July 2012

What to Watch for: 7/16

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Washington Nationals (51-35) vs. Miami Marlins (42-46)

RHP Edwin Jackson (5-4, 3.73) vs. RHP Carlos Zambrano (4-7, 4.20)

The Nationals take on Miami tonight in the finale of the four-game set, looking for a series victory. Earlier in the season, the Fish swept the Nats in Miami (3-0). Edwin Jackson toes the rubber this evening looking to push Washington’s overall record against the Marlins (4-4) over .500 for the season.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Lombardozzi 2B

2. Harper RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Espinosa SS

7. Bernadina CF

8. Flores C

9. Jackson RHP

ED-WINNING WAYS
Jackson goes for his fifth win in his last seven starts tonight against the Marlins. In his last start on July 4, he outpitched San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner, allowing four runs on five hits in 5.2 innings. He will face Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano for just the second time in their respective careers, with the last matchup coming on June 23, 2009 at Detroit when Jackson was a member of the Tigers and Zambrano was with the Cubs.

FISH FRIED
Thanks to a dominant start from Stephen Strasburg and three scoreless innings from the bullpen, Washington blanked the Marlins 4-0 on Sunday in Miami. Strasburg (10-4) reached double digits in wins with six innings of shutout ball in which he fanned seven and walked just one. Ryan Mattheus, Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard combined to record the final nine outs, preserving the Nationals fifth shutout of the year.

DOUBLE-DIGIT DANDIES
When Strasburg pocketed his 10th win yesterday, he and Gio Gonzalez (12-4) became the first pair of NL teammates to reach the 10-win plateau. San Francisco’s Matt Cain (10-3) and Madison Bumgarner (11-5) became the second NL pair a few hours later when Cain logged his 10th win. The AL’s lone 10-win pair is Texas’ Matt Harrison (12-4) and Yu Darvish (10-6).

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Homestand Preview: 7/17-22

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Nationals vs. New York Mets (07/17-19) 

Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves (07/20-22)

TUES, 07/17 vs. New York Mets – First Pitch 7:05 p.m. – Center Field Gates Open 4:30 p.m

TV: MASN HD, MLBN

RADIO: 106.7 The Fan, WHFS 1580, WFED 1500

WED, 07/18 vs. New York Mets – First Pitch 7:05 p.m. – Center Field Gates Open 4:30 p.m. 

TV: MASN HD

RADIO: 106.7 The Fan, WHFS 1580, WFED 1500

 

THU, 07/19 vs. New York Mets – First Pitch 12:35 p.m. – Center Field Gates Open 10:00 a.m. 

TV: MASN HD

RADIO: 106.7 The Fan, WHFS 1580, WFED 1500

  • Beltway Burger Pack – The Beltway Burger Pack includes a ticket, burger, fries and choice of one regular soda or Dasani water, starting at $20.
  • Business Professional Day – Every organization that purchases 100 tickets throughout the 5 dates in 2012, will receive 4 Home Plate Reserved tickets for a select game (based upon availability). Options available to add value to your tickets, to be used for food and drinks at the ballpark
  • Camp Day – The Nationals welcome all youth Summer Camps, Day Care Centers, YMCA’s, and Boys & Girls Clubs to Nationals Park for our 8th Annual Camp Day. Tickets are $15 and include the game, parking, and a meal voucher.
  • Miller Lite 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.
  • Senior Day – Calling all seniors! Come out and enjoy a weekday afternoon or weekend game at Nationals Park at discounted prices! Handicap seats and seats shielded from the sun are available.

FRI, 07/20 vs. Atlanta Braves – First Pitch 7:05 p.m. – Center Field Gates Open 4:30 p.m.

TV: MASN HD, MLBN

RADIO: 106.7 The Fan, WHFS 1580, WFED 1500

  • Beer Stein Giveaway – First 10,000 Fans 21 and Up Presented by Miller Lite ONLY at Center Field Gates

 

SAT, 07/21 vs. Atlanta Braves – First Pitch 1:05 p.m. – Center Field Gates Open 10:30 a.m.

TV: MASN HD

RADIO: 106.7 The Fan, WHFS 1580, WFED 1500

  • Harris Teeter Family Fun Pack – With the purchase of every Family Fun Pack ticket FOR Upper Right Field Terrace or Outfield Reserve you will receive 1 hot dog, 1 bag of chips, and choice of 1 Coca-Cola/Dasani beverage.

SAT, 07/21 vs. Atlanta Braves – First Pitch 7:05 p.m. – Center Field Gates Open at 5:30 p.m., or 45 minutes after last pitch of first game

TV: MASN HD, MLBN

RADIO: 106.7 The Fan, WHFS 1580, WFED 1500

  • Scout Days – The Nationals invite the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Brownies, Cub Scouts, Daisy’s, Eagle Scouts and other organized scout groups to attend all four specially designated Scout Days. All pre-registered Scouts receive special discounts on reserved seating and a commemorative patch unique for each of the four Scout Days.

 

SUN, 07/22 vs. Atlanta Braves – First Pitch 1:35 p.m. – Center Field Gates Open 11:00 a.m.

TV: MASN HD, WDCW DC-50

RADIO: 106.7 The Fan, WHFS 1580, WFED 1500

  • 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.
  • Peanut Free Baseball – 4th annual Peanut Free Baseball Day in the Nationals Park Party Suites! Party suites will be cleaned thoroughly the night before and the day of each event.

What to Watch for: 7/15

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Washington Nationals (50-35) vs. Miami Marlins (42-45)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (9-4, 2.82) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (8-6, 4.35)

The Nationals dropped a 2-1 decision to the Marlins to level the series at a game apiece last night. All-Star Stephen Strasburg takes to the hill to try to help earn at least a split of the four-game set this afternoon in South Beach.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Lombardozzi, 2B
2. Harper, RF
3. Zimmerman, 3B
4. LaRoche, 1B
5. Morse, LF
6. Espinosa, SS
7. Bernadina, CF
8. Solano, C
9. Strasburg, RHP

MEN OF STEAL
Including another two last night, the Nationals lead the Major Leagues with 18 stolen bases in July (Miami is 2nd with 15). The Nationals have swiped 10 bags over the last three contests and have 18 stolen bases in 20 attempts this month. Washington swiped just 45 bases in the first three months of this season, which ranked tied for 13th in the National League (tied for 23rd in MLB).

GIO SHINES BUT TAKES LOSS IN HOMECOMING START
Gio Gonzalez, from nearby Hialeah, FL, turned in another solid outing, however, the Nationals’ offense stalled en route to a 2-1 loss on Saturday at Miami. Gonzalez (12-4) took the loss despite logging his 13th quality start with six innings of two-run ball, fanning nine without issuing a walk. Washington posted its only run via a Jesus Flores RBI-single in the fifth inning that scored Ian Desmond. Last night’s loss marked the ninth time this season the Nationals provided run support of two runs or fewer behind Gonzalez (he owns a 3-4 mark in those contests). It’s worth noting that Gonzalez is 9-0 this season and 40-2 during his career when his offense puts up more than two runs in his starts.

FISHING FOR A W
Starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg looks to get back in the win column today against the Miami Marlins. In two starts in South Florida, Strasburg owns a 2-0 record with a 0.00 ERA, with both starts coming at the old park. This will be his first time pitching at Marlins Park.

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What to Watch for: 7/14

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Washington Nationals (50-34) vs. Miami Marlins (41-45)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (12-3, 2.92) vs. LHP Mark Buerhle (8-8, 3.25)

The Nationals and Marlins meet for the second of a three-game set, with prized offseason left-handed pitching acquisitions Gio Gonzalez and Mark Buehrle going head-to-head. Gonzalez, a native of Hialeah, FL, makes his first start of the year in Miami.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Espinosa 2B

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Morse RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Moore LF

8. Flores C

9. Gonzalez LHP

Z-MEN LEAD NATIONALS TO 50TH WIN

Jordan Zimmermann (6-6) logged 6.0 scoreless frames, lowering his ERA to 2.48, en route to his 3rd straight winning decision and Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-4 including a 2-run homer, leading the Nationals to a 5-1 win last night at Miami, their first-ever at Marlins Park.

SETTING THE TABLE

Last night’s win marked the 18th time the Nationals have won a series opener this season. Washington has gone on to win the series 14 of the previous 17 times they won the first game of a set, splitting two-game series in the other three instances. With a win tonight, the Nationals would claim their 18th series win, after going 17-7-4 in series play prior to the All-Star break.

NATIONALS ADD ANOTHER GIO TO STABLE

At yesterday’s 5:00 p.m. signing deadline, the Nationals announced they agreed to terms with RHP Lucas Giolito, their first-round (16th overall) selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Harvard-Westlake School in California…the 17-year-old went 9-1 with 78 strikeouts and a 1.00 ERA in 70.1 IP as a senior this year, after being named a Perfect Game All-American as a junior in ‘11. In all, Washington agreed to terms with 29 players selected in the 2012 Draft, including its top 14 picks and 23 of its top 24 selections.

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What to Watch for: 7/13

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Washington Nationals (49-34) vs. Miami Marlins (41-44)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (5-6, 2.61) vs. RHP Josh Johnson (5-5, 4.06)

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Lombardozzi LF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Morse RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Flores C

9. Zimmermann RHP

THE JOURNEY AHEAD

The Nationals open the 2nd half of their schedule with a 4-game series in MIA, the beginning of a stretch that includes 14 straight against the NL East (at 16-9, Washington has posted the best intradivisional record among the NL East’s five teams)…47 of their final 79 contests will be against NL East foes.

GOOD PEN-MANSHIP

Jim Lett’s seven-man bullpen contains five relievers currently sporting sub-2.00 ERAs: LHP Michael Gonzalez (1.50 ERA, 12.0 innings/17 games), Craig Stammen (1.74 ERA, 46.2 innings/32 games), RHP Ryan Mattheus (1.82 ERA, 29.2 innings/29 games), RHP Tyler Clippard (1.93 ERA, 37.1 innings/38 games) and LHP Sean Burnett (1.99, 31.2 innings/38 games). Collectively, the aforementioned bullpen quintet has posted a 1.83 ERA (32 ER/157.1 IP) and 8.9 strikeouts per 9.0 innings in 157.1 innings this season.

IAN-CREDIBLE POWER

After belting four home runs in the final six games leading into the All-Star break, Ian Desmond ranks tied for sixth in the NL with a team-best 17 longballs…his homer total leads all MLB shortstops this season. With 79 games remaining, Desmond’s next blast will establish a new Nationals/Expos single-season franchise record for homers by a shortstop. He is currently tied with Orlando Cabrera (17 HR for Montreal in ‘03).

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Walk Off, Walk On

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Some of the best baseball games are defined by their final moment. That being said, not all final moments are exciting, and not all games created equal. Not much in baseball tops the walk-off win, when the home team ends the game and gets to celebrate on the field as the opposition heads for the clubhouse.

The Nationals collected seven walk-off wins in the season’s first half (including five in extra innings), the highest total in the National League. Which one was your favorite? Relive each moment below, then be sure to vote in the poll at the bottom of the page.

1. April 12: Ryan Zimmerman scores on a wild pitch in the 10th inning of the home opener.

2. April 13: Jayson Werth singles with the bases loaded to beat the Reds in 13 innings.

3. April 21: Ian Desmond’s sacrifice fly scores Wilson Ramos to beat the Marlins in the 10th inning.

4. May 2: Down one run with two outs in the ninth, Desmond hits a two-run shot off D-backs closer J.J. Putz.

5. May 4: With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th, Ramos singles up the middle to beat the Phillies in the series opener of NATITUDE Weekend.

6. June 5: Bryce Harper collects the first walk-off by a Major League teenager since 1988, beating the Mets in 12 innings.

7. July 5: The Giants can’t complete the back end of a double play, allowing Harper to score on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Adam LaRoche.

The Race Is On

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It has been a thrilling first half of the baseball season in the Nation’s Capital, punctuated by tight, low-scoring games and wild finishes. There has been a multitude of different heroes, both household fixtures and under-the-radar names. Nearly every player on the Nationals roster can lay claim to a defining moment of the season. And we’re only halfway home.

The Beast is back, and there’s more help on the way in the season’s second half.

With 83 games already in the rear-view mirror, there are still 79 remaining, a reminder that as far as this team has come, there is just as far still to travel. And while we were quite vocal in telling you that the window of opportunity was going to open this year, it is hard to imagine anyone expecting the Nationals to own the best record in the National League at this juncture in mid-July.

Let the numbers wash over you; take a moment to soak them in. A 49-34 record, best in the National League. A four-game advantage over the second-place Braves, the largest division lead in the NL. Seven walk-off wins, best in the National League. A 3.20 team ERA, the lowest in baseball. All of these are impressive feats, especially given the injuries the Nationals have faced this year, but they also only go to show just how much work still remains.

The Nationals have already employed 36 different players on their 25-man roster, and will add at least one more to that list soon, with Drew Storen’s impending 2012 debut. Chad Tracy and Jayson Werth are expected back in the not-too-distant-future as well, bringing plenty of value with them, but also questions about how manager Davey Johnson may, in turn, juggle his roster. Where will those who have filled in so capably – the Tyler Moore’s, Steve Lombardozzi’s and Michael Gonzalez’s of the world – find themselves upon these players returning? The surplus of talent is certainly a good problem to have.

Where would the Nationals be without contributions from rookies like Steve Lombardozzi?

One thing is certain: the road does not get any easier. Washington faces NL East foes in the first 14 games out of the All-Star break, beginning Friday night with four in Miami, a city that has been something of a house of horrors for the Nats over the years. The Nationals are just 24-42 in South Florida since 2005, and have won only three of their last 14 series on the road against the Marlins. They dropped three straight over Memorial Day earlier this year.

Of course, Washington will take on a Miami team missing its primary offensive weapon – Giancarlo Stanton – who Bryce Harper (ironically) replaced in the All-Star Game. With four days to rest up from the bangs and bruises of the first half, now is as good a time as ever to buck that trend and begin the second half on the right foot.

Has everyone had time to breathe? Good, because now the real fun begins.

The Brightest Stars

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Matt Kinsey doffs his cap to the crowd in Kansas City.

When Matt Kinsey and Saul Bosquez – members of the Washington Nationals Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team – found out they would be a part of this year’s All-Star festivities in Kansas City, they felt like they had already hit the jackpot. Their invitation to take part in the 2012 Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball game alongside actors, musicians and baseball greats was reward enough in and of itself. But as Kinsey, Bosquez and all of the Wounded Warriors have reminded us in the past, they don’t play for show. They play to win.

A group of D.C. celebrities and sports figures learned that lesson the hard way first hand back in April, when the Wounded Warriors torched them, 17-4, in an exhibition game at Nationals Park. So it should come as no surprise to any readers who are familiar with their story that the two would come out swinging in Kansas City.

Bosquez started at shortstop – a premiere defensive position – for the American League team and went a perfect 3-for-3 with an RBI. He could not have been more pleased with his performance, or more grateful for the opportunity to play on such a stage.

“Besides the birth of my son, this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Bosquez said. “We’re so proud to be here and to wear the Curly W.”

But Kinsey was not to be outdone. Playing first base opposite his fellow Wounded Warrior, he went 3-for-3 as well, and belted a home run to key his team’s 21-8 victory. As a result, Kinsey took home the ultimate honor: he was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Just like Bosquez, Kinsey too was full of nothing but thanks for his chance to shine.

“To take the field representing the Washington Nationals and play with so many celebrities and Hall of Famers in front of thousands of fans was one of the biggest honors of my life,” Kinsey said.

You can catch Kinsey and Bosquez’s memorable performances tonight beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET following the State Farm Home Run Derby on ESPN.

What to Watch for: 7/8

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Colorado Rockies (32-52) vs. Washington Nationals (49-33)

RHP Jeremy Guthrie (3-8, 6.28) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (5-6, 2.70)

The Nationals and Rockies match up in the final tilt before the All-Star Break this afternoon. Jordan Zimmermann, with a chance to tie his pitching record at 6-6, will push to secure the Nats 50th win before the break. After sweeping the Giants earlier in the week, the Nats look to take two consecutive series at home with a victory today.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Lombardozzi LF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Morse RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Solano C

9. Zimmermann RHP

BREAK TIME

If the Nationals (49-33, .598) can top the Rockies today, they will record the best first-“half” winning percentage since their arrival in the District. The inaugural-season 2005 Nationals’ 52-36 record is the target, as they played .591 ball entering the All-Star Break.

RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD

Washington plays its sixth rubber game of the season this afternoon at Nationals Park. The Nats are 4-1 in rubber games this year, having posted wins on July 1 at Atlanta (W, 8-4), June 21 vs. Tampa Bay (W, 5-2), May 3 vs. Arizona (W, 2-1) and April 11 at the Mets (W, 4-0). The lone loss came two weeks ago, June 24 at Baltimore (L, 1-2).

HOT! HOT! HOT!

With an announced temperature of 101 degrees at first pitch, yesterday’s game matched the hottest in the Nationals eight D.C. summers. Washington hosted the New York Mets in identical 101 degree heat on July 29, 2011. Speaking of hot, the Nationals have won five of their last six games, 11 of 17 and 17 of 27 with Ian Desmond clubbing home runs in five of his last 10 games. Desmond and Houston’s Jed Lawrie are currently the only shortstops in MLB to lead their club outright in home runs.

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What to Watch for: 7/7

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Colorado Rockies (32-51) vs. Washington Nationals (48-33)

LHP Jeff Francis (2-1, 5.16) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (11-3, 3.01)

The Nationals look to bounce back this afternoon after a 5-1 loss to the Rockies last night. Gio Gonzalez, already with 11 wins, has the chance to snag his fourth consecutive victory and bring the team back up to its high-water mark of 16 games over .500.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Espinosa 2B

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Morse RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Moore LF

8. Flores C

9. Gonzalez LHP

D.C.’S 1-2 PUNCH

Washington is 25-8 (.758) in games started by Stephen Strasburg or Gio Gonzalez this year. Only once this season have the Nationals lost consecutive games started by Strasburg and Gonzalez, while facing the Dodgers in April in Los Angeles.

GOOD BASEBALL GALORE

Despite Friday’s setback, the Nationals have won four of their last five contests, 10 of 16 and 16 of 26. If the Nationals (48-33, .593) can best the Rockies both today and tomorrow, they will record the best first-”half” winning percentage since their arrival in The District.

HOT TO TROT

With the National Weather Service issuing an Excessive Heat Warning for today, note that the hottest game Nationals (2005-present) on record came via a 104-degree first pitch last Saturday, June 30 at Turner Field (L, 5-7). Assuming triple-digit temps at first pitch today, this will mark the fifth time in 12 games dating to June 25 that the Nationals have battled temps of at least 100 degrees.

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