The Nationals

Nats Squeak By Atlanta, Beat Braves 2-1

The Washington Nationals squeaked by the Atlanta Braves in a 2-1 victory on Monday night as right-handed starter Doug Fister tallied his thirteenth win of the season. Fister threw 104 pitches and 74 strikes in seven innings pitched and gave up two hits and three walks while striking out three batters faced.

Washington took an early and necessary lead in the top of the first inning before the game turned into a pitching duel between Fister and the Braves’ left-handed starter Mike Minor. Third baseman Anthony Rendon scored on two-out single hit by shortstop Ian Desmond off Minor but the Nats wouldn’t score again until the seventh inning; Braves 0, Nats 1. Continue reading

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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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

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Ramos is A Hit Machine, Nats Beat Phillies 11-2

DSC_5681
DSC_5681
courtesy of MudflapDC

By the ninth inning of Sunday afternoon’s 11-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, the Washington Nationals fielded eight players who spend time at Triple-A Syracuse this season. It was a day where most everything went right for Washington, allowing Manager Davey Johnson to give some of the call-up kids a little playing time.

Right-handed starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann pitched seven strong innings and gave up seven hits and two runs while walking two, striking out seven and hitting a batter on 102 pitches (65 strikes).

For as solid as Zimmermann once he got into a groove, the player of the game was catcher Wilson Ramos who made his 23rd consecutive start behind the dish. Ramos went four-for-four with three singles and a homerun. Continue reading

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Jayson Werth Gets His 1,000 Hit, Nats Beat Phillies 8-5

long drive home
courtesy of philliefan99

Jayson Werth celebrated a career milestone at Nationals Park on Saturday night against his former team the Philadelphia Phillies as he launched his 1,000 career hit off a pitch from right-handed reliever Zach Miner to the left field bleachers for a two-run, go-ahead  homerun in the seventh inning. The Washington Nationals would go on to beat the Phillies 8-5 in a game that looked nearly out of reach early on.

Despite all of the unfortunate missed opportunities the Nats have lived through in 2013, Saturday night’s game was a nice example of what the team can accomplish if they work with what they’ve. Right-handed starter Taylor Jordan had a rocky second inning versus Philadelphia in which he gave up four runs leaving Washington in an early rut. But that wouldn’t be the end all of the night.

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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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Ramos Has A Big Day Back, Nats Win 8-5 on Independence Day

Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos
Photo by Keith Allison

It was his first day back in a Major League line-up for the first time in 44 games, but that didn’t keep Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos from leading his time to an 8-5 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Independence Day in the Washington.

Ramos (3-for-4) tallied his first hit since May 15 early on in the fourth inning before coming up big with a three-run homerun in the seventh to give the Nats back the lead and help his team win the Fourth of July match-up. The game marked a career-high 5-RBI day for Ramos.

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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

Sports Fix, The Features

A Shutout Win, And A Glimpse Of The Future?

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‘Win!’
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

Strasburg Stumbles, Nats Bumped Off By Braves

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‘IMG_8416′

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

Ankiel’s Solo Shots Lead The Nats Over The Braves

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‘Teddy Didn’t Win…’
courtesy of ‘Tony DeFilippo’

Since Rick Ankiel returned from the purgatory that his pitching career had become and made his debut as an outfielder in August of 2007, he has hit 56 home runs. Prior to Monday night’s 5-3 Washington Nationals win over the Atlanta Braves, Ankiel had hit two home runs in a game on four occasions. Facing right-hander Jair Jurrjens, Ankiel took his career home run total to an even 60, hitting two solo shots into the right field seats as the Nats notched their third win in a row against a division opponent.

Ankiel’s first home run, a solo cannon shot into the right-center field seats to lead off the bottom of the first inning, was impressive enough. But it paled in comparison to his second homer, another solo job that was blasted into the second deck down the right field line. As anyone who makes a habit of watching games at Nationals Park can tell you, those seats aren’t reached cheaply.

The pitching match-up certainly didn’t favor the home side. Jurrjens, a 25-year-old from Curacao, had not lost a start since June 14, and is surely on the watch list for the National League Cy Young Award. By contrast, Livan Hernandez had not won a start since June 26, and hadn’t even made it past the 4th inning in two of his previous three appearances. In the first inning, the Cuban looked to be continuing his poor run of form. After giving up a lead-off single to Michael Bourn on the second pitch of the game, Martin Prado turned on a curveball that missed the left field foul pole by, at most, a foot. The next pitch was scalded to Ryan Zimmerman, who snagged the line drive on the back hand and threw to first in plenty of time to double off Bourn, who was left standing at second wondering how on earth the ball hadn’t gone for extra bases.

The themes of danger and escape recurred throughout Hernandez’s six-inning, six-hit, one-run outing. In the third, he gave up a one-out single to Jose Constanza, who was promptly thrown out trying to steal second by Wilson Ramos. In the next inning, Hernandez allowed back-to-back one-out singles by Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla before hitting  Jason Heyward on  the leg with a pitch to load the bases. The next batter, David Ross, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Hernandez helped his own cause considerably on two occasions. In the second inning, Hernandez gave his team a lead that they never relinquished when his two-out single to right field scored Jayson Werth to put Washington on top 2-1. But his most spectacular moment came in the fifth. After a lead-off single by Alex Gonzalez, Jurrjens (batting in the 8th spot) dropped a very well-placed bunt in front of the plate. Springing off the mound with alacrity, Hernandez spun and fired a bullet to the covering Desmond at second to start the 1-6-3 twin killing, the third double play turned by the Nats on the evening.

The only mistake Hernandez made was in the second inning, when he left a sinking fastball up in the zone for Uggla to catapult into the right-center field bleachers to tie the game 1-1. But even in this, Hernandez could commiserate with closer Drew Storen, who gave up Uggla’s second home run of the night with one out in the ninth inning. That made the score 5-3, and when Heyward followed with a single to right, nerves were jangling in the crowd of 19,940. But Storen managed to blow a full-count fastball by Ross and induce Gonzalez to ground into a 5-4 force-out to end the game.

Sports Fix, The Features

Rockies Hurt Lannan, Stifle Nats 3-2

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‘not too happy’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

If Thursday night’s 10-9 loss to the Chicago Cubs was a spectacular defeat for the Washington Nationals, Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies was more in keeping with past defeats this season, complete with offensive incompetence and a pinch of bad luck.

In this case, actually, the bad luck was a hammer blow in the form of a baseball off the bat of Ty Wigginton in the top of the fourth inning with Washington on top 1-0. John Lannan had started his outing crisply, and had made it through the first three innings without allowing a single baserunner. After Carlos Gonzalez struck out swinging at a two-seam fastball to lead off the fourth, however, things fell apart quickly for Lannan. Jonathan Herrera lined a four-seam fastball back up the middle for Colorado’s first hit (and base) of the night. Todd Helton pulled a two-seam fastball over the inner half of the plate into right field to put runners on first and second base. And then Wigginton lined another two-seamer straight at Lannan’s skull.

Replays were inconclusive as to whether the ball deflected off Lannan’s glove. What was more definitive was the ball striking Lannan in roughly the place where nose and left cheek come together. As the ball continued into center field and Herrera raced home to tie the game at 1-1, Lannan staggered to his knees for a few seconds before picking himself up and walking to the clubhouse under his own power, holding his cap to his face to staunch any bleeding. The official diagnosis was a nose contusion, and there remains a possibility that Lannan could make his next scheduled start after the All-Star Game.

Despite being allotted as much time as he needed to warm up, Ryan Mattheus seemed rattled by his early appearance in the game. He induced Mark Ellis to ground back to the mound, but double-clutched on the throw to second and only an apparently generous out call from Brian Knight gave the Nationals the second out of the inning. Mattheus was then called for a balk by home plate umpire Bob Davidson, which forced Helton home with the go-ahead run. That in turn was followed by an RBI single for rookie Cole Garner, which made the score 3-1 and was all the scoring Colorado would do or need.

The rest of the night was, for the most part, an exercise in futility by the Nats offense, beginning in the first inning, when they loaded the bases with nobody out against Jason Hammel on a Roger Bernadina double, a walk to Danny Espinosa and an infield single by Ryan Zimmerman. Hammel kept it together, allowing only a sacrifice fly by Michael Morse (which scored Bernadina to give Washington their early lead) before striking out Jayson Werth and inducing Rick Ankiel to pop out to second base. In the rest of his outing, Hammel faced 20 batters, and allowed just four of them to reach base (a walk to Espinosa in the third inning, a solo home run by Wilson Ramos that made the score 3-2 to Colorado, a two-out single to right by Werth in the sixth, and a single to right by Desmond in the bottom of the seventh that precipitated Hammel’s removal).

Hammel’s removal did not turn the tide in Washington’s favor. With newly-recalled Jesus Flores pinch-hitting in the seventh inning against Matt Reynolds, Desmond was picked off and caught trying to steal second. And the offensive ineptitude reached its climax in the 9th inning after a leadoff single by Morse. After Werth struck out flailing wildly at a pitch in the dirt, pinch-runner Brian Bixler, seeing the ball get away briefly from catcher Chris Iannetta decided to try to scamper over to second base. Iannetta recovered the ball in plenty of time to throw out Bixler, and Ankiel’s swinging strikeout ensured that the Nats would drop back to the .500 mark entering the final weekend of the season’s first half.

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Ramos hits a couple dingers but Nats dropped by Mets 6-4

Photo courtesy of
’2ND’
courtesy of ‘MissChatter’

There is only so much that Wilson Ramos can do for the Nats. He catches pitches, he does not pitch. He has one bat, not eight. His glove is made for catching fastballs, not tracking down dying quails in the outfield.

Yet, he did what he could on Tuesday night for the Nats in a 6-4 losing effort to the Mets in the first of a three-game set at Nationals Park. He hit two home runs, had an RBI single and fielded his position well when New York went small ball bunting. His 3-4 night raised his average to .378 and the dingers were his first two of the year along with the first multi-home run game of his young career.

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Nationals Trade Matt Capps To Minnesota

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‘Matt Capps’
courtesy of ‘MissChatter’

Matt Capps is one of the reasons Nationals baseball had an exciting ride early this year. There’s no denying that.

The team’s lone All-Star representative in 2010 was traded to the Minnesota Twins last night for catcher Wilson Ramos and left-hander Joe Testa. Both are prospect players who will start their time with the Nationals on the farm. Ramos will start at Class Triple-A Syracuse and Testa will report to Class-A Potomoc.

The 26-year-old Capps came to Washington during the off-season as a free agent. He signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal. In many ways, he was the boy with the golden touch for the Nationals bullpen who had often struggled before Capps came in as a stabilizer. Continue reading