Results tagged ‘ Pittsburgh Pirates ’

Nationals Game Notes — Aug. 17 vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

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Game No. 122: Washington Nationals (68-53) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (64-59) | 5:05 p.m. ET | Nationals Park
Pitching Match-Up: RHP Doug Fister (12-3, 2.34 ERA) vs. RHP Edinson Volquez (10-7, 3.67)
Washington Nationals right-hander Doug Fister got the nod and earned the win with 7.0 scoreless innings in Washington’s lone victory (W5-2, May 25) during a four-game visit to PNC Park in late May.
Radio: 106.7 FM / 1500 AM  and also on nationals.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv)
TV: Today’s game will be televised on MASN2
Live Statsnationals.com

Of note:

  • The Nationals enter tonight’s series finale with a chance to do something they’ve never done: take the season series from the Pirates in spite of losing the first three match-ups between the teams. In 10 seasons in Washington, the Nationals have never won a seven-game season series after dropping the first three games to an opponent. 

Here are the lineups for today’s match-up:

NATIONALS (68-53)

2 Denard Span (L) CF
3 Asdrubal Cabrera (S) 2B
6 Anthony Rendon 3B
25 Adam LaRoche (L) 1B
20 Ian Desmond SS
34 Bryce Harper (L) LF
40 Wilson Ramos C
18 Michael A. Taylor RF
58 Doug Fister (L) RHP

PIRATES (64-59)

25 Gregory Polanco (L) RF
5 Josh Harrison SS
18 Neil Walker (S) 2B
55 Russell Martin C
24 Pedro Alvarez (L) 3B
6 Starling Marte CF
23 Travis Snider (L) LF
15 Ike Davis (L) 1B
36 Edinson Volquez RHP

Here are today’s game notes, courtesy of the Washington Nationals PR department. Enjoy!

Nationals Game Notes — Aug. 16 vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

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Game No. 121: Washington Nationals (67-53) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (64-58) | 7:05 p.m. ET | Nationals Park
Pitching Match-Up: LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-9, 4.00 ERA) vs. LHP Jeff Locke (4-3, 3.98)
Washington Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez is 2-0 with a 3.28 ERA in four career starts against the Pirates, and his clubs are a perfect 4-0 (3-0 as a National, 1-0 as an Athletic) in those games.
Radio: 106.7 FM / 1500 AM  and also on nationals.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv)
TV: Today’s game will be televised on MASN and WUSA9
Live Statsnationals.com

Of note:

  • The Nationals lead the National League (3rd in the Major Leagues) in run differential at +90 (504 for, 414 against). MLB’s top four teams in run differential: Oakland Athletics (+163), Seattle Mariners (+94), Washington Nationals (+90), Los Angeles Angels (+87).

Here are the lineups for today’s match-up:

NATIONALS (67-53)

2 Denard Span (L) CF
19 Kevin Frandsen LF
6 Anthony Rendon 3B
25 Adam LaRoche (L) 1B
20 Ian Desmond SS
34 Bryce Harper (L) LF
40 Wilson Ramos C
8 Danny Espinosa 2B
47 Gio Gonzalez LHP

PIRATES (64-58)

5 Josh Harrison SS
25 Gregory Polanco (L) RF
55 Russell Martin C
6 Starling Marte CF
17 Gaby Sanchez 1B
24 Pedro Alvarez (L) 3B
27 Jayson Nix 2B
23 Travis Snider (L) LF
49 Jeff Locke LHP

Here are today’s game notes, courtesy of the Washington Nationals PR department. Enjoy!

Let It Rain

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The 2013 season is not yet over. But the dream of defending the National League East crown, of a repeat trip to the postseason has come to an end.

While the end always stings, it did not come as suddenly or unexpectedly as the end of the 2012 season. And while it may have technically ended at the hands of the Cardinals, there wasn’t much of a sense of any connection between the end of last year and the end of this year. It was simply happenstance that the Nationals should make their lone trip to St. Louis at the end of September, after staving off elimination for weeks, and that Cincinnati and Pittsburgh should each squeak out runs against inferior opponents just minutes earlier to create such a scenario.

The odds were stacked against Washington as early as April, when Atlanta built a division lead it would never relinquish. They grew longer with injuries to key cogs in the offense and the rotation, and with the way the National League shook out, a high-80s win total was simply not good enough to knock on October’s door this year.

Though Johnson will not be on the bench next season, he will continue to work with Rizzo to improve the ballclub.

Though Johnson will not be on the bench next season, he will continue to work with Rizzo to improve the ballclub.

“It’s tough,” said Davey Johnson after Monday night’s 4-3 defeat. “You put the uniform on to win, and we didn’t get it done.”

This will be Johnson’s last year in uniform on the bench for Washington, which surely adds to that emotion. But there is solace in knowing that he will be back in the front office next season, helping President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo as the club looks to improve in 2014 and beyond.

“I’m not worried about the organization,” he expressed. “The organization’s in great shape.”

Ian Desmond, who has been the first to stand up and face the media in the wake of any tough loss this season, concurred in his assessment.

“I couldn’t ask to be in a better place, with a better group of guys,” he said.

Even as the national media has portrayed Jayson Werth as the emotional leader of this club, and continued to focus on Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg as the name-brand stars, it was Desmond who stayed consistently, statistically great the past two seasons, no matter what happened around him.

Ian Desmond's consistency and leadership will only strengthen the Nationals moving forward.

Ian Desmond’s consistency and leadership will only strengthen the Nationals moving forward.

His final 2012 line looked like so: .292/.335/.511 with 60 extra-base hits, 21 stolen bases and a team-leading 5.0 fWAR.

With five regular season games remaining in 2013, he’s compiled a .285/.337/.463 line with 61 extra-base hits, 21 steals and a 5.1 fWAR, again best on the club.

“For me personally, I just play the game the way I know how to play the game,” he said Monday night. “I don’t turn the dial up. The dial’s already turned up.”

Desmond’s ability to stay healthy has helped him remain consistent in a year of turbulence. That quality is one that Harper, who remained in his full jersey, sitting at his locker well after the conclusion of the game, looks to draw from heading into the offseason.

“I’ve got to try to be in this lineup every night,” Harper said, looking ahead to next season, referencing time missed due to injury this year.

But before all attention turns to 2014, Washington can still make life tough on these Cardinals. With two more games in St. Louis, the Nationals can go a long way toward determining the pecking order in the NL Central, perhaps pushing the Cards into the one-game Wild Card.

“We’ve got an opportunity to rain on their parade a little,” said Desmond, well aware of the situation.

And so, with that, we’ll say the words that baseball people never dare to speak aloud.

Let it rain.

What to Watch for: 9.22.13 – Game One

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Miami Marlins (56-98) vs. Washington Nationals (83-71)

RHP Tom Koehler (3-10, 4.51) vs. RHP Dan Haren (9-13, 4.88)

With Saturday’s postponement, the Nationals will wrap the home portion of the regular season with a split doubleheader today against the Marlins. Washington comes into the day having won five-of-six, 12-of-14 and 23 of its last 30 to pull within 4.5 games of the Reds and 5.5 games of the Pirates in the chase for the postseason. The Nationals will send Dan Haren – who is 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA (1 ER/12.0 IP), allowing just seven baserunners while striking out 12 over his last two outings – to the mound in the opener.

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. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

8. Jhonatan Solano C

9. Dan Haren RHP

SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…

Updated ScenariosWith just over a week to play in the regular season, the Nationals enter Sunday’s twin-bill with a 1.2 percent chance of reaching the postseason, according to Baseball Prospectus. In order for Washington to force a one-game playoff for the final Wild Card spot, the Nationals need to pair their record with one of the scenarios in the box to the right from either the Reds or Pirates.

NAT WERTH

Jayson Werth currently ranks among the National League’s top five in OPS (third, .934), slugging percentage (fourth, .532), batting average (fifth, .321) and on-base percentage (fifth, .402). Werth is the only player in the league to rank among the NL’s top five in each of those four categories. Werth has hit better than .300 in July (.367), August (.380) and September (.314).

THIS, THAT, THE OTHER

The Nationals have out-homered their opponents, 22-4, over the past 14 games, dating to September 7. In 40 games dating to August 9, the Nationals have scored four or more runs 27 times, going 25-2 in those contests. After starting 60-for-86 (69.8%) on the basepaths, Washington has been successful on 21 of its last 22 stolen base attempts (95.4%).

What to Watch for: 9.20.13

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Miami Marlins (56-97) vs. Washington Nationals (82-71)

RHP Jacob Turner (3-7, 3.51) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (18-8, 3.33)

The Nationals won their seventh game in as many tries at home against the Marlins Thursday night with a 3-2 victory behind Gio Gonzalez. Washington has won four-of-five, 11-of-13 and 22 of its last 29 games in its frantic, late-season push for the postseason. The Nationals will have their eyes on the Reds and Pirates – both of whom they are chasing in the Wild Card hunt – who begin the first of six matchups over the season’s final nine games.

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. Jordan Zimmermann RHP

ALL GREAT THINGS MUST COME TO AN END

Denard Span’s 29-game hit streak came to an end last night, one game shy of the Nationals (2005-present) franchise mark, set by Ryan Zimmerman in 2009. A look at the longest hit streaks in D.C. baseball history:

1. Heinie Manush* (AL Nationals)              1933        33

2. Sam Rice* (AL Nationals)                      1924         31

T3. Ryan Zimmerman (NL Nationals)   2009        30

T3. Sam Rice* (AL Nationals)                     1929-30   30

T5. Denard Span (NL Nationals)           2013        29

T5. Sam Rice (AL Nationals)                       1920        29

* – Hall-of-Famer

FOUR SCORE AND 20 BLASTS AGO

With Bryce Harper’s 20th homer, the 2013 Nationals became the first club in franchise history, including Montreal, to have five 20-homer players. Ryan Zimmerman (25), Jayson Werth (23), Ian Desmond (20), Adam LaRoche (20) and Harper helped Washington become the third Major League team with five 20-homer players this season.

20-20 VISION

Ian Desmond—via his 20-homer, 19-stolen bag effort so far—is on the cusp of becoming the first National with multiple 20-20 campaigns (25 HR, 21 SB in ‘12). Six Major Leaguers have attained 20-20 status so far in ‘13: Carlos Gonzalez (26 HR-21 SB), Hunter Pence (25-21), Mike Trout (26-33), Will Venable (22-20), Carlos Gomez (21-36) and Andrew McCutchen (20-27).

Improbabilities and Impossibilities

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by Noah Frank

“We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.” – Vince Lombardi

It is not impossible for the Nationals to make it to the postseason this year. The strange twists and turns of this season have left them looking up a steep hill, at tall odds stacked heavily against them. And while not impossible, the chance of them crashing the party remains highly improbable. Which is to say that they will need a number of improbabilities to swing their way, in succession, to defy those odds.

They got off to a good start on Tuesday.

Facing the prospects of a crushing loss in the opening game of the twinbill against the Braves, the Nationals did something no team has done in Craig Kimbrel’s 225 career appearances, scoring the three runs they needed to erase a two-run deficit to walk off with a 6-5 win. The Baseball Reference win probability chart had the Nats at eight percent to win in such a scenario entering the bottom of the ninth.

Leverage

The comeback was made even more amazing, and the result even more unlikely than the probabilities suggest, considering that Washington had yet to score against the Atlanta closer his 10 prior appearances against them this season. He had converted 37 straight save opportunities, a string that was going to end as soon as the ball left Denard Span’s bat, as his one-out grounder was going to be deep enough to score the tying run. But as Andrelton Simmons – the highest-rated defensive shortstop in baseball – pulled his glove up, the ball skipping untouched through his legs, the Nationals found themselves celebrating an even more unbelievable victory.

Denard Span keyed another improbable Nationals victory.

Denard Span keyed another improbable Nationals victory in game one.

The long odds didn’t end in game one, though. After Tanner Roark, perhaps the unlikeliest figure in this late season charge, delivered seven scoreless frames in the nightcap, Washington clung to a 1-0 lead heading to the bottom of the eighth. The Braves turned to Jordan Walden, who had allowed just one run in eight prior appearances against the Nats, coming on a solo shot by Ryan Zimmerman. The Z-Man took an encore roundtripper to double the lead, then Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche combined to plate two more runs as the Nationals put the game away.

Against the two relievers who had dominated them the most this season, the Nationals suddenly broke through for three runs apiece. Coming in, Walden and Kimbrel had combined to go 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA (1 ER/18.0 IP), four walks, 22 strikeouts and a perfect 7-for-7 in save chances in the season series. On Tuesday, they were 0-1 with a 22.50 ERA (5 ER/2.0 IP), with two walks, no strikeouts and a blown save.

While Washington has no realistic chance to catch Atlanta in the division, the two wins ensured the Braves could not clinch the NL East in Washington this week. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds have continued to win in Houston, lowering the Nationals postseason chances to 3.3 percent, according to Baseball Prospectus, heading into play on Wednesday. However, the Pittsburgh Pirates have lost two straight, bringing them back into the picture as well. In order to tie the Reds or Pirates and force a one-game playoff to get to the Wild Card game, the Nationals would need to play out their remaining games with one of the following combinations from their opponents:

Improbabilities

While it seems unlikely that teams like Cincinnati or Pittsburgh, clubs which have played well all season, will collapse entirely, any of the top three combinations seem possible. Yes, it would require the Nationals to keep playing at the same rate they have over their last 12 games (in which they are 11-1) against stronger competition, including three games in St. Louis.

These are not probable outcomes. But, then again, after what happened on Tuesday at Nationals Park, we know that improbable does not equal impossible.

What to Watch for: 7.26.13 – Game 1

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New York Mets (45-53) vs. Washington Nationals (49-53)

RHP Jenrry Mejia (NR, -.–) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (12-5, 3.01) 

The Nationals look to continue their winning ways following yesterday’s ninth-inning, walk-off victory over the Pirates as the welcome the Mets for a day-night doubleheader to open a four-game series over the next three days. Jordan Zimmermann will take on rookie Jenrry Mejia, making his 2013 debut in the opener.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Harper LF

2. Lombardozzi 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Werth RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Span CF

8. Suzuki C

9. Zimmermann RHP

HARPER’S HEROICS

Bryce Harper’s game-ending, two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning capped a 9-7 win over the Pirates Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park. Harper’s blast was made necessary only after the Pirates, who trailed 7-3 after eight innings, plated four runs in the top of the ninth to extend the contest. Harper became the first 20 year-old to club a game-ending blast since Miguel Cabrera turned the trick on June 20, 2003 vs. Tampa Bay as a member of the Marlins. Harper’s shot was his first long ball since July 1 and it also rendered Washington’s first game-ending home run of 2013.

K STREET

In Washington’s last two games, Stephen Strasburg (season-high 12 strikeouts, Wednesday) and Gio Gonzalez (11 K, Thursday) have combined on 23 strikeouts to establish a team-mark for the most strikeouts posted a consecutive games by Nationals (2005-present) starting pitchers. With their respective 12- and 11-K efforts the last two days, Strasburg and Gonzalez also became just the second set of Nationals starters to register double-digit strikeout tallies in back-to-back games. John Lannan (11 strikeouts, April 17 at New York) and Tim Redding (10, April 18 at Florida) were the first to turn this trick back in 2008.

RISPY BUSINESS

The Nationals pounded out 14 hits, 5 of which came with RISP (Washington entered the game in a 13-game 7-for-81 rut with RISP) and 11 of which came from Davey Johnson’s 1-4 hitters (Harper, Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Zimmerman with three, Adam LaRoche with two).

Walk-Off Wonder

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The Nationals came into Thursday’s game desperately needing a win. For eight innings, it looked like they had finally broken through after dropping the first six games out of the All-Star break against a Dodgers squad just coming into its own and a Pirates team that has been as strong as any in baseball all season long. But it took another late rally in the ninth, a show of resiliency this team has been searching for, to deliver a Curly W.

Kurt Suzuki singled with one out, and after Roger Bernadina grounded into a 4-6 force out, The Shark stood at first as the winning run with two outs for the top of the order, in the form of Bryce Harper. The Nationals 20-year-old All-Star worked the count to 1-1, then extended through a cutter on the outer half from Pittsburgh reliever Bryan Morris. With the speedy Bernadina off and running on contact, the line shot looked like it might split the left-center field gap for a double. But as the ball continued to carry, center fielder Andrew McCutchen pulled up at the wall, watching as it cleared the #NATITUDE sign and dropped into the second row of the Red Porch.

Harper, who opened the game with a great diving catch before closing it with the home run, seemed more relieved than excited by his heroics.

Harper's walk-off blast was the first of his career.

Harper’s walk-off blast was the first of his career.

“I’m just happy we won the ballgame,” he said. “I’m serious. I could care less if it went over the fence or if it was a double off the wall.”

Whether the win provides the momentum swing to get the Nationals several wins in a row, to get them on a streak, remains to be seen. They will have a great chance on Friday, as they will face the Mets twice in a matter of hours, a doubleheader to start a four-game series over the next three days. The last time Washington faced their division rivals from Queens, they put up a season-high 13 runs. The resurgent offense was perhaps more important than the actual victory, as it will need to reemerge for the Nationals to take advantage of the series in front of them.

“I think it was just more important for us to get some hits,” said Ian Desmond of the bats Thursday, which produced 14 of them, two more than Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday’s games combined.

Nevertheless, Desmond recognized the difference in the clubhouse in terms of approach as the club looks ahead at the final 60 games of the 2013 campaign.

“I’m trying to take these games almost as playoff games. We’ve gotta win.”

Ryan Zimmerman, who was one of three Nationals with three hits (along with Harper and Steve Lombardozzi), echoed those sentiments.

“We needed a win,” he admitted. “It didn’t matter how we got it, although that’s the most exciting way you can get one.”

And while it may not have gone just how they envisioned, the Nationals will take every win, exciting or otherwise, that they can get.

Highlights: 7.25.13

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7.25.13 – Nationals 9, Pirates 7

Stat of the Game: Bryce Harper hit his first career walk-off home run, snapping the Nationals six-game losing streak.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Steve Lombardozzi had three hits, including two doubles, and made a pair of sterling defensive plays to help quash early rallies.

It Was Over When: After the Pirates scored four times in the top of the ninth to tie the game, Harper’s blast cleared the wall to the left of center field.

What to Watch for: 7.25.13

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Pittsburgh Pirates (60-39) vs. Washington Nationals (48-53)

RHP A.J. Burnett (4-7, 3.07) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-3, 2.89)

Washington turns to Gio Gonzalez to snap a season-high six-game skid and get back into the winning column for the first time since the All-Star break. Gonzalez has won his last four decisions, and his 2.04 ERA (21 ER/92.0 IP) since the beginning of May is second-best in all of Major League Baseball.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Harper LF

2. Lombardozzi 2B

3. Zim 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Werth RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Span CF

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

CENTRALLY LOCATED

Gonzalez is 9-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 13 starts against NL Central foes since joining the Nationals (2012-13). Washington is 12-1 in those Gonzalez starts.

FIVE ALIVE

Jayson Werth’s two-run, ninth-inning shot on Wednesday night at Nationals Park was his fifth home run in the last four games. He became the first National to go deep five times in a four-game span since Adam LaRoche turned the trick on September 3-6, 2012 during a four-game sweep of the Cubs. Incidentally, Adam Dunn hit 5 home runs in a three-game span for Washington, July 7-9, 2010. Werth’s 1.157 OPS in July paces all of Major League Baseball.

BELOW THE SURFACE

The .539 winning percentage (278-235) posted by the Nationals Minor League system currently ranks fourth among MLB’s 30 franchises. Washington trails only Houston (first, .576), Texas (second, .566) and San Francisco (third, .543). The Nationals system has registered winning records each of the last five seasons (2008-12), but has never finished among the top five.

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