Results tagged ‘ Miami Marlins ’

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.

What to Watch for: 4.3.13

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Miami Marlins (0-1) vs. Washington Nationals (1-0)

RHP Kevin Slowey (0-0) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (0-0)

The Nationals and Marlins had Tuesday off following Opening Day on Monday. Washington rode a pair of blasts off the bat of Bryce Harper and a combined, three-hit shutout from Stephen Strasburg, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano to a 2-0 victory in the first game of the regular 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. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

OPEN SESAME

Washington blanked Miami, 2-0, in Monday’s season opener at Nationals Park. Stephen Strasburg earned his first Opening Day win with 7.0 scoreless innings, during which he allowed just three hits, walked none, struck out three and required just 80 pitches. Bryce Harper homered twice to account for both Nationals runs. Rafael Soriano struck out a pair during a perfect ninth to notch the save in his Nationals debut. Ryan Zimmerman started his 8th straight opener at third base for

Washington and he kept the Fish off the scoreboard with a dazzling play to end the first inning. The Opening Day shutout was the first registered by a team from Washington since 1971, when the final incarnation of the Senators blanked the A’s, 8-0, at RFK. The game was played in front of the largest regular season crowd (45,274 – sellout) in Nationals Park’s six-year history.

HARPER’S HISTORY MAKER

Not only did Harper become the youngest player in MLB history to homer twice on Opening Day, he did so by going deep in his first two at-bats of the season. Thus, he became the first player to homer in his first two at-bats of a season since the Pirates’ Garrett Jones turned the trick in 2010. Harper also became just the third defending Rookie of the Year to blast two home runs on Opening Day (Boston’s Carlton Fisk Carlton in 1973, Los Angeles (NL)’s Raul Mondesi in 1995).

GO GO GIO

Gio Gonzalez makes his 2013 debut at Nationals Park after throwing the home opener in D.C. last season. In that game, against the eventual NL Central Champion Cincinnati Reds, Gonzalez allowed just two hits without a walk, fanning seven over 7.0 scoreless frames to earn the first of his MLB-high 21 victories.

Recovery Act

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Opening Day brought Nationals fans plenty of early-season excitement, from Bryce Harper’s power display, to Stephen Strasburg’s quiet dominance, culminating in Rafael Soriano’s closing introduction.

Each of those performances were thrilling in their own way, but going back to the beginning of Spring Training, none were as unexpected and inspiring as Wilson Ramos earning the Opening Day start behind the plate.

Quietly, Wilson Ramos's return was perhaps the most impressive story on Opening Day.

Quietly, Wilson Ramos’s return was perhaps the most impressive story on Opening Day.

When pitchers and catchers reported to Viera, Florida on February 11, Ramos was just easing his way into action after recovering from a right knee injury suffered last May in Cincinnati. The damage required two surgeries, with the repair to his anterior cruciate ligament not taking place until July 18 – leaving just seven months until the start of camp.

With such a brief amount of recovery and rehabilitation time, the common question was not whether Ramos would able to start on April 1 against the Miami Marlins, but if he had progressed enough to land on the Major League roster or instead would begin the year on the disabled list.

Slowly but surely, Ramos began erasing doubts. The 25-year-old Venezuelan caught his first bullpen session on February 14, then participated in sliding drills on March 2. He made his first in-game catching appearance March 5 during a Spring Training contest against the Houston Astros, then caught a full game for the first time on March 22 – just 10 days before Opening Day.

His breakthrough occurred with five days to go. In a March 27 split-squad game against the Atlanta Braves, Ramos belted two mammoth home runs, driving home four runs in the 11-2 victory. No longer saddled with concerns about his knee, Ramos was able to cut loose with his swing, displaying the power that made him one of baseball’s top hitting catchers during the 2011 season. He was almost all the way back.

Then, at 1:09 p.m. on Monday, it became official. Given a “carrot for hard work” by manager Davey Johnson, Ramos found himself catching Strasburg’s gem and batting eighth in Johnson’s lineup. He drew a walk in his first plate appearance, then singled sharply through the hole on the left side of the infield in his second. He masterfully blocked balls in the dirt. He caught a laser of a throw from Harper in the seventh inning, then fired to first base, trapping Placido Polanco in a rundown. Eventually, he tagged out Giancarlo Stanton trying to score to complete the rare 7-2-3-4-2 double play, helping Strasburg out of his only jam of the afternoon.

Ramos will rest every other day to start the season, sharing time with Kurt Suzuki and continuing to build up strength. But now, unlike the beginning of spring, the common question is not whether or not Ramos will play, but what he might be able to accomplish now that he’s back behind the plate.

Highlights: 4.1.13

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4.1.13 – Nationals 2, Marlins 0

Stat of the Game: Bryce Harper homered in each of his first two plate appearances of the season to provide all of the game’s scoring. He became the youngest player ever to homer twice in his team’s first game of the season.

Under-the-Radar Performance: It’s hard to imagine this actually went under the radar, but Stephen Strasburg retired 19 batters in a row following a leadoff single to start the game. In the end, he twirled 7.0 scoreless innings, allowing only three hits along the way.

It Was Over When: The game wasn’t really over until it was over, when Rafael Soriano locked up Giancarlo Stanton looking on a called strike three to earn his first save as a Washington National.

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