Results tagged ‘ St. Louis Cardinals ’

What to Watch for: 9.25.13

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Washington Nationals (84-74) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (93-65)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (19-7, 3.18) vs. RHP Shelby Miller (14-9, 3.12)

The Nationals played a different kind of spoiler on Tuesday night in St. Louis.

While they hit a handful of balls hard against Cardinals hard-throwing righty Michael Wacha, they found themselves without a hit after 26 outs, just one away from being no-hit. And although the Montreal Expos had suffered such a fate four times in their existence, the franchise had not had a no-hitter thrown against it since moving to Washington in 2005.

Ryan Zimmerman made sure it stayed that way.

His chopper off home plate lofted over Wacha’s head, grazing the tip of his mitt as it bounded up the middle of the infield. Shortstop Pete Kozma charged the ball, made a barehand stab and threw to Matt Adams at first. The ball tailed, pulling Adams off the bag, and Zimmerman strode through the bag, evading the first baseman’s attempted swipe tag. Safe.

“I was just using my blazing speed to try to get there as fast as I could,” joked Zimmerman after the game, his comments thick with sarcastic self-deprecation. “That’s baseball. Baseball’s weird. We hit the ball on the screws the whole night and that’s the one that breaks it up.”

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. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Jordan Zimmermann RHP

GOOD COMPANY

Jordan Zimmermann toes the rubber today in search of his 20th win, hoping to join Gio Gonzalez (21 wins in ‘12) on the short list of Nationals who have won 20 games. If Zimmermann pockets that 20th win, he’ll also move into a tie with Livan Hernandez (44) as the winningest pitcher in Nationals (‘05-present) history.

FOR WHAT IT’S WERTH

At .922, Jayson Werth currently weighs in with the third-best OPS total in the Nationals nine-year history. A closer look at the top 5 OPS campaigns turned in by Nationals:

PLAYER YEAR OPS
Nick Johnson 2006 .948
Adam Dunn 2009 .928
Jayson Werth 2013 .922
Alfonso Soriano 2006 .911
Michael Morse 2011 .910

AUCTION BENEFITTING VICTIMS OF WASHINGTON NAVY YARD SHOOTINGS

The Nationals are auctioning off game-worn, autographed patriotic jerseys in honor of the victims of the Washington Navy Yard shootings. Proceeds from the auction will benefit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which has committed to provide support and care for the families of the victims who died in our neighborhood’s tragedy. Please visit nationals.com/auction before the auction ends at 8:00pm ET on Thursday, September 26.

What to Watch for 9.24.13

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Washington Nationals (84-73) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (92-65)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (11-7, 3.39) vs. RHP Michael Wacha (3-1, 3.21)

The Nationals can damage the Cardinals chances of clinching the NL Central with wins in either or both of their final two games in St. Louis. The Pirates and Reds both currently trail the Red Birds by two games in the tightly contested division. Davey Johnson will stick with his everyday lineup on Tuesday night, despite being eliminated from postseason play on Monday.

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. Gio Gonzalez LHP

BEST BALL

Washington owns Major League Baseball’s best record dating to August 9 (30-13, .698). Since that point, the Nationals lead the National League in runs scored (224) and run differential (+70). The Nationals have won 9 of 10 series since taking three of four at Wrigley Field, August 19-22.

PRODIGIOUS POWER

At the completion of play on September 1, Ryan Zimmerman was tied for 38th in the NL with 15 home runs. In the 21 games since, Zimmerman has hit 11 long balls and is currently tied for fifth in the NL with a team-best 26 homers. Zimmerman’s 11 homers this month are the most in MLB and have established a Nationals record for the month of September. The only National to hit more home runs in any single month was Alfonso Soriano, who slugged 12 in May, 2006.

ROAD LESS TRAVELED

The Nationals are currently 37-39 (.487) on the road this season and must win at least four of the season’s final five contests to register a second consecutive winning record on the road. Washington led MLB with a .593 road winning percentage last season (48-33). The Nationals are 103-92 (.528) on the road under Davey Johnson, who began his tenure with Washington with a 4-3 setback on June 27, 2011 at Los Angeles (AL). The .528 road winning percentage in that span ranks third in MLB behind only the Rangers (.562) and Dodgers (.537).

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: 9.23.13

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Washington Nationals (84-72) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (91-65)

RHP Tanner Roark (7-0, 1.08) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (17-9, 2.98) 

Washington heads to St. Louis and Arizona for the final road trip of the 2013 season as the Nationals return to Busch Stadium for the first time since the 2012 NLDS. The Nationals continue to cling to slim postseason odds, but enter tonight’s game winners of six of their last eight, 13-of-16, and 24 of their last 32 games. In addition to the best September record in the National League, Washington owns the best overall mark in all of baseball (30-12) since August 9, since which point the Nats are +71 in run differential.

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. Tanner Roark RHP

MR. 20-20

Ian Desmond (number 20) stole his 20th and 21st bases of the season on Sunday, becoming the first National to reach the 20-20 plateau more than once. The only prior 20-20 seasons in Nationals history belong to Desmond (25 HR, 21 SB) in ‘12 and Alfonso Soriano (46 HR, 41 SB) in ‘06. Desmond is the eighth Major Leaguer to attain 20-20 status this season.

NAT WERTH

Jayson Werth is currently the only player who ranks among the National League’s top five in OPS (fifth, .927), slugging percentage (fourth, .528), batting average (fifth, .319) and on-base percentage (fifth, .398). Werth has hit better than .300 in July (.367), August (.380) and September (.304).

2,652,422 THANK YOUS ARE IN ORDER

In 2013, the Nationals hosted 2,652,422 fans to Nationals Park. The average attendance (32,746, 81 openings) is the highest in the six-year existence of Nationals Park and the highest since the inaugural year of the franchise back in 2005. Attendance at Nationals Park in ‘13 was up over 9.1% (or 2,736 per game) compared to 2012.

What to Watch for: 8.27.13

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Miami Marlins (49-80) vs. Washington Nationals (65-65)

RHP Nathan Eovaldi (2-4, 3.82) vs. RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 2.58)

With a successful 6-4 road trip behind them, the Nationals begin a six-game homestand tonight with the first of three against Miami, whom they swept at home to open the season. Washington has won 11 of its last 16 games, and looks to continue its winning ways with its next 19 contests coming against the Marlins (49-80), New York Mets (58-71) and Philadelphia Phillies (60-71).

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Ross Ohlendorf RHP

AUGUST HEAT

After struggling offensively for much of 2013, the Nationals rank third in the National League in runs per game in the month of August. Washington has scored 108 runs in 22 games this month (4.9 per game). Only the St. Louis Cardinals (5.4 runs in 25 August contests) and Arizona Diamondbacks (5.0 in 23 games) have scored more profusely than the Nationals this month. 

GOING STREAKING

With Sunday’s four-hit effort at Kauffman Stadium, Denard Span has hit safely in nine straight games, at a .400 clip (16-for-40) with two walks, a double, two triples, a homer, five runs and four RBI. Span is in search of his first double-digit hit streak as a member of the Nationals. Meanwhile, Bryce Harper is 13-for-33 (.394) with six walks, five doubles, a homer, six runs scored and six RBI during his current eight-game hit streak. Harper has yet to register a double-digit hit streak at a big leaguer.

GOOD WOOD

The Nationals are 5-1 and have scored at least four runs in each of their last six games, during which they are batting .314 (72-for-229) with 28 walks, 14 doubles, two triples, and nine home runs, all of which have yielded a .387 on-base percentage, a .511 slugging percentage and an .898 OPS. Washington has also gone (.316, 18-for-57) with runners in scoring position in the same six-game span.

Highlights: 4.24.13

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4.24.13 – Cardinals 4, Nationals 2

Stat of the Game: Jayson Werth mashed his fourth home run of the season, giving him the second most on the team behind only Bryce Harper (seven).

Under-the-Radar Performance: After a three-run first inning, Stephen Strasburg allowed just two baserunners over six scoreless frames the rest of the way.

It Was Over When: Washington could not capitalize on a pair of threats with the potential go-ahead run on base in the sixth and seventh innings.

Highlights: 4.23.13

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4.23.13 – Cardinals 2, Nationals 0

Stat of the Game: Nationals bullpen relievers Henry Rodriguez and Tyler Clippard combined to toss three hitless frames, running the bullpen’s scoreless streak to 12.0 innings overall.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ross Detwiler took the tough-luck loss despite delivering his fourth straight quality start to begin the 2013 season.

It Was Over When: Washington got the tying run to the plate in three of the final four frames, but could not get a run across.

What to Watch for: 4.23.13

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St. Louis Cardinals (11-8) vs. Washington Nationals (10-9)

RHP Adam Wainwright (3-1, 2.48) vs. LHP Ross Detwiler (1-0, 0.90)

The Nationals and Cardinals match up for the second of three contests as Washington’s NLDS Game 4 starter Ross Detwiler squares off with St. Louis Games 1 and 5 starter Adam Wainwright. Detwiler carries the National League’s best ERA into tonight’s game, a mark he shares with Boston’s Clay Buchholz as the lowest in all of Major League Baseball.

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. Detwiler LHP

AGGRESSIVE APRIL

With eight games remaining in the month, Bryce Harper has already matched Alfonso Soriano’s 2006 Nationals club record for home runs in April with seven. Harper’s 14 RBI are just three shy of matching Adam LaRoche (17 in 2012) and Ryan Zimmerman (17 in ‘06) for the club mark in April.

EXTRA, EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT!

The Nationals (40.5%) rank third in Major League Baseball in extra-base hit percentage. Only Cleveland (43.2%) and Oakland (40.9%) own superior percentages. Washington’s 148 hits this season include 34 doubles, three triples and 23 homers.

PIVOTAL PRODUCTION

Ian Desmond (12), Danny Espinosa (6) and Steve Lombardozzi (2) have combined on 20 extra-base hits, tops among middle-infield units. The Reds and Phillies, with 17 XBH apiece from its middle infielders, are tied for second in MLB.

Highlights: 4.22.13

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4.22.13 – Cardinals 3, Nationals 2

Stat of the Game: Anthony Rendon collected his first Major League hit and RBI on the same play, a game-tying double in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Under-the-Radar Performance: The Washington bullpen stranded three inherited runners and delivered 4.0 innings of scoreless relief.

It Was Over When: The Nationals threatened in both the seventh and eighth innings but stranded a pair of runners in each frame.

What to Watch for: 4.22.13

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St. Louis Cardinals (10-8) vs. Washington Nationals (10-8)

RHP Shelby Miller (2-1, 1.96) vs. RHP Dan Haren (1-2, 8.10)

The Nationals return home following a 3-3 road trip to take on the St. Louis Cardinals for the first time since last year’s National League Division Series. The opener will have a different feel than 2012, however, as Shelby Miller will face Washington for the first time and former Cardinal Dan Haren will take the hill against St. Louis for the first time since 2010.

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. Haren RHP

UP AND DOWN

Washington’s offensive output on the trek was literally up and down, as they scored (in chronological order) 10, 2, 6, 1, 7 and 0 runs in the six games. So Washington plated 7.7 runs per game in the three wins, but just 1.0 run per contest in the three defeats.

JIM LETT’S BUDDING BULLPEN

Jim Lett’s bullpen excelled on the roadtrip, going 1-0 with a 2.87 ERA (5 ER/15.2 IP) in five games (Jordan Zimmermann tossed a complete game on Monday at Miami). Lett’s relievers posted a 9.5/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a .193 batting average against during the five-game revival.

GOOD COMPANY

Ian Desmond’s National League-leading 11 extra-base hits (seven doubles, one triple, three homers) are tied with New York (AL)’s Robinson Cano and Oakland’s Jed Lowrie for the Major League lead among middle infielders.

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