June 2013

Highlights: 6.26.13

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6.26.13 – Nationals 3, Diamondbacks 2

Stat of the Game: Jordan Zimmermann won his National League-leading 11th game of the season with seven strong innings.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Anthony Rendon collected three more hits, raising his average to .354 for the season.

It Was Over When: Rafael Soriano stranded a pair of runners in the ninth for his second save in as many nights and 21st on the season.

What to Watch for: 6.26.13

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Arizona Diamondbacks (41-35) vs. Washington Nationals (38-38)

LHP Wade Miley (4-7, 4.70) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (10-3, 2.26) 

Following a series-opening win Tuesday on the strength of Adam LaRoche’s three hits — including a three-run home run to cap a five-run third inning — the Nationals look to grab a series win over the Diamondbacks with Jordan Zimmermann on the mound. Zimmermann, who has not lost at Nationals Park in 19 starts (May 17, 2012 against Pittsburgh), looks for his National League-leading 11th win of the season.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Werth RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Moore LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Zimmermann RHP

ROOKIE RECORDS

Since being recalled by the Nationals on June 4, Anthony Rendon is 26-for-70 (.371) with three walks, eight doubles, a homer (game-winning blast in the ninth, June 15 at Cleveland) and nine runs scored. Rendon has tallied more hits his first 25 career games than any player to debut with the Nationals since 2005. In fact, the only player to debut with the Nationals/Expos franchise and post more hits in the initial 25 games of a career is Coco Laboy (34 hits in first 25 games with the Expos in 1969). Since 1900, Rendon and Gil Torres (32 hits in first 25 games for the 1944 AL Nationals) are the only D.C.-based players with as many 32 in 25 games to begin a big league career.

20 PUBLIC UNTUCKINGS AND COUNTING

Rafael Soriano earned the save in last night’s 7-5 victory to become just the third Nationals closer to register 20 saves before the end of June, joining Matt Capps (2010) and Chad Cordero (2005). Soriano’s 20 saves rank fourth in the National League.

HOT AT HOME

Adam LaRoche has hit safely in 19 consecutive games at Nationals Park, going 30-for-69 (.435) with six walks, two doubles, two triples, four home runs, 17 runs scored and 16 RBI. LaRoche’s current streak at home is tied for the second-longest hit streak ever at Nationals Park, which opened in 2008. Ryan Zimmerman has posted separate 19- (Aug. 4-Sept. 19, 2012) and 24-game (July 3-Aug. 23, 2011) hit streaks at home since the ballpark’s opening.

Red, White and Blue (and Orange)

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The beauty of the ballpark is its propensity for bringing people together.

That was certainly the intent when a group of employees from Frager’s Hardware Store was treated to a night at Nationals Park on Tuesday to watch the Nationals beat the Diamondbacks, 7-5. A fire devastated the 93-year-old business on June 5, a tragedy for both its crew and the Capitol Hill neighborhood it serves.

Employees of Frager's Hardware took in the Nats 7-5 victory over Arizona Tuesday night.

Employees of Frager’s Hardware took in the Nats 7-5 victory over Arizona Tuesday night.

With every effort since then aimed at rebuilding and reopening, a loyal customer of Frager’s decided the crew deserved a much-needed break and donated a block of 40 tickets for Tuesday’s game. Decked out in blue-and-orange Frager’s gear, the store’s contingent was in high spirits as Gio Gonzalez took the hill for the Nats.

“We’ve been working day and night, cleaning up the wreckage, finding temporary spaces, finding a place where we can stock merchandise … and it’s been very busy,” said Harold Maupin, a manager at Frager’s. “(The customer) decided we needed a break, and what better than a Nationals game? It was a kind benefactor.”

Maupin said the response from the community has been overwhelming and that the recovery has gone “better than I thought it possibly could.” Donations and kind acts have been pouring in, from helping the store set up a pop-up shop at Eastern Market to administering monetary donations through the Capitol Hill Community Foundation for employees who have lost their income.

“It’s a welcome opportunity because we have been working very hard,” Maupin said of the chance to convene at the park. “There are so many people I would like to thank that we don’t have time for, because there’s a ballgame to watch.”

Hopefully the few hours at the ballpark and a Nationals victory provided a welcome break to those working hard to restore the District landmark.

Highlights: 6.25.13

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6.25.13 – Nationals 7, Diamondbacks 5

Stat of the Game: Adam LaRoche had three hits, including a three-run homer, to lead the Nationals offense.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Gio Gonzalez won his first game since May 5, allowing two earned over 6.1 innings of work.

It Was Over When: LaRoche’s opposite-field shot capped a five-run third inning to put Washington ahead for good.

Bonus Video: Bryce Harper’s rehab appearance at High-A Potomac

Diamond Notes

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What’s more patriotic than baseball in the nation’s capital on the Fourth of July? How about a special In-Game Military Salute with a performance by the legendary Neil Diamond?

Diamond will give a debut performance of his new single “Freedom Song (They’ll Never Take Us Down),” during the Nationals-Brewers game on July 4. The song, which Diamond wrote in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, is meant as a tribute to the American spirit. The exclusive performance will take place during the Nationals’ traditional In-Game Military Salute in the middle of the third inning.

Nationals fans wanting to catch Diamond’s special performance must have a valid ticket for the game, which is scheduled for July 4 at 11:05 a.m. You can buy tickets by visiting www.nationals.com/tickets, calling 888.632.NATS(6287) or visiting the Nationals Park Main Box Office (Half Street SE and N Street SE). Click here for the full press release.

What to Watch for: 6.25.13

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Arizona Diamondbacks (41-34) vs. Washington Nationals (37-38)

 RHP Trevor Cahill (3-8, 3.92) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.34) 

Following a split of a four-game set with Colorado and an off day on Monday, Washington hosts NL West-leading Arizona for three games beginning Tuesday night. In a battle of former teammates, Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill go head-to-head with the Nationals looking to draw back to the .500 mark.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Werth RF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Tracy 3B

7. Bernadina LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

GOOD WOOD, SLICK LEATHER

Ian Desmond currently leads all MLB shortstops with 33 extra-base hits (19 doubles, two triples, 12 home runs) and nine game-winning RBI. Remarkably, nine of Desmond’s 12 home runs this season have been go-ahead blasts. Defensively, he has played a career-high and D.C.-baseball record 56 consecutive errorless games (221 total chances) as a shortstop since last committing a miscue, April 21 at New York (NL). This is currently the longest streak of its kind among MLB shortstops.

ELITE EIGHT

Gio Gonzalez has not earned a victory in any of his last eight outings, but for no fault of his own. The lefty is holding opponents to a .174 batting average over that span, amassing a 2.18 ERA (13 ER/53.2 IP) with 52 strikeouts. The Nationals have gone 3-5 in those eight games.

D-BACKS AGAINST THE WALL

The Nationals (2005-present) are 8-6-2 (win-loss-tie) in series play against the Diamondbacks, thanks in part to a 12-4 mark in one-run games. Washington is 16-11 (.593) against the D-backs since the beginning of 2009, and the Nats .538 winning percentage against Arizona is trumped by only a .545 mark against Pittsburgh as the best against any opponent over that stretch.

Tweet With Us: The #VoteNats Tweet-up Has Arrived

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We’re not tweeting at you, we’re tweeting with you.

This is always our philosophy at the Nationals, where we love how engaged our fans are across our social platforms, especially Twitter. You guys run the conversation, we just facilitate it. And, as facilitators, we are always looking for new ways to make that conversation more exciting, more engrossing and more interactive.

As such, we hope you’ll join us on July 3 for the #VoteNats Tweet-up, as we help the Nationals make a final push into the 2013 All-Star Game. If July 3 rings a bell as a familiar date, it should. We held the Ignite Your NATITUDE Tweet-up on the same day last season. With fireworks to follow the game and a National Holiday the next day, it seems as good a time as any to enjoy a beautiful summer evening of baseball with several hundred of your closest Twitter friends and ten of thousands of fellow Nationals fans.

The #VoteNats Tweet-up will include:

- Exclusive access to a Q&A with a Nationals player, broadcasters and front office members

- Event-only giveaways, including a promotional poster, t-shirts and more

- A chance to meet and greet Nationals players on the field before the game

To RSVP, simply tweet “RSVP” and use the hashtag #VoteNats. We’ll send you a DM to confirm that you’re on the list. In the meantime, visit nationals.com/tweetup to get your tickets and secure your spot with your fellow tweeps. Space is limited, so don’t wait.

If you’ve already got tickets to the game and still want to take part in the festivities, you can do that as well. Just RSVP like everyone else, and we’ll see you behind section 140 after the gates open.

As we did last year, we’ll use this space as a forum for any questions you might have about the event. Just leave them in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them.

Hope to see everyone on July 3!

– CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS TODAY –

District 9: Craig Stammen

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We are putting our own spin on the traditional “10 Questions” format this season. To mix it up a little, we are asking players, front office members, coaches, prospects and others nine questions we think you’d like to know the answer to, then bringing you their responses in written and video form. This Q&A originally appeared in Volume 6, Issue 6 of Inside Pitch.

1. How do you deal with pressure-packed situations coming out of the bullpen?

I know it’s a cliché, but every pitch matters and you’ve got to take it one pitch at a time. You’ve got to be able to shut your mind off and really focus on what the task is at hand.

2. How do you stay focused throughout the grind of the 162-game season?

It’s definitely tough to have that mindset the same every single day. That sense of urgency has to be built deep within, working every day and getting ready for whatever comes to you throughout the season. If you’re ready for it, it’s only going to help you along the way.

3. How do you define your role on the team?

My role is to do whatever I’m asked to do. I’m one of those guys who doesn’t complain about the role I’m going to be in. Every team needs those role players so the star players can do their thing and lead the team. I’m the blue collar, dirty work type of player on the team.

4. What is your specialty?

I’m a guy who can throw a lot of innings out of the bullpen. I can throw two, three (innings). In extra innings I’m a go-to guy that finishes off the game. If Davey needs a guy to eat up some innings and keep the game close, that’s who I am.

5. What’s the most underrated part of your game?

My hitting. Every pitcher will say that, but I used to do alright when I was starting.

6. Your sinking fastball has been excellent this season. How did that develop as a pitch?

Every year, I’ve always tried to get better in some form or fashion. I just throw my pitches every day and practice throwing them exactly where I want to throw them. I’ve just gotten better every year locating my sinker.

7. What’s it like being in the “zone” with your catcher?

I wish I knew how to get there every time – if I did, the game would be easy. When you’re on the same page and you’re thinking along the same lines, you definitely have more success. It takes being in sync with the scouting report, studying the hitters and the catcher knowing me and my strengths and what I’m doing well that certain day.

8. Describe the camaraderie of this Nationals bullpen.

It’s almost like we’re our own little team. We’re watching the game, talking about the game with each other and rooting for each other when we come into the game.

9. How do the guys in the bullpen feed off of each other’s successes?

You don’t want to be the guy who lets the team down. If everybody is doing their job, you’ve got to do yours and man up and protect the lead.

Highlights: 6.23.13

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6.23.13 – Rockies 7, Nationals 6

Stat of the Game: The Nationals fell into an early 7-0 hole, but fought all the way back within a run before coming up just short.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Three relievers (Craig Stammen, Ian Krol and Fernando Abad) combined to throw 5.1 innings of scoreless, four-hit ball, striking out seven without a walk.

It Was Over When: Washington scored four times, but stranded the tying run at second in the eighth inning, marking the Nationals final baserunner of the night.

What to Watch for: 6.23.13

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Colorado Rockies (38-38) vs. Washington Nationals (37-37)

 LHP Jorge De La Rosa (7-4, 3.21) vs. LHP Ross Detwiler (2-5, 3.34) 

The Nationals saw their three-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday, but still have the chance to take three-of-four from the Rockies and win the series in the finale. The matinee start will pit Ross Detwiler in another battle of southpaws, after he helped Washington beat Colorado lefty Jeff Francis in Denver last Thursday to win that series.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Kobernus CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Werth RF

5. Desmond SS

6. Marrero 1B

7. Suzuki C

8. Lombardozzi LF

9. Detwiler LHP

MULLET POWER

Anthony Rendon is batting .367/.397/.533 with a home run and seven doubles in the 15 games since his return to the big leagues. He has hit safely in 13 of those contests, racking up seven multi-hit performances. His overall batting average (.329) and on-base percentage (.387) rank second among Major League rookies, trailing only Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig.

LEFTY, ALRIGHTY

The Nationals have gone 11-8 against left-handed starting pitchers so far this season, compared to a 26-29 against righties. Conversely, the Rockies are just 10-16 when opposed by a southpaw.

HOT AT HOME

Adam LaRoche has hit safely in 18 straight games at Nationals Park, going 27-for-65 (.415) with six walks, two doubles, two triples, three homers, 16 runs scored and 13 RBI over that span.

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