Archive for the ‘The McCovey’s’ Category
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
Nats southpaw Gio Gonzalez pitched brilliantly in San Francisco on Wednesday, and the Nationals denied the Giants a sweep of their series, winning in ten innings off of an Ian Desmond single. The team needed a pick-up after Tuesday night’s now-controversial debacle, and Gonzalez provided it.
Gonzalez gave up only four hits and struck out five, limiting the McCoveys to a single run in almost eight complete innings of work before being relieved by Drew Storen. The suddenly unsteady righty then proceeded to give up the tying run to San Francisco, and the Nationals went into extra innings knotted at a run apiece.
But in the 10th inning, with Bryce Harper on second and Ryan Zimmerman on first, shortstop Ian Desmond guided a Jeremy Affeldt offering into right field, scoring the go-ahead run. Rafael Soriano came on in the bottom of the 10th, setting down the Giants in order — and preserving the win.
The Ian Desmond single came after Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy decided that Affeldt should intentionally walk Ryan Zimmerman and pitch to Desmond, who’s been slumping lately. “Numbers may have indicated that was the right move to do,” Desmond said after the win. “But I was 100 percent confident I was going to get the job done right there.”
The Nationals win was only their fourth in the last ten games and came during a classic pitching duel that pitted Gonzalez against an as-effective Madison Bumgarner, who matched Gonzalez pitch-for-pitch. Their pitching lines were exactly the same — except for Harper’s home run.
“He’s one of the best guys I face all year. He knows what he’s doing out there, and the Giants are very lucky to have him,” Harper said of the San Francisco southpaw. “Going out there and facing a guy like Bumgarner is a lot of fun. I look forward to those matchups for hopefully the rest of our careers.”
The big stories of the game were Gio’s mound performance, Desmond’s go-ahead single — and Bryce Harper’s day at the plate. The Nats’ right fielder was 2-5 on the day and hit his 12th home run.
The victory lifted the teams’ spirits as the Nationals boarded a flight for their return to Washington, where they will face the Phillies, Orioles and the surging Braves (they beat the Twins today, their sixth in a row) in a ten game home stand. “It’s going to be a good flight back home,” Gonzalez said.
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
And so it’s official: after nearly fifty games the Nationals are playing .500 ball, have proven incapable of winning the big games, are mired in a team-wide batting slump, seem disoriented and demoralized, are losing games they should win — and are nowhere near the elite team they were projected to be at the season’s start.
Or, as Adam Kilgore put it at Nationals Journal this morning: “The Nationals 4-2, 10-inning loss included many hallmarks of their 3-6 road swing. A dearth of offense. Spotty relief pitching. Finding a way to lose.” Finding a way to lose?
The most recent example came on Tuesday night in San Francisco, when the Nationals dropped a 4-2 decision on a walk-off two run Pablo Sandoval blast on a pitch by Triple-A call-up Yunesky Maya. The loss dropped the Nationals to 3-6 on their ten game West Coast road trip and squandered a near-brilliant outing from righty workhorse Stephen Strasburg.
In Davey Johnson and Mike Rizzo we trust (and absolutely), but this time there’s blame enough to go around. With the Nationals leading 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, and closer Rafael Soriano on the mound, Gregor Blanco hit a liner to right field that should have been caught by Bryce Harper for the final out. It wasn’t — and Andres Torres scored the tying run.
But Harper was playing in and towards the line, when he should have been playing back and in the gap, to guard against precisely the kind of over-the-head liner that Blanco smacked. That’s the way the Giants play it. That Harper shied away from the ball (the result of hitting the wall in Los Angeles, it was suggested) is nonsense: he was out of position.
This is hardly a radical point-of-view: it was hinted at by F.P. Santangelo — MASN’s color commenter who was covering the game — both at the time of the hit, and in his post-game comments. Harper, meanwhile, reacted like any good team player, even if he’s wrong. “I put that whole loss on me,” he said. “Really sucks.”
Then there’s Yunesky Maya. “Wise old” Davey Johnson is rightly praised for managing his bullpen just so (and, it is said, even brilliantly), and determining the exact pitcher-to-hitter match-ups. Maya is a righty and would be facing righties, so perhaps that is why Johnson decided to bring him in to pitch to the Giants in the 10th. But . . . Yunesky Maya?
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, September 16th, 2012
Nationals Manager Davey Johnson never gets thrown out of a game, so you know that when it happens it’s for good cause. It happened in Atlanta on Saturday in the sixth inning, when first base umpire Marvin Hudson called Martin Prado safe at first base when he was clearly out. Johnson argued the call and was ejected.
The call was the turning point in the game. The next hitter, Jason Heyward, put an Edwin Jackson offering into the right field seats to tie the game at four — but the Nats would have remained ahead without Prado on base. So the call was key. Did the Hudson call cost the Nationals the game?
“We don’t need to give them a gift,” Johnson said after the Nationals 5-4 loss, their second in a row to the second place Braves. “That’s what was concerning me. He gives me that inning, our bullpen’s set up, we win the game.” But Johnson was philosophical: if the Nationals had pitched better, and come back to score some more runs . . .
First sacker Adam LaRoche made the same point: “If that happens and we get a double play or something, nobody talks about it, it’s no big deal,” LaRoche said. “It’s just a shame that they ended up scoring on it. It didn’t help Edwin at all.”
Of course, for Washington fans, the play may turn out to be the pivot for the season, particularly if the Braves should end up using Hudson’s missed call as a rally point to sweep the Nationals or surge past them in what remains of the season. And while that may seem unlikely now, stranger things have happened.
Saturday, September 8th, 2012
The Miami Marlins took advantage of a poor outing from Stephen Strasburg to notch a three run lead on the Nationals early in their contest on Friday, and went on to beat Washington in ten innings despite a late rally from the Anacostia Nine. The 9-7 loss, coupled with an Atlanta victory in New York, cut Washington’s lead in the N.L. East to 6.5 games.
Washington ace Stephen Strasburg had one of his most difficult nights as a starter, leaving after just three innings. “I didn’t command the fastball,” Strasburg said of his outing. “I kept getting behind in the count. I kept falling behind. I wasn’t able to use other pitches effectively.
Former Pirates starter Zach Duke saw his first outing as a National, relieving Strasburg and throwing four solid innings of three hit baseball. The Nationals eventually tied the game at six in a clutch eighth inning, the result of a Michael Morse home run, his 13th of the year.
But the Marlins fought back with three big runs in the top of the tenth, getting two runs on a Jose Reyes triple. Reyes came home on a Carlos Lee sacrifice fly. Reyes finished 3-6 with three RBIs.
“To be honest, that’s the first time I ever remember managing a baseball game and you win and you don’t know what to say,” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said following his team’s victory. “Very confusing. Good battle. They battled back, they never quit, they never gave up.”
Saturday, August 25th, 2012
The dog days seem to be getting to the Washington Nationals, as the team dropped its opening game against the Phillies in Philadelphia, 4-2. The loss was marked not so much by a lack of pitching (or even hitting), as a general team listlessness, a lack of the kind of punch that the D.C. Nine have seen over the last two weeks.
Everything seemed to go wrong for the Nationals: Edwin Jackson had a classic Edwin Jackson game, giving up runs early before settling into a good rhythm, and the offense looked subdued and befuddled, knocking out only six hits against Philadelphia starter Kyle Kendrick.
The Nationals also suffered two setbacks to their starters. Ian Desmond was scratched from the starting line-up because of a sore knee (as well as a slightly tweaked hamstring), while Michael Morse suffered a bruised right hand on a pitch up and in in the first inning. Both may well be lost for the balance of the series, and Morse might be out longer.
But the box score key in the Nats’ loss came down to the pitching of Philadelphia’s Kyle Kendrick, who tamed the punchless Nats with 6.2 innings of four hit baseball. The six Philadelphia relievers who followed gave up just two hits and kept the Nationals off the board.
“We want to beat these guys,” Kendrick said following the victory. “I’m sure they’re feeling pretty good where they’re at. It would be nice to sweep them, you know? Why not?”
The two Nationals runs came on a Tyler Moore home run in the top of the 7th with Kurt Suzuki on first. Aside from a solid 2-4 night from Bryce Harper, that was the only real offense the team could generate.
“It was definitely a blow for us, but it’s kind of what we’ve been dealing with all year,” Moore said of the injuries to Desmond and Morse. “Guys stepping up in different situations. Just another day. We’re hoping Mikey’s hand is fine and Desi’s fine. We’ll see tomorrow.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The Nationals are thinking ahead to 2013 (it’s never too early), and have rewarded uber bench hitter Chad Tracy with an extension through next year. The popular Tracy has proved invaluable for he Nationals this year, with a .283 BA and three clutch home runs off the pines . . .
Wednesday, August 15th, 2012
Stephen Strasburg’s fourteenth win of the year, a six inning seven-strikeout four-hitter might have been headlines in baseball today, were it not for two other stories. For this was the day that Giants’ outfielder Melky Cabrera was suspended from baseball for fifty games for using a banned substance — and the day that Seattle’s Felix “King Felix” Hernandez threw baseball’s 23rd perfect game.
Even with that, Strasburg’s outing was memorable enough. The big right hander was able to lead the Nationals to a 6-4 win in San Francisco and a 2-1 series victory. Strasburg provided his patented in-and-out up-and-down stuff, throwing 100 pitches, 60 of them for strikes. The Giants were able to scratch out two runs against him, but that was all.
Strasburg was disappointed in his performance in the second inning, when he gave up walks to Buster Posey and Hunter Pence, then two singles to score two. But he settled down after that. “Once I told myself to just trust [my back] and just let it happen, all my pitches started to come back, and I started having a much better feel,” Strasburg said.
San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum, meanwhile, continued his season-long struggles. Lincecum, who took his 13th loss, was lifted after four innings — having given up four runs on eight hits. “I was just battling through four innings, and they beat me to death with foul balls and balls in play,” Lincecum said of his performance. “They kind of put it on me today.”