Posts Tagged ‘Hiroki Kuroda’

Karns Throws Strikes: Nats Win

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.

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Four Dingers Derail The Dodgers

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

John Lannan threw 5.1 innings of five hit ball and the Nationals stroked four home runs to down the Los Angeles Dodgers, 7-2 at Nationals Park on Monday. Ian Desmond led off the game with a home run, Michael Morse hit two and Jayson Werth hit one to lead the Nationals’ attack. The Nationals assault was in stark contrast to the problems they’ve been having at the plate over the last two weeks.

All of the Nationals’ homers except for one came in the first inning, and off of Trolley righty Hiroki Kuroda. John Lannan, meanwhile, threw 94 pitches in registering his ninth win against 11 losses. Lannan later said that he was anxious to go deeper into the game, but couldn’t convince Nats’ skipper Davey Johnson to keep him in. “I felt good and I wanted to keep battling,” Lannan said after the win. “But my pitch count was high. It was a hot day. Our bullpen was fresh. I understood why.”

Michael Morse’s two home runs gave him 26 for the year — to go along with 82 RBIs. The first baseman/left fielder is clearly the team’s MVP for 2011, having put together his best season of his late blooming career. Jayson Werth took time to compliment Morse after the win on Monday. “I’m really happy for him,” Werth said. “This game is not easy. We had similar parts of our career as far as the age. I can appreciate it. I think he always had it in him.” Werth’s game is also improving, after a tough 2011 and what has accounted for nearly a year-long slump. Werth hit his 18th home run of the year in the first inning, and notched his 52nd RBI.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: There’s been a changing of the guard in Florida, where the Marlins have struggled not only to put fans into the seats, but to put a good ball club on the field. The Marlins started to unravel after 6-7 fireballer Josh Johnson went out with a shoulder injury and the team cratered during a mid-June losing streak (they lost 18 of 19, and eleven in a row) that saw the rehiring of steady-as-she-goes Jack McKeon . . .

The return of Johnson will help next year, but it’s not likely to be enough. Last night on MLB Network, the irascible Larry Bowa said there had been a “changing of the guard” in Florida. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez “is no longer the face of the franchise,” Bowa said — “it’s Mike Stanton.” That sounds right. Yesterday, Ramirez was told that he will need surgery on his left shoulder . . .

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Nats Derail The Dodgers, 7-2

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Southpaw pitcher John Lannan threw 6.1 lights-out innings, homered into the right field seats, and then watched as Washington’s ace relief corps derailed the Los Angeles Dodgers, 7-2 in the City of Angels on Friday night. The win brought the Nationals to 3-4 on their current road trip, and provided a badly needed win after the team dropped two of three in Houston.

Lannan’s performance on the mound was memorable, but not nearly as memorable as his surprising home run into the right field seats, which came with two outs in the second inning. It was the first home run Lannan has hit since he was 15. “I just got a pitch to hit,” Lannan said. “I wasn’t trying to hit a home run. I was trying to put the bat on the ball and it went out. It’s kind of a blur right now.”

The Trolleys kept the game close, despite Lannan’s pitching and hitting heroics. Dodger righty Hiroki Kuroda struggled in the early frames, but then settled down to hold the Nationals to a single run lead. But his teammates couldn’t solve the Nats’ pitching, registering just three hits in their 56th loss. Kuroda, who is 6-12 (but with a snappy 3.19 ERA) has been mentioned prominently in trade talks.

The Dodgers have struggled to score runs recently, despite having some heavy hitters (including triple crown candidate Matt Kemp) in their line-up. Don Mattingly showed his frustration with his team’s lack of production during a post-game interview. “We’ve gotta put some numbers on the board,” Mattingly said. “We had the one inning there, but we just really didn’t mount a whole lot of charges after that. The main thing we have to do [as a team] is throw some numbers up there.”

The Nationals finished strong: Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen combined to hold the Dodgers’ hitless in relief of Lannan, and uber-sub Jerry Hairston collected a ninth inning grand slam that just cleared the left field fence. Hairston’s dinger put the game out of reach.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Kuroda is the Dodgers’ lead candidate to be traded, undoubtedly for a package of prospects. The righty is a steady starter, but he’s 36. He says all the trade talk doesn’t bother him: “I have to really concentrate on the game that I pitch,” Kuroda said following his loss to the Nationals . . .

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Colletti’s Team

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

There was a time — and not so long ago — that the Los Angeles Dodgers were the best team in the National League, and perhaps the best in baseball. That wasn’t true from the end of July through the first part of September, when the team seemed to struggle to win games and the Redbirds surged. That’s not to say that the Trolleys didn’t win, they did: but hardly at the same rate as in the first four months of the season, when their young pitching staff was the talk of baseball. There were low points, head scratching series that saw the listless Dodgers incapable of mounting their usual barrage of hits, or keeping their starters in games much past the sixth inning: the Trolleys lost three of four to the Redbirds at the end of July, then two of three to the Brewers, then three of four to the Braves. The losses to the Braves were particularly hard to take: they were all at home — and they weren’t even close. It was puzzling. Suddenly, the Trolleys — though sailing along in first place — looked vulnerable. 

Oddly (or perhaps predictably), the struggles of the L.A. Nine seemed to coincide with the return of Manny Ramirez, whose fifty game suspension actually energized the Chavez sluggers, giving new life to replacement Juan Pierre and Joe Torre’s raft of young boppers — particularly Andre Ethier (.283, 31 HRs) and first baseman James Loney (.283, 13 HRs).  Baseball’s community of pundits oohed and ahhed over Manny’s return (noting, and it seemed endlessly), that he remained “the best righthanded hitter in baseball,” but they couldn’t help wondering how the return of Pierre to the L.A. bench would effect Joe Torre’s mix. Good point: for instead of further energizing an already great squad, Manny’s appearance in Dodger Blue seemed to dampen L.A.’s race to the N.L. West title: the streaky Colorado Helton’s gained ground on L.A. and even the light hitting San Francisco McCoveys seemed resurgent.

But over the last two weeks all of that has changed. While the Rockies remain within spitting distance of first place, the Trolleys have reasserted their control over the division — most recently humbling McCovey ace Tim Lincecum. ”This club is playing with a purpose right now,” said manager Joe Torre. “They understand what’s out there and what’s at stake and they can’t expect anyone else to do it for them.” A lot of Dodgers point to the resurgence in the team’s pitching as the reason for the Trolleys’ new lease on the N.L. West — former Phuzzie Randy Wolf (11-6) has been a surprise among the starters (he outdueled Lincecum, and made it look effortless), and always-just-average Hiroki Kuroda has been much more than just average — winning his last two outings to give the Dodgers’ staff a needed lift. But the hero of the Dodgers’ latest resurgence (which comes just in time for the playoffs) isn’t anyone on the field. It’s L.A. General Manager Ned Colletti, who put together a series of trade deadline deals that, in retrospect, look nothing nothing less than brilliant.

Vicente Padilla #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second inning at Dodger Stadium on September 1, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.

Colletti might as well be working with hammers and saws, particularly considering the renovation job he’s done on the L.A. staff. The trade deadline acquisition of Jon Garland has provided a steadying groundball presence for L.A.’s younger pitchers, while beanball retread Vicente Padilla has provided a much-needed up-and-in intimidator for a group of knee shaking younger guys who love the outside half of the strike zone. Perhaps Colletti’s best decision, however, was the acquisition of former Birdland closer George Sherrill (1.70 ERA) who has become a par excellance set-up man and sometime closer who provides a lights out presence for the L.A. 8th. And that’s not all: the haunting of Washington (Juan Rivera, et. al.) continues with a resurgent Ronnie Belliard, who is hitting the skin off the ball in L.A. Then too, Jim Thome seems more than comfortable in his new role as a lefthanded bat off the bench. Who would have thunk it. Here we are in September, and Joe Torre’s first place team is being led by a bunch of gamers with enough mileage on their cleats to populate a retirement home. When we should be talking about Manny, we’re talking about Jon and Vicente and Ronnie — a passle of veterans who owe their playoff dreams to a G.M. who knows a bargain when he sees one. The L.A. Dodger’s might be Joe Torre’s team, but they’re also Ned Colletti’s.