April 2013

Highlights: 4.23.13

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4.23.13 – Cardinals 2, Nationals 0

Stat of the Game: Nationals bullpen relievers Henry Rodriguez and Tyler Clippard combined to toss three hitless frames, running the bullpen’s scoreless streak to 12.0 innings overall.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ross Detwiler took the tough-luck loss despite delivering his fourth straight quality start to begin the 2013 season.

It Was Over When: Washington got the tying run to the plate in three of the final four frames, but could not get a run across.

What to Watch for: 4.23.13

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St. Louis Cardinals (11-8) vs. Washington Nationals (10-9)

RHP Adam Wainwright (3-1, 2.48) vs. LHP Ross Detwiler (1-0, 0.90)

The Nationals and Cardinals match up for the second of three contests as Washington’s NLDS Game 4 starter Ross Detwiler squares off with St. Louis Games 1 and 5 starter Adam Wainwright. Detwiler carries the National League’s best ERA into tonight’s game, a mark he shares with Boston’s Clay Buchholz as the lowest in all of Major League Baseball.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Rendon 3B

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Detwiler LHP

AGGRESSIVE APRIL

With eight games remaining in the month, Bryce Harper has already matched Alfonso Soriano’s 2006 Nationals club record for home runs in April with seven. Harper’s 14 RBI are just three shy of matching Adam LaRoche (17 in 2012) and Ryan Zimmerman (17 in ‘06) for the club mark in April.

EXTRA, EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT!

The Nationals (40.5%) rank third in Major League Baseball in extra-base hit percentage. Only Cleveland (43.2%) and Oakland (40.9%) own superior percentages. Washington’s 148 hits this season include 34 doubles, three triples and 23 homers.

PIVOTAL PRODUCTION

Ian Desmond (12), Danny Espinosa (6) and Steve Lombardozzi (2) have combined on 20 extra-base hits, tops among middle-infield units. The Reds and Phillies, with 17 XBH apiece from its middle infielders, are tied for second in MLB.

Highlights: 4.22.13

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4.22.13 – Cardinals 3, Nationals 2

Stat of the Game: Anthony Rendon collected his first Major League hit and RBI on the same play, a game-tying double in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Under-the-Radar Performance: The Washington bullpen stranded three inherited runners and delivered 4.0 innings of scoreless relief.

It Was Over When: The Nationals threatened in both the seventh and eighth innings but stranded a pair of runners in each frame.

What to Watch for: 4.22.13

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St. Louis Cardinals (10-8) vs. Washington Nationals (10-8)

RHP Shelby Miller (2-1, 1.96) vs. RHP Dan Haren (1-2, 8.10)

The Nationals return home following a 3-3 road trip to take on the St. Louis Cardinals for the first time since last year’s National League Division Series. The opener will have a different feel than 2012, however, as Shelby Miller will face Washington for the first time and former Cardinal Dan Haren will take the hill against St. Louis for the first time since 2010.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Rendon 3B

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Haren RHP

UP AND DOWN

Washington’s offensive output on the trek was literally up and down, as they scored (in chronological order) 10, 2, 6, 1, 7 and 0 runs in the six games. So Washington plated 7.7 runs per game in the three wins, but just 1.0 run per contest in the three defeats.

JIM LETT’S BUDDING BULLPEN

Jim Lett’s bullpen excelled on the roadtrip, going 1-0 with a 2.87 ERA (5 ER/15.2 IP) in five games (Jordan Zimmermann tossed a complete game on Monday at Miami). Lett’s relievers posted a 9.5/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a .193 batting average against during the five-game revival.

GOOD COMPANY

Ian Desmond’s National League-leading 11 extra-base hits (seven doubles, one triple, three homers) are tied with New York (AL)’s Robinson Cano and Oakland’s Jed Lowrie for the Major League lead among middle infielders.

The Werth Factor

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The video below is a supplemental bonus feature for the 2013 Washington Nationals Yearbook and for the cover article The Werth Factor, from Issue 3 of the 2013 Inside Pitch. Beginning this season, we will provide links, text shortcodes and QR codes to digital features like this one throughout Nationals Magazine and Inside Pitch.

IP3-cover-FINAL

Highlights: 4.21.13

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4.21.13 – Mets 2, Nationals 0

Stat of the Game: Three of Washington’s top four batters in the lineup reached base twice, but the Nationals were unable to push across any runs in the loss.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Steve Lombardozzi came off the bench with a pinch-single, raising his average to .333 for the season.

It Was Over When: The Nationals could not capitalize on their best rally opportunity with two on and none out in the seventh inning.

Big Debut in the Apple

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On April 27 last year, the Nationals were on the road in Los Angeles when they discovered they would be without the services of their franchise third baseman for a couple of weeks. Ryan Zimmerman landed on the 15-day disabled list, prompting Nationals EVP of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo to make a move everyone knew was coming, but more quickly than most expected. Washington recalled Bryce Harper, who made his electrifying debut the next night under the bright lights.

On Sunday, a week shy of a year since Harper’s debut, another similar situation has opened a door for a Nationals minor leaguer. What Davey Johnson announced after Washington’s rousing, Harper-fueled, 7-6 win Saturday was confirmed on Sunday. The Nationals officially recalled top prospect Anthony Rendon to take Zimmerman’s spot on the roster.

Rendon will look to carry his Spring Training success into his Major League debut.

Rendon will look to carry his Spring Training success into his Major League debut.

“I guess I was pretty surprised,” said Rendon Sunday morning, standing in front of his Major League locker for the first time, a pair of cowboy boots at the Houston native’s side. “It was so early in the season, I wasn’t expecting it.”

Much of the same could have been said about Harper a year ago. However, Rendon does not arrive with nearly the same level of hype, nor expectations as Harper. There is no permanent opening on the roster for him to logically fill at this point. Johnson made it clear on Saturday that the intent is for him to fill Zimmerman’s shoes until he recovers. After that, the club will have a decision to make.

Rendon’s job, as long as he is up, is to make that decision as tough as possible.

Hitting together with Harper, Danny Espinosa and Chad Tracy in batting practice Sunday, Rendon laced eight balls into the seats in his five turns in the cage, crashing another two off the wall in left. His most impressive shot clanked off the giant, hydraulic red apple raised up 20 feet high behind the 408 mark in dead center wall at Citi Field.

“I’m excited, that’s awesome,” said Harper upon learning that Rendon would get the chance to prove himself. “He’s a special talent, and it’s exciting to have a guy like that up here. It’s going to be fun to watch him play.”

Prior to the game on Saturday, Rizzo admitted that he never expected Rendon to still be on the board when the Nationals were to pick with the sixth overall selection in 2011. When he was, there was no way he could pass on the kid many believed to have the best bat in a talented draft class. Now Rizzo will get to watch his first-round selections from back-to-back drafts on the field together for the first time at the Major League level.

So, is Rendon ready for the Major Leagues, ready to hit against the top pitchers in the game with the added pressure of the big stage?

“There’s only one way to find out,” said the 22-year-old confidently. “That’s to be here.”

He’ll get his first chance Sunday, hitting sixth and playing third base in his debut.

What to Watch for: 4.21.13

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Washington Nationals (10-7) vs. New York Mets (8-8)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (3-0, 2.45) vs. RHP Dillon Gee (0-3, 8.36)

The Nationals squared the series with the Mets, courtesy of a 7-6 victory Saturday afternoon. Following the game, infielder Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 18, and infielder Anthony Rendon was recalled from Double-A Harrisburg to fill his spot on the roster. Rendon will make his Major League debut at third base and will hit sixth in the Washington lineup. Rendon’s debut comes exactly one week shy of one year after Bryce Harper’s, on April 28 of last season.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Rendon 3B

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Zimmermann RHP

EXTRA EFFORT

In Saturday’s victory, each of Washington’s seven hits went for extra bases (three doubles, four home runs). In so doing, the Nationals became the first Major League team to win a game and post as many as seven hits, all for extra bases, since the Tigers (four doubles, four home runs) did so in a 7-4 victory over Minnesota on July 10, 2010.

TWICE AS BRYCE

Bryce Harper homered twice to notch his second multi-homer game of the season and the fourth of his career. His two home runs and a double netted him 10 total bases for the afternoon, a new career high. Harper also walked as part of a 3-for-3 performance, scoring three times and driving in three runs.

TOUGH SLEDDING

Beginning with Friday’s series opener in New York, the Nationals are two games (1-1) into a 19-game stretch in which they play teams currently sporting at least a .500 record.

Highlights: 4.20.13

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4.20.13 – Mets 7, Nationals 1

Stat of the Game: Bryce Harper notched his second multi-homer game of the season and the fourth of his career, going 3-for-3 with the two dingers, a walk, a double, three runs scored and three RBI.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Craig Stammen did not earn a decision, but struck out five of the six batters he faced over two perfect innings of relief.

It Was Over When: Harper homered for the second time to break a 6-6 tie on the first pitch of the eighth inning, then Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano combined for the game’s final six outs.

What to Watch for: 4.20.13

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Washington Nationals (9-7) vs. New York Mets (8-7)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 4.50) vs. RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 7.20)

The Nationals dropped the series opener Friday night in Flushing and are an even 2-2 on their current six-game road swing with two games left to play. Gio Gonzalez, who was 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA in four starts vs. New York in 2012, looks to get back on track as he matches up with Mets righty Jeremy Hefner, who was 0-3 with a 5.29 ERA in three starts against Washington last season.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Tracy 3B

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

ERRATIC BATS OF LATE

After taking two-of-three at Miami thanks to 10-3 and 6-1 victories, the Nationals plated just a single run on four hits in dropping Friday’s series opener at Citi Field. In its last six games, Washington has scored two runs or less four times and tallied just four hits in a game thrice. The Nationals have averaged 6.0 runs per game in their nine wins this season and only 1.6 runs per contest in the season’s seven losses.

PLUSES AND MINUSES

At present, Washington is the only team in MLB with both a winning record (9-7) and a negative run differential (-13). The defending World Champion Giants (10-7) come close, however, having both scored and allowed 77 runs.

DON’T WALK

Nationals starting pitchers rank third in Major League Baseball, having issued just 1.98 walks per 9.0 innings. Only the starting staffs of the Mariners (1.70) and Brewers (1.85) have been stingier with the free pass.

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