Results tagged ‘ Atlanta Braves ’

Zimmerman Completes Quick Rehab Assignment

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While Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond and the Nationals were busy shutting down the Atlanta Braves Tuesday night, one of their fellow teammates took a big step forward as well.

Batting third and wearing No. 33 for the High-A Potomac Nationals, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman saw an assortment of fastballs, sliders and change-ups from Carolina Mudcats starter Joseph Colon in three at bats.

Zimmerman needed just one rehab start to get back up to speed. (Gerardo Lopez/tabdeportes.com)

Zimmerman needed just one rehab start to get back up to speed. (Gerardo Lopez/tabdeportes.com)

Zimmerman told the media contingent in the Potomac clubhouse that it was good to face live pitching again and that, “everything went great. (It was) good to get back out there. Everything felt fine.”

Playing in front of a supportive crowd of 3,032, Zimmerman grounded out to short in his first at-bat, testing the tight hamstring that landed him on the 15-day disabled list by running hard through the bag. He flied out to deep right-center in the fourth inning, then reached safely on a Carolina Mudcats fielding error in the sixth.

Defensively, the former Gold Glove Award winner made three successful fielding plays in six innings, including an excellent play on a sacrifice bunt attempt. He charged hard to catch the ball in the air and whipped a sidearm throw to first to nearly double off the base runner.

“My arm feels great and my hammy (hamstring) feels great,” Zimmerman said. “Now it’s just time to get back up there and get going.”

Zimmerman said he would work out on Thursday, likely at Nationals Park, before flying to Pittsburgh to join his teammates as they take on the Pirates over the weekend. Despite being held out for the required 15 days, he told reporters he started working out after just five days of rest and never had any residual hamstring issues.

Highlights: 5.1.13

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5.1.13 – Nationals 2, Braves 0

Stat of the Game: Jordan Zimmermann continued to dominate, running his scoreless innings streak to 18 with eight shutout frames of two-hit ball.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ian Desmond extended his hitting streak to eight games with a two-run shot that provided all the game’s offense.

It Was Over When: The Nationals never allowed the tying run to reach base, retiring the final 20 Braves batters.

Preaching Patience

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Following Tuesday night’s 8-1 loss in Atlanta, Ian Desmond spoke up, saying that the team needed to start playing more cohesively, that each player needed to stop trying to win all by themselves. While Desmond brushes off the idea of being a clubhouse leader, per se, his solid play on the field has helped support his ever-growing role as a vocal presence on the team.

Perhaps as a result, on Wednesday, Davey Johnson granted Desmond an opportunity to do something he has never done before in the Major Leagues – hit in the cleanup spot. In the shortstop’s 487th career game, he will bat fourth for the first time, helping fill the void left by the ailing Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, who will sit out a second straight game with a hobbled ankle and hamstring.

Ian Desmond has collected 15 extra-base hits, third-most in the National League.

Ian Desmond has collected 15 extra-base hits, third-most in the National League.

Desmond will have a tough assignment, but in many ways a fitting one when it comes to Wednesday’s opposing starter. He and a different looking Nationals lineup have drawn the perfect opposing pitcher to test a team-first attitude in the softer-tossing, location-first game plan of Paul Maholm.

“Work the count, get in hitter’s counts, and when you get your pitch, don’t miss it,” said Steve Lombardozzi, who will hit and play second Wednesday night, about his approach. “I saw that a little bit from his last start. I’m not trying to do too much, just move the line.”

Lombardozzi wasn’t the only one studying video of Maholm’s last outing, in which he struggled against the Tigers. Tyler Moore, earning his second straight start in left field following a double and the Nationals lone run scored Tuesday, is looking to help Washington replicate Detroit’s patient approach to make it pay off once again.

“I saw some of his last start, where he struggled against Detroit,” he explained. “You just have to be very, very patient. Just get a pitch in your zone that you want to hit. Don’t hit his pitch that he wants you to hit.”

That may seem simple enough, but when the offense isn’t fully clicking, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to do too much, of trying to hit the proverbial, mythical five-run homer. Just like Desmond, Moore recognized some of that leaking through in Washington’s approach Tuesday night.

“With Tim Hudson last night, he pitched well, but we chased some balls out of the zone,” he explained, but was quick to take personal accountability for the overaggressive approach. “I’m as guilty as anybody. You’ve just got to preach it and preach it and get the job done so we can get some runners on base.”

Just like Desmond said – if everyone does simply what they are capable of, perhaps the Nationals can find a win over both Paul Maholm and Atlanta, something that has been elusive so far this season.

What to Watch for: 5.1.13

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Washington Nationals (13-14) vs. Atlanta Braves (17-9)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (4-1, 2.00) vs. LHP Paul Maholm (3-2, 3.30)

The Nationals turn to Jordan Zimmermann to turn the tide against the Braves, who have won nine straight in this series dating back to last season. Zimmermann is coming off of his first career complete game shutout, a one-hitter against Cincinnati last Friday night. The Braves will counter with Paul Maholm, who opened the season on a 25.1 scoreless innings streak, but has been touched up for 11 earned runs in his last 4.2 frames.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Lombardozzi 2B

3. Harper RF

4. Desmond SS

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Moore LF

7. Rendon 3B

8. Suzuki C

9. Zimmermann RHP

ALL OR NEARLY NOTHING

Washington is plating 5.8 runs per contest in 13 wins, but only 1.4 per contest in 14 losses to date. The Nationals have scored two runs or less in six of their 11 road games to date.

AGGRESSIVE APRIL

Bryce Harper established Nationals (2005-present) club records for home runs (9), RBI (18), extra-base hits (16) and OPS (1.150) in the month of April.

SEVENTH HEAVEN

Ian Desmond has hit safely in seven straight games, going 10-for-26 (.385) with two doubles, a triple, three RBI, four runs scored and a walk. Desmond (April 5-12) and Jayson Werth (April 6-13) previously posted seven-game hitting streaks for Washington, so with a hit tonight, Ian’s streak would reach a team season-high eight games.

Highlights: 4.30.13

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4.30.13 – Braves 8, Nationals 1

Stat of the Game: Wilson Ramos returned to action and drove home Washington’s lone run with an RBI-groundout in the fifth. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: Henry Rodriguez struck out one, needing just 12 pitches in a scoreless eighth.

It Was Over When: After Washington got on the board in the fifth, Atlanta struck back for three runs in the bottom half to provide the final margin.

What to Watch for: 4.30.13

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Washington Nationals (13-13) vs. Atlanta Braves (16-9)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 4.30) vs. RHP Tim Hudson (2-1, 4.50)

The Nationals look to level this series at a game apiece following a 3-2 setback Monday night. Gio Gonzalez takes the hill for Washington as the club looks to move back above the .500 mark and cut into Atlanta’s 3.5-game division lead.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Espinosa 2B

3. Harper RF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Moore LF

7. Tracy 3B

8. Ramos C

9. Gonzalez LHP

NEW FRONTIERS AHEAD

After the completion of this week’s four-game National League East tussle at Turner Field, the Nationals (6-7 against NL East) will play 18 straight games against foes outside the division.

PIVOTAL PRODUCTION

Ian Desmond (14), Danny Espinosa (9) and Steve Lombardozzi (2) have combined on 25 extra-base hits, tops among MLB middle-infield units. The Phillies (21) rank second behind the Nationals.

JIM LETT’S BUDDING BULLPEN

Jim Lett’s bullpen has excelled of late, going 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA (8 ER/34.2 IP) in 14 games dating to April 15. Lett’s relievers have posted a .178 batting average against and been touched for just two home runs during the 14-game revival.

Highlights: 4.29.13

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4.29.13 – Braves 3, Nationals 2

Stat of the Game: Washington collected four consecutive singles to score twice in the second inning, but could not add on in the frame and did not score the rest of the way.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Chad Tracy had two hits and an RBI in a spot start at third base.

It Was Over When: The Nationals could not capitalize on a chance to take the lead in the sixth, and Atlanta pushed ahead on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh.

What to Watch for: 4.29.13

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Washington Nationals (13-12) vs. Atlanta Braves (15-9)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-4, 3.18) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (1-0, 5.48)

Washington hits the road to open a four-game series and seven-game swing tonight in Atlanta. Stephen Strasburg takes this hill against the Braves for the second time this season after allowing just a pair of unearned runs over six innings in his other start.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Espinosa 2B

3. Harper LF

4. Werth RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Tracy 3B

8. Suzuki C

9. Strasburg RHP

BAGS PACKED

Starting tonight, 22 of the Nationals next 32 games through June 2 will take place on the road. Those 22 road contests not only begin at Turner Field, they end here too, as Washington returns to Atlanta for a three-game set, May 31-June 2. The Nationals are 4-5 thus far on the road in 2013. Last season, Washington posted Major League Baseball’s best road record at 48-33 (.593).

TRENDS FOR 2013

Washington is 11-1 when scoring first, but just 2-11 when their foe draws first blood. When totaling nine or more hits, the Nationals are a perfect 9-0. Washington is plating 5.8 runs per contest in 13 wins, but only 1.4 per contest in 12 losses to date. Despite the lukewarm start offensively, the 2013 Nationals have actually out scored the ‘12 Nationals by 11 runs (93-82) through the initial 25 games of their respective seasons. Washington is 4-1 in one-run games.

WINNING MONTH TO MONTH

The Nationals are 13-12 with two games remaining in April. With a win Monday and/or Tuesday at Turner Field, the Nationals would post a winning month of April. In 2012, Washington played winning baseball every month of the season: Sept./Oct. (18-13), August (19-10), July (17-9), June (15-10), May (15-13) and April (14-8). Dating back even further, including September of 2011, Washington has currently posted seven consecutive winning months.

Bouncing Back Big

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Early in a young season, teams are still settling into the flow of the campaign, still forming the identities that will define them over the course of 162 games. A quick glance at Washington’s results through the first couple weeks may lead one to wonder what kind of team these 2013 Nationals truly are. But before jumping to any conclusions, positive or negative, take heed from someone who knows best.

“You’re never as bad as you look when you lose, and never as good as you look when you win,” said skipper Davey Johnson after the weekend series against the Braves.

He echoed that sentiment after Monday night’s 10-3, series-opening thrashing of the Marlins.

Jordan Zimmermann steadied the ship and gave the bullpen a day off.

Jordan Zimmermann steadied the ship and gave the bullpen a day off.

“You know, we don’t live in the past,” he said. “We don’t worry too much about things. We take it one day at a time, and this was a perfect example.”

The Nationals snapped out of their weekend funk with a roaring first inning, scoring four runs before Jordan Zimmermann ever took the mound. They added on with two more in the third, fourth and fifth to open up a 10-0 advantage behind their workmanlike third ace, who delivered his first-ever, nine-inning complete game. While it was a big game to reverse momentum and preserve the bullpen, it was only fitting that the even-keeled Zimmermann controlled the tempo throughout. Nevertheless, he allowed himself to relish in his accomplishment.

“It means a lot,” he said of his 103-pitch performance. “It means I’m doing my job, staying in the game, putting up zeroes. That’s the kind of pitcher I want to be. I want to be a workhorse.”

Zimmermann, who was the first Nationals starter to two wins, now leads the team and shares the league lead with three, to go along with his 2.45 ERA. After getting precious little run support through much of his 12-win campaign last year, he has been the beneficiary of 21 runs of offense through his first three outings this season.

“It seems like we all hit better when Jordan pitches,” said Ian Desmond, whose 4-for-5 night raised his average to .320 for the season. “Last year, we didn’t hit for him. This year, we’re hitting for him.”

Zimmermann will not finish the year 33-0 with a win in every start. The Nationals will not win every game they play against Miami this season, nor lose every one against Atlanta. It is important to keep perspective, especially considering this – entering play on June 4 last season, 39 games farther into the campaign than they currently sit, the Nationals were in a three-way tie for first place with Miami and the New York Mets. Seriously, see for yourself.

Regardless of how much stock you want to put in a single game’s outcome, though, it was a good night to get a win and get back on track.

What to Watch for: 4.14.13

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Atlanta Braves (10-1) vs. Washington Nationals (7-4)

LHP Paul Maholm (2-0, 0.00) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 0.82)

Washington looks to wrap up a winning homestand as the Nationals try to salvage the final game of a three-game set with Atlanta Sunday afternoon. In a battle of undefeated southpaws, the Nats send Gio Gonzalez against Braves lefty Paul Maholm.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

FOR STARTERS …

The Braves have handed the Nationals a pair of losses here the last 48 hours despite strong efforts on Friday from Ross Detwiler (7.0 innings, one run allowed) and on Saturday from Stephen Strasburg (6.0 innings, two unearned runs allowed). Collectively, Washington’s two starters have posted a 0.69 ERA (1 ER/13.0 IP), a 4.0/1 K-to-BB ratio, and a .191 batting average against in the two losses.

MASHING MEANINGFULLY

Bryce Harper team-best fifth homer in the first inning on Friday provided Washington an early 2-0 lead. Four of Harper’s five homers this year have either tied the game or given the Nationals the lead.

EXTRA, EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT!

The Nationals pace the NL as 41.6 percent of their hits this season have gone for extra bases. In ‘13, Washington’s 89 hits include 18 doubles, two triples and 17 home runs. The Mets rank second in extra-base hit rate at 39.4%.

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