Archive for the ‘cincinnati reds’ Category
Friday, May 17th, 2013
Stephen Strasburg had his best outing of the year, throwing eight complete innings of three hit baseball, and the Washington Nationals won their first of a four game series in San Diego, 6-2.
Not only did Strasburg look unhittable, he pitched around difficulties that previously derailed him. In the fifth inning, with the bases loaded and one out (and after a throwing error by third sacker Ryan Zimmerman), Strasburg induced a ground out and then struck out Will Venable to hold San Diego to a single run.
The San Diego native pitched in front of a large number of friends and relatives — which seemed to spur him on. “It’s just another place for me, to be honest,” he told the press following the victory. “That’s my hometown, I’m an Aztec. I look forward to pitching any place in the big leagues. Now, it’s a dream come true.”
Strasburg’s win was only his second on the year, but he looked better than he has since Opening Day. Strasburg threw 117 pitches, 68 of them for strikes. This was the first time that Strasburg had pitched into the 8th inning in his MLB career.
“I thought he pitched a heck of a ballgame,” Nats’ skipper Davey Johnson said. “It was the first time he’s ever gone eight innings. It was a good homecoming for him. I liked it. I didn’t think he was as sharp as he usually is, but it was a good ballgame. It was nice to see some offense coming up to give him some run support.”
The Nationals punched out seven hits, but their scoring came on home runs from first sacker Adam LaRoche and the returning Bryce Harper — who hit his eleventh in the 7th inning. Harper’s shot was a monster: the ball traveled 431 feet to straight centerfield off of reliever Tyson Ross.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The Nats’ win came came against righthander Edinson Volquez, who has struggled on the mound this year. San Diego swapped Matt Latos to the Cincinnati Reds in December of 2011 for Volquez, who is 3-4 with a 5.55 ERA so far this year . . .
San Diego had high hopes for Volquez, but the Dominican fireballer has turned into more of an innings eater than an ace. He was 11-11 last year for the Padres in 182 innings. His best outing this year came at the end of April against Milwaukee, when he showed flashes of what he could be — throwing seven innings of five hit ball . . .
Sunday, April 28th, 2013
Denard Span’s gazelle-like defensive abilities were on full display at Nationals Park on Saturday, as the Nats’ new centerfielder robbed Joey Votto of a potential home run with a leaping catch in the sixth inning and then, in the seventh, tracked down a line shot off the bat of Zack Cozart.
Span’s acrobatics preserved a 6-3 victory and propelled Nats’ starter Dan Haren to his second win of the season. For Nats’ fans, Span’s saving catch against Votto was the day’s most impressive play. “I’m not sure if the ball would have went over,” Span said after the Nats secured their victory. “But I was prepared to bring it back if it did go out.”
The Washington win was their third in a row and brought the Nationals to within 2.5 games of fading Atlanta in the National League East. The Washington victory was solidified by another hot day at the plate from Washington’s offense: Bryce Harper hammered his ninth home run of April, while both Span and Jayson Werth had two hits each.
While Span and Harper were the day’s story, the Nationals and skipper Davey Johnson breathed a sigh of relief that starter Dan Haren pitched like the Dan Haren of old. The veteran righty had his best outing of the year, throwing six innings and striking out five.
“It sucks it’s taken so long to have a good outing, but I finally feel like part of the team,” Haren said after the victory. “I’ve got to be like this or better the rest of the year. There’s no excuse for me not to be. I’m happy with the way it went. I’m not going to get too overblown about it. It’s just one start. I think I’ve been throwing the ball a little bit better as the year’s gone on.”
“That was more like him. He’s still throwing with velocity, but he just changes speeds, moves the ball around, pitches,” Nats’ skipper Davey Johnson said of Haren’s solid outing.
Saturday, April 27th, 2013
Washington pitchers limited the Cincinnati Reds to one hit for the second night in a row, as Jordan Zimmermann tossed a one hit shutout, the first of his career, and the Nationals snuffed out the Redlegs 1-0 on Friday night at Nationals Park. Zimmermann is now 4-1 on the season with a 2.00 ERA.
“He pitches his butt off every time he goes out there,” Bryce Harper said of Zimmermann’s epic victory. “He is a competitor, he uses his fastball really well and he throws a lot of strikes. You are going to get a great performance out of him every night.”
Zimmermann’s gem may be the best game pitched in Nationals’ history, equaling or perhaps surpassing Stephen Strasburg’s 14 strikeout rookie debut. Nats’ manager Davey Johnson called it the best pitched game that he’s witnessed since his time at Washington’s helm.
This was the second game in a row where Washington starters had authored a one hitter. On Thursday night Gio Gonzalez held the Reds to one hit through eight innings. It was the first time that Washington pitchers had pitched back-to-back one hitters since Aug. 10-11, 1917, when the Senators faced the White Sox in Washington.
The key for Zimmermann on Friday was throwing first pitch strikes and pitching-to-contact. “I had a really good slider tonight, and a good fastball to go with it,” Zimmermann said of his outing. “We knew [the Reds] swung early, and we wanted to throw first-pitch strikes and quality pitches, let them get themselves out, and let the defense work. That’s what we did tonight.”
Lost in the Zimmermann performance was the savvy outing put in by Reds’ starter Homer Bailey, who held the Nationals to a single run in seven innings. Bailey gave up a run in the 4th inning on a Bryce Harper triple and a Jayson Werth seeing-eye RBI single.
The Wisdom of Section 1-2-9: Washington fans are savvy enough to know that the Zimmermann-Bailey tilt on Friday was a marquee match-up of franchise aces. It was a game of ground-outs: Bailey got ten ground outs in eleven balls put in play, while Zimmermann got 12 . . .
How brilliant was Zimmermann? He took his best pitch (a 95 mph fastball) and threw it at one of the major league’s best fastball hitting teams, and consistently beat them. Zimmermann got Joey Votto out four times in the game and each time the payoff pitch was a fastball. And Joey Votto eats fastballs . . .
Sunday, April 14th, 2013
The Washington Nationals are a good baseball team, and perhaps even a great baseball team. They are 7-4, have swept two separate series (including an interleague series against the White Sox), play well at home (where they are 6-2), and are in second place in the National League East.
But so far in this young season the Nationals have failed to win the big games against their toughest competition. They were outscored by the Redlegs (27-10), and their bullpen has collapsed again and again — most recently on Friday, in a game they should have won against the Braves — and their star third baseman has made a number of unforced errors, calling into question the health of his shoulder.
“We need to do better,” Tyler Clippard said of the pen after Friday’s late inning 6-4 loss. But stating the obvious isn’t likely to quiet the fears that the bullpen is righty heavy — that the Nationals are missing a key left hander who could make a difference. “The Nationals miss Sean Burnett,” Mitch Williams said on MLB Network on Saturday. “They need another lefty out of the pen.”
The one counter-argument is that today, in their 3-1 loss to the Braves, a great bullpen would not have made the difference. Even with Stephen Strasburg on the mound, the Nationals couldn’t get a bead on Braves’ starter Tim Hudson, who gave up just four hits in suffocating a suddenly anemic Nats’ offense.
Is there a lesson in all of this? Today’s game might seem to point the way: Ryan Zimmerman committed another throwing error, reliever Ryan Mattheus gave up an unnecessary insurance run to Atlanta in the top of the 9th — and the Nationals couldn’t score when they needed to.
Glass-half-empty fans will say (and have been saying) that it’s time for the Nationals to start solving their problems: it’s time to begin the long transition of shifting Ryan Zimmerman to first, it’s time to go out and trade for a lefty out of the pen — and it’s time to make some tough but necessary decisions on relievers (like Henry Rodriguez) who aren’t producing.
But glass-half-full fans will look at the season and decide what Davey Johnson has decided: it’s way too early to worry. “We’re gonna be fine,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said in the wake of today’s loss. His team seems to agree. Adam LaRoche dismissed concerns about Zimmerman’s shoulder (“He’s one of the best defenders out there”), and Johnson shrugs when asked about his pen, saying that Friday’s loss was his fault.
Then too, there’s this. Tim Hudson is a savvy and solid pitcher, as he proved today. Stephen Strasburg pitched well, the Zimmerman error was not the difference in the game, Rodriguez looked good — and the best bullpen in the world couldn’t have and wouldn’t have won that game. The Nats didn’t throw away today’s game, the Braves won it. And the difference was Tim Hudson.
“He doesn’t throw quite as hard as he used to, but he knows how to pitch,” Zimmerman said of the Atlanta righty. “You don’t do what he’s done in this game for as long as he has without having a really good idea of what to do out there . . . . he’s one of the best guys out there, and he usually does well against us. Like I said, if you don’t get him early, it’s tough.”
Friday, April 12th, 2013
Here’s the message from last night’s game: don’t piss off Ryan Zimmerman. After White Sox pitcher Dylan Axelrod intentionally walked Bryce Harper in the 4th inning (preferring to pitch to Zimmerman), the clearly irritated Washington third sacker stroked a line drive down the right field line, scoring two and putting Washington in the lead.
The Nats went on to win the third game of their three game set against the Comiskeys, 7-4. The victory marked a sweep of their interleague series with the South Siders and was the first sweep notched by the Nationals this year.
Zimmerman went 2-3 on the night, accounting for two RBIs. “Well, I think Harper is hot. You are just rolling the dice either way. You just take your chance and he got him,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said of the move.
Washington righty Dan Haren started the game and didn’t pitch well, but he pitched well enough to win. Haren gave up ten hits and three runs to the Chicagoans, but he came up with his first win in pitching five innings. It was a step forward for Washington’s new fifth starter, who had been hit hard in his first outing.
“I took a few steps forward,” Haren said of his performance after Washington’s victory. “I think I threw the ball better than the line score would dictate. The conditions weren’t great out there. The most important thing is we won the game. Obviously, I was a little better than last time.”
In addition to Zimmerman, Washington’s attack was led by Denard Span, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper, who each had two hits. Zimmerman and Harper accounted for four of Washington’s seven runs. While Haren was struggling through his five innings, the Nats were teeing off on Axelrod, who was knocked out in the fourth after giving up seven hits and six runs.
In addition to victimizing White Sox pitchers for ten hits, the Nationals turned in their best bullpen performance of the year. Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano held Chicago hitters to a single run and three hits in four innings of work. Soriano notched his fifth save.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines:
If you attend a Nationals game, drive home and then just noodle around doing nothing — well, you never know what you’re going to miss. Last night, at about 12:10 am Washington time, MLB network tuned into the Los Angeles-San Diego tilt at Petco, and what a scene it was . . .
In the bottom of the 6th inning, Carlos Quentin came to the plate for the Friars and, on a 3-2 count, was hit in the left arm by a Zack Greinke fastball. Quentin dropped his bat, then hesitated — but it appeared that Greinke said something to him (“take it,” is how we read it) and Quentin charged the mound. It’s really worth watching, and here’s the video . . .
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 . . .
Saturday, April 6th, 2013
Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart each homered twice, Xavier Paul hit a pinch hit grand slam and Cincinnati sprayed a breathtaking 19 hits as the Redlegs downed the Nationals 15-0 on Friday night. The earliest victim of the barrage was Washington starter Dan Haren, who gave up four of Cincinnati’s six bombs.
“I’ve had my share of bad games along with good games,” Haren said after the loss. “They’re tough to deal with, but the sooner you forget about it, the better.” While Cincinnati’s bats carried the Redlegs’ onslaught, the Nationals were able to scratch out only five measly hits on the game — and only two against Cincy starter Homer Bailey, who notched his first win of the season.
In the early going, at least, Bailey was the difference: the 27-year-old righty befuddled Nats’ hitters with a mix of up-and-in fastballs — the fastest clocked at 95.”I’ll take six shutout innings any night,” Bailey said of his performance. “You have, like, 10 guys in here with home runs, so I’m sure you don’t want to talk to me too much.”
This was Haren’s first start as a Washington National, and it did not go as he had hoped. The reputed back-of-the-rotation starter (who took Edwin Jackson’s place in the starting five), is looking for a more permanent home after a solid career that has yielded 119 wins. Haren was supposed to end up in Chicago during the offseason, but reported back and hip problems nixed a trade that would have sent Carlos Marmol to Los Angeles.
The Nationals had no such worries — and Haren seemed in perfect health last night. The problem was that he could not locate his pitches. After the loss, Nats’ manager Davey Johnson waved off concerns about his starter. “It’s just one game. He is a quality pitcher. He knows how to pitch. When you think of Spring Training, you are getting your arm in shape. He is working on a few things. Just move on.”
Friday’s loss came against a team that will undoubtedly contend with the Nationals for primacy in the National League, and the Nats got a taste of just how powerful the Cincinnati line-up can be. Cincinnati’s Votto-Phillips-Bruce-Frazier middle of the order accounted for 11 of the Reds 19 hits.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: How good are the Reds? Well, they have Billy Hamilton — probably have one of the best outfield prospects in the game — waiting in the wings. But the outfield is now set with the addition of Shin-Soo Choo, one of the games real gamers. Why rush Hamilton when you can score 15 runs against one of baseball’s best teams . . .