June 2012

Age Is Just A Number

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The Nationals helped the US Army celebrate its 237th birthday at the ballpark on Friday night. The Racing Presidents were on hand for the Army’s actual birthday on Thursday the 14th, and the Nationals were proud to host the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey at the park Friday night.

The celebration continued into the game, as General Dempsey was joined by US Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotamayor for the Military Salute.

Then in the fourth inning, the Racing Presidents – decked out in full military garb – were dropped off on the warning track by an Army Humvee.

Did Teddy pull off the victory? See for yourself…

What to Watch for: 6/16

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New York Yankees (38-25) vs. Washington Nationals (38-24)

LHP Andy Pettitte (3-2, 2.81) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (3-5, 2.91)

After last night’s loss against the Yankees, the Nationals are hoping to even the series and end New York’s seven-game winning-streak. Despite Jordan Zimmermann‘s 2.91 ERA, he has just three wins on the season, as he will look for more run support to prevent the Yankees from taking the first two games of the series.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Espinosa 2B

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Morse RF

5. Desmond SS

6. Moore 1B

7. Nady LF

8. Flores C

9. Zimmermann RHP

STARTING NOTES

This afternoon, Zimmermann makes his first career start against the New York Yankees. His opposition in pinstripes, Andy Pettitte, looks for his first career win in Washington, D.C. Pettitte is 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA in three starts against the Nationals (2005-Present), with his two wins coming in Houston as a member of the Astros.

BREAKIN’ OUT

Mired in a 1-for-18 slump that plagued him during the recent road trip, Jesus Flores went 2-for-4 with a double in last night’s contest versus the Yankees. Flores has laced doubles in two of his last three games after enduring a stretch of 15 games without a two-bagger.

BIG EAST

The Nationals (15-9) are 24 games into a stretch in which they play 32 consecutive contests against clubs from either the NL East (14 total, 8-6) or AL East (18 total, 7-3 to date). Despite Friday’s loss, the Nationals have won six of their last seven and their four-game lead in the NL east is tied for the largest divisional lead in MLB.

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Desi Encourages You To Show Your Patriotism

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There are plenty of National Anthem traditions around sports, including a few attached to local sports teams in the DMV. Orioles and Capitals fans chant “O” (for the O’s and Alexander Ovechkin, respectively) at the beginning of the song. The Caps add in “Red” when the lyrics reach “and the rockets red glare” as well. Some see these chants as unifiers in their fandom, but others think they are disrespectful.

Ian Desmond has proposed a solution for Nationals fans: sing the entire anthem together, as one, loud and proud.

“It’s a great way to show support for all the servicemen and women in our Nation’s Capital,” explained Desmond on Friday before the Nationals opened their three-game set against the New York Yankees, expecting capacity crowds throughout the weekend. “40,000 people all singing together? I can’t think of anything more patriotic.”

When Desmond first proposed the idea on Twitter, fans asked if he would join in. He has pledged to sing as well, beginning with Friday night’s game in D.C. as he hopes to start a new tradition in our Nation’s Capital.

So, Nats fans, what do you say? Is Desi onto something, and will you join the rest of your fellow Nats fans in singing the anthem together tonight, and beyond?

What to Watch for: 6/15

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New York Yankees (37-25) vs. Washington Nationals (38-23)

RHP Phil Hughes (6-5, 4.76) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (8-2, 2.35)

Tonight’s game will kick off an exciting series of Interleague Play. Both teams come into the series on six-game winning streaks, and both are in first place of their respective divisions. Capacity crowds are expected all weekend long, and every game of the series is being televised nationally (MLB Network Friday and Saturday, TBS Sunday).

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Lombardozzi LF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Flores C

9. Gonzalez LHP

TWO OF THE TOP TEAMS SQUARE OFF IN D.C.

The Nationals (.623) and the Yankees (.597), who own the second and third-best winning percentages in the Major Leagues respectively (LAD paces MLB at .625), face off this weekend in Washington, D.C. The Nationals (4-2) and the Reds (7-5) are the only two current MLB clubs that own an all-time winning record against the New York Yankees, with the Nationals claiming two of three in each of their Interleague battles against the Bronx Bombers (2006, 2009).

TWO NATIONS, TWO SWEEPS

With sweeps over the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays, the Washington Nationals have run their winning streak to a season-high six games. With the two sweeps, Washington became the first NL club ever to sweep consecutive series, both on the road, against teams from the AL East. The Nationals are currently four-and-a-half games ahead of the New York Mets in the NL East, the largest division lead in baseball.

HOME, SWEET HOME

The Nationals return to Nats Park for a six-game, seven-day home stand. The Nats are 18-10 at home this season, where their .643 winning percentage ranks second in MLB behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers .667 mark at Dodger Stadium.

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Your Handy FAQ Guide to #IYNT

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*** FANS, DUE TO A HIGH NUMBER OF RESPONSES, YOUR RSVP DOES NOT GUARANTEE YOU A SEAT TO #IYNT. MAKE SURE TO PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS BEFORE THEY SELL OUT! *** 

What Is #IYNT?

You may have seen the hashtag floating around the last couple weeks and wondered to yourself, what exactly is this #IYNT thing? It’s the first event of its kind at Nationals Park: the inaugural Ignite Your NATITUDE Tweet-up! In short, it is a social event that will take place before and during the Nationals/Giants game on July 3.

Why Should I RSVP?

Let’s see: a special discounted ticket, a free commemorative poster, giveaways all night long, a great evening of Nationals baseball AND a fireworks show? The real question is why wouldn’t you RSVP?

But, if you still need a good reason, consider this: the more fans that RSVP, the better the seats will be. We will unveil the seating package on June 22, the day that tickets go on sale. So tell your friends, but more importantly, tell your tweeps – the more we spread the word among Nationals fans on Twitter, the more you will get to meet and interact with at the ballpark!

How Do I RSVP?

It’s simple: log on to Twitter, and simply tweet “RSVP #IYNT” to @Nationals – seriously, that’s it! We’ll record your Twitter handle, and when you come to the ballpark on July 3, we’ll tell you where to check in. Only those who have RSVP’d can take part in the special giveaways and win prizes, so make sure you do so right away!

How Do I Actually Get Tickets?

Right here!

How Much Does It Cost?

Just $20! No matter how much the seats improve, tickets will remain at the same low price point.

What If I Already Have Tickets To The Game?

That’s just fine. You may not be seated in the same section as everyone else, and you won’t get a discounted ticket, but you can still partake in all the fun activities as part of IYNT. Even if you already have seats, you will want to make sure you RSVP for the chance to win our great prizes, yet to be unveiled.

Why Aren’t My Tickets In Section 140?

We’ve got more spaces than seats in section 140 alone, so the event will spill into the surrounding sections in the area.

What Time Should I Show Up?

As early as possible. We’ll have some special prizes for those who get there early. Center Field Gates will open at 4:00 p.m. for a 6:35 p.m. first pitch.

Where Do I Check In To Get My Prizes?

We’ll be set up at tables right behind section 140 in the heart of the action. The first 450 to arrive get a special edition event poster, and the first 140 to arrive get a limited edition Ignite Your NATITUDE T-Shirt!

Did You Get My RSVP?

Yep. We’ve been tracking them since the beginning. As long as you used “RSVP” and “#IYNT” in a tweet, we saw it and tracked it. We’ll have Twitter handle name tags ready and waiting for when you arrive.

What Is The $6 Of Added Value On My Ticket?

Noticed that, did you? We’ve thrown in an extra $6 for you to use anywhere around the ballpark – concessions, team store, whatever you’d like. Just another bonus for following us on Twitter.

More questions? Ask us on Twitter and we’ll do our best to keep this page updated!

‘Penmanship

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With all the success that the Nationals starting rotation has enjoyed, it can be easy to overlook how good the bullpen has been as well. Despite injuries to Brad Lidge, Henry Rodriguez and Ryan Mattheus – not to mention last year’s closer Drew Storen who has yet to throw a pitch in 2012 – the Nationals relief corps has been a quiet strength of this team. Sure, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez have earned their eight wins apiece heading into this weekend’s series against the Yankees. But the bullpen arms have protected those leads, far more often than not.

Former Yankee Tyler Clippard graces the cover of this homestand’s Inside Pitch.

Tyler Clippard, who is featured on the cover of this homestand’s Inside Pitch, has been lights out since moving to the back of the bullpen. Not only has he saved nine straight opportunities, in 8.1 scoreless innings pitched over that span, he has allowed just one hit and three walks while striking out 11 batters. His most impressive stretch came when he saved three consecutive games against the Red Sox at Fenway Park last weekend.

But the story does not end with Clippard. Craig Stammen (also featured in Inside Pitch) has taken over Clippard’s old role as starter-turned-reliever and has run with it to the tune of a 3-0 record and a 1.67 ERA (6 ER/32.1 IP), striking out 36 batters over that stretch.

And then there is Sean Burnett. It’s hard enough for a non-closer to make an All-Star team, much less a pitcher without a defined eighth-inning role, as Clippard had when he made (and won) the Mid-Summer Classic last July. Yet, there is a compelling case to be made for the Nationals lefty for inclusion. Just look at the numbers.

In 26 relief appearances, the 29 year-old has posted a 1.29 ERA (3 ER/21.0 IP), allowing just 14 hits while striking out 23. His 0.95 WHIP is best on the team, ahead of all five starters. Opponents are batting just .187 against him, including just a single home run, surrendered during Washington’s sweep in Toronto this week.

Burnett has no wins or losses, but picked up a pair of well-earned saves in May. He came in with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth with the Nationals leading 8-5 at home against the Padres on May 14. The lefty needed only one batter to get two outs, inducing a comebacker that resulted in a game-ending, 1-2-3 double play. Seven days later Burnett entered a 2-0 game in Philadelphia with runners at the corners and one out in the ninth. He got Ty Wigginton on a fly ball (which scored an inherited run) and Placido Polanco two batters later on a lineout to end it, preserving a 2-1 victory.

Clippard, Stammen, Burnett and company will need to be at their best this weekend, as they face a potent Yankees lineup. The outcome of the series may well depend on their ability to quietly close the deal, authoring their signature ending as they have done all season long.

A Star-Spangled Sailabration

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This week, members of the Nationals ownership group were invited by the U.S. Navy to celebrate the launch of the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of The Star-Spangled Banner. All of this took place during the Star-Spangled Sailabration, one of the signature events of the three-year commemoration known as Star-Spangled 200.

As part of the festivities, Nationals Principal Owner Robert K. Tanenbaum and his son Grant joined a distinguished group of guests for the day, flying by helicopter and landing aboard the USS San Antonio in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. The group toured the vessel – an amphibious transport dock used to move and land Marines, their equipment and supplies – and gained firsthand access to military vehicles and the valiant specialists who operate them, among other opportunities.

The ship was part of a flotilla of more than 40 ships from around the world that navigated under the Key Bridge and into Baltimore Harbor on Wednesday afternoon. The USS San Antonio led the parade of naval vessels past Fort McHenry, where crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of the fleet and salute the sailors and marines on board.

“We had a wonderful time aboard the USS San Antonio and are grateful to the crew who made our experience a truly memorable one,” Tanenbaum said. “Between touring the ship and interacting with the brave men and women of our armed forces, this was a one-of-a-kind naval adventure that we won’t soon forget.”

Star-Spangled 200 continues through 2014, with exciting events and exhibitions throughout Baltimore and the State of Maryland.

The Nationals would like to thank the U.S. Navy for inviting the organization to be a part of this remarkable event.

Homestand Preview: 6/15-21

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Nationals vs. New York Yankees (06/15-17) 

Nationals vs. Tampa Bay Rays (06/19-21)

*** With road construction, Metrorail work and capacity crowds expected, be sure to add an extra 45 minutes to your commute time to the ballpark throughout the Yankees series this Friday-Sunday *** 

FRI, 6/15 vs. New York Yankees – 7:05 p.m. – Center Field Gates: 4:30 p.m. 

TV: MASN-HD, MLB Network

RADIO: 106.7 The Fan, WFED 1500, WHFS 1580

SAT, 6/16 vs. New York Yankees – 1:05 p.m. – Center Field Gates: 10:30 a.m.

TV: MASN-HD, MLB Network, WDCW DC-50s

RADIO: 106.7 The Fan, WFED 1500, WHFS 1580

  • After the game, “Diamonds are Forever” at the 2012 Washington Nationals Dream Gala presented by Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Guests will have the opportunity to mingle with Nationals players and coaches at the annual event, which serves as the primary fundraiser for the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.

SUN, 6/17 vs. New York Yankees – 1:35 p.m. – Center Field Gates: 11:00 a.m. 

TV: MASN-HD, WDCW DC-50, TBS

RADIO: 106.7 The Fan, WFED 1500, WHFS 1580

  • Father’s Day Post-Game Catch, Presented by Majestic – More than 5,000 fans entered the drawing at their local Modell’s for a chance to win one of the few spots available for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
  • “Keep Dad in the Game” – Nationals, Major League Baseball, Major League Baseball Players Association and the Prostate Cancer Foundation Fight Against Prostate Cancer – Players, umpires, coaches and on-field personnel have been asked to wear blue ribbons in support of prostate cancer awareness. In addition, money will be donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation for each home run hit during the June 17 game as part of the annual “Home Run Challenge.” Fans can also donate money by visiting homerunchallenge.org.
  • Signature Sunday Presented by New Era – Two Nationals players will sign autographs from on top of the Nationals dugout for approximately 20 minutes beginning at 12:25 p.m. before every Sunday home game.

TUE, 6/19 vs. Tampa Bay Rays – 7:05 p.m. – Center Field Gates: 4:30 p.m.

TV: MASN2-HD

RADIO: 106.7 The Fan, WFED 1500, WHFS 1580

  • 8th Annual Night OUTAll donations benefit Team DC scholarship fund – Gay Men’s Chorus of DC Sings National Anthem

WED, 6/20 vs. Tampa Bay Rays – 7:05 p.m. – Center Field Gates: 4:30 p.m.

TV: MASN2-HD

RADIO: 106.7 The Fan, WFED 1500, WHFS 1580

 

THU, 6/21 vs. Tampa Bay Rays – 7:05 p.m. – Center Field Gates: 4:30 p.m. 

TV: MASN-HD

RADIO: 106.7 The Fan, WFED 1500, WHFS 1580

  • Beltway Burger Pack – The Beltway Burger Pack includes a ticket, burger, fries and choice of one regular soda or Dasani water, starting at $20.
  • Miller Light Party Night – Get a Scoreboard Pavilion ticket and a free drink for the Scoreboard Walk bar – choice of Coca-Cola product, Dasani water or beer (with valid ID). Starting at $20 ($22 for prime games). Ticket offers valid only for the games listed below. All tickets are subject to availability.

From the Desk of Mark Lerner: Road Tripping

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Hello Nationals fans. I am blogging today from north of the border, where your Nationals are about to wrap up the most successful road trip since arriving in D.C.

The trip began with a three-game sweep of the Red Sox. When Tyler Clippard posted his third save in as many games on Sunday, Washington became the first NL club to sweep a series at venerable Fenway Park since the Braves did so way back in 2002.

While the memories of the Beantown sweep will remain for a long time, my immediate thoughts reside with Jesus Flores, who has taken undue punishment behind the plate. Whether it be foul tips or the inevitable pitch cross-up, Flo’s arms, legs and hands sport bruises representing every color of the rainbow. Yet, he keeps on blocking balls and putting himself in harm’s way. Luckily, there are no mental dings for Flores, however, as his game-calling skills have helped unite a hot pitching staff.

Fenway was not immune to the ever-increasing number of Curly “W” hats, shirts and logos that we have seen on the road. I can also tell you that the players have noticed. I have never seen more Nationals gear for a road series. Yet another bit of evidence that our fans are realizing that this is shaping up as a special summer.

And what about our favorite 19 year-old, Bryce Harper? His play is nothing short of stellar. And, from my seat, it is contagious for teammates and fans alike. While his talents are obvious to all, his energy and undying passion for the game is what sets him apart. Oh, … and his prodigious power! That homer of his to center field on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre will not soon be forgotten.

I am looking forward to this weekend’s upcoming Yankees series at Nationals Park. The Bronx Bombers are playing very well the last three weeks and find themselves currently atop the AL East standings (they’ve also been very helpful in winning five straight from the Mets and Braves). It appears we will miss C.C. Sabathia’s turn in their rotation, but Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte and Ivan Nova will undoubtedly provide a stiff weekend test.

I have to think tickets for this weekend are the hottest in D.C. this year.

I also urge all fans to plan your departures and arrivals to Nationals Park 45 minutes earlier than normal if you want to see all the action from first to last pitch. Sellout crowds, rush hour traffic (Friday), road construction and previously-scheduled Metro track maintenance will all be part of weekend equation.

While it is easy to focus on the big Yankees weekend, let’s remember that Tampa Bay is set to invade Nationals Park next week. The Rays’ ability to compete and often beat the Yanks and Red Sox in that division is equal parts commendable and inspirational.

Lastly, I am hopeful that our increased fan presence on the road can extend to our series at Camden Yards on the weekend of June 22-24. Let’s have some fun with this pennant race thing!

I hope to see you all at Nationals Park this next week … Don’t forget to Vote Nats!

What to Watch for: 6/13

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Washington Nationals (37-23) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (31-31)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (7-1, 2.41) vs. RHP Kyle Drabek (4-6, 4.43)

The Nationals have a second consecutive sweep is on the mind, as they get ready for today’s game. If the Washington can capture the victory today, it will extend the team’s winning streak to six games, the longest of the 2012 season. It would also mark the first 6-0 road trip in team history.

ROAD TRIPPIN’

Washington is 5-0 on its current road trip and has already secured the most successful multi-city trip since relocating to The District. The franchise hasn’t gone undefeated on a multi-city trip in 24 years, since the Expos swept back-to-back three-game series at Houston and Atlanta, July 4-10, 1988. In addition, with a win today, Washington would extend its road winning streak to six straight, which would mark the second longest in Nationals history (‘05-present) behind only the nine-game road winning streak from September 12-26 last season.

ROAD WARRIORS

With a .594 road winning percentage, Washington has the record away from home in the National League (third in MLB). The Nationals best single-season road mark was .494 (40-41) in 2005, and the only team in franchise history to finish with a road win percentage better than their current mark was the 1994 Expos (.677, 42-20).

START ME UP

Starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg will look to extend his personal winning streak to five games as he makes his first career start north of the border this afternoon in Toronto. While he has never faced the Blue Jays, he is 3-1 with a 1.84 ERA (6 ER/29.1 IP) in five career interleague starts, including his dominating, 13-strikeout performance on Friday in Boston.

- FOLLOW NATIONALS VS. BLUE JAYS LIVE -

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