Results tagged ‘ Atlanta Braves ’
The 2013 season is not yet over. But the dream of defending the National League East crown, of a repeat trip to the postseason has come to an end.
While the end always stings, it did not come as suddenly or unexpectedly as the end of the 2012 season. And while it may have technically ended at the hands of the Cardinals, there wasn’t much of a sense of any connection between the end of last year and the end of this year. It was simply happenstance that the Nationals should make their lone trip to St. Louis at the end of September, after staving off elimination for weeks, and that Cincinnati and Pittsburgh should each squeak out runs against inferior opponents just minutes earlier to create such a scenario.
The odds were stacked against Washington as early as April, when Atlanta built a division lead it would never relinquish. They grew longer with injuries to key cogs in the offense and the rotation, and with the way the National League shook out, a high-80s win total was simply not good enough to knock on October’s door this year.
“It’s tough,” said Davey Johnson after Monday night’s 4-3 defeat. “You put the uniform on to win, and we didn’t get it done.”
This will be Johnson’s last year in uniform on the bench for Washington, which surely adds to that emotion. But there is solace in knowing that he will be back in the front office next season, helping President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo as the club looks to improve in 2014 and beyond.
“I’m not worried about the organization,” he expressed. “The organization’s in great shape.”
Ian Desmond, who has been the first to stand up and face the media in the wake of any tough loss this season, concurred in his assessment.
“I couldn’t ask to be in a better place, with a better group of guys,” he said.
Even as the national media has portrayed Jayson Werth as the emotional leader of this club, and continued to focus on Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg as the name-brand stars, it was Desmond who stayed consistently, statistically great the past two seasons, no matter what happened around him.
His final 2012 line looked like so: .292/.335/.511 with 60 extra-base hits, 21 stolen bases and a team-leading 5.0 fWAR.
With five regular season games remaining in 2013, he’s compiled a .285/.337/.463 line with 61 extra-base hits, 21 steals and a 5.1 fWAR, again best on the club.
“For me personally, I just play the game the way I know how to play the game,” he said Monday night. “I don’t turn the dial up. The dial’s already turned up.”
Desmond’s ability to stay healthy has helped him remain consistent in a year of turbulence. That quality is one that Harper, who remained in his full jersey, sitting at his locker well after the conclusion of the game, looks to draw from heading into the offseason.
“I’ve got to try to be in this lineup every night,” Harper said, looking ahead to next season, referencing time missed due to injury this year.
But before all attention turns to 2014, Washington can still make life tough on these Cardinals. With two more games in St. Louis, the Nationals can go a long way toward determining the pecking order in the NL Central, perhaps pushing the Cards into the one-game Wild Card.
“We’ve got an opportunity to rain on their parade a little,” said Desmond, well aware of the situation.
And so, with that, we’ll say the words that baseball people never dare to speak aloud.
Let it rain.
Atlanta Braves (89-62) vs. Washington Nationals (81-70)
LHP Alex Wood (3-3, 3.45) vs. RHP Ross Ohlendorf (4-0, 3.15)
The Nationals completed an exciting doubleheader sweep over the Braves on Tuesday to cap an emotional day Tuesday in The District. Washington rallied for three runs off Craig Kimbrel for a 6-5, walk-off win in the matinee, while Tanner Roark tossed seven shutout innings in the 4-0 nightcap victory to become the first Nationals player (2005-present) to win his first seven decisions. Ross Ohlendorf steps to the hill tonight as Washington aims for its 11th win in 12 contests and a three-game sweep of its division rivals.
1. Denard Span CF
2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B
3. Jayson Werth RF
4. Bryce Harper LF
5. Ian Desmond SS
6. Adam LaRoche 1B
7. Wilson Ramos C
8. Anthony Rendon 2B
9. Ross Ohlendorf RHP
Washington owns Major League Baseball’s best record dating to August 9 (27-10, .730). In that span, the Nationals lead the National League in runs scored (201) and run differential (+65). The Nationals have won eight of nine series since taking three of four games at Wrigley Field, August 19-22.
At the completion of play on September 1, when the Nationals departed for their most recent road trip, Ryan Zimmerman was tied for 38th in the National League with 15 home runs. In the 15 games since, Zimmerman has hit 10 long balls — including one to spur a three-run eighth inning in Tuesday’s nightcap — and is currently tied for sixth in the NL with a team-best 25 homers. Zimmerman’s 10 home runs this month are the most in MLB (ahead of Hunter Pence’s nine) and have established a Nationals record for the month of September.
SOME REST FOR THE WEARY
Wilson Ramos’ Nationals record and MLB season-high string of 24 consecutive starts behind the plate came to an end in Tuesday’s nightcap against the Braves. During the 24-game run, which began August 22 at Chicago, Ramos went 24-for-91 (.264) with a double, seven home runs and 24 RBI. Washington played .750 (18-6) ball during that stretch.
9.17.13 Game One – Nationals 6, Braves 5
Stat of the Game: The Nationals became the first team to score three runs against Craig Kimbrel in his 225 career appearances.
Under-the-Radar Performance: Dan Haren twirled six strong innings of one-run ball and left with a 3-1 lead.
It Was Over When: Denard Span‘s grounder up the middle split the wickets on Andrelton Simmons to score the winning run.
9.17.13 Game Two – Nationals 4, Braves 0
Stat of the Game: Tanner Roark dominated once again, tossing seven scoreless frames en rout to his seventh win, lowering his ERA to 1.08.
Under-the-Radar Performance: Ryan Zimmerman blasted his 10th home run in his last 15 games, giving him 25 on the season for the fourth time in his career.
It Was Over When: Washington added three insurance runs in the ninth inning to put the game away.