Results tagged ‘ Atlanta Braves ’

What to Watch for: 8.6.13

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Atlanta Braves (68-45) vs. Washington Nationals (54-58)

RHP Julio Teheran (8-5, 3.02) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-4, 3.57) 

Tanner Roark’s 2013 season started about as well as he could have ever expected. The 27-year-old right-hander fired six no-hit innings in his debut for the Syracuse Chiefs, walking two and striking out seven in a road win at Lehigh Valley.

From there, though, the Wilmington, Illinois native struggled, before finally settling in and finding his groove in early May pitching out of the bullpen.

Since then, he’s been nearly unhittable.

Beginning with a scoreless inning at Durham on May 6, Roark made 17 relief appearances, holding opponents scoreless in 16 of them. He moved back into the rotation, where he made eight starts, winning six of them. He has just one loss since mid-April, and since that outing in Durham he is 8-1 with a 1.55 ERA (14 ER/81.1 IP).

All of that led to Roark’s promotion to the Major Leagues on Tuesday, when he was selected from the Chiefs and joined the Nationals in D.C. Twice a double-digit game winner in the minors, this marks Roark’s first time on a big league roster after six Minor League seasons. Originally a 25th-round pick by the Rangers out of the University of Illinois, Roark was acquired by the Nationals along with fellow hurler Ryan Tatusko in exchange for Cristian Guzman back on July 31, 2010. He has pitched in the Washington system ever since, but made huge strides forward this year, easily his best as a professional.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Harper LF

2. Zimmerman 3B

3. Werth RF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Ramos C

7. Span CF

8. Rendon 2B

9. Gonzalez LHP

CATCH THIS

Wilson Ramos is batting .320 (24-for-75) with three doubles, five home runs and 18 RBI in 21 games since returning from a left hamstring injury (missed 48 games during two stints on the disabled list). Ramos’ .906 OPS since his return on July 4 ranks third among big league catchers in that month-plus span, trailing only Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy (1.071) and Atlanta’s Brian McCann (.943).

JULIO ARE YOU

The Nationals have hit opposing starter Julio Teheran fairly well over the last couple of years, including seven players sporting .333 or better averages against him:

Bernadina: .333 (1-3)

Desmond: .444 (4-9)

Harper: .400 (2-5, BB, HR)

LaRoche: .333 (2-6, 3 BB)

Span: .667 (6-9)

Tracy: .667 (2-3)

Werth: .333 (2-6)

GIOLOGY

Gio Gonzalez faces the Braves for the first time since June 1, when he allowed a run on just three hits over seven frames while striking out seven in a no decision at Turner Field. Gonzalez has matched his career high with 11 strikeouts in each of his last two home starts. The lefty has fanned 72 batters in his last 62.0 innings (10.45 K/9 IP), spanning 10 starts.

What to Watch for: 8.5.13

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Atlanta Braves (67-45) Washington Nationals (54-57)

LHP Mike Minor (11-5, 2.75) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (5-9, 3.04)

Washington returns home for a nine-game, 11-day homestand beginning with three contests against the division-rival Braves. The Nationals have not played Atlanta since the first days of June, but will face the NL East leaders in six of their next 12 contests and nine more times before the end of the 2013 regular season. Stephen Strasburg, who has a 1.93 ERA (3 ER/14.0 IP) this year against the Braves, toes the rubber in the opener.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Harper CF

2. Desmond SS

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Ramos C

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Rendon 2B

7. Lombardozzi LF

8. Hairston RF

9. Strasburg RHP

AWARD-WERTHY

Jayson Werth was named the National League Player of the Month for July, thanks to his league-leading 22 RBI and .450 on-base percentage. Werth’s .400 batting average since July 1 also paces all of Major League Baseball:

1. Jayson Werth (WAS) .400

2. Chris Johnson (ATL) .388

3. Kyle Seager (SEA) .376

4. Mike Trout (LAA) .375

5. Victor Martinez (DET) .374

HOMER HAPPY

With two more home runs on Sunday at Miller Park, the Nationals have hit 19 home runs in 14 games dating to July 21. The 19-in-14 power surge matches Washington’s best 14-game power output of the season. From April 6-21, the Nationals also hit 19 long balls in a span of 14 contests.

BELOW THE SURFACE

Four Nationals affiliates have already clinched post-season berths or currently lead their respective divisions: Double-A Harrisburg (Eastern League’s Western Division), Single-A Carolina (won Carolina League’s Northern Division first half, currently lead second half and own CL’s top overall record), High-A Hagerstown (won South Atlantic League, Northern Division first half) and Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals (lead GCL, East Division and own GCL’s top overall record). Earlier today, Tyler Moore was named Triple-A International League Player of the Week for the period ending August 4. Moore hit .308 (8-for-26) with three walks, four doubles, three home runs, five runs scored and 13 RBI to earn the citation.

What to Watch for: 7.30.13

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Washington Nationals (52-54) vs. Detroit Tigers (59-45)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (5-8, 2.85) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (8-7, 2.68)

The All-Star break provides a number of opportunities for players. The four days are a chance to catch your breath, lick your wounds, and get a mental restart for the stretch run. For managers though, it also provides a chance to reset the pitching rotation to best match up with opponents.

In Davey Johnson’s case, that meant he could line up Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez for this two-game set against Detroit, beginning Tuesday night in the Motor City. It also means Jordan Zimmermann will get to start back in his home state of Wisconsin on Friday night in Milwaukee, where he delivered six strong innings to earn his fourth win in a very strong month of August last season.

Of course, it also means the rotation will roll over once more, setting up the top three Washington starters to pitch during the Nationals upcoming August 5-7 home series with Atlanta. With a little tinkering, Johnson could work around the off days to do the same for the road series against the Braves, August 16-18 at Turner Field.

The ability to set up the top of the rotation is great, but it is made all the more important by the success of the rest of the starters, like the three huge starts delivered by Ross Ohlendorf, Dan Haren and Taylor Jordan over the weekend. After one of their toughest losses of the season in the opening game of the doubleheader with the Mets on Friday – and with All-Star Game starter Matt Harvey and Nats nemesis Dillon Gee on the horizon – Washington needed big performances from all three to have a successful weekend.

That’s exactly what they got. Ohlendorf, Haren and Jordan combined to deliver 20 innings over which each allowed just a single earned run (1.35 combined ERA) on 14 total hits and four walks while striking out 21 Mets batters. The offense did just enough to muster a win Friday night, with Ryan Zimmerman providing the ninth-inning heroics, then powered three home runs Saturday and came alive to set season highs in hits and runs on Sunday. That gave the Nationals three straight wins heading into their current Midwest road trip.

If the rotation can continue to feed off of itself and the lineup behind it finds its groove, the Nationals will be as well positioned as they could possibly hope for the upcoming division showdowns with Atlanta that may well determine the fate of the division.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Harper LF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Werth RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Span CF

8. Ramos C

9. Tracy DH

RHP Strasburg

BETTER AT-BATS = BETTER BALL

The Nationals won four of the final five games on their season-long 11-game homestand. They batted .302 (52-for-172) and plated 29 runs during the 4-1 surge since last Thursday, averaging 5.8 runs per game over that stretch.

WERTH THE WAIT

Jayson Werth is batting .331 (56-for-169) with 23 walks, seven doubles, 11 home runs, 30 runs scored, 32 RBI, and a .410 OBP in 48 games since returning from the disabled list (right hamstring) on June 4. During the month of July, Werth paces the National League in batting average (.376), OPS (1.103), on-base percentage (.455) and RBI (21). He also ranks among the Senior Circuit’s top five in home runs (tied-second, seven), slugging percentage (third, .647) and hits (tied-fifth, 32).

THREE GRAND

With Wilson Ramos’ bases-clearing blast in the third inning on Sunday, the Nationals have now blasted three grand slams in 2013. The club went 70 games before hitting a grand slam, with Ian Desmond providing the first of the year, in the 11th inning on June 19 in Philadelphia. Since then, Washington has collected three in 36 games, also including Ryan Zimmerman’s shot against San Diego on July 7 in The District.

Highlights: 6.2.13

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6.2.13 – Braves 6, Nationals 3

Stat of the Game: Ian Desmond had two hits, including his seventh home run of the season.

Under-the-Radar Performance: In his Major League debut, Erik Davis retired all five batters he faced, including a pair of strikeouts.

It Was Over When: Freddie Freeman missed a grand slam by inches, but padded the Atlanta lead with a two-run double.

What to Watch for: 6.2.13

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Washington Nationals (28-28) vs. Atlanta Braves (33-22)

RHP Nathan Karns (0-0, 6.23) vs. LHP Paul Maholm (6-4, 3.74)

Washington sends rookie Nathan Karns to the hill in search of his first Major League win as the Nationals look to take the series in Atlanta. If recent history is any indication, Sunday’s finale should be a close contest. Six of the last seven games between these two teams have been decided by two runs or less, with each club winning three of those six.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Lombardozzi LF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Moore RF

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Solano C

9. Karns RHP

RUBBER TO THE ROAD

The Nationals aim for the rubber match victory today before returning home (where they are 15-11 this season) for 20 of their next 32 contests. Washington has played 21 of its last 31 games on the road, compiling a 15-16 record during that stretch.

D, NO E

Washington has not committed an error as a team for a season-high five consecutive games. Up the middle, the defense has been particularly strong, with Ian Desmond playing 37 straight error-free contests, while Danny Espinosa has pitched in 22 straight outings without a defensive miscue.

THE POWER OF 3

When scoring three or more runs this season, the Nationals are 24-5, good for an .828 winning percentage. Conversely, the club is just 4-23 when scoring two times or less (.148).

Highlights: 6.1.13

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6.1.13 – Braves 2, Nationals 1 (10 innings)

Stat of the Game: Gio Gonzalez allowed just three hits and a walk over seven frames, fanning seven Braves.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ryan Zimmerman had Washington’s lone multi-hit performance, and is now batting .349/.411/.558 since May 9.

It Was Over When: B.J. Upton floated a single to right field in the 10th inning to score Jordan Schafer.

What to Watch for: 6.1.13

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Washington Nationals (28-27) vs. Atlanta Braves (32-22)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.90) vs. RHP Tim Hudson (4-4, 5.37)

The Nationals snagged the series opener for their third consecutive win over the Braves at Turner Field with a 3-2 victory Friday night. Tonight, they’ll send Gio Gonzalez to the mound, who notched a 2.48 ERA over his five May starts. The Braves will counter with Tim Hudson, who is 0-3 with an 8.69 ERA (19 ER/19.2 IP) over his last four outings.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Lombardozzi LF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Bernadina RF

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

IMPRESSIVE STAMMEN-A

Craig Stammen picked up the win last night with a career-high 4.0 perfect relief innings, in which he fanned three and retired all 12 batters faced. No reliever in Nationals (‘05-present) history has ever faced as many batters in an appearance without allowing a baserunner. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last reliever in Nationals/Expos franchise history to pitch 4.0 or more innings without allowing a baserunner was Sun-Woo Kim (13 batters in 4.1 IP) on May 10, 2004 vs. Kansas City. The longest such relief appearance in franchise history was posted by Jackie Brown (18 batters in 6.0 IP) on May 21, 1977 vs. San Diego.

WINNING MAY

The Nationals went 15-13 in May, which was no small feat considering they played 18 of their 28 games on the road. Dating to September 2011, the Nationals have played winning baseball in eight of the last nine months. Adam LaRoche led the way for the Nationals in nearly every offensive category, including average (.330), on-base percentage (.416), slugging percentage (.608), walks (15), hits (32), home runs (seven) and RBI (19).

GETTING THE CALL

The Nationals recalled right-handed pitcher Erik Davis from Triple-A Syracuse, who has pitched in 167 games over six Minor League seasons, but is wearing a Major League uniform for the first time. After going 8-3 with a 2.71 ERA and 74 strikeouts against 20 walks in 73.0 innings between Double-A Harrisburg and Syracuse last season, Davis was added to the 40-man roster this offseason. He went 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA (8 ER/24.0 IP) and 27 strikeouts with the Chiefs prior to his call-up.

Stammen The Tide

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A couple weeks ago, when discussing the options for taking over the injured Ross Detwiler’s spot in the rotation, Davey Johnson opted not to go with Craig Stammen, despite the righty’s excellent numbers early in the season. In fact, it was precisely because of those numbers that Johnson felt he needed Stammen in case of emergency long relief, or if the team needed quality extra-inning work. And while one never wishes for such situations to arise, when one did Friday night in a crucial series opener in Atlanta, Stammen was there to answer the call.

Did he ever.

Craig Stammen silenced the Braves over four innings of emergency relief to earn his third win.

Craig Stammen silenced the Braves over four innings of emergency relief to earn his third win.

The right-hander came on with the Nationals ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the third and set down all 12 Braves batters he faced, three by strikeout, to bridge the gap to the back of the bullpen. Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano tossed an inning each to finish out a 3-2 victory, one that seemed a stretch to believe after Stephen Strasburg departed with tightness in his back after just two frames.

“He was unbelievable, he did a great job,” said Johnson of Stammen’s clutch performance. “I thought he could go about 50 pitches, and he did. He probably could have gone further…It was a big win. We needed it bad.”

While it’s hard to call any single outcome in a 162-game season a must-win, Friday night may well have been the most significant single matchup on the schedule so far this season. Coming off a pair of disappointing setbacks in Baltimore, the Nationals sat with even .500 record, trailing the first-place Braves by 5.5 games in the division. With Strasburg on the mound against up-and-down rookie starter Julio Teheran, Washington appeared to have the advantage in the pitching matchup heading into the evening. When that assumed advantage was suddenly thrown out the window, it was Stammen who led the charge, as the team came together to gut out a huge win.

“I try to stick to my routine of taking it one pitch at a time,” explained Stammen, acknowledging the overused phrase, but emphasizing the importance of that mindset. “It may sound cliché, but that’s really the only way you can look at it. If you put your heart and soul into every pitch, every time, sooner or later you look up and you’re through three or four innings.”

Denard Span used his speed to deliver two of Washington's three runs.

Denard Span used his speed to deliver two of Washington’s three runs.

Stammen’s four innings gave the offense enough time to piece together another run, just enough to squeak out a victory. All three runs came via productive outs, and all three were set up thanks to hustle plays. Leading off both the first and sixth innings, Denard Span stretched for an extra base after lacing a ball into the right-field corner, notching a pair of triples. In each case he went on to score easily on a deep sacrifice fly to right field by Steve Lombardozzi. The only other Washington tally came after Roger Bernadina and Danny Espinosa each singled with one out in the second, The Shark racing around to third base after Espinosa’s chopper bounced through the right side of the infield. Kurt Suzuki followed with a grounder to third, but busted hard out of the box, beating out the back end of a potential inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play, allowing Bernadina to score.

Together, the bullpen and lineup showed the kind of hustle and effort it will take to win games with Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Jayson Werth still out of the lineup. Ultimately, Friday night’s game was one of sacrifice – Stammen’s well-earned tourniquet victory, Lombardozzi’s pair of run-scoring fly balls – of giving up whatever was needed to get the victory. It was epitomized by Stammen’s attitude afterward, one which the Nationals will need to embrace as they slowly get back to full strength.

“I’ll be here tomorrow with my cleats on,” he said, despite throwing 49 pitches over his four perfect frames. “If it goes 20 innings, I’m sure I can flip something up there.”

Highlights: 5.31.13

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5.31.13 – Nationals 3, Braves 2

Stat of the Game: Craig Stammen retired all 12 batters he faced out of the bullpen to earn his third win of the season. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: Denard Span tripled and scored twice to provide the bulk of the offense.

It Was Over When: Rafael Soriano closed the door with a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 15th save in 18 chances this season.

What to Watch for: 5.31.13

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Washington Nationals (27-27) vs. Atlanta Braves (32-21)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (3-5, 2.49) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (3-1, 3.67)

The Nationals enter a three-game road series against division-rival Atlanta with Stephen Strasburg on the hill in a battle of right-handers. Washington split its other series at Turner Field earlier this season, winning the final two contests of the four-game set. Strasburg comes into tonight’s game with a 0.96 ERA (3 ER/28.0 IP) and 27 strikeouts over his last four starts.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Lombardozzi LF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche DH

5. Desmond SS

6. Bernadina RF

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Strasburg RHP

DAVEY’S 300TH

Tonight’s game marks the 300th contest that Davey Johnson has skippered for the Nationals. Johnson was named the team’s fifth manager on June 26, 2011, and he penned his first lineup card the following day when Washington opened a three-game set on the road against the Angels. Here’s a look at how Johnson’s first 300 with the Nationals stack up to his the first 300 at his previous stops:

Team             Years                First 300 gms         Accomplishments (first 300 gms)

Washington     ‘11-current         165-134 (.552)            ‘12 NL MGR, ‘12 NL East Champs

L.A. – NL         ‘99-00                150-150 (.500)           —

Baltimore        ‘96-97                174-125-1 (.580)        ‘96 Wild Card

Cincinnati       ‘93-95                 161-138-1 (.537)        ‘94 NL Central Champs

New York-NL   ‘84-90                 174-126 (.580)           —

ROAD WARRIORS

The Nationals continue a seven-game road trip from Baltimore (0-2) to Atlanta, tonight opening a 3-game set against the Braves. This weekend’s series at Turner Field completes a 32-game stretch for the Nationals that has included just 10 home games. Washington is 14-15 thus far in this span.

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