Results tagged ‘ Ian Krol ’
Another summer of Nationals baseball is in the books.
Eighty-six wins and a late-season charge that both captivated and frustrated fans and players alike.
I have been asked by friends and fans how a team with such a talented roster could play sub-.500 baseball for four months – breaking our hearts – and then come back and play so well during the season’s final six weeks?
All I know is there is no ‘sure thing’ in our game and we were certainly reminded of that in 2013. Some might answer that baseball’s true beauty is rooted in its humility. I’m proud of the way this team struggled back to finish the season, going 32-16 in the last seven-plus weeks – giving us back our hope for 2014.
Here are a few of my final thoughts on this season:
- Congratulations to Ian Desmond on his second consecutive 20-homer, 20-stolen base season. It is a joy to watch a true professional play at his level, day-in and day-out. From my seat, I see that he’s quickly becoming the best shortstop in baseball.
Jayson Werth’s stellar season should put him on a short, short list for National League Comeback Player of the Year. His return from last year’s gruesome left wrist injury is simply remarkable. I know from personal experience how seriously and with what care he treats his health – intense rehab and workouts, and near fanatical nutrition.
- Wilson Ramos is a difference-maker in our lineup. His ironman streak of 24 consecutive starts behind the plate with seven home runs and 24 RBI was one of the major factors in bringing this team up in the standings.
- It was disappointing that Jordan Zimmermann was not able to capture his 20th win last week at Busch Stadium, but that takes nothing away from a terrific ‘13 season. I would expect Jordan to capture some votes in the National League Cy Young Award voting.
- While Denard Span’s 29-game hitting streak was memorable, I also think it meant he finally found his comfort level in D.C. and the National League. If you remember, Jayson coped with some of his own transition issues when he joined us in 2011 after a long tenure with the Phillies, but found his groove and became the team contributor that we see today.
- We had our fair share of injuries and adversity in 2013. I would have loved to see one more month out of Werth, 130 total starts from Ramos, and for Bryce Harper to have avoided that right field wall at Dodger Stadium at the beginning of the season, but those were the cards we were dealt. That said, those injuries afforded Anthony Rendon, Taylor Jordan, Ian Krol and Tanner Roark the opportunity to showcase their talents over the long stretch. Both the team and the players will benefit from those innings on the field.
- I’d be remiss if I did not thank Davey Johnson for an historic run as our manager. Who will ever forget the summer of 2012, when postseason baseball returned to The Nation’s Capital for the first time since 1933? I know I won’t. Thanks Davey for helping to author memories that will never fade.
- Lastly, I want to thank not only those reading this blog, but all of our fans that stand behind this team on a daily basis. Attendance was up over 9% this season. TV ratings were fantastic. Your passion for Nats baseball is felt all the way to the clubhouse – I’ve even heard our players talk about it. Your enthusiasm reminds us all why this game matters. Thank you!
Mike Rizzo will soon begin interviews to find our next manager. With most of our young talent in place for the next several years, and a strong pitching foundation built around an accomplished rotation, I have to think we have an attractive position to offer. I know Mike has a working list of candidates in mind, but he’s also talking to executives from around the game that he respects. This search will be extensive and we expect he’ll deliver the right man for the job.
It’s my hope that many of you will be able to meet our new skipper at NatsFest in January. We will be rolling out the specifics on our signature offseason event shortly. And MLB’s Winter Meetings (December 9-12 in Orlando, FL) will be here in short time too. Almost time to fire up the Hot Stove.
Yes, I know we all just completed a grueling 162-game season, but my optimism is already on ‘high’ for 2014.
We are putting our own spin on the traditional “10 Questions” format this season. To mix it up a little, we are asking players, front office members, coaches, prospects and others nine questions we think you’d like to know the answer to, then bringing you their responses in written and video form. This Q&A originally appeared in Volume 6, Issue 9 of Inside Pitch.
1. What was your experience growing up near Chicago and visiting Wrigley Field?
I had a really good experience. I played Little League, but I didn’t really start pitching until travel ball, when I was 12 or 13. Growing up, I was a Cubs fan, so I went to a lot of Cubs games. My family, they’re all Cubs fans. I have a lot of support around that area.
2. Do you have a baseball role model who you looked up?
My two role models in my life are my mother and my father. They do everything for me, and I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done. If I had to pick two people to look up to, it would be them.
3. Did your mom or dad have a strong influence on your interest in baseball?
They just encouraged me to do what I wanted to, and to excel at everything I did. There wasn’t a decision about what I should do or what sport I should play. They were just happy for me if I was happy.
4. What was it like to pitch so close to home in Single-A (Kane County)?
It was awesome. It was my first full year as a rookie in the Minor Leagues. To live at home, it rarely ever happens for anybody. I had family and friends come out all the time to support me. It made it a lot easier for them to see me.
5. How have you adjusted to pitching in a new organization?
There are a couple of guys from Oakland who play for Washington now, which made it a lot easier. Also, the coaching staff here is great. Everybody who works for the Nationals is really helpful and supportive with everything. The biggest thing is having Paul Menhart and Matt LeCroy as my first coaches in this organization. They really helped out with everything and did a great job of getting me ready to go to the big leagues. They made me feel welcome.
6. Was there a chip on your shoulder after being labeled as the “player to be named later” in the trade with the Athletics?
Not really. I just really kind of took it and ran with it. I came over to the Nationals and just played baseball. I didn’t worry about a thing. The only chip I have is from all the struggles I’ve been through. It makes it so much sweeter to make it up here after all of that.
7. Can you believe that you’re sitting in a big league dugout just four years out of high school?
My mom and dad tell me all the time, “Don’t ever wake up. Take every moment in and enjoy it, don’t get ahead of yourself, just soak it all in.” But sometimes I have to take a step back and look at where I am and what I’ve been able to accomplish so far. It’s pretty sweet.
8. What was your first Major League memory after you were called up?
Probably when I stepped into the clubhouse for the first time. I’ve never been in anything like that. I stepped in and my locker was all set up for me. That’s when it first really hit me, like, ‘Wow, I’m in a big league clubhouse, I get to put on a big league jersey, and go out and play big league baseball.’ It was unreal, so surreal. It’s everything I could ask for.
9. What’s the story behind your Twitter handle, @IanKrolTKB?
It’s kind of a funny joke just between me and my friends. They used to call me “King” back in Oakland, because that’s what my last name means (in Polish). I was off Twitter for a while, so when I came back I used “TKB” in my handle: The King is Back.
“I feel like we were just destined to win that game, some way, somehow.”
Those words came from Dan Haren, maybe the most unlikely of heroes from a game full of them, saturated with storylines from both dugouts.
Saturday night was supposed to be about Bryce Harper, about unwritten baseball rules, about the rising tension between the Nationals and the Braves as they battled through the dog days of summer. But amidst a bizarre game in which two of the best young pitchers in baseball each failed to escape the second inning, it became a story of a true team effort in which 21 of the 25 men on the Washington roster played a role. In the end, the Nationals prevailed after 15 innings and nearly five-and-a-half hours, by a final of 8-7.
While any 15-inning affair will naturally be referred to most commonly as a marathon, this division rivalry felt more like a long distance relay race, with one reliever handing the baton to the next, over and over again. In all, 18 different pitchers were used by the two clubs – nine each – including the starters, each club’s entire seven-man bullpen, and two more starters to close it out.
Along the way, Washington set a number of records. The 15 innings matched the longest game in Nationals history, equaling the 2009 season finale, a 2-1 win over none other than the Braves at Turner Field. The five-hour, 29-minute affair was the lengthiest in terms of time elapsed. Meanwhile, the 19 strikeouts compiled by the Washington bullpen shattered the all-time Major League mark, at least as far back as anyone can be sure. The records for such a stat only date back to 1971, to which point the highest total ever compiled by a relief staff in a single game was 16. But considering the way the sport had evolved, with increased strikeout rates and higher bullpen usage, it’s hard to imagine any club amassing a comparable total in any previous era.
Following Stephen Strasburg’s second-inning ejection, Tanner Roark was the first Nationals reliever to answer the call, entering a 4-2 game and providing four innings of one-hit, scoreless relief with six strikeouts. Drew Storen tossed a perfect seventh inning, striking out the side. Ian Krol rebounded from a tough Friday night outing to put up two more scoreless frames in extra innings, and Craig Stammen followed a two-inning stint Friday night with a 55-pitch, three-inning scoreless stretch to get the game to the 15th inning.
Of course, in the midst of the impressive relief outings, the Braves tied the game in the ninth, making all of the extra pomp and circumstance necessary in the first place. But neither team would score again until the 15th inning, when Adam LaRoche punished a hanging breaking ball from Kris Medlen for a moonshot to right field, the ball searing through the mist at Turner Field before coming to rest in the bleachers, a dozen rows deep, giving the Nationals the lead once more.
That left the game to Haren, summoned from the bullpen to make his first relief appearance since 2004. Haren had thrown his routine side work prior to the game, tossing 30-35 pitches, which he followed with an upper body workout. But when Strasburg’s evening was cut short, several hours earlier, he offered up his services, should they be needed. They were.
“I’m proud of him for even doing that,” said Randy Knorr, who took over as manager when Davey Johnson was ejected along with Strasburg. “A lot of guys wouldn’t even have gone down there after throwing a bullpen.”
Haren allowed a single, but that was all, striking out Jordan Schafer flailing at a splitter, his bat sent cartwheeling towards the Braves dugout to end the game. That netted Haren first Major League save, and only his second as a professional, the other coming more than 12 years prior as a member of the New Jersey Cardinals of the Short-season New York Penn League on July 15, 2001 against the Lowell Spinners.
“I’m only supposed to do media every five days,” Haren joked as the huddle approached his locker after 1 a.m. local time.
In the end, the Nationals went home with a big road victory in Atlanta. Their reward. Both clubs get a whopping 12 hours and 46 minutes between the final out and the first pitch on Sunday afternoon. Haren summed it up best when all was said and done.
“Five-hour games are fine when you win them. But when you lose them, they really stink.”
There were several remarkable aspects to Dan Haren’s solid start on Friday night against Philadelphia. It marked the fifth time in six starts since his return from the disabled list that he allowed two or fewer runs in an outing. He struck out five or more (seven, to be exact) without a walk for the fifth time this year. But perhaps more impressively, it was the first time in the 11-year veteran’s career, during which he spent parts of six seasons in the National League, that he had ever beaten the Phillies.
When Ian Krol rung up Darin Ruf looking to end the game, Haren could officially claim a piece of baseball lore. He became just the 13th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to beat all 30 franchises in his career.
While that feat has been made more accessible by the advent of Interleague Play and the higher frequency of today’s players changing teams, specialized pitching roles and pitch limits have made it harder and harder to earn wins as a starter. And regardless of other mitigating factors, the list is a rather illustrious one:
Kevin Brown (211 wins, six-time All-Star)
A.J. Burnett (142 wins)
Randy Johnson (303 wins, 10-time All-Star, five-time Cy Young)
Al Leiter (162 wins, two-time All-Star)
Derek Lowe (176 wins, two-time All-Star)
Jamie Moyer (269 wins, All-Star)
Terry Mulholland (124 wins, All-Star)
Vicente Padilla (108 wins, All-Star)
Curt Schilling (216 wins, six-time All-Star)
Javier Vazquez (165 wins, All-Star)
Woody Williams (132 wins, All-Star)
Barry Zito (164 wins, three-time All-Star, Cy Young)
That group includes one sure-fire Hall of Famer, a couple borderline candidates, and 11 All-Stars, six of whom were selected for the Midsummer Classic multiple times. Haren, of course, is a three-time All-Star himself, and earned his 126th career victory with Friday night’s triumph.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Haren of the feat, of which he had become aware back in July, the last time he faced the Phillies. “I think it’s something to be proud of, it shows longevity. I face them a couple more times this year, hopefully I’ll get the same result.”
Haren’s performances have been consistent with his heralded career since his return to action on July 8. His 2.43 ERA (10 ER/37.0 IP) is easily the best in the Washington starting rotation over that stretch, during which he has struck out 39 batters while walking just eight, good for a 4.88 K/BB rate.
His overall ERA of 4.99 is the lowest it has been since May 14, and just the second time he has ended a start under the 5.00 mark this season.
“I’ve had a little bit of luck and I’ve pitched a little better,” he explained of the difference in results, also noting that his split-fingered pitch has been particularly sharp, aiding his elevated strikeout numbers. “Put those together and good things happen.”
On Tuesday, Nationals trainers and players hosted the PLAY Clinic, in partnership with the Taylor Hooton Foundation and MLB Charities. PLAY, which stands for Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth, is a public awareness campaign founded in 2004 by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society to promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage daily activity among youth.
“Childhood obesity was rising in the early 2000s and they were directly tying Type II diabetes to inactivity with kids,” said PLAY campaign coordinator Zachary Reed, who hopes this clinic will encourage kids to be active for at least 60 minutes each day. “From the year 2000 to the year 2004, it had spiked. About 25% of kids were obese, so the campaign was founded to get kids out for some more activity.”
More than 60 children from Kyle’s Kamp and Ward 7 in Washington, D.C., were on hand at Nationals Park to learn about various topics including healthy eating, injury prevention and strength and conditioning, while also improving their baseball skills.
Brian Parker of the Taylor Hooton Foundation kicked off the clinic with a chalk talk about the dangers of steroid abuse. Head trainer Lee Kuntz then demonstrated proper stretching techniques in the Nationals bullpen to warm up the kids for the day’s activities. Second baseman Anthony Rendon and pitcher Ian Krol also stopped by to share their daily routines with the children, from agility drills to the importance of staying hydrated.
“It’s great that the kids are able to meet the players and see a little bit of what we do throughout the day. We hope to instill those [lessons] and get kids back into baseball,” said Kuntz.
“They realized how important it is to get outside and be active,” said Krol. “In this day and age, you see all the kids with electronics like iPads and they don’t get to experience great things like sports and other activities.”
One of those fun activities was their own Home Run Derby, the “grand finale and the fireworks” of the PLAY clinic, as Kuntz described it. For many kids, including the Kelley brothers – Jaden, 8, and Cristopher, 9 – the derby was their favorite part of the day.
It is now their charge to incorporate the invaluable lessons they learned in their everyday lives. “Stay healthy, drink water and eat vegetables,” was Jaden’s key takeaway from speaking with Rendon and Krol.
With the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy expected to open later this fall for youth in Wards 7 and 8, many of these PLAY clinic participants will have the opportunity to continue to learn and practice the fundamentals of baseball and softball while also taking part in health and educational programs.
The video below is a supplemental bonus feature for the Gio Gonzalez: Positive Energy cover article in Issue 9 of Inside Pitch. For the full story, be sure to pick up a copy this homestand at the the ballpark.
Plus, check out our District 9 with Ian Krol, where he reveals the mystery behind his Twitter handle.
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.
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.
With the combination of his star power and raw power, Bryce Harper is the most nationally known of Washington’s performers during All-Star Week at Citi Field. However, the Nationals have had a presence in nearly every facet of the festivities, and those stories should not be overlooked. Before the Midsummer Classic takes place Tuesday night, we take a look back through the events of the past three days.
Sunday: A.J. Cole Saves the Future for the USA
On Sunday afternoon, while the Nationals were taking care of business against the Miami Marlins in the final game before the All-Star break, some of the brightest prospects in the game assembled at Citi Field for the Futures Game. Pitting the best American Minor Leaguers against those from around the world, the game has become a showcase event that marks the beginning of the week of exhibitions.
This year’s Futures Game was a low-scoring, well-fought contest, in which the teams exchanged leads, with the U.S. team adding a run in the eighth to lead 4-2 heading to the ninth. Giants Minor League hurler Kyle Crick walked two of the first three batters he faced to put the tying run on base and bring the potential go-ahead run to the plate with just one out. The U.S. Futures team turned to the bullpen and brought in Nationals prospect A.J. Cole – reacquired in the offseason deal that also netted Ian Krol and Blake Treinen – to finish the job. Cole punched out Mariners prospect Ji-Man Choi looking, then induced a grounder to second base from another Giants farmhand, Jesus Galindo, to end the game and earn the save.
Sunday: Defending the MVP
As you may recall, last year’s MLB All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game featured a pair of Washington Nationals Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team members, Saul Bosquez and Matt Kinsey. Both players shined brightly in their time in the spotlight, as each went 3-for-3, with Kinsey also blasting a home run to lead his team to victory and earn the game’s MVP award. Needless to say, the bar had been set pretty high for Josh Wege, this year’s Wounded Warrior participant.
Not to be outdone, Wege, representing the Nationals, cranked a home run of his own off future Hall-of-Famer Frank Thomas and nearly made a spectacular diving grab in the first inning, earning him co-MVP honors for the night.
“It’s just amazing to be on the field with this guys,” Wege said of his fellow athletes and celebrities. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The fans were amazing today.”
Monday: Bam Bam Reaches the Finals
Competing in his first-ever Home Run Derby, Bryce Harper was the youngest participant in the field of eight by nearly six years. But that didn’t stop him from putting up the most consistent display of anyone in the tournament, homering eight times in each of his three rounds and spraying the ball to all fields, advancing to the finals. But his final effort was not enough to best Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes, who blasted 17 long balls during his opening round, the most of any player in a single round.
Check out a compilation of all of Harper’s home runs below, and don’t forget to watch him tonight as he starts in center field for the National League.