Archive for the ‘predictions’ Category
Saturday, September 28th, 2013
Stephen Strasburg pitched seven solid innings and Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos each hit three run home runs, and the Washington Nationals easily downed the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Friday night, 8-4. The victory capped the first of a three game series, with two games remaining in the Nats’ season.
Strasburg, who is one of the ERA leaders in the National League (at a snappy 3.00), notched only his eighth victory on the year, throwing 101 pitches, 63 of them for strikes. Strasburg was undoubtedly disappointed with his 2013 win total, but Nats’ manager Davey Johnson acknowledged that the young righty didn’t always enjoy good run support from his teammates.
“We didn’t score many runs for him,” Johnson confirmed following the victory. “A bunch of times, we didn’t score any runs, one run or two runs when he was starting. His numbers indicated he should have won 15 ballgames, at least. He was certainly consistent all year long.”
Despite the 8-9 campaign, Strasburg is 3-0 in his last three starts. “I think physically I held up pretty well,” he said following last night’ victory. “I think one thing I learned is sometimes less is more. I like to work really hard and when you reach a point in September you’ve really got to back things off or it’s going to be counterproductive.”
The Nats powered Strasburg to victory on home runs from Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos. The Werth home run came in the top of the fifth with Anthony Rendon and Jeff Kobernus on base, while the Ramos home run came in the top of the 8th with Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond on base.
Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
Carlos Beltran homered and Adam Wainwright subdued Washington’s line-up and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to defeat the Nationals, 4-3 at Busch Stadium. The loss eliminated the Nationals from the post-season: they are six games out of the last Wild Card slot with five games to play.
The key to the St. Louis win was Beltran’s fifth inning home run (his 24th on the year) that scored John Jay, breaking a 2-2 tie and putting the Cardinals ahead 4-2. Washington could only muster a single run the rest of the way. “It doesn’t feel too good,” manager Davey Johnson said of the loss. “We gave it a good fight. We just came up short.
The Nationals put on a run in September, going 16-6 on the month and winning a key day-night double header against the Atlanta Braves on September 17 that vaulted that team back into contention for a playoff spot in the National League. But the Cardinals has always played Washington tough, and that was true on Monday night.
Washington starter Tanner Roark notched his first loss of the season after an impressive 7-0 run, but the Cardinals heavy hitting line-up victimized him for nine hits in just five innings. “I was getting behind hitters a lot,” Roark said after the loss. “When you do that with a good team, they are going to hit your mistakes when you get them back in the count. They are going to battle like they did tonight.”
Washington’s scoring came early, on a home run from Jayson Werth that scored Denard Span and gave the Nationals an early 2-0 lead. St. Louis clawed back, despite an additional run put on the board from the Nationals in the 8th inning: a fielder’s choice on a Ryan Zimmerman grounder the scored Anthony Rendon.
But three runs are rarely enough to defeat the Cardinals, who score just under five runs every game. Then too, Adam Wainwright got stronger on the mound as the game went on: Wainwright’s night ended after the 7th, with five strike outs while scattering five hits. The St. Louis victory was Wainwright’s 18th win on the year.
The Nationals stared into the night after a three-up-three-down ninth inning, stunned that their run for the postseason was over. The clubhouse was reportedly silent after the loss, as the team took stock of its “World Series or bust” season. “You put the uniform on to win, and we didn’t get it done,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “So I feel bad for everybody.”
Mea Culpa: We take no special pride in getting things right and, like everyone else who writes about baseball, we get plenty wrong. We said at the beginning of the year that the Los Angeles Dodgers were overrated and would tank: that players who finished with an attitude in Boston would bring that same attitude to Los Angeles. Well . . .
Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
The power of baseball superstitions are such that we dare not even whisper (let alone shout) about what is now true. But we’ll do it anyway: the Washington Nationals are suddenly a part of “the October conversation,” as they say, having won their fourth in a row in New York by overpowering the Mets, 6-3.
The Nationals latest win, coming off the arm of Jordan Zimmermann (who won his 17th) and bat of Jayson Werth, left the Nationals just six games out of the last Wild Card slot, with Cincinnati being overpowered by the Cubs (it was a no contest 9-1 drubbing) at home. The Nationals are in the hunt.
Tuesday’s game seemed almost a replay of the previous three: the Nationals came out swinging, chipping away at starter Dillon Gee (Denard Span continued his consecutive game hitting streak) and then serving up New York fastballs into Citi Field’s lower deck.
The Nationals have had little luck against Gee this year, but Tuesday night was different. The home towners touched the puzzling righty for four runs in 6-plus innings, which included a home run from Werth in the first, a home run from Adam LaRoche in the second and in-the-gap doubles from Span and Werth in the third.
Prior to Tuesday, Gee had tamed the Nationals in four of his last five starts, transforming himself into the N.L. East’s premier Nats’ killer. But he was flummoxed on Tuesday, talking to himself on the mound. “Obviously, I wasn’t commanding the ball as well as I have been,” Gee said of his outing. “You can’t get away with that against these guys. They made me pay.”
Gee’s nemesis was Werth, who has propelled himself into the race for the N.L. batting title. But it wasn’t all Werth: Jordan Zimmermann and four relievers (Craig Stammen, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano) held the Mets to three runs, putting the lid on the Mets line-up.
Sunday, August 25th, 2013
Playing in the Negro League uniforms of the Homestead Grays, the Washington Nationals continued their winning ways on Saturday in Kansas City, thumping the Royals (decked out as the Monarchs), 7-2. It was the fifth win in a row for the Nats and starter Jordan Zimmermann’s fifteenth victory of the season.
Zimmermann was, arguably, the game’s star: he scattered eight hits over 7.2 innings, holding the Royals to two earned runs while striking out seven and walking one. Zimmermann’s K.C. win was a make-good for his last outing, when he gave up eight earned in just five innings of work.
“Against the Cubs, I was nibbling a little bit and throwing too many offspeed pitches and that’s not the way I pitch,” Zimmermann said of his outing. “[The Royals] knew that and they were super aggressive and I was able to mix the changeup around the fourth inning on. I got some quick outs and I was able to stay in the game a little longer.”
The Nationals are suddenly surging: they have won 11 of their last fifteen games, including five in a row. All five of those wins have come on the road. “We have been grinding all year long,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “We are putting good at-bats together, we are seeing the ball well, pitching well and playing good defense.”
Part of the reason for the recent surge is the rebirth of Washington’s hitting game. The Nats have gone from fourteenth to tenth in the National League in runs scored just in the last week, while raising their team BA to .247 on the year.
The Nationals new offensive prowess was on display on Saturday, with Ian Desmond notching his 18th home run of the year in the 6th. Bryce Harper has also been hitting the ball well. He was 2-4 last night and has raised his 2013 BA eleven points in the last ten games. Harper is now hitting .272 on the year.
Wednesday, August 14th, 2013
An aching back, a sore right knee, a rain delay, a bout of the flue and a dugout confrontation were all part of Tuesday night’s storyline at Nationals Park, though Washington triumphed to win their fourth in a row, defeating the always interesting San Francisco Giants 4-2.
The irritable owner of the aching back was Gio Gonzalez, who worked four innings to hold the Giants at bay before being relieved in the wake of an hour-long rain delay. After Gio left the game, victim of both rain delay and balky back, the Nationals bullpen successfully carried the team the rest of the way.
The sore right knee, on the other hand, belonged to right fielder Jayson Werth (who aggravated the ache in sliding home with an extra Nationals’ run in the 8th inning), while a bout of the flu kept left field phenom Bryce Harper out of the starting line-up.
And the dugout confrontation? The flare-up took place in the bottom of the first inning between starters Gonzalez and Werth as the two came off the field and then again in the dugout as teammates scrambled to get between them. The argument came after the gimpy Werth couldn’t hold Giants’ second sacker Joaquin Arias to a single, after which Gonzalez was slow to cover first on an infield out.
“Oh, just a little camaraderie going on,” Manager Davey Johnson said of the Gonzalez-Werth spat. “Spirits are high. I like it. No big deal.” That may be true, but the exchange of pleasantries was nearly enough to overawe s scrappy and much-needed Nats’ win over a left coast team suffering through a lost season.
Sunday, August 11th, 2013
The Nationals rally past the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night at Nationals Park infused the Anacostia Nine with a new sense that somehow (maybe), the one-game-at-a-time philosophy of the ballclub could somehow vault them back into contention — and into the post season.
That seems improbable. St Louis is two games up on the Reds in the Wild Card standings and sixteen games over .500. The Redlegs, meanwhile, are 4.5 games up on the Arizona Diamondbacks for the last Wild Card slot, with the D-Backs (pretty typically) playing like a deflated balloon.
Maybe it would be better for the Nationals to set their sights on Atlanta, hoping that the Braves will swoon in the final two months, allowing the Nats to sprint into October. But just how likely is that? It’s not: the Braves have just completed a fourteen game winning streak (they lost on Saturday, 1-0 against the no account Miami Marlins), and at 25 games over .500 their collapse would have to be among the most monumental in baseball history.
So here it is, as plain as your 30-year-old step sister: the Pittsburgh Pirates are the best team in baseball (you might want to read that out loud, just to get the flavor of it), and the Braves are running away in the National League East. I would rather slam my fingers with a hammer than see the Braves in the World Series, but there you have it.
It’s no wonder, then, that Washington’s baseball pundits are chewing over the lost 2013 season, the most important assessments all coming in the last week. Not surprisingly, these postmortems have coincided with speculation about who will take over for manager Davey Johnson, a sure sign that the one-game-at-a-time philosophy is no more than a verbal conceit.
Thursday, August 8th, 2013
The Nationals had an opportunity to end the Braves winning streak on Wednesday night, but the bullpen couldn’t keep Atlanta off the board in the eighth inning, and the Aarons went on to win the game and sweep the three game series against Washington by a score of 6-3.
“You just keep battling. Just one game can turn you around and get some momentum going,” Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson said after the disheartening loss. “Things can change quick. They outplayed us, plain and simple.”
The Nationals set themselves up perfectly to gain ground against Atlanta, sending Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzelez and Jordan Zimmermann to the mound in successive games, but Strasburg and Gonzalez suffered from a lack of hitting support, while Zimmermann lasted only four innings.
“Every inning, the leadoff guy seemed like he was on,” Zimmermann said of his no-decision outing on Wednesday night. “Like I said, I had good stuff. I just fell behind or let them back in the count when I had them 0-2.”
The Braves notched fifteen hits against the home towners in their Wednesday win, seven of them coming off of Zimmermann. But Washington’s starter at least limited Atlanta’s damage, which wasn’t true for the bullpen.
While newbie Tanner Roark proved effective, Fernando Abad, Ryan Mattheus and Ian Krol gave up five hits and three runs in the crucial seventh and eighth innings. Atlanta hitting feasted off the Washington bullpen: Justin Upton homered in the top of the 7th (his 21st), while Jason Heyward and Upton (again) victimized Washington in the 8th.
“This was a big series,” Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “We pushed the lead to three more games up on them. We came in here and we let them know we’re here to stay. They’re going to come back to our place next week and they’re going to be looking for payback. We’ve got to be ready for them.”