Results tagged ‘ New York Mets ’

The Second “Half”

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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.

Davey Johnson is looking for more consistency from his club in the second half.

Davey Johnson is looking for more consistency from his club in the second half.

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.

What to Watch for: 7.1.13

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Milwaukee Brewers (32-48) vs. Washington Nationals (41-40)

RHP Yovani Gallardo (6-7, 4.20) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (11-3, 2.28)

The Nationals return home following their largest offensive output of the season on Sunday, when they scored 13 runs to beat the Mets and take the road series in New York. Today, they get Bryce Harper back in the lineup after a 31-game absence, during which Washington went 15-16.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Rendon 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Zimmermann RHP

BRYCE IS BACK

Bryce Harper was reinstated from the Disabled List today. With Harper in the starting lineup this season, Washington has played .581 ball (25-18). In four rehab contests (two with Double-A Harrisburg, two with Single-A Potomac) last week, Harper went 4-for-11 (.364) with three walks, a double, a triple, a homer, five runs scored and three RBI.

JUNE BOON

With three RBI in June’s finale at Citi Field, Ian Desmond set a Nationals (‘05-present) record for RBI in a single month with 28. Desmond bested the former mark of 27, set by Adam Dunn in May of 2009. With his ninth-inning blast, Desmond also established a Nationals (‘05-pres.) record for home runs in June with nine.

RECORD HIGHS

With their 13 runs on Sunday, the Nationals set a season high for scoring, easily besting their previous high of 10, set on April 15 at Miami. Every Nationals starting position player collected at least one hit and at least one RBI in the victory.

Halfway, Home

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Under gray skies, just across the highway from LaGuardia Airport – from which they would depart shortly after their Sunday series finale – the Washington Nationals obliterated the New York Mets, 13-2, reaching the official halfway point of the season with their 81st game of the 2013 campaign.

The 13 runs marked a season high, easily surpassing the previous high-water mark of 10, which they scored on April 15 at Miami. Four different players mashed home runs, with Adam LaRoche’s massive solo blast opening the scoring and Ian Desmond’s upper deck shot off the glass panels of the club down the left field line at Citi Field capping it. It was a game that reminded the Nationals, their opponent and everyone else in the league just what they are capable of, even if they haven’t shown it as consistently as they’d like through the season’s first half.

Gonzalez's May/June ERA (2.10) is more than a run lower than in his 21-win campaign in 2012 (3.25).

Gonzalez’s May/June ERA (2.10) is more than a run lower than in his 21-win campaign in 2012 (3.25).

Oh, and they get Bryce Harper back today.

Sitting just 10 games (6-4) into a stretch that will see them play 34 of 49 at home, Washington may be finally primed to make the run that seems to elude them after each big victory. They are 22-16 at home this season. They’re 25-19 when Harper plays. In their final 14 games before the All-Star Break, they will draw Milwaukee and San Diego at home, then Philadelphia and Miami on the road. Those opponents are a combined 140-185, all four residing below the .500 mark.

More important than all of that, the team as it has been comprised has won seven of its last 11 games, outscoring opponents 52-39 over that stretch. Desmond, who leads all Major League shortstops in extra-base hits, has six home runs in six different games during that time, the Nationals winning five of them. Plus, he’s coming off of a torrid month of June that saw him hit .306 (30-for-98) with a .988 OPS and 28 RBI, the most ever in a single month by a Nationals player.

Meanwhile, quietly, the pitching is looking more and more like last year, not even considering 11-game winner Jordan Zimmermann. Since May 1, Stephen Strasburg (1.93) and Gio Gonzalez (2.10) have carried the National League’s third and fourth-lowest ERAs. In the 22 games dating back to June 8, the bullpen has saved all seven of its opportunities, going 5-4 with a 2.12 ERA (17 ER/72.1 IP) and 67 strikeouts.

The first half has not gone the way that nearly anyone believed it would. But with the pieces starting to come together, the lineup and bullpen rounding into form, and the team finally running at nearly full strength, the prospects look bright for an exciting second half.

Highlights: 6.30.13

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6.30.13 – Nationals 13, Mets 2

Stat of the Game: The Nationals blasted four home runs and set a season high with 13 runs scored to take the series.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Gio Gonzalez allowed just three hits and two walks over seven scoreless frames to earn the victory.

It Was Over When: Washington opened the game up with a four-run second inning and put it well out of reach with six runs in the eighth.

What to Watch for: 6.30.13

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Washington Nationals (40-40) vs. New York Mets (33-44)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (4-3, 3.31) vs. RHP Zack Wheeler (1-0, 3.18)

The Nationals and Mets split the first two games of the series, setting up a rubber-match between promising rookie Zack Wheeler and lefty ace Gio Gonzalez in today’s Sunday matinee. Gonzalez is 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in four career starts against the Mets at Citi Field.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Werth RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Bernadina LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

THE SERIES

Washington has won 14 of its last 18 games at Citi Field. The Nationals are also 10-2 in one-run games against the Mets since the beginning of 2011. Washington has claimed two straight season-series (14-4 in 2012, 10-8 in 2011), but are just 3-4 against New York so far this season.

HARPER HEALING

Playing for Double-A Harrisburg on Saturday, Bryce Harper went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored at Bowie. In four rehab contests (two in Double-A Eastern League, two in Single-A Carolina League) this week, Harper has gone 4-for-11 (.364) with three walks, a double, a triple, a home run, five runs scored and three RBI.

OPPORTUNITY’S KNOCKING

At 5-4 (4-3 at home, 1-1 on the road), the Nationals are nine games into a 49-game stretch (June 20-August 15) in which they will enjoy 34 games within the comfy confines of Nationals Park. Washington is playing .579-ball in D.C. (22-16), but has struggled some on the road (18-24, .429).

Highlights: 6.29.13

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6.29.13 – Mets 5, Nationals 1

Stat of the Game: Kurt Suzuki had three of Washington’s seven hits and also drove in the lone run for the Nationals.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Taylor Jordan was solid in his Major League debut, as only one of the three runs he allowed was earned.

It Was Over When: The Mets scored twice in the sixth to double their lead, providing the game’s final margin.

What to Watch for: 6.29.13

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Washington Nationals (40-39) vs. New York Mets (32-44)

RHP Taylor Jordan (NR, -.–) vs. RHP Dillon Gee (5-7, 4.82)

Following Friday night’s thrilling, come-from-behind victory, the Nationals turn to Taylor Jordan, called up for his Major League debut for this Saturday matinee. Washington can secure its second straight series with a win in Flushing.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Werth RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Bernadina LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Jordan RHP

ROAD RALLY

Ian Desmond homered off Matt Harvey in the fifth inning and doubled home Jayson Werth to snap a 4-4 tie in the ninth to lift the Nationals to an unlikely 6-4 victory over the host Mets on Friday night at Citi Field. Trailing 4-1, Ryan Zimmerman’s three-run double with two outs in the eighth tied the game and set the stage for Desmond’s 10th game-winning RBI of the season. The Nationals posted their 17th comeback win and matched their largest deficit (three runs) overcome to win this season.

NATIONALS CALL ON THE KID WITH TWO FIRST NAMES

Taylor Jordan becomes the ninth starter to toe the rubber in a starting role for Washington in 2013. During last year’s 98-win NL East Championship, Davey Johnson employed the services of only eight starting pitchers. With today’s start, Jordan will become the 10th pitcher drafted and developed by the Nationals to start a game for Washington, joining John Lannan (124 starts), Jordan Zimmermann (97), Ross Detwiler (67), Stephen Strasburg (60), Craig Stammen (38), Tom Milone (5), Nathan Karns (3), Brad Peacock (2) and Marco Estrada (1).

JUNE BOON

With 25, Ian Desmond has already set a Nationals (2005-present) record for RBI in the month of June. The only Nationals to post as many or more RBI than Desmond’s 25 in any calendar month are Adam Dunn (27, May ‘09) and Ryan Zimmerman (26, September/October ‘12; 25, Aug. ‘07).

Highlights: 6.28.13

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6.28.13 – Nationals 6, Mets 4

Stat of the Game: The Nationals matched their biggest deficit overcome on the season, rebounding from a 4-1 hole with just six outs to go.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ian Desmond broke up Matt Harvey’s perfect game with a home run in the fifth and put Washington ahead for good with an RBI-double in the ninth.

It Was Over When: Kurt Suzuki‘s sac fly added an insurance run and Drew Storen slammed the door with a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save of the year.

What to Watch for: 6.28.13

Washington Nationals (39-39) vs. New York Mets (32-43)

LHP Ross Detwiler (2-6, 4.18) vs. RHP Matt Harvey (7-1, 2.05)

Following their series victory over NL West-leading Arizona, the Nationals hit the road for a quick, three-game pit stop in New York before heading back to D.C. next week. Ross Detwiler takes the hill against Mets ace Matt Harvey in the series opener as Washington looks to get back above the .500 mark.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Werth RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Bernadina LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Detwiler LHP

GOOD WOOD, SLICK LEATHER

Ian Desmond leads all Major League shortstops with nine game-winning RBI and 34 extra-base hits (19 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs). Remarkably, 10 of Desmond’s 13 long balls have been go-ahead homers. Defensively, Desmond has played a career-high and D.C.-baseball record 59 consecutive errorless games (235 total chances) as a shortstop since last committing a miscue, April 21 at New York Mets. This is currently the longest streak of its kind among MLB shortstops.

BULL-PENNINGS

In 19 games/62.2 innings dating to the June 8 series opener vs. Minnesota, Jim Lett’s bullpen is 4-4 with seven holds, six saves (zero blown saves), 62 strikeouts and a 1.72 ERA (12 ER/62.2 IP). In that span, the bullpen has lowered its season ERA from 4.06 to 3.46.

BREAKING EVEN

At 39-39, the Nationals currently own a .500 record for a Major League-high 17th time this year (excluding their season-opening 0-0 record). In recent weeks, the Nationals have sported almost methodical 27-27, 28-28, 29-29, 31-31, 32-32, 33-33, 34-34, 36-36, 37-37, 38-38 and 39-39 marks. Minnesota has been at .500 12 times, second-most in baseball.

Highlights: 6.5.13

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6.5.13 – Mets 10, Nationals 1

Stat of the Game: The Nationals racked up 10 hits, including two apiece by Denard Span and Kurt Suzuki, but scored just once.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ian Krol impressed in his Major League debut, striking out the side in a scoreless inning of relief.

It Was Over When: Marlon Byrd hit his second home run of the night to cap a three-run third inning.

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