Posts Tagged ‘Danny Espinosa’

Werth’s Slam Downs The Marlins

Thursday, April 10th, 2014


Jayson Werth’s grand slam in the 8th inning proved the difference against the Miami Marlins, as the Nationals beat their division rival, 10-7. “Crazy game. Back and forth,” Werth said following the hard fought victory. “One of those games where you play that long, you want to win.”

Werth’s line drive howitzer was the coda in a game that saw starter Jordan Zimmermann give up seven hits and five runs in just 1.2 innings, one of the worst outings (and the shortest start) for the righty in his career. Washington relievers were also victimized in the 7th and 8th innings, with Drew Storen giving up a home run to Jerrod Saltalamacchia and Tyler Clippard giving up a run in the 8th.

‘I was terrible out there,” Zimmermann said of his performance. “The fastball was all over the place. That’s not like me. I just couldn’t get a very good feel. I fell behind guys and when you fall behind you’ve got to come in with a fastball — and they’re a good fastball hitting team.”

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Despite Zimmermann’s early struggles (which left the team down 5-0 going into the bottom of the 4th) Washington refused to give in. While Werth’s slam gave Washington the victory, the game might well have turned on Bryce Harper’s brilliant ten pitch at bat in the bottom of that frame.

The struggling youngster (who came into the game batting just a hair about .160), fouled off numerous offerings from Miami starter Brad Hand in a ten pitch at bat before depositing a 95 mph fastball in the third deck of Nats Park. Harper’s home run brought the crowd of 21,000-plus to their feet, scored Adam LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman — and put Washington back into the game.

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“I never felt out of this game, that’s for sure. We battled. We’ve just got to keep pressing,” Werth told reporters after the comeback win. It was the Nationals fifth comeback win this season in only eight games and kept Washington atop the N.L. East standings at 6-2.

Washington skipper Matt Williams noted that the Washington victory would not have been possible without the solid pitching of Craig Stammen, who shut down Miami in the middle innings — giving his team just over three innings of stellar relief while striking out four.


The Good News From Opening Day

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014


Among this season’s changes to Centerfield Gate is that we have decided to use our posters real names. In addition, as our readers will see in the weeks ahead, we have several new features — including “Nationals Scorebook” in which we will post (on Facebook) key details and the actual scoring of select games.

And we have new contributors. CFG’s newest writer is Jason Knobloch, a veteran Nats’ watcher. This is his first post-game commentary, but certainly not his last:

The Nationals 9-7 win in New York carried with it plenty of good news for Nationals’ fans — poised prematurely (it would seem) to celebrate what could be a banner season. F.P Santangelo called it right: the Nats needed to get past Mets’ starter Dillon Gee and into New York’s bullpen. That said, until the very end of the game the Anacostia Nine didn’t have enough quality at-bats, and Gee lasted long than he should have.

The Nationals bullpen gave up two home runs and three RBIs, but it was still outstanding. Drew Storen looked particularly impressive (and like his old self — some of which we saw at the end of last year) and Aaron Barrett had a quality major league debut. He’s a keeper: two strikeouts. And despite the struggles of Jeremy Blevins, it’s worth noting that he set down three swing-throughs.

Stephen Strasburg kept the Nationals in the game (the job, ultimately, of any good starter) — but this was hardly his best outing. Stras has added a fifth pitch, a slider, and it was outstanding and certainly well beyond what a new pitch might look like this early in the season.

With Strasburg’s curve and change-up, the slider will be yet another pitch that will add punctuation to the ace’s real weapon, and overpowering fastball. That’s quite an arsenal, particularly when the right’s velocity returns (it won’t take long) to what it should be.

Danny Espinosa provided real value in his first game back in the majors from late season (2013) Triple A. His at-bat as a pinch hitter in the 9th inning kept the team alive and (batting from the left side) the former starting second sacker looked more relaxed that he did last year.

And there’s this: if’s Zim’s shoulder gets tweaky again or if he’s moved to first, its likely that Matt Williams can have confidence in who he slots in to second and third, a point bolstered by Anthony Rendon’s performance late in the game: a three run shot that (as it turns out) the Nationals needed.

Ray Knight got it right (as usual) during Nats Xtra — the Nationals of last season, and especially the Nats of early last season, would probably not have won this game. That doesn’t mean the team is assured of any early run away from the rest of the division, but it’s a good sign.






Nats Walk Off On Harper Homer

Thursday, July 25th, 2013


The Washington Nationals attempted to hand the Pirates a win on Thursday afternoon, squandering a four run 9th inning lead, but Bryce Harper put a Bryan Morris offering into the left field stands and the Nationals salvaged a hard fought 9-7 win against Pittsburgh at Nationals Park.

The Harper homer came after a deflating top of the 9th inning, where Pittsburgh was able to put four runs on the board and tie the game. Once again it seemed that the Nationals, trying to win a game after a six game losing streak, were snake bit, with usually reliable closer Rafael Soriano walking two and giving up four earned runs.

“This was a great win to get and we needed it,” Harper told a gathering of reporters after the victory. “Maybe it’s the start of something.” Randy Knorr, who took over for Davey Johnson (ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the fifth inning), took the unusual step of pulling Soriano in the 9th for Ian Krol. “You can’t walk batters and win ball games,” he explained.

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As now seems standard for the Nationals, the team could not hold a lead for one of their starters. Lefty Gio Gonzalez pitched well into the sixth inning, notching eleven strikeouts — a season high for the southpaw — and was able to keep the Nationals in the lead with admittedly so-so stuff.

The Nationals backed Gio with solid hitting, with help from the Pirates, who committed three errors in the first inning. Gio worked well with a four run lead, though he gave up eight hits in his outing and left the game after giving up three earned runs. Gonzalez was accredited with a no decision.


Ramos Returns, Leads The Nats

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Wilson Ramos hit a three run seventh inning home run in his return to the Nationals on Independence Day, lifting Washington to an 8-5 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. This was Ramos’ first day back after spending 44 days on the disabled list nursing a strained hamstring.

Ramos’ homer brought the crowd to their feet, clamoring for a “curtain call” for the player. “It was a great moment,” Ramos said of his homer. “I have to keep working. A lot’s happened in my career. A lot of bad moments, good moments. I have to learn from the bad moments and enjoy the good moments.”

The Ramos home run was a part of a 3-4, five RBI day for the Nats’ regular catcher — and helped to salvage another disappointing outing from reliever Drew Storen, who gave up three runs in the seventh inning, which allowed the Brewers to knot the game at 5-5.

The return of Ramos not only sparked the win, it seemed to spark the entire Nationals’ line-up, which banged out 11 hits, which included a 3-3 day from Jayson Werth and a 3-4 day from Ian Desmond. Before the game, Washington skipper Davey Johnson swapped Werth and Desmond in the batting order. The move, Johnson said wryly “seemed to work out. Once in a while, I have a great idea. They both had great ballgames.”

This was the second start for Taylor Jordan, who pitched much better than in his debut. Jordan threw into the sixth inning, giving up six hits while allowing two runs. The young righty, still nervous during his second outing, wasn’t masterful but he was effective: he threw 85 pitches, 60 of them for strikes.

But while Jordan threw well, the same cannot be said of reliever Drew Storen, whose 7th inning collapse cost the Nationals the lead — and very nearly the game. This was Storen’s second troublesome game in a row. Storen gave up two home runs and a single in his outing, and raised his ballooning ERA to 5.56 on the year.


Nats Bust Out, Then Hang On

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Gio Gonzalez won for the first time since May 5 — and the Nationals supported him with an avalanche of runs, sparked by an Adam LaRoche three run home run, and Washington hung on to win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, 7-5. Gonzalez notched his fourth win of the season.

Gonzalez was not at his most effective, giving up nine hits over 6.1 innings of work, but a five run third inning marked one of the few times that the lefty had the run support he needed to set down the opposition without too many problems. Washington’s runs came off of Arizona starter Trevor Cahill, who recorded his ninth loss on the year.

“To get up early like that, that’s really how our offense should operate,” right fielder Jayson Werth said after the victory. “That’s something we haven’t done this year and hopefully we can keep it going and play like that more often.” Werth was 2-2 on the night, which included two walks.

The Nationals offensive attack was led by Adam LaRoche, whose third inning three run home run just over the fence in left center field, seemed to give the home towners an insurmountable lead. It was LaRoche’s eleventh home run of the year, but his first in a month.

“As a team, I think we’re looking better,” LaRoche said. “We get 11 hits tonight and score some runs, so we’re slowly getting closer to what this offense can do.” After a terrible start to the season, LaRoche is now hitting .259 on the year.


The World Series Or . . . Bust

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

It’s the World Series or bust, Davey Johnson told Nats’ fans during Spring Training, and our expectations soared. As well they might: the team had league’s best starting pitching, a potent and potentially powerful line-up of young bats (including Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper), and a young and solid bullpen — with a new closer.

Now (with one-third of the season in the books), the Nats are mired in third place in the National League East, the starting pitching is not what it should be (Stephen Strasburg is on the DL, Ross Detwiler is rehabbing, Dan Haren has been ineffective), Bryce Harper is visiting a specialist to look at his knee and the team’s bullpen is shakey, at best.

Clearly, a kind of turning point has been reached. This morning, the Washington Post weighed in with a front page team assessment, complemented by a Sports section Tracee Hamilton offering that concludes that the team “cant hit, pitch or field with anything approaching consistency.”

All true. But Nats’ fans can at least be thankful that all of this seems to have seeped into the consciousness of Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson, who’ve spent the last week (and more) retooling a punchless offense — and providing a new look to an embarrassingly so-so bullpen.

Hence: Danny Espinosa was sent to the disabled list (and, truth be said, to Triple-A), Anthony Rendon was brought in to play second base, and Henry Rodriguez and Zach Duke were sent packing. That’s four big moves (and counting), including a roster-shifting one: it’s not often that a team changes their second baseman in mid-stride.

And then there’s the bullpen. Once upon a time, Davey Johnson said that while he was comfortable with a single lefty out of the pen, he might want to have more. He now has three (and potentially four), and none of them are named Zach Duke, who started the season with confidence that he could get the job done. He couldn’t.


Zimmermann Set To Go Against O’s: Will Espinosa Return?

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Jordan Zimmermann is set to take the mound against Orioles’ Chris Tillman on Wednesday night in Baltimore. The Washington righty has solidified his place among the elite of N.L pitchers: he’ second in ERA (behind Clayton Kershaw), leads the league in wins (with eight), and has a snappy 0.87 WHIP.

As of this writing it was uncertain whether Danny Espinosa, recovering from a fractured right wrist, would be in the starting line-up. “It’s just a time thing. But it does feel better,” Espinosa said. “The biggest thing we were concerned about is the inflammation, and the inflammation’s down.”

The question is of more than passing interest for Nationals’ fans, who’ve had doubts about Espinosa’s abilities in the batter’s box. Replacement Steve Lombardozzi has been a spark for the Nationals’ line-up since taking over the second base duties, hitting .270 over the last ten games — and driving in key runs against San Diego (on May 19) and Philadelphia, just last week.

Davey Johnson can expect more grumbling should Espinosa take the field tonight, particularly if he puts up another oh-fer. Espinosa has three hits in his last 38 at bats, and is hitting .163 for the year.

Right fielder Bryce Harper, meanwhile, is still nursing swelling in his left knee. He could remain out of the line-up at least until Thursday. “It’s still tender, still a little bit swollen,” manager Davey Johnson said of Harper’s knee. “The swelling’s down a little bit. I was probably being a little optimistic thinking he could DH over in Baltimore.