Results tagged ‘ Dan Haren ’

What to Watch for: 8.4.13

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Washington Nationals (54-56) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (46-64)

RHP Taylor Jordan (1-3, 3.31) vs. RHP Kyle Lohse (7-7, 3.22) 

The Nationals snapped the Milwaukee’s string of 86 games without being shutout (the longest such stretch in the Major Leagues) with a 3-0 victory Saturday night. The win also gave Washington a 4-2 record against the Brewers so far in 2013 which, combined with a 5-3 mark in 2012, means the Nationals have won consecutive season series at the Brew Crew’s expense for the first time in Nationals history (‘05-present). Taylor Jordan takes the hill in Sunday’s finale looking to guide the Nationals to their first road sweep of the season.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Harper LF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Werth RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Lombardozzi 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Jordan RHP

DAN THE MAN

Dan Haren turned in seven scoreless frames of four-hit ball to earn his second consecutive victory. In the five starts since his return from the disabled list on July 8, the right-hander has a 2.70 ERA (8 ER/30.0 IP) with just eight walks against 32 strikeouts and a .206 opponents batting average.

JOINING THE CLUB

Adam LaRoche hit his 15th home run of the season, making him the fourth Nationals player to reach the plateau so far this year (Desmond 16, Harper 16, Werth 15). Only two other teams in the National League (Atlanta, Colorado) have four players with 15 or more roundtrippers, while three teams (Miami, San Diego, San Francisco) do not have a single player with at least 15 on the season.

CLIPP N’ SAVE

Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano combined on a scoreless eighth and ninth inning Saturday, leading to Soriano’s 28th save in 32 opportunities this year. Clippard, meanwhile, has not blown a lead all season, and is 3-0 with 11 holds, a 0.70 ERA (2 ER/25.2 IP), a .107 opponents average and 27 strikeouts since the beginning of June.

Highlights: 8.3.13

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8.3.13 – Nationals 3, Brewers 0

Stat of the Game: Dan Haren delivered his second straight sparkling start, shutting out the Brewers over seven innings to earn the win.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Adam LaRoche became the fourth Nationals player with 15 or more home runs this season, using Jayson Werth‘s bat to drive an opposite-field blast.

It Was Over When: Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano retired all six batters they faced to close the door.

What to Watch for: 8.3.13

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Washington Nationals (53-56) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (46-63)

RHP Dan Haren (5-11, 5.49) vs. RHP Donovan Hand (0-2, 3.56)

Jordan Zimmermann earned his career-high 13th victory of the season to help the Nationals get back in the win column at the expense of the Brewers in the series opener Friday night. Dan Haren looks to keep his solid string of starts going since returning from the disabled list as Washington hopes to beat rookie Donovan Hand, who took a no decision after allowing three runs in five innings in an 8-5 Nationals victory on July 4.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Harper LF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Werth RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Rendon 2B

8. Ramos C

9. Haren RHP

HAPPY HOMECOMING

Jordan Zimmermann improved to 4-0 in four career starts against his home-state team, holding the Brewers scoreless over six frames. Although they managed four hits and four walks, the Brewers went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Zimmermann has allowed just six runs to Milwaukee in 24.2 innings of work (2.19 ERA), striking out 23 while walking just seven in his career.

A SOLID SPAN

Fresh off his best month of the season in July, during which he batted .289/.349/.402 with his first two home runs, Denard Span opened August with his third multi-hit performance in four games. Span is 9-for-15 (.600) with a walk, a double, a home run, five runs scored and three RBI over that stretch.

WERTH THE WAIT

Jayson Werth had three more hits Friday night, giving him 19 multi-hit affairs in 51 games since returning from the disabled list. He is batting .337 (60-for-178) with 25 walks, eight doubles, 11 home runs, 30 runs scored, 33 RBI and a .415 OBP since rejoining the lineup June 4.

To the Last Man

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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.

What to Watch for: 7.30.13

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Washington Nationals (52-54) vs. Detroit Tigers (59-45)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (5-8, 2.85) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (8-7, 2.68)

The All-Star break provides a number of opportunities for players. The four days are a chance to catch your breath, lick your wounds, and get a mental restart for the stretch run. For managers though, it also provides a chance to reset the pitching rotation to best match up with opponents.

In Davey Johnson’s case, that meant he could line up Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez for this two-game set against Detroit, beginning Tuesday night in the Motor City. It also means Jordan Zimmermann will get to start back in his home state of Wisconsin on Friday night in Milwaukee, where he delivered six strong innings to earn his fourth win in a very strong month of August last season.

Of course, it also means the rotation will roll over once more, setting up the top three Washington starters to pitch during the Nationals upcoming August 5-7 home series with Atlanta. With a little tinkering, Johnson could work around the off days to do the same for the road series against the Braves, August 16-18 at Turner Field.

The ability to set up the top of the rotation is great, but it is made all the more important by the success of the rest of the starters, like the three huge starts delivered by Ross Ohlendorf, Dan Haren and Taylor Jordan over the weekend. After one of their toughest losses of the season in the opening game of the doubleheader with the Mets on Friday – and with All-Star Game starter Matt Harvey and Nats nemesis Dillon Gee on the horizon – Washington needed big performances from all three to have a successful weekend.

That’s exactly what they got. Ohlendorf, Haren and Jordan combined to deliver 20 innings over which each allowed just a single earned run (1.35 combined ERA) on 14 total hits and four walks while striking out 21 Mets batters. The offense did just enough to muster a win Friday night, with Ryan Zimmerman providing the ninth-inning heroics, then powered three home runs Saturday and came alive to set season highs in hits and runs on Sunday. That gave the Nationals three straight wins heading into their current Midwest road trip.

If the rotation can continue to feed off of itself and the lineup behind it finds its groove, the Nationals will be as well positioned as they could possibly hope for the upcoming division showdowns with Atlanta that may well determine the fate of the division.

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. Tracy DH

RHP Strasburg

BETTER AT-BATS = BETTER BALL

The Nationals won four of the final five games on their season-long 11-game homestand. They batted .302 (52-for-172) and plated 29 runs during the 4-1 surge since last Thursday, averaging 5.8 runs per game over that stretch.

WERTH THE WAIT

Jayson Werth is batting .331 (56-for-169) with 23 walks, seven doubles, 11 home runs, 30 runs scored, 32 RBI, and a .410 OBP in 48 games since returning from the disabled list (right hamstring) on June 4. During the month of July, Werth paces the National League in batting average (.376), OPS (1.103), on-base percentage (.455) and RBI (21). He also ranks among the Senior Circuit’s top five in home runs (tied-second, seven), slugging percentage (third, .647) and hits (tied-fifth, 32).

THREE GRAND

With Wilson Ramos’ bases-clearing blast in the third inning on Sunday, the Nationals have now blasted three grand slams in 2013. The club went 70 games before hitting a grand slam, with Ian Desmond providing the first of the year, in the 11th inning on June 19 in Philadelphia. Since then, Washington has collected three in 36 games, also including Ryan Zimmerman’s shot against San Diego on July 7 in The District.

What to Watch for: 7.28.13

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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.

Highlights: 7.27.13

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7.27.13 – Nationals 4, Mets 1

Stat of the Game: Dan Haren earned his first win in 12 starts thanks to a dominant performance, in which he allowed just three hits over seven frames.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Bryce Harper homered for the second time in three games, finishing 2-for-4 with two RBI.

It Was Over When: Rafael Soriano struck out Ike Davis to lock down his 26th save in 30 opportunities.

What to Watch for: 7.22.13

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Pittsburgh Pirates (57-39) vs. Washington Nationals (48-50)

 RHP Charlie Morton (1-2, 3.19) vs. RHP Dan Haren (4-10, 5.61) 

The Nationals welcome the Pittsburgh Pirates for the second series of their current 10-day, 11-game homestand, with the four-game set kicking off tonight. Washington will send Dan Haren to the mound in a battle of right-handers as the club looks to halt its three-game slide.

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. Haren RHP

DAN IN REAL LIFE

Although the Nationals have lost the last 10 games Dan Haren has started, the veteran right-hander has been sharp since coming off the disabled list, carrying a 10.0-inning scoreless streak into tonight’s start. The righty has fanned five or more batters in seven of his last nine outings, and has punched out 45 in his last 42.2 innings of work.

A WERTHY RETURN

Jayson Werth is batting .322 (46-for-143) with 20 walks, seven doubles, eight home runs, 23 runs scored, 25 RBI and a .400 OBP in 40 games since returning from the DL (right hamstring) on June 4. Werth’s 1.061 OPS in July ranks fifth in the National League, behind only Hanley Ramirez (1.204), Jonathan Lucroy (1.150), Andrew McCutchen (1.113) and Brian McCann (1.109).

IF THE SCHU FITS

The Nationals announced Monday that they have promoted minor league hitting coordinator Rick Schu to the Major League level. Schu has spent the past four years with the Nationals and has been a coach for 16 seasons following a nine-year big league career. Schu has worked with current Nationals Bryce Harper, Steve Lombardozzi and Roger Bernadina in the minors, as well as both Chad Tracy and Scott Hairston during his time with Arizona (2004, ’07-09), where he served as the Diamondbacks hitting coach.

The Second “Half”

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There has been plenty written about the Nationals the past few days and what it will take for them to play in October this season.

We’ll leave the “to reach x wins, they need to go xx-xx the rest of the way” predictions to others. As Davey Johnson and his troops have expressed over recent weeks, what the team needs to do is play at the level its capable of with more consistency. It doesn’t really matter how many games are left, or against whom. We all know this team is capable – when they are playing their best – of beating anyone.

Davey Johnson is looking for more consistency from his club in the second half.

Davey Johnson is looking for more consistency from his club in the second half.

They’ll get their first test immediately out of the All-Star break. The suddenly hot Los Angeles Dodgers come to town to open an 11-game, 10-day homestand, during which they will throw recently acquired Nationals nemesis Ricky Nolasco, along with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. Things don’t get easier from there, as the contending Pittsburgh Pirates visit for four games beginning next week. The homestand concludes with a Matt Harvey-headlined doubleheader followed by a pair of weekend games against the scrappy New York Mets.

Of course, the Nationals will counter with arguable the healthiest team they’ve fielded since the first week of the season. With the lineup at full strength, the only pieces missing are Ross Detwiler and Ryan Mattheus, both expected back off the disabled list soon. Washington will also be throwing Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann in the three Dodgers games, putting its own best pitching foot forward. Dan Haren, who has a 1.64 ERA (2 ER/11.0 IP) and 14 strikeouts in his two outings since his own return from the DL may be starting to show signs of being the solid veteran pickup that Mike Rizzo and company were hoping for when they signed him last offseason. With Taylor Jordan solidly holding down the fort at the back of the rotation in the meantime, the starting staff looks poised to lead the way.

Meanwhile, Rafael Soriano has closed out 25 of 29 save opportunities with a 2.25 ERA on the season. Tyler Clippard has been one of the best relievers in the game, winning six games out of the ‘pen while posting better than a strikeout per inning and a sub-2.00 ERA. Ian Krol and Fernando Abad have given Washington two lefty relievers they did not have at the beginning of the year, both joining Clippard in the sub-2.00 club thus far. Factor in some solid contributions out of the long-man spot by Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 1.74 ERA) and the bullpen looks as solid as it has all year.

It’s taken a few months for all these pieces to come together and be on the field at the same time. But with a fully rested and healthy squad coming back from the All-Star break, these Nationals look as well constructed as they have been all year to finally put together the extended run that has thus far eluded them, the one they all know they will need to bring October NATITUDE back to The District.

Highlights: 7.13.13

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7.13.13 – Marlins 2, Nationals 1 (10 innings)

Stat of the Game: Dan Haren turned in one of his sharpest performances of the seasons, shutting out the Marlins on three hits and a walk over six innings, striking out seven.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Tyler Clippard turned in his eighth straight scoreless outing, over which he’s allowed a single hit and three walks with eight strikeouts.

It Was Over When: Ed Lucas beat out the back end of a potential inning-ending double play ball with the bases loaded to give the Marlins a 2-1 victory.

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