Archive for the ‘Arizona Diamondbacks’ Category
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
“It was a tough night, tough night,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Johnson said of Washington’s disappointing 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
Johnson’s words reflected not simply the team’s latest inability to score runs, but a rash of in-game injuries — to lefty starter Ross Detwiler (who left with back tightness after the third inning) and catcher Wilson Ramos, who reinjured his hamstring and left the game in the top of the 4th inning.
Wednesday night’s loss to the Dodgers left the Nationals at just two games over .500, and allowed Los Angeles to take the three game series. The problem for Washington (aside from the two injuries) continued to be the team’s inability to drive in runs: the Nats’ stroked nine hits in Wednesday’s loss, but left 16 runners on base.
For L.A., the big story of the night was the return of Zack Greinke, who took the mound after more than four weeks on the disabled list. Greinke pitched five complete innings in notching his second win on the season. “I thought my stuff was pretty good,” he said after the victory. “My stamina needs to grow a little bit, but that could be next start.”
While there’s no doubt that Greinke pitched well, the Nationals had several opportunities to knock him out of the game — but were unable to capitalize. Before leaving the game, Wilson Ramos got on base in both of his at-bats, but was left stranded his teammates. The only Washington score in the early going (and all night) came in a home run off the bat of Adam LaRoche, his fourth of the season.
The only piece of good news for the Nationals was the continued brilliant relief pitching of Craig Stammen who came in after Detwiler left the game and kept the Dodgers scoreless in three innings of work. Stammen has been the best pitcher in the Washington bullpen and lowered his ERA to 2.25 on the year.
The best chance to win the game for the Nationals came in the 8th inning, when the Nationals had runners on first and third with nobody out but weren’t able to push across a run. “We had the right guys up there,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if we are trying to do too much instead of just hitting the ball and putting it in play. I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: It’s amazing but true — after losing two of three in L.A. (and after struggling at the plate), Washington is still only one game behind the Atlanta Braves in the surprisingly uncompetitive N.L East . . .
The reason? The Braves have a deplorable road record, going only 7-13 on their two ten game road trips this year. The losses have been keenly felt in Atlanta, particularly after the early 12-1 start. The Braves have only won ten of their last 27 games, and are 11-15 against teams better than .500 . . .
Monday, May 6th, 2013
The Washington Nationals pounded out eleven hits, including crucial home runs from Danny Espinosa and Tyler Moore, and went on to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 on Sunday. The victory gave the Nationals a series win in the Steel City, with the team ending their road trip with a respectable 4-3 record.
For once, Washington’s pitching was not the headline for the game, although Washington southpaw Gio Gonzalez picked up his third win of the season. Gonzalez provided six innings of five hit baseball to go along with his five strikeouts, throwing 102 pitches, 63 of them for strikes.
But this Gonzalez outing is likely to be remembered for the lefty’s gritty 1st inning performance, when he pitched out of a bases loaded jam — notching two strikeouts and inducing a ground out. The Pirates were only able to score once in the inning, on a Starling Marte lead-off home run.
“We got the three outs, you see your dugout get lit up with joy and excitement,” Gonzalez said of his clutch pitching in the first inning. “It just felt like the momentum shifted. You want to go out there and attack the strike zone.
After dodging the potential Pirates big inning in the 1st, the Nationals settled in to peck away at Pirates’ starter Wandy Rodriguez. Danny Espinosa put Washington on the board in the top of the 2nd inning with a sacrifice fly, then homered in the top of the 4th to score two.
But the big blow of the game came in the top of the 8th, when Tyler Moore sent a Bryan Morris offering 414 feet into the left field stands. Moore’s blow came after the Pirates intentionally walked a suddenly hot Adam LaRoche. The blast made the score 6-2 and put the game out of reach for Pittsburgh.
Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
Washington righthanded ace Jordan Zimmermann was brilliant once again, holding the Atlanta Braves to just two hits in eight innings, and pitching the Nationals to a much-needed victory in Atlanta, 2-0. Zimmermann struck out eight and allowed only one Atlanta runner past first base.
“We needed that one bad and he went out and pitched a blueprint game,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said following the Washington victory. “I thought he was one of the elites last year. We just didn’t give him a lot of run support.
This was Zimmermann’s third superb outing in a row: Zimmermann threw a one hit complete game in his previous outing against Cincinnati and before that had been nearly untouchable against both the Marlins and Mets. In the constellation of Nationals’ starters, it turns out that it’s Zimmermann — and not Stephen Strasburg or Gio Gonzalez — who’s the “stopper.”
“He’s obviously got everything working right now,” catcher Kurt Suzuki said of Zimmermann. “He’s pitching up in the zone, down in the zone, in and out, he’s really mixing it up with his breaking balls, he’s throwing breaking balls for strikes. He’s got it working. Even during the game, he keeps it loose. He’s really fun to work with.”
Washington got its two runs in the fourth inning, the result of a walk to Bryce Harper and a home run to Ian Desmond. Atlanta’s Paul Maholm took the loss and Washington closer Rafael Soriano notched his eighth save of the season.The victory broke Washington’s eight game losing streak to the Bravos.
Wednesday, April 17th, 2013
One day after a much needed bounce-back 10-3 win against the Marlins on Monday, the Nationals suffered yet another team meltdown, dropping an 8-2 game against the Marlins in Miami. The loss puts the Nats at 8-6 for the season, 4.5 games behind the surging Atlanta Braves in the N.L. East.
This was the team’s fourth loss in five games and was punctuated by what has ailed the team over the early going: an unneeded and puzzling error from Ryan Zimmerman at third base (his fourth in the last five games) and a poor outing from starter Dan Haren.
While Haren was cruising along through three innings, Miami hurler Alex Sanabia was quieting Washington’s hitters. Then, in the 4th inning, Ryan Zimmerman allowed Marlins’ veteran Placido Polanco to reach first when he threw wide of the bag on a gimme grounder — and the floodgates opened. The Marlins put up four runs in that frame.
The Zimmerman error might have been just another glitch in a tough contest, but it seemed to unnerve Haren, who proceeded to give up singles to Greg Dobbs and Justin Ruggiano — and a home run to all-field-no-hit rookie Adeiny Hechavarria. “I’m searching right now. I’m searching for answers,” Haren said following the loss. “I’m trying in between starts, and I’ve got to get better. I do. I feel worse about it than anybody.”
But Haren isn’t the only one looking for answers. The Nationals are befuddled by Zimmerman’s wide throws, particularly considering the former Gold Glove regularly makes the most difficult plays look easy. “Nobody’s more frustrated than me,” Zimmerman said of his error. “Danny’s rolling along and throwing the ball well, and I’ve got to get the ball and throw it. I feel like I throw it fine, so it’s frustrating for me.”
The Nats might have salvaged the game after the 4th inning, but in the 5th the Marlins piled in. Haren gave up three singles and then, working with one out, walked in a run. Davey Johnson had seen enough and ended Haren’s night. But Justin Ruggiano doubled off of reliever Craig Stammen and suddenly the Marlins were up by seven.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The Colorado Rockies are the surprise team of the National League, at least so far. The Rockies — projected to finish well behind Los Angeles, San Francisco and Arizona in the N.L West (and maybe even behind the Friars) — notched a double header win against the Mets in chilly Denver, bringing them to 10-4 on the season . . .
Yesterday’s twin bill killing of the New York Mets came after eight inches of snow was removed from the field, with both teams playing in frigid mid-30s weather. The Rockies won the first game 8-4, then won the second on Jordan Pacheco’s walk-off single with two outs in the 10th . . .
Wednesday, April 10th, 2013
Adam LaRoche ended his standard early season drought with two home runs in consecutive at bats and the Nationals squeaked by the Chicago White Sox, 8-7 to bring their record to 5-2. LaRoche’s homers helped the Nationals stave off a surging Chicago line-up — and helped the team to survive some shaky bullpen outings.
LaRoche’s blasts came in the 6th inning with one on and in the 8th with no one on. Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth also went deep for the home towners. “You get into the second week of the season, that’s never a good feeling to look up there and not have a hit,” Laroche said following the win. “I felt great that first series at home, I just couldn’t get the ball to fall. To come back and get a couple [tonight] was nice.”
The home runs were needed: Chicago’s Paul Konerko blasted a three run home run in the 7th inning off of Tyler Clippard to bring the score within one. Washington came back to tack on a run in the bottom of the 7th, which was followed by LaRoche’s second home run — but Chicago added two more in the top of the 9th off of Rafael Soriano, who then closed out the game.
Both Chicago and Washington were hoping their starters would turn Tuesday’s game into a classic pitching match-up, but Jake Peavy gave up six runs on nine hits in 5.1 inning, while Nats’ lefty Gio Gonzalez surrendered four hits in five innings. That wasn’t so bad, but Washington’s bullpen gave up seven hits and four runs in the next four frames.
Washington’s big inning came in the 6th, when the Nationals put four runs on the board — with home runs from Werth and LaRoche. “Obviously, the sixth inning got away from us,” Peavy said. “I didn’t have much there, and it was hot and humid, and I ran out of gas. I didn’t have much left with LaRoche, and he put a good swing on it.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: It’s deja vu all over again for the Los Angeles Angels, who are repeating their slow start from a year ago. The Angels dropped a slugfest at home last night, in their opener, against the forever surprising Oakland A’s. The Angels yielded a one run lead in the top of the 7th by giving up home runs to pinch hitter John Jaso and first sacker Brandon Moss. The A’s went on to dump the Halos 9-5 . . .
Nothing seems to be working for the Belinskys, and you can read the frustration in the face of Angels’ skipper Mike Scioscia. Ace C.J. Wilson came out of the clubhouse and promptly gave up three runs in the top of the 1st, but it could have been a lot worse: Wilson left the inning with the bases loaded . . .
Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
When baseball commentator Ken Rosenthal heard that the Nationals had signed righty Dan Haren to a one year $13 million contract, he shook his head in admiration: “This is a team building for the World Series,” he said on MLB Network, “and the signing of Haren shows that.”
Indeed. And Washington fans have every right to celebrate Haren’s arrival. After all, what’s not to like? The 32-year-old veteran has a track record of success (119-97 in ten years in the majors), racks up innings (238.1 in 2011), is a “gamer” — having thrown for both winners (Anaheim’s Belinskys) and losers (the up-and-down Snakes) and has shown remarkable consistency: never dipping below a .500 win/loss record in each of the last eight seasons.
But then there’s this: at the same moment that Danny and the Halos were tanking in the A.L West back in September, Haren was struggling through the worst season of his career, posting careers worsts in WHIP, H/9, HR/9, tying his second worst K/9 and throwing “only” 176 innings, his worst mark since becoming a starter in 2005.
What’s not to like? Well, plenty as it turns out. For while Haren was once among baseball’s elite fireballers, his fastball hasn’t topped out at an unspectacular 92-93 mph for the last two years and his back and hip problems were so bad that the mighty Cubs called off a proposed swap back in November that would have brought him to Chicago in exchange for Carlos Marmol.
Of course — and perhaps in spite of all of it — the signing of Haren brings a definite upside for the Nats, despite his poor year. The righty rebounded after the All Star break (a 3.58 ERA in thirteen starts), and pitched better even with his injury than Washington’s fourth starter, Edwin Jackson.
Thursday, October 11th, 2012
It’s hard to argue with the numbers. Over the last eighteen innings, the Nationals have been outscored 20-4 by the St. Louis Cardinals and their pitching has cratered. The latest evidence of the Nationals’ postseason futility came on Wednesday when, with red towels waving all over Nationals Park, the Cardinals overwhelmed the hometowners, 8-0.
The latest victim of the Cardinals’ onslaught was Edwin Jackson, though it’s impossible to pin the second Nats’ loss in this five game playoff series on a single pitcher. The Nationals now face an ignominious elimination at the hands of one of the best hitting teams in baseball, hoping to salvage a single elimination playoff game with a win on Thursday.
As always, and even in the face of this adversity, Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson remained optimistic. He was buoyed by the sold out crowd, fanatical fans that have become the hallmark of the upstart franchise. “We’re not out of this, by a long shot,” he said. “Shoot, I’ve had my back to worse walls than this.”
But optimistic or not, there’s little doubt that, at least so far, the Cardinals are feasting on Nationals’ pitching. The Redbirds slammed out fourteen hits against five Washington pitchers, all of whom were ineffective — with the exception of closer Drew Storen. It all began with starter Edwin Jackson who gave up four earned runs in five innings.
A raucous crowd, watching the first playoff game in Nationals’ history, could not keep the Cardinals off the board, even in the first inning — when an Allen Craig double scored Matt Holliday. Shortstop Peter Kozma followed in the second inning with a home run that scored David Freese and Daniel Descalso. Suddenly it was 4-0.