July 2013

What to Watch for: 7.16.13 All Star Edition

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American League vs. National League

 RHP Max Scherzer (Tigers) 13-1, 3.19 vs. RHP Matt Harvey (Mets) 7-2, 2.35 

Baseball’s best will take the field tonight in the 84th All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York City. The Nationals sent four members of their organization to the Big Apple, including Bryce Harper who will start the game in center field for the National League. Nats pitcher Jordan Zimmermann also made the trip after earning 12 wins in the first half of the season but will not pay due to a neck injury. Nationals Manager Davey Johnson and Head Athletic Trainer Lee Kuntz were also selected to be a part of the Midsummer Classic.

AMERICAN LEAGUE LINEUP:

1. Mike Trout (Angels) LF

2. Robinson Cano (Yankees) 2B

3. Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) 3B

4. Chris Davis (Orioles) 1B

5. Jose Bautista (Blue Jays) RF

6. David Ortiz (Red Sox) DH

7. Adam Jones (Orioles) CF

8. Joe Mauer (Twins) C

9. J.J. Hardy (Orioles) SS

RHP Max Scherzer (Tigers)

NATIONAL LEAGUE LINEUP:

1. Brandon Phillips (Reds) 2B

2. Carlos Beltran (Cardinals) RF

3. Joey Votto (Reds) 1B

4. David Wright (Mets) 3B

5. Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies) LF

6. Yadier Molina (Cardinals) C

7. Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies) SS

8. Michael Cuddyer (Rockies) DH

9. Bryce Harper (Nationals) CF

RHP Matt Harvey (Mets)

20 YEARS YOUNG

Harper will be the youngest player in history to start an All-Star Game for the National League. He will also be the first player in Nationals history to start in the game and the first player to represent the Nationals in more than one All-Star game.

Harper was the second-youngest player in history to participate in the Home Run Derby; Ken Griffey Jr. was 42 days younger when he participated in 1990. Harper came in second place after blasting eight home runs in each round.

THE SKIPPER’S RETURN

Johnson was invited by Giants skipper Bruce Bochy. Johnson will return to New York City where he managed the Mets from 1984-90 and his 1986 club won the World Series in a memorable, seven-game Fall Classic. He remains the Mets’ winningest manager (both in victories and winning percentage) and was inducted into the Mets Hall-of-Fame on August 1, 2010. Nationals Head Athletics Trainer Lee Kuntz will join Johnson in New York City. Kuntz is in his seventh season with the Nationals and will be participating in his first All-Star Game.

ALL-STAR HISTORY

In both 2010 and 2011, the winning pitcher in the All-Star game was a member of the Washington Nationals. In 2010, Matt Capps struck out one batter in the sixth inning to earn the victory and end the American League’s 13-game win streak. The following year, Tyler Clippard became the first pitcher to win an All-Star game after facing only one batter and allowing a hit to win the All-Star game.

In 2012, the Nationals had the most players selected to the All-Star game in team history when Bryce Harper, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, and Ian Desmond were all chose to represent the National League.

All-Star Performances All Around

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With the combination of his star power and raw power, Bryce Harper is the most nationally known of Washington’s performers during All-Star Week at Citi Field. However, the Nationals have had a presence in nearly every facet of the festivities, and those stories should not be overlooked. Before the Midsummer Classic takes place Tuesday night, we take a look back through the events of the past three days.

Sunday: A.J. Cole Saves the Future for the USA

A.J. Cole earned the save in the Futures Game.

A.J. Cole earned the save in the Futures Game.

On Sunday afternoon, while the Nationals were taking care of business against the Miami Marlins in the final game before the All-Star break, some of the brightest prospects in the game assembled at Citi Field for the Futures Game. Pitting the best American Minor Leaguers against those from around the world, the game has become a showcase event that marks the beginning of the week of exhibitions.

This year’s Futures Game was a low-scoring, well-fought contest, in which the teams exchanged leads, with the U.S. team adding a run in the eighth to lead 4-2 heading to the ninth. Giants Minor League hurler Kyle Crick walked two of the first three batters he faced to put the tying run on base and bring the potential go-ahead run to the plate with just one out. The U.S. Futures team turned to the bullpen and brought in Nationals prospect A.J. Cole – reacquired in the offseason deal that also netted Ian Krol and Blake Treinen – to finish the job. Cole punched out Mariners prospect Ji-Man Choi looking, then induced a grounder to second base from another Giants farmhand, Jesus Galindo, to end the game and earn the save.

Sunday: Defending the MVP

Wege celebrates his home run with his teammates (Jeff Zelevansky)

Wege (center) celebrates his home run with his teammates.

As you may recall, last year’s MLB All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game featured a pair of Washington Nationals Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team members, Saul Bosquez and Matt Kinsey. Both players shined brightly in their time in the spotlight, as each went 3-for-3, with Kinsey also blasting a home run to lead his team to victory and earn the game’s MVP award. Needless to say, the bar had been set pretty high for Josh Wege, this year’s Wounded Warrior participant.

Not to be outdone, Wege, representing the Nationals, cranked a home run of his own off future Hall-of-Famer Frank Thomas and nearly made a spectacular diving grab in the first inning, earning him co-MVP honors for the night.

“It’s just amazing to be on the field with this guys,” Wege said of his fellow athletes and celebrities. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The fans were amazing today.”

Monday: Bam Bam Reaches the Finals

Competing in his first-ever Home Run Derby, Bryce Harper was the youngest participant in the field of eight by nearly six years. But that didn’t stop him from putting up the most consistent display of anyone in the tournament, homering eight times in each of his three rounds and spraying the ball to all fields, advancing to the finals. But his final effort was not enough to best Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes, who blasted 17 long balls during his opening round, the most of any player in a single round.

Check out a compilation of all of Harper’s home runs below, and don’t forget to watch him tonight as he starts in center field for the National League.

Capture the Caption: Magazine 2

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With Bryce Harper taking part in tonight’s Home Run Derby, come up with a caption for the photos below from Nationals Magazine, Issue 2 featuring Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth. Leave your response in the comments and we’ll feature our favorites in print in Issue 3, available at Nationals Park beginning in August!

CapturetheCaption_Mag2

Highlights: 7.14.13

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7.14.13 – Nationals 5, Marlins 2 (10 innings)

Stat of the Game: Denard Span had three hits including a pair of RBI-doubles, the last of which broke a 2-2 tie in the 10th inning.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Anthony Rendon also swatted two doubles, giving him 14 through his first 43 Major League games.

It Was Over When: Washington rode three consecutive two-out, RBI-hits in the top of the 10th to a three-run frame to win the final game before the All-Star break.

What to Watch for: 7.14.13

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Washington Nationals (47-47) vs. Miami Marlins (35-57)

RHP Taylor Jordan (0-2, 3.45) vs. RHP Henderson Alvarez (0-1, 5.73)

The Nationals hope to end their final road trip before the All-Star break on a high note as they look for a Sunday matinee victory in Miami. Despite pitching well in his three appearances to date, Taylor Jordan is still seeking his first Major League win as he’ll be opposed by Henderson Alvarez, making his third Major League start of the season following two outings against Atlanta.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Harper LF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Werth RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Span CF

8. Ramos C

9. Jordan RHP

BREAKING EVEN

At 47-47, the Nationals currently own a .500 record for the 19th time this year (excluding season-opening 0-0 record). In recent weeks, the Nationals have sported methodical 27-27, 28-28, 29-29, 31-31, 32-32, 33-33, 34-34, 36-36, 37-37, 38-38, 39-39, 40-40, 42-42 and 47-47 records.

RISP-Y BUSINESS

The Nationals are 2-for-36 (.056) with runners in scoring position during their current 1-5 road trip after going 12-for-35 (.343) with RISP during last weekend’s three-game home sweep of the Padres.

MORE JORDAN

Taylor Jordan makes his first career start in his home state of Florida, just a few hours south of where he was born and raised (Merritt Island). Despite allowing just six earned runs through his first three starts, Jordan has taken two losses and a no decision. The 24-year-old righty has been very solid through the first five innings (3 ER/14.1 IP, 1.88 ERA), but has struggled to get outs past that point so far (3 ER/1.1 IP, 20.25 ERA).

Highlights: 7.13.13

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7.13.13 – Marlins 2, Nationals 1 (10 innings)

Stat of the Game: Dan Haren turned in one of his sharpest performances of the seasons, shutting out the Marlins on three hits and a walk over six innings, striking out seven.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Tyler Clippard turned in his eighth straight scoreless outing, over which he’s allowed a single hit and three walks with eight strikeouts.

It Was Over When: Ed Lucas beat out the back end of a potential inning-ending double play ball with the bases loaded to give the Marlins a 2-1 victory.

What to Watch for: 7.13.13

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Washington Nationals (47-46) vs. Miami Marlins (34-57)

RHP Dan Haren (4-10, 6.00) vs. RHP Jose Fernandez (5-5, 2.83)

Washington looks to rebound in the second of a three-game set as they face Marlins hard-throwing rookie All-Star Jose Fernandez. The Nationals will counter with Dan Haren, who shut the Phillies out for the final four innings of his start in Philadelphia on Monday, but took the tough-luck loss in a 3-2 final.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Desmond SS

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Werth RF

7. Lombardozzi 2B

8. Ramos C

9. Haren RHP

HORSESHOES AND HAND GRENADES

At 16-11 (.593), the Nationals own the National League’s second-best record in one-run games. Only the Diamondbacks (20-12, .625) own a better winning percentage in one-run contests.

A WERTHY STREAK

Jayson Werth has hit safely in nine straight games with six walks, a double, two home runs, six RBI and a .517/.583/.759 slash line. Werth’s last double-digit hit streak was a 13-gamer, September 7-19, 2008 with Philadelphia.

THE SERIES

Washington has won only four of 19 series played in Miami since the beginning of the 2007 campaign. The Nationals swept a season-opening, three-game set at Nationals Park from the Marlins and outscored their division foes, 11-1, in the process. The Nationals and Marlins split 18 games last season despite Washington’s 20-12 advantage in home runs.

Highlights: 7.12.13

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7.12.13 – Marlins 8, Nationals 3

Stat of the Game: Ross Ohlendorf tossed four scoreless innings of relief, allowing just one hit and two walks while striking out four.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Jayson Werth extended his hitting streak to nine games with a booming double off the left-field wall, just shy of a home run.

It Was Over When: The Marlins added two more runs in the second following their five-run first inning and the Nationals would get no closer.

What to Watch for: 7.12.13

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Washington Nationals (47-45) vs. Miami Marlins (33-57)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (5-6, 2.45) vs. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 2.55)

The Nationals head south for their final series before the All-Star break, as Stephen Strasburg leads the charge into Miami for a three-game set beginning Friday night. Since May 11, Strasburg owns the National League’s second-lowest ERA at 1.74 (12 ER/62.0 IP), and has struck out 63 batters over that 10-start span.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Desmond SS

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Werth RF

7. Rendon 2B

8. Ramos C

9. Strasburg RHP

DESTINATION D.C.

At 16-18 (6-5 at home, 10-13 on the road), the Nationals enter the final series before the All-Star break with a sub-.500 record against the NL East this season. However, 26 of their 39 contests vs. NL East opponents after the All-Star break will take place in D.C. By the end of this weekend, the Nationals will have visited each of their four NL East rivals twice and hosted each just once. That trend will reverse itself after the break.

WERTH THE WAIT

Jayson Werth is batting .328 (40-for-122) with 16 walks, six doubles, six home runs, 21 runs scored, 21 RBI and a .403 on-base percentage in 34 games since returning from the DL (right hamstring) on June 4. Werth has hit safely in eight straight games, with a .538/.594/.769 slash line, along with two home runs and four multi-hit performances during that stretch.

CRUISING PAST CRISTIAN

With tonight’s series opener, Ian Desmond moves past Cristian Guzman into sole possession of second place on the Nationals’ all-time games played list. Here is how that list looked at the completion of play on Thursday:

Ryan Zimmerman: 1068 games

Desmond: 550

Guzman: 550

Roger Bernadina: 450

Nick Johnson: 414

Highlights: 7.11.13

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7.11.13 – Phillies 3, Nationals 1

Stat of the Game: Jayson Werth continued to stay hot since returning from the disabled list, collecting two hits to extend his streak to eight games.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Bryce Harper scored Washington’s lone run (and, arguably, a second one) thanks to a sixth-inning triple followed by Ryan Zimmerman‘s sacrifice fly.

It Was Over When: The Phillies added a run in the bottom of the eighth to provide the final margin.

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