Archive for the ‘Oakland A’s’ Category
Saturday, May 11th, 2013
Ian Desmond went 3-4, which included a home run and an RBI double, and the Nationals won their fifth in a row in downing the Chicago Cubs, 7-3 at Nationals Park. Desmond’s hitting came at just the right time: Jayson Werth is poised to go on the D.L. and Bryce Harper sat out with an ingrown toenail.
While the Cubs pounded out more hits than the Nationals (10 vs. 9), Washington made their at-bats count: the Nationals left only eight men on base during the game, while the Cubs stranded 15.
“I go out there and try to play to win,” Desmond said after the victory. “It seems like every year that I’ve been here, we have gotten a little bit better. That’s all you could really ask for as a player”
The Nationals feasted off the fastball pitching of Chicago Cubs’ ace Jeff Samardzija, who gave up five earned runs in five innings. “I needed to make a couple better pitches and get out of those innings with no damage and get your offense back in the dugout to score some runs,” Samardzija said.
Washington lefty Ross Detwiler, meanwhile, was able to scatter eight Chicago hits over 6.2 innings of work, with steady Craig Stammen throwing 2.1 innings in solid relief. The victory marked Detwiler’s second win of the season, while Stammen sports an impressive 2.65 ERA in 17 innings of work.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Angel Hernandez was behind the plate for last night’s Nationals-Cubs match-up, and his strike zone was as wiggy as it’s always been. Hernandez is at the center of the storm over a blown call in Cleveland on Thursday. Given Hernandez’s reputation, that’s hardly a surprise . . .
The Hernandez home run controversy is now legion: with two outs in the top of the 9th, the A’s Adam Rosales launched a shot into the stands at Progressive Field which bounced off a railing above the fence and back onto the field. The umpiring crew called it a double, then retreated to the clubhouse to review the videotape . . .
Sunday, April 28th, 2013
How ’bout them O’s? The Orioles powered past the Oakland A’s 7-3 yesterday off of home runs from Nick Markakis, Adam Jones (which were back-to-back) and Nate McLouth. This was the Birds’ eighth victory in their last ten games, and assured them of a series win over the reeling White Elephants.
The Orioles are 15-9 on the season and are currently in second place in the tough A.L. East. There are all kinds of reasons for the O’s early season success, but none of them has to do with good starting pitching. While Chris Tillman gave them a solid outing yesterday (six innings, seven strikeouts), it’s the O’s bats that have made the difference.
The Orioles are third in runs scored in the A.L., third in home runs, fifth in team average and fourth in hits. In the opinion of CFG’s crack research team (here we are, in case you’ve forgotten), the O’s two through five hitters are among the most formidable in baseball: Manny Machado, Markakis, Jones and Chris Davis.
It’s possible to date the “arrival” of the O’s from the day that Manny Machado (their first pick in the 2010 draft) showed up at third base, which was on August 9 of last year. The O’s worried, worried, worried that Machado wasn’t quite ready, (he was just 20, and just three years out of high school), but he hit a respectable .262 last year and is at .277 this year.
Machado immediately showed he belonged; he singled and tripled in his debut, then hit two homers in his second game. At the end of the season, Machado’s .445 slugging percentage was the fourth highest by a third sacker his age, behind Jimmie Foxx, Bob Horner and Eddie Matthews. O’s fans took notice: the team went 33-18 after he arrived.
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.”
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 . . .
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.
Saturday, October 13th, 2012
The Nationals couldn’t hold a six run lead, then couldn’t hold a three run lead, then couldn’t hold a two run lead, and then usually steady closer Drew Storen gave up four runs in the 9th inning, and the Washington Nationals lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, 9-7 to close out their 2012 campaign. This was the toughest of tough losses. “Devastating,” is how reliever Tyler Clippard described it. And it was.
In fact, this is one that the Nationals will long remember as a game that they could have and should have won: they were one strike away from going to the National League Championship Series, twice. But they couldn’t put away the St. Louis Cardinals, who will now go on to face the San Francisco Giants in a seven game playoff for the right to play in the World Series.
The 9th inning of Friday night’s game is likely to be remembered for a long time: for its agony. Storen entered the game with a 7-5 lead, but immediately gave up a double to Redbird slugger Carlos Beltran. Still, Storen seemed on his game. Matt Holliday grounded out and Allen Craig struck out swinging. There were two outs in the inning.
But then things fell apart. Storen walked Yadier Molina and David Freese. For Nationals fans, those 45,000-plus who packed Nationals Park, it looked suspiciously like the strike zone had suddenly shrunk. But Storen’s pitches, while close, were just nipping the corners and could have been called either way. They were called balls.
With the bases loaded, Daniel Descalso singled, bringing Beltran and pinch runner Adron Chambers home. The score was locked at seven. Davey Johnson then decided that Storen should pitch to Peter Kozma, who laced a single into right field, scoring another two runs. And that was the game.
Sunday, September 16th, 2012
Nationals Manager Davey Johnson never gets thrown out of a game, so you know that when it happens it’s for good cause. It happened in Atlanta on Saturday in the sixth inning, when first base umpire Marvin Hudson called Martin Prado safe at first base when he was clearly out. Johnson argued the call and was ejected.
The call was the turning point in the game. The next hitter, Jason Heyward, put an Edwin Jackson offering into the right field seats to tie the game at four — but the Nats would have remained ahead without Prado on base. So the call was key. Did the Hudson call cost the Nationals the game?
“We don’t need to give them a gift,” Johnson said after the Nationals 5-4 loss, their second in a row to the second place Braves. “That’s what was concerning me. He gives me that inning, our bullpen’s set up, we win the game.” But Johnson was philosophical: if the Nationals had pitched better, and come back to score some more runs . . .
First sacker Adam LaRoche made the same point: “If that happens and we get a double play or something, nobody talks about it, it’s no big deal,” LaRoche said. “It’s just a shame that they ended up scoring on it. It didn’t help Edwin at all.”
Of course, for Washington fans, the play may turn out to be the pivot for the season, particularly if the Braves should end up using Hudson’s missed call as a rally point to sweep the Nationals or surge past them in what remains of the season. And while that may seem unlikely now, stranger things have happened.