Results tagged ‘ Adam Wainwright ’

What to Watch For: NLDS Game 5

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St. Louis Cardinals (2-2) vs. Washington Nationals (2-2)

RHP Adam Wainwright (0-0, 1.59) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (0-0, 3.60)

Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth combined to provide the Nationals with enough offense to squeeze past the Cardinals, 2-1 in Game 4, setting up a win-or-go-home Game 5 for both teams Friday night in D.C. The pitching matchup of Adam Wainwright and Gio Gonzalez will be a rematch of Game 1 of the series, which Washington won, 3-2, last Sunday in St. Louis.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

From Game 4 hero Werth, about being in a zone as the crowd of over 44,000 exploded upon his game-winning home run clearing the left field wall:

“It was pretty quiet to me. I didn’t hear a thing.”

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth RF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

WALK OFF, WALK ON

Following Washington’s dramatic, walk-off victory in Game 4, the Nationals need one more win over the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 to move on to the NLCS. The Nationals walked off 10 times during the regular season and went on to win their next game eight times. Gio Gonzalez has twice pitched the game after a Nationals walk-off, winning both times (4/24 @ SD, 5/5 vs. PHI) with a 0.69 ERA (1 ER/13.0 IP) while allowing just six hits and a walk, striking out 13 in those two outings.

G.I.O. IN D.C.

The Nationals are 24-8 behind Gonzalez this season (plus 1-0 in the postseason), the best winning percentage of a team behind any qualifying starter in baseball. When Gonzalez toed the rubber in a starting role in D.C. this year, the Nationals went 10-4 (.714). Washington has won its last four home games started by the southpaw, with Gonzalez earning the victory each time.

D.C.’S POSTSEASON LEDGER

It’s well known that the Nation’s Capital has one MLB World Championship (‘24) on its resume. Washington, D.C. owns an all-time record of 10-13 in the postseason: 2-2 in 2012 NLDS, 1-4 in 1933 World Series, 3-4 in 1925 World Series, 4-3 in 1924 World Series. The Nationals and Cardinals Game 5 meeting will treat D.C. to just the second winner-take-all contest in 79 seasons of big league ball. On October 10, 1924, the AL Nationals edged the New York Giants, 4-3 in 12 innings, in Game 7 of the Fall Classic.

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What to Watch For: NLDS Game 4

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St. Louis Cardinals (2-1) vs. Washington Nationals (1-2)

RHP Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86) vs. LHP Ross Detwiler (10-8, 3.40)

After Wednesday’s loss, Washington finds itself in the position of needing to win two games in a row at home – something the team has done 23 times this season – to extend its season and advance to the NLCS. The Nationals will send southpaw Ross Detwiler to the hill against Cardinals right-hander Kyle Lohse, who has been tremendous against most of the league in 2012 but had really struggled against the Nationals, allowing 12 runs (nine earned) in 11.2 innings over two starts.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

From Nationals Game 5 probable starter Gio Gonzalez on how the team needs to respond over the next two games:

“You learn from that. To be the best, you have to beat the best.”

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth RF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Detwiler RHP

GLASS HALF FULL

The Nationals won at least two straight games at Nationals Park this season on 16 separate occasions in ’12 (23 overall). Washington also went 16-5-5 (win-loss-tie) in series play this season at Nationals Park. The ‘12 Nationals went 6-2 the contest after being shut out (St. Louis blanked the Nationals, 8-0, in Game 3). Kyle Lohse (7.48) and Game 5 starter Adam Wainwright (7.24) share a collective 7.39 ERA in seven career starts in D.C. The Cardinals have won games in consecutive days at Nationals Park just once: April 30 (9-4) and May 1 (6-2), 2009.

TWO LEFTIES CAN MAKE IT RIGHT

When Game 4 starter Ross Detwiler or Game 5 starter Gio Gonzalez toed the rubber in a starting role in D.C. this year, the Nationals went 21-7 (.750). Detwiler (11-3, .786) and Gonzalez (10-4, .714) posted the top two team winning percentages at home among the Nationals starting staff.

DESI DOING IT

Through three postseason games, Ian Desmond shares the Major League lead in hits (7) with Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips, who has taken four games to amass the same total. Desmond is batting .583 (7-for-12) with a double and two runs scored in his first-ever postseason series.

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Don’t Panic

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by Noah Frank

Take a deep breath, Nationals fans.

It can be easy, when your team’s back is against the wall, playing to keep its season alive, to panic and lose hope. The postseason brings heightened emotions and an extra sense of urgency to every game, so individual wins and losses can seem blown out of proportion. That’s why now is as good a time as ever to remove emotion from the equation for the moment, to step back, and to look at the reality of what lies ahead the next day or two, based on what we’ve learned about the Nationals and Cardinals from the 2012 season.

By the time Major League teams hit the postseason, they have formed an identity. A 162-game regular season lends enough time to form trends and predictable results, a sample size that – while it does not always play out exactly to form – gives the viewing audience an idea of what to expect from a team in the playoffs.

While the Nationals are known for their pitching, a potent offense helped them to the best run differential in baseball.

The Cardinals posted a +117 run differential over the course of the regular season, fourth-best in baseball and second in the National League only to Washington’s +137 mark. They went 60-31 in games in games decided by three or more runs, also the second-best mark in the league. This is no doubt a strong indicator of the Cardinals ability to produce prolifically on offense, but it also helps compensate for another, less flattering, team statistic. See, St. Louis went just 28-43 (.394) in games decided by less than three runs, ranking just a hair above Chicago and Houston – two teams that combined to lose 208 games this year – as the worst in the league.

The Nationals had a tendency to win blowouts as well (their 56-26 record in games decided by three or more runs was the best in baseball), but they were also solid in close games, going 42-38 in one and two-run games. Washington also played 20 extra-inning contests, the most in baseball, and were 13-7 in those games (8-5 at home). St. Louis, meanwhile, went just 6-12 in extra-inning affairs.

So far, these trends have largely played out to form through the first three games of the series. The Cardinals have won a pair of blowouts, while the Nationals have taken the lone nail-biter. Postseason experience or not, the large sample seems to indicate that this is the norm, not the exception. And if it is, the Nationals should feel pretty good about themselves, as the head into Thursday (and hopefully Friday) needing wins at home. Especially so, when you consider the following:

Washington Post baseball writer Thomas Boswell pointed out early in the series that all four of last year’s Division Series winners were actually outscored by their opponents in their series. The Rangers (21-16), Tigers (28-17), Brewers (25-23) and yes, Cardinals (21-19) all saw their competition score more runs over the course of their respective series, but all came out on top. Each won at least one one-run game in the series, with three of the teams winning a pair of them. But that 2011 St. Louis team was 45-38 in games decided by two runs or less. They were not the same team that Washington needs to beat twice in the next two days to keep its season alive.

Ross Detwiler has been excellent at home this season.

The Nationals have been outscored 22-7 through the first three games of this series, and would likely end up on the short end of the overall run total even if they do take the next two games (after all, they’d have to outscore the Cardinals by an average of eight runs a game to tip the overall balance). The good news is, by doing so, they would actually be the norm, not the exception.

When examining the particulars of the matchups in front of the Nationals, it helps to again stay away from the knee-jerk reactions. A quick look at Game 4 starter Kyle Lohse’s numbers (16-3, 2.86 ERA) doesn’t inspire hope. In fact, he posted a 2.62 ERA in 199.1 innings against all the teams in the league that do not call the Nation’s Capital home. But in his two starts against Washington, the Nationals battered him around to the tune of a 6.92 ERA (12 runs, nine earned, in 11.2 innings). He did not take the loss in either, but very well could have, leaving with deficits of 9-8 and 4-0 in the two games.

Coupled with the lineup’s success against Lohse, Ross Detwiler’s 8-2 record and 2.59 ERA at Nationals Park reshape the whole outlook of the matchup. Of course, Game 5 would bring a rematch of Adam Wainwright and Gio Gonzalez, a Game 1 matchup that the Nationals won, 3-2, back on Sunday in St. Louis.

All the Nationals have to do is win two games in a row at home, something they’ve done 23 times this season, including against this same Cardinals squad on August 30-31, just over a month ago.

Nationals fans, allow yourself to exhale – if only until first pitch Thursday afternoon.

What To Watch For: NLDS Game 1

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Washington Nationals (98-64) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (88-74)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (21-8, 2.89) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (14-13, 3.94)

The Washington Nationals begin the franchise’s first-ever Postseason in the home of the defending 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards knocked off the Atlanta Braves, 6-3 on Friday night, in the one-game Wild Card Playoff to reach the National League Division Series.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

From Nationals Manager Davey Johnson on leading his fourth different team to the Postseason:

“It’s not my first rodeo… We know who we are, we know what we do well.”

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth RF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

ARMS RACE

Washington features the staff with the lowest ERA in the National League at 3.33, helping lead to a league-best 98 wins. Nationals pitchers also ranked third in the league with 1325 strikeouts. St. Louis, meanwhile, posted the league’s sixth best mark as a staff (3.71), including 10 shutouts. Gio Gonzalez’s only start against the Cardinals his season resulted in his first career shutout, a five-hit masterpiece in D.C. on August 31. St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright, meanwhile, had one great start and one rough one against the Nationals, going 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA (7 ER/8.2 IP).

BATTER UP

The Cardinals featured the second-highest scoring offense and second-highest batting average in the National League. However, they were out-homered by the Nationals, 194-159, and Washington actually posted better second-half numbers across the board.

MANAGING EXPECATIONS

This matchup features Major League Baseball’s oldest (69 year-old Davey Johnson) and youngest (42 year-old Mike Matheny) managers, marking the largest age difference between skippers in Postseason history.

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