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We Love Arts: Fiddler on the Roof

Jonathan Hadary as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater October 31, 2014-January 4, 2015. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Jonathan Hadary as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater October 31, 2014-January 4, 2015. Photo by Margot Schulman.

It is easy to produce a decent production of Fiddler on the Roof. Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, Fiddler on the Roof has enjoyed tens of thousands of productions throughout the world. Set against the background of Imperial Russia in 1905, the musical tells the story of poor milkman Tevye and his attempts to adhere to his Jewish religious traditions, despite the outside influences that encroach upon the lives of his family and village. The script and music, written by Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock, and Sheldon Harnick, are so nearly perfect in their form and structure, even a theatre lacking in any creativity can still end up with a decent production. Because the show’s constructs are so specific in terms of setting, time, and place, the design, direction, and casting for the show end up fairly staid, regardless of production, which is why it is easy to produce a decent production of Fiddler on the Roof.

And yet, the very same thing that makes a decent production so easy to do, is also the reason why producing a truly incredible production of Fiddler on the Roof is so challenging. Directors, designers, and theatre artists wanting to not simply recreate the same production of Fiddler on the Roof that has been seen on the tens of thousands of stages over the past 50 years is extremely hard. This is a show where keeping the integrity of the material is the foremost priority, so trying to find ways of making this iconic musical-theatre staple feel original and unique requires a team of visionaries who understand that sometimes the way to do this is to not try to do something original and unique. Whether or not this was deliberate on the part of director Molly Smith and her creative team at Arena Stage, the final result was that what could have been merely a decent production ended up being truly incredible.

What I appreciated about this production is that Smith and her team kept the visual and directing aspects simple, basic, and consistent with what one would expect to see with any production of Fiddler on the Roof. The show is so well written that it doesn’t require embellishment and they recognized that, remaining true to the text and the original conceptual intent of the piece. There were a few bits of visual charm throughout the show, including the clever use of hydraulics in The Dream and Parker Esse’s incredible choreography in To Life and the Wedding Dance, but for the most part, the show was lacking in technical frills, which allowed for the true magic to emerge—the story. Fiddler on the Roof is, above all else, the tale of a man whose life doesn’t turn out as he thought it would. Try as he might to ensure that he and his family are provided for and happy in the way he wants them to be, he finds himself repeatedly being filled with disappointments in his children, himself, and his God. Forced to redefine what happiness, family, and faith look like, Tevye’s story really is the story of every man, despite being set in 1905 Russia.

Understanding that Tevye really is an everyman, Jonathan Hadary in the lead role was amazing. Although very different from the well-known and iconic performances of Tevye as created by Zero Mostel or Topol, which have since been imitated by thousands of actors over the past 50 years, Hadary made the role his own. His Tevye was sweet and sincere, a vulnerable man whose love for his family was evident, but also a man who uses light-heartedness as a defense mechanism, since to do otherwise would highlight the cruel injustices of life. Hadary’s Tevye remains an optimist, finding that nugget of laughter or happiness in the most grim of circumstances even when he is forced to the breaking point of sorrow. Without a trace of the gruff or hardened Tevye audiences are perhaps used to seeing, Hadary really shows the resilience of the human spirit when he is faced with adversity, disappointment, and sorrow. He can’t choose his circumstances, but he can choose how he reacts to them and Hadary chooses to see the world with rose colored glasses. It was a refreshing take on the role and brought a whole new perspective to the show.

Also amazing in the production were Joshua Morgan as tailor Motel Kamzoil, and Maria Rizzo as Tevye’s daughter, Chava. Most of the actors in the show, in fact, were very talented, but the performances by Morgan and Rizzo stood out because, like Hadary, they found unique approaches to their characters. Instead of simply being nervous and squirrelly, Morgan’s Motel was more focused and driven. Still a bit socially awkward and clumsy, Morgan was able to keep the loveable aspects of Motel while proving to be more assertive and ambitious than he appears. Similarly, Rizzo’s Chava was not ,merely headstrong, but was, instead, curious, soft-hearted, and wise.

Director Smith was also wise in choosing to cast a large group of local performers whose onstage chemistry as an ensemble was incredible. Knowing that these actors are friends both on and offstage produced an energy that was palpable and evident, as each scene and musical number found the performers in total and complete synchronicity. It also made the eviction of the Jews by the Russians so much more powerfully sad. Not only were the Jews in the show seen as the victims of the Imperialist edicts, but the Russians were as well, to some degree, since their pain in having to force their friends out of their homes was unmistakable. This camaraderie was where the real magic of the production happened. Fiddler on the Roof is a show about love, family, and community. To distinguish this version from every other one required something special and, in casting such a well-meshed collective of performers who clearly formed a community of love and became a family, the end result is a tightly-knit show, simple but lovely, and definitely special. This isn’t the movie, nor is it your average decent production. Fiddler on the Roof at Arena Stage has heart. And that’s so much better.

Fiddler on the Roof performs at Arena Stage’s Fichandler Theater now through January 4, 2015, located at 1101 6th St SW, Washington DC 20024. Tickets start at $50. For more information, call 202-554-9066.

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Nats Fall 3-2 in Game One of the NLDS to the Giants

Strasburg _ Game 1 _ NLDS

Photo Credit: Rachel Levitin

Despite their best efforts, the Washington Nationals fell 3-2 against the San Francisco Giants in game one of the NLDS at Nationals Park on Friday in front of a sellout crowd of 44,035. Right-handed starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg tossed the first playoff game of his young career and tallied eight hits and two runs (one earned) after throwing 89 pitches and 58 strikes in five innings of work plus two batters. Strasburg walked a batter, hit a batter, and threw two strikeouts.

Strasburg’s outing — while not terrible — was far from his best this season. The two strikeouts he tallied are the fewest he’s thrown in a start while pitching five or more innings in his career. On the up side, he extended his scoreless inning stretch to 22 innings pitched before allowing an unearned run in the third, but that didn’t salvage the game for Washington.

The Giants struck first while sprinkling their three runs over the course of the game. Outfielder Travis Ishikawa scored on single hit by second baseman Joe Panik in the third inning, giving San Francisco a 1-0 lead before outfielder Hunter Pence scored off a single hit by first baseman Brandon Belt in the fourth inning; Giants 2, Nats 0.

Then, in the seventh inning, Panik led off with a triple off right-handed reliever Craig Stammen and proceeded to score on a single hit by catcher Buster Posey; Giants 3, Nats 0.

What it boils down to is that Washington’s troubles came in the form of Giants right-handed starter Jake Peavy. Peavy held the Nats’ offense to two hits over five and two-thirds innings pitched while striking out three and walking three on 104 pitches and 62 strikes.

Washington garnered a small glimmer of a hopeful spark in the fifth inning when outfielder Bryce Harper singled off Peavy for their first hit of the day but a more significant and productive spark made its way into the bottom half of the seventh inning as Harper crushed a leadoff homerun that landed in the upper deck of Nationals Park (section 236 to be exact) against right-handed reliever Hunter Strickland to put a Washington run on the scoreboard; Giants 3, Nats 1.

Second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera kept the momentum going and followed Harper’s lead by knocking a solo homerun with one out into the home bullpen in right field bringing Washington within one run of the Giants; Giants 3, Nats 2.

“We hadn’t done much offensively till that point and [Harper] gave us a spark,” Manager Matt Williams said after the game. “[Cabrera] followed, and we had opportunities.”

The Nats’ offensive efforts in the seventh inning weren’t enough to get over the one run lead San Francisco held onto. Washington only managed a couple more singles in the eighth inning before being shut down for the night.

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LaRoche Goes Long Twice in 3-2 Nats Win Over Philadelphia

Sunday afternoon’s game got off to a rocky start when the Washington Nationals committed two defensive errors in the top of the first inning against the Phillies but Washington went on to beat Philadelphia 3-2.

Left-handed starter Gio Gonzalez went six innings while giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits and striking out three batters on 105 pitches (67 strikes). The Phillies did score a run in the top of the first as a result of both outfielder Denard Span and third baseman Anthony Rendon committing a pair of consecutive throwing errors on a Grady Sizemore single hit to center field but Gonzalez bounced back and settled in allowing his pitches to work for him rather than against him after that; Phillies 1, Nats 0.

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Zimmermann Solid Through Eight Innings, Nats Beat Giants 6-2

The Washington Nationals rebounded from Friday night’s lop-sided 10-3 loss that snapped their 10-run winning streak against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday by beating their visitors 6-2. Right-handed starter Jordan Zimmermann pitched a solid eight innings while throwing 107 pitches and 78 strikes. He gave up two runs on seven hits – including a Hunter Pence two-run homerun in the first inning – while striking out eight batters.

Washington answered right back after the Giants led off the game with a double hit by outfielder Angel Pagan and the two-run Pence homer; Giants 2, Nats 0. Outfielder Denard Span led off with a triple hit down the right field line off San Francisco’s right-handed starter Tim Lincecum. Third baseman Anthony Rendon followed by drawing a walk before Span scored on a single hit by outfielder Jayson Werth. First baseman Adam LaRoche proceeded to hit into a double play in his at-bat but his efforts sent Rendon around to score; Giants 2, Nats 2. Continue reading

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We Love Arts: Sunday in the Park with George

Brynn O’Malley (Dot) and Claybourne Elder (George) in Sunday in the Park with George at Signature Theatre. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Brynn O’Malley (Dot) and Claybourne Elder (George) in Sunday in the Park with George at Signature Theatre. Photo by Margot Schulman.

For persons wholly unfamiliar with the musical theatre canon of Stephen Sondheim, the Neo-impressionist artist George Seurat and his famous painting A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, or the work of DC-area director Matthew Gardiner, Sunday in the Park with George at Signature Theatre is worth seeing. For fans and admirers of Sondheim, Seurat, or Gardiner, seeing Signature’s production is absolutely essential. In fact, it’s vital. In the 97-year history of the Pulitzer Prize for drama, only eight musicals have won the coveted award and in 1985, Sondheim and book writer James Lapine’s fictionalized story of Seurat and his pointillist creation of A Sunday on La Grande Jatte became the sixth musical to achieve such an honor. Inspired by Seurat’s technique of applying a series of tiny, individual colored dots to form an image, Sondheim not only mimicked the style musically and verbally– through the use of staccato phrases, simple melodies, and clipped conversation—but he even named his female protagonist Dot. More than that, though, Sondheim and Lapine, in studying Seurat’s painting which depicts random people relaxing in a park on an island in the Seine River, wanted to give a voice to the one figure that seemed to be missing from the canvas: the artist himself. Sunday in the Park with George is written as two separate acts, whose individual stories merge at the end of Act II, to complete a thematic journey of art and love. Act I explores Seurat’s creation of the art and his struggle between passion for the work, and passion for his relationships, most notably with his lover, Dot. Three generations later, Act II features Seurat’s great-grandson George, an American artist trying to find his own passion, who eventually visits the island on the Seine River, depicted in Seurat’s painting, for inspiration, and ultimately ends up finding himself through his ancestry. Because the two acts are set nearly one hundred years apart, with completely different characters, styles of music, and seemingly unconnected plots, trying to seamlessly merge the two acts and complexity of the show’s themes is difficult. Particularly challenging is doing this without losing the pointillist nuances and simplicities in the script and musical score, all the while trying to give voice to the artists of the piece. In less than capable hands, Sunday in the Park with George can easily become droll, lackluster, and completely uninspired, rendering audiences bored, confused, and unmoved. Fortunately, Signature Theatre placed their production in the extremely capable hands of director Matthew Gardiner and the end result is breathtaking and awe-inspiring enchantment. Without adding too much unnecessary embellishment or frills to the piece, Gardiner flawlessly leads the audience through the complex world of the show by focusing on the show’s basic theme of allowing one’s passions to come from the heart and using that passion to make something beautiful. Gardiner seems to understand very well that those making this piece are, in essence, their own characters in Sunday in the Park with George and Gardiner’s heart and passion for the work are very evident in every aspect of this show. In fact, one of the reasons why Signature’s production is so beautiful is because everyone involved in the production seems to bring their full heart and passion to it. Claybourne Elder, in the title roles, first as George Seurat and then as 1980s artist George, carries the show gracefully, finding the perfect balances between artist and lover, relative and friend, passion and person, and tormented versus inspired. Never allowing his Georges to become sullen, moody, and unlikable, Elder remains sympathetic and heartfelt, even when his on-stage behaviors are self-destructive and disagreeable. To be able to do that, while creating two separate and distinct Georges, and then find a way to merge them together at the end of Act II is nothing but brilliant when done well and Elder’s portrayal is sheer genius. Similarly, Brynn O’Malley, first as Seurat’s lover, Dot, and then as 1980s George’s grandmother, Marie, (Seurat and Dot’s daughter), is incredible. As Dot, O’Malley remains grounded and keeps it simple, which is imperative for a character who, like the pointillist style she is named after, allows for the audience to see her fuller range of tones, from her solid comedic chops to her fine dramatic work. As the aged Marie in Act II, O’Malley’s transformation into a centenarian Grandmother is spectacular, wonderfully adopting the geriatric behaviors and nuances without allowing herself to become a caricature. No less impressive than Elder and O’Malley is a talented ensemble of actors who, like Gardiner and his team of gifted collaborators, clearly bring their full passion and love to this production. To see a show with such heart from all sides is truly special and rare, which is why Signature’s production of Sunday in the Park with George is so moving and so spectacular. It is the quintessential love letter to Sondheim, Seurat, theatre, and to art. Sunday in the Park with George performs now through September 21, 2014 at Signature Theatre, located at 4200 Campbell Avenue, Arlington VA 22206. Tickets start at $40. For more information, call 703-820-9771.

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Nats Win Ninth Straight in 3-2 Walk-off Victory Against Arizona

Four walk-offs in five days, a nine-game winning streak, and first place in the National League East – that’s where the Washington Nationals currently stand after their 3-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night. After a strong seven-inning shutout appearance from right-handed pitcher Tanner Roark for Washington, reliever Tyler Clippard blew the save, but the Nats came back in the form of an Anthony Rendon pinch-hit RBI-single in the bottom of the ninth with one out and two on base to win it.

“It’s a little stressful,” Rendon said of the situation, “[I’ve] probably got some grays coming in now but it’s actually [it’s] good to be on the winning side of these walk-offs for sure.”

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Strasburg Bests Hamles in Pitching Duel, Nats Beat Phillies 4-0

Two strong pitchers took the mound on Sunday for the final game of a four game series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals at Nats Park. Both left-handed pitcher Cole Hamels and right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg lasted seven innings but it was ultimately Philadelphia’s weak defense and Washington’s starter plus a clutch offense that won the Nationals the game 4-0.

Strasburg tallied ten strikeouts in his Sunday appearance. He gave up three hits and one walk on 99 pitches (69 strikes) to out duel Hamels and the Phillies. On the other end of things, Hamels gave up four hits and one unearned run while walking one batter and striking out six on 80 pitches (66 strikes).

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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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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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