Posts Tagged ‘Danny Espinosa’

Pujols Hits Numbers 499, 500 — Angels Down Nats

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

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Angels first baseman Albert Pujols hit two home runs, lefty Tyler Skaggs and a young Angels’ bullpen held Washington to just three hits — and the Los Angeles Angels went on to dominate the Nationals 7-2 on Tuesday night at Nationals Park. The loss put the Nationals just one game over .500 on the season.

Pujols is the 26th player in baseball history to hit 500 home runs. The first baseman’s first home run of the night, number 499, came in the top of the first inning off of a Taylor Jordan change up, while his second of the night came in the top of the 5th on a Jordan fastball.

“I admire the man. I admire his ability and the way he goes about playing the game, and I have for some time,” Washington manager Matt Williams said after the loss. “I just wish he’d do it against somebody else.”

Pujols told Angels shortstop Erick Aybar before the game that he would hit two home runs on the night, and they were the difference in the victory. Following his injury plagued 2013 season, Pujols has regained his stride. He now leads the American League in home runs (with eight) and batted in five runs against the Nationals on Tuesday night.

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Pujols clapped his hands together as he rounded the bases on his 500th home run, was greeted at home plate by his teammates and then acknowledged Nationals fans who gave him a standing ovation. “You don’t see 500, obviously, every night,” Pujols said following the Angels victory. “It’s been a great career.” Pujols hit over 450 of his 500 home runs as a St. Louis Cardinal.

Washington suffered its second loss in as many games against the Angels and have tallied only three hits per game in the series. The victim of Tuesday’s loss was starter Taylor Jordan, who gave up eight hits and four earned runs in just five innings of work.

The Nationals also committed two more errors on Tuesday, their 23rd and 24th in 21 games — which leads major league baseball.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Just what the hell do you suppose is wrong with the Washington Nationals . . . ?

“I’m baffled,” Nats’ manager Matt Williams told the press in reflecting on the Nationals’ sloppy play in the field. “It’s not what we want, for sure, but we can’t do anything but do what we’re doing and that’s work at it. We do extra, we work on it . . . ”

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Late Nats Rally Falls Short, Harper Benched

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

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A late, 9th inning, rally from a trailing Nationals team against Cardinals’ reliever Trevor Rosenthal fell just short on Saturday afternoon, and St. Louis downed Washington, 4-3. The Cardinals , who lead the series two games to one, have a chance to take the series today at Nationals Park when Stephen Strasburg faces off against Shelby Miller.

The miscues that have dogged the Nationals in the early going were in evidence again on Saturday, giving the Cardinals a chance to score early. A throwing error from Anthony Rendon in the top of the 2nd on a possible double play ball allowed the Cardinals to put two on the board, on a single off the bat of Tony Cruz, which was followed by an improbable double from pitcher Lance Lynn.

The Nationals now lead the majors in errors, having committed twenty in eighteen games. “It’s not because of a lack of effort. We are just a little unlucky, right now,” outfielder Jayson Werth said about his team’s defense. “I feel like it’s going to come back around. We’ll be all right.”

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The Nationals battled back from their early bobbles behind the hitting of Danny Espinosa (who notched his first home run of the season), Denard Span (who was 2-5 in his first game back from the 7 day disabled list) and Rendon — who was a nifty 2-4 on the day, raising his season average to .324.

The loss squandered a workmanlike outing from righty starter Jordan Zimmerman, who threw seven solid innings of seven hit baseball. “Zim pitched well. He got in a situation with Holliday in his last inning in which he gave up a base hit,” Washington skipper Matt Williams acknowledged. “But other than that, he pitched well enough to win.”

As good as Zimmerman was, St. Louis starter Lance Lynn was just as effective. Lynn, who said he had his best stuff of the year, held the Nationals to five hits in pitching into the sixth inning. The victory was his fourth of the year, with no losses.

The Nationals had a chance to win the game in the 9th after Rendon’s double brought the team to within two in the 8th. After notching the first out, Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal walked pinch hitter Zach Walters then allowed Denard Span to reach base after he threw his slow grounder late to second. Rosenthal then balked Walters and Span to third and second.

With the sellout crowd of 41,000-plus on their feet, Keven Frandsen grounded out to third — which scored Walters, and suddenly the game was 4-3 with the tying run a single away. But Jayson Werth struck out swinging on a 99 mph Rosenthal fastball to end it, and give St. Louis the victory.

Team Rank                                                                        Games      Errors                Percentage          

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Diehard fans of the Nationals will tell you, albeit quietly, that their one criticism of now-retired skipper Davey Johnson was that he wasn’t tough enough. Most Washington fans would tell you precisely why they thought this, but often it came down to Johnson’s handling of phenom Bryce Harper . . .

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Nats Shake Off Their Losses, Beat The Cards

Saturday, April 19th, 2014

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This time it was the St. Louis Cardinals who made the errors — with the Nationals capitalizing on the brilliant pitching of southpaw Gio Gonzalez to beat the Redbirds, 3-1 at Nationals Park. The Friday night victory was much-needed after a game that saw four Nats’ errors. This was the first Nats’ victory in eight head-to-head meetings with St. Louis.

“It was one of those games that we needed. We needed to bounce back,” Gonzalez told reporters after the victory. “We needed something like this. It put us back together. Now we go from here, one game at a time.” Gonzalez notched his third win of the season in holding the Cardinals to just four hits and a single run.

The winning edge came for the Nationals in the seventh inning, when Ian Desmond scampered home on a wild pitch from St. Louis starter Michael Wacha. When sure-handed Yadier Molina threw wild to the plate in an attempt to nab Desmond, Danny Espinosa also scored — accounting for all of the Nationals’ runs.

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“I short-hopped one to Yadi that got away from him, and they end up scoring two runs on it. I have to make a better pitch in that situation and try and get out of it,” Wacha said of the play. “It was 0-1 and you want to make your pitch for sure. I spiked a changeup down in the dirt and it ended up getting away from Yadi. I’ve got to make a better pitch in that situation.”

The Cardinals seemed to repeat the problems that Nats had in the field on Thursday: Ian Desmond would not have been able to score on a wild pitch if he had not been on third — the result of a muffed throw to Matt Carpenter from Michael Wacha that was intended to get the lead runner after a bunt off the bat of Danny Espinosa.

The Nationals still might have lost the game if it had not been for the relief pitching of Drew Storen, who came on after Tyler Clippard had put two men on base. With one out, Storen induced a pop up from heavy hitting Matt Holliday and got Allen Craig to ground out to shortstop Desmond.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: There have been 170 walk off grand slam home runs in major league baseball since 1950. So while the event isn’t rare, it’s unusual. By comparison, there have been only 27 “super walk off grand slams” — where the home run wins the game when the home team is trailing by three in the bottom of the ninth . . .

Such phrases are probably lost on the fans of the Marlins, who showed up in less-than-record numbers last night to watch their Fish take on Seattle’s Mariners. Besides producing Miami and Seattle headlines that play off the team names, the three game tilt features under-producing teams with high hopes for the future. The far future, as it turns out . . .

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Werth’s Slam Downs The Marlins

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

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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.

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The Good News From Opening Day

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

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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

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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.

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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.

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