Results tagged ‘ St. Louis Cardinals ’
With the MASN broadcast team in town on Friday to watch the Nationals take on the Cardinals at Space Coast Stadium, we sat down to chat with play-by-play man Bob Carpenter to get his perspective on Spring Training so far. Tapping into his three decades of Major League experience, we asked about his routines, the hazards of calling spring games, and his outlook as the Nationals prepare for the 2013 campaign.
Curly W Live: How much attention do you pay to Spring Training, day-to-day?
Bob Carpenter: I check it every day. And I’ll watch from afar, the box scores as games progress. The one thing I really like to do, is once the game gets into the middle innings, if I’m not (in Viera), I’ll check out a box score, look at pitching lines, see what guys have done their first couple at-bats. I would say it’s something I look at several times a day when we’re not here.
CWL: You guys have a similar ramp-up as the players do, getting more intense heading into Opening Day. How does it feel every year to prepare for the season ahead?
BC: You know, that’s a good thought. I used to have a horrible time getting ready for Spring Training games. Now that this is my eighth year (with the Nationals), you kind of know all the guys. And this is a unique spring, because we don’t have a bunch of guys battling for jobs this spring. Things are pretty well settled. So this has probably been the easiest spring to keep an eye on, to get a pulse on, and to get ready for the games. They’re just so much more settled about the ballclub right now, and that’s fantastic for us. I’ve been doing this a long time, but I keep finding that I learn something every year that maybe I didn’t know about the year before. Spring Training always has a few surprises, but I’ll be real happy this year if we head north and there’s not one surprise that came up. Now it might be something good like Anthony Rendon hitting .400, but it’s really cool to come and see this ballclub now compared to some of the springs we had a few years ago.
CWL: When you have a ton of guys taking part in one game, it can wreak havoc on a broadcast. How do you go about keeping track of everybody?
BC: We don’t get a whole lot of help in that respect, we’re kind of on our own. The most effective thing you can bring to Spring Training – which I naturally forgot for our first broadcast – is binoculars. So Dan Kolko from MASN Sports, he didn’t want to loan me his binoculars, but he did. But I’ve got them now. If you can get through the first couple spring broadcasts, you’re fine. About the middle of the month, which is about a week away, guys start getting three at-bats, four at-bats, and instead of playing four innings they’re playing six or seven innings.
So, as a broadcaster, the key is surviving those first couple of spring telecasts, letting the people in D.C. think you know what you’re talking about with all these players. Because there’s a lot of guys to keep track of. I do a huge file on the Nats. All the guys on the 40-man roster are in my file. When we get into some of the guys who don’t play much, or who are destined for minor league camp, we’ll delve into the archives a little bit and get stuff on them. So yeah, it’s kind of like the players in that we gear up for Opening Day like the team does.
CWL: Coming off the excitement of the 2012 season and with a long spring due to the World Baseball Classic, how hard is it to pace yourself heading into Opening Day?
BC: I think a lot of that comes with experience. As a Major League broadcaster, this is my 30th Spring Training. I think the first time I went to Spring Training in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1984, I didn’t really know what I was doing. You just kind of learn on the job. With experience comes the calm that you’re kind of feeling before the storm. Once the season gets going, it kind of explodes out of the gate, then you kind of settle into a little routine.
When I was a younger broadcaster, I was all charged up about Spring Training telecasts. I wanted to accomplish this and accomplish that. And I did those not only for the team I was with, but for many years, I did broadcasts for ESPN and you really half to gear up, because you have to tell the story of two teams when you do that. But I think with experience comes the feeling that, “I know what’s going on here, I’ve got a good feel for the camp.” And I think that comes from talking to the guys and talking to the coaches. So I think it’s just like the players – the more Spring Trainings that you’re involved in, the more you feel relaxed about it and you know what you have to do step-by-step to get ready for the season.
CWL: Have you ever sensed as much anticipation heading into the season as there is around this ballclub?
BC: Well I think it’s high. I think the real eye-opener for me – and everybody knew we were going to have a good team, then we pick up Denard Span, we pick up Dan Haren, we pick up Rafael Soriano – it’s like icing on a cake that already tastes pretty good. Then I went to NatsFest and I saw the excitement with our fans, with 7,000 people there on a cold afternoon in January, going crazy about this team. It was like “Wow, our fans have now taken this thing to the next level.” And now it’s up to the team to take them along for the ride. I think that’s really where it hit me, when I went to NatsFest and just saw the enthusiasm and how in love Washington is with this team now. We saw that to a certain extent for a number of years. Fans would come and say, “I hope we can do this, I hope we can do that.” Now it’s, “We’re going to do this, we’re going to do that.” And I know sometimes hopes and expectations, going from one to the other, can be kind of a dangerous thing, because there are expectations now, along with the hopes that this team is going to do great things. I think this is by far, as a Nationals broadcaster, the most anticipated Spring Training that I’ve been through, leading up to the most anticipated season. And with all those home games we have in April, like 16 of them, it’s important that this team get out of the gate well, because they have to take advantage of that time. This thing might become pretty revealing pretty quickly once the season starts.
The Washington Nationals enjoyed unprecedented success in 2012, recording the best record in Major League Baseball. The team relied on the contributions of many different players, whom we will catalogue throughout the offseason as we look ahead to the 2013 campaign. Today, we look at another of Washington’s impressive rookies from 2012, Tyler Moore.
Amidst the impressive crop of Nationals rookies, perhaps none rose as suddenly into the collective fan consciousness from 2011 to 2012 as Tyler Moore. The soft-spoken Mississippi State product let his bat do the talking throughout his two prior seasons in the minors, where he was one of just two players to hit 30 or more home runs in back-to-back seasons. Despite largely coming off the bench for the Nationals in 2012, Moore showed that power streak was no fluke by blasting 10 roundtrippers in only 156 at-bats. Moore also had nine longballs in just 101 Triple-A at-bats over his two stints with the Syracuse Chiefs last year, giving him a combined home run rate of one per 13.5 at-bats, better than either of his previous two seasons (16.7, 16.2).
Moore’s Major League call-up was somewhat overshadowed. After all, Bryce Harper’s debut came less than 24 hours earlier, and Moore’s initial showing wasn’t his strongest, as he managed just three singles in 19 at-bats, striking out seven times without a walk before he was sent back to Triple-A. But in his second showing, Moore more than made up for his slow start. In his fourth game back with Washington, the 25-year-old blasted his first two Major League home runs, driving in five to key a 6-2 victory in Toronto that capped the Nats 6-0 road trip. He stuck in the Majors, and went on to post a .277/.349/.562 line with 19 of his 38 hits going for extra bases (nine 2B, 10 HR) following his second call-up. Moore’s bat, combined with his ability to play first base and his growth in left field made him a versatile option off of Davey Johnson’s bench as a member of the “Goon Squad.”
A former 16th-round draft choice, Moore received exactly one Postseason at-bat, and made the most of it. Washington trailed St. Louis 3-2 with two outs in the top of the eighth inning of Game 1 of the NLDS, but had Michael Morse at third and Ian Desmond at second. Johnson called upon Chad Tracy to pinch-hit, prompting Cardinals manager Mike Matheny to counter with his lone lefty reliever, Marc Rzepczynski. Davey re-countered with Moore, a righty. The rookie made Matheny pay for his strategy, driving a 2-2 fastball off the outside corner the opposite way for what would prove to be the game-winning, two-run single.
The 6’2”, 215-pound Moore will not be arbitration eligible until 2015, and he remains under team control through the 2018 season.
The Washington Nationals enjoyed unprecedented success in 2012, recording the best record in Major League Baseball. The team relied on the contributions of many different players, whom we will catalogue throughout the offseason as we look ahead to the 2013 campaign. Today, we make the call to the bullpen for right-hander Ryan Mattheus.
While the Nationals staff was largely praised for the effectiveness of the starting rotation last year, it would be remiss to overlook the contributions of the bullpen, which was as solid and deep as any in the National League. Although Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen are more well-known on the national stage, there is another hurler lurking in the ’pen, one who continued to grow and solidify his role in Davey Johnson’s late-game mix: Ryan Mattheus.
The right-hander posted a remarkably similar ERA (2.85) to that of his rookie season (2.81), but made some significant strides in improving his peripheral numbers. A groundball pitcher by trade, Mattheus raised his K rate from 3.4/9.0 IP to 5.6/9.0 IP while cutting down significantly on his walks. As a result, he finished the year with a lower WHIP than any National to throw at least 35 innings not named Gio (yes, even lower than Stephen Strasburg). The biggest mark against Mattheus was his eight home runs allowed, but six of those were solo shots, evidence of his ability to keep opposing runners off base, limiting the damage against him.
Arguably the biggest moment of the 29-year-old’s season – and possibly career, to this point – came in Game 1 of the NLDS in St. Louis. With Washington trailing 2-1, the Cardinals loaded the bases with nobody out to start the bottom of the seventh inning. Johnson called on Mattheus, handing him the seemingly impossible task of escaping the middle of the St. Louis lineup without allowing any damage. Cards cleanup man Allen Craig swung at the first pitch and hit a bounder to Ian Desmond at shortstop, who threw home for a force out, the first of the inning. Then, on the very next pitch, Yadier Molina rolled over a ground ball to Ryan Zimmerman, who started an inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play. Mattheus’ Houdini act made him the first Major Leaguer in Postseason history to record three outs in an inning on just two pitches.
The Galt, California native gained popularity with Washington fans by picking Katy Perry’s “Firework” as his bullpen entrance song in 2011, and he stuck with the tune in his second full season. The auditory cue became almost as synonymous in its familiarity as Michael Morse’s use of “Take On Me” in his fourth plate appearance of the game. Mattheus also let fans actively participate in helping him create his Twitter profile, encouraging them to vote for his profile photo. Mattheus will not be arbitration eligible until 2015, and is under team control through the 2018 season.
Their backs against the wall, trailing the defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals two-games-to-one in the best-of-five National League Division Series, the Washington Nationals needed a hero to keep their season alive. A nervous energy reverberated through Nationals Park around the 4:07 p.m. first pitch, one that only built as a 1-1 contest remained deadlocked late into the game. After six solid innings, Ross Detwiler turned the ball over to the bullpen, handing the reins to Game 2 starter Jordan Zimmermann, pitching in relief for the first time in his Major League career.
While that may have seemed like a bold move by manager Davey Johnson, there was something in the air on that night of October 11 in D.C. Zimmermann ignited the hometown crowd of more than 44,000 by punching out the side, pumping his fist as he came off the mound. Tyler Clippard did the same in the eighth, whiffing Carlos Beltran, Matt Holiday and Yadier Molina. Drew Storen struck out two more in the ninth, the fans reaching a fever pitch as the game went to the bottom of the ninth still level at 1-1 and the top of the Nationals lineup due to lead off.
Enter Jayson Werth. Hitless in three plate appearances so far, the grizzled veteran dug in against Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn and quickly fell behind 0-2 in the count. But he stayed alive, spoiling off anything Lynn could throw at him, not biting on breaking balls out of the zone as he worked deeper in the count. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, he skied a foul ball toward the Nationals dugout, with the catcher Molina and first baseman Allen Craig converging near the rail. But the ball came down just out of reach, then ricocheted off a bench in the Nationals dugout, hitting Craig in the face on the rebound. Second life given, the electricity built once more, through two more fouls on pitches nine and 10, and a close take on the 11th offering from Lynn. After one more high foul pop into the stands on pitch number 12, the stage had been set.
In the ninth inning, in the 10th month, on the 11th day, in the 12th year, Werth dug in for the 13th pitch of the at-bat. At that moment, Nationals radio man Charlie Slowes recalled on the air a time, a month or so earlier against the Marlins, when Werth battled through a similarly long at-bat to lead off the bottom of the ninth, only to homer off Heath Bell to tie the game. Lynn set and delivered a fastball that started over the outside corner, but ran back toward the middle of the plate. Werth was not about to foul this one off. His laser beam to left field kept rising and rising as it pierced through the October night, the wave of realization sweeping from home plate to the visitor’s bullpen – where the ball clanked off the back wall – that this playoff battle had been finished in the most dramatic moment of this young franchise’s history.
For the bulk of the season, the Nationals vaunted pitching staff – the best in the National League in 2012 – led the way for the eventual NL East Champions. With a slew of injuries to position players over the course of the year, Washington never really had its full complement of everyday starters on the field at the same time. But in late August, the Nats finally put together as close to a fully stocked lineup as they had seen all year. After pummeling the Cardinals, outscoring them 31-14 over a four-game set, they entered a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs with a chance to pad their division lead.
After eking out a 2-1 victory behind a strong performance from Ross Detwiler in the series opener, the bats caught fire like never before. On September 4, five Nationals combined to set a new franchise record by belting six home runs in an 11-5 thumping. How in the world could they follow up that act? By doing the exact same thing the next night, crushing six more longballs in a 9-1 victory, giving them 12 in just a 16-inning offensive span. Adam LaRoche led the way with three bombs in two nights, while Bryce Harper accounted for a pair of the blasts. At the height of the air horns and Chuck Brown’s Bustin’ Loose looped on repeat over the ballpark’s PA system, three Nationals – Roger Bernadina, Harper and LaRoche – homered in the same inning, all in a four-batter span, sparking the coining of a new phrase: The Nat Trick.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the display, though, was that eight different players contributed to the power barrage, helping Washington to a series sweep. The Nats went on to hit 194 home runs for the season, smashing the old Washington mark of 164 from 2006, as well as the franchise record of 178, set by the 2000 Expos.
The Nationals returned to D.C. for their longest homestand of the season in late August, beginning with four games against the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals. After Edwin Jackson twirled a gem in the series-opening 8-1 victory, Gio Gonzalez took the hill against St. Louis for the first time in the regular season, and also for the first time since a rough Spring Training outing back in March. Whatever adjustments Gonzalez made between those two appearances obviously worked, as he set the Red Birds down in order the first time through the lineup, and did not allow a hit until the fifth inning.
As the offense piled up runs behind him – leading 6-0 through three frames and 8-0 through five – Gonzalez kept dealing away, retiring eight straight to earn the ball back for the ninth inning. Having just thrown his first-ever complete game earlier in the month, the southpaw put the finishing touches on his first career shutout, retiring Shane Robinson on a flyout to center field on his 119th pitch of the night. The performance keyed Gonzalez’s run of five wins in his final six starts, propelling him to the most wins in baseball and a third-place finish in the NL Cy Young race.
St. Louis Cardinals (2-2) vs. Washington Nationals (2-2)
RHP Adam Wainwright (0-0, 1.59) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (0-0, 3.60)
Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth combined to provide the Nationals with enough offense to squeeze past the Cardinals, 2-1 in Game 4, setting up a win-or-go-home Game 5 for both teams Friday night in D.C. The pitching matchup of Adam Wainwright and Gio Gonzalez will be a rematch of Game 1 of the series, which Washington won, 3-2, last Sunday in St. Louis.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
From Game 4 hero Werth, about being in a zone as the crowd of over 44,000 exploded upon his game-winning home run clearing the left field wall:
“It was pretty quiet to me. I didn’t hear a thing.”
1. Werth RF
2. Harper CF
3. Zimmerman 3B
4. LaRoche 1B
5. Morse LF
6. Desmond SS
7. Espinosa 2B
8. Suzuki C
9. Gonzalez LHP
WALK OFF, WALK ON
Following Washington’s dramatic, walk-off victory in Game 4, the Nationals need one more win over the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 to move on to the NLCS. The Nationals walked off 10 times during the regular season and went on to win their next game eight times. Gio Gonzalez has twice pitched the game after a Nationals walk-off, winning both times (4/24 @ SD, 5/5 vs. PHI) with a 0.69 ERA (1 ER/13.0 IP) while allowing just six hits and a walk, striking out 13 in those two outings.
G.I.O. IN D.C.
The Nationals are 24-8 behind Gonzalez this season (plus 1-0 in the postseason), the best winning percentage of a team behind any qualifying starter in baseball. When Gonzalez toed the rubber in a starting role in D.C. this year, the Nationals went 10-4 (.714). Washington has won its last four home games started by the southpaw, with Gonzalez earning the victory each time.
D.C.’S POSTSEASON LEDGER
It’s well known that the Nation’s Capital has one MLB World Championship (‘24) on its resume. Washington, D.C. owns an all-time record of 10-13 in the postseason: 2-2 in 2012 NLDS, 1-4 in 1933 World Series, 3-4 in 1925 World Series, 4-3 in 1924 World Series. The Nationals and Cardinals Game 5 meeting will treat D.C. to just the second winner-take-all contest in 79 seasons of big league ball. On October 10, 1924, the AL Nationals edged the New York Giants, 4-3 in 12 innings, in Game 7 of the Fall Classic.
St. Louis Cardinals (2-1) vs. Washington Nationals (1-2)
RHP Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86) vs. LHP Ross Detwiler (10-8, 3.40)
After Wednesday’s loss, Washington finds itself in the position of needing to win two games in a row at home – something the team has done 23 times this season – to extend its season and advance to the NLCS. The Nationals will send southpaw Ross Detwiler to the hill against Cardinals right-hander Kyle Lohse, who has been tremendous against most of the league in 2012 but had really struggled against the Nationals, allowing 12 runs (nine earned) in 11.2 innings over two starts.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
From Nationals Game 5 probable starter Gio Gonzalez on how the team needs to respond over the next two games:
“You learn from that. To be the best, you have to beat the best.”
1. Werth RF
2. Harper CF
3. Zimmerman 3B
4. LaRoche 1B
5. Morse LF
6. Desmond SS
7. Espinosa 2B
8. Suzuki C
9. Detwiler RHP
GLASS HALF FULL
The Nationals won at least two straight games at Nationals Park this season on 16 separate occasions in ’12 (23 overall). Washington also went 16-5-5 (win-loss-tie) in series play this season at Nationals Park. The ‘12 Nationals went 6-2 the contest after being shut out (St. Louis blanked the Nationals, 8-0, in Game 3). Kyle Lohse (7.48) and Game 5 starter Adam Wainwright (7.24) share a collective 7.39 ERA in seven career starts in D.C. The Cardinals have won games in consecutive days at Nationals Park just once: April 30 (9-4) and May 1 (6-2), 2009.
TWO LEFTIES CAN MAKE IT RIGHT
When Game 4 starter Ross Detwiler or Game 5 starter Gio Gonzalez toed the rubber in a starting role in D.C. this year, the Nationals went 21-7 (.750). Detwiler (11-3, .786) and Gonzalez (10-4, .714) posted the top two team winning percentages at home among the Nationals starting staff.
DESI DOING IT
Through three postseason games, Ian Desmond shares the Major League lead in hits (7) with Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips, who has taken four games to amass the same total. Desmond is batting .583 (7-for-12) with a double and two runs scored in his first-ever postseason series.
St. Louis Cardinals (1-1) vs. Washington Nationals (1-1)
RHP Chris Carpenter (0-2, 3.71) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (7-7, 3.92)
The Nationals split their two road games to begin this best-of-five series against the Cardinals, as they return to D.C. today in what amount to a three-game home series to determine who advances to the NLCS. Former Cardinal Edwin Jackson, who defeated the Phillies in Game 4 of last year’s NLDS, will oppose Chris Carpenter in the first MLB Postseason contest in D.C. in 79 years.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
From Nationals manager Davey Johnson, on Hall-of-Famer and former Nationals Manager Frank Robinson, who will throw out today’s ceremonial first pitch:
“He’s just an outstanding example of a true professional.”
1. Werth RF
2. Harper CF
3. Zimmerman 3B
4. LaRoche 1B
5. Morse LF
6. Desmond SS
7. Espinosa 2B
8. Suzuki C
9. Jackson RHP
WHY OCTOBER 10 MEANS SOMETHING IN THIS TOWN
Exactly 88 years ago, on Oct. 10, 1924, the AL Nationals defeated the New York Giants, 4-3 in 12 innings, to win Game 7 and DC’s lone baseball World Championship. Fittingly, Walter Johnson earned the win with 4.0 scoreless innings of relief. With the score tied in the 12th, the AL Nationals plated the decisive fourth run (which was unearned due to a pair of errors) via an Earl McNeely one-out, RBI-double. The game was played in front of 31,667 at Griffith Stadium.
Edwin Jackson won his final start of the regular season to give him 10 victories for the year, marking his fifth straight double-digit win season. In Jackson’s lone start against the Cardinals in Washington this season on August 30, he allowed one unearned run on just four hits while striking out 10 over 8.0 dominant innings of work in an 8-1 Nationals victory.
The Nationals have won five-of-nine from the Cardinals in the season series, which did not begin until the Nationals 131st game of the season, August 30 in D.C. Thus, nine of Washington’s last 35 contests have come against the Cardinals. The Nationals are 8-1 at home against the Cardinals dating to August 28, 2010. Overall, the Nationals are 16-11 in their last 27 games against the Cards.