Results tagged ‘ Adam LaRoche ’

Highlights: 7.6.13

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7.6.13 – Nationals 5, Padres 4

Stat of the Game: Bryce Harper drove in three runs in three different plate appearances to lead the offense.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Adam LaRoche swatted his 13th home run of the season as part of a two-hit game.

It Was Over When: LaRoche made a diving snag to his right and flipped to Rafael Soriano covering first to preserve the latter’s 23rd save of the season.

Ramos Returns

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Having spent the past 44 games on the disabled list, Wilson Ramos’ return to the Nationals lineup on Thursday couldn’t have come soon enough, and the catcher wasted no time reasserting himself.

Ramos plated a career-high five RBI (surpassing his previous high of three) capped by a three-run bomb in the seventh that broke open a tie game and helped lift the Nationals to an 8-5 Independence Day win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

“That pitching must have been awful tough down at Potomac,” quipped Davey Johnson, alluding to Ramos’ struggles to regain his offensive prowess during his rehab stint at High-A Potomac prior to his breakout game Thursday.

Ramos took a curtain call from the crowd after his three-run home run Thursday.

Ramos took a curtain call from the crowd after his three-run home run Thursday.

While it was just one swing, one can only imagine how therapeutic it must have been for Ramos, watching the ball sail over the visitor’s bullpen in left field, landing in a sea of red-clad fans.

“It was a great moment,” Ramos said. “I have to keep working. A lot’s happened in my career. A lot of bad moments, a lot of good moments. I have to learn from the bad moments and enjoy the good moments.”

With the well-documented turmoil of his past two years, including a twice-strained hamstring this season, it would have been easy to allow for some degree of rust in his first game action since May 15. No such pardons were necessary on Thursday, however. Instead, in his first pressure situation of the day, Ramos poked a sixth-inning, bases-loaded single up the middle to score Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth.

An even bigger opportunity presented itself again just an inning later. After taking a slider for ball one and waiting out a mound conference, Ramos drove Brandon Kintzler’s second slider over the Brewers bullpen, putting Washington ahead for good.

It was the kind of moment that has been eluding the Nationals for most of the year, a clutch, late-game instant that carries the team to victory. But it wasn’t the kind of moment that’s new to Ramos. Just last season, he drilled a bases-loaded, walk-off single up the middle in an 11-inning, 4-3 win against the Phillies to open NATITUDE Weekend. On June 22, 2011, Ramos capped a five-run ninth inning with a three-run walk-off homer for a 6-5 win over the Mariners, one of the most dramatic triumphs in franchise history.

“You see what the guy has gone through, more than anybody can imagine,” Drew Storen said. “That’s why we were excited to have him back, because he comes up in those big spots. He does big things.”

If his first game back forebears any of what he might achieve this season, Ramos could be the missing piece to the Nationals puzzle as they look to take off in the season’s second half.

Halfway, Home

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Under gray skies, just across the highway from LaGuardia Airport – from which they would depart shortly after their Sunday series finale – the Washington Nationals obliterated the New York Mets, 13-2, reaching the official halfway point of the season with their 81st game of the 2013 campaign.

The 13 runs marked a season high, easily surpassing the previous high-water mark of 10, which they scored on April 15 at Miami. Four different players mashed home runs, with Adam LaRoche’s massive solo blast opening the scoring and Ian Desmond’s upper deck shot off the glass panels of the club down the left field line at Citi Field capping it. It was a game that reminded the Nationals, their opponent and everyone else in the league just what they are capable of, even if they haven’t shown it as consistently as they’d like through the season’s first half.

Gonzalez's May/June ERA (2.10) is more than a run lower than in his 21-win campaign in 2012 (3.25).

Gonzalez’s May/June ERA (2.10) is more than a run lower than in his 21-win campaign in 2012 (3.25).

Oh, and they get Bryce Harper back today.

Sitting just 10 games (6-4) into a stretch that will see them play 34 of 49 at home, Washington may be finally primed to make the run that seems to elude them after each big victory. They are 22-16 at home this season. They’re 25-19 when Harper plays. In their final 14 games before the All-Star Break, they will draw Milwaukee and San Diego at home, then Philadelphia and Miami on the road. Those opponents are a combined 140-185, all four residing below the .500 mark.

More important than all of that, the team as it has been comprised has won seven of its last 11 games, outscoring opponents 52-39 over that stretch. Desmond, who leads all Major League shortstops in extra-base hits, has six home runs in six different games during that time, the Nationals winning five of them. Plus, he’s coming off of a torrid month of June that saw him hit .306 (30-for-98) with a .988 OPS and 28 RBI, the most ever in a single month by a Nationals player.

Meanwhile, quietly, the pitching is looking more and more like last year, not even considering 11-game winner Jordan Zimmermann. Since May 1, Stephen Strasburg (1.93) and Gio Gonzalez (2.10) have carried the National League’s third and fourth-lowest ERAs. In the 22 games dating back to June 8, the bullpen has saved all seven of its opportunities, going 5-4 with a 2.12 ERA (17 ER/72.1 IP) and 67 strikeouts.

The first half has not gone the way that nearly anyone believed it would. But with the pieces starting to come together, the lineup and bullpen rounding into form, and the team finally running at nearly full strength, the prospects look bright for an exciting second half.

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.

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

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.

What to Watch for: 6.21.13

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Colorado Rockies (37-37) vs. Washington Nationals (36-36)

 RHP Tyler Chatwood (4-1, 2.33) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (3-6, 2.50) 

When the Nationals returned to The District yesterday, they brought their bats with them, scoring five runs on 11 hits behind Jordan Zimmermann, who turned in a dominant performance to earn his 10th win of the season. Tonight, in his first start at home since returning from the disabled list, Stephen Strasburg looks to hold the Rockies – who rank in the top five in Major League Baseball in runs, batting average, slugging percentage, and on base percentage – in check to help Washington earn its third straight Curly W.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Werth RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Lombardozzi LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Strasburg RHP

JORDAN RULES (AGAIN!) IN D.C.

With last night’s 5-1 victory, Jordan Zimmermann earned his 10th win of the season, tying him for the Major League lead. The Nationals have not lost a game the last 11 times Zimmermann has started at home, since September 1, 2012 against the St. Louis Cardinals. Meanwhile, Zimmermann has not lost at Nationals Park since May 17 of last year, a span of 19 straight starts.

DESI’S DOUBLES (TRIPLES AND HOME RUNS)

Ian Desmond has not only gone yard in back-to-back games, but delivered the game-winning RBI in both as well. He now leads both the Nationals and all MLB shortstops with eight game-winning RBI. Desmond also leads all active MLB shortstops with 31 extra-base hits (18 doubles, two triples, 11 home runs). Only Troy Tulowitzki (32) has more, but he currently resides on Colorado’s Disabled List.

HOT AT HOME

Adam LaRoche has hit safely in 16 straight games at Nationals Park, going 25-for-58 (.431) with five walks, two doubles, two triples, three homers, 16 runs scored and 13 RBI, compiling a 1.158 OPS. Meanwhile, Denard Span is batting .362 (17-for-47) with 5 doubles, 2 triples, seven runs scored and four RBI during his current 11-game home hitting streak.

Highlights: 6.20.13

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6.20.13 – Nationals 5, Rockies 1

Stat of the Game: Jordan Zimmermann fanned a season-high nine batters over eight frames to earn his 10th win, tying him for the Major League lead.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Four Nationals pocketed multi-hit games, including Adam LaRoche, Steve Lombardozzi, Anthony Rendon and Denard Span.

It Was Over When: LaRoche tripled home a pair of runs in the fifth, opening up a four-run cushion.

It’s Time to Vote Nats

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Did you know that Ian Desmond has played 52 straight games at arguably the game’s toughest position without making an error, and that he’s batting .344 with four homers in June?

How about the fact that Bryce Harper still leads the club with 12 homers, and that his .973 OPS would rank third among all qualifying players in the National League?

Are you aware that Adam LaRoche put together a career-high 16-game hitting streak in May, a month in which he batted .330 with seven homers and 19 RBI?

Did you realize that Ryan Zimmerman is in the top five in the National League in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs, home runs and RBI, despite having played in just 57 games?

There are plenty of reasons to Vote Nats before the All-Star balloting is over. Your last day to vote in-park is June 25, and the last day to vote online is July 4. Vote early, vote often, and always Vote Nats.

Read more about this year’s candidates in this homestand’s Inside Pitch, available now at Nationals Park.

IP7_VoteNats_Medium

The Walking Dead

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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.

Jayson Werth deilvered a pair of clutch, two-out, RBI-singles to force extra innings.

Jayson Werth deilvered a pair of clutch, two-out, RBI-singles to force extra innings.

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.

Ian Desmond's first career grand slam won it in the 11th.

Ian Desmond’s first career grand slam won it in the 11th.

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.

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