Posts Tagged ‘Brian Sabean’

Roark Punishes The Reeling Reds

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

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Tanner Roark was all smiles when he walked off the mound after the 7th inning in Cincinnati last night, and for good reason. The young Washington righty was on his way to his tenth victory of the season, with the only thing left for the Nats to do was to call on one of baseball’s best bullpen to nail down the victory.

And that’s precisely what happened. Tyler Clippard came on the 8th to throw a 1-2-3 inning, while closer Rafael Soriano pitched the 9th inning to notch his 24th save of the season. And so that Nationals rolled to a 4-1 victory — winning for the seventh time in nine games and solidifying their tenuous place atop the National League East.

While Roark was supported by a 12 hit Washington attack (Denard Span was 4-5 and Anthony Rendon 2-4), this game was Roark’s. The righty gave up just three hits, struck out six and walked just one.

“It’s pretty cool just to think about,” Roark said of his performance during the 2014 campaign. “You dream ever since you’re a kid of getting to the big leagues. I took the opportunity and tried to run away with it.”

The Nationals attack victimized Cincinnati starter Alfredo Simon, who has struggled since the All Star break. In particular, Simon just couldn’t seem to master Span who, in addition to four singles, stole a base and knocked in a run. Span is 9 for 18 on Washington’s road trip with two four-hit games.

“He’s been great,” Nationals’ manager Matt Williams said of his star centerfielder. “The key for him is hitting the ball back through the middle. We’ve seen that over the last week or so, hitting the ball up the middle or the other way.”

The Reds, on the other hand, are in desperate need of a speedy singles hitter and a little bit of power. Since Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips went on the disabled list, Cincinnati has suffered a singles and power outage that has dimmed their prospects in the N.L. Central.

Reds fans are feeling it. “The Redlegs played like utter garbage,” Red Reporter intoned after the loss, “while the Senators looked bored. This game ain’t showing up on any This Week in Baseball highlight reels any time soon, unless they make a tape of ‘Least Impressive RBI Singles in Baseball History.’”

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: We admit — we’ve been a tad bit remiss in posting, but it’s not like we’re sitting at the beach. We’ve been involved in other issues over the last days, and realize that we have a bit of catching up to do. That said, it’s not like we’re not paying attention . . .

For instance. We note with some pride that what we’d said about the Reds just a day or two ago, has turned out to be true. They just can’t hit. A trade for Marlon Byrd now seems in the offing, though the Phillies must be salivating on what they’ll get for him now that the Redlegs are turning desperate . . .

Unless, of course, the Reds stand pat: Which would be the equivalent of waving the white flag. That appears to be what the Red Sox have done, though perhaps with something less than the finality that seems to infect the uncertain Cincinnati front office

Yesterday, the Red Sox swapped Jake Peavy to the San Francisco Giants for two pitching prospects, which is an admission that it’s time to look to the future in Boston. Last year was a feel good story for the Red Sox, but this year is a lot less so, though the Boston press (lacking a real hook on which to hang the Sox) keeps touting Brock Holt, the next best thing in Beantown . . .

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Nats Ambush The Rangers, 9-2

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

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The Washington Nationals ambushed the Texas Rangers on Friday night behind the pitching of Stephen Strasburg — and with the help of a three run home run by Ian Desmond. For one of the few times this season, the Nationals actually seemed to coast to a victory, with Texas playing catch-up to a suddenly potent Nationals line-up. The Nats notched 15 hits in the victory.

Strasburg provided yet another stellar outing, but this time his team supported him. The young righty threw a solid six innings while striking out nine. His only hiccup came in the second inning, when the Rangers put two runs on the board after an Adrian Beltre double and a Strasburg error off the bat of Texas catcher Leonys Martin. Roughned Odor and Colby Lewis then followed with successive singles.

The Nationals took the lead in the 4th inning when Ian Desmond put a Lewis offering into the right centerfield seats, which scored Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche. Reversing a recent trend, the Nationals were 4-12 with runners in scoring position — and broke open the game on a 3-5 night from both Jayson Werth and Denard Span.

“[The homer] was real big,” Washington’s Denard Span said of the Desmond blast. “We got behind early. The mood was like, ‘Here we go again.’ We have been falling behind lately. With this home run, it gave us some type of energy. After that, we just piled on.”

Strasburg has now had eight straight starts where he has pitched six innings or more — and he could have gone much longer tonight, but with runners on base in the bottom of the 6th, Nats’ skipper Matt Williams decided that he had to have Tyler Moore pinch hit for him. The decision paid off, as Moore hit a two run double that all but sealed the Texas loss.

“Early in the first inning, he had some power behind his fastball and threw his breaking ball,” Texas manager Ron Washington said in analyzing Strasburg’s outing. “Then we started swinging the bats better. The guy is a good pitcher. We had some opportunities, but we couldn’t get a base hit. He’s a quality pitcher.”

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: That terrible sound you here is the San Francisco Giants eating the St. Louis Cardinals. Or maybe it’s the sound of the Giants eating all of the National League. On Friday night, the Giants showed why they’re the class of the N.L., downing the Redbirds in a 9-4 ho-hummer at Busch Stadium . . .

In truth, the score doesn’t do the game, or the Giants, justice. The Giants are 36-19, have hit more home runs than anyone in the senior circuit except for Colorado and are second in team ERA to the Braves. Scared? The Giants aren’t scared of anyone, so on Friday — when the Cardinals rolled out Mr. Universe, Adam Wainwright — the McCovey’s touched him for seven runs in 4.1 innings . . .

And . . . and the Giants did this on the same day that they announced that their powerhouse ace, Matt Cain, would go on the 15 day disabled list. Cain was due to return for his next start, but the Giants will play it safe, saving their righty for a mid-summer run against their in-division rivals . . .

Which leads us to ask: who the hell are these guys? The Giants finished ten games under .500 last year, but they spent the off-season retooling and restocking. While their core talent (Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Crawford, Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt) remained the same, G.M. Brian Sabean signed big bat Michael Morse to a one year, $6 million deal . . .

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Span Catch Stymies Giants’ Rally

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

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With two runners on in the top of the 9th and San Francisco rallying against a reeling Nationals’ relief corps, Giants’ right fielder Hunter Pence hit a line drive into the gap in left center field — a clutch hit that would have certainly tied, and might have even won the game for the McCovey’s.

But fleet-footed Denard Span raced back and to his right, leaving his feet to snag the drive — thereby preserving a 6-5 Nationals victory. Span’s game saving play was greeted with a standing ovation by Nats’ fans, who also celebrated the team’s fifth win in a row. “I didn’t think he had it,” Jayson Werth said of the play.

“I take pride in my defense,” Span told reporters after the victory. “Would I like to be hitting .400? Of course. But I love the feeling of taking a hit from somebody or robbing a home run or robbing an extra-base hit. There’s no better feeling than being able to do that, especially like tonight.”

The Nationals victory came at the expense of Tim Lincecum, whose no hitter several weeks ago was the highpoint of his season. Lincecum was not nearly as effective on Wednesday, giving up six runs and seven hits in just six innings of work, including a 448 foot blast off the bat of Giants’ killer Ian Desmond.

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Desmond’s home run and a double off the bat of Anthony Rendon with the bases loaded in the fourth inning provided a large and early Washington lead for starter Jordan Zimmermann, who was attempting to win his National League leading fourteenth game of the season.

The Desmond-Rendon heroics should have sealed the game for the home town Nationals, but San Francisco kept chipping away, especially after Zimmermann left the game after throwing seven innings of six hit baseball. Ian Krol and Ryan Mattheus proved ineffective in the 8th, with Tyler Clippard coming in to put out the San Francisco fire.

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Tempers Flare, But Nats With Their Fourth Straight

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

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An aching back, a sore right knee, a rain delay, a bout of the flue and a dugout confrontation were all part of Tuesday night’s storyline at Nationals Park, though Washington triumphed to win their fourth in a row, defeating the always interesting San Francisco Giants 4-2.

The irritable owner of the aching back was Gio Gonzalez, who worked four innings to hold the Giants at bay before being relieved in the wake of an hour-long rain delay. After Gio left the game, victim of both rain delay and balky back, the Nationals bullpen successfully carried the team the rest of the way.

The sore right knee, on the other hand, belonged to right fielder Jayson Werth (who aggravated the ache in sliding home with an extra Nationals’ run in the 8th inning), while a bout of the flu kept left field phenom Bryce Harper out of the starting line-up.

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And the dugout confrontation? The flare-up took place in the bottom of the first inning between starters Gonzalez and Werth as the two came off the field and then again in the dugout as teammates scrambled to get between them. The argument came after the gimpy Werth couldn’t hold Giants’ second sacker Joaquin Arias to a single, after which Gonzalez was slow to cover first on an infield out.

“Oh, just a little camaraderie going on,” Manager Davey Johnson said of the Gonzalez-Werth spat. “Spirits are high. I like it. No big deal.” That may be true, but the exchange of pleasantries was nearly enough to overawe s scrappy and much-needed Nats’ win over a left coast team suffering through a lost season.

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Melky’s $70 Million “Mistake”

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

There might have been people around baseball who were shocked by yesterday’s news that Melky Cabrera had been suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a banned substance, but the San Francisco Giants were not among them. No one knows whether Giants’ G.M. Brian Sabean knew when baseball was considering taking the action, but it might have been before the Giants swung a deal with the Phillies for the services of Hunter Pence.

What a deal, we all said — now the Giants have two solid outfielders, and could be headed to the post-season. But in reality, and particularly after yesterday, they still only have one: Sure, Cabrera might be able to come back this year, but only if the Giants make it to NLDS. Otherwise, he’s done.

Cabrera didn’t exactly argue the point. After the league office announced the suspension, Cabrera issued a statement apologizing to the Giants’ organization, its players, and its fans. “My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used,” Cabrera said. The substance in question is testosterone, which not only enhances performance but is hard to detect.

An article written by Bob Nightengale that appeared in this morning’s USA Today quotes Victor Conte, the founder of “the infamous Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO),” as saying that Testosterone has become the PED of choice in the MLB, because “it significantly reduces the risk of being caught.” It’s possible to take Testosterone the night before a game, and have only a small amount of it in your system the next day.

The Nightengale article is interesting (once you get past his patented faux outrage), because it raises fundamental questions, though not about baseball’s drug testing policy. Rather, it raises questions about whether we’re entering an era where it will be possible to take PEDs that cannot be detected. If you take Conte seriously, that’s possible.

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Nats Late Rally Can’t Snag The Fish

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

The Nationals mounted a furious rally against the visiting Florida Marlins during the ninth inning last night at Nationals Park — but it wasn’t furious enough to top the Hanleys, who snagged the Nats, 7-5. As in his previous most recent starts, Nats’ righty Livan Hernandez was inconsistent — as opposed to the normally shaky Javier Vazquez, who was able to hold down Nationals hitters through seven innings of competent, if not brilliant, work.

The Nationals’ bottom-of-the-ninth rally came on a triple from Ian Desmond, a Jerry Hairston single, an Alex Cora walk, a Ryan Zimmerman triple, a Michael Morse single — and a Laynce Nix fly ball to the warning track in right field that was just feet away from being a game-tying home run.

The Nationals have reached the dog days of the season in the doldrums: Livan Hernandez pitched only four complete innings, reliever Todd Coffey gave up three hits and a run in 1.1 innings, and Drew Storen gave up a two run home run in the ninth inning to newly arrived Marlin Mike Cameron. “The bats just woke up too late,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said after the loss.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Carlos Beltran is going to the Giants, in exchange for wunderkind-to-be Zach Wheeler. While everyone is talking about how Beltran is going to help the McCoveys (providing a big bat in the middle of their anemic hitting line-up), the Mets were able to get a young and formidable arm. This was a good trade for the Metropolitans.

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Cain CG Stymies Nats

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Yunesky Maya finally pitched like he belonged in the majors on Wednesday, throwing six complete innings and giving up only four hits — but the Nationals fell to the Giants in San Francisco, 3-1. Maya looked confident, a significant change from his first two outings, when he was tentative, and struggling. But against the Giants he commanded the strike zone, with his off-speed pitch setting down enough McCoveys to keep the Nationals within a run of the lead.

The game was lost on the arm of reliever Sean Burnett, who continues to struggle. In the 7th, after a Cody Ross single, Burnett gave up a deep gapper to Brandon Crawford (scoring Ross) and an Eli Whiteside single, that scored Crawford. That was enough for Matt Cain, who dominated the Nationals in a complete game. The big righty threw 110 pitches, 78 of them for strikes. The Giants’ win gave them their home series against the Nationals, as the Nats head to San Diego to take on the Gwynns. (more…)