Results tagged ‘ Adam LaRoche ’
For six innings Wednesday night, as they have much of the season to date, the Nationals struggled to find any sort of offensive rhythm against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick. And then, slowly, piece by piece, the offense collected itself, as the bats awakened just in the nick of time to force extra innings and steal a win to end a long, grinding road trip.
The bats lay dormant, unable to generate anything more than Adam LaRoche‘s second-inning single through six frames. Meanwhile, two batters in, the Phillies were out to a 2-0 lead on the strength of Michael Young’s two-run home run. Gio Gonzalez settled in after that, as he did not allow a hit the rest of the way through seven innings of work. He notched 11 strikeouts, the most he’s ever recorded as a member of the Nationals, matching his career high.
Finally, a solid, patient at-bat by Ryan Zimmerman led to a one-out walk in the seventh, and he stood at second base with two outs and Jayson Werth coming to the plate. The former Phillie reached out and rapped a single to right field to score the run and cut the lead in half, a big clutch hit in a season sorely needing more of them.
After a quiet eighth frame, the Nationals would be tasked with trying to deliver Jonathan Papelbon his second blown save in three nights after entering the series a perfect 13-for-13 on the season. Denard Span, whose job in most any situation – but especially this one – is to get on base, did just that, chopping an infield single. He remained at first until, with two outs, LaRoche walked, bringing up Werth once more. He, of the “be ready to eat some face” comment following the tough loss the night before, ripped another two-out, RBI-single, this one to left, as Span flew around third, scoring the tying run without a throw. But, as had been the case Monday night in Papelbon’s blown save on Chad Tracy‘s pinch-hit, two-out, two-strike home run, the Nationals were unable to push ahead. Ian Desmond struck out, stranding runners at the corners, spiking his helmet in frustration.
“After the at-bat against Papelbon, I’m just thinking, ‘Give me one more chance,’” Desmond said after the game.
The Washington bullpen conspired to afford Desmond and the Nationals that opportunity. Tyler Clippard fired an inning and two thirds of scoreless ball, giving way to Ian Krol, who got Dominic Brown – Monday’s hero – to end the bottom of the ninth. After the Nationals offense threatened, but failed to score, in the top of the 10th, Drew Storen fanned a pair and put up a zero in the bottom half, taking the game to the 11th inning.
With one out, it was again Zimmerman who got the wheels turning, lacing a low liner to the left-center field wall for a double. That prompted Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and the Phillies to play matchup, deciding to intentionally walk LaRoche to get to the man with both of Washington’s RBI, Werth. An unintentional walk later, the bases were loaded, Desmond stepping to the plate with the second chance he begged for earlier. After falling behind 0-2, the shortstop worked the count back to 2-2, where he annihilated a hanging slider from Michael Stutes into the seats beyond the left-center field wall.
“I did the same thing I always do,” said Desmond when asked about the blast after the game. “See the white ball, put the barrel on it.”
Before Desmond had reached the jubilant visitors dugout, rivers of Phillies fans had already begun streaming for the exits, an actualized shifting of the tides. Rafael Soriano quietly shut the door, and the Nationals returned to Washington with an enormous win and a positive end to their road trip, thanks to perhaps the biggest swing of the season from their shortstop.
“He’s quite a character,” said Nationals skipper Davey Johnson of Desmond. “He’s got a lot of big hits for us in the past.”
It was Desmond’s first career grand slam (and Washington’s first of the season), but he has had plenty of success with the bases loaded, as it was his 17th hit in 40 such at-bats, good for a .425 batting average. The timing and importance of the blast hearkened back to Desmond’s game-winner on May 2, 2012, when he swung a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory with a two-out, walk-off blast off Arizona’s J.J. Putz.
“That’s like how I remember it from last year,” said catcher Kurt Suzuki of the feeling in the dugout after the blast. “It was pretty exciting.”
If Wednesday night’s series finale in Philadelphia turns out to be a microcosm of the 2013 Nationals season, recounting what has happened to date and foreshadowing what lies ahead, we are all in for a nerve-fraying, heart-stopping, hair-graying ride before the year is done. But if the ending portends anything of the future, it will have been worth the ride.
Ian Desmond has been brewing something special lately.
Even as the Nationals have been swaying around the .500 mark this season, they’ve been fortunate enough to boast some exceptional performances. Anchoring the pitching rotation is Jordan Zimmermann, who is tied for second in the National League wins and is seventh with a 2.44 ERA. Rookie left-hander Ian Krol has been impressive in short relief, and Ross Ohlendorf — he of the vintage kick-and-deliver windup — shone in his Nationals debut Wednesday in Colorado.
Then there’s Desmond. Fresh off a career-high 15-game hitting streak that ended Friday night in Cleveland, Desmond has quietly provided consistency in a lineup desperately in need of a spark. After batting .220 in May, Desmond turned it up, starting with a visit from Baltimore on May 27. Since then, he’s hit .357 (25-for-70) and is a scorching .385 so far in June. He’s also reaching base at a .439 clip for the month.
During a 3-2 win over the New York Mets on June 4, Desmond was 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, and RBI and a run scored. In a doubleheader against the Twins on June 9, Desmond belted three hits, tallying two RBI and two runs scored in the afternoon bill, while providing the game-winning RBI double in the seventh inning of the nightcap. He knocked in three of the Nats five runs in a win over the Rockies on June 12, all with two outs, finishing 2-for-3 with a walk. The next day, he added four more hits on a 4-for-4 outing with an RBI and a run. The Nats won 5-4.
The shortstop has 14 RBI through 14 games in June to bring his total to 34. He’s also leading the team with 73 hits.
If that’s not enough, Desmond’s stepped up his game on defense as well. After a shaky start of the season, during which he committed seven errors in the first three weeks, Desmond hasn’t had a miscue since April 21. That’s a career-high 50 games without a mistake in the field, the longest active streak among Major League shortstops. His recent performance hearkens back to a stellar 2012 in which Desmond was a Gold Glove finalist.
That’s the kind of production that will hopefully rub off on the rest of the clubhouse as the season wears on. Perhaps it’s already starting to: rookie infielder Anthony Rendon has hit safely in 10 straight games and first baseman Adam LaRoche strung together a nine-game hitting streak of his own to start the month. On the defensive side, Ryan Zimmerman has committed just two errors since May 18.
If nothing else, Desmond is providing a blueprint for the rest of the lineup to follow. Hopefully his performance is a harbinger for things to come.
Washington Nationals (34-33) vs. Cleveland Indians (33-34)
RHP Stephen Strasburg (3-5, 2.54) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (4-4, 4.08)
Following Saturday night’s thrilling, 7-6 victory, the Nationals activated Stephen Strasburg for the series finale in Cleveland. Strasburg was 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA (4 ER/25.0 IP) in his final four starts before landing on the Disabled List.
1. Span CF
2. Rendon 2B
3. Zimmerman DH
4. LaRoche 1B
5. Werth RF
6. Desmond SS
7. Tracy DH
8. Solano C
9. Bernadina LF
THE ROOKIE IS RAKING
Anthony Rendon brings a nine-game hit streak into today’s contest, having batted at a .429 (15-for-35) clip with three walks, five doubles, his first career homer, six runs scored and five RBI during the stretch. He has posted multi-hit efforts in five of the nine contests. Rendon has also reached base safely in 13 straight MLB games, pocketing a .472 on-base percentage (18 hits, 7 walks) during that stretch that spans two stints with the Nationals.
After today’s matinee tilt against the Indians, the Nationals will take a 43-day hiatus from Interleague Play before opening a two-day series at Detroit on July 30. Washington is 9-5 against the AL this season, having gone 3-1-1 in series play against the junior circuit. The Nationals lead the National League and are tied with Tampa Bay (9-1) for the Major League lead with nine Interleague wins this season.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY
In addition to GM Mike Rizzo, who came from a baseball scouting family (grandfather Vito, father Phillip), three Nationals players have followed in the footsteps of their big-league dads: Adam LaRoche (father Dave LaRoche played 14 seasons, ‘70-83), Steve Lombardozzi (father Steve Lombardozzi Sr. played six seasons, ‘85-90) and Jayson Werth (grandfather Ducky Schofield played 19 seasons, ‘53-71; stepfather Dennis Werth played four seasons, ‘79-82).
There’s no other way to put it. This was a game the Nationals needed to win.
Especially after scoring just once behind Gio Gonzalez the night before, with the Indians winning in the bottom of the ninth. Especially with the offense responding for five runs, including three homers, through the first three innings behind Jordan Zimmermann. Especially after Zimmermann couldn’t hold that early advantage, the Indians chipping away and finally pushing ahead with a half-dozen two-out RBI.
And then, the hit that always seemed to be there in 2012, but seldom thus far in 2013, came to save the day. With two outs in the eighth, on an 0-2 pitch, pinch-hitter Chad Tracy smoked a rocket to the right of dead center field, the ball escaping the reach of a leaping Michael Bourn over the wall for a game-tying, solo home run.
Then, again, the Nationals saw something they had seen precious little of to this point in the season. The baseball gods smiled down upon them, as with two outs in the ninth, Anthony Rendon skied a pop-up behind first base in foul territory. Nick Swisher backed up to make the play, but stopped as he seemingly expected to be called off by second baseman Jason Kipnis at the last moment. The ball dropped between them in foul territory, breathing new life back into the Nationals rookie’s at-bat.
Two pitches later, Rendon cashed in, sending a line shot to the opposite field for what would turn out to be the game-winning home run. As anyone who follows the game closely knows baseball has a funny way of doing that, of making teams pay for giving the opposition extra opportunities.
“(Jhonatan) Solano and I were calling it after the miscue on the pop-up,” said Tracy of Rendon’s blast. “We could have easily put our heads down and folded up. But that’s the makeup of this team, (even though) we may not have showed it a lot so far.”
The Nationals still needed to survive the bottom of the ninth, though, which included a two-out double, followed by a bullet off the bat of Bourn right at Adam LaRoche for the final out. A night after the first baseman’s throw to the plate was a hair late to cut down the winning run, he secured the game’s final out in his mitt.
Instead of another setback for Washington, it was a step forward, a return to a winning record. With Stephen Strasburg rejoining the club and taking the hill Sunday, the Nationals can set their sights on winning a third consecutive series.
Even in just his 16th Major League game, Rendon recognized the importance of that single result, of what it means to any team, in any season.
“It’s great to have the comeback win,” he said. “Especially when we had a pretty good lead at the beginning of the game. (The Indians) fought their tails off to come back. We never gave up, though. We kept going out there and kept grinding.”
It’s a win the Nationals needed, but on a larger scale it is the exact type of win the Nationals needed to prove to the rest of the league, and to themselves, just what this team is capable of accomplishing.
6.14.13 – Indians 2, Nationals 1
Stat of the Game: Gio Gonzalez allowed just three hits and a run, striking out eight over seven frames, but did not factor in the decision.
Under-the-Radar Performance: Kurt Suzuki scored Washington’s lone run, coming home on a wild pitch in the third.
It Was Over When: Adam LaRoche‘s throw home came in just behind Drew Stubbs’ slide in the bottom of the ninth.
Washington Nationals (32-32) vs. Colorado Rockies (35-31)
LHP Ross Detwiler (2-4, 2.76) vs. LHP Jeff Francis (2-4, 6.30)
Lefty Ross Detwiler comes off the disabled list to make his first start since May 15 in Los Angeles as Washington aims for a road series victory. The Nationals will leave the top seven in their batting order intact following last night’s 5-1 triumph behind a strong effort from Ross Ohlendorf.
1. Span CF
2. Kobernus LF
3. Zimmerman 3B
4. Werth RF
5. LaRoche 1B
6. Desmond SS
7. Rendon 2B
8. Suzuki C
9. Detwiler LHP
GOOD WOOD, SLICK LEATHER
Ian Desmond has hit safely in a career-high 14 straight games at a .358 clip (19-for-53) with three walks, four doubles, two homers, six runs scored and 11 RBI. Desmond now has five career double-digit hit streaks to his credit, two this season (also, 10 games, April 24-May 3). Defensively, Desmond has played a career-high 45 consecutive errorless games (177 total chances) since last committing a miscue on April 21 at New York (NL), which is currently the longest streak of its kind among big league shortstops. The longest previous string of errorless games during Desmond’s career was 39 straight games, May 5-June 21, 2011.
LAROCHE IS PERFECT FOR JUNE
With a knock in each game played in June, Adam LaRoche has strung together a nine-game hit streak, during which he has batted .323 (10-for-31) with four walks, four doubles, seven runs scored and three RBI. With a hit today, he would secure his second double-digit streak of the season. LaRoche posted a career-high 16-game hit streak from May 2-19.
KEEPING THE DET GROUNDED
Ross Detwiler was a consistent force in the rotation prior to his stint on the disabled list, never allowing more than three earned runs or walking more than two opposing hitters in his eight starts this year. The lefty, who relies on a sinking, two-seam fastball, has recorded a 1.30 GO/AO rate, and has allowed just three home runs in 45.2 innings pitched this season.
On Wednesday morning, a vision seven years in the making finally came to fruition.
From the very beginning, the Lerner Family envisioned that the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation would be a way for people to channel their passion for the game of baseball into making a difference in the community. Similar to their plan to build the team on the field, the Lerner’s were committed to building something meaningful with long-term value off the field as well.
The first ambitious project stemmed from a conversation between Dr. Fran Cogen and Dream Foundation Chair and Nationals Principal Owner Marla Lerner Tanenbaum. It focused on bringing a world class, state-of-the-art diabetes treatment and research center to the District. What began with a passionate exchange of ideas seven years ago became a reality when the Nationals and Children’s National Medical Center cut the ribbon on the Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex.
Tanenbaum conveyed just how much the project meant to her family, the team and the Dream Foundation in her speech on Wednesday:
“The Dream Foundation was originally created to develop and support programs that could positively change the lives of people in our community…The Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex is an example of baseball bringing out the best in people and I can’t begin to express how excited we are to be here today.”
In addition to the team’s principal owners and several front office executives, Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations & General Manager Mike Rizzo as well as Nationals players Ross Detwiler, Gio Gonzalez, Adam LaRoche, Ryan Mattheus, Stephen Strasburg and Chad Tracy were all on hand to commemorate the occasion, which also included a special appearance from Screech.
As Dr. Cogen said in her address to the standing room-only crowd on hand for the event, “Visions can be helpful, but without people to support you, they remain visions.” Thanks to the help of the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, she had the support she needed to make an idea become reality. On Wednesday Dr. Cogen was officially named Director of the Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex.
“It’s surreal,” she said after soaking in the moment. “It’s like taking a vision in your head, thinking this is what one would want to do, and actually seeing it come true before your eyes.”
Tanenbaum shares Dr. Cogen’s passion for this project, and used her own term to describe its completion.
“To use the word in our foundation, it’s a dream,” she said. “It’s a dream come true.”
The complex provides a place where children can go for treatment and education about diabetes, but its mission is more than that. It also includes a family reception area, resource and media center, as well as a playroom for young patients and their siblings. The design, with soft lighting and colors, gives the facility a feel more akin to an after-school center than a hospital wing. It even includes a galley kitchen and exercise room to help emphasize nutritional education and physical education, two key components in fighting diabetes.
“I come to work every day hoping that I can do some good,” said Cogen, who believes this facility allows her team the opportunity to take their care to an unprecedented level. “Putting our own diabetes team together with multiple specialists can deliver a win.”
Opening the doors Wednesday provided the first of hopefully many victories. As the Dream Foundation broadens its focus to its other major projects, like the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Ward 7, the completion of the Diabetes Care Complex marks an important milestone in the history of the charitable arm of the organization.
“It’s remarkable to see the kids walk through the door,” said Tanenbaum, when reflecting on the mission of the center to help find a cure for the disease. “Hopefully, though, one day, they won’t have to use it at all.”
Until then, the doors will be open at the Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex for the children of the Capital Region.
New York Mets (22-33) vs. Washington Nationals (29-29)
RHP Dillon Gee (3-6, 5.68) vs. RHP Dan Haren (4-6, 5.09)
After 57 games without a walk-off win, the Nationals earned their first of the 2013 season last night off the bat of Steve Lombardozzi, who looped a sac fly to left with to score Adam LaRoche from third base in the ninth inning. With Dan Haren on the mound tonight, the Nats look to build off last night’s late rally and provide better run support, after only collecting three hits in Haren’s last start against the Orioles.
1. Span CF
2. Werth RF
3. Zimmerman 3B
4. LaRoche 1B
5. Desmond SS
6. Rendon 2B
7. Lombardozzi LF
8. Suzuki C
9. Haren RHP
NOW THAT’S A PLATE APPEARANCE
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Steve Lombardozzi’s nine-pitch sac fly was the longest plate appearance of the season to conclude in a game-ending RBI. In fact, the last player to end a game with a plate appearance lasting in excess of nine pitches was Jayson Werth, who homered on the 13th pitch of his ninth-inning at-bat in Game 4 of the National League Division Series against St. Louis to give the Nationals a 2-1 win.
The Nationals are 22-5 when scoring first in 2013 and their corresponding .815 winning percentage ranks second among National League teams behind only Atlanta (24-3, .889).
GOOD WOOD, SLICK LEATHER
Ian Desmond has hit safely in eight straight games at a .333 clip (10-for-30) with three doubles, two homers, three RBI, a walk and four runs scored. Defensively, Desmond has played 39 consecutive errorless games (155 total chances) since last committing an error on April 21 against the New York Mets at Citi Field.
It’s actually hard to believe.
As Adam LaRoche tagged from third and raced home, his slide into beating the throw from left field to hand Washington a 3-2 victory Tuesday night, it was the first time the Nationals had recorded a walk-off win since Jayson Werth’s mammoth home run in Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS.
Of course, there was some symmetry to the fact that Werth was back in the dugout for his first game after over a month on the shelf. And though he was not personally a factor in the ninth-inning rally that turned what was looking like a gloomy, 2-1 defeat into a rousing, 3-2 win, there he was on the top step of the dugout, cheering and encouraging teammates.
“I’ve got all the confidence in the world in this team,” said Werth in the clubhouse after the big emotional victory. “It’s time to get going.”
To that point in the game, the only run had come via an Ian Desmond solo home run in the fourth. Otherwise, their best scoring chance came with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth.
Until Tuesday night, Washington had only notched two ninth-inning runs in 57 games. The Nationals had to buck that trend as well to keep from wasting another brilliant start from Jordan Zimmermann, who allowed just a pair of unearned runs over eight strong innings. They did so, just in the nick of time.
“I was out of breath,” said Steve Lombardozzi of the celebratory dog pile on the field for his first Major League walk-off. “I think I blacked out for a little bit there.”
Fans who followed the Nationals closely last year may have felt the same way. For a moment, the excitement, the passion, the energy that the 2013 edition of the squad has been looking to rekindle could be seen flowing through the huddle out in front of home plate.
The team was looking for a spark. They got it when they needed it most, at the last possible moment Tuesday night. Now it’s time to build a fire.
6.4.13 – Nationals 3, Mets 2
Stat of the Game: Steve Lombardozzi delivered Washington’s first walk-off win of the season, capping a two-run ninth with a game-winning sacrifice fly.
Under-the-Radar Performance: Ian Desmond extended his hitting streak to eight games with his eighth home run, then doubled in the ninth to move the winning run to third base.
It Was Over When: Lombardozzi’s fly ball forced Mets left fielder Mike Baxter deep enough on his heels to allow Adam LaRoche to race home from third with the winning run.