Archive for the ‘Michael Morse’ Category

Nats Squeeze By Chicago

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Adam LaRoche ended his standard early season drought with two home runs in consecutive at bats and the Nationals squeaked by the Chicago White Sox, 8-7 to bring their record to 5-2. LaRoche’s homers helped the Nationals stave off a surging Chicago line-up — and helped the team to survive some shaky bullpen outings.

LaRoche’s blasts came in the 6th inning with one on and in the 8th with no one on. Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth also went deep for the home towners. “You get into the second week of the season, that’s never a good feeling to look up there and not have a hit,” Laroche said following the win. “I felt great that first series at home, I just couldn’t get the ball to fall. To come back and get a couple [tonight] was nice.”

The home runs were needed: Chicago’s Paul Konerko blasted a three run home run in the 7th inning off of Tyler Clippard to bring the score within one. Washington came back to tack on a run in the bottom of the 7th, which was followed by LaRoche’s second home run — but Chicago added two more in the top of the 9th off of Rafael Soriano, who then closed out the game.

Both Chicago and Washington were hoping their starters would turn Tuesday’s game into a classic pitching match-up, but Jake Peavy gave up six runs on nine hits in 5.1 inning, while Nats’ lefty Gio Gonzalez surrendered four hits in five innings. That wasn’t so bad, but Washington’s bullpen gave up seven hits and four runs in the next four frames.

Washington’s big inning came in the 6th, when the Nationals put four runs on the board — with home runs from Werth and LaRoche.  “Obviously, the sixth inning got away from us,” Peavy said. “I didn’t have much there, and it was hot and humid, and I ran out of gas. I didn’t have much left with LaRoche, and he put a good swing on it.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: It’s deja vu all over again for the Los Angeles Angels, who are repeating their slow start from a year ago. The Angels dropped a slugfest at home last night, in their opener, against the forever surprising Oakland A’s. The Angels yielded a one run lead in the top of the 7th by giving up home runs to pinch hitter John Jaso and first sacker Brandon Moss. The A’s went on to dump the Halos 9-5 . . .

Nothing seems to be working for the Belinskys, and you can read the frustration in the face of Angels’ skipper Mike Scioscia. Ace C.J. Wilson came out of the clubhouse and promptly gave up three runs in the top of the 1st, but it could have been a lot worse: Wilson left the inning with the bases loaded . . .


“Just Brutal” — Morse Heads To Seattle

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

The first blush of comments are in on the trade of Michael “A-ha” Morse to Seattle, and the reviews are mostly negative. That is to say: they’re mostly negative in Seattle. “Lookout Landing,” the high profile Mariners blog, calls the trade “just brutal,” while “Baseball Nation” gives the Nationals an “A,” leaving a gaping “no comment” for the forever struggling Navigators.

Washington Nationals fans undoubtedly have a different perspective. Gone is the big galoot with the eccentric warm-up swing, the “Take On Me” walk-up music — and all the good memories. Which includes a well-I’ll-be’damned 2011 season in which the former White Sox prospect lifted the D.C. Nine from cellar dwellers to “most talked about.”

Morse’s 2011 season is worth remembering — a .303 BA with 31 HRs. The season lifted Morse into the stratosphere, with descriptions of how a “late bloomer” can finally find his way into the game. That reputation was only sullied slightly by an injury marred 2012, in which (if truth be told), Morse never could find his stride.

“Quite simply, the Nationals dealt from a position of excess (Morse) to replenish their farm system (starting pitching),” the Washington Post’s Jame Wagner writes. That’s true, but the Morse swap also is a certain signal that Mike Rizzo’s four player shipment to the A’s during the last off-season (another “gone in 60s seconds” moment), might well have left the G.M. with an untidy feeling that perhaps the Nats had shipped out one prospect too many.


“Building For The World Series . . .”

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

When baseball commentator Ken Rosenthal heard that the Nationals had signed righty Dan Haren to a one year $13 million contract, he shook his head in admiration: “This is a team building for the World Series,” he said on MLB Network, “and the signing of Haren shows that.”

Indeed. And Washington fans have every right to celebrate Haren’s arrival. After all, what’s not to like? The 32-year-old veteran has a track record of success (119-97 in ten years in the majors), racks up innings (238.1 in 2011), is a “gamer” — having thrown for both winners (Anaheim’s Belinskys) and losers (the up-and-down Snakes) and has shown remarkable consistency: never dipping below a .500 win/loss record in each of the last eight seasons.

But then there’s this: at the same moment that Danny and the Halos were tanking in the A.L West back in September, Haren was struggling through the worst season of his career, posting careers worsts in WHIP, H/9, HR/9, tying his second worst K/9 and throwing “only” 176 innings, his worst mark since becoming a starter in 2005.

What’s not to like? Well, plenty as it turns out. For while Haren was once among baseball’s elite fireballers, his fastball hasn’t topped out at an unspectacular 92-93 mph for the last two years and his back and hip problems were so bad that the mighty Cubs called off a proposed swap back in November that would have brought him to Chicago in exchange for Carlos Marmol.

Of course — and perhaps in spite of all of it — the signing of Haren brings a definite upside for the Nats, despite his poor year. The righty rebounded after the All Star break (a 3.58 ERA in thirteen starts), and pitched better even with his injury than Washington’s fourth starter, Edwin Jackson.


Nats Finish As The Best In Baseball

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

No one, but no one, would have thought this back in 2005 — when the Nationals arrived in Washington, D.C.. And only a handful (and maybe not even that) would have thought this at the beginning of this year.

But today the Washington Nationals closed out the 2012 campaign with a convincing 5-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies to seal the best record in the major leagues. It’s now official: the Nationals are the best team in baseball. This was their 98th victory.

The Nationals are not only the best team in baseball, they’re the team to beat in the playoffs. Today showed why. The Phillies (who used to be called the reigning N.L. East Champs, until the Nats snatched the title away) were tamed handily by Edwin Jackson, who threw 6.2 convincing innings, giving up a single run with six strikeouts.

The Nationals played their subs, or at least many of them, but it didn’t matter. The D.C. Nine boasted home runs from Ryan Zimmerman, Tyler Moore and Michael Morse, while Washington stroked eleven hits. Even Jonathan Papelbon, hoping to end his season on a high note, was victimized for two runs in the Nationals’ 8th.

Relievers Christian Garcia, Sean Burnett and Michael Gonzalez finished off what Jackson started, blanking Phillie in just over two innings of work: they made it look easy. This was a historic season for the Nationals: they not only locked up the top seed in the post-season, their 98 wins were 18 more than last year — nearly unheard of in baseball.


Suzuki, Stammen Save The Nats In St. Louis

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

The September roller coaster continues. The Nationals were nine outs away from a 4-0 victory, then three outs away from a 4-3 victory, but in neither instance could they hold the lead — and it took a heroic 10th inning that included a two RBI double from Kurt Suzuki and a lights-out relief performance from Craig Stammen for the team to come away with a 6-4 victory in St. Louis.

The extra inning triumph shaved the Nationals magic number to clinch the N.L. East flag to one, which could come today when they close out their series against the Cardinals. “We’re going to be ready, lace it up and let’s get it done,” Washington closer Drew Storen said after last night’s win.”

The Nationals were staked to an early lead from left fielder Michael Morse, whose line drive grand slam home run in the first inning provided a strange start for the game: after the umpires retreated to the clubhouse to determine whether the ball had actually left the field, they required Morse and his teammates to rerun the bases.

While at the plate, Morse added his own touch — swinging a phantom bat, complete with a phantom swing. “I guess I didn’t have to do that,” he admitted, following the victory, “but if I didn’t do it and they were like, ‘No! You’re out!’ I would never sleep again.”


21 & 21

Friday, September 28th, 2012

On the night that the Washington Nationals closed in on the National League East flag, Bryce Harper hit his 21st home run of the season (in the first inning) and Gio Gonzalez won his 21st game: and the Nationals beat the  Phillies 7-3 at PNC Park in Philadelphia. The victory put the Nationals number to clinch the N.L. East at three games.

The Gonzalez win solidified his hold as the National League’s premier starter, and the leading candidate to win the coveted Cy Young award. The southpaw threw six innings of six hit baseball, striking out six while giving up three earned runs.

Gio’s outing probably ended Philadelphia’s hope for a post-season berth, as the Ponies are six out of the Wild Card with six games to play.

Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel had nothing but praise for his Washington rivals in the wake of the loss. “They’ve got a good team. They can beat you,” he said. “The shortstop [Ian Desmond] really put up a good season this year. The guy in left field [Morse] didn’t play a lot, but he looks pretty good when he’s playing . . . And Harper is going to be something really special.”


L.A. Answers Nats 8th Inning Rally

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

An improbable and heroic comeback from the hometown nine — a six run 8th inning that tied the game at six apiece — was undone in the 9th inning by a Matt Kemp home run off of Nationals’ reliever Tyler Clippard, and the Los Angeles Dodgers took the second game of a doubleheader at Nationals Park, 7-6.

The loss kept the Nationals from clinching a playoff spot, but brought the crowd at the Half Street stadium to their feet to cheer their team on in one of the more exciting rallies of the season. The comeback followed two three run sets scored off of Nationals starter John Lannan in the third and the fourth innings. But, as it turned out, the rally fell short of providing a needed victory.

The six run eighth inning started with a Michael Morse home run, followed by an Ian Desmond single. Steve Lombardozzi followed, with his third home run of the season, and suddenly the Nationals were back in the game, having cut L.A.’s lead in half.

After Jesus Flores grounded out and Corey Brown reached on an error by first sacker Adrian Gonzalez, L.A. manager Don Mattingly did what he should have done to start the inning — he pulled starter Josh Beckett, who had tamed the Nationals through seven complete.

But the Nationals had only begun their rally. With reliever Randy Choate on the mound, pinch hitter Mark DeRosa singled, pushing Brown to third. Bryce Harper then followed, with the fifth hit of the inning, plating the inning’s fourth run. Danny Espinosa then came to the plate, singled — and suddenly the bases were loaded.