Archive for the ‘White Elephants’ Category

Nats Sweep The Mets, 7-2

Friday, September 13th, 2013

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Nationals newbie Tanner Roark threw six innings of six hit baseball while his teammates supported him with four home runs, and the Nationals downed the Mets in New York, 7-2, for a four game series sweep on Thursday. The win kept Washington in the hunt for the last Wild Card slot in the National League.

The Nationals came into the game with nine home runs off of Mets pitching in the last three games, but exited it with thirteen. Ryan Zimmerman homered in the first inning (it was his 23rd), Adam Laroche hit his 20th in the second, Wilson Ramos added his 13th in the fifth and Anthony Rendon hit his seventh home run in the 9th.

“Oh man, it was a lot of fun. It’s a good way to finish up New York, sweeping the Mets,” Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson said of the team’s sixth straight victory. “There were a lot of good things all around.” Washington’s long-ball offensive victimized Mets’ starter Aaron Harang and five New York relievers.

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This was Harang’s first start for the Mets after being signed as a free agent on September 1. But the veteran righty’s debut did not go as planned: he gave up four hits and three earned runs in six innings. He was responsible for serving up three of the Nats’ four home runs.

The Nationals-Mets match-up had gotten increasingly testy over four games, and threatened to turn ugly on Thursday after Mets’ reliever Frank Francisco plunked Jayson Werth on a 3-0 count in the 8th inning. Werth exchanged words with Francisco as he trotted to first base.

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“A Win Is A Win” — Nats Outlast The Cubs

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

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“A win is a win,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Johnson explained on Thursday evening following Washington’s 13 inning 5-4 victory against the Cubs in Chicago. What Johnson meant to say was that it’s easier to overlook an embarrassment, so long as (in the end), your team puts one in the win column.

The embarrassment, and that’s what it was, came in the bottom of the 9th inning, when an otherwise brilliant start from Washington righty Stephen Strasburg was squandered when the young ace inexplicably gave up a game tying home run to Cubs third sacker Donnie Murphy.

Strasburg squatted on the pitchers’ mound as Murphy circled the bases, and continued to shake his head in the dugout after, disbelieving that what should have gone into the books as his seventh victory (and into the Nationals’ win column), turned out to be a no decision.

Strasburg’s 9th inning was a breathtaking collapse: “I had my way with him all day,” Strasburg said of Murphy’s at bat. “And then he runs into that curveball. Obviously it’s the location that was the problem. A curveball, once it leaves your hands you really have no control over it. It just didn’t have the same kind of bite as it had early on in the game.”

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But Strasburg wasn’t the sole author of the Nats’ collapse. A throwing error from Anthony Rendon (subbing at shortstop for Ian Desmond), put Chicago’s second run across the plate in the 9th, when a good throw might have ended the game. Rendon’s errant throw brought Murphy to the plate.

Rendon’s 9th inning slip came on a tough play, but the young infielder admitted that his misstep added to the Nationals’ 9th inning troubles.  “You feel terrible,” Rendon explained to reporters after the game. “Obviously I had a little slip over there, but that’s no excuse. I still should have made that play.”

But deflating as the 9th inning was, credit the Nationals (and their bullpen), for hanging in and eventually notching the victory. Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen and Drew Storen kept the Cubs at bay over the next four innings, holding the North Siders hitless while striking out four.

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Nats Late Rally Stuns The Mets

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

The Washington Nationals waited for New York’s Matt Harvey to exit the game — then rallied late against the Mets’ bullpen and pulled out a stunning 6-4 victory at Citi Field on Friday night. Washington skipper Davey Johnson said the victory might be the biggest one of the season for Washington.

As expected, the talented Harvey provided a solid outing for the New Yorkers: he gave up just three hits in seven innings of work, while striking out eleven. His only mistake came in the fourth inning, when he gave up a home run to Washington shortstop Ian Desmond.

Harvey showed why he’s considered the best pitcher in the National League. He struck out Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth three times, more than half his strikeout total. “He’s always got no-hit stuff. He throws 97 miles per hour with a breaking ball, cutter, slider, changeup, everything else you got. He has it,” Ian Desmond said of Harvey.

Washington rallied after Harvey’s departure, scoring three runs with two outs in the eighth inning. The Nationals’ runs came off of reliever Brandon Lyon, who entered the game with Denard Span and Roger Bernadina on second and third. Lyon then walked Anthony Rendon and gave up a clutch double to Ryan Zimmerman, who cleared the bases and tied the score.

Reliever Tyler Clippard entered the game to pitch the bottom on the 8th, and kept New York off of the board. Washington then put the game away by scoring two in the top of the final frame: Ian Desmond doubled scoring Jayson Werth and Kurt Suzuki hit a sacrifice fly to score Desmond. Drew Storen picked up his second save of the season by pitching a perfect, lights-out ninth.

“The beginning of the year, we had no comeback wins, no runs scored late,” Ryan Zimmerman said following the victory. “The past couple of weeks, we have been getting a lot better at that. That’s the team we were last year. Hopefully we can continue to do that, because we are not going to get to the starter every day. Sometimes you have to come from behind. It’s not easy, but good teams do that.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: It was another night of entertaining Left Coast baseball, especially in Oakland — where the St. Louis Cardinals, the National League’s best team, got a whiff of A’s ace Bartolo Colon. Colon made it look effortless: he threw eight innings of six hit baseball in notching his eleventh win as the Elephants stomped the Redbirds, 6-1 . . .

Colon is 40-years-old (but who knows, really), stands 5-11 and weighs 267 (but who knows, really) and (as you might recall), won the the Cy Young while pitching in Anaheim in 2005 (he was an eye-blinking 21-8). This year, at 11-2, he might actually be better . . .

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Sanchez, Chen — And The Day Of The Pitcher

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

On any other day Jordan Zimmermann’s one hit masterpiece of the Cincinnati Reds would have been the top story in baseball. But not yesterday. Instead, Zimmermann’s brilliant mastery of the Redlegs was quickly relegated to a distant second place — like a very pretty, but not beautiful, bridesmaid who stands at the alter waiting for someone to take notice.

Indeed, on a day of pitching brilliance, the Zimmermann outing placed a ho-hum second to Anibal Sanchez’s amazing performance in Detroit’s 10-0 pasting of the Braves. Sanchez’s outing made history, as the righty struck out 17 hitters in a single game, besting the 16 Ks registered by Detroit Hall of Famer Mickey Lolich.

There is little that Sanchez’s performance has in common with Zimmermann’s (Anibal threw Ks, Jordan threw grounders), except for this: Sanchez, like Zimmermann, is not the publicly acknowledged ace of his team’s staff — that would be Justin Verlander.

How good was Sanchez? The former Marlin (he was never better than 13-12 for them), struck out Dan Uggla four times, Freddie Freeman and Juan Francisco three times each and struck out two batters in every inning except the fourth. Sanchez limited the Braves to five hits and no Detroit outfielder recorded a putout. And Sanchez didn’t even pitch the 9th.

But Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann wasn’t the only bridesmaid on Friday night. Out in Oakland, Baltimore southpaw starter Wei-Yin Chen two hit the White Elephants over eight innings to provide the Birds with their best pitching performance of the season. Prior to Chen, no Orioles pitcher had made it into the 8th inning — which should tell you something about the O’s starters.

On what might justifiably be called “the day of the pitcher,” Chen was just so-so, at least in comparison with Sanchez and Zimmermann. But Chen’s victory was a thing of beauty. He threw 12 fastballs in his first thirteen pitches, all of them four seamers and none of them faster than 92 mph. Chen is hittable, but no one seems able to hit him.

Least of all Oakland hitters: “He does a little something different each and every time,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Chen’s outing. “But at the end of the day, he’s got a fastball that gets on you a little quicker than you think. He gets a lot of popups and fly balls.”

Nats Squeeze By Chicago

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Adam LaRoche ended his standard early season drought with two home runs in consecutive at bats and the Nationals squeaked by the Chicago White Sox, 8-7 to bring their record to 5-2. LaRoche’s homers helped the Nationals stave off a surging Chicago line-up — and helped the team to survive some shaky bullpen outings.

LaRoche’s blasts came in the 6th inning with one on and in the 8th with no one on. Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth also went deep for the home towners. “You get into the second week of the season, that’s never a good feeling to look up there and not have a hit,” Laroche said following the win. “I felt great that first series at home, I just couldn’t get the ball to fall. To come back and get a couple [tonight] was nice.”

The home runs were needed: Chicago’s Paul Konerko blasted a three run home run in the 7th inning off of Tyler Clippard to bring the score within one. Washington came back to tack on a run in the bottom of the 7th, which was followed by LaRoche’s second home run — but Chicago added two more in the top of the 9th off of Rafael Soriano, who then closed out the game.

Both Chicago and Washington were hoping their starters would turn Tuesday’s game into a classic pitching match-up, but Jake Peavy gave up six runs on nine hits in 5.1 inning, while Nats’ lefty Gio Gonzalez surrendered four hits in five innings. That wasn’t so bad, but Washington’s bullpen gave up seven hits and four runs in the next four frames.

Washington’s big inning came in the 6th, when the Nationals put four runs on the board — with home runs from Werth and LaRoche. “Obviously, the sixth inning got away from us,” Peavy said. “I didn’t have much there, and it was hot and humid, and I ran out of gas. I didn’t have much left with LaRoche, and he put a good swing on it.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: It’s deja vu all over again for the Los Angeles Angels, who are repeating their slow start from a year ago. The Angels dropped a slugfest at home last night, in their opener, against the forever surprising Oakland A’s. The Angels yielded a one run lead in the top of the 7th by giving up home runs to pinch hitter John Jaso and first sacker Brandon Moss. The A’s went on to dump the Halos 9-5 . . .

Nothing seems to be working for the Belinskys, and you can read the frustration in the face of Angels’ skipper Mike Scioscia. Ace C.J. Wilson came out of the clubhouse and promptly gave up three runs in the top of the 1st, but it could have been a lot worse: Wilson left the inning with the bases loaded . . .

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Braves Down Nationals (Again), 5-4

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.

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Tough 9th Cost Nats Win

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Kris Medlen showed why the Braves consider him their ace and stopper on Friday, as the young righty tamed the Washington Nationals, providing seven innings of five hit baseball — and setting up a thrilling last inning Atlanta win, 2-1. Atlanta’s victory came on a late throw to the plate that failed to get Andrelton Simmons, who scored the winning run.

“I’ve got a prayer, basically, with Andrelton Simmons at third,” Desmond said of the play following the loss. “Just tried to get it as quick as I could and get rid of it. If I set, he’s already sliding in, celebrating. There was a probably 1-in-10 chance, and I didn’t get him.”

But it was Medlen who wowed the Nationals. The righty threw the game of his season, befuddling Nationals’ hitters and registering thirteen strikeouts. “It was just one of those nights where everything just kind of felt like it was working for me,” Medlen said. Medlen, who is 8-1 on the season, did not get the decision — but the game lowered his ERA to a snappy 1.62: best among Atlanta starters.

The loss hurt the Nationals, but they remain 7.5 games ahead of the Braves in the N.L. East. Certainly no one in the Nationals’ clubhouse is panicking. “This is playoff baseball,” right fielder Jayson Werth said. “Every team we play for the rest of the way is in the hunt and hungry, so these are the types of games we’re going to play for the next six weeks.”

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