Posts Tagged ‘Collin Balester’

Marlins Down The Nats In 13

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Light-hitting Donnie Murphy took a Collin Balester offering deep into the bullpen in the 13th inning on Saturday, leading the Florida Marlins to a 4-1 victory over the Nationals at Nationals Park. The Murphy homer ended a solid string of relief innings for the Nats’ bullpen, accounting for the second straight loss to the Marlins in as many nights.

Once again, the Nationals could not seem to find a way to hit Marlins’ pitching — scattering six hits over 13, and scoring just once. The lone piece of good news at the plate came when Nationals’ catcher Wilson Ramos connected in the fifth inning off of Chris Volstad for his thirteenth home run of the year.

Of course, the big news of the night was the start of Stephen Strasburg, who pitched brilliantly through six innings, giving up four hits, striking out three, and walking none. Strasburg’s outing provided further evidence that the young righty is on track for a solid 2012, and is continuing his successful rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The Phillies clinched their fifth straight N.L. East title with a 9-2 laugher over the St. Louis Cardinals. That the Phillies captured the flag is hardly a surprise, as their victory on Saturday showed. Roy Oswalt threw seven and struck out seven, with Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez homering . . .

While everyone is tuned into the Rays-Red Sox match-up in Boston, the San Francisco Giants have been quietly sneaking up on the Diamondbacks. Last night, the McCoveys held off the Rockies for their seventh straight, while Arizona fell to the Friars. But Arizona’s lead might be too big to overcome: they lead the Giants by five games with ten to play . . .

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Swept In Cincinnati

Monday, August 29th, 2011

The Nationals seem to have slipped back — with their performance against the Redlegs in Cincinnati a reminder of just how terrible they were in April and May. Yesterday’s game was a case in point: the Nationals kept pace with the Reds, but only when they needed to, and ended up losing the third game of the three game series in the 14th inning. The loss came when Joey Votto took a Collin Balester offering deep to end the game in another Cincy walk-off.

How did the Nationals get swept in Cincinnati? Poor pitching, sloppy defense and no punch at the plate. That’s a sure combination for mediocrity — or worse. In his last start of the season, Jordan Zimmermann wasn’t able to get out of the fifth (giving up six hits and three earned runs), the defense behind him booted the ball twice, and the Nationals were 4-19 with runners in scoring position.

The same kind of lack of punch dominated the series for the Nats: they were outscored 15-10, though that was an improvement over the simply awful offensive output against the D-Backs the week before, when they were outscored 10-3. The problem is not just hitting (Ryan Zimmerman is hitting the ball well, as is Jayson Werth), it’s hitting when there are runs to be had. Ian Desmond left eight runners on base yesterday, and Danny Espinosa six. So it was that Washington outhit the Reds (which is actually saying something), but without any appreciable results.

The loss was Washington’s sixth in a row, and the team is now sliding well under .500, and in danger of passing Florida for last place honors. A last place finish would be a major disappointment, as it would undermine the noticed improvement in play — and personnel. It’s going to take some doing to return to dead-even: the Nationals take on the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta starting tomorrow.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The fans of Cincinnati have to be among the most loyal of any in the majors. Nary a boo is heard for their struggling players — it’s almost as if their Redlegs are in first place. And there’s little question that Joey Votto is the fan favorite: consistently and vocally cheered. He’s the Ryan Zimmerman of Cincinnati. Even so (and in spite of their three game sweep against the Nationals), this is a team that needs more than a few pieces . . .

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Cincy Walks Off

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

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They call it “The Great American Ball Park,” but in fact it’s only the “Good American Ballpark.” That became clear last night when two light stands at the ballpark went out in the eighth inning — and the game was delayed.

At first, no one in the park understood the delay, and from where we were sitting (CFG is on the road — and in Cincinnati of all places), it didn’t look as if the field had actually lost any light. But then, from the nose bleed section (Section 524), the little men scurrying around attempting to solve the problem (down below us, and in the far distance), were far more exciting than the game itself, unless you were a Redlegs fan.

The Nationals came to Cincinnati hoping to reverse their fortunes after hardly showing up for the Snakes in D.C., but they faced the same problems in the “Queen City” that they faced at home: poor hitting, indifferent pitching and a heart stopping inability to show of their young talent. The result was too predictable — a Reds’ walkoff engineered by the I’m-old-but-I-can-still-play Miguel Cairo in the bottom of the ninth.

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Nats Sloppy In Philadelphia Loss

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

One day after playing one of their best games of the year, the Washington Nationals committed three errors and John Lannan walked five — and the Nationals went on to lose to the Philadelphia Phillies, 11-3. Lannan lasted only three innings, as Philadelphia starter Roy Oswalt scattered six hits in seven innings, holding Washington to just three earned runs. The Nationals were never in it.

The Phillies’ victory was sparked by a five run third inning in which an Ian Desmond error and walks to Hunter Pence, Carlos Ruiz (intentionally) and pitcher Oswalt (unintentionally) gave the Phillies a lead they would never relinquish. The Phillies tacked on three runs in the eighth (two singles and a sacrifice fly), while reliever Michael Stutes held the Nationals scoreless.

Lannan’s poor showing put him at 8-8, but his struggles were matched by a solid relief effort from Collin Balester, who pitched three innings of one hit ball, complemented by three strikes outs. Balester’s relief effort lowered his ERA to 4.12, and helped reinforce his role as a long option out of the bullpen. Balester’s solid outing was offset by that of Henry Rodriguez, who continued to struggle with his control.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: It hasn’t exactly been a free-fall, but the 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants have got to be concerned. The McCoveys have struggled in August, going 4-8 (and 11-14 in their last 25) in trying to retain a hold on the lead in the N.L. West. They haven’t been able to do it, and now trail the Diamondbacks by two games on the left coast.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way: slugger Carlos Beltran was brought in from the New York Madoffs to give the Giants a needed shot of offense for their playoff run — but the only shot the Giants’ have been getting is the cortisone shot Beltran has needed to ease the pain in his strained right hand. The slugger was sidelined again last night as the Giants faced the Marlins in Florida.

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Cubs Down Nats, Detwiler 4-2

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

The word around the Nationals’ clubhouse is that Jayson Werth, struggling through a season-long slump, is finally starting to hit. The Nationals’ everyday right fielder — and headline off-season free agent acquistion — is hitting .306 in his last thirteen games. Indeed, Werth showed some pop at the plate on Wednesday night, sending a typical short-stroke liner into Wrigley Field’s left field bleachers for his fourteenth dinger. But Werth’s home run wasn’t enough to beat the Cubs, who took advantage of their own long ball to down the Nationals, 4-2.

The game’s non-story was Ross Detwiler, the team’s constant experiment on the mound, who pitched (in skipper Davey Johnson’s phrase), “just okay.” Lefty Detwiler gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings of work, the biggest knocks against him coming on long balls from catcher Geovany Soto and journeyman Reed Johnson. Detwiler running buddy Collin Balester (they’re both familiar with how to get from Syracuse to Washington — and back), was less than mediocre in an inning of relief: Balester gave up a home run to Alfonso Soriano to put the game out of reach.

And so it is that the Nationals’ search for more pitching among a group of yesteryear’s youngsters (Detwiler, Balester, Garrett Mock, Shairon Martis, J.D. Martin and Craig Stammen), continues, but without the kind of premium (“he’s a keeper”) results. With the next round of young arms waiting in the wings (Tom Milone and Brad Peacock — and perhaps one or two others), Nationals’ fans are starting to clamor for some new faces, and wondering how long it will be before Rizzo, Johnson & Company run out of patience.

Can The Nats Make A Run At . . .

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Respectability? Forget about contending for the N.L. East championship (not even the Braves can do that), or the Wild Card (the Braves might not be able to do that either), but Washington’s 3-2 victory in Colorado on Sunday brought the Nats to within four games of .500. While Nats’ fans might think their team is already “respectable,” a .500 record would make it official. Then too, while Nats’ fans are anxious to see some kind of flag waving from somewhere in Nationals Park, an 82-82 finish would be a stunning success — and an amazing improvement over 2010, when the Nats finished 24 games under .500. But can it be done?

If we look at the Colorado series (and not all that closely), the answer is yes . . . and no. Washington lost game one of the match-up, 6-3, because Ross Detwiler was just so-so in his five inning outing, though the game was decided in the eighth, when the usually reliable Ryan Mattheus gave up three runs in a single inning. Game three was more of the same: except that Washington’s Livan Hernandez was less than mediocre, while the Washington bullpen collapsed. Washington actually hit well in both games — breaking the mold for the year.

Washington’s wins, on the other hand, came as a result of solid (not superb, but solid) pitching from its starters: Jordan Zimmermann provided a steady outing in game two (5.2, four hits, two earned runs), John Lannan in game four (6.0, six hits, one earned run). And in each game the bullpen came through to hold the Rockies. That said, the common theme for all of the games was that Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen were the only two bullpen arms who were consistently steady — while Henry Rodriguez (please, please, throw a strike) and Todd Coffey & Company were downright frightening.

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Bucs, Correia Scuttle The Nationals, 10-2

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

There’s a reason why Pittsburgh righty hurler Kevin Correia is considered one of the National League’s great pitching secrets. Correia, the journeyman retread from San Diego (who can justly claim that he should have been named to the National League’s All Star starting rotation), continued his career-defining season by holding the Washington Nationals to two runs over six complete innings. His teammates, meanwhile, slugged out sixteen hits and defeated the punchless and now pitchless Washington Nationals 10-2. The win gave the Pirates a split in the four game series.

It is only natural to forget Correia’s role in the Nationals’ defeat, as Washington starter Jason Marquis ran into a Pittsburgh line-up that hammered out eight hits and seven runs (six of them earned), against what has to be considered one of Washington’s best starters. Marquis simply did not have his good stuff on Sunday, a fact attested to by an outing that went all of 1.1 innings. Reliever Collin Balester wasn’t much better: he gave up two runs on four hits in four innings, only to be followed by Henry Rodriguez, who gave up a walk and a hit in 1.2.

There wasn’t much to celebrate on Sunday, unless it was a Wilson Ramos homer (in a losing effort), or that lead-off man Roger Bernadina went 2-5, or that Matt Stairs got an odd start at first base. The Pirates, meanwhile, belied their reputation as a light-hitting team: Andrew McCutchen (snubbed by All Star selecters) was 3-5, Lyle Overbay appeared to be unstoppable (he was 3-4 with 3 RBIs) and second sacker Neil Walker was 3-5 with two RBIs.

Nearly everyone in the Pirates’ line-up came to hit, with the Pirates bullpen combining for three innings of three hit ball. The win kept the Pirates above .500 by two games — and the Nationals just below it. The North Side Drama Queens, one of baseball’s doormats, come into town from an emotionally draining experience against the Pale Hose for a four game set that starts tomorrow.