Archive for the ‘san francisco giants’ Category

Werth, Strasburg Skin The Snakes

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.”

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 11.07.14 AM

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.


Cardinals Sweep The Nats, 4-1

Thursday, September 26th, 2013


With their chances of a playoff berth at an end, the Washington Nationals played flat in St. Louis on Wednesday, losing to the Cardinals, 4-1. The loss notched a St. Louis sweep of the Nationals in the three game set and put the Cardinals a single game from winning the N.L. Central crown.

The loss also ensured that Washington righty Jordan Zimmermann will not reach twenty wins on the season, his 2013 campaign finishing at 19-9. The Cardinals were led by rookie pitcher Shelby Miller, who stifled Nats’ hitters through six innings, giving up just four hits and one earned run.

The St. Louis offense was not overwhelming, but it was enough to seal the win: St. Louis got its first run on a Matt Carpenter ground out that scored Daniel Descalso in the 3rd, a Yadier Molina single that scored two runs in fourth and a Matt Adams home run in the bottom of the 6th.

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 8.10.08 AM

The Cardinals have dominated the Nationals following their victory against them in the playoffs in 2012. The Nationals have faced the Cards six times this year and lost every game; they were swept in Washington in April (in three close games) and, now, in St. Louis in September.

“I’ll tell you: They kicked our butt in just about every aspect of the game,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said in the clubhouse after this team was swept yesterday. “I tip my hat to them. Matheny has done a good over there, I wish them luck. They had their way with us.”

In each of the two series this year, the Nationals have had trouble scoring runs off the Cardinals pitching staff. The key in the most recent series has been the St. Louis relief corps, and on Wednesday four Cardinal relievers (Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal) combined to hold the Nationals to a single hit and no runs.

“The Cardinals have done a good job with their pitching staff. They have good starters, but I think what sets them apart is their bullpen,” right fielder Jayson Werth acknowledged after Wednesday’s loss. “The bullpen is good. They have a lot of velocity and they have a lot of depth.”

MLB relief statistics show just how effective Cardinal relievers have been — they’ve given up just 3.74 runs per game, good enough for fifth best in baseball and are particularly good when holding a lead (fourth best in the National League). More impressive still is that the Cardinals relief corps is young: each of the four relievers on Wednesday were rookies.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The media powers that be are yakking about the “unbalanced schedule” in baseball, the topic providing running commentaries yesterday on both Mike & Mike on ESPN and then, later in the evening, on the MLB Network . . .

“The schedule is designed with the division races in mind,” Jayson Stark noted on ESPN. “For the first time every team in a division plays essentially the same schedule.” The problem (Stark noted) is that while baseball’s schedule emphasizes division rivalries (with each team in a division playing other division rivals up to nineteen times) that unbalance has a significant impact on the Wild Card races . . .


The Math Gets Worse: Marlins Dominate The Nats

Saturday, September 7th, 2013


The nail in the Washington Nationals 2013 season may well have been hammered home in Miami on Friday night, as Jose Fernandez and the Miami Marlins spun a dominating 7-0 win, leaving the Nats eight games out of the last National League Wild Card slot with just 22 games to play.

“It’s not looking good, that’s for sure,” right fielder Jayson Werth said after the disheartening loss. “We’re in a spot now where we really can’t afford another loss. It puts you in a tough place, a bad place. You know, keep grinding. It’s not over until it’s over.”

The Marlins feasted off of Nationals’ pitching, victimizing Washington starter Dan Haren for six hits and five earned runs in just three complete innings. Haren suffered his 13th loss on just eight wins for 2013, which is not the kind of production the Nationals expected from their big off-season signing.

Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 7.59.18 AM

“My stuff was average, and putting us in a three-nothing hole against a pitcher like that is a downer for the whole team,” Haren told reporters in the clubhouse in describing his performance. “I didn’t obviously start out the ideal way.”

Miami starter Fernandez, meanwhile, pitched a gem: the young righty, who is one of the few bright spots for last place Miami this year, gave up a single hit in seven complete inning while striking out nine Nationals. This was Fernandez’s eleventh win on the season, against just six losses.


“Steps In The Right Direction” — Nats Hook The Marlins, 2-1

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013


Ross Ohlendorf threw five solid innings and four relievers combined to hold Miami scoreless over the next four, and the Washington Nationals went on to defeat the Marlins on Tuesday night, 2-1. It was the Nationals twelfth win in the last 17 games.

The two runs that the Nationals scored came against Marlins’ starter Nate Eovaldi in the bottom of the first inning on three singles: from Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond. The two runs were all the Nationals would need, as Ohlendorf and Nats’ relievers held the Marlins to a single run on four hits.

The Nationals have continued their late-season habit of hitting when they need to, which has fueled their recent flirtation with winning. Bryce Harper is hot (he was 2-4 last night) and Adam LaRoche is showing signs of life. The Nationals sprayed nine hits against four Miami hurlers.

But Nats’ fans should also credit Washington skipper Davey Johnson with putting Washington in the win column. When the otherwise effective Ohlendorf came out to pitch in the 6th, Johnson noticed he’d lost something on his fastball and pulled him. It was a surprise for the Washington starter.

“He just kind of ran out of gas like he did before,” Johnson explained after the game. “But you never know with him, because sometimes he puts a lot on it, and other times, it’s more like he is changing up off his fastball. When he takes 10 miles off it, it scares me a little bit.”

Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 9.31.30 AM

Johnson’s decision put the burden for winning the contest on the team’s bullpen, but they performed admirably. Tanner Roark, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano each pitched an inning, with the only hit given up by the four coming against Soriano in the 9th inning. Tyler Clippard pitched a brilliant 8th inning and Soriano notched his 34th save.

“We’ve all been through our ups and downs,” shortstop Ian Desmond commented after the win. “Obviously, the downs were pretty heavy this year. But we fought our way, and we’re starting to play better. Obviously, we’re not where we want to be, but we’re taking steps in the right direction.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: “The only things the Nationals need to do is go 25-7 in their last 32 games,” CFG contributor Tom said before the face-off with the Marlins on Tuesday night. “Don’t laugh,” he added, “the Reds are starting to tank . . .”


Haren Cages The Cubs

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013


Dan Haren provided six innings of five hit baseball and his teammates sprayed fourteen hits against half-a-dozen Cubs pitchers — and the Washington Nationals went on to win at Wrigley Field in Chicago, 4-2. It was Haren’s fifth successive solid outing, accounting for his eighth win of the year.

Haren has been a Nationals’ hero of late: he’s proven to be one of the starting staff’s most consistent stoppers over the last month, and just three days ago he entered a game against the Braves to preserve a fifteen inning win. “As the game progressed, my stuff got better and better,” Haren said of his Tuesday victory. “My cutter was real good; I worked it in on lefties a lot.”

The Nationals scored early on Chicago starter Chris Rusin, with Ryan Zimmerman’s first inning double scoring Ian Desmond. Washington tacked on another run in the sixth inning and two more in the 9th. Six Nationals’ hitters had two hits on the night, with Denard Span and Ian Desmond providing two ninth inning insurance runs.

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 7.10.22 AM

Drew Storen continued to impress in his late-season reincarnation. Storen entered the game in the seventh inning and induced a ground out from Starlin Castro, a fly out from Darnell McDonald and another grounder from Junior Lake. This was Storen’s fourth appearance in five days and he’s been nearly flawless.

Rafael Soriano entered in the 9th inning to notch his 32nd save on the year, but once again he failed to shut down the opposing club. Soriano, who’s been rocky in his previous three outings, gave up a home run to Chicago’s Donnie Murphy, who entered the game with only six round trippers on the year.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Commentators and baseball pundits continue to chew over why San Diego would ever trade uber-youngster Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs. The latest is MASN play-by-play guru Bob Carpenter, who commented during Tuesday’s game that Rizzo has proven to be Chicago’s most potent offensive threat . . .


Nats Give It Up In The 9th

Friday, August 16th, 2013


It was a beautifully played game on a beautiful Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park, with the home town team sporting a defensible 3-1 lead going into the 9th inning following another solid outing from veteran right hander Dan Haren. But then, with the team a pitch away from its sixth victory in a row, it all blew up.

The Nationals squandered a lead, a win — and perhaps a final chance to challenge for a Wild Card spot in the National League — as Rafael Soriano notched his fifth blown save and third loss of the season, by giving up a pinch hit three run home run to rookie Hector Sanchez.

The Nationals then went quietly in their half of the ninth inning, and Washington accounted for its 61st loss of the season. In truth, Soriano’s blown save was inexcusable: with two out in the 9th and Buster Posey on second, Soriano walked rookie Roger Kieschnick (with just 50 at bats on the season), then threw a fat fastball to Sanchez.

Soriano’s busted save came after the Giants threatened in the 8th inning, but could not score on bullpen MVP Tyler Clippard, who put the Giants back on their bench after giving up a single hit to Marco Scutaro. And Clippard had followed Fernando Abad, who’s glove slapping 7th inning had preserved Dan Haren’s solid outing.

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 7.58.47 AM

The deflating loss was pinned on Soriano, but emerging team leader Ian Desmond focused instead on the men left-on-base by the Nationals. Washington left two on in the fourth inning, left the bases loaded in the fifth inning and left two on in the sixth — all without pushing a single run across the plate.

“I think probably the bigger story is we had a lot of runners on base and we didn’t push them across,” Desmond said when asked about Soriano’s blown save. “We had the starter out after 3 2/3 and we didn’t score after that. We’ve got to do a better job to push more runs across.”


Tempers Flare, But Nats With Their Fourth Straight

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.

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 1.54.56 PM

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.