Results tagged ‘ Ian Desmond ’

Up All Night to Get Lucky

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Like the legend of the phoenix…

Even a rookie reporter on the baseball beat will quickly learn the primary difference between a Major League clubhouse after a win and a loss. Following defeat, there is almost total silence, just the hiss of showers in the distance, the shuffling of feat and the murmurs of somber postgame interviews. But following a victory, the clubhouse stereo blares any number of upbeat tunes, often a similar playlist over the course of the season.

Deep into the 11-o’clock hour, following Washington’s 4-3, rain-delayed win Wednesday night over Miami – the second straight single-run triumph over the Marlins – there was a new song pulsing through the home clubhouse at Nationals Park: Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” It was probably pure coincidence, but the lyrics seemed to have something of a connection to these Nationals, fighting an expiring schedule and tall mathematical odds in a final push to rise from the dead and claim the last postseason spot.

Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond teamed up to lead the Nationals comeback Wednesday night.

Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond teamed up to lead the Nationals comeback Wednesday night.

We’ve come too far to give up who we are…

As the huddle moved towards Ian Desmond, whose RBI-single provided the game-winning run in the seventh inning, Jayson Werth snuck over to the stereo, pumping the volume back up. Werth, whose homer had tied the contest in the sixth, had been intentionally walked in front of Desmond. The shortstop admitted that “it was probably the right move” for the Marlins to make. But following an hour and 12-minute rain delay, after which the Nationals coughed up their early lead, only to come back and win, you get the sense that maybe it’s worth sticking it out to the end, just to see if this team can get hot enough to find its way back to October.

So let’s raise the bar…

The Cardiac Nats, that scrappy bunch that eked out one- and two-run wins all of last year, seem to have been at least momentarily resurrected. Quietly, Washington has won seven of eight and 13 of its last 18 games. Since the beginning of play on August 9, the Nationals have gained 2.0 games on Cincinnati, 2.5 on Atlanta, 3.5 on Arizona and 6.0 on Pittsburgh, the four teams currently in front of them in the NL East and Wild Card chase.

There is still a lot of work left to be done to even sniff the possibility of claiming one of those spots. It would take a run of epic proportion to do so, and probably some misfortune to befall one of the teams within striking distance. But hey, this is baseball, and you never know what might happen.

We’re up all night to get lucky…

Highlights: 8.28.13

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8.28.13 – Nationals 4, Marlins 3

Stat of the Game: Jayson Werth tied the game with a solo shot in the sixth, becoming the first National to 20 home runs this season.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ian Desmond came through with the go-ahead RBI in the seventh, following an intentional walk with two outs.

It Was Over When: For the second night in a row, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano put up zeroes in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to preserve the one-run win.

Highlights: 8.27.13

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8.27.13 – Nationals 2, Marlins 1

Stat of the Game: Ian Desmond had three hits, including an RBI-single with two out in the first that proved to be the difference.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Four Washington relievers – Tanner Roark, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano – combined to throw four innings of one-hit, scoreless relief.

It Was Over When: Soriano locked up his 34th save, inducing a game-ending groundout from Adainy Hechavarria.

Highlights: 8.24.13

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8.24.13 – Nationals 7, Royals 2

Stat of the Game: Jordan Zimmermann earned his National League-leading 15th win of the season, matching the total accrued by Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Tyler Moore had yet another multi-hit game, his fifth straight since being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse.

It Was Over When: Fernando Abad struck out David Lough with the bases loaded to end the bottom of the 8th inning.

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.

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.

What to Watch for: 8.16.13

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Washington Nationals (59-61) vs. Atlanta Braves (74-47)

RHP Taylor Jordan (1-3, 4.14) vs. LHP Alex Wood (2-2, 2.78)

Rookies Taylor Jordan and Alex Wood will square off in game one of a three-game series, the final matchup between the Braves and Nationals in Atlanta this season.

Jordan will be making his ninth start of the season, his first against the Braves, while Wood faces the Nationals for the first time after 20 appearances, including five starts. Wood, the 85th-overall pick (second round) in the 2012 Draft out of the University of Georgia, will be the third pitcher from his Draft class to face the Nationals this season; Washington roughed up fourth-overall pick Kevin Gausman of the Orioles on May 28 at Nationals Park, and faced Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez (82nd overall/second round) on three occasions earlier in the year.

Both Jordan, a lanky right-hander, and Wood, a tall, sturdy lefty, induce ground balls at a high rate. Jordan has a ground out/air out ratio of 1.69:1, inducing eight double plays in 45.2 innings, while Wood has posted a 1.71:1 GOAO with three double plays turned behind him in his 45.1 innings of work.

Wood features a deceptive delivery that is equally tough on righties and lefties, holding left-handed hitters to a .200 batting average and right-handed hitters to just a .207 mark. He has been even stingier with runners in scoring position, holding opponents to a .146 (6-for-41) batting average against in those situations.

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. Taylor Jordan RHP

D.C.’S HIT MAN SOON TO BE EXPOSED

With a .331 batting average entering play Friday, Jayson Werth would rank second in the National League behind Atlanta third baseman Chris Johnson (.337) with enough plate appearances to qualify. Werth, currently at 357 plate appearances, will need 145 more trips to the plate over the Nationals final 42 games (3.45 per game) to qualify for the 502 necessary to win the batting crown. Meanwhile, Johnson is just 5-for-32 (.156) in his last eight games against Nationals pitching.

EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Ian Desmond’s third-inning double on Thursday was his 52nd extra-base hit (33 doubles, two triples, 17 homers) of the 2013 season. No other Major League shortstop has more than 40 extra-base hits this season. Desmond’s 33 doubles trail only Manny Machado (42) and Matt Carpenter (40) among all big leaguers, leaving him in a five-way tie for third with Mike Trout, Joe Mauer, Chris Davis and Jay Bruce.

DAVEY’S LAST STAND

Nationals Manager and former Braves second baseman Davey Johnson will make his last appearance in Atlanta this weekend. Johnson’s 42 home runs as a second baseman (43 total) in 1973 as a member of the Braves remains the top output by a second sacker in baseball history. Dan Uggla, with 35 in 2011, is the only other Braves second baseman to crack more than 21 long balls in a single campaign. Uggla is currently on the disabled list following corrective eye surgery this week.

Reasons For Hope

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Before heading to Nationals Park to prepare for Tuesday’s game, Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman had some important business across town. Through a partnership with Hope for Henry, the two infielders spent some time at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, lifting the spirits of pediatric cancer patients undergoing treatment.

DSC_1594Zimmerman, who annually visits children in local hospitals, appreciates the perspective he gains from meeting children who are fighting for their lives.

“A lot of these kids are fighting battles that we’ve never even had to think about,” he explained. “It’s pretty amazing to see what they go through.”

Desmond is one of the club’s most community-minded players, but made his first hospital visit. He was overwhelmed by the positive attitudes from the children and families he encountered.

“To be able to see kids, parents and family members in such positive spirits when things are stacked against them, it’s awesome,” he said. “It’s encouraging and motivating, and it’s just a blessing to be able to be here and interact with them.”

DSC_1627Laurie Strongin founded Hope For Henry after her eldest son lost his battle with cancer. Every week, Hope For Henry hosts in-hospital parties and events that help promote comfort, care and recovery for the patients and their families. For Laurie, professional athletes taking a genuine interest in children struggling with unimaginable circumstances is what she envisioned when she started the foundation 10 years ago.

“This is our second event with the Washington Nationals and it is a total delight to work with them,” Strongin said. “The players make the kids so happy. (It’s great) for them to meet their heroes while they’re in the hospital and really have a chance to visit with them.”

Hope For Henry provided pizza and cupcakes along with baseballs, baseball cards and wristbands that Ryan and Ian gave to the kids. Each child also had their picture taken by a Hope for Henry photographer, who printed the photos on-site so they could be autographed by the players before the visit was over.

DSC_1622Considering their circumstances, the children were all in remarkably high spirits,  none more so than three-year-old Jakyle. Wearing his Nationals jersey, Jakyle was overcome with exuberance when Zimmerman and Desmond walked in. This particular moment had a lasting effect for both Nationals.

“He’s only three years old and has been through more than a lot of people have been through in their whole lives,” said Zimmerman. “For him to have some fun and jump around and go crazy, it’s humbling.”

For more information about Hope For Henry, visit http://www.hopeforhenry.org.

What to Watch for: 8.15.13

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San Francisco Giants (52-67) vs. Washington Nationals (59-60)

 RHP Ryan Vogelsong (2-4, 6.71) vs. RHP Dan Haren (7-11, 4.99)

The Nationals finish up their series against the Giants and their nine-game homestand this afternoon, as they aim to bring their record to an even .500. Jordan Zimmermann won his career-high 14th game of the season thanks to Denard Span, who sealed the victory with a game-saving catch. With Dan Haren on the mound, the Nats look to extend their five game win streak and go for their second straight series sweep.

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. Anthony Rendon 2B

8. Kurt Suzuki C

9. Dan Haren RHP

SWEEP POSSIBILTIES

The Nationals will attempt to complete their third-ever sweep of the Giants in this afternoon’s series finale. Washington swept a home series from San Francisco in both 2012 (3-0) and 2006 (3-0). The Nationals have also won seven straight home games over the Giants. Washington has likewise won seven consecutive home games over the Marlins and Cardinals, but never reached the threshold of eight straight victories in D.C. over a single opponent.

SEVENTEEN AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN

The Nationals are the only team in the National League with four players with 17 or more home runs. Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, and Jayson Werth all share the team lead with 17 each. Only two other Major League teams – Toronto and Los Angeles (AL) – have as many as four players with 17 or more home runs.

SUMMER’S SCORCHER

Jayson Werth leads Major League Baseball in batting average dating to the beginning of both July and August. Since July 1st, Werth has hit .413. Detroit’s Victor Martinez has the next best average hitting .381 in that span. Since August first Werth is hitting .528 with Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen in a distant second at .474.

Highlights: 8.14.13

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8.14.13 – Nationals 6, Giants 5

Stat of the Game: Ian Desmond‘s 17th home run of the season – the longest of the year at Nationals Park (448 feet) – put him into a four-way tie for the team lead.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Jordan Zimmermann notched his National League-leading 14th win, extending his career high.

It Was Over When: Denard Span tracked down Hunter Pence’s deep liner in the left-center field gap to save the day, stranding the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base.

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