Posts Tagged ‘Starlin Castro’

Harper Homer Hammers Mets In Extras

Friday, August 8th, 2014


A Bryce Harper home run in the bottom of the 13th inning broke a 3-3 tie as the Washington Nationals took their three game set against the New York Mets 5-3, in walk-off style on Thursday at Nationals Park. The home run was only Harper’s fourth of the year, but it was probably his most important.

Harper’s dramatic and timely blast, a long line drive into the left field seats, came against Mets reliever Carlos Torres. “I knew it was gone. I mean, I felt it,” Harper said in his post-game comments. “I haven’t felt like that in a while. I haven’t got extension on a ball in a pretty long time.”

Harper’s home run provided an ironic coda to a mini-controversy that erupted when members of the press speculated that Harper might be demoted to Syracuse. The left fielder had been struggling at the plate, before going 2-6 on Thursday. “We’re all pulling for him,” Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann said of his teammate. “Hopefully he gets out of this little rut he’s in.”

The Nationals and Mets were locked in a classic pitchers’ duel prior to entering extra innings, with righty Zimmermann facing off against flashy New York rookie Jacob deGrom — the best feel good story in the Big Apple this summer. Zimmermann was solid in 6.1 innings of work, while deGrom matched Zimmermann’s numbers through six complete.

The Nats got on the board first with two runs in the bottom of the second, with shortstop Ian Desmond depositing a deGrom fastball into the visitors bullpen in left center field. It was Desmond’s 18th home run of the year. Desmond’s long ball season has been matched by Denard Span, who continued his hot hitting. Span was 4-6 on Thursday, raising his average to an even .300.

New York responded with a single run in the top of the third. But a two run top of the 7th knotted the game at three apiece, with the Mets pushing across two runs on singles from Wilmer Flores and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, an Eric Young, Jr. sacrifice fly and a Curtis Granderson RBI.

It was then that the Nationals bullpen went to work. Five Nats relievers went to the mound (Drew Storen, Jerry Blevins, Tyler Clippard, Rafael Soriano and newbie Matt Thornton), before skipper Matt Williams brought Craig Stammen in to finish the game. Stammen was brilliant, throwing three innings of one hit baseball and taking the victory.

Stammen has been inconsistent over the last month, but his performance on Thursday showed why he’s so valuable for the Nats. “I felt more comfortable out there,” Stammen said of his performance. “I’ve been working on a few things that kinda clicked. Made some good pitches. Got some outs early and gave me a little bit of confidence and I could keep going.”

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: New York might be all atwitter over the arrival of rookie hurler Jacob deGrom, but nothing can match the excitement of Cubs fans, who are turning somersaults over the promotion of rookie second sacker Javier Baez from Triple-A Iowa . . .

So far, at least, the 21-year-old Baez is everything the Chicago press has said he’d be. Baez has only had 14 at bats in the bigs, but they’ve been big ones, fueling fan excitement over what they hope will be a Cubs renaissance. Baez has taken Chicago by storm, going 4-14 in three games . . .

Yesterday in Colorado, Baez was 3-4 with two home runs and notched three RBIs against the Rockies, leading the Cubs to a ho-hum 6-2 triumph over the fast-sinking Heltons. On Tuesday, in his debut, Baez deposited a Boone Logan fastball into the far reaches of Coors Field to give the Cubs the win . . .


13 Runs, 19 Hits — Plus Gio

Sunday, July 6th, 2014


Saturday’s whipping of Chicago was an offensive outburst like no other, as the Washington Nationals sprayed 19 hits (including eight doubles) and scored six times in the 3rd and four times in the 7th, victimizing the suddenly pitching poor Cubbies, 13-0.

The offensive onslaught was supported by an outstanding outing from lefty starter Gio Gonzalez, who held the Cubs scoreless in eight complete innings. Gonzalez allowed just four hits in his outing, while striking out seven, notching his sixth win on the 2014 campaign.

“He stifled our offense,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of the trouble his line-up had against Gonzalez. “He locates his fastball, works it to both sides of the plate. And his breaking ball is really good. … It’s got sharp, late break, good tilt. He can use it effectively against both lefties and righties.”

Every Nationals in Saturday’s line-up had a hit, including Gonzalez. Anthony Rendon was 3-4 (with three doubles), Jayson Werth was 3-4 (with two doubles), Ryan Zimmerman was 4-5 with three RBIs and Gonzalez stroked a 7th inning single that advance Wilson Ramos (who’d led off the inning — with a double).

“Obviously, this isn’t going to happen every day, but with the type of at-bats we put together today, even when the game is out of hand, it’s good to see every one grinding it out, even when it doesn’t matter,” third sacker Ryan Zimmerman, who is now hitting.272, said of the Nationals’ offensive outburst. “Everyone finished the game strong.”

The Nationals batted around in the third inning and scored six runs, eight Nationals batted in the 6th inning (while scoring “only” two runs) and nine Washington hitters came to the plate in the 7th inning, scoring four runs. The game marked the highest run and hit total for the home towners this season.

While Washington chased Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva after two innings, it was reliever Chris Rusin who was the designated goat for the North Siders. Rusin gave up nine hits and five runs in just 3.2 innings of work. Rusin’s shaky work raised his ERA from 1.80 to 6.23 on the season.

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Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: It’s all about tunnels in Chicago. Both major dailies, the staid and standard Chicago Tribune and the tabloid Chicago Sun-Times, headlined Theo Epstein’s comment that yesterday’s swap of 40 percent of the Cubs rotation to Oakland now allows the North Siders to see “light at the end of the tunnel . . .”

We might expect Cubs fans to be skeptical, particularly after yesterday’s 13-0 drubbing of their beloveds at the hands of the Washington Nationals, but Epstein was all smiles during a press conference in which he announced the trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. “We certainly hope we’ve improved our future,” Epstein said . . .

Epstein also said that the trade had nothing to do with Starlin Castro, who must be wondering what the Cubs are going to do with the (at least two) premium minor league shortstops (Javier Baez and Addison Russell — winging his way east to Chicago from the A’s), who are poised to challenge for his slot . . .


Haren Cages The Cubs

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013


Dan Haren provided six innings of five hit baseball and his teammates sprayed fourteen hits against half-a-dozen Cubs pitchers — and the Washington Nationals went on to win at Wrigley Field in Chicago, 4-2. It was Haren’s fifth successive solid outing, accounting for his eighth win of the year.

Haren has been a Nationals’ hero of late: he’s proven to be one of the starting staff’s most consistent stoppers over the last month, and just three days ago he entered a game against the Braves to preserve a fifteen inning win. “As the game progressed, my stuff got better and better,” Haren said of his Tuesday victory. “My cutter was real good; I worked it in on lefties a lot.”

The Nationals scored early on Chicago starter Chris Rusin, with Ryan Zimmerman’s first inning double scoring Ian Desmond. Washington tacked on another run in the sixth inning and two more in the 9th. Six Nationals’ hitters had two hits on the night, with Denard Span and Ian Desmond providing two ninth inning insurance runs.

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Drew Storen continued to impress in his late-season reincarnation. Storen entered the game in the seventh inning and induced a ground out from Starlin Castro, a fly out from Darnell McDonald and another grounder from Junior Lake. This was Storen’s fourth appearance in five days and he’s been nearly flawless.

Rafael Soriano entered in the 9th inning to notch his 32nd save on the year, but once again he failed to shut down the opposing club. Soriano, who’s been rocky in his previous three outings, gave up a home run to Chicago’s Donnie Murphy, who entered the game with only six round trippers on the year.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Commentators and baseball pundits continue to chew over why San Diego would ever trade uber-youngster Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs. The latest is MASN play-by-play guru Bob Carpenter, who commented during Tuesday’s game that Rizzo has proven to be Chicago’s most potent offensive threat . . .


Nats’ Slide Now At Five

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Taylor Jordan showed once again that he belongs in the majors, throwing seven strong innings against a tough Pittsburgh line-up on Tuesday night — but his teammates couldn’t support his strong outing and the Nationals fell once again to the Pirates, 5-1. It was Washington’s fifth straight loss.

Jordan, a lanky righty who is filling in for the injured Ross Detwiler, scattered nine hits and struck out four before being relieved with two outs in the eighth inning. It was an impressive showing, but Pittsburgh starter Garret Cole was better, stifling Nationals hitters and notching an RBI at the plate.

“I feel for my guy because he should have only gave up one run,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said of Jordan. “We made the error that gave them two more runs. He had pitched so good in the seventh. I was going take him out for the left-hander. But I thought he deserved the chance to win that ballgame.”

Cole, on the other hand, gave up just two hits to the anemic Nats, including a home run to catcher Wilson Ramos. But the single run is all that Cole would allow. The 22-year-old Cole threw 92 pitches, 54 of them for strikes. He gave up just one walk, to Bryce Harper in the bottom of the first inning.

The Nationals have been outscored 26-11 over their five game losing spiral, with only Jayson Werth’s time at the plate worth mentioning. While the right fielder was 0-2 on Tuesday, he’s hit .353 over the last ten games and is the only Nat whose average is hovering at around .300.

Werth has also emerged as the ever-optimistic team leader. “I think at some point, the tide’s got to turn,” Werth said after Tuesday’s loss. “The luck’s got to swing in our favor. And hopefully when it does, we can grab hold of it and run with it.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: It’s always worth waiting for awhile to assess a trade, but in sending Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers, the Cubs have completed the rebuilding of their infield. The centerpiece of the Garza trade was Mike Olt, an MLB-ready third baseman (and outfielder) with oodles of power . . .


Getting Garza

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

If we didn’t know it before, it seems all-too-true now: the Nationals are in need of a starter, a veteran arm that will carry them over the hump and into October. The problem for the Nationals is that no one is waiting in the wings to take on that role — and those starters it was counting on are either headed to the D.L. (Ross Detwiler), or just coming off it (Dan Haren).

So it’s no surprise that the Nationals are now being prominently mentioned as possible suitors for the Cubs’ Matt Garza, the kind of still-young time-tested righty that skipper Davey Johnson could send out every fifth day without too many worries. The problem? The problem is that Garza won’t come cheap.

What the Cubs want, for sure, are prospects or (at the least) youngsters who are close to “sure things” as any team would want: what Chicago front office types describe as “highly skilled athletes who can make a difference at the big league level.” The Nats, as it turns out, have plenty of those.

Will they give them up? It’s all speculation at this point, but if we were the Cubs we’d ask for a package of prospects that includes a pitcher (always a requirement, it seems), a solid hitter and even a shortstop: particularly if the North Siders unload slow-to-mature Starlin Castro (though, clearly, Castro won’t be coming here).

Some names come to mind in any trade for another starter — Tyler Moore and Steve Lombardozzi, pitchers Taylor Jordan, southpaw Matt Purke and Nathan Karns and (if Castro ends up elsewhere), shortstop Zach Walters or outfielder Brian Goodwin.

But there is a point at which Garza (or anyone else) would become too expensive. Then too, Garza has a disturbing injury history and he’ll be a free agent after the season.


E2 Costs Nats, Cubs Take Series

Monday, May 13th, 2013

No one in the stands at Nationals Park on Sunday was fooled by the argument over balls and strikes that Nats’ catcher Kurt Suzuki had with home plate umpire John Tumpane in the bottom of the 9th. The issue wasn’t balls and strikes, the issue was Suzuki’s errant throw to third to stop a double steal in the top of the frame that fueled a disappointing 2-1 Nats’ loss.

“You’re a princess, Suzuki,” a fan shouted along the third base line. “Stop whining and start playing.” Another fan, nearby, was as outspoken — if less vocal. “He wants us to remember that he argued balls and strikes,” he said, “so that we’ll forget his error. Well, good luck with that.”

But Suzuki’s errant throw (the ball actually skipped off the bat of Welingon Castillo) was only one let-down in an otherwise hard fought Nats-Cubs contest. The other was Drew Storen’s inability to keep the Cubbies off the board in the top of the 8th, when he gave up the tying run on a single from Starlin Castro that scored pinch runner Travis Wood.

The Suzuki error and Storen’s blown hold reversed a stellar outing from starter Gio Gonzalez, who threw seven innings of near perfect baseball. The Gonzalez performance promised to be a gem: the lefty was perfect until the top of the 6th, when Cubs backstop Dioner Navarro notched the first Cubs hit.

The Suzuki throw and Storen’s blown hold were, at least in some respects, explicable: Suzuki’s error could be put down to bad luck, Storen’s blown hold could be explained as just one of those things. But Washington fans also wondered why Davey Johnson decided, with Gio cruising along, that he would pinch hit for his near-perfect lefty in the bottom of the 7th. Why not let Gio finish?

“It’s just the way I manage,” Johnson said of his decision. “You can chalk it up to me. You don’t like it, chalk it up to me. It didn’t work out.” Which is to say that, while Gio might have been on his way to a complete game, Johnson felt that the Nationals had to somehow get more runs on the board.


5th Inning Meltdown Ices Nats

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

If Saturday’s game against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park proved anything, it’s that the book on righty ace Stephen Strasburg is fast becoming . . . well, the book on Stephen Strasburg.

Cruising along with two outs in the 5th inning (and pitching better than he had all season), Ryan Zimmerman’s throwing error on a routine grounder seemed to unhinge Strasburg, who proceeded to give up four runs — and the Cubs went on to defeat the Nationals 8-2 at Nationals Park.

It’s hard to know what to worry about most: Ryan Zimmerman’s nagging inability to make an accurate throw to first, or Strasburg’s inability to roll with the punches. Nats’ manager Davey Johnson, it seems, has made up his mind. Anyone can make an error, he said after the Saturday loss, but it’s up to the pitcher to put it behind him and keep throwing strikes.

“It was unfortunate,” a puzzled Johnson said after the loss, “That inning he threw 40 pitches? It’s hard to explain. He’s throwing good. Good stuff. Hitting his spots. And then just seemed to — when we needed him to pick us up, he kind of — the air went out.”

Johnson wasn’t the only one who was befuddled. The stadium was deathly quiet as Strasburg seemed to suddenly struggle against himself: after Wellington Castillo reached on Zimmerman’s error, Strasburg walked Darwin Barney, gave up a double to pitcher Edwin Jackson, walked David DeJesus — then gave up successive singles to Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo.

If it had not been for a poor base running decision by Rizzo, it appeared that Strasburg would be lifted. “Just a bad throw,” Zimmerman said of his error. “It’s frustrating. Stevie’s throwing the ball well and has a heck of a game going and that obviously changed the momentum a little bit.”