Posts Tagged ‘Starlin Castro’
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.
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.”
Friday, May 10th, 2013
Dan Haren notched his fourth win, the home towners sprayed nine hits and the Washington bullpen held the Tigers scoreless in three relief innings, as the Nationals swept the two game Detroit mini-series by a score of 5-4 on Thursday.
While the Tigers outhit the Nationals (12-9), Washington was able to put runs on the board early in the game. The Nationals scored three in the first inning and two in the second — and that’s all the team would need to notch its fourth win in a row. Ryan Mattheus, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano held the Kalines scoreless when Haren left after six complete.
The victim of the Nationals early run surge was Detroit righty Doug Fister, who entered the game with a snappy 2.48 earned run average. Fister, with Verlander, is considered one of Detroit’s elite shut down pitchers, but he gave up a lead-off double to Denard Span in the 1st and then three successive singles: to Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond.
Fister proved as ineffective in the second, hitting Span and walking Roger Bernadina before giving up two runs, courtesy of singles from (once again) Zimmerman and LaRoche. “It was probably his worst outing of the year,” Tigers catcher Alex Avila said of Fister’s performance. “He’s pitched really good for quite a while now. You have to give him credit, he battled.”
Despite Fister’s troubles, the Tigers were able to rally against Haren in the 6th. The veteran righty walked Jhonny Peralta with one out and Omar Infante dropped a surprise bunt single to put two men on with two outs. Pinch hitter Matt Tuiasosopo then stepped to the plate and put a 2-1 Haren offering over the fence in left center.
The Tuiasosopo blast put Detroit back into the game, with a good shot at winning. But the Nationals’ bullpen, an otherwise worrisome unit so far this season, came on to shut down the Tigers. Ryan Mattheus, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano each pitched effectively, with Soriano gaining his 12th save of the season.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Doug Fister was 3-12 with the Mariners in 2011 when the Seattle front office decided they’d seen enough. The swapped Fister to Detroit for Francisco Martinez, Charlie Furbush and Casper Wells. It was a steal — Fister went 8-1 the rest of the way, with a breathtaking 1.79 ERA . . .
But while the Fister theft was lopsided, it was (arguably) no more so than San Diego’s decision to trade first base prospect Anthony Rizzo to the Chicago Cubs six months later. While it’s a baseball given that you should never give up young pitching, new Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer decided his team needed Rizzo so badly that he was willing to part with uber prospect Andrew Cashner . . .
Friars’ fans will argue that the Rizzo-Cashner trade isn’t even close to being a Fister-like bust. After struggling all of last year, Cashner’s arm has finally come alive and the imposing (6-6, 220 pounds), Texan has regained his command. Exiled to the bullpen, Cashner emerged in only his second start of the season to throw 7.1 effective innings against the Marlins earlier this week . . .
Friday, September 7th, 2012
Prior to Thursday night, Washington righty Jordan Zimmermann was saddled with three poor outings and, in those appearances, had accumulated an ERA of over 6.00. But against the Cubs on Thursday, the “Ace of Auburndale” fought back from a shaky first two innings to tame Chicago’s Little Bears, throwing seven solid innings and giving up just two runs.
But the big story of Thursday was, once again, Washington’s ability to put runs on the board. The Nationals stroked out twelve hits — including home runs from Kurt Suzuki and Adam LaRoche — and bludgeoned the North Siders 9-2. The lopsided win marked a four game sweep of Chicago, and was Washington’s fifth win in a row.
“It was a great series. It’s nice to see a bunch of runs scored on our end,” Washington first sacker Adam LaRoche said after the victory. “Hopefully, we’ll keep that going.” LaRoche was one of the biggest reasons that Washington dominated the Cubs through four games: he was 9-15 in the series, with five home runs and eight RBIs.
As interesting, at least for Nationals fans, were two bench clearing confrontations — in the fifth and sixth innings. In the bottom of the fifth, with the Nats up 7-2, Cubs’ bench coach Jamie Quirk took exception to Jayson Werth’s swinging strike on a 3-0 count and began shouting obscenities at Nationals third base Bo Porter. Porter walked to the lip of the Cubs dugout to respond.
The Quirk-Porter confrontation emptied both benches, but with little shoving or pushing. Quirk was tossed by the umps. “Quirk was ejected for screaming out obscenities to the third-base coach,” home-plate umpire Jerry Layne said. “That was the ejection for the coach.”
The second confrontation came in the sixth innings, when Bryce Harper was nearly hit by Cubs reliever Lendy Castillo. Harper thought Castillo had purposely thrown at him, and was restrained by Cubs’ catcher Steve Clevenger. In the ensuing scrum, Clevenger took a swipe at Michael Morse and the situation nearly got out of hand.
Monday, September 3rd, 2012
Back when the Nationals first came to Washington, in 2005, the Chicago Cubs were rebuilding. Their starting staff consisted of the fiery Carlos Zambrano, an aging Greg Maddux and a young sore-armed Mark Prior. Now, eight years later, the Cubs are still rebuilding: while the Nationals are among the best teams in all of baseball.
The Nationals showed why on Monday, as a Labor Day crowd saw young Nats’ lefty Ross Detwiler shut down the anemic Cubs’ offense, holding the North Siders to just four hits through seven complete innings. After Detwiler was relieved to start the 8th, the Nats bullpen gave up a single run. Even so, the final was not as close as the 2-1 score would indicate.
“Today he was real special,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said of his young starter. “He mixed in some breaking balls. Even the ones that were bad were pretty good.” Detwiler’s win was supported by an Adam LaRoche home run (in the 2nd inning with no one on), and an 8th inning Ryan Zimmerman double that scored Bryce Harper, who had singled.
Win number 82 marks the first time the Nationals have had a winning season since coming to Washington. But that fact didn’t seem to impress Nats’ players, who testified that there’s still a long road ahead until the Nationals can truly claim a successful season. “We haven’t really done anything yet and we’re looking for bigger things,” Ryan Zimmerman said following the victory. “It not being a major story shows how far we’ve come.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Nationals’ fans can be excused for looking out at the Cubs and wondering just who these guys are. There are some familiar faces (Starlin Castro at short and Darwin Barney at second), but Josh Vitters is the newbie at third while phenom-hopeful Brett Jackson (he pinch hit on Monday) roams the outfield . . .
Monday, August 6th, 2012
Ivan DeJesus and Rookie Brett Jackson in L.A. on Sunday
Chicago Cubs fans are thrilled: Sunday’s game against Los Angeles — while marking yet another painful loss — saw the sudden appearance of the future. After five years of toiling in the minors, the Cubs called up 2007 first round draft pick Josh Vitters for his long-awaited shot at playing third, while rookie hope Brett Jackson played his first major league game in center field.
Vitters and Jackson traveled together to Dodger Stadium from the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, stopping off in Dallas to catch a connecting flight to Los Angeles. “We were kind of like zombies on the plane,” Vitters admitted. “We couldn’t really think. It was hard to be nervous. We were just trying to get sleep and perform well when we actually got here. It was really fun though. It was amazing.”
Of the two, the Cubs seem more hopeful that Jackson will acclimated quickly to the pace of the majors. Jackson he has hit for power in Iowa, and made it through the Cubs minor league system much faster than Vitters, who’s been plagued by a high strikeout rate. But the Cubs are confident, at least in public: to make room for the two, the Cubs traded veteran Jeff Baker to the Tigers, while moving Tony Campana back to the minors.
With the Cubs in fifth place in the N.L. Central, and well out of the race for the pennant, the call-up of Jackson and Vitters was expected. The team has little to lose and a lot to gain if either one of them turns into the kind of major league player that the Cubs expected when they drafted them. And if either of them succeed it could lop years off of Theo Epstein’s program to rebuild Chicago’s North Siders.
Sunday, July 15th, 2012
Saturday night’s much anticipated duel of lefties didn’t disappoint, as Miami’s Mark Buehrle faced off against Nationals southpaw Gio Gonzalez — with the Washington Nine coming up one run short in a 2-1 loss at Marlins Park. “It was a must-win game against the team we are chasing,” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said after the Miami victory.
The difference in the game came in the 5th inning, on a John Buck single that broke a 1-1 tie. Gonzalez was brilliant in his outing, but Buehrle was just a tad better. Gonzalez pitched six complete innings, giving up five hits and striking out nine, while Buehrle pitched seven complete, striking out seven.
In the end, the Nationals couldn’t muster the hits the needed against Miami reliever Steve Cishek, who pitched the final 1.2 innings of the game to secure a much-needed Miami triumph. “It’s a shame,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said after the loss. “Gio pitched a heck of a ballgame. We had many opportunities out there. We just couldn’t get it.”
The Nationals will need a victory today to secure a possible series win. And the team needs to hit: last night the lone Nationals’ run came on a sacrifice fly from Jesus Flores in the top of the fifth, which scored Ian Desmond. The rest of the Nationals line-up was anemic, though Washington outhit the Marlins, seven to six. Flores was 2-3 for the night, with Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche, Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina making up the Nationals attack.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Hope springs eternal in Chicago — the Cubs are pitching better and hitting better, with their young infield scooping up anything in sight. Saturday’s win against the D-Backs might well have been a sign of things to come: the D-Backs were never in the game, with veteran righty Ryan Dempster throwing another gem.
But this year, at least, Cubs fans are unlikely to be disappointed by a last minute slump: the Cubs aren’t anywhere near contending, and everyone knows it. Then too, what Cubs fans see on the field (and especially on the mound) won’t be there by the end of the month. Dempster is a case in point: there were scouts from no fewer than four other teams in the stands yesterday, and it’s known that the Dodgers, Yankees, Tigers, Braves, Indians and White Sox are interesting in acquiring him.