Posts Tagged ‘Ian Kennedy’

Nats, Strasburg Fall To D-Backs

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

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Stephen Strasburg was his usual steady and solid self on Tuesday night in Arizona, but the Diamondbacks’ veteran righty Bronson Arroyo was better, as the Nationals fell to the Rattlers in Phoenix, 3-1. The Nationals were only able to push across a single run against Arroyo, who threw a seven hit complete game for his fourth victory of the 2014 campaign.

The lone Washington run came in the second inning, when Ian Desmond’s triple scored Wilson Ramos. But the National failed to capitalize on their chances that inning, as Monday’s hero Kevin Frandsen hit into a double play to end the threat. Strasburg kept the Nationals close, nearly matching Arroyo, by throwing eight innings of eight hit baseball.

“Overall I thought he pitched fine,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said of Strasburg’s outing. “Bronson was better tonight though. All over the zone with all the pitches that he had, he kept everybody off balance.”

Arizona scored on Strasburg in the bottom of the 4th on a Paul Goldschmidt double and a Miguel Montero single, then again in the fifth when Goldschmidt scorched another double, scoring Bronson Arroyo and Martin Prado. But it was Arroyo who was the difference in the game.

“That’s the great thing about baseball,” Arroyo said following the victory. “I don’t really have to beat Stephen, I just have to beat their batters for the most part.” A finesse pitcher, Arroyo threw 110 pitches in his complete game outing, 79 of them for strikes.

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Arizona G.M. Kevin Towers might be the most unpopular man in Phoenix, with rumors swirling of his imminent firing — the result of a terrible start (4-14 in their first three weeks, the worst in franchise history) and a series of bad trades that have stripped Arizona’s pitching rotation . . .

Even the players have been speaking out. “I’ve never seen anything like it, to be honest with you,” third sacker Eric Chavez said at the end of April. “I’ve been on teams that weren’t very good, but at least I felt like we were competitive. So, it’s a bitter pill to swallow . . . ”

There seems little doubt, Towers has a lot to answer for. Nicknamed “the Gunslinger” for his penchant to pull the trigger on big trades, Towers’ hasn’t hesitated to swap home-grown players who (as he would say) haven’t panned out, for aging if experienced veterans who match manager Kirk Gibson’s “tough and gritty” mold . . .

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Kennedy Pitches Padres To 4-2 Victory Vs. Nationals

Monday, April 28th, 2014

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San Diego righty Ian Kennedy stymied the Nationals’ offense on Sunday, throwing seven innings of three hit baseball and striking out nine, as the Padres went on to gain a split in their four game series against Washington, 4-2. Kennedy outdueled six Washington pitchers in gaining the victory, his second of the season.

San Diego’s offense, meanwhile, was powered by eight hits, two of them from outfielder Cameron Maybin, who was seeing his first action of the 2014 season. “Ian pitched his butt off,” Maybin said after the San Diego victory. “Fun being behind a guy like that who can command the zone like he does.”

The Nationals came up nearly empty against Kennedy, with Jayson Werth the only Washington regular who was able to notch two hits against him. It was a rough day for Washington hitters, but also a rough day for the pitching staff. Starter Taylor Jordan was battling the flu when he took the mound and lasted just four innings.

A host of Washington relievers who followed Jordan to the bump battled San Diego hitters — and their own control. Ross Detwiler gave up four hits in just 1.1 innings of work and Aaron Barrett walked two batters while registering a single out. Jerry Blevins, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard pitched well, but by then it was too late.

Huston Street notched his league leading ninth save without a blemish, wrapping up the game. “It’s a really good lineup they have over there, and I know that Adam LaRoche had a big series against us, so having Ian pitch so well was very important,” Street said of the victory. “To see him settle down and get into a groove, it put the momentum back on our side.”

The Nationals have Monday off, but will travel to Houston for a short series against the Astros that begins on Tuesday.

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Major league teams dump salaries, they dump old starters and relievers and they dump washed up veterans. But the Arizona Diamondbacks, it seems, dump young and talented starters. How else do you explain last year’s swap of yesterday’s pitching hero, Ian Kennedy, to the Padres back in 2013 . . .?

True — Kennedy was struggling at the time, but he was two years down the road from a 21-4 season. The D-Backs got reliever Joe Thatcher, a minor leaguer (righty pitcher Matt Stites) and a draft pick in return, hardly enough to justify the swap of a proven youngster with electric stuff . . .

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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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