Posts Tagged ‘Danny Espinosa’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 “canít 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.
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.
Wednesday, May 29th, 2013
While the debut of Double-A pitcher Nathan Karns will not go down in the scorebooks as a “W” for the young righty, the Texas Tech product threw a strike-filled impressive 4.1 innings — and the Nationals, behind two home runs from Adam LaRoche, drubbed the Orioles on Tuesday night, 9-3.
Washington’s interleague victory may mark the moment when the Nationals finally got their offense back on track. In addition to the two home runs from LaRoche, super-subs Roger Bernadina and Tyler Moore also went long, as the home towners cracked thirteen hits against a surprisingly ineffective Baltimore pitching staff.
“It was great to see [the offense come back to life],” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “Some guys usually take two or three strikes, and they went up there and hit line drives. We jumped all over a 97 mile-an-hour fastball, and that made my whole night.”
Johnson also praised his young starter, appearing on the mound in the place of injured Ross Detwiler. “I thought [Nathan] handled himself well, first start against a good hitting ballclub,” Johnson said. “I know he was nervous, but I like the way he went after the hitters. He is in for another start.”
In an up-and-down season, Tuesday’s game showed Nationals’ fans what their team can do. Their starting pitching was effective, the team hit with runners in scoring position — and the bullpen was lights-out. After Karns left in the fifth, Zach Duke needed just one pitch, inducing a double play, to save the Nationals from a potential Baltimore rally.
Duke was followed to the mound by Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Fernando Abad, all of whom kept the Orioles off the scoreboard. Storen was as effective as he’s been all year, giving up a single hit in a single inning of work. Tyler Clippard gave up two hits, but then induced three successive fly balls — and Fernando Abad authored a 1-2-3 9th inning.
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?