Archive for the ‘Xavier Nady’ Category

Harper, Nats Stun Mets In 12

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

A back-and-forth contest for the top-of-the-heap in the N.L East, and one of the most exciting games of the night, saw the Washington Nationals victorious in the 12th inning on a sharp single to left field from rookie Bryce Harper. Harper’s game winning RBI gave the Nationals a 7-6 victory, and the first triumph over the Mets in a three game series.

For a time, at least, the home town crowd of 26,000-plus might have easily assumed that the Mets would emerge victorious from the contest — they’d taken the lead in the 8th and 10th innings, only to see the never-say-die Nationals either tie the game or take the lead. The same was true in the 12th, with the Nationals down by one.

The crucial bottom of the 12th began with a Michael Morse double, his second of the game. Ian Desmond followed with his own double, scoring Morse and tying the game. But the still-struggling Danny Espinosa flied out, with Desmond moving to third. That’s when the trouble started for the Mets, as reliever Elvin Ramirez intentionally walked Jesus Flores and then loaded the bases with a head-scratching walk of Nats’ pitcher Ross Detwiler.

Even with the bases loaded, however, the Mets had a good shot at sending the game into the 13th. Late inning substitution Xavier Nady grounded to first baseman Ike Davis, whose throw home nabbed Desmond on a force out. But after two nifty strikes (and with an 0-2 count), Harper ended the contest on an emotional slap line-drive to left field — and was mobbed by his teammates.

“I knew [Ramirez] didn’t want to walk me, so I knew he was going to come over the plate, but I got a pitch I could handle and threw my hands at it,” Harper said, following the victory. “It was a good ‘W’ tonight. That was huge.” Davey Johnson was also pleased with the outcome, while noting that both teams might have won the game at any point. “Wild game. It wasn’t a very well-played game, but it was nice to come out on top,” he said.

Nationals fans could have been excused for hoping that they would see a pitchers’ duel, with Jordan Zimmermann facing off against Chris Young. Zimmermann pitched true to form — giving up only five hits over six innings — but the Mets continued to sneak back into the contest: victimizing Sean Burnett, Craig Stammen and Henry Rodriguez to even the score at 5 in the eighth and then at six in the tenth.

But the aftermath of the triumph featured Harper, who was 2-7 on the night and is now hitting .288. “I’m pretty [upset] that I went 2-for-7,” Harper said. “I’m happy with the ‘W,’ of course, and I’m happy to get that walk-off hit. But I don’t like to go 2-for-7. I don’t like striking out twice in one game, either.”

Strasburg, Nats Ambush The Braves

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Over forty-one thousand fans packed Nationals Park to see Stephen Strasburg throw seven complete, leading the Nationals to a 2-0 shutout of the Atlanta Braves on Saturday. Dueling Braves youngster Brandon Beachy, Strasburg was aided by a home run into the left field bullpen by Jesus Flores, and an into-the-corner double from Xavier Nady.

This was Strasburg’s sixth victory of the season, and he seemed untouchable. “That’s the best I’ve seen [Strasburg] throw,” Braves catcher Brian McCann said. “He basically did anything he wanted today. He was pounding the ball down in the zone and mixing it up. He was putting his curveball where he wanted it. When you throw that hard and you can command it like that, it makes it tough on hitters.”

With the victory, the Nationals continued their dominance of division rival Atlanta. The win follows a three game sweep of the Chops in Atlanta. “I felt like I was getting stronger as the game went on,” Strasburg said. The game also featured the return of Michael Morse from the disabled list. The rehabbed left fielder was given a standing ovation from Nationals fans prior to his first at bat.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: We’re two months from the trade deadline, but trade talks are heating up — and they include some well known names. Kevin Youkilis is apparently on the block in Boston. According to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers, Phillies and Diamondbacks are interested in the third sacker . . .

The Nationals are still interested in acquiring a center fielder, according the Bill Ladson, and have their eye on Denard Span in Minnesota and Peter Bourjos in Anaheim. The club could sure use another bat, but are either Span or Bourjos the right fit? Bourjos is hitting .211 in L.A., though Span is hitting a torrid .303 for the last place Twinkies . . .

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Gonzalez, LaRoche Scuttle Pirates

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Gio Gonzalez held the Pirates to four hits and fanned ten, while Adam LaRoche homered and doubled — driving in four runs — as the Nationals scuttled the Pirates at Nationals Park on Wednesday for a 7-4 win. Entering in the ninth inning, closer Henry Rodriguez notched his ninth save.

Gonzalez’s outing accounted for his fifth win of the season (against one loss), and moved him ahead of Stephen Strasburg on the N.L. strikeouts leader board. But it was LaRoche’s night. The 32-year-old first baseman continued his assault on N.L. pitching, going 3-4 and lifting his average to .339. The veteran now leads the Nationals in nearly all offensive categories, and came up with his career 1000th hit.

LaRoche’s milestone brought the 25,000-plus fans at the ballpark to their feet in a tribute. “It was pretty special,” LaRoche said following the victory. “My first thought was my first big league hit back in 2004. And then kind of flashing back to all the teams I’ve been on. Some of those real memorable hits. All the teammates I’ve played with. It was pretty special, and then to do it here at home, and with the win on top of it.”

While the Nationals only banged out seven hits, it was more than enough for the victory. The Nationals seem to now be relying on the long ball — LaRoche homered in the victory as did Xavier Nady and Ian Desmond. Gio Gonzalez was in full control throughout the game, though the Pirates mounted a middle-innings comeback, scoring two in the top of the seventh, before Gonzalez, Clippard and Rodriguez shut them down. The Nationals are now 23-14 on the season.

Barajas Dinger Sinks The Nats

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Pirates’ catcher Rod Barajas was greeted with boos every time that he came to the plate in Pittsburgh, but that didn’t seem to bother the light-hitting Pirates’ backstop whose bottom of the 9th walk off home run gave the Stargell’s a heart stopping victory against the Nationals, 5-4. The Barajas walk off victimized Nats’ closer Henry Rodriguez, who was one pitch away from sealing a Washington victory — which would have been their 19th of the season.

The Pirates walk off also overawed a pitchers’ duel that pitted Ahoy starter A.J. Burnett against Washington hurler Edwin Jackson. The two were both stellar in their outings, with Burnett throwing eight innings of six hit baseball, and Jackson hurling seven while holding the Pirates to three hits.

The Barajas home run came after Henry Rodriguez had difficulty in commanding his breaking ball. With Alex Presley on first, Rodriguez threw two curves for wild pitches — which put Presley on third. Rodriguez decided to stick with his fastball, which came in high in the strike zone on Barajas, who parked it in just inside the foul pole in left field. “I tried too hard, as you saw. I missed the spot. I threw wild,” Rodriguez said after the loss. “Just like that, I tried to be too perfect.”

This was the Washington closer’s second blown save of the season, and his second loss. Washington manager Davey Johnson speculated that perhaps Rodriguez needs to be used more, not less. “Maybe Henry had too much rest,” he said. “He usually has good command of his curveball, and that kind of got him in the jam. I still thought he was going to get out of it. Obviously, Barajas knows that he is going to get a fastball. He gets out in front and that’s the ballgame.”

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The Bryce Harper “Era” Begins Tonight

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

In a surprise announcement on Friday, Mike Rizzo said the team was calling up Bryce Harper from Syracuse and putting him in left field. The move came as the oft-injured Ryan Zimmerman was put on the disabled list. While the move was a surprise, it makes sense: the team could use another bat and Harper has probably done all he can in the minors. If he’s not ready now, it’s hard to imagine when he will be. “We can use the left-handed bat in Harper,” manager Davey Johnson said. “I’m going to put him in left field and let him play. So he was a natural pick. He has been swinging the bat well.”

Then too, there’s the problem in left field. Xavier Nady’s not the solution, nor (it seems) is Mark DeRosa. And with Zimmerman down and the Nationals leading the N.L. East but struggling over the last two games, Rizzo probably feels he needs to show the fans that the team will make any move necessary to keep on winning.

Of course, none of that (zero, zilch, nada) was actually said by Rizzo — who argued that Harper is now ready. “I witnessed him playing the last three games for the Syracuse club,” he said in making the announcement. “He is swinging the bat extremely well now, and looked very comfortable in left field.”

Rizzo added that if Harper struggles he an always head back to Syracuse for a tune-up, but you have to believe that if he puts the bat on the ball with any consistency, he’ll stay with the big club. The Nats’ offense is particularly anemic, with injuries to Michael Morse, and now Zimmerman, having gutted the club. Then too, while Harper was hitting only .250 for the Chiefs, his presence in the line-up will pack Nationals Park next week, when the Nats take on the D-Backs.

Is calling Harper up now an act of desperation? The betting around Nationals Park was that Harper wouldn’t be with the big club until after the All Star break, and Rizzo’s announcement was a surprise. But, and let’s admit it, the move to bring him up was more a recognition of what the team needs now (a bat, and someone in left field) as it was that Harper is actually ready. Which is only to say that, like everything else in baseball — we’ll just have to wait and see.

Strasburg Shuts Down The Mets

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Every time that Stephen Strasburg shuts down another team, you hear the same two words: “as advertised.” That was certainly the case today, as the young ace of the Nationals’ staff shut out the New York Mets at CitiField, yielding two hits over six complete innings, while striking out nine. The Nats went on to victory, with a 4-0 win over the Mets — and leaped precariously into first place.

So it is: Strasburg has, in fact, been “as advertised.” His ERA for the 2012 campaign (we know, it’s early), stands at .069. More importantly, he gives the Nationals a better-than-good chance at victory every time he takes the mound. Coupled with an absolute lights out effort from Ryan Mattheus, Sean Burnett and Henry Rodriguez (three innings total, giving up just one hit), the Nats are now able to enjoy Opening Day in D.C. They return to their Southeast digs with a 4-2 record and victories in their first two opening series.

Once again, the Nats showed some lumber, though it’s obvious that not every hitter is in mid-season form. Ian Desmond pounded out two more hits, along with bench addition Xavier Nady. Mark DeRosa got his first hit of the season, and walked three times.

As good as Strasburg was, Nats’ hitters feasted on the very so-so Mets’ bullpen  — which all but collapsed for the second game in a row. Mets’ relievers gave up seven walks, to go along with the three issued by New York starter Johan Santana. Santana, who might have pitched well enough to win, gave up a single earned run in five innings, and struck out six.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: We’ve been keeping up on the Nats’ blogsphere, and welcome the addition of “Bang! Zoom!” to our blogroll (we’re late on this, they’ve actually been around for some time), “The Zimmerman Telegram” (a nifty name, donchaknow), Nationals Arms Race (a less nifty name, but effective — and around since 2010), Natstradamus (creative, that) and Chatsports — which takes “social networking” (or perhaps it’s sports networking) seriously . . . If we’ve left anyone out, just drop us a line  . . .

We also belately note, with some sadness, the passing of Nationals Daily News which, we would have bet, would have hung in there for the long haul. The site was up on Opening Day of the Nationals’ first season, but as Ian Koski wrote in NDN’s “Obituary,” the pressure of having to actually make a living took its toll . . . we know what he means . . . That said, Nationals Daily News was around for six years: a damned good run . . .

In another tardy bit of news, the Internet Baseball Writers Association of D.C. came out with its pre-season poll back on April 4. The survey of participants yielded some interesting, and some predictable results: that Ryan Zimmerman would lead the team in batting average, and Jordan Zimmermann in wins . . . that sounds about right . . .