Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Braun’

Nats Crush The Crew, 8-3

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

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The Nationals came ready to play against Matt Garza and the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night, scoring five runs in the bottom of the 1st inning and then going on to crush the crew, 8-3. The Nationals victory gave Washington starter Tanner Roark his team leading ninth win on the season.

The five run first inning was the difference in the game, as the Nationals batted around. Denard Span started the Nats assault with a single. Then, after Garza struck out Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth doubled, Adam LaRoche walked and Ryan Zimmerman singled to bring in the first two Nationals’ runs.

But the Nats weren’t done: Garza walked left fielder Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond reached first on a muffed infield single that scored LaRoche. Desmond’s single was mishandled by Milwaukee shortstop Jean Segura, but scored a single as Desmond couldn’t be caught in his sprint to first. A Wilson Ramos single to center then scored two more runs.

“You want to be aggressive,” manager Matt Williams said of his team’s five run first. “We have an opportunity for a crooked number there. I think the big at-bat was Wilson Ramos. He got behind [in the count], got to two strikes. He hit a slider. That’s a big cushion and it extended the inning.”

The five runs were all that Tanner Roark would need in shutting down the potent Milwaukee offense. The Nats young righty threw seven innings of six hit baseball in holding the Crew to just one run. “The biggest thing for me is that we are playing good team ball and scoring runs early. It helps a lot,” Roark said of his victory. “It gives me confidence and I pitch with no fear.”

The Brewers view of their loss was that the Nationals were lucky: “The Nationals blooped, bounced, dribbled and flicked Garza from the game after 42 pitches, five runs and five well-placed hits,” Milwaukee’s website related. The Nationals didn’t disagree, while noting they were due for some luck.

“We need some luck every now and then, too,” Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “We just kind of hit the ball where they weren’t. We got some timely hits like we didn’t yesterday. We got a good lead to start the game.”

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The Wisdom Of Section 1-2-9: There might have been three dozen or so Brewers fans in attendance at Saturday night’s game, but that’s about all. 1-2-9, a standard home for some out-of-towners (particularly when the Cubs are visiting) was denuded of all Brewers jerseys, with boos greeting the plate appearance of Ryan Braun . . .

“I don’t normally like booing anything having to do with baseball, even when I hate the other team,” a regular said, “and I don’t mind giving credit when it’s due. That’s just being a good sport. But I can’t stand Braun.” Many others agreed, and joined in the chorus. “He should have just taken his medicine and told the truth. It was the lie that turned fans against him,” another Nats fan noted . . .

There was only one voice of dissent, given by a fan in a nearby row who greeted the anti-Braun sentiment with a shrug. “The guy knows how to hit,” he said, “which makes you wonder why he thought he needed to juice in the first place.” That sentiment was unscored when Braun put a 91-mph Jerry Blevins fastball into the left field seats in the 8th . . .

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Gio, LaRoche Key Nats 3-0 Win Against The Crew

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

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Gio Gonzalez was anxious to fit back into the rotation, particularly after his first start since returning from the disabled list proved so unsatisfying. But on Monday night in Milwaukee Gonzalez seemed to fit right in, hurling six innings of three hit baseball in leading the Nationals to a 3-0 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park.

“It was one of those nights where I needed to bounce back,” Gonzalez said following the victory. “I was just proud to see these guys compete and give me a chance to be part of this rotation. Being the odd man out right now, you want to be 100 percent at their level. Seeing the way these guys are throwing the ball, you want to make sure you don’t fall behind.”

Gonzalez admitted after the game that he did not have his best stuff. But he was able to befuddle Brewers’ hitters by ample use of his change-up, which was particularly effective in a difficult bases loaded jam in the bottom of the third. “He was working with changeups,” Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez noted. “We didn’t expect him to be working with changeups. It was a really good pitch for him. He threw the ball well, so we have to give the credit.”

The Nationals stroked seven hits against Milwaukee pitching, five of them against Brewers’ starter Matt Garza. But the big hit in the game came off the bat of Adam LaRoche in the third inning, when the first sacker took a Garza slider deep to center field to give the Nats the only runs they would need. The blast scored Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth.

“In that spot, you’re really just trying to hit something hard and hit something in the air. It just happened to go out of the park,” LaRoche said of his at-bat. “It was one of the few mistakes he [Garza] made.”

The game was not without its controversy. When Danny Espinosa was called out looking at an out-of-the-zone ball in the top of the 2nd, Nationals’ skipper Matt Williams argued the call with umpire Mark Wegner — and was thrown out of the game. Randy Knorr then took over managing the team the rest of the way. This was the first time this season that the normally fiery Williams was tossed.

Once again the Washington bullpen showed why it’s the best in the majors. Aaron Barrett, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard were flawless in three innings of work, with Clippard striking out the side in the 9th inning to notch his first save in nearly two years.

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Everyone in Milwaukee is yakking about the year that Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy is having at the plate, a line (.331, .397, .520) that puts him in the running for a slot on the National League All Star team. He’s one of the reasons that the Brewers are the surprise team in the N.L. Central . . .

But Lucroy is just one of Milwaukee’s bashers, with a line-up filled with fleet-footed slick fielding singles hitters (like Jean Segura, who scored from first on a wild pitch this last weekend), supplemented by dueling long ball artists (Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez) and swing-and-miss or hit-em-long bombers, like the much-traveled Mark Reynolds . . .

But our favorite Brewer (though, we admit, the bar is low) is Aramis Ramirez, the Crew’s underrated third baseman. Injured most of last year, the Younts limped home in fourth place, fourteen games under .500. But the year before, with Ramirez’s fifty doubles in the line-up (he led the league), the Brewers made a stab at the Central Division flag . . .

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Ramos, Zimmermann Lead The Nats

Monday, September 16th, 2013

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Washington catcher Wilson Ramos was 4-4 and drove in five runs, and righty starter Jordan Zimmermann notched his league-leading 18th win of the year, and the Nationals routed the Philadelphia Phillies 11-2 at Nationals Park on Sunday. The win, coupled with a Cincinnati loss in Milwaukee, brought the home towners within 4.5 games of the last Wild Card slot.

While the Nationals pounded out eighteen hits against a hapless Philadelphia pitching staff, Ramos was clearly the star of the show: the Nationals’ backstop singled in the bottom of the 1st (and plated Bryce Harper), singled again in the bottom of the 4th (scoring Harper again), homered to center in the 6th and singled in the 7th to score Zach Walters and Adam LaRoche.

Ramos has been a workhorse for the Nationals, appearing Sunday in his 23rd consecutive game. “He’s been hitting the heck out of the ball, catching good, throwing people out. He’s hard to take out of the lineup,” Washington skipper Davey Johnson said of his 26-year old catcher. “We’ve missed him for two years, so we’re going to ride him.”

But Ramos’ career day did little to overshadow the performance of righty Jordan Zimmermann, who’s been Washington’s staff ace for the 2013 campaign. Zimmermann turned in seven innings complete innings of seven hit baseball while striking out seven in taming the Philadelphia line-up.

“It feels good, but then again, I’ll trade all those wins in for a spot in the playoffs,” Zimmermann said after his victory. “That’s the only thing that matters right now. We’re playing good ball and scoring some runs, so it’s definitely fun.”

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It took the Nationals just over three hours to polish off Philadelphia, who sent five pitchers to the mound in an effort to short-circuit Washington’s attack. The Phillies have great hopes for starter Tyler Cloyd, a sleeper pick in the 18th round of the 2008 draft. But the Nats victimized Cloyd with ten hits and five runs in four innings.

“Any time you have a bad outing, no matter how many good ones you have, you’re always disappointed,” Cloyd said after the Phillies’ loss. “Obviously I’m more disappointed that I’m pitching bad and not giving the team a chance to win. I’ve got to figure it out somehow.

While Ramos led the Nationals attack, he had plenty of help. Denard Span, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond had two hits each (with Span extending his hitting streak to 26 straight games), while Bryce Harper was 3-5 on the day and raised his 2013 batting average to .280. Harper was 6-12 in the Philadelphia series.

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Channeling Ryan Braun

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Some events demand a blog post, whether you want to write about them or not. Such it is for Ryan Braun, suspended for the rest of the season by major league baseball for violating its drug program. The suspension has been the talk of baseball today, though not always with particularly edifying results.

Among the commentators who seem to make the most sense on the Braun scandal is Jeff Passan, who describes the 2007 MVP and Rookie of the Year as “a liar nonpareil, a serial doper, a raging narcissist” and (above all), a “self preservationist.”

Passan has it right — particularly the part about Braun’s self-preservation, which was most prominently on display yesterday. Even more shocking, at least from our point of view, is that this self-preservation strategy actually seemed to work.

Take, as an example, the nearly universal sentiment expressed by Braun’s teammates, who spent much of the day carefully navigating the shoals of the issue, albeit not particularly intelligently. Jonathan Lucroy, for example, implied that Braun’s critics don’t understand human nature — or at least not as well as he does.

“We all do things we have to learn from,” Lucroy informed his questioners while standing in front of his locker. “We all make mistakes. Every single one of us.” Reliever and sometime starter Tom Gorzelanny agreed: “No one’s perfect,” he told the press.

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Brewer Jean Segura Steals First

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something happens to convince you you haven’t. That was true last night in Milwaukee, when Brewers’ shortstop Jean Segura stole second twice — er, didn’t. It happened in the 8th inning at Miller Park in a tilt pitting the Brewers against the long-suffering Cubs: and just as I was nodding off.

With the score at 5-4, Segura led off the bottom half of the 8th inning with a single and then, in a close play, stole second. With Segura on second, Ryan Braun walked. So: first and second — nobody out. But Segura wasn’t done. Having taken the measure of Cubs reliever Shawn Camp, he tried to steal third.

Camp was reading his mind, stepped off the rubber and threw to third base ahead of him. Segura might have been caught in a rundown, but he went back to second. Here’s the problem: when he showed up at second, there was Ryan Braun, who had taken the base when Segura took off for third. Cubs shortstop Luis Valbuena tagged both runners — and, by rule, the umpire called out Braun because he was the trailing runner.

This is where it gets good. Segura thought he’d been called out, so he trotted toward the home dugout. When he realized, too late, that he could still be on second, he scampered into first base (which is weird, but legal). In the next at bat he tried to steal second (again), but this time he was caught. So: Segura stole second, and then was caught stealing second, in the same inning.

Simple dimple, right? Segura was called out in his second attempt to steal second. But what if he’d been called safe (now would be a good time for you all old enough to remember to start humming the theme from “The Twilight Zone“) instead of out?

If that had actually happened, Jean Segura would be the only baseball player in major league history (so far as I can tell) to successfully steal the same base twice in the same inning. Honest, I was rooting for him.

Confused? Here’s the video.

The umpires claimed that they got the ruling right: “Bizarre,” veteran umpire crew chief Tom Hallion said. “Technically, he stole second, stole first, then got thrown out stealing second.”

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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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Gios Wins 20, Nats At 92

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

This was Gio Gonzalez’s day: the Nationals’ lefty won his 20th game of the season, the first time that has been done by anyone in franchise history since southpaw Ross Grimsley did it for the Expos back in 1978. ‘It doesn’t feel like a 20th win for myself. It feels like a 20th win for the team,” Gonzalez said of his victory. ”This is a childhood dream, but at the same time, to do it with a team that’s in first place makes it that much better.”

Gonzalez was brilliant in his outing, throwing seven innings of three hit baseball, while striking out five and walking only one. The Brewers couldn’t touch him, scoring their only runs off of Washington reliever Christian Garcia. Gonzalez’s season strikeout total now stands at 202: the most since Washington hurler Walter Johnson had 313 in 1910.

The Gonzalez win was not much in doubt past the fourth inning, when Washington put six runs on the board, after putting three runs on the board in the third. In all, Washington demolished Milwaukee’s pitching: with home runs from Ryan Zimmerman (his 23rd), Ian Desmond (his 24th) and Adam LaRoche (his 32nd).

It’s worth focusing on Adam LaRoche, who was 3-4 with two RBIs on the day. The Washington first sacker ought to be considered in any discussion for league MVP. “LaBomb” has nine home runs in September, and has eclipsed any mention of Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen, whose Pirates have been sliding, for the award.

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