Results tagged ‘ Baltimore Orioles ’
The Washington Nationals enjoyed unprecedented success in 2012, recording the best record in Major League Baseball. The team relied on the contributions of many different players, whom we will catalogue throughout the offseason as we look ahead to the 2013 campaign. After a short hiatus, we are back at it with one of the Washington backstops, catcher Jesus Flores.
With the myriad of injuries beset upon the Nationals catching crew in 2012, there was one constant behind the plate, one man who was there, day in, day out, working with the pitching staff. Jesus Flores had nearly as many at-bats (277) as the fellow quintet of backstops he shared time with combined (303), appearing in over half of Washington’s games this year. Defensively, he caught nearly 47 percent of all innings thrown in 2012 by Nationals pitchers.
Flores was thrust into the starting role after Wilson Ramos tore his ACL on a rainy Saturday night, May 12 in Cincinnati. When Chase Headley ran over Sandy Leon – the latter only a couple innings into his Major League debut – just 72 hours later, even more pressure landed on Flores to handle the league’s best pitching staff. He responded both defensively and offensively with his best stretch of the season, batting .320/.352/.500 through June 3, his first 15 games following Ramos’ injury.
Flores’ offensive contributions this season were sometimes obscured, though. His first home run of the year was overshadowed almost immediately, as it was followed by Stephen Strasburg’s first roundtripper of his Major League career, when the duo went back-to-back off Orioles starter Wie-Yen Chen on May 20 at Nationals Park. Flores’ next three longballs all came against Atlanta, each in crucial wins. He opened the scoring off Brandon Beachy with a solo shot in the fifth inning of a 2-0 victory on June 2, then went deep against Randall Delgado on June 29 to help Washington to a 5-4 triumph. Finally, his three-run blast off Paul Maholm on August 21 provided the difference in a 4-1 Nationals victory.
Meanwhile, the backstop continued to improve defensively. After never posting a range factor above 7.00, Flores notched a 9.16 mark over 80 games in 2012, while logging a career-high 687.2 innings behind the plate. He held down the fort throughout the spring and early summer until the arrival of Kurt Suzuki in early August, at which point he returned to his backup role for the stretch run.
With Ramos set to return sometime next spring, the Nationals will have some decisions to make about the future of their deep and experienced catching corps. Flores is entering the final of his four arbitration years (he was a Super Two, starting back in 2010), and is set to become a free agent after the 2013 season.
This morning, Jeffrey Hester and his son Alan jumped in their car to begin a journey of over 400 miles, from their home in Winchester, VA to Knoxville, TN. They are going as baseball fans, but not going to see the Tennessee Smokies, the Double-A affiliates of the Chicago Cubs, whose season ended a month ago. Hardly a baseball hotbed this time of year, Knoxville is simply the logical stopping point in a larger journey, the yield sign at the fork in the road between St. Louis and Atlanta, the two possible destinations where their beloved Washington Nationals will play their first-ever playoff game, set to take place this Sunday.
“I looked at the map and Knoxville seemed to be a good halfway point,” said Hester over the phone on Thursday, a day after he watched the Nats wrap up the best record in baseball in person at Nationals Park.
Originally an Orioles fan, Hester gave up his old fandom in the late ‘90s, only to pick it up once again when the Nationals moved to the Nation’s Capital in ’05. A season ticket holder ever since, he has found his baseball spark reignited this year from a fitting source.
“They broke my heart when they fired Davey Johnson,” recalled Hester of the Orioles and their former skipper parting ways. “It’s kind of funny how things come around.”
Now Hester and his son are all in on the Nats, and are prepared for both contingencies. Should the Braves knock off the defending World Series Champions at home, the Hesters will have just over 200 more miles left ahead of them to get to Turner Field for Game 1 of the NLDS. Should the Cardinals finally solve Kris Medlen and extend their season, it will mean another nearly 500-mile trek to the Gateway to the West.
“My son and I, we don’t want to do the trip in one day, especially if it’s St. Louis,” explained Hester of the journey, which could end up being over 1,800 miles round trip.
Either way, they plan to be back in D.C. in time for Game 3 on Wednesday and each of the eight possible postseason home games. The elder Hester estimates he has attended between 25-30 games at Nationals Park this season, but this won’t be the first time he has seen the Nationals away from the District, as he was able to catch the Sunday finale of the Nats sweep at Fenway Park in June. In Boston for a friend’s wedding on Saturday, it was the only logical way for a die-hard fan to complete the weekend. Now, their journey will take them to eastern Tennessee as they await the Nationals next opponent – and their weekend destination – to be determined.
Here at Curly W Live, we will be conducting a weekly review every Tuesday of all the storylines from the week that was. If you’re new to the site or have just been too busy to stay current with all the day-to-day action, this is your way to get caught up on everything going on with the team.
The Nationals enjoyed a rare mid-homestand off day, as they prepared for their final six games of Interleague Play for the 2012 season. With the break in the action, we took the time to fill you in on some of the top signees out of this year’s First-Year Player Draft. As Washington prepared to host the Rays in the opener of a three-game set on Tuesday, we reflected upon the striking similarities between this year’s Nationals club and Tampa Bay’s 2008 edition. Once the dust had settled from a 5-4 Nationals loss on Tuesday, the team rebounded with an athletic performance that led to a 3-2 victory on Wednesday. The Nationals then went out and won the battle of rookies named Moore, taking the series with a 5-2 triumph on Thursday.
From there, Washington traveled to the Beltway to the north for a rematch with the Orioles. The Nats couldn’t get much going against Jason Hammel on Friday night, falling 2-1 in the series opener. They rebounded behind Edwin Jackson, who took a perfect game into the fifth inning, in a 3-1 victory on Saturday to set up a second consecutive series to be decided by a pivotal rubber game. After leading 1-0 much of the way, the Nationals were unable to get the ball to Tyler Clippard for the ninth, as the Orioles rallied in the eighth for their second 2-1 victory of the series.
Tue vs. TAM: L, 4-5
Wed vs. TAM: W, 3-2
Thu vs. TAM: W, 5-2
Fri @ BAL: L, 1-2
Sat @ BAL: W, 3-1
Sun @ BAL: L, 1-2
Weekly Record: 3-3
Thursday night’s series finale between the Nationals and Rays featured one of baseball’s fun little idiosyncrasies, as a pair of rookies sharing the same last night faced off against one another. And while Tampa Bay starting pitcher Matt Moore came in with far more hype and national notoriety, it was the work put in by Washington first baseman Tyler Moore at the plate that swung the momentum of the game.
Matt Moore retired the Nationals offense on just eight pitches in the first inning. Meanwhile, his counterpart Gio Gonzalez struggled through his first two frames, totaling 50 pitches. When Moore came back to the mound in the second, he got the first two batters, but the other Moore – Tyler – was patient, took his time, and drew a walk, becoming the Nats first basreunner. Washington would go on to load the bases, and even though they did not score in the inning, the tempo had shifted.
Gonzalez did his part in the third, retiring the side on just five pitches to get Washington quickly back in the dugout, Then, on a hot, muggy night in the District, the Nationals really got after Moore, sending seven men to the plate – including another walk by Tyler Moore – and scoring twice to take the lead. By the time the young lefty was through three innings, his pitch count suddenly stood at 69, and the complexion of the game had shifted.
The Rays had one more chance to steal the game and the series in Washington, tying the contest against Gonzalez with a run in the top of the sixth. With Moore out of the game, thanks to a high pitch count, Joel Peralta was summoned from the ‘pen to face the leadoff man in the sixth – Tyler Moore. And although Moore did not reach base in his final at-bat of the evening, he did grind out an 11-pitch at-bat before finally lining out sharply to right field. His teammates would follow with a two-run rally off Peralta that would prove to be the difference.
While the less-heralded Moore confided after the game that there was nothing specific about his approach – or, for that matter, any notable change in the offense’s approach in general following that lightning-fast first inning – he knew his patience had paid off. In three plate appearances, the rookie had forced Tampa Bay hurlers to throw 22 pitches. Very quietly, as is his style, Moore out-shined his rookie namesake, and the Nationals did what they have done best all season: win another series.
The Nats head to Baltimore Friday night to face the Orioles, one of only five teams to take a series from Washington (15-5-3) in 2012, for the final three games of Interleague Play.
Washington Nationals (40-27) vs. Baltimore Orioles (39-30)
RHP Jordan Zimmermann (3-5, 2.92) vs. RHP Jason Hammel (7-2, 2.87)
After recovering to win the final two games of their series against the Rays, the Nationals kick start a 10-day road trip in Baltimore with the Battle of the Beltways. Earlier in the season, Washington’s American League neighbor took two of three in the Nation’s Capital. The Nationals will look to return the favor and improve upon their 15-5-3 series record this weekend.
1. Lombardozzi LF
2. Harper CF
3. Zimmerman 3B
4. LaRoche 1B
5. Morse DH
6. Desmond SS
7. Espinosa 2B
8. Bernadina RF
9. Flores C
J. Zimmermann RHP
At 40-27, the Nationals reached the 40-win plateau in fewer games (67) than any DC-based team since the 1933 American League Champion Nationals (40-23, 63 games).
This weekend, Davey Johnson returns to Oriole Park in uniform for the first time in nearly 15 years. With Baltimore, Davey helped the O’s claim four AL flags (1966, ‘69-‘71) and two World Championships (1966, ‘70). He also played in three All-Star Games (1968-‘70) and won three Gold Gloves (1969-‘71) as an Oriole. Johnson also managed the O’s for two seasons (1996-’97), compiling a 186-138 (.574) record winning AL Manager of the Year in 1997.
In 27 games dating back to a 9-3 win on May 20 vs. Baltimore, Bryce Harper is hitting .327 (34-for-104) with four doubles, three triples, five homers, 15 RBI, 14 walks and 21 runs scored (.974 OPS).
Tampa Bay Rays (38-30) vs. Washington Nationals (39-27)
LHP Matt Moore (4-5, 4.16) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (8-3, 2.52)
The Nationals and Rays meet for the rubber game in this series after Washington held on for a hard-fought, 3-2 victory on Wednesday night to snap a four-game losing streak. This is the final game of the homestand for Washington before beginning a 10-game road trip in Baltimore Friday night.
RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD
Washington, having split two games against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays, plays its third rubber game of 2012 tonight. The Nationals won their two previous rubber games, 5/3 vs. Arizona (2-1) and 4/11 at New York (NL) (4-0). In 2011, the Nationals finished 9-14 overall in rubber games.
DC’s 1-2 PUNCH
The Nationals are 22-5 (.815) this season in games started by Stephen Strasburg (winner on Wednesday vs. Tampa Bay) and Gio Gonzalez, who starts tonight in the series finale. Gio (11.1 K/9.0 IP) and Rays’ starter Matt Moore (9.4/9.0 IP) are two of eight qualified lefties fanning 1.0+ batter per inning.
With a scoreless eighth inning Wednesday vs. Tampa Bay, Sean Burnett pocketed his 52nd hold as a member of the Nationals and moved past Jon Rauch (51) and into sole possession of second place on the club’s all-time list. Only Tyler Clippard (74) has more career franchise holds than Burnett.
There are plenty of National Anthem traditions around sports, including a few attached to local sports teams in the DMV. Orioles and Capitals fans chant “O” (for the O’s and Alexander Ovechkin, respectively) at the beginning of the song. The Caps add in “Red” when the lyrics reach “and the rockets red glare” as well. Some see these chants as unifiers in their fandom, but others think they are disrespectful.
Ian Desmond has proposed a solution for Nationals fans: sing the entire anthem together, as one, loud and proud.
“It’s a great way to show support for all the servicemen and women in our Nation’s Capital,” explained Desmond on Friday before the Nationals opened their three-game set against the New York Yankees, expecting capacity crowds throughout the weekend. “40,000 people all singing together? I can’t think of anything more patriotic.”
O's fans yell O during National Anthem, Nats fans should sing the whole thing. Would be a great tradition in the Nations Capitol. Thoughts?—
Ian Desmond (@IanDesmond20) June 13, 2012
When Desmond first proposed the idea on Twitter, fans asked if he would join in. He has pledged to sing as well, beginning with Friday night’s game in D.C. as he hopes to start a new tradition in our Nation’s Capital.
So, Nats fans, what do you say? Is Desi onto something, and will you join the rest of your fellow Nats fans in singing the anthem together tonight, and beyond?
Major League Baseball introduced Interleague Play in 1997, eliciting a mixed reaction from fans. Some purists were upset with the break from tradition, while others welcomed the chance to see players from the opposite league they would only otherwise be able to see play by traveling, or if, by chance, they happened to be the opponent of the hometown nine in the World Series. Regardless of the initial reactions, Interleague Play has been largely a success, with perhaps its greatest victory lying in the regional rivalries it has created.
The geography of MLB as it exists today leads to natural, metropolitan Interleague rivalries in 10 regions:
- Subway Series: Yankees vs. Mets
- Freeway Series: Dodgers vs. Angels
- Cross-town Classic: Cubs vs. White Sox
- Bay Bridge Series: A’s vs. Giants
- I-70 Series: Cardinals vs. Royals
- Ohio Cup: Reds vs. Indians
- Lone Star Series: Rangers vs. Astros
- Citrus Series: Marlins vs. Rays
- (No official name, but battle of former AL rivals): Twins vs. Brewers
- And of course, the Battle of the Beltways: Nationals vs. Orioles
While the D.C./Baltimore rivalry has often lacked in relevance to the overall postseason picture, there has nevertheless been a slowly developing importance to this series. As the Nationals only entered the picture in 2005, and the teams didn’t actually face each other until ‘06, there has been less time to build the momentum of a true rivalry, but 2012 should help accelerate that process. Never have these two teams met with as good a combined record as they do beginning Friday night in the Nation’s Capital.
Baltimore is the surprise of the American League East so far this season. Despite often getting out of the gates well over the last 10 seasons, few expected the Orioles to be on top of one of the toughest divisions in the game in mid-May. Their record entering Friday stands at 25-14, one game up on the Tampa Bay Rays and four clear of third-place Toronto. If the season ended today, shockingly, the Yankees would finish fourth and the Red Sox fifth.
The Nationals, meanwhile, have occupied the top spot in the NL East for much of the season, but come into the series trailing the Braves by a half-game at 23-15. Needless to say, the teams’ combined record of 48-29 is by far the best of any geographic rivals matching up this weekend (the Florida teams are second-best at 44-33).
This series promises meaningful games and, if precedence holds, some really compelling drama as well. Of the 36 total games played between the clubs, 23 have been decided by two runs or less, including 15 one-run contests. The Orioles own the slight overall edge, posting a 19-17 record since the inception of the Battle of the Beltways, but the Nationals have fared better as of late. Washington took four-of-six last year, and has won four of the last five games played between the two teams along the shores of the Anacostia.
The Sunday series finale might offer the best storyline of the series, with Stephen Strasburg slated to take on undefeated free agent acquisition Wie-Yin Chen in either a rubber-match or possible sweep scenario. Regardless of the outcome, D.C. and Baltimore baseball fans are set up for the most exciting weekend the Battle of the Beltways has ever seen.
Ironically, the Nationals had to endure one of the longest bus rides of the spring on Saturday to square off against their geographic rivals, the Baltimore Orioles. While the two teams play less than an hour from each other during the regular season, we had to make the three-hour trek to Sarasota for the only matchup with Baltimore this Spring Training season. Thankfully, there was plenty going on around the park to keep us entertained after our long journey.
Our entertainment began a full hour before the game itself. We’re used to waiting in lines from time to time, but when we went to grab lunch in the press dining room, the line was, let’s just say, a different sort of animal. The Oriole Bird was making his way down the buffet, whistling his food orders to his handlers as they made him a plate. He got some chips, a couple scoops of macaroni and cheese, some cole slaw, and some… chicken fingers?
“Don’t even go there,” warned one of his handlers gravely. We didn’t.
We did, however, have a Dontrelle Willis sighting. The 2003 NL Rookie of the Year made his first appearance for the O’s after reporting to camp earlier this week. He allowed two runs, one earned, walking three in an up-and-down inning. He still flashed that trademark leg kick, though, and will no doubt be an interesting story for our Beltway rivals to the north.
We even had a little celebrity flair at the ballpark. There is a layout eccentricity at the newly revamped (as of 2011) Ed Smith Stadium, which sets the front row of the press box outside on a deck, in front of the club seating. There is no separation between the two, save for a barrier that is about shoulder-high from press row, and lower than that for the club attendees, who sit a couple of steps higher. As it turned out, club attendee, Maryland resident and Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak sat directly behind us for the duration of the contest. Needless to say, whatever fortune he brought with him went to the home side on Saturday.
The game itself did not provide much for Nationals fans to be excited about, but manager Davey Johnson is keeping everything in perspective. He has been giving the possible bench players and minor leaguers the lion’s share of playing time to date, and will begin using his regulars more consistently beginning on Sunday. That is when he, and Nationals fans everywhere, will get a better feel for the 2012 club that will be taking the field in Chicago on Opening Day.
The Nats get to push the reset button following this grueling three-day road stretch (remember, you have to travel both directions the same day, every day in Spring Training) with a home game against the Mets on Sunday. Here are their results to date:
vs. Georgetown (exhibition) – W, 3-0
@ Houston – L, 3-1
vs. Houston – L, 10-2
@ New York (NL) – W, 3-1
@ Atlanta – W, 5-2
vs. St. Louis – T, 3-3
vs. Houston – W, 8-0
@ Miami – L, 3-0
vs. New York (NL) – W, 8-2
@ Detroit – T, 5-5
@ St. Louis – Canceled (rain)
vs. St. Louis – W, 8-4
vs. Detroit – L, 6-3
@ Atlanta – L, 6-5
vs. New York (AL) – L, 8-5
@ New York (AL) – L, 4-3 (10)
vs. Miami – T, 1-1
vs. Detroit – L, 11-7
@ New York (NL) – L, 2-0
vs. Atlanta – L, 3-2 (10)
@ St. Louis – L, 9-0
@ Houston – L, 5-1
@ Baltimore – L, 12-3
vs. New York (NL) – Sunday, 1:05pm
Overall Record: 5-13-3