Posts Tagged ‘Prince Fielder’

Mauled In Detroit

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

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Someone opened a trapdoor in Washington and the Nationals have fallen through it. After finishing a disastrous homestand on a positive note against the New York Mets, Washington’s Hometown Nine were swept in a two game mini-series in Detroit by scores of 5-1 and 11-1.

What makes the dual loss of the Detroit series so enervating is that the Nationals sent Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, their two aces of 2012, to the mound — and both came up empty. An otherwise punchless Alex Avila took Strasburg deep for a grand slam home run in the first game, while the Bengals skewered Gonzalez for ten earned runs in the second.

And, as Nationals’ fans now take for granted, neither Strasburg nor Gonzalez were helped by their teammates at the plate. The Nationals accumulated six hits for Strasburg and just five for Gonzalez, albeit Washington hitters faced Detroit uber thrower Anibal Sanchez and the struggling but always dangerous Justin Verlander.

There is, of course, the other side of the coin. Washington’s aces have been anything but: while Strasburg was victimized by a single swing of the bat, Wednesday’s mauling represented Gio’s worst game of the season. Detroit notched eleven hits and two home runs against Gonzalez, who couldn’t make it through the fourth.

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Wednesday was not only yet another embarrassing loss (the Nationals have give up a total of 52 runs in the last ten games), the team’s hopes for a division crown in the N.L. Least seems now out of their grasp. The Braves have won seven of their last ten and now lead the division by 10.5 games.

Yet, if there’s reason for optimism, Nats’ skipper Davey Johnson will find it. “We are not out of this thing. I like the way our schedule is racking up the rest of the way,” Johnson said of the team’s chances on Wednesday. “We can do similarly to what the Dodgers did. I like my talent here, too.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Detroit fans are thrilled with the way the Kalines are playing. The Tigers lead the N.L. Central by three games over Cleveland, lead the league in strikeouts and are third in the American League in ERA . . .

But Detroit’s real strength isn’t exactly a secret. They have two elite hitters, Prince Fielder and Miguel “Triple Crown” Cabrera, smack dab in the middle of their line-up. And if that’s not enough, they have a revived Torii Hunter who’s having one of the best seasons of his seventeen year career . . .

The Tigers, in fact, look a lot like Chuck Tanner’s 1979 Pirates, who boasted their own one-two punch of Willie Stargell and Dave Parker. Like the Pirates, the Tigers are a run scoring juggernaut of long ball hitters who frighten opposing pitchers simply by standing in the on deck circle . . .

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Nats Tame Tigers: Zimmermann Now 6-1

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Jordan Zimmermann allowed seven hits over just seven innings to notch his league leading sixth win of the season, and Bryce Harper hit his tenth home run of the year, as Washington downed a potent Detroit team 3-1 at Nationals Park On Wednesday night.

Zimmermann was spectacular. “Jordan is fun to watch. He attacks guys. I think this year, he’s just smarter, more mature,” Tyler Clippard said of the Nats’ ace following the victory. “This year, more than any other year, he is throwing a lot more breaking balls for strikes.”

Zimmermann entered the game having pitched 17 shutout innings in his previous two starts, putting himself into the top ten in every major N.L. pitching category. The only time the Tigers were able to put together good at-bats against him was in the 3rd inning, when Torii Hunter doubled and Miguel Cabrera singled him home.

Nationals’ hitters, meanwhile, pumped out three runs against Tigers’ starter Anibal Sanchez. Denard Span tripled off of Sanchez and scored on a sacrifice fly by Bryce Harper in the bottom of the 3rd, Adam LaRoche scored in the 4th on a throwing error from Torii Hunter and Bryce Harper slammed a 427 foot home run to complete the scoring in the 5th.

Tyler Clippard came on in relief in the 8th inning and recorded his fifth hold, while closer Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth and recorded his 11th save. Washington has won three consecutive games and is now 18-15 on the year. The Nationals trail the Atlanta Braves, who won decisively in Cincinnati, by just two games in the National League East.

The Wisdom of Section 129 The PNC Seats: This was a rare opportunity, and a kind of betrayal. The CFG crew (here we are, in case you’ve forgotten) abandoned our regulars in Section 129 for a chance to sit in the PNC seats and “eat for free” — as it were. So we expected to be surrounded by Nationals fans. We should have known better . . .

The Tigers travel well, as was much in evidence at Nationals Park last night, and they were there in force in the PNC section. Tigers’ fans packed the third base boxes and were sprinkled throughout the ballpark, with Miguel Cabrera jerseys (#24) as much in evidence as Bryce Harper’s . . .

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Miami Thrice

Friday, April 5th, 2013

The Washington Nationals swept the three game inaugural series against the Miami Marlins on Thursday, 6-1, behind the pitching of Jordan Zimmermann and the hitting of Jayson Werth. Washington’s quiet ace gave up eight hits, but threw six complete in sealing the rout: the Marlins scored only a single run in the three game set.

While not as dominating as either Stephen Strasburg or Gio Gonzalez in their first outings of the new season, Zimmermann was able to stay out of trouble long enough to allow his teammates to feast off of Miami pitching.”I felt good. It’s the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Zimmermann said after the win. “It’s one of those days where I had to battle and make the pitches when I needed a ground ball.”

The shape of Washington’s 2013 offense is now becoming clear: New Nat Denard Span is regularly finding himself on first base, Ryan Zimmerman was 3-3 in the contest, Jayson Werth powered a home run in the bottom of the 7th and Bryce Harper continued his torrid assault on N.L. pitching — he was 2-4 yesterday and is hitting .500.

Washington manager Davey Johnson said it was only a matter of time before Werth matched his Spring Training pace — when he was “seeing the ball” really well. “Today, it feels like the first real day of the season,” Werth said in a postgame interview. “I started feeling a little bit better today — batting practice. As the game went on, I felt like I had my rhythm. It showed up toward the end.”

The best news of the day might have been the dominance of reliever Henry Rodriguez, whose struggles last year raised the hackles of Nats fans. Rodriguez was credited with a hold after pitching a three-up-and-three-down 7th inning, which included a strike out of uber power hitter Giancarlo Stanton, who was buckled by a wicked slider.

Washington’s sweep of Miami puts them alone atop the N.L. East, as the team heads to Cincinnati — where the Redlegs have won two of three against he feared Los Angeles Angels. The Reds, who are predicted to be competitors (with Atlanta) of the Nationals for the top spot in the National League, tamed the Angles in a 5-4 win yesterday.

The Wisdom of Section 1-2-9: Everything changes — nothing stays the same. So there was some disappointment when it appeared that most of the regulars of 1-2-9 from last season were not in attendance on Thursday. Which did not stop the newbies from following the section’s tradition of thinking out loud about the Nationals.

“It’s great to see [Denard] Span out there in centerfield,” one of them said in the second inning. “So you can check that off your list. We finally have a leadoff hitter.” But by far the best comments came from a lifelong Brewers fan, in town to celebrate his daughter’s wedding. It was his first time at Nationals Park. “This is a complete team,” he said of the Nationals. “Out in Milwaukee, we’re headed in the opposite direction.”

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Miggy’s Triple Crown

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

You can now add to your list of bad baseball trades the one that sent slugger Miguel Cabrera and pitcher Dontrelle Willis from the then-Florida Marlins to the Detroit Tigers on December 4, 2007.

The Tigers gave up a knapsack of top prospects for the two fish: Dallas Trahern, Burke Badenhop, Eulogio De La Cruz, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller and Mike Rabelo. Not surprisingly, almost all of the players that the Marlins got in the swap are out of baseball, or playing for someone else.

Remember? The baseball world was all atwitter about how the Tigers had solidified their rotation with the addition of Willis. Cabrera, however, was hardly a throw-in. Even then, he was considered one of the best hitters in baseball. But he’d put on a lot of weight and that had raised eyebrows in Miami.

“A lot of pounds” is an understatement. Cabrera looked like Dumbo. He arrived in Florida in 2003 at a trim 185 and left for Detroit at 255. But the Tigers thought he was worth the bet: he was a four time All Star and had just come off a season where he’d hit 320 with 34 home runs and 119 RBIs.

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The Nats Trounce The Crew, 12-2

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

The Nationals improved their record to 93-60 with a decisive 12-2 pounding of the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park on Monday afternoon. Jordan Zimmermann provided the decisive spark on the mound, picking up his 12th win against eight losses, while Ryan Zimmerman contributed his 24th home run to go along with four RBIs.

The loss was a setback for the hopes of the Brewers, perhaps fatal to their playoff hopes. The Brewers are now 3.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the last Wild Card spot. The Brewers have just nine games to play. Under normal circumstances, a 2-2 road split with the Nationals would look good, but with the Wild Card in play, it doesn’t.

After an inconsistent month of outings, Jordan Zimmermann has returned to form, pitching beautifully in his last four starts. Yesterday he gave up just four hits in 6.2 innings while striking out seven. “I was throwing the fastball and getting ahead, and when I do that, I feel like I can control the game and do what I want, when I want, and I was able to do that,” Zimmermann said.

While the Nationals pounded out fourteen hits, they were helped in the field by the same “sun monster” that had victimized them on Monday. A routine fly ball off the bat of Jayson Werth in the fourth inning was lost in the sun and could not be caught by center fielder Carlos Gomez, who let it drop for a two run double. The sun field is now becoming notorious in Nationals Park.

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The Business Of Baseball Is . . .

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

business . . . of course. No one ever has any problem filling in the blank on that one, and no one would ever doubt it now — after one of the most expensive off-seasons in baseball history. The Belinski’s ponied up out in Los Angeles, and may well have bought themselves a World Series. The numbers are getting astronomical, undoubtedly because revenues from television contracts are spiking. The answer to whether spending all of this money is actually good for the game seems to be “yes” — at least so far.

Back in the late 60s, fans oohed and ahhed about the pricey St. Louis Cardinals, the first team with bragging rights to a $1 million per year payroll. That was the team of Roger Maris, Bob Gibson, Curt Flood, Ken Boyer and Orlando “Baby Bull” Cepeda, a powerhouse that remains among one of the legendary teams of the past. The money was worth it, but people worried that baseball was getting too expensive — and (even then), that MLBs’ pocketbooks could rui the game. It didn’t happen, but the question is being raised again, perhaps most of all in St. Louis, where offering the game’s best player the kind of money he was looking for was just out of reach.

But in the end, it wasn’t the Pujols contract, or the one given by Detroit to Prince Fielder, that has really shocked people. The real shock came this week, when Cincinnati’s owners put $251.5 million on the table for Joey Votto — a pretty good player to be sure, but certainly not the third best player in the game — which is where the contract puts him. That’s (arguably), one-fifth (or even a quarter) of the worth of the entire Cincinnati franchise.

The Cincinnati “doubles” machine (he had 40 last year, to lead the majors), has now signed onto the Redlegs for another twelve years (plus . . .), which means he’ll be 41 when his “club option” kicks in. That’ll be in 2024. Barring an international disaster (not out of the question, mind you), a lot of us will be here to watch him. The question is, will he still be around — will he be playing first base for the Reds?

Our bet is he won’t be — and we’re also betting that Cincinnati’s front office agrees. But the Reds are due for a new and more lucrative television contract in about three years, and the Votto contract is their way of telling their fans that they intend to be good. So the question is . . . is a team like Cincinnati mortgaging the future to bet on the present? And the answer? . . . we’ll just have to see.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Your Washington Nationals open in Chicago this afternoon, and it’s just plain fun to read the Chicago papers — and listen to their fans. “This is the year,” they say — and they say it every . . . single . . . year. And two months from now, when the North Side Drama Queens (we might have to change that, with the departure of “Big Z”) are 12-24, they’ll still be saying it. Except the tense will have changed. “Next year is the year, you just wait . . .

The Nationals are picked for third or fourth this year, depending on who you listen to. But Mitch Williams over the MLB Network said just last night that they’d make the Wild Card this season. And we agree. All of this talk about how good the Braves are is, in our opinion, somewhat puzzling. If you put the two rosters side-by-side (as we have, and often over the last week), the Nationals look a lot better . . .”

So we’re back. For yet another season. And for those who stuck with us, thanks . . . and for those who have wondered where we are — well, there’s a four letter involved, and it starts with “w” and ends with “k.” Never mind. The Nationals are on the field in Chicago, and another great year of baseball beckons. The emails can wait. Go ahead. Watch the game.

Curb Your Enthusiasm . . .

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

. . . because, while the Nationals keep winning in Philly, they still have seven games to play and, no matter what they do, will finish no better than third. We’re not just being killjoys: while it’s wonderful to see our Anacostia Nine play so well (especially at “Nats Park North”), there are some among us who (in the middle of the 7th inning last night — and then again in the 8th) stood up and screamed — “that’s just great, but where were you in June?”

The answer oughta be obvious: trying to find a pitching staff. That the Nats have now won consistently, when it counts the least, is evidence that (finally), that seems to have been done. John Lannan didn’t pitch brilliantly last night, but he fought hard and well (he’s not the same pitcher we saw last year), and a whole handful of other arms have now emerged: Milone and Peacock, and Wang and Detwiler — not to mention Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg (and, just maybe, Livan Hernandez). And those are just the starters.

Then too, the bats have nearly ended their slumber: the Nationals pounded out ten hits last night, which included home runs from Danny Espinosa (his 21st, setting a Nationals rookie record), and the vastly underrated Wilson Ramos (who hit his 14th, which is none too shabby). More importantly, the Nats shook off their disturbing habit of serving tea to men on base — eight were left on base last night, but that number is going down, and they’ve damned near returned to the league mean.

As important (we think) is that the Nationals are now 9-8 against their in-division rivals — with the bonus that Nats fans have started to stream north. That an indication (perhaps), that Nats fans are anticipating what might (might) happen next year. “It’s a fun time,” Danny Espinosa said of his visit to the not-so-friendly confines of The Bank. “It’s a fun game to play against them. I want to play them hard because I know we can beat them. We are showing that. For myself, personally, I enjoy playing against the team.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: We’ve decided to change the description of the New York Mets — they’re no longer “the chokes.” That description more aptly fits the Atlanta Braves, who barely showed up to play the Marlins last night in Miami, and lost to the stinking Fish. It wasn’t even close. Now they know how it feels. The Braves now lead the Cardinals (who woulda thought — and certainly not us), by a single game and some spit. The Cardinals surprised everyone (including their own fans) and rallied to beat the Mets in St. Louis, 6-5 . . .

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