Results tagged ‘ Stephen Strasburg ’

What to Watch for: 8.22.13

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Washington Nationals (62-64) vs. Chicago Cubs (54-72)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.93) vs. LHP Travis Wood (7-10, 3.13)

Stephen Strasburg takes the hill at Wrigley Field for the first time since Opening Day 2012, a game won 2-1 by the Nationals with some late heroics from Chad Tracy and Ian Desmond. The lineup he will face Sunday includes just two players who started that game for the Cubs, shortstop Starlin Castro and second baseman Darwin Barney. Chicago will go with All-Star left-hander Travis Wood, who is making his 91st appearance (87th start), but first against the Nationals.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Bryce Harper CF

2. Anthony Rendon SS

3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Wilson Ramos C

6. Tyler Moore 1B

7. Scott Hairston LF

8. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

POWER OF 3:

The Nationals came through with a trio of three-run innings against the Cubs Wednesday night, powering their way to an 11-6 victory in the Friendly Confines. Jayson Werth and Scott Hairston blasted three-run homers in the winning effort, giving Wilmington, Illinois native Tanner Roark his third win – in front of more than 100 family and friends in attendance.

MORE GOOD THINGS COME IN 3s:

Werth’s three-run shot came on a 3-0 pitch. It was the first such home run for the Nats since Bryce Harper took a 3-0 pitch into the second deck in Miami on August 29 of last season. Wednesday’s contest also marked the first time all season the Nationals hit more than one three-run homer in a game.

200 CLUB

Washington Manager Davey Johnson earned his 200th victory with the Nationals Wednesday night, the third team he has piloted to 200 wins. He went 595-417 with the Mets, 204-172 with the Reds and improved to 200-171 with the Nationals. He has also tallied 186 victories for the Orioles and 163 more for the Dodgers in his illustrious career.

What to Watch for: 8.18.13

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Washington Nationals (60-62) vs. Atlanta Braves (75-48)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-5, 3.42) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (9-6, 3.08)

A little less than 13 hours after wrapping up a marathon 8-7, 15-inning win, the Nationals will send Gio Gonzalez to the mound in search of a series victory over the Braves. Sunday’s matchup will be Gonzalez’s fourth against Atlanta this season, including his third at Turner Field. The southpaw has stifled the Braves in his last two outings against them, allowing just three runs on nine hits in 14 innings, walking two and striking out 12.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Anthony Rendon 2B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Adam LaRoche 1B

6. Ian Desmond SS

7. Chad Tracy 3B

8. Kurt Suzuki C

9. Gio Gonzalez LHP

BULLISH ON THE ‘PEN

Following Stephen Strasburg’s early exit Saturday, the Nationals bullpen fired 14 innings, striking out a Major League record 19 Braves (1971-present). The combination of Tanner Roark, Drew Storen, Craig Stammen and Dan Haren, who earned his first-career save, pitched what amounted to a full game, tallying eye-popping numbers: 9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 16 K. Meanwhile, rookie left-hander Ian Krol, following a tough loss the previous night, navigated the Nationals through the pressure-packed 10th and 11th innings without allowing a run.

MOORE, TYLER PLEASE

Tyler Moore was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse prior to Saturday night’s game, and went 2-for-4 with a run scored while playing eight innings of flawless defense at first base. During his recent stint with the Chiefs, Moore compiled a .367/.442/.664 slash line, blasting eight home runs and plating a whopping 38 RBI in 33 games. Moore was lifted in the ninth in favor of Adam LaRoche, and the move paid off – albeit six innings later – when LaRoche belted the game-deciding home run.

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

Some staggering numerical mementos from Washington’s 15-inning 8-7 win at Turner Field:

0 number of Braves hits with runners in scoring position in 15 innings

1 position players remaining on the bench for either team (Kurt Suzuki)

2 number of career 15th-inning homers hit by Adam LaRoche (also August 24, 2007 for Pittsburgh at Houston)

4 number of extra-inning games between the Braves and Nationals this season

10 minutes first pitch delayed by rain

18 combined number of pitchers to pitch in the game

19 strikeouts notched by Washington’s bullpen

35 number of wins, against just 12 losses, when the Nationals score last in a game

44 combined players used by both clubs

126 plate appearances in the game

319 career appearances for Dan Haren upon earning first career save

329 minutes passed during game’s duration

513 pitches in game (335 strikes)

1413 days since the Nationals last 15-inning game, a 2-1 win over the Braves on 10/4/09. Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman & Tyler Clippard (Nationals) and Adam LaRoche, Brian McCann, Rafael Soriano and Kris Medlen (Braves) also played in that contest.

Saturday Night Fever

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“I feel like we were just destined to win that game, some way, somehow.”

Those words came from Dan Haren, maybe the most unlikely of heroes from a game full of them, saturated with storylines from both dugouts.

Saturday night was supposed to be about Bryce Harper, about unwritten baseball rules, about the rising tension between the Nationals and the Braves as they battled through the dog days of summer. But amidst a bizarre game in which two of the best young pitchers in baseball each failed to escape the second inning, it became a story of a true team effort in which 21 of the 25 men on the Washington roster played a role. In the end, the Nationals prevailed after 15 innings and nearly five-and-a-half hours, by a final of 8-7.

Adam LaRoche provided the decisive blow with his team-leading 18th home run.

Adam LaRoche provided the decisive blow with his team-leading 18th home run.

While any 15-inning affair will naturally be referred to most commonly as a marathon, this division rivalry felt more like a long distance relay race, with one reliever handing the baton to the next, over and over again. In all, 18 different pitchers were used by the two clubs – nine each – including the starters, each club’s entire seven-man bullpen, and two more starters to close it out.

Along the way, Washington set a number of records. The 15 innings matched the longest game in Nationals history, equaling the 2009 season finale, a 2-1 win over none other than the Braves at Turner Field. The five-hour, 29-minute affair was the lengthiest in terms of time elapsed. Meanwhile, the 19 strikeouts compiled by the Washington bullpen shattered the all-time Major League mark, at least as far back as anyone can be sure. The records for such a stat only date back to 1971, to which point the highest total ever compiled by a relief staff in a single game was 16. But considering the way the sport had evolved, with increased strikeout rates and higher bullpen usage, it’s hard to imagine any club amassing a comparable total in any previous era.

Following Stephen Strasburg’s second-inning ejection, Tanner Roark was the first Nationals reliever to answer the call, entering a 4-2 game and providing four innings of one-hit, scoreless relief with six strikeouts. Drew Storen tossed a perfect seventh inning, striking out the side. Ian Krol rebounded from a tough Friday night outing to put up two more scoreless frames in extra innings, and Craig Stammen followed a two-inning stint Friday night with a 55-pitch, three-inning scoreless stretch to get the game to the 15th inning.

Dan Haren earned his first Major League save in relief.

Dan Haren earned his first Major League save in relief.

Of course, in the midst of the impressive relief outings, the Braves tied the game in the ninth, making all of the extra pomp and circumstance necessary in the first place. But neither team would score again until the 15th inning, when Adam LaRoche punished a hanging breaking ball from Kris Medlen for a moonshot to right field, the ball searing through the mist at Turner Field before coming to rest in the bleachers, a dozen rows deep, giving the Nationals the lead once more.

That left the game to Haren, summoned from the bullpen to make his first relief appearance since 2004. Haren had thrown his routine side work prior to the game, tossing 30-35 pitches, which he followed with an upper body workout. But when Strasburg’s evening was cut short, several hours earlier, he offered up his services, should they be needed. They were.

“I’m proud of him for even doing that,” said Randy Knorr, who took over as manager when Davey Johnson was ejected along with Strasburg. “A lot of guys wouldn’t even have gone down there after throwing a bullpen.”

Haren allowed a single, but that was all, striking out Jordan Schafer flailing at a splitter, his bat sent cartwheeling towards the Braves dugout to end the game. That netted Haren first Major League save, and only his second as a professional, the other coming more than 12 years prior as a member of the New Jersey Cardinals of the Short-season New York Penn League on July 15, 2001 against the Lowell Spinners.

“I’m only supposed to do media every five days,” Haren joked as the huddle approached his locker after 1 a.m. local time.

In the end, the Nationals went home with a big road victory in Atlanta. Their reward. Both clubs get a whopping 12 hours and 46 minutes between the final out and the first pitch on Sunday afternoon. Haren summed it up best when all was said and done.

“Five-hour games are fine when you win them. But when you lose them, they really stink.”

What to Watch for: 8.17.13

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Washington Nationals (59-62) vs. Atlanta Braves (75-47)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.83) vs. LHP Mike Minor (12-5, 2.87)

Stephen Strasburg takes the hill in Atlanta, six days after his first career complete game and shutout, a four-hit, 99-pitch masterpiece over the Philadelphia Phillies in which he walked just one and struck out 10. Tonight will mark Strasburg’s 12th start vs. Atlanta, his most against any opponent. In his 11 previous career outings against the Braves, Strasburg owns a 3.43 ERA (22 ER/57.2 IP), 70 strikeouts and a 3.5/1 strikeout-to-walk rate.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Anthony Rendon 2B

3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Wilson Ramos C

7. Tyler Moore 1B

8. Scott Hairston LF

9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

AS THE ROTATION TURNS

Through the last turn of the Nationals rotation, no Washington starter has allowed more than a single earned run in his respective start, with only two total earned runs allowed over the five games (0.58 ERA):

Stephen Strasburg: 9.0 IP, 0 ER

Gio Gonzalez: 4.0 IP, 0 ER

Jordan Zimmermann: 6.0 IP, 1 ER

Dan Haren: 6.0 IP, 1 ER

Taylor Jordan: 6.0 IP, 0 ER

MOORE, TYLER PLEASE

Tyler Moore was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse before tonight’s game and is in the starting lineup at first base. During his 45-game stint with the Chiefs, Moore compiled a .312/.395/.584 slash line, blasting 10 home runs and plating a whopping 46 RBI. Since the All-Star break, those numbers have been even better (.371/.451/.676).

SOMETHING IN THE GULF

The Gulf Coast League Nationals are a stunning 42-8 (.840) this season, which began June 21. With 10 games remaining on the schedule, the GCL Nationals have a shot at setting a mark for best winning percentage recorded by a domestic Short season/Rookie League team. The 1979 Paintsville Yankees (52-13, .800) of the Rookie-level Appalachian League hold the current record.

What to Watch for: 8.13.13

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San Francisco Giants (52-65) vs. Washington Nationals (57-60)

LHP Madison Bumgarner (11-7, 2.75) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-3, 3.52)

The Nationals host the defending World Champions for the opening tilt of a three-game set. Washington swept San Francisco at home last season, going 5-1 overall in the season series. In honor of International Left-hander’s Day, tonight’s pitching matchup includes Major League Baseball’s two winningest southpaws over the last two seasons: Gio Gonzalez (28 wins in ‘12-13) and Madison Bumgarner (27).

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Anthony Rendon 2B

3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Scott Hairston LF

9. Gio Gonzalez LHP

99 PITCHES, NO PROBLEM

Stephen Strasburg tossed the first shutout of his career in Washington’s 6-0 home win on Sunday vs. Philadelphia, becoming the first Nationals pitcher to post a shutout at the Phillies expense. Strasburg (99 pitches) became just the fourth National to toss a shutout in less than 100 pitches (also: Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Marquis, Pedro Astacio).

START ME UP

Steve McCatty’s starting staff is 4-1 with a 2.51 ERA (16 ER/57.1 IP) in nine August contests to date. In those nine games, the starting staff has yielded just one homer while posting a stingy .218 batting average against and an admirable strikeout to walk rate of 3.73.

THE POWER OF 3 (AND 5)

When scoring three or more runs this year, the Nationals are 51-14 (.785). Additionally, when the Nationals tally five or more runs, they are a robust 41-4. Conversely, when plating two or fewer runs, Washington is just 6-46 (.115).

The Stras SHO

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Several times each season when Stephen Strasburg takes the hill and cruises through two or three innings without allowing a hit, the press box begins to buzz.

“He’s got no-hit stuff tonight.”

“I know it’s early, but…”

Etc., etc.

With all his pitches working, Strasburg dominated for his first career shutout.

With all his pitches working, Strasburg dominated for his first career shutout.

Any such talk was wiped away on Strasburg’s very first pitch of Sunday’s game, as Jimmy Rollins lobbed a broken-bat floater into right field for a leadoff single. But the Phillies would manage just three more singles and a walk the rest of the way, as Strasburg completed his first-ever shutout in a 6-0 Nationals victory.

Impressively, he combined the dominant power pitching that he burst onto the scene with in his first big league start, with the more pitch-to-contact-heavy approach he has implemented this season. Despite striking out 10 Philadelphia batters, the 25-year-old needed just 99 pitches and faced just 29 batters, two over the minimum.

“It’s something you try to do every time out,” said Strasburg of his performance. “Try to get more outs with less pitches.”

He fanned seven different Philadelphia starters, with only Chase Utley and Erik Kratz bucking the trend. Instead, those two combined to make seven outs in just five at-bats, as Utley twice grounded into double plays.

Perhaps most impressively, Strasburg did all of this after enduring an early scare, when he stumbled a bit off the mound after spiking a changeup past the ankles of Domonic Brown. The trainers went out to check on the right-hander, and both Strasburg and Davey Johnson would later confirm that he had tweaked his groin on the delivery.

Jayson Werth kept hitting, while Ian Desmond provided a jolt of energy.

Jayson Werth kept hitting, while Ian Desmond provided a jolt of energy.

Ironically, it was something that only happened in the first place – and that he would only feel afterwards – as a result of flying too far open to his glove side, a mechanical glitch that he has worked to rein in all season. Perhaps the added awareness helped Strasburg stay on a better line to home plate, as he would go on to strike out seven of the next 10 batters he faced following a walk to Brown, his lone free pass of the afternoon.

“If he didn’t fly open, it didn’t bother him,” said Johnson after the game. “Obviously it didn’t bother him.”

The masterful performance overshadowed other story lines, like the fact that the 6-0 victory gave the Nationals their first-ever home sweep over their division rivals. Former Phillie Jayson Werth also collected his second straight three-hit game, and is following his NL Player of the Month Award in July with a .571/.647/.821 slash line thus far in August. The Nationals showed aggressiveness on the basepaths, with Ian Desmond scoring from second base on a fielder’s choice, coming all the way home after the ball trickled away from Kratz following Utley’s bounced throw home on a force attempt. And there was terrific defense, capped by Ryan Zimmerman’s diving snare of Kevin Frandsen’s liner to end the game, which, of course, brought the storyline full circle, back to Strasburg’s shutout.

“You expect more of those from him, with his talent,” concluded Johnson.

Strasburg’s next scheduled start will come against the Braves in Atlanta this weekend.

Highlights: 8.11.13

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8.11.13 – Nationals 6, Phillies 0

Stat of the Game: Stephen Strasburg needed just 99 pitches to record his first-ever complete game and shutout, holding the Phillies to just four hits while striking out 10.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Jayson Werth turned in his second straight three-hit game and now owns an August slash line of .571/.647/.821.

It Was Over When: Ian Desmond scored from second base on Wilson Ramos‘ fielder’s choice to put Washington ahead 5-0 in the fifth inning.

What to Watch for: 8.11.13

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Philadelphia Phillies (52-64) vs. Washington Nationals (56-60)

RHP Kyle Kendrick (9-8, 4.29) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (5-9, 3.01)

The Nationals take aim at a three-game sweep of Philadelphia as they send Stephen Strasburg to the hill. Despite winning six of the past seven home series from the Phillies, Washington has never swept its division rival in D.C.

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. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

CLIFF JUMPING

The Nationals overcame a four-run deficit – their largest of the season – against Cliff Lee and the Phillies in Saturday night’s 8-5 victory. Entering the contest, Lee had a personal record of 84-1 when being staked to a lead of four runs or more in his career (he received a no decision). Also, Lee’s teams had won 86 of the 92 games in which he had pitched with at least a four-run cushion.

WERTH ANOTHER LOOK

Since July 1, Jayson Werth leads all National League players in all three Triple Crown categories with a .404 batting average (46-for-114), nine home runs and 27 RBI. The .404 mark is also the best in Major League Baseball over that span, easily in front of Adrian Beltre’s .370.

BANNER START FOR TANNER

With two perfect innings of relief, Tanner Roark collected his first Major League win in just his second appearance out of the bullpen. Roark needed only 12 pitches – six per inning – to set the Phillies down in order twice. The righty has allowed just one baserunner in his first four innings with the Nationals and has faced the minimum 12 batters over that span.

What to Watch for: 8.5.13

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Atlanta Braves (67-45) Washington Nationals (54-57)

LHP Mike Minor (11-5, 2.75) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (5-9, 3.04)

Washington returns home for a nine-game, 11-day homestand beginning with three contests against the division-rival Braves. The Nationals have not played Atlanta since the first days of June, but will face the NL East leaders in six of their next 12 contests and nine more times before the end of the 2013 regular season. Stephen Strasburg, who has a 1.93 ERA (3 ER/14.0 IP) this year against the Braves, toes the rubber in the opener.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Harper CF

2. Desmond SS

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Ramos C

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Rendon 2B

7. Lombardozzi LF

8. Hairston RF

9. Strasburg RHP

AWARD-WERTHY

Jayson Werth was named the National League Player of the Month for July, thanks to his league-leading 22 RBI and .450 on-base percentage. Werth’s .400 batting average since July 1 also paces all of Major League Baseball:

1. Jayson Werth (WAS) .400

2. Chris Johnson (ATL) .388

3. Kyle Seager (SEA) .376

4. Mike Trout (LAA) .375

5. Victor Martinez (DET) .374

HOMER HAPPY

With two more home runs on Sunday at Miller Park, the Nationals have hit 19 home runs in 14 games dating to July 21. The 19-in-14 power surge matches Washington’s best 14-game power output of the season. From April 6-21, the Nationals also hit 19 long balls in a span of 14 contests.

BELOW THE SURFACE

Four Nationals affiliates have already clinched post-season berths or currently lead their respective divisions: Double-A Harrisburg (Eastern League’s Western Division), Single-A Carolina (won Carolina League’s Northern Division first half, currently lead second half and own CL’s top overall record), High-A Hagerstown (won South Atlantic League, Northern Division first half) and Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals (lead GCL, East Division and own GCL’s top overall record). Earlier today, Tyler Moore was named Triple-A International League Player of the Week for the period ending August 4. Moore hit .308 (8-for-26) with three walks, four doubles, three home runs, five runs scored and 13 RBI to earn the citation.

To the Last Man

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To the last minute.

To the last second.

To the last man.

We fight!

Of all the things asked of Bryce Harper at such a young age, team leader has not been among them. But after a disappointing first two-thirds of the season, the 20-year-old spoke up the other day, then went out and provided the Nationals with a personal slogan, emblazoned on red camouflage workout shirts, prior to Friday’s game. It is a quote with which those who follow the young outfielder on Twitter may be familiar, from the movie Red Tails, about the Tuskegee Airmen.

At just 20 years of age, Harper is stepping into the role of an emotional team leader.

At just 20 years of age, Harper is stepping into the role of an emotional team leader.

The emotional team leader role had been shouldered largely by Ian Desmond thus far in 2013, but he seemed happy to have a second voice in the clubhouse speaking up at this critical juncture in the season.

“I think they’re great,” he said of the T-shirts, displaying his own for the media to see. “It’s good to see him coming into his own.”

As for Harper’s ability to walk the walk, he launched a second deck home run and drove in two of Washington’s four runs Friday night as the Nationals got back in the win column with a 4-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

“He rises to the occasion pretty well, if you hadn’t noticed,” quipped Desmond of his teammate after the victory.

Desmond himself got Washington on the board first, taking advantage of a bad route by Carlos Gomez to snag a leadoff double in the fifth, then stealing third and scoring as the throw skipped down the left field line. It was one of the game’s little swings that has seemed to go against Washington all year, but finally broke in their favor.

Of course, in order to once again accomplish their goal of playing in baseball’s postseason, nearly everything will have to go right for the Nationals. That was Davey Johnson’s point of emphasis after the game.

“We have to play really good from here on out to have any chance at all,” he stressed. “I think our guys know that.”

Denard Span had his strongest month yet in July, batting .289/.349/.402 with his first two home runs.

Denard Span had his strongest month yet in July, batting .289/.349/.402 with his first two home runs.

They will need more offense from Denard Span, like the quality at-bat he put in leading off the top of the ninth inning Friday night after quickly falling behind former Nationals lefty Michael Gonzalez 0-2. He fouled off a fastball, took a couple of tough sliders for balls, fouled another breaking ball off, then spoiled the fifth slider of the at-bat for a humpback liner, over third baseman Jeff Bianchi’s head and into left field. He would speed into second for a leadoff double, later padding the Nationals lead back to three runs after the Brewers had gotten one back in the bottom of the eighth.

The Nationals will also need the likes of Ryan Mattheus to fill the void in the seventh inning as he did with one of his best appearances of the season, and easily the strongest since returning from the disabled list. Mattheus got a strike out followed by a pair of grounders from the top two hitters in the Milwaukee order, following Jordan Zimmermann’s six scoreless innings with one of his own.

Speaking of Zimmermann, Washington needs his return to his first half form, as well as for Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez to continue to do what they have done most of the year. Dan Haren, who has pitched well in four starts since his own return from the DL, will be counted on to continue to do so the rest of the way.

But there is a sense among some – Harper and Desmond included – that they need a little extra fire to make all these things happen. If they can continue to lead the way as they did on Friday night, maybe they can close the 6.5 games remaining between themselves and a postseason spot over the final 53 games.

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