Posts Tagged ‘chicago white sox’

Zimmerman Foils Wacha’s No Hit Bid

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

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Cardinals’ starter Michael Wacha came within a single out of no-hitting the Nationals on Tuesday night, but a Ryan Zimmerman infield bounder put the Nationals in the hit column as St. Louis went on to down Washington, 2-0. Wacha, who entered the game at 3-1 after a swift rise through the minors, threw 112 pitches before being lifted after Zimmerman’s single.

“For a kid to do that against a lineup like that, at this point in the season, it’s hard to get your head around it,” Cardinals’ skipper Mike Matheny said after the victory. Zimmerman, who Wacha struck out twice prior to his single hit, also praised the young righty. “He pitched great. He really had his stuff going,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman’s bounder hit in front of the pitcher’s mound and flew over Wacha as the young pitcher reached for it. It hit off his glove, but was fielded by shortstop Peter Kozma, who flipped the ball to first baseman Matt Adams, who swiped at Zimmerman but missed him.

After the hit, Matheny brought in reliever Trevor Rosenthal to close out the game. Rosenthal ended it on six fastballs to Jayson Werth, who grounded out sharply to first baseman Adams. “I guess it just wasn’t to be,” Wacha said of his short-circuited no hitter. “But it was still a pretty special night.”

Wacha’s performance overshadowed a solid outing from Washington starter Gio Gonzalez, who threw seven innings while striking out six and giving up six hits. Drew Storen shut the Cardinals down at the end of the eighth, setting up the tumultuous 9th inning. It was Gonzalez’s eighth loss on the year against eleven wins.

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: “Don’t be surprised if the Indians, losers of 94 games a year ago, turn out to this year’s Orioles,” Sports Illustrated writer Albert Chen said back in March. Cleveland fans apparently didn’t believe him, accounting for the third worst attendance in baseball this year . . .

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Ramos Leads Nats In 9-6 Win

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

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The Nationals committed three errors and Gio Gonzalez walked three Philadelphia batters, but Washington banged out eleven hits (including a Wilson Ramos three run home run in the top of the 2nd inning) and the home towners went on to down the Phillies 9-6 at Citizens Bank Park.

“It was an ugly game, that’s all I can tell you,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “It’s one of the ugly ones I’ve seen. Gio had a real rough start. He threw a lot of pitches. He hung in there. [The fielders] were sloppy behind him. It’s not the way you win pennants, I’ll tell you that.”

Thankfully for Johnson (although that might not be the best word to use), the Nationals are in no danger of winning a pennant. The win in Philadelphia still left Washington struggling to catch Cincinnati for the last National League Wild Card spot. The Nationals remain 7.5 games behind the Redlegs with 24 games to play.

The Nationals were hoping that starter Gio Gonzalez would give them a solid outing on Tuesday night, as he did during his last outing against Miami at Nationals Park, but the struggling southpaw gave up five hits and five runs (just one of them earned) in 5 2/3 innings on the mound.

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Gonzalez, who contended for the Cy Young award in 2012, has been up-and-down all season — with his 5 2/3 innings outing reminiscent of his 3 1/3 innings stint two weeks ago against the Kansas City Royals, in which he yielded ten hits and seven runs.

“I was fortunate to go at least that long, especially knowing that I felt uncomfortable on the mound the whole game,” Gonzalez said of his outing. “You can look at it from both sides: The Phillies had a lot of walks, we had a [few] walks. It was just one of these weird games. You just can’t explain it.”

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It’s 11 Straight For The Braves

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

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The difference in last night’s 3-2 Braves victory over the Nationals at Nationals Park came down to a single swing of the bat. In the 8th inning, Atlanta’s Justin Upton sent a 79 mph Tyler Clippard change-up into the left field seats, sealing a tough loss for the home towners.

The Upton home run wasted one of Stephen Strasburg’s best outings of the year, and gave the red hot Braves their 11th straight victory. The Braves extended their lead in the National League East to 13.5 games. The Nationals are now at 54-58 for the season, four games under .500.

Before Upton broke up the game, the Nationals’ Strasburg had been locked in a classic pitchers’ duel with Atlanta’s Mike Minor. The Washington righty left at the end of the 7th inning, after scattering five hits and striking out nine. Minor pitched six inning while giving up eight hits.

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The Nationals had a chance to get to Minor but, as so often has been the case during the season, could not take advantage of having men on base. The Nationals put the lead-off runner on base in four successive innings, but could not take advantage.

“Get runners out there, you’ve got to get them in,” Nationals’s shortstop Ian Desmond commented after the loss. “That’s the name of the game. You’ve got to score more than they do, and we didn’t score very many tonight.” The Nationals were 1-10 with runners in scoring position.

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Werth, Desmond “Eat” Philadelphia’s “Face”

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

After losing to the Phillies on Tuesday, Washington Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth sat in front of his locker at Citizens Bank Park and talked about how his team needs to start winning. “You’ve got to show up tomorrow ready to eat somebody’s face,” he said.

Werth said it with a smile, but he meant it — and that’s exactly what the Washington Nationals did on Wednesday night in Philadelphia, as an 11th inning grand slam home run off the bat of Ian Desmond provided a thrilling, and badly needed, 6-2 victory over the Phillies.

Desmond’s home run came after a single from Jayson Werth that scored Denard Span tying the game in the top of the 9th. But unlike the Nationals showing in the first game of the series, when the team also tied Philadelphia in the 9th, this time the Nats’ bullpen propelled the Anacostia Nine into extra frames, setting up Desmond’s heroic blast.

“Ian is quite a character. He got a lot of big hits for us in the past,” skipper Davey Johnson said of Desmond’s home run. “The only thing that I worry about sometimes is that he tries too hard. It seemed like he was a little too geared up, and then when he got to two strikes, he shortened up and he crushed that ball.”

Werth and Desmond’s late innings offensive put a coda on what was one of lefty Gio Gonzalez’s better outings of the year. While the Nationals’ southpaw came away without a decision on Wednesday, he held the Phillies to just two hits over seven innings, while striking out eleven.

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Whatever Happened To . . .

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Baseball fans grew up cheering Dick Allen as “Richie,” the Phillies-White Sox bad-boy power hitter who insisted on speaking his mind — and hitting towering home runs out of Philadelphia’s Connie Mack and (later), Veterans Stadiums. But the problem with cheering Richie is that, for most of his baseball career, he didn’t seem to care what the fans thought.

One of eight children of a Bible-thumping Wampum-PA mother named Era, Allen grew up with a chip on his shoulder: his father, Coy — a trash hauler — was legendary for staring down rowdy dogs on his route, a characteristic that his son, Dick, would bring to perfection.

Dick and his brothers, Ron and Hank, excelled in sports in high school, leading the Wampum basketball team to the Pennsylvania state finals. But all of three of those Allen boys ended up playing baseball, and Dick would later tell reporters how he remembered watching the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords of the old Negro League play on Wumpum’s field when he was a boy.

The Phillies scouted Allen in high school, but it wasn’t an easy sell: Allen’s mother was the hold-out, despite the fact that Phillies’ scout John Ogden brought Negro League star Judy Johnson in to sweet-talk Era. It was Ogden who ended up being sweet-talked: he gave Allen a $60,000 signing bonus, signed Hank — and hired Coy as a scout.

The signing of Allen was something of a revolution for the Phillies. They’d dragged their feet on Roy Campanella and Henry Aaron, which gave them a reputation of not liking Negro players. The first black player to play for the Phillies was John Kennedy, who started in five games for the team in 1957 — ten years after Jackie Robinson starred in Brooklyn.

The Phillies reputation for being other than welcoming to black players was enhanced, even after they signed Allen. They discarded the name Dick and renamed him Richie, much to his disdain. Then, when Allen reported to Philadelphia’s Little Rock farm club he was greeted with protests from white residents who didn’t like the idea of African Americans playing baseball.

Allen was no Jackie Robinson and carried his resentments north with him when the Phillies called him up in 1963. It took him awhile, but eventually Philadelphia’s fans were booing him: he was chronically late for pre-game warmups, was sullen around his teammates, and showed little regard for Philadelphia manager Gene Mauch.

By the mid-1960s, Allen was giving as good as he got: while standing at third base, he would etch “boo” into the field in front of him. When Phillies’ fans started pelting him with eggs and lightbulbs, he took up his position at third base wearing a helmet, and ignoring the shouts of hecklers. He said it was a crash helmet, and the name stuck: he was “Crash” Allen.

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Whatever Happened To . . .

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

It was at the age of 16, when he was a sophomore at Fresno High School in California, that Dick Ellsworth thought he might be a big league pitcher. In that year, in 1956, the lanky (6-3, 180 pound) lefty started receiving Christmas cards from baseball scouts who were interested in signing him to a major league deal.

Whenever he received a card, Ellsworth later remembered, he’d call his Fresno High School teammate — Jim Maloney — to compare notes. This wasn’t bragging: Maloney, a then-talented pitcher and shortstop, was also receiving cards from major league scouts.

“It got so that I and Jim Maloney would compare cards,” Ellsworth told one reporter. “Either I would get hold of Jim or he would contact me and would say: ‘I just received a card from so-and-so; how about you?”‘ There was good reason for the interest — together, Ellsworth and Maloney constituted the best 1-2 pitching combination that any California prep school team had ever seen. Ever.

The day after he graduated, Ellsworth (and Maloney) cashed in: Ellsworth signed for $60,000 with the Chicago Cubs, while Maloney received his payday from the Cincinnati Reds. In an era that featured Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal and Don Drysdale, both Ellsworth and Maloney fashioned memorable, though not Hall of Fame careers.

Ellsworth was to have started his career in minors, but four days after signing he found himself on the mound at Comiskey Park in South Chicago, where pitching coach Freddy Fitzsimmons wanted to showcase his talent at the annual Cubs-White Sox charity face off.

Fitzsimmons wanted Ellsworth to throw a single inning, then ship him out to Fort Worth, in the minors. Instead, Ellsworth ended up pitching a four hit complete game shutout. At the age of 18, he’d arrived: or nearly so. The Cubs shipped him to Fort Worth, alright, but not for very long.

While Ellsworth’s debut came on June 22, 1958 the Cubs decided he needed a little more seasoning: he was a little wild and tended to overthrow with men on base. But in 1960, and at the age of 20, Ellsworth came up to the Cubs and stuck, ending the season with a 7-13 record and a 3.72 ERA.

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Six Run 7th Dooms The Nats

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Ryan Zimmerman had a career night in Baltimore, hitting three home runs in three consecutive at bats — and notching four RBIs — but the Nationals were victimized by Orioles’ first baseman Chris Davis and a six run 7th inning, and the Nationals lost at Camden Yards, 9-6.

Zimmerman’s home runs came in the first, fourth and fifth innings, sending Baltimore starter Chris Tillman to the pines and staking the Nationals to a 6-2 lead. But in the 7th inning the Orioles leaped on Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals for six hits, including home runs by Steve Pearce and Davis.

The Baltimore victory showed just how lethal their line-up can be: while Davis could not equal Zimmerman’s home run total, he went 4-4 on the night and hit two round trippers of his own. His second, in the seventh inning off of reliever Tyler Clippard, put the game out of reach for the Nats.

“That one hurt,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of the loss, and noted that the Orioles victory came in a ballpark with a reputation as a launching pad for free swingers. “I thought Zim had pretty good stuff,” Johnson said, “but this ballpark can eat you alive.”

Indeed, the Ace of Auburndale’s “stuff” was effective for six innings, as Zimmermann seemed headed for his ninth win. But Zimmermann couldn’t make it out of the seventh, surrendering singles to Ryan Flaherty and Nate McLouth, a double to Manny Machado — and a Davis home run — before being relieved by Clippard.

“I look up, and we’re losing,” Zimmermann said after the loss, his third of the season. “Those guys give me six runs like that, I’ve got to do a better job and we should win this ballgame. It’s solely on me [with] this one.”

Despite the loss, the Nationals showed again that they’re capable of putting the ball in play. In addition to Zimmerman’s three home runs, Roger Bernadina also went long and the Nationals accumulated eight hits, with Zimmerman, Bernadina and Denard Span coming away with RBIs.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Ryan Zimmerman wasn’t the only National Leaguer hitting the long ball on Wednesday. Out in Chicago, back-up Cubs’ catcher Dioner Navarro hit three of his own, as the Cubs pummeled the White Sox, 9-3 . . .

Navarro had never hit more than one home run in a game, telling reporters after the win that he might have hit two in one game when he played Little League baseball. Navarro’s homers came in the 2nd, 4th and 7th innings and (unlike the Zimmerman home runs) each of them was pulled . . .

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