Results tagged ‘ Arizona Diamondbacks ’

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: 6.25.13

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Arizona Diamondbacks (41-34) vs. Washington Nationals (37-38)

 RHP Trevor Cahill (3-8, 3.92) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.34) 

Following a split of a four-game set with Colorado and an off day on Monday, Washington hosts NL West-leading Arizona for three games beginning Tuesday night. In a battle of former teammates, Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill go head-to-head with the Nationals looking to draw back to the .500 mark.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Werth RF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Tracy 3B

7. Bernadina LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

GOOD WOOD, SLICK LEATHER

Ian Desmond currently leads all MLB shortstops with 33 extra-base hits (19 doubles, two triples, 12 home runs) and nine game-winning RBI. Remarkably, nine of Desmond’s 12 home runs this season have been go-ahead blasts. Defensively, he has played a career-high and D.C.-baseball record 56 consecutive errorless games (221 total chances) as a shortstop since last committing a miscue, April 21 at New York (NL). This is currently the longest streak of its kind among MLB shortstops.

ELITE EIGHT

Gio Gonzalez has not earned a victory in any of his last eight outings, but for no fault of his own. The lefty is holding opponents to a .174 batting average over that span, amassing a 2.18 ERA (13 ER/53.2 IP) with 52 strikeouts. The Nationals have gone 3-5 in those eight games.

D-BACKS AGAINST THE WALL

The Nationals (2005-present) are 8-6-2 (win-loss-tie) in series play against the Diamondbacks, thanks in part to a 12-4 mark in one-run games. Washington is 16-11 (.593) against the D-backs since the beginning of 2009, and the Nats .538 winning percentage against Arizona is trumped by only a .545 mark against Pittsburgh as the best against any opponent over that stretch.

Top 12 of ‘12: #9 – Desmond’s Dunk

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Arizona Diamondbacks v Washington NationalsWhen you win 98 games and go almost wire-to-wire to take the division crown, the season doesn’t have too many turning points. However, in the midst of a season-long five-game slide, the Nationals looked as vulnerable as they had all year, trailing Arizona 4-3 at home on May 2 with Bryce Harper at second base and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Ian Desmond, who entered the game with just seven extra-base hits and a .260/.294/.375 line through his first 22 games, stood in as Washington’s final chance against D-backs closer J.J. Putz, who had shut the door for 45 saves the year prior.

With a nervous crowd clinging to hope, Putz delivered a 93 mile-per-hour, belt-high fastball in a 1-1 count and Desmond turned on it, sending it towards left-center field. Despite the cold, spring night, the ball carried deep towards the visiting bullpen. Just as center fielder Gerardo Parra and left fielder Jason Kubel converged at the 377 mark, the ball disappeared over the wall for a walk-off, two-run home run. The Nationals would go 84-55 from that night forward, and Desmond would go on to post a .300/.344/.542 line with 28 doubles and 23 home runs in his final 108 games, earning the first All-Star bid and Silver Slugger Award of his young career.

- SEE THE REST OF THE TOP 12 OF ’12 -

Year of the Rookie

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When Bryce Harper was called up to the Major Leagues on April 27, he became the favorite in many eyes to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award, well before he ever stepped on the field. The hype that has surrounded Harper since his appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 16 year-old has been entirely overwhelming and unprecedented in the sport’s history. But they don’t give awards for hype – such honors have to be earned. And, whether Reds and Diamondbacks fans agree or not, Bryce Harper earned the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year.

Bryce Harper fought off a strong field to win 2012 NL Rookie of the Year.

First, some respect for his competition. Todd Frazier was very impressive, coming out of relative obscurity when Joey Votto was injured to post a .273/.331/.498 line, slugging 19 home runs and notching 51 total extra-base hits. Wade Miley, the Arizona hurler, came up huge with 16 wins and nearly a 3.9/1 strikeout-to-walk rate over almost 200 innings in his first full campaign. Both are worthy candidates, and either could have been Rookie of the Year, had it not been for Harper.

To start, there are the now-20 year-old’s overall numbers. He collected more home runs (22) and extra-base hits (57) than Frazier, while also stealing six times as many bases (18/3). His .270/.340/.477 overall line was slightly weaker, but he ripped through September and October at a .330/.400/.643 clip, finishing far stronger in the season’s final month than either Frazier (.176/.235/.257) or Miley (2-2, 5.40 ERA). And perhaps the biggest difference was that Harper did all of this while playing above average defense at one of the game’s toughest positions.

While Frazier actually compiled a negative dWAR (defensive wins above replacement) of -0.2 at first base, third base and left field (according to Baseball Reference), Harper notched a dWAR of 1.4, leading to an overall WAR of 5.0, nearly twice Frazier’s 2.7 total. And while measuring pitcher WAR against position player WAR is a bit of an apples to oranges comparison, Miley’s was 3.2, just for frame of reference. The point is, Harper’s all-around excellence defined his season as being greater than a simple look at his slash line.

But if you love raw offensive stats, he led in plenty of categories there, too. Harper paced all NL rookies with 98 runs scored, 17 more than his next closest competitor and 43 more than Frazier. His nine triples were also best, even one more than AL Rookie of the Year winner Mike Trout. Even if you discount the intangibles and individual moments – like his steal of home off Cole Hamels on national television – Harper had an impact on the game in 2012 that few, if any, could match.

All that’s left now is to wonder just how much better he might be next year.

Spring Into Fall

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The closer you follow baseball, the more you realize how year-round the sport really is. The average American may take notice around Opening Day, then have their fandom tail off as their team is eliminated from contention, perhaps watching the World Series, if they are so inclined. The more passionate follower is more likely to count down the days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, their baseball awareness stretching from mid-February to the end of October. But for the true obsessives (like us), there are compelling games for the Nationals being played even now, as the Arizona Fall League began this week at the Spring Training complexes around Phoenix.

For those unfamiliar with it, the AFL is a prospect showcase, where all 30 Major League teams send some of their top talent, often including players whose regular seasons were limited for whatever reason, to see how they perform in a highly competitive environment. The 30 clubs are combined into six squads, with five MLB teams apiece represented on each. Last year, the Nationals were assigned to the Scottsdale Scorpions, with Bryce Harper the most well known representative of the organization. In 2012, they are members of the Salt River Rafters, along with the Diamondbacks, White Sox, Rockies and Blue Jays.

This year’s crop of Nationals prospects includes:

Matt Skole (second from left) was honored as the Nationals 2012 Minor League Player of the Year.

Pitchers 

Aaron Barrett

Paul Demny

Cole Kimball

Ryan Perry

Infielders

Jason Martinson

Anthony Rendon

Matt Skole

Outfielders

Brian Goodwin

We will be conducting a more thorough Down on the Farm report for many of these prospects this offseason, but wanted to give special attention to one – Matt Skole – whom we have already profiled before here on Curly W Live. The 2012 Nationals Minor League Player of the Year, Skole has busted down the Fall League doors, batting .533/.650/.867 with two doubles, a home run and five RBI through his first four games on the circuit. His early success among some of baseball’s elite prospects helps back up the case that his tremendous 2012 numbers were no fluke. The third baseman batted .292 with 28 doubles, 27 home runs and 104 RBI in just 118 games between Low-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac in his first professional season.

Make sure to check in to Curly W Live on Wednesdays throughout the offseason for more on many of the Nationals rising stars. And if you’d like to keep up with the AFL on a daily basis through the end of the season in mid-November, check out the home of the league here, complete with scores, stats, stories and more.

Power In Numbers

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It’s hard to believe, with the season the Washington Nationals have had, that they have not had more walk-off home runs. Other types of walk-offs have come in nearly every shape and form, from singles, to wild pitches, to sacrifice flies. But Ian Desmond’s two-out, two-run shot to beat the Diamondbacks in the bottom of the ninth on May 2, more than five months ago, a seemingly distant memory, was the lone game-winning blast of this memorable 2012 campaign.

Until last night.

Jayson Werth’s walk-off extended the Nationals season.

If you believe in the cosmic powers of the game, the baseball gods, as it were, this one was foreshadowed. Leading off the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game on 10.11.12, Jayson Werth worked an epic at-bat against Lance Lynn, driving the 13th pitch into the visitor’s bullpen at Nationals Park for his 14th career postseason home run. But the bizarre parallels go beyond that sequential string of numbers alone.

On September 8, the Nationals trailed the Miami Marlins by a score of 6-5 entering the bottom of the ninth inning at home in D.C. With closer Heath Bell already throwing his warm-up pitches and Werth slated to lead off the frame, a torrential storm descended upon Nationals Park, sending fans scampering to seek shelter from the high winds and sheets of rain. The game went into a delay for more than two and-a-half hours, the dramatic bottom of the ninth put on ice. Finally, the weather cleared, the teams reemerged to the field, and Werth dug in against Bell. They battled through a long at-bat, Werth fouling off three pitches before finally working the count full.

Clippard NLDS Game 4

Tyler Clippard and the bullpen built momentum with eight strikeouts.

Less than 1,000 fans remained from the original crowd of 28,860, all descending behind the dugouts, standing, yelling, living and dying with every pitch. It had the feel of a high school playoff game, the drama and emotion running on high for those diehards that remained. Werth finally saw a center-cut fastball from Bell and smoked it to the Red Porch in left-center field for a game-tying home run. The Nationals would go on to win in walk-off fashion in the 10th inning.

Ross Detwiler also started that game, with Drew Storen earning the win following his and Tyler Clippard’s scoreless innings. Each reliever fanned the side in that September game. Clippard did so again Thursday night, with Storen punching out a pair.

The same momentum from the pitching in that September game grew in the late innings Thursday night. And once again, Werth delivered, on an at-bat five pitches longer and more surreal, a crowd of better than 44,000 already frenzied fans igniting like a supersonic jet engine as the ball cleared the left field wall.

Enjoy the full at-bat below, the six minutes of tension cut down to a tidy 2:47, to appreciate just how amazing it was. Then click below to listen to Nationals play-by-play man Charlie Slowes, who summoned the memories of that September 8 game before the 13th pitch, and the overwhelming crowd behind him as his prediction came true.

Slowes Calls Werth’s Walk-off

What to Watch For: 8/11

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Washington Nationals (70-43) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (57-56)

RHP Edwin Jackson (6-7, 3.56) vs. LHP Wade Miley (12-7, 2.85)

Michael Morse homered for the third time in two days and Ryan Zimmerman went deep as well as the Nationals continued their flawless road trip with a 9-1 win over the Diamondbacks. Stephen Strasburg allowed a single hit over six innings of work in earning his 13th win of the season. Edwin Jackson takes the hill tonight against impressive rookie Wade Miley looking to extend Washington’s winning ways.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth CF

2. Espinosa SS

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Morse RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Moore LF

7. Flores C

8. Lombardozzi 2B

9. Jackson RHP

7TH HEAVEN

Thanks in part to a season-high seven straight wins, the Nationals are a season-best 27 games above .500. The ‘33 AL Nationals (99-53) were the last big league club representing the Nation’s Capital to climb as many as 27 games above the break-even mark.

NIFTY 50

In Friday’s 9-1 win at Chase Field, Stephen Strasburg secured the 50th win by a Nationals starting pitcher in 2012. The starting staff of the inaugural-campaign 2005 Nationals currently holds the mark for most wins (52) in single season.

SMOOTH ROAD

At 38-21 (.644), Washington owns the best road winning percentage in MLB, and the Nationals have won 17 of their last 22 road contests. Washington is 12-4-2 in road series play in 2012.

- FOLLOW NATIONALS VS. DIAMONDBACKS LIVE -

A Fan’s Guide to NATITUDE Weekend

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Well, it’s finally here. Welcome to NATITUDE Weekend at Nationals Park, the first three-game set of the year against the rival Phillies. If you are planning to attend any (or all) of this weekend’s games, here’s a handy guide to help arm you with the NATITUDE you need to show the Philly fans who decided to make the trip south to Our Park that Washington is ready to turn the tide both on the field and off.

1. Knowledge is power

Stephen Strasburg was named National League Pitcher of the Month for April.

The Nationals are off to a great start to 2012, and it helps to understand just how good they’ve been so far. As any Phillies fan will tell you, pitching is all-important in building a winner. So far, the Nationals have had the best staff in the game, and by a decent margin at that. Stephen Strasburg, who is scheduled to start the series opener on Friday, just took home National League Pitcher of the Month honors for April after going 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA (4 ER/32.0 IP), striking out 34 batters while walking just six over his first five starts of the year. In fact, four of the five Nats starting pitchers – including all three slated to start in this series – have ERAs under 2.00 going into Thursday night’s game. That’s something neither Phillies starters Cole Hamels (2.78) nor Roy Halladay (3.40) can claim.

2. Understand your history

Yes, the Phillies have won five straight National League East titles. You already know this, but you will no doubt be reminded of it several times this weekend. However, were you aware that the Nationals beat Philadelphia, 10-8, in the season series in 2011, including the final five games? Before completing a four-game sweep at Citizens Bank Park in September, the Nats won their last home game over Philadelphia in an extra-inning walk-off affair. Two days before that, Ryan Zimmerman cleared the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with a walk-off grand slam.

3. Speaking of walk-offs…

Ian Desmond has played the hero recently for the Nationals at home.

The Nationals enter their series finale with the Diamondbacks Thursday night with a 9-3 home record, best in the division. Four of those victories have come in walk-off style, including Wednesday’s dramatic, two-out, two-run, come-from-behind, game-winning home run off the bat of Ian Desmond. The winning run in those games has been scored by four different players (Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos, and Desmond), so you never know who the hero might be when you come to the ballpark.

4. There’s this guy named Bryce

They may boo him, but every opposing fan will have their eyes trained on home plate when 19 year-old Bryce Harper digs in. The outfielder turned in the first three-hit game of his young career on Wednesday, and is already altering games on defense with his cannon of an arm. Make sure you’re in your seat when Harper bats – you just might witness a piece of history.

5. Root, root, root for the home team

Bring your passion and energy to Our Park to cheer for the Nats. It’s going to be a fun, rowdy environment for sure, so bring your yelling voice. But should you run into some unruly visiting fans, don’t worry about wasting it on them. Let them regale you with stories about their .500 ballclub, and about how good they used to be. You know, in the past. Just take the high road and Ignite Your NATITUDE to support the NL East-leading Nats, the most exciting young team in baseball.

See you at Our Park this weekend!

From the Desk of Mark Lerner: Welcome to The Show

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Hello again Nationals fans,

As everyone undoubtedly knows by now, tonight is a special night. Bryce Harper will be making his MLB debut as we continue our series at Chavez Ravine.

As I talked about in my last blog, Dodger Stadium is one of the iconic venues in all of sports, and it is fitting that a 19 year-old kid from Las Vegas will be making his much-anticipated big league entrance on this stage.

All eyes - and cameras - will be on number 34 in red at Dodger Stadium tonight.

As “Hollywood” as this script seems, this was not how it was supposed to happen. Sure, the scenic backdrop, the 50,000-plus fans and the A-list celebs will be fantastic for the history books, but Bryce is here tonight on someone else’s terms.

Unfortunately, Ryan Zimmerman’s shoulder soreness has prompted a DL stint. Thankfully, this won’t be a prolonged absence for Ryan, but it does leave an immediate void in Davey’s lineup.

So, Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson talked. And they talked again. Ultimately, it was determined that they needed another left-handed bat in the lineup, and an outfielder if possible.

So, Mike went to chilly, Rochester, NY and watched Bryce play three games. He saw enough to know that this is what he had to do. He diverted from his plan. But how many of us see our best laid plans executed exactly as we scripted? Not nearly enough. That’s just reality.

So, when Mike called me yesterday with the news that he planned to recall Bryce on Saturday, I was taken aback. Like most, I did not see this happening so quickly.

Mike told me that Bryce was the best fit for what Davey needed, especially with Zimmerman and Michael Morse on the shelf.

He also told me that Bryce’s development plan is still not finished. There is a good chance that he’ll need more time, more reps and more at-bats at Triple-A. But that is a discussion for another day.

Bryce should not be seen as a panacea. He’s not our run-production savior. That would be unfair.

But Mike does think – and I agree – that Bryce can provide our roster a healthy jolt.

So, let’s see what he can do. Let’s dig deeper than his batting average, his power output and instead keep our eyes open for his total game – the base running, the defense, the throwing arm. Let’s resist the urge to make grand conclusions based on ridiculously small sample sizes.

But, at the same time, let’s have fun. On a personal level, I am thrilled that I am in Los Angeles and will be at Dodger Stadium tonight.

Tonight’s tilt is going to be memorable. But, so is Tuesday’s DC debut at Nationals Park against the Diamondbacks. And his first matchup next weekend against the Phillies.

It all starts for Bryce tonight, fittingly in Tinseltown.

The first page of what we believe will be a special Hollywood script.

Up goes the curtain: it’s time to enjoy the show.

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