Results tagged ‘ Philadelphia Phillies ’

The Walking Dead

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For six innings Wednesday night, as they have much of the season to date, the Nationals struggled to find any sort of offensive rhythm against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick. And then, slowly, piece by piece, the offense collected itself, as the bats awakened just in the nick of time to force extra innings and steal a win to end a long, grinding road trip.

The bats lay dormant, unable to generate anything more than Adam LaRoche‘s second-inning single through six frames. Meanwhile, two batters in, the Phillies were out to a 2-0 lead on the strength of Michael Young’s two-run home run. Gio Gonzalez settled in after that, as he did not allow a hit the rest of the way through seven innings of work. He notched 11 strikeouts, the most he’s ever recorded as a member of the Nationals, matching his career high.

Jayson Werth deilvered a pair of clutch, two-out, RBI-singles to force extra innings.

Jayson Werth deilvered a pair of clutch, two-out, RBI-singles to force extra innings.

Finally, a solid, patient at-bat by Ryan Zimmerman led to a one-out walk in the seventh, and he stood at second base with two outs and Jayson Werth coming to the plate. The former Phillie reached out and rapped a single to right field to score the run and cut the lead in half, a big clutch hit in a season sorely needing more of them.

After a quiet eighth frame, the Nationals would be tasked with trying to deliver Jonathan Papelbon his second blown save in three nights after entering the series a perfect 13-for-13 on the season. Denard Span, whose job in most any situation – but especially this one – is to get on base, did just that, chopping an infield single. He remained at first until, with two outs, LaRoche walked, bringing up Werth once more. He, of the “be ready to eat some face” comment following the tough loss the night before, ripped another two-out, RBI-single, this one to left, as Span flew around third, scoring the tying run without a throw. But, as had been the case Monday night in Papelbon’s blown save on Chad Tracy‘s pinch-hit, two-out, two-strike home run, the Nationals were unable to push ahead. Ian Desmond struck out, stranding runners at the corners, spiking his helmet in frustration.

“After the at-bat against Papelbon, I’m just thinking, ‘Give me one more chance,’” Desmond said after the game.

The Washington bullpen conspired to afford Desmond and the Nationals that opportunity. Tyler Clippard fired an inning and two thirds of scoreless ball, giving way to Ian Krol, who got Dominic Brown – Monday’s hero – to end the bottom of the ninth. After the Nationals offense threatened, but failed to score, in the top of the 10th, Drew Storen fanned a pair and put up a zero in the bottom half, taking the game to the 11th inning.

Ian Desmond's first career grand slam won it in the 11th.

Ian Desmond’s first career grand slam won it in the 11th.

With one out, it was again Zimmerman who got the wheels turning, lacing a low liner to the left-center field wall for a double. That prompted Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and the Phillies to play matchup, deciding to intentionally walk LaRoche to get to the man with both of Washington’s RBI, Werth. An unintentional walk later, the bases were loaded, Desmond stepping to the plate with the second chance he begged for earlier. After falling behind 0-2, the shortstop worked the count back to 2-2, where he annihilated a hanging slider from Michael Stutes into the seats beyond the left-center field wall.

“I did the same thing I always do,” said Desmond when asked about the blast after the game. “See the white ball, put the barrel on it.”

Before Desmond had reached the jubilant visitors dugout, rivers of Phillies fans had already begun streaming for the exits, an actualized shifting of the tides. Rafael Soriano quietly shut the door, and the Nationals returned to Washington with an enormous win and a positive end to their road trip, thanks to perhaps the biggest swing of the season from their shortstop.

“He’s quite a character,” said Nationals skipper Davey Johnson of Desmond. “He’s got a lot of big hits for us in the past.”

It was Desmond’s first career grand slam (and Washington’s first of the season), but he has had plenty of success with the bases loaded, as it was his 17th hit in 40 such at-bats, good for a .425 batting average. The timing and importance of the blast hearkened back to Desmond’s game-winner on May 2, 2012, when he swung a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory with a two-out, walk-off blast off Arizona’s J.J. Putz.

“That’s like how I remember it from last year,” said catcher Kurt Suzuki of the feeling in the dugout after the blast. “It was pretty exciting.”

If Wednesday night’s series finale in Philadelphia turns out to be a microcosm of the 2013 Nationals season, recounting what has happened to date and foreshadowing what lies ahead, we are all in for a nerve-fraying, heart-stopping, hair-graying ride before the year is done. But if the ending portends anything of the future, it will have been worth the ride.

Highlights: 6.19.13

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6.19.13 – Nationals 6, Phillies 2 (11 innings)

Stat of the Game: Ian Desmond blasted the first grand slam of his career and the first Nationals slam of the season to break a 2-2 tie in the 11th.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Jayson Werth had a pair of two-out RBI to bring the Nationals back late and force extra innings.

It Was Over When: Desmond crushed a hanging, 2-2 slider from Michael Stutes over the left-center field wall.

What to Watch for: 6.19.13

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Washington Nationals (34-36) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (35-37)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.40) vs. RHP Kyle Kendrick (6-4, 3.76)

The Nationals wrap up their nine-game, three-city road swing, concluding a stretch of 38 games in which 28 have been on the road. Gio Gonzalez will look to get back in the win column for the first time since May 5 at Pittsburgh. Gio’s lack of victories over his past seven outings has been no fault of his own, however, as he has posted a sterling 2.12 ERA (11 ER/46.2 IP), a 1.07 WHIP and a .185 batting average against over that stretch.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Werth RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Lombardozzi LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

BENCH (IM)PRESS

Including Jeff Kobernus’ pinch-homer in the eighth inning last night, Washington’s bench (including all players not starting on any given day) is 5-for-13 with a double, three home runs and three RBI in the last five contests. Chad Tracy contributed two of the aforementioned home runs, a game-tying pinch-homer in the ninth inning of Saturday’s win at Cleveland and a game-tying blast in the ninth inning on Monday at Philadelphia.

SINGLE CRUISES

The Nationals have blasted eight home runs in their last four contests, all of which were hit with the bases empty (eight of the nine homers hit on this road trip have been solo shots). In all 39 of the 63 homers Washington has hit this season (62%) have been solo trips around the bases. 10 teams in the Major Leagues have higher percentages of solo homers in 2013, paced by Philadelphia (72%, 49/68).

THE ROOKIE IS RAKING

Anthony Rendon has reached base safely in 16 straight MLB games, pocketing a .462 on-base percentage (22 hits, eight walks) during astretch that spans two stints with the Nationals. During this stretch, the rookie posted a career-best 10-game hit streak from May 2-June 16.

What to Watch for: 6.18.13

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Washington Nationals (34-35) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (34-37)

LHP Ross Detwiler (2-4, 3.02) vs. LHP Cliff Lee (8-2, 2.55) 

Denard Span is back in the lineup for Washington following a night off last night, after he fouled a pitch off his foot Sunday in Cleveland. Span is a career .350 hitter (7-for-20) against Phillies starter Cliff Lee, who will be opposed on the mound by Nationals southpaw Ross Detwiler, seeking his first win since May 10.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Werth RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Suzuki C

8. Lombardozzi LF

9. Detwiler LHP

ADDITION BY DIVISION

Washington has amassed just a 12-13 division record so far in 2013 (Atlanta 3-7, Miami 5-1, New York 2-3, Philadelphia 2-2), but has 51 games remaining within the National League East this season, including tonight’s tilt in Philadelphia. The Nationals were a combined 42-30 in division play last season.

DECIPHER THE PHIFER

The Nationals have hung three losses on Clifton Phifer Lee in his eight career starts against them, tied for second most among National League clubs (Atlanta 4, St. Louis 3). The most recent of those losses came in Lee’s last start against Washington, a 5-1 Nationals victory on October 3, 2012, in which he allowed two home runs, one of them to Ryan Zimmerman.

ONE-RUN FUN

Despite Monday night’s 5-4 setback, Washington owns the National League’s best record in one-run games at 18-13 (.619). Nine of the Nationals last 15 games have been decided by a single score (5-4). The club also own the league’s best mark (19-3) when scoring last in a game.

What to Watch for: 6.17.13

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Washington Nationals (34-34) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (33-37)

RHP Dan Haren (4-8, 5.70) vs. LHP John Lannan (0-1, 6.14) 

The Nationals make their first of three trips to Philadelphia this season as they open a three-game set against former teammate John Lannan at Citizens Bank Park. Dan Haren toes the rubber for Washington, as the club looks to push back over the .500 mark for the season.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Kobernus CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Werth RF

5. Desmond SS

6. Marrero 1B

7. Suzuki C

8. Lombardozzi LF

9. Haren RHP

STREAKING SHORTSTOP

Ian Desmond has reached base safely in 18 straight contests, pocketing a .364 batting average (24-for-66) and .417 on-base percentage with five walks, four doubles, three homers, eight runs scored and 13 RBI over that span. Desmond has recorded hits in 16 of the aforementioned 18 games, including a career-best 15-game hit streak. Defensively, Desmond has played a career-high 49 consecutive errorless games (200 total chances) since last committing a miscue on April 21 at New York (NL), marking the longest current streak of its kind among big league shortstops.

MINOR (LEAGUE) VICTORIES

The Hagerstown Suns yesterday secured a postseason berth with a 38-29 (.567) first-half record in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division. Manager Tripp Keister’s Suns have won their last three contests and are 5-1 in their last six games. Last week, Brian Daubach’s Potomac Nationals (42-27, .609) grabbed a postseason spot when they were crowned the Carolina League’s First Half Northern Division Champs.

PHINDING PHOOTING IN PHILLY

Washington is 18-12 (.600) against the Phillies under Davey Johnson, including a 4-1 mark in one-run contests. Before going 10-8 against the Phillies in 2011, the Nationals/Expos had won only two season series from Philadelphia the previous 14 years.

Highlights: 5.26.13

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5.26.13 – Nationals 6, Phillies 1

Stat of the Game: Stephen Strasburg struck out nine without walking a batter over eight strong innings to earn his third victory. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: Steve Lombardozzi delivered his fifth hit and fourth RBI of the series with his two-run double in the seventh.

It Was Over When: Denard Span slashed an RBI-double to cap a five-run seventh inning, Washington’s largest output in a single frame all season.

What to Watch for: 5.26.13

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Philadelphia Phillies (24-25) vs. Washington Nationals (25-24)

LHP Cole Hamels (1-7, 4.45) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (2-5, 2.66) 

The Nationals fell 5-3 last night, despite outhitting the Phillies 11-6, but turn to Stephen Strasburg in the series rubber match, as Ross Detwiler moves two slots in the rotation. With Detwiler set to return Tuesday, the team looks to put it all together on offense today against a struggling Cole Hamels.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Harper RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Moore LF

7. Solano C

8. Lombardozzi 2B

9. Strasburg RHP

DAN THE DOUBLE-DIGIT MAN

By fanning 10 on Saturday vs. Philadelphia, Dan Haren became the first Nationals pitcher to record a double-digit strikeout effort not only this season, but since Edwin Jackson punched out 10 Cardinals on August 30, 2012 in D.C. Washington starters went 80 games between double-digit strikeout tallies. Haren’s 14 career games of 10+ punch outs is the most among current Nationals. The remainder of the staff has 18 combined 10+ K efforts: Stephen Strasburg (8), Gio Gonzalez (7), Jordan Zimmermann (3)

2ND TO ONE

With Jeff Kobernus’ Major League debut on Saturday, he became the second Nationals second-round draft selection to reach the big leagues. The first was Jordan Zimmermann, who is 32-28 with a 3.24 ERA in 91 starts for Washington since being tabbed with the 67th-overall selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

BABY STEPS

With 10 hits on Friday and 11 more on Saturday, the Nationals have recorded consecutive double-digit hit totals for the first time since doing so in three straight contests, April 9-11 vs. the White Sox (13, 11, 10).

What to Watch for: 5.25.13

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Philadelphia Phillies (23-25) vs. Washington Nationals (25-23)

RHP Jonathan Pettibone (3-0, 3.00) vs. RHP Dan Haren (4-5, 5.44)

The Nationals go for their third straight win as they face the Phillies in the second of a three-game series. After a two-out rally in the fifth last night, the team looks to continue their offensive success and hand Jonathan Pettibone his first loss of the 2013 season. In addition, the Nationals selected infielder/outfielder Jeff Kobernus from Triple-A Syracuse and designated right-handed pitcher Yunesky Maya for assignment.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Harper RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Suzuki C

7. Moore LF

8. Lombardozzi 2B

9. Haren RHP

21 LETTERS DOOM THE PHILLIES: ZIMMERMANN & LOMBARDOZZI

Steve Lombardozzi sparked the Nationals 10-hit attack with three hits, the last of which was a two-run double that capped the scoring. Jordan Zimmermann became the National League’s first eight-game winner by allowing just two runs on six hits in 7.0 innings. Washington took the lead for good thanks to a four-run fifth, which matched their largest single-inning output of this season.

STINGY WITH THE LONG BALL

Nationals pitchers rank fifth in Major League Baseball, having allowed only 39 home runs this season (0.83 per 9.0 innings). Last season, Washington ranked second in MLB in fewest home runs allowed (120) and homers allowed per 9.0 innings (0.79 per 9.0 innings).

CATT’S MEOW

Steve McCatty’s starting staff has fashioned a 3.24 ERA this season that currently ranks third in MLB behind only the Cardinals (2.64) and Reds (3.21).

What to Watch for: 5.24.13

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Philadelphia Phillies (23-24) vs. Washington Nationals (24-23)

RHP Kyle Kendrick (4-2, 2.82) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (7-1, 1.62)

The Nationals return home to match up with the Phillies for the first time in the 2013 season, coming off an off-day following their 2-1, 10-inning victory in San Francisco on Wednesday. Jordan Zimmermann takes his second crack at his eighth win in a battle of right-handers.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Harper RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Suzuki C

7. Moore LF

8. Lombardozzi 2B

9. Zimmermann RHP

EXTRA IAN-NINGS

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ian Desmond is now 7-for-18 in extra innings the last two seasons (‘12-13), during which Desmond’s .389 extra-inning batting average is tied for third in Major League Baseball (minimum 15 at-bats) with St. Louis’s John Jay. Only Hanley Ramirez (.467) and Yadier Molina (.400) have posted superior marks.

THE POWER OF 3 (AND 5)

When scoring three or more runs this season, the Nationals are 20-3 (.869). However, when plating two or fewer runs, Washington is just 4-20 (.167). Additionally, the Nationals are a perfect 17-0 when scoring five or more times.

THE SERIES

Washington is 16-11 against the Phillies under Davey Johnson, including a 4-1 mark in one-run contests. Before going 10-8 against the Phillies in ‘11, the Nationals/Expos had won only two season series from Philadelphia the previous 14 years.

The Zen of Dan Haren

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One of the fun aspects of Spring Training is getting to know the new players in camp. A baseball clubhouse is a mix of all types of personalities, and meshing them together can be a delicate balance. So as the new guys settle in, certain characteristics begin to emerge, like the introspective, self-awareness of new starter Dan Haren.

Haren absolutely baffled the Astros through two innings Tuesday, before allowing a walk and a pair of singles in a longer third frame, which would yield Houston’s lone run in a 7-1 Nationals victory. When asked about whether it may actually have been good for him to struggle a bit, Haren at first conceded that might indeed be true, the situation allowing him to get work throwing out of the stretch, and pitching a longer inning.

Haren has shown a keen self-awareness this spring.

Haren has shown a keen self-awareness this spring.

Then he paused, and broke down the barrier of clichés that so often comprise an athlete’s postgame comments.

“In Spring Training, if you do (well), you feel great,” he said. “If you feel bad, you’re just working on stuff. That’s what everyone says.”

He paused for the laughter of the reporter pool, before deadpanning his final thought.

“So yeah, I was just working on stuff in the third inning.”

That refreshing honesty, as well as a spot-on analysis of the way that athletes can sometimes revert to platitudes gives Nationals fans an early look at what to expect from the cerebral Haren this season.

Throwing only a single curveball and “two or three” split-fingered pitches, Haren has nonetheless dominated so far this spring, even while really only touching 60 percent of his repertoire. That’s good news for the 32-year-old, who says he feels completely healthy.

The Nationals also got three strong innings from Zach Duke on Tuesday, who allowed a single hit while holding the Astros scoreless to earn the victory. Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard and Jeremy Accardo – three of the four Nats in camp with a 30-save MLB season to their name (along with Drew Storen) – each pitched a scoreless inning of relief.

It’s off to Clearwater Wednesday for a marquee pitching showdown, featuring Stephen Strasburg against Roy Halladay and the Phillies. Check out the lineup, plus a complete list of Spring Training results to date.

Nationals Lineup:

1. Span CF

2. Lombardozzi 2B

3. Rendon SS

4. Moore DH

5. Brown RF

6. Marrero 1B

7. Rivero LF

8. Skole 3B

9. Solano C

P. Strasburg

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

Overall Record: 5-3-2

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