Posts Tagged ‘Adam Wainwright’
Monday, April 22nd, 2013
The Nationals fell to Dillon Gee and the New York Mets, 2-0 in New York — dropping two of three games in their series against their division rivals. The Nationals, a strong defensive team in 2012, committed three errors.
But the loss is most likely to be remembered for a Jayson Werth at bat in the 8th inning. Werth came to the plate with two on and nobody out, and the Mets pressing for the win. But Werth squandered the scoring opportunity, hitting into a double play on a 3-0 count.
The Nationals might have looked forward to facing Gee in their final New York weekend contest, particularly since the New York righty had been ineffective in the early going. But Gee pitched his best game of the year, giving up just three hits while striking out six in 5.2 innings of work.
“I’m just happy to finally contribute to a win,” a clearly happy Gee said following the game. “That’s the truth — we needed to step it up. It’s been really eating away at me the past few weeks, not going out there and doing my job.”
Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann was not as effective as he was during his prior outing, when he pitched a complete game, but he gave his team a chance to win. Zimmermann pitched five complete, giving up just two hits and two runs. The big blow for New York came off the bat of John Buck, who stroked his 7th home run of the year in the second inning.
Nats’ skipper Davey Johnson was clearly irritated by the loss, and particularly by Jayson Werth’s swing on the 3-0 count in the 8th. It was the best chance the Nationals had of putting runs on the board. Johnson refused to comment on Werth’s at bat.
But while Johnson remained silent on the incident, Jayson Werth did not: “Looking back, I was trying to do too much, I was trying to win the game right there,” he said following the loss. “The situation got the best of me. It was probably one of the dumber things I’ve done on the field in a while.”
The Nationals return home today to begin a three game series with the St. Louis Cardinals, and hope to gain retribution for last year’s playoff loss. The Nationals will then face the Cincinnati Reds in a four game contest — a stretch of seven tough games against some of their strongest N.L. competition.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The Nationals and Cardinals are evenly matched. Both teams are 10-8 and both teams are having problems with their bullpen. Last night in Philadelphia, St. Louis got six-plus strong innings from starter Jake Westbrook before reliever Mitchell Boggs gave up four runs in the eighth . . .
The Cardinals don’t have the pitching the Nationals do (at least not on paper) but while their starting five is older it is also savvy. The likely end of Chris Carpenter’s career has vaulted Adam Wainwright into the first slot in the St. Louis rotation and he’s a gamer. Just two weeks ago he threw a complete game four hitter in Milwaukee . . .
Saturday, October 6th, 2012
The Nationals will face the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS starting on Sunday, the result of the Redbirds’ 6-3 win over the Braves on Friday night in Atlanta. The Braves lost the game on three errors and a controversial infield fly rule call, but were also victimized by timely St. Louis hitting.
The loss marked the end of an otherwise successful season for the 94-68 Braves, and the final game for third sacker Chipper Jones, who now heads to the baseball Hall of Fame. “I know one thing is for sure, you won’t be able to say that Braves fans don’t care,” Jones said after the loss. “They came out in full force tonight, 50,000 strong. We love each and every one of them.”
The controversy over the calling of the infield fly rule came in the 8th inning, when St. Louis shortstop Peter Kozma appeared to settle under a pop fly behind shortstop off the bat of Andrelton Simmons. The left field line umpire signaled that the infield fly rule was in effect, but perhaps too late, and Kozma failed to catch the fly: with the batter out in any event.
Fredi Gonzalez, the Atlanta manager, protested the call — and vehemently. But the ruling on the field was upheld, and Simmons was ruled out. “I was under it,” Kozma later said. “I should have made the play. I took my eyes off it. I was camped under it.”
Monday, September 24th, 2012
The Nationals magic number to win the National League East flag remains at six games. Winning that flag, and decisively, has thus far eluded the Nats; and while no one on the team says they’re worried, the hunt for the East flag suffered its most recent setback on Sunday, when the suddenly up-and-down D.C. Nine fell to the red hot Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park, 6-2.
The loss puts the Nationals still within easy striking distance of cinching the top spot in the N.L. East, but the Atlanta Braves are not out of the race yet and are a mere 4 1/2 games behind the Nats. The Nationals are at 92-60, the Braves are at 88-65. And no one is taking anything for granted.
The Brewers, who have won 25 of their last 32 games, are now only only 2.5 games behind St. Louis for the last spot in the Wild Card standings, and with just ten games to play. If the Brewers are to win that spot, with their playoff hopes surprisingly alive after an otherwise disappointing season, they will undoubtedly do it with hitting, as they did on Sunday.
Milwaukee stroked 15 hits against an array of Washington pitching on Sunday, putting together a three run seventh inning that included an infield single and a double. But Milwaukee also benefited from a brutal Nationals’ Park sun field: with both Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth unable to make routine catches on soaring fly balls because of the sun’s glare.
The lost-in-the-sun flies weren’t the difference in the game, but they added to the sense of frustration among the D.C. Nine, who struggled for mastery of the Brewers throughout the contest, played in front of an expectant crowd of 33,000-plus. The Nats’ play was less than stellar. “Just one of those days, I guess,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said.
“You can’t catch what you can’t see. There is nothing you can do about it.” Harper said of the mishaps. “The sun monster got me. There is nothing you can do.” The problem for Washington was that its hitters were not able to put together a rally against Milwaukee’s pitching. “There wasn’t much offense,” Davey Johnson said after the loss. “We gave them a few runs. It’s tough to win.”
Saturday, September 1st, 2012
Gio Gonzalez showed on Friday why he’s in the running for the National League Cy Young Award. Washington’s young lefty threw his second complete game of the year, and the first shutout in his career, blanking the Cardinals 10-0 through nine complete and walking off the mound with his 17th win of the 2012 campaign.
Gio was backed by a barrage from Nationals batters, who stroked twelve hits with nearly everyone in the line-up contributing. Jayson Werth, who continues to deal a hot hand, was 3-3 on the night (he’s now batting .316 on the year), from the lead off position. Ryan Zimmerman was 2-5 with a home run, with Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche and Zim hitting in two runs apiece.
“We got things going pretty early,” Harper said after the win. “That was the biggest thing; we scored runs early and let Gio go out there and pitch.” Gonzalez gave up only five hits to the Cardinals, who have scored a single unearned run so far in their trip to Nationals Park.
The Cards, fighting for a spot in the post-season and attempting to catch Cincinnati in the N.L. Central (it’s almost over: they trail the Reds by 9.5), were stunned by the loss. “We face good pitching all season long,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “This shouldn’t happen to us one day, let alone four. These guys are embarrassed right now. We’re all embarrassed. That’s not the team we are.”
Sunday, April 10th, 2011
Carlos Beltran’s two home runs and a misplayed fly ball tamed the Washington Nationals in New York on Saturday, 8-4. The loss spoiled a fine first-outing for lefty Tom Gorzelanny, who could not make it through the sixth inning. While Beltran’s home runs were important, they were not the difference in the game. In fact, even with Beltran providing a spark, the contest might well have gone the other way: after Gorzelanny walked David Wright to start the bottom of the 6th, Jerry Hairston, Jr. misplayed a Beltran fly ball that would have kept Wright at first with one out. Ike Davis followed and tripled to right-center. The Nats could not catch the Mets thereafter, with double-plus bad rookie reliever Brian Broderick entering the game and allowing the Mets another two runs.
This is one the Nats could have won. Beltran’s first dinger followed an inside fastball that should have been called a strike. Beltran put the next pitch into the left field seats, angering Gorzelanny, who questioned the call. And if Hairston had snagged Beltran’s fly in the 6th, Gorzelanny might have been able to preserve the victory. Hairston said that he thought center fielder Rick Ankiel was coming in behind him to take the fly: “At the last second, I felt something that he may go after it. Obviously, that wasn’t the case. I just missed it. Flat out. I just put us behind the eight ball tonight.” If there was good news from the loss, it was that Gorzelanny pitched well, establishing himself as a solid starter. The third game in the series will pit the Nats against the Mets at Citi Field on Sunday afternoon.
Pass The Warm Milk: Washington insomniacs should do what we do — after watching the scintillating Nats, switch over on “MLB Extra Innings” to a Cardinals west coast game, where play-by-play announcer Dan McLaughlin and color commentator Al Hrabosky are baseball’s version of Ambien. Last night, in what had to be one of the most exciting games of the young season (a 3-2 San Francisco win on a walk-off double in the bottom of the 9th), Dopey and Sleepy could hardly contain their excitement: “That’s a bloop to right field,” McLaughlin said, describing a Mark DeRosa hit in the bottom of the fifth. “Yeah, but it’s a lucky hit,” Hrabosky added. A run scored, but you would have never known it: the two announcers were silent for the next 60 seconds. “Okay, next up,” McLaughlin said.
In truth, watching “Fox Sports Midwest” (which becomes “FS Cardinals” during St. Louis broadcasts), provides a kind of discipline for fans: the lack of on-screen stats, or even information on who’s at the plate, keeps you on your toes. Last night, if you weren’t keeping score you wouldn’t have had a clue, and you wouldn’t have been alone. “Who’s this?” Hrabosky asked, at one point. “Rasmus,” McLaughlin answered. Tick. Tick. Tick. “Oh yeah, listen this guy’s got a lot of tools,” Hrabosky answered. Compared to FS Whatever, MASN is a dream — with all kinds of useful information, including a font that tells you who’s actually at the plate. The pinnacle of last night’s in-booth commentary came when McLaughlin and Hrabosky wrestled with a “fan question.” So, what’s a waiver wire? “It’s when a team no longer wants a player and other teams get to see whether they want him,” Hrabosky answered. “But there are lots of waiver wires,” McLaughlin added. “Oh sure,” Hrabosky said.
Thankfully, while McLaughlin and Hrabosky are verbally challenged, the Cards-Giants match-up was fascinating. While the Giants squeaked out a nail-biter, the contest should have made it clear to the Cardinal faithful that it’s going to be a long season. St. Louis is a team headed in the other direction: GM John Mozeliak used the off-season to plug holes, acquiring Ryan Theriot to play short, trading Brendan Ryan to Seattle, signing Lance Berkman to play right and bringing in Gerald Laird as a back-up behind the plate. This was heady activity, if not quite useful: the Cubs and Dodgers had problems trying to figure out whether Theriot should play second or short (Ryan is better defensively) and Berkman’s time in the outfield passed several years ago. What the Cardinals really needed was another pitcher, a fact made clear when Adam Wainwright went down in February with a rotting elbow.
Wainwright was only the beginning: hefty hitter Matt Holliday took a week to deal with a swollen appendix and oft-injured head case David Freese (car accident, surgery, DUI, deep bruise, lost weight, damaged tendons), is giving way to someone named Daniel Descalso at third. The Cardinals haven’t had a third baseman since Scotty Rolen did his Hatfield and McCoy routine with Tony La Russa, haven’t had a shortstop since Ozzie did back flips. In this sense, at least, watching the Cardinals is instructive for Nats fans, whose infield is better at all positions except for first, where it’s cheaper. Last night’s Cardinals line-up told the tale: with Descalso, Tyler Greene (subbing for Theriot), Skip Schumaker and Pujols around the horn, Yadier Molina behind the plate, and Jon Jay, Colby Rasmus and Lance Berkman in the outfield. That’s fourth place waiting to happen.
Monday, April 26th, 2010
Scott Olsen’s seven inning gem against the Dodgers has Nats fans (and the Washington Post) oohing and ahhing about the team’s new attitude. “Instead of saying ‘Get ‘em tomorrow,’ the Nats have finally assembled a tougher, more irritable group that actually does it,” Post columnist and leading baseball pundit Thomas Boswell writes. Boswell goes on to note: “It’s not just the Nats’ record that is different this spring. The Nats themselves are. They’re starting to resemble the first gritty crew that brought baseball back to D.C. after a 33 year wait.” Tougher? More irritable? Gritty? My first reaction was to scoff: forget irritable and gritty — we need front line guys who can throw strikes. Please, please, please Tom (I know you’re the best, or close to it), but you know (and I know, and it’s no secret) that a rotation of Lannan, Stammen, Olsen and Hernandez are not going to get it done.
But in studying yesterday’s box score, I began to question by own cynicism. The difference in the Nats 1-0 win yesterday (a beautifully pitched game, if ever there was one) from any of their wins last year was obvious. For right there, in the middle of the line-up, were two players the Nats needed, but didn’t have, in the ’09 campaign. When Mike Rizzo signed Ivan Rodriguez and Adam Kennedy in the offseason, he not only filled two special needs, he added two gamers to the clubhouse — players who not only know how to win, but want to. While Rodriguez and Kennedy went a combined 0-6 yesterday, their role on the team has been indispensible, providing much needed leadership to a crew of talented, but young, players. Mike Rizzo added a caveat: “We’re a long ways from where we want to be.” Yeah, true. But you’re also a long ways from where you were.
The difference between the ’09 and 2010 Nats becomes more obvious when you go through the line-up of the Chicago Cubs, whom the Nats face in Chicago starting tonight. The North Side Drama Queens are a team of head cases and disasters-waiting-to-happen: Alfonso Soriano’s penchant to drop flies in left field is damn near agonizing, the perpetually petulant Carlos Zambrano has been demoted to the bullpen, the perennially injured Aramis Ramirez is a fracture away from putting the Cubs in the cellar and Kosuke Fukudome is overpaid and (undoubtedly) on the trading block. I know, I know — the Cubs just swept the Brewers and can hit the hell out of the ball. But the name of this game is pitching, and the Cubs don’t have it. Forget the starters (or don’t — if you really believe that Carlos Silva is the answer), and focus on the bullpen. The line-up of Berg, Grabow, Gray, Russell and Marmol is a patched together crew of rookies and semi-veterans (like Marmol) who have yet to prove they can hit the strike zone. Put another way, we would be justified in saying that the Cubs bullpen collapsed in the first two weeks of the season, but we’d be wrong. It had nothing to collapse from.
Cubs fans are on a death watch. Nats 320 has an outstanding interview with Cubs blogger Joe Aeillo of View From The Bleachers, and while Joe sounds positive enough, you can almost hear the ‘Oh-God-wadda-we-gonna-do’ tension in his voice. Joe talks about Uncle Lou’s bullpen problems and notes that Zambrano has been “the weak link” in the rotation so far this year, but the icing comes when Nats 320 asks about Soriano. “I’ll give you $20 right now, straight cash homie, if you convince the Nationals to take him back,” Joe says. That’s a deal we can pass up: we’ll keep Willingham. Soriano, the bullpen — they’re all problems. But the real problem facing the Cubs is down the road in St. Louis. The Cubs don’t have anyone who matches up with Chris Carpenter, Brad Penny or Adam Wainwright. I can’t stand Penny (he should just rob a 7-Eleven and get it out of his system), but the former Dodger bad boy is pitching brilliantly — with three wins and a 0.94 ERA. That’s a record that Zambrano can only dream about.
The Cubs haven’t had a team since Mark Prior and Kerry Wood were five outs away from the World Series. Remember? Prior was a USC power pitcher with Cy Young stuff and Woods struck out 20 in his rookie season. And then . . . and then, in the 8th inning of Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS a little pop foul that should have been caught did them in. It was their last shot. Neither Prior nor Wood have been the same since; Prior became a surgeon’s dream and is now out of baseball and Wood is in Cleveland, dealing with a cranky back. Looking at Prior (a shoulder, an achilles tendon, a hamstring, another shoulder), you can understand why Mike Rizzo wants Stephen Strasburg in the minors — and why he insists that any member of the Washington club have a winning attitude. Put another way, the problem with Cubs comes down to this: Carlos Zambrano throws the ball in the mid-90s and is capable of a 20-win Cy Young season. But wouldn’t you rather have Livan Hernandez?
Friday, October 9th, 2009
The Colorado Rockies held off the rallying Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday to take the second game in their five game series, 5-4. The key for the Purples was an unlikely two run homer off the bat of catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who hadn’t had a four base knock since May. Torrealba’s knock was complemented byÂ solid pitching from Rockies’ starter Aaron Cook and bullpen aces Jose Contreras, Matt Belisle, Rafael Betancourt, Franklin Morales and all-world closer Huston StreetÂ (above).Â The Heltons, who won during the regular season by counting on the bats of an unlikely mix ofÂ new heroes, dependedÂ on the bat of yet another unknown newcomer: in this case it was left fielder Carlos “Cargo” Gonzalez. Gonzalez — a former Showboat prospect and a throw-in in the off season Oakland-Colorado Matt Holliday-for-Huston Street trade — spent much of the last two seasons in triple-A, while Denver’s front office waited for him to pan out. Gonzalez got his chance this year, after a series of injuries made room for him in the Colorado outfield. On Thursday, the fleet Venezuelan went 3-5 to spark the otherwise sleepy Rockies’ line up.
When the Oakland A’s got Matt Holliday from the Colorado Rockies in the Huston Street trade back in November of 2008, they thought their search for a big bat was over: the Stillwater, Oklahoma native was a three time all star and three time silver slugger and he’d been named the 2007 World Series MVP. But Holliday didn’t seem to fit in in Oakland (he hit an otherwise anemic .286 with 11 home runs in 93 games), andÂ on July 24, 2009 Oakland A’sÂ guru Billy Beane swappedÂ him to St. Louis for three top prospects: Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen and Shane Peterson. In St. Louis, Holliday toreÂ the cover off the ball — hitting .353 with 13 home runs in justÂ 63 games, and propelling the Redbirds into the post season. He was just what Tony La Russa ordered.
Holliday’s post season experience gave St. Louis the confidence they needed against L.A. With Albert Pujols and Holliday in the middle of their order and Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright their big guns as starters, St. Louis was set to head into L.A. to face Joe Torre’s big bats. L.A. took the first game, with a surprisingly shaky outing by Carpenter. But St. Louis came back to dominate the second game: and it looked like the RedbirdsÂ were set to even the series at one game apiece. But with two outs in the ninth ining and St. Louis leading, the otherwise sure-handed Holliday dropped a sinking liner off the bat of first sacker James Loney toÂ give theÂ Dodgers new life. Casey Blake then walked and former Nats Ronnie Belliard singled home the tying run, before Mark Loretta’s short centerfield single provided the 3-2 walk off win. “It’s tough to swallow,” Holliday said after the game. “Obviously, I feel terrible. But I just missed the ball. It hit my stomach. I think I can catch a ball hit right at me.” The Trolleys now lead the series, 2-0.