Results tagged ‘ Los Angeles Dodgers ’
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.
“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.
7.21.13 – Dodgers 9, Nationals 2
Stat of the Game: Jayson Werth homered twice to provide the entirety of the offense, and is now batting .322/.400/.538 with eight home runs in 40 games since returning from the disabled list on June 4.
Under-the-Radar Performance: Ross Ohlendorf delivered six innings of relief out of the bullpen, allowing just two runs.
It Was Over When: The Dodgers sent 11 men to the plate and scored seven times in the second inning.
7.20.13 – Dodgers 3, Nationals 1
Stat of the Game: Gio Gonzalez was brilliant, matching a career high with 11 strikeouts over six scoreless frames.
Under-the-Radar Performance: Ryan Zimmerman and Chad Tracy each collected three hits.
It Was Over When: Los Angeles plated a pair in the 10th to break the 1-1 tie.
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.
5.15.13 – Dodgers 3, Nationals 1
Stat of the Game: Adam LaRoche homered for Washington’s lone run, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games.
Under-the-Radar Performance: Craig Stammen allowed just two hits over 3.0 scoreless innings of relief, striking out three without a walk.
It Was Over When: The Dodgers added an insurance run in the eighth to provide the final margin of victory.
Washington Nationals (21-18) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (16-22)
LHP Ross Detwiler (2-3, 2.53) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.59)
Washington looks for a winning series to open its 10-game, three-city California road trip as the Nationals send southpaw Ross Detwiler against the recently reinstated Zack Greinke. Greinke has been out for four weeks following a broken collar bone, and allowed eight runs (three earned) in just 4.1 innings of work in his lone rehab start at High-A last week.
1. Span CF
2. Lombardozzi LF
3. Zimmerman 3B
4. LaRoche 1B
5. Desmond SS
6. Ramos C
7. Espinosa 2B
8. Berndina RF
9. Detwiler LHP
Washington’s pitching staff has logged 20.0 consecutive innings without issuing a walk, just 8.0 innings shy of matching the longest such streak in MLB this season. The Nationals (‘05-present) record for consecutive innings without granting a walk is 29.0, accomplished over parts of four games from September 16-20 during the 2011 campaign.
Nationals pitchers have thrown 47.0 consecutive innings without surrendering a home run, a stretch that has spanned five+ contests. On the flipside, Washington’s batters have been held inside the yard for three straight games and look to avoid their first four-game homer drought since the 2011 season (five games without a home run from September 12-16).
Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Bryce Harper, Danny Espinosa, Denard Span and Wilson Ramos have all missed time this season while dealing with injury or illness. Davey Johnson was last able to pen a lineup that included his standard starting eight (LaRoche 1B, Espinosa 2B, Desmond SS, Zimmerman 3B, Harper LF, Span CF, Werth RF, Ramos/Suzuki C) on April 14. Washington is 6-4 this season when Johnson’s standard starting eight play together.
There are few living legends in the game whose presence looms as large as Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully. The now 85-year-old has been the voice of the Dodgers for 64 years, dating back to their days in Brooklyn. He is a walking encyclopedia of baseball and cultural knowledge and always makes for a tremendously entertaining interview.
Scully sat down with Nationals radio man Charlie Slowes prior to Tuesday night’s game in Los Angeles. He told stories of Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey, his start in broadcasting in Washington D.C., and discussed Bryce Harper’s collision Monday night.
“The only good thing about it is it knocked his beard off,” Scully mused, as Harper had to shave in order to receive his stitches.
Scully went to the clubhouse before the game Tuesday to see Harper, who seemed caught off guard to see him in Davey Johnson’s office. As Harper shook Scully’s and offered a customary pleasantry, Scully retorted with, “Well, how are you young man?” in reference to the play the night before. The two went on to chat for several minutes as Johnson made his away around the clubhouse.
“He’s such a fine young man and an outstanding player,” said Scully of Harper. “It’s none of my business, but I hope he stays clean shaven.”
Listen to the full interview below. The Nationals wrap their three-game set in Los Angeles tonight.
Washington Nationals (21-17) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (15-22)
RHP Dan Haren (4-3, 5.17) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (3-2, 1.62)
The Nationals opened their 10-game California trip with a 6-2 victory on Monday night and hope to keep their winning ways going against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. Dan Haren takes the mound for Washington riding a three-game winning streak over which he has fashioned a 3.15 ERA, striking out 12 and walking just two.
1. Espinosa 2B
2. Lombardozzi LF
3. Zimmerman 3B
4. Desmond SS
5. LaRoche 1B
6. Moore RF
7. Ramos C
8. Perez CF
9. Haren RHP
BETTER THAN LAST YEAR’S BEST
Nationals starting pitchers rank second in the Major League Baseball with a 3.19 ERA (83 ER/234.0 IP). Last season, Washington paced the National League in starters ERA at 3.40.
Adam LaRoche enters tonight’s action riding a 10-game hit streak, one shy of his career-long of 11 (accomplished twice, last July 22-August 3, 2012). During the stretch, which began on May 2, LaRoche has gone 14-for-34 (.412) with two doubles, four RBI, six walks and five runs scored, posting a .488 OBP and a .958 OPS. LaRoche joins Ian Desmond (10 games, April 24-May 3) as the only Nationals to put together double-digit streaks this season.
NO DOUBLE DIPPING
With just 20 GIDPs, the Nationals have been the second-toughest club in the NL to double-up this season (NYM, 15 GDP). Denard Span, who has not grounded into a double play since September 24 last season, currently ranks third in the NL with 137 at-bats without a GIDP.