May 2010

Fly Willie … part 2

Willie Harris loves diving.JPGWe have chronicled
Willie Harris and his ability to fly… but we will show you one more time just in case you forgot.

Last night, he made and driving catch to rob Chris Coghlan of a hit (above). As if that wasn’t enough, Harris made an inning-ending catch with runners on first and second to keep the score 4-2 (below).

“Great plays there,” Manager Jim Riggleman said. “That game could have gotten out of hand a little bit. He is a valuable guy to have, I tell you. You could put him all over the place. He gets good at-bats and makes it tough on opposing pitchers. Willie is a ballplayer. He is a grinder.”

Willie Harris loves diving 2.JPG

Matt Chico makes first Major League start in nearly two years

Pitcher Matt Chico is back after almost two years since his last Major League start on May 21, against the Phillies.

Chico is slated to make the start today against the Florida Marlins. He went 1-2 with a 3.12 ERA in five starts with Harrisburg, including a 1-0 record and 2.08 ERA in his last three outings. The 26-year-old posted a .257 batting average against with 17 strikeouts and seven walks in 26.0 innings.

Prior to undergoing “Tommy John” ligament-replacement surgery in July 2008, Chico went 7-15 with a 4.98 ERA in 42 games/39 starts with the Nationals from 2007-08.

Also note that Stephen Strasburg made his highly anticipated Triple-A debut on Friday as the Syracuse Chiefs blanked the Gwinnett Braves, 7-0. A record crowd of 13,766 were on hand to witness Strasburg wheel-and-deal 6.0 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and one walk. He struck out six and finished 1-for-1 with 2 RBI at the plate–good enough for the game-winning RBI.

Marlins (14-15):

1.    Cameron Maybin – CF

2.    Gaby Sanchez – 1B

3.    Hanley Ramirez – SS

4.    Jorge Cantu – 3B

5.    Dan Uggla – 2B

6.    Ronny Paulino – C

7.    Cody Ross – LF

8.    Brett Carroll – RF

9.    Josh Johnson – SP (3-1, 3.16 ERA)

 Nationals (15-14):

1.      Cristian Guzman – SS

2.      Adam Kennedy – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Josh Willingham – LF

6.      Willie Harris – RF

7.      Roger Bernadina – CF

8.      Wil Nieves – C

9.      Matt Chico – SP


Nationals Players & First Ladies at Capital Area Food Bank

Gonzo, Harris and Nieves.JPGNationals Players Willie Harris, Alberto Gonzalez, Wil Nieves and their wives–The First Ladies–volunteered at the Capital Area Food Bank yesterday. The players and First Ladies, along with members of the Nationals Communications and Community Relations staff, packed meals for the Capital Area Food Bank’s Weekend Bag program, a service that provides weekly bags of food for children who do not have access to school meals. At the Food Bank warehouse, the group was able to pack 640 bags to be delivered to community-based sites for distribution to area children.

Nieves and his wife, Yormarie, visited the Food Bank last year to pack meals for a similar program. Both were especially eager to return again this year to help out kids in need, as they are expecting their first child this summer.

“It’s surprising that most of the people that don’t have food are kids,” Nieves said. “I can’t imagine having my kid without food just for one day.”

Harris at the food shelf.jpgIn support of the Capital Area Food Bank’s efforts to end hunger in the DC Metro area, the Nationals are teaming up with them for the fifth consecutive year to host the Annual Food Drive at Nationals Park on May 22 and 23 when the Nationals take on the Baltimore Orioles. Fans may donate non-perishable food items and paper products (plates, cups, napkins, etc.) outside the Center Field Gate from the time gates open through the fourth inning. All items collected will benefit the Capital Area Food Bank and the 478,000-plus people they serve through 700 nonprofit partner agencies.

“We love what they do for the community here in Washington,” Nieves said. “It feels good that we just can help any way we can, just a little bit of our time, I know we’re going to make a difference.”

Nats look to fry the Fish in game one

Marlins (13-15):

1.    Chris Coghlan – LF

2.    Gaby Sanchez – 1B

3.    Hanley Ramirez – SS

4.    Jorge Cantu – 3B

5.    Dan Uggla – 2B

6.    John Baker – C

7.    Cody Ross – CF

8.    Brett Carroll – RF

9.    Chris Volstad – SP (2-2. 4.45 ERA)

*Florida suffered its first three-game sweep of the season when it fell to San Francisco last night, 6- 3. Florida did not get a hit until the sixth frame and was limited to five hits on the night.

*As a team, Florida is hitting .312 with runners on base–tops in the Major Leagues–and are the only NL team hitting over .300 with ducks on the pond.


 Nationals (15-13):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Cristian Guzman – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Josh Willingham – LF

6.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

7.      Willie Harris – RF

8.      Ian Desmond – SS

9.     Craig Stammen – SP (1-1. 6.75)

*Washington won its first walk-off of the season last night, thanks to 7.1 hitless innings by Scott Olsen and Willie Harris’ single to center field to end the night.

*Washington is now 4-1 in rubber games this season.

*In last night’s win over Atlanta, Ivan Rodriguez hit his first homer as a member of the Nationals, which was also, coincidentally, his first long ball at Nationals Park. Rodriguez has now homered in 34 different ballparks, and will attempt to add to that total this summer when Washington visits Citi Field, AT&T Park and Chase Field.


Jinx this

Can you jinx a no-hitter?

Can you jinx the pace of the game? That’s why they say never to say, ‘Wow, this game is going by so fast,’ because you can jinx that too.

Is there anything we can’t jinx in baseball?

That is the million dollar question.

I mentioned that Scott Olsen had a no-hitter in the sixth inning and I was quickly accused for just jinxing the no-hitter–as if I had anything to do with it. I wish I did because I would have jinxed him to keep it going.

Is it really possible to jinx it? The answer seems obvious. No way, right. It seems highly irrational to think that people have the power to do that. I am sure every Braves fan was talking about it and wanting it to end. I am guessing they had no effect on stopping the no-hitter. But it is only a guess. I can’t prove it. Maybe someone jinxed David Ross to get a hit.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say you can jinx a no-hitter.

I will blame my friend for this one. He texted me during the top of the eighth and said, “Not jinxing anything but…” Needless to say, the no-hitter ended shortly thereafter.

For everyone who jinxed the no-hitter last night, here are seven more things you should jinx. I don’t want your jinxing powers to go to waste as you wait around for the next possible no-hitter that you’ll end just to be mean. And like they say in Spider-Man, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” You are responsible to jinx the following…

1.      Please jinx Justin Bieber from singing about dating and girls. I love JB as much as the next person but the 16-year-old should be singing about puberty and pimples.

2.      Please jinx the Yankees winning ways. Why not?

3.      Please jinx the Pirates losing ways. Nobody deserves 17 straight losing seasons. Might as well jinx the O’s while you are at it.

4.      Please jinx Ben Affleck from ever starring in another movie. He ruined Pearl Harbor and let’s not forget the classics he starred in like Jersey Girl and Gigli.

5.      Please jinx the Redskins struggles. In fact, jinx all of DC sports.

6.      Please jinx an end to thinking people can jinx things.

7.      If you have any time left, you might as well jinx the Nationals to win the World Series.


So close…. yet so far

Scott Olsen 10.JPGLess than three weeks after the Braves were no-hit by the Rockies, they seemed destined to sink into despair yet again.

Scott Olsen was dealing. After seven innings, the Braves were hitless and Olsen had extended his scoreless inning streak to 20. He took a no-hitter into the eighth and after Matt Diaz was called out looking with a full count it seemed like the Braves were going to be no-hit for the second time this season–Ubaldo Jimenez threw the first no-hitter of the season against the Braves on April  17.

“I think if that would have happened,” Chipper Jones said, “you probably have to put us all on a suicide watch.”

Scott Olsen needed only five more outs and he would forever be remembered.

“I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t thinking about it,” Olsen said about the potential no-hit bid. “I was thinking about it early. I thought about it in the fourth and fifth inning. But it’s one of those things that’s hard–real hard–to do.”

David Ross proved why it was so hard and made sure that didn’t happen. He singled to left on the second pitch, just past a leaping Ian Desmond. (Reaction below.)

Scott Olsen no-hitter broken up.JPGAs quickly as the no-hitter was lost, the game was tied 2-2 after Jason Heyward laced a two-run single to left off Tyler Clippard with the bases loaded.

How quickly the tide turned. The Braves had runners on the corner with one out. Clippard settled down and got Omar Infante to ground into a double play to end the eighth. But he found himself in trouble yet again in the ninth. The Braves loaded the bases and the man who broke up the no-hitter found himself at the plate once again. He wasn’t so lucky. Ross grounded into an inning ending double play.

Adam Kennedy drew a walk to lead off the ninth. Ryan Zimmerman doubled and the Braves intentionally walked Cristian Guzman to load the bases. With the infield in and zero outs, Willie “Walk-off” Harris ripped a single into center field to give the Nats their 15th win of the season. They didn’t win their 15th game last year until June 6 (they were 15-36 at that point in 2009).

It is a different year and you can sense it everywhere: in the clubhouse, in the stands and, of course, on the Metro. This game had everything any fan could ask for: a possible no-hitter, suspense late into the game, home runs, key double plays and a walk-off win.

Walk-off Willie Harris c.JPGHere are some memorable quotes as people waited for the Green line to Greenbelt.

“I ate at Ben’s Chili Bowl, got half drunk and watched our Nationals win. It was like a night in heaven.”

“That was one of the best games I have ever seen.”

“Talk about a heart attack inducing game.”

“The Nats would have lost this game last year. They are winning a lot of close games this season. Last year, they looked for ways to lose… this year they are finding ways to win.”

“Tyler Clippard for Cy Young.”

“Zimmerman looked like Air Jordan jumping out there… If only Scottie Pippen could have caught the ball.”

His buddy quickly responded, “Great basketball analogy at a baseball game.”

The rubber game against the Braves

Braves (12-15):

1.    Omar Infante – SS

2.    Martin Prado – 2B

3.    Chipper Jones – 3B

4.    Troy Glaus – 1B

5.    Matt Diaz – LF

6.    David Ross – C

7.    Melky Cabrera – RF

8.    Nate McLouth – CF

9.    Tim Hudson – SP (2-1. 2.87 ERA)

*Atlanta snapped an eight-game road skid with a 7-6 win last night.

*Rookie superstar Jason Heyward will not be starting tonight’s contest. He left last night’s game in the top of the second inning with a sore right groin and is listed as day-to-day


Nationals (14-13):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Adam Kennedy – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Josh Willingham – LF

6.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

7.      Ian Desmond – SS

8.      Roger Bernadina – RF

9.   Scott Olsen- SP (2-1. 4.35)

*Scott Olsen has not allowed a run in his last 13 innings on the mound. The streak spans over two games; both resulted in wins.

*Last night’s 10 inning loss dropped Washington to 0-3 in extra-inning games this season.

*Washington is 5-0 this season when hitting multiple home runs.


Cinco de Mayo Lineups

Atlanta Braves (11-15):

1.    Nate McLouth – CF

2.    Martin Prado – 2B

3.    Chipper Jones – 3B

4.    Brian McCann – C

5.    Troy Glaus – 1B

6.    Jason Heyward – RF

7.    Matt Diaz – LF

8.    Omar Infante – SS

9.    Tommy Hanson – SP (2-2, 2.17 ERA)

 Nationals (14-12):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Adam Kennedy – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

6.      Willie Harris – LF

7.    Ian Desmond – SS

8.      Roger Bernadina – RF

9.   Luis Atilano – SP (2-0, 2.25 ERA)

The Minority Report: An in-depth look at the Nats’ Minor League system

The Minor League Report (
The MLR.pdf) is a weekly window into the Nationals farm teams, with updated standings, league leaders, team and individual player stats, and the latest team and player news.


This Week’s Top Headline

ROSENBAUM IS A ROSENBAUM IS A ROSENBAUM IS A ROSENBAUM: In five starts for Hagerstown, LHP Daniel Rosenbaum is 1-0 with a 1.57 ERA (5 ER/28.2 IP). The 22-year old southpaw has struck out 25 and walked just five (5.0/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio). Among Single-A South Atlantic League pitchers, he ranks fifth in ERA and seventh in WHIP (0.94). Rosenbaum was selected in the 22nd round of the 2009 Draft out of Xavier University (OH). He is scheduled to make his next start tonight at Rome (Braves).  


Chiefs 2.JPGTriple-A Syracuse Chiefs

International League North Division

15-11, 3rd Place, 1.0 Game Back


HAIL TO THE NEW CHIEF: Yesterday, RHP Stephen Strasburg was promoted to Syracuse and is scheduled to make his Triple-A debut on Friday vs. Gwinnett (Braves). Strasburg, the top overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, went 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA (4 ER/22.0 IP) in five starts with Harrisburg of the Double-A Eastern League. With 27 strikeouts and just six walks in 22.0 innings pitched, Strasburg posted a 4.5/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and an Eastern-League best 11.05 strikeouts per 9.0 innings.


Strasburg media c.jpgWHAT A RELIEF:
Since surrendering three earned runs in 0.1 inning in his season debut on April 8 vs. Lehigh Valley (Phillies), LHP Atahualpa Severino hasn’t allowed an earned run 13.1 innings. He has tossed 10.0 consecutive scoreless innings over his last six appearances beginning on April 20. Overall, Severino is 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA (3 ER/ 13.2 IP) in 10 appearances and right-handed hitters are just 4-for-28 (.143) against him this season. Severino, 25, signed as a non-drafted free agent on February 13, 2004.


DR. DREW: In nine combined appearances with Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg, RHP Drew Storen has posted a 1.50 ERA (2 ER/ 12.0 IP) while striking out 13 and walking just one. Storen, Washington’s second selection in the first round (10th overall) of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, went 4-for-4 in save opportunities and recorded a 0.96 ERA (1 ER/9.1 IP) in seven appearances with Harrisburg before his April 29 promotion to Syracuse.


DOUG E. FRESH: LHP Doug Slaten has fired 15.0 consecutive scoreless innings in 10 appearances to begin the season. The southpaw has 16 strikeouts against just one walk. Slaten was claimed off waivers from Arizona on November 4, 2009.


THRILL OF THE CHASE: 3B Chase Lambin leads the Chiefs in hits (28), batting (.333), home runs (5), RBI (15), total bases (49), and slugging (.583). He has hit safely in 19 of 23 games this season. Lambin signed with Washington as a Minor League free agent on January 7, 2010.


senators-new-logo 1.JPGDouble-A Harrisburg Senators

Eastern League Southern Division

10-15, 5th Place, 7.5 Games Back


THE GARATE KID: LHP Victor Garate has hurled 11.2 consecutive scoreless innings in his last eight appearances. The 25-year-old owns a 0.71 ERA (1 ER/12.2 IP) and a .140 (6-for-43) batting average against and lefties are just 1-for-10 (.100) against him. Garate was acquired off waivers from Los Angeles-NL on September 2, 2009.


Matt Chico c.jpgCHICO MEETS WORLD: LHP Matt Chico
allowed two earned runs in 6.1 innings, but received a no-decision on Monday vs. Bowie (Orioles). Chico has worked at least 5.0 innings and allowed two earned runs or less in four of his five starts this season.


PITCHING IN: Harrisburg pitching ranks second in the league in both ERA (3.12) and strikeouts (189). Senators hurlers have allowed the fewest home runs (6) and fewest walks (69) among EL pitching staffs.


potomac nationals 1.JPGSingle-A Potomac Nationals

Carolina League Northern Division

11-14, 3rd Place, 4.0 Games Back


MORRIS CODE: In four starting assignments, RHP A.J. Morris boasts a 1.53 ERA (3 ER/17.2 IP) and a .197 (13-for-66) batting average against. On Monday vs. Myrtle Beach (Braves), Morris pitched 5.2 shutout innings while allowing just two hits and striking out five to earn his first win of the year. Morris, 23, was selected in the 4th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.


DETECTIVE KIMBALL: RHP Cole Kimball leads the club with three wins and is a perfect 3-for-3 in save opportunities. In 10 appearances, Kimball is 3-0 with a 2.93 ERA (5 ER/15.1 IP) and left-handed hitters are just 2-for-21 (.095) against him. The 24-year-old was Washington’s 12th-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.


hagerstown suns 1.JPGSingle-A Hagerstown Suns

South Atlantic League Northern Division

15-10, 2nd Place, 0.5 Game Back


BUILDING BLOX(OM): 1B Justin Bloxom, 22, ranks among the South Atlantic League leaders in batting average (t-2nd, .351), hits (t-3rd, 34), doubles (5th, 11), on-base percentage (6th, .413) and runs, (7th, 20). He has hit safely in 20 of 24 games, recording a multi-hit effort in 10 of those contests. The Kansas State University product was selected in the 11th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.


EVEN STEVEN: 20-year-old 3B Steven Souza is tied for tops in the SAL with 23 runs, and ranks second in RBI (25). He has posted three straight multi-hit efforts, collecting seven RBI in those games. Souza was Washington’s 3rd-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. 


DESTIN-ED TO SUCCEED: OF Destin Hood is hitting .340 with five doubles, one triple, one homer and 15 RBI. The 20-year-old has hit safely in 19 of 25 games this season. Hood, selected in the 2nd round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, opened the 2010 campaign rated as the No. 10 prospect in the Nationals chain according to Baseball America.


Game 1 of 18 against the Braves

Atlanta Braves (11-14):

1.    Nate McLouth – CF

2.    Martin Prado – 2B

3.    Chipper Jones – 3B

4.    Brian McCann – C

5.    Troy Glaus – 1B

6.    Jason Heyward – RF

7.    Melky Cabrera – LF

8.    Omar Infante – SS

9.    Kenshin Kawakami – SP (0-4. 5.48 ERA)

* Major League Baseball named OF Jason Heyward the NL Rookie of the Month Award winner for April today. For the month, Heyward led all rookies with six home runs and 19 RBI, and finished tied for ninth in the Majors in RBI. Heyward made his Big League debut on April 5 vs. the Cubs and homered in his first career plate appearance. The 20-year-old Georgia native hit .240 (18-for-75) with three doubles, 10 runs scored, 13 walks, a .520 slugging percentage and a .360 on-base percentage in April.


* The Braves have won three-straight games after losing a season-high nine consecutive games from April 21-29. During the nine-game stretch, their record fell to a season-worst 8-14 on April 29 at St. Louis and were outscored 44-17.


 Nationals (13-12):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Cristian Guzman – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Josh Willingham – LF

6.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

7.      Roger Bernadina – RF

8.      Ian Desmond – SS

9.   Livan Hernandez – SP (3-1. 0.87 ERA)

*The Nationals 13-12 record matches the club’s best mark through the first 25 games of a season. During the inaugural season in 2005, the Nationals also opened 13-12. Washington’s other 25-game starts: ’06 (8-17), ’07 (8-17), ’08 (8-17), ’09 (8-17). At 13-12, the Nationals haven’t had a winning record this “late” in a season since Oct. 1, 2005, when Washington lost its penultimate contest to fall to 81-80.


*The Nats are back for a six-game homestand after enjoying their second off day in five days yesterday. They begin a season-long stretch of 20 games in 20 days. They have just 11 home games in the next 30 games.