Results tagged ‘ Houston Astros ’

Five Astounding Facts

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The Nationals began their 2012 campaign exactly two weeks ago, at the hallowed grounds of Wrigley Field. Since then, they have packed as much gut-wrenching, will-testing excitement into the beginning of their season as any fan could hope for. If you still have fingernails left, scroll down and take a look at five of the most astounding facts of the young season so far, then vote for your favorite in the poll at the end of the post.

The display put on by Jordan Zimmermann and company is no mirage.

Make Your Best Pitch: The Nationals Staff

The pitching staff has a collective 1.92 ERA through the first 13 games, more than a half-run better than the next closest team in the league. Nats pitchers have allowed just two home runs while striking out 121 batters in 122 innings, both best in the game. Edwin Jackson – the author of the most impressive individual outing of the year to date – has the HIGHEST ERA in the rotation at 2.57, which also includes Stephen Strasburg (1.42), Jordan Zimmermann (1.29) and Ross Detwiler (0.90). Fellow newcomer Gio Gonzalez, meanwhile, has been downright unhittable at home in D.C. His modest line through two starts at Nationals Park: 14.0 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 15 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP.

Crazy 8’s: Runs in 8th inning or later

Washington has scored 17 of its 49 runs this season (35% of the offense) in the eighth inning or later. The Nationals used the eighth inning to power themselves to victory once again on Wednesday, scoring the decisive pair of runs to flip a 2-1 deficit to a 3-2 victory.

One-Run Fun: Plenty of one-run games

The Nationals have played 13 games so far in 2012. Eight of those contests have been decided by a single run, with Washington owning a 5-3 record in such

affairs. Washington did not play its eighth one-run game in 2011 until May 12, the 37th game of the season. The experience gained from these pressure-packed battles should serve the club well as the season unfolds.

The first two weeks of the season have been nothing, if not exciting.

Comeback To Me: Come-from-behind wins

The Nationals have trailed early and come from behind in half of their 10 wins thus far. That’s right, five of the team’s 10 wins have been of the come-from-behind variety. In fact, the team has led at some point in all but two games so far – the near-comeback on the third day of the season against the Cubs, after trimming a four-run deficit to one, and the near-sweep of Cincinnati, when Washington climbed out of a five-run hole to force extra innings, only to fall in 11 frames.

First!: Quickest team to 10 wins

As Henry Rodriguez took just seven pitches to close out the Astros in the ninth inning on Wednesday, the Nationals finished off their 10th win before the Texas Rangers could put away the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. That meant that Washington was the first team in Major League Baseball to hit the double-digit win mark. As the Dodgers lost Wednesday night in Milwaukee, the Nationals own the best record in the National League.

Rounding Out The Roles

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There will be days like this, in 2012. Days when Stephen Strasburg is not on the mound, when the middle of the lineup, the brand name stars, do not carry the offense. And while it may not feel this way, these games will count just as much as the ones that get all the attention. If the Nationals are to make this season a successful one, they’ll have to win these games too, just as they did on Monday, when John Lannan and Roger Bernadina led the way in a 7-4 victory over the Astros in Viera.

As manager Davey Johnson is still trying to figure out his final outfield roster for Opening Day, Bernadina is making a strong late push for more playing time. After a fairly quiet spring, “The Shark” has flipped the switch over the last two games, combining to go 5-for-6 with a walk, two home runs and six RBI. A suddenly dialed-in Bernadina could go a long way in extending the depth of the lineup with Michael Morse still in question for Opening Day.

MLB Network was on hand for Washington's 7-4 win over Houston on Monday.

Bernadina thanks hitting coach Rick Eckstein for helping him with an adjustment that he credits with the difference in his performance.

“I’ve been working on my direction towards the field,” Bernadina explained after thumping a two-run shot to deep right-center in his final at-bat Monday. “For me, it’s just the key. When I’m coming off, pulling off pitches, I have no chance at breaking balls, off-speed pitches.”

It’s not just the timing of his swing that is on track right now. He couldn’t have picked a better time to start hitting, with just over a week left before the beginning of the regular season.

“It’s always good to get going at the end (of Spring Training),” he admitted. “Definitely.”

As for one of the other most talked-about competitions in camp, the fifth starter role is officially Lannan’s. Johnson made the announcement even before Lannan earned his second win of the spring with five solid innings of work, over which he allowed a couple runs while fanning five. He will give the Nationals a second lefty – along with Gio Gonzalez – to complement righties Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson. The decision also means Ross Detwiler, who followed Lannan’s start on Monday, will come of out the bullpen as the swing-man in April.

We also got our first look at a save situation since Johnson announced Drew Storen may not be ready in time for Opening Day. Henry Rodriguez, who earned a pair of saves last season, put the Astros away quietly to preserve the victory.

We’ll have details tomorrow on the par-3 challenge that a good number of the players and coaches are participating in Monday evening. For now, here are the team’s results to date:

vs. Georgetown (exhibition) – W, 3-0

@ Houston – L, 3-1

vs. Houston – L, 10-2

@ New York (NL) – W, 3-1

@ Atlanta – W, 5-2

vs. St. Louis – T, 3-3

vs. Houston – W, 8-0

@ Miami – L, 3-0

vs. New York (NL) – W, 8-2

@ Detroit – T, 5-5

@ St. Louis – Canceled (rain)

vs. St. Louis – W, 8-4

vs. Detroit – L, 6-3

@ Atlanta – L, 6-5

vs. New York (AL) – L, 8-5

@ New York (AL) – L, 4-3 (10)

vs. Miami – T, 1-1

vs. Detroit – L, 11-7

@ New York (NL) – L, 2-0

vs. Atlanta – L, 3-2 (10)

@ St. Louis – L, 9-0

@ Houston – L, 5-1

@ Baltimore – L, 12-3

vs. New York (NL) – W, 12-0

vs. Houston – W, 7-4

@ Miami – Tuesday, 1:05pm

Overall Record: 7-13-3

Show of Good Faith

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All week long – or really ever since the Nationals had last won a Spring Training game, a week ago Monday over the St. Louis Cardinals – manager Davey Johnson has been repeating the same line about his offense: give it time. He attributed the inconsistency to the fact that the regulars weren’t playing much. With a few positions still to be decided in camp, many of the potential bench or Triple-A players were getting most of the at-bats and, in turn, a chance to prove themselves. Johnson kept pointing to one day, Sunday, when the team would return to Viera and the regulars would return to the lineup, as the day we would get a better look at the real 2012 Nationals. As we have mentioned before, “Viera” means faith – Johnson had it in his hitters, and they did not disappoint upon returning to their Spring Training home.

The team gathered for batting practice the morning before Sunday's game.

The entire team took batting practice in the cages behind the right field wall here at Space Coast Stadium at 10:30 this morning, and it didn’t take long for that work to translate on the field. With Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche still out of the lineup battling minor injuries, the focus was really on the top four hitters in the lineup: Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth. The four combined to go home run, double, double, home run to open the game Sunday, staking Stephen Strasburg to a 4-0 lead before Matt Harvey and the Mets could even record an out. Roger Bernadina added a solo shot to cap a five-run first inning and Washington cruised to a 12-0 shutout.

In all, four Nationals homered and five logged multi-hit games, as they took advantage of the wind, which was blowing strongly out to left field, the reverse of the normal jet stream here in Viera. Werth’s was the biggest shot of them all, a monstrous blast that cleared the wall, the berm, the tiki hut behind that, and evidently hit Werth’s own truck, parked near the outer reaches of stadium property.

“I think that thing landed in a lake, or something,” mused Johnson. “That ball was absolutely crushed. That’s the hardest ball I’ve seen him hit since I’ve been here.”

We’ll follow up with Werth tomorrow and see what kind of damage he did to his own vehicle. Regardless, it provided a major shot in the arm for a team that needed one.

The Nationals filled up the scorecard on Sunday, especially over the first three innings.

Yes, it’s Spring Training. And yes, as Johnson has been saying all week, these games don’t count. Nevertheless, with the skipper pointing time and time again to this day as an indicator, as the time to judge the offense and the team in general, the Nationals couldn’t have picked a better day to snap out of their slide with a statement game. You know, for a Spring Training game.

We’re back at Space Coast again on Monday as Washington plays host to the Houston Astros. Here are the Nats results to date:

vs. Georgetown (exhibition) – W, 3-0

@ Houston – L, 3-1

vs. Houston – L, 10-2

@ New York (NL) – W, 3-1

@ Atlanta – W, 5-2

vs. St. Louis – T, 3-3

vs. Houston – W, 8-0

@ Miami – L, 3-0

vs. New York (NL) – W, 8-2

@ Detroit – T, 5-5

@ St. Louis – Canceled (rain)

vs. St. Louis – W, 8-4

vs. Detroit – L, 6-3

@ Atlanta – L, 6-5

vs. New York (AL) – L, 8-5

@ New York (AL) – L, 4-3 (10)

vs. Miami – T, 1-1

vs. Detroit – L, 11-7

@ New York (NL) – L, 2-0

vs. Atlanta – L, 3-2 (10)

@ St. Louis – L, 9-0

@ Houston – L, 5-1

@ Baltimore – L, 12-3

vs. New York (NL) – W, 12-0

vs. Houston – Sunday, 1:05pm

Overall Record: 6-13-3

One Up, One Down

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It was bound to happen eventually. As good as Gio Gonzalez had looked so far in Spring Training up until Thursday’s contest with the Cardinals, he finally had a bad day. Arguably his best performance of the spring – where he shut out the Red Birds on two hits, striking out two without walking a batter over four innings of work 11 days prior – was wiped from the record books when that game was cancelled due to rain before reaching the fifth inning. Unfortunately for Gio, this is the one that will stick on his stat line, as he absorbed his first loss of the spring in a 9-0 defeat.

It was a good day to remember that these games don’t matter in the standings, something Gonzalez was keenly aware of.

When the Nationals play the Cardinals, there is plenty of red both on the scoreboard and in the stands.

“You’re going to have some of those days,” he said. “The great part about today was that it was Spring Training.”

And if a rough outing in March can translate into a smooth start in August or September against the defending champs, well, the Nationals will certainly take that trade-off. As for the result itself, manager Davey Johnson wasn’t too worried. With the team playing the first of three consecutive road games, the lineup was devoid of many of its regular starters, as players receive alternating days off from the rigors of Grapefruit League travel.

“These are kind of the doldrums of spring,” Johnson explained. “When we come home (to Viera), I’ll be starting guys for nine innings more frequently in the lineup.”

The skipper had a sense of humor about the game as well.

“I don’t want (our guys) peaking too early,” he said, then quipped, “they’re not.”

In other Gio news, earlier this week he learned his assignment as the number two starter, following Stephen Strasburg who’ll toe the rubber on Opening Day vs. the Cubs. The whole point of landing Gonzalez in the offseason trade was to have a power lefty to slot in between the club’s young righties, Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. That appears to be exactly where Gio will fit as the rotation begins its first turn at Wrigley Field in Chicago in just under two weeks.

Gonzalez will follow in the rotation behind Strasburg, who was named the Opening Day starter.

We have one other note from an otherwise largely note-less afternoon. Another oddity of Spring Training came on a routine ground ball from former National Alex Cora in the sixth inning. Cora grounded into a force out, with Minor League second baseman Seth Bynum shuffling the ball to shortstop Andres Blanco at second base. There was nothing remarkable about the play itself, except that #13 (Cora) hit the ball to #13 (Bynum), who made the putout to #13 (Blanco). With the additional Minor Leaguers filling out the roster for the road game, there are often double-ups on jersey numbers, as players keep their assigned jerseys from Minor League camp. Still, it’s unusual to see three players wearing the same number involved in the same play.

The Nationals will play the second of those three straight road games against Houston in Kissimmee on Friday afternoon. Here are the team’s results to date:

vs. Georgetown (exhibition) – W, 3-0

@ Houston – L, 3-1

vs. Houston – L, 10-2

@ New York (NL) – W, 3-1

@ Atlanta – W, 5-2

vs. St. Louis – T, 3-3

vs. Houston – W, 8-0

@ Miami – L, 3-0

vs. New York (NL) – W, 8-2

@ Detroit – T, 5-5

@ St. Louis – Canceled (rain)

vs. St. Louis – W, 8-4

vs. Detroit – L, 6-3

@ Atlanta – L, 6-5

vs. New York (AL) – L, 8-5

@ New York (AL) – L, 4-3 (10)

vs. Miami – T, 1-1

vs. Detroit – L, 11-7

@ New York (NL) – L, 2-0

vs. Atlanta – L, 3-2 (10)

@ St. Louis – L, 9-0

@ Houston – Friday, 1:05pm

Overall Record: 5-11-3

Weekly Review (3/12)

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Here at Curly W Live, we will be conducting a weekly review every Tuesday morning of all the storylines from the week that was. If you’re new to the site or have just been too busy to stay current with all the day-to-day storylines, this is your way to get caught up on everything going on with the team.

The Nationals snagged their first win of Spring Training at the home of the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Digital Domain Park. The ballpark was reminiscent of a little slice of New York, though it still featured its share of local flavor. The team went from there to Lake Buena Vista on Tuesday to match up with the Braves for the first time this Spring, again earning a victory. Mark DeRosa flashed good early signs of progress from the wrist injury that has hampered him the past two years and everyone enjoyed some old school, live musical entertainment at the ballpark.

On Wednesday, Carlos Maldonado hit a two-run, ninth-inning home run to force a 3-3 tie with the defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Living legend Peter Gammons was on hand for the baseball anomaly and lent his thoughts on the 2012 Nationals. Single game tickets went on sale to the general public at 10am Thursday, as fans lined up outside the box office in D.C. Meanwhile, the Nationals played their best game of the Spring to date, shutting out the Houston Astros by a count of 8-0. Washington finally saw its unbeaten streak come to an end at four games with a 3-0 shutout at the hands of Miami on Friday. We paid a visit to Minor League camp and got some perspective from coaches and coordinators on a number of young prospects, including pitcher Alex Meyer.

Saturday brought the first split-squad action of the spring, as the Nationals won their home game over the Mets and rallied late for their second tie of the Grapefruit League schedule, against the Tigers in Lakeland. As one of the minor leaguers called up to fill out the roster for the New York game, Michael Taylor experienced the highs and lows of professional baseball in one trip around the bases. The weekend was capped by a rainout, as Gio Gonzalez’s four scoreless innings were wiped from the record books, leading us to make a Train pun that was too easy to pass up.

Record for the week: 4-1-2 (one rainout)

After a 65-day delay…

Today, before they officially kickoff their scheduled 4-game series in Houston, the Nationals and Astros will take the field to complete their suspended game from May 5th at Nationals Park.


rain suspended game 5-5.JPGHere are some fun facts about the game:

·         The game was suspended tied at 10-10 with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning. Josh Willingham is at the plate (no count) with a runner on first. Washington will have to substitute for Elijah Dukes, who was the runner at first base. LaTroy Hawkins is the Astros pitcher in the game.

·         The Nationals have three available position players (Josh Bard, Alberto Gonzalez and Nyjer Morgan), but have to substitute two of them for players who are in the lineup but no longer on the roster (Dukes and Jesus Flores).

·         The only current reliever not available is Julian Tavarez, as he was already used in the game. Joel Hanrahan (traded to PIT, June 30) was the pitcher for the Nationals at the time the game was suspended.

·         On May 5th as members of the Pirates (vs. MIL), Morgan went 1-for-5 and Sean Burnett worked 0.2 perfect inning with the bases loaded.

·         The suspended game starts at 7:05 p.m. Thursday’s regularly scheduled game will begin at 8:05 p.m., unless the suspended game ends after 7:45 pm, in which case it will start 20 minutes after the first game ends.

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