Posts Tagged ‘Bobby Parnell’

LaRoche Grounds The ‘Stros

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014


Adam LaRoche’s RBI double to deep center in the top of the 8th tied the game, then his single in the 9th scored the winning run — and the Nationals went on to defeat the Astros, 4-3 on Tuesday night in Houston. The LaRoche hits did justice to his fast start: the first sacker is now hitting .312 on the year with 17 RBIs.

“It’s good for him because he’s not traditionally a fast starter,” manager Matt Williams said following the victory. “He really focused on it in spring training and really focused on driving one in. He’s going to hit homers with guys on base but that one’s big for us as evidenced tonight.

The Nationals also got a solid start from lefty Gio Gonzalez, who had problems early in the game in commanding his curveball; but Gio provided six solid innings of five hit baseball while striking out nine. The victory provided a lift for the Nationals on the road, after the team notched an only so-so homestand.

“Just need to get out of that cold air once in a while,” Gonzalez said in explaining the team’s performance in Houston. “Rooftop open, put a little humidity out there, and that helps. Then it was just back-and-forth battling.”

The game provided another example of how Washington can battle back from an early deficit. The team was down 3-2 until LaRoche came to the plate in the 8th, then battled to score the go ahead run in the 9th. Rafael Soriano provided his usual excitement in notching his fifth save, putting two Houston runners on in the 9th inning with two out.

The Houston victory also provided some improbable defensive plays, including a falling-backwards catch in center by Denard Span in the fourth inning. An inning earlier left fielder Kevin Frandsen snagged a ball high off the left field wall with an improbable (or impossible) backhanded snag. The Frandsen catch saved Washington a run in a tight ballgame.

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: How will the Nationals fill the gaping hole left by Bryce Harper in left field? Don’t look to the line-up in Houston for answers. Matt Williams started Kevin Frandsen in left field in place of Harper (it’s now speculated that Harper won’t be back until after the All Star break), with Nate McLouth in center and Jayson Werth as the DH . . .

But that’s in inter-league play. We’d be surprised if McLouth didn’t play upwards of 80 percent of the games in left against N.L. opponents. After all, filling in for an injured outfielder is why G.M. Mike Rizzo went out and got him. So it’s McLouth in left, and get used to it  . . .


First A Shakeup, Then A Walk Off

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

With one-third of the season now in the books, the Nationals on Tuesday made the decisions that many of their fans wanted, and many had predicted, sending relievers Henry Rodriguez and Zach Duke to the minors — and Danny Espinosa to the disabled list.

To fill their spots on the national league roster, the team recalled Anthony Rendon from Triple-A and brought reliever Ian Krol up from Double-A Harrisburg. The Nationals also activated Jayson Werth, whose bat they desperately need.

Espinosa is expected to rehab (both his shoulder and his wrist), before returning to the club. “He is a tough guy. He reminds me of myself,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He is playing with a bad shoulder, he is playing with a broken wrist. He needs the rest.”

But General Manager Mike Rizzo made it clear that it’s unlikely Nats fans will see Espinosa anytime soon. “We finally put Danny on the disabled list to clean up all the wrist questions that we had, and for him to rehab and then go down to the Minor Leagues, with a healthy wrist, go down there and work on the mental side of hitting,” he said.

Injury or not, the message is that Espinosa has played himself out of a job, and this morning’s Bleacher Report said that it’s time for Washington to “see what Rendon can do” at second base — adding that the Nats don’t have “a second baseeman on the stat list this season (Espinosa and Steve Lombardozzi) hitting above .231.”

An uncertain coda might well have followed these moves, as Washington continues its struggles. But just hours after announcing the team shake-up, the Nats responded by notching their first walk-off win of the year, a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over division rivals New York.

While the Washington victory didn’t result in a win for starter Jordan Zimmermann, it lifted the Nationals one game over .500 and made a hero of Steve Lombardozzi. Lombardozzi’s sacrifice fly in the 9th inning scored Adam LaRoche, after the Nationals loaded the bases on Mets’ reliever Bobby Parnell.


Gio Gem Provides Much Needed Win

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Gio Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano combined for a one hitter and the Nationals feasted off of Redleg pitching for twelve hits, to give Washington a decisive 8-1 victory over Cincinnati at Nationals Park on Thursday night. Gonzalez was dominant, pitching eight complete while striking out seven.

And the Nationals finally broke out in the runs column. Denard Span and Danny Espinosa drove in six runs — which included Espinosa’s second home run of the year. Bryce Harper also homered for the Nationals. But what will be remembered is Gio’s night-long mastery of a dangerous Redlegs offense.

“Gio was just outstanding,” Nat’s manager Davey Johnson said of his southpaw ace. “Probably any other time, after a couple of bad outings, I would have let him finish that ballgame, but he was over 110 pitches (112) and I didn’t want to do it. But outstanding effort. Great job.”

The victory came just in time for the Nationals, who’d dropped their previous four games — and just in time for Gonzalez, who’d struggled in his last two times on the mound. The lone Cincinnati run came on a home run from Cincinnati’s Joey Votto, his fourth of the year.

“Gio’s a guy with an All-Star track record and a guy who could have won the Cy Young last year and it’s not surprising,” Votto said of the Washington lefty’s outing. “I looked up his numbers on the board and he hadn’t had a very good season so far and I imagine he was about due. And tonight was one of those starts for him.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Our belated thanks to Frank Gray, who ran an interview with CFG prior to the Mets’ series on what Mets fans could expect from the Nationals. Frank runs the savvy and well written “Mets Menu” for Bleacher Report. We’ll return the favor when the Mets are next in town . . .

Speaking of the Mets: after taking two of three from the Nationals in New York, the Madoffs have struggled against the Dodgers — who have taken two of three from the New Yorkers. Jeremy Hefner pitched well last night, though he dropped a 3-2 decision. Hefner pitched seven complete while giving up only a single run . . .


Nats Nip New York In Nine

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Ryan Zimmerman’s ninth inning bleeder into right field gave his team yet another improbable ninth inning walk-off win, as the Nationals bested the New York Mets on Friday night, 8-7. Zimmerman’s hit came after the Nationals loaded the bases on Mets’ closer Bobby Parnell — and capped a night that saw Nats’ rookie pitcher Tom Milone make his team debut.

The 8-7 win masked a back-and-forth contest that saw the Nationals sprint into a 5-0 lead after three innings, with Milone pitching a steady rookie game against a tough line-up. Milone looked good, and is clearly in the Nationals’ plans for the rest of the season. But Milone had trouble during his second time through the Mets’ line-up, giving up four runs in the Mets’ fourth, including a home run to Mets’ first sacker Nick Evans.

Rookie Milone also notched one of those unusual first-game oddities: a home run on the first pitch he faced as a major leaguer. But it was Milone’s steady pitching that got the attention of Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson: “He is a pitcher. I know everybody wanted me to stay with him,” Johnson said. “He pitched well for me. He made a couple of bad pitches, but — by and large — he went after them. I didn’t want to take a chance of him losing it.”

The nail-biting ninth inning was necessary after Tyler Clippard (who has struggled with his command over his last three outings) gave up a single run to the Mets in the top of the seventh. Jesus Flores (who was 3-4 on the night) started out the inning with a single, pinch hitter Jonny Gomes walked, Ian Desmond sacrificed pinch runner Brian Bixler and Gomes to second and third — and Mets’ manager Terry Collins intentionally walked Roger Bernadina to bring Zimmerman to the plate.


Swept In Philly, Nats Head To The Apple

Friday, September 18th, 2009

The Nats head to New York to face the faded and no-account New York Chokes after being swept in three games in Philadelphia. The latest instance of Nats futility was a 4-2 sigh at the hands of Phuzzie lefty Cole Hamels, who appears to have returned to his 2008 end-of-season form. Hamels, pitching like he meant it, had a perfect game through five. Up and down all season, Hamels attributed his good outing to the heat of the pennant race: “I think it’s being able to go out there, knowing what’s at stake,” he said following his outing. “I think anytime September rolls around, and fortunately enough, I’ve been here when we’ve had to win every game. You still have to go out there.” Hamels was aided in his victory by the continued no-show of Washington lumber: Guzman, Zimmerman and Willingham were a combined 2 for twelve against the lefty (Dunn, the only Anacostia bopper who’s actually hitting was given the night off), bringing the middle-of-the-order Nats to a stunning 2 for 27 over the last two games. If there was any good news from the last game of the sweep it was that Ross Detwiler looked passably competent: pitching five innings of four hit ball — for his sixth loss without a win.

The New York Stinks host the Nationals today on the heels of a five game losing streak, which included a just-yesterday three game sweep at the hands of the Chops, and a record of 1-9 over their last ten games. The good news for Mets fans is that they won’t have to suffer through a September collapse this year: they did that all the way back in June. The Mets are in terrible shape. Unlike the Nats, they don’t seem to have a firebrand prospect (Ian Desmond) wowy-zowing the crowd, or a potential game-changing hatchling (Stephen Strasburg) waiting to flap his wings, or a tested and still-young lumberjack (Adam Dunn) that can put the horsehide in the cheap seats. Even the most tried and truly tested Chokes’ fanatics are desperate. We here at CFG say that advisedly because the last time we talked about the Chokes at any great length there were riots in New York. We had to put on our kevlar. We had to call in airstrikes. Even so, we’ll give it another try: so what should the Mets do.

Over at The Real Dirty Mets Blog, Rusty has been going on about shaking up the dugout — a “bold move” that would change the tectonics of Citi Field and give the Moribunds some hope. His recommendation? Bring in Orel Hershiser. Not a bad idea. Hershiser has been in the running for a number of managerial posts (Rusty points out) and he was “a thinking man’s pitcher.” Hershiser might, in fact, be the spark the Mets need to shake up the on-field operations. What I mean to say is this: Jerry Manuel has lost faith in his players, and they’ve returned the favor. Manuel has made a hash of the season (injuries or no injuries) and he’s flapped his mouth on so many things so often that it’s hard to figure out what he really thinks. Worse yet, he doesn’t know how to handle the kids.

In truth, the great collapsable Mets don’t have many young stars that could form the nucleus of a future pennant winner, but even if they did Jerry wouldn’t know what to do with them. I’ll give you three examples. There was a lot riding on Mets Daniel “can’t miss” Murphy this year. The Chokes needed a big bat from one of their youngsters and Murphy was picked to supply it. Unfortunately, after 27 games the Mets’ brain trust (Manuel concurring) decided that Danny boy couldn’t play left (they called him “a disaster”), so they switched him and his leather rag to first, in the apparent belief that playing first is easier. As recently as early August, the Mets were trumpeting what a fantastic move the switch had been. But the shine has worn off and when Murphy made two errors on Wednesday, you could hear the groans all the way to Secaucus. Then too, Murphy’s “big bat” has disappeared: going AWOL at just about the same time that the genius’s in the Mets front office decided that DM would look great at first. 

The same kind of thing happened to Bobby Parnell, who began his career as a whiz-bang reliever, giving so much hope to Mets’ faithful that they were charting the World Series parade route down Broadway. The Mets finally had the one thing that might have saved them from the Tsunami of their 2007 season: a home grown reliever who enjoyed his job and did it well. So what did the Mets do? They spent a boatload of money on a couple of free agent relievers and took Bobby out of the bullpen and made him a starter: in the belief that anyone who’s a good reliever will be an even better starter. So, how’s that worked out? Since arriving on the mound, Parnell’s ERA is 5.60 and Jerry and Company keep talking about how he’s “a work in progress.” Most recently, the Chokes announced that “the experiment” was over and that Parnell was back behind the fence in center. It was the right decision. No doubt about it. But, as usual, the also-rans did it in exactly the wrong way: they treated it like a demotion. Mets fans blame Parnell for his failure as a starter. Jerry Manuel blames Parnell for his failure as a starter. The GM blames Parnell for his failure as a starter. Now they’ve set him up to fail as a reliever. Guess what: it’s not his fault.

Then there’s Mike Pelfry. The way the Mets have handled Pelfrey tells us all we need to know about the problems with the team. Pelfrey is the one guy (he’s 25) who has the kind of stuff and tenacity the Mets need. He throws hard and shrugs off losses with an I’ll-get-em-next-time attitude. Along with his better-than-average stuff, he’s a gamer who’s only going to get better. Strangely, that’s not good enough for Jerry and Company, who lost faith in Pelfrey in early September after a rocky outing against the . . . Rockies. And things haven’t been quite the same since. This is classic Mets stuff: one or two bad outings and Manuel starts looks like he’s about the weep, the front office issues reassurances to the fans that next year’ll be different and Fred Wilpon passes out radiation sickness tablets. It’s almost as if they’re signaling to Pelfrey that unless he pitches like Johan Santana he’s just no damn good.

But all is not lost. There’s hope in Metsland. Jose Reyes (once the best shortstop in the game) will return in 2010. As will Carlos Beltran. Eric, over a The Real Dirty Mets Blog, thinks that, because of the injuries to Reyes and Beltran in 2009, the Mets won’t trade them, but will try to win with them next year. They’re good, very good — and they’re the core. They’ll give it one more shot. But Eric adds: “I believe that next year will be the last for the core unless they win.” Will they? There’s a reason why you never hear the phrase “good team, bad shortstop,” and it’s because the heart of any winner is the guy up the middle with the soft hands. Reyes has that, and the bat to go with it. If he’s anything like he was just three years ago, the Mets will instantly improve. Add Beltran, a still-in-his-prime long ball hitter and game changer and the Mets (with Johan and Maine and a healthy bullpen) are (arguably) a better-than-.500 team and good enough to challenge for the wild card. But here’s the thing: even with all of that, the Mets need a change in culture and they need it desperately. They might want to start in the dugout.