Results tagged ‘ Braves ’

Nyjer Morgan heats up


nyjer morgan stealing third.JPGLast night, Nyjer Morgan singled, swiped two bags and scored on an error–all before Cristian Guzman, the second batter of the game, left the batter’s box. The game was indicative of his recent July surge. Morgan is batting .288 this month, an increase of over 30 points from his .252 batting average the rest of the season, while his on-base percentage has increased from .314 to .333 over the same time. He’s been doing his job in center field, too, committing zero errors thus far in July.

But the most notable improvement is Morgan’s baserunning. His 10 stolen bases in July pace the Majors and he’s only been caught once since July 3. He successfully stole 17 bases in the three preceding months combined.

Morgan set a career high and became the first player in Nationals history with three steals in one game last Thursday against the Reds, while recording two hits and a walk. Always one to be assertive, Morgan says he’s trying to change his approach.

“I am just getting good jumps, getting good reads out there,” Morgan said. “I was trying not to really be so aggressive. I’m trying to let it come to me, trying not to do too much. After analyzing after so long, after so many months, I was trying to do a little too much.”

Maybe that’s because it was this time last year that Morgan had a monstrous month also. He posted a batting average of .388, an on-base percentage of .418 and a .495 slugging percentage last July, after starting his first game in a Nationals uniform on July 3. Since then, fans have come to expect the same kind of production every month from the Nationals’ leadoff man. Perhaps Nyjer Morgan expected it of himself too. When it didn’t come to fruition the first few months of this season, questions began to arise. But July is showing a return to form for Morgan.

“Once it clicks, it’s about to go off,” Morgan said. “And I feel like something is about to pop off right now.”

Braves (57-42):

1.    Martin Prado – 2B

2.    Jason Heyward – RF

3.    Chipper Jones – 3B

4.    Brian McCann – C

5.    Eric Hinske – LF

6.    Troy Glaus – 1B

7.    Alex Gonzalez – SS

8.    Melky Cabrera – CF

9.    Tim Hudson – SP (10-5, 2.47 ERA)

 Nationals (43-57):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Adam Kennedy – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Roger Bernadina – RF 

6.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

7.      Willie Harris – LF

8.      Ian Desmond – SS

9.      Livan Hernandez – SP (7-6, 3.12 ERA)

* With last night’s 3-0 victory over the Braves, the Nationals have won their last five consecutive series openers at Nationals Park.

* Last night, Miguel Batista earned his first win as a starter since May 11, 2008 vs. the Chicago White Sox. He struck out six and allowed three hits in 5.0 shutout innings.

* Josh Willingham has reached base safely via hit or walk in 19 consecutive games. During that stretch, Willingham is hitting .333 (23-for-69) with five doubles, one triple, three home runs, six RBI, 11 walks and a .425 on-base percentage.

Miguel Batista didn’t disappoint but here are ten things that will


Miguel Batista for stras.jpgThere were 40,043 disappointed fans last night when Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his scheduled start. They came to see Strasburg but they got Miguel Batista. Who? Fans booed when it was announced that he was starting but they cheered him when he was named the player of the game in the 3-0 victory. Fans might have been disappointed at first but Batista did his best Strasburg imitation–pitching 5.0 scoreless innings, giving up three hits and tallying six strikeouts. If there is one thing for sure, Strasburg couldn’t have allowed fewer runs.

That got us thinking about other disappointing events. Here are 10 things that could leave anyone disappointed:

1.     “Imagine if you go there to see Miss Universe and you end up having Miss Iowa,” Batista said.

2.     Right along those lines, imagine if you go to see the movie Gladiator and they play Gigli. I still want to know who read that script and was like, “This is a brilliant idea. Get Ben Affleck on the phone right now.”

3.     You search for the field of dreams and your journey takes you to Iowa. That alone could leave a person depressed but then you don’t find anything but corn fields and, of course, more corn fields. Someone tells you the field of dreams is fake. You then build it, and nobody comes.

4.     Justin Bieber performs on Saturday Night Live and he encounters technical difficulties. His music stops playing and everyone finds out that he lip sings. The following day, an investigative reporter discovers that he forged his birth certificate and he is really 32 years old. His hit single Baby–the most watched video on YouTube with 263,355,863 hits and counting–loses the top spot shortly after.

5.     Your boyfriend gets down on one knee and proposes with a ring pop. It is safe to say the only way that can end is with an emphatic “NO!” and slap.

6.     You are sky diving and your parachute doesn’t open. Can you imagine what your next thought is? Thankfully, your friend attaches to you and saves the day… and your life.

7.     You get to Pee-Wee’s play house and realize it isn’t the play house you were expecting.

8.     You buy the four Power Rangers–Jason (Red Ranger), Kimberly (Pink Ranger), Zack (Black Ranger), and Trini (Yellow Ranger)–after you saw a commercial on TV of them flying and saving the world. You open the box and quickly realize they don’t do anything you thought they did.

9.     Your mom tells you Santa Claus is fake.

10.   Stephen Strasburg misses a start and you find out he is human.

July 27 is a special day in baseball


willingham1.jpgOn this day last year, Josh Willingham made Major League history by blasting two grand slams and tallying eight RBI in the Nationals’ 14-6 win over the Brewers at Miller Park. Willingham became just the 13th player in MLB history, and just the third NL player ever, to hit a pair of bases-loaded homers in a single game.

 

Interestingly enough, Willingham was not the first player to accomplish the feat on July 27. Rudy York of Boston hit a pair of grand slams on July 27, 1946, as his Red Sox beat the St. Louis Browns 13-6.

 

In fact, looking back through the years, July 27th holds claim to several odd events in baseball history:

 

1918: Brooklyn starting hurler Henry Heitman makes his Major League debut against the St. Louis Cardinals, but after giving up four hits to the first four batters he faced, he was yanked from the game. The 21-year-old right hander never pitched again in the Majors, completing one of the shortest careers in the Big Leagues ever.

 

1930: Cincinnati’s Ken Ash earned his last Major League victory with just one pitch. Ash came in as a reliever in the fifth inning with the bases loaded, no outs and the Cubs up by one run on his Reds. On his first pitch, he got Chicago’s Charlie Grimm to hit into a triple play, and although removed for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the inning, Ash was credited in the 6-5 win.

 

1947: Jake Jones of Boston hit a triple that traveled just 60 feet in the Red Sox’s 4-3 victory over the Browns at Fenway Park. Hall of Fame umpire Cal Hubbard awarded Jones the three bases when St. Louis pitcher Fred Sanford, threw his glove at the roller traveling outside the third base line to prevent it from potentially rolling fair.

 

1966: The Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled a lower court decision that required the Braves to return to Milwaukee, holding that the state did not have the jurisdiction to keep the Braves from moving to Atlanta.

 

1998: In a sport where records are made to be broken, Tyrone Horne completed a feat that had never been accomplished before and has yet to be touched again–hitting for a home run cycle in a professional baseball game. His two-run homer in the first inning, grand slam in the second, solo shot in the fifth and three-run blast in the sixth propelled his Double-A Arkansas Travelers to a 13-4 victory at San Antonio.

 

2010: ???

 

Braves (57-41):

1.    Martin Prado – 2B

2.    Jason Heyward – RF

3.    Chipper Jones – 3B

4.    Brian McCann – C

5.    Eric Hinske – LF

6.    Troy Glaus – 1B

7.    Alex Gonzalez – SS

8.    Melky Cabrera – CF

9.    Tommy Hanson – SP (8-6, 4.12 ERA)

 

* Atlanta dropped two of three games in their weekend series at the Marlins, marking its first series loss to an NL team since it lost two of three at Philadelphia over two months ago (May 7-9).

 Nationals (42-57):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Cristian Guzman – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Josh Willingham – LF

6.      Roger Bernadina – RF

7.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

8.      Ian Desmond – SS

9.      Stephen Strasburg – SP (5-2, 2.32 ERA)

 

* Washington is the only club to sport three teammates ranked among the NL’s top 15 in OPS, thanks to Ryan Zimmerman (8th, .903), Adam Dunn (4th, .935) and Josh Willingham (15th, .880). In the AL, only Boston can match this claim, thanks to their trio of Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Beltre and David Ortiz.

* Nyjer Morgan has been successful on eight of his last nine stolen-base attempts. His eight swipes this month are tied for the Major League lead with the A’s Coco Crisp, the Mets’ Angel Pagan and the Diamondback’s Chris Young.

Q&A with Stephen Strasburg


Strasburg no man is an island.JPGIt is hard to believe that Stephen Strasburg is just 22-years-old. Most kids his age are worried about the job market right now but Strasburg is just worried about winning his sixth game in his tenth Major League start. He hasn’t even pitched in the Majors for two months but he has already become a national sensation.

 

According to the omnipotent Elias Sports Bureau, Strasburg is just the second pitcher in MLB history to strike out five or more and allowed three earned runs or less in each of first nine Big League starts. Who is the other pitcher? He is joined on the short list by the Red’s Gary Nolen (11 starts in ’67).

 

 Yeah, he is kind of a big deal. Notes from NatsTown sat down with him to find out what it is like to be Stephen Strasburg. You might be surprised.

Have you been able to adjust to the DC lifestyle?

It’s not much different than what it is back home. I’ve been used to the professional baseball lifestyle since the start of the season. It’s pretty much the same thing–show up to the field around 2 p.m., get your work in when you’re not pitching. When you are pitching, try to go out there and answer the bell.

I watched the interview when you and Drew interviewed each other at Harrisburg. You’re a really funny person. Do you ever feel like you’re not able to show that side?

I don’t know. I feel like if the questions are good, it helps me to relax a little bit. But some people just don’t like that sense of humor, so sometimes you just got to be boring.

Do you like being boring?

It’s easier. It’s easier to not slip up or anything.

It seems like you and Drew Storen’s personalities really complement each other well. What is the importance of having Drew as a teammate?

Drew’s a great guy. He’s the kind of guy that you can watch and see what it means to be a true competitor. He’s not going out there, necessarily, and competing against the other team. He’s competing with himself. And if he’s able to get his stuff down, compete, and do what he knows he can, it doesn’t matter who’s in the box, he’s going to get them out.

Is that how you would describe yourself as a competitor?

Absolutely because you can’t control who’s in the box. You can only control the time right before the ball leaves your hand and then after that, it’s out of your control.


Strasburg and Pudge.jpgWhat have you learned about pitching in particular during your first two months?

I’ve learned that it’s going to take a few times just to get comfortable, get experience, to learn how to get a game plan for certain people. Bottom line, I’m just enjoying this ride here and not really putting too many expectations on myself and whatever happens, happens.

From the day you were drafted to your Major League debut was a perfect calendar year. How would you describe that 365-day journey?

It seems like it was yesterday. This year is such a blur. Things have happened and I’m very thankful for everything.

Have you been able to take a step back and reflect on your Major League debut?

Not really. I’m always living in the now, looking towards the future. Obviously, if you asked me, “What do you want your debut to be like?” I’m sure it would be something like that. But like I said, I didn’t have any expectations and I’m going to continue to not have any expectations because that’s where a guy is going to get in trouble. Sometimes he hears the hype and starts to believe it. That’s just not what I’m about because a lot of that hype can be a little out there.


Strasburg debut crowd.JPGThere is stuff about you everywhere. How do you avoid the hype? Is it possible? It seems like you can’t turn on your TV.

I just don’t really watch the sports channels.

You’re even on the Spanish channels.

I don’t know too much Spanish. It’s all good. It’s good for this organization, to get national exposure, but I don’t take anything to heart.

You did David Letterman’s Top Ten. Do you really put Icy Hot on your toast?

No, I don’t think that’s healthy.

What is it like being Stephen Strasburg?

I am just another guy in the clubhouse, to be quite honest. That’s one thing–people on the outside see all this stuff on the TV and they think I’m somebody that I’m really not. I’m just another guy. We’re all coming out here, trying to win some games. That’s how I’m always going to be.

Is it hard to have that mentality that you’re just another guy when everyone else sees you as anything but another guy?

It’s tough, but I’ve been very thankful to have a great support system in my life, been around some coaches throughout my career that have really put everything into perspective. I know what’s important and the importance of being a good teammate and really going out there to fight for what you believe in. And I’m going to do that for however long my career is.

Your career is just beginning but that hasn’t stopped people from coming up with Strasburg-isms. You want to hear a few?

Sure.

Here are some funny one’s I found:

“Stephen Strasburg once struck out former San Diego State coach Tony Gwynn… in 1993.”

“In his first start in the ’08 Olympics, Strasburg held the Netherlands to one hit over seven innings. Citing an unfair advantage, the IOC voted baseball out of the 2012 games.”

“There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Stephen Strasburg lives in Washington, DC.”

“Though a native of San Diego, Strasburg never took up surfing, indicating tendency to ‘walk on water’ as a major impediment.”

“Sony created PlayStation 3 because it was the only way to fit Stephen Strasburg’s greatness onto one screen.”

Those are pretty funny.  If you’re compared to Chuck Norris, that’s saying something (laughing).

Craig Stammen is back


Craig Stammen c.jpgCraig Stammen is back in the Majors and he will be asked to stop the Nats five game losing streak.

 

The Nationals recalled Stammen from Triple-A Syracuse and placed right-handed pitcher Tyler Walker on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 20, with a right shoulder AC joint sprain.

 

Stammen, who will get the starting nod tonight at Atlanta, went 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA during a three-start International League stint with the Chiefs.

 

The 26 year-old Stammen began the season with the Nationals and went 1-2 with a 5.43 ERA in 12 starts before being optioned to Syracuse following his June 6 start vs. Cincinnati. Five of Stammen’s 12 assignments rendered quality starts, but the Nationals went just 1-4 in those contests.

 

Stammen is 5-9 with a 5.23 ERA in 31 career starts with Washington spanning two seasons (2009-present).

 

The 34-year-old Walker is 1-0 with one hold and a 3.57 ERA in 24 games for the Nationals.

Jinx this

Can you jinx a no-hitter?

Can you jinx the pace of the game? That’s why they say never to say, ‘Wow, this game is going by so fast,’ because you can jinx that too.

Is there anything we can’t jinx in baseball?

That is the million dollar question.

I mentioned that Scott Olsen had a no-hitter in the sixth inning and I was quickly accused for just jinxing the no-hitter–as if I had anything to do with it. I wish I did because I would have jinxed him to keep it going.

Is it really possible to jinx it? The answer seems obvious. No way, right. It seems highly irrational to think that people have the power to do that. I am sure every Braves fan was talking about it and wanting it to end. I am guessing they had no effect on stopping the no-hitter. But it is only a guess. I can’t prove it. Maybe someone jinxed David Ross to get a hit.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say you can jinx a no-hitter.

I will blame my friend for this one. He texted me during the top of the eighth and said, “Not jinxing anything but…” Needless to say, the no-hitter ended shortly thereafter.

For everyone who jinxed the no-hitter last night, here are seven more things you should jinx. I don’t want your jinxing powers to go to waste as you wait around for the next possible no-hitter that you’ll end just to be mean. And like they say in Spider-Man, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” You are responsible to jinx the following…

1.      Please jinx Justin Bieber from singing about dating and girls. I love JB as much as the next person but the 16-year-old should be singing about puberty and pimples.

2.      Please jinx the Yankees winning ways. Why not?

3.      Please jinx the Pirates losing ways. Nobody deserves 17 straight losing seasons. Might as well jinx the O’s while you are at it.

4.      Please jinx Ben Affleck from ever starring in another movie. He ruined Pearl Harbor and let’s not forget the classics he starred in like Jersey Girl and Gigli.

5.      Please jinx the Redskins struggles. In fact, jinx all of DC sports.

6.      Please jinx an end to thinking people can jinx things.

7.      If you have any time left, you might as well jinx the Nationals to win the World Series.

 

So close…. yet so far


 
Scott Olsen 10.JPGLess than three weeks after the Braves were no-hit by the Rockies, they seemed destined to sink into despair yet again.

Scott Olsen was dealing. After seven innings, the Braves were hitless and Olsen had extended his scoreless inning streak to 20. He took a no-hitter into the eighth and after Matt Diaz was called out looking with a full count it seemed like the Braves were going to be no-hit for the second time this season–Ubaldo Jimenez threw the first no-hitter of the season against the Braves on April  17.

“I think if that would have happened,” Chipper Jones said, “you probably have to put us all on a suicide watch.”

Scott Olsen needed only five more outs and he would forever be remembered.

“I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t thinking about it,” Olsen said about the potential no-hit bid. “I was thinking about it early. I thought about it in the fourth and fifth inning. But it’s one of those things that’s hard–real hard–to do.”

David Ross proved why it was so hard and made sure that didn’t happen. He singled to left on the second pitch, just past a leaping Ian Desmond. (Reaction below.)


Scott Olsen no-hitter broken up.JPGAs quickly as the no-hitter was lost, the game was tied 2-2 after Jason Heyward laced a two-run single to left off Tyler Clippard with the bases loaded.

How quickly the tide turned. The Braves had runners on the corner with one out. Clippard settled down and got Omar Infante to ground into a double play to end the eighth. But he found himself in trouble yet again in the ninth. The Braves loaded the bases and the man who broke up the no-hitter found himself at the plate once again. He wasn’t so lucky. Ross grounded into an inning ending double play.

Adam Kennedy drew a walk to lead off the ninth. Ryan Zimmerman doubled and the Braves intentionally walked Cristian Guzman to load the bases. With the infield in and zero outs, Willie “Walk-off” Harris ripped a single into center field to give the Nats their 15th win of the season. They didn’t win their 15th game last year until June 6 (they were 15-36 at that point in 2009).

It is a different year and you can sense it everywhere: in the clubhouse, in the stands and, of course, on the Metro. This game had everything any fan could ask for: a possible no-hitter, suspense late into the game, home runs, key double plays and a walk-off win.


Walk-off Willie Harris c.JPGHere are some memorable quotes as people waited for the Green line to Greenbelt.

“I ate at Ben’s Chili Bowl, got half drunk and watched our Nationals win. It was like a night in heaven.”

“That was one of the best games I have ever seen.”

“Talk about a heart attack inducing game.”

“The Nats would have lost this game last year. They are winning a lot of close games this season. Last year, they looked for ways to lose… this year they are finding ways to win.”

“Tyler Clippard for Cy Young.”

“Zimmerman looked like Air Jordan jumping out there… If only Scottie Pippen could have caught the ball.”

His buddy quickly responded, “Great basketball analogy at a baseball game.”

The rubber game against the Braves

Braves (12-15):

1.    Omar Infante – SS

2.    Martin Prado – 2B

3.    Chipper Jones – 3B

4.    Troy Glaus – 1B

5.    Matt Diaz – LF

6.    David Ross – C

7.    Melky Cabrera – RF

8.    Nate McLouth – CF

9.    Tim Hudson – SP (2-1. 2.87 ERA)

*Atlanta snapped an eight-game road skid with a 7-6 win last night.

*Rookie superstar Jason Heyward will not be starting tonight’s contest. He left last night’s game in the top of the second inning with a sore right groin and is listed as day-to-day

 

Nationals (14-13):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Adam Kennedy – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Josh Willingham – LF

6.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

7.      Ian Desmond – SS

8.      Roger Bernadina – RF

9.   Scott Olsen- SP (2-1. 4.35)

*Scott Olsen has not allowed a run in his last 13 innings on the mound. The streak spans over two games; both resulted in wins.

*Last night’s 10 inning loss dropped Washington to 0-3 in extra-inning games this season.

*Washington is 5-0 this season when hitting multiple home runs.

 

Cinco de Mayo Lineups

Atlanta Braves (11-15):

1.    Nate McLouth – CF

2.    Martin Prado – 2B

3.    Chipper Jones – 3B

4.    Brian McCann – C

5.    Troy Glaus – 1B

6.    Jason Heyward – RF

7.    Matt Diaz – LF

8.    Omar Infante – SS

9.    Tommy Hanson – SP (2-2, 2.17 ERA)

 Nationals (14-12):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Adam Kennedy – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

6.      Willie Harris – LF

7.    Ian Desmond – SS

8.      Roger Bernadina – RF

9.   Luis Atilano – SP (2-0, 2.25 ERA)

Game 1 of 18 against the Braves

Atlanta Braves (11-14):

1.    Nate McLouth – CF

2.    Martin Prado – 2B

3.    Chipper Jones – 3B

4.    Brian McCann – C

5.    Troy Glaus – 1B

6.    Jason Heyward – RF

7.    Melky Cabrera – LF

8.    Omar Infante – SS

9.    Kenshin Kawakami – SP (0-4. 5.48 ERA)

* Major League Baseball named OF Jason Heyward the NL Rookie of the Month Award winner for April today. For the month, Heyward led all rookies with six home runs and 19 RBI, and finished tied for ninth in the Majors in RBI. Heyward made his Big League debut on April 5 vs. the Cubs and homered in his first career plate appearance. The 20-year-old Georgia native hit .240 (18-for-75) with three doubles, 10 runs scored, 13 walks, a .520 slugging percentage and a .360 on-base percentage in April.

 

* The Braves have won three-straight games after losing a season-high nine consecutive games from April 21-29. During the nine-game stretch, their record fell to a season-worst 8-14 on April 29 at St. Louis and were outscored 44-17.

 

 Nationals (13-12):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Cristian Guzman – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Josh Willingham – LF

6.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

7.      Roger Bernadina – RF

8.      Ian Desmond – SS

9.   Livan Hernandez – SP (3-1. 0.87 ERA)

*The Nationals 13-12 record matches the club’s best mark through the first 25 games of a season. During the inaugural season in 2005, the Nationals also opened 13-12. Washington’s other 25-game starts: ’06 (8-17), ’07 (8-17), ’08 (8-17), ’09 (8-17). At 13-12, the Nationals haven’t had a winning record this “late” in a season since Oct. 1, 2005, when Washington lost its penultimate contest to fall to 81-80.

 

*The Nats are back for a six-game homestand after enjoying their second off day in five days yesterday. They begin a season-long stretch of 20 games in 20 days. They have just 11 home games in the next 30 games.

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