Posts Tagged ‘Edwin Jackson’

Nats Notes For Game #3: It’s A Sweep In New York

Friday, April 4th, 2014

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The Washington Nationals swept the opening three game series against the Mets in New York, putting up eight runs on thirteen hits and downing the Gothams 8-2. This is one of those things where the score showed the game to be closer than it really was. This was a romp.

A three game sweep is a terrific start for a long season, even if (once again), the Nationals first inning was a little rough, both on young righty Tanner Roark and on the Nats’ defense. But after the shaky first frame, the team settled down and put on an efficient performance.

And once again Nats relievers went to work: Ross Detwiler pitched two solid innings and Raphael Soriano closed the book. Detwiler may not be happy in his new role as a lefty long reliever, but that didn’t show on Thursday.

In their first starts of the year, super-subs Danny Espinosa and Sandy Leon played well. Espinosa turned a great double play in the 5th and had two quality at-bats; if Anthony Rendon weren’t hitting the cover off the ball (and he is) Espinosa would be making a strong case for being back in the line-up.

And Sandy Leon was steady behind the plate, caught a Lucas Duda popup in foul territory in the 3rd, and scored a run after being walked in the 5th.

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The first series of the season is too small a sample size to come to make any conclusions about the team’s prospects for the rest of the season, but the Nationals have sprung from the gate — and made a strong claim to being the N.L. team to beat.

Nats’ starters gave up runs in the first inning of each of the three games, putting the team in the hole early. But the team in the other dugout was the Mets, so each starter’s job was to hold the Madoff’s close until the offense could get going. And that’s what happened, with Washington starters keeping their pitch counts low. Then too, the team’s first inning woes are probably due to an excess of adrenaline, which is no cause for worry.

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Nats Fall In St. Louis, Eliminated From The Postseason

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

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Carlos Beltran homered and Adam Wainwright subdued Washington’s line-up and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to defeat the Nationals, 4-3 at Busch Stadium. The loss eliminated the Nationals from the post-season: they are six games out of the last Wild Card slot with five games to play.

The key to the St. Louis win was Beltran’s fifth inning home run (his 24th on the year) that scored John Jay, breaking a 2-2 tie and putting the Cardinals ahead 4-2. Washington could only muster a single run the rest of the way. “It doesn’t feel too good,” manager Davey Johnson said of the loss. “We gave it a good fight. We just came up short.

The Nationals put on a run in September, going 16-6 on the month and winning a key day-night double header against the Atlanta Braves on September 17 that vaulted that team back into contention for a playoff spot in the National League. But the Cardinals has always played Washington tough, and that was true on Monday night.

Washington starter Tanner Roark notched his first loss of the season after an impressive 7-0 run, but the Cardinals heavy hitting line-up victimized him for nine hits in just five innings. “I was getting behind hitters a lot,” Roark said after the loss. “When you do that with a good team, they are going to hit your mistakes when you get them back in the count. They are going to battle like they did tonight.”

Washington’s scoring came early, on a home run from Jayson Werth that scored Denard Span and gave the Nationals an early 2-0 lead. St. Louis clawed back, despite an additional run put on the board from the Nationals in the 8th inning: a fielder’s choice on a Ryan Zimmerman grounder the scored Anthony Rendon.

But three runs are rarely enough to defeat the Cardinals, who score just under five runs every game. Then too, Adam Wainwright got stronger on the mound as the game went on: Wainwright’s night ended after the 7th, with five strike outs while scattering five hits. The St. Louis victory was Wainwright’s 18th win on the year.

The Nationals stared into the night after a three-up-three-down ninth inning, stunned that their run for the postseason was over. The clubhouse was reportedly silent after the loss, as the team took stock of its “World Series or bust” season. “You put the uniform on to win, and we didn’t get it done,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “So I feel bad for everybody.”

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Mea Culpa: We take no special pride in getting things right and, like everyone else who writes about baseball, we get plenty wrong. We said at the beginning of the year that the Los Angeles Dodgers were overrated and would tank: that players who finished with an attitude in Boston would bring that same attitude to Los Angeles. Well . . .

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Werth Leads The Nats In New York, 6-3

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

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The power of baseball superstitions are such that we dare not even whisper (let alone shout) about what is now true. But we’ll do it anyway: the Washington Nationals are suddenly a part of “the October conversation,” as they say, having won their fourth in a row in New York by overpowering the Mets, 6-3.

The Nationals latest win, coming off the arm of Jordan Zimmermann (who won his 17th) and bat of Jayson Werth, left the Nationals just six games out of the last Wild Card slot, with Cincinnati being overpowered by the Cubs (it was a no contest 9-1 drubbing) at home. The Nationals are in the hunt.

Tuesday’s game seemed almost a replay of the previous three: the Nationals came out swinging, chipping away at starter Dillon Gee (Denard Span continued his consecutive game hitting streak) and then serving up New York fastballs into Citi Field’s lower deck.

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The Nationals have had little luck against Gee this year, but Tuesday night was different. The home towners touched the puzzling righty for four runs in 6-plus innings, which included a home run from Werth in the first, a home run from Adam LaRoche in the second and in-the-gap doubles from Span and Werth in the third.

Prior to Tuesday, Gee had tamed the Nationals in four of his last five starts, transforming himself into the N.L. East’s premier Nats’ killer. But he was flummoxed on Tuesday, talking to himself on the mound. “Obviously, I wasn’t commanding the ball as well as I have been,” Gee said of his outing. “You can’t get away with that against these guys. They made me pay.”

Gee’s nemesis was Werth, who has propelled himself into the race for the N.L. batting title. But it wasn’t all Werth: Jordan Zimmermann and four relievers (Craig Stammen, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano) held the Mets to three runs, putting the lid on the Mets line-up.

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Is Haren Bust?

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

When the Washington Nationals signed Dan Haren to a $13 million contract this off season, it was to take the place of Edwin Jackson as the team’s fifth starter. It seemed like such a good idea: while the Cubs had passed on Haren, he was viewed as an experienced veteran with a track record of success.

But over the last fifteen starts for the Nationals, Haren has provided four solid outings — and eleven flat ones. Yesterday, in the Nationals 7-1 pummeling at the hands of the Rockies, Haren went all of 3.1 innings, giving up six runs and seven hits. exiting the game to a chorus of boos. “I’d probably boo myself, too,” he said.

I’m a little concerned about him,” Nats’ skipper Davey Johnson said. “I’m going to have a talk with him next time he throws and see if we can’t do something to make things better for him. I don’t want to speculate on what I’m thinking about right here, but we have some concerns.”

This morning, the Washington Post’s Mike Wise focused on what we focused on after Haren’s Colorado Crater: Ray Knight’s comments on Haren and the state of the Nationals fifth starting slot. Knight was nearly morose: “I am always so positive,” he said, “but this just isn’t working.”

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The World Series Or . . . Bust

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 “cant 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.

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Six Run 7th Dooms The Nats

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Ryan Zimmerman had a career night in Baltimore, hitting three home runs in three consecutive at bats — and notching four RBIs — but the Nationals were victimized by Orioles’ first baseman Chris Davis and a six run 7th inning, and the Nationals lost at Camden Yards, 9-6.

Zimmerman’s home runs came in the first, fourth and fifth innings, sending Baltimore starter Chris Tillman to the pines and staking the Nationals to a 6-2 lead. But in the 7th inning the Orioles leaped on Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals for six hits, including home runs by Steve Pearce and Davis.

The Baltimore victory showed just how lethal their line-up can be: while Davis could not equal Zimmerman’s home run total, he went 4-4 on the night and hit two round trippers of his own. His second, in the seventh inning off of reliever Tyler Clippard, put the game out of reach for the Nats.

“That one hurt,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of the loss, and noted that the Orioles victory came in a ballpark with a reputation as a launching pad for free swingers. “I thought Zim had pretty good stuff,” Johnson said, “but this ballpark can eat you alive.”

Indeed, the Ace of Auburndale’s “stuff” was effective for six innings, as Zimmermann seemed headed for his ninth win. But Zimmermann couldn’t make it out of the seventh, surrendering singles to Ryan Flaherty and Nate McLouth, a double to Manny Machado — and a Davis home run — before being relieved by Clippard.

“I look up, and we’re losing,” Zimmermann said after the loss, his third of the season. “Those guys give me six runs like that, I’ve got to do a better job and we should win this ballgame. It’s solely on me [with] this one.”

Despite the loss, the Nationals showed again that they’re capable of putting the ball in play. In addition to Zimmerman’s three home runs, Roger Bernadina also went long and the Nationals accumulated eight hits, with Zimmerman, Bernadina and Denard Span coming away with RBIs.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Ryan Zimmerman wasn’t the only National Leaguer hitting the long ball on Wednesday. Out in Chicago, back-up Cubs’ catcher Dioner Navarro hit three of his own, as the Cubs pummeled the White Sox, 9-3 . . .

Navarro had never hit more than one home run in a game, telling reporters after the win that he might have hit two in one game when he played Little League baseball. Navarro’s homers came in the 2nd, 4th and 7th innings and (unlike the Zimmerman home runs) each of them was pulled . . .

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5th Inning Meltdown Ices Nats

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

If Saturday’s game against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park proved anything, it’s that the book on righty ace Stephen Strasburg is fast becoming . . . well, the book on Stephen Strasburg.

Cruising along with two outs in the 5th inning (and pitching better than he had all season), Ryan Zimmerman’s throwing error on a routine grounder seemed to unhinge Strasburg, who proceeded to give up four runs — and the Cubs went on to defeat the Nationals 8-2 at Nationals Park.

It’s hard to know what to worry about most: Ryan Zimmerman’s nagging inability to make an accurate throw to first, or Strasburg’s inability to roll with the punches. Nats’ manager Davey Johnson, it seems, has made up his mind. Anyone can make an error, he said after the Saturday loss, but it’s up to the pitcher to put it behind him and keep throwing strikes.

“It was unfortunate,” a puzzled Johnson said after the loss, “That inning he threw 40 pitches? It’s hard to explain. He’s throwing good. Good stuff. Hitting his spots. And then just seemed to — when we needed him to pick us up, he kind of — the air went out.”

Johnson wasn’t the only one who was befuddled. The stadium was deathly quiet as Strasburg seemed to suddenly struggle against himself: after Wellington Castillo reached on Zimmerman’s error, Strasburg walked Darwin Barney, gave up a double to pitcher Edwin Jackson, walked David DeJesus — then gave up successive singles to Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo.

If it had not been for a poor base running decision by Rizzo, it appeared that Strasburg would be lifted. “Just a bad throw,” Zimmerman said of his error. “It’s frustrating. Stevie’s throwing the ball well and has a heck of a game going and that obviously changed the momentum a little bit.”

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