Results tagged ‘ Bryce Harper ’

What to Watch for: 8.22.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Washington Nationals (62-64) vs. Chicago Cubs (54-72)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.93) vs. LHP Travis Wood (7-10, 3.13)

Stephen Strasburg takes the hill at Wrigley Field for the first time since Opening Day 2012, a game won 2-1 by the Nationals with some late heroics from Chad Tracy and Ian Desmond. The lineup he will face Sunday includes just two players who started that game for the Cubs, shortstop Starlin Castro and second baseman Darwin Barney. Chicago will go with All-Star left-hander Travis Wood, who is making his 91st appearance (87th start), but first against the Nationals.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Bryce Harper CF

2. Anthony Rendon SS

3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Wilson Ramos C

6. Tyler Moore 1B

7. Scott Hairston LF

8. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

POWER OF 3:

The Nationals came through with a trio of three-run innings against the Cubs Wednesday night, powering their way to an 11-6 victory in the Friendly Confines. Jayson Werth and Scott Hairston blasted three-run homers in the winning effort, giving Wilmington, Illinois native Tanner Roark his third win – in front of more than 100 family and friends in attendance.

MORE GOOD THINGS COME IN 3s:

Werth’s three-run shot came on a 3-0 pitch. It was the first such home run for the Nats since Bryce Harper took a 3-0 pitch into the second deck in Miami on August 29 of last season. Wednesday’s contest also marked the first time all season the Nationals hit more than one three-run homer in a game.

200 CLUB

Washington Manager Davey Johnson earned his 200th victory with the Nationals Wednesday night, the third team he has piloted to 200 wins. He went 595-417 with the Mets, 204-172 with the Reds and improved to 200-171 with the Nationals. He has also tallied 186 victories for the Orioles and 163 more for the Dodgers in his illustrious career.

Saturday Night Fever

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

“I feel like we were just destined to win that game, some way, somehow.”

Those words came from Dan Haren, maybe the most unlikely of heroes from a game full of them, saturated with storylines from both dugouts.

Saturday night was supposed to be about Bryce Harper, about unwritten baseball rules, about the rising tension between the Nationals and the Braves as they battled through the dog days of summer. But amidst a bizarre game in which two of the best young pitchers in baseball each failed to escape the second inning, it became a story of a true team effort in which 21 of the 25 men on the Washington roster played a role. In the end, the Nationals prevailed after 15 innings and nearly five-and-a-half hours, by a final of 8-7.

Adam LaRoche provided the decisive blow with his team-leading 18th home run.

Adam LaRoche provided the decisive blow with his team-leading 18th home run.

While any 15-inning affair will naturally be referred to most commonly as a marathon, this division rivalry felt more like a long distance relay race, with one reliever handing the baton to the next, over and over again. In all, 18 different pitchers were used by the two clubs – nine each – including the starters, each club’s entire seven-man bullpen, and two more starters to close it out.

Along the way, Washington set a number of records. The 15 innings matched the longest game in Nationals history, equaling the 2009 season finale, a 2-1 win over none other than the Braves at Turner Field. The five-hour, 29-minute affair was the lengthiest in terms of time elapsed. Meanwhile, the 19 strikeouts compiled by the Washington bullpen shattered the all-time Major League mark, at least as far back as anyone can be sure. The records for such a stat only date back to 1971, to which point the highest total ever compiled by a relief staff in a single game was 16. But considering the way the sport had evolved, with increased strikeout rates and higher bullpen usage, it’s hard to imagine any club amassing a comparable total in any previous era.

Following Stephen Strasburg’s second-inning ejection, Tanner Roark was the first Nationals reliever to answer the call, entering a 4-2 game and providing four innings of one-hit, scoreless relief with six strikeouts. Drew Storen tossed a perfect seventh inning, striking out the side. Ian Krol rebounded from a tough Friday night outing to put up two more scoreless frames in extra innings, and Craig Stammen followed a two-inning stint Friday night with a 55-pitch, three-inning scoreless stretch to get the game to the 15th inning.

Dan Haren earned his first Major League save in relief.

Dan Haren earned his first Major League save in relief.

Of course, in the midst of the impressive relief outings, the Braves tied the game in the ninth, making all of the extra pomp and circumstance necessary in the first place. But neither team would score again until the 15th inning, when Adam LaRoche punished a hanging breaking ball from Kris Medlen for a moonshot to right field, the ball searing through the mist at Turner Field before coming to rest in the bleachers, a dozen rows deep, giving the Nationals the lead once more.

That left the game to Haren, summoned from the bullpen to make his first relief appearance since 2004. Haren had thrown his routine side work prior to the game, tossing 30-35 pitches, which he followed with an upper body workout. But when Strasburg’s evening was cut short, several hours earlier, he offered up his services, should they be needed. They were.

“I’m proud of him for even doing that,” said Randy Knorr, who took over as manager when Davey Johnson was ejected along with Strasburg. “A lot of guys wouldn’t even have gone down there after throwing a bullpen.”

Haren allowed a single, but that was all, striking out Jordan Schafer flailing at a splitter, his bat sent cartwheeling towards the Braves dugout to end the game. That netted Haren first Major League save, and only his second as a professional, the other coming more than 12 years prior as a member of the New Jersey Cardinals of the Short-season New York Penn League on July 15, 2001 against the Lowell Spinners.

“I’m only supposed to do media every five days,” Haren joked as the huddle approached his locker after 1 a.m. local time.

In the end, the Nationals went home with a big road victory in Atlanta. Their reward. Both clubs get a whopping 12 hours and 46 minutes between the final out and the first pitch on Sunday afternoon. Haren summed it up best when all was said and done.

“Five-hour games are fine when you win them. But when you lose them, they really stink.”

What to Watch for: 8.15.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

San Francisco Giants (52-67) vs. Washington Nationals (59-60)

 RHP Ryan Vogelsong (2-4, 6.71) vs. RHP Dan Haren (7-11, 4.99)

The Nationals finish up their series against the Giants and their nine-game homestand this afternoon, as they aim to bring their record to an even .500. Jordan Zimmermann won his career-high 14th game of the season thanks to Denard Span, who sealed the victory with a game-saving catch. With Dan Haren on the mound, the Nats look to extend their five game win streak and go for their second straight series sweep.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Anthony Rendon 2B

8. Kurt Suzuki C

9. Dan Haren RHP

SWEEP POSSIBILTIES

The Nationals will attempt to complete their third-ever sweep of the Giants in this afternoon’s series finale. Washington swept a home series from San Francisco in both 2012 (3-0) and 2006 (3-0). The Nationals have also won seven straight home games over the Giants. Washington has likewise won seven consecutive home games over the Marlins and Cardinals, but never reached the threshold of eight straight victories in D.C. over a single opponent.

SEVENTEEN AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN

The Nationals are the only team in the National League with four players with 17 or more home runs. Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, and Jayson Werth all share the team lead with 17 each. Only two other Major League teams – Toronto and Los Angeles (AL) – have as many as four players with 17 or more home runs.

SUMMER’S SCORCHER

Jayson Werth leads Major League Baseball in batting average dating to the beginning of both July and August. Since July 1st, Werth has hit .413. Detroit’s Victor Martinez has the next best average hitting .381 in that span. Since August first Werth is hitting .528 with Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen in a distant second at .474.

Meaningful Milestones

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

As a baseball player, you can’t always control when you will hit certain career milestones. Often times, they occur simply within the flow of the game, perhaps having little impact on the actual result. Two Nationals players hit memorable milestone marks Saturday night, one helping directly contribute to the other.

After an RBI-single his second time up got the Nationals on the board, Jayson Werth stood at 998 career hits. In the sixth inning, he would fight through a classically Werthian at-bat, fouling off four pitches before swatting a single the other way and eventually scoring Washington’s third run. That set him up for a chance to reach the 1,000 mark in his next at-bat, which came in a tie game against Phillies reliever Zach Miner with a runner at first and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The normally methodical Werth took no time to make his presence felt, jumping on a first pitch slider and wrapping it inside the left field foul pole for a go-ahead, two-run home run. He even took a curtain call following the blast, which put the Nationals ahead for good.

“Unbelievable moment for him, to get his 1,000th career hit on a homer against them,” said Bryce Harper after the game, referencing Werth’s achievement coming against his former club.

While Werth himself downplayed the significance of the milestone occurring against the Phillies, he nevertheless took a moment to savor the accomplishment, one he didn’t even realize he was on the precipice of reaching. He was watching tape in the clubhouse after his third at-bat when batting practice pitcher Ali Modami made him aware of the situation.

Bryce Harper and Craig Stammen nailed Jayson Werth with the postgame Gatorade bath.

Bryce Harper and Craig Stammen nailed Jayson Werth with the postgame Gatorade bath.

“When you start out playing this game, however many years ago, it’s one of those benchmarks you put on the list of things you want to accomplish,” said Werth after the game.

Perhaps overshadowed by Werth’s heroics was the yeoman work put in by Tanner Roark in just his second big league appearance. Coming on in relief of Taylor Jordan, Roark needed just 12 pitches to navigate two scoreless frames on the mound, keeping the Nationals in the game. When Washington pushed in front in the seventh, it lined Roark up for his first Major League win.

“Yeah, I realized it,” said Roark of the situation setting up to possibly provide him with his first victory, a smile creeping out of the corner of his mouth. “Most important, we got the win. The team got the win.”

Both Werth and Roark’s milestone performances proved vital to that happening, though.

Highlights: 8.6.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

8.6.13 – Braves 2, Nationals 1

Stat of the Game: Bryce Harper hit the longest home run by a Nationals player at home this year (437 feet) for Washington’s lone run.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Gio Gonzalez turned in a quality start but took the hard-luck loss, allowing two earned runs over seven frames.

It Was Over When: The Nationals loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh inning, but could not push across a run.

To the Last Man

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

To the last minute.

To the last second.

To the last man.

We fight!

Of all the things asked of Bryce Harper at such a young age, team leader has not been among them. But after a disappointing first two-thirds of the season, the 20-year-old spoke up the other day, then went out and provided the Nationals with a personal slogan, emblazoned on red camouflage workout shirts, prior to Friday’s game. It is a quote with which those who follow the young outfielder on Twitter may be familiar, from the movie Red Tails, about the Tuskegee Airmen.

At just 20 years of age, Harper is stepping into the role of an emotional team leader.

At just 20 years of age, Harper is stepping into the role of an emotional team leader.

The emotional team leader role had been shouldered largely by Ian Desmond thus far in 2013, but he seemed happy to have a second voice in the clubhouse speaking up at this critical juncture in the season.

“I think they’re great,” he said of the T-shirts, displaying his own for the media to see. “It’s good to see him coming into his own.”

As for Harper’s ability to walk the walk, he launched a second deck home run and drove in two of Washington’s four runs Friday night as the Nationals got back in the win column with a 4-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

“He rises to the occasion pretty well, if you hadn’t noticed,” quipped Desmond of his teammate after the victory.

Desmond himself got Washington on the board first, taking advantage of a bad route by Carlos Gomez to snag a leadoff double in the fifth, then stealing third and scoring as the throw skipped down the left field line. It was one of the game’s little swings that has seemed to go against Washington all year, but finally broke in their favor.

Of course, in order to once again accomplish their goal of playing in baseball’s postseason, nearly everything will have to go right for the Nationals. That was Davey Johnson’s point of emphasis after the game.

“We have to play really good from here on out to have any chance at all,” he stressed. “I think our guys know that.”

Denard Span had his strongest month yet in July, batting .289/.349/.402 with his first two home runs.

Denard Span had his strongest month yet in July, batting .289/.349/.402 with his first two home runs.

They will need more offense from Denard Span, like the quality at-bat he put in leading off the top of the ninth inning Friday night after quickly falling behind former Nationals lefty Michael Gonzalez 0-2. He fouled off a fastball, took a couple of tough sliders for balls, fouled another breaking ball off, then spoiled the fifth slider of the at-bat for a humpback liner, over third baseman Jeff Bianchi’s head and into left field. He would speed into second for a leadoff double, later padding the Nationals lead back to three runs after the Brewers had gotten one back in the bottom of the eighth.

The Nationals will also need the likes of Ryan Mattheus to fill the void in the seventh inning as he did with one of his best appearances of the season, and easily the strongest since returning from the disabled list. Mattheus got a strike out followed by a pair of grounders from the top two hitters in the Milwaukee order, following Jordan Zimmermann’s six scoreless innings with one of his own.

Speaking of Zimmermann, Washington needs his return to his first half form, as well as for Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez to continue to do what they have done most of the year. Dan Haren, who has pitched well in four starts since his own return from the DL, will be counted on to continue to do so the rest of the way.

But there is a sense among some – Harper and Desmond included – that they need a little extra fire to make all these things happen. If they can continue to lead the way as they did on Friday night, maybe they can close the 6.5 games remaining between themselves and a postseason spot over the final 53 games.

Highlights: 8.2.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

8.2.13 – Nationals 4, Brewers 1

Stat of the Game: Jordan Zimmermann delivered six scoreless frames for his career-high 13th win of the season.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Bryce Harper tied the team lead with his 16th home run and drove in a pair.

It Was Over When: Washington added an insurance run in the top of the ninth to pad the lead and provide the final margin.

What to Watch for: 8.2.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Washington Nationals (52-56) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (46-62)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (12-6, 3.19) vs. LHP Tom Gorzelanny (2-4, 2.83) 

The Nationals have offered a couple of lengthy extensions to players in the last couple of seasons, first signing Gio Gonzalez to a five-year deal with a sixth year club option last January, then following that with Ryan Zimmerman’s seven-year deal, which will retain the Face of the Franchise for the foreseeable future. But Thursday evening, the club offered arguably its most important extension yet, to its top executive, Mike Rizzo.

In addition to a multi-year contract renewal, Rizzo was promoted to President of Baseball Operations and General Manager, a show of faith for the tremendous strides he has made with the Nationals organization. During Rizzo’s tenure as Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and GM, Washington saw its farm system rise from dead last all the way to the top of the Baseball America rankings and saw the Major League club go from 103 losses in 2009 to 98 wins last season. The club now consists of one of the youngest, most cost-controlled rosters in the game, with a large window of contention and a bright future ahead.

“It’s humbling and very fulfilling for me,” said Rizzo in the dugout at Miller Park before the Nationals opened the final third of the 2013 season against the Milwaukee Brewers. “I’m not going to change the way I do my job one bit. I’m going to attack the job the way I always have, with hard work and good decisions, and continue to hire good people and let them do their work.”

Rizzo has been in charge of Washington’s drafts since the 2007 season, when he signed Ross Detwiler and second-round pick Jordan Zimmermann, out of little-known Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He took Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper number one overall in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010, but also the likes of Taylor Jordan (ninth round, ’09) Nathan Karns (12th round, ’09) and quick rising Minor League arms A.J. Cole (fourth round, ’10) and Robbie Ray (12th round, ’10).

“I think it’s great,” said manager Davey Johnson of Rizzo’s promotion and extension. “I’ve made no secret I think he’s a great baseball man.”

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Harper LF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Werth RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Span CF

8. Ramos C

9. Zimmermann RHP

A WERTHY P.O.M. CANDIDATE

During the month of July, Jayson Werth led the National League in OPS (1.072), on-base percentage (.450) and RBI (22). He also ranked among the Senior Circuit’s top five in home runs (tied-second, seven), batting average (second, .367) and slugging percentage (fifth, .622).

CLASS OF 2005

A closer look at where Ryan Zimmerman ranks among the MLB Draft Class of 2005, which included, among others: Ryan Braun, Jay Bruce, Jacoby Ellsbury, Alex Gordon, Andrew McCutchen, Troy Tulowitzki and Justin Upton.

Home Runs: Second, 165 (Braun, 211)

RBI: Second, 647 (Braun, 681)

Hits: First, 1208

BELOW THE SURFACE

The .547 winning percentage (309-256) posted by the Nationals Minor League system currently ranks fourth among Major League Baseball’s 30 franchises. Washington trails only Houston (.573), Texas (.566), and San Francsico (.554). The Nationals system has registered winning records each of the last five seasons (2008-12), but has never finished among the top five.

Highlights: 7.30.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

7.30.13 – Tigers 5, Nationals 1

Stat of the Game: Bryce Harper led off the game with a triple and scored Washington’s lone run in the first inning.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez improved to 9-1 career versus the Nationals.

It Was Over When: Alex Avila broke a 1-1 tie with a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth against Stephen Strasburg.

What to Watch for: 7.28.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

New York Mets (46-55) vs. Washington Nationals (51-54)

RHP Carlos Torres (1-1, 0.94) vs. RHP Taylor Jordan (0-3, 3.68)

Fear the goggles.

Tyler Clippard works in what can sometimes be a thankless role, almost always pitching the seventh or eighth inning in close ballgames. Occasionally, when the game is tied or if the Nationals are trailing, that puts him in a position to pick up a win; after all, he’s got six of them this year. But usually, the only time he ends up in the spotlight is if the other team scores a run. That hasn’t happened much lately, which is why Clippard’s tremendous season is largely flying under the radar.

His overall numbers speak for themselves: a 6-1 record, 1.74 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 46.1 innings pitched. But those marks have gotten better and better as the season has progressed. Since June 1, he’s allowed only one run in 23.2 innings, holding opponents to a .108 batting average. And in his last 15 appearances since June 26, Clippard has allowed just two hits and four walks over 15 scoreless frames, striking out 17.

Simply put, it’s hard to pitch any better than Clippard has the past two months. For the season, he’s picked up 19 holds and has not been dealt a single blown save all year. Every time Davey Johnson has handed Clippard the ball with a lead of three runs or less, he has handed it back with the lead intact.

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. Jordan RHP

DAN THE MAN

Dan Haren earned his fifth win – his first in 12 starts, or since May 9 vs. Detroit – by allowing just one run on three singles and a walk in 7.0 strong innings, striking out six. In four starts since his return from the disabled list, Haren owns a 3.13 ERA (8 ER/23.0 IP) and 26 strikeouts against just six walks.

POWER SURGE

Ian Desmond hit his team-leading 16th, Bryce Harper notched his 15th and Denard Span got on the board with his first home run of the season. Desmond and Span went back-to-back, marking the seventh time this season that Nationals players have homered in consecutive at-bats. Washington has hit 12 home runs in its last eight games at Nationals Park, representing its largest eight-game power output in The District this season.

THE SERIES

The Nationals have won the past two season series from the Mets, going 14-4 last season and 10-8 in 2011. Washington currently holds a 6-5 margin in this year’s matchup, including a 3-2 mark at Nationals Park.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 537 other followers