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Soriano Blows Third Save of Season, Werth Delivers Walk-Off

Rafael Soriano has blown three saves for the Washington Nationals. All of them have resulted in tie games, the previous two went to extra innings with the Nats losing both. While the Nationals 3-8 record in extra innings sounds preposterous with how good their 2014 relief pitching has been it still exists, and avoiding extra innings in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth was key. Down to their last out after Rendon hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Span from the bases Werth was the last shot for the Nationals to avoid extra innings. It could be assumed that trading Rendon for Span would be a minus in the base running department, but Rendon is an intelligent base runner and when Werth doubled down to left field line Rendon was able to come all the way around to score.

If you’re a baseball fan that likes aggressive and intelligent base running then this was the game for you. Both teams had several plays where base running was the key going all the way back to the Nationals first run of the game in the bottom of the second. LaRoche led off the inning with a single then went first to third on Harper’s single and when LaRoche scored on Desmond’s single Harper took third drawing a throw and allowing Desmond to advance to second giving the Nationals runners second and third with one out. It wouldn’t result in any more runs but it was a sign of things to come.

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Nats defeat Rockies 7-1

It took seven and two thirds innings and over a hundred pitchers but the Colorado Rockies finally drew a walk against Stephen Strasburg and chased him from the game. Too bad by that time they were down 7-1 after DJ LeMahieu had homered earlier in the inning. With questions surrounding Stephen Strasburg and if he could be trusted to pitch like a “true ace” he did exactly that against a wounded Rockies line-up. Missing Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado to injury and resting Charlie Blackmon and Troy Tulowitzski the Rockies line-up wasn’t much to look at and until the eighth inning all they could muster was four singles off of Stephen Strasburg.

Strasburg’s final line was an impressive seven and two thirds of one run ball on five hits with eight stikeouts and just one walk. Strasburg has pitched like this all season being in the top five in K% and just outside the top 20 in BB% walking only 5.2% of the batters he has faced. Strasburg’s ability to limit walks and generate his own outs has gone largely unnoticed due to some bad luck on balls in play and the perception that his failures to prevent runs are all his fault. Tonight was a bit of a regression to the mean, but it is only the start. Strasburg lowered his ERA to 3.53 but still has a ways to go for it to match his 2.78 FIP.

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Nats Fall 6-4 to Braves in 13

The Nats put up a fight but only delayed the inevitable. As exciting as the ninth inning two run home run off the bat of Anthony Rendon was that caused Craig Kimbrel to blow his fifth save it only served to delay the Nats loss. The Nats have a remarkable record when scoring four or more runs and this was just their third loss of the season when they’ve reached that magic number. The Nats found the four runs absolutely necessary because their Ace, Stephen Strasburg, didn’t have his best stuff, and while he gutted out six innings he gave up four runs in the process. Not a good outing from a pitcher that should be capable of shutting down the opposition.

To Strasburg’s credit he did come into this game leading the NL in FIP and fWAR, but when the Nats have needed him most he hasn’t been at his best and at 1-6 on the year against the Braves and clinging by a half game to first place the Nats needed Strasburg. Some nights a starting pitcher isn’t going to have everything working and this was one of those nights for Strasburg as the curve simply wasn’t present.

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Henge-tacular

We see a lot of chit-chat about “henge” events – times when the sun lines up exactly right with our grid-city for optimal lineup in a photo. Trust data mastermind Josh “Govtrack” Tauberer to grind the information and get you exact date information for specific locations. Use it to take perfectly aligned photos or as a must-avoid for your west-to-east sunset time driving.

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Featured Photo

I think we can all agree that the only thing cuter than a panda face is a panda butt. It’s big and round and, presumably, pretty squishy. Put them together and, well, your brain could a splode. Bao Bao is doing an excellent job of trying to kill us all, or win our undying affection, one can never tell, in this adorable photo by Dan Reidel. If you look through Dan’s photo stream you’ll see quite a few shots of the pandas doing their panda thing but Bao Bao is particularly skilled at milking her silly bear-ness for all it’s worth. While we all miss our little Butterstick (aka Tai Shan) his little sister is doing her best to fill his, um, paw prints. Great shot, Dan!

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Nats Defeat Astros 6-5

If Tuesday’s victory over the Astros proved anything it is that there is a thin line between comedy and tragedy as a laugher quickly transitioned into a tightly contested one run game in the course of one inning. Thanks to multiple double games from Zimmerman and Rendon the Nationals jumped all over the Astros and held a 6-1 lead heading into the top of the eighth. Tyler Clippard took the mound because it was the eighth inning, Tanner Roark had labored to get through five innings, and Ross Detwiler is a figment of your imagination.

From the very start of the inning Tyler Clippard didn’t appear to have it as Jason Castro and Matt Dominguez lead off the inning with a single and a double. Against the third batter of the inning, Jonathan Villar, Clippard would serve up another hittable pitch that Villar would drive to center for a single and the Astros would cut the Nats lead to four. After two strikeouts it looked like Clippard could get out of the inning, but the batter was Jose Altuve who already had himself a three hit night, and he would collect his fourth hit on a two RBI double. Aaron Barrett would then come in and get George Springer to fly out to center on just two pitches.

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We Love Weekends – Jun 13-15

Fedward:  Friday night is the grand opening of the Angelika Pop-Up theater north of Union Market.  I attended a preview screening Tuesday night and the space looks great, with three 150 seat houses, large screens, and a lovely concession area and lounge.  They pointed out that the more tickets they sell, the better movies they can get, so get out there and watch some movies!  Saturday afternoon we’ll attend an annual Flag Day Party thrown by some guy who’d rather not have people bring him birthday presents. Saturday night the Hamilton hosts A Southern Soul Tribute: The Music Of Muscle Shoals & Stax/Volt, which stands to be excellent, but I’ll actually be on my way to Bengies Drive-In for a double feature of sequels to movies I didn’t see. I wonder if I can figure out the plots! And if none of those ideas work for you, there’s also a few performances remaining of Forum Theatre’s re-re-mount of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, now featuring the return of Frank Britton. Sunday is going to be packed with … organizing paperwork for a potential refinancing, after which I’ll definitely need our traditional Sunday brunch at the Passenger.

Tom: The storms are going to keep us in on Friday night, but it’s possible we’ll find ourselves at the newly open Brookland’s Finest, rewarding our friends for their hard struggle in getting open. Saturday I’ll be doing the solo Dad duty, but the weather looks to be perfect, so I’ll likely pack Charlie into the bike trailer to explore more of the Northwest Branch Trail and some of College Park. After that, we’ve got friends with a big party on Saturday afternoon, so we may end up in the wilds of Arlington (don’t worry, we’ve got a passport for Charlie now) doing our thing. Sunday looks to be warmer, but again with the low humidity, so some outdoor activity sounds like a perfect choice. Maybe fire up the grill!

Don: Unlike Tom, I am not willing to give up on Friday night yet. Mind you, I’m opting for something free in case it does get rained out. Specifically the opening event for the free music & arts at Lubber Run Amphitheater. If it’s cancelled for rain then we’ll have to find something else indoors. Saturday it’s our annual Flag Day celebrations (what, you don’t observe?) and maybe a little morning nature walking. Sunday evening I might see if we can wrangle a babysitter and head out to Woolly Mammoth to catch their Sunday deal on The Totalitarians. The ticket deal, that is. $2 for a PBR is still $4 too much for that swill.

Joe:  Let’s start with priorities, beginning and ending with the 2014 World Cup, which for all of you non-believers kicked off Thursday in Brazil. Where to watch? Well, follow the pack of people wearing colored jerseys and singing “olé, olé, olé” to the nearest pub (or check out this list or this one). In between matches, I’m going to be taking a lot of photos. Saturday morning, I’m headed down to the Thompson Boat Center on the Georgetown Waterfront for the 13th annual DC Dragon Boat races. Either later that day or Sunday, I’ll venture north of the beltway to Bawlmer and check out the beehives and leopard prints at HonFest. No hairspray for me, though horned-rimmed glasses are a distinct possibility.

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Nats Hit To Help Strasburg Notch Fifth Win, Beat Phillies 8-4

Photo courtesy of oddlittlebird.
One more win!
courtesy of oddlittlebird.

The game came complete with an hour and forty eight minute rain delay but the Washington Nationals pulled off an 8-4 victory Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies in D.C. Starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg got some much needed run support to aid his efforts and secure his fifth win of the season.

Strasburg tossed seven innings and gave up four runs (two earned) on seven hits while striking out eleven on 109 pitches (79 strikes). Of the two earned runs scored on Strasburg on the night, Phillies pinch hitter John Mayberry, Jr. hit a one-out, two-run homerun in the seventh inning just before the game went into the rain delay at the stretch. Continue reading

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Nats win 7-0 in Zimmerman’s Return

Ryan Zimmerman is known as Mr. Walkoff, but that wasn’t necessary in his return to the line-up as the Nats won going away. In his first at bat off the DL Ryan Zimmerman smoked a double down the left field line. That first hit had no baring on the outcome of the game but it was good to see Zimmerman hitting the ball with authority and it would prove to be a taste of what was to come.

The Nats would get the scoring started one inning later with Danny Espinosa leading off with an infield single, followed by a Jordan Zimmermann sac bunt, a single by Span, a walk to Rendon to load the bases, a ground rule double by Werth to drive in two runs, and a ground out by LaRoche to drive in the Nats third and final run of the inning. And this would prove to only be the start of the scoring for the Nationals. The big hit for Zimmerman would come in the bottom of the fifth with Span on second and the Phillies having just intentionally walked LaRoche to pitch to him. Zimmerman made them pay with an opposite field double.

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Nats Offense Wakes Up to Clobber Rangers 9-2

For the month of May the Washington Nationals offense had averaged 3.2 runs a game. For most of the month they played without Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper, and Adam LaRoche while suffering slumps from Ian Desmond, Anthony Rendon, and Jayson Werth. It all added up to the Nationals having one of their worst months of the last four seasons, and after the second inning it looked like this game was going to be much the same as many other Nats games of 2014.

Strasburg was dominant in the first retiring the side on just ten pitches including two strikeouts, but in the second he allowed a lead-off double before striking out the next two batters. With Adrian Beltre standing at second and Leonys Martin at the plate Strasburg got the weak contact he wanted but failed to field the come backer with his glove or face and there were suddenly runners on the corners with two outs. Strasburg would then give up RBI singles to the number eight and nine batters before Denard Span made a nice running catch of Shin-Soo Choo’s liner to retire the side.

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Sports Fix, The Daily Feed, The Features

Nats Fall 8-5 to Miami in the 10th

Photo courtesy of ekelly80
perfect night for a game
courtesy of ekelly80

The Nationals suffered a tough 8-5 tenth inning loss in Washington on Wednesday against the Miami Marlins despite several opportunities to end the night with a win. Right-handed pitcher Jordan Zimermann started the night well enough by cruising through the first three innings. He gave up two hits in the first inning and faced 10 batters before the game broke open for Miami in the fourth.

Zimmermann lasted a total of five innings pitched and gave up four runs (three earned) and eight hits while walking one and striking out three on 80 pitches thrown (53 strikes). The fourth inning is when Miami did their greatest damage of the night to take the big 4-0 lead that would keep them ahead of Washington all evening.

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Dodgers Defeat Nats 8-3 in Kershaw’s Return

The story of this game is Clayton Kershaw’s return to the Dodgers and everything went as planned as he pitch seven innings allowing no runs and striking out nine Nationals. It was an impressive start, but impressive starts are common place for a pitcher as good as Kershaw. What was impressive is that Nationals spot starter Blake Treinen held the game scoreless and tied through five innings. Matt Williams then decided to push the spot starter in his major league debut as a starting pitcher into the sixth.

Clayton Kershaw reached on an error when Blake Treinen couldn’t pick up his dribbler. Dee Gordon hit a ball right to Adam LaRoche and LaRoche was caught thinking about a throw to second before he could secure the ball and Gordon ended up on first base. An second infield hit and a solid single by Hanley Ramirez would give the Dodgers the lead they wouldn’t relinquish as Kershaw kept the stranglehold on the Nats hitters and the Dodgers offense came to life against the Nats bullpen.

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Nats Endure Lengthy Rain Delay, Shutout Dodgers 4-0

fisheye nats park
courtesy of philliefan99

A few hundred people bore witness as the midnight hour crept just passed 1 a.m. at Nationals Parks on Tuesday morning as the Nats beat the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0. Due to rain, the game fell subject to a 3 hour and 17 minute rain delay starting in the middle of the 4th inning. The total time of the delay even ended up being longer than the total amount of playing time it took the Nats to win it.

Both teams fielded some of their most reliable starting pitchers. Right-handed pitchers Zack Greinke and Jordan Zimmermann each performed prior to the rain forcing them out of the game. In fact, the two-run shutout Washington carried into the bottom of the eighth with them was recorded within the first two home team at-bats of the long, long night.

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Entertainment, The Daily Feed, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: The Threepenny Opera

Polly Peachum (Erin Driscoll) and Lucy Brown (Rick Hammerly) vie for the love of Macheath in “The Threepenny Opera,” now playing at Signature Theatre through June 1, 2014. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Polly Peachum (Erin Driscoll) and Lucy Brown (Rick Hammerly) vie for the love of Macheath in “The Threepenny Opera,” now playing at Signature Theatre through June 1, 2014. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Meh. That’s the best way to describe Signature Theatre’s production of The Threepenny Opera. But I can’t blame them for it. After all, it was written to be that way. Sort of.

Playwright Bertolt Brecht, who lived in Germany through the mid 20th century, believed that theatre was meant to be a forum for political ideas, in the hopes that it would result in actual social and bureaucratic change. Most notably authoring plays such as The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Mother Courage and Her Children, he is also credited with establishing the genre of Epic Theatre, of which almost all his plays, including The Threepenny Opera, are a part of.

Epic Theatre is based on the idea that a play should not create any type of emotional cartharsis or cause the spectator to identify emotionally at all with the characters or action on stage. By denying the audience any type of impassioned feeling, he believed it would instead allow them to adopt a critical socio-political view designed to provoke self-reflection and be moved to effect real change in the world.

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Friday Happy Hour: Springtime Scotchtails

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about what to drink this spring, tequila, aperitivi, all the drinks at Lupo Verde, but I’ve saved the best for last. What could it be, beer gardens? Tiki drinks? All good, but no. This time of year, when I’m not drinking a Bicyclette, I’m drinking scotch.

I know, weird, it’s finally warm out and I’m suddenly in the mood for scotch, arguably the most wintery libation of them all. And usually I’m a purist; scotch, neat, maybe with a drop of water. Never with ice, and (until recently) never in a cocktail. But this season all those nice cocoa, dried fruit, and coconut flavors have been creeping their way into my spring cocktails.

The Mcqueen
2 oz blended scotch, I use Dewars
¾ oz dry vermouth, I use Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry
¼ oz white creme de cacao, Marie Brizard works fine

Build in a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with a lemon zest.

Total guilty pleasure drink for me. Steve McQueen has been one of my style icons since I was a kid. Though I’ve got dark hair, so I do more of a Burt Reynolds thing, ah well. But that’s not going to stop me from coming up with a Steve Mcqueen styled drink. Nothing fancy, simply a blond rob roy, smooth as jazz but still with a bit of edge, e.g. McQueen in Bullitt. Continue reading

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2014 DC’s Elite Eight – Cast Your Vote

Untitled
So some MAJOR upsets in the Sweet Sixteen with some top seeds taking a beating. DC’s “Mayor For Life” was upstaged by Mexican food hangout Lauriol Plaza. Schneider’s took a shellacking from the usually refined and reserved National Gallery of Art. The Hill’s Top 50 and Repeal Day took things down to the final seconds with booze ultimately winning out. Zoolights just did not show up and Ben’s Half Smoke rolled on over them. Our #1 seed – The DC Music Scene – looks strong with Food Trucks and the Annual DC Sports Playoff Collapse still in major play for the Final Four. There are no easy matchups for the Elite Eight, so choose wisely and get your vote in by March 31st.

#1 The DC Music Scene: The 9:30 Club, Black Cat (mainstage and red room), DC9, Rock N’ Hotel, U Street Music Hall, Gypsy Sally’s, Patty Boom Boom, Echo Stage, Flash, DAR, The Hamilton….I could and should go on but there are just WAY too many awesome DC music venues to list. You want an intimate show? You got it. You want a sell out ~20,000 person experience? Done. You want to get your dancing sweat on in a darkish, light parade? Boom! And it’s not just that they’re great places to see music, it’s that they bring in an utterly fantastic array of acts. On any given night, there are nationally known groups, up-and-comers, awesome cover bands and true indie artists showing us their stuff. What. To. Choose?!!!! Did I mention that the venues have awesome food and drink, and that they’re staff are some of the coolest people in DC?

VS.

#8 Capital Weather Gang: This gang of weather nerds is the area’s go-to team for (mostly) accurate news and information on the region’s weather. Actually, it’s really one guy surrounded by a bunch of weather-loving people – but to us, they’re the Gang. They do their own forecasts, analyze models, insert physics, and use their own knowledge in formulating forecasts that are more often than not, right on target. They update their blog on WaPo with reader photos and comments, stay on top of updates during big weather events, and are highly interactive. They’re clear without being condescending; they answer all your questions without your even asking. They tell you what they know and what they don’t. They know they’re not perfect and aren’t afraid to admit when they’re wrong. Best of all? They show you how the science is relevant and uncover its beauty for all to enjoy.

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Perfect Winter Forecast from Goldenbear

As we all dig out from last night’s snowstorm – the first all winter to hit the Boom side of Capital Weather Gang’s forecast – this forecast is pitch perfect given the bizarre nature of this winter. We’ve had 25-odd “snow events” this winter, and we’re up to second or third on total winter snowfall. While the numbers won’t be final for a bit, it looks like the greater DC area got 5-10″ after a prediction of 1-6″ or so, and so that means some heavy digging this morning.

All this after it was the 60s as late as Friday.

I feel much like Kate Woodsome does in this video, ready to the tear the script in half as I just can’t believe what I’m seeing.

Bravo to DC-based Goldenbear for perfectly nailing how completed boned this winter has been.

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Top Drink Picks for Spring

Pay no attention to forecast of snow, spring is upon us. Now is the time to start thinking about what you’re going to be drinking. I get excited about a few very specific things once the weather warms up, mainly wine and spritzes. Weird, I know, but don’t knock it until you try it.

Winter is the time for brown spirits and red wine. Come spring and summer I do a total 180 and switch almost exclusively to white wine. This season I’m most excited about the whites coming out of Greece. Last month I was raving about a crisp assyritko from Santorini, since then I’ve been exploring whites from all over Greece and the eastern Mediterranean. Turns out they’re damned good and easy to find in DC. My favorite spots have been Iron Gate in Dupont and Dunya in Shaw, which has one of the best roof decks in the city.

The rocky soil and salty sea breeze make for great wines to pair with light springtime fare. Look for a wine with light citrus notes and a great minerality to pair with a golden beet and goat cheese salad. Or that salty assyritko with any seafood. My favorite is fried oysters. Totally non traditional, but it’s the best fried oysters and white wine you’ll ever have. And albeit the first fried oysters and white wine you’ve ever had.

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Entertainment, The Daily Feed, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Beaches

Alysha Umpress as Cee Cee (left) Mara Davi as Bertie (right).  Photo by Margot I. Schulman.

Alysha Umpress as Cee Cee (left) Mara Davi as Bertie (right). Photo by Margot I. Schulman.

For a number of years, Broadway musicals based on their respective movies have been a staple on the Great White Way. In fact, more than one-third of the musicals currently on Broadway were films before they were ever stage productions. While some of these live adaptations fare very well with audiences, producers often find that taking a beloved film, musicalizing it, and then putting it on stage is a risky venture. One of the major reasons new productions are put through a series of workshops and premieres before opening on Broadway, in fact, is to gauge the potential success it will have and to edit and make changes along the way.

Signature Theatre has been instrumental over the years in assisting these budding new shows find footing by producing their world premieres in its Arlington facility, with almost 40 productions to date, including their current musical, Beaches. Based on Iris Rainer Dart’s 1985 novel, which the 1988 film with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey was adapted from, Beaches follows two friends through a 30-year friendship. One a brash performer, the other a WASP-y blueblood, these seemingly different women forge a powerful companionship when a chance meeting on the beach as young girls in the 1950s leads to a lifelong friendship that tests the bonds of sisterhood and shows the strength of friendship. Continue reading

Entertainment, The Daily Feed, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin

Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin. Photo credit Joan Marcus

Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone onstage. Photo credit Joan Marcus

If a musical theatre lover were to create a bucket list, it would be a very safe bet to assume that seeing Patti LuPone or Mandy Patinkin perform live would be on the list. Both of them are Tony-award winners and legends of the stage and screen, with numerous credits to their names, so the opportunity to see LuPone and Patinkin individually on stage is enough to send shockwaves of excitement through any artistic community. To see them perform together, though, is tantamount in the theatrical community to the winning of the powerball lottery or finding the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. And if a person were lucky enough to see them perform together at a venue like the Eisenhower theatre in the Kennedy Center, and if it were not only every bit as good as you imagined, but even better (if that were possible), it would be a very safe bet that the bucket list would then have be retired completely, as the chance to see anything like it ever again is as rare as Haley’s comet.

Fortunately for the DC community, the above hypothetical situation is a current reality, and an amazing one at that. An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin, directed by Patinkin himself with choreography by yet another Tony-award winner, Ann Reinking, and musical direction by Paul Ford, is in town for eight performances only and is worth cancelling all other plans this weekend in order to see this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Continue reading