The Washington Nationals took their second in a row from the New York Mets, and extended their lead in the N.L. East to two games, with a 5-3 victory over the New Yorkers at Nationals Park on Wednesday night. The victory was sealed by the seven inning, three hit pitching of Edwin Jackson and the timely power hitting of Adam LaRoche.
This was the game that Jackson was waiting to pitch. Winless in nearly eight weeks and anxious to equal the numbers put up by his mates in the Washington rotation, Jackson mastered the Mets line-up. The righty struck out six and walked four before being relieved in the eighth by the equally effective Sean Burnett (who notched his ninth hold). Tyler Clippard pitched the 9th to earn his fifth save.
Adam LaRoche, who’d been in a mild slump, contributed four RBIs to the win, which included his ninth home run in the bottom of the 1st, which plated three. LaRoche added a sacrifice fly that scored Steve Lombardozzi in the seventh. “These games are big,” LaRoche said following the win. “We find the division so tight right now. Regardless of who we play in this division, we have a chance to make up some ground. Not that other ones are not important, but these are nice when you can get on a roll against your division.”
Nats’ skipper Davey Johnson breathed a sigh of relief that Jackson got the win — as the righty had not been getting enough support at the plate by Nats hitters during his previous outings. “His walk total is way down, and his stuff is exceptional,” Johnson said of Jackson’s outing. “He’s come back when we really need it, like today. Seven strong innings is exceptional. We needed it bad.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: After an experiment that never came close to working, the Boston Red Sox have finally sent Daniel Bard down to Pawtucket. But to hear Red Sox fans speak of it, you’d think he’d been sent to the underworld, instead of just south of the Styx Charles.
The demotion comes after Bard’s latest “melt down” — a phrase used by nearly every Boston baseball beat writer. Bard was particularly ineffective in his most recent outing, in Toronto, when he walked six and hit two batters in less than two innings of work. Bard would have to be nuts not to be upset: he was particularly effective in the bullpen until the Boston brain trust front office decided he could be a starter.
“The School of Bard Knocks,” Boston Dirt Dogs headlined after the Toronto catastrophe, then quoted Bard’s reflections on his fate. “”If anything, it’s that I allowed something to happen when I switched roles,” the big (6-4, 215) righty was quoted as saying. “Maybe we just tried to turn me into a starter rather than just take the same pitcher I was out there and move that guy to the rotation, which is probably what should have been done.”
It’s not that The Nation is in a panic, but it’s close. The Red Sox have lost three in a row, which includes two tough losses against the Baltimore Orioles that Red Sox fans assumed they’d win. Closer Alfredo Aceves gave up three hits and two runs and notched a blown save on Tuesday, while Josh Beckett pitched beautifully last night — but took his sixth loss of the season.
It doesn’t seem fair, somehow: Red Sox fans have been waiting patiently for Beckett to show up, and now that he has their bats have gone silent. “When you have a guy pitching like Josh did tonight, you want to make things happen,” Boston’s David Ortiz said after the loss. “When you don’t see anything happening, it’s frustrating.”
In fact, while the Red Sox have struggled in each of their last three outings, their mini-tail spin has as much to do with their sudden inability to hit as it does with their pitching. Adrian Gonzalez is struggling, and last night their bats left 16 men on base vs. Baltimore’s brainy Wei-Yin Chen. Yikes.
And there could be tougher days ahead for Red Sox fans. After wrapping up their series against the Madoffs at Nationals Park this afternoon, the Anacostia Nine head north to Fenway, where the Red Sox will face Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann.