Posts Tagged ‘Steve Lombardozzi’

The Nats Head Home After An 86-76 Season

Monday, September 30th, 2013


The Washington Nationals finished their season in Arizona with a loss to the Diamondbacks, 3-2. In many ways the loss was representative of what the team had done all season: entering the eighth inning with a one run lead, the Nationals’ bullpen gave up two runs to an Arizona team they’d beaten handily in the previous two outings.

While the game was the last in a season that saw the Nats drop out of contention for the N.L. East title back in June and July, the team came back in September with a run at the Wild Card. The key to the Nationals resurgence was a revived offense and pitching contributions from unlikely rookies, including Tanner Roark, who held the D-Backs to just three hits in seven innings on Sunday.

“I feel I can play up here for sure. But you never know what’s going to happen,” Roark said after his performance on Sunday. “Just workout in the offseason, do my best and come back ready to go in spring training.” Roark has been outstanding since arriving in the majors in early August: he finished at 7-1 with a 1.51 ERA over 53 2/3 innings, striking out 40 and walking 11.

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The final game of the season also marked Davey Johnson’s last game as the Nats’ manager. “Time to go home,” Johnson said after the game. “Put me out to pasture.” The Nationals praised their 70-year-old skipper, with Tyler Clippard noting that a good manager “builds confidence in his players and we benefited from that because he never wavered, no matter how good or bad you were doing.”

Johnson was philosophical about what is apparently the end of his career, choosing to bypass comments on the Nationals’ season. “I felt really lucky to have had the big league experiences I’ve had as a player and as a manager,” he told the press after the Arizona loss. “When you love a game as much as I love this game and like the competition, you just enjoy it.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: An 86-76 record would have sparked celebrations in Washington just a few years ago, but the Nationals (picked by many as the premier team in the National League) must be disappointed. Even so, there is good reason for celebrating a season that saw the Nationals finish ten games out of the hunt in the N.L. East . . .


Strasburg Shuts Down The Phillies, Nats Sweep

Monday, August 12th, 2013


Sunday’s game at Nationals Park provided a model of how to win in the major leagues: superb pitching, timely hitting and seamless defense provided Washington with a 6-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies and a rare Nationals’ sweep of their three game series.

The game’s hero was the all-but-unhittable Stephen Strasburg, who threw the best game of his career. The imposing 6-4 righty spun a nine inning complete game shutout, striking out ten Phillies and holding the Philadelphia line-up to just four hits.

“Stephen obviously threw a great game,” third sacker Ryan Zimmerman said of Strasburg’s afternoon. “It has been fun to watch him learn, progress as a pitcher. I think he is starting to do some things that he has been proud of. It’s going to be fun to continue to watch him develop.”

Strasburg’s gem was also economical: he threw 99 pitches, 66 of them for strikes and entered the ninth inning to chants from the fans of “let’s go Strasburg.” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel praised the Washington righty, saying that Strasburg’s “breaking ball really set up his fastball in the middle innings until the end of the game. He was good.”

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Washington’s bats came alive in the series. The Nationals outscored the Phillies 25-7 over the three game stretch and on Sunday sprayed thirteen hits. Jayson Werth and Steve Lombardozzi were 3-4 on the day, with clutch hits coming in the first inning from Werth and in the fourth inning from Denard Span and Wilson Ramos.

Philadelphia helped the Washington cause in the fifth inning, when Philadelphia catcher Erik Kratz mishandled an infield hit off the bat of Denard Span, allowing Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond to score in a close play at the plate. Washington’s defense, on the other hand, was seamless — with the game ending on a Ryan Zimmerman lunging catch of a hot liner off the bat Kevin Frandsen.


Werth Rallies The Nats

Sunday, August 11th, 2013


Trailing by a single run in the bottom of the 7th inning, Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth keyed a gritty come-from-behind Washington rally, hitting his 17th home run of the year and sparking Washington to an 8-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. The Werth home run sealed Washington’s second win against Philadelphia in as many nights.

Washington’s second successive victory against their in-division rivals has helped to offset the three game sweep the team suffered at the hands of Atlanta, and leaves the Nationals eight games out of the Wild Card race. “The mood in the clubhouse got a lot better and I got a lot smarter again,” Manager Davey Johnson said after the win. “But what a night Jayson had, huh?”

The Werth home run capped a scrappy win after the Nationals found themselves down 4-0 against Philadelphia after three complete. But in the bottom of the 4th, the Nationals cut the lead by two, on two doubles (from Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond) and RBIs from Werth and Adam LaRoche.

The Nationals came within one in the sixth inning after yet another Werth single and a Wilson Ramos RBI. But the 7th inning was the key to the victory – and featured an improbable safety squeeze from Bryce Harper (that scored Steve Lombardozzi). With Harper on base, Werth then launched his difference-making round tripper.

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The Werth home run was a milestone for the Nationals’ clubhouse leader, marking his 1000th major league hit, leading Nats fans to demand a curtain call from a player that has been the lone Washington spark plug over the last month.  “Anytime you gain respect from the fans and from the city, it’s definitely a good thing,” Werth said after the victory.


Nats Walk Off On Harper Homer

Thursday, July 25th, 2013


The Washington Nationals attempted to hand the Pirates a win on Thursday afternoon, squandering a four run 9th inning lead, but Bryce Harper put a Bryan Morris offering into the left field stands and the Nationals salvaged a hard fought 9-7 win against Pittsburgh at Nationals Park.

The Harper homer came after a deflating top of the 9th inning, where Pittsburgh was able to put four runs on the board and tie the game. Once again it seemed that the Nationals, trying to win a game after a six game losing streak, were snake bit, with usually reliable closer Rafael Soriano walking two and giving up four earned runs.

“This was a great win to get and we needed it,” Harper told a gathering of reporters after the victory. “Maybe it’s the start of something.” Randy Knorr, who took over for Davey Johnson (ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the fifth inning), took the unusual step of pulling Soriano in the 9th for Ian Krol. “You can’t walk batters and win ball games,” he explained.

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As now seems standard for the Nationals, the team could not hold a lead for one of their starters. Lefty Gio Gonzalez pitched well into the sixth inning, notching eleven strikeouts — a season high for the southpaw — and was able to keep the Nationals in the lead with admittedly so-so stuff.

The Nationals backed Gio with solid hitting, with help from the Pirates, who committed three errors in the first inning. Gio worked well with a four run lead, though he gave up eight hits in his outing and left the game after giving up three earned runs. Gonzalez was accredited with a no decision.


Eckstein Out, Schu In

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

The Washington Nationals have fired hitting coach David Eckstein and replaced him with Rick Schu, who spent his post-MLB career as a coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks and has served the last four years as the Nationals’ minor league hitting instructor.

Word of Eckstein’s replacement was issued by the Nationals front office on Monday. While the firing of Eckstein was a surprise, it was predictable from the moment that Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche admitted that he’d consulted with old friend and former teammate Chipper Jones about how to get out of his hitting funk.

Schu spent nine years in the majors, most of them with the Philadelphia Philles, but also with the Tigers, Orioles and Angels. He holds a career .246 BA. The press release announcing Schu’s promotion noted that he’s had prior experience with a number of Nationals’ hitters, including Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Roger Bernadina and Steve Lombardozzi.

Eckstein was the longest tenured hitting coach in the National League, having served in that position with the Nationals since October of 2008. But the Nationals have not produced at the plate this year: they are 14th of 15 in runs scored in the National League and thirteen in BA, at .240.

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.


First A Shakeup, Then A Walk Off

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

With one-third of the season now in the books, the Nationals on Tuesday made the decisions that many of their fans wanted, and many had predicted, sending relievers Henry Rodriguez and Zach Duke to the minors — and Danny Espinosa to the disabled list.

To fill their spots on the national league roster, the team recalled Anthony Rendon from Triple-A and brought reliever Ian Krol up from Double-A Harrisburg. The Nationals also activated Jayson Werth, whose bat they desperately need.

Espinosa is expected to rehab (both his shoulder and his wrist), before returning to the club. “He is a tough guy. He reminds me of myself,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He is playing with a bad shoulder, he is playing with a broken wrist. He needs the rest.”

But General Manager Mike Rizzo made it clear that it’s unlikely Nats fans will see Espinosa anytime soon. “We finally put Danny on the disabled list to clean up all the wrist questions that we had, and for him to rehab and then go down to the Minor Leagues, with a healthy wrist, go down there and work on the mental side of hitting,” he said.

Injury or not, the message is that Espinosa has played himself out of a job, and this morning’s Bleacher Report said that it’s time for Washington to “see what Rendon can do” at second base — adding that the Nats don’t have “a second baseeman on the stat list this season (Espinosa and Steve Lombardozzi) hitting above .231.”

An uncertain coda might well have followed these moves, as Washington continues its struggles. But just hours after announcing the team shake-up, the Nats responded by notching their first walk-off win of the year, a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over division rivals New York.

While the Washington victory didn’t result in a win for starter Jordan Zimmermann, it lifted the Nationals one game over .500 and made a hero of Steve Lombardozzi. Lombardozzi’s sacrifice fly in the 9th inning scored Adam LaRoche, after the Nationals loaded the bases on Mets’ reliever Bobby Parnell.