Starting pitcher Edwin Jackson faced his former club, the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, for the first time on Monday night since being traded to Washington. It wasn’t a complete game shut it but it was pretty close. Jackson threw eight innings in an 8-1 game that ended in the Nationals’ favor to start out this three-game series.
The Nats 1-2 punch at the top of Manager Davey Johnson’s lineup came out of the gate strong to start. Outfielder Jayson Werth drew a walk off Jaime Garcia followed by a two-run laser of a homerun hit to the right field bullpen by rookie outfielder Bryce Harper in the first inning.
Washington maintained their lead for the game’s entirety and continued tacking on runs as they went, including a Werth solo homerun in the fifth. The Nats took advantage of Garcia’s exit in the sixth and went on to score a total of four runs in the sixth and seventh: Danny Espinosa scored on a Werth ground out off reliever Fernando Salas and Michael Morse scored on a Jesus Flores single off reliever Lance Lynn. Continue reading →
The Washington Nationals avoided a sweep against the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday night in a battle of the southpaws between left-handed pitcher Cole Hamels and Ross Detwiler. Long Story Short: It was most certainly Detwiler’s night.
Manager Davey Johnson was acting like a proud papa in the post-game press conference while explaining how proud he is of young Detwiler, who went on to pitch seven innings of three hit ball in the 3-0 Washington win. Detwiler’s seven innings of three hit ball combined with a line of two walks and three strike outs over 88 pitches (54 strikes) proved to be an efficient outing for the lefty.
But it woudn’t be a win without some run support, right?
First baseman Adam LaRoche went 3-for-4 against Hamels with a leadoff, first pitch homerun – his twentieth of the season – to right field to put the Nats on the board early in the second inning. According to Johnson, LaRoche has been the glue of the team this season and this game most certainly proved that to be true. Continue reading →
By the end of the 4 hour 49 minute, 14-inning Nats-Yankees game at Nationals Park Saturday afternoon, it was easy to forget that right-handed pitcher Jordan Zimmermann even started the game. The Nats took a 5-3 loss, their fourth extra inning loss this season, after reliever Brad Lidge gave up a two-run double to Yankees first baseman Mark Texeria in the fourteenth. Continue reading →
When this season started, I thought the Nationals might well win about 72 games this year. An improvement over last year’s tally of 69, but hardly a big step forward. With four games remaining, the Nationals are 77-80, still in reach of .500 ball. The Nationals are 14-9 in September, their best span of the second half, and have been playing meaningful baseball in September for the first time since 2005. While winning out isn’t a given, with Atlanta playing for their lives, and the dominance of the Marlins over the Nats, it’s still a distinct possibility that this team could finish at 81-80.
Today’s victory over the Braves can largely be placed in the hands of the battery, with Chien Ming Wang throwing 6 strong innings and limiting the Braves to a single run, and Pudge Rodriguez’s eighth inning rally-killing theft-prevention throwout of Michael Bourn. The veteran catcher’s final home start of the year (and possibly in a Nationals uniform) was certainly one of his more memorable ones, calling a phenomenal game against the very tough Braves offense, and nabbing two runners on the basepaths, as well going 1-2 with a walk.
After the game, manager Davey Johnson was very complimentary of both. Of Wang, he said, “[he had] a remarkable season, got better every time out… If I’m here [next year] he can have my salary. If you’d seen him throw in December, and where he is right now, my hat goes off to him.” Regarding his catcher, Johnson was praising of his training routine (5 hours a day, 7 days a week), and gave no thought to pulling Pudge early for a standing ovation.
courtesy of ‘NDwas’
Now that Stephen Strasburg has made a full recovery from Tommy John surgery, all that’s left for fans of the Washington Nationals to hope for is that his starts in 2012 go a lot better than his start on Friday night, when Strasburg’s disastrous first inning turned out to be the difference in a 7-4 loss to the playoff-chasing Atlanta Braves (89-68).
The start was officially delayed by 14 minutes while the field was given extra time to recover from the day-long rains that soaked the District. Whether it was this minor disruption of routine or the generally damp and humid conditions that affected Strasburg is not clear. However, he had trouble locating the strike zone in a 38-pitch first inning, and when either his four-seam or two-seam fastball did find the zone, it was carted all over the Nationals Park outfield.
After Strasburg struck out Michael Bourn on a changeup to lead off the game, Martin Prado lined a single off the glove of Danny Espinosa. Chipper Jones followed by pulling a two-seam fastball into right field on a full count, sending Prado to third. Dan Uggla fisted another four-seam fastball into center field to score Prado, the game’s first run. After Brian McCann swung through a 97-mile-an-hour fastball, Freddie Freeman doubled Atlanta’s advantage by singling to right before Jack Wilson pulled a ground ball that should have gone straight into Ryan Zimmerman’s glove and ended the inning. However, the ball took a fat hop, nicked the heel of Zimmerman’s glove, and bounced to left field as Uggla crossed the plate to make it 3-0. Strasburg managed to retire Jason Heyward to end the inning, but the out came in the form of a 395-foot fly ball that drove Rick Ankiel to the warning track in dead center field and nearly ended the competitive portion of the game right then and there.
Strasburg retired 9 of the next 10 batters and exited after the 4th inning with the Nationals trailing 3-1 thanks to an RBI single by Wilson Ramos in the second inning. However, Washington’s middle relief let them down. In particular, Collin Balester, who relieved Strasburg, made his predecessor’s performance seem masterful. Davey Johnson, trying to prolong his team’s five-game winning streak, pulled Balester after three batters and brought in Atahualpa Severino, who allowed both of his inherited runners to score on a double by Uggla, who came around himself on an RBI double by McCann. Continue reading →
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 →
At least on Wednesday night, the Washington Nationals had the decency to make it interesting. Before losing 7-5 to the Florida Marlins and dropping further into the basement of the National League East, Washington managed to piece together four hits and a walk to score four runs in the bottom of the ninth. The last of those hits — a two-run single by Michael Morse — scored two runs and brought Laynce Nix, who had already hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth to make the score 3-1 Florida at the time. Nix came within a foot of tying the game, lifting a Leo Nunez change-up very high in the air and very far into left field. But the ball had been hit a little too close to the end of Nix’s bat, the ball settled into Mike Stanton’s glove instead of in the Nationals bullpen, and Washington had officially lost eight of their last eleven games dating back to the All-Star Break.
The Washington Nationals are last in the National League East for the first time since June 14. They descended to this low point after losing 11-2 to the Florida Marlins Tuesday night in front of 24,650 on a relatively pleasant night (in meteorological terms, anyway) at Nationals Park. The loss is the seventh the Nats have suffered in their ten games since the All-Star break and this particular performance should choke out whatever life was left in any hope that Washington could make a surprise run up the National League Wild Card standings. It is true that the Nationals only have the sixth-worst record in the National League and are still only four games under .500 (49-53 after Tuesday night), but if their recent run of form is any guide, the relatively fertile period of mid-June has turned out to be a mirage and the club is regressing dangerously.
The tone for the evening was set by starter Jordan Zimmermann, who gave up a triple to the second batter of the game, Omar Infante. The Florida second baseman went on to score on an RBI groundout by Greg Dobbs, the first of five runs that Dobbs would drive in over the course of the evening. Zimmermann has been very, very good throughout this season for the Nationals, but he was off tonight, particularly in the first five innings. He was leaving far too many of his pitches up in the strike zone, and the Marlins treated his offerings with the contempt they deserved, banging out seven hits in the first five innings, with four going for extra bases. Even more disconcerting were the two hit batsmen on Zimmermann’s record, as many as he’d hit all season entering Tuesday night. Arguably the biggest moment in the game came with two out in the third inning, when Zimmermann hit Hanley Ramirez with an 0-1 fastball with the score already 2-0 in Florida’s favor after Zimmermann had coaxed a 4-6-3 double play out of Dobbs, with Emilio Bonifacio crossing the plate in the process. Two pitches to Logan Morrison later, the Nationals were behind 4-0 and Morrison was circling the bases after depositing his 16th home run of the season into the Nationals bullpen.
In fairness to Zimmermann, he has now pitched 126.2 innings this season, by far the most in his major league career, and with his much-noted 160-inning limit fast-approaching, it would not be in the least surprising to either see more outings like this one or to see him handled much more gently and with a much shorter leash.
The Nationals offense, true to usual form, was about as exciting to watch as molasses. Continue reading →
If, as the old baseball truism goes, the baseball gods have given the Washington Nationals 54 wins, 54 losses, and 54 toss-ups, than Sunday afternoon’s 10-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates unquestionably falls into the second category. Jason Marquis faced just 13 batters and recorded only four outs. Hundreds of fans were still milling around in the centerfield plaza, trying to decide whether to find their seats or find a hot dog, when Neil Walker scampered home on Lyle Overbay’s RBI double to give the Pirates an 8-0 lead and cap off a five-run top of the second inning that, for all intents and purposes, ended the competitive portion of the afternoon’s entertainment.
“I left too many balls in the zone,” a grim-faced Marquis said after the game. “There wasn’t enough late action on my balls.” To his credit, Marquis didn’t make excuses, nor did he hide behind the double play that probably should have been recorded by the very second batter of the game. After allowing Alex Presley to lead off the game with a sliced single to left field, Marquis induced Chase d’Arnaud to tap a ground ball back to the mound. Trying to start the pitcher’s best friend, Marquis rushed his throw and put it at second baseman Danny Espinosa’s feet. It was a difficult play to be sure, but one that Espinosa could have (if not should have) made. Instead, the throw skipped into center field and Presley picked himself up and went to third, later scoring on an RBI single by Nate McCutchen. Walker and Overbay followed with RBI base hits of their own, and the Pirates led 3-0 after half an inning.
“It didn’t have any effect [on me],” Marquis said when asked afterwards about the botched play. “They’ve been doing a good job defensively, they’ve spent the whole year battling, and are trying to make plays.”
“Things like that shouldn’t be able to affect you,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “He just didn’t have it today.” Continue reading →
What is the best thing for a team that has gone through a traumatic week it after having to replace the manager and then suffer through a terrible road trip, culminating in a sweep 3000 miles away?
That wish was fulfilled in Davey Johnson’s first home game as the manager of the Washington Nationals on Friday night at Nats Park with a 2-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Tom Gorzelanny was brilliant for seven innings and an unlikely hero provided some walk-off flair to lifts the spirits of Nats Town.
With the game tied at one in the bottom of the ninth, Johnson called on the oldest player sitting on his bench, 43-year-old Matt Stairs, to pinch hit for shortstop Ian Desmond with runners on first and third. All Stairs need to do was hit it out of the infield, either via pop-fly or a dribbler through the infield. For a guy with a .148 batting average through 54 at bats this season, not only was that a difficult task, but seemingly impossible. First day in front of the home fans, with the critical Washington press corps about to invade his office after the game and Johnson is putting in Matt Freaking Stairs?