Archive for the ‘Arizona Diamondbacks’ Category
Monday, September 30th, 2013
The Washington Nationals finished their season in Arizona with a loss to the Diamondbacks, 3-2. In many ways the loss was representative of what the team had done all season: entering the eighth inning with a one run lead, the Nationals’ bullpen gave up two runs to an Arizona team they’d beaten handily in the previous two outings.
While the game was the last in a season that saw the Nats drop out of contention for the N.L. East title back in June and July, the team came back in September with a run at the Wild Card. The key to the Nationals resurgence was a revived offense and pitching contributions from unlikely rookies, including Tanner Roark, who held the D-Backs to just three hits in seven innings on Sunday.
“I feel I can play up here for sure. But you never know what’s going to happen,” Roark said after his performance on Sunday. “Just workout in the offseason, do my best and come back ready to go in spring training.” Roark has been outstanding since arriving in the majors in early August: he finished at 7-1 with a 1.51 ERA over 53 2/3 innings, striking out 40 and walking 11.
The final game of the season also marked Davey Johnson’s last game as the Nats’ manager. “Time to go home,” Johnson said after the game. “Put me out to pasture.” The Nationals praised their 70-year-old skipper, with Tyler Clippard noting that a good manager “builds confidence in his players and we benefited from that because he never wavered, no matter how good or bad you were doing.”
Johnson was philosophical about what is apparently the end of his career, choosing to bypass comments on the Nationals’ season. “I felt really lucky to have had the big league experiences I’ve had as a player and as a manager,” he told the press after the Arizona loss. “When you love a game as much as I love this game and like the competition, you just enjoy it.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: An 86-76 record would have sparked celebrations in Washington just a few years ago, but the Nationals (picked by many as the premier team in the National League) must be disappointed. Even so, there is good reason for celebrating a season that saw the Nationals finish ten games out of the hunt in the N.L. East . . .
Saturday, September 28th, 2013
Stephen Strasburg pitched seven solid innings and Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos each hit three run home runs, and the Washington Nationals easily downed the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Friday night, 8-4. The victory capped the first of a three game series, with two games remaining in the Nats’ season.
Strasburg, who is one of the ERA leaders in the National League (at a snappy 3.00), notched only his eighth victory on the year, throwing 101 pitches, 63 of them for strikes. Strasburg was undoubtedly disappointed with his 2013 win total, but Nats’ manager Davey Johnson acknowledged that the young righty didn’t always enjoy good run support from his teammates.
“We didn’t score many runs for him,” Johnson confirmed following the victory. “A bunch of times, we didn’t score any runs, one run or two runs when he was starting. His numbers indicated he should have won 15 ballgames, at least. He was certainly consistent all year long.”
Despite the 8-9 campaign, Strasburg is 3-0 in his last three starts. “I think physically I held up pretty well,” he said following last night’ victory. “I think one thing I learned is sometimes less is more. I like to work really hard and when you reach a point in September you’ve really got to back things off or it’s going to be counterproductive.”
The Nats powered Strasburg to victory on home runs from Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos. The Werth home run came in the top of the fifth with Anthony Rendon and Jeff Kobernus on base, while the Ramos home run came in the top of the 8th with Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond on base.
Saturday, September 7th, 2013
The nail in the Washington Nationals 2013 season may well have been hammered home in Miami on Friday night, as Jose Fernandez and the Miami Marlins spun a dominating 7-0 win, leaving the Nats eight games out of the last National League Wild Card slot with just 22 games to play.
“It’s not looking good, that’s for sure,” right fielder Jayson Werth said after the disheartening loss. “We’re in a spot now where we really can’t afford another loss. It puts you in a tough place, a bad place. You know, keep grinding. It’s not over until it’s over.”
The Marlins feasted off of Nationals’ pitching, victimizing Washington starter Dan Haren for six hits and five earned runs in just three complete innings. Haren suffered his 13th loss on just eight wins for 2013, which is not the kind of production the Nationals expected from their big off-season signing.
“My stuff was average, and putting us in a three-nothing hole against a pitcher like that is a downer for the whole team,” Haren told reporters in the clubhouse in describing his performance. “I didn’t obviously start out the ideal way.”
Miami starter Fernandez, meanwhile, pitched a gem: the young righty, who is one of the few bright spots for last place Miami this year, gave up a single hit in seven complete inning while striking out nine Nationals. This was Fernandez’s eleventh win on the season, against just six losses.
Thursday, August 29th, 2013
Washington shortstop Ian Desmond was 3-3 and knocked in the key go-ahead run in the bottom of the 7th inning as Drew Storen and the Washington bullpen once again tamed the Miami line-up, and the Nationals went on to defeat the Marlins at Nationals Park, 4-3.
The rain-delayed contest marked Washington’s seventh win in eight games and maintained the seven game gap separating the Nationals from a playoff spot. But at least at first, the game started inauspiciously: a 72-minute rain delay knocked Stephen Strasburg off the mound, leaving the game in the hands of the bullpen.
And, as they had the night before, the bullpen came through. While reliever Ryan Mattheus had a difficult outing, Drew Storen proved effective against Miami’s biggest bats: after giving up a single and a walk to start the 7th, Storen struck out Giancarlo Stanton and induced pop outs from Logan Morrison and Donovan Solano.
With the victory, it seems that the Nationals are finally on a roll. They are two games over .500 and, most important of all, are playing well. “No one said it was going to be easy. We have to keep going,” Jayson Werth, whose home run in the 6th tied the game, said. “We have to continue to play like this the rest of the way. That’s fine. It is what it is.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The Nationals still have a shot at the post-season, and so do the Arizona Diamondbacks. But you’d never know it if you lived in Phoenix, where a paltry 20,500-plus fans showed up to watch their Snakes fall to the lowly San Diego Padres . . .
Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
Ross Ohlendorf threw five solid innings and four relievers combined to hold Miami scoreless over the next four, and the Washington Nationals went on to defeat the Marlins on Tuesday night, 2-1. It was the Nationals twelfth win in the last 17 games.
The two runs that the Nationals scored came against Marlins’ starter Nate Eovaldi in the bottom of the first inning on three singles: from Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond. The two runs were all the Nationals would need, as Ohlendorf and Nats’ relievers held the Marlins to a single run on four hits.
The Nationals have continued their late-season habit of hitting when they need to, which has fueled their recent flirtation with winning. Bryce Harper is hot (he was 2-4 last night) and Adam LaRoche is showing signs of life. The Nationals sprayed nine hits against four Miami hurlers.
But Nats’ fans should also credit Washington skipper Davey Johnson with putting Washington in the win column. When the otherwise effective Ohlendorf came out to pitch in the 6th, Johnson noticed he’d lost something on his fastball and pulled him. It was a surprise for the Washington starter.
“He just kind of ran out of gas like he did before,” Johnson explained after the game. “But you never know with him, because sometimes he puts a lot on it, and other times, it’s more like he is changing up off his fastball. When he takes 10 miles off it, it scares me a little bit.”
Johnson’s decision put the burden for winning the contest on the team’s bullpen, but they performed admirably. Tanner Roark, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano each pitched an inning, with the only hit given up by the four coming against Soriano in the 9th inning. Tyler Clippard pitched a brilliant 8th inning and Soriano notched his 34th save.
“We’ve all been through our ups and downs,” shortstop Ian Desmond commented after the win. “Obviously, the downs were pretty heavy this year. But we fought our way, and we’re starting to play better. Obviously, we’re not where we want to be, but we’re taking steps in the right direction.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: “The only things the Nationals need to do is go 25-7 in their last 32 games,” CFG contributor Tom said before the face-off with the Marlins on Tuesday night. “Don’t laugh,” he added, “the Reds are starting to tank . . .”
Friday, August 16th, 2013
It was a beautifully played game on a beautiful Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park, with the home town team sporting a defensible 3-1 lead going into the 9th inning following another solid outing from veteran right hander Dan Haren. But then, with the team a pitch away from its sixth victory in a row, it all blew up.
The Nationals squandered a lead, a win — and perhaps a final chance to challenge for a Wild Card spot in the National League — as Rafael Soriano notched his fifth blown save and third loss of the season, by giving up a pinch hit three run home run to rookie Hector Sanchez.
The Nationals then went quietly in their half of the ninth inning, and Washington accounted for its 61st loss of the season. In truth, Soriano’s blown save was inexcusable: with two out in the 9th and Buster Posey on second, Soriano walked rookie Roger Kieschnick (with just 50 at bats on the season), then threw a fat fastball to Sanchez.
Soriano’s busted save came after the Giants threatened in the 8th inning, but could not score on bullpen MVP Tyler Clippard, who put the Giants back on their bench after giving up a single hit to Marco Scutaro. And Clippard had followed Fernando Abad, who’s glove slapping 7th inning had preserved Dan Haren’s solid outing.
The deflating loss was pinned on Soriano, but emerging team leader Ian Desmond focused instead on the men left-on-base by the Nationals. Washington left two on in the fourth inning, left the bases loaded in the fifth inning and left two on in the sixth — all without pushing a single run across the plate.
“I think probably the bigger story is we had a lot of runners on base and we didn’t push them across,” Desmond said when asked about Soriano’s blown save. “We had the starter out after 3 2/3 and we didn’t score after that. We’ve got to do a better job to push more runs across.”
Sunday, August 11th, 2013
The Nationals rally past the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night at Nationals Park infused the Anacostia Nine with a new sense that somehow (maybe), the one-game-at-a-time philosophy of the ballclub could somehow vault them back into contention — and into the post season.
That seems improbable. St Louis is two games up on the Reds in the Wild Card standings and sixteen games over .500. The Redlegs, meanwhile, are 4.5 games up on the Arizona Diamondbacks for the last Wild Card slot, with the D-Backs (pretty typically) playing like a deflated balloon.
Maybe it would be better for the Nationals to set their sights on Atlanta, hoping that the Braves will swoon in the final two months, allowing the Nats to sprint into October. But just how likely is that? It’s not: the Braves have just completed a fourteen game winning streak (they lost on Saturday, 1-0 against the no account Miami Marlins), and at 25 games over .500 their collapse would have to be among the most monumental in baseball history.
So here it is, as plain as your 30-year-old step sister: the Pittsburgh Pirates are the best team in baseball (you might want to read that out loud, just to get the flavor of it), and the Braves are running away in the National League East. I would rather slam my fingers with a hammer than see the Braves in the World Series, but there you have it.
It’s no wonder, then, that Washington’s baseball pundits are chewing over the lost 2013 season, the most important assessments all coming in the last week. Not surprisingly, these postmortems have coincided with speculation about who will take over for manager Davey Johnson, a sure sign that the one-game-at-a-time philosophy is no more than a verbal conceit.