Sports Fix

Nats Beat The Cardinals 3-1 in a Friday Night Pitching Duel

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

The Washington Nationals secured a much needed 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals Friday night thanks to a strong pitching performance from left-handed starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez and a few timely hits. The night’s victory helped snap the 8-0 losing skid between Washington and St. Louis, which dates back to 2012.

Gonzalez threw 101 pitches and 65 strikes against St. Louis over seven innings. The Cardinals managed four hits, one run, and a walk against the lefty but Gonzalez fought back with seven strike outs on the night. That strong outing was exactly what the Nats needed in order to fend off a hot-hitting and defensively sound Cardinals squad.

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Sports Fix

Nats Get Shut Out 0-8 By The Cardinals and Wainwright

Photo courtesy of MudflapDC
DSC_8044
courtesy of MudflapDC

The Washington Nationals’ struggles against top-tier teams in 2014 continued on Thursday night with a 0-8 loss at home against the St. Louis Cardinals. Right-handed pitcher Adam Wainwright held the Nats to just two hits in the complete game shutout at Nationals Park.

Washington’s right-handed starter Taylor Jordan had a shaky first inning which did not increase the Nats’ odds of finally beating a team they’ve dropped seven consecutive games to (eight counting last night). Jordan lasted five and a third innings and gave up seven hits and seven runs (five earned), walked two, struck out four, and hit a batter on 96 pitches (61 strikes).

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Sports Fix, The Features

Nats Shutout the Marlins, Beating Miami 5-0

Photo courtesy of BrianMKA
Batting practice fisheye
courtesy of BrianMKA

The Washington Nationals found themselves on the winning side of 5-0 game against the Miami Marlins Tuesday night thanks to a solid outing from left-handed starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez and impressive offensive efforts from first baseman Adam LaRoche and third baseman Anthony Rendon.

Gonzalez threw 101 pitches, 61 strikes, over six innings and gave up three hits while walking two batters and striking out five to secure his second win of the season.

Washington scored early, taking a one-run lead in the first inning when LaRoche drove outfielder Jayson Werth home with two-out. Manager Matt Williams’ line-up failed to score again until the sixth inning, but that’s when things got interesting.

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Sports Fix, The Features

Braves Hit Strasburg, Beat Nats 6-2

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Nats at Night
courtesy of philliefan99

The Washington Nationals failed to produce sufficient run support on Saturday night as the Atlanta Braves secured their fourth victory of the season with a 6-2 win at Nationals Park. Despite Washington’s best efforts with team ace Stephen Strasburg on the mound, the team’s offense struggled to score against Atlanta’s right-handed starter Julio Teheran.

Strasburg lasted 4.1 innings in his first D.C. start of the year. He gave up eight hits and six runs (three earned) while throwing 96 pitches (59 strikes). He also struck out six and walked three batters but a high pitch count early on prevented him from going any further.

The Nats managed to get a brief taste of offensive production with a two-run Adam LaRoche homer in the first inning, his second of the season, but that didn’t yield the long-term results Washington was hoping to achieve Saturday night. Washington didn’t maintain the lead long, though, and Atlanta came fighting back in the fourth inning when a pair of runs scored off a Ryan Zimmerman throwing error to tie it up at two runs each. Zimmerman was later removed from the evening’s game due to soreness and pain in his right shoulder. Continue reading

History, Opinion, Sports Fix, The Features

Hey R**skin Fans, Snyder Cares! (Not Really)

With little fanfare, Washington pro football team owner Dan Snyder slipped a letter out to the team’s fan mailing list this past Sunday. It was a masterful work of self-service. In it, Snyder finally realized there were problems in Indian Country, based on a supposed 26 visits to various reservations around the country. The visits – all cherry-picked to councils who “agree” with him about the “non-offensive” nature of the team’s moniker – apparently opened his eyes to the plight and ills of reservation residents.

Let’s set aside for a moment that Snyder refuses to meet with tribal councils who oppose the name, including the still-open invitation from the Oneida Nation in New York. Snyder quickly jumped to the “hey, there’s more important issues to deal with than changing a football team’s name” defense, pointing out the horrific poverty rates, unemployment, poor health, and abysmal education found on many Native reservations. And yes, these are real problems. Big ones. Continue reading

Sports Fix

Nats Big Buyers on Cyber Monday

The Nationals’ Mike Rizzo took advantage of some serious savings on Monday, picking up the Detroit Tigers’ Doug Fister in a deal that sent a journeyman infielder, and lefty reliever and a mid-level prospect back. Fister has been a middle of the rotation over performer for the Tigers, going 14-9 last year, tied for the league lead in induced GDPs, 2nd in home runs allowed per 9 innings (0.6) with a career 3.53 ERA.

Fister went 32-20 in three years in the Tigers organization, last year notching 159 strikeouts across 33 appearances on the way to the Tigers AL Central championship. A ground-ball pitcher of towering stature (Fister is 6’ 8”), the pickup can’t be overstated for the Nationals. They add a starter to fill the spot of the departing Haren, and it cost them just a replacement middle infielder (Steve Lombardozzi), a lefty reliever (Ian Krol), and a prospect (Robbie Ray). 

Hats off to GM Mike Rizzo for orchestrating the deal. As the first rumors surfaced (thanks to Chris Cotillo from MLB Daily Dish for his hard work breaking the news), fan approval was very high for the arrival of Fister, though some were saddened over the loss of Lombardozzi, who some believed the balm for some of the Nationals’ middle infield “issues”. I, for one, think that Dave Dombrowski might still have a tryptophan hangover to give up Fister for so little a return. The only explanation I can find is that they are far higher on the value of Robbie Ray than the Nationals are. 

Fister is arbitration-eligible this year, and is under team control through 2016. Some place his salary at just under $7M for 2014, which would be a bargain for a 32-game starter that could take 200 IP and pick up 15 wins. The Nationals won big on Cyber Monday, that much is for sure.

History, Sports Fix, The Features, WTF?!

What’s In a Football Name? Snyder Thinks He Knows – And He’s Wrong

So this popped out the other day.

It’s no secret how I feel about the whole name thing with the Washington football team. I oppose it. I think it’s racist. I have several personal issues with the name. But that’s not why I decided to post something about it.

The letter is a poor public relations attempt, mostly to mollify diehard team fans who will, unto the bitter end, support the racist moniker. Not out of reason, but blind emotion.

Hey, I get it. I understand why. Team fandom is a complicated, deep, personal thing that involves a lot of emotional investment and history. It’s difficult to hear that your beloved franchise is doing something wrong – simply by using a name (and by extension, mascot and other fan accoutrements).

The problem comes when that moniker is unveiled to be racist. The Washington issue isn’t anything new; it’s been around for decades. The movement today has found new momentum and has begun to find rightful traction in righting a wrong. (Just like the Civil Rights Movement began finding traction nearly one hundred years after Emancipation.)

The first third of Snyder’s letter is a play on his loyal fanbase’s emotional strings. “I still remember…the passion of the fans…the ground beneath me seemed to move and shake…he’s been gone for 10 years now…” All phrases and words evoking emotions and certainly causing the reader to recall their own cherished memories. Setting them into their defensive stance, so that the rest of the letter, which uses standard PR spin and deft deflection, only ratchets up the emotional volume for their impassioned – and misguided – defense.

Oh, and then there’s the trite “Our past isn’t just where we came from–it’s who we are” phrase. Bolded and italicized, even. Because it’s important!  Continue reading

Sports Fix

Dodgers club Zimmermann, beat Nationals

The one piece of good news for the assembled Nats fans on South Capitol Street Sunday is that it did not rain sulphur from the sky.

That was about the only piece of good news, though, as the Dodgers ran roughshod over Jordan Zimmermann in the first two innings. Zimmermann had been a bright light for the Nationals through the first half of the season, but that bulb blew out in the 2nd, as the Dodgers batted around and scored 7 runs. Zimmermann was forced from the game, having given up 9 hits and 7 runs, after his shortest and worst outing of the season.

The Dodgers sent 11 men to the plate during that drubbing, which saw a pair of homers, a pair of walks, two singles and a double before a nice catch from Bryce Harper in deep center managed to end the shared waking nightmare that 34,758 hot fans experienced for twenty awful minutes. Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp each had home runs, both at approximately 380 feet, off Zimmermann early in the inning. Just three batters into the second, the game was over for the Nationals, even if we had to watch as the rest of it played out.

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Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Nats Drop First Game Back After Break To Dodgers

Strasburg Delivers
courtesy of ameschen

The Nationals started the second-half of the season on a rough note falling 3-2 against the Los Angeles Dodgers despite a strong seven innings from right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg on Friday night. Even Manager Davey Johnson appeared a bit deflated after his squad let the tie-game get away from them in the top of the ninth. “Tomorrow’s another day,” he said as he ended his post-game press conference.

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Sports Fix

Nationals steamroll Padres 11-7, complete sweep

The feast or famine trend for the Nationals offense continued today, as the Nationals put six on the board in the second inning of the final game at home before the All-Star Break. Stephen Strasburg notched his fifth win of the season, improving to 5-6 with a 2.45 ERA. He allowed 4 earned runs in six innings pitched, striking out nine and walking just two. Strasburg struggled with his command at times, and he hit 3 Padres hitters. Manager Davey Johnson said after the game that “sometimes he fights himself,” and that was evident through innings four, five and six, as he failed to keep control of the Padres’ lineup.

“The offense was really there today,” Johnson said in his post game conference, and boy was he right. The Nationals batted around twice, once in the third and again in the fifth, pulling ten of their eleven runs in those two frames. Strasburg got the third started with a 9-pitch walk, and in an unusual turn of events, was sacrificed to second by leadoff man Denard Span. Desmond drew a walk and Harper a single, before Ryan Zimmerman absolutely crushed his fourth grand slam into the center field seats, putting the Nats up 5-1. A single from Jayson Werth followed, quickly paced by Anthony Rendon’s third homer of his rookie season, a beauty into the left field bullpen.

In the fifth, it was less bluster, and more blunder, that staked the Nationals to an 11-4 lead. The Padres seemed hellbent on hurting themselves. Three walks, two errors, a wild pitch and three singles contributed to their demise, as the Nationals gave the Padres a nibbled-to-death-by-ducks fate. 

Before it was all over, though, the Nationals were intent on letting the Padres back into the ballgame, and much of that can be put at Craig Stammen’s feet. Stammen struggled in relief in the seventh and eighth, allowing three runs to store, two of them earned. He was a bit snakebit, with a couple of charitable singles and errors behind him, but some odd pitch choices, and some sliders that just hung. Fortunately, Drew Storen has returned to his dominant stature, and sent he Padres packing in a row in the eight, despite loaded bases. In the ninth, Tyler Clippard slammed the door shut to give the Nationals their fourth win in a row.

The Nationals pack up and head for Philly for four games, and then head to Miami for three ahead of the All Star Game. The Nationals have recovered to within four games of the Braves, who have stumbled of late. The Nationals are three and a half up on the Phillies (now 3 games under .500) and the 32-55 Marlins are now 13.5 back of the Nationals. This would be the perfect time for the Nationals to break out of their spring-long funk and start to perform as the team that was the odds-on favorite for the World Series on Opening Day.

“It’s a long season,” Davey said, “and momentum shifts can happen at any time.”

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Sports Fix

Nats Drop A Close One to Arizona in Extras, Fall 3-2 in the 11th

fisheye nats park
courtesy of philliefan99

The Washington Nationals could not complete a three-game series sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night and fell 3-2 in the eleventh inning putting them back at .500 as they head to New York to play the Mets this weekend. Despite seven strong innings from right-handed starter Stephen Strasburg, the Nats offense lost its momentum from the past couple days.

Washington managed to tally eight hits but stranded eight runners with just two runs to show for it. Both runs came in the fourth inning on a two-out solo homerun off the bat of Ian Desmond against Arizona’s left-handed starter Patrick Corbin. Desmond hit his thirteenth homerun this season to the visitor’s bullpen in left field and is now the team’s homerun leader after passing Bryce Harper in the standings of that statistic. Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Nats Fall 4-3 in the 11th Against Minnesota

20 Wins!
courtesy of ameschen

After two days off due to rain in DC, the Washington Nationals fell 4-3 in the eleventh inning to the Minnesota Twins on Saturday. The Nats failed to rally late in the game and their lackluster, inconsistent offense continued to haunt the team’s lineup.

Saturday’s contest was the first time in team history that the modern-day Washington Nationals faced the original Washington Nationals/Senators (aka the Twins) in DC. It was also the first game played by the Twins in DC since July 19, 1971 at RFK Stadium.

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Sports Fix

Nats Beat Mets 3-2 in Their First Walk-off of the Season

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Photo Credit: Patrick Pho

The Washington Nationals were three outs away from a one-run loss against the fourth place New York Mets on Tuesday night but Steve Lombardozzi saved the game by hitting a walk-off sacrifice fly into the glove of Mike Baxter in left field. His sacrifice fly sent first baseman Adam LaRoche around to score. Washington beat New York 3-2 in their first walk-off victory of the season.

The Nats may have won the game but it was night in which the their offense continued to struggle. Manager Davey Johnson’s lineup managed four hits before their three-hit ninth inning rally. They were lucky enough to score early on a solo home run hit by shortstop Ian Desmond off right-handed pitcher Jeremy Hefner in the second inning — Desmond’s eighth home run of the season — but that’s the only run they’d tally up until the ninth inning.

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Sports Fix, The Daily Feed, The Features

Nats Drop a Heartbreaker to Chicago in a 2-1 Loss

Davey Johnson
courtesy of Keith Allison

The Nats dropped a true heartbreaker to the Cubs Sunday afternoon when they lost 2-1. Left-handed starter Gio Gonzalez pitched a spectacular game going seven innings, walking one batter, and striking out six while giving up just two hits on 86 pitches (55 strikes). He even held on to a no-hit bid through the fifth inning but his performance was overshadowed by Manager Davey Johnson’s decision to pull Gonzalez after the seventh inning.

“Obviously we’d been better off in hindsight but I have all the confidence going to my bullpen and [they] just didn’t do it,” Johnson said after the game. “I very seldom early in the season will let a guy go out there and [if] he gets a guy on I don’t want him to lose it, a ball game late in the game. It’s just the way I manage. You can chalk it up to me. You don’t like it, chalk it up to me.”

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Sports Fix, The Daily Feed, The Features

Strasburg Struggles, Nats Lose 8-2

Strasburg
courtesy of oddlittlebird.

What started out as a four inning pitching duel between former Nationals pitcher and current Chicago Cub Edwin Jackson and Washington’s Stephen Strasburg quickly turned in favor of Chicago due to a messy fifth inning performance from the young phenom. The Nats went on to lose the contest 8-2 on Saturday afternoon. The Cubs hit four unearned runs off of Strasburg in the fourth inning and four more earned runs off left-handed reliever Zach Duke in the fifth to win it.

Strasburg has struggled for the entirety of the 2013 season minus Opening Day. When he lets his emotions get the best of him – like he did Saturday – it’s easier to remember just how young he actually is. When Strasburg’s got his three pitches working for him, he’s a force to be reckoned with, but he’s still in the growing phase where he’s learning to deal with the adversity within the game itself. Manager Davey Johnson acknowledged that fact that the game.

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Sports Fix, The Daily Feed, The Features

Nats Beat Cubs 7-3 on Friday Night

Nats vs. Marlins-0776
courtesy of MudflapDC

Despite giving up five doubles in six and two-thirds innings pitched, the Washington Nationals’ left-handed starter Ross Detwiler secured his second win of the season with a 7-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday night.

Detwiler threw 90 pitches, 57 for strikes, and gave up eight hits, two runs, and struck out two batters.

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Sports Fix, The Daily Feed, The Features

Nats Beat Cincinnati 6-3 For Their Third Consecutive Win

Phillies vs Nationals 8/1/12courtesy of Matthew Straubmuller

Right-handed starting pitcher Dan Haren threw his longest outing of the season Saturday afternoon leading the Washington Nationals to a 6-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. The game was a much stronger outing than the last time he faced the Reds during the first week of the season. The Nats lost that match-up 15-0, but Haren’s start and Washington’s offense gave the Nats their third consecutive win.

Washington made right-handed pitcher Mike Leake work hard early. After a three up, three down first inning, seven of the Nats’ starting nine faced him in the second while scoring two runs to give Washington a 2-0 lead.

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Sports Fix, The Daily Feed, The Features

Nats Bats Are Quiet Again, St. Louis Wins 2-0

pitcher of lightcourtesy of philliefan99

For the second time in that many days, the Nationals fell to St. Louis, losing 2-0 Tuesday night, on six strong innings of work from left-handed starting pitcher Ross Detwiler. Detwiler gave up two runs on eight hits, walked two, and struck out two on 93 pitches (60 strikes).

Washington’s defense was the strongest positive worth noting in a game where their bats fell short. In the first five innings, the Nats turned four successful double plays to rob St. Louis of additional runs. But not even spectacular defense from shortstop Ian Desmond, second baseman Danny Espinosa, first baseman Adam LaRoche, catcher Kurt Suzuki, and Detwiler could win them the game. Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Daily Feed, The Features

Dan Haren Looks Stronger, But Nats Fall 3-2 to St. Louis

long drive home
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Nats starter Dan Haren pitched one of his finer games of the 2013 season on Monday night but Washington fell just shy of a win over their National League foes from St. Louis. The Cardinals one upped the Nats wining 3-2 in the first game of a three game series.

In the clubs’ first match-up since the 2012 postseason, Haren held the Cardinals to six hits and three runs on 98 pitches, 56 for strikes, through five innings plus four batters. He walked three, struck out three, and hit a batter — a play which sparked the rally that won St. Louis the game. Continue reading

Sports Fix

Nationals top White Sox 5-2

Adam Kilgore is right, the ball does sound different off the bat of the 20-year old, and that sonic assault was particularly sweet last night as Bryce Harper crushed a ball into the second deck of the right field stands on Wednesday night. The solo home run in the fourth tied the game for the Nats, and they wouldn’t look back from there. Ian Desmond went 3-4 with a pair of doubles and a triple, Jordan Zimmermann cruised through seven innings on just 90 pitches, and Raphael Soriano put together his fourth save as the Nationals claimed their second series at home for the season.

Like the future, the Nationals offense just isn’t evenly distributed yet. Bryce Harper (2-4, HR), Danny Espinosa (2-4, 2B, RBI) and Ian Desmond (3-4, 2 2B, 3B, 2 R) lead the squad, while Adam LaRoche (0-4, GIDP, 2 K) Ryan Zimmerman (1-4, 2 K) and Jayson Werth (1-4, 2 K) were struggling with Gavin Floyd’s pitch selection. The plate discipline from the core of the lineup was at times on Wednesday night pretty execrable. As one columnist remarked, it wasn’t until Jordan Zimmermann batted in the 3rd that the Nats had a good plate appearance.

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