Results tagged ‘ Miami Marlins ’

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).

Bouncing Back Big

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Early in a young season, teams are still settling into the flow of the campaign, still forming the identities that will define them over the course of 162 games. A quick glance at Washington’s results through the first couple weeks may lead one to wonder what kind of team these 2013 Nationals truly are. But before jumping to any conclusions, positive or negative, take heed from someone who knows best.

“You’re never as bad as you look when you lose, and never as good as you look when you win,” said skipper Davey Johnson after the weekend series against the Braves.

He echoed that sentiment after Monday night’s 10-3, series-opening thrashing of the Marlins.

Jordan Zimmermann steadied the ship and gave the bullpen a day off.

Jordan Zimmermann steadied the ship and gave the bullpen a day off.

“You know, we don’t live in the past,” he said. “We don’t worry too much about things. We take it one day at a time, and this was a perfect example.”

The Nationals snapped out of their weekend funk with a roaring first inning, scoring four runs before Jordan Zimmermann ever took the mound. They added on with two more in the third, fourth and fifth to open up a 10-0 advantage behind their workmanlike third ace, who delivered his first-ever, nine-inning complete game. While it was a big game to reverse momentum and preserve the bullpen, it was only fitting that the even-keeled Zimmermann controlled the tempo throughout. Nevertheless, he allowed himself to relish in his accomplishment.

“It means a lot,” he said of his 103-pitch performance. “It means I’m doing my job, staying in the game, putting up zeroes. That’s the kind of pitcher I want to be. I want to be a workhorse.”

Zimmermann, who was the first Nationals starter to two wins, now leads the team and shares the league lead with three, to go along with his 2.45 ERA. After getting precious little run support through much of his 12-win campaign last year, he has been the beneficiary of 21 runs of offense through his first three outings this season.

“It seems like we all hit better when Jordan pitches,” said Ian Desmond, whose 4-for-5 night raised his average to .320 for the season. “Last year, we didn’t hit for him. This year, we’re hitting for him.”

Zimmermann will not finish the year 33-0 with a win in every start. The Nationals will not win every game they play against Miami this season, nor lose every one against Atlanta. It is important to keep perspective, especially considering this – entering play on June 4 last season, 39 games farther into the campaign than they currently sit, the Nationals were in a three-way tie for first place with Miami and the New York Mets. Seriously, see for yourself.

Regardless of how much stock you want to put in a single game’s outcome, though, it was a good night to get a win and get back on track.

Highlights: 4.15.13

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4.15.13 – Nationals 10, Marlins 3

Stat of the Game: Ryan Zimmerman‘s first home run of the season gave him four RBI for the evening, making him the team leader in that category with 11 on the year.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Needing just 103 pitches to do so, Jordan Zimmermann notched his first career nine-inning complete game.

It Was Over When: The Nationals scored four times in the first inning and never looked back on the way to their largest offensive output of the young season.

What to Watch for: 4.15.13

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Washington Nationals (7-5) vs. Miami Marlins (2-10)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (2-0, 2.08) vs. Wade LeBlanc (0-2, 3.27)

The Nationals hit the road for a six-game swing through Miami and New York, opening with a three-game series with the Marlins tonight. Washington swept the Fish to open the season back in D.C. just two weeks ago.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. Desmond SS

6. Moore 1B

7. Lombardozzi 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Zimmermann RHP

ATTENTION SPAN!

Denard Span’s .423 on-base percentage is noteworthy beyond the fact that it ranks sixth among all Major League leadoff hitters. In recent years, Washington struggled mightily ranking 18th (.325 in 2012) and dead last (.285 in 2011) in on-base percentage from the leadoff slot.

EXTRA, EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT!

The Nationals pace the NL as 39.8 percent of their hits in ‘13 have gone for extra bases. Washington’s 93 hits include 18 doubles, two triples and 17 home runs. The Mets rank second in extra-base hit percentage at 39.4%.

CATCHING CAP

Davey Johnson and his 1293 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).

The Routine of the Road

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Baseball players are creatures of habit. They have to be, by necessity. Success in this sport is defined by consistency, by the ability to produce at a high level continuously over the ups and downs of a six-month grind.

So one can imagine that it might take a while for players to get into their groove upon the beginning of a new campaign. Spring Training is easy – every day is almost the same – a morning workout, usually a mid-day game, and the evening off, with the same bed to sleep in for six weeks. The regular season brings something else entirely.

From the beginning of April until whenever the season comes to an end, the team jets north and south, east and west, zigzagging the country every few days. Most road trips – of which the Nationals will take a dozen during the regular season – include at least two different stops, meaning a new city, a new opponent for which to prepare, a new ballpark, and a new hotel bed.

Santangelo is used to the rigors of the road from his playing days.

Santangelo is used to the rigors of the road from his playing days.

It’s no wonder it can take a while for players to settle in.

“It usually took me the whole month of April,” recalled Nationals television color man F.P. Santangelo, who played parts of seven big league seasons with the Expos, Giants, Dodgers and Athletics.

For the Nationals, the month of April includes the recently concluded trip to Cincinnati, an upcoming week split between Miami and New York, and a trip to Atlanta and Pittsburgh that rolls into early May. While that is a fair amount of travel, Santangelo pointed out that the Nats lucked out in one regard.

“At least they only have one Opening Day,” he explained, referencing the April 1 opener in D.C. “Sometimes we’d have two or three. You’d have to stand out on the line for a half-hour for introductions. It would take you totally out of your routine.”

Quite often, teams will play in both their own home opener as well as one or more on the road, as Washington did last year in Chicago. The Nationals were spared the extra pomp and circumstance by a quirk in the schedule this year that saw them play three at home, travel to Cincinnati for three, then return again to D.C.

Now behind the mic, Santangelo is still subject to the same schedule as the players. Having played through it during his career, he knows not to invest too much into the highs (like a three-game, opening sweep of the Marlins) or the lows (such as a 15-0 loss to the Reds on Friday) this early in the season.

That’s the beauty of the game – while each individual result stands on its own, the teams that can get into the habit of winning for the long stretches are the ones that get to keep playing in October.

Weekly Review: 4.8.13

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It was an exciting first week of the 2013 season, as next year finally arrived. The Nationals opened their campaign as defending National League East Champs against the Marlins in Washington on Monday. Bryce Harper took no time building off last year’s Rookie of the Year campaign, homering in each of his first two at-bats of the season, backing Stephen Strasburg in a 2-0 victory in front of the largest regular season crowd in Nationals Park history. Despite the star power on display, the quiet return of Wilson Ramos may have been the most impressive storyline of the day.

After an off-day Tuesday, the Nationals shut out Miami again on Wednesday, with Gio Gonzalez doing it all himself, tossing six scoreless frames and homering for the game’s first run in a 3-0 final. Meanwhile, Roger Bernadina introduced a new term into the ever-growing Shark lexicon. On Thursday, Washington rounded out a season-opening sweep with a 6-1 win, becoming just the fourth team in Major League history – and the first since the 1979 Astros – to allow just one run over its first three combined games.

The first road trip of the year began inauspiciously, as Washington was blanked, 15-0, in the series opener Friday night in Cincinnati. However, the club responded in a big way, launching five home runs, including two in the 11th inning, to capture a thrilling, nail-biting, cardiac arrhythmia-inducing victory on Saturday. Kurt Suzuki got into the offensive act with a three-run shot in the Sunday finale, but the Nats dropped the game, 6-3, and the series to the defending NL Central Champs.

Overall Record: 4-2

What to Watch for: 4.5.13

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Washington Nationals (3-0) vs. Cincinnati Reds (2-1)

RHP Dan Haren (0-0) vs. RHP Homer Bailey (0-0)

The defending NL East and NL Central champs battle in Cincinnati as the Nationals head out on the road for the first time following a season-opening sweep of the Marlins this week in D.C.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Haren RHP

ZERO TOLERANCE

At 3-0, the Nationals are Major League Baseball’s lone undefeated team. It has been exactly 100 years since the last time a team from the Nation’s Capital was lone big league team without a loss. The 1913 AL Nationals won their first five games en route 90 wins and second place in the American League.

ONE AND DONE

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Nationals (via 2-0, 3-0 and 6-1 home wins over the Marlins) are just the fourth team in MLB history to allow no more than one run in the initial three games of a season. The 1979 Astros (2-1, 6-0, 2-0), ‘69 Padres (2-1, 2-0, 2-0) and ’63 Cardinals (7-0, 4-0, 7-0) were the original three clubs to turn this trick.

HARPER’S DREAM DOZEN

With two more hits in Thursday’s finale, Bryce Harper has now hit safely in a career-high 12 straight regular season games dating to September 24 of last season. The 12-game hitting streak is currently tied with Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki for the longest active streak in MLB. During Harper’s current 12-gamer, which spans 13 contests (he pinch ran in Washington’s 2012 season finale vs. Philadelphia, but did not bat), he is 21-for-45 (.467) with four doubles, a triple, five home runs and 10 RBI. Harper’s OPS during the streak is 1.444 and he has scored 13 runs.

A Healthy Start

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So far, so good in 2013. Washington is off to a 3-0 start for the first time in five seasons and stands alone atop the NL East. And before you go belittling the fact that the only team they’ve beaten so far is the Marlins, think back for a moment to the beginning of last year.

The Nationals also got off to a good start in 2012, but they were unable to fully put away any of their early season opponents, setting themselves up to sweep a series 10 times before finally sealing the deal. Of course, considering the litany of injuries the team weathered, particularly through the season’s first half, it was impressive that the Nationals were ever in a position to be able to sweep anyone in the first place.

Wilson Ramos is one of many Nats now healthy after missing significant time last year.

Wilson Ramos is one of many Nats now healthy after missing significant time last year.

Just look back at the roster in the beginning of the 2012 season. Mark DeRosa was the Opening Day left fielder. Brad Lidge was the closer. Bryce Harper was still in Syracuse. Michael Morse and Drew Storen did not come back to Washington until mid-season, while watching Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman all hit the disabled list before their return.

The story has been much different so far this year (knock on wood). The Opening Day lineup most fans envisioned when they saw the club for the first time this year at NatsFest was the actual Opening Day lineup on the field in D.C. on April 1. With the young and untested Marlins first up on the schedule, a sweep was almost expected, as unfair as that may be.

And yet, the Nats lived up to that expectation. At the end of four days of play, they are the lone remaining undefeated team in Major League Baseball.

Of course, the season is long, and will no doubt take its twists and turns, with players missing time here and there for the various bumps and bruises that come with the territory of a 162-game slate. The jokes about 162-0 will soon be forgotten, whenever the team drops its first contest of the year.

Washington encounters its first true test tonight, facing off with the defending National League Central Champion Reds in Cincinnati. With a lineup of mashers, especially from the left side, it seems unlikely that the Nationals will be able to count on allowing only a single earned run over three games in this series. It will be a tough first assignment for Dan Haren, but one that he no doubt welcomes as he – and the Nats – hit the road healthy here at the outset of the season.

What to Watch for: 4.4.13

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Miami Marlins (0-2) vs. Washington Nationals (2-0)

LHP Wade LeBlanc (0-0) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (0-0)

Washington aims for a season-opening sweep as the Nationals face the Marlins in a rare, midweek mid-afternoon affair at Nationals Park. Miami has yet to score through the first two games of the season against the Nats pitching staff.

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. Zimmermann RHP

LUCKY NUMBER 13

According to Elias, the Nationals became just the 13th team since 1900 to open the season with consecutive shutouts, blanking the Marlins 3-0 after a 2-0 Opening Day whitewash. It also marks the first time any team in Expos/Nationals history has accomplished the feat. The last MLB team to turn the trick was the 2002 Arizona Diamondbacks.

DEEP SIXED

Gio Gonzalez became the just the third pitcher in franchise history, and the second since the team moved to The District, to throw at least six scoreless innings and homer in the same game. He joins Floyd Youmans (6.8.86 vs. Philadelphia) and Livan Hernandez (9.14.10 at Atlanta) on the short list.

UNTUCK YOU TO SLEEP

Rafael Soriano closed out his second save in as many games, allowing a hit and a walk in a scoreless ninth inning. In 12 career appearances at Nationals Park, the reliever has a 1.59 ERA (2 ER/11.1 IP) and has converted all seven of his save opportunities.

Highlights: 4.3.13

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4.3.13 – Nationals 3, Marlins 0

Stat of the Game: Gio Gonzalez outscored the Marlins on his own, launching his second career home run in the fifth inning while tossing six scoreless frames to earn the victory.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ryan Zimmerman picked up his first two hits and first RBI of the season, tripling in the sixth, then singling home Bryce Harper in the eighth for Washington’s third and final run.

It Was Over When: Harper’s insurance run helped, but the Marlins weren’t done until Rafael Soriano got Justin Ruggiano – representing the game-tying run – to fly out to Denard Span for the final out of the game.

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