Archive for the ‘Bob Carpenter’ Category

Cubs Maul The Nats — Again

Friday, June 27th, 2014

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After a solid series in Milwaukee, the Washington Nationals dropped their second in a row to the Cubs in Chicago. The Nationals were simply outplayed, and seemed sluggish at the plate and on the field. The loss dropped them to just three games over .500 on the season.

“There’s just no way to explain it,” MASN post-game analyst Ray Knight told his viewers in the wake of the Nationals 7-2 defeat this afternoon. “Sometimes, these teams at .450 or whatever, you come in and ‘wack.’ and it happens. After all, these are major league players.”

MASN color commenter F.P. Santangelo agreed but was disappointed that Washington seemed to lack a killer instinct. “I just didn’t see this coming,” he noted during the Nats loss. “There’s just not a swagger there. The Nationals are a first place team, the Cubs are a last place team. We’ve got to come in here and step on them.”

But no matter what the explanation, the 7-2 defeat at Wrigley Field on Friday reflected Washington’s inability to play well on the road (where they’re four games under .500), as well as hitting slumps from Jayson Werth (6-40 in his last ten games) and Danny Espinosa, who is hitting .200 in the same period.

But then there’s the Cubs. The Cubs are 21-17 over their last 38, which is four games over .500. Which means that if the season had started just 38 games ago, the Cubs would be good enough to be in first place in the N.L. Least, where Atlanta is dueling Washington in what appears to be a race to see who can play above .500.

The good news for the Nationals is that while Werth and Espinosa are struggling at the plate, first sacker Adam LaRoche is not. LaRoche was 2-4 on Friday while towering his tenth home run of the season. Anthony Rendon also seemed unfazed by Cubs pitching, going 2-4 while raising his season BA to .276.

The Cubs continue to swing a hot bat. Chicago accumulated 13 hits on Friday, with no-hit catcher John Baker having an all-career day at 3-3 while stroking a three run double. The Cubs notched ten hits against usually steady starter Anthony Rendon, then tattooed lefty reliever Jerry Blevins for three runs in just 2/3 of an inning.

Meanwhile Jason Hammel, who is nearly unbeatable when he faces the Nationals (he is now 7-0 in his career against them), threw into the 7th, while striking out six. “They hit today,” Roark said of the Cubs in his post-game comments. “We’ll face them again in Washington and so we’ll have to beat them. What can I do? Just keep throwing strikes. That’s the key.”

The Nationals face off against the Cubs in a double header on the North Side tomorrow, with Gio Gonzalez scheduled to throw in the first game (against Cubs rookie Dallas Beeler) and Blake Treinen (who will be recalled today from Syracuse) throwing against Jeff Samardzija in the second.

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Nats Sweep Philadelphia Behind Fister, LaRoche

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

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Righty starter Doug Fister and first sacker Adam LaRoche combined to lead the Nationals to a 4-2 victory over the reeling Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park. The win marked a sweep of the Nats three game series with Philadelphia, and brought the team to within a glance of first place in the National League East.

This was Fister’s fifth quality outing in a row; the righty now boasts a 3-1 record to go along with his snappy 3.34 ERA. The Phillies looked lost against the righty, though they scored an early first inning run to take a 1-0 lead on their division rivals. Fister threw just 93 pitches, 63 of them for strikes.

Nationals hitters, meanwhile, gave Fister a lead to work with, victimizing hard luck Philadelphia starter Kyle Kendrick — who has had a down year. The difference in the game was a 5th inning home run off the bat of Adam LaRoche (his eighth of the year), which scored Jayson Werth.

Washington skipper Matt Williams decided to rest shortstop Ian Desmond in the match-up with the Phillies, which meant he penciled in an unusual line-up. The suddenly hot Danny Espinosa (4-2o in the three game series), played shortstop, Anthony Rendon shifted to second, while Kevin Frandsen filled in at third. Ryan Zimmerman once again started in left field.

The Nationals bullpen was, once again, lights out. Tyler Clippard pitched a one-two-three eighth inning, while Rafael Soriano untucked his jersey after notching his twelfth save. Nationals relievers thus reinforced their reputation as the best in the game.

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The sweep of the Phillies concluded a scheduled nine game homestand for Washington (the Nationals actually played eight, as their May 27 tilt with the Marlins was postponed), which started with two losses against Miami – the clear lowpoint in the Nationals’ season thus far.

But after the Miami disappointment the Nationals have righted their listing ship. The Nationals took two of three games from the Rangers before their Philadelphia sweep, with two of those games decisive triumphs in which the Nationals scored nine and then ten runs. “This is the team we expected to see when the season started,” MASN commenter Bob Carpenter noted during today’s game.

The difference between today and last week, when the Nationals were pummeled by the Marlins, couldn’t be more stark. Since the return of Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals have been hitting the ball and scoring runs — and have benefited from stellar outings from their pitching staff. That includes gems from Jordan Zimmerman (an eight inning outing on Tuesday) and Stephen Strasburg — who threw seven innings while notching 11 strikeouts last night.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The Nationals drew an impressive 33,016 for today’s late afternoon wrap-up game against the Ashburns. That’s an impressive number, particularly because the avalanche of Philadelphia fans that once filled the park is now a fading memory. The Phillies, perennially in the top five in N.L. attendance, are now having difficulty drawing fans. They are barely outdrawing the Nationals in attendance per game . . .

Attendance is often the best gauge for MLB business success, along with television revenue. No surprise: the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays remain in the bottom five, despite the exciting team that Miami has put on the field. Miami just concluded their sweep of the now hapless Rays in Tampa Bay, where the Rays drew an embarrassing 49,000 fans for the three game cross-state match-up . . .

We might say that the fans of the Rays are voting with their feet (as they clearly are in Philadelphia), but the team has always struggled to put customers in the seats. The Rays drew a paltry 1.5 million fans last year, when they finished at 92-71, good enough for a Wild Card birth . . .

The Tampa Bay attendance figures are likely to get worse. The Rays are now 23-37 and 13.5 games behind the Blue Jays in the A.L. East. On Tuesday they were shut out by Miami’s Henderson Alvarez, 1-0. Sure. Alvarez is a heckuva pitcher, but the Rays are a punchless bunch: 13th in the A.L. in batting average and dead last in runs scored . . .

Tampa Bay gets little help from their starters, with a rotation eviscerated by injuries. Jeremy Hellickson is now on the disabled list, Alex Cobb has been sidelined and uber thrower Matt Moore is out for the year after Tommy John surgery. With youngster-slugger Wil Myers (the ur-prospect swiped from K.C.), also ailing, Tampa Bay has to rely on a middle of the line-up of sluggers who aren’t slugging . . .

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Nats Notes: Reviewing The Oakland Meltdown

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

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The Washington Nationals finished a disheartening series against the Oakland A’s, who have become the powerhouse of the AL West the last couple of years. The Nats were shut out, blew a save and lost in the 10th, and then were damn near shutout again. Things were so bad that MASN commentators Ray Knight and F.P. Santangelo both expressed their frustration with the Nats’ play in almost heated terms on Nats Xtra after the final game.

The only, and we mean only, bright spot for the Nats Nation was Tanner Roarks’ start in Game 2: 7.2 innings of two-hit, one-run baseball. It seems Tanner shook off his poor showing against the Phillies the week before and immediately returned to form, illustrating why he’s one of the best starting pitchers no one is talking about. If we have to stretch for a second bright spot, it’s that former Nats prospects Tommy Milone and Derek Norris, the A’s starting pitcher and catcher, both had great series. Cold comfort.

Aside from Roark, the Nats pitching staff was in meltdown. Doug Fister’s first start as a Nat only lasted 4.1 innings after giving up nine hits and seven runs, a performance Gio Gonzalez would repeat in his game. Fister couldn’t get anything down in the zone, and the only way Gio could find it was to throw two-seam heaters down the middle. Closer Rafael Soriano didn’t do anything different, pitching wise, but a wonky cut-off of rookie benchman’s Zach Walters throw from left field blew the save for the first time this season.

The defense, the one aspect of play manager Matt Williams really wanted to improve when he took his new position, was farm league. Lost flyballs, weird relays, poor fielding choices, they all added up. Theoretically, all of that could have been overcome if the lineup was moving and runs were scored. A’s general manager Billy Beane had a whole movie made about him for doing just that. But they weren’t. In the series, the A’s outhit the Nats two to one and outscored them four to one.

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Nats Boot The Ball, Drop St. Louis Series Opener

Friday, April 18th, 2014

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In his post game press conferences, Nationals skipper Matt Williams sometimes appears as a barely controlled caldera — like Yellowstone, he seems always on the verge of exploding, particularly after a loss. So it was on Thursday night, after his Washington Nationals dropped a sloppily played error-filled game to the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-0.

The loss led to a short post game team meeting, at which Williams spoke — but he said the message he conveyed would not be made public. “That’s for me and my team.” he said. “I seem very upset? I’m just not answering that question. That’s for me and my team, and nobody else’s business. Regarding the game, it was probably the worst one we played.”

Williams had plenty to be upset about. The first play of the game featured a booted ball by shortstop Ian Desmond, which was followed by starter Taylor Jordan’s inability to dig a squiggler off the bat of Kolten Wong out of his glove. The play was scored as a single, but it was an error — and suddenly the Cardinals, with the fans still filing into the ballpark, were threatening.

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That’s twenty errors in Washington’s first sixteen games, and this from a team whose manager prizes defense. “The first ball of the game, you boot it, that doesn’t set the tone,” Desmond said of his performance. “If I ever want to be the captain of this team — and I do — I’m going to have to be better than that.”

St. Louis, meanwhile, played flawlessly behind the two hit pitching of righty Adam Wainwright. Wainwright kept the Nationals off the bases and off the board, depending on an attack from Matt Holliday (2-3 with two RBIs), Matt Adams (1-4 with three RBIs) and Jhonny Peralta (who was 2-5).

We’ll keep grinding away at it,” Williams said. “We will go out there tomorrow and we’ll certainly take a full [batting practice], full grounders. It is scheduled to be extra work for the pitchers tomorrow. It’s part of the schedule. … We do it all the time. What to make of [the bad defense]? I don’t know.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: There was an odd semi-takedown of MASN broadcasters Bob Carpenter and F.P Santangelo on the Sporting News website last week. Headlined “Nationals broadcasters let cliches, homerism get in the way . . .” the article purported to show how amateurish and boorish the two are . . .

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Haren Cages The Cubs

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

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Dan Haren provided six innings of five hit baseball and his teammates sprayed fourteen hits against half-a-dozen Cubs pitchers — and the Washington Nationals went on to win at Wrigley Field in Chicago, 4-2. It was Haren’s fifth successive solid outing, accounting for his eighth win of the year.

Haren has been a Nationals’ hero of late: he’s proven to be one of the starting staff’s most consistent stoppers over the last month, and just three days ago he entered a game against the Braves to preserve a fifteen inning win. “As the game progressed, my stuff got better and better,” Haren said of his Tuesday victory. “My cutter was real good; I worked it in on lefties a lot.”

The Nationals scored early on Chicago starter Chris Rusin, with Ryan Zimmerman’s first inning double scoring Ian Desmond. Washington tacked on another run in the sixth inning and two more in the 9th. Six Nationals’ hitters had two hits on the night, with Denard Span and Ian Desmond providing two ninth inning insurance runs.

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Drew Storen continued to impress in his late-season reincarnation. Storen entered the game in the seventh inning and induced a ground out from Starlin Castro, a fly out from Darnell McDonald and another grounder from Junior Lake. This was Storen’s fourth appearance in five days and he’s been nearly flawless.

Rafael Soriano entered in the 9th inning to notch his 32nd save on the year, but once again he failed to shut down the opposing club. Soriano, who’s been rocky in his previous three outings, gave up a home run to Chicago’s Donnie Murphy, who entered the game with only six round trippers on the year.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Commentators and baseball pundits continue to chew over why San Diego would ever trade uber-youngster Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs. The latest is MASN play-by-play guru Bob Carpenter, who commented during Tuesday’s game that Rizzo has proven to be Chicago’s most potent offensive threat . . .

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Steady Stammen Stifles Reds In 11

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

This is a game that should have gone into the books as a win in the 8th, and then again in the 9th, but it took the Washington Nationals, and five home runs, to down the Cincinnati Reds in 11 innings at the Great American Bandbox Ballpark, 7-6.

This was a game of firsts for the Nationals in 2013: the first solid start for lefty youngster Ross Detwiler, the first home run for Ian Desmond (in the 11th with nobody on), the first blown late lead for the team during the season — and the first blown save for fireballer and veteran save artist Rafael Soriano.

Soriano’s blown save was the result of a home run from Cincy slugger Shin-Soo Choo, followed by a triple from Joey Votto — and a wild pitch that brought Votto home. Soriano’s so-so outing knotted the score at five, with the Nationals reeling from the unexpected Cincinnati rally.

But the Nationals fought back in extra innings. The Nationals got back on the board in the top of the 11th with a home run from Ian Desmond (whose inexplicable boot at shortstop in the 8th could have cost the Nationals the win), followed by a long shot to center from Wilson Ramos. The Ramos dinger was his second of the game.

But the real hero of the nail biter might well have been Craig Stammen, whose mound presence seemed to calm the Nationals. Stammen entered the game in the 10th and pitched two innings of two hit, one run ball — picking up his first win of the season. Stammen’s two seam fastball and late-moving slider stifled Reds’ hitters, allowing the Nats to ring up their fourth win of the season.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: We love Carp and F.P of course, but F.P. is so unapologetically in the bag for Ian Desmond that, well, it makes ya think that ‘ol Frank Paul is channeling his glory days as an Expos infielder . . .

When Desmond launched a grounder into the 18th row behind first base in the 4th inning (“what the hell was that,” Nats Nation yelled, as one), F.P. told us that he does this early in the season — and that he’ll get on track. Well, we’re sure that’s right, or at least we sure as hell hope so . . .

Then MASN interviewed Desmond in the postgame and implied his 11th inning homer made the difference in the game, when it absolutely did — and didn’t. The final score was 7-6 and according to our book the winning home run in the 7-6 game was launched by (let’s see, we’re checking) Wilson Ramos . . .

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Cubs Down Nats, Detwiler 4-2

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

The word around the Nationals’ clubhouse is that Jayson Werth, struggling through a season-long slump, is finally starting to hit. The Nationals’ everyday right fielder — and headline off-season free agent acquistion — is hitting .306 in his last thirteen games. Indeed, Werth showed some pop at the plate on Wednesday night, sending a typical short-stroke liner into Wrigley Field’s left field bleachers for his fourteenth dinger. But Werth’s home run wasn’t enough to beat the Cubs, who took advantage of their own long ball to down the Nationals, 4-2.

The game’s non-story was Ross Detwiler, the team’s constant experiment on the mound, who pitched (in skipper Davey Johnson’s phrase), “just okay.” Lefty Detwiler gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings of work, the biggest knocks against him coming on long balls from catcher Geovany Soto and journeyman Reed Johnson. Detwiler running buddy Collin Balester (they’re both familiar with how to get from Syracuse to Washington — and back), was less than mediocre in an inning of relief: Balester gave up a home run to Alfonso Soriano to put the game out of reach.

And so it is that the Nationals’ search for more pitching among a group of yesteryear’s youngsters (Detwiler, Balester, Garrett Mock, Shairon Martis, J.D. Martin and Craig Stammen), continues, but without the kind of premium (“he’s a keeper”) results. With the next round of young arms waiting in the wings (Tom Milone and Brad Peacock — and perhaps one or two others), Nationals’ fans are starting to clamor for some new faces, and wondering how long it will be before Rizzo, Johnson & Company run out of patience.