Posts Tagged ‘san francisco giants’
Monday, May 27th, 2013
In a match-up of hard luck pitchers, Nationals’ ace Stephen Strasburg outdueled Philadelphia lefty Cole Hamels — aided by an error filled five run seventh inning — and the Nats took the three game series from the Phillies, 6-1. The win allowed the Nationals to keep pace with the surging Braves in the National League East.
Strasburg has now had three solid consecutive outings. On Sunday, before 39,000-plus he gave up just three hits and struck out a season high nine hitters. As in his previous superb outings, Strasburg commanded the strike zone and remained unruffled by the other team’s scoring chances. In all, he threw 112 pitches, 76 of them for strikes.
Once again, Phillies lefty Cole Hamels did not get the support he needed from his teammates, either at the plate — or in the field. The key was the five run 7th. Ryan Zimmerman led off by beating out an infield single, with the suddenly hitterish Adam LaRoche moving him to second with a clean single to right field.
With men on first and second, Nationals’ fans might have thought ‘here we go again,’ as their team was in the same position on Saturday, and failed to move the runners. But that was not the case on Sunday, as Ian Desmond’s sacrifice bunt (his first in two years), left both Zimmerman and LaRoche in scoring position on second and third.
That’s when it all came apart for Philadelphia. After Cole Hamels intentionally walked Tyler Moore to load the bases, Jhonatan Solano topped a Hamels’ pitch which was mishandled by Philly third sacker Michael Young, who threw it past catcher Humberto Quintero. The miscue scored two, and was followed by a Steve Lombardozzi double.
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
Nats southpaw Gio Gonzalez pitched brilliantly in San Francisco on Wednesday, and the Nationals denied the Giants a sweep of their series, winning in ten innings off of an Ian Desmond single. The team needed a pick-up after Tuesday night’s now-controversial debacle, and Gonzalez provided it.
Gonzalez gave up only four hits and struck out five, limiting the McCoveys to a single run in almost eight complete innings of work before being relieved by Drew Storen. The suddenly unsteady righty then proceeded to give up the tying run to San Francisco, and the Nationals went into extra innings knotted at a run apiece.
But in the 10th inning, with Bryce Harper on second and Ryan Zimmerman on first, shortstop Ian Desmond guided a Jeremy Affeldt offering into right field, scoring the go-ahead run. Rafael Soriano came on in the bottom of the 10th, setting down the Giants in order — and preserving the win.
The Ian Desmond single came after Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy decided that Affeldt should intentionally walk Ryan Zimmerman and pitch to Desmond, who’s been slumping lately. “Numbers may have indicated that was the right move to do,” Desmond said after the win. “But I was 100 percent confident I was going to get the job done right there.”
The Nationals win was only their fourth in the last ten games and came during a classic pitching duel that pitted Gonzalez against an as-effective Madison Bumgarner, who matched Gonzalez pitch-for-pitch. Their pitching lines were exactly the same — except for Harper’s home run.
“He’s one of the best guys I face all year. He knows what he’s doing out there, and the Giants are very lucky to have him,” Harper said of the San Francisco southpaw. “Going out there and facing a guy like Bumgarner is a lot of fun. I look forward to those matchups for hopefully the rest of our careers.”
The big stories of the game were Gio’s mound performance, Desmond’s go-ahead single — and Bryce Harper’s day at the plate. The Nats’ right fielder was 2-5 on the day and hit his 12th home run.
The victory lifted the teams’ spirits as the Nationals boarded a flight for their return to Washington, where they will face the Phillies, Orioles and the surging Braves (they beat the Twins today, their sixth in a row) in a ten game home stand. “It’s going to be a good flight back home,” Gonzalez said.
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
And so it’s official: after nearly fifty games the Nationals are playing .500 ball, have proven incapable of winning the big games, are mired in a team-wide batting slump, seem disoriented and demoralized, are losing games they should win — and are nowhere near the elite team they were projected to be at the season’s start.
Or, as Adam Kilgore put it at Nationals Journal this morning: “The Nationals 4-2, 10-inning loss included many hallmarks of their 3-6 road swing. A dearth of offense. Spotty relief pitching. Finding a way to lose.” Finding a way to lose?
The most recent example came on Tuesday night in San Francisco, when the Nationals dropped a 4-2 decision on a walk-off two run Pablo Sandoval blast on a pitch by Triple-A call-up Yunesky Maya. The loss dropped the Nationals to 3-6 on their ten game West Coast road trip and squandered a near-brilliant outing from righty workhorse Stephen Strasburg.
In Davey Johnson and Mike Rizzo we trust (and absolutely), but this time there’s blame enough to go around. With the Nationals leading 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, and closer Rafael Soriano on the mound, Gregor Blanco hit a liner to right field that should have been caught by Bryce Harper for the final out. It wasn’t — and Andres Torres scored the tying run.
But Harper was playing in and towards the line, when he should have been playing back and in the gap, to guard against precisely the kind of over-the-head liner that Blanco smacked. That’s the way the Giants play it. That Harper shied away from the ball (the result of hitting the wall in Los Angeles, it was suggested) is nonsense: he was out of position.
This is hardly a radical point-of-view: it was hinted at by F.P. Santangelo — MASN’s color commenter who was covering the game — both at the time of the hit, and in his post-game comments. Harper, meanwhile, reacted like any good team player, even if he’s wrong. “I put that whole loss on me,” he said. “Really sucks.”
Then there’s Yunesky Maya. “Wise old” Davey Johnson is rightly praised for managing his bullpen just so (and, it is said, even brilliantly), and determining the exact pitcher-to-hitter match-ups. Maya is a righty and would be facing righties, so perhaps that is why Johnson decided to bring him in to pitch to the Giants in the 10th. But . . . Yunesky Maya?
Monday, May 20th, 2013
The Nationals now travel to San Francisco where they will take on the mad-as-hell Giants, who have just lost three of four to the Rockies in Denver, including Sunday’s ho-hum 5-0 pasting. This was the first series the Rockies have taken from the Giants in two years, since May of 2011.
The Giants are suddenly reeling: they return to the Golden Gate city after going 1-5 on the road, accumulating an embarrassing 9.82 ERA and booting thirteen balls in six games. The Giants are now 24-20 and tied with Colorado for second place — one game behind the out-of-nowhere Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Giants might wonder what hit them, but at least the verb is right: the Rockies are a hitting machine, topping the National League in runs, hits, home runs and RBIs. Still, this might have been predicted. The Giants are twelfth in the league in team ERA, with their opponents hitting a workmanlike .255 against them. And this for a team that boasts (let’s see) Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito in their front four.
“Is it a rough patch, a streak or a small sample? We’ll see,” Giants skipper Bruce Bochy said following Sunday’s loss. “I think we need to get further into this before we can answer that question better.” A rough patch? The Giants starting rotation is one of the worst in the N.L. Exhibit #1? Matt Cain has given up more home runs than any starter in the league.
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
“It was a tough night, tough night,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Johnson said of Washington’s disappointing 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
Johnson’s words reflected not simply the team’s latest inability to score runs, but a rash of in-game injuries — to lefty starter Ross Detwiler (who left with back tightness after the third inning) and catcher Wilson Ramos, who reinjured his hamstring and left the game in the top of the 4th inning.
Wednesday night’s loss to the Dodgers left the Nationals at just two games over .500, and allowed Los Angeles to take the three game series. The problem for Washington (aside from the two injuries) continued to be the team’s inability to drive in runs: the Nats’ stroked nine hits in Wednesday’s loss, but left 16 runners on base.
For L.A., the big story of the night was the return of Zack Greinke, who took the mound after more than four weeks on the disabled list. Greinke pitched five complete innings in notching his second win on the season. “I thought my stuff was pretty good,” he said after the victory. “My stamina needs to grow a little bit, but that could be next start.”
While there’s no doubt that Greinke pitched well, the Nationals had several opportunities to knock him out of the game — but were unable to capitalize. Before leaving the game, Wilson Ramos got on base in both of his at-bats, but was left stranded his teammates. The only Washington score in the early going (and all night) came in a home run off the bat of Adam LaRoche, his fourth of the season.
The only piece of good news for the Nationals was the continued brilliant relief pitching of Craig Stammen who came in after Detwiler left the game and kept the Dodgers scoreless in three innings of work. Stammen has been the best pitcher in the Washington bullpen and lowered his ERA to 2.25 on the year.
The best chance to win the game for the Nationals came in the 8th inning, when the Nationals had runners on first and third with nobody out but weren’t able to push across a run. “We had the right guys up there,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if we are trying to do too much instead of just hitting the ball and putting it in play. I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: It’s amazing but true — after losing two of three in L.A. (and after struggling at the plate), Washington is still only one game behind the Atlanta Braves in the surprisingly uncompetitive N.L East . . .
The reason? The Braves have a deplorable road record, going only 7-13 on their two ten game road trips this year. The losses have been keenly felt in Atlanta, particularly after the early 12-1 start. The Braves have only won ten of their last 27 games, and are 11-15 against teams better than .500 . . .
Monday, May 6th, 2013
The Washington Nationals pounded out eleven hits, including crucial home runs from Danny Espinosa and Tyler Moore, and went on to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 on Sunday. The victory gave the Nationals a series win in the Steel City, with the team ending their road trip with a respectable 4-3 record.
For once, Washington’s pitching was not the headline for the game, although Washington southpaw Gio Gonzalez picked up his third win of the season. Gonzalez provided six innings of five hit baseball to go along with his five strikeouts, throwing 102 pitches, 63 of them for strikes.
But this Gonzalez outing is likely to be remembered for the lefty’s gritty 1st inning performance, when he pitched out of a bases loaded jam — notching two strikeouts and inducing a ground out. The Pirates were only able to score once in the inning, on a Starling Marte lead-off home run.
“We got the three outs, you see your dugout get lit up with joy and excitement,” Gonzalez said of his clutch pitching in the first inning. “It just felt like the momentum shifted. You want to go out there and attack the strike zone.
After dodging the potential Pirates big inning in the 1st, the Nationals settled in to peck away at Pirates’ starter Wandy Rodriguez. Danny Espinosa put Washington on the board in the top of the 2nd inning with a sacrifice fly, then homered in the top of the 4th to score two.
But the big blow of the game came in the top of the 8th, when Tyler Moore sent a Bryan Morris offering 414 feet into the left field stands. Moore’s blow came after the Pirates intentionally walked a suddenly hot Adam LaRoche. The blast made the score 6-2 and put the game out of reach for Pittsburgh.
Sunday, April 21st, 2013
Bryce Harper homered in the third inning and then again in the 8th to help the Washington Nationals to a 7-6 victory over the Mets in New York. Harper’s homers salvaged a shaky outing from Washington starter Gio Gonzalez, whose puzzling fourth inning meltdown provided the lefty with an early exit.
It’s one of those things you can’t explain,” Nats’ catcher Kurt Suzuki said of Gonzalez’s fourth inning problems. “He threw some good pitches and started falling behind the count a little bit. The curveball started popping up . . . It happens, you learn from it and move on.”
Gonzalez was nearly unhittable through the first three frames, giving up a lone single to Marlon Byrd in the second. But after two outs in the 4th last year’s contender for the Cy Young allowed ten batters to come to the plate — resulting in five Mets’ runs.
But the Nats struck back in the top of the 5th, when Mets’ reliever Aaron Laffey walked Jayson Werth and gave up a double to Harper. The slumping Adam LaRoche (.191 BA in fourteen games), then came to the plate and launched his third home run of the season, scoring three. When the Mets fought back to tie the game, Harper put the game away with a shot over the right centerfield wall.
“You don’t see a lot of holes in that swing. You have a guy that can go foul ball to foul ball,” LaRoche said of Harper. “He is getting better on the offspeed stuff. He is going to be deadly. He is really good now. I can’t wait to see him in a couple of years.”
The pitching star for the Nationals was Craig Stammen, who came on in relief of Gonzalez and suffocated the New York offense. Stammen threw two complete and struck out five, giving the Nationals the breathing room they needed to recover from New York’s fourth inning onslaught.
The Nationals and Jordan Zimmermann face the Mets on Sunday to decide who takes the New York series, before returning home to take on the Cardinals.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The fallout from Jean Segura’s epic odyssey around the bases on Friday in Milwaukee is sparking debate over whether what the Milwaukee shortstop did in returning to first from second (we wrote about it, yesterday) was within the rules . . .