationals Minor League Affiliate Report April 23

Compiled from team press releases

SYRACUSE (AAA-International League): Due to inclement weather, Thursday’s game between the Syracuse Chiefs and the Rochester Red Wings has been postponed. The game will be made up as part of a Friday-night doubleheader on July 10th, with game one beginning at 5:05 p.m. Game two will start approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one.

“With snow, cold temperatures, and wind gusts in the forecast,” said Chiefs general manager Jason Smorol, “today is not fit for man or beast. We wanted to postpone this game for the safety of our fans and players. We’ll play two in July in the sunshine!”

HARRISBURG (AA-Eastern League): Behind seven shutout innings from Tim Alderson, the Harrisburg Senators beat the Reading Fightin’ Phils, 3-0, Monday at Metro Bank Park. Alderson surrendered just four hits, while walking two and striking out three batters. The tall right-hander threw 59 of 89 pitches for strikes.

 Following Alderson was Sammy Solis, who was making his first appearance at Metro Bank Park this season. Solis rode a live fastball to a scoreless eighth inning, stranding a runner following a one-out double. Gilberto Mendez earned his first save of the season by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

Most of Harrisburg’s damage came in the first inning against Fightin’ Phils pitching prospect, Aaron Nola. Caleb Ramsey’s one-out triple got things started, and Tony Renda followed with an RBI single. Renda stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Reading catcher, Gabriel Lino. Matt Skole delivered a two-out, RBI single to put Harrisburg up 2-0 after one inning. The Senators offense remained quiet against Nola through seven innings, but added one in the eighth against Reading’s Elvis Araujo. Ramsey walked, moved to second on an errant pickoff throw and advanced to third on a Renda single. Ramsey scored Harrisburg’s third run on a Kevin Keyes fielder’s choice.

The Senators send Austin Voth to the hill tomorrow night for game two of the four-game set. He’ll face Reading’s Jesse Biddle in a 6:30 p.m. start. The game can be heard starting with the pregame show at 6:15 p.m. on Fox Sports 1460am and iHeart Radio.

POTOMAC (High-A-Carolina League): Off.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A-South Atlantic League): Tyler Viza and Jesen Therrien combined on a four hit shutout and the Lakewood Blue Claws beat the Hagerstown Suns 4-0 on Thursday in Lakewood. Drew Van Orden (L, 1-1, 3.38) allowed two runs on six hits and one walk, striking our four for the Suns (6-8). Alec Keller, Raudy Read, Grant DeBruin and David Masters collected Hagerstown’s four hits, all singles.

Deivi Grullion hit a two-run homer for Lakewood.

Game two of the four-game set is Friday night at 7:05 pm.

Washington Nationals Game 15 Review: Opposing Homers and Shaky Pitching Hurt The Nats in Loss To Cardinals

The Washington Nationals dropped game two of a three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals 7-5 on Wednesday night in front of a crowd of 25,771 bundled up baseball fans. Right-handed starting pitcher Doug Fister took the mound for Washington in his second career appearance against the Cardinals, who went right to work on offense.

The Cardinals’ third baseman Matt Carpenter crushed his sixth career leadoff home run against Fister before Washington’s starter settled in and escaped the first inning with two strikeouts and Carpenter’s one run scored.

St. Louis continued their offensive output with a two-out, two-run homer by second baseman Kolten Wong off Fister in the second inning making it a 3-0 ballgame. The Cardinals tacked on another pair of runs one inning later, putting the Nats down by five runs, but Fister and the Nats gained offensive momentum in the bottom half of the third.

Fister’s single with one out in the third inning off right-handed starting pitcher John Lackey was the Nats’ second hit of the night and helped spark the rally that tied up the game at five runs each. Washington tallied five runs on five hits, a walk, and a sacrifice fly hit by outfielder Jayson Werth in the third inning against Lackey. Outfielder Denard Span, shortstop Ian Desmond, outfielder Bryce Harper, and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman all managed to hit singles off of Lackey, but third baseman Yunel Escobar’s three-run, two-out double is the reason Washington tied the game up at five runs each.

Once he found a groove, Fister — with the help of a productive defense — held the Cardinals to five runs. Fister gave up seven hits, five runs (four earned), and two home runs while striking out three and walking two batters. Fister threw 104 pitches and 69 strikes.

Left-handed relief pitcher Matt Grace replaced Fister in the seventh inning for the Nats. Grace flew in from Syracuse, NY on Wednesday and was a last-minute addition to the roster. According to Manager Matt Williams, Grace’s plane landed just about an hour before the evening’s scheduled game time. But Grace made it in time to pitch in his Major League debut at Nationals Park.

Grace pitched one inning and walked one batter while fending off an aggressive Cardinals lineup, but Washington’s bullpen couldn’t hold on to the lead after that despite his quality performance.

Right-handed reliever Blake Treinen was charged with the loss and pitched the eighth inning for Washington. Treinen gave up the lead after walking outfielder Jon Jay with one out and giving up back-to-back hits — including a single to catcher Yadier Molina and a double to Wong — which resulted in St. Louis taking a 6-5 lead.

The Cardinals gained a cushion run in the ninth inning when first baseman Mike Adams hit a solo home run off right-handed reliever Rafael Martin. St. Louis maintained their two-run, 7-5 lead over Washington and shutdown their offensive line to end the game.

HERO: Escobar for his two-out double in the third inning that tied up the game but also to Werth for his one-out sacrifice fly to right field that kept the momentum of that sole Nats rally moving steady.

GOAT: Treinin for blowing a win opportunity for Fister, especially after Grace pitch so well one inning prior and seeing Fister settle into a place where he’s inducing groundballs.

NATS NOTES:

  • The introduction of Matt Grace to the bullpen made for the third MLB debut for a Nats reliever this week.
  • Zimmerman’s hustle down the first baseline was like watching a gazelle do what it’s meant to do. He beat out two tight plays at first with a final stride that imitated a first baseman’s stretch.

UP NEXT: Michael Wacha (2-0, 1.35) and the St. Louis Cardinals face Max Scherzer (1-1, 0.83) and the Washington Nationals in D.C. at 4:05 p.m. to close out their three-game series.

Nats Nightly: Nationals fall to Kolten Wong and Cardinals 7-5

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and Doghouse of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 7-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Check Out Baseball Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with District Sports Page Nats Nightly on BlogTalkRadio

Washington Nationals In-Game Report: Matt Grace makes MLB debut

In the seventh inning of tonight’s Washington Nationals game, manager Matt Williams called upon LHP Matt Grace out of the bullpen to make his MLB debut.

Grace was recalled before the game when Felipe Rivero was put on the disabled list with a gastrointestinal bleed.

Grace, 26, becomes the third man to hold the “second lefty in the pen” role this season, following Rivero and Xavier Cedeno, who was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers for “cash considerations” early in the day.

Grace was 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA in 7 2/3 innings in Syracuse this season. Last year, he was 5-1 with a 1.17 ERA between Harrisburg and Syracuse. He has a low-90s fastball with lots of sink, which generates a lot of ground balls.

Washington Nationals Minor League Affiliates Report April 22

Compiled from team press releases

SYRACUSE (AAA, International League): The Syracuse Chiefs, Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, fell to the Rochester Red Wings 11-7 at NBT Bank Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. Jason Martinson, Michael Taylor and Ian Stewart had a home run apiece in the loss. Rochester rallied from a five-run deficit early in the ball game to defeat the Chiefs by four in the third-game of a four-game set.

The momentum completely shifted in the fourth inning as the Red Wings hitters got to starter Taylor Hill in the top half of the frame. Hill put the first two runners on in the inning but seemed to settle down as he recorded the next two outs. Rochester proceeded to score five runs with two away against the Syracuse starter. Doug Bernier started the rally with an RBI single to left. Aaron Hicks plated two more Red Wings with his first of two extra-base hits on the afternoon. Then, Eddie Rosario tied the score at 6-6 with a two-run home run.

Syracuse (5-9) and Rochester play the final game of a four-game series Thursday afternoon at 1:05. Chiefs right-hander Scott McGregor will try and salvage a split of the series against Red Wings right-hander Mark Hamburger.

HARRISBURG (AA, Eastern League): The Harrisburg Senators and the Altoona Curve were postponed Wednesday night due to rain and cold temperatures. No makeup date was announced.

The Senators will return home to begin a seven-game home stand tomorrow night. The first four games will be against the Reading Fightin’ Phils, followed by three games with the New Britain Rock Cats. Tomorrow night’s game will begin at 6:30 p.m.

POTOMAC (High-A, Carolina League): The Potomac Nationals (8-6 Overall, 5-2 Road) settled for a (5-2) two-city road trip after falling to the Wilmington Blue Rocks (7-6 Overall, 4-3 Home) on Wednesday afternoon inside Daniel S. Frawley Stadium by the final score of 6-3 in the series finale of a three-game set.

Wilmington used a five-run 5th inning attack to sink the red, white, and blue, and salvage the series with the lone victory. The Nationals stranded a season-high 13 runners on base and left the bases loaded on three occasions, but still managed to bang out 12 base hits.

Potomac starting slinger, RHP Blake Schwartz (0-2) shouldered his second loss of the 2015 journey after surrendering five earned runs (all scored in the 5th inning) on eight hits in 4.1 innings of work while walking two, striking out three, and hitting one batter.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A, South Atlantic League): The Hagerstown Suns (6-7) couldn’t maintain a one-run lead in the ninth inning Wednesday afternoon, and wound up falling to the Delmarva Shorebirds (7-6) by a final of 5-4. Despite the loss the Suns finished their first homestand of the 2015 season with a 4-3 record.

Delmarva began its ninth inning rally with a home run by LF Jamill Moquete into the visitor’s bullpen past the center field wall for his first homer of the season. That knotted the score at 4-4, but the rally wasn’t over yet. Catcher Jonah Heim then stepped to the plate and hit a double to left field. He went to third on a single by SS Jared Breen, and scored what wound up being the winning run on a groundout.

RHP David Ramos (0-2) was charged with the loss for Hagerstown. He pitched the final three innings for the Suns, allowing two earned runs on five hits and one walk while striking out two.

The Suns next head to Lakewood, New Jersey to begin a four-game series against the Lakewood BlueClaws starting Thursday April 23. The Suns will send RHP Drew Van Orden (1-0) to the mound for his third start of the season. He will square off against RHP Tyler Viza (2-0) for Lakewood.

Washington Nationals Pregame Notes: Rendon to rehab, Cedeno to Dodgers

Before tonight’s matchup between the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals, featuring Doug Fister (1-0, 0.69) against John Lackey (1-0, 2.77), manager Matt Williams conducted his usual pregame press conference. The big news was 3B Anthony Rendon played five innings in a simulated game at extended spring training in Viera, Florida and will fly to DC to work out with the Nats tomorrow before starting a rehab assignment with AA-Harrisburg on Friday.

Williams said Rendon will mostly play third, but might see some time at second base as well.

When he will return to the Nats lineup is still in question.

“He’s got to get to nine innings for sure,” Williams said. “So, five innings today, day off, we’ll start that process again and go five [innings] and seven in back-to-back games and then another day off and then go seven, nine and see where he’s at.

“As long as he feels good, that’s all we’re concerned about.”

The Nats start a three-game series at the Braves on Monday, then travel to New York for a four-game series with the Mets on Thursday. If all goes well with Rendon over the weekend, he could be activated in advance of either series.

The other pregame news from Nats Park concerned left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno, who was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for “cash considerations.” Cedeno was designated for assignment last week after pitching poorly the first week of the season, allowing two earned runs on three hits and two walks in three innings.

Cedeno is a classic AAAA pitcher; able to play well in AAA but unable to achieve long-term success in the Major Leagues. The Nats recalled Felipe Rivero, a promising young arm, to function out of the pen as the second lefty, and still have veteran Rich Hill in Syracuse, though Hill is not on the 40-man roster and would require a move should the Nats want to bring him to DC.

 

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