Posts Tagged ‘Danny Espinosa’
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
And so it’s official: after nearly fifty games the Nationals are playing .500 ball, have proven incapable of winning the big games, are mired in a team-wide batting slump, seem disoriented and demoralized, are losing games they should win — and are nowhere near the elite team they were projected to be at the season’s start.
Or, as Adam Kilgore put it at Nationals Journal this morning: “The Nationals 4-2, 10-inning loss included many hallmarks of their 3-6 road swing. A dearth of offense. Spotty relief pitching. Finding a way to lose.” Finding a way to lose?
The most recent example came on Tuesday night in San Francisco, when the Nationals dropped a 4-2 decision on a walk-off two run Pablo Sandoval blast on a pitch by Triple-A call-up Yunesky Maya. The loss dropped the Nationals to 3-6 on their ten game West Coast road trip and squandered a near-brilliant outing from righty workhorse Stephen Strasburg.
In Davey Johnson and Mike Rizzo we trust (and absolutely), but this time there’s blame enough to go around. With the Nationals leading 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, and closer Rafael Soriano on the mound, Gregor Blanco hit a liner to right field that should have been caught by Bryce Harper for the final out. It wasn’t — and Andres Torres scored the tying run.
But Harper was playing in and towards the line, when he should have been playing back and in the gap, to guard against precisely the kind of over-the-head liner that Blanco smacked. That’s the way the Giants play it. That Harper shied away from the ball (the result of hitting the wall in Los Angeles, it was suggested) is nonsense: he was out of position.
This is hardly a radical point-of-view: it was hinted at by F.P. Santangelo — MASN’s color commenter who was covering the game — both at the time of the hit, and in his post-game comments. Harper, meanwhile, reacted like any good team player, even if he’s wrong. “I put that whole loss on me,” he said. “Really sucks.”
Then there’s Yunesky Maya. “Wise old” Davey Johnson is rightly praised for managing his bullpen just so (and, it is said, even brilliantly), and determining the exact pitcher-to-hitter match-ups. Maya is a righty and would be facing righties, so perhaps that is why Johnson decided to bring him in to pitch to the Giants in the 10th. But . . . Yunesky Maya?
Monday, May 6th, 2013
The Washington Nationals pounded out eleven hits, including crucial home runs from Danny Espinosa and Tyler Moore, and went on to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 on Sunday. The victory gave the Nationals a series win in the Steel City, with the team ending their road trip with a respectable 4-3 record.
For once, Washington’s pitching was not the headline for the game, although Washington southpaw Gio Gonzalez picked up his third win of the season. Gonzalez provided six innings of five hit baseball to go along with his five strikeouts, throwing 102 pitches, 63 of them for strikes.
But this Gonzalez outing is likely to be remembered for the lefty’s gritty 1st inning performance, when he pitched out of a bases loaded jam — notching two strikeouts and inducing a ground out. The Pirates were only able to score once in the inning, on a Starling Marte lead-off home run.
“We got the three outs, you see your dugout get lit up with joy and excitement,” Gonzalez said of his clutch pitching in the first inning. “It just felt like the momentum shifted. You want to go out there and attack the strike zone.
After dodging the potential Pirates big inning in the 1st, the Nationals settled in to peck away at Pirates’ starter Wandy Rodriguez. Danny Espinosa put Washington on the board in the top of the 2nd inning with a sacrifice fly, then homered in the top of the 4th to score two.
But the big blow of the game came in the top of the 8th, when Tyler Moore sent a Bryan Morris offering 414 feet into the left field stands. Moore’s blow came after the Pirates intentionally walked a suddenly hot Adam LaRoche. The blast made the score 6-2 and put the game out of reach for Pittsburgh.
Friday, May 3rd, 2013
Dan Haren pitched eight solid innings and Denard Span knocked out three hits and two RBIs, as the Washington Nationals downed the Atlanta Braves, 3-1 to earn a split in their four game series. This was Haren’s best outing of the year: he allowed only four hits and struck out four.
The Haren outing followed a gem pitched by Jordan Zimmermann, with the duo (and closer Rafael Soriano) holding the Braves to just one run and seven hits in eighteen innings.
“What a heck of a ballgame Haren pitched,” Davey Johnson said after the victory. “The last two nights, with Zim and Haren, low pitch counts, going late in the ballgame, very few balls hit really hard … [Haren] was making his pitches all night.”
Washington’s runs were provided on a single from Steve Lombardozzi in the first (which scored Span, who had doubled to lead off the game), and Span’s double in the top of the second, which scored Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos. Rafael Soriano came on in the ninth to notch his ninth save.
The Braves mustered five hits off of Washington pitching, with their lone run coming in the bottom of the 7th, when Haren gave up a home run to Dan Uggla. No Atlanta hitter looked comfortable with Haren, who threw a mix of sliders and cutters. After the victory, Washington headed to Pittsburgh, where they will face the Pirates on Friday night.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: MASN analyst Ray Knight had an interesting, and not all that surprising, idea last night following the victory. Talking of Anthony Rendon, Knight said that the Nationals should think about keeping him with the club and slotting him in at second base . . .
“We have some trouble at second,” Knight said — expressing an obvious concern of the fan base. But Knight is extremely well-informed, acting as a kind of bellwether of management thinking. Knight pointed to Rendon’s steady defensive play at third and his recent abilities at the plate as a reason for keeping him in Washington . . .
Thursday, April 11th, 2013
By now, eight games into the season, there should be no doubt that the Nationals know how to score runs. On Wednesday, Washington’s bats were nearly silent through the first three innings of their game against the White Sox, but in the fourth inning the team began to roll — and went on to seal a 5-2 victory, their second in a row against the Comiskeys.
“These guys, they’re going to score some runs sooner or later,” Washington starting hurler Jordan Zimmermann said after the victory. For Zimmermann, who notched his second win in as many outings, Washington run support (which was in short supply when he pitched last year), was a “given.”
Once again, Bryce Harper led the attack, going 2-4 while racking up his fourth home run. But last night’s game featured hits from the normally quiescent middle of the order: Ian Desmond was 3-4 and scored twice and Danny Espinosa was 2-4 with two RBIs.
None of this might have mattered without Zimmermann, who scattered seven hits over seven innings — and befuddled White Sox hitters just enough to give his hitters a chance. “It starts with Jordan,” said Desmond. “He was working quick, getting quick outs, getting us back in the dugout, and the other guys around me were hitting, too.”
This was a stellar outing for the Ace of Auburndale, who looked in mid-season form. “I was just sticking with the fastball pretty much all game,” Zimmermann said. “Mixed in a handful of changeups in there, some sliders and a couple curves, but for the most part, we were just going fastball…. It was just one of those games where it it felt good and I felt like I could locate it at any time so we stuck with it.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: After years of waiting for their youngster to arrive, they have — the White Sox line-up is much younger than it was several years ago. But the real question is: is it better? “The White Sox are about a .500 team, so it would be a surprise if they finish fourth,” Sports Illustrated intoned at the beginning of the year . . .
That sounds about right, but while the White Sox might not contend this year, they have a plan. And while that plan does not include the word “rebuild,” there isn’t any question that the White Sox are trying to get younger and faster . . .
Alejandro De Aza, Dayan Viciedo and Tyler Flowers are now the face of a franchise that was once dominated by the likes of Omar Vizquel (44 in 2010), Mark Buehrle (now 34 and in Toronto), Juan Pierre (long gone — at 35), Mark Kotsay (the D.H. in 2010) and Freddy Garcia (now 35 — and with the Yankees) . . .
Sunday, October 7th, 2012
The Washington Nationals fought back from a shaky Gio Gonzalez start, kept the game close, and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on an eighth inning Tyler Moore pinch hit single to defeat the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. The victory gave the Nats a 3-2 win in their first game against the Cardinals in the National League Division Series.
The victory marked the first ever post-season triumph for the D.C. Nine, who seemed on their way to defeat until a St. Louis shortstop Peter Kozma’s fielding error put Michael Morse on first with the potential tying run in the 8th. Ian Desmond followed with a single to right, sending Morse to third.
Even then, Washington had difficulty scoring: Danny Espinosa (who’d struck out in his previous three at bats) laid down a bunt, sending Ian Desmond to second. But the Espinosa bunt accounted for the inning’s first out. Kurt Suzuki followed Espinosa and struck out swinging.
It was then that super-sub Tyler Moore came off the bench and worked his magic, sending a Mark Rzepczynski offering into right field to give the Nationals the lead. “He threw some pretty tough pitches to me,” Moore said after the win. “I fouled off a couple. I was just able to kind of stick it out there and put the barrel on one, and it flared out to right.”
The Cardinals then had two chances to tie or win the game, but the Nationals bullpen proved equal to the challenge. Tyler Clippard worked the bottom of the 8th inning, setting down the Cardinals in order after the lead-off hitter reached on a throwing error from Ryan Zimmerman.
Monday, October 1st, 2012
This was not Washington at its best, and everyone on the Nationals knew it. With a chance to clinch the National League East, the Nationals didn’t pitch or hit, and seemed sluggish in their three game series against the Cardinals in St. Louis, and no more so than during their last loss on Sunday, when they came away with a 10-4 defeat.
“We’ve had rough outings before and come back good. We’ll be fine,” Davey Johnson said as his team packed up for the return to Washington. “And I like clinching at home in front of the home fans. That’s nice.” Well, that’s what the team is hoping — as it opens a three game series tonight at Nationals Park against the Phillies.
The latest victim of the St. Louis hitting barrage was Ross Detwiler, who lasted just 2.1 innings while giving up four hits and seven runs — three of them earned. “I had the first chance at it, and I [stunk],” said Detwiler of his loss, before shrugging. “This was for all the fans back in D.C. Wanted them to see the team clinch.”
“I just didn’t throw any strikes,” Detwiler went on to say. He was right: He threw only 43 of 81 pitches in the strike zone. “You walk five people in two innings, you won’t have much success doing that.” Detwiler is now 10-8 on the season.
Sunday, September 30th, 2012
The September roller coaster continues. The Nationals were nine outs away from a 4-0 victory, then three outs away from a 4-3 victory, but in neither instance could they hold the lead — and it took a heroic 10th inning that included a two RBI double from Kurt Suzuki and a lights-out relief performance from Craig Stammen for the team to come away with a 6-4 victory in St. Louis.
The extra inning triumph shaved the Nationals magic number to clinch the N.L. East flag to one, which could come today when they close out their series against the Cardinals. “We’re going to be ready, lace it up and let’s get it done,” Washington closer Drew Storen said after last night’s win.”
The Nationals were staked to an early lead from left fielder Michael Morse, whose line drive grand slam home run in the first inning provided a strange start for the game: after the umpires retreated to the clubhouse to determine whether the ball had actually left the field, they required Morse and his teammates to rerun the bases.
While at the plate, Morse added his own touch — swinging a phantom bat, complete with a phantom swing. “I guess I didn’t have to do that,” he admitted, following the victory, “but if I didn’t do it and they were like, ‘No! You’re out!’ I would never sleep again.”