Results tagged ‘ New York Mets ’

What to Watch for: 4.21.13

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Washington Nationals (10-7) vs. New York Mets (8-8)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (3-0, 2.45) vs. RHP Dillon Gee (0-3, 8.36)

The Nationals squared the series with the Mets, courtesy of a 7-6 victory Saturday afternoon. Following the game, infielder Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 18, and infielder Anthony Rendon was recalled from Double-A Harrisburg to fill his spot on the roster. Rendon will make his Major League debut at third base and will hit sixth in the Washington lineup. Rendon’s debut comes exactly one week shy of one year after Bryce Harper’s, on April 28 of last season.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Rendon 3B

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Zimmermann RHP

EXTRA EFFORT

In Saturday’s victory, each of Washington’s seven hits went for extra bases (three doubles, four home runs). In so doing, the Nationals became the first Major League team to win a game and post as many as seven hits, all for extra bases, since the Tigers (four doubles, four home runs) did so in a 7-4 victory over Minnesota on July 10, 2010.

TWICE AS BRYCE

Bryce Harper homered twice to notch his second multi-homer game of the season and the fourth of his career. His two home runs and a double netted him 10 total bases for the afternoon, a new career high. Harper also walked as part of a 3-for-3 performance, scoring three times and driving in three runs.

TOUGH SLEDDING

Beginning with Friday’s series opener in New York, the Nationals are two games (1-1) into a 19-game stretch in which they play teams currently sporting at least a .500 record.

What to Watch for: 4.20.13

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Washington Nationals (9-7) vs. New York Mets (8-7)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 4.50) vs. RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 7.20)

The Nationals dropped the series opener Friday night in Flushing and are an even 2-2 on their current six-game road swing with two games left to play. Gio Gonzalez, who was 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA in four starts vs. New York in 2012, looks to get back on track as he matches up with Mets righty Jeremy Hefner, who was 0-3 with a 5.29 ERA in three starts against Washington last season.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Tracy 3B

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

ERRATIC BATS OF LATE

After taking two-of-three at Miami thanks to 10-3 and 6-1 victories, the Nationals plated just a single run on four hits in dropping Friday’s series opener at Citi Field. In its last six games, Washington has scored two runs or less four times and tallied just four hits in a game thrice. The Nationals have averaged 6.0 runs per game in their nine wins this season and only 1.6 runs per contest in the season’s seven losses.

PLUSES AND MINUSES

At present, Washington is the only team in MLB with both a winning record (9-7) and a negative run differential (-13). The defending World Champion Giants (10-7) come close, however, having both scored and allowed 77 runs.

DON’T WALK

Nationals starting pitchers rank third in Major League Baseball, having issued just 1.98 walks per 9.0 innings. Only the starting staffs of the Mariners (1.70) and Brewers (1.85) have been stingier with the free pass.

Highlights: 4.19.13

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4.19.13 – Mets 7, Nationals 1

Stat of the Game: Mets pitcher Matt Harvey allowed a single run over seven innings of work to win his fourth straight start to open the season.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Filling in for Ryan Zimmerman at third base, Chad Tracy drove home the team’s lone RBI.

It Was Over When: After Washington scored once and loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh to cut the margin to 4-1, the Nationals were unable to score again and close the gap.

What to Watch for: 4.19.13

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Washington Nationals (9-6) vs. New York Mets (7-7)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-2, 2.95) vs. RHP Matt Harvey (3-0, 0.82)

When Stephen Strasburg made his first career start against the New York Mets back in 2010, he was just five outings removed from his electrifying, 14-strikeout debut, and the talk of the town around Major League Baseball. He was clearly the most dynamic, exciting player on a team whose other most notable star held down the fort as the defending National League Silver Slugger at third base, an award he would go on to win again that season.

Now, nearly three full years later as the Nationals face the Mets for the first time in 2013, it is young hurler Matt Harvey of New York commanding the buzz. Having won each of his first three starts with a sub-1.00 ERA, the eyes of New York and beyond will be on the young right-handed fireballer Friday night as he takes on the Nationals. Harvey represents another emerging star to go alongside David Wright, the Mets two-time Silver Slugger-winning third baseman.

And who will be opposite Harvey on the mound? Why, fellow 24-year-old Strasburg, of course.

The two might have met up in a parallel universe last season, but instead it was John Lannan, returning to his home in New York, who bested Harvey as the Nationals snagged a 1-0 September 12 road victory. Harvey struck out 10 in that affair, but lasted only five frames, needing a full 106 pitches. With Denard Span recovered from the flu that ailed him earlier in the week and back atop the lineup Friday night, you can be sure Washington will look to grind away at the youngster, as they have done to many opponents so far this season.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Tracy 3B

7. Lombardozzi 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Strasburg RHP

TWO OF A KIND

With his seven innings of one-run ball Wednesday night vs. Miami, Ross Detwiler earned his first victory of the season. He also became just the second pitcher in the history of the Nationals/Expos organization to ever start the season with three starts of at least six innings and one or fewer runs, joining future Hall-of-Famer Pedro Martinez (1994).

DOWN WITH THE SICKNESS

Bryce Harper shook off the flu to go 4-for-5 with a double, a run scored and an RBI in Wednesday’s series finale in South Florida. The defending NL Rookie of the Year is off to a hot start, batting .364/.417/.673 with a team-high five home runs and a share of the lead with 11 RBI (Ryan Zimmerman). Harper ranks in the top 15 in the National League in batting (tied, eighth), on-base percentage (15th) and slugging percentage (sixth).

PASSING CAP

With Wednesday night’s victory in Miami, Davey Johnson and his 1,295 career managerial wins have moved into the top 30 all-time. Johnson is currently tied for 30th on the all-time list with Hall-of-Famer Cap Anson, who posted 1,295 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 2013 ends, Johnson is likely to surpass Hall-of-Famer Ned Hanlon (#29, 1,313 wins) and Chuck Tanner (#28, 1,352 wins).

Old School Meets New School

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Earlier today, Chad Tracy – the leader of the Goon Squad – made it official and joined the Twitterverse (follow him @catracy18). He joins an ever-growing number of Nationals players now active on the platform. And just like Denard Span did in Spring Training, and Ryan Mattheus did last season, Tracy is asking for your help to design his profile.

Check out the headshots (we’re partial to the Jedi, hooded look, but hey, it’s up to you) and backgrounds below and make sure to cast your vote for each one. There’s no limit on how many times you can choose, so vote early and often! We’ll tally up all the totals on Friday and Chad will update his profile before the Nats take on the Mets in their next series.

Profile Avatar – Option 1

NATSST_02152013_DM

Profile Avatar – Option 2

NATSST_02152013_DM

Profile Avatar – Option 3

NATSST_02152013_DM

Profile Background – Option 1

NATSST_02152013_DM

Profile Background – Option 2

NATSST_02152013_DM

Profile Background – Option 3

NATSST_02152013_DM

Welcome to the New Age

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There was a time, not long ago, when Ryan Zimmerman represented one of the only true threats in the Washington lineup. He trailed only Adam Dunn in intentional passes during the latter’s two-year stint in The District, and still led the 2012 Nationals in that category. Considering that, the thought of a player – any player – being intentionally walked to get to Zimmerman would seem almost farcical.

And yet, that’s exactly the situation in which the Nationals found themselves Thursday night, with Chicago White Sox Manager Robin Ventura electing not to pitch to Bryce Harper and face Zimmerman instead with two on and two outs in the fourth inning of a game Washington led 4-3 at the time.

Ryan Zimmerman is surrounded by a lineup chalked full of talent.

Ryan Zimmerman is surrounded by a lineup chock full of talent.

Unsurprisingly, the plan backfired. Zimmerman kept his head down and extended through a pitch low and away from White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod, sending it darting through a steady wind and over the head of right fielder Alex Rios for a two-run double to break the game open. What may be much more surprising is that the pitch driven by Zimmerman was Axelrod’s 103rd of the night, after the starter had recorded just 11 outs.

The difference in this year’s Nationals lineup from those of years past is both its balance and its incredible patience, the tendency for every batter to grind out each plate appearance, making the opposing starter sweat for each and every out. Consider the first inning Thursday night, in which Washington scored just once, but forced Axelrod to throw 40 pitches to just six total batters, an average of nearly seven pitches per plate appearance.

With Zimmerman moving to the fourth spot in the order this season, opposing starters have to contend with a prototypical leadoff man in Denard Span, the active Major League leader in pitches per plate appearance Jayson Werth, and the dynamic, unpredictable Bryce Harper before ever even getting to The Face of the Franchise, Mr. Walk-off himself. Thursday night, that meant 20 pitches – six to Span, 10 to Werth and four to Harper.

The outfield trio of Span, Harper and Werth wreaks havoc on opposing pitchers.

The outfield trio of Span, Harper and Werth wreaks havoc on opposing pitchers.

“That’s the point of the left-right-left-right  in the lineup,” said Zimmerman, referring to the symmetrical balance achieved in the offseason by the addition of Denard Span. “There’s really not anyone in our lineup you’d rather pitch to. There really aren’t any breaks anywhere in our lineup.”

Given the many ways Washington’s batting order is capable of hurting opponents, it’s only fitting that no White Sox starter survived the sixth inning in the series, the three hurlers combining for just 14.1 total innings. That’s what happens when a group of players learns that they don’t have to try to be the hero – if they are pitched around, the guy behind them will pick up the slack.

“That’s their decision,” said skipper Davey Johnson with a wry smile after the game, about the White Sox choice to walk Harper to get to Zimmerman. “I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions.”

The decision to walk anyone in front of Zimmerman is not one that had crossed opposing managers’ minds in quite a while. In fact, only one batter had been intentionally handed first base in front of Zimmerman since 2009, when on September 3, 2011, Roger Bernadina was intentionally walked by Mets reliever Bobby Parnell to load the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, as New York clung to a 7-6 lead. In that instance, Zimmerman delivered – what else – a two-run hit to right field, as the Nats walked off to an 8-7 victory.

Big Names, Big Games

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On the day that Davey Johnson officially announced Stephen Strasburg would reprise his 2012 role as the Nationals Opening Day starter, it was the offensive half of Washington’s young power duo who made the in-game headlines. Bryce Harper homered and drove in four on Wednesday as the Nats took down the visiting New York Mets by a count of 8-5.

Jordan Zimmermann rebounded from the worst outing by any National this spring to return to his old self, quietly allowing just a single earned run over 4.2 innings of work while striking out six. Two early unearned runs kept him from factoring in the decision, as he fell victim to a pair of defensive miscues in the first inning. Chad Tracy couldn’t handle a tough backhand hop and Adam LaRoche uncharacteristically had a ball go through his legs, leading to a pair of Mets scores. But Zimmermann settled down to retire the next nine batters, and Washington’s four-run seventh inning proved to be the difference.

Harper and Rendon share the team lead with four home runs apiece.

Harper and Rendon share the team lead with four home runs apiece.

Meanwhile, an hour east-northeast in Kissimmee, a split squad comprised primarily of minor leaguers and non-roster invitees took on the Astros. Fittingly, Harper’s heir to the top Nationals prospect title, Anthony Rendon, was busy matching his team-high home run total. With two outs in the top of the eighth, Rendon sent an 0-2 offering out to the opposite field at spacious Osceola County Stadium – his fourth home run of the spring – to break a 5-5 tie, leading Washington to a 9-7, come-from-behind victory.

On Thursday morning, Washington announced its second round of cuts, trimming seven from the roster, down to 42 players. The most notable name on the list was Rendon, who will head across the fields behind Space Coast Stadium to Minor League camp along with fellow infielders Will Rhymes and Matt Skole, outfielder Eury Perez, catcher Sandy Leon, and pitchers Nathan Karns and Pat McCoy.

While cuts are an inevitable part of every camp, with the roster reduced once more, Nationals fans can anticipate seeing many of the familiar faces getting more playing time moving forward as we creep ever closer to Opening Day.

Here is Thursday’s lineup as the Nationals battle the Astros in Viera, along with a complete list of results to date:

Nationals Lineup:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman DH

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Ramos C

9. Lombardozzi 3B

P. Young

Results:

2/23 @ New York (NL) – L, 5-3

2/24 vs. Miami – T, 2-2

2/25 @ New York (NL) – W, 6-4

2/26 @ Atlanta – L, 9-5

2/27 vs. Miami – L, 5-1

2/28 vs. New York (NL) – T, 4-4

3/1 @ Atlanta – W, 6-5

3/2 @ St. Louis – W, 6-2

3/3 vs. St. Louis – W, 7-6

3/5 vs. Houston – W, 7-1

3/6 @ Philadelphia – L, 6-3

3/7 @ Houston – L, 4-2

3/8 vs. Cardinals – L, 16-10

3/9 vs. Marlins – W, 8-7

3/10 @ Detroit – L, 2-1

3/11 vs. Atlanta – L, 7-2

3/13 SS vs. New York (NL) – W, 8-5

3/13 SS @ Houston – W, 9-7

Overall Record: 8-8-2

Nats Back at the Lake

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The Nationals are back in Lake Buena Vista Friday night for Jordan Zimmermann’s second start of the spring at they take on the Braves once again. Washington played its second extra-inning tie in its first six games of the Grapefruit League slate Thursday night, drawing even at 4-4 with the Mets in Viera. Here’s tonight’s lineup, as well as a full list of results to date:

1. Espinosa SS

2. Lombardozzi 2B

3. Harper CF

4. Moore DH

5. Tracy 3B

6. Marrero 1B

7. Brown LF

8. Leon C

9. Perez RF

P. Zimmermann

Results:

2/23 @ New York (NL) – L, 5-3

2/24 vs. Miami – T, 2-2

2/25 @ New York (NL) – W, 6-4

2/26 @ Atlanta – L, 9-5

2/27 vs. Miami – L, 5-1

2/28 vs. New York (NL) – T, 4-4

The Next Best Thing

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Every year, in every Major League camp, there is some youngster who shows up, opens eyes with his swing or his arm, and becomes the next most-talked about prospect, waiting to crack the big leagues. Yes, we’re early in spring. Yes the Nationals roster looks just about full, minus a pitcher or two in the bullpen. But this year’s player, clear to anyone who has been watching, is Anthony Rendon.

Last year, fans of Bryce Harper, who had been following him since his Sports Illustrated cover photo at age 16, trumpeted his case to make the Opening Day roster. And while Harper flashed signs of the player that would roar through September to capture NL Rookie of the Year honors, he was a raw ball of energy back in March.

Rendon hopes to follow Harper's path as the top prospect in the system.

Rendon hopes to follow Harper’s path as the top prospect in the system.

Rendon is the anti-Harper. He is so relaxed, so smooth – and generously listed at just 6’0”, 195 pounds, so unimposing – that one might not even notice he was there, if not for the booming cracks of baseballs flying off his bat.

His swing is not violent like Harper’s. Instead, it starts with a big, smooth, looping hand load, a Ryan Zimmerman-esque leg kick, and a sudden flash of some of the fastest hands you’ve ever seen. One moment, he appears to be just watching a pitch into the mitt. The next, he has turned it around, sending it screaming to some distant corner of the field.

Danny Espinosa sat at third base with two out in the bottom of the second on Thursday night as the Nationals hosted the Mets in Viera. Rendon – batting eighth and playing third base – fell behind in the count, worked it back even, then swatted a double to the opposite-field gap in right-center, into the prevailing wind. In his second at-bat, with runners at the corners, he hit a sharp grounder deep in the hole at short, which only failed to go for another hit as Omar Quintanilla was able to go the short way to second for a force, with Ian Desmond scampering home from third base.

Two more at-bats, two more RBI. The 22-year-old with just 160 professional plate appearances has been the most productive player at the plate for Washington so far this spring, batting .417 (5-for-12) with two doubles, a home run and a team-high five RBI. One of the seven outs he’s made came on a home run robbed at the wall in Port St. Lucie a few days ago.

Rendon has also impressed with his defense - especially his arm - this spring.

Rendon has also impressed with his defense – especially his arm – this spring.

Then there’s the defense, the forgotten part of Rendon’s game. He didn’t have any chances Thursday night, but has already made a pair of notable plays this spring. On Tuesday in Lake Buena Vista, he snared a hot shot, raced to the bag at third for the force, and fired a seed across the diamond for a 5-3, inning-ending double play. The next day, he charged a Chone Figgins bunt up the line, barehanded the ball on a do-or-die play, then straightened up and threw a bullet to first to beat the speedy runner by a full step.

After making a short, wide-eyed stint in Major League Spring Training last year, the Rice University product looks noticeably more settled in all aspects of his game this year.

“I think I’m a lot more comfortable now, just knowing that I have one year under my belt,” said Rendon of camp this year, and added that he was thrilled to be getting a lot of opportunities early in spring. “I missed a large amount of games last year, so just any at-bats, any playing time I can get right now is really helpful.”

Baseball America ranks Rendon the 30th overall prospect in baseball, tops among Nationals farmhands. MLB.com has Rendon at 28th, while Baseball Prospectus has him 35th. After a week of games, one has to wonder how much his stock may have risen already. And while Thursday night was the first chance for many Nationals fans to see the young star play on television, it shouldn’t be long before they have that opportunity every night.

Nats vs. Mets Spring Training Live Chat

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The Nationals take on the Mets at 6:05 p.m. Thursday night at Space Coast Stadium in Viera. It is the first Spring Training game televised on MASN this year, and will also be carried live on WJFK radio (the game is also available outside the Nationals market on MLB Network and MLB.tv). So whether you’re watching Bob and F.P. or listening to Charlie and Dave, leave your questions below and we’ll do our best to answer them as the game goes along. Here’s tonight’s Nats lineup:

1. Span CF

2. Suzuki C

3. Werth RF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Espinosa 2B

7. Moore LF

8. Rendon 3B

9. Tracy DH

P. Strasburg

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