Archive for the ‘Florida Marlins’ Category

Cubs Rout Roark, Nats 7-2

Saturday, July 5th, 2014


Fresh off a sweep against the reeling Red Sox in Boston, the Chicago Cubs continued their mid-summer surge, touching Washington starter Tanner Roark for nine hits over seven innings, while coasting to a 7-2 victory over the Nationals at jam-packed Nationals Park on Independence Day.

This game looked lost from the start, with Chris Coghlan and Justin Ruggiano stroking successive singles to start the game against a sluggish Washington defense. While Anthony Rizzo grounded into a double play, his grounder was enough to score Coghlan, with the Cubs taking the early lead.

While Jayson Werth tied the game with his long overdue 8th round tripper in the bottom of that frame, the Cubs were off and running — putting single runs on the board in the 2nd and 3rd, then clinching the game with three in the top of the 9th.

This was Roark’s second straight poor outing against the North Siders: Back on June 27, Roark gave up four runs on ten hits in just six innings of work, while on Friday he lasted an inning longer while giving up nine hits. This was also Roark’s second successive loss; the righty is now 7-6 on the season.

Nationals skipper Matt Williams said that Roark was consistently missing his spots with his fastball, which is what got him into trouble. Roark agreed, shaking his head at his own performance, while giving credit to Chicago’s hitters. “They did what they did last time — base-hit me,” he said. “Got beat.”

The Cubs attack was led by Justin Ruggiano, who is now getting playing time in the Cubs outfield after nursing a strained hamstring for the last month. Ruggiano was 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs. His third inning home run was absolutely tagged, landing well up in the outfield stands in left center field. Ruggiano is hitting .333 over the last ten games.

Cubs starter Jason Hammel kept the Nationals from putting together in-game rallies, providing continued evidence that he’s poison for the Nationals. Hammel threw six innings of five hit baseball and was irritated that he was lifted after the 6th inning — and unaware that he was about to be shipped to Oakland in a stunning pitchers-for-prospects swap.

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The Wisdom Of Section 1-2-9: There were visitors from Miami down in Row AA, a family of Marlins baseball fans in town to enjoy Independence Day, visit the monuments — and take in a Nats game. The father, with son, wife and daughter in tow, gave the section some much-needed leavening . . .

The Marlins family was particularly outspoken after hearing fans criticize Bryce Harper for his recent comments on who should play where for Matt Williams, and grumbling about Jayson Werth when a first inning single fell in front of the normally wide-awake right fielder . . .

“You should try to root for the Marlins,” the father of the brood piped up in the 3rd inning. “You have a tremendous team here. Werth and LaRoche are terrific, you’ve got pitching top-to-bottom and look at this stadium. And we’ve got none of that.” His son shook his head: “We’ve got Giancarlo Stanton,” he said, “and from the looks of it, that’s what you guys need here . . .”


Nats Hold Off Astros, Back In The Win Column

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014


Dallas Keuchel is probably the best pitcher you’ve never heard of. Entering Tuesday’s game at Nationals Park, the Houston southpaw (at 8-3 and with a snappy 2.38 ERA) was known for two things: getting great hitters to hit groundballs and getting good hitters to miss them.

But on Tuesday, the Nationals got to Houston’s young lefty, mixing line-drives with a raft of doubles to give the All Star-bound Keuchel his fourth loss of the season. In all, the resurgent Nationals (coming off a four game slump and a sweep in St. Louis) banged out six runs and nine hits on Houston pitching, downing the ‘Stros 6-5.

While the victory propelled Washington back into first place in the N.L. East (but just by a scootch), the win wasn’t as decisive as it might have been. Starter Tanner Roark could not locate his fastball (“my bailout was my curveball tonight,” he confirmed after his outing), while Houston’s impressive array of young hitters rallied against reliever Tyler Clippard, scoring four in the 8th.

Washington starter Tanner Roark lasted just five innings, but took the win, his sixth of the season. “It was a grind. Just one of those nights,” Roark said. “I couldn’t get ahead, but came up with some big pitches. And of course we come out early and score runs so it takes a lot of weight off.”

Washington’s anemic offense, on full display in St. Louis, got hot on Tuesday, with both Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon accounting for five of Washington’s six runs. Rendon doubled twice to drive in three runs, while Zimmerman added two doubles and two RBIs.

Tuesday night’s negative came from Tyler Clippard who had an unusual (which is to say — unheard of) meltdown in the 8th. Following on solid outings from relievers Craig Stammen and Drew Storen, Clippard gave up five hits and four runs in pitching just two-thirds of an inning.

In truth, however, some of Clippard’s difficulties came from facing a Houston line-up that has the best record in baseball since May 22. The 8th showed why so many in the game are suddenly paying attention to the Astros, with Houston’s line-up stacked with a budding superstar second sacker (Jose Altuve) a long ball rookie in George Springer and a left handed hitting gapper in Jon Singleton.

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: If the Miami Marlins played all of their games at home they’d walk away with the National League East. On Tuesday night, after losing to the Cubs the night before (and after falling to the Bucs in two of three games), the Marlins rallied for a 6-5 victory behind a three run homer from Garrett Jones . . .

The Marlins are 24-14 at Marlins Park, where it’s still possible to overhear private conversations — and where home runs hit to left field can be picked up by the cleaning crew at the end of a game. Last night, the Marlins played in front of 20,000 fans, not bad (actually) for a team that’s 26th in attendance . . .


Strasburg Steady As Nats Take L.A. Series

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014


Stephen Strasburg struggled through a tough first inning, giving up four straight singles and two runs, but then settled in for yet another strong and steady start — leading the Nationals to a 3-2 win and a series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. This was an unusual early-May classic, pitting two tough teams against each other in what felt like a post-season showdown.

The Nationals faced their former teammate, Dan Haren, who started for L.A. Haren was effective, throwing six innings of seven hit baseball — but he couldn’t match Strasburg. The Nationals touched Haren for three runs, and the veteran righty registered his first loss of the year against four wins.

The game also marked the return of Wilson Ramos to his usual spot behind the plate. Ramos made his first start since being injured on opening day, and notched the game winning RBI on a fifth inning sacrifice fly that scored Denard Span. Ramos was 1-2 with an RBI on the day, while Span scored two of the Nationals’ three runs.

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Strasburg threw 114 pitches, cruising into the 8th inning before being relieved by Jerry Blevins. Nationals skipper Matt Williams dismissed Strasburg’s historic first inning troubles with a shrug during his post game comments. “He was throwing well. Those hits were on the ground,” he said. “Good fastball, good command, he pitched well.”

A trio of Nats’ relievers helped Strasburg bring home the win, his third of the still young season. Jerry Blevins battled L.A.’s Adrian Gonzalez in the 8th inning, throwing ten pitches to the first baseman (seven of them for strikes) before getting the first sacker to pop out to Anthony Rendon in foul territory.

Tyler Clippard then came in in relief of Blevins in an attempt to master all-world Yaisel Puig, getting him to line out to Span in center. Rafael Soriano then pitched the 9th, and set down the side in order: Andre Ethier grounded out to second, then Juan Uribe and Matt Kemp both struck out swinging.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The Nationals now head for the left coast, where they will face off against the Oakland A’s and the Arizona Diamondbacks. But before leaving the never-this-interesting N.L. East, we should tip our hats yet again to those lousy Miami Marlins. Who are anything but . . .

The Marlins started the season 5-2 before losing eight in a row, including four to the Nationals. Remember? And everyone thought: the Fish are playing at their level, with a tailspin that will never stop. Since then, Miami has gone 13-6, which has included a sweep of the Braves and two series sweeps of the Mets . . .

The Marlins have been almost unbeatable at home: they are 17-5 in front of their own (still sparse) fans at Marlins Park. The problem for Miami, it seems, is that league rules require them to play half their games on the road. That’s not great news: the Fins are 2-10 after getting off a charter . . .


Kershaw Handcuffs The Nats

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014


Los Angeles lefty Clayton Kershaw returned to the mound for the first time since the end of March and led to Dodgers to an 8-3 victory over the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on Tuesday. Kershaw showed why he’s considered the best pitcher in baseball — throwing seven innings while striking out nine.

“It’s just good to be back,” Kershaw said of his performance. “It felt good tonight. They’ve got a great team over there. They’ve got a lot of guys that are tough outs over there. They got their hits. I was fortunate to limit the damage.”

While Washington’s line-up hit well against the southpaw, they were never able to string together enough hits to put him in any danger. Plus, as Nats fans no doubt noted, Kershaw was able to pitch out of shaky situations by relying on a curveball that has been compared to the one thrown by L.A. lefty Sandy Koufax.

As it turned out, however, the game turned on a strange series of errors in the top of the 6th inning. In the top of that frame Washington starter Blake Treinen bobbled a ball hit back to him from Kershaw, Dee Gordon reached base on an infield hit bobbled by Adam LaRoche and Carl Crawford reached on a squiggler to catcher Jose Lobaton. The Nationals were assessed two errors on the inning, but it could have easily been three.

By the time the top of the 6th was over, the Dodgers had scored three runs (on singles from Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe and a fielder’s choice out from Andre Ethier) and knocked an otherwise impressive Blake Treinen out of the game.

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Despite the loss, Washington rookie Treinen looked good in his first outing as a starter. The young six-foot-five fireballer has a hard fastball (clocked in the first inning at 98 mph) and a solid curve. Treinen was impressive until he reached his pitch count in the 6th, after which he was pulled for Nats long reliever Craig Stammen.

Treinen will now head back to Triple-A, but Nats’ skipper Matt Williams was so impressed by his outing that he says he’s hoping that Treinen will somehow, and eventually, find a way into the rotation. He’ll have a chance now for regular starts in Syracuse: “It will be nice to get him in a normal rotation so he could take it from here — from this start and move forward.”

Stammen was able to wiggle the Nationals out of the 6th inning without too much damage — and with the game still in reach. But the Dodgers touched lefty Ross Detwiler for four runs in the top of the 8th, putting the game out of reach. A mini rally from the Nationals in the bottom of that frame brought the Nationals to within five.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: All this yakking about how the A.L. East is the division to watch has got to stop. There’s no more exciting division this year than the N.L. East, which has turned into the equivalent of a high school fistfight — lots of circling and some wild haymakers . . .

The Atlanta Braves ended their seven game losing skid at home last night, depending for their 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on the spindly arm of veteran Gavin Floyd. Floyd had signed a $4 million one year deal with the Braves back in December, but he wasn’t slated to show up in Atlanta until just now because he was nursing a slow-to-heal right elbow . . .


Slumping Nationals Now Back At .500

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

The pundits will call the 2013 Nationals campaign an “up-and-down” season, but after last night’s 2-1 extra innings debacle in Miami, it’s hard not to call it mostly “down.”

The Nationals squandered a fine outing from the usually inconsistent Dan Haren by blowing a one run lead in the 9th inning and then giving the game away on a puzzling error in the 10th — and came away with on the back end of a 2-1 deficit, their fifth loss in the last six games.

The key to the game was a towering home run from Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, who was first batter in the 9th inning. Leading 1-0 and with usually reliable closer Rafael Soriano on the mound, Stanton put a 1-2 four seam fastball into the far seats in Marlins Park.

“I never think homer,” Stanton said following the extra frame victory. “You may swing harder in some counts, so whatever, whatever. But I had two strikes, so that was more get the barrel on the ball. It was still a ball, but I got my hands to it. That’s the thing. If the ball’s up and you get your hands to it, it’s going to go if you get on top of it.”

Until Stanton’s homer, Washington starter Dan Haren (4-10 on the season) was in line for the win. The veteran righty, plagued by command issues all season, had pitched a gem: six complete innings of three hit baseball with seven strikeouts and a single walk. For the first time in the season, Haren befuddled opposing hitters.

“I felt good. I kept the ball down. That has been the key for me in the last two starts,” Haren said of his outing. “I just really focus on keeping the ball down. I was throwing strikes, keeping the defense in it. It’s nice to throw some zeros.”

Unfortunately for Haren, the Nationals gave up the game in the 9th inning, before losing it in the 10th. Once again, sloppy defense played a roll in the defeat. With Stammen in for Soriano, third sacker Chad Tracy airmailed a throw on a Adeiny Hechavarria grounder over Adam LaRoche’s head at first.


Mets Pummel The Nats, 10-1

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

The Mets got healthy at the plate on Wednesday night, notching 15 hits and three home runs against a quintet of Washington pitchers as New York downed the Nationals 10-1. The primary victim of the Mets’ offensive was Washington starter Dan Haren, who gave up seven hits and five runs in just four innings of work.

“Haren was struggling hitting his spots. To me, it looked like his pitches were a little flat,” manager Davey Johnson said following the loss. “When he throws that many pitches, you know he is having some problems locating the ball.” Former Nats Marlon Byrd had two home runs in the game, while David Wright had one.

The Nationals’ bullpen was no more effective than starter Haren. Craig Stammen gave up two runs in a single inning of work, while rookie reliever Erik Davis was tagged with four hits and three earned runs in a single frame. If there was good news in the game it was that lefty Ian Krol made his major league debut and looked solid, striking out the side in the sixth.

The Mets’ Dillon Gee, who has struggled on the mound this season did not struggle last night against the Nationals. The righty scattered nine hits, but kept the Nationals to a single run in throwing seven solid innings. “I can’t be satisfied,” Gee said. “I’ve got to continue to do it. It feels good to do it again, give the team a chance to win, and the guys did an awesome job scoring a bunch of runs. Thankfully I was able to keep them there.”

The loss to the Mets not only brought the Nationals back to a single game under .500, it plunged them into third place behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East. The Philllies, behind the pitching of hard-luck lefty Cole Hamels, downed the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park, 6-1.


Sanchez, Chen — And The Day Of The Pitcher

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

On any other day Jordan Zimmermann’s one hit masterpiece of the Cincinnati Reds would have been the top story in baseball. But not yesterday. Instead, Zimmermann’s brilliant mastery of the Redlegs was quickly relegated to a distant second place — like a very pretty, but not beautiful, bridesmaid who stands at the alter waiting for someone to take notice.

Indeed, on a day of pitching brilliance, the Zimmermann outing placed a ho-hum second to Anibal Sanchez’s amazing performance in Detroit’s 10-0 pasting of the Braves. Sanchez’s outing made history, as the righty struck out 17 hitters in a single game, besting the 16 Ks registered by Detroit Hall of Famer Mickey Lolich.

There is little that Sanchez’s performance has in common with Zimmermann’s (Anibal threw Ks, Jordan threw grounders), except for this: Sanchez, like Zimmermann, is not the publicly acknowledged ace of his team’s staff — that would be Justin Verlander.

How good was Sanchez? The former Marlin (he was never better than 13-12 for them), struck out Dan Uggla four times, Freddie Freeman and Juan Francisco three times each and struck out two batters in every inning except the fourth. Sanchez limited the Braves to five hits and no Detroit outfielder recorded a putout. And Sanchez didn’t even pitch the 9th.

But Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann wasn’t the only bridesmaid on Friday night. Out in Oakland, Baltimore southpaw starter Wei-Yin Chen two hit the White Elephants over eight innings to provide the Birds with their best pitching performance of the season. Prior to Chen, no Orioles pitcher had made it into the 8th inning — which should tell you something about the O’s starters.

On what might justifiably be called “the day of the pitcher,” Chen was just so-so, at least in comparison with Sanchez and Zimmermann. But Chen’s victory was a thing of beauty. He threw 12 fastballs in his first thirteen pitches, all of them four seamers and none of them faster than 92 mph. Chen is hittable, but no one seems able to hit him.

Least of all Oakland hitters: “He does a little something different each and every time,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Chen’s outing. “But at the end of the day, he’s got a fastball that gets on you a little quicker than you think. He gets a lot of popups and fly balls.”