July 2010

Q&A with Drew Storen


Drew Storen pitching c.jpgDrew Storen has always been a favorite on Notes from NatsTown and as we said before in
The Storen Identity, 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 of 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. He has this All-Star break off but it might not be long before he doesn’t.

I was watching you today running fly routes. Are you going to give your friend and Vikings running back Toby Gerhart some words of wisdom?

Far from it. I’m not very good at that.

You didn’t play football in high school, right?

No, I didn’t. I thought about punting my senior year.

Were you an avid soccer player?

Nope, just an avid punter at tailgates. So then I was like, yeah, I might try to do this. But then senior year I had all these official visits I needed to go on, so I couldn’t play.

Have you already requested a Brett Favre autograph?

I need to. I need to get his jersey so I can rock it during football season, even though I’m not a big Vikings fan. But I will be now.

Now to baseball–how have the first two months in the Majors been for you?

It’s going well. I’m starting to kind of get in my routine. I’m happy with my role. I’m happy with the way we’re turning things around here the last couple of days. Hopefully we can start the second half on a positive note and be in good shape.

Everyone in the bullpen seems to have great chemistry. How has that helped with your acclimation to the Majors–being able to freely ask questions and joke around?

It’s been my favorite part–such a great group of guys. There’s a lot of good camaraderie. That’s kind of been the biggest help for me. I wear out Tyler Walker. I really wore him out the first couple of weeks, asking him questions. Capps, all those guys have been awesome. I’ve been really fortunate.

You went from the Stanford cafeteria to the Nats clubhouse over the past year. Can you describe the past year.

I had just moved down to Potomac at this time. But it feels like it’s a lot longer than a year ago. It’s been crazy. But I’ve been fortunate. It’s one of those things where I appreciate where I’m at and I’m very thankful for that, but at the same time, I don’t want to go back, so I want to make sure I keep doing my stuff every day.

You’re the go-to guy for questions about Stephen Strasburg. Have you answered more questions about Strasburg than yourself?

Definitely. I would say so, which is fine, because I’ve had a front-row seat to the whole thing. So it’s been really cool for me to be able to watch it. It’s fine with me. I don’t mind the attention.

You’ve inherited 21 base runners but only three have scored. What has been the key to minimizing the damage?

I just go in there and don’t really try to worry about it. You worry about each pitch at a time and not try to think of, “Hey I haven’t had any inherited runners score.” Of course, I thought about that the day I did let my first one score.

So you jinxed yourself more or less?

Oh, yeah, absolutely. So you just kind of go out there and that’s your main goal, just to get guys out. And I like those situations. I’ve always been a fan of going in those situations.

Is going in with runners on base different than coming in the game in the ninth inning? Have you had to change your mentality now that you’re not closing?

No, not necessarily. I think it’s pretty much the same thing because it’s just minimizing the game and looking at one pitch at a time. I feel worse when they’re somebody else’s runners because it’s not fair to the other guy if I go in there give up his runs because I don’t do my job. It’s not necessarily that much different. I put that same pressure on myself.

The rubber game against the Giants and the World Cup final


Netherlands Roger Bernadina FIFA.jpgIt is the final day of the “first half” of the baseball season and coincidentally the final game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which features Spain vs. the Netherlands. Roger Bernadina has a vested interest in today’s game. He was born in Curacao and lives in Den Haag, Netherlands in the offseason. He played soccer for fun growing up but never on an organized team because he started playing baseball at such a young age and decided just to focus on baseball. Yes, he was a rare breed in the Netherlands to focus on baseball. He still loves soccer though.

Soccer is real big there,” Bernadina said. “That’s everything out there. Soccer out there is like baseball here. It’s real big.”

Bernadina isn’t in the lineup today because Jim Riggleman opted for the right-handed Michael Morse in right field with left-hander Madison Bumgarner on the mound for the Giants, not so he can watch the World Cup.

“I am excited because they’ve never been to a final like that,” Bernadina said of his home country reaching the World Cup Finals. “I’m real excited. The thing is our game is on at the same time so I’m probably going to hear [about it] from one of those guys in the clubhouse.”

He still might be able to sneak back there to watch a few minutes.

Giants (46-41):

1.    Aaron Rowand – CF

2.    Freddy Sanchez – 2B

3.    Aubrey Huff – LF

4.    Buster Posey – C

5.    Travis Ishikawa – 1B

6.    Juan Uribe – SS

7.    Pablo Sandoval – 3B

8.    Nate Schierholtz – RF

9.    Madison Bumgarner – SP (1-2, 2.86 ERA)

* In last night’s game, Buster Posey went 4-for-5 with a double, home run, three RBI and two runs scored. Posey is 19-for-37 (.514) with a double, six home runs, 13 RBI and 11 runs scored in his last ten games. His four hits yesterday match a career high.

 Nationals (39-49):

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.      Michael Morse – RF

8.      Ian Desmond – SS

9.      Livan Hernandez – SP (6-4, 3.12 ERA)

* The Nationals are 4-1 in rubber games at home this season, but have lost their last four rubber games overall.

* Despite the team’s 10-5 loss to the Giants last night, starting pitcher Craig Stammen did not allow a run in the first inning to halt the franchise-record streak of nine consecutive games in which Washington starters allowed at least one run in the first inning.

Vote for Stephen Strasburg and lineups

Get your vote on. Stephen Strasburg is up for two ESPY awards: ‘Best Breakthrough Athlete’ and ‘Best Performance Under Pressure’ and voting ends tonight at midnight. Cast your vote right now, right HERE.

Giants (45-41):

1.    Aaron Rowand – CF

2.    Freddy Sanchez – 2B

3.    Aubrey Huff – LF

4.    Buster Posey – C

5.    Juan Uribe – SS

6.    Travis Ishikawa – 1B

7.    Pablo Sandoval – 3B

8.    Nate Schierholtz – RF

9.    Jonathan Sanchez – SP (7-6, 3.15 ERA)

 * Last night, Andres Torres hit a leadoff home run in the Giants’ 8-1 loss to the Nationals–the sole run of the game for the Giants. Torres has now homered in three consecutive contests and four of the last six games.

  Nationals (39-48):

1.      Justin Maxwell – CF

2.      Christian Guzman  - 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Josh Willingham – LF

6.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

7.      Michael Morse – RF

8.      Ian Desmond – SS

9.      Craig Stammen – SP (2-3, 5.73 ERA)

* Last night, Stephen Strasburg allowed just three hits in 6.0 innings of one-run ball. He walked one and struck out eight. Despite making just seven starts, Strasburg now leads the Nationals with 61 strikeouts.

* In last night’s win, Willie Harris recorded his first three-hit game of the season, going 3-for-4 with one double and one RBI.

On the seventh day of Strasmas…


Patriotic Stephen Strasburg.jpgStephen Strasburg is back on the mound and that means tonight’s game will be a hot ticket at Nationals Park, literally and figuratively. It won’t be 99 degrees at first pitch like it was on Tuesday night but it will be in the high 80s. Since temperature is always relative it feels like a fall day right now. This will be the fifth start at Nationals Park for Strasburg and he has single-handedly sold out the park in three of the four games. The lone game that wasn’t sold out had a paid attendance of 31,913. There were two factors in play for that game a) the Kansas City Royals were in town b) it was a 4:35 p.m. start time on a Wednesday.

 

Strasburg is 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA with 53 strikeouts in six starts. He is coming off the shortest Major League outing of his young career: 5.0 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks and 5 strikeouts against the Mets on July 3. He struggled with his command in the first inning and allowed one run and issued three walks on 37 pitches–two on full counts. He limited the damage and got Jeff Francoeur to fly out to center with the bases loaded.

 

“I’ve learned that it’s going to take a few times just to get comfortable, get experience, to learn how to get a game plan for certain people,” Strasburg said. “Bottom line, I’m just enjoying this ride here and not really putting too many expectations on myself and whatever happens, happens.”

 

 Two things to keep in mind:

*Strasburg has received limited run support to the tune of a 2.70 runs per game average.

*Of the 557 pitches Strasburg has thrown, 33 percent of the time the batters have swung (267) and missed (88). Among active starters that is the highest percentage. Note: It might not be the fairest comparison. Strasburg has thrown 719 fewer pitches than the Rockies Jhoulys Chacin who is second with 28.7 percent swing and misses.

 

Lineups:

 

Giants (45-40):

1.    Andres Torres – CF

2.    Freddy Sanchez – 2B

3.    Aubrey Huff – RF

4.    Pat Burrell – LF

5.    Buster Posey – C

6.    Pablo Sandoval – 3B

7.    Travis Ishikawa – 1B

8.    Edgar Renteria – SS

9.    Matt Cain – SP (6-7, 2.98 ERA)

*According to Elias Sports Bureau, Aubrey Huff–who had two hits, including a home run, in the Giants’ 9-3 win at Milwaukee last night–has recorded at least one extra-base hit in each of his last seven games. This equals the longest extra-base streaks in the Majors this season–accomplished by Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Troy Tulowitzki, and Delmon Young.

Nationals (38-48):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Roger Bernadina – RF

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Christian Guzman – SS

6.      Willie Harris – LF

7.      Adam Kennedy – 2B

8.      Wil Nieves – C

9.      Stephen Strasburg – SP (2-2, 2.45 ERA)

*Washington has surrendered a first-inning run in eight straight games, the longest such streak in the Major Leagues this season. The Nationals are 4-4 in those contests, however.

Luis Atilano optioned to Triple-A Syracuse: The Nats optioned right-handed pitcher Luis Atilano to Syracuse today. Atilano went 6-6 with a 4.85 ERA in 15 starts for the Nationals. The 25 year-old rookie took the loss in Thursday’s 7-1 setback vs. San Diego, allowing four runs on eight hits in 5.1 innings.

Nats look for sweep

Padres (49-35):

1.    Jerry Hairston Jr. – 2B

2.    Chase Headley – 3B

3.    Adrian Gonzalez – 1B

4.    Scott Hairston – LF

5.    Yorvit Torrealba – C

6.    Aaron Cunningham – RF

7.    Chris Denorfia – CF

8.    Everth Cabrera – SS

9.    Mat Latos – SP (9-4, 2.62 ERA)

*The Padres have only lost three consecutive games once this season, losing all three to the Dodgers from May 14-16.

*Second baseman David Eckstein has yet to commit an error this year. He is the only infielder in the Major Leagues to have not committed an error with at least 60 games played this season.

 Nationals (38-47):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Roger Bernadina – RF

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Josh Willingham – LF

6.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

7.      Adam Kennedy – 2B

8.      Ian Desmond – SS

9.      Luis Atilano – SP (6-5, 4.72 ERA)

* Last night, the Nationals and the Padres combined to hit seven home runs, the most in a single game at Nationals Park ever.

* Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman have combined to record 19 game-winning RBIs this season, the most among any pair of Major League teammates.

Seeing All-Stars and Lineups


Ryan Zimmerman Walk off fist pump c.JPGWe don’t feel we’ve been campaigning adequately for Ryan Zimmerman to go to the All-Star Game. Apparently, between last night’s “Send Zim to Anaheim” signage presented by the Racing Presidents and two of the last three blog posts on this site providing links, Zim is still in second-place in voting behind Reds first baseman Joey Votto. So we’re hoping this link right
HERE will push him over the edge.

Since Zimmerman was announced as one of five nominees for the 2010 All-Star Game final vote on Sunday, he’s done everything to prove he deserves a spot. Zimmerman battled through a rough patch prior to the announcement. He went 16-for-81 (.198) with six RBI and just one home run from June 10 to July 3. Then, on July 4, he was announced as one of five nominees for the 2010 All-Star Game final vote, so, fittingly, Zimmerman laid his cold bat to rest and went on a tear. He improved his .198 batting average to .667 (6-for-9) in the two games since the announcement. He’s provided enough RBI in those two games alone to match his total in the 22 previous games. And he doubled the number of home runs hit from June 10 to July 3. Oh yeah… let’s not forget he’s responsible for hitting the walk-off home run in last night’s victory over the Padres. Clutch.

And speaking of following a slump with some pretty good baseball, the other man who hit a home run in last night’s game is doing the same. Ian Desmond batted .222 (18-for-81) during the “June Swoon.” As the calendar turned, so has Desmond’s fortunes at the plate. In five July contests, Desmond is hitting .389 (7-for-18) with two doubles, one home run, two RBI and two runs scored.

Now for today’s lineups… but not before reminding you once again to vote HERE to send Ryan Zimmerman to the All-Star game.

Padres (49-34):

1.    Tony Gwynn – CF

2.    Jerry Hairston Jr. – 2B

3.    Adrian Gonzalez – 1B

4.    Scott Hairston – LF

5.    Chase Headley – 3B

6.    Nick Hundley – C

7.    Aaron Cunningham – RF

8.    Everth Cabrera – SS

9.    John Garland – SP (8-5, 3.24 ERA)

* Each of the Padres last five games, including four games against the Astros, have been decided in the last at-bat.

* MLB announced today that closer Heath Bell was selected to the 2010 National League All-Star team to replace the injured Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers.

 Nationals (37-47):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Roger Bernadina – RF

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Josh Willingham – LF

6.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

7.      Adam Kennedy – 2B

8.      Ian Desmond – SS

9.      J.D. Martin – SP (0-4, 3.38 ERA)

* The Nationals’ last five home wins, including last night’s 6-5 win over the Padres, have been one-run victories. That matches the club’s record set from September 6-29, 2009.

Walk it out


Ryan Zimmerman Walk off c.jpgRyan Zimmerman proved once again why he deserves a spot in Anaheim. He has been the Nationals most dependable player and always seems to come up big in big situations. You can call him Mr. Walk-off, if you would like. With the scored tied 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth, Zimmerman hit a walk-off home run to the deepest part of Nationals Park to give the Nationals a much-needed 6-5 victory.

It was his second home run of the game. In the bottom of the fourth inning–just after the Racing Presidents finished their race and held signs that read “Send Zimm to Anaheim”–he blasted a solo shot to left, a few rows above the visiting bullpen.

“Zim is just an all-around All-Star, regardless if he makes the All-Star team or not,” Willie Harris said to nationals.com. “He is an All-Star in our locker room–he is a leader, and he’s our guy. That’s all [there is] to it. He’s a star, even when he’s not playing baseball. He’s an All-Star guy.”

The Nationals struggled to score runs in June, lost late leads and that led them to lose a lot of close games. It looked like last night was going to end the same way after the Padres scored three runs in the eighth to tie the game at 5-5. But this time the Nats finished on the right side of a nail-biter–their Major League leading 49th game decided by two runs or less. The Nats are 3-2 at the midway point of their 10 game homestand and all three wins have come in walk-off fashion. Zimmerman began the homestand on Thursday with a walk-off sacrifice fly.


Ryan Zimmerman Walk off 2 c.JPGIt has only been two games since it was announced that Zimmerman was a final vote candidate but he is making it count. He is 6-for-9 with six RBI, two home runs and three runs. There are only two days remaining to cast your vote so you might as well start right now.
You can vote HERE. And then you can vote HERE too. And while you are at it, you might as well vote one more time right HERE. There isn’t a limit. Much like there is no limit to how good Ryan Zimmerman can be… and that’s why you should vote right HERE to send him to Anaheim. He might even hit a walk-off home run to win the game, so you might as well vote HERE.

Nats vs. Padres–Game 1

The Nats begin a three game series with the Padres tonight and they hope the 100 degree heat can cool down the Padres–the NL’s best team. San Diego is winning with defense and pitching and if all goes as planned, the Nationals will get a rematch against the exact same starting pitchers they faced in San Diego on May 28-30: Clayton Richard, Jon Garland, and Mat Latos, three members of the stingiest pitching staff in the league. Padres pitchers lead the Majors with a microscopic 3.05 ERA as a team. They also boast the most efficient defense in the National League. However, like the Nationals, the Padres have suffered under a lack of offense recently, scoring three runs or less in nine of their last 13 games, while Washington has done the same in 12 of their last 18. Timing is everything, they say, and the Padres are coming off of three straight final at-bat wins. The Nationals, meanwhile, took two games from the Mets this past series in walk-off fashion. Expect at least one 1-0 or 2-1 game this series.

Padres (49-33):

1.    Tony Gwynn – CF

2.    Jerry Hairston Jr. – 2B

3.    Adrian Gonzalez – 1B

4.    Scott Hairston – LF

5.    Chase Headley – 3B

6.    Yorvit Torrealba – C

7.    Aaron Cunningham – RF

8.    Everth Cabrera – SS

9.    Clayton Richard – SP (6-4, 2.74 ERA)

* The Padres tossed their Major League leading 12th shutout Saturday night, tied for the fifth-most in franchise history, in a 1-0 win over the Astros.

 Nationals (36-47):

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.      Michael Morse – RF

8.      Ian Desmond – SS

9.      Livan Hernandez – SP (6-4, 2.98 ERA)

* The Nationals’ seven-game winning streak in home games started by Livan Hernandez is the longest such run of home wins behind a starter since Major League Baseball returned to DC in 2005.

Ryan Zimmerman trails Joey Votto after two days of voting


Vote Ryan Zimmerman.JPGIt is up to you to send Ryan Zimmerman to Anaheim.

 

On Sunday, Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel and MLB announced that Matt Capps would represent the Nationals in the 81st All-Star Game. You now have the chance to send Ryan Zimmerman to Anaheim with him.

 

Zimmerman is one of the five nominees for the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote along with Billy Wagner, Joey Votto, Heath Bell and Carlos Gonzalez. But the only name you need to remember is Ryan Zimmerman. You know, the defending NL Gold Glover and Silver Slugger third baseman, who also won ESPN’s initial 2009 Web Gem Championship. He is currently hitting .286 with 14 home runs and 44 RBI. Zimmerman’s three-hit, homer, four-RBI effort Sunday vs. the Mets launched his All-Star campaign.

 

Nationals fans interested in helping Zimmerman join Capps in Anaheim can vote HERE. And then you can vote HERE too. And while you are at it, you might as well vote one more time right HERE. There isn’t a limit. Much like there is no limit to how good Ryan Zimmerman can be… and that’s why you should vote right HERE to send him to Anaheim.

Happy Fourth!

Mets (45-36):

1.    Angel Pagan – CF

2.    Alex Cora – 2B

3.    David Wright – 3B

4.    Ike Davis – 1B

5.    Jason Bay – LF

6.    Jeff Francoeur – RF

7.    Rod Barajas – C

8.    Ruben Tejada – SS

9.    Hisanori Takahashi – SP (6-3, 4.24 ERA) 

* The Mets suffered their tenth walkoff loss of the season yesterday, the most in the Majors. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, since 1993, only two other teams had ten or more walkoff losses prior to the All-Star Break: Arizona in 1999 (ten) and Cleveland in 2004 (ten).

 Nationals (36-46):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Cristian Guzman – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Josh Willingham – LF

6.      Michael Morse – RF

7.      Alberto Gonzalez – SS

8.      Wil Nieves – C

9.      Craig Stammen – SP (2-2, 5.13 ERA)

* Yesterday’s 6-5 win over the Mets marked the first time this season Washington has won when trailing entering the ninth. The victory guaranteed the Nationals at least a share of the four-game series.

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