by Amanda Comak
by Mike Feigen
What to Watch for: Washington Nationals (2-4) at Boston Red Sox (4-2)
April 13–15, Fenway Park, Boston
The Nationals will look to build on the momentum of their extra-innings victory on Sunday in Philadelphia, as they travel to Boston for the Red Sox’ home-opening series. Washington scored twice in the top of the 10th inning in Sunday’s 4-3 win, capitalizing on doubles from newcomers Yunel Escobar and Clint Robinson, a run-scoring wild pitch and an RBI single by Wilson Ramos.
The Red Sox dropped a 14-4 decision on Sunday Night Baseball in New York against the Yankees, as starter Clay Buchholz was battered for seven runs in the first inning. Despite winning two of three in the Bronx, the Red Sox put a lot of pressure on their bullpen, gutting out a 19-inning win on Friday night and needing 4.2 innings of relief on Sunday as well. Boston does get closer Koji Uehara back, a key ingredient in their World Series run in 2013.
With just 13 runs scored in their first six games of the year, the Nationals hope the return of Jayson Werth to the lineup will spark the club. The veteran outfielder has slashed .304/.396/.491 with 41 home runs, 61 doubles and 164 RBI over the past two seasons, highlighting his importance to the lineup. More importantly, an uptick in production will take some of the pressure off the Nationals’ pitching staff, a group that has a stellar 2.32 ERA through the first 54.1 innings of the season.
The two teams don’t have much history, but the Nationals swept the Sox behind strong starting performances by Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez in June of 2012 — who happen to be the Nats’ starters the next three days.
MONDAY, 3:05: RHP Jordan Zimmermann (1-0, 1.50) at RHP Rick Porcello (0-1, 4.50)
TUESDAY, 6:10: RHP Stephen Strasburg (0-1, 5.06) at RHP Justin Masterson (1-0, 3.00)
WEDNESDAY, 1:35: LHP Gio Gonzalez (0-1, 4.26) at LHP Wade Miley (0-0, 3.38)
The Nationals hope to get off to a strong start in the series behind the right arm of Jordan Zimmermann, a pitcher who hasn’t suffered a loss over his last 12 starts dating back to July 28, 2014. They will then give the ball to Stephen Strasburg, who took the loss against the Mets this past Wednesday, and Gio Gonzalez, who took a 1-0 lead into the seventh inning on Friday in Philadelphia.
Boston will counter with a pair of sinkerball specialists in the first two contests, as they hope to keep the Nationals’ powerful bats from clearing the Green Monster. The Nationals have five home runs in their first six games, though all have been solo shots. Wade Miley will pitch game three of the series, a pitcher the Nats have faced five times in the past four seasons when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ryan Zimmerman is 4-for-7 with three doubles and a pair of walks against the quick-working southpaw.
Boston’s attack features two new stars in the heart of the order, both of whom have worn out Washington pitching over the years. Hanley Ramirez, who moved from shortstop to left field this season after joining the team as a free agent from the Los Angeles Dodgers, has hit an incredible .336/.418/.623 with 30 home runs against the Nationals in just 121 career games, while third baseman and former San Francisco Giant Pablo Sandoval has hit .330/.370/.500 against Nats pitchers. Veteran sluggers David Ortiz and Mike Napoli are off to slow starts for the Red Sox, hitting just .130 (3-for-23) and .053 (1-for-19) on the young season.
The Nationals are still without Denard Span and Anthony Rendon at the top of the order, but Werth’s return could be a huge boost to the rest of the lineup. Escobar has been a pleasant surprise in the No. 2 spot thus far, hitting .304/.385/.391 with three walks and no strikeouts through the first six games of the season, while Robinson has four hits in 10 at-bats and could see time in the outfield or at designated hitter during the series.
Right fielder Bryce Harper has two home runs and a .346 on-base percentage on the young season, but hopes to see more RBI opportunities with the lineup becoming healthier.
The Best of the Rest
With Werth returning to the team today, Tyler Moore slides out of the regular lineup with Matt den Dekker joining Triple-A Syracuse. Moore is 0-for-12 on the year so far, but could regain his form in a familiar bench role. Left-hander Matt Thornton, who won a ring with the Red Sox in 2013, has yet to allow a run in 20 appearances in a Washington uniform. Former MVP Dustin Pedroia remains one of the toughest outs in the game, but has been quiet since homering twice against Cole Hamels on Opening Day.
by Amanda Comak
The Washington Nationals’ lineup got one of its biggest bats back on Monday as outfielder Jayson Werth was returned from rehab and reinstated from the 15-day disabled list, and outfielder Matt den Dekker was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.
Werth, 35, returns to the Nationals’ active roster after missing the first six games of the 2015 season following offseason (January 9) surgery on the AC joint in his right shoulder. On a three-game rehab assignment with Single-A Potomac, Werth was 1-for-6 with three walks and one home run.
A career .276 hitter with a .370 on-base percentage, Werth has hit .282 with a .375 on-base percentage and a .452 slugging percentage in his first four seasons with the Nationals (507 games). Since arriving in the District in 2011, Werth has hit 108 doubles, five triples and 66 home runs. He has driven in 253 runs, stolen 46 bases and been caught stealing just seven times.
The veteran outfielder will transition his primary defensive position from right field to left field this season with Bryce Harper taking over in right.
den Dekker, 27, appeared in four games for the Nationals off the bench. He was 0-for-2 at the plate. den Dekker was acquired from the New York Mets on March 30 in exchange for left-handed pitcher Jerry Blevins.
Wednesday, Teddy and Screech met fans at a McDonald’s drive-thru window to pick up their lunch.
Thursday they crashed a Chick-Fil-A with free coupons.
On Friday, they delivered Papa John’s pizza to the USO Family Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, while on Saturday they joined Abe at the base of the Capital Wheel at National Harbor, and all fans rode for free.
Back in DC on Sunday, Bill and Teddy discussed the season ahead over Hard Times Café lunch with firefighters at Engine Company 7 and the DC Metro Police Department First District Station.
Monday morning Screech paid a visit to three elementary schools in the local area: Gesher Jewish Day School in Fairfax, Va., Barnaby Manor in Oxon Hill, Md., and Amidon-Bowen Elementary in Southwest D.C., to autograph baseballs and hand out Nationals gear.
Tuesday afternoon, the Nationals hosted a tailgate at Fort Myer in Arlington, Va., catered by Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop and Sam Adams.
It’s all part of our 10 Days of Thanks tour. As we enter our 10th anniversary season, we want to take the time to thank those who helped us become the hometown team we are today.
Each day, between Wednesday, March 25, and Friday, April 3, Screech, Teddy, Bill, Abe and the Nationals’ promotions team are popping up around the DC Metro area. Surprises include free lunch, free breakfast, Nationals gifts and giveaways.
These surprise-and-delight moments are a huge ‘Thank you’ to all of the fans for their support, from the Nationals team, the front office and the Lerner Family.
The celebration continues this week!
Here’s where to find the Nationals promotions team over the next several days:
Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 10:00AM: Dulles Toll Road Plaza, Toll #1
Thursday, April 2, 2015, 9:00AM: Peet’s Coffee, 17th Street NW, Washington, DC
Friday, April 3, 2015, 11:00AM: The National Mall
Thank you, sincerely, for an amazing 10 years. We couldn’t have done it without you. Here’s to the next 10!
As you may have heard, MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred will be throwing out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day, April 6. We are so honored that he will be a part of the kick-off to our 10-year anniversary season!
As excited as we are to welcome Commissioner Manfred, we’re even more excited about the opportunity to host an MLB All-Star Game!
The city submitted a strong bid to Major League Baseball, and we need your help to share with MLB that Washington, D.C. is ready to host. Washington hasn’t hosted the All-Star Game since 1969 – but as we launch our 10th anniversary season, we believe D.C. is ready!
D.C. is ready for Fan Fest.
D.C. is ready for the Home Run Derby.
DC. IS. READY.
Between now and Commissioner Manfred’s visit on April 6, share your enthusiasm as fans of the Washington Nationals and of this amazing city! Show MLB that there is no better place in America to host the national pastime’s All-Star Game than in the nation’s capital.
Share why you think #DCisREADY on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more! Tag @MLB. Share with your friends and family. Throughout the next few weeks we’ll be sharing why we think #DCisREADY and retweeting our favorite posts from you.
We can’t wait to see your enthusiasm for a potential All-Star Game in the nation’s capital!