Archive for the ‘Tampa Bay Rays’ Category
Tuesday, May 21st, 2013
The Nationals’ hitting woes not only continued on Monday night in San Francisco, they might have actually gotten worse. Washington’s anemic line-up was able to muster only three hits against Ryan Vogelsong, a starter with the worst ERA in the National League, and the Giants defeated the hometowners, 8-0.
For the first time this year, Vogelsong looked like the starter that notched a 14-9 record last year. The righty kept the Nats off balance through five innings and struck out two. “That’s the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Vogelsong said of his outing. “From a mental aspect, physical aspect, everything felt good.”
“That was a tough one,” Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson said of the loss. “Been in a lot of funny games, but going into that one being a couple of pitchers short was tough.” The Nationals have now lost three in a row, and stand at 3-5 on their current road trip.
The Nationals were hoping that spot starter Zach Duke would be able to hold the Giants at least through five innings, but the southpaw threw only 57 pitches before being lifted in the fourth inning for reliever Craig Stammen. The Giants, meanwhile, victimized Duke for seven hits and four runs.
The Giants looked fully recovered from their recent 1-5 road trip against Toronto and Colorado — where they looked like the punchless Nationals. On Monday night, the Giants pounded out seventeen hits against Washington pitching, the most at AT&T Park since August of 2010, with first sacker Brandon Belt going 4-5 with a home run, his sixth of the year.
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
“It was a tough night, tough night,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Johnson said of Washington’s disappointing 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
Johnson’s words reflected not simply the team’s latest inability to score runs, but a rash of in-game injuries — to lefty starter Ross Detwiler (who left with back tightness after the third inning) and catcher Wilson Ramos, who reinjured his hamstring and left the game in the top of the 4th inning.
Wednesday night’s loss to the Dodgers left the Nationals at just two games over .500, and allowed Los Angeles to take the three game series. The problem for Washington (aside from the two injuries) continued to be the team’s inability to drive in runs: the Nats’ stroked nine hits in Wednesday’s loss, but left 16 runners on base.
For L.A., the big story of the night was the return of Zack Greinke, who took the mound after more than four weeks on the disabled list. Greinke pitched five complete innings in notching his second win on the season. “I thought my stuff was pretty good,” he said after the victory. “My stamina needs to grow a little bit, but that could be next start.”
While there’s no doubt that Greinke pitched well, the Nationals had several opportunities to knock him out of the game — but were unable to capitalize. Before leaving the game, Wilson Ramos got on base in both of his at-bats, but was left stranded his teammates. The only Washington score in the early going (and all night) came in a home run off the bat of Adam LaRoche, his fourth of the season.
The only piece of good news for the Nationals was the continued brilliant relief pitching of Craig Stammen who came in after Detwiler left the game and kept the Dodgers scoreless in three innings of work. Stammen has been the best pitcher in the Washington bullpen and lowered his ERA to 2.25 on the year.
The best chance to win the game for the Nationals came in the 8th inning, when the Nationals had runners on first and third with nobody out but weren’t able to push across a run. “We had the right guys up there,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if we are trying to do too much instead of just hitting the ball and putting it in play. I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: It’s amazing but true — after losing two of three in L.A. (and after struggling at the plate), Washington is still only one game behind the Atlanta Braves in the surprisingly uncompetitive N.L East . . .
The reason? The Braves have a deplorable road record, going only 7-13 on their two ten game road trips this year. The losses have been keenly felt in Atlanta, particularly after the early 12-1 start. The Braves have only won ten of their last 27 games, and are 11-15 against teams better than .500 . . .
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.
Wednesday, September 12th, 2012
The Washington Nationals defeated the New York Mets 5-3 on Tuesday night behind a fourteen hit attack, and a two run home run from pinch hitter Tyler Moore. The Nats win was notched against New York ace R.A. Dickey, and extended their lead in the National League East to 7.5 games over the Atlanta Braves.
The Washington victory was highlighted by a 4-5, one RBI night from Bryce Harper who was 0-10 against Dickey before Tuesday’s game. Other than Moore’s homer, Dickey was predictably sharp, throwing seven solid innings while giving up a single run. Moore changed that with a rifle shot over the left field wall.
“He has been throwing a good knuckleball all night. I think he kind of spun that one and it didn’t knuckle as much,” Moore said after the victory. “I was able to get one in my zone and I put a pretty good swing on it.” The home run was Moore’s ninth of the year.
Meanwhile, the Nationals’ starting ace Jordan Zimmermann, struggled through five innings of work, giving up two runs on six hits. Zimmermann’s outing contrasted sharply with his previous game, against the Cubs, in which he surrendered just two runs in seven innings.
Friday, June 22nd, 2012
Gio Gonzalez pitched a solid six innings and Danny Espinosa notched two clutch RBIs, as the Washington Nationals defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 5-2 on Thursday night at Nationals Park. The victory gave Gonzalez his ninth win, while Espinosa’s 2-4 two RBI night provided hope that the second sacker had finally shaken off his second year slump.
Gonzalez had problems with his command early, exacerbated by a roving strike zone on the part of home plate umpire Cory Blaser. But after a rough beginning, Gonzalez settled down, striking out four while walking only two. Espinosa’s clutch hit came in the sixth inning, when Tampa reliever Joel Peralta intentionally walked Adam LaRoche to face Washington’s second baseman.
Batting from the left side, Espinosa put a Peralta offering down the right field line, scoring LaRoche and Jesus Flores ahead of him. The hit provided Espinosa with a measure of revenge on Tampa manager Joe Maddon, who was eying Espinosa’s lack of production from the left side.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson has stuck with Espinosa despite increasing skepticism that he will emerge from his slump. Last night was no different: “Sometimes it just takes a little time, patience,” Johnson said of Espinosa after the victory. “I know he has the talent, the ability, and you just try not to put too much pressure on him. He’s still a very dangerous hitter.”
The 5-2 victory gave Washington a series win against Tampa Bay — as the team has won two of the last three games. “When all was said and done, I think it was one of those great team wins,” starter Gio Gonzalez said. Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard showed once again why Washington’s bullpen is one of the most respected in the National League. Burnett pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, while Clippard earned his 11th save.
The Wisdom Of Section 1-2-9: It was inevitable, we suppose, but it might still be a wee bit premature. “So,” a 1-2-9 regular said taking his standard seat in Row BB. “So . . . how are we going to split up the post-season tickets.” You could almost feel the section wince, as shoulders slumped all around. “Oh God, don’t jinx it.”
“Well, let’s be realistic,” he said. “The Phillies aren’t going to catch this team, and Beachy just went down.” A silence greeted this, but the eventual response was predictable. “There’s a long way to go.” True enough, the regular said, “but the team is solid and the pitching is better than we’ve ever seen it.”
As if to highlight the conversation, a group of New Yorkers one row back chattered on about the great teams of their home town. It was like listening to a group of oldsters talk about how great things had been in the old country — when, in fact, they’d been lousy. It was a “when-I-was-a-kid” monologue from a man in a Mets hat, who didn’t realize he was boring his listeners . . .
Thursday, June 21st, 2012
On a day that saw Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon and Nats’ manager Davey Johnson trading barbs over Johnson’s request that pitcher Joel Peralta’s glove be checked for “foreign substances,” baseball once again took center stage at Nationals Park — and Stephen Strasburg ended the Nats four game draught by pitching his team to a 3-2 win.
Strasburg wasn’t perfect, but he might well have pitched one of the best and savviest games of his career. The Nats’ young righty — who must now be considered the team’s best “stopper” — threw seven innings of five hit baseball while striking out ten. “He seemed to get stronger as the game went on,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said of Strasburg. “Great seven innings. He’s a true No. 1, and he’s still learning. I think the best is yet to come with him.”
The Nationals’ hitters, meanwhile, were unable to get to Tampa Bay rookie Chris Archer who, after a shaky first inning, didn’t give up a hit to Washington in his final five innings. An acquisition from Chicago (in the Matt Garza trade), Archer was making his major league debut. Washington only scored in the first, when Washington plated three runs on three hits.
But it was Strasburg who garnered the headlines for the game. The righty is now 9-1, sparking a debate about whether he, or Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey should start the All Star Game for the National League. Strasburg threw 111 pitches last night, 70 of them for strikes.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Billy Beane must be kicking himself for trading away Gio Gonzalez, who has become one of the N.L.’ premier pitchers — right? Well, maybe not. While Gonzalez has rocketed to the top of baseball conversations about the N.L.’s best hurlers for the 2012 campaign, former Nationals lefty Tommy Milone has proven his worth in Oakland . . .
Tuesday, June 19th, 2012
The big news of the night at Nationals Park will not be the D.C. Nine’s fourth straight loss, but Tampa Bay reliever Joel Peralta’s ejection for having a foreign substance in his glove. The ejection came just before the Nationals came to bat in the bottom of the 8th, when Nats’ manager Davey Johnson asked the umpires to inspect the glove of the Rays’ reliever.
The ejection immediately eclipsed the other news of the night — bad news for the Nationals, who dropped a 5-4 decision to Joe Maddon’s surging Rays. The Rays attacked Washington from the outset, putting five runs on the board against Washington starter Chien-Ming Wang in the game’s first three frames and holding the Nationals to just six hits in seven innings.
Speaking after the loss, Johnson said that Wang’s mechanics weren’t right, that he was throwing his shoulder out before bringing his arm forward — a problem that Johnson said that he and pitching coach Steve McCatty had identified and would fix. “It’s our job to get him right,” he said. “And we’ll do it.”
Johnson added that he was not yet thinking of substituting long reliever and former starter Ross Detwiler as the team’s fifth man in the rotation. “I’m not going to make a decision on the basis of one bad outing,” he said. Wang pitched just 3.1 innings, throwing 77 pitches before being pulled.
The good news for the Nationals was the recently returned outfielder and middle-of-the-order bomber Michael Morse connected for his first home run of the season. Morse, who also hit a scorcher past Rays’ pitcher David Price, now seems to be reaching mid-season form after being sidelined for all of April and May. Ian Desmond also connected, for his eleventh of the year.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Nats’ skipper Johnson said that he’d heard “chirping” about Peralta’s use of a foreign substance on the ball all the way back in Spring Training, then all but said that the report came from a Nationals’ player. “He used to play for us you know,” Johnson said. “It’s not like I’m making it up.”
Color commentator Ray Knight also weighed in, smiling at his own reminiscences of pitchers who went once-too-often to the back of their head, their mouth or the bill of their cap in doctoring their pitches. “Lew Burdette was famous for this,” he said. So true — Burdette was famous for spitting tobacco into his glove and throwing a nasty sinker, which helped account for his stellar record in sending the Milwaukee Braves to consecutive World Series.