May 2013

Highlights: 5.26.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

5.26.13 – Nationals 6, Phillies 1

Stat of the Game: Stephen Strasburg struck out nine without walking a batter over eight strong innings to earn his third victory. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: Steve Lombardozzi delivered his fifth hit and fourth RBI of the series with his two-run double in the seventh.

It Was Over When: Denard Span slashed an RBI-double to cap a five-run seventh inning, Washington’s largest output in a single frame all season.

Clinically Speaking

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Saturday morning, Nationals coaches held a youth baseball clinic, presented by Medstar Health, at Nationals Park in an effort to continue enhancing youth baseball programs in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia region.  The Nationals coaching staff provided major league instruction for children from King Greenleaf Recreation Center, USO Metropolitan Washington and MVP members of the Jr. Nats club.

The group kicked off the clinic with warm-up and stretching exercises that mirror those of the Nationals players, and took full advantage of the stadium’s facilities through various baseball drills. From taking batting practice in the batting cage and fielding balls in the outfield to working on pitching techniques in the bullpen, the young athletes took full advantage of their time at the ballpark.

The event wrapped up with lunch as well as a meet-and-greet and autographs with Nationals outfielder Roger Bernadina.

Check out a photo gallery from the event below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What to Watch for: 5.26.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Philadelphia Phillies (24-25) vs. Washington Nationals (25-24)

LHP Cole Hamels (1-7, 4.45) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (2-5, 2.66) 

The Nationals fell 5-3 last night, despite outhitting the Phillies 11-6, but turn to Stephen Strasburg in the series rubber match, as Ross Detwiler moves two slots in the rotation. With Detwiler set to return Tuesday, the team looks to put it all together on offense today against a struggling Cole Hamels.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Harper RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Moore LF

7. Solano C

8. Lombardozzi 2B

9. Strasburg RHP

DAN THE DOUBLE-DIGIT MAN

By fanning 10 on Saturday vs. Philadelphia, Dan Haren became the first Nationals pitcher to record a double-digit strikeout effort not only this season, but since Edwin Jackson punched out 10 Cardinals on August 30, 2012 in D.C. Washington starters went 80 games between double-digit strikeout tallies. Haren’s 14 career games of 10+ punch outs is the most among current Nationals. The remainder of the staff has 18 combined 10+ K efforts: Stephen Strasburg (8), Gio Gonzalez (7), Jordan Zimmermann (3)

2ND TO ONE

With Jeff Kobernus’ Major League debut on Saturday, he became the second Nationals second-round draft selection to reach the big leagues. The first was Jordan Zimmermann, who is 32-28 with a 3.24 ERA in 91 starts for Washington since being tabbed with the 67th-overall selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

BABY STEPS

With 10 hits on Friday and 11 more on Saturday, the Nationals have recorded consecutive double-digit hit totals for the first time since doing so in three straight contests, April 9-11 vs. the White Sox (13, 11, 10).

What to Watch for: 5.25.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Philadelphia Phillies (23-25) vs. Washington Nationals (25-23)

RHP Jonathan Pettibone (3-0, 3.00) vs. RHP Dan Haren (4-5, 5.44)

The Nationals go for their third straight win as they face the Phillies in the second of a three-game series. After a two-out rally in the fifth last night, the team looks to continue their offensive success and hand Jonathan Pettibone his first loss of the 2013 season. In addition, the Nationals selected infielder/outfielder Jeff Kobernus from Triple-A Syracuse and designated right-handed pitcher Yunesky Maya for assignment.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Harper RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Suzuki C

7. Moore LF

8. Lombardozzi 2B

9. Haren RHP

21 LETTERS DOOM THE PHILLIES: ZIMMERMANN & LOMBARDOZZI

Steve Lombardozzi sparked the Nationals 10-hit attack with three hits, the last of which was a two-run double that capped the scoring. Jordan Zimmermann became the National League’s first eight-game winner by allowing just two runs on six hits in 7.0 innings. Washington took the lead for good thanks to a four-run fifth, which matched their largest single-inning output of this season.

STINGY WITH THE LONG BALL

Nationals pitchers rank fifth in Major League Baseball, having allowed only 39 home runs this season (0.83 per 9.0 innings). Last season, Washington ranked second in MLB in fewest home runs allowed (120) and homers allowed per 9.0 innings (0.79 per 9.0 innings).

CATT’S MEOW

Steve McCatty’s starting staff has fashioned a 3.24 ERA this season that currently ranks third in MLB behind only the Cardinals (2.64) and Reds (3.21).

National Det Rising

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

The video below is a supplemental bonus feature for the cover article National Det Rising, from Issue 5 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.

IP5_Detwiler_Medium

What to Watch for: 5.24.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Philadelphia Phillies (23-24) vs. Washington Nationals (24-23)

RHP Kyle Kendrick (4-2, 2.82) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (7-1, 1.62)

The Nationals return home to match up with the Phillies for the first time in the 2013 season, coming off an off-day following their 2-1, 10-inning victory in San Francisco on Wednesday. Jordan Zimmermann takes his second crack at his eighth win in a battle of right-handers.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Harper RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Suzuki C

7. Moore LF

8. Lombardozzi 2B

9. Zimmermann RHP

EXTRA IAN-NINGS

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ian Desmond is now 7-for-18 in extra innings the last two seasons (‘12-13), during which Desmond’s .389 extra-inning batting average is tied for third in Major League Baseball (minimum 15 at-bats) with St. Louis’s John Jay. Only Hanley Ramirez (.467) and Yadier Molina (.400) have posted superior marks.

THE POWER OF 3 (AND 5)

When scoring three or more runs this season, the Nationals are 20-3 (.869). However, when plating two or fewer runs, Washington is just 4-20 (.167). Additionally, the Nationals are a perfect 17-0 when scoring five or more times.

THE SERIES

Washington is 16-11 against the Phillies under Davey Johnson, including a 4-1 mark in one-run contests. Before going 10-8 against the Phillies in ‘11, the Nationals/Expos had won only two season series from Philadelphia the previous 14 years.

Happy Flight Home

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Winning on the road in extra innings is one of the hardest things to do in baseball. In fact, one could argue that it’s the toughest overtime scenario in any major sport. Even reaching that point means you’ve already survived a sudden death situation in the bottom of the ninth, and no matter what kind of rally you put together, your opponent will always have the chance to counter. It is perhaps the biggest factor in baseball’s home field advantage, one that extends far beyond the simple comforts of playing in familiar surroundings, in front of the hometown crowd.

But that’s exactly what the Nationals did on Wednesday, scratching out a 10th-inning run to wrestle a 2-1 victory away from the Giants in front of a raucous San Francisco crowd. Bryce Harper made a pair of crucial catches, Adam LaRoche reminded everyone that he’s still a wizard at first base, and Ian Desmond stepped in following an intentional walk to Ryan Zimmerman to deliver the game-winning hit.

“It’s gonna be a good flight back home,” said Gio Gonzalez, who silenced the Giants offense into the eighth inning, but came away with a no decision. “Today was a great example of how they battled, and we fought all the way to the end.”

Harper led a team effort in a gutty win Wednesday.

Harper led a team effort in a gutty win Wednesday.

Athletes will often say that after things go poorly for them, the first thing they want to do is get back to the same situation in which failed in order to have another chance to succeed. For Harper, that meant a chance to track down Hunter Pence’s ball on the warning track in the sixth inning Wednesday, in an eerily similar spot to the ball he couldn’t corral in the ninth inning Tuesday night, leading to the game-tying run. For Rafael Soriano, it meant another one-run lead entrusted to his right arm less than 24 hours after a blown save in the same spot, with a chance to once again lock down a huge road victory.

“People on the outside don’t really understand what kind of a mental hurdle that is,” said Desmond in regards to Harper’s play in particular. “Whether you run into a wall, or you get caught stealing, whatever it may be, to bounce back from it is a huge mental hurdle. That took some big guts today, a lot of guts from everybody.”

There was, perhaps, some fitting irony that it came down to Marco Scutaro – owner of the longest hitting streak in the Majors this year at 19 games – for the final out. Hitless to that point on Wednesday, Scutaro got a decent piece of Soriano’s 2-2 offering, but the ball came to rest in the leather of Roger Bernadina’s glove, a step onto the left field warning track at AT&T Park, snapping Scutaro’s streak as well as Washington’s four-game slide. For a team that has yet to notch a walk-off win following 12 of them last season, it was as close as the Nationals had come all year to that kind of dramatic, momentum-shifting victory.

“It makes the trip home easier,” said manager Davey Johnson of Wednesday’s result. “This was a good road trip to get through, and I’m glad to be coming home with a win, a tough one.”

And so, a 10-game trip full of trials and tribulations ended on a high note. While the Nationals would have liked to win more than four of those contests, the fourth and final victory may prove to be the most important win of the season so far.

Highlights: 5.22.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

5.22.13 – Nationals 2, Giants 1 (10 innings)

Stat of the Game: Bryce Harper scored both Washington runs, including the game-winner in the 10th inning. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: Gio Gonzalez held the Giants in check all afternoon, departing in the eighth inning with a 1-0 lead.

It Was Over When: Ian Desmond singled home Harper to break a 1-1 tie in the 10th and lead the Nationals to victory.

What to Watch for: 5.22.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Washington Nationals (23-23) vs. San Francisco Giants (26-20)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 4.01) vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner (4-2, 3.09)

Gio Gonzalez takes the hill for Washington as the Nationals aim to end their 10-game west coast swing on a high note. He will be opposed by fellow southpaw Madison Bumgarner, who is coming off his worst outing of the season, having allowed nine runs (seven earned) in 4.1 innings of work in Colorado last Friday.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Harper RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Desmond SS

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Moore LF

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

MIDDLE MEN

The 3-4-5 hitters in Washington’s lineup have hit a combined .315 (52-for-165) with 10 home runs and 33 RBI while pocketing 18 walks and scoring 28 runs in the team’s last 15 games. Those same spots in the order are batting a combined .269 (135-for-501) with 25 HR & 77 RBI for the season.

LONG STREAK OF LONG BALLS

The Nationals have hit at least one home run in 70 consecutive series (none in current series). The last time Washington played a homerless series was during a four-game set at Citi Field, September 12-15, 2011. The Nationals 70-series run is currently the second-longest such streak in MLB (the Rangers have homered in 79 straight series) and the longest streak in DC-baseball history (1901-71, 2005-present). The Nationals, however, still have some work to do to set the franchise mark, as the Expos went deep in 71 consecutive series from April 16, 1998-June 18, 1999).

MID-WEEK WARRIORS

Washington has played its best ball in the middle of the week, going a combined 11-2 on Wednesday-Thursday this season (compared to 12-21 from Friday-Tuesday). The Nationals are 5-2 on Wednesday in 2013.

Highlights: 5.21.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

5.21.13 – Giants 4, Nationals 2 (10 innings)

Stat of the Game: Stephen Strasburg turned in seven quality innings, allowing a single run while striking out seven. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ian Desmond had a pair of hits, including a two-out, RBI-double in the first inning.

It Was Over When: The Giants ended things in extra innings on a Pablo Sandoval home run.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 549 other followers