Archive for the ‘chicago cubs’ Category
Tuesday, September 17th, 2013
Rockies’ first baseman Todd Helton announced on Monday that he will be retiring from baseball at the end of the 2013 season, bringing to an end a seventeen year career of one of his generation’s best hitters, and the best-known Colorado Rockie in that franchise’s history.
“It’s been an honor to be your first baseman for the last 17 years,” Helton told a crowd of reporters and fans at Coors Field. “I have grown from a man, to a husband and into a father. We have seen the good times and the bad. It has been a pleasure to share all of that with you.”
If Helton had actually stopped playing on Monday he’d leave the game with a .317 career batting average, a .415 on-base percentage, 2,505 career hits, 367 home runs and 586 doubles. His career average is the eighth-best for any player since 1946 with a minimum of 5,000 at-bats.
Helton has defined Colorado Rockies’ baseball: he’s the all-time Rockies leader in hits, runs, doubles, homers and RBIs, joined the team two years after its first appearance in the post-season and led it to the 2007 World Series and the playoffs in 2009.
But does Helton belong in the Hall of Fame? MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger described Helton as “Hall of Fame-ish” on Monday night’s broadcast and there seems some doubt that he’ll get the votes necessary for enshrinement. But for us, at least, Helton’s election is a no-brainer.
Helton is a five time All Star, won three Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, a National League batting title, is ranked as one of the best ever in home OPS, finished in the top ten in batting average in his league nine times, led the N.L. twice in OBP and had one of the best years at the plate of any player in 2000, when he led his league in almost all major hitting categories.
Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
The power of baseball superstitions are such that we dare not even whisper (let alone shout) about what is now true. But we’ll do it anyway: the Washington Nationals are suddenly a part of “the October conversation,” as they say, having won their fourth in a row in New York by overpowering the Mets, 6-3.
The Nationals latest win, coming off the arm of Jordan Zimmermann (who won his 17th) and bat of Jayson Werth, left the Nationals just six games out of the last Wild Card slot, with Cincinnati being overpowered by the Cubs (it was a no contest 9-1 drubbing) at home. The Nationals are in the hunt.
Tuesday’s game seemed almost a replay of the previous three: the Nationals came out swinging, chipping away at starter Dillon Gee (Denard Span continued his consecutive game hitting streak) and then serving up New York fastballs into Citi Field’s lower deck.
The Nationals have had little luck against Gee this year, but Tuesday night was different. The home towners touched the puzzling righty for four runs in 6-plus innings, which included a home run from Werth in the first, a home run from Adam LaRoche in the second and in-the-gap doubles from Span and Werth in the third.
Prior to Tuesday, Gee had tamed the Nationals in four of his last five starts, transforming himself into the N.L. East’s premier Nats’ killer. But he was flummoxed on Tuesday, talking to himself on the mound. “Obviously, I wasn’t commanding the ball as well as I have been,” Gee said of his outing. “You can’t get away with that against these guys. They made me pay.”
Gee’s nemesis was Werth, who has propelled himself into the race for the N.L. batting title. But it wasn’t all Werth: Jordan Zimmermann and four relievers (Craig Stammen, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano) held the Mets to three runs, putting the lid on the Mets line-up.
Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
The Nationals committed three errors and Gio Gonzalez walked three Philadelphia batters, but Washington banged out eleven hits (including a Wilson Ramos three run home run in the top of the 2nd inning) and the home towners went on to down the Phillies 9-6 at Citizens Bank Park.
“It was an ugly game, that’s all I can tell you,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “It’s one of the ugly ones I’ve seen. Gio had a real rough start. He threw a lot of pitches. He hung in there. [The fielders] were sloppy behind him. It’s not the way you win pennants, I’ll tell you that.”
Thankfully for Johnson (although that might not be the best word to use), the Nationals are in no danger of winning a pennant. The win in Philadelphia still left Washington struggling to catch Cincinnati for the last National League Wild Card spot. The Nationals remain 7.5 games behind the Redlegs with 24 games to play.
The Nationals were hoping that starter Gio Gonzalez would give them a solid outing on Tuesday night, as he did during his last outing against Miami at Nationals Park, but the struggling southpaw gave up five hits and five runs (just one of them earned) in 5 2/3 innings on the mound.
Gonzalez, who contended for the Cy Young award in 2012, has been up-and-down all season — with his 5 2/3 innings outing reminiscent of his 3 1/3 innings stint two weeks ago against the Kansas City Royals, in which he yielded ten hits and seven runs.
“I was fortunate to go at least that long, especially knowing that I felt uncomfortable on the mound the whole game,” Gonzalez said of his outing. “You can look at it from both sides: The Phillies had a lot of walks, we had a [few] walks. It was just one of these weird games. You just can’t explain it.”
Friday, August 23rd, 2013
“A win is a win,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Johnson explained on Thursday evening following Washington’s 13 inning 5-4 victory against the Cubs in Chicago. What Johnson meant to say was that it’s easier to overlook an embarrassment, so long as (in the end), your team puts one in the win column.
The embarrassment, and that’s what it was, came in the bottom of the 9th inning, when an otherwise brilliant start from Washington righty Stephen Strasburg was squandered when the young ace inexplicably gave up a game tying home run to Cubs third sacker Donnie Murphy.
Strasburg squatted on the pitchers’ mound as Murphy circled the bases, and continued to shake his head in the dugout after, disbelieving that what should have gone into the books as his seventh victory (and into the Nationals’ win column), turned out to be a no decision.
Strasburg’s 9th inning was a breathtaking collapse: “I had my way with him all day,” Strasburg said of Murphy’s at bat. “And then he runs into that curveball. Obviously it’s the location that was the problem. A curveball, once it leaves your hands you really have no control over it. It just didn’t have the same kind of bite as it had early on in the game.”
But Strasburg wasn’t the sole author of the Nats’ collapse. A throwing error from Anthony Rendon (subbing at shortstop for Ian Desmond), put Chicago’s second run across the plate in the 9th, when a good throw might have ended the game. Rendon’s errant throw brought Murphy to the plate.
Rendon’s 9th inning slip came on a tough play, but the young infielder admitted that his misstep added to the Nationals’ 9th inning troubles. “You feel terrible,” Rendon explained to reporters after the game. “Obviously I had a little slip over there, but that’s no excuse. I still should have made that play.”
But deflating as the 9th inning was, credit the Nationals (and their bullpen), for hanging in and eventually notching the victory. Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen and Drew Storen kept the Cubs at bay over the next four innings, holding the North Siders hitless while striking out four.
Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
The Nationals were outhit by the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night (14 to 11), but home runs from Jayson Werth (his 18th on the season) and pinch hitter Scott Hairston (traded by the Cubs to Washington back in early July), propelled the home towners to an 11-6 victory at Wrigley Field.
The key blast came from Hairston in the top of the 7th inning with Bryce Harper and Werth on base. Hairston’s knock came after the Cubs had tied the game at six runs apiece after Washington took an early game lead. “I know that he wants to show these guys what they’re missing, and he did a heck of a job,” Washington skipper Davey Johnson explained.
Washington’s eleven runs were welcome after a nearly all-season scoring drought from Washington, who now stand at twelfth in the league in runs scored, ahead of only Miami, Philadelphia and San Francisco. “Eleven runs, you’d think it’s Christmas,” Johnson said. “It was a weird ballgame. All kinds of strange things happened. The offense came around.”
With the wind blowing out, the Nats needed all the runs they could get, as starter Ross Ohlendorf (returning from the disabled list), gave up four runs on six hits over 4.1 innings. Nor did the Nats’ bullpen, a strong point for the team over the last weeks, step up to dampen the Cubs’ potent offense.
The usually reliable Tanner Roark relieved Ohlendorf in the fifth, but gave up two runs on four hits while pitching just 1.2 innings. Roark might have been nervous, as a bevy of family and friends cheered him on from Wrigley’s left field bleachers. But Craig Stammen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano capably closed out the game.
Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
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.
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 . . .
Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
Jordan Zimmermann stood at his locker after Monday night’s game 11-1 loss to the Cubs in Chicago and explained why he’d just pitched one of the worst games of his career. “I’m not hitting my spots right now,” he said in explaining his poor outing. “The fastball’s up. I’ve got to do a better job of locating.”
Zimmermann’s explanation was, if anything, an understatement. The Ace of Auburndale threw five complete innings and gave up eight earned runs, including three home runs — to right fielder Nate Schierholtz, catcher Dioner Navarro and journeyman third sacker Donnie Murphy.
Zimmermann’s poor showing was replicated, at least in part, by the Nationals’ bullpen, which proved incapable of keeping the North Siders in check. Chicago banged out nine hits in racking up eleven runs, with Schierholtz, who has resuscitated his career in Chicago, notching six RBIs.
Lefty Fernando Abad and rookie Ian Krol relieved Zimmermann, but Abad gave up two earned runs, while the Cubs got to Krol when Donnie Murphy homered to center in the eighth inning. “This is a ballpark where you leave the ball up out over the plate, bad things happen,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said after the game.
The Chicago victory came in front of 31,290 Cubs fans, who have seen their favorites play poorly at home all year. The Cubs had been shut out in five of their last nine home outings. “The pitching, obviously, the hitting — everything clicked today,” manager Dale Sveum said after his team’s victory.
It was Zimmermann’s seventh loss of the year (against fourteen wins), and revived a Cubs squad that had been struggling both at the plate and on the mound. Zimmermann’s outing was a counterpoint to that provided by Chicago’s Jeff Samardzija, who threw a complete game, giving up six hits and striking out seven. Washington’s lone run came on a home run from Wilson Ramos.