Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Braun’

Ramos, Zimmermann Lead The Nats

Monday, September 16th, 2013


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.


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.


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.”


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.”


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.


Clippard Gives It Up In The 9th

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Edwin Jackson’s eight inning gem, backed by a two run home run from Adam LaRoche, gave the Nationals a 2-1 lead going into the 9th inning, but closer Tyler Clippard couldn’t hold the lead and the surging Milwaukee Brewers walked away from Nationals Park on Friday night with a 4-2 win.

The loss left Nationals fans clamoring for a change in the back of the bullpen, particularly given Atlanta’s 6-2 loss in Philadelphia. This was righthander Clippard’s fifth blown save of the season, and followed on an outing in which he gave up a home run in the ninth inning to Dodger slugger Matt Kemp.

Nats’ manager Davey Johnson defended his closer, pointing out that if Brewer Norichika Aoki had not gotten a bunt down to start the ninth, the game would have been different. “He’ll be fine,” Johnson said of Clippard following the game. “That one just got away. One battle. He’s been awfully good.”

“The play of the ninth inning was Aoki’s bunt,” Johnson said. “The bunt was the key, because the guy can run, he’s going to be on second base. That was the whole inning, really. ” The Brewers followed Aoki’s surprising play with a Rickie Weeks fly to center (which pushed Aoki to third) and a Ryan Braun single — which scored him.

The Brewers then took the lead when Braun stole second, and Aramis Ramirez doubled to score him. After Jonathan Lucroy lined out, a Travis Ishikawa infield grounder scored Ramirez. That gave the Brewers four runs, and the 4-2 lead. That is all they would need to seal the 4-2 victory.


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 . . .