Posts Tagged ‘bronson arroyo’

Nats Notes: The Positives In The Arizona Series

Friday, May 16th, 2014

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It wasn’t the absolute best, but the Washington Nationals’ series win over the Arizona Diamondbacks was a much needed positive end to a rough road trip to the Left Coast. The Nats’ bats couldn’t come alive against D-backs starter Bronson Arroyo in Game Two, but that’s hardly a knock against the home towners. Arroyo went the distance and chopped and chipped his stuff so well that it at times the horsehide seemed to move in slow motion. Nats hitters just couldn’t seem to focus.

Jordan Zimmermann again illustrated that he doesn’t do well with extra rest, giving up five earned runs in 5.2 innings in Game 1. And Stras was good, but not good enough to best Arroyo. But the good news for Nats Nation is that new acquisition Doug Fister shook off his (very) lackluster start in Oakland and pitched like the guy the Nats thought they were getting — he threw six strikeouts and induced ten groundball outs in his start against the Snakes.

One might be tempted to say that Fister’s start wasn’t a great test (need we point out: his semi-gem was against the second-worst team in the league), but bear in mind that Arizona is currently fourth in the National League in team batting average. That’s not nothing.

The fielding in this series was . . . fine. Four double plays in three games, but Ian Desmond racked up two more errors at shortstop. Rightfielder Jayson Werth did get an outfield assist and . . . and . . .  and nothing else really notable happened.

The Nationals’ lineup capitalizde where it could. Ian Desmond was a standout (finally), racking up four hits and four RBIs in the series. It looks like he’s taken some of the oomf out of his swing, giving it 75 percent instead of 135 percent, and that’s working well. Finally, finally — he isn’t overswinging. (Hey, maybe he’s been reading CFG.)

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Nats, Strasburg Fall To D-Backs

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

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Stephen Strasburg was his usual steady and solid self on Tuesday night in Arizona, but the Diamondbacks’ veteran righty Bronson Arroyo was better, as the Nationals fell to the Rattlers in Phoenix, 3-1. The Nationals were only able to push across a single run against Arroyo, who threw a seven hit complete game for his fourth victory of the 2014 campaign.

The lone Washington run came in the second inning, when Ian Desmond’s triple scored Wilson Ramos. But the National failed to capitalize on their chances that inning, as Monday’s hero Kevin Frandsen hit into a double play to end the threat. Strasburg kept the Nationals close, nearly matching Arroyo, by throwing eight innings of eight hit baseball.

“Overall I thought he pitched fine,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said of Strasburg’s outing. “Bronson was better tonight though. All over the zone with all the pitches that he had, he kept everybody off balance.”

Arizona scored on Strasburg in the bottom of the 4th on a Paul Goldschmidt double and a Miguel Montero single, then again in the fifth when Goldschmidt scorched another double, scoring Bronson Arroyo and Martin Prado. But it was Arroyo who was the difference in the game.

“That’s the great thing about baseball,” Arroyo said following the victory. “I don’t really have to beat Stephen, I just have to beat their batters for the most part.” A finesse pitcher, Arroyo threw 110 pitches in his complete game outing, 79 of them for strikes.

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Arizona G.M. Kevin Towers might be the most unpopular man in Phoenix, with rumors swirling of his imminent firing — the result of a terrible start (4-14 in their first three weeks, the worst in franchise history) and a series of bad trades that have stripped Arizona’s pitching rotation . . .

Even the players have been speaking out. “I’ve never seen anything like it, to be honest with you,” third sacker Eric Chavez said at the end of April. “I’ve been on teams that weren’t very good, but at least I felt like we were competitive. So, it’s a bitter pill to swallow . . . ”

There seems little doubt, Towers has a lot to answer for. Nicknamed “the Gunslinger” for his penchant to pull the trigger on big trades, Towers’ hasn’t hesitated to swap home-grown players who (as he would say) haven’t panned out, for aging if experienced veterans who match manager Kirk Gibson’s “tough and gritty” mold . . .

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Nats Down Reds In 13, Notch Fourth Straight

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Jayson Werth’s 13th inning single past a diving Zack Cozart scored Danny Espinosa and gave the Nationals a 2-1 victory at Nationals’ Park on Friday night — extending the team’s early season winning streak to four games. Werth’s single came after Jordan Zimmermann pitched seven innings of three hit baseball, and the Nationals’ bullpen held the Reds to two hits in six innings.

“That was good,” Werth said, following the victory. “We were out there for a long time. You play that long and not get a win, that would hurt. We are lucky to get the win. We have another game tomorrow, the next day and the day after that. Hopefully, we’ll keep winning.” The victory brought the Nationals to 6-2 on the year, their best start since coming to Washington.

The game featured a tough pitchers’ duel between Washington starter Zimmermann, and Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo pitched into the eighth inning, holding the Nationals to just three hits while striking out four, and aiding his own cause by going 1-2 and hitting in Cincinnati’s lone run. D.C. starter Zimmermann matched him on the mound, throwing 100 pitches, 71 for strikes.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Major League Baseball is starting to take note of the Nationals, particularly considering the early season struggles of their main competitors. The Phillies are 3-4 on the young season, and lost last night to R.A. Dickey’s Mets, 5-2 . . . The Philllies are without slugger Ryan Howard and spark plug Chase Utley, both sidelined with injuries . . .

Atlanta also sits at 3-4, though they won last night against Milwaukee in a slugfest, 10-8 . . . Unlike the Phillies, the Braves are healthy, except for Chipper Jones (battling a rehabbing knee) and Tim Hudson, who’s pitching through a bad back with rehab starts in the minors . . .

Then there are the Florida Miami Marlins, who beat the Astros last night in a thrilling walk-off. The Marlins are 3-5, fighting their way through off-field distractions, and now battling their way through a new ballpark. There were at least four long fly balls into left field during last night’s game that would have been home runs nearly everywhere else. The betting is that, at some point, the team will be forced to move in the fences, as the Mets did at CitiField . . .

After dropping two of three to the Nationals, the Mets have tuned out baseball pundits who picked them for last place in the N.L East. While Jason Bay is hitting an anemic .174, he seems to play better outside of New York, where the boos rain down every time he steps to the plate . . .

Bay “boiled over” during the recent Nationals’ 4-0 scrubbing of the Mets in New York, arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Larry Vanover. Mets’ manager Terry Collins defended his left fielder, got tossed from the game for supporting him, but has no regrets. “Jason Bay doesn’t say anything to anybody . . . So when he’s arguing, there’s an issue.”

Bay got some revenge last night in Philadelphia, where he crushed a Cliff Lee fastball over the fence in right center. “The way things have been going, I normally would have missed it or taken it,” Bay said after the Mets’ win. “It’s nice to, at least for one day, one at-bat, say, ‘Hey, we can build off that.’” The Mets are 5-2 on the young season . . .

Can The Reds “Pull The Trigger” On A Blockbuster?

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Here’s the story in Cincinnati and, for Reds’ fans, it sounds all too familiar: a well-stocked, heavy hitting and young team just can’t seem to put it all together and struggles through a season of lost opportunities. That was the story in the “lost decade” after Cincinnati’s last world championship, and Reds fans fear it could be the story now.

The thing that has Reds’ fans depressed is that this might be the best Reds team that’s been fielded in the last decade or so — and perhaps better than last year’s Central Division winners. The Reds have an MVP at first base (Joey Votto), and All Star at second (Brandon Phillips) and another at third (Scott Rolen) and bunch of long ball swingers in the outfield — masher Jay Bruce (21 home runs), better-than-just-okay Jonny Gomes, uber fill-in Chris Heisey and behemoth Drew Stubbs.

That’s a lot of lumber and it shows: the Reds are first in the N.L. in runs scored, fourth in homers, fifth in batting average, and fourth in on base percentage. In spite of this, the team is struggling. They were shut out twice this week by the Pirates, scoring just four runs in four games. Everyone was slumping. When that happens to good teams, the skipper shifts gears by juggling the line-up and hopes that his pitching staff begins to produce. The problem in Cincinnati is that Dusty Baker doesn’t have much of a pitching staff — or, rather, Cincinnati pitching is all potential and no performance.

The lone exception to this has been Johnny Cueto, who turned in a stellar performance yesterday against the Bucs. Nothing-but-strikes righty Cueto, with the semi-Luis Tiant wind-up, threw for six innings and gave up only four hits — a vindication of a Reds’ front office that has waited for him to be a star. The undersized and underrated righty might now be ready. Finally.

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Dusty Baker’s Boys Dropkick Nats

Friday, August 14th, 2009

After losing the second of two in Atlanta (final score: 6-2), the Washington Nationals had high hopes of rediscovering their winning ways in Cincinnati, where the struggling Redlegs are trying to decide whether to wave the white flag or make one last run at the wild card. Sadly for the Nats, Thursday night’s contest was among the most lopsided defeats the Anacostia nine has suffered this year, if not in number of runs scored (or not scored, as the case may be), then at least psychologically.  This seemed a reversion to earlier times, when nothing worked. The Nats’ were held to two hits in their 7-0 loss at the hands of Redlegs, making starter Bronson “Bongwater” Arroyo look like Johnny Vander Meer. Arroyo, with a lackluster 4.74 ERA, is now 11-11. He was all smiles after the game.

While Nats’ fans decry the lack of starting pitching (inaugurated by John Lannan’s blow-up on Tuesday), and the woes in the bullpen (which collapsed in the loss to the Braves on Wednesday), they can now add another factor to the list of complaints: the Nats have scored three runs in three games — and they’re lucky it wasn’t worse. That’s three up and three down: no pitching, no relief pitching, no hitting. Arroyo, a semi-rock star with his own album and a sometime guitarist with the Quincy Massachusetts-based punk rock band Dropkick Murphys, looked untouchable, while Nats’ pitcher Collin Balester looked shakey. At best. Balester, now 1-2 with an even 6.00 ERA, threw strikes: but not many of them moved. The hero for the Reds was Jonny Gomes – a light hitting part-time former Tampa Bay Ray, who hit three home runs: two off of Balester, one off of Jason Bergman. If Arroyo looked like Johnny Vander Meer, Gomes looked like Vada Pinson.

Guitarist Arroyo and groupie

Guitarist Arroyo and groupie

For the first time in two weeks, Washington manager Jim Riggleman was clearly irritated, his mouth set and voice rising during post-game interviews. The Nats played poorly and Rigglemam told them so in a clubhouse meeting after the Reds recorded the last Nats’ out. ”You look flat when you get two hits and you don’t have many baserunners,” Riggleman said. “You have to create some energy. You have to be hustling down the line. You have to be running balls out. You hit fly balls, you have to round the bag hard.” The Nats face off against the Reds again tomorrow at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park.

Wily Mo

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Willy Mo

Wily Mo (aka “Wily Modesto”) Pena is this year’s Washington Nationals left fielder — exhibit number one that this guy has a hankering for molding the Nats into Cincinnati East. Not great news, considering the senior circuit’s oldest club just hired this destroyer-of-perfectly-good- pitching-arms. But Jimmy never saw a Redleg he didn’t love, and he absolutely loves Wily Mo: “His power works at any stadium,” Bowden said soon after Wily Mo arrived on the scene. “He is a good kid with a big heart. He has got to be driven. You have to stay on top of him. You have to get him to work hard.” At 6-3 and 215, Wily Mo can drive the ball: he hit 26 home runs for the Reds in 2004, with 66 RBIs. The downside? Wily Mo swings through the ball: 118 strikeouts in 336 at bats. You’ve got to get him to work hard?

You’ve got to get him to make contact — that’s what you’ve got to do.

After the next year — after 2005 — the Reds had seen enough of Wily Mo and dealt him to Boston for Bronson Arroyo. The deal looked like a brilliant move for Cincy, and one of the few knuckleheaded moves made by Boston Red Sox (“oh, those dirt dogs”) wunderkind Theo Epstein. Theo had it all figured out. “Pena strikes out on a rate basis more than anyone else in the big leagues,” Epstein said in his usual snooty neo-empiricist meanderings right after the trade. “There is precedent for those (type) players developing a little bit more discipline, increasing their walk rate and becoming better all around hitters as they adjust to the big leagues.” Oh yeah, Theo, like who? We might point out (dearest Theo) that, while with Cincinnati, Pena struck out more times than Arroyo had struck out batters.

Stick that in your “rate basis.”

In 2006, Arroyo was 14-11 with a 3.29 ERA for the Reds while Wily Mo continued to battle the breezes: 94 strikeouts in 289 ABs. We might imagine Theo rethinking this just a tad and looking around the league to see just who would take Wily Mo off his hands. So Pena came to the Nats for a player to be named, who turned out to be 25-year-old first baseman Chris Carter. Not bad really: Wily Mo is a solid citizen, a team player, and has a lot of heart (Jim is right about that, but you can dismiss his other statement — “his power works at any stadium” — really Jim, no shit). Then too, while Wily Mo doesn’t run a lot of sprints, ya gotta luv him. For all of Jim’s talk about how ya gotta stay on him, Wily Mo works hard. I’ve seen him run up the steps onto the field. As our friends at Nats320 point out, he is “big, strong, and incredibly confident.” And yahavtaluvaguy who is modest about what he needs to work on: “I need to work on my defense and my hitting,” he told Nats320. And his baserunning: no one would ever mistake Wily Mo for Willie Mays Hayes.

There’s an upside, which no one who saw him play in RFK last year will forget. Before he arrived the Nats averaged 3.9 runs per game, but with him in the line-up they averaged five runs a game, and his defensive statistics were surprisingly good. He’s quicker with the glove than he looks: no errors in 57 chances. He ate up NL East pitching, hitting .324 with six HRs in 30 games. Which makes him my pick to put one out on Opening Day, against the hated Braves. But the moment I can’t wait for (next year, methinks) is when Wily Mo sticks one in the parking garage and Theo takes out his slide rule, does a few calculations — and tells us “told ya so.”

It’ll be worth the strikeouts.