Results tagged ‘ San Diego Padres ’

What to Watch for: 7.8.13

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Washington Nationals (46-42) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (43-46)

RHP Dan Haren (4-9, 6.15) vs. LHP John Lannan (1-3, 5.15)

The Nationals finished a three-game sweep of the Padres to cap their final homestand before the All-Star break with a 5-2 mark. Washington will put its four-game winning streak on the line, opening a four-game set in Philadelphia Monday night before traveling to Miami for the final series of the season’s first half.

There’s plenty of other news in Washington, where Dan Haren will come off the Disabled List to make his first start since June 22. The Nationals placed left-hander Ross Detwiler on the 15-day disabled list earlier this week, and optioned Tyler Moore to Triple-A Syracuse to help make room for Haren. The other spot on the roster will be filled by veteran outfielder Scott Hairston, who was acquired for Ivan Pineyro, a right-handed pitcher who had been in Single-A in the Washington system.

The move was lauded by Nationals Manager Davey Johnson, who was happy with the extra depth he now has from the right side on his bench.

“He’s the kind of player we need,” said Johnson before Monday night’s game. “You need a veteran presence on the bench. He knows the pitchers, knows what he needs to do.”

Hairston certainly knows the Phillies well. He is 12-for-30 (.400) with five doubles and five home runs in his career against tomorrow’s scheduled starter, Cole Hamels. Hairston’s success against lefties (over .500 career slugging percentage) and particularly those in Philadelphia were two of the reasons the Nationals pulled the trigger on the trade prior to this series, according to Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo.

“He fit the parameters of what we were looking for in terms of the history of exactly what he was brought in here to do,” said Rizzo.

One other piece of news broke shortly before the game Monday night. Bryce Harper, already elected as the youngest National League starter in All-Star Game history, has been chosen by captain David Wright to participate in the 2013 Home Run Derby, taking place at 8:00 p.m. ET next Tuesday, July 15. Harper will be joined by Wright as well as Colorado Rockies outfielders Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Desmond SS

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. Werth RF

6. LaRoche 1B

7. Rendon 2B

8. Ramos C

9. Haren RHP

GRAND SLAMMIN’

This is Washington’s second of three visits to the City of Brotherly Love this season, but their second in 19 days. Ian Desmond’s 11th-inning grand slam on June 19 allowed the Nationals to claim the series finale of the three-gamer here, June 17-19. Desmond’s game-winning slam has sparked a 12-6 surge for the Nationals, who have sliced 3.0 games off the Braves lead in the NL East in that span.

GREAT SCOTT!

Scott Hairston is a .244 career hitter with 126 doubles, 103 home runs, 298 RBI and 289 runs scored in 10 big league seasons. He has a trio of 15-homer seasons to his credit, including a career-best 20-home run effort in 2012. Hairston’s average of one homer every 22.3 at-bats ranks 21st among active right-handed hitters (min. 2,500 plate appearances). Hairston was originally drafted in 2001 by Mike Rizzo, who at the time was Arizona’s Director of Scouting. Hairston’s older brother, Jerry Jr., played for the Nationals in 2011.

TRIUMPHANT TRIO

Stephen Strasburg (sixth, 2.45), Jordan Zimmermann (seventh, 2.57) and Gio Gonzalez (16th, 3.14) all rank among the NL’s top 20 in ERA this season. Among teams with at least three qualified starters, the Strasburg-Zimmermann-Gonzalez triumvirate is baseball’s best, as they’ve combined on a 2.67 ERA (104 ER/344.0 IP) this year. St. Louis (2.91 ERA from Adam Wainwright-Shelby Miller-Lance Lynn) and Cincinnati (3.16 ERA from Mike Leake-Mat Latos-Bronson Arroyo) rank second and third, respectively, on that list.

Highlights: 7.7.13

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7.7.13 – Nationals 11, Padres 7

Stat of the Game: Ryan Zimmerman hit his fourth career grand slam, an opposite field blast that broke a 1-1 tie and put the Nationals ahead for good.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Anthony Rendon also homered and matched his career high with three RBI.

It Was Over When: Washington added a four-run fifth inning following a six-run third frame to put the game away.

What to Watch for: 7.7.13

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San Diego Padres (40-48) vs. Washington Nationals (45-42)

LHP Robbie Erlin (1-1, 4.34) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (4-6, 2.24)

The Nationals earned their third consecutive win and second straight over the Padres Saturday, clinching a third season series in as many years. Washington sends Stephen Strasburg – the Major League ERA leader since May 11 at 1.29 (8 ER/56.0 IP) – to the mound in search of the three-game sweep.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Desmond SS

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. Werth RF

6. Rendon 2B

7. Moore 1B

8. Ramos C

9. Strasburg RHP

WE ARE ALL MADE OF STARS

Bryce Harper became the youngest position player ever elected to start an All-Star Game and Jordan Zimmermann was named to the National League pitching staff for the 2013 Midsummer Classic in New York. Davey Johnson will also be participating as a member of the coaching staff, as will athletic trainer Lee Kuntz. Ian Desmond has been named as a Final Vote candidate, and can reach the game with the help of fan voting at nationals.com/vote.

SAFE AT HOME

Though he did not earn his 13th win of the season, All-Star Jordan Zimmermann extended his personal unbeaten streak at Nationals Park to 22 consecutive starts. The Nationals have won the last 14 games Zimmermann has started in D.C., with Jordan earning the win in 11 of them.

THE POWER OF 3

When scoring three or more runs this season, as they did in their 20th comeback win of the year on Saturday, the Nationals are 40-10 (.800). However, when plating two or fewer runs, Washington is just 5-32 (.135).

Highlights: 7.6.13

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7.6.13 – Nationals 5, Padres 4

Stat of the Game: Bryce Harper drove in three runs in three different plate appearances to lead the offense.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Adam LaRoche swatted his 13th home run of the season as part of a two-hit game.

It Was Over When: LaRoche made a diving snag to his right and flipped to Rafael Soriano covering first to preserve the latter’s 23rd save of the season.

What to Watch for: 7.5.13

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San Diego Padres (40-47) vs. Washington Nationals (44-42)

RHP Jason Marquis (9-4, 3.74) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (12-3, 2.46)

The Nationals got their second 8-5 win in as many games in last night’s series opener against the Padres. Gio Gonzalez recovered from a rocky start to notch his third straight win, while Wilson Ramos drove in three more runs after racking up five RBI in his return from the Disabled List on Thursday. Washington sends Jordan Zimmermann to the mound today, in search of his National League-leading 13th win.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Desmond SS

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Werth RF

7. Rendon 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Zimmermann RHP

GREAT 8

By posting five- and three-RBI efforts in twin 8-5 victories the last 48 hours, Wilson Ramos became the fourth National (2005-present) to record as many as eight RBI in two consecutive team games, joining Josh Willingham (9, July 2009; 8, July 2009), Ryan Church (8, April 2006) and Vinny Castilla (8, April 2005). Ramos’ eight-RBI feat is impressive considering it required only eight at-bats.

THE POWER OF THREE

Stephen Strasburg (third, 2.24), Jordan Zimmermann (sixth, 2.46) and Gio Gonzalez (18th, 3.14) all rank among the NL’s top 20 in ERA this season. All three will face the Padres this weekend. Among teams with at least three qualified starters, the Strasburg-Zimmermann-Gonzalez triumvirate is baseball’s best as they have combined on a 2.62 ERA (97 ER/332.2 IP) this season.

WERTH THE WAIT

Thanks to a second consecutive three-hit game, Jayson Werth is now batting .311 (32-for-103) with 12 walks, six doubles, four home runs, 17 runs scored and 18 RBI in 28 games since returning from the DL (right hamstring) on June 4.

Turning Points

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When turning points of a game happen with mammoth home runs, like the one Wilson Ramos hit on Thursday afternoon, they are easy to spot. But sometimes there’s more subtlety to such events, especially when they take place on the other side of the ball. The Nationals used just such a moment Friday night, as Gio Gonzalez pulled a Houdini act to swing momentum for his team on their way to an 8-5, series-opening victory over the San Diego Padres.

Gio Gonzalez has finally received consistent run support, winning three straight starts.

Gio Gonzalez has finally received consistent run support, winning three straight starts.

Before we get to the moment itself, let’s take a step back to Gonzalez’s last start on Sunday against the Mets. Lost in the melee of the 13-2 Washington onslaught was the fact that Gonzalez was in trouble in the first inning, with two runners on and just one out. But the lefty buckled down to get out of the frame unscathed, and the offense responded with four runs in the next half inning to take a lead the Nationals would never relinquish.

On Friday night, the Padres had already plated a first-inning score when Logan Forsythe and Jesus Guzman opened the second with a single and a double to put runners at second and third with nobody out. But again Gonzalez stepped up his game, striking out the next three batters to get his team back in the dugout still down just a run. This time the bats responded with five runs and never looked back, scoring eight runs for the fourth time in six games.

While that still hasn’t happened every game in the last half-dozen, four out of six is pretty solid. If the Nationals went on to win four-of-six each time over their remaining 76 games, they would finish with 95 wins. While it’s easy to look for a prolonged winning streak to prove a team turnaround – and the Nationals would certainly gladly take one of those – sometimes it is the smaller shifts, the ones that often go unseen, that can have the most profound impact.

Highlights: 7.5.13

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7.5.13 – Nationals 8, Padres 5

Stat of the Game: Jayson Werth led the offense with his second straight three-hit game as Washington posted a second consecutive 8-5 victory.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Gio Gonzalez settled down from a shaky start to earn his third straight win.

It Was Over When: Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano retired all six batters they faced to close out the victory.

What to Watch for: 7.5.13

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San Diego Padres (40-46) vs. Washington Nationals (43-42)

 RHP Andrew Cashner (5-3, 3.31) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (5-3, 3.09)

After celebrating our nation’s birthday with a 8-5 win over the Brewers Thursday, including five RBI off the bat of newly-returned Wilson Ramos, the Nationals look to make it back-to-back wins as they welcome the San Diego Padres to D.C. tonight. This is the second time and final tiem the Nationals will face the Padres this season after May’s series in San Diego ended in a 2-2 split.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Desmond SS

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Werth RF

7. Rendon 2B

8. Ramos C

9. Gonzalez LHP

RAMOS RETURNS

Wilson Ramos returned from a 44-game stint on the disabled list with a (literal) bang, as his three-run homer in the seventh inning capped the scoring in Washington’s 8-5 Independence Day victory over the Brewers. Ramos finished with a career-high five RBI as the Nationals split the four-game series against the Brewers. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ramos was the first player to post five RBI in the first game after a seven-plus week stint on the DL since Nelson Cruz did so on July 28, 2007 at Kansas City.

THESE GUYS ARE A-O.K.

Neither Fernando Abad, Ross Ohlendorf nor Ian Krol were member of the Nationals Opening Day roster, but all three joined the Nationals in June and are currently thriving in Jim Lett’s bullpen. Collectively, Abad, Ohlendorf and Krol are 1-2 with two holds, zero blown saves and a 1.49 ERA in 33 appearances. The trio has stranded seven of eight inherited baserunners and posted a .189 batting average against, a 0.83 WHIP and a 6.33/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (38 K, 6 BB).

OPPORTUNITY’S KNOCKING

At 8-6 (6-5 at home, 2-1 on the road), the Nationals are 14 games into a 49-game stretch (June 20-Aug. 15) in which they will enjoy 34 games within the comfy confines of Nationals Park. Washington is playing .571-ball in D.C. (24-18), but has struggled on the road (19-24, .441). The Nationals will play more home games in July than any other month this season, as 18 of July’s 27 contests will be played in The District.

What to Watch for: 5.19.13

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Washington Nationals (23-20) vs. San Diego Padres (19-23)

RHP Dan Haren (4-4, 4.76) vs. RHP Andrew Cashner (2-2, 2.84)

Washington goes for the series win in San Diego as the Nationals send Dan Haren to the mound in a battle of right-handers. Haren is 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA in his last five outings, which include three quality starts.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Lombardozzi 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Moore LF

6. Bernadina RF

7. Espinosa SS

8. Suzuki C

9. Haren RHP

RECAPPING JORDAN’S GEM

Jordan Zimmermann took the loss in Saturday’s 2-1 setback at San Diego, but in doing so he registered his Major League-best third complete game this season and eighth quality start (tied for MLB lead). Zimmermann tossed just 85 pitches last night, establishing a new Nationals (‘05-present) record for fewest pitches thrown in a non-rain-shortened, complete-game start. He bettered the previous record of 89 pitches, set by Pedro Astacio in a 5-0 win vs. Atlanta on August 15, 2006.

BARK AND BITE AT PETCO

Thanks in part to three homers in three games this series, Adam LaRoche now has 10 career home runs at Petco Park, which is tops among all players who have never called the park “home” during its existence (Todd Helton, Andruw Jones & Justin Upton are tied for second on that list with nine HR). LaRoche is a career .328 (42-for-128) hitter with 13 doubles, 10 homers and 28 RBI in 35 games at Petco Park. LaRoche’s most career home runs by ballpark: Turner Field (37), PNC Park (36), Nationals Park (23), Chase Field (15), Petco Park (10).

MIDDLE MEN

The 3-4-5 hitters in Washington’s lineup have hit a combined .341 (45-for-132) with nine home runs and 27 RBI while pocketing 16 walks and scoring 26 runs in the team’s last 12 games. Those same spots in the order are batting a combined .274 (128-for-468) with 24 HR & 71 RBI overall this season.

Home Cooking

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“No, not really.”

The media huddle is always a little larger when Stephen Strasburg pitches, but with the right-hander making his first-ever Major League start in his hometown of San Diego, where he both grew up and attended college, the questions are a little more pointed. So, really, didn’t pitching here amp him up a little more, knowing that 50 family and friends were in attendance, along with countless others who watched him in his collegiate days?

“It’s just another place to me, to be honest,” continued Strasburg, downplaying the larger storyline. “It’s my hometown. I’m an Aztec. But I look forward to pitching in any place in the big leagues.”

Strasburg's college diamond at San Diego state is just a few miles up the road from Petco Park.

Strasburg’s college diamond at San Diego State is just a few miles up the road from Petco Park.

The Padres were coming home following a 17-hit parade in an 8-4 win at Baltimore on Wednesday. That offense came to a grinding halt against Strasburg, though, who allowed just three hits over his eight innings of work.

“It was a good homecoming for him,” said manager Davey Johnson, but he didn’t dwell too much on the significance of his return to San Diego either, choosing instead to focus on the rest of the team’s contribution. “It was nice to see the offense come alive, give him some run support.”

In fact, the Nationals plated six runs behind Strasburg, the most help he has received in a start all season. Otherwise, Strasburg was largely his normal self, pitching more to contact as he has done all year long, which allowed him to reach the eighth inning for the first time in his career. Of course, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a little amped up.

“He was throwing hard,” said catcher Kurt Suzuki of how the hometown start may have shown through in Strasburg’s performance. “He wasn’t pitching 92-93 early. It was 96-97. It was coming in pretty firm.”

Strasburg is the most recent edition to the Aztec Wall of Fame, and is one of only two players with his number retired.

Strasburg is the most recent edition to the Aztec Wall of Fame, and is one of only two players with his number retired.

But that was not the only difference Suzuki noticed in his starter.

“He had a different mentality tonight,” Suzuki explained. “He wasn’t letting the little things bother him.”

That mentality, fittingly, is one he developed and refined just a few miles north of the waterfront up at San Diego State. It is something that Tony Gwynn, Strasburg’s college coach, saw in him before he ever became an All-American or the consensus number one pick in the Major League Baseball Draft.

“The stuff he does on the field, he really had to work at,” said the Hall of Fame outfielder on Friday, as he watched the highlights of Strasburg’s start from his office on campus. “All the other stuff, what you see now is what we saw when he came here as a freshman.”

Strasburg is only four years removed from his Aztec days, but it may seem like a lifetime ago to some who follow the sport. Bryce Harper’s own ascension amidst Strasburg’s rehab from Tommy John surgery shifted some of the attention away from the 24-year-old pitcher, at least until Sports Illustrated pasted him on the cover of their season preview issue in March. But all those accolades only came in the first place because of his off-the-charts work ethic, which had him beating coaches and players to the ballpark early Saturday mornings after his Friday night college starts.

The Golden Field Award - the counterpart to Strasburg's Golden Spikes Award, given to the school - sits in Tony Gwynn's office.

The Golden Field Award – the counterpart to Strasburg’s Golden Spikes Award, given to the school – sits in Tony Gwynn’s office.

“He outworked everyone in the country and it paid off on the diamond,” said Aztecs assistant coach Mark Martinez, who coached Strasburg for his three undergraduate seasons. “That’s very evident in how good he is.”

Strasburg acknowledged the difference in his approach Thursday night, one that showed flashes of his dominant self again. That should give Nationals fans hope, and should strike fear into the hearts of opponents around the league.

“I just wanted to do a better job of having a better mound presence out there.”

That presence was evident Thursday night, but reporters pushed Strasburg to explain a little more of what it meant to him.

“Just trying to go out there and let your teammates feed off of your confidence,” he elaborated. “When one thing doesn’t go the way you thought it would, don’t let it affect the next pitch. That’s what good pitchers do.”

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