May 2013

Highlights: 5.12.13

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5.12.13 – Cubs 2, Nationals 1

Stat of the Game: Gio Gonzalez took a perfect game into the sixth inning, allowing just two hits in seven scoreless frames overall. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ryan Zimmerman collected two hits and Washington’s lone RBI, on a double in the first inning.

It Was Over When: Kurt Suzuki‘s throw to third on a steal attempt by Alfonso Soriano ticked off batter Welington Castillo’s bat, allowing Soriano to score with the winning run.

What to Watch for: 5.12.13

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Chicago Cubs (14-22) vs. Washington Nationals (20-16)

RHP Scott Feldman (3-3, 2.70) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 4.97)

Washington looks to make it a 4-1 homestand with a rubber match victory over the Cubs today. The Nationals send southpaw Gio Gonzalez to the hill in search of his fourth win as Bryce Harper returns to the starting lineup for the first time since Thursday.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Lombardozzi LF

3. Harper RF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

COUPLE OF 3

Ian Desmond has posted consecutive three-hit efforts in two games this weekend against the Cubs. This is the third time in Desmond’s career he has registered three or more hits in back-to-back games, previously doing so in August of 2010. Spanning the 2012-13 campaigns, Desmond is 17-for-38 (.447) with five doubles, four home runs, 11 RBI, three walks, two stolen bases and nine runs scored in nine games against the North-siders.

PIVOTAL PRODUCTION

Desmond (21), Danny Espinosa (12) and Steve Lombardozzi (2) have combined on 35 extra-base hits, tops among MLB middle-infield units. The Phillies rank second with 29 extra-base hits.

BETTER THAN LAST YEAR’S BEST

Nationals starting pitchers rank second in the National League and third in MLB with a 3.32 ERA (81 ER/219.1 IP). Last season, Washington paced the NL in starters ERA at 3.40.

5 Series Scavenger Hunt

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We’ve come to the end of the first 5 Series homestand, and we’re going out with a bang. Join us for a pregame scavenger hunt, where you can win all sorts of free stuff, from ballpark food to seat upgrades to authentic memorabilia! The first five finishers will take home our top prizes, but there will be great stuff along the way at each stop.

Look for your first clue on Twitter after 12:00 p.m. today! Click here for official rules, and we’ll see you at the ballpark!

WNA_5Series_Logo_Horiz_OnWHITE

Highlights: 5.11.13

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5.11.13 – Cubs 8, Nationals 2

Stat of the Game: Ian Desmond singled, doubled and homered for the second straight game, bringing his batting average up to to an even .300 for the season. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: Henry Rodriguez tossed a pair of scoreless innings of relief with two strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 3.09.

It Was Over When: The Cubs followed their four-run fifth with four more in the sixth inning to open up a seven-run advantage.

What to Watch for: 5.11.13

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Chicago Cubs (13-22) vs. Washington Nationals (20-15)

RHP Edwin Jackson (0-5, 6.39) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-4, 3.45)

The Nationals look for their sixth consecutive win Saturday afternoon, when they host former teammate Edwin Jackson and the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park. Stephen Strasburg takes the mound for Washington, seeking his first victory since Opening Day.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Bernadina RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Espinosa 2B

7. Moore LF

8. Ramos C

9. Strasburg RHP

DESI DOES IT

Ian Desmond went 3-for-4 yesterday, becoming the third Nationals player (2005-present) to collect 500 hits. He joins Ryan Zimmerman (1,128 hits) and Christian Guzman (581) as members of the 500 hit club in the District. Middle infield mate Danny Espinosa (324 hits) is next on the list.

LONG STREAK OF LONG BALLS

The Nationals have hit at least one home run in 68 consecutive series, extending that mark with Ian Desmond’s blast Friday against Chicago. The last time Washington played a homerless series was during a four-game set at Citi Field, September 12-15, 2011. Only the Texas Rangers (77-straight series) have a longer active streak.

LOCKED IN

Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche went 2-for-4 Friday, his third-straight multi-hit game and seventh-straight game reaching safely at least twice. During the streak, which began May 2 in Atlanta, LaRoche has 11 hits and six walks, good for a .607 on-base percentage. He ranks first in batting average, first in OBP and fourth in OPS in the Major Leagues in that span.

Highlights 5.10.13

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5.10.13 – Nationals 7, Cubs 3

Stat of the Game: Ian Desmond went 3-for-4 with a single, double, home run, three runs scored and three RBI. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: Adam LaRoche collected two more hits, the seventh-straight game in which he has reached safely multiple times.

It Was Over When: Danny Espinosa ripped a two-out, two-run double in the fifth to extend the Nationals lead to 7-2.

Desmond Takes Bite Out of Other ‘Shark’

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Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija figured to be a tough matchup for the Nationals on Friday night. The 6-foot-5 right-hander had a strong recent history against Washington, compiling a 1.15 ERA with 16 strikeouts in two starts in 2012 – plus Bryce Harper was out of the lineup with a toe injury.

Ian Desmond had other designs. He entered the game a lifetime 5-for-10 with a pair of doubles against Samardzija, the only batter in the Nationals lineup with more than two career hits against the pitcher nicknamed “Shark” by his college teammates at Notre Dame. Desmond proved his history of head-to-head success was no fluke.

Batting fifth, the Nationals All-Star shortstop singled in his first at-bat and later scored on a two-out, two-run double by Kurt Suzuki that gave Washington an early 2-1 lead. He homered in his second trip to the plate, a two-run blast to left that snapped a 2-2 tie. He later gave the Nats a 5-2 advantage, driving home Ryan Zimmerman with a two-out double in the fifth, and scored one batter later on a two-run double by Danny Espinosa, completing the scoring for the Nats in a 7-3 victory.

Desmond went 3-for-4 with his fifth home run of the season.

Desmond went 3-for-4 with his fifth home run of the season in Friday’s 7-3 victory over the Cubs.

Three trips to the plate against Samardzija, three hits, three runs batted in and three runs scored. Combined with their previous meetings, Desmond is now 8-for-13 with three doubles and a home run against the Cubs ace, good for a slash line of .615/.615/1.077.

Desmond’s homer, his fifth of the season, carried another impressive distinction. All five of his long balls have given Washington the lead, and the Nats are 5-0 when Desmond goes deep.

Needing a triple to complete the cycle, Desmond grounded to third base against reliever Shawn Camp leading off the bottom of the eighth inning. Although disappointed in the result, Desmond offered up some humor to put everything into perspective.

“Yeah. But, I mean, third base is a long ways away,” he said.

What to Watch for: 5.10.13

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Chicago Cubs (13-21) vs. Washington Nationals (19-15)

RHP Jeff Samardzija (1-4, 3.09) vs. LHP Ross Detwiler (1-3, 2.50)

As the 2013 season is now just over 20 percent complete, certain trends have begun to emerge, defining each team’s identity on the field. For instance, when the Nationals score three or more runs, they are a stunning 16-2 on the season. When scoring five or more, they are a perfect 13-0. The only problem lies with the fact that they have played 34 games heading into this weekend’s three-game tilt with the Cubs, meaning that in 16 of those contests they have failed to cross the plate as many as three times, going just 3-13 in those affairs.

Of course, if this tells us anything about the club, it simply reaffirms a fact we already knew: the Nationals are built on pitching. As such, it should be no surprise that they own the league’s best winning percentage in one-run games, claiming a victory in six of their first eight battles separated by a single run. They have also made their offense hold up, owning the league’s best mark when scoring first (15-1) and second-best record when scoring last (9-2). With a strong back of the bullpen, it should be no surprise that they are 18-1 when leading after eight innings, but they impressively carry the same mark when leading after just five frames, a testament to that bullpen’s depth.

We remain early in the season, and these numbers won’t be a truly accurate reflection until sometime closer to the All-Star break. But the most important trend for the Nationals is quite clear. They’ve won four straight and six of seven heading into Friday night’s matchup, and are four games over .500 for the first time in nearly a month.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Bernadina RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Espinosa 2B

7. Moore LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Detwiler LHP

APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY FLOWERS

With the sweep of Detroit complete, the Nationals 6-1 mark in May is tied for the second-best record in baseball this month (St. Louis is also 6-1). Only the 7-1 Indians have been better in May. Meanwhile, Washington’s four-game winning streak is tied for the longest in MLB with Arizona, San Diego and Cleveland.

LONG STREAK OF LONG BALLS

The Nationals have hit at least one home run in 67 consecutive series. That is currently the second-longest such streak in MLB (the Rangers have homered in 76 straight series) and the longest streak in D.C. baseball history (1901-71, 2005-present). Washington blasted 15 long balls in its four-game home series with Chicago last season.

BULLISH ON THE ‘PEN

Jim Lett’s bullpen has excelled of late, going 2-1 with six holds, seven saves and a 1.84 ERA (11 ER/53.2 IP) in 22 games dating to April 15. Nationals relievers have posted a .191 batting average against and been touched for just three home runs during the 22-game revival.

Highlights: 5.9.13

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5.9.13 – Nationals 5, Tigers 4

Stat of the Game: Washington scored five times in the first two innings, improving to a perfect 13-0 when scoring five or more runs this season. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: The bullpen turned in three scoreless innings to preserve a one-run lead in the victory.

It Was Over When: Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder’s long fly ball came up short of the wall in center field as Denard Span squeezed the final out for the two-game series sweep.

What to Watch for: 5.9.13

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Detroit Tigers (19-12) vs. Washington Nationals (18-15)

RHP Doug Fister (4-0, 2.38) vs. RHP Dan Haren (3-3, 5.01)

The Nationals look for a two-game series sweep of the Tigers, following Wednesday night’s 3-1 victory behind Jordan Zimmermann. Dan Haren rides a two-game personal winning streak into this afternoon’s affair against Detroit righty Doug Fister.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Bernadina LF

3. Harper RF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Ramos C

9. Haren RHP

JORDAN RULES

On Wednesday night, Jordan Zimmermann became the first Washington Nationals (2005-present) pitcher to garner a win in three straight starts despite Nationals bats posting three or less runs of offensive support (3-1 on Wednesday vs. Detroit, 2-0 on May 1 at Atlanta, 1-0 on April 26 vs. Cincinnati). Zimmermann has pocketed the win in seven consecutive starts at Nationals Park.

THE AMERICAN WAY

The Nationals are a perfect 4-0 this season against the American League (1-0 vs. Detrit, 3-0 vs. Chicago). Washington is also 22-15 in interleague play since the beginning of 2011. The corresponding .595 winning percentage paces NL clubs (fourth in MLB) in that 2+ year span, during which Washington is 12-7 (.632) at Nationals Park against the AL.

BRYCE HITS 10TH HOMER

Bryce Harper slugged his 10th homer of the season in his 111th at-bat of the season on Wednesday. In doing so, Harper reached the double-digit home run plateau quicker than any National (2005-present) with the exception of Adam Dunn, who blasted his 10th homer of the 2009 campaign n his 103rd at-bat, May 10 at Arizona.

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