May 25, 2015

Washington Nationals Game 45 Review: Nats 2, Cubs 1

NATIONALS EKE OUT 2-1 WIN AGAINST CUBS ON THE LONG BALL

The Washington Nationals turned to their number six starter Tanner Roark for his first start of the season Monday against the Chicago Cubs. Wilson Ramos and Denard Span each had home runs, and kept the Nats in it against a parsimonious Cubs staff as the Nats won 2-1. Kris Bryant homered off Roark for the Cubs’ only run.

The best part of having a pitching staff as talented as the Nationals is being able to go to your long man for a spot start and have it come out as well as it did Monday. Tanner Roark made his first start of the year at Wrigley today, going five innings and striking out three. [Read more…]

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 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 29 Review: Bryce Harper vs. The World

HARPER HAS THREE HOMERS IN 7-5 VICTORY OVER MIAMI.

The Miami Marlins learned Wednesday afternoon what happens when you pitch to Bryce Harper. The 22-year-old phenom hit over 1,000 feet of home runs, going 3 for 4 with three home runs, five RBIs and three runs scored in a 7-5 victory in front of 31,417. Max Scherzer put together a solid start, going seven-plus innings with 10 strikeouts and no walks.

Scherzer’s strong start and Harper’s offensive explosion were nearly not enough for the victory. Despite going seven strong innings on 100-plus pitches, Scherzer came out to pitch the eighth inning and nearly lost it all. He gave up a pair of hits in front of Giancarlo Stanton, and that should have been the end of his day, but he talked Matt Williams into one more chance. Stanton made them both regret that, with a 3-2 moon shot deep into the left-field stands. [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 11 Review: Nats top Phils on strength of Harper and Espinosa homers.

The Washington Nationals made it three straight wins, picking up a 7-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on an overcast and occasionally rainy Friday night in Washington. Max Scherzer made short work of the Philadelphia offense, and Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa each went yard as the Nats topped a divisional foe.

Max Scherzer took it to a depleted Philly lineup tonight, making quick work of their order. Through eight, Scherzer threw 100 pitches, scattered five hits, and struck out nine. The Phillies’ only run came in the third, as an Odubel Herrera double to right field became a triple as Harper tried to leap for it in vain. Herrera would come around on a grounder from Freddy Galvis on the next pitch. Had Harper played the ball off the carom, it’s entirely possible Herrera never would have scored.

Bryce Harper once again made waves in the first with a crushing blast. With Escobar (single) and Desmond (hit by pitch) aboard in the first, Harper would absolutely crush a ball to dead center field over the 400-foot sign. Danny Espinosa would join the party in the 4th with a blast to right center just next to where Harper hit his homer in the first.

The Nationals weren’t content at 4-1, and pressed hard into the Phillies’ bullpen in the seventh inning. Ian Desmond would get things going with an infield single (ruled an error) that he was able to beat out on the basepaths. With two out, the Phillies saw a chance to get Harper with a lefty, and brought in Jake Diekman. Harper, whose career approach against lefties would best be considered a struggle, showed some of the discipline and focus we’ve seen in his early season, and drew a critical walk. Ryan Zimmerman would lace one down the right field line to score both Desmond and Harper, and Wilson Ramos would drive a run in with a well-hit ball that just caught Chase Utley off-balance, and he’d throw it away to let Zimmerman score.

Yunel Escobar would leave the game after running out a grounder in the fourth. The ball was hit deep into the pocket at short, and Escobar was hustling up the line to beat the throw. As he reached the bag at first, he came up short, putting his hand along his inner thigh at the groin. After being attended to by trainers, he left the game. Dan Uggla took over at second, with Danny Espinosa moving to third.

The Nationals have moved to 5-6, just 2.5 games back of the division-leading Mets.

GOAT – Sorry, no goat tonight. While Ian Desmond’s 7th error was less than pleasing, his 3-for-4 night at the plate, reaching on an error and a hit-by-pitch, I can’t give him the goat for this one.

HERO – Let’s give this one to Ryan Zimmmerman for a combination of incredible defense and a 2-run double in the 7th to put this one away. His diving plays today saved runs for the Nats, and his late double put the game out of reach.

NATS NOTES

  • Felipe Rivero made his MLB debut for the Nats in the 9th, going 1 full, with a strikeout, and giving up three hits and a run.
  • Matt Williams’ 100th win was last night, and he was the fifth fastest to the century mark. Congratulations, Matt!
  • Depending on the results of Yunel Escobar’s examination, the Nats may need to call up another infielder tomorrow, and the only one on the 40-man roster is Wilmer Difo. Could it be Difomas? Difo Day? Difotacular? One of those. Could be.

Washington Nationals Spring Training: 4-run sixth help Nats top Cards

The Washington Nationals upped their Grapefruit League record to 3-0, using a four-run sixth inning to top the St. Louis Cardinals 6-5 on Saturday in Viera.

Wilson Ramos led off the frame with a ground ball single and was replaced by pinch-runner Dan Butler. Michael Taylor followed with a line-drive single to left and Butler moved up 90 feet. After Cutter Dykstra was called out on strikes, Rafael Bautista’s line-drive single loaded the bases. Derrick Robinson struck out swinging, but Matt Skole followed with a single to center that plated Butler and Taylor, with Bautista going to third and Skole going to second on the throw.

Second base prospect Wilmer Difo then singled to right to score both Bautista and Skole.

The Nats picked up another run in the seventh when Dykstra’s triple scored Taylor, who reached on a fielder’s choice.

Stephen Strasburg started for the Nats and wasn’t particularly sharp. He went 1 2/3 innings and allowed two earned runs on three hits and two walks, striking out two. No. 2 prospect A.J. Cole followed and went 2 1/3 innings, allowing two runs — one earned — on two hits.

NATS NOTES:

  • Ryan Zimmerman joined Difo as Nats with two hits. Zimmerman was 2 for 3 but did not factor in any scoring.
  • Anthony Rendon was 0 for 3 and still looking for his first hit of the spring.
  • Bryce Harper was 1 for 2 before giving way to Clint Robinson.
  • Jerry Blevins, Casey Janssen and Felipe Rivero all pitched scoreless innings in relief.
  • Danny Espinosa, Rendon and Difo all made errors.

Washington Nationals Spring Training Preview: The Catchers

This week, District Sports Page will review the players currently on the Washington Nationals 40-man roster and their potential contributions to the Major League roster this season.

Monday: Catchers
Tuesday: Infielders
Wednesday: Outfielders
Thursday: Starters
Friday: Bullpen

Wilson Ramos

2014: 361 PAs, .267/.299/.399 with 11 HRs, 47 RBIs (0.9 WAR). 18 of 48 (38%) CS.

Ramos enters his mystical age-27 year hoping more for a full season of health as much as anything. The 88 games he played last year represented the second-most he’s played in his five-year big league career, which isn’t great. Still, his raw power is intriguing, even if it does come with a heavy ground ball skew. Ramos is solid throwing out would-be base stealers, but his reputation for having trouble fielding throws from the outfield is well-founded. Ramos is a good catcher, but his inability to stay healthy limits his utility and his opportunity to kick it up a notch is dwindling. Carpe diem.

Jose Lobaton
2014: 230 PAs, .234/.287/.304 with 2 HRs, 12 RBIs (0.5 WAR). 13 of 40 (33%) CS.

Lobaton, 31, posted his best season throwing out base runners and he’s praised for his pitch framing, which I suppose is all you can really ask for out of your backup catcher. The problem is Lobaton was pressed into more duty with yet another Wilson Ramos injury. Lobaton can’t really hit a lick, and if Ramos goes down for extended time this season, the Nats would have to consider trading for a starter, depending on the division standings and Ramos’ potential return. But if Ramos stays healthy, Lobaton is a perfectly suitable once-a-week catcher.

Sandy Leon
2014: 70 PAs, .156/.229/.219 with  1 HR, 3 RBIs. 5 of 8 (63%) CS.

The Nats cut ties with long-time third catcher Jhonatan Solano so 26-year-old Sandy Leon is up next. Leon hit .229/.321/.371 in 193 Triple-A plate appearances last season so he’s nobody’s idea of Johnny Bench. But he’s capable behind the plate and has a few years left in his legs so he’s entrenched at Syracuse until further notice. Not really a legitimate long-term big league option at this point in his career.

Dan Butler
2014: 20 PAs, .211/.250/.368, 2 RBIs. 0 of 3 CS.

Acquired in a trade for Daniel Rosenbaum after being DFA’d by Boston, Butler, 28, is organizational fodder. He’s hit .252/.347/.405 with 49 homers in 553 games over six minor league seasons. Butler always been old for his level throughout his MiLB career, perhaps inflating his power numbers. Not a prospect, but a Triple-A caddy.

Washington Nationals NLDS Game 3 Review: Fister, 3-run seventh give Nats another shot

Doug Fister pitched seven shutout innings, an uncharacteristic error led to a 3-run inning, and the Washington Nationals beat the San Francisco Giants 4-1 to cut their deficit in the best of five series to two games to one on Monday at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

The win snapped the Giants N.L. record 10-game postseason winning streak.

The pitching matchup came off as advertised. Fister took on 18-game winner Madison Bumgarner and both pitchers were sublime for most of the game.

In the top of the seventh, though, Ian Desmond reached Bumgarner for a single to lead off the frame. Bryce Harper then got himself into a 3-1 count, then spit on an 88-MPH slider for ball four.

Wilson Ramos was asked to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but couldn’t get it done on the first two attempts. Usually, Ramos wouldn’t be asked to sacrifice, and he hadn’t successfully sacrificed since 2011, but with runs at a premium in this series, the Nats didn’t take the play off with two strikes.

Ramos was able to get a bunt down in fair territory with two strikes, and Bumgarner made the play. But instead of taking the easy out at first, he tried to cut down the lead runner, Desmond, at third. His throw was late — and wide of the bag.

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval tried to reach for it and stay on the bag, but it sailed down the line, through the Giants bullpen, and into the right field corner. Desmond scored easily, and Harper followed him without a play, with Ramos ending up at second.

Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a clean single through the hole, and Ramos came chugging home with the Nats’ third run.

Bumgarner gave up three runs — two earned — on six hits and a walk, striking out six.

Fister gave up a single to Brandon Belt to lead off the home half of the seventh, but then retired three straight to get out of the inning and turned things over to the bullpen.

Fister gave up four hits and three walks in seven innings, striking out three.

Tyler Clippard tossed a perfect 12-pitch eighth inning.

Harper added an insurance run in the top of the ninth, homering off reliever Jean Machi.

Manager Matt Williams called upon Drew Storen in the ninth with a 4-0 lead. Storen, once again, had some trouble, as a single, double and sacrifice brought home a run. But he was able to get Travis Ishikawa to ground out to close the game and deliver a victory in Game 3.

The Nationals face the Giants again Tuesday at 9:05 pm Eastern, with Gio Gonzalez facing Ryan Vogelsong.

Washington Nationals Game 149 Review: NL East within Reach after Nats Top Braves

STRASBURG, RAMOS HELP NATS LOWER MAGIC NUMBER TO TWO

With their Magic Number now down to two games, the Washington Nationals could win their second NL East division title in three years Tuesday night should they continue to dominate against the Atlanta Braves.

Following a 4-2 win over their rivals Monday night, helped by a solid performance from Stephen Strasburg (W, 12-11), the Nats could very likely celebrate their 2014 playoff berth at Turner Field.

Despite reporting neck stiffness, Strasburg was sharp against a Braves team he frequently struggles to beat. Through 7.0 innings pitched, the Nationals right-hander allowed five total hits, no runs and no walks and struck out seven batters.

His one trouble spot came in the fifth inning when, after Jason Heyward led off with a single to right, Strasburg committed a throwing error in his attempt to pick off Heyward. Instead, Heyward made it all the way to third base on the error.

Fortunately for the Nats, Strasburg came up with three big outs to work out of the inning unscathed. After striking out Chris Johnson, Strasburg forced Christian Bethancourt to ground out to third, before B.J. Upton struck out to end the inning.

Before that point, the Nats had helped themselves to a two-run lead over Atlanta starter Ervin Santana (L, 14-9, thanks to a one-run double by Denard Span in the third and a lead-off solo shot by Wilson Ramos in the fifth. Ramos’ homer marked his 11th of the season.

With Luis Avilan on the mound in relief for Atlanta, Strasburg helped himself to another insurance run in the seventh inning.

After Nate Schierholtz drew a lead-off walk, Ramos lined out to center before Asdrubal Cabrera doubled to left. Then, Strasburg singled to center to plate Cabrera. The Nats threatened to tack on more runs as Span took first on a hit-by-pitch, but reliever Juan Jaime successfully struck out Anthony Rendon to end the inning.

The Nats earned one more run in the top of the eighth after Jayson Werth led off with a walk and came home by way of an Ian Desmond force out and Schierholtz RBI single.

After Craig Stammen delivered a solid eighth inning of relief, Rafael Soriano seemed to pine for his closer role. Having lost the job a few weeks ago, Soriano appeared in a would-be non-save situation in the ninth, only to immediately allow a double by Andrelton Simmons and a two-out, RBI double by Justin Upton.

Soriano got Heyward to fly out to left, but walked Chris Johnson, allowing the tying run to step to the plate.

Not surprisingly, Nationals manager Matt Williams opted to pitch Drew Storen for the save situation. Storen allowed an RBI single to Bethancourt, but successfully forced B.J. Upton ground out to end the game.

 

THE GOOD: Stephen Strasburg has without a doubt struggled against the Atlanta Braves this season, but he showed no signs of bad habits when he struck out seven and allowed no runs and no walks through seven innings pitched. Additionally, the Nats – who were out-hit nine to six by the Braves – did enough with relatively little, going 3-for-8 with RISP and stranding just six base runners all night.

Thanks to their collective efforts, the Nats will have cause to celebrate if they can secure a win against Atlanta Tuesday night.

THE BAD: Rafael Soriano nearly undid eight solid innings of work for the Nationals’ pitching staff. In just 0.2 innings pitched, he allowed two runs on two hits and a walk.

THE UGLY: Stephen Strasburg’s pickoff attempt in the fifth inning was a far cry from pretty. Fortunately, Strasburg was in the zone through his entire outing, and pitched out of the jam without allowing a run to score.

THE STATS: 4 R, 1 HR, 6 H, 4 BB, 9 K, 3-for-8 RISP, 6 LOB

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