Posts Tagged ‘New York Yankees’

Nats Fall In Home Opener, 2-1

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

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A sellout crowd of over 42,000 rabid Nationals’ fans watched as Washington dropped its home opener to the Atlanta Braves, 2-1 on Friday afternoon at Nationals Park. The game was marred by a controversy involving a replay and three questionable Nationals’ base running gaffes.

The controversy erupted in the bottom of the 5th inning, when Washington’s Ian Desmond hit a ball down the left field line that skittered to the base of the outfield wall. Atlanta left fielder Justin Upton threw up his hands, claiming the ball had become lodged under the tarp as Desmond circled the bases.

Adding to the controversy was the fact that Upton threw up his hands (here is the video of the play) to indicate his inability to get to the ball, then picked it up and winged it back into the infield — but too late to nab Desmond. As the crowd chanted “home run, home run,” the umpires decided to review the play and, after consulting with replay officials in New York, awarded Desmond second base on a ground rule double. The decision took a Washington run off the board.

“One of the reasons we have replay is to make sure that we get the calls right. I have a question with that one, though, because of what happened after the fact,” Washington manager Matt Williams said after the game. “The fact that when he had to, he reached down and threw it in.”

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The reversal of the Desmond home run kept the Nationals from tying the Braves, who went on to score the winning run on a Chris Johnson sacrifice fly in the top of the 8th. The Nationals were also victimized by over-aggressiveness on the bases: Bryce Harper was caught between first and second and tagged out in the bottom of the second, Adam LaRoche was sent home and tagged out at the plate in the 4th and Desmond was caught between second and third after his ground rule double in the 5th.

Williams, who has said he will bring a more aggressive approach to the team, admitted that Desmond was probably over-anxious when he broke for third and was caught stealing in the 5th. “We want to take advantage of it when it’s there for us, but we also want to make sure that we are sure in that situation, so it was little overaggressive,” he confirmed.

Despite the loss, the Nationals continued to show that they have a more potent offense this year than last, outhitting the Braves 8-6. The team also got a solid start from Jordan Zimmermann, who threw five solid innings of four hit ball. The only Zimmermann hiccup was a home run off of the bat of Evan Gattis, subduing the sell-out crowd.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: There wasn’t anything particularly memorable about the Yankees’ Thursday tilt against the Astros in Houston, excepting for the 26,000-plus Houston fans who came to the ballpark expecting to see former free agent and Yankee newbie Jacoby Ellsbury in center field. Instead, he was on the bench because (as Yankee manager Joe Girardi noted) “he needed a rest . . .”

The decision brought derisive comments from baseball analysts, who questioned whether signing a player like Ellsbury (seven years, $153 million) and then sitting him makes any sense. Ever. Don’t teams sign players in order to play them? MLB Radio’s Jim Bowden, the former Nationals’ G.M., hooted the Ellsbury decision during his Sirius XM talk show yesterday . . .

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Nats Bats, Gio Mash The Apples

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

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Washington stroked thirteen hits, including four from Jayson Werth and Gio Gonzalez notched his first win of the season as the Nationals downed the Mets at Citi Field, 5-1. Gio Gonzalez also contributed a home run, his third of his career, in the top of the 5th inning.

Manager Matt Williams worried about a letdown after the Nationals took the opener on Tuesday, but the home towners seemed primed from their opening win. “They were ready to go today,” Williams said after the victory, “which was great.” The victory came off of Mets starter, 40-year-old Bartolo Colon, who gave up nine hits and three runs in six innings.

Nats’ starter Gio Gonzalez, on the other hand, looked in mid-season form. Battling against an ump with a low strike zone (and showing frustration with some of the calls), Gonzalez successfully eluded some tough innings, helped by some slick fielding — which included a Bryce Harper throw from left field that nabbed a spring Ruben Tejada in the bottom of the 6th.

“The things he can do with that arm are pretty special,” Ian Desmond said of the Harper throw. “Your instincts tell you what a normal outfielder can do, not one with a Bazooka.”

Washington youngster Tanner Roark will wrap up the New York series for the Nationals at Citi Field on Thursday afternoon — after which the Nationals will play their home opener on Friday versus Atlanta.

 

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Let us now praise Kyle Farnsworth. Nats’ fans are familiar with the big (6-4, 230 pounds) righty, who broke into the majors with the Chicago Cubs in 1999 and has since served stints with Pittsburgh, Kansas City, the Yanks, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Atlanta and (as we saw last night) the New York Stinking Mets . . .

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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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Harper, Roark Lead Nationals Rally

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

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At the end of the third inning in Kansas City on Friday, starter Gio Gonzalez replayed the body language used by Stephen Strasburg when he pitched against the Cubs in Chicago: he found himself on the bench and shaking his head. The difference between Gio and Stras, however, was that Gonzalez lasted just 3.1 innings.

Gonzalez had one of his worst outings of the year, pitching to just one out in the fourth, before being yanked. Yet, at the end of the game, the Nationals found themselves 11-10 victors in a back-and-forth contest that saw the home towners score a breathtaking seven runs in the fourth inning.

As it turned out, the Nationals needed every run they could get and, at the end of the game, wished they had more.

“You are going to have games where you are going to be iffy,” Gonzalez said after the improbable Nationals triumph. “You are going to be all over the place. Today was a perfect example. Fastball was flat and I couldn’t find the strike zone. When you fall behind on a good hitting team, they are going to do some damage.”

What was true for Gonzalez was true for veteran Kansas City starter Bruce Chen, who entered the 3rd with a 6-0 lead, and departed in the fourth behind 8-6. The Nationals onslaught in the fourth inning came courtesy of three singles, a sacrifice fly, a walk, a bases clearing double, another walk and a home run.

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The bases clearing double came off the bat of Bryce Harper, who served up a shot to the base of the right center field wall, while the home run was the work of hotter-then-a-skillet Jayson Werth — and it landed behind the seats in the Kauffman Stadium’s pool in deep center field.

It was then, in the wake of Gonzalez’s struggles, that new found wonderboy Tanner Roark entered the game. He was nothing less than brilliant and, along with a Bryce Harper diving catch with one out in the 9th inning, saved the game for the Nationals.

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It’s 11 Straight For The Braves

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

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The difference in last night’s 3-2 Braves victory over the Nationals at Nationals Park came down to a single swing of the bat. In the 8th inning, Atlanta’s Justin Upton sent a 79 mph Tyler Clippard change-up into the left field seats, sealing a tough loss for the home towners.

The Upton home run wasted one of Stephen Strasburg’s best outings of the year, and gave the red hot Braves their 11th straight victory. The Braves extended their lead in the National League East to 13.5 games. The Nationals are now at 54-58 for the season, four games under .500.

Before Upton broke up the game, the Nationals’ Strasburg had been locked in a classic pitchers’ duel with Atlanta’s Mike Minor. The Washington righty left at the end of the 7th inning, after scattering five hits and striking out nine. Minor pitched six inning while giving up eight hits.

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The Nationals had a chance to get to Minor but, as so often has been the case during the season, could not take advantage of having men on base. The Nationals put the lead-off runner on base in four successive innings, but could not take advantage.

“Get runners out there, you’ve got to get them in,” Nationals’s shortstop Ian Desmond commented after the loss. “That’s the name of the game. You’ve got to score more than they do, and we didn’t score very many tonight.” The Nationals were 1-10 with runners in scoring position.

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Is Good “Clubhouse Chemistry” Overrated?

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

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This last Wednesday, the Washington Post’s Mike Wise penned an article that was sure to raise some hackles in the Nats’ clubhouse. Under the headline “Nationals could use a refresher in team dynamics,” Wise opined that the Nats might you might consider the Anacostia Nine a “family,” but only if the term is preceded by the word “dysfunctional.”

Wise baldly stated that the Nats had “mishandled” Drew Storen this season and that, in doing so, we have “a window into a culture of doing business, one the franchise might have to re-think at some point before it goes beyond their clubhouse.”

Wise didn’t exactly say that the Nats’ clubhouse was in chaos, or that the team was fighting with its own front office, but the implication was clearly there. The Wise piece was followed by a Nationals Journal article by Adam Kilgore that opened with the words “simmering resentment” — hardly a description of clubhouse amity.

It impossible for us to pass judgement on Wise or Kilgore’s description of what’s happening inside the Nationals (they’re the beat reporters, we’re hardly), but we’re not entirely convinced that “good clubhouse chemistry” (or, as Wise puts it, good “team dynamics”), is a sophisticated indicator of how a team is doing.

The 1977 New York “Bronx Is Burning” Yankees counter the notion that you have to have “good clubhouse chemistry” to win. Manager Billy Martin and star Reggie Jackson repeatedly clashed, owner George Steinbrenner regularly criticized Martin’s managing skills: and the team went on to win the World Series in six games over the Dodgers.

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The Kings Of New York (But Not Much Else):

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

For a few days there, as Yankee fans pondered an unthinkable four game sweep of the recently concluded Subway Series at the hands of their crosstown rivals, the New York Mets were on top of the world: they were “the Dukes of New York, A #1.”

Of course, Mets’ skipper Terry Collins issued his own Crash Davis judgment: “Does it mean any more that its against the Yankees? Had we been playing better, yeah, it would have been huge,” Collins said. “But right now weve just got to win some games, and it didnt matter who it was.”

Okay, we get it: Collins has to say that, but the rest of New York doesn’t — and they didn’t. The New York Times (for instance) headlined their sweep coverage with a large type surprise (“Where No Mets Have Gone Before“), that reminded readers that the Mets’ sweep of the Yankees marked the first time that that had happened.

“In 16 previous years of interleague play,” the Times intoned, “no Mets team had ever earned a season-series sweep against the Yankees.” That includes, for the record, the 1997 Bobby Valentine Mets, the 2000 Mets (which won the N.L. Pennant), and the plucky 2006 Mets.

So what happened? Well, for the first time this season, everything that has plagued the 2013 Madoffs was set aright. The Mets won the close ones (two one run games, on Monday and Tuesday of last week), and two more by a combined score of 13-5. In truth, the overachieving Yankees were never in it.

That seemed not to matter to Mets’ third sacker David Wright, the core of the Mets’ line-up and the face of the Madoff franchise. In the wake of the Mets’ second 2-1 victory over the Bombers, Wright admitted that he was envious of the Yankees success, while adding that he was committed to helping the Orange and Blue build a contender.

“Of course I’m envious of guys that win championships; that’s why you play the game,” Wright told New York reporters. “But it would be ultimately a lot more special for me — having gone through what I’ve gone through — to be part of the reason we turn things around and maybe get to a point where we’re like the Yankees, a perennial playoff team.”

Wright, it seems, might have to wait awhile, though perhaps not as long as many Mets fans believe. Ryan Zimmerman (Wright’s inter-divisional buddy), was once in the same position as the Mets’ best player: waiting for the front office to put together the talent to vault his team into contention.

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