The Daily Feed

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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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

The Daily Feed

No Run Support for Zimmermann in Harper’s Home Debut, Nats Fall 5-1 to Arizona

Photo courtesy of dmbosstone
Bryce Harper – Arizona at Washington – 5/1/12
courtesy of dmbosstone

Bryce Harper made his home debut with the Washington Nationals Tuesday night — that’s the good news. The bad news is that the Nationals didn’t hit in support of starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. Zimmermann (1-2, 1.89) pitched a decent game but the Nats dropped Tuesday’s contest 5-1 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Features

Mental Errors Doom Nats In 4-2 Loss To Arizona; In Memoriam Mike Flanagan

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‘Desmond touches ‘em all’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

Any Washington Nationals fan who bothered to sit through the entirety of Wednesday night’s 4-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks would probably have felt a nasty shock of recognition. For one night, the Nationals of April and May re-emerged and reminded the 17,881 in attendance that there was a time when the team was in the bottom half of the National League table in every major offensive statistical category. They allowed 24-year-old Lynchburg native Daniel Hudson to come within one out of a complete-game shutout before back-to-back solo home runs by Laynce Nix and Jonny Gomes forced Hudson to yield to J.J. Putz, who forced Wilson Ramos to lift a foul popout to Lyle Overbay to end the game. Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Features

Detwiler And Werth Lead Nats Over Snakes, 4-1

Photo courtesy of
‘Curly W’
courtesy of ‘BrianMKA’

After the emotional Sturm und Drang that was this past weekend’s three-game series against the Phillies, the Washington Nationals needed a nice, quiet game that wouldn’t overly tax the bullpen. Luckily, they got just that kind of performance from Ross Detwiler, who allowed just one run on six hits over 6.2 innings as the Nationals defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-1 Monday night at Nationals Park.

On a night when most of the focus of the Washington brass and media was on Stephen Strasburg’s third rehab start with Class-A Hagerstown (for the record, Strasburg went three innings and allowed one earned run on two hits, walked one and struck out six while throwing 60 pitches in front of Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo and principal owner Mark Lerner), the 25-year-old Detwiler continued to build on his impressive year, pitching into the seventh inning as a starter for the first time since June 20, 2009.

How much of Detwiler’s improvement is genuine progress and how much is a product of mere year-to-year statistical variance is hard to gauge. His strikeouts per nine innings ratio has jumped to 6.61, up from 5.16 in 2010, though he only managed just three strikeouts Monday night after fanning seven in his previous start against Cincinnati. Detwiler’s also been getting more ground balls with his more effective sinker. 48.9 percent of all balls in play against him have been grounders this season, up from an even 43% in 2010. As a result, both Detwiler’s Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) and expected Fielding Independant Pitching (xFIP) have dropped by more than a run from 2010 (the FIP has fallen from 5.64 to 4.54, while his xFIP has fallen from 4.97 to 3.96).

But there’s no denying that the left-hander has gotten very lucky when it comes to stranding runners on base. Entering Monday night, Detwiler’s left on base percentage was an unsustainable 86.6 percent. Remarkably, he managed to bolster that number on Monday night, as Arizona stranded five of their seven runners while he was in the game. Indeed, the most crucial moment of Detwiler’s outing came in the top of sixth inning, when he allowed a single to Justin Upton and walked Chris Young to load the bases with two outs and Washington on top 4-0.  Henry Rodriguez was warming up in the Washington bullpen, and on another night, Nationals manager Davey Johnson might have pulled the trigger on a pitching change. But this time, he only visited the mound to have a word with Detwiler, and his faith was rewarded when Detwiler induced Paul Goldschmidt to ground into an inning-ending force play.

Along with Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, the development of Detwiler will be fascinating to watch. The good news is that the Nationals and their fans will have plenty of time to make a determination. Detwiler has one more full season before being eligible for arbitration, and he won’t be a full-fledged free-agent until after the 2015 campaign.

On the other side of the coin, the Nationals offense didn’t make Arizona starter Joe Saunders work particularly hard (he had only thrown 90 pitches when he made way for a pinch-hitter after six innings), but the Nationals didn’t to have particular trouble hitting certain of his pitches. As it turned out, Saunders’ two-seam fastball was particularly ineffective, and it was responsible for all of Washington’s runs. In the bottom of the second, Jonny Gomes dropped a two-seamer into right field to drive in Jayson Werth for the first run of the game. Two innings later, after a Ryan Zimmerman infield single and a walk by Michael Morse, Werth hit another Saunders two-seamer quite a bit farther. The ball sailed into the front row of the right-field seats for a three-run home run that turned a 1-0 lead into a 4-0 cushion and capped off a fine night at the plate for Werth (2-for-4 with his other hit a pulled double into the left field corner in the second). The well-paid right fielder is very quietly having a fine second half to the season, with a .358 on-base percentage and a .778 OPS in 137 plate appearances since the All-Star Break entering Monday night’s game. While those numbers still don’t measure up to his outstanding statistics in Philadelphia, Nats fans can now expect, rather than hope, that Werth has got his feet under him in the nation’s capital.