The Nationals managed to prevent a shut-out game versus the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night but wasted a quality start by right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg falling 4-2 in game three of a four game series. In the team’s season-high sixth consecutive loss, the Nats starter threw eight innings and gave up two hits and one run – a homerun to Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez in the second inning – while striking out a season-high twelve batters on 118 pitches and 80 strikes.
Ryan Zimmerman knew the 2012 Washington Nationals had a good team back in the spring. He acknowledged that they were young but if they could learn from the game and come together as a team that everything would eventually start to click.
It’s safe to say now, after years of hard work and determination as one of Major League Baseball’s best third basemen, that Zimmerman was right. The Nats clinched their first-ever National League East division title Monday night despite losing 2-0 against their long-time division rival the Philadelphia Phillies.
News of the title spread throughout the ballpark via the center field scoreboard in the middle of the ninth inning when the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Atlanta Braves, thereby securing the Nats’ place as NL East champions. Fans were in a frenzy as Michael Morse came to bat, leading off the bottom of the ninth. They sang A-Ha’s “Take On Me” in unison, as has become tradition at Nats Park when Morse comes to bat later on in the game. The roar of verbal thunder that spread through the Navy Yard air was one to be savored for years to come. 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?