The Nationals

Nats Come Home to Beat Mets 4-2

A crowd of 30,714 welcomed the Washington Nationals home for their first game since clinching the 2014 National League East crown on Tuesday night. And – as a “thank you” of sorts – starting pitcher Tanner Roark led his team to a 4-2 win over the New York Mets.

Roark threw 86 pitches and 58 strikes in 6 1/3 innings pitched while giving up two runs on five hits and striking out one batter in his fifteenth win of the season. The only trouble he truly encountered were the first three hits he gave up – they were all doubles.

New York scored first in the fifth inning off a pair of those doubles. Second baseman Wilmer Flores led off the inning with a double and proceeded to score off a one-out double his by outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis. But thanks to a hot-hitting Adam LaRoche, the Nats answered back in the bottom half of the inning.

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The Nationals

Fister Remains Dominant, Nats Beat Mets 7-1

The Washington Nationals showed the New York Mets what dominant pitching and a productive offense is capable of on Wednesday night when right-handed starting pitcher Doug Fister led the Nats to a 7-1 win over New York. Fister’s delayed start on the season may have slowed him up slightly in the beginning but he’s now 11-3 in 2014 with signs of slowing down.

Fister gave up six hits and struck out seven batters over seven and one-third innings pitched. He threw 101 pitches (69 strikes) and gave up one unearned run in the eighth inning after cruising through the rest of the game. Fister was so efficient on the mound that the game itself only lasted two hours and thirty one minutes. And these days, a sub-three hour game is rare, so that was a gem in and of itself as well.

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Sports Fix, The Features

Nats Fall 7-2 to Cubs on Independence Day

A strong pitching performance from Chicago Cubs right-handed starter Jason Hammel stifled the Nationals’ attempt at a Fourth of July victory in Washington on Friday afternoon. Chicago beat Washington 7-2 and Nats right-handed starting pitcher Tanner Roark didn’t look quite as sharp as he had earlier this season.

Roark pitched seven innings while giving up four runs and one homerun on nine hits. He walked one batter and struck out five on 87 pitches (61 strikes). Chicago came swinging right out of the gate with a pair of singles off Roark to start the game. Leadoff man and outfielder Chris Coghlan scored on a ground out hit by Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo giving Chicago their early 1-0 lead.

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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

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 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

The Daily Feed

Detwiler Solid As A Rock, Nats Beat Cubs 2-1

Photo courtesy of oddlittlebird.
courtesy of oddlittlebird.

It was business as usual at Nats Park Monday afternoon when the Nationals faced the fifth place Chicago Cubs. Left-handed starter Ross Detwiler soared to his ninth victory of the season with a 2-1 win and held the Cubs scoreless during his seven innings pitched.

Detwiler gave up four hits while issuing three strike out and three walks over 93 pitches thrown (62 for strikes). His performance denied the Cubs run support but Chicago’s starter righter-hander Jeff Samardzija was playing it just the same. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Nats Don’t Rally, Fall to Atlanta 5-1

Photo courtesy of oddlittlebird.
courtesy of oddlittlebird.

In comparison to the rest of this week’s three-game series against the Atlanta Braves, the Washington Nationals played poor defense and dropped a winnable game 5-1 after a ninth inning collapse. It didn’t help much that the offense struggled with runners on-base either.

Atlanta started to tack on their runs in the fifth inning. Starting pitcher Ross Detwiler issued a walk to Braves starter Kyle Medlen that served as a catalyst for the two-run rally. Second baseman Tyler Pastoricky and Medlen scored on a double to right-center field hit by outfielder Martin Prado putting the Nats in a 2-0 hole.

Washington stuck it out until the ninth, initiating what could have been a comeback in the eigth inning when the game was still within their reach. Atlanta only managed to score two runs before their three-run rally in the top of the ninth against reliever Tom Gorzelanny, but the Nats could only manage one run the whole game.

Outfielder Bryce Harper scored the Nats only run in eighth on a single hit to left field by outfielder Michael Morse  off Braves reliever Eric O’Flaherty, making it a 2-1 game. But that was before a ninth inning got away from Washington.

While some of the evening’s missteps should be attributed to the fact that Detwiler didn’t make it long enough for a quality start, it didn’t start out that way. Detwiler cruised through the first four innings, having given up just three hits in that time, with two of the runners making it scoring position without making it home. His fast ball was absolutely dominated.

So what was his biggest weakness? According to Manager Davey Johnson, Detwiler didn’t mix in enough off-speed pitches to get the job done. Because, no matter how great his fast ball is — and it was great for the first half of the game — Johnson says you still need to mix in the off-speed stuff.

Detwiler only made it 5 and 1/3 innings, having given up seven hits, two earned runs, and one walk. He threw 78 pitches, 51 strikes, and struck out four. That’s when Craig Stammen entered the game for 1 and 2/3 innings of no-hit ball.

The ninth is where it got messy. It was Gorzelanny’s second inning of work. He managed to get through the eigth having faced just three batters, but as previously indicated, the Nats offense seemed to lose their footing and couldn’t muster a reaction.

Three runs home, two errors, a wild pitch, two hits, and a stolen base later, the Nats fell from a 2-1 deficit to a 5-1 deficit and couldn’t overcome that fact in the end. As it stands, though, Washington is still 30 games above .500 and maintains first place in the National League East with their closest competition – the Braves – still 6 games behind. So at the end of the day, all is not lost.

The Daily Feed

Detwiler’s Consistency and LaRoche’s Bat Win It For The Nats

Photo courtesy of Matthew Straubmuller
Nationals Pitcher – Ross Detwiler
courtesy of Matthew Straubmuller

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

Sports Fix

Nats Beat Mets in Extras, Bryce Harper Gets His First Walk-Off Hit

Photo courtesy of Rukasu1
courtesy of Rukasu1

What appeared to be a quick and easy game for Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann ended up being one of the most exciting extra-inning games of the 2012 season when Bryce Harper hit his first career walk-off – a single – to left field in the bottom of the twelfth inning aginst the New York Mets. Washington won 7-6 after battling through a four hour and fifteen minute contest and it was brutal.

Over the course of the night, both teams’ benches and bullpens were depleted to the point where position players would have needed to fill the role on the mound. Nats fans were treated to not just one but two starting pitchers on the mound including Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler – Detwiler ended up with the win, by the way, with two innings of work in the game.

What seemed to hold up the Nats eventual victory was Mets starter Chris Young who made his season debut, leaving men on base, and failing to come through in the clutch several times over before finally executing a combination resulting in runs scored. Young was effective, only giving up six hits and two earned runs of the three earned by Washington early on while throwing 52 strikes in 75 pitches.

Zimmermann posted similar numbers on the night lasting six total innings and giving up five hits, two runs, no walks, five strikeouts and two homeruns. That’s what hurt him – giving up two homeruns in the sixth inning with the lead – bringing the score to 3-2 in favor of the Nats.

Washington didn’t lose the lead in the sixth (they lost that honor in both the eighth and tenth innings) but that was the start of what ended up being a twelve-inning game. Coach Jim Lett’s bullpen got a full-group workout in during the game when Manager Davey Johnson started calling them over to the mound in the seventh inning.

Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny threw a scoreless seventh before Stammen gave up two runs in the eigth after inheriting a runner from Sean Burnett’s stint just two batters earlier. Tyler Clippard walked the leadoff batter in the ninth before retiring the side.

Once the game got to the eleventh, though, Johnson stuck with Detwiler and the Nats managed enough offense to win it. Michael Morse – who got his first hit of the season, a double in the fourth, since returning from the disabled list – did it again in the twelfth to leadoff and eventually scored on a passed ball at the plate. Then, as the story goes, 19-year-old phenom Bryce Harper recorded his first walf-off hit with a single to left field. Jesus Flores scores. Nats win 7-6 and resume their place atop the standings in the National League East.

The Daily Feed

Nats Offense Attempts A Comeback, Orioles Win 6-5

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Nationals Baseball
courtesy of MudflapDC

Nationals starting pitcher Ross Detwiler went into Saturday night’s game with a 2.63 ERA and came out of it with a 3.65. Long story short – Detwiler didn’t have a good night against the first place Baltimore Orioles.

As the newest member of Steve McCatty’s rotation, having landed the fifth spot just before the start of the season, Detwiler’s had a good couple months with Washington. The Orioles found a way around that with their bats, though, and that’s all it took to secure an early lead and eventual 6-5 victory over Washington. Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Features

A Shutout Win, And A Glimpse Of The Future?

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courtesy of ‘oddlittlebird.’

On a warm Sunday afternoon on the final weekend of September, the Washington Nationals shut out a division opponent in a game with major playoff implications. The starting pitcher, a high draft pick and source of occasional frustration, pitched six shutout innings; Washington’s best offensive player smashed a two-run home run to break the game open in the late innings; and the team’s sterling bullpen pitched three perfect innings to secure the win.

OK, so the only team who had their playoff chances affected was the hapless Atlanta Braves, for whom the 3-0 loss was their 15th of the month of September. Atlanta’s lackluster performance, combined with the St. Louis Cardinals’ 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs, cut the Braves’ lead in the National League wild card race down to a single game with three still to play. 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.