November 28, 2015

Washington Nationals Game 137 Review: Brutal Loss for the Nationals


Some series are more important than others. Some series are where your team distinguishes itself from the competition, comes alive, and works to show their championship pedigree. On Monday afternoon, that was the New York Mets at Nationals Park. Their come-from-behind 8-5 win was the sort of game a playoff-bound team wins.

This Nationals-Mets tilt is the most important either team has played all season, and the atmosphere at Nationals Park was electric on Monday afternoon. The two teams traded haymakers on a holiday afternoon for a sold out crowd at Nationals Park, before it all fell apart for the Nationals in the seventh. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 124 Review: Opening Day Lineup At Long Last


The Washington Nationals were so befouled by the injury bug this season it took four months and 123 games for them to field their ideal “opening day” lineup. When their starting nine took the field Tuesday night against the San Diego Padres, the Nationals put everything together for a 8-3 win.

Stephen Strasburg started Tuesday night, and from the end of the second through to the end of the sixth, retired 15 straight batters. He did surrender a two-run bomb to Jedd Gyorko, a no-doubt homer into the visiting bullpen in the second inning, but other than that, Strasburg was on his game against the Padres. Aside from the mistake to Gyorko, Strasburg struck out 7, and walked one in six full, giving up two earned runs on two hits.

The Nationals tied it up almost immediately, as Wilson Ramos hit his 11th homer of the year off James Shields in the bottom of the second with Yunel Escobar aboard. In the third, the Nationals would go ahead for the night on an Escobar double down the line, scoring Anthony Rendon, and add to the damage in the fifth with a Desmond double scoring Bryce Harper.

The Nationals caught a lucky break in the sixth to break the game wide open. With two outs, Anthony Rendon started the rally with an infield single that deflected off James Shields. Marc Rzepczynski took over for Shields at this point, as the deflection and 121 pitches on the day were too much to risk leaving Shields in to face the heart of the order.

This is where it all went to hell for San Diego. With the count at 2-1, Bryce Harper hit a 92mph sinker down the first base line, right to Padres’ first baseman Yonder Alonso, who stepped on the bag, and it should have ended the inning.

But it didn’t.

Harper tripped out of the swing, and home plate umpire David Rackley read it as a foul ball off Harper’s foot. He called it a foul ball, and Harper stepped back in. Padres skipper Pat Murphy took some umbrage at the situation, but due to the way that the replay rules are written, had no play he could challenge. Play continued. Harper drew a walk.

Escobar would walk right after Harper, and the bases were now loaded for Ryan Zimmerman. With a 2-0 count, Rzepczynski leaned on a 96mph fastball down the groove, which Zimmerman deposited in the right field bleachers, giving the Nationals an 8-2 lead on the umpires’ mistake.

Jedd Gyorko added a second home run off Casey Janssen in the seventh, which triggered a bit of a meltdown from Padres’ skipper Pat Murphy. Former Nationals’ prospect Derek Norris singled his way aboard, and that was all Murphy could take. He should have the winning run at the plate in Melvin Upton, but instead he’s down five. He expressed his deep and abiding frustration and his contention that Harper should have been out.

But he expressed that in a way that managers are not suffered to do so for long. Rackley ejected Murphy for his commentary before Murphy had even come to the top step of the dugout. Of course, Murphy ran out to vehemently express his disapproval of Rackley, Rackley’s mother, Rackley’s mother’s dog, and the neighbor’s goat, though it’s not immediately clear what the goat had to do with it, before being talked back into the visiting clubhouse.

Janssen would complete the seventh without further damage.

The bullpen had a bit of a scare in the eighth, sending Matt Thornton to the hill. The Padres (save for Jedd Gyorko) had more success against Thornton in a third of an inning than they had against anyone else all night. Singles from Yangervis Solarte and pinch hitter Clint Barmes chased Thornton from the game with one out in the seventh.

Blake Treinen mopped things up with a quick round-the-horn double play to end the threat in the eighth, and would retire the side in order in the ninth to end the Padres’ day.

For a moment, Nats fans across the country could take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy a fun night at the ballpark. This was the team that they had waited to see, one that could hit you just as hard in the eight slot (Ramos, 1-for-3, HR, BB) as it could in the six slot (Zimmerman, 1-for-5, HR, 4 RBI), or the three slot (Rendon, 2-for-5, 2 R, 2 H).

For one night this season, the Nationals looked as-advertised. With only 38 games to go, they’ll need to look it every one of those nights.

HERO: Ryan Zimmerman, for his grand slam in the sixth, and Stephen Strasburg for a shutdown performance.

GOAT: No official goat tonight, just old man fate for keeping this team starcrossed for four months.


  • Zimmerman’s Grand Slam in the sixth was the Nationals’ second all year. It was Zimmerman’s first since 2013, and fifth in his career.
  • Per Nationals PR, the Nats are hitting .487 (19-for-39) with 20 RBI when batting with two outs since Saturday night.

NEXT UP: Nationals vs. Padres, 7:05pm Wednesday, Tyson Ross (8-9, 3.32) vs Gio Gonzalez (9-6, 3.98).

Washington Nationals Game 107 Review: Nationals Earn Split, win 8-3


The Washington Nationals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-3 in a game that could encapsulate their entire infuriating existence. Starting pitcher Joe Ross pitched six innings, allowing just one run on five hits, striking out seven. Jeremy Hellickson did not last through the fifth, and gave up a pair of runs before departing with two outs. Ian Desmond clubbed his twelfth home run of the season, Clint Robinson smashed his fifth home run of the season in the eighth, and Wilson Ramos added two RBI in the victory.

It wasn’t all that simple, though, and the Nationals struggled in new and unique ways as the game plodded through its three hour and 32-minute run. A 4:05 p.m. start on a day when rain was forecast, the Nationals played all afternoon like they were begging for a rain delay.

The Nats jumped out to a lead on Desmond’s moon shot into the left field bullpen, rattling Hellickson. In the fourth, the meat of the order produced some additional offense. Desmond led off with a double that just missed the top of the wall, followed by a line drive by Wilson Ramos for a single. The contact was late, and Desmond was left at third, for Michael A. Taylor.

The rookie centerfielder grounded into an RBI force out, catching Ramos at second in a play that was appealed, as shortstop Cliff Pennington appeared to come off the bag at the time of the play. Joe Ross put down a perfect sac bunt, moving Taylor to second, but Yunel Escobar flied out to end the fourth at 2-0.

Ross’ only mistake of the day came in the fifth inning, giving up a longball to Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a changeup that hung up in the zone. Ross worked around that and a follow-up single to retire the side. Up 2-1, he trusted the offense deliver in the fifth. And deliver they did.

Bryce Harper, on his way to a perfect day at the plate (2 for 2 with three walks), singled with one out. He advanced to third by way of a wild pitch and a passed ball. The wild pitch with two strikes put Jayson Werth aboard with the rare strikeout-turned-into-single. Ian Desmond (2 for 4, BB, RBI) drew a walk to load the bases. That gave Tuesday night’s hero, Ramos a chance to put the Nats up for good, and he delivered. Ramos, who has found something in old videotape from 2011 about his swing, crushed a double to give the Nationals a 4-1 lead.

Arizona narrowed that lead in the seventh as Casey Janssen came apart at the seams. The veteran reliever gave up a leadoff walk to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, followed by singles to Yasmany Tomas and pinch-hitter Welington Castillo with no one out. With the bases loaded, he didn’t fare much better. Ender Inciarte knocked him out with a two-run double down the first base line, ending Janssen’s day.

It was at this point when the frustrations of Nats fans crystalized into a horrified Boschian hellscape. The Nats had a lead, but their fabled “A” bullpen was failing them, and four runs was the most than they’d scored since July 29. Would this really be an oncoming train instead of the light at the end of the tunnel?

Ryan Zimmerman calmed fans’ fears in the seventh, adding an RBI double as a pinch-hitter, to give the Nats a 5-3 cushion. Clint Robinson added three more in the bottom of the eighth on a towering home run off the Diamondbacks’ Brad Ziegler.

Blake Treinen, freshly up from Syracuse in swap for Aaron Barrett, struck out the side in the ninth to bring a merciful end to the four-game series, a split, between the Nationals and the Diamondbacks. A game and a half back of the Mets, while they travel to Tampa Bay, the Nationals aren’t out of the NL East, but it sure feels like the road to October is all uphill right now.

HERO: Joe Ross for his continued excellence, plus a thank you to Wilson Ramos for showing up with a 2 for 5 with a clutch double.

GOAT: Casey Janssen, for an abysmal seventh inning that put this game far, far too close.


  • Bryce Harper’s 1.119 OPS continues to be absurd, and his OBP of .455 continues to lead NL Hitters.
  • Joe Ross’ command today was tremendous and something that Nats fans should be excited to see him stay up as long as possible. Matt Williams said after the game that Ross would stay in the rotation through the west coast swing, and Doug Fister would move to the bullpen.

NEXT UP: Colorado is coming to town tomorrow night. 7:05pm start, Jorge De La Rosa (7-4, 4.87) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (8-7, 3.54)

Washington Nationals Game 105 Review: Late Rally for Washington tops Dbacks 5-4


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 97 Review: Pirates Top Nationals 3-1


The Nationals hit the board first in the third inning, with Michael A. Taylor stroking a perfect pitch from Gerrit Cole. Taylor took a 1-0 fastball deep into the right field bleachers to continue his excellent road trip.

The Pirates would respond immediately, putting a single by Chris Stewart, a sacrifice by Gerrit Cole, and a Gregory Polanco RBI-single together for their first run. While Stewart is not the fleetest of feet, the throw from Taylor in center was a little off-line, not that it mattered much with Ramos unable to make a play on the ball.

Joe Ross hit Starling Marte to follow up the scoring play, resulting in a warning for the benches from home plate umpire Chris Conroy. Cole had drilled Yunel Escobar in the second inning as he worked the inside half of the plate. Andrew McCutchen followed that with a single up the middle, good enough to score Polanco from second, making a 2-1 lead for the Pirates.

Neil Walker added his second home run of the series in the fourth inning, taking a 2-0 sinker to deep center field and making it 3-0. Ross calmed down at that point, retiring the next nine hitters in order, his slider finally locating with devastating effect. Ross ended his day at 6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 7 K, 1 BB. The rookie continues to put forth strong effort in spot start situations.

Gerrit Cole was nigh unstoppable for the Pirates on Sunday, holding the Nationals to their single run through 7.2 IP, throwing 103 pitches, and notching 8 Ks and surrendering just 6H. In the 8th, he was lifted after giving up singles to pinch-hitter Anthony Rendon and 2B Danny Espinosa, as Tony Watson was called in to face Bryce Harper in a very high leverage situation. Harper pulled the ball hard to the first base side, and defensive replacement Sean Rodriguez made a nice dive-and-pick to his right to retire the side with no damage done.

Casey Janssen threw a scoreless eighth for the Nationals, continuing his excelent performance of late. In the ninth, the Nationals sent Yunel Escobar, Clint Robinson and Ian Desmond to the dish to face Mark Melancon. Escobar popped out on the first pitch, Robinson struck out, and Desmond grounded out.

In 2 hours and 18 minutes, the Nationals dropped the series finale 3-1

HERO: Michael A. Taylor had the Nats’ only run, and had several stellar catches to bolster the defense.

GOAT: Wilson Ramos, for lackluster defense at the plate.


  • The Nationals are off on Monday, resuming play in Miami Tuesday
  • In two innings, the Nats bullpen shut down the Pirates entirely.

NEXT UP: Jordan Zimmermann vs. Jose Fernandez, 7:10pm Tuesday July 28th in Miami

Washington Nationals Game 92 Review: Ross Starts Strong, Nats Fall to Mets

What started as a potential pitcher’s duel ended in favor of the New York Mets on Tuesday night when they beat the Washington Nationals 7-2 amid a sticky summer evening.

The arms on the mound – 2015 All-Star Jacob deGrom from the Mets and rookie call-up Joe Ross from the Nats – faced the minimum nine batters through the first three innings pitched before New York scored took to the scoreboard first. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 82 Review: Zimmermann sublime as Nats sweep Giants


Jordan Zimmermann was sublime once again and the Washington Nationals completed a three-game sweep of the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants 3-1 before another terrific holiday weekend crowd at Nationals Park.

Zimmermann threw 100 pitches in his seven complete innings. He allowed one run — a solo home run to Brandon Crawford — and two other hits while walking just one and striking out eight.

The only time the Giants got a runner as far as third base was in the first inning. Angel Pagan singled, stole second and went to third on Buster Posey’s two-out single, but was stranded there after Crawford flied out to the track in center.

After that — save for Crawford’s homer — it was smooth sailing for the quiet Midwesterner.

The Nats (46-36) got on the board first in the second inning. Wilson Ramos and Danny Espinosa drew back-to-back walks from Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong. They both moved up a base when Vogelsong threw a wild pitch, which struck out Ian Desmond swinging. Michael Taylor’s single then plated Ramos.

The Giants struck back in the fourth on Brandon Crawford’s 12th home run of the season.

In the bottom of the fifth, Vogelsong — along with Giants skipper Bruce Bochy — was ejected for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi.

The Nats retook the lead in the sixth, when Ramos hit his eighth homer of the season, over the scoreboard in right center, off reliever George Kontos.

Bryce Harper led off the eighth with a double to left center off lefty Javier Lopez, went to third on Tyler Moore’s liner to right, and scored on Ramos’ single off Hunter Strickland.

David Carpenter and Matt Thornton combined to pitch a scoreless eighth and Drew Storen nailed down his 25th save, allowing a walk and striking out one.

NATS NOTES: The Nats placed Stephen Strasburg on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique suffered in Saturday’s win, and recalled righty Taylor Jordan from AAA-Syracuse. The Nats don’t need a fifth starter until after the All-Star break, when Strasburg’s condition can be better evaluated.

Earlier in the day, the National League All-Stars were announced and — in no surprise — Bryce Harper led all NL stars in votesd to garner his third All-Star nod, and second start.

NEXT GAME: Monday at 7:05 pm against the Cincinnati Reds. Doug Fister (3-4, 4.34) hosts Anthony DiSclafani (5-6, 3.68).

Washington Nationals Game 73 Review: Fister Excels Against the Braves for a Series Sweep

Starting pitcher Doug Fister shut out the Atlanta Braves on Thursday afternoon leading the Washington Nationals to a 7-0 win at Nationals Park. Fister threw 111 pitches and 72 strikes in seven innings pitched. He gave up four hits, one walk, and struck out four batters while the Nats offense did their best to hit Braves starting pitcher Matt Wisler. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 68 Review: Rookie Joe Ross Impresses in Win Over Pittsburgh

Rookie pitcher Joe Ross stepped up to help the Washington Nationals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1 on Friday night in front of a sold out crowd of 38,935 at Nationals Park while striking out eleven batters in his third Major League start. Ross was consistent through seven and one-third innings pitched. He threw 102 pitched and seventy three strikes while giving up one run on six hits, striking out eleven, and walking one batter. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 65 Review: Bats explode in 16-4 win over Tampa Bay

After a 6-1 loss on Monday, the Washington Nationals rebounded for a borderline absurd 16-4 shellacking of the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Tuesday behind five hits from Danny Espinosa and home runs from Bryce Harper, Clint Robinson and Wilson Ramos, who hit two off of two different position players.

[Read more…]

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