Archive for the ‘ryan zimmerman’ Category

Nats Fall Again To Braves; Zimmerman Out 4-6 Weeks

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

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What a difference 48 hours can make. Just two days ago, the Nationals had just swept the Marlins, were sitting atop the National League East and seemed to be clicking on all cylinders. Now, just two days later, the team is struggling against the division rival Atlanta Braves and — in response to mounting injuries — new skipper Matt Williams is shifting his players from position to position.

Those troubles seemed particularly in evidence on Saturday night, as the Nationals dropped yet another game to the Atlanta Braves, 6-3 and Ryan Zimmerman, the team’s third base stalwart, team leader and big middle-of-the-order bat fractured his right thumb during a pick-off play in the fifth inning. Zimmerman will be lost from four to six weeks.

The Zimmerman injury eclipsed Washington’s loss, which was fueled by starter Taylor Jordan’s inability to subdue a powerful Braves’ line-up. Atlanta put four runs on the board in the first inning on a B.J Upton homer, a Justin Upton double and timely hitting from Dan Uggla and Evan Gattis.

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“I wasn’t hitting my spots, and they capitalized on that. It was a very tough first inning,” Jordan said following the loss. “By the third inning, I started to get my slider back, and it was working for me a little bit,” he then added.

The Nationals gamely fought back, but squandered numerous scoring opportunities, leaving 11 on base for the game. The Nationals, who dominated division rivals New York and Miami, couldn’t capitalize against the Braves and were a pathetic 1-16 with runners in scoring position.

Already hit by injuries to Denard Span and Jayson Werth (Span was placed on the 7-day disabled list with “concussion like” symptoms, Werth is day-to-day with a nagging groin), the team will now feature an infield with Anthony Rendon at third and Danny Espinosa at second.

“It is what it is. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us,” manager Matt Williams said following the announcement that the team had lost Zimmerman. “You’ve got to play.” The Nationals have recalled infielder Zach Walters from Triple-A Syracuse for added bench depth and to (presumably) spell Espinosa at second.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The early take on the new MLB rules on umpire reviews has been mostly positive, until recently. Matt Williams was frustrated by an interminable review of a bang-bang play at first base involving Nate McLouth during the second inning on Saturday, which went against the Nationals . . .

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Nats-Braves Claw Their Way Through 10

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

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The Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves scratched and clawed their way through another bitterly fought contest, with the Bravos eventually coming away with a 7-6 10th inning win on a Justin Upton single. The game was another one run contest, which is becoming the new standard in the growing Nats-Braves rivalry.

Atlanta was first on the board, plating four runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning against Washington starter Tanner Roark. Despite the early score, Roark settled into the game, pitching into the fifth inning and allowing his teammates to fight their way back into the game — scoring one run in the 4th inning and three in the 5th, courtesy of a Ryan Zimmerman home run.

“I felt great out there,” Roark said following the tough loss. “I just didn’t really have the command of my pitches that I wanted.” Indeed, Roark had trouble finding the strike zone, plunking Justin Upton, Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman with pitches.

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The teams traded runs after the 4-4 tie, with Atlanta scoring one in the bottom of the 5th and the Nationals responding in the top of the next frame. “The guys continued to fight back. It’s a really good sign,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said following the loss. “It didn’t come out our way tonight, but they got back in it with the lead. We’ll take our chances with that every day.”

The Nationals, who are becoming known for their ability to launch late inning comebacks, were helped by solid performances from the middle of their order. Adam LaRoche, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper were a combined 7-13, with Zimmerman accounting for half of the Nationals runs.

The Nationals led 6-5 going into the bottom of the 8th inning, but reliever Tyler Clippard gave up a home run to Justin Upton, the Nationals new nemesis. The Braves then brought on closer Craig Kimbrel — perhaps the best closer in the majors. Kimbrel set down the Nats in the top of the 9th, striking out Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman.

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Gio Blanks The Fish

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

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Gio Gonzalez threw six innings of three hit ball while striking out five, leading the Washington Nationals to a 5-0 blanking of the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night at Nationals Park. Washington’s southpaw ace was in mid-season form, and was escorted to victory by eight Nats’ hits, which included three RBIs from third sacker Anthony Rendon.

“He competes every time he goes out there,” Nats skipper Mat Williams said following the shut down performance. “In his last couple of starts, he throws a lot of pitches, but when he has to lock it in, he locks it in. He has been good.” Gonzalez threw 101 pitches, 61 of them for strikes. Jerry Blevins, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Aaron Barrett followed Gonzalez to the mound and held the Marlins scoreless.

Gonzalez seems to own the Marlins. He has won his last four starts against Miami and was 3-0 against them last year, when the Nationals accumulated a 14-5 mark against the Fish. Gonzalez is now 2-0 on the young season, owning a snappy 0.75 ERA on the young season.

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“These guys have some good pitchers but we got to find a way to score some runs,” Miami manager Mike Redmond said of the Marlins’ loss. “We had a couple opportunities. We just didn’t get a big hit. But I’ve said that a lot over the last couple years, too.”

The Washington offense was sparked by a first inning Jayson Werth double and a run scoring single from Adam LaRoche. The Nationals struck again in the sixth on hits from Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche and Anthony Rendon. The onslaught chased Miami starter Henderson Alvarez. Washington tacked on two more runs in the 8th on an Anthony Rendon double.

Rendon has been on fire. He is hitting .407 in the early going, which includes a home run and eight RBIs. Subbing for Ryan Zimmerman at third, Rendon also turned in a nifty flip to Adam LaRoche in the 7th inning, when Reed Johnson attempted to bunt his way on.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Major League Baseball’s punditry spent Tuesday, the fortieth anniversary of Henry Aaron’s record breaking HR mark that topped Babe Ruth’s record, explaining why Aaron is the baseball’s real home run king, despite the fact that Barry Bonds owns the record . . .

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Desmond HR Saves Nats Series

Monday, April 7th, 2014

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The Washington Nationals authored a win over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday afternoon, 2-1, riding shortstop Ian Desmond’s second home run of the year to victory — and salvaging a single game win of the three game Atlanta series. The Nationals needed the victory, if only to show that they can beat a team that has consistently had their number.

“It was nice to get that ‘W’ and monkey off our back,” Desmond told the press following the win. “We obviously understand we have some things that need to be addressed when we’re playing them.” Starter Taylor Jordan, who escaped from multiple jams in his first start of the season, agreed: “I love beating the Braves,” he said. “We needed that. They’re our rivals, and it’s great to get one.”

It’s also clear that Nats’ manager Matt Williams was intent on turning his team’s fortunes around, particularly after Washington’s embarrassing 6-2 unraveling on Saturday. Williams gave Bryce Harper (3 for 21 in the team’s first five) a rest, played Anthony Rendon at third base and inserted uber sub Kevin Frandsen in left field.

The alchemy worked, but most particularly on the mound, where Jordan tossed a workmanlike 6.1 innings of six hit baseball — relying on the team behind him to keep him out of trouble. Jordan pitched out of trouble in the second and fourth innings, but was able to notch his first win of the season.

The Nationals were outhit by the Braves, but Desmond’s home run subdued the out-of-towners, who then couldn’t seem to find their swing against a steady Nationals’ bullpen. Washington sent Jerry Blevins, Tyler Clippard and closer Rafael Soriano to the mound the preserve Jordan’s outing.

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The baseball always finds the problem, no matter what team you play for. If you’re bullpen is weak you can be damn sure you’ll need it, if your team is having trouble hitting you’ll always face the best pitchers — and if you’re shoulder is tweaky you can be sure there’ll be a tough ground ball hit just to your right that will force a long throw . . .

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Nats Notes For Game #6: Reliving 2013

Monday, April 7th, 2014

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Sunday’s game marked the first home win for Your Washington Nationals, and the first in the three game set at home against the Atlanta Braves. But this early trifecta was strikingly (and disturbingly) similar to what we saw last season: Nats’ pitchers were able to shut down their opponents in spite of meager run support — and occasional infield confusion.

Starting pitcher Taylor Jordan worked fast and pitched to contact, throwing seven pitches in the first inning. He made it into the 7th while surrendering a lone run.

New acquisition Jerry Blevins provided solid southpaw relief and Tyler Clippard found his control against the two batters he faced in the 8th. Matt Williams used both of them well in planned match-ups: Blevins faced Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton and Freddie Freeman (left, right, left), while Clippard faced two right handed bats: Chris Johnson and Justin Upton. We’ll see more of that.

Rafael Soriano untucked his first save of the season by going after Atlanta’s Dan Uggla, Gerald Laird, and Jason Heyward with cutters high in the strike zone. This was the Rafael Soriano we’ve come to know so well: he got out of a jam he created for himself.

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The infield support for Jordan seemed a little confused at the outset, possibly due to Ryan Zimmerman’s sitting because of “non-structural” shoulder issues. They figured it out eventually, and new acquisitions Kevin Frandsen and Nate McLouth provided decent work in the outfield.

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Nats Notes For Game #3: It’s A Sweep In New York

Friday, April 4th, 2014

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The Washington Nationals swept the opening three game series against the Mets in New York, putting up eight runs on thirteen hits and downing the Gothams 8-2. This is one of those things where the score showed the game to be closer than it really was. This was a romp.

A three game sweep is a terrific start for a long season, even if (once again), the Nationals first inning was a little rough, both on young righty Tanner Roark and on the Nats’ defense. But after the shaky first frame, the team settled down and put on an efficient performance.

And once again Nats relievers went to work: Ross Detwiler pitched two solid innings and Raphael Soriano closed the book. Detwiler may not be happy in his new role as a lefty long reliever, but that didn’t show on Thursday.

In their first starts of the year, super-subs Danny Espinosa and Sandy Leon played well. Espinosa turned a great double play in the 5th and had two quality at-bats; if Anthony Rendon weren’t hitting the cover off the ball (and he is) Espinosa would be making a strong case for being back in the line-up.

And Sandy Leon was steady behind the plate, caught a Lucas Duda popup in foul territory in the 3rd, and scored a run after being walked in the 5th.

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The first series of the season is too small a sample size to come to make any conclusions about the team’s prospects for the rest of the season, but the Nationals have sprung from the gate — and made a strong claim to being the N.L. team to beat.

Nats’ starters gave up runs in the first inning of each of the three games, putting the team in the hole early. But the team in the other dugout was the Mets, so each starter’s job was to hold the Madoff’s close until the offense could get going. And that’s what happened, with Washington starters keeping their pitch counts low. Then too, the team’s first inning woes are probably due to an excess of adrenaline, which is no cause for worry.

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The Good News From Opening Day

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

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Among this season’s changes to Centerfield Gate is that we have decided to use our posters real names. In addition, as our readers will see in the weeks ahead, we have several new features — including “Nationals Scorebook” in which we will post (on Facebook) key details and the actual scoring of select games.

And we have new contributors. CFG’s newest writer is Jason Knobloch, a veteran Nats’ watcher. This is his first post-game commentary, but certainly not his last:

The Nationals 9-7 win in New York carried with it plenty of good news for Nationals’ fans — poised prematurely (it would seem) to celebrate what could be a banner season. F.P Santangelo called it right: the Nats needed to get past Mets’ starter Dillon Gee and into New York’s bullpen. That said, until the very end of the game the Anacostia Nine didn’t have enough quality at-bats, and Gee lasted long than he should have.

The Nationals bullpen gave up two home runs and three RBIs, but it was still outstanding. Drew Storen looked particularly impressive (and like his old self — some of which we saw at the end of last year) and Aaron Barrett had a quality major league debut. He’s a keeper: two strikeouts. And despite the struggles of Jeremy Blevins, it’s worth noting that he set down three swing-throughs.

Stephen Strasburg kept the Nationals in the game (the job, ultimately, of any good starter) — but this was hardly his best outing. Stras has added a fifth pitch, a slider, and it was outstanding and certainly well beyond what a new pitch might look like this early in the season.

With Strasburg’s curve and change-up, the slider will be yet another pitch that will add punctuation to the ace’s real weapon, and overpowering fastball. That’s quite an arsenal, particularly when the right’s velocity returns (it won’t take long) to what it should be.

Danny Espinosa provided real value in his first game back in the majors from late season (2013) Triple A. His at-bat as a pinch hitter in the 9th inning kept the team alive and (batting from the left side) the former starting second sacker looked more relaxed that he did last year.

And there’s this: if’s Zim’s shoulder gets tweaky again or if he’s moved to first, its likely that Matt Williams can have confidence in who he slots in to second and third, a point bolstered by Anthony Rendon’s performance late in the game: a three run shot that (as it turns out) the Nationals needed.

Ray Knight got it right (as usual) during Nats Xtra — the Nationals of last season, and especially the Nats of early last season, would probably not have won this game. That doesn’t mean the team is assured of any early run away from the rest of the division, but it’s a good sign.