The Nationals

Nats Fall 6-2 in Series Finale vs Braves

Wednesday evening was a tough loss to swallow for Washington as the Nationals fell 6-2 against the Atlanta Braves during the series finale of their recent three-game set. Washington took two of three in the series and are eight games ahead of their division rival with a magic number of ten.

The Nats remained in good spirits despite the loss but are aware of the challenges that still lie ahead as the stakes get higher. “It’s nice to be able to win a series, be able to come out strong [and] really play good baseball these past couple days,” outfielder Bryce Harper said after the game. “You’ve got to go in to win ball games. If you don’t win the ballgames then something could happen. If you win ballgames then what you want to happen happens.”

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The Daily Feed

Strasburg Bests Hamles in Pitching Duel, Nats Beat Phillies 4-0

Two strong pitchers took the mound on Sunday for the final game of a four game series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals at Nats Park. Both left-handed pitcher Cole Hamels and right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg lasted seven innings but it was ultimately Philadelphia’s weak defense and Washington’s starter plus a clutch offense that won the Nationals the game 4-0.

Strasburg tallied ten strikeouts in his Sunday appearance. He gave up three hits and one walk on 99 pitches (69 strikes) to out duel Hamels and the Phillies. On the other end of things, Hamels gave up four hits and one unearned run while walking one batter and striking out six on 80 pitches (66 strikes).

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Sports Fix, The Features

Braves Hit Strasburg, Beat Nats 6-2

Photo courtesy of philliefan99
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

The Daily Feed

Nats Beat Marlins 5-4 in Game Two of the Doubleheader with a Walk-off

Nats vs. Marlins-0763
Nats vs. Marlins-0763
courtesy of MudflapDC

There weren’t quite as many bodies in the stands as there were hours earlier for game one of the split day-night doubleheader against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park, but the Washington Nationals managed to wrap the day with a walk-off to beat Miami 5-4 in game two.

Manager Davey Johnson was quick to acknowledge the fact that the night’s right-handed starter Stephen Strasburg didn’t pitch a good game. Strasburg threw six innings and gave up three runs (one homerun) on 109 pitches (71 strikes) and walked two batters while striking out six. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

The Nats Waste Another Quality Strasburg Start, Fall 4-2 to Pittsburgh

Stephen Strasburg
Stephen Strasburg
courtesy of MudflapDC

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.

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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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The Daily Feed

Nats Fall 4-0 To Milwaukee Despite Strasburg’s Strong Start

First pitch 3
First pitch 3
courtesy of afagen

Tuesday night’s Washington Nationals game versus the Milwaukee Brewers was yet another example of how Stephen Strasburg’s valiant efforts continue to be wasted this season. Washington fell 4-0 to Milwaukee after Strasburg tossed seven shut-out innings on 105 pitches (66 strikes) and was left with a no decision situation.

Strasburg gave up three hits while walking four and striking out eight on a night in which his curve ball was fooling the Brewers line-up from top to bottom. In fact, there were at least two distinct times when a Milwaukee hitter left the batter’s box with a look of sheer amazement coupled by a bit of self-deprecating laughter. That’s how “on” his curve ball was.

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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, The Features

Strasburg Struggles, Nats Lose 8-2

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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The Daily Feed

Tim Hudson Dominates The Nats Lineup, Braves Win 3-1

courtesy of MudflapDC

The Nationals lineup was no match for Atlanta’s right-handed starter Tim Hudson who secured his second win of the season with a 3-1 Braves victory in Washington. The afternoon’s loss was Washington’s second in two days versus Atlanta.

An early throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman in the third inning cost Washington two runs when left fielder Justin Upton stole second ahead of catcher Evan Gattis’ two-out two-run homer. It wasn’t Stephen Strasburg’s strongest outing either, which didn’t help the Nats. Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Features

Thoughts on Opening Day 2013 at Nationals Park

courtesy of philliefan99

The Washington Nationals rang in their ninth year of DC baseball on Monday afternoon in front of a record-setting regular-season crowd of 45,274. They went on to defeat the Miami Marlins 2-0. The day’s events celebrated both their historic 2012 run and the start of a highly anticipation 2013 season.

An Ideal Scenario

2012 was the most successful year in Nats history by far. The Nats touted the best record in all of baseball with 98 wins and 64 losses, four players made it to the All-Star game, several players earned Silver Slugger and Golden Glove awards, Manager Davey Johnson was named Manager of the Year, Bryce Harper won the National League Rookie of the Year Award as a 19-year-old, Executive Vice Present of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo was named Executive of the Year by the Boston Chapter of the BBWAA, and they won their first National League East Division Title.

Despite the inevitable growing pains endured during their first few years and the dismal losing records posted in the 2009 and 2010 seasons, the Nats are headed in the right direction thanks to Rizzo building this team from the bottom up. Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Features

Harper and Strasburg Put on a Show, Nats Win 2-0 on Opening Day

Nats Opening Day 2013

The success of Washington’s 2012 season trickled over to Opening Day 2013 as young guns Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper led the Nationals to their first win of the year, a 2-0 victory over the Miami Marlins. Strasburg was efficient through seven innings. He threw 80 pitches, 52 for strikes, and gave up three hits while striking out three. Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Features

Time To Get Excited, Nats Fans

Spring Training is upon us. It’s celebrated as a holiday in many a home and cheers up folks stuck in deep emotional slumps due to winter (and no baseball). It’s a time to look forward to the sweet summertime yet to come. It’s the time of year where rebirth is ever-present, in the weather and in state-of-mind. That’s why I’m looking forward to the 2013 Major League Baseball season in Washington, D.C. – home of the 2012 National League East Champions.

There’s a lot to be excited about if you’re a Nats fan. For example: a lead-off hitting hustler of a center fielder in Denard Span, no pitch limit for Stephen Strasburg, newly crowned National League Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper (and everything he does #fangirling), a starting rotation and bullpen worthy of evoking envy throughout all of baseball, and a roster that’s just as cohesive (if not more so) as Gordon Bombay’s Mighty Ducks from Minnesota. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Strasburg’s Sharp, Nats Beat Marlins 4-1

Photo courtesy of Mylar Bono
The Smoking Gun(ner)
courtesy of Mylar Bono

The plain and simple story of Sunday’s Nationals game versus Ozzie Guillen’s Miami Marlins is that right-handed starter Stephen Strasburg posted six innings of shutout baseball, allowing just three hits, in Washington’s eventual 4-1 victory.

Not only that, but Strasburg aided his effort by adding run-support. Strasburg’s single off Miami right-hander Rick Nolasco in the second inning drove in Jayson Werth for the Nats first run of the day.  Washington continued to score, having all nine batters in the line-up face Nolasco at the plate, by way of small ball. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Ramos Hot Off The Bench, Nats Beat Phillies 4-3

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mob on first
courtesy of philliefan99

The story going into Friday night’s ball game was that starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg and outfielder Bryce Harper would be in the lineup, at home, together for the first time in club history. It makes for a romanticized story of circumstance, but the Washington Nationals took it upon themselves as a 25-man roster to liven up the premeditated story.

As the final position player on the bench in the eleventh inning of an electric game, Wilson Ramos led the Nats to an exciting 4-3 victory over their division rival Philadelphia Phillies with a walk-off single. To put it lightly, this was one hell of a game. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Strasburg Steady Against Houston, Nats Win 6-3

Photo courtesy of NDwas
courtesy of NDwas

While most of DC was at the Verizon Center (or camping out in front of their television sets) watching game three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Nationals fans turned up at ballpark for Stephen Strasburg’s 2012 home debut against the Houston Astros. The park wasn’t packed but that didn’t stop Strasburg from continuing to prove his worth as a young, reliable baseball talent. Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Features

Strasburg Stumbles, Nats Bumped Off By Braves

Photo courtesy of

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.
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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.

The Daily Feed

Welcome The Beard

Jayson Werth's Beard
Jayson Werth’s Beard, by Bill Ladson
Used with Permission

No, I don’t mean your uncle Jack’s “wife” Mimi.  I mean the best beard in DC Sports: Jayson Werth’s beard.  Pitchers and Catchers don’t technically have to report in Viera, FL until Wednesday, but several players arrived early to start their Spring preparations, and among them is new outfield Jayson Werth.

Werth was sporting a soul patch for his introduction to the team in December, but has used the off-season to cultivate an epic mountain man beard. Even Brian Blessed, upon hearing of Werth’s fresh growth, acknowledged its supremacy, saying, “Though my beard is the best in all of Britain, it cannot hold a candle to the lushness of Jayson Werth’s beard.”(1)

I mean, the beard has its own twitter account, people. How can you not love that? There may be some team rivalry going, though, as Stephen Strasburg was last seen sporting an Abe Lincoln.

(1) Brian Blessed didn’t say this. He probably should have.

Sports Fix, The Features

These Are The Times That Try Fans’ Souls

Photo courtesy of
‘good work, kid’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

There’s not a lot to say today, after Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo said the words, “UCL Tear.”

It’s the sort of injury that defines a pitching prospect, as the UCL is a critical part the infrastructure of the pitcher’s elbow, and allows Strasburg to throw with such brutal velocity and artful motion. To see Strasburg go down with a UCL tear just part of the way into his first season, and a season that the Nationals have taken such care with, it’s definitely disheartening for a fan to see.

I’ve seen a lot of garment rending and self-flaggelation on Twitter this morning over the injury. I’ve seen a lot of mentions of curses and whatnot. It’s natural to display such frustration in the face of setbacks. We need to, as a fanbase, work through our frustrations in a positive way, and remember that Strasburg was just one starting pitcher. There are 24 other guys on the primary roster, and 15 more on the 40-man roster that become eligible for use on September 1st.

In December 23, 1776, when the Revolution was in its early days, Thomas Paine started the “In Crisis” pamphlets. They began with a phrase we know so well, “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

Let the fair weather fan go by, Nationals fans. Let them go. This is our franchise to watch, with or without Strasburg, with or without any one player.

Mourn the loss of Stephen until 2012, but do not let it keep you from the ballpark. Do not let it keep you from your Red. Do not let it drive from you your love of this game in this city. These are the times that try fans’ souls, that tempers them in the fires of losses, injuries, and baubles; that forges in them the loyalty that comes from sticking by the team in the darkest hour.

Gather close your friends in red this week. Go see an extra game against the Cards, especially if they’re all like last night: close fought battles with a division-leader against their ace that go into extras. There are still many reasons to love, and struggle with, Nationals baseball. But they’re what we’ve got, and you don’t walk away from a franchise because of the injury of one player.

These are the times when character is forged, when allegiance is built. If you’ll forgive the mangling of Paine’s closing words, “This is our situation, and who will may know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils…” What choice have we, but to remain true to our team? Would we become Phillies fans? Mets fans? Braves fans? Surely, we all have more class than to turn tail and run to safety amid the danger.

Do not tarry long in distress, Nats fan. Your team still needs your voice, your heart, and your faith.