Results tagged ‘ Ian Desmond ’

Highlights: 8.11.13

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8.11.13 – Nationals 6, Phillies 0

Stat of the Game: Stephen Strasburg needed just 99 pitches to record his first-ever complete game and shutout, holding the Phillies to just four hits while striking out 10.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Jayson Werth turned in his second straight three-hit game and now owns an August slash line of .571/.647/.821.

It Was Over When: Ian Desmond scored from second base on Wilson Ramos‘ fielder’s choice to put Washington ahead 5-0 in the fifth inning.

Living the Dream

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The Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, set to open in the fall of 2013, will focus on creating an enduring environment for high-quality, after-school and summer programs that integrate baseball, academics and the value of teamwork in a safe environment for youth living in neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.

Ian Desmond has been supportive of this project every step of the way, becoming a YBA board member and helping the dream of the Academy become a reality.

“We have an opportunity as the Washington Nationals organization to influence young peoples’ lives,” Desmond said. “That’s what we’re called to do. We’re called to make the next generation better than the generation we’re living in now.”

The article Living the Dream from Issue 3 of Nationals Magazine – on sale August 5 – details Desmond’s involvement and gives fans an inside perspective into the life and background of the Nationals shortstop.

For more information on the Youth Baseball Academy or to pledge your support, visit nationals.com/dream.

DesmondYBA

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.

What to Watch for: 7.27.13

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New York Mets (46-54) vs. Washington Nationals (50-54)

RHP Dillon Gee (7-7, 4.07) vs. RHP Dan Haren (4-11, 5.79)

Some time ago, Ryan Zimmerman earned the title of Mr. Walk-off. He seemed to play the leading role in every significant victory in Nationals history, displaying a unique flair for the dramatic. But it had been a while since Zimmerman’s last walk-off home run, which came back in the 2011 season. That drought ended with a bang on Friday night.

In classic Zimmerman style, he punished a high fastball from LaTroy Hawkins to the opposite field, clearing the out-of-town scoreboard to break a 1-1 tie and give the Nationals a 2-1 victory over the New York Mets. Following Bryce Harper’s walk-off blast Thursday, Zimmerman’s long ball gave the Nationals walk-off homers on back-to-back days after not hitting any since Ian Desmond’s May 2, 2012 blast beat the Diamondbacks.

More impressively, Zimmerman has now hit nine game-winning home runs. Since his Nationals debut in 2005, that’s the most of any Major League player. It’s also the most by any player in history before his 30th birthday, surpassing Albert Pujols’ mark of eight. Oh, and Zimmerman won’t turn the big 3-0 until September 28. Next year.

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

OOOOOHLENDORF

Ross Ohlendorf turned in his second excellent spot start of the 2013 season, allowing a single run over 7.0 innings of six-hit ball, walking two and striking out eight. In his two starts, he is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA (2 ER/13.0 IP) and has allowed just 12 baserunners while striking out 10.

BEING IAN

Ian Desmond has posted a NL-best .989 fielding percentage in 84 games at shortstop dating back to April 22. In that three-plus month span, only Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta (.994) has registered a better fielding percentage among big league shortstops.

THE SERIES

The Nationals are 11-2 in one-run games against the Mets since the beginning of 2011. Washington has claimed two straight season-series (14-4 in 2012, 10-8 in 2011) from New York. The Nationals also improved to 3-1 when facing Matt Harvey, despite the righty lowering his ERA to 1.00 (3 ER/27.0 IP) in four career starts against Washington.

Walk-Off Wonder

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The Nationals came into Thursday’s game desperately needing a win. For eight innings, it looked like they had finally broken through after dropping the first six games out of the All-Star break against a Dodgers squad just coming into its own and a Pirates team that has been as strong as any in baseball all season long. But it took another late rally in the ninth, a show of resiliency this team has been searching for, to deliver a Curly W.

Kurt Suzuki singled with one out, and after Roger Bernadina grounded into a 4-6 force out, The Shark stood at first as the winning run with two outs for the top of the order, in the form of Bryce Harper. The Nationals 20-year-old All-Star worked the count to 1-1, then extended through a cutter on the outer half from Pittsburgh reliever Bryan Morris. With the speedy Bernadina off and running on contact, the line shot looked like it might split the left-center field gap for a double. But as the ball continued to carry, center fielder Andrew McCutchen pulled up at the wall, watching as it cleared the #NATITUDE sign and dropped into the second row of the Red Porch.

Harper, who opened the game with a great diving catch before closing it with the home run, seemed more relieved than excited by his heroics.

Harper's walk-off blast was the first of his career.

Harper’s walk-off blast was the first of his career.

“I’m just happy we won the ballgame,” he said. “I’m serious. I could care less if it went over the fence or if it was a double off the wall.”

Whether the win provides the momentum swing to get the Nationals several wins in a row, to get them on a streak, remains to be seen. They will have a great chance on Friday, as they will face the Mets twice in a matter of hours, a doubleheader to start a four-game series over the next three days. The last time Washington faced their division rivals from Queens, they put up a season-high 13 runs. The resurgent offense was perhaps more important than the actual victory, as it will need to reemerge for the Nationals to take advantage of the series in front of them.

“I think it was just more important for us to get some hits,” said Ian Desmond of the bats Thursday, which produced 14 of them, two more than Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday’s games combined.

Nevertheless, Desmond recognized the difference in the clubhouse in terms of approach as the club looks ahead at the final 60 games of the 2013 campaign.

“I’m trying to take these games almost as playoff games. We’ve gotta win.”

Ryan Zimmerman, who was one of three Nationals with three hits (along with Harper and Steve Lombardozzi), echoed those sentiments.

“We needed a win,” he admitted. “It didn’t matter how we got it, although that’s the most exciting way you can get one.”

And while it may not have gone just how they envisioned, the Nationals will take every win, exciting or otherwise, that they can get.

Highlights: 7.19.13

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7.19.13 – Dodgers 3, Nationals 2

Stat of the Game: Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman each collected multi-hit performances in the first game after the All-Star break.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Stephen Strasburg allowed just two runs over seven frames for his 12th quality start of the season.

It Was Over When: Andre Ethier broke a 2-2 tie with a ninth-inning home run for the last score of the game.

What to Watch for: 7.12.13

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Washington Nationals (47-45) vs. Miami Marlins (33-57)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (5-6, 2.45) vs. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 2.55)

The Nationals head south for their final series before the All-Star break, as Stephen Strasburg leads the charge into Miami for a three-game set beginning Friday night. Since May 11, Strasburg owns the National League’s second-lowest ERA at 1.74 (12 ER/62.0 IP), and has struck out 63 batters over that 10-start span.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Desmond SS

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Werth RF

7. Rendon 2B

8. Ramos C

9. Strasburg RHP

DESTINATION D.C.

At 16-18 (6-5 at home, 10-13 on the road), the Nationals enter the final series before the All-Star break with a sub-.500 record against the NL East this season. However, 26 of their 39 contests vs. NL East opponents after the All-Star break will take place in D.C. By the end of this weekend, the Nationals will have visited each of their four NL East rivals twice and hosted each just once. That trend will reverse itself after the break.

WERTH THE WAIT

Jayson Werth is batting .328 (40-for-122) with 16 walks, six doubles, six home runs, 21 runs scored, 21 RBI and a .403 on-base percentage in 34 games since returning from the DL (right hamstring) on June 4. Werth has hit safely in eight straight games, with a .538/.594/.769 slash line, along with two home runs and four multi-hit performances during that stretch.

CRUISING PAST CRISTIAN

With tonight’s series opener, Ian Desmond moves past Cristian Guzman into sole possession of second place on the Nationals’ all-time games played list. Here is how that list looked at the completion of play on Thursday:

Ryan Zimmerman: 1068 games

Desmond: 550

Guzman: 550

Roger Bernadina: 450

Nick Johnson: 414

What to Watch for: 7.11.13

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Washington Nationals (47-44) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (45-47)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (12-3, 2.57) vs. RHP Kyle Kendrick (7-6, 3.90)

The Nationals hope to follow up on their victory Wednesday night as they aim for a four-game road split in Phildelphia. Washington bashed at least four home runs for the ninth time this season in its 5-1 victory Sunday; five of those games have come with Gio Gonzalez, last night’s winner, on the hill.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Desmond SS

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. Werth RF

6. LaRoche 1B

7. Rendon 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Zimmermann RHP

LUCKY NUMBER 13

Jordan Zimmermann takes his second crack at his 13th win of the season, which would be a National League high and would set a new career mark for the right-hander, before even hitting the All-Star break. Zimmermann is 4-1 with a 1.67 ERA in six starts against NL East foes this year and the Nationals have won five of his six intradivisional starts.

RISP-Y BUSINESS

The Nationals are 0-for-16 with RISP during their current series at Citizens Bank Park after going 12-for-35 (.343) during their just-completed 3-game home sweep of the Padres.

IT STARTED WITH A SLAM

Ian Desmond’s grand slam in the 11th inning capped the scoring in Washington’s 6-2 victory here at CBP on June 19. Desmond’s June 19 slam seems to have sparked the fortunes of Nationals, who are a 13-8 (.619) and sport a +23 run differential (104-81) since.

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