Results tagged ‘ San Francisco Giants ’

Uncharted Waters

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It happens all the time in sports. There are certain players that simply seem to play their best against one particular team. Nationals fans can certainly attest to the head-scratching numbers put up by Andrew McCutchen or Hanley Ramirez against their team over the years. But through the first four of six matchups between the Nationals and San Francisco Giants this year, something truly inexplicable has happened. Washington has thoroughly dominated San Francisco, specifically their starting rotation, considered by many as the Giants most obvious strength.

Roger Bernadina had four hits and another great catch Monday night.

The Giants staff is a lot like the Nats – they don’t often have bad days, and even when they do, they manage to limit the damage. But for whatever reason, Washington has had San Francisco’s number this year. Ryan Vogelsong, who had not allowed more than four runs in a game all season, was tagged for nine (eight earned) in just 2.2 innings of work on Monday night. He had not thrown less than 6.0 innings in a start all year long, and was coming off a 7.0-inning, three-hit masterpiece in a win over the Cardinals. Even more ludicrous, he had allowed just 12 earned runs at home all season before last night’s romp.

Meanwhile, the next two starters in this series – Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum – each had their worst outings of the season when the teams met earlier this year in D.C. Bumgarner allowed seven earned in that series opener and Lincecum was tagged for eight runs (seven earned) as he did not escape the fourth inning. In fact, including the series finale in which they came back against Matt Cain and walked off in the bottom of the ninth, the Nats have outscored the Giants 38-14 over their four matchups this year.

There’s almost no rational way to explain it. Of course, the Nationals know they’ll have to be at their best again the next two days as they face Bumgarner and Lincecum. They will counter with new NL ERA leader Jordan Zimmermann (who took over the top spot after Vogelsong’s outing Monday night) and Stephen Strasburg, both coming off dominant performances against the Astros and Diamondbacks, respectively.

The Giants face NL ERA leader Jordan Zimmermann on Tuesday.

That task must look even more daunting for the Giants when you consider the following: the Washington offense has scored more runs since the All-Star break than any team in baseball. On Monday night, the Nationals leap-frogged both the Cardinals and Yankees and now possess the game’s biggest run differential, having scored 108 times more than their opponents. They have won nine of their last 10 and 13 of 15 on the road, where they are 40-22, a full seven wins more than the next closest teams in the majors (Reds and Yankees, 33).

But the Nationals stand at a historic crossroads as they enter play on Tuesday. It marks the first time this season that they have been as many as 5.5 games ahead in the National League East. That separation also matches the most that the 2005 team ever approached, after a 5-4 win on July 3 at Wrigley Field left them at 50-31. Of course, we are five big weeks later in the season and this edition of the Nationals sits a full 28 games over .500 at 72-44.

Nevertheless, in a season full of milestones, this is one of the biggest yet, as ultimately, it is the only one that really matters when it comes to determining just how long the Nationals will be playing baseball this year. If they can continue to perform as they have against a playoff caliber team in the Giants, they may find themselves in truly uncharted territory.

Turning Back The Clock

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*** UPDATE: Watch the video highlights at the end of the article ***

The Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants turned back the clock in more ways than one on Thursday evening at Nationals Park. Donning the 1924-style uniforms of the old Washington Senators and New York Giants, they celebrated old traditions like standing together on the field during the National Anthem, only organ music on the public address system, and a green, metallic looking scoreboard graphic made to replicate the classic manual boards of the sport’s cathedrals, like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.

The Nationals line up for the National Anthem in 1924 Washington Senators uniforms.

The game itself turned out to be a throwback as well. Through the first six-and-a-half frames, the Giants rapped out 14 hits, but 11 of them singles and not a home run among them, their lead sitting at just 5-1 despite threatening nearly every inning. That’s when the Nationals finally made them pay for their inability to put the game away. Giants manager Bruce Bochy ran his ace, Matt Cain, back out for a seventh inning of work on a stiflingly hot night at Nationals Park, and the plan backfired. Ian Desmond powered an opposite field homer to right, and Danny Espinosa went back-to-back for the Nats, following with a shot of his own to center. The rally continued with two outs, as Bryce Harper overcame a tough call on a check swing to deliver a double that cut the margin to 5-4.

And with that, the crowd came alive. The buzz in the ballpark was different. Harper himself said after the game that when Desmond homered, Harper turned to Adam LaRoche and declared the Nationals would win the game. Following a scoreless eighth for both clubs and a dominant top of the ninth for Tyler Clippard, the Nats were left in the position of sending three rookies to face San Francisco closer Santiago Casilla needing one run to stay alive and two to win.

After falling behind 0-2, pinch-hitter Tyler Moore opened the frame with a bullet to the wall in left-center for a double. Steve Lombardozzi followed with a sacrifice bunt that Casilla could not come up with cleanly, and just like that there were runners at the corners with none out for Harper. After working the count to 3-1, the 19 year-old – who earlier in the day had finished behind Cardinals third baseman David Freese in the All-Star Game Final Vote – ripped a single through the hole on the right side, tying the game.

Nationals Park erupted. Three batters later, when Harper crossed home plate with the winning run after the Giants failed to convert the back end of a double play in a futile attempt to force extra innings, it erupted again. Single games are just that – only one contest of many in a season. But there are those, both wins and losses, that stand out above the rest. This was one of those wins, and everyone in attendance knew it.

It was only fitting that the Nationals won on a walk-off, just as the Senators did over the New York Giants in the dramatic 1924 World Series that the night was commemorating. Throughout the contest, there were recaps on the PA and videoboard between innings of each game, as the Senators fell behind three-games-to-two before coming back to win games six, seven, and the series in dramatic fashion.

From the Desk of Mark Lerner: Happy Fourth of July

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Greetings Nationals fans.

What a week for the ballclub.

In one week’s time, the offense seems to have clicked (thanks Coors Field for the spark!), we received thrilling news that we’ll have three All-Stars in Kansas City next week and we won a huge intradivision series down in Atlanta.

But perhaps most importantly, Ryan Zimmerman is again “right” offensively. I know Rick Eckstein, Davey and Ryan himself worked tirelessly to get him out of his funk. But the worm turned and he’s producing offense seemingly every night.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that you now see Michael Morse hitting the ball with authority. After almost two months without, we finally have our 3-4-5 hitters in place. The sky’s the limit.

The Nationals 2012 All-Stars (left to right): Stephen Strasburg, Ian Desmond and Gio Gonzalez.

As for next week’s All-Star Game, I really could not be happier for Ian, Gio, Stephen, their families and of course our fans.

With that said, take yourself back one calendar year. Ian was on the verge of emerging both offensively and defensively, but was not quite there yet. Gio was pitching well, at an All-Star level, but in the AL West with Oakland. And Stephen was on the verge of beginning his 6-start rehab stint in our minor-league system after having Tommy John surgery.

Nope, this All-Star trifecta was not on my radar. And I doubt it was on anyone else’s.

As for Bryce Harper’s bid for a spot on Tony La Russa’s All-Star roster, I say why not? What Bryce is doing at the age of 19 is remarkable. And to pair him with a talent like Mike Trout (age 20) on the AL  side would create great theatre that is likely to last in our memories a lot longer than the game’s final score.

Thank you for your efforts to send Bryce to Kansas City. Fans turned out in droves to vote for Bryce and the Orioles Jason Hammel as part of the Beltway Ballot at mlb.com and for #BryceIn12 on Twitter.

While I am always excited for the Mid-Summer Classic, this year more than ever the game’s results just might matter to us directly. Yet another consequence of being in a pennant race I suppose. This really is fun isn’t it?

Those were enormous wins the last two days over Lincecum, Bumgarner and the Giants to begin the big homestand to close out the season’s first half. The series against the Giants is of special interest as it pits the top two teams in the NL, at least in terms of winning percentage. The Giants are coming off a big week in which they overtook the Dodgers for the top spot in the NL West. Should be a great finale tonight.

I hope you had a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July and I’ll see you at the ballpark.

What to Watch for: 7/5

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San Francisco Giants (45-37) vs. Washington Nationals (47-32)

RHP Matt Cain (9-3, 2.53) vs. LHP Ross Detwiler (4-3, 3.30)

After the Nationals beat the Giants last night to earn another series victory, they look to put the finishing touch on a sweep the now second-place NL West team tonight. A win tonight will push the Nats to a season-best 16 games above .500.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Lombardozzi LF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Morse RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Flores C

9. Detwiler LHP

BESTING SOME OF THE BEST

Wednesday’s 9-4 win was the Nationals third in as many games. During the three consecutive wins, Washington has scored 26 runs (8.7 per game) despite being opposed by Madison Bumgarner (career 3.14 ERA), Tim Lincecum (3.23) and Tim Hudson (3.42), who rank fourth, seventh and 16th, respectively, in career ERA among active pitchers.

DESMOND NOT SHORT ON POWER

Since debuting with Washington on September 10, 2009, Ian Desmond has blasted 36 homers to match the total hit by all other Nationals shortstops combined (Cristian Guzman 21, Felipe Lopez 8, Danny Espinosa 2, Alberto Gonzalez 2, Ronnie Belliard 1, Damian Jackson 1 and D’Angelo Jimenez 1) since the franchise’s 2005 arrival in The District. Ian’s 40 extra-base hits (24 doubles, 2 triples, career-high 14 homers) pace MLB shortstops (Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera ranks second with 31).

‘CATT’S MEOW

Steve McCatty’s staff leads MLB in fewest runs allowed (275), ERA (3.18), starters ERA (3.28), batting average against (.229), hits per 9.0 innings (7.62), WHIP (1.20), baserunners allowed per 9.0 innings (10.99), OPS against (.656), fielding-independent pitching (3.46) and swing-and-miss percentage (24.1).

- FOLLOW NATIONALS VS. GIANTS LIVE -

What to Watch for: 7/3

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San Francisco Giants (45-35) vs. Washington Nationals (45-32)

RHP Tim Lincecum (3-8, 5.60) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (4-6, 2.77)

The Nationals are back home to face the Giants in the opener of a three-game set this evening at 6:35 p.m. This is the first time the teams will face off this season. Jordan Zimmermann, taking the mound tonight for Washington, looks to carry on his impressive ERA (2.77) and WHIP (1.15) into July.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Lombardozzi LF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Morse RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Flores C

9. Zimmermann RHP

TWO OF THE BEST SQUARE OFF IN DC

The division-leading Nationals (NL East) and Giants (NL West) enter the series with the first and second-best winning percentages, respectively, in the National League. The Nationals posted a 5-5 on their just completed three-city, 10-game roadtrip while the Giants just finished a seven-game homestand with a 5-2 record, going 3-0 against the Dodgers and 2-2 against Cincinnati.

ZIMM LOOKS FOR HOME COOKIN’

Jordan Zimmermann takes to the hill tonight for the Nationals, looking to earn his second win in a row and first at home in 2012. In fact, Zimmermann has only one win (Aug. 18, 2011 vs. CIN) at Nationals Park since last year’s All-Star Break.

A FRANCHISE BEST

The Washington Nationals currently sport a run differential of +48 (316-268) over their opponents so far in 2012. That mark is the highest differential for the club in a single season in Nationals history (2005-Present).

Your Handy FAQ Guide to #IYNT

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*** FANS, DUE TO A HIGH NUMBER OF RESPONSES, YOUR RSVP DOES NOT GUARANTEE YOU A SEAT TO #IYNT. MAKE SURE TO PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS BEFORE THEY SELL OUT! *** 

What Is #IYNT?

You may have seen the hashtag floating around the last couple weeks and wondered to yourself, what exactly is this #IYNT thing? It’s the first event of its kind at Nationals Park: the inaugural Ignite Your NATITUDE Tweet-up! In short, it is a social event that will take place before and during the Nationals/Giants game on July 3.

Why Should I RSVP?

Let’s see: a special discounted ticket, a free commemorative poster, giveaways all night long, a great evening of Nationals baseball AND a fireworks show? The real question is why wouldn’t you RSVP?

But, if you still need a good reason, consider this: the more fans that RSVP, the better the seats will be. We will unveil the seating package on June 22, the day that tickets go on sale. So tell your friends, but more importantly, tell your tweeps – the more we spread the word among Nationals fans on Twitter, the more you will get to meet and interact with at the ballpark!

How Do I RSVP?

It’s simple: log on to Twitter, and simply tweet “RSVP #IYNT” to @Nationals – seriously, that’s it! We’ll record your Twitter handle, and when you come to the ballpark on July 3, we’ll tell you where to check in. Only those who have RSVP’d can take part in the special giveaways and win prizes, so make sure you do so right away!

How Do I Actually Get Tickets?

Right here!

How Much Does It Cost?

Just $20! No matter how much the seats improve, tickets will remain at the same low price point.

What If I Already Have Tickets To The Game?

That’s just fine. You may not be seated in the same section as everyone else, and you won’t get a discounted ticket, but you can still partake in all the fun activities as part of IYNT. Even if you already have seats, you will want to make sure you RSVP for the chance to win our great prizes, yet to be unveiled.

Why Aren’t My Tickets In Section 140?

We’ve got more spaces than seats in section 140 alone, so the event will spill into the surrounding sections in the area.

What Time Should I Show Up?

As early as possible. We’ll have some special prizes for those who get there early. Center Field Gates will open at 4:00 p.m. for a 6:35 p.m. first pitch.

Where Do I Check In To Get My Prizes?

We’ll be set up at tables right behind section 140 in the heart of the action. The first 450 to arrive get a special edition event poster, and the first 140 to arrive get a limited edition Ignite Your NATITUDE T-Shirt!

Did You Get My RSVP?

Yep. We’ve been tracking them since the beginning. As long as you used “RSVP” and “#IYNT” in a tweet, we saw it and tracked it. We’ll have Twitter handle name tags ready and waiting for when you arrive.

What Is The $6 Of Added Value On My Ticket?

Noticed that, did you? We’ve thrown in an extra $6 for you to use anywhere around the ballpark – concessions, team store, whatever you’d like. Just another bonus for following us on Twitter.

More questions? Ask us on Twitter and we’ll do our best to keep this page updated!

The Ignite Your NATITUDE Tweet-Up

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For those involved in the Twitter community, tweet-ups have become a fun way for those who interact in the space and share interests to meet in person. To us, there is no better place to meet than the ballpark, and so, the Ignite Your NATITUDE Tweet-up (#IYNT) was born.

#IYNT will take place before and during the Nationals July 3 contest vs. the San Francisco Giants. To attend the event, we encourage fans to RSVP via Twitter using the hashtag #IYNT. Seat location for the event will not be released until the tickets actually go on sale on June 22, but the more people that RSVP, the better everyone’s seats will be! We’ll have great giveaways leading up to and during the event, as well as a bunch of others perks that we’ll tell you about as the date approaches. Read on for more details, and we hope you’ll join us for this exciting social media event!

WHO: All @Nationals followers

WHAT: First-ever Ignite Your NATITUDE Tweet-up (#IYNT)

WHERE: Nationals Park; Fans encouraged to RT and share with followers to improve seats – more RSVPs = better seats!

WHEN: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 6:35pm vs. San Francisco Giants; Gates open at 4:00pm; Tickets available June 22

DETAILS: The Nationals are excited to hold the inaugural Ignite Your NATITUDE Tweet-up (#IYNT) at the ballpark on Tuesday, July 3, 2012 when the Nationals host the San Francisco Giants at 6:35pm. In addition to providing a space for those who follow us in the Twittersphere to congregate and meet one another, we will be offering a special ticket discount and a commemorative poster exclusive to the event. The seating location for Tweet-up seats will improve the more RSVPs we receive before the on-sale date on June 22. Fans are encouraged to follow @Nationals for incentives to help improve the seating location as the June 22 on-sale date approaches.

On the day of the event, the Nationals will reward fans who show up early with prizes and offer additional pre-game interactive games and giveaways. Throughout the game, those who follow @Nationals will enjoy an interactive fan experience never before seen at Nationals Park.

Be sure to follow @Nationals on Twitter or visit nationals.com for additional details as they are announced.

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