Archive for the ‘pittsburgh pirates’ Category
Monday, May 6th, 2013
The Washington Nationals pounded out eleven hits, including crucial home runs from Danny Espinosa and Tyler Moore, and went on to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 on Sunday. The victory gave the Nationals a series win in the Steel City, with the team ending their road trip with a respectable 4-3 record.
For once, Washington’s pitching was not the headline for the game, although Washington southpaw Gio Gonzalez picked up his third win of the season. Gonzalez provided six innings of five hit baseball to go along with his five strikeouts, throwing 102 pitches, 63 of them for strikes.
But this Gonzalez outing is likely to be remembered for the lefty’s gritty 1st inning performance, when he pitched out of a bases loaded jam — notching two strikeouts and inducing a ground out. The Pirates were only able to score once in the inning, on a Starling Marte lead-off home run.
“We got the three outs, you see your dugout get lit up with joy and excitement,” Gonzalez said of his clutch pitching in the first inning. “It just felt like the momentum shifted. You want to go out there and attack the strike zone.
After dodging the potential Pirates big inning in the 1st, the Nationals settled in to peck away at Pirates’ starter Wandy Rodriguez. Danny Espinosa put Washington on the board in the top of the 2nd inning with a sacrifice fly, then homered in the top of the 4th to score two.
But the big blow of the game came in the top of the 8th, when Tyler Moore sent a Bryan Morris offering 414 feet into the left field stands. Moore’s blow came after the Pirates intentionally walked a suddenly hot Adam LaRoche. The blast made the score 6-2 and put the game out of reach for Pittsburgh.
Sunday, May 5th, 2013
To hear the experts on “Baseball Tonight” talk about it (Rick Sutcliffe, Nomar Garciaparra et. al.), you’d think that Washington starter Stephen Strasburg struggled through Saturday’s start in Pittsburgh (in which the Nationals rallied to notch a 5-4 victory), and was lucky to get out the game alive.
But that’s not the way that Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson saw it: “I thought he was throwing well. The way he started the ballgame, he was going after them, making good pitches,” Johnson said after the Nationals’ win. “He made a couple of mistakes, right on the heart of the plate. You can’t do that. He held us in there and did a good job.”
True enough, Washington’s celebrated ace “made a couple of mistakes” (a home run to Starling Marte in the 3rd, and to Clint Barmes in the 5th), but he also threw 65 strikes and lasted seven innings — long enough so that Ryan Zimmerman could lead a double steal and score on a Tyler Moore sacrifice fly in the 9th inning to clinch the Nationals’ one run victory.
The Nationals’ win was a just-hang-in-there, grind-it-out kind of triumph. coming after a disheartening so-so start to the season. It was exactly what the team needed. The Nationals fell behind early, rallied to tie it at four apiece, then literally stole the game in the 9th, when Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche engineered a heads-up double steal that took the Pittsburgh defense by surprise.
Then, with Zimmerman on third and LaRoche on second, Tyler Moore short-stroked a fly ball to Pirate Travis Snider, which brought the winning run home. Moore’s hit was a vindication for the young slugger, who’d struck out twice in his previous at bats, leaving the bases jammed both times. “Just to come through at the end was huge. I battled it out for the team,” Moore said of his 9th inning heroic.
Tyler Clippard picked up his second win of the season by pitching a scoreless eighth inning, while Rafael Soriano was credited with his 10th save. The Nationals banged out only six hits in the win, leaving an astonishing 21 runners on base. Still, a victory is a victory: “Well, we got a few more guys on base,” Davey Johnson said in the clubhouse afterwards. “We didn’t get many in — but it’s a start.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The big news of the day (outside of the win) was a team meeting that Davey Johnson had prior to the game. “So, just trying to clear the air, make it simpler,” was the way Johnson later described the confab. “Let’s keep having fun. We are here to do things that we are capable of doing. It was that kind of a meeting . . .”
The Johnson meeting had an immediate impact, as did his decision to take some batting practice with the players before the game. He took about 40 swings, but the lesson wasn’t lost on his team — nor were his comments afterwards: “I wanted to see if it was that hard to hit a baseball,” he joked . . .
Saturday, May 4th, 2013
These are not your daddy’s Pittsburgh Pirates, these are the “real deal” Pirates, a team that has not won in nearly two decades but that sits now, at 17-12, just one game from the top in the National League Central. On Friday night they proved they belong there, as A.J. Burnett struck out nine Nationals in leading the Buccos in a 3-1 win over the home-towners.
Burnett gave up just five hits and one walk in subduing the Nationals, getting help from Jordy Mercer, who homered to break the tie and give Pittsburgh the win. The Nationals seemed particularly ineffective against Pirates’ pitching: they were 1-3 with runners in scoring position and struck out 14 times in all.
“Our offense seems to be sputtering. We just can’t get anything going. That’s our problem,” Nats’ skipper Davy Johnson said in the clubhouse after the loss. “We are not hitting balls early in the count. We have a lot better hitters than we are showing.”
The Nationals had every chance of winning, particularly with lefty Ross Detwiler on the mound. But Detwiler lasted only five innings, lifted by Johnson after giving up six hits and two walks. Detwiler was victimized by Nats’ killer Andrew McCutchen, who put a Detwiler offering into the left field seats with two out in the first inning.
“He is not going to hit a home run every time, but it seems like against us, he does,” Detwiler said of McCutchen’s Friday night performance. “You have to focus on keeping the ball down. Don’t let him lift the ball, though.”
Indeed, the Pirates’ centerfielder clearly has the Nats’ number: in twenty-four games against the Nats, McCutchen is hitting .456 with six doubles, two triples, 11 homers, 22 RBIs and 24 runs scored. McCutchen was 3-4 last night, lifting his season BA to .257.
The Nats loss in Pittsburgh put the team back at 15-15 for the year. One year ago, the team was 18-12. The frustration is starting to show, even with Davey Johnson, who called on his team to be more aggressive. “We are kind of hitting rock bottom. We just need to man up,” he said. “Let’s start doing the things we are capable of doing. The ones that get me are the [called strikeouts].
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Of course, the Pirates didn’t “steal” last night’s game (as our headline notes), but used the long ball and a rookie to seal the win. Our headline is, rather, a nod to the Bucco’s long history. They got their name for “pirating” Lou Bierbauer from the Philadelphia Athletics back in 1890 . . .
Since their founding in 1882 (as the Alleghenys), the Pirates have won only five world championships, the most recent in 1979, when the Willie Stargell led “family” subdued Baltimore’s Orioles. But the Pirates haven’t done anything since 1992, when they lost the NLCS to the Atlanta Braves . . .
Thursday, April 25th, 2013
The St. Louis Cardinals got to Stephen Strasburg early, scoring three runs in the first inning against the righty, and the Nationals went on to lose to the Redbirds, 4-2. The loss was the fourth in a row for the Nationals, who were swept at home by their Central Division rivals.
What ails the Nats? Well, nearly everything: their defense has been erratic since the end of Spring Training, exacerbated now by a monumental hitting drought. The Nationals have committed 19 errors in 21 games (a National League worst), and the team is hitting a combined .235 — which is just three from the bottom in the N.L.
The team’s loss on Wednesday afternoon gave a clear snapshot of both problems. Anthony Rendon threw wildly to second in the first inning (when there was a play at home), allowing Carlos Beltran to score; the Nationals seemed to have a hard time recovering: the team squandered an important scoring opportunity in the 6th, but Ian Desmond struck out swinging.
The Nationals haven’t scored in 34 of their last 37 innings and, on Wednesday, went 0-7 with runners in scoring position. “We’re just not doing the things we’re capable of doing right now,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said following the loss. “It’ll change, but I’m going to have to jumble things up a little bit. Try to light a fire.”
The good news of the day is that, after a shaky first, Washington starter Stephen Strasburg settled down, throwing seven complete innings and retiring 15 of the last 16 batters he faced. “I was trying to throw the perfect pitch. I tell myself, ‘Don’t do that.’ Then I go out there and do it,” Strasburg said of his rocky first inning.
Despite the mounting problems, the Nationals seem quietly confident — even certain that they will live up to their pre-season expectations. Jayson Werth, who homered in the 8th inning (his fourth of the year), remains positive.
“This is definitely not the end of the world,” Werth said when faced by reporters at the end of the game. “We’re just going through it. Hopefully we’ll get over this soon and start playing good baseball and things will start going our way. At some point, I really do believe the ball will start bouncing our way.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The Nationals aren’t the only N.L. East team that are having problems at the plate. After sweeping the Nationals at home in mid-April, the Atlanta Braves have been slumping: they split a two game series with the Kansas City Royals and then lost three of four against the underrated Pirates . . .
Thursday, April 4th, 2013
So far so good: in 18 innings of baseball in the new 2013 season, the Nationals have held their opponents to seven hits and no runs, shutting down the punchless Marlins in two games. The hero in chilly Nationals’ Park on Wednesday was Washington southpaw Gio Gonzalez, who not only shut down the Marlins in six innings, but homered to give the Nats their first, and lasting, lead.
The Nationals are only the 13th team since 1900 to begin the season with back-to-back shutouts. There’s little doubt that Nationals’ starters are the backbone of the ball club — and provide the team with the best chance of taking the N.L. East. “With the stuff they’ve got, it’s pretty special, and it doesn’t surprise me at all one bit,” catcher Kurt Suzuki said of the Nationals’s starters after the 3-0 Nationals win. “You look at the bullpen, too, it’s tough.”
Indeed, the bullpen, which struggled late in 2012, might be the surprise of the year. After notching his first save on Opening Day, Rafael Soriano got his second last night. But the most impressive bullpen outings came from Ryan Mattheus and Drew Storen. The duo allowed a single hit, walked none and struck out two. The Marlins looked baffled.
The Nats scored three in shutting out the Fish: the Gonzalez home run came in the bottom of the 5th, with the Nats adding a single run in the 7th (on a Denard Span groundout) and then in the bottom of the 8th — on a single from Ryan Zimmerman that scored Bryce Harper, who had doubled.
The Nationals will attempt to sweep the series today, with a 4:05 start at what promises to be another cold day at Nationals’ Park.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Denard Span must think he’s in heaven. After spending his first five years in centerfield in Minnesota for the up-and-down Twinkies, he has landed on one of the best teams in baseball. But it’s doubtful he has any regrets about playing for the Killebrews, who’ve spent years defying the small market odds . . .
The Twins finished at 88-75 in his first year, good for second place and only one game behind the White Sox. The next year the Gardenhires took the N.L. Central in a squeaker over the Tigers. They won their division again in 2010; Carl Pavano and Kevin Slowey were their aces, with power provided by Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer and Jim Thome — and this on a team where Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau were considered the big bats . . .
Thursday, September 13th, 2012
Spot starter John Lannan, who has spent most of 2012 in Triple-A Syracuse, proved his worth to the Nationals as a fill-in for Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday, leading the Nationals to a 2-0 victory over the Mets in New York — a sweep of the division rivals in the run-up to a crucial three game series in Atlanta.
Lannan threw a strong 5.2 innings, holding the Mets to just five hits, while picking up his third win on the year without a loss. “How about John Lannan? That’s was another great effort,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said after the victory. “He has three great games for us. He pitched a superb ballgame.”
Lannan’s win was accompanied by solo home runs from Ryan Zimmerman (his 22nd in the fourth inning) and Ian Desmond (his 23rd, in the eighth), off of rookie hurler Matt Harvey. The Nationals banged out seven hits against Mets’ pitching, but the two round-trippers were all that they would need.
The Nationals have dominated the Mets this year: Washington has now won twelve of their last thirteen games in New York, and eight in a row. The Mets, who started the season well and were in contention into late June, showed their frustration after the loss.
Friday, August 17th, 2012
Back in 1939, the Brooklyn Dodgers thought that young Hugh Casey might become one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. He had all the attributes, including some that don’t show up in the scorebook: a powerful fastball, a competitive spirit and a mean streak a mile wide.
An Atlanta native, Casey first pitched for the Atlanta Crackers in 1932, before coming to the attention of the Cubs. He pitched for the Cubs in 1935, but his control was lousy so he went back to the minors, where he pitched for the Memphis Chicks. In 1939 he ended up with the Dodgers, and this time he threw well enough to stick — and as a starter.
Casey was 15-10 for the Dodgers in 1939, then 11-8 the next year and 14-11 in 1941. He was not only good, he was real good. But in 1941 Hugh Casey was not simply good, he was famous. In Game 4 of that series, the great Mickey Owen was behind the plate in the top of the 9th with the Dodgers leading and two outs. Yankee Tommy Henrich was at the plate with a 3-2 count. On the next pitch he swung and missed — for what should have been the final out, and a Dodger win.
But the ball got by Owen, perhaps the surest handed catcher in the game’s history, and Henrich ended up on first. The Yankees rallied to win that game, and then the Series, and Owen was the goat. Owen’s “dropped third strike” put him into baseball history and no one, but no one, ever forgot it.
But the guy on the mound was Hugh Casey, a fact that not many people would remember. The dropped third strike bothered the hell out of Owen, but it didn’t seem to effect Casey, who signed on with the Navy for three years during the war before returning to Brooklyn in 1946. And in the 1947 World Series he was spectacular.