Results tagged ‘ Chicago Cubs ’

Homecoming King

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When Tanner Roark was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse a couple of weeks ago, it signified a lifelong goal achieved. At age 26, in his sixth full season of professional ball, he had finally reached the big leagues. And the way that the Nationals schedule shaped up, it meant a trip back to his home state of Illinois, with the chance to perhaps pitch at Wrigley Field, the park he grew up going to as a Cubs fan.

Roark’s brother Dillon took it upon himself to organize an outing for friends and family to see the pride of Wilmington, Ill. return home. A town of 5,757 people about 60 miles to the southwest of Chicago, Wilmington is a tight-knit community, but Dillon never expected the response to the Facebook invitation he put out a couple of weeks ago. Originally expecting just a handful of folks to make the trek, Dillon was overwhelmed when the event took on a life of its own.

The man of the hour, Roark signed dozens of autographs after the game.

The man of the hour, Roark signed dozens of autographs after the game.

By the time Wednesday night rolled around, the Wilmington faithful had filled two buses – 97 people in all – with an estimated 30-50 more caravanning in cars. In all, two to three percent of the entire town’s population, decked out mostly in Nationals red, hooted and hollered for much of the game from the right field bleachers.

“I had no idea it was going to be this big,” said Dillon after the game, standing on the street corner outside the gates, watching his brother swarmed amidst a mob of interview and photo requests.

Of course, Roark wasn’t the star of the evening simply for being on the team. While nobody could have planned it this way, he wound up entering the game in relief in the fifth inning. And while he admitted that the circumstances got to him a bit in his first inning, he escaped with the game tied 6-6.

“It was definitely nerves and adrenaline, both,” admitted Roark. “I know better, to calm myself down on the mound. To stop the hitting parade and just hit my spots.”

Another look at the mob that greeted Roark at the Wrigley Field gate.

Another look at the mob that greeted Roark at the Wrigley Field gate.

Roark returned to the hill for the sixth refocused and under control, striking out the top three batters in the Cubs lineup in order, sending his rooting section into a frenzy. In the top of the seventh, with two on, two outs and two strikes, Scott Hairston blasted a pinch-hit, three-run home run over the ivy-covered wall in left to put the Nationals back in front for good. In so doing, he also made Roark the pitcher of record, helping him earn the win.

Ben Stickel, one of Tanner’s friends “since they were babies,” was grinning ear-to-ear after the game, soaking in the whole experience. Having played baseball with Roark as kids, he could still barely believe what he had witnessed

“To see one of your buddies come out and step on a Major League baseball field, it just makes the story of the town,” he said. “Tanner’s a die-hard Cubs fan, ever since he’s been a little kid. A kid whose team he’s idolized his whole life, comes to Wrigley Field, steps on the mound, comes in and gets a win.”

Just the way everyone drew it up, right?

What to Watch for: 8.22.13

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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.

Highlights: 8.21.13

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8.21.13 – Nationals 11, Cubs 6

Stat of the Game: Scott Hairston‘s pinch-hit, three-run home run gave him his first roundtripper and first RBI in a Nationals uniform.

Under-the-Radar Performance: For the third time in five Major League appearances, Tanner Roark earned the win in relief.

It Was Over When: The Nationals added two more runs on Denard Span‘s RBI-triple and Ryan Zimmerman‘s RBI-single in the eighth.

What to Watch for: 8.21.13

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Washington Nationals (61-64) vs. Chicago Cubs (54-71)

RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 1.85) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (1-0, 0.69)

The Nationals send Ross Ohlendorf to the mound against the Chicago Cubs, his first appearance since going on the 15-day disabled list on August 4 (retroactive to August 1). Washington Manager Davey Johnson said he expects Ohlendorf to throw roughly 90 pitches in this evening’s contest. The Cubs will counter with former Baltimore Oriole Jake Arrieta, acquired on July 2 along with reliever Pedro Strop and cash considerations in exchange for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. Arrieta has never bested the Nationals (0-1, 5.57 ERA in four starts), but has been excellent in his two big league starts since joining the Cubs organization.

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. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

8. Kurt Suzuki C

9. Ross Ohlendorf RHP

31 FLAVORS OF VICTORY FOR HAREN

Dan Haren continues to make career history, pocketing his first-career win at Wrigley Field – his 31st different park with a W – as the Nationals doubled up the Cubs, 4-2, on Tuesday night. The victory was his first since beating the Philadelphia Phillies on August 9, giving him wins against all 30 franchises. In between, Haren notched his first Major League save in a close-out effort against the Braves Saturday night.

NATS COME THROUGH IN CLUTCH

Despite a rough night in which Washington brought home just four of its 21 base runners, the Nationals made it count when it mattered most. Ian Desmond singled home Bryce Harper with nobody out in the ninth to extend the Nats lead to 3-1, and four batters later Denard Span brought home a two-out insurance run, when he plated Ryan Zimmerman to give the Nationals a 4-1 advantage.

NOT A MINOR ACCOMPLISHMENT

The Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals are a stunning 45-8 (.849) this season, which began June 21. However the GCL Nats did lose 2012 No. 1 pick Lucas Giolito, who was promoted to the Short Season-A Auburn Doubledays – and promptly won his first start, a gem of a performance earlier Wednesday afternoon. Giolito went five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, while striking out four. He did not walk a batter.

Highlights: 8.20.13

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8.20.13 – Nationals 4, Cubs 2

Stat of the Game: The Nationals had a season-high 21 men reach base safely (14 hits, seven walks), one more than the 20 they accumulated in a 14-1 drubbing of the Mets on July 28.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard did not allow any base runners in the seventh and eighth innings, holding onto the Nats slim 2-1 lead.

It Was Over When: Denard Span, a late-game defensive replacement, ripped a two-out, RBI single in the top of the ninth to give Washington a 4-1 advantage.

What to Watch for: 8.20.13

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Washington Nationals (60-64) vs. Chicago Cubs (54-70)

RHP Dan Haren (7-11, 4.79) vs. LHP Chris Rusin (2-2, 3.06)

Washington takes on the North Siders in the second of a four-game set at Wrigley Field. The Nationals send veteran righty Dan Haren – who leads Nationals starters in wins (three), batting average against (.174) and ERA (2.45) since the All-Star break – against Cubs lefty Chris Rusin. Haren has allowed just three home runs in 44.0 innings since coming off the disabled list, but will face a tough test with the wind blowing out on a warm night in Chicago.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Bryce Harper CF

2. Ian Desmond SS

3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Wilson Ramos C

6. Tyler Moore 1B

7. Anthony Rendon 2B

8. Scott Hairston LF

9. Dan Haren RHP

EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Ian Desmond’s 52 extra-base hits (33 doubles, two triples, 17 home runs) pace all big league shortstops. The 52 XBH are 10 more than any other MLB shortstop (Troy Tulowitzki, 42). Furthermore, with 33 in the bag, Desmond’s next double will establish a new career high (also 33 in 2012).

A WHOLE NEW DREW

Drew Storen has been sharp since his return from his stint at Triple-A Syracuse. The righty pitched an inning in all three games of the Atlanta series, allowing a single hit without a walk or a run scored while striking out five of the 10 batters he has faced.

NOT A MINOR ACCOMPLISHMENT

The Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals are a stunning 43-8 (.843) this season, which began June 21. The .557 overall winning percentage (379-302) posted by the Nationals Minor League system ranks fourth among MLB’s 30 franchises, behind only San Francisco (.569), Houston (.568) and Texas (.560).

What to Watch for: 8.19.13

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Washington Nationals (60-63) vs. Chicago Cubs (53-70)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (14-6, 3.02) vs. RHP Jeff Samardzija (6-11, 4.29)

The Nationals made a trade Monday afternoon, acquiring Chicago Cubs outfielder David DeJesus for a player to be named later. DeJesus brings a veteran, left-handed presence, along with the defensive versatility to play all three outfield spots. He’s also a familiar face for several Washington players, including Gio Gonzalez, Scott Hairston and Kurt Suzuki. All four played together as members of the Oakland A’s in 2011, while DeJesus and Hairston also shared a clubhouse in Chicago this season.

DeJesus didn’t have far to go to join his new team – he literally walked out of the Cubs dugout earlier this afternoon, crossed behind home plate, and disappeared into the Nationals dugout on the first base side.

On the field, DeJesus brings the same approach to the plate as other Nationals veterans, especially Jayson Werth. While he carries a career slash line of .290/.366/.448 against right-handers, DeJesus’ 4.07 pitches per plate appearance would put him in the top 10 in the National League with enough at-bats to qualify.

“My game is grinding out at-bats and making the pitcher work,” he explained.

Off the field, the 33-year-old hopes to provide an affable, congenial voice for a young club trying to come into its own.

“Try to be a leader, someone the young guys can learn from,” DeJesus said, when asked about what he brings to the club. “That’s my role, and I’m going to take that to heart.”

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Adam LaRoche 1B

6. Ian Desmond SS

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Jordan Zimmermann RHP

ON SCHEDULE

The Nationals second half record is just 12-16, but they could be in store for a strong finish. Washington is 2-13 in the second half against the teams with the top four records in baseball (Braves, Tigers, Dodgers and Pirates) but 10-3 against everyone else (Mets, Brewers, Phillies and Giants). Beginning with today’s contest with the Cubs, the Nats play 27 of their remaining 39 games against teams currently at least 10 games below the .500 mark on the season.

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

Last season, the Nationals went 29-13 against the NL Central, and their corresponding .690 winning percentage paced the Senior Circuit against the division. Washington is just 12-15 (.444) against the NL Central in 2013, including a 1-2 record against the Cubs. The Nationals have seven games remaining against NL Central competition (four at Chicago, three at St. Louis).

D.C.’S HIT MAN SOON TO BE EXPOSED

Jayson Werth’s .334 batting average would rank a close second in the National League to Atlanta’s Chris Johnson (.335) with enough plate appearances to qualify. Werth’s 371 plate appearances are 10 shy of the 381 required (123 games x 3.1 plate appearances per game) to qualify for the NL batting title. His 4.28 pitches per plate appearance would also be tops in the National League (Paul Goldschmidt, 4.19).

Highlights: 5.12.13

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5.12.13 – Cubs 2, Nationals 1

Stat of the Game: Gio Gonzalez took a perfect game into the sixth inning, allowing just two hits in seven scoreless frames overall. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ryan Zimmerman collected two hits and Washington’s lone RBI, on a double in the first inning.

It Was Over When: Kurt Suzuki‘s throw to third on a steal attempt by Alfonso Soriano ticked off batter Welington Castillo’s bat, allowing Soriano to score with the winning run.

What to Watch for: 5.12.13

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Chicago Cubs (14-22) vs. Washington Nationals (20-16)

RHP Scott Feldman (3-3, 2.70) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 4.97)

Washington looks to make it a 4-1 homestand with a rubber match victory over the Cubs today. The Nationals send southpaw Gio Gonzalez to the hill in search of his fourth win as Bryce Harper returns to the starting lineup for the first time since Thursday.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Lombardozzi LF

3. Harper RF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

COUPLE OF 3

Ian Desmond has posted consecutive three-hit efforts in two games this weekend against the Cubs. This is the third time in Desmond’s career he has registered three or more hits in back-to-back games, previously doing so in August of 2010. Spanning the 2012-13 campaigns, Desmond is 17-for-38 (.447) with five doubles, four home runs, 11 RBI, three walks, two stolen bases and nine runs scored in nine games against the North-siders.

PIVOTAL PRODUCTION

Desmond (21), Danny Espinosa (12) and Steve Lombardozzi (2) have combined on 35 extra-base hits, tops among MLB middle-infield units. The Phillies rank second with 29 extra-base hits.

BETTER THAN LAST YEAR’S BEST

Nationals starting pitchers rank second in the National League and third in MLB with a 3.32 ERA (81 ER/219.1 IP). Last season, Washington paced the NL in starters ERA at 3.40.

Highlights: 5.11.13

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5.11.13 – Cubs 8, Nationals 2

Stat of the Game: Ian Desmond singled, doubled and homered for the second straight game, bringing his batting average up to to an even .300 for the season. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: Henry Rodriguez tossed a pair of scoreless innings of relief with two strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 3.09.

It Was Over When: The Cubs followed their four-run fifth with four more in the sixth inning to open up a seven-run advantage.

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