Results tagged ‘ Kurt Suzuki ’

Highlights: 6.14.13

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6.14.13 – Indians 2, Nationals 1

Stat of the Game: Gio Gonzalez allowed just three hits and a run, striking out eight over seven frames, but did not factor in the decision.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Kurt Suzuki scored Washington’s lone run, coming home on a wild pitch in the third.

It Was Over When: Adam LaRoche‘s throw home came in just behind Drew Stubbs’ slide in the bottom of the ninth.

Highlights: 6.5.13

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6.5.13 – Mets 10, Nationals 1

Stat of the Game: The Nationals racked up 10 hits, including two apiece by Denard Span and Kurt Suzuki, but scored just once.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ian Krol impressed in his Major League debut, striking out the side in a scoreless inning of relief.

It Was Over When: Marlon Byrd hit his second home run of the night to cap a three-run third inning.

District 9: Kurt Suzuki

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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 1 of Inside Pitch.

1. What was your relationship like with Nationals fans during your first few months with the team?

When I first came over, the first game I played was a sellout – 40,000-plus people in the stands. It was just amazing support. Being able to celebrate the division championship with the fans, showing them the appreciation we have for them supporting us and always having our back, was a special moment.

2. Describe running out on the field during the postseason in front of the home crowd. What was going through your head in that moment?

I was thinking just how awesome a feeling this is – this is what you play for. To be able to run on the field knowing what’s at stake was awesome.

3. How have the expectations changed for the Nationals since last season?

We’ve got a bull’s-eye on our backs now – people are gunning for us so it’s a little different. I think we’re thriving off of it. The attitude hasn’t changed. It’s a whole new season, and we’re focused on 2013 and getting the job done again.

4. What did you want to work on going into Spring Training this year?

The most important thing is to build rapport with the pitchers. To me, Spring Training is the most important part of the season because it gives me more time to build relationships with the pitchers, catch their bullpens and learn more about them. I think the closer the bond you get, the easier it is to get on the same page.

5. What’s your defensive mindset when there’s going to be a close play at home?

To me, the play at the plate is the most exciting play for a catcher. Our job is to minimize the amount of times the opposing team crosses home plate. Having a good play at the plate where you get the guy out and everything works out perfectly is the best feeling.

6. How does your catching hand feel when you’re catching this flame-throwing pitching staff?

I didn’t need a radar gun to tell me that we had the best arms in the league, I just knew from receiving them. It was impressive.

7. Is there anyone on the pitching staff that you think could have a breakout season?

It’s so hard, because they’re all good. To me, I think a big key will be (Ross) Detwiler. Catching him, I think he’s due for a big year. He’s got a great arm like everybody else does. I think a lot of people after this season are going to know who Ross Detwiler is.

8. What have you learned about playing for Davey Johnson?

Davey always has your back. He knows you’re going to make mistakes, but when you make mistakes he tries to teach you and correct you rather than taking you down. The biggest thing for me is that he’s always on your side, always protecting you. That’s huge for a player’s confidence.

9. Tell us a little bit about the Kurt Suzuki Family Foundation. How did that come about?

My wife Renee and I decided to do a foundation, and we decided to choose something that was close to us and close to our family. She has a sister with a rare kidney disease. My dad had kidney cancer and has been in remission for five years now. We’re really so grateful to be in a position to help out.

Stammen The Tide

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A couple weeks ago, when discussing the options for taking over the injured Ross Detwiler’s spot in the rotation, Davey Johnson opted not to go with Craig Stammen, despite the righty’s excellent numbers early in the season. In fact, it was precisely because of those numbers that Johnson felt he needed Stammen in case of emergency long relief, or if the team needed quality extra-inning work. And while one never wishes for such situations to arise, when one did Friday night in a crucial series opener in Atlanta, Stammen was there to answer the call.

Did he ever.

Craig Stammen silenced the Braves over four innings of emergency relief to earn his third win.

Craig Stammen silenced the Braves over four innings of emergency relief to earn his third win.

The right-hander came on with the Nationals ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the third and set down all 12 Braves batters he faced, three by strikeout, to bridge the gap to the back of the bullpen. Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano tossed an inning each to finish out a 3-2 victory, one that seemed a stretch to believe after Stephen Strasburg departed with tightness in his back after just two frames.

“He was unbelievable, he did a great job,” said Johnson of Stammen’s clutch performance. “I thought he could go about 50 pitches, and he did. He probably could have gone further…It was a big win. We needed it bad.”

While it’s hard to call any single outcome in a 162-game season a must-win, Friday night may well have been the most significant single matchup on the schedule so far this season. Coming off a pair of disappointing setbacks in Baltimore, the Nationals sat with even .500 record, trailing the first-place Braves by 5.5 games in the division. With Strasburg on the mound against up-and-down rookie starter Julio Teheran, Washington appeared to have the advantage in the pitching matchup heading into the evening. When that assumed advantage was suddenly thrown out the window, it was Stammen who led the charge, as the team came together to gut out a huge win.

“I try to stick to my routine of taking it one pitch at a time,” explained Stammen, acknowledging the overused phrase, but emphasizing the importance of that mindset. “It may sound cliché, but that’s really the only way you can look at it. If you put your heart and soul into every pitch, every time, sooner or later you look up and you’re through three or four innings.”

Denard Span used his speed to deliver two of Washington's three runs.

Denard Span used his speed to deliver two of Washington’s three runs.

Stammen’s four innings gave the offense enough time to piece together another run, just enough to squeak out a victory. All three runs came via productive outs, and all three were set up thanks to hustle plays. Leading off both the first and sixth innings, Denard Span stretched for an extra base after lacing a ball into the right-field corner, notching a pair of triples. In each case he went on to score easily on a deep sacrifice fly to right field by Steve Lombardozzi. The only other Washington tally came after Roger Bernadina and Danny Espinosa each singled with one out in the second, The Shark racing around to third base after Espinosa’s chopper bounced through the right side of the infield. Kurt Suzuki followed with a grounder to third, but busted hard out of the box, beating out the back end of a potential inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play, allowing Bernadina to score.

Together, the bullpen and lineup showed the kind of hustle and effort it will take to win games with Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Jayson Werth still out of the lineup. Ultimately, Friday night’s game was one of sacrifice – Stammen’s well-earned tourniquet victory, Lombardozzi’s pair of run-scoring fly balls – of giving up whatever was needed to get the victory. It was epitomized by Stammen’s attitude afterward, one which the Nationals will need to embrace as they slowly get back to full strength.

“I’ll be here tomorrow with my cleats on,” he said, despite throwing 49 pitches over his four perfect frames. “If it goes 20 innings, I’m sure I can flip something up there.”

What to Watch for: 5.21.13

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Washington Nationals (23-22) vs. San Francisco Giants (25-20)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (2-5, 2.83) vs. RHP Matt Cain (3-2, 5.43)

Washington sends Stephen Strasburg to the hill against Matt Cain in a battle of Opening Day starters. The Nationals look to bounce back after dropping the series opener, as Strasburg aims to build off his career-long eight-inning stint in San Diego last Thursday.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Harper RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Espinosa 2B

7. Bernadina LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Strasburg RHP

MERRY STRASMAS

Dating back to his MLB debut (5-2 win vs. Pittsburgh, 6/8/10), Washington is 21-11 when Strasburg starts a game following a loss and 9-6 when he starts a game looking to end a losing streak of two or more (5-4 when attempting to end a losing streak of three or more games). The only other time these two starters faced off, Strasburg (6.0 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 8 K) outdueled Cain in an 8-1 victory, July 9, 2010 at Nationals Park. Strasburg is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two career starts vs. the Giants.

STARTING BLOCKS

Washington’s starting pitchers have been touched for 11 earned runs in the last two games, after putting together a stretch of nine consecutive starts allowing two or fewer earned runs (1.83 ERA in 59.0 starting innings from May 10-18). For the season, the Nationals starting staff ranks third in MLB/NL with a 3.34 ERA (102 ER/275.0 IP).

KURT HANGS 10

Kurt Suzuki has hit in 10 straight games, matching a career-best hit streak (July 1-12, 2009). During his current streak, which began on May 3, the catcher has batted .303 (10-for-33) with two walks, a double, two runs scored and two RBI.

What to Watch for: 5.20.13

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Washington Nationals (23-21) vs. San Francisco Giants (24-20)

LHP Zach Duke (0-0, 8.40) vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong (1-4, 8.06)

The Nationals enter the third and final leg of their 10-game California road trip as they take on the Giants in San Francisco. Washington has won the opening contest of each stop of its road trip so far, 5-2 over Los Angeles last Monday and 5-2 again over San Diego on Thursday.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Lombardozzi 2B

3. Harper RF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Bernadina LF

8. Solano C

9. Duke LHP

ADAM’S SWEET 16

Adam LaRoche enters tonight’s action riding a 16-game hit streak, his career long and the longest by a Nationals player since Ryan Zimmerman hit in 16 straight from August 26-September 12, 2012. During the stretch, which began on May 2, LaRoche has gone 21-for-55 (.382) with nine walks, wo doubles, four homers, nine runs scored and 12 RBI, posting a .462 OBP & 1.098 OPS. His hit streak, which is the second-longest active streak in MLB (Giants Marco Scutaro, 17 games), has raised his average 100 points after hitting just .129 (11-for-85) in his initial 25 games this season.

KURT HANGS 10

Kurt Suzuki has hit in 10 straight games, matching a career-best hit streak (July 1-12, 2009). During his current streak, which began on May 3, the catcher has batted .303 (10-for-33) with two walks, a double, two runs scored and two RBI.

THE SERIES

The Nationals are 9-4 against the Giants over the last three seasons (‘11-current), including a 5-1 record last season. Washington went 2-1 last year at AT&T Park, marking their first series win in San Francisco since 2006. The AL Nationals and the New York Giants met twice in the World Series (1924, ‘33). Washington won its only World Championship in ‘24 via a 12-inning, 4-3 victory in Game 7. With 4.0 scoreless innings of relief, Hall-of-Famer Walter Johnson earned the Game 7 win.

Home Cooking

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“No, not really.”

The media huddle is always a little larger when Stephen Strasburg pitches, but with the right-hander making his first-ever Major League start in his hometown of San Diego, where he both grew up and attended college, the questions are a little more pointed. So, really, didn’t pitching here amp him up a little more, knowing that 50 family and friends were in attendance, along with countless others who watched him in his collegiate days?

“It’s just another place to me, to be honest,” continued Strasburg, downplaying the larger storyline. “It’s my hometown. I’m an Aztec. But I look forward to pitching in any place in the big leagues.”

Strasburg's college diamond at San Diego state is just a few miles up the road from Petco Park.

Strasburg’s college diamond at San Diego State is just a few miles up the road from Petco Park.

The Padres were coming home following a 17-hit parade in an 8-4 win at Baltimore on Wednesday. That offense came to a grinding halt against Strasburg, though, who allowed just three hits over his eight innings of work.

“It was a good homecoming for him,” said manager Davey Johnson, but he didn’t dwell too much on the significance of his return to San Diego either, choosing instead to focus on the rest of the team’s contribution. “It was nice to see the offense come alive, give him some run support.”

In fact, the Nationals plated six runs behind Strasburg, the most help he has received in a start all season. Otherwise, Strasburg was largely his normal self, pitching more to contact as he has done all year long, which allowed him to reach the eighth inning for the first time in his career. Of course, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a little amped up.

“He was throwing hard,” said catcher Kurt Suzuki of how the hometown start may have shown through in Strasburg’s performance. “He wasn’t pitching 92-93 early. It was 96-97. It was coming in pretty firm.”

Strasburg is the most recent edition to the Aztec Wall of Fame, and is one of only two players with his number retired.

Strasburg is the most recent edition to the Aztec Wall of Fame, and is one of only two players with his number retired.

But that was not the only difference Suzuki noticed in his starter.

“He had a different mentality tonight,” Suzuki explained. “He wasn’t letting the little things bother him.”

That mentality, fittingly, is one he developed and refined just a few miles north of the waterfront up at San Diego State. It is something that Tony Gwynn, Strasburg’s college coach, saw in him before he ever became an All-American or the consensus number one pick in the Major League Baseball Draft.

“The stuff he does on the field, he really had to work at,” said the Hall of Fame outfielder on Friday, as he watched the highlights of Strasburg’s start from his office on campus. “All the other stuff, what you see now is what we saw when he came here as a freshman.”

Strasburg is only four years removed from his Aztec days, but it may seem like a lifetime ago to some who follow the sport. Bryce Harper’s own ascension amidst Strasburg’s rehab from Tommy John surgery shifted some of the attention away from the 24-year-old pitcher, at least until Sports Illustrated pasted him on the cover of their season preview issue in March. But all those accolades only came in the first place because of his off-the-charts work ethic, which had him beating coaches and players to the ballpark early Saturday mornings after his Friday night college starts.

The Golden Field Award - the counterpart to Strasburg's Golden Spikes Award, given to the school - sits in Tony Gwynn's office.

The Golden Field Award – the counterpart to Strasburg’s Golden Spikes Award, given to the school – sits in Tony Gwynn’s office.

“He outworked everyone in the country and it paid off on the diamond,” said Aztecs assistant coach Mark Martinez, who coached Strasburg for his three undergraduate seasons. “That’s very evident in how good he is.”

Strasburg acknowledged the difference in his approach Thursday night, one that showed flashes of his dominant self again. That should give Nationals fans hope, and should strike fear into the hearts of opponents around the league.

“I just wanted to do a better job of having a better mound presence out there.”

That presence was evident Thursday night, but reporters pushed Strasburg to explain a little more of what it meant to him.

“Just trying to go out there and let your teammates feed off of your confidence,” he elaborated. “When one thing doesn’t go the way you thought it would, don’t let it affect the next pitch. That’s what good pitchers do.”

Highlights: 5.12.13

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5.12.13 – Cubs 2, Nationals 1

Stat of the Game: Gio Gonzalez took a perfect game into the sixth inning, allowing just two hits in seven scoreless frames overall. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ryan Zimmerman collected two hits and Washington’s lone RBI, on a double in the first inning.

It Was Over When: Kurt Suzuki‘s throw to third on a steal attempt by Alfonso Soriano ticked off batter Welington Castillo’s bat, allowing Soriano to score with the winning run.

What to Watch for: 4.16.13

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Washington Nationals (8-5) vs. Miami Marlins (2-11)

RHP Dan Haren (1-1, 9.00) vs. RHP Alex Sanabia (1-1, 4.91)

The Nationals scored a season-high 10 runs to win the opening game of this series over the Marlins Monday night as Jordan Zimmermann tossed his first career nine-inning complete game. With Bryce Harper and Denard Span out due to stomach illness, Washington will lean on several members of the “Goon Squad” to deliver the offense today.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Werth RF

2. Bernadina CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Moore LF

7. Lombardozzi 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Haren RHP

CATCH THIS

Nationals catchers currently lead MLB with a .458 on-base percentage. Collectively, Nationals backstops Wilson Ramos (DL) and Kurt Suzuki (Jhonatan Solano has not played yet), are batting .333 (13-for-39) with three doubles, three home runs, six RBI, eight walks and six runs scored.

DESMOND IN THE ROUGH

Ian Desmond’s nine extra-base hits (six doubles, triple, two home runs) are tied with Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips and Oakland’s Jed Lowrie for the MLB lead among middle infielders. Desmond’s six doubles are also tied for the MLB lead (all positions) with eight other players.

CATCHING CAP

Davey Johnson and his 1294 career managerial wins appear poised to move into the top 30 all-time in the coming days. Johnson currently ranks 31st on the all-time list and trails Hall-of-Famer Cap Anson, who posted 1295 wins and a .578 winning percentage in 21 seasons (1875, 1879-98) primarily as a player/manager with the Phillies, White Sox, Chicago Colts and Giants. Before the season ends, Johnson has a strong chance to also catch and surpass Hall-of-Famer Ned Hanlon (#29, 1313 wins) and Chuck Tanner (#28, 1352 wins).

What to Watch for: 4.9.13

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Chicago White Sox (4-2) vs. Washington Nationals (4-2)

RHP Jake Peavy (1-0, 1.50) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 0.00)

Following an off day on Monday, Washington opens up a six-game homestand with three matchups against the Chicago south siders, beginning tonight. The Nationals and White Sox share identical 4-2 records entering their first meeting since the 2010 season.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Ramos C

9. Gonzalez LHP

FAMILIAR START

At 4-2, the Nationals have matched their finest six-game start since arriving in D.C. in 2005. Last season, Davey Johnson’s Nationals also won four of their first six en route to a 7-2 start.

CATCH THIS!

Through six games, Nationals catchers Wilson Ramos (.444, 2 HR, 3 RBI) and Kurt Suzuki (.333, HR, 3 RBI) are a combined 7-for-16 (.438) with two doubles, three home runs, six RBI, three walks and four runs scored. Ramos and Suzuki have combined on a 1.500 OPS, which ranks second in MLB among catching corps (Cleveland, 1.517).

500 CLUB LOOKING FOR NEWEST MEMBER

With 499 in the bag, Jayson Werth is just one RBI shy of reaching the 500-RBI plateau for his career. 93 of Werth’s 499 career RBI have come with the Nationals. 300 of his RBI came as a Phillie, 90 as a Dodger, and 16 as a Blue Jay. Werth is also just three home runs shy of 150.

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