Posts Tagged ‘Drew Storen’
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
Nats southpaw Gio Gonzalez pitched brilliantly in San Francisco on Wednesday, and the Nationals denied the Giants a sweep of their series, winning in ten innings off of an Ian Desmond single. The team needed a pick-up after Tuesday night’s now-controversial debacle, and Gonzalez provided it.
Gonzalez gave up only four hits and struck out five, limiting the McCoveys to a single run in almost eight complete innings of work before being relieved by Drew Storen. The suddenly unsteady righty then proceeded to give up the tying run to San Francisco, and the Nationals went into extra innings knotted at a run apiece.
But in the 10th inning, with Bryce Harper on second and Ryan Zimmerman on first, shortstop Ian Desmond guided a Jeremy Affeldt offering into right field, scoring the go-ahead run. Rafael Soriano came on in the bottom of the 10th, setting down the Giants in order — and preserving the win.
The Ian Desmond single came after Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy decided that Affeldt should intentionally walk Ryan Zimmerman and pitch to Desmond, who’s been slumping lately. “Numbers may have indicated that was the right move to do,” Desmond said after the win. “But I was 100 percent confident I was going to get the job done right there.”
The Nationals win was only their fourth in the last ten games and came during a classic pitching duel that pitted Gonzalez against an as-effective Madison Bumgarner, who matched Gonzalez pitch-for-pitch. Their pitching lines were exactly the same — except for Harper’s home run.
“He’s one of the best guys I face all year. He knows what he’s doing out there, and the Giants are very lucky to have him,” Harper said of the San Francisco southpaw. “Going out there and facing a guy like Bumgarner is a lot of fun. I look forward to those matchups for hopefully the rest of our careers.”
The big stories of the game were Gio’s mound performance, Desmond’s go-ahead single — and Bryce Harper’s day at the plate. The Nats’ right fielder was 2-5 on the day and hit his 12th home run.
The victory lifted the teams’ spirits as the Nationals boarded a flight for their return to Washington, where they will face the Phillies, Orioles and the surging Braves (they beat the Twins today, their sixth in a row) in a ten game home stand. “It’s going to be a good flight back home,” Gonzalez said.
Saturday, May 18th, 2013
Chad Tracy’s pinch hit 10th inning home run negated three Washington errors and a rare blown save from Rafael Soriano as the Nationals went on to defeat the Padres in San Diego to salvage a 6-5 win. The Tracy blast came off of Padres’ reliever Huston Street, negating a San Diego 9th inning rally.
This was a game highlighted by unsteady starting pitching (Gio Gonzalez struggled through his first two innings), fielding errors (Washington committed three), and a sudden back-of-the-bullpen collapse — Rafael Soriano gave up three straight singles to allow San Diego to tie the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
But the Washington victory was also highlighted by the long ball: Washington hit four home runs — two by a suddenly revived Adam LaRoche (which gives him seven on the season), one from Ryan Zimmerman (his second of the season, in the 6th inning), in addition to Tracy’s game winner.
“Any time you win a ballgame you feel great,” Tracy said following the victory. “But when you do something to win it in that fashion, especially after they came back and had the guy on third with less than two outs in the ninth, I think everybody was a little bit more fired up.”
The Tracy home run in the top of the 10th might have gotten Washington the win, but even in the bottom of the frame, reliever Drew Storen had to battle back from two straight singles to strike out Chris Denorfia and induce a ground ball from San Diego’s Everth Cabrera to notch the victory.
“It was a big strikeout getting Denorfia,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said of Storen’s 10th inning performance. “That was huge. He threw a great breaking ball. It had bite to it. It was good for a couple of guys. We got Storen back and Tracy.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Nationals’ fans have to be pleased with their teams performance so far; despite an end-of-April swoon and two of three losses in Los Angeles, Washington’s two wins in San Diego have put them at four games over .500 and just half-a-game behind the Braves . . .
That said, Washington’s weaknesses have been exposed: a surprisingly shaky defense and a lack of offense. If it wasn’t for Washington snappy starting pitching (they are second in the league in ERA, just behind St. Louis), Washington would be worse than mediocre . . .
Some of this is a result of injuries; Ryan Zimmerman is only now getting his swing back after a longish stint on the D.L. and Jayson Werth continues to nurse a sore hamstring. And then there’s Danny Espinosa. The Nats’ second sacker has cut down on his strikeouts this year (he led the league, at more than one a game in 2012), but he’s hitting just .172 . . .
Monday, May 13th, 2013
No one in the stands at Nationals Park on Sunday was fooled by the argument over balls and strikes that Nats’ catcher Kurt Suzuki had with home plate umpire John Tumpane in the bottom of the 9th. The issue wasn’t balls and strikes, the issue was Suzuki’s errant throw to third to stop a double steal in the top of the frame that fueled a disappointing 2-1 Nats’ loss.
“You’re a princess, Suzuki,” a fan shouted along the third base line. “Stop whining and start playing.” Another fan, nearby, was as outspoken — if less vocal. “He wants us to remember that he argued balls and strikes,” he said, “so that we’ll forget his error. Well, good luck with that.”
But Suzuki’s errant throw (the ball actually skipped off the bat of Welingon Castillo) was only one let-down in an otherwise hard fought Nats-Cubs contest. The other was Drew Storen’s inability to keep the Cubbies off the board in the top of the 8th, when he gave up the tying run on a single from Starlin Castro that scored pinch runner Travis Wood.
The Suzuki error and Storen’s blown hold reversed a stellar outing from starter Gio Gonzalez, who threw seven innings of near perfect baseball. The Gonzalez performance promised to be a gem: the lefty was perfect until the top of the 6th, when Cubs backstop Dioner Navarro notched the first Cubs hit.
The Suzuki throw and Storen’s blown hold were, at least in some respects, explicable: Suzuki’s error could be put down to bad luck, Storen’s blown hold could be explained as just one of those things. But Washington fans also wondered why Davey Johnson decided, with Gio cruising along, that he would pinch hit for his near-perfect lefty in the bottom of the 7th. Why not let Gio finish?
“It’s just the way I manage,” Johnson said of his decision. “You can chalk it up to me. You don’t like it, chalk it up to me. It didn’t work out.” Which is to say that, while Gio might have been on his way to a complete game, Johnson felt that the Nationals had to somehow get more runs on the board.
Friday, May 10th, 2013
Dan Haren notched his fourth win, the home towners sprayed nine hits and the Washington bullpen held the Tigers scoreless in three relief innings, as the Nationals swept the two game Detroit mini-series by a score of 5-4 on Thursday.
While the Tigers outhit the Nationals (12-9), Washington was able to put runs on the board early in the game. The Nationals scored three in the first inning and two in the second — and that’s all the team would need to notch its fourth win in a row. Ryan Mattheus, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano held the Kalines scoreless when Haren left after six complete.
The victim of the Nationals early run surge was Detroit righty Doug Fister, who entered the game with a snappy 2.48 earned run average. Fister, with Verlander, is considered one of Detroit’s elite shut down pitchers, but he gave up a lead-off double to Denard Span in the 1st and then three successive singles: to Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond.
Fister proved as ineffective in the second, hitting Span and walking Roger Bernadina before giving up two runs, courtesy of singles from (once again) Zimmerman and LaRoche. “It was probably his worst outing of the year,” Tigers catcher Alex Avila said of Fister’s performance. “He’s pitched really good for quite a while now. You have to give him credit, he battled.”
Despite Fister’s troubles, the Tigers were able to rally against Haren in the 6th. The veteran righty walked Jhonny Peralta with one out and Omar Infante dropped a surprise bunt single to put two men on with two outs. Pinch hitter Matt Tuiasosopo then stepped to the plate and put a 2-1 Haren offering over the fence in left center.
The Tuiasosopo blast put Detroit back into the game, with a good shot at winning. But the Nationals’ bullpen, an otherwise worrisome unit so far this season, came on to shut down the Tigers. Ryan Mattheus, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano each pitched effectively, with Soriano gaining his 12th save of the season.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Doug Fister was 3-12 with the Mariners in 2011 when the Seattle front office decided they’d seen enough. The swapped Fister to Detroit for Francisco Martinez, Charlie Furbush and Casper Wells. It was a steal — Fister went 8-1 the rest of the way, with a breathtaking 1.79 ERA . . .
But while the Fister theft was lopsided, it was (arguably) no more so than San Diego’s decision to trade first base prospect Anthony Rizzo to the Chicago Cubs six months later. While it’s a baseball given that you should never give up young pitching, new Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer decided his team needed Rizzo so badly that he was willing to part with uber prospect Andrew Cashner . . .
Friars’ fans will argue that the Rizzo-Cashner trade isn’t even close to being a Fister-like bust. After struggling all of last year, Cashner’s arm has finally come alive and the imposing (6-6, 220 pounds), Texan has regained his command. Exiled to the bullpen, Cashner emerged in only his second start of the season to throw 7.1 effective innings against the Marlins earlier this week . . .
Saturday, April 20th, 2013
In what promised to be the beginning of a decades-long duel of starting pitchers, New York’s Matt Harvey outpitched Washington ace Stephen Strasburg — with the Mets taking the first of a three game series in New York, 7-1. Strasburg was effective, but rookie Harvey was more so, striking out seven and giving up just four hits in seven complete innings of work.
The difference in the game was the long ball: Strasburg gave up home runs to Ike Davis (in the 6th inning, with no one on) and to Lucas Duda (also in the 6th inning). Both players ended up homering twice in the game. But other than giving up those two home runs, Strasburg’s line was nearly identical to that of Harvey — with Harvey throwing 105 pitches and Strasburg 111.
Despite the nearly identical pitching lines, Nats’ skipper Davey Johnson admitted that his young ace had trouble with his command. “[Strasburg] was missing all night, pitching behind hitters all night, threw a lot of pitches, but we had our chances,” he said.
“I want to go out there and help this team win,” Strasburg said after the disappointing loss. “It doesn’t matter who is facing us. We are all out there as a collective group to try to get the job done. We weren’t able to do that tonight.”
Strasburg didn’t get much help from his infield or from Nationals’ hitters. Ian Desmond booted a ball off the bat of Nats’ killer Jordany Valdespin in the bottom of the 1st inning that led to two New York runs, and the Nats’ were unable to capitalize on a bases loaded no out situation in the 7th – and came away with nothing.
Harvey was most impressive in the bases loaded 7th, working out of a jam by striking out Kurt Suzuki, inducing a pop-up from Roger Bernadina and getting Denard Span to ground out to second. “He has electric stuff. He is an ace,” Ian Desmond said of Harvey. “It kind of takes time to know who you are facing. I think we may have seen him once before. But he is on a hot streak. He has good stuff.”
The Nats 7-1 loss also (and once again) highlighted the problems Davey Johnson is having with his bullpen. Lefty Zach Duke was effective enough in his one inning of relief of Strasburg, but the same cannot be said of Drew Storen — who gave up three runs, including home runs to Davis and Duda in his one inning of work. The home runs put the game out of reach.
Photos: AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek
Thursday, April 4th, 2013
So far so good: in 18 innings of baseball in the new 2013 season, the Nationals have held their opponents to seven hits and no runs, shutting down the punchless Marlins in two games. The hero in chilly Nationals’ Park on Wednesday was Washington southpaw Gio Gonzalez, who not only shut down the Marlins in six innings, but homered to give the Nats their first, and lasting, lead.
The Nationals are only the 13th team since 1900 to begin the season with back-to-back shutouts. There’s little doubt that Nationals’ starters are the backbone of the ball club — and provide the team with the best chance of taking the N.L. East. “With the stuff they’ve got, it’s pretty special, and it doesn’t surprise me at all one bit,” catcher Kurt Suzuki said of the Nationals’s starters after the 3-0 Nationals win. “You look at the bullpen, too, it’s tough.”
Indeed, the bullpen, which struggled late in 2012, might be the surprise of the year. After notching his first save on Opening Day, Rafael Soriano got his second last night. But the most impressive bullpen outings came from Ryan Mattheus and Drew Storen. The duo allowed a single hit, walked none and struck out two. The Marlins looked baffled.
The Nats scored three in shutting out the Fish: the Gonzalez home run came in the bottom of the 5th, with the Nats adding a single run in the 7th (on a Denard Span groundout) and then in the bottom of the 8th — on a single from Ryan Zimmerman that scored Bryce Harper, who had doubled.
The Nationals will attempt to sweep the series today, with a 4:05 start at what promises to be another cold day at Nationals’ Park.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Denard Span must think he’s in heaven. After spending his first five years in centerfield in Minnesota for the up-and-down Twinkies, he has landed on one of the best teams in baseball. But it’s doubtful he has any regrets about playing for the Killebrews, who’ve spent years defying the small market odds . . .
The Twins finished at 88-75 in his first year, good for second place and only one game behind the White Sox. The next year the Gardenhires took the N.L. Central in a squeaker over the Tigers. They won their division again in 2010; Carl Pavano and Kevin Slowey were their aces, with power provided by Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer and Jim Thome — and this on a team where Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau were considered the big bats . . .
Friday, March 29th, 2013
The “new look” Nats? Well, okay — maybe not quite. The team that the Nationals will put on the field on Monday during their home opener versus the Miamis looks a lot like last year’s team. Except . . . except that speedster Denard Span, late of the Twins, will now be in the lead-off spot, which gives the Nationals the on-base guy they’ve been looking for for a number of years.
Span, it seems, was always the guy that Mike Rizzo wanted; but not a guy that the Twins wanted to part with. Back in 2011, Rizzo nosed around for Span, but the cost was too high: the Twins wanted either Drew Storen or Tyler Clippard. Rizzo said “no.”
But this winter, Rizzo was able to swap up-and-comer Alex Meyer for Span: a heavy price, to be sure, but one Rizzo was willing to pay. Meyer was, and is, a top prospect and, with the Twins rebuilding their starting rotation the trade worked out for both teams. In truth, the trade was absolutely essential for the Nationals — who’ve lacked an on-base guy in the top spot for three years. None of the experiments (Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Jayson Werth — and others) worked out.
But it’s not just Span’s on-base talent that the Nationals acquired. The former 2002 first round pick is a good first-to-third guy and a plus centerfielder. With savvy Jayson Werth in right and Bryce Harper in left, the Nationals outfield is better defensively than it was last year — much better.
That hasn’t gone unnoticed. “If there was a glaring weakness on last year’s team, it was the need for a traditional center fielder and a leadoff hitter,” Chris Cwik over at Rotographs argues. “Denard Span should fill both of those roles. He’s not a power guy, but he has shown the ability to hit for a relatively high average, takes a fair share of walks and steals about 25 bases. He’s also joining a much better lineup, so there’s at least a reason to believe he could turn into a run-scoring machine this year.”
The trade for Span allowed the Nationals to restock their farm system by trading Michael Morse to Seattle (from whence he came), and hang on to both Storen and Clippard. The big secret about Span is that while he’s not a long ball hitter, the alleys in Nationals Park are built for him. He led the A.L. in triples in 2009 (with 10) and hit the same number in 2010.
While Span’s triples production has fallen off over the last two years, he’s healthy now — which means that Nationals Faithful will be able to see the 28-year-old end up on third in the top of the first at least a few times. Then too, Span knows how to take a walk, a now common necessity for winning teams.
Span is nearly a dead-lock cinch to put up OBP somewhere north of .335 — he was at .357 last year. As important, we have to believe, is that Span comes to Washington with the same price tag that he wore in Minnesota. Span will earn $11.25 million this year and in 2014, with a $9 million option for 2015. That’s a lot cheaper than what it would have cost the Nationals for Michael Bourn — which is $47. 5 over the next four years.
By today’s standards, Span is a “deal” — his numbers compare well with Bourn, with a nearly identical OBP. Bourn’s upside is that he steals more bases and covers about the same amount of turf in the field. But who’s complaining? The addition of Span means that the Nats open with a line-up that is as tough as any the National League — and an outfield that might be the best defensively in all of baseball.