Results tagged ‘ Davey Johnson ’

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.

What to Watch for: 7.16.13 All Star Edition

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American League vs. National League

 RHP Max Scherzer (Tigers) 13-1, 3.19 vs. RHP Matt Harvey (Mets) 7-2, 2.35 

Baseball’s best will take the field tonight in the 84th All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York City. The Nationals sent four members of their organization to the Big Apple, including Bryce Harper who will start the game in center field for the National League. Nats pitcher Jordan Zimmermann also made the trip after earning 12 wins in the first half of the season but will not pay due to a neck injury. Nationals Manager Davey Johnson and Head Athletic Trainer Lee Kuntz were also selected to be a part of the Midsummer Classic.

AMERICAN LEAGUE LINEUP:

1. Mike Trout (Angels) LF

2. Robinson Cano (Yankees) 2B

3. Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) 3B

4. Chris Davis (Orioles) 1B

5. Jose Bautista (Blue Jays) RF

6. David Ortiz (Red Sox) DH

7. Adam Jones (Orioles) CF

8. Joe Mauer (Twins) C

9. J.J. Hardy (Orioles) SS

RHP Max Scherzer (Tigers)

NATIONAL LEAGUE LINEUP:

1. Brandon Phillips (Reds) 2B

2. Carlos Beltran (Cardinals) RF

3. Joey Votto (Reds) 1B

4. David Wright (Mets) 3B

5. Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies) LF

6. Yadier Molina (Cardinals) C

7. Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies) SS

8. Michael Cuddyer (Rockies) DH

9. Bryce Harper (Nationals) CF

RHP Matt Harvey (Mets)

20 YEARS YOUNG

Harper will be the youngest player in history to start an All-Star Game for the National League. He will also be the first player in Nationals history to start in the game and the first player to represent the Nationals in more than one All-Star game.

Harper was the second-youngest player in history to participate in the Home Run Derby; Ken Griffey Jr. was 42 days younger when he participated in 1990. Harper came in second place after blasting eight home runs in each round.

THE SKIPPER’S RETURN

Johnson was invited by Giants skipper Bruce Bochy. Johnson will return to New York City where he managed the Mets from 1984-90 and his 1986 club won the World Series in a memorable, seven-game Fall Classic. He remains the Mets’ winningest manager (both in victories and winning percentage) and was inducted into the Mets Hall-of-Fame on August 1, 2010. Nationals Head Athletics Trainer Lee Kuntz will join Johnson in New York City. Kuntz is in his seventh season with the Nationals and will be participating in his first All-Star Game.

ALL-STAR HISTORY

In both 2010 and 2011, the winning pitcher in the All-Star game was a member of the Washington Nationals. In 2010, Matt Capps struck out one batter in the sixth inning to earn the victory and end the American League’s 13-game win streak. The following year, Tyler Clippard became the first pitcher to win an All-Star game after facing only one batter and allowing a hit to win the All-Star game.

In 2012, the Nationals had the most players selected to the All-Star game in team history when Bryce Harper, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, and Ian Desmond were all chose to represent the National League.

What to Watch for: 7.10.13

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Washington Nationals (46-44) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (45-46)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-3, 3.14) vs. LHP Cliff Lee (10-2, 2.73)

The Nationals look to get back on track behind Gio Gonzalez in a battle of lefties, as they take on Cliff Lee in Philly. Gonzalez is riding a personal three-game winning streak, and his 2.20 ERA since May 11 is the fifth-best in the National League over that stretch.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Desmond SS

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. Werth RF

6. LaRoche 1B

7. Rendon 2B

8. Ramos C

9. Gonzalez LHP

ALL-STARS GALORE

Bryce Harper, Jordan Zimmermann, Davey Johnson and Head Athletic Trainer Lee Kuntz will represent Washington and the National League in the 84th MLB All-Star Game, which will take place on Tuesday, July 16 at Citi Field in New York City. Harper will be both the youngest player in history to start an All-Star Game for the NL and the first player to represent the Nationals in multiple All-Star games (also 2012). Zimmermann currently leads the NL with 12 wins and is 14-0 in his last 22 starts at home dating to May 2012. Ian Desmond has a chance to join them as a Final Vote candidate. You can vote for #DesiIn13 at nationals.com/vote through 4:00 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.

CATT’S MEOW

Stephen Strasburg (sixth, 2.45), Jordan Zimmermann (seventh, 2.57) and Gio Gonzalez (18th, 3.14) all rank among the NL’s top 20 in ERA this season. Among teams with at least three qualified starters, the Strasburg-Zimmermann-Gonzalez triumvirate is baseball’s best as they’ve combined on a 2.72 ERA (104 ER/344.0 IP) this year.

DATE IN D.C. BASEBALL HISTORY

2008 – Left fielder Wily Mo Pena records 11 putouts to establish a Nationals single game record for outfielders in an 11-inning 7-5 setback vs. Arizona.

What to Watch for: 7.8.13

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Washington Nationals (46-42) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (43-46)

RHP Dan Haren (4-9, 6.15) vs. LHP John Lannan (1-3, 5.15)

The Nationals finished a three-game sweep of the Padres to cap their final homestand before the All-Star break with a 5-2 mark. Washington will put its four-game winning streak on the line, opening a four-game set in Philadelphia Monday night before traveling to Miami for the final series of the season’s first half.

There’s plenty of other news in Washington, where Dan Haren will come off the Disabled List to make his first start since June 22. The Nationals placed left-hander Ross Detwiler on the 15-day disabled list earlier this week, and optioned Tyler Moore to Triple-A Syracuse to help make room for Haren. The other spot on the roster will be filled by veteran outfielder Scott Hairston, who was acquired for Ivan Pineyro, a right-handed pitcher who had been in Single-A in the Washington system.

The move was lauded by Nationals Manager Davey Johnson, who was happy with the extra depth he now has from the right side on his bench.

“He’s the kind of player we need,” said Johnson before Monday night’s game. “You need a veteran presence on the bench. He knows the pitchers, knows what he needs to do.”

Hairston certainly knows the Phillies well. He is 12-for-30 (.400) with five doubles and five home runs in his career against tomorrow’s scheduled starter, Cole Hamels. Hairston’s success against lefties (over .500 career slugging percentage) and particularly those in Philadelphia were two of the reasons the Nationals pulled the trigger on the trade prior to this series, according to Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo.

“He fit the parameters of what we were looking for in terms of the history of exactly what he was brought in here to do,” said Rizzo.

One other piece of news broke shortly before the game Monday night. Bryce Harper, already elected as the youngest National League starter in All-Star Game history, has been chosen by captain David Wright to participate in the 2013 Home Run Derby, taking place at 8:00 p.m. ET next Tuesday, July 15. Harper will be joined by Wright as well as Colorado Rockies outfielders Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Desmond SS

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. Werth RF

6. LaRoche 1B

7. Rendon 2B

8. Ramos C

9. Haren RHP

GRAND SLAMMIN’

This is Washington’s second of three visits to the City of Brotherly Love this season, but their second in 19 days. Ian Desmond’s 11th-inning grand slam on June 19 allowed the Nationals to claim the series finale of the three-gamer here, June 17-19. Desmond’s game-winning slam has sparked a 12-6 surge for the Nationals, who have sliced 3.0 games off the Braves lead in the NL East in that span.

GREAT SCOTT!

Scott Hairston is a .244 career hitter with 126 doubles, 103 home runs, 298 RBI and 289 runs scored in 10 big league seasons. He has a trio of 15-homer seasons to his credit, including a career-best 20-home run effort in 2012. Hairston’s average of one homer every 22.3 at-bats ranks 21st among active right-handed hitters (min. 2,500 plate appearances). Hairston was originally drafted in 2001 by Mike Rizzo, who at the time was Arizona’s Director of Scouting. Hairston’s older brother, Jerry Jr., played for the Nationals in 2011.

TRIUMPHANT TRIO

Stephen Strasburg (sixth, 2.45), Jordan Zimmermann (seventh, 2.57) and Gio Gonzalez (16th, 3.14) all rank among the NL’s top 20 in ERA this season. Among teams with at least three qualified starters, the Strasburg-Zimmermann-Gonzalez triumvirate is baseball’s best, as they’ve combined on a 2.67 ERA (104 ER/344.0 IP) this year. St. Louis (2.91 ERA from Adam Wainwright-Shelby Miller-Lance Lynn) and Cincinnati (3.16 ERA from Mike Leake-Mat Latos-Bronson Arroyo) rank second and third, respectively, on that list.

Ramos Returns

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Having spent the past 44 games on the disabled list, Wilson Ramos’ return to the Nationals lineup on Thursday couldn’t have come soon enough, and the catcher wasted no time reasserting himself.

Ramos plated a career-high five RBI (surpassing his previous high of three) capped by a three-run bomb in the seventh that broke open a tie game and helped lift the Nationals to an 8-5 Independence Day win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

“That pitching must have been awful tough down at Potomac,” quipped Davey Johnson, alluding to Ramos’ struggles to regain his offensive prowess during his rehab stint at High-A Potomac prior to his breakout game Thursday.

Ramos took a curtain call from the crowd after his three-run home run Thursday.

Ramos took a curtain call from the crowd after his three-run home run Thursday.

While it was just one swing, one can only imagine how therapeutic it must have been for Ramos, watching the ball sail over the visitor’s bullpen in left field, landing in a sea of red-clad fans.

“It was a great moment,” Ramos said. “I have to keep working. A lot’s happened in my career. A lot of bad moments, a lot of good moments. I have to learn from the bad moments and enjoy the good moments.”

With the well-documented turmoil of his past two years, including a twice-strained hamstring this season, it would have been easy to allow for some degree of rust in his first game action since May 15. No such pardons were necessary on Thursday, however. Instead, in his first pressure situation of the day, Ramos poked a sixth-inning, bases-loaded single up the middle to score Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth.

An even bigger opportunity presented itself again just an inning later. After taking a slider for ball one and waiting out a mound conference, Ramos drove Brandon Kintzler’s second slider over the Brewers bullpen, putting Washington ahead for good.

It was the kind of moment that has been eluding the Nationals for most of the year, a clutch, late-game instant that carries the team to victory. But it wasn’t the kind of moment that’s new to Ramos. Just last season, he drilled a bases-loaded, walk-off single up the middle in an 11-inning, 4-3 win against the Phillies to open NATITUDE Weekend. On June 22, 2011, Ramos capped a five-run ninth inning with a three-run walk-off homer for a 6-5 win over the Mariners, one of the most dramatic triumphs in franchise history.

“You see what the guy has gone through, more than anybody can imagine,” Drew Storen said. “That’s why we were excited to have him back, because he comes up in those big spots. He does big things.”

If his first game back forebears any of what he might achieve this season, Ramos could be the missing piece to the Nationals puzzle as they look to take off in the season’s second half.

Stroke of Fortune

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Sometimes, just when it looks like everything is breaking against you, something that appears to be bad luck instead returns good fortune. In a game that appeared headed the direction that too many have already gone this season, where a couple bits of bad luck tilted a close game against them, the Nationals got just such a break Friday night.

Washington had precious few opportunities against Colorado starter Tyler Chatwood, who looked every part like the pitcher with a 2.33 ERA heading into his start, a number all the more impressive given half of his outings take place at Coors Field. The first of these chances followed a two-out Steve Lombardozzi walk in the second inning. Lombardozzi got a decent jump on Chatwood and appeared to have second base stolen with Kurt Suzuki at the plate, but was called out by second base umpire Rob Drake. Both Lombardozzi and Davey Johnson argued the play to no avail.

Colorado's forced pinch-hit opened the door for Desmond's game-winning home run.

Colorado’s forced pinch-hit opened the door for Desmond’s game-winning home run.

In the top of the fifth, Josh Rutledge hit the ball deep in the hole at shortstop, where Ian Desmond made a tremendous effort just to get to the ball, then had to throw across his body back towards first, his momentum carrying him towards the left field line. His throw arrived just as Rutledge was reaching first, but the runner was called safe. Thankfully, the Nationals would escape the inning with no damage.

In the sixth, following a leadoff single, D.J. LeMahieu took off for second, and it appeared that Kurt Suzuki’s throw might have him nabbed. But again, Drake signaled safe, another bang-bang play against the Nationals. Stephen Strasburg bore down to strike out Carlos Gonzalez and Wilin Rosario to once again avoid trouble, though.

One inning later, another seemingly unfortunate play actually helped set in motion the events that led to Washington’s eventual victory. With two outs in the top of the seventh, in a 1-1 tie, Rutledge – Strasburg’s personal tormenter for the evening – floated a double down the left field line into the corner, becoming the fifth runner in scoring position against the Nationals righty. The hit brought Chatwood’s spot to the plate, and in turn, forced Rockies manager Walt Weiss to pinch-hit for his starter in an attempt to take the lead. That ploy didn’t work, as Ryan Zimmerman chased down a Tyler Colvin pop-up to end the frame.

Furthermore, it resulted in Manuel Corpas enteringfrom the Colorado bullpen for the bottom of the seventh. He drew Desmond as his first assignment, and after missing with a pair of sliders, left a sinker up and out over the plate that Desmond crushed for his third home run in as many nights. The run provided the difference in the 2-1 victory, and marked the ninth of Desmond’s 12 homers that have given the Nationals the lead when they were hit.

That was just enough for Strasburg, who allowed only a single earned run for the sixth consecutive start, but had collected just two wins in the previous five. Instead, this was a win that harkened back to the early parts of last season, when Johnson’s mantra of great pitching, great defense and just enough timely hitting seemed to be enough to win most nights. Even when everything seemed to be breaking bad.

The Walking Dead

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For six innings Wednesday night, as they have much of the season to date, the Nationals struggled to find any sort of offensive rhythm against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick. And then, slowly, piece by piece, the offense collected itself, as the bats awakened just in the nick of time to force extra innings and steal a win to end a long, grinding road trip.

The bats lay dormant, unable to generate anything more than Adam LaRoche‘s second-inning single through six frames. Meanwhile, two batters in, the Phillies were out to a 2-0 lead on the strength of Michael Young’s two-run home run. Gio Gonzalez settled in after that, as he did not allow a hit the rest of the way through seven innings of work. He notched 11 strikeouts, the most he’s ever recorded as a member of the Nationals, matching his career high.

Jayson Werth deilvered a pair of clutch, two-out, RBI-singles to force extra innings.

Jayson Werth deilvered a pair of clutch, two-out, RBI-singles to force extra innings.

Finally, a solid, patient at-bat by Ryan Zimmerman led to a one-out walk in the seventh, and he stood at second base with two outs and Jayson Werth coming to the plate. The former Phillie reached out and rapped a single to right field to score the run and cut the lead in half, a big clutch hit in a season sorely needing more of them.

After a quiet eighth frame, the Nationals would be tasked with trying to deliver Jonathan Papelbon his second blown save in three nights after entering the series a perfect 13-for-13 on the season. Denard Span, whose job in most any situation – but especially this one – is to get on base, did just that, chopping an infield single. He remained at first until, with two outs, LaRoche walked, bringing up Werth once more. He, of the “be ready to eat some face” comment following the tough loss the night before, ripped another two-out, RBI-single, this one to left, as Span flew around third, scoring the tying run without a throw. But, as had been the case Monday night in Papelbon’s blown save on Chad Tracy‘s pinch-hit, two-out, two-strike home run, the Nationals were unable to push ahead. Ian Desmond struck out, stranding runners at the corners, spiking his helmet in frustration.

“After the at-bat against Papelbon, I’m just thinking, ‘Give me one more chance,’” Desmond said after the game.

The Washington bullpen conspired to afford Desmond and the Nationals that opportunity. Tyler Clippard fired an inning and two thirds of scoreless ball, giving way to Ian Krol, who got Dominic Brown – Monday’s hero – to end the bottom of the ninth. After the Nationals offense threatened, but failed to score, in the top of the 10th, Drew Storen fanned a pair and put up a zero in the bottom half, taking the game to the 11th inning.

Ian Desmond's first career grand slam won it in the 11th.

Ian Desmond’s first career grand slam won it in the 11th.

With one out, it was again Zimmerman who got the wheels turning, lacing a low liner to the left-center field wall for a double. That prompted Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and the Phillies to play matchup, deciding to intentionally walk LaRoche to get to the man with both of Washington’s RBI, Werth. An unintentional walk later, the bases were loaded, Desmond stepping to the plate with the second chance he begged for earlier. After falling behind 0-2, the shortstop worked the count back to 2-2, where he annihilated a hanging slider from Michael Stutes into the seats beyond the left-center field wall.

“I did the same thing I always do,” said Desmond when asked about the blast after the game. “See the white ball, put the barrel on it.”

Before Desmond had reached the jubilant visitors dugout, rivers of Phillies fans had already begun streaming for the exits, an actualized shifting of the tides. Rafael Soriano quietly shut the door, and the Nationals returned to Washington with an enormous win and a positive end to their road trip, thanks to perhaps the biggest swing of the season from their shortstop.

“He’s quite a character,” said Nationals skipper Davey Johnson of Desmond. “He’s got a lot of big hits for us in the past.”

It was Desmond’s first career grand slam (and Washington’s first of the season), but he has had plenty of success with the bases loaded, as it was his 17th hit in 40 such at-bats, good for a .425 batting average. The timing and importance of the blast hearkened back to Desmond’s game-winner on May 2, 2012, when he swung a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory with a two-out, walk-off blast off Arizona’s J.J. Putz.

“That’s like how I remember it from last year,” said catcher Kurt Suzuki of the feeling in the dugout after the blast. “It was pretty exciting.”

If Wednesday night’s series finale in Philadelphia turns out to be a microcosm of the 2013 Nationals season, recounting what has happened to date and foreshadowing what lies ahead, we are all in for a nerve-fraying, heart-stopping, hair-graying ride before the year is done. But if the ending portends anything of the future, it will have been worth the ride.

What to Watch for: 6.17.13

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Washington Nationals (34-34) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (33-37)

RHP Dan Haren (4-8, 5.70) vs. LHP John Lannan (0-1, 6.14) 

The Nationals make their first of three trips to Philadelphia this season as they open a three-game set against former teammate John Lannan at Citizens Bank Park. Dan Haren toes the rubber for Washington, as the club looks to push back over the .500 mark for the season.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Kobernus CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Werth RF

5. Desmond SS

6. Marrero 1B

7. Suzuki C

8. Lombardozzi LF

9. Haren RHP

STREAKING SHORTSTOP

Ian Desmond has reached base safely in 18 straight contests, pocketing a .364 batting average (24-for-66) and .417 on-base percentage with five walks, four doubles, three homers, eight runs scored and 13 RBI over that span. Desmond has recorded hits in 16 of the aforementioned 18 games, including a career-best 15-game hit streak. Defensively, Desmond has played a career-high 49 consecutive errorless games (200 total chances) since last committing a miscue on April 21 at New York (NL), marking the longest current streak of its kind among big league shortstops.

MINOR (LEAGUE) VICTORIES

The Hagerstown Suns yesterday secured a postseason berth with a 38-29 (.567) first-half record in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division. Manager Tripp Keister’s Suns have won their last three contests and are 5-1 in their last six games. Last week, Brian Daubach’s Potomac Nationals (42-27, .609) grabbed a postseason spot when they were crowned the Carolina League’s First Half Northern Division Champs.

PHINDING PHOOTING IN PHILLY

Washington is 18-12 (.600) against the Phillies under Davey Johnson, including a 4-1 mark in one-run contests. Before going 10-8 against the Phillies in 2011, the Nationals/Expos had won only two season series from Philadelphia the previous 14 years.

What to Watch for: 6.14.13

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Washington Nationals (33-32) vs. Cleveland Indians (32-33)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.59) vs. RHP Justin Masterson (8-5, 3.68) 

The Nationals come into Cleveland winners of two straight games and two consecutive series, as they have floated back above the .500 mark with 97 games left in the regular season. Although he has not earned a win in his last six outings, Gio Gonzalez has compiled a 2.27 ERA over that span entering tonight’s series opener.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Bernadina LF

3. Zimmerman DH

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Werth RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Tracy 3B

8. Suzuki C

9. Lombardozzi 2B

Gonzalez LHP

GIO BE GOOD

Gio Gonzalez’s 5-0 career mark (six starts) against Cleveland is tops among active players. Additionally, he is the only pitcher to have made as many as four starts at Progressive Field without suffering a no-decision or loss, going 4-0 with a 0.68 ERA (2 ER/26.2 IP) in his four outings at this ballpark.

GETTING OFFENSIVE

Washington has won four of its last five games, during which the club has batted .292 (49-for-168), averaged 5.0 runs/game (25 runs total) and 4.4 walks/game (22 walks total). The Nationals have gone 15-for-48 (.313) with runners in scoring position in their last five contests.

ALL-STAR NOD

It was announced yesterday that Davey Johnson will serve as a coach on Bruce Bochy’s staff for the 84th All-Star Game, which will be played July 16 at Citi Field in New York. Johnson, the National League Manager of the Year in 2012, skippered the New York Mets from 1984-2000 and guided the Mets to a World Championship in 1986. This marks his seventh All-Star appearance, as he managed the NL in ‘87, coached under Whitey Herzog in ‘86, and was a four-time All-Star as a player (‘68-70, ‘73).

One Good Ross Deserves Another

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The Nationals were expecting a lift from a player named Ross in this Colorado series, but it came a day earlier than anticipated. With the club slated to get Ross Detwiler back off the Disabled List on Thursday, it was Ross Ohlendorf – summoned from Triple-A Syracuse for a spot-start against a strong Rockies lineup at Coors Field – who provided an enormous performance Wednesday night.

Ohlendorf allowed just a single run on two hits over six innings of work as the Nationals emerged with a 5-1 victory to get back to the .500 mark at 32-32. The right-hander had enjoyed recent success at Syracuse, where he compiled a 1.56 ERA and 27 strikeouts over his final 17.1 innings of work. But his performance against the Rockies exceeded all reasonable expectations.

Ross Ohlendorf delivered a huge performance Wednesday night.

Ross Ohlendorf delivered a huge performance Wednesday night.

“I’ve been feeling really good all season,” said Ohlendorf, who has experienced a spike in his velocity and has seen his slider improve lately. “It’s the best I’ve felt in a long time.”

Ohlendorf had not pitched at Coors Field since July 28, 2010, when he was a member of the Pirates. With two outs in the first inning of that contest, Troy Tulowitzki ripped a liner back up the middle and off Ohledorf’s head, knocking him out of the ballgame. Nearly three years later, Ohlendorf took control in Denver.

“He used all his pitches, he went right after them,” said Davey Johnson when asked the most impressive aspect of the right-hander’s performance. “That ain’t easy in this ballpark.”

Johnson went on to indicate what the club made official today, that Ohlendorf’s tenure with the Nationals would last longer than just last night’s six sparkling innings.

“I’m going to try to find a way to keep him around,” Johnson said.

As Detwiler returns for Thursday’s start, the Nationals chose instead to option right-handed reliever Erik Davis to Triple-A Syracuse, where he will be available when the big league team again needs his services. Meanwhile, Ohlendorf will remain as the long man and emergency starter out of the Washington bullpen, giving the Nationals a Major League first.

With Detwiler’s activation, the Nationals become the first Major League team to ever employ a pair of players named Ross (though Ohlendorf’s first name is actually Curtis – Ross is his middle name). But that’s not the first bit of MLB history the two Ross’s have made. Detwiler’s first Major League start came at home against Pittsburgh on May 18, 2009, where he was opposed by none other than Ohlendorf, making them the first two players named Ross ever to face-off against one another in the Majors.

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