Results tagged ‘ Miami Marlins ’

What to Watch for: 9.6.13

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Washington Nationals (71-68) vs. Miami Marlins (52-86)

RHP Dan Haren (8-12, 5.02) vs. RHP Jose Fernandez (10-6, 2.33)

The Nationals have won three-of-four, six-of-nine and 11 of their last 15 games as they head to Miami for a three-game weekend series against the Marlins beginning tonight. Washington will draw reigning back-to-back NL Rookie of the Month winner Jose Fernandez in the opener and will counter with Dan Haren, who is 4-1 with a save and a 3.30 ERA in his last eight outings (seven starts).

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Corey Brown CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Adam LaRoche 1B

6. Ian Desmond SS

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Dan Haren RHP

‘MANN OF THE HOUR

Jordan Zimmermann earned his 16th win of the season, tied for the most in the National League, Wednesday night as Washington topped Philadelphia, 3-2, to claim the series victory. The right-hander allowed two earned runs on seven hits while striking out five with just one walk in 7.0 innings of work. He also gave himself the chance to earn the victory by keeping the game tied with a tremendous defensive play, ending the Phillies half of the seventh.

SERIES-LY SPEAKING

Via a 10-8 mark in 2007, the Nationals/Expos franchise has won only one season series from Miami since 1998. That streak can end with just a single win among the final six matchups between the two teams. Washington is 6-0 against the Fish at Nationals Park and 9-3 overall. Ryan Zimmerman’s 19 career homers against the Marlins are the most he’s hit against any other club (Atlanta – 17).

BETTER LATE

Dating to August 9, the Nationals rank among the National League leaders in OPS (first, .805), on-base percentage (first, .366), home runs (second, 27), walks (second, 98), and slugging percentage (second, .440). Washington has posted double-digit hit totals in 10 of the last 15 games.

What to Watch for: 8.30.13

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New York Mets (60-72) vs. Washington Nationals (68-65)

RHP Dillon Gee (9-9, 3.69) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (15-7, 3.32) 

Often in baseball, we talk about the intangible benefits of veterans in the clubhouse. They seem to have an effect on the team dynamic by their mere presence, leading by example, letting their play speak for itself.

It’s less often we hear about the tangible benefits of veteran leaders. Sure, they’re frequently the ones making an impact in the box score night in and night out, but their role as teachers for the less experienced players can be easy to overlook.

Yet, if it weren’t for one of those moments of tangible leadership, the Nationals might have had a more difficult time dispatching the Marlins, 9-0, on Thursday night.

On paper, pitcher Gio Gonzalez’s seven shutout innings look about as solid as a manager can hope for from his starter. For the first two innings, though, Miami appeared to be on the verge of a breakthrough, as Gonzalez walked three and gave up two hits, striking out just one batter. While he managed to strand three runners in scoring position over the first two frames, his pitch count rose to 43, not a good sign with a depleted Nationals bullpen that threw seven innings Wednesday due to the rain.

Cue that veteran guidance. Dripping with sweat after the two long frames, Gonzalez retreated to the clubhouse and found closer Rafael Soriano waiting for him. The 12-year veteran had noticed something off with Gonzalez’s delivery and had some words of wisdom for the Nationals starter.

“After the second inning, I came up here to change my shirt, and I had Soriano standing right in the entrance telling me, ‘Stay back, your arm is dropping way too low and you are trying to rush,’” Gonzalez recalled. “That meant a lot, especially when he is out there watching.”

Gonzalez made the adjustment. Over his next five innings of work, he gave up just one more hit and struck out seven Miami batters on just 65 pitches. Nationals Manager Davey Johnson flirted with the idea of sending him back out for the eighth, before handing the ball over to Tanner Roark. The rookie reliever made quick work of the eighth and ninth innings, needing just 13 pitches, 12 of which were strikes.

The Nats offense helped alleviate any lingering pressure, with Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond each launching multi-run homers over the left field fence. If the Nationals are to make a run at a National League Wild Card spot, offensive performances like those that have marked their current hot streak will be crucial. But so, too, will the small adjustments like Gonzalez’s, and the veterans that spot the need for them.

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. Jordan Zimmermann RHP

D.C.’S HIT MAN SOON TO BE EXPOSED

Jayson Werth’s .329 batting average would rank a close second in the National League and trail only Yadier Molina (.333) with enough plate appearances to qualify. Werth’s 411 plate appearances to date are only one shy of the 412 presently required (133 games x 3.1 plate appearances per game) to qualify for the NL batting title. The outfielder is batting a Major League Baseball-best .389 dating to July 1.

18 AND UP CLUB

The Nationals are the lone National League club to feature four players with 18 or more home runs. The team’s long balls have been fairly evenly distributed, however, as each of the top four power players in Washington are within just three dingers of one other:

Jayson Werth – 21

Ian Desmond – 20

Bryce Harper – 19

Adam LaRoche – 18

AUGUST HEAT

After struggling offensively for portions of the 2013 season, the Nationals rank third in the NL in runs per game in the month of August. Washington has scored 123 runs in 25 games this month (4.92 per game). Among Senior Circuit entries, only St. Louis (5.19 runs in 27 August contests) and Arizona (5.04 in 25 games) have scored more often per contest than the Nationals this month.

Highlights: 8.29.13

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8.29.13 – Nationals 9, Marlins 0

Stat of the Game: The Nationals swatted three home runs – by Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond – en route to the rout.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Gio Gonzalez allowed just three hits over seven scoreless frames, striking out eight.

It Was Over When: Werth’s team-leading 21st blast, a three-run shot, landed about 20 rows deep in left field.

What to Watch for: 8.29.13

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Miami Marlins (49-82) vs. Washington Nationals (67-65)

RHP Tom Koehler (3-8, 4.45) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-6, 3.66) 

The Nationals endured an hour-and-12-minute rain delay, which forced starter Stephen Strasburg from the game after just two frames, then went on to win a back-and-forth affair, 4-3, on Wednesday night. The victory marked Washington’s second one-run triumph in a row over Miami, as the Nats beat the Marlins for the fifth time in as many home games this season. The Nationals turn to Gio Gonzalez tonight in hopes of their second home sweep over Miami in as many tries.

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. Gio Gonzalez LHP

7-8-9

The Nationals have won seven of their last eight home games as well as seven of their last eight games overall heading into tonight. Washington went an even 9-9 against the Marlins last season, but can move to 9-3 already this season (3-3 on the road, 5-0 at home) with a win tonight.

20-20 VISION

Ian Desmond, via his 19-homer, 18-stolen bag effort so far, is on the cusp of recording the third 20-homer, 20-stolen base season by a member of the Nationals. The previous two 20-20 campaigns came from Desmond (25 HR, 21 SB) last season and Alfonso Soriano (46 HR, 41 SB) in ‘06.

COASTING TO HISTORY

The Nationals Rookie-level Gulf Coast League entry had their regular-season finale rained out today, so they finished the regular season with a 49-9 (.845) mark. That figure established a domestic record for best single-season winning percentage in Minor League Baseball history, eclipsing the 1979 Paintsville Yankees (52-13, .800) of the Rookie-level Appalachian League.

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.

What to Watch for: 8.28.13

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Miami Marlins (49-81) vs. Washington Nationals (66-65)

RHP Henderson Alvarez (2-3, 3.86) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 3.00) 

A two-run burst in the first inning was enough for the Nationals to secure a victory in last night’s series opener with the Marlins. Stephen Strasburg takes the mound tonight, as the Washington looks for its seventh win in its last eight contests. Strasburg is 3-1 with a 0.73 ERA in five home starts this season against National League East rivals, while Washington is 4-0 at home this season against the Fish.

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. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

MOVE OVER CHUCK

With Tuesday’s 2-1 home win, Davey Johnson earned his 1,352th career victory and moved into a tie for 28th place on the all-time managerial win list with Chuck Tanner. Wilbert Robinson ranks 27th on the same list with 1,397 career managerial wins. Tanner (1,352-1,381, .495) managed the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves for 19 seasons and is best remembered for piloting the 1979 Pirates’ World Championship campaign.

ATTENTION: SPAN

Denard Span has hit safely in a season-high 10 straight games at a .395 clip (17-for-43) with three walks, a double, two triples, a homer, five runs scored and four RBI. This is the fifth double-digit hit streak of Span’s career. He hit safely in a career-best 12 consecutive games while with the Twins from April 18-May 1, 2012. Bryce Harper is 15-for-37 (.405) with six walks, five doubles, a homer, seven runs scored and six RBI during his current nine-game hit streak. Harper has yet to register a double-digit hit streak at a big leaguer.

DOWN ON THE FARM

The .554 winning percentage (404-325) posted by the Nationals Minor League system ranks third among Major League Baseball’s 30 franchises behind only San Francisco (.574) and Houston (.573). The Nationals system has registered a winning record in each of the last five seasons (2008-12), but has never finished among the top five.

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.

What to Watch for: 8.27.13

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Miami Marlins (49-80) vs. Washington Nationals (65-65)

RHP Nathan Eovaldi (2-4, 3.82) vs. RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 2.58)

With a successful 6-4 road trip behind them, the Nationals begin a six-game homestand tonight with the first of three against Miami, whom they swept at home to open the season. Washington has won 11 of its last 16 games, and looks to continue its winning ways with its next 19 contests coming against the Marlins (49-80), New York Mets (58-71) and Philadelphia Phillies (60-71).

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. Ross Ohlendorf RHP

AUGUST HEAT

After struggling offensively for much of 2013, the Nationals rank third in the National League in runs per game in the month of August. Washington has scored 108 runs in 22 games this month (4.9 per game). Only the St. Louis Cardinals (5.4 runs in 25 August contests) and Arizona Diamondbacks (5.0 in 23 games) have scored more profusely than the Nationals this month. 

GOING STREAKING

With Sunday’s four-hit effort at Kauffman Stadium, Denard Span has hit safely in nine straight games, at a .400 clip (16-for-40) with two walks, a double, two triples, a homer, five runs and four RBI. Span is in search of his first double-digit hit streak as a member of the Nationals. Meanwhile, Bryce Harper is 13-for-33 (.394) with six walks, five doubles, a homer, six runs scored and six RBI during his current eight-game hit streak. Harper has yet to register a double-digit hit streak at a big leaguer.

GOOD WOOD

The Nationals are 5-1 and have scored at least four runs in each of their last six games, during which they are batting .314 (72-for-229) with 28 walks, 14 doubles, two triples, and nine home runs, all of which have yielded a .387 on-base percentage, a .511 slugging percentage and an .898 OPS. Washington has also gone (.316, 18-for-57) with runners in scoring position in the same six-game span.

Highlights: 7.14.13

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7.14.13 – Nationals 5, Marlins 2 (10 innings)

Stat of the Game: Denard Span had three hits including a pair of RBI-doubles, the last of which broke a 2-2 tie in the 10th inning.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Anthony Rendon also swatted two doubles, giving him 14 through his first 43 Major League games.

It Was Over When: Washington rode three consecutive two-out, RBI-hits in the top of the 10th to a three-run frame to win the final game before the All-Star break.

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