Archive for the ‘Jordan Zimmermann’ Category

Nats Defang Rattlers; Win Streak At 8

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

The Washington Nationals swept the three game series against the Diamondbacks, with a decisive 9-2 skinning of the rattlers on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park. The victory followed a thrilling 5-2 win on Saturday. The Nats have now won eight in a row and will get a day off before embarking on a semi-extended road trip. In both of the last two games an otherwise shakey starting rotation provided consistent outings — with Garrett Mock beating Dan Heren on Saturday and J.D. Martin besting Yusmeiro Petit on Sunday. It was both Mock and Martin’s first major league victories. Mock and Martin were not overpowering, but they were good enough to allow Nats’ interim manager Jim Riggleman to mix-and-match a bullpen that had been putting in extra innings. The Nats bats continue to heat up: Adam Dunn hit his 30th home run on Sunday, Ryan Zimmerman went 3-5, and Alberto Gonzalez seems to be rediscovering his swing — he went 2-4 on Sunday.

The bats of Dunn, Guzman, Zimmerman, Morgan and Willingham — at the heart of the Nats’ order — figured big in both games: accounting for six of Washington’s eight hits on Saturday and nine of 16 hits on Sunday. But the key to Washington’s sweep of the Diamondbacks may well have been Elijah Dukes, who notched ten RBIs of a total of 21 runs the ballclub scored. Dukes unlikely resurgence makes up, at least in part, for the departure of Nick Johnson to the Marlins. Equally impressive was the Nats’ newest find: reliever Jorge Sosa. The former Braves, Cardinals and Mets journeyman pitched 2.1 innings on Sunday, which followed a one inning no-hit-no-run relief effort on Saturday. It’s clear that the deceptive Sosa has found a place at the back of the Nats’ bullpen. He may even vie, at some point, with Mike MacDougal for the closers’ role.

Why are the Nats suddenly playing so well . . .? The answer seems obvious: good pitching, timely hitting, good defense. All that. For sure. But then, you know (and, I mean, this is just a suggestion) it’s pretty hard to ignore the role played by this guy:

Riggleman

Down On Half Street: The Boston Globe is reporting that the Boston Red Sox, reeling from their slapping at the hands of the New York Gothams, have reportedly put a claim in on Nationals’ shortstop Cristian Guzman, who has been placed on waivers. The Nats can either pull Guzman back, let him go, or work out a deal sometime in the next 48 hours. The Red Sox have had trouble filling their hole at short — Julio Lugo is gone to St. Louis and Jed Lowrie is on the DL . . . I haven’t met a Sox fan yet who isn’t absolutely ecstatic about getting rid of Lugo: “thank God he’s gone,” they say. And you can see why. I mean, his replacement (the aforementioned) is like “the second coming” of the second coming: except that he’s hitting .143. Oh no, what will they do without him? . . . Hey, maybe they should trade Clay “can miss” Buchholz (ERA: 5.33) and a boatload of other “can’t miss” players for Roy Halladay, who’s only the best pitcher in baseball . . ..  Nahhhhhh .   

We are pleased to announce that there’ll be a twenty minute special report on Lowrie’s status on Boston Red Sox “Baseball Tonight,” right after the fifteen minute special on David Ortiz (which follows the sixteen minutes on the Bosox vs. the Bronx series, which is the single most important baseball series this year — not counting the Angels-Rangers tilt going on right now too, of course), so be sure to stay tuned for that compelling report . . . and, oh yes, later on in the program, we’ll be presenting our special segment, “that’s not television, that’s boring”  . . . speaking of the DL. It could be bad news for Nats’ starter Jordan Zimmermann, who is experiencing continued elbow soreness. He is scheduled to have x-rays of the elbow examined further on Monday by the nation’s leading baseball orthopedist Dr. James Andrews. Andrews isn’t examing the elbow, mind you, he’s so good all he needs to do is look at the x-rays. In any event, this is not good news . . . but hey, here’s my question and it’s damned important: do you think that Joba Chamberlain should stay as a starter, or go back to the bullpen? huh? huh? huh? do ya? do ya? do ya? . . .

Rocky Mountain Low

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

The Nats have dropped two to the Colorado Rockies — the first a pitcher’s duel that showed why Jason Marquis is on the NL All Star Team (and should be named its starter) and the second a mistake-filled and embarrassing loss characterized by missed opportunities and indifferent play. Marquis was the story in the first game. The economical former Cardinal and Cub threw 104 pitches, 75 for strikes. Craig Stammen, the Nats rookie who has had several difficult appearances over the last month, matched him nearly pitch-for-pitch, throwing 98 pitches, 62 for strikes. Stammen showed he can throw his first pitch for a strike — something he has had difficulty doing. The only drawback to Stammen’s performance was a rocky first inning, which was the difference-maker in the game. The second match-up was entirely different, a loss that resulted from humiliating breakdowns in nearly every part of the game.

J Marquis

The mistakes made by the Nats in their 5-4 loss are almost too numerous to list, but here are a few of them: poor starting pitching (Jordan Zimmermann couldn’t make it into the fifth), Ryan Zimmerman’s inability to stay out of the doubleplay (after a three run homer he hit into two — numbers 15 and 16), Josh Willingham’s puzzling failure with runners in scoring position (he has ten homers, all of them with no one on base), Cristian Guzman’s continued indifferent defense (nonchalanting and then booting a catchable ball in a clutch situation), Julian Tavarez’s inability to throw strikes to poor hitters (he walked two Rockies’ in the eighth inning) Joe Beimel’s brain-lock in throwing to the wrong man covering second (he overthrew the bag on a potential doubleplay) and, most embarrassing of all, Austin Kearns’ belly-flop between first and second on a pickoff throw from Rockies’ pitcher Alan Embree. The result was a scorebook anomoly: by picking off Kearns, Embree got the win without pitching the ball. 

MASN commentators could hardly believe what they were seeing. Going into a commercial, play-by-play announcer Bob Carpenter told his audience: “We’ll try to explain this one when we get back folks.” Color commentator Rob Dibble, meanwhile, was nearly enraged by Cristian Guzman’s error at shortstop. When Carpenter theorized that Guzman was more used to the sure bounces of Minnesota’s astroturf, Dibble waved him off. “I don’t buy it,” he said, and added that he thought that Guzman was “just lazy.” His solution? “Sit him down. Bring in Alberto Gonzalez.” Following the game, however, Manny Acta blamed walks for the loss — and downplayed the Nats poor infield play. This could have been predicted: Acta was clearly steaming when he walked to the mound to relieve Tavarez, who (along with Kearns) has to be on a short string in Washington. “I don’t think I’m as disappointed at the defense as the walks,” Acta said. “I think walks are a curse, and that’s been the recipe for us. We didn’t even have to rely on our defense if we didn’t walk those two guys in that inning. It’s a combination. I think you just got to go after guys and make them swing the bat.”

Finally Finished With The Phish . . .

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

The Nats Return Home. The Nationals had a chance to take the final game of a three game set from the Phish in Miami yesterday and show off their new talent. Neither happened. Newcomer Nyjer Morgan remained on the bench and highly touted lefthander Sean Burnett gave up a home run in his first appearance. The Nats woes continued: poor fielding, quiet bats in clutch situations and a pathetic showing from the bullpen. The Nats are now “oh-fer” in their last ten outings against the Marlins. Time to get out of Miami. The Nats woes might well be reaching into the team’s psyche: otherwise steady third sacker Ryan Zimmerman has registered three errors over the last two games, Anderson Hernandez’s bat has gone silent, Nick Johnson’s BA has plummeted, Adam Dunn’s goal of hitting over .300 for the year now seems a fantasy. The front office is scrambling to deal with the continuing crisis, sending Elijah Dukes to triple-A, and talks about dealing some of the team’s major parts is heating up, with Nick Johnson apparently being targeted by the Chokes. The only good news to come out of Florida, it seems, was the continued stellar showing of first year talent Jordan Zimmermann, who went six innings and threw 100 pitches, 74 for strikes.

fantasy_g_zimmermann_576

Down On Half Street: Nats Park should fill up this weekend for a series against the Chops — the weather will be good and its the July 4th weekend. Which brings me back to those early season “Baseball Tonight” predictions that Nats attendance would continue to plummet. That hasn’t happened. The Nats now stand 24th in attendance (true: hardly something to brag about), but are within easy reach of K.C., San Diego and the O’s. The team finished 19th in attendance last year and if they finish out of the bottom ten (with the worst record in the majors) it will be evidence that baseball can thrive in Washington. And Tim Kurkjian-and-crew can eat their words . . . I can’t quite get past this talk that the Nats are going to trade John Willingham. What for? A rightfielder who can hit? He is a rightfielder who can hit. Not everything can be solved by trading away your best players . . .

Speaking of eating crow: I am not preparing to eat crow over my early season prediction that the Baby Bears (aka, “the North Side Drama Queens”) would finish first in the NL Central, despite the  fact that Lou-and-crew have apparently decided that they can lose as well with minor league players as they can with stars hitting .230. Sam Fuld started in left field last night against the Ahoys and the Cubs best pitcher is . . . Randy Wells, a lifetime triple-A hurler. Randy Wells? Who the hell is Randy Wells? The Cubs are acting more like a passle of whining kids than a ballclub. Lou went after Milton Bradley for his poor performance (more precisely, he called him “a piece of . . .”), beat writers have called for the unconditional release of Carlos Zambrano (no kidding), and Aramis Ramirez continues to nurse a dislocated shoulder. But I will eat crow on Jason Marquis. I couldn’t wait for the Cubs to get rid of him. And so they did. He’s now 10-5 with a 3.87 ERA for the resurgent Rockies and pitching like he’s Ferguson Jenkins. This must seem like sweet justice for Marquis, who blistered the Cubs for not having any confidence in him . . . in this, at least, the Cubs can best the Nats — the troubles the Baby Bears are having are from the neck up. Lou actually looked deadpan into a WGN camera last week (during a pathetic 6-0 pasting at the hands of the Pale Hose) and shrugged his shoulders. But last night, finally, he seemed reengaged. The camera caught him expressing his view of the third base ump (“fat f — k”) and, one inning later, a poor call at first brought him headlong out of the Cubs dugout. He was immediately tossed, redfaced. About time.