Results tagged ‘ New York Mets ’

Daily Wrap: Strasburg named Opening Day starter, Detwiler talks bullpen, & more

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by Amanda Comak

VIERA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals fell to the Houston Astros, 2-0, on Wednesday night, despite a strong five-inning performance from Taylor Jordan and solid relief work from Ross Detwiler, Rafael Soriano and Tyler Clippard.

To the Daily Wrap…

News of the Day: Stephen Strasburg will be the Nationals’ Opening Day starter.

Stephen Strasburg was named the Nationals' Opening Day starter for the third straight year.

Stephen Strasburg was named the Nationals’ Opening Day starter for the third straight year.

Washington Nationals Manager Matt Williams announced Wednesday night that, for the third consecutive year, Stephen Strasburg will be the team’s Opening Day starter.

“He’s earned it,” Williams said after the team’s 2-0 loss to the Houston Astros. “He’ll toe that slab for us on Opening Day.”

This spring, Strasburg has allowed just one earned run in three starts while working on holding runners and incorporating a new pitch. He’ll make his fourth start of Spring Training on Thursday against the Detroit Tigers, and that start will line him up to be on turn for the Nationals’ March 31 opener at Citi Field against the New York Mets.

And while Strasburg was perhaps the expected choice, the uber-talented right-hander having done it the previous two years, Williams acknowledged that some of the other Nationals starters gave him pause before making the final decision. Jordan Zimmermann, a 19-game winner and an All-Star a season ago, was chief among them.

“We have a number of guys who could fill that position,” Williams said of the Opening Day honor. “But we spoke to Jordan and he’s good with pitching wherever and whenever. Opening Day is important, but the rest of the games are important, too.”

Quote of the Day: Ross Detwiler on taking a team-first attitude on his move to the bullpen.

Detwiler pitched a scoreless inning in relief on Wednesday night, the first step in his transition into the Nationals’ bullpen. Earlier in the day, the left-hander discussed the team’s decision with reporters, taking a team-first attitude to the move.

“I still view myself as a starter,” Detwiler said. “But I’m not going to go out there and hope somebody does bad or somebody gets hurt. We’re in it to win. And I think it’s going to hurt worse if we don’t win the whole thing this year.”

Video highlights:

Taylor Jordan strikes out five in five innings.

Ross Detwiler fans Jason Castro in the sixth.

Danny Espinosa makes a diving stop and shows off his throwing arm.

Notables:

Williams said Wednesday that right-hander Doug Fister, who pitched in a Minor League game on Monday, will return to the Major League rotation on Saturday against the Miami Marlins… Williams also said he expects the top of the Nationals’ rotation to feature Gio Gonzalez behind Strasburg and Zimmermann behind Gonzalez.

What to Watch for: 9.17.13 – Game One

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Atlanta Braves (89-60) vs. Washington Nationals (79-70)

LHP Mike Minor (13-7, 3.15) vs. RHP Dan Haren (9-13, 5.02)

After tying a season-high with 18 hits in an 11-2 victory over the Phillies on Sunday, the Nationals look to continue their hot hitting in the first game of today’s twin bill with the Braves. Dan Haren takes the mound for Washington, one start removed from claiming a 3-0 victory over the Mets in which he allowed just one hit and struck out eight in 6.0 innings.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche  1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Dan Haren RHP

BEST BALL

Washington owns Major League Baseball’s best record dating to August 9 (25-10, .714). In that span, the Nationals lead the National League in runs scored (191) and run differential (+60). The Nats have won seven of eight series since taking three of four games at Wrigley Field, August 19-22.

HOMER HAPPY

At the completion of play on September 1, when the Nationals departed for their most-recent road trip, Ryan Zimmerman was tied for 38th in the NL with 15 home runs. In the two weeks and 13 games later, Zimmerman has tallied nine long balls and is currently ranked eighth in the NL with a team-best 24 homers. Zimmerman’s nine September homers are tied with San Francisco’s Hunter Pence for the MLB lead. Wilson Ramos (six) ranks third on that same September list, while no other big leaguer has more than five.

STRINGING ‘EM TOGETHER

Denard Span has hit safely in a career-high 26 straight games at a .387 (43-for-111) clip with six walks, five doubles, two triples, two homers, 18 runs scored, eight RBI and five stolen bases. His streak is both the second longest in MLB this year (Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer, 27 games) and in the nine-year history of the Nationals (Ryan Zimmerman, 30-games, April 8-May 12, 2009). Meanwhile, Wilson Ramos has started a Nationals record and MLB season-high 23 consecutive games behind the plate. Ramos is batting .261 (23-for-88) with seven home runs and 24 RBI during his string of starts, which began on August 22 at Wrigley Field. Washington is playing .739 (17-6) ball during that stretch.

Highlights: 9.12.13

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9.12.13 – Nationals 7, Mets 2

Stat of the Game: Ryan Zimmerman homered for the eighth time in his last 10 games, tying Jayson Werth for the team lead with 23 on the season.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Tanner Roark improved to 6-0 on the season, following 6.0 innings of two-run ball.

It Was Over When: Anthony Rendon swatted a solo shot in the ninth, as the Nationals out-homered the Mets, 13-0 on the series.

What to Watch for: 9.12.13

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Washington Nationals (76-69) vs. New York Mets (64-80)

RHP Tanner Roark (5-0, 0.94) vs. RHP Aaron Harang (5-11, 5.76)

Much has been made of Ryan Zimmerman’s adjustments at third base since his offseason shoulder surgery, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Though he’s made 21 errors overall, two shy of his career high, the third baseman has committed just four in his last 34 games, while adding to his career highlight reel with some spectacular plays.

On Saturday night in Miami, he made this tremendous play, ranging to his backhand, then spinning and throwing mid-air while falling into foul territory to get the runner at first.

Two nights ago, late in a one-run game, he laid out to stop a hot shot, bounced back to his feet and nabbed a speedy runner by a couple steps.

Then, Wednesday night, he turned in a pair of defensive gems. First, he showed off his reflexes with a great backhand stop, and followed it up with this charging, barehanded grab and throw.

As Zimmerman’s defense has improved, so has his production at the plate. He opened the scoring with a home run Wednesday night, his fifth in his last five games. It is no coincidence that Washington has won each of those games, matching the longest winning stretch for the team this season and elevating the club to a season-high seven games over .500.

“I don’t know if one has anything to do with the other,” said Zimmerman about his offense and defense both improving simultaneously. “But I say it all the time – baseball is contagious.”

Another thing Zimmerman has reminded the media of throughout the season is the tendency for the players on hot or cold streaks to return to the norm by season’s end; that they usually settle around their career numbers. Zimmerman, a career .286/.353/.477 hitter who has averaged 22 home runs over the past seven years, is currently batting .275/.348/.462. His home run on Wednesday was his 22nd of the season.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Tanner Roark RHP

FIVE FOR FIGHTING

The Nationals have won five straight games and are 7-2 on their current 11-day, 10-game road trip entering Thursday’s series finale. Washington has also won seven-of-eight, 16-of-21, and is 22-9 since entering play on August 16. With 17 games remaining in the regular season, the Nationals trial the Reds by six games, five in the loss column.

DR. JEKYLL & MR. HAREN

After struggling to a 4-10 mark and a 5.61 ERA before the All-Star break, Dan Haren has been better in the season’s second half, flashing signs of brilliance, as he did Wednesday night. Overall, Haren sports a 5-3 record (with a save) and a 3.68 ERA (26 ER/63.2 IP) since the break.

CATCH-22

The number 22 was the number of the night for Washington. Ryan Zimmerman blasted his 22nd home run of the season, which was also his fifth in as many games. Denard Span extended his career-high hitting streak to 22 games with a third-inning double. And Anthony Rendon’s two-out, two-run double in the eighth was his 22nd of the 2013 campaign.

Highlights: 9.11.13

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9.11.13 – Nationals 3, Mets 0

Stat of the Game: Dan Haren limited the Mets to a single hit over six scoreless frames, striking out eight.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ryan Zimmerman hit his fifth home run in as many games and Denard Span extended his hit streak to 22 games.

It Was Over When: Anthony Rendon added a pair of key insurance runs with a two-out, two-run double in the eighth.

What to Watch for: 9.11.13

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Washington Nationals (75-69) vs. New York Mets (64-79)

RHP Dan Haren (8-13, 5.23) vs. RHP Zack Wheeler (7-4, 3.38)

As Washington carries a four-game winning streak into tonight’s game in New York, two Nationals enter with notable streaks of their own. Denard Span’s third-inning double Tuesday night extended his hitting streak to 21 games. Not only is that both the longest run of his career and the longest by a National this season, it is also the second-longest in all of the Major Leagues this year, trailing only Michael Cuddyer’s 27-gamer.

Meanwhile, Wilson Ramos makes his 19th consecutive start tonight, a longer stretch than any catcher in Nationals history. After tonight, he will be just three games shy of tying Yadier Molina’s 22-game mark for the longest in baseball this year.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Dan Haren RHP

A WERTHY LEADING MAN

Jayson Werth homered and doubled twice in four at-bats on Tuesday, raising his batting average to .328 on the season. He currently ranks third in the National League batting race, trailing only Michael Cuddyer (.330), and Chris Johnson (.330). Werth leads the NL in OPS (.949) and slugging percentage (.548), and is fourth in on-base percentage (.401).

OH, TO BE 17 AGAIN

Jordan Zimmermann allowed three earned runs in 5.0+ innings of work, but left with the lead and recorded his National League-leading 17th win of the season. It was the first time in five tries that he beat the Mets in 2013, against whom he finishes just 1-3. In contrast, Zimmermann is 16-5 against the rest of the league.

BEAT THE METS

With two games remaining, Washington has already clinched the season series with the Mets, as the Nationals lead, 10 games to seven. Five lineup fixtures are batting better than .300 against New York, including Ian Desmond (.317), Bryce Harper (.303), Denard Span (.348), Jayson Werth (.333) and Ryan Zimmerman (.333).

Highlights: 9.10.13

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9.10.13 – Nationals 6, Mets 3

Stat of the Game: Jayson Werth hit his team-leading 23rd home run and doubled twice, raising his slash line to .328/.401/.548.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Scott Hairston delivered a pinch-hit home run in the ninth to provide a pair of insurance runs.

It Was Over When: Rafael Soriano locked down the save with a scoreless ninth, becoming the third Nationals closer to record at least 40 saves in a season.

What to Watch for: 9.10.13

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Washington Nationals (74-69) vs. New York Mets (64-78)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (16-8, 3.30) vs. RHP Dillon Gee (11-9, 3.53)

On any other night, a shutout backed by five home runs in a 9-0 whitewashing of an opponent would be cause for celebration in any clubhouse. But on Monday night in Flushing, Gio Gonzalez was left wondering what might have been, if only for a couple of measly inches.

After walking Daniel Murphy, the second batter of the game, Gonzalez settled into a groove against the Mets, going on to set down the next 17 men he faced. Meanwhile, the offense continued to pile up runs behind him, as five different Washington hitters went deep, just one home run shy of the club record. By the time he took the mound after the seventh-inning stretch at Citi Field, Gonzalez had a nine-run advantage and just nine outs left to record the first no-hitter in Nationals history.

The Mets had double-switched Murphy – arguably their best hitter, and certainly the one who had done the most damage to the Nationals, batting at a .385 clip (25-for-65) with seven extra-base hits against Washington – out of the game. That left it to pinch-hitter Zach Lutz, who entered the game with all of 11 Major League plate appearances this year and 22 in his career.

Lutz slapped at a first-pitch fastball and hit a soft liner to the right side, just over the first base bag. Adam LaRoche went into an all-out dive, but came up just short of snagging the ball on the fly. As it escaped his grasp, it bounced on the chalk line, then skipped up the right field line, dashing Gonzalez’s hopes for history. The southpaw hardly let it affect the rest of his performance, though, walking just one more batter en route to his second career shutout and the low-hit game of his professional career.

Lutz

“It’s fun to be a part of something like that,” said Ryan Zimmerman, who homered in the first inning for his fourth roundtripper in the last three games. “It makes you want to make a play. Everyone wants to be a part of history.”

As for Gonzalez, what was his first thought when he saw Lutz’s liner escape LaRoche’s reach?

“Foul,” he joked, but later took the greater context in perspective. “It’s a bittersweet moment. You’re happy you got the win. The team did great, everybody looked alive today. It’s just a sad moment when you lose a no-hitter down the line.”

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Ian Desmond SS

5. Adam LaRoche 1B

6. Wilson Ramos C

7. Tyler Moore LF

8. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Jordan Zimmermann RHP

THE KING OF QUEENS

Gio Gonzalez allowed just one hit and two walks while striking out eight in his first shutout of the season and second of his career. Gonzalez joins Ramon Ortiz, Jason Bergmann, and Scott Olsen as the fourth pitcher in Nationals history (‘05-present) to take a no-hitter into the seventh inning. The shutout was the 10th by a Nationals pitcher since 2005 and just the second one-hit shutout in Nationals history, along with Jordan Zimmermann’s gem over the Reds on April 26 this season.

BIG (FLY) 5

The Nationals tied a 2013 single-game high by clubbing five home runs, including back-to-back shots by Denard Span and Ryan Zimmerman to lead off the game. The Washington club record for one game is six, last matched in back-to-back contests September 4-5, 2012 vs. the Cubs.

ATTENTION: SPAN

Denard Span has hit safely in a career-high 20 straight games at a .410 (34-for-83) clip with five walks, three doubles, two triples, two homers, 14 runs scored and seven RBI. Span’s surge has raised his batting average from .258 to .282, just one point off his career average. Span’s 20-game streak is the longest active streak and tied for the third-longest streak overall in Major League Baseball this season (Cuddyer – 27, Ortiz – 27, Freese – 20).

Highlights: 9.9.13

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9.9.13 – Nationals 9, Mets 0

Stat of the Game: Gio Gonzalez allowed a single hit over nine scoreless frames to record his second career complete game shutout.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Five different Nationals homered including Ryan Zimmerman, who blasted his fourth in three games.

It Was Over When: Gonzalez woke up Monday morning. He held the Mets hitless into the seventh, striking out eight.

What to Watch for: 9.9.13

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Washington Nationals (73-69) vs. New York Mets (64-77)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (9-6, 3.49) vs. RHP Carlos Torres (3-5, 2.89)

Quietly, the Nationals have played their best extended stretch of baseball over the past calendar month, having won four-of-five, eight-of-12, 13-of-18 and 19 of their last 28 games. Unfortunately, the teams in front of them have continued to win as well, preventing Washington from closing any real ground in the chase for the final playoff spot. Entering the beginning of tonight’s four-game series in New York, Washington trails both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati by eight games in the standings.

There are 20 games remaining in the regular season, as the Nationals follow these four in New York with 10 more at home – against Philadelphia, Atlanta and Miami – then six final road games, three apiece at St. Louis and Arizona. That leaves their elimination number at 12 behind the Reds and 13 behind the Pirates, who have suddenly lost four straight. Washington will have to play the final 20 contests at least eight games better than one of those two clubs to continue their season into October.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Ian Desmond SS

5. Adam LaRoche 1B

6. Wilson Ramos C

7. Tyler Moore LF

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Gio Gonzalez LHP

ATTENTION SPAN

Denard Span has hit safely in a career-high 19 straight games at a .397 (31-for-78) clip with five walks, three doubles, two triples, a homer, 12 runs scored and 6 RBI. Span’s surge has raised his batting average from .258 to .279 on the season. The 19-game streak is the longest active streak in MLB and the longest by a National this season.

START ME UP

Wilson Ramos has started 16 consecutive games, the longest streak by a Nationals backstop (2005-present) and the fouth-longest streak by a MLB catcher this season. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina paces that group (22 G, 4/20-5/14). During this stretch, Ramos has clubbed 3 homers and plated 11 RBI.

TURNING 40 SOON

With 39 in hand, Rafael Soriano is just one save away from becoming the third Nationals closer to record 40 saves in a season, joining Chad Cordero (47, ‘05) and Drew Storen (43, ‘11). Soriano eclipsed 40 saves with both the Rays (45, 2010) and Yankees (42, 2012).

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