Posts Tagged ‘Danny Espinosa’

Desmond Is 5-5 In Nats 7-2 Win

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Untitled

Ian Desmond was 5-5 with two RBIs, Doug Fister threw 5.2 innings of solid baseball and reliever Aaron Barrett snuffed out a dangerous Rockies’ rally, as Washington went on to beat Colorado at Coors Field, 7-2. The victory, coupled with a Braves’ loss, put the Nationals in first place in the N.L. East.

Desmond’s night was the talk of the Nationals clubhouse following the victory. While the Washington shortstop has hit for power all season, he’s struggled to raise his batting average. But his 5-5 night against the Rockies raised his 2014 batting average to .253, a distinct improvement from his anemic April and May.

“I just thought he stayed middle of the diamond and didn’t overswing,” Nats manager Matt Williams concluded. “He hit a couple of balls back through the middle, one the other way. When he’s swinging it and going good, that’s what you’ll see.”

“I just look for the ball and swing as hard as I can,” Desmond said after the Washington victory. That may be, but whatever the shortstop is doing, it seems to be working. Desmond hit his 17th home run of the season in the top of the 4th inning to spark Washington’s offense.

The Washington win gave starter Doug Fister is 9th victory of the year, as the right hander suffocated Colorado’s bat-heavy line-up into the sixth inning. But the turning point in the game came when reliever Aaron Barrett was called on to douse a Colorado rally with two outs in the 6th. Barrett struck out Brandon Barnes with the bases loaded to end the threat.

The Washington win was also spurred by Colorado’s sloppy play. Two throwing errors by Colorado starter Franklin Morales in the 4th inning sparked a big inning for the Nationals. Morales threw wide to first on a Doug Fister sacrifice bunt, then overthrew first on a pickoff attempt. The second error cost Colorado a run, as it scored Danny Espinosa from third.

For the second night in a row the Nationals broke out their bats. In addition to Desmond’s impressive five hit performance, Jayson Werth, Wilson Ramos and Danny Espinosa (who started at second base) were 2-4. Espinosa was particularly impressive, with a triple and a long fourth inning double that scored Wilson Ramos.

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 11.16.36 AM

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: This is turning into an ugly, ugly year for the Colorado Rockies. Their loss to the Nationals on Monday night was their sixth in a row and the team now finds itself mired in last place in the National League West . . .

It’s easy to identify the Rockies’ failings — lots of injuries and lack of pitching. But that’s only a part of the story. The front office is in chaos, the owner seems to mistrust the team’s head of baseball operations and it’s not clear what the General Manager is doing . . .

Fox Sports reports that team owner Dick Monfort said in a recent radio interview that he blames Bill Geivett, who is the senior vice president of major-league operations, for the Rockies rough year. Geivett has put his office in the clubhouse, putting pressure on manager Walt Weiss — and making Geivett a kind of deputy manager, or perhaps advisor-in-chief . . .

The Geivett move has touched off a kind of civil war inside the Rockies organization, with players befuddled by the teams plans — and wondering if there are any . . .

(more…)

Harper Returns, Zim Leads Nats Over Rockies

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Untitled

Bryce Harper returned to the Nationals line-up on Monday night in D.C., but it was Ryan Zimmerman who led the way, going 3-4 and leading Washington to a 7-3 victory over visiting Colorado. Harper, who was out of the line-up for the last 57 games, chalked up his first RBI since returning, singling home Zimmerman in the bottom of the 4th.

“It’s good to get that W. It’s huge,” Harper said following the Nats victory. The win allows the Nationals to keep pace with the Atlanta Braves, who beat the Mets in New York, and who remain one-half game in front of Washington in the N.L. East.

While the Nationals stroked nine hits against Colorado pitching, it was starter Jordan Zimmermann who kept the Rockies off the board. The righty gave up seven hits and struck out five in six innings of work, notching his sixth win of the season.

“I thought I pitched pretty well,” Zimmermann said of his outing. “I really had only two pitches — fastball and slider — the whole game. I didn’t throw any curveballs. I threw a few changeups. I mixed them up pretty good.” Drew Storen, Aaron Barrett and Jerry Blevins closed out the games for the Nationals, allowing Colorado a single run in the late going.

While Harper got most of the fan attention on Bryce Harper Bobblehead night, Zimmerman’s apparent return to form at the plate was the other big story. Zimmerman has been struggling since his return from the disabled list, hitting well below his usual .270-.290 clip.

The turning point in the game came in the bottom of the 6th, when the Nats broke through for five runs, sending 10 hitters to the plate against starter Yohan Flande and reliever Rob Scahill. The big blow was an Ian Desmond double, which scored Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper.

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 10.17.19 AM

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: “So far as I know, Bryce Harper doesn’t fill out the line-up card,” MASN commenter F.P. Santangelo said last night during the Colorado-Washington broadcast. F.P. was responding to Bryce Harper’s pre-game comments that implied he should be playing centerfield, with Zimmerman in left, Espinosa at second and Rendon at third . . .

F.P.’s got it right, of course, and we agree. Boiled out to its minimum, Harper should not have said anything at all. Since we’re available for counseling, here’s what we would have Harper say: “I’m just happy to be back and will play where the skipper puts me,” or how about “these kinds of decisions show just how great this team is, with lots of everyday players . . .”

The Post’s Thomas Boswell danced all over Harper’s comments this morning, quoting G.M. Mike Rizzo’s defense of him. Harper, Rizzo recently said, “has had two great seasons.” But Boswell’s Fred Astaire routine couldn’t cover up his final judgment, which is F.P.’s — it’s Harpers job to be in the line-ups, not make them . . .

(more…)

Cubs Maul The Nats — Again

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Untitled

After a solid series in Milwaukee, the Washington Nationals dropped their second in a row to the Cubs in Chicago. The Nationals were simply outplayed, and seemed sluggish at the plate and on the field. The loss dropped them to just three games over .500 on the season.

“There’s just no way to explain it,” MASN post-game analyst Ray Knight told his viewers in the wake of the Nationals 7-2 defeat this afternoon. “Sometimes, these teams at .450 or whatever, you come in and ‘wack.’ and it happens. After all, these are major league players.”

MASN color commenter F.P. Santangelo agreed but was disappointed that Washington seemed to lack a killer instinct. “I just didn’t see this coming,” he noted during the Nats loss. “There’s just not a swagger there. The Nationals are a first place team, the Cubs are a last place team. We’ve got to come in here and step on them.”

But no matter what the explanation, the 7-2 defeat at Wrigley Field on Friday reflected Washington’s inability to play well on the road (where they’re four games under .500), as well as hitting slumps from Jayson Werth (6-40 in his last ten games) and Danny Espinosa, who is hitting .200 in the same period.

But then there’s the Cubs. The Cubs are 21-17 over their last 38, which is four games over .500. Which means that if the season had started just 38 games ago, the Cubs would be good enough to be in first place in the N.L. Least, where Atlanta is dueling Washington in what appears to be a race to see who can play above .500.

The good news for the Nationals is that while Werth and Espinosa are struggling at the plate, first sacker Adam LaRoche is not. LaRoche was 2-4 on Friday while towering his tenth home run of the season. Anthony Rendon also seemed unfazed by Cubs pitching, going 2-4 while raising his season BA to .276.

The Cubs continue to swing a hot bat. Chicago accumulated 13 hits on Friday, with no-hit catcher John Baker having an all-career day at 3-3 while stroking a three run double. The Cubs notched ten hits against usually steady starter Anthony Rendon, then tattooed lefty reliever Jerry Blevins for three runs in just 2/3 of an inning.

Meanwhile Jason Hammel, who is nearly unbeatable when he faces the Nationals (he is now 7-0 in his career against them), threw into the 7th, while striking out six. “They hit today,” Roark said of the Cubs in his post-game comments. “We’ll face them again in Washington and so we’ll have to beat them. What can I do? Just keep throwing strikes. That’s the key.”

The Nationals face off against the Cubs in a double header on the North Side tomorrow, with Gio Gonzalez scheduled to throw in the first game (against Cubs rookie Dallas Beeler) and Blake Treinen (who will be recalled today from Syracuse) throwing against Jeff Samardzija in the second.

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 7.27.47 PM

Gio, LaRoche Key Nats 3-0 Win Against The Crew

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Untitled

Gio Gonzalez was anxious to fit back into the rotation, particularly after his first start since returning from the disabled list proved so unsatisfying. But on Monday night in Milwaukee Gonzalez seemed to fit right in, hurling six innings of three hit baseball in leading the Nationals to a 3-0 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park.

“It was one of those nights where I needed to bounce back,” Gonzalez said following the victory. “I was just proud to see these guys compete and give me a chance to be part of this rotation. Being the odd man out right now, you want to be 100 percent at their level. Seeing the way these guys are throwing the ball, you want to make sure you don’t fall behind.”

Gonzalez admitted after the game that he did not have his best stuff. But he was able to befuddle Brewers’ hitters by ample use of his change-up, which was particularly effective in a difficult bases loaded jam in the bottom of the third. “He was working with changeups,” Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez noted. “We didn’t expect him to be working with changeups. It was a really good pitch for him. He threw the ball well, so we have to give the credit.”

The Nationals stroked seven hits against Milwaukee pitching, five of them against Brewers’ starter Matt Garza. But the big hit in the game came off the bat of Adam LaRoche in the third inning, when the first sacker took a Garza slider deep to center field to give the Nats the only runs they would need. The blast scored Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth.

“In that spot, you’re really just trying to hit something hard and hit something in the air. It just happened to go out of the park,” LaRoche said of his at-bat. “It was one of the few mistakes he [Garza] made.”

The game was not without its controversy. When Danny Espinosa was called out looking at an out-of-the-zone ball in the top of the 2nd, Nationals’ skipper Matt Williams argued the call with umpire Mark Wegner — and was thrown out of the game. Randy Knorr then took over managing the team the rest of the way. This was the first time this season that the normally fiery Williams was tossed.

Once again the Washington bullpen showed why it’s the best in the majors. Aaron Barrett, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard were flawless in three innings of work, with Clippard striking out the side in the 9th inning to notch his first save in nearly two years.

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 6.02.35 AM

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Everyone in Milwaukee is yakking about the year that Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy is having at the plate, a line (.331, .397, .520) that puts him in the running for a slot on the National League All Star team. He’s one of the reasons that the Brewers are the surprise team in the N.L. Central . . .

But Lucroy is just one of Milwaukee’s bashers, with a line-up filled with fleet-footed slick fielding singles hitters (like Jean Segura, who scored from first on a wild pitch this last weekend), supplemented by dueling long ball artists (Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez) and swing-and-miss or hit-em-long bombers, like the much-traveled Mark Reynolds . . .

But our favorite Brewer (though, we admit, the bar is low) is Aramis Ramirez, the Crew’s underrated third baseman. Injured most of last year, the Younts limped home in fourth place, fourteen games under .500. But the year before, with Ramirez’s fifty doubles in the line-up (he led the league), the Brewers made a stab at the Central Division flag . . .

(more…)

Nats Rally Grounds The Astros, 6-5

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Untitled

Anthony Rendon’s tenth home run of the year sparked a Nationals seventh inning rally, and Washington went on to beat Houston on Wednesday, 6-5. The victory marked the return of starter Gio Gonzalez from a stint on the disabled list and marked Washington’s 17th comeback win of the 2014 campaign.

Clutch hitting was the key to the Nationals victory. With his team trailing in the 7th, Rendon took a first pitch 94 mph fastball from Houston righty reliever Josh Zeid to the seats in left center field. Zeid then walked Jayson Werth, who went to third on an Adam LaRoche single to center field. Ryan Zimmerman then grounded into a fielder’s choice.

With Zimmerman on first, Ian Desmond then doubled him to third, Danny Espinosa was intentionally walked and Nate McLouth scored Zimmerman on a sacrifice fly. The McLouth hit capped the Nats scoring on the night, as relievers Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano closed out the game. Soriano notched his 15th save of the season.

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 10.22.51 AM

“That’s kind of how we’ve done it all year, not necessarily lately, but we grind out at-bats,” Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth said following the win. “We got some big hits late and came from behind there after a big inning for them.” The victory gave Washington a 1.5 game lead in the N.L. East, as the Braves lost their third in Philadelphia.

Gio Gonzalez seemed unsettled after his return from the disabled list, giving up five hits and four earned runs in five innings of work. But Gonzalez was philosophical about his inconsistencies after the game. “I felt like it was not one of my strongest outings, but it was a step in the right direction,” Gonzalez said. “I’m off the DL is a great sign.

In sealing the mini-sweep against Houston, the Nationals banged out eleven hits against five Astros hurlers. Denard Span, Anthony Rendon, Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa were each two-fer on the night, with six Nationals contributing RBIs.

The Nationals now face Atlanta in an important four game series. “I think we feel good with where we are at,” Washington manager Matt Williams said reflected during his post game remarks. “We really face a difficult team in the next four games. I think it was really important to win this one tonight. We need to look into tomorrow and be prepared for that.

 

Nats Surging, Down San Francisco Again

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Untitled

The Washington Nationals flew into San Francisco this week after a series win in San Diego knowing that they would face the most important test of this still-young season. So far, at least, the Nationals have met the challenge, taking the first game in the four game set 9-2 and then, on Tuesday night, holding off the Best Team In Baseball in a classic pitcher’s duel, 2-1.

Righty Doug Fister was the key to the Nats triumph last night, scattering eight San Francisco hits while keeping the Giants off the board. This was Fister’s sixth straight solid start, his only hiccup in the 2014 season the first game he pitched for the Nationals. “That was awesome,” sometime starter Kevin Frandsen said after the victory.

Fister threw a gem, no question: but he also was savvy enough to dodge a number of early San Francisco scoring opportunities. Fister pitched out of mini-jams in the third and sixth innings. In all, the Giants stranded 22 runners in the game’s nine innings, unusual for a team that has been superb at driving in runners in scoring position.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 10.38.57 AM

Washington’s starter had particular trouble with San Francisco third sacker Pablo Sandoval, who was 3-3 on the night. But Sandoval was the only Giant who seemed zeroed in on Fister. “Overall, again, there are some positive things and some things I need to work on. It was a constant battle tonight. We were able to do what we needed to do. It’s good,” Fister said of his performance.

The Nationals scoring was led by the usually savvy Jayson Werth, who singled in Danny Espinosa with what would turn to be the go-ahead and winning run in the top of the 5th. That two run frame also saw Ian Desmond score on a Denard Span sacrifice fly. Two runs might not seem like enough against the powerful Giants, but it was enough on Tuesday.

The 22 left on base by the Giants was undoubtedly frustrating for San Francisco starter Madison Bumgarner, whose line was strikingly similar to Fister’s. Bumgarner gave up the same number of hits (eight) while striking out five. But his teammates were not able to support his outing.

“Looking back, we’ve been on a pretty good run,” Bumgarner said of his team’s two straight losses to Washington. “You have to take the good with the bad. You can’t expect perfection every time out. It’s about how quickly you can bounce back from times like these.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The Nationals have now won nine of their last 11 games, and it’s not a secret how they’ve done it. Their pitching staff has been brilliant, with Doug Fister only the latest instance of just how strong they’ve been . . .

The Nationals have now climbed over Atlanta to lead the National League in ERA (2.95 versus 3.10), and are second to Atlanta in runs allowed. But Atlanta can’t match the Nats gaggle of relievers, who are the best in baseball. Washington has the best bullpen ERA in the majors, just ahead of San Diego. Atlanta is tenth . . .

And the Nationals are starting to score, and to knock runners in. The team is now 7th in the National League in runs, eighth in hits and sixth in on base percentage. But those totals don’t begin to tell the real story, which is that Washington’s nine of 11 surge has put them at or in the top five in every batting category over the last week . . .

(more…)

Padres Are No Match For Zimmermann

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Untitled

The Padres saw the very best the Nationals have on Sunday, as Jordan Zimmermann had a perfect game going into the 6th inning and delivered a two hit shutout, leading the Nationals to a 6-0 win over San Diego. The Zimmermann gem captured the series 2-1 and provided the best antidote possible to the tough loss the team had suffered on Friday.

In the complete game shutout, Zimmermann threw 114 pitches, 83 of them for strikes. “For the most part he was down in the zone, painting corner to corner,” Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso, the Padres’ hero on Friday, said. “He commands the ball so well, gets ahead of guys really quick. We couldn’t really put any good swings on him.”

“I was throwing strikes and the guys got me some runs early,” Zimmermann said following his victory. “My mentality changed to pour strikes into the zone and fill it up. Big ballpark, just let them hit the ball and I had a lot of strikeouts today which means my fastball was pretty good and I was able to locate it pretty good.” Zimmermann is now 5-2 on the year.

Nationals skipper Matt Williams had nothing but praise for his young righty. “It’s good. Today helps our bullpen. They have been taxed until now,” he said after the victory. “Jordan has the ability to save your bullpen.” Williams called the Zimmermann performance “outstanding,” particularly coming after a tough loss.

“From the first pitch, he was in the strike zone again,” Williams added. “Strike one is important. He was able to do that today. Fastball command — he was throwing it exactly where he wanted to throw it.” In fact, Zimmermann faced just 29 batters during Sunday’s game and threw first strikes to 22 of them.

Ian Desmond continued to have the hot hand at the plate. He was 2-5 on Sunday with two RBIs and smoked a round tripper in the second inning off of San Diego southpaw starter Eric Stults. Danny Espinosa, who continues to surge, as well as Jayson Werth, each had two hits.

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 2.20.43 AM

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The stars seem to be aligning for the Nationals. The Bravos took a 2-0 lead into the 7th inning in Arizona on Sunday, but came away losers after the Diamondbacks put six on the board in the bottom of that frame. The rally was led by Paul Goldschmidt and rookie David Peralta, who homered for Arizona during the D-Backs comeback, victimizing Atlanta starter Aaron Harang . . .

Say what you will about Arizona (and we have a lot to say, not much of it good), they know how to win when the Nationals need them to. The D-Backs are desperately trying to climb back into the race in the N.L. West (frankly, we will give you better odds on The Second Coming), which means they have to win at home — where they’ve been (at an embarrassing 11-23) simply atrocious . . .

The Arizona win over the boys from Cobb County, when coupled with Miami’s win in Chicago, knots up the N.L. Least, where the Nats, Braves and Marlins are snarling and circling and in a dead tie . . .

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants (the team the Nationals, gulp, will face next), were busy wrapping up their series sweep against the New York Mets, who are slipping and sliding into fourth place, as they sprint to the bottom against the still hapless Phillies . . .

The Giants are almost mindlessly good, though we are left to wonder why. No one on San Francisco’s starting nine on Sunday was (or is) hitting over .300. Of course, Angel Pagan was out of the line-up (he’s at .323, good for fifth in the National League), but still. Their next best hitter is Hunter Pence, at .290. Pablo Sandoval, the Panda (gag) is only at .247, with just eight home runs . . .

(more…)