Posts Tagged ‘Ian Kennedy’

Werth, Strasburg Skin The Snakes

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

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Stephen Strasburg pitched seven solid innings and Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos each hit three run home runs, and the Washington Nationals easily downed the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Friday night, 8-4. The victory capped the first of a three game series, with two games remaining in the Nats’ season.

Strasburg, who is one of the ERA leaders in the National League (at a snappy 3.00), notched only his eighth victory on the year, throwing 101 pitches, 63 of them for strikes. Strasburg was undoubtedly disappointed with his 2013 win total, but Nats’ manager Davey Johnson acknowledged that the young righty didn’t always enjoy good run support from his teammates.

“We didn’t score many runs for him,” Johnson confirmed following the victory. “A bunch of times, we didn’t score any runs, one run or two runs when he was starting. His numbers indicated he should have won 15 ballgames, at least. He was certainly consistent all year long.”

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Despite the 8-9 campaign, Strasburg is 3-0 in his last three starts. “I think physically I held up pretty well,” he said following last night’ victory. “I think one thing I learned is sometimes less is more. I like to work really hard and when you reach a point in September you’ve really got to back things off or it’s going to be counterproductive.”

The Nats powered Strasburg to victory on home runs from Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos. The Werth home run came in the top of the fifth with Anthony Rendon and Jeff Kobernus on base, while the Ramos home run came in the top of the 8th with Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond on base.

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Ohlendorf’s Spot Start Lifts The Nats

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Ross Ohlendorf returned to the major leagues on Wednesday night, and led the Washington Nationals to a 5-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies. Ohlendorf threw six innings of two hit baseball and, after the win, Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said he was going to find a way “to keep him around.”

Signed this past winter by the Nationals as a minor league free agent, Ohlendorf pitched for the Padres in 2012 (he was 4-4), and was anxious to get back to the big leagues. His most successful season was in 2009, when he was 11-10 for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I knew that I needed to pitch well,” Ohlendorf said. “Their lineup’s really good, too. I knew I was capable of having a good game, I just needed to make sure to do it.”

“He had good movement on [his pitches],” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said after the win. “He used the curveball and slider, used both sides of the plate, and I liked his windup, too. That reminded me of some old-fashioned windups.”

Three of the Nationals five runs were produced by shortstop Ian Desmond, who was 2-3 on the night with three RBIs. Desmond is in the midst of a fourteen game hitting streak, and is 14-34 in June, raising his batting average to .282. Desmond is hitting .421 over the last seven games.

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The Rattlers “Disappointing” Season

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

After winning the World Series back in 2001, the D-backs were set for immortality. After all, the championship came in just their fourth full major league season and their roster was packed. The problem was the team was old (there was no one under 31 in the front nine), and it was only a matter of time before it needed to be retooled.

Still, D-backs fans had reason to hope: the team sported a solid ownership and front office, a good scouting staff and a solid minor league system. Which is why it’s somewhat of a surprise that the team hasn’t returned to the series since, while making a run at it in 2007 and being in the hunt in 2011.

This was supposed to be the year. Early season projections had Arizona winning the N.L. West, based on an improved starting rotation and a bullpen that was a surprise in 2011. Give 2011′s 29 game improvement over the previous year, this made sense: the D-backs got a new ground ball pitcher in Trevor Cahill in a trade with the A’s, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was pegged to have a breakout year and the team signed slugger Jason Kubel to roam the outfield.

But things haven’t gone as planned in the Valley of the Sun — and it starts, as always, with pitching. The D-backs have a less-than-stellar 3.93 team ERA, and while their front line rotation doesn’t walk anyone, it gives up a lot of hits: opponents are batting a disturbing .259 against them. Only five other N.L. teams are worse.

The problems start with Ian Kennedy. A 21 game winner in the 2011 campaign, Kennedy has won all of 11 games this year, while his ERA has ballooned to 4.34. Then there’s Daniel Hudson, a sixteen game winner last year. This year? He’s just emerged from Tommy John surgery — an injury that’s the equivalent of a knock-down punch for a team least prepared to suffer it.

The rest of the rotation has been a blur: Joe Saunders and Trevor Cahill have been serviceable, though not brilliant, with Wade Miley emerging as the good news. The former first rounder (in 2008) has become the staff ace, with a 12-7 record and a 2.85 ERA.

And then there’s Justin Upton: his power numbers are down, he’s been booed by fans, and his play has bordered on laziness. Last month, on the eve of the trade deadline, General Manager Kevin Towers called him into his office and informed him that if the D-backs got an overwhelming offer (a young ace to buttress their staff) they’d ship him out of town.

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Still Rising In The West?

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Long about this time in the season we begin to drop the phrase “well, it’s still early” — and try to figure out why some teams are “overperforming” while other aren’t. The people who are in the business of predicting would say (for instance) that the Washington Nationals, at 14-8, are overperforming, while the Arizona Diamondbacks, at 12-11, are underperforming.

D-Backs fans are a tad worried: the team started at 5-1, but then went into a tailspin. There was good reason for this: the Snakes lost their top-of-the-rotation starter, Daniel Hudson, to “right shoulder impingement,” superstar center fielder Justin Upton is nursing a sore thumb and flailing at the ball (.242 with two lousy homers), and the D-Backs bullpen isn’t what it was last year — with a 4.76 ERA before yesterday’s tilt against the Marlins.

In truth, injuries have decimated the D-Backs. At one time or another over the last month Takashi Saito, Stephen Drew, Chris Young, Daniel Hudson and Geoff Blum were all on the disabled list — or still are. Their fill-ins have been adequate, but the loss of Stephen Drew and Chris Young (and Hudson), has put holes in the line-up and rotation and provided added pressures for manager Kirk Gibson.

But the biggest problem for the Snakes (outside of the unpredictable injuries), is their bullpen. The pen gave away five total games in April, compared with only 14 for the team in all of 2011. David Hernandez might have lost a little off his fastball, Takashi Saito’s loss removes a steady middle-innings presence, and closer J.J. Putz has been less than his usual stellar self — sporting an embarrassing 4.70 ERA.

Thank God for Joe Saunders. While Arizona fans whinge on about all their problems, Saunders has proven he’s the staff ace. He leads the league in ERA (0.90) and WHIP (a nearly unheard of 0.87), which means that when he pitches he doesn’t give up hits or walks. That he’s lost a single game is something of an anomaly. Oh, and fellow starter Ian Kennedy is 3-0 with a none-too-shabby 3.38 ERA.

Then too, the Diamondbacks seem to keep generating good pitching. There’s Saunders, Kennedy — and now Wade Miley, a first round pick by Arizona in 2008. Miley rocketed his way through the D-Backs system, but the Arizona brain trust has been taking their time with him. Even so, he’s ahead of the curve. He’s 3-0 this year, with 15 strikeouts in 21 innings. Phew . . .

The final piece of good news is that Arizona’s decision to throw some money at free agent Jason Kubel has worked out well — and perhaps even better than anticipated. Kubel’s left handed power appealed to G.M. Kevin Towers, and while Arizona fans noted glumly that playing Kubel would send fan favorite Gerardo Parra to the bench, Towers’ move proved prescient, particularly given Young’s injury. Kubel has been as advertised: three home runs with a .333 average.

In the glass-half-empty world of D-Backs fans, the spate of injuries to key Arizona players, the so-so (or worse) performance of the bullpen, and the “mixed bag” of April seem to portend rough riding through the rest of the season. After all, the team is in the same division as the Los Angeles Kemps and the ever-interesting, pitching heavy McCovey’s. But if we were to bet on where Arizona would be, say, on October 1, we’d still wager they’d be at the top of their division.

Should L.A.’s Kershaw Win The Cy Young?

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

A regular reader of ours, an L.A. native, keeps pounding away about his beloved Dodgers — and like all good partisan fans, he predicted they’d win the N.L. West and then sweep their way through the post-season. “They’re the new Giants,” he said last April, “except that they’re better.”

Such expectations have not been realized: the Dodgers are a single game under .500, and are mired in third place on the left coast — well behind the disappointing Giants, and twelve games out of first place. This hasn’t stopped this fan from continuing his verbal assault. “Yeah,” he says. “But what about Clayton Kershaw? You have to admit, now, c’mon. Kershaw’s the best pitcher in the National League.”

Our tactic has been to ignore this, while reminding him of his April prediction — and what has happened in L.A. since. But at least when it comes to Kershaw, he has a point. If there’s one bit of good news that Nationals fans can take away from their most recent soggy series with the Trolleys (they lost two of three), it’s that at least they didn’t have to face Kershaw. And last night, against San Francisco, Kershaw put himself in the running for the Cy Young, outdueling the McCovey’s Tim Lincecum — and throwing an eight inning, three hit, nine strikeout gem.

Kershaw is now 18-5, and measures up well against the other hurlers in line for the Cy Young: Ian Kennedy, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. The problem is that Kershaw plays for the Dodgers, which shouldn’t make the least bit of difference when it comes to the Cy Young voting — except that it will.

Even so, Kershaw should now be considered a front runner: while he doesn’t have the profile of Halladay, he leads the N.L. in strikeouts (ahead of Lincecum, Halladay, Lee and Kennedy — and in that order), and the fact that he plays for the L.A. Bankrupts could actually be in his favor. He’s pulled off a great season despite the team around him, and he leads the Nationals League in innings, ERA and strikeouts per nine.

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Kennedy Outduels Zimmermann, 2-0

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Following his shutout performance against the Nationals on Tuesday, it’s easy to understand why Arizona righty Ian Kennedy (16-4, with a sparkling 3.09 ERA), is being mentioned so prominently as a candidate for the N.L. Cy Young Award. Kennedy threw seven innings of six hit ball while striking out eight, to lead the Diamondbacks in a 2-0 skunking of the Nationals. While facing a revived Washington line-up known for stunning last minute wins, Kennedy was never really in danger — and added a single and a double of his own to the victory.

While the D-Backs win was hardly seizmic, the Snakes are suffering through the aftershocks of a six game losing streak — and we can hardly fault them for being concerned about losing their fragile lead in the N.L. West to the San Francisco Giants. Kennedy’s performance outshone that of Nationals’ lefty Jordan Zimmermann, who was nearly as good — giving up a home run to Sean Burroughs (with a man on) that proved the difference.

Zimmermann — who must be accounted as the Nationals most effective pitcher this season — lasted into the seventh, but could not complete the inning, taking his eleventh loss against eight wins. It is likely that Washington fans have seen the last of Zimmermann for the year, as he will probably be making only one more start for the season, and that one will probably come on the road.

For a time on Tuesday, it appeared that the Nationals and D-Backs would pick up where they left off in Arizona, the last time the two teams met, back in early June. That knock-down contest came close to sparking a donnybrook, and the same thing nearly happened on Tuesday — when Justin Upton (knocked down in Arizona) was hit by Zimmermann in the top of the fourth. In the bottom of that frame, Ian Kennedy seemed to retaliate, hitting Morse. Both benches were warned.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Speaking of earthquakes, the ground is opening up under the St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis fans rarely boo their hometown boys, but they did last night when the Redbirds gave up two runs to the Trolleys in the top of the ninth, losing 2-1. The catcalls came down as the Cardinals then went quietly in their half of the inning . . .

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Werth Rattles The Snakes

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Jayson Werth’s three run home run — and the pitching of lefty Ross Detwiler — led the Washington Nationals to a 4-1 victory over the reeling Arizona Diamondbacks at Nationals Park on Monday night. The Werth home run (he was 2-4 in the victory) provided the difference in the game, with the slumping free agent finally hitting the ball with authority. It was the sixth loss in a row for the Diamondbacks in their quest to win the N.L. West. They now lead the Giants in the West by a single game.

Detwiler, who is now in the mix for a starting spot in 2012, turned in an impressive performance, giving up six hits and one earned run in 6.2 innings of work. Detwiler’s outing provided further evidence that the former sixth overall draft pick has finally arrived in the majors: “He threw a good game,” Snakes’ manager Kirk Gibson said after his team’s loss. “He came after us, but we couldn’t put anything together. He didn’t give us any free chances.”

Werth’s at-bats, meanwhile, have finally begun to provide evidence that he’s emerging from his season long slump. “Probably the last week to 10 days, I’ve really locked it in,” he said after the game. “It was a struggle, really. It has been a long time coming. I knew where it was. I just didn’t know how to get there. Finally, I feel I’m getting there.”

The Wisdom of Section 1-2-9: It was an irritable crowd that greeted the Diamondbacks on Monday, the residue (a section mate offered) of the Phillies’ visit over the weekend. “I feel almost at home now that those guys are gone.” The only real negatives of the night were reserved for the Phillies — and for the Nationals’ ownership. When a fan was escorted out of the ballpark for throwing Henry Blanco’s home run back on the field, the section stood and booed. “These guys don’t get it,” a regular noted. “We’re trying to get people in here, not kick ‘em out.”

But most of the negative comments on Monday were reserved for the D-Backs, who seemed anything but the leaders of the West. “These guys look like they’re asleep,” a section regular noted. “I’ve never seen a team so down.” Another Nats regular was even more outspoken. “Who are these guys,” he said. “I mean really — Cody Ransom? Collin Cowgill? These are the guys who are taking on the Giants? Give me a break.” Later, when Ryan Roberts came to the plate, one of the regulars laughed. “It’s like watching the Illustrated Man,” he said. “I know he’s good, but geez. That ink is moving.”

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