October 2009

30 Players in 30 Days: Willie Harris

Willie Harris

 

willieharris.jpgWillie Harris has always been a fan favorite because of his easy going personality and his ability on the field. The versatile utility player saw plenty of action this year, appearing in 137 games and showing that, with regular play, he can be a productive member of the team.

 

As he has done throughout most of his career, Harris came off the bench to pinch hit, pinch run and as a defensive sub in 2009. He started a combined 82 games at second base, third base and all three outfield positions this season. While his favorite position is second base, his speed and range rank him among the best Nationals outfielders so he spent the majority of his time in center field when Nyjer Morgan went down with an injury.

 

While Harris couldn’t match his career season last year (.251/.344/.417), he came pretty close to it this season, batting .235/.364/.393. Harris, 31, can still move on the basepaths. Last season, he stole 13 bases with 16 attempts, a success rate of 81.25%. This year he stole 11 bases with 15 attempts, a rate of 73.33%.

 

Harris has a great attitude for the game, which makes him so easy to cheer for. He is a team player that can always be counted on for a few good laughs. The Nationals have Harris signed through next season, so you can look forward to him adding that spark off of the bench again next year.

 

Willie Harris Final Stats

G

AB

R

H

TB

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

IBB

SO

SB

CS

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

137

323

47

76

127

18

6

7

27

57

1

62

11

4

.235

.364

.393

.757

The Storen Identity – 10/19

Drew Storen, 22, is now playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League and will be writing for Notes for NatsTown. Be sure to follow the tenth overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft as he writes for Notes from NatsTown and gives you an inside, behind-the-scenes look at the AFL and his climb to the Major Leagues. Here is his second post…

 

Alright I am back again, thanks for all those who read and responded with your comments after the first entry! One comment alluded to intro/warm-up music. The warm-up/intro music is a new cultural aspect to professional baseball that is becoming more of a big deal each day. When I was at Stanford, I used “Rock You Like A Hurricane” for the first month or so of my freshman year, then changed to “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” shortly after and used that for the rest of my stay at school. I’ve only been able to pick my warm-up music for one of my stops in Pro Ball so far, in High-A Potomac. I used WWE’s Triple H’s intro music (Minus the water spray for those wrestling fans out there) for a game until I switched back to “Long Cool Woman.” I guess for now I will stick with that, but I am always open to suggestions. 

 

I just got back from our game in Peoria in time to see the Angels pull out a victory in extras. We continued our quest for another Desert Dog championship ring today by defeating the Saguaros of Peoria. In my one inning, I faced my former Stanford teammate Jason Castro. It was tough to throw to a guy who spent a whole season calling your outings; I almost changed my approach in an attempt to get him out. He prevailed by drawing a 3-2 walk. One thing I have learned about these day games is not to fall into the trap of snacking on the leftover chips and soda from the pregame meal. We wait to eat until we get back to our home clubhouse, but after the first road day game, I succumbed to my hunger and crushed some chips and soda left over from the pregame sandwiches and chips. At first it was replenishing, but quickly changed about 10 minutes following as my stomach felt Cheetos and Coke was not proper post-game fuel. Since baseball is a game of adjustments, I waited today until we got back and fortunately missed out on the stomachache.

 


strasburg afl 1.jpgI haven’t blogged since Strasburg threw Friday. The results are pretty self-explanatory… he was pretty filthy. It is almost unfair to watch someone throw 96 to 99 mph with control and movement. My left thumb is witness to the movement on his ball–it’s been a little tender as of late thanks to our pregame throwing. (Photo: Strasburg throws a pitch in his first AFL start.)

 

We had our first Sunday off day yesterday, and it was nice to get a little break. Having a weekly off day is a lot nicer than having the sporadic ones intertwined into the regular season. I went to Tucson to visit a good friend from high school and got a little taste of Arizona culture. My buddy and I went to Lil Abner’s outside of Tuscon where we got some awesome steak and ribs, with a little side of live Bluegrass music. If you are ever in that area, I definitely suggest checking that out.

 

I’m off to a night full of sleep and bottled water, we have another day game tomorrow at home. Thanks again for checking in!

 

30 Players in 30 Days: Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann


J. Zimmermann.JPGNo Nationals pitcher’s debut was more hyped going into the 2009 season than Jordan Zimmermann’s. The 23 year-old pitcher, drafted in the second round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was rated as the Nationals No. 1 prospect by Baseball America. On April 20, Zimmermann joined the Nationals rotation and won his Major League debut, beating Derek Lowe and the Atlanta Braves 3-2. He allowed two runs and six hits, with three strikeouts and a walk on a cold, rainy day that included two rain delays.

Zimmermann’s Major League debut concluded his improbable journey to the Majors. He made his mark at Division III University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where he pitched in the Division III World Series. He didn’t turn a lot of heads in high school but when his fastball jumped from 88 MPH to 93 mph, he began to get noticed. Zimmermann was eventually drafted in the second round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft by the Nationals and quickly rose through the Minor League ranks.

The hard-throwing right-hander now tops out at about 95 mph and he made 16 starts for the Nationals in 2009. He went 3-5 with a 4.63 ERA, and struck out 92 in 91.1 innings pitched. He has an excellent strikeouts per nine innings ratio (K/9) of 9.1 which is comparable to pitchers such as Dan Haren and Jorge De La Rosa. On the flip side, his hits per nine innings ratio (H/9) is 9.4, a number which he will try to bring down in the future.

Unfortunately his debut season was cut short when, on July 22, Zimmermann went on the 15-day DL. His fate was sealed when he underwent Tommy John surgery in August. It will take him 12-18 months to recover, all but postponing his return to the majors until 2011.

 

Jordan Zimmermann Final Stats

W

L

ERA

G/GS

SHO

IP

H

R

ER

HR

HBP

BB

SO

AVG

WHIP

GO/AO

3

5

4.63

16/16

0

91.1

95

51

47

10

4

29

92

.332

1.36

1.33

 

30 Players in 30 Days: Elijah Dukes

Elijah Dukes


elijah dukes1.JPGElijah Dukes came into his second season with the Nationals hoping to make an improvement over last year’s injury-riddled season. He faced a different sort of challenge this year when he was sent down to the Minor Leagues for a month following the trade for Nyjer Morgan on July 1. That did not stop this young outfielder from continuing to try to improve his play on the field.


 elijah dukes3.JPGBefore being sent down, Dukes batted .244/.308/.415 with six home runs and 30 RBI. When he returned to the Majors on August 1, he came with a new attitude towards the game which resulted in some offensive improvements. While he wasn’t hitting the ball as hard, his slugging percentage dropped to .368, he increased his batting average by 13 points and raised his OBP to .366. This can be attributed mostly to increased patience at the plate. Dukes picked up 28 walks in 50 games (205 PA) in the second half of the season as compared to 18 walks in the first 57 games (211 PA).

Dukes was acquired by the Nationals from the Rays prior to the 2008 season. While he missed 72 games due to injuries, he still managed to set career highs across the board. He was among the team leaders in OBP (.386) and slugging percentage (.478) and ranked fourth overall in the NL in OPS after June 5, 2008. Yet surgery on a meniscus tear and subsequent leg injuries kept him out for 72 games.


 This offseason, you can follow Dukes as he plays for the Licey Tigers of the Dominican Winter League. Looking ahead to next year, Dukes needs to try to stay healthy as he has been plagued by knee injuries in the past. This winter, he will need to work on hitting breaking balls.  Sliders are especially troublesome for him. Dukes is currently jockeying to become the full time right fielder, a role that, if he can stay healthy for the whole season, he can certainly flourish in.

Elijah Dukes Final Stats

G

AB

R

H

TB

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

IBB

SO

SB

CS

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

107

364

38

91

143

20

4

8

58

46

2

74

3

10

.250

.337

.393

.729

The Storen Identity – 10/16

Drew Storen might not be Jason Bourne but he is special. He can’t fend off 30 people at once, dodge bullets or drive a car like Jeff Gordon during a high speed chase while weaving in and out of oncoming traffic. Well, he might be able to do all that… he doesn’t know. He hasn’t tried. He won’t need to if he continues to sit batters down the same way Bourne puts bad guys on their back. They are one in the same, two people extremely good at what they do. Storen saves games and Bourne saves humanity.

 

The 22 year-old is now playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League and will be writing for Notes for NatsTown. Be sure to follow the tenth overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft as he writes for Notes from NatsTown and gives you an inside, behind-the-scenes look at the AFL and his climb to the Major Leagues. Here is his first post…

 

Friday, October 16th

First off, thanks for stopping by and checking out the blog, hopefully you can get a good idea on what is going on down here in the Arizona Fall League and my experiences in it.  If you would like to know anything specific or have any suggestions for the blog please feel free to post a comment in the comment section or “tweet” me. My twitter is at twitter.com/drewstoren.

 


061009-236 drew storen.JPGJust a little background on me, I am down here playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, along with other members of the Nationals organization (Stephen Strasburg, Chris Marrero, Sean Rooney, Danny Espinosa, Jeff Mandel and Josh Wilkie). And in case you are wondering, since we do have “dogs” in our team name, they do feel obligated to play “Who Let the Dogs Out” before the first inning. I was hoping that song would be retired/banned by now, but clearly that is not the case. I spent the week and a half prior down in Viera, Fla. at the Nationals Spring Training complex for instructional league. It was a good prep for coming down here. The heat and humidity down in Florida makes the dry heat of Phoenix much more bearable. Nonetheless, the heat down here is still intense, therefore SmartWater has become a big investment for me in my short occupancy.

 

We have guys on our team from the Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays, A’s and two guys from Japanese professional baseball. I have learned a lot from the Japanese players already in the first week of being around them. The first thing is that the jerseys, gloves, cleats and even the belts they wear have a lot of flare and is definitely something I am a huge fan of. The gloves they have are not ones you can get in the US. The gloves are bright colors (which I am a huge fan of as well) and they have their own personal logo stitched on them (i.e. the “TW” logo for Tiger Woods).  They rock the patent leather belts and socks with individual toe slots (something I have on my list to go out and get).  It’s pretty cool to see how they go about their business and to learn new pitches from them, even if they are just ones you throw for fun when playing catch. 

 

So far we are 2-1 on the year, winning last night against the Scottsdale Scorpions.  We had a great offensive night in a stadium which the only way to hit it out to center field is with a 3 wood (430 feet with about a 30 foot batters eye). Tonight we play the Scorpions at home with Strasburg on the mound. It is going to be fun to see how many people come out to see him.  If you are in the area, you should definitely head out because it is a lot of fun to watch him throw.

 

Before I head out, I will run you through what a daily schedule is for us down here. On a day like today, we have a 6:35 p.m. contest so pitchers will be on the field around 3 p.m. or so to stretch and throw. We do that and then some running/abs and then shag BP. We get done with all of that at about 5 p.m. and go in to change and get some pregame spread.  After some pregame spread usually mixed with Cash Cab or any ESPN programming, we head out for the game.  

 

It’s time for me to run out to the ballpark, but I just wanted to kick start this blog. Like I said–feel free to give me feedback as to what you would like to hear about.  I will try to get something up pretty frequently. Thanks for reading!

 

30 Players in 30 Days: Collin Balester

Collin Balester


colin ballester1.JPGAfter making his Major League debut last season, Collin Balester saw just over a month of action for the Nationals this year. He came up to replace the injured Jordan Zimmermann on July 22nd and was sent back down to make room for Livan Hernandez on August 26th. In that time, Bally made seven starts, going 1-4 with a 6.82 ERA. The highlight of the season for Ballester was his win over Milwaukee on July 28th. In that game, he pitched 6.0 innings giving up two runs on five hits and throwing a season high 93 pitches.


collin balester2.JPGThe 23 year-old right-hander from Huntington Beach, Calif., also went 7-10 with a 4.44 ERA in 20 starts with Triple-A Syracuse this year. His best month was June where he went 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA over five starts.

 The former Futures Game Selection is perennially one of the Nationals’ top prospects and could be a candidate to fill a key role in the Nationals pitching rotation in the future. In 2007 and 2008 Baseball America ranked him the No. 1 then No. 3 prospect, respectively, in the Nationals farm system. On July 1, 2008, Balester became the first Nationals pitcher to win his debut when he gave up one hit and struck out three in 5.0 innings against the Marlins.

Balester is an avid surfer and credits surfing for helping him build arm strength. This offseason should be an exciting one, as he is planning to marry his fiancé, Ashley Sterling, in October.

Collin Balester Final Major League Stats

W

L

ERA

G/GS

SHO

IP

H

R

ER

HR

HB

BB

SO

AVG

WHIP

GO/AO

1

4

6.82

7/7

0

30.1

34

24

23

10

0

14

20

.281

1.58

0.82

 

 

30 Players in 30 Days: Nyjer Morgan

While Nationals Park may be empty and the players are back home with their families, Notes from NatsTown does not take a break just because the season is over. We’re here to give you your Nationals fix to hold you over until next spring. Starting today, we will run 30 Players in 30 Days, a feature which highlights members of the Nationals and their achievements this season. Tune in each weekday to see who we cover next!

First up, center fielder Nyjer Morgan


nyjer morgan1.JPGNyjer Morgan sprinted his way around the bases and into the hearts of the citizens of NatsTown when he was acquired from the Pittsburg Pirates in a trade on June 30. His dazzling plays in center field and flamboyant alter-ego, Tony Plush, brought life to the team both in the clubhouse and on the field.

The trade for Nyjer Morgan, one of GM Mike Rizzo’s biggest and best moves of the season, filled two of the Nationals’ biggest holes: a ground-covering center fielder and speed on the basepaths. Morgan’s range and speed allowed him to get to balls which routinely had fallen for hits in the past. He is essentially a younger version of Juan Pierre–a contact hitter with blazing speed and who fields his position well. According to his Ultimate Zone Rating, a defensive stat which tries to quantify the number of runs a player saves above a replacement player factoring in arm strength, range and defense, Morgan saved 27.4 runs this season–second most among all Major League outfielders.

 
nyjer morgan4.JPGMorgan’s time with the Nationals was limited this year as he was sidelined with a broken hand after 49 games. That didn’t keep him from ranking second in the National League with 42 stolen bases.  Yet he was caught 17 times, making his success rate 71%. The breakeven rate for stolen bases is 75%, meaning that, while Morgan’s mad dashes around the bases were exciting, he hurt the team’s ability to score runs a few times. He is not that far off and can improve if he just learns to pick his spots better which will come with more experience. Remember, this season was Morgan’s first full year in the Majors.

In his time with the Nationals, Morgan also exploded offensively. In Washington, he hit .351/.396/.435 as opposed to his Pittsburgh output of .277/.351/.356. He hits fastballs at an exceedingly high clip. However, he has trouble with off-speed pitches, something he can work on during the offseason.


 
nyjer morgan3.JPGWhile Morgan may make some appearances at hockey rinks this offseason, NatsTown is eagerly awaiting his  return next spring. Though he only played for just under two months, it was clear that he is just what the Nationals need to succeed. In games where Morgan played, the Nationals went 23-26 (.469) versus 36-77 (.319) in games where he didn’t play. The prognosis on his wrist injury is good and Tony Plush, or Nyjer Morgan, should be as ready as ever come Spring Training. 

Nyjer Morgan Final Stats

G

AB

R

H

TB

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

IBB

SO

SB

CS

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

120

469

74

144

182

15

7

3

39

40

2

74

42

17

.307

.369

.388

.757

 
nyjer morgan2.JPG
 

Nats end season with seven game winning streak

The 2009 regular season is in the books for the Nationals. They ended the final week with a bang. They won the last seven games, sweeping the Mets at Nationals Park with a Justin Maxwell walk-off grand slam and the Braves at Turner Field. Of course, baseball has a stat for everything and the Nationals became the first team in Major League history to lose the first seven games of the season and win the last seven games.

 

Game 162 lasted four hours and 18 minutes, went 15 innings, with a combined 41 players used, 425 pitches thrown, 26 hits and only three runs. That’s baseball. The Nats took a 2-1 lead when Alberto Gonzalez singled to center to score Elijah Dukes in the top of the 15th.

 

It was a meaningless game that meant everything. With Pete Orr playing third base, Mike Morse playing first base and Jorge Padilla playing left, the Nats made game 162 a memorable moment.

 

“This is going to be my strongest memory,” reliever Ron Villone said. “I haven’t been involved in a World Series, but I’ve never been in a game on the last day of the season like this — the way we turned things around. We didn’t accomplished what we wanted, but we went out there, battled and left it all out there.”

 

The Nationals are hoping the 2010 season brings many more winning streaks like this one that closed out the 2009 campaign, more dramatic victories and October baseball to NatsTown.

 

It may happen sooner than you think.

 

The storm clouds–literally (22 games totaling 2,460 minutes of delayed, suspended and postponed baseball) and figuratively–will eventually roll away from Nationals Park. The 2010 season is next and the forecast is favorable.

 

True, the Nationals didn’t look like a contender in 2009. Still, there is a growing sense of progress within the Nationals organization that has spawned optimism about 2010. So how does a team with consecutive 100-plus loss seasons turn it around? Well, it helps to first see them as a 71 win team, the pace the team has kept since the All-Star Break. That turns the math from calculus to simple subtraction. The magic number to win a wild card or a division varies each year but 90-91 wins almost certainly secures a spot. Plenty of teams have improved 20.0 games in one season. It is less of a feat than the 31.0 game improvement completed by the Rays in 2008, they too had the worst record in the Majors the year before.

 

The Rays aren’t the only team to complete a 180 degree turnaround in one season. In 1999, the Diamondbacks improved 35.0 games. The Giants improved 31.0 games in 1993. Since 1991, seven NL teams and two AL teams completed the climb from cellar to Division Champion. The Nats would gladly settle for the Wild Card. Nationals President Stan Kasten keeps 1991 close to his heart. It provides an immediate rebuttal to anyone who says it can’t happen. He references the 1991 Braves when looking at the Nationals future. He joined both franchises, the Braves in ’87 and the Nationals in ’06, at a similar stage in the building process–the bottom. He is using the same building principles and philosophies with the Nats that helped orchestrate an unprecedented 12 straight division titles from 1991-2003 under his watch with the Braves.

 

In 1990, the Minnesota Twins finished last in the AL West Division with a 74-88 record and the

Atlanta Braves finished with the worst record in the Majors at 65-97. In 1991, two teams went from worst to first, the Twins won 95 games and the Braves won 94. It took seven games to determine the World Series Champion.

 

There is a stark difference between opportunity and achievement–it separates a team from a 70-

92 record from a team with a 92-70 record. The Nats know that. They know what has to happen if they want to be celebrating with champagne at the end of September.

 

The bullpen is bolstered.

This will be the Nationals main priority. They had 20 blown saves and posted a 5.71 ERA at the All-Star break. They have revamped the relief corp and there is only one bullpen pitcher left from Opening Day. They only blew five in the second half of the season.

 

“I think it’s a major point of emphasis for the offseason,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “We have gotten better. We have many more capable hearts than we did at the beginning of the season. But I’m certainly not satisfied with it.”

 

Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard have been nice additions. Mike MacDougal has provided stability out of the closer’s role that was missing earlier in the season. Who stays, who leaves is still a question mark but a bullpen makes or breaks a potential playoff ballclub in September.

 

The young guns lose… young.

Kasten points to future Hall of Fame pitchers John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine’s collective sub-.500 record their first two years in the Majors when talking about young pitchers struggling early in their careers–almost all pitchers experience growing pains.

 

“I think our young pitchers have kind of grown up right in front of our eyes and offensively we have hit our stride,” Adam Dunn said. “It’s going to be fun next year… It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

 

The Nationals have watched their young guns John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann (out for the

2010 season), Ross Detwiler, Shairon Martis, Craig Stammen, J.D. Martin, Collin Balester and Garrett Mock experience it firsthand. But all of them have shown signs of promise this year. The starters posted a 3.86 ERA in the month of June. At least three of them need to lose the “young”

moniker in 2010.

 

The defense turns hits into outs.

The Nats will be searching for a free agent field general up the middle. Their defense has drastically improved since the All-Star break but their shortstop-second baseman combo committed the most errors in the Majors this season. That isn’t a formula for success. “It’s hard to win,” Ryan Zimmerman said, “when you give the other team more than 27 outs.” Dunn has smoothly transitioned to first base and Zimmerman is a Gold Glove caliber player at the hot corner. Nyjer Morgan solidified a place in center field for the coming years and covers more ground than Rock Creek Park.

 

What is good gets better.

The Nationals defining moment of the 2009 season happened off the field, tucked behind home plate, adjacent to the Lexus Presidents Club, in the press conference room at 4 p.m. on April 20. The soft-spoken, clean-cut Zimmerman–with the stroke of a pen–became a National for the next five years. Add Dunn and Josh Willingham to the mix and you have a ferocious heart of the order that will carry the offense. “We’ve got a lot of guys that are in their prime offensively and if we can continue to make progress in pitching and defense,” Dunn said, “that’s the formula to go from last to first.”

 

Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen become the wild card.

Someday the 2009 First-Year Player Draft might be viewed as the turning point for the Nationals. Time will tell but it has left a strong first impression. The Nationals used their 2009 compensation pick (No. 10 overall) to draft Storen, a closer, who had a sensational first season in the Minor Leagues. Strasburg and Storen will pitch in the Arizona Fall League this October and will get a chance to make the team out of Spring Training. During the 1991 season in Atlanta, left-handed pitcher Steve Avery was the X-factor. The third overall pick in the 1988 First-Year Player Draft went 3-11 in 1990. He had a sensational sophomore season as a 21-year-old and went 18-8.

 

A veteran pitcher arrives.

The team picked up the rubber armed Livan Hernandez to eat innings in September. Will he pitch for the Nats in 2010? The Nats believe the additions of Dunn, Willingham and Morgan will attract a veteran pitcher and persuade them that it is the beginning of a good, exciting ballclub.

 

“We have to have a special type of veteran pitcher, who is willing to give of himself as a

teacher and mentor type of guy,” Rizzo said. “We have to get a team-oriented person, a person that is going to give his time and his knowledge. It’s not an easy task.”

 

The Nats task isn’t easy. Baseball teams can’t be built overnight and turnarounds aren’t instant, seamless and easy. It takes time, a lot of it. The Rays endured 10 consecutive seasons of losing. The Braves had seven straight losing seasons before 1991. But then it clicks and it will click eventually. So consider yourself warned because the future is bright and the Nationals are primed to put Washington back on the baseball map in 2010.

 

 

All is well that ends (Max)well


Maxwell 1 c.JPGThe Nationals opened the 2009 season at Nationals Park with a little 9th inning drama, trailing 9-6 against the Phillies Ryan Zimmerman hit a two run shot to cut the lead to one but closer Brad Lidge retired the next three batters in order. Flash forward to the 81st and last home game of the season and there were more final inning fireworks–this time the final score was in favor of the Nats, 7-4.

 

It is only fitting that the Nationals provide something for the fans to cheer about on Fan Appreciation day. The scene was set for an instant classic. It felt like a playoff atmosphere in the bottom of the ninth. Every fan was on their feet, yelling and clapping with their giveaway–the Washington fleece blanket–wrapped around them or high in the air.

 

“There is no way I could explain how good a feeling that is,” Nationals Interim Manager Jim Riggleman said. “The fans’ excitement, and the players’ excitement speaks for themselves. It’s just indicative of what we have been doing. We have been playing hard. Guys have been battling. That excitement there is what is in store for the future here.”

 

Rookie Justin Maxwell and the Nationals were down to their final strike with two outs in the bottom of the ninth trailing by one with the bases loaded and closer Francisco Rodriguez on the mound. It was K-Rod, one of the league’s premier closers vs. the 25-year-old Maryland native who entered the game in the bottom of the 8th as a pinch runner.

 

It was one of the best at-bats of Maxwell’s young career, definitely the most memorable. He watched the first four pitches pass by the plate without moving a muscle. He fouled off the fifth pitch and watched the sixth pitch for ball three to run the count full. He fouled of the next two pitches. It was the ninth and final pitch that Maxwell connected on a 92 mph fastball and drove it into the flowers in left.

 

“I think the walk-off homer is the best thing in sports — by far,” Maxwell said.

 

For a split second, it looked like Angel Pagan caught it. But once it was clear it was a home run, the Nationals stormed the field. Maxwell emphatically pumped his right fist as he rounded first base and when he turned for home he took off his helmet and tossed it into the infield. He was bombarded at home plate. A few moments later, the shaving cream pie master John Lannan gave him the celebratory cream pie.

 

“We all had good at-bats,” Maxwell said. “I was trying to put the ball in play and give us a chance. I know Frankie has good stuff. I just had to put it in play. It worked out for a grand slam. That was the first time I ever faced him. I now know what his slider and changeup look like. He has good stuff. I was in there battling to help the team win.”

 


Maxwell 2 c.JPG

 


Maxwell 3 c.JPG


Maxwell 4 c.JPG
 
Maxwell 5 c.JPG

 

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