Results tagged ‘ Denard Span ’

What to Watch for: 9.7.13

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Washington Nationals (71-69) vs. Miami Marlins (53-86)

RHP Tanner Roark (4-0, 1.19) vs. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (3-5, 3.40) 

Tanner Roark has found himself in the right place at the right time often in his first stint in the big leagues. He collected four wins in his first six appearances, all out of the bullpen. Of course, that isn’t to say he hasn’t earned the victories. The right-hander had allowed just three earned runs in 22.2 innings of work over nine outings, striking out 19 while walking just seven over that span. All of that led Davey Johnson to hand Roark the ball for his first big league start tonight in Miami.

In addition to his effectiveness, one other piece of statistical information stands out about Roark. He has needed just 313 pitches to record his first 68 outs as a Major Leaguer, a rate of 13.81 pitches per inning. The Major League leader among qualifying starters in that department in Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo at 14.13 P/IP, with Jordan Zimmermann leading Nationals starters at 14.54, seventh-lowest in the majors. Even with something around an 80-pitch limit tonight, if Roark can continue his efficient ways, he may still be able to give the Nationals five or six innings of work.

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. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Tanner Roark RHP

ATTENTION: SPAN

Denard Span has hit safely in a career-high 17 straight games at a .406 (28-for-69) clip with five walks, three doubles, 2 triples, a homer, 11 runs scored and 5 RBI. Span’s surge has raised his batting average from .258 to .278. The leadoff man’s 17 game streak is the longest active streak in MLB and the longest by a National this season.

20-20 VISION

Ian Desmond – via his 20-homer, 18-stolen bag effort so far – is on the cusp of posting the third 20-homer, 20-stolen base season by a National. Washington’s previous two 20-20 campaigns came from Desmond himself (25 HR, 21 SB) in ‘12 and Alfonso Soriano (46 HR, 41 SB) in ‘06.

SECOND HARVEST

A quick look at the Nationals’ 3 farm clubs taking part in the MiLB Postseason:

• Harrisburg (AA) - Lead series vs. Erie (DET), 2-1 – Best-of-five series resumes tonight in Harrisburg.

• Potomac (A) - Swept Lynchburg (ATL), 2-0 – Will face Salem (BOS) for the Mills Cup Championship, starting Saturday night at Pfitzner Stadium.

• Hagerstown (A) - Series vs. West Virginia (PIT), tied at 1-1 – Best-of-three series concludes tonight in Hagerstown.

Getting Defensive

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To this point in the season, Denard Span’s diving grab in deep left-center field at Nationals Park with two on and two out in the ninth on August 14 has been the signature defensive moment of the year. But Wednesday night in Philadelphia, the Nationals made not one, but two game-saving plays, with each coming from unlikely sources.

The Nationals had just scratched out a run in the top of the eighth to take a 3-2 lead, when, in the bottom half of the frame, the Phillies put runners at first and second with two outs. Speedy leadoff man Cesar Hernandez chopped a ball to the right side of the infield, which Adam LaRoche made a play for, but could not reach. Steve Lombardozzi was shifting to his left at a deeper angle and tracked the ball down on the lip of the outfield grass, but with LaRoche moving away from first, the only person left to cover the bag was pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. As the footrace to the base began, it became clear that if Washington couldn’t get the final out of the inning, John Mayberry Jr. was going to score the tying run from second. Zimmermann and Hernandez converged at first, as Lombardozzi’s throw came in low. The pitcher simultaneously found the bag with his right foot and picked the ball on a short-hop out of the dirt, beating the runner by a fraction of a step to end the frame.

“I was just hoping Lombo was going to hit me in the chest,” explained Zimmermann after the game, then took the chance to rib his teammate. “Instead, he threw it at my feet and made it interesting.”

As for the dig out of the dirt, Zimmermann credited the one man on the right side of the infield not in on the play, tongue still in cheek.

“I’ve gotta give a lot of credit to Rochey. He taught me everything I know.”

Even Zimmermann that he wasn’t looking at the ball all the way into his glove on the play, as the replay showed his head was “in the third deck” as he made the play. Craig Stammen, who would play a role in the second defensive gem of the night, wasn’t about to let his teammate off the hook so easily.

“I told him, ‘Nice play, you should have seen it,’” joked the right-hander, who came on to get the final two outs of the eighth.

Those two outs would come on the same play, but in truly unique, bizarre fashion. In fact, with all the baseball he’s seen in his 70 years on the planet, this one was new even to manager Davey Johnson.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever seen a double play that way,” he said.

With one out and runners at the corners, Stammen bounced a two-strike slider to Darin Ruf, who swung and missed for strike three. With a runner at first, Ruf could not attempt to advance, marking the second out of the frame. But the ball skipped away to catcher Jhonatan Solano’s left, with the runner, Chase Utley, breaking for home. Solano raced to corral the ball, in foul territory slightly up the third base line, but when he glanced up to see if Stammen was at the plate in time for the tag, he elected instead to try to make the play himself, diving towards Utley – who was diving toward the plate – and applying the tag to Utley’s midsection just before the runner’s hands crossed the plate.

Together, they formed two tremendous, non-traditional defensive gems, the first saving the go-ahead run from scoring and the second preventing the game-tying run from crossing the plate. They added up to a crucial victory, giving Washington the road series win in Philadelphia as they continue this crucial, three-city September road trip.

What to Watch for: 9.4.13

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Washington Nationals (71-68) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (63-76)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (15-8, 3.33) vs. RHP Roy Halladay (2-4, 7.94)

It wasn’t until this week that Jayson Werth finally amassed enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, his name suddenly appearing in the middle of stat packs across the National League. Perhaps that’s part of the reason his season, at age 34, has flown under the radar to some degree. But if Werth can continue to stay hot over the season’s final three weeks, he may etch his name into the baseball history books.

Entering play on Wednesday night in Philadelphia, following his team-leading 40th multi-hit game of the season on Tuesday, Werth was batting .321, just nine points off the league lead, held by the Braves Chris Johnson. But back to those multi-hit games – Werth has only played in 106 contests this season, due to a few lingering, minor injuries early on. That means he has collected multiple hits in 37.73 percent of his games, trailing only St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter (39.85) in such a percentage among the National League’s top 20 in multi-hit performances.

Not a fan of batting average as a metric? Werth’s .396 on-base percentage ranks fifth in the NL, his .526 slugging percentage fourth. A mechanical change in his approach – lifting his hands higher, so that they don’t have to travel up, then down through his swing – has helped him shorten the time from decision to contact, and the results speak for themselves.

“I think he’s a better hitter than he was over here,” said Nationals Manager Davey Johnson, referring to Werth’s days in Philadelphia. “He’s as good as I’ve ever seen him.”

Since July 1, Werth is batting .367/.451/.607 over a span of 233 plate appearances. If he continued at that pace for the season’s final 24 games, he would get 100 more plate appearances and finish at .330 (actually .3297, or 153-for-464), almost exactly what Atlanta’s Johnson is batting today. It will be another race worth keeping an eye on over the season’s final few weeks. 

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Adam LaRoche 1B

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Wilson Ramos C

7. Corey Brown LF

8. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Jordan Zimmermann RHP

I TOOK A WALK

The Nationals drew a season-high nine walks, two with the bases loaded, en route to their 9-6 triumph over the Phillies. Adam LaRoche accounted for three of the free passes, including the second of the back-to-back walks that scored runs.

ATTENTION SPAN

Denard Span has hit safely in a career-high 16 straight games at a .415 (27-for-65) clip with five walks, three doubles, two triples, a homer, 10 runs scored and five RBI. Span’s surge has raised his season batting average from .258 to .278. He is currently tied with Adam LaRoche, (May 2-19) for the longest hit streak by a National in 2013.

SECOND HARVEST

Starting tonight, three Washington farm clubs will begin postseason play:

• Harrisburg (AA) - Eastern League West Division Champions – vs. Erie (DET)

• Potomac (A) - Carolina League North Division Champions – vs. Lynchburg (ATL)

• Hagerstown (A) - South Atlantic League North Division Champions (first half) – at West Virginia (PIT)

What to Watch for: 9.2.13

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Washington Nationals (69-67) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (62-75)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.96) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (6-13, 3.58)

The Nationals staved off a sweep with a three-run eighth inning to complete a 6-5, come-from-behind win over the Mets to help them close back within 6.5 games of the final postseason spot with 26 games remaining in the regular season. Washington hits the road for a crucial 10-game swing through Philadelphia (3), Miami (3) and New York (4) beginning tonight. Stephen Strasburg and Cole Hamels match up in the series opener at Citizens Bank Park.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Bryce Harper CF

2. Scott Hairston LF

3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

A WERTH-Y NAME ENTERS NL BATTING CHASE

After missing 28 games earlier this season due to a right hamstring strain, Jayson Werth finally appears among National League batting leaders. Werth’s .323 batting average currently ranks fourth in the Senior Circuit and trails only Michael Cuddyer (.328), Chris Johnson (.329) and Yadier Molina (.333).

ATTENTION SPAN

Denard Span has hit safely in a career-high 15 straight games at a .407 (24-for-59) clip with five walks, two doubles, two triples, a homer, eight runs scored and 5 RBI, Span’s surge has raised his batting average from .258 to .275. This marks the fifth double-digit hit streak of Span’s career. The longest streak posted by a Nationals player in ‘13: Adam LaRoche, 16 games (May 2-19).

BETTER BALL

At 17-11 (.607), the Nationals have the NL’s 3rd-best record in since August 1st…a closer look:

1. Dodgers: 24-6 (.800)

2. Braves: 20-8 (.714)

3. Nationals: 17-11 (.607)

What to Watch for: 9.1.13

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New York Mets (62-72) vs. Washington Nationals (68-67)

LHP Jonathon Niese (6-6, 3.69) vs. RHP Ross Ohlendorf (3-0, 2.49)

Due to ESPN’s selection for its Sunday Night Baseball telecast, the first pitch for tonight’s game will be at 8:06 p.m. The Center Field Gate will open at 5:30 p.m. In addition, Kids Run the Bases will not take place due to the later game time. Fans should plan their travel accordingly, keeping in mind that Metro’s last train to all stations will depart Navy Yard at 11:20 p.m. 

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Bryce Harper CF

2. Anthony Rendon 2B

3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Wilson Ramos C

7. Tyler Moore 1B

8. Scott Hairston LF

9. Ross Ohlendorf RHP

ATTENTION: SPAN

With three hits last night, Denard Span extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games. During the streak, Span has hit at a .397 clip (20-for-53) with five walks,  two doubles, two triples, a homer, seven runs scored and five RBI. This is the fifth double-digit hit streak of Span’s career and two games longer than his previous career-high, a 12-gamer accomplished while with the Twins from April 18-May 1, 2012.

GULF CHAMPS

After a record-setting regular season that saw them post a 49-9 record, the best mark ever by a stateside minor league affiliate, the Gulf Coast League Nationals swept through the playoffs, winning all three games en route to the title. They won their semifinal game 6-1 over the GCL Pirates on Friday, then beat the GCL Red Sox 10-3 and 7-2 over the past two days to win the best-of-three Championship Series.

20-20 VISION

Ian Desmond – via his 20-homer, 18-stolen bag effort so far – is on the cusp of posting the third 20-homer, 20-stolen base season by a National. Washington’s previous two 20-20 campaigns came from Desmond (25 HR, 21 SB) in ‘12 and Alfonso Soriano (46 HR, 41 SB) in ‘06.

What to Watch for: 8.31.13

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New York Mets (61-72) vs. Washington Nationals (68-66)

RHP Zack Wheeler (6-3) vs. RHP Dan Haren (8-11, 4.66) 

The Nationals have won eight of their last 10, but dropped last night’s series opener to the Mets. Washington will look to get back into the win column tonight, as Dan Haren takes the mound. Haren is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA (4 ER/20.0 IP) over his last three home starts, including a 4-1 win over the Mets on July 27.

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. Wilson Ramos C

8. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Dan Haren RHP

IN THE HUNT

Now with enough plate appearances to qualify, Jayson Werth’s .325 batting average ranks third in the National League, behind just Yadier Molina (.330) and Chris Johnson (.326). Since July 1, Werth’s .380 average has paced the National League, while Victor Martinez (.391) leads the Majors.

ATTENTION: SPAN

By legging out an infield single in the eighth inning, Denard Span extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games. During the streak, Span has hit at a .377 clip (20-for-53) with two doubles, two triples, a homer, four RBI, six runs scored and five walks. This is the fifth double-digit hit streak of Span’s career. He has topped his previous career-high 12-game hit streak, accomplished while with the Twins from April 18-May 1, 2012.

SECOND HARVEST

Of the Nationals 6 domestic farm clubs, 4 have secured spots in the Minor League postseason: Harrisburg (Double-A, Eastern League), Potomac Nationals (High-A, Carolina League), Hagerstown Suns (Low-A, South Atlantic League) and the GCL Nationals (Rookie, Gulf Coast League).

What to Watch for: 8.28.13

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Miami Marlins (49-81) vs. Washington Nationals (66-65)

RHP Henderson Alvarez (2-3, 3.86) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 3.00) 

A two-run burst in the first inning was enough for the Nationals to secure a victory in last night’s series opener with the Marlins. Stephen Strasburg takes the mound tonight, as the Washington looks for its seventh win in its last eight contests. Strasburg is 3-1 with a 0.73 ERA in five home starts this season against National League East rivals, while Washington is 4-0 at home this season against the Fish.

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. Wilson Ramos C

8. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

MOVE OVER CHUCK

With Tuesday’s 2-1 home win, Davey Johnson earned his 1,352th career victory and moved into a tie for 28th place on the all-time managerial win list with Chuck Tanner. Wilbert Robinson ranks 27th on the same list with 1,397 career managerial wins. Tanner (1,352-1,381, .495) managed the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves for 19 seasons and is best remembered for piloting the 1979 Pirates’ World Championship campaign.

ATTENTION: SPAN

Denard Span has hit safely in a season-high 10 straight games at a .395 clip (17-for-43) with three walks, a double, two triples, a homer, five runs scored and four RBI. This is the fifth double-digit hit streak of Span’s career. He hit safely in a career-best 12 consecutive games while with the Twins from April 18-May 1, 2012. Bryce Harper is 15-for-37 (.405) with six walks, five doubles, a homer, seven runs scored and six RBI during his current nine-game hit streak. Harper has yet to register a double-digit hit streak at a big leaguer.

DOWN ON THE FARM

The .554 winning percentage (404-325) posted by the Nationals Minor League system ranks third among Major League Baseball’s 30 franchises behind only San Francisco (.574) and Houston (.573). The Nationals system has registered a winning record in each of the last five seasons (2008-12), but has never finished among the top five.

What to Watch for: 8.27.13

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Miami Marlins (49-80) vs. Washington Nationals (65-65)

RHP Nathan Eovaldi (2-4, 3.82) vs. RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 2.58)

With a successful 6-4 road trip behind them, the Nationals begin a six-game homestand tonight with the first of three against Miami, whom they swept at home to open the season. Washington has won 11 of its last 16 games, and looks to continue its winning ways with its next 19 contests coming against the Marlins (49-80), New York Mets (58-71) and Philadelphia Phillies (60-71).

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. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Ross Ohlendorf RHP

AUGUST HEAT

After struggling offensively for much of 2013, the Nationals rank third in the National League in runs per game in the month of August. Washington has scored 108 runs in 22 games this month (4.9 per game). Only the St. Louis Cardinals (5.4 runs in 25 August contests) and Arizona Diamondbacks (5.0 in 23 games) have scored more profusely than the Nationals this month. 

GOING STREAKING

With Sunday’s four-hit effort at Kauffman Stadium, Denard Span has hit safely in nine straight games, at a .400 clip (16-for-40) with two walks, a double, two triples, a homer, five runs and four RBI. Span is in search of his first double-digit hit streak as a member of the Nationals. Meanwhile, Bryce Harper is 13-for-33 (.394) with six walks, five doubles, a homer, six runs scored and six RBI during his current eight-game hit streak. Harper has yet to register a double-digit hit streak at a big leaguer.

GOOD WOOD

The Nationals are 5-1 and have scored at least four runs in each of their last six games, during which they are batting .314 (72-for-229) with 28 walks, 14 doubles, two triples, and nine home runs, all of which have yielded a .387 on-base percentage, a .511 slugging percentage and an .898 OPS. Washington has also gone (.316, 18-for-57) with runners in scoring position in the same six-game span.

A Walk Through History

From left to right, Tarasco, Span, Desmond and Hairston pose with a statue of Buck Leonard.

From left to right, Tarasco, Span, Desmond and Hairston pose with a statue of Buck Leonard.

Prior to their contest with the Royals on Saturday, members of the Nationals were invited on a special visit to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. NLBM President Bob Kendrick – successor to the late, great, John “Buck” O’Neil – led the guided tour, while Ian Desmond, Scott Hairston, Denard Span and Tony Tarasco learned about the history of the Negro Leagues and the players that were among the best of all time.

Kendrick’s charming, spirited storytelling painted a beautiful portrait for a touring group and attracted as many as 40 other guests to join along, as he described everything from the speed of James “Cool Papa” Bell to the harsh travel conditions players had to deal with during an era of oppressive segregation.

A poignant, personal moment marked the highlight of the trip, when Hairston saw a showcased photograph of his grandfather, Sam, a star on the Indianapolis Clowns in the late 1940s. With his wife and two young sons in tow, Hairston was able to share a special moment with his family following the guided portion of the tour.

Sam Hairston, grandfather of Scott.

Sam Hairston, grandfather of Scott.

“It’s a very proud feeling – and also very emotional for me, because this is the first time I’ve been here,” Hairston said. “It’s really nice, especially for my kids and wife to see. Not only is it the history of our family, but it’s American history.”

Span, who visited Kansas City many times as a member of the Minnesota Twins, also paid his first visit to the museum. He said he learned a lot on the tour, and was thankful for the opportunity to be there.

“It definitely surpassed what I could have imagined,” Span said of the visit. “I enjoyed the stories about Josh Gibson and all the home runs, and how he was called the ‘Black Babe Ruth’ and Babe Ruth was called the ‘White Josh Gibson.’ The record books would have been written differently if those guys had been able to play in the big leagues, but I still feel like the Negro Leagues played a big part in society.”

Span was struck by the contrast between the five-star accommodations that players enjoy in today’s game and the hardships Negro League players faced to even find hotels that would accept them as paying guests.

“Those guys rode on broken-down buses and probably stayed in one-star hotels, if that, but they still found joy in playing the game that they loved,” Span said. “That just signifies that whole league and the character of those players.”

At the conclusion of the visit, the Nationals presented Kendrick and the Museum with a signed No. 32 Nationals jersey, the number worn by Hall of Fame first baseman Buck Leonard when he played for the Homestead Grays. Tonight, the Nationals will take the field wearing throwback Grays jerseys, facing the Kansas City Monarchs in commemoration of the 1942 Negro World Series.

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is located near the intersection of historic 18th and Vine, just east of downtown Kansas City.

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.

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