6/23: Nats fall again to Rockies

desmond_6-23 (1)by Sean Morris

 After a promising start to the series it only took 4 games to get right back where the Nationals have been the last month, under .500.  In game 4 of the Rockies-Nationals series at Nats Park, it was Detwiler v. De La Rosa.  After a strong first inning, Detwiler gave up a home run to Michael Cuddyer and the Rockies never turned away handing the Nationals their 15th loss at home this season, in a 7-6 loss.

The loss puts the Nats back under .500 but also arouses questions of the team’s ability to hit and progress about injured stars including Bryce Harper who took BP on Bryce Harper “Bobble-head” day at the Park.

 

MVP of the Game: HFRO game MVP honors go to Ryan Zimmerman with another solid outing.  Even though the Nationals are not piling on runs Zimmerman was clutch when needed on Sunday afternoon.  In the bottom of the eight Zimmerman had 2 outs on him and found a way to crack single to Josh Rutledge the play ended up scoring Lombardozzi and Span and cut the Rockies lead from 2-7 to 4-7.

Zimmerman has been good at times when needed against the Rockies and in this series he finished with 3 of 14 hitting, scoring 3 runs, including a double and a home run.  Not that I would give him the series MVP award with that .269 batting average, but good at times.

 

Moment of the Night: Jhonathon Solano has been a welcomed surprise for the Nationals at time this season as well.  In this game Solano did some pinch hitting and cracked a double to center field that brought home Kobernus and Zimmerman and brought the Rockies lead to 7-6.

Unfortunately in the ninth the Nationals could not capitalize and were turned away yet again from another win at home.

 

Looking Forward: The great news is Bryce Harper took BP earlier in the day; however, the Nationals still need better offensive production.  It seems that some guys are not getting the needed mental reps in BP and maybe that is the reason for the slumping bats.

The “even-better” news is that the Nationals do get a day off before the Arizona Diamondbacks come to DC on Tuesday.  Gio Gonzalez will take the mound against Trevor Cahill with a 7:05 PM start time.

 

Sean’s Corner: Grand Slam, Ice Cream and Gio

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by Sean Morris, Mike Andrews

What do we do here when I schedule two guys to watch the same game? We turn it into bonus coverage for the Nats. Sean also watched last night’s game and had some notes that the world needed to know. His thoughts follow…..

It was impressive to see the Nationals get off a grand slammie in the top of the 11th to win it, but maybe nearly as impressive was the pitching of Gio Gonzalez outside of the first inning when he gave up 2 hits including the homer by Michael Young.  Gonzalez struck out 11 hitters and gave up 2 walks the rest of the night. So far this season Gonzalez has been highly productive for the Nationals.  The lefty has improved his ERA every game so far this season, out of the Baltimore game on May 27th.

Gonzalez has given up 3 home runs in each of his last 3 games but has also had 27 strikeouts which amounts to 1.35 strikeouts an inning.  Strasburg has averaged 1 strikeout per game, Zimmerman has averaged 0.9 strikeouts, and Haren has averaged 7.3 strikeouts per inning while Gonzalez leads the team during that stretch. But poor Gio, his (arguably) best outing of the season was out-shadowed by one Ian Desmond.

The Jayson Werth single into left center fueled the rally for the Nationals, but Ian Desmond stole the spotlight and the show.  In the top of the 11th with a 2-2 count Desmond connected with a slider from the Phillies’ Michael Stutes.  The hit went 406 to left center and was Ian Desmond’s first grand slam of his career.

So how do the Nats top last night’s extra-inning thriller?

Ice cream night.

With the Colorado Rockies coming to town for a weekend series that begins tonight at 6:30 PM the Nationals need to get back to work quickly.  The team is now back to 1-game under .500 (35-36) overall for the 2013 season.

But more importantly, this weekend will also be a part of the Nationals marketing campaign as tonight is $1 ice cream night at Nationals Park.  On the mound, it will be Oswalt v. Jordan Zimmerman tonight.

Nats struggle, but bounce back in last two

nats_laroche_homer_dugout_ap_606by Alex Winfree

The Nats continued their losing streak on Tuesday night, but thankfully found a way to bounce back and take advantage of the offensive opportunities that were basically being handed to them this entire series. While not out of the clear, it’s pretty damn nice to see those bats being aggressive. Alex has the recap of both games after the jump.

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Nats in a rut no matter who the opponent

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by Sean Morris, Alex Winfree

The troubles continue to pile up for the Nationals who cannot find any rhythm offensively. Being shut out by the Cleveland Indians and watching Haren collapse (yet again) last night versus the Phillies, the Nats just continue to beat themselves up, especially when they’ve been given many opportunities on the basepads.

I could continue, but our writers Sean and Alex had the task of covering these games. Their thoughts after the jump.

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Much Needed Doubleheader Sweep for the Nats

zimmerman

Sean Morris spent his entire Sunday on the couch watching Nats baseball. Not a bad way to spend Sunday Funday, especially when it’s a sweep of a doubleheader from a team that is getting a little desperate for wins.

He recaps the games after the jump.

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Nats/Mets 6/5/13: That Escalated Quickly

Haren

 

by Sean Morris

We all thought after the comeback 4-3 win the Nationals claimed Tuesday night against the loathsome Mets things were back to ‘normal’ for the sluggers from Southeast.  With Davey finally giving the good ol’ buzz to that hideous goatee some believed it was time that the Nationals return to form.

The only thing the Nationals returned to on Wednesday night was below .500 and a ‘normal’ routine of losing games.

In a 10-1 blowout in the second game of the series against the Mets the Nationals could not pitch.  The team has pitched very well considering how bad the hitting has been but not Tuesday night the Nationals got rocked for 15 hits.

It really started and ended with one person Dan Haren.  Haren has an ERA that has plummeted to a lowly 5.45 and has given up a major league-leading 15 home runs.

Just when you thought the Nationals had turned a corner they also did something not a lot of people thought they would do.  The team also dropped to third place in the NL East and is now 8 games behind the Atlanta Braves.

 

MVP of the Game: The HFRO MVP of the game was Fernando Abad who came away with a respectable pitching performance for the Nationals last night.  Abad faced 6 batters threw 22 pitches (15 strikes) and had 2 strikeouts on the night.

Since the beginning of June, the pitcher has only given up 1 hit and has struck out 6 batters he has faced, so the Nationals should be happy they are getting some consistency somewhere.

 

Moment of the Night: Bottom of the first inning and everyone in the crowd was eagerly awaiting another evening similar to Tuesday night.  Denard Span started it out when he cranked a double to deep right.

Next, Jayson Werth had a shot to get on base; however, he ended up flying out to centerfield.  Ryan Zimmerman, who has been batting at the third spot, got up and grounded out but advanced Span to third base.

Then, Adam LaRoche was able to get a walk from Dillon Gee, which brought up Ian Desmond.  Desmond who has been solid for the Nationals was able to get a single out to left and advance LaRoche to second base.

With the momentum from Tuesday night carrying over the Nationals probably were ready to keep going.  Unfortunately, the very next play Rendon flied out to center thus ending the first inning.

I do not think any of the Nationals thought at that point that would be the end of their run accumulations in this game.  However, the Mets would go on to score 10 runs and leave the Nationals without scoring for the rest of the game.

 

Looking Forward: The Nationals have seen much better days especially after Wednesday night have been struggling this season in wins over the Mets.  Currently, the Nationals have been outscored by the Mets this season 27-12.  The Mets are 3-2 against the Nationals this season and have been averaging 0.6 runs per inning to the Nationals 0.3 runs.

With the game starting at 7:05 PM the Nationals will once again to have to start winning some games.  Gonzalez will go against the Mets’ Marcum and the Nationals hope to return to .500.  With the Minnesota Twins coming to town for a 3-game series from June 7-9 the Nationals better get back to consistent baseball.

Nats/Braves: One Word: Ugh.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves

 

by Haley Shotwell, Sean Morris

Our great writers Sean and Haley cover an injury-plagued series with more Strasburg drama, more losses and a wider gap between the division lead.

 

Great…

 

More after the jump

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5/29: Nats lose, but Zimmerman and fans win

MLB Washington Nationals vs Baltimore Orioles

by Sean Morris

Rival week in interleague play has been exactly what Major League Baseball hoped it would be.  The Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles have been in a battle royale for bragging rights and the title of Battle of the Beltway winner.

The first 2 games of the series were more lopsided than some hoped it would be with a split at Nationals Park between the two clubs.  However, when the game went back to Baltimore it seemed to become much more dramatic.

The Zimmerman boys were out for the Nationals and at least one of them was having a great night early on Wednesday night.  Ryan Zimmerman went deep with 3 homer runs (2 solo and 1 two-run shot) while Jordan Zimmerman, who is having one of the National League’s best pitchers this season, had a night he would rather forget.

Unfortunately for the Nationals, the 39,129 fans at Camden Yards witnessed a 6-3 advantage dissipate as the Orioles got six runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

 

MVP of the Game: The HFRO MVP of the game was Ryan Zimmerman who made some notable plays on defense and at-bat last night.  With Bryce Harper still out on assignment at single-A Potomac rehabbing the knee, Zimmerman performed great in an less-than explosive lineup that lit up Chris Tillman for 8 hits, 6 runs and 4 homeruns (3 from Zimmerman and 1 from Bernardina).

Zimmerman is one of the few active players in the last year that has a 3 home run game.  Zimmerman actually hit the same number of home runs on nearly the same day as Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies last year did on May 30th in a 13-5 win against the Astros.

 

Moment of the Night: In another night full of bullpen miscues from the six-run Orioles rally in the seventh there is one play that sticks out the most to Nationals fans.  The Roger Bernadina monster home run shot in the 4th inning against Chris Tillman was the play of the evening for Nationals fans.

It is not too often that Eutaw Street gets a gift from the opposing team.  Bernardina has now hit a home run in 2 straight games after going homerless in the first 36 games of the season.

 

Looking Forward: With one more game left in Baltimore before their series with the Braves begins in Atlanta on Friday.  The Nationals still have the issue of being star-less on offense but this has given young players on the team to step up like Tyler Moore.

There is plenty of reason for optimism since the team is not really floundering only if you consider that they do miss their top hitters in Werth and Harper.

At 27-26 the Nationals have to keep pressing forward and try to avoid going on .500.  In order to remain competitive in the NL East at least one more win in a series split against the Orioles at Camden would be ideal.  If not, the Nationals must take at least 2 from the Braves in the 3-game weekend series.

With a very strong starting rotation in Zimmerman, Strasburg, and Gonzalez the bullpen must support the offense when given you a three run cushion to work with.

Nats/Philles: Nats pull 2-of-3 in long weekend

ryan_zimmerman_slides_home_vs_phillies_ap_606by Haley Shotwell, Sean Morris, Mike Andrews

The Nats spent Memorial Day Weekend at home versus the Phillies and were able to grab two-out-of-three wins versus the rival Philadelphia Phillies. While the Nats were able to find their stride, they found some troubling news about Bryce Harper, who was diagnosed with Bursitis in his knee after an MRI was negative. Bryce will sit today versus the Orioles, but will be available to designate hit if needed.

Haley and Sean recap Friday’s and Sunday’s game after the jump…

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5/22: Nats avoid the broom

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by Sean Morris

Imagine driving home after work every night at 8 PM and so tired you just want to hit bed.  Now, imagine the same situation only realizing you have to get in a workout after taking off the past 3 weeks of exercise.  That is basically what the Nationals last 4 games have been like (basically).  Not only did the Padres kick the Nationals out of San Diego, the Giants have been smoking the same lackluster team by a tune of 12-2 in the first 2 games of this 3 game series.

Trying to avoid the sweep on Wednesday night the Nationals gave themselves every opportunity through Gio to take care of business.  Once again, Gio would rise up to the task against Madison Bumgarner and the Giants and avoid the 3-game sweep.

The Nationals 2-1 victory over the Giants came down to the 10th inning and with Rafael Soriano on the mound to close it out in his 14th save of the season.

 

MVP of the Game: Gio continues to have a very solid start to the season and is pitching out of his mind.  The lefty compiled 7.1 innings and yielded only 4 hits, 1 run, 2 walks and no home runs today.  He also struck out 5 Giant players and at one point had retired 16 of 17 hitters.  Not bad for a player that has greatly improved from where he was at the beginning of the season.

Gio also had 15 first-call strikes out of the 28 batters he faced as the bullpen compiled 6/10 in the same ratio.  Davey may not admit it but his bullpen and defense were a big reason this game was so tight going into the final innings of the game.

 

Moment of the Night: Some would argue getting the win and ending the 4-game slide was the moment of the night.  To me, the Bryce Harper diving catch in the 8th inning when his team needed it the most solidified the moment of the night.  Coming off that right knee injury Bryce is showing a fierce determination to get the job done.  That play single handedly changed the outcome of the game and the result of the series.

Harper has been remarkable thus far this season and shows no shortage of energy.   He added some respectable stats to going 2/5 with a solo home run and a double in the 10th that set up the rally for the Nationals to win the game in extras.

 

Looking Forward: Having lost the series to the Giants on the road is a minor headline to the skid the Nationals just ended.  Losing can sap energy from any title contender, but when a team is able to pull together after some controversial comments made by the star reliever, everyone listens up.  Normally, what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room, but maybe Soriano’s comments about Harper’s effort was just the wakeup call for the Nationals.

It caught the attention of the national media and the locker room.  As we continue towards June it should be interesting to see how the comments will have any effect on the team.  Most media pundits will push the information back and forth in the headlines, but normally, what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room.  I expect this to be no different of a situation than what the Nationals are used to.

With the flight home and a day off to rest the Nationals look forward to a Memorial Day weekend series at home against the Phillies.  The Nats will start the NL-wins leader Jordan Zimmerman and hope to ignite their long lost Natitude.  The series starts at 7:05 PM EST and will be played on MASN.

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