Results tagged ‘ Steve Lombardozzi ’

Stroke of Fortune

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Sometimes, just when it looks like everything is breaking against you, something that appears to be bad luck instead returns good fortune. In a game that appeared headed the direction that too many have already gone this season, where a couple bits of bad luck tilted a close game against them, the Nationals got just such a break Friday night.

Washington had precious few opportunities against Colorado starter Tyler Chatwood, who looked every part like the pitcher with a 2.33 ERA heading into his start, a number all the more impressive given half of his outings take place at Coors Field. The first of these chances followed a two-out Steve Lombardozzi walk in the second inning. Lombardozzi got a decent jump on Chatwood and appeared to have second base stolen with Kurt Suzuki at the plate, but was called out by second base umpire Rob Drake. Both Lombardozzi and Davey Johnson argued the play to no avail.

Colorado's forced pinch-hit opened the door for Desmond's game-winning home run.

Colorado’s forced pinch-hit opened the door for Desmond’s game-winning home run.

In the top of the fifth, Josh Rutledge hit the ball deep in the hole at shortstop, where Ian Desmond made a tremendous effort just to get to the ball, then had to throw across his body back towards first, his momentum carrying him towards the left field line. His throw arrived just as Rutledge was reaching first, but the runner was called safe. Thankfully, the Nationals would escape the inning with no damage.

In the sixth, following a leadoff single, D.J. LeMahieu took off for second, and it appeared that Kurt Suzuki’s throw might have him nabbed. But again, Drake signaled safe, another bang-bang play against the Nationals. Stephen Strasburg bore down to strike out Carlos Gonzalez and Wilin Rosario to once again avoid trouble, though.

One inning later, another seemingly unfortunate play actually helped set in motion the events that led to Washington’s eventual victory. With two outs in the top of the seventh, in a 1-1 tie, Rutledge – Strasburg’s personal tormenter for the evening – floated a double down the left field line into the corner, becoming the fifth runner in scoring position against the Nationals righty. The hit brought Chatwood’s spot to the plate, and in turn, forced Rockies manager Walt Weiss to pinch-hit for his starter in an attempt to take the lead. That ploy didn’t work, as Ryan Zimmerman chased down a Tyler Colvin pop-up to end the frame.

Furthermore, it resulted in Manuel Corpas enteringfrom the Colorado bullpen for the bottom of the seventh. He drew Desmond as his first assignment, and after missing with a pair of sliders, left a sinker up and out over the plate that Desmond crushed for his third home run in as many nights. The run provided the difference in the 2-1 victory, and marked the ninth of Desmond’s 12 homers that have given the Nationals the lead when they were hit.

That was just enough for Strasburg, who allowed only a single earned run for the sixth consecutive start, but had collected just two wins in the previous five. Instead, this was a win that harkened back to the early parts of last season, when Johnson’s mantra of great pitching, great defense and just enough timely hitting seemed to be enough to win most nights. Even when everything seemed to be breaking bad.

Highlights: 6.20.13

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6.20.13 – Nationals 5, Rockies 1

Stat of the Game: Jordan Zimmermann fanned a season-high nine batters over eight frames to earn his 10th win, tying him for the Major League lead.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Four Nationals pocketed multi-hit games, including Adam LaRoche, Steve Lombardozzi, Anthony Rendon and Denard Span.

It Was Over When: LaRoche tripled home a pair of runs in the fifth, opening up a four-run cushion.

What to Watch for: 6.16.13

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Washington Nationals (34-33) vs. Cleveland Indians (33-34)

RHP Stephen Strasburg (3-5, 2.54) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (4-4, 4.08)

Following Saturday night’s thrilling, 7-6 victory, the Nationals activated Stephen Strasburg for the series finale in Cleveland. Strasburg was 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA (4 ER/25.0 IP) in his final four starts before landing on the Disabled List.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman DH

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Werth RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Tracy DH

8. Solano C

9. Bernadina LF

Strasburg RHP

THE ROOKIE IS RAKING

Anthony Rendon brings a nine-game hit streak into today’s contest, having batted at a .429 (15-for-35) clip with three walks, five doubles, his first career homer, six runs scored and five RBI during the stretch. He has posted multi-hit efforts in five of the nine contests. Rendon has also reached base safely in 13 straight MLB games, pocketing a .472 on-base percentage (18 hits, 7 walks) during that stretch that spans two stints with the Nationals.

INTERLEAGUE UPDATE

After today’s matinee tilt against the Indians, the Nationals will take a 43-day hiatus from Interleague Play before opening a two-day series at Detroit on July 30. Washington is 9-5 against the AL this season, having gone 3-1-1 in series play against the junior circuit. The Nationals lead the National League and are tied with Tampa Bay (9-1) for the Major League lead with nine Interleague wins this season.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

In addition to GM Mike Rizzo, who came from a baseball scouting family (grandfather Vito, father Phillip), three Nationals players have followed in the footsteps of their big-league dads: Adam LaRoche (father Dave LaRoche played 14 seasons, ‘70-83), Steve Lombardozzi (father Steve Lombardozzi Sr. played six seasons, ‘85-90) and Jayson Werth (grandfather Ducky Schofield played 19 seasons, ‘53-71; stepfather Dennis Werth played four seasons, ‘79-82).

What to Watch for: 6.5.13

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New York Mets (22-33) vs. Washington Nationals (29-29)

RHP Dillon Gee (3-6, 5.68) vs. RHP Dan Haren (4-6, 5.09) 

After 57 games without a walk-off win, the Nationals earned their first of the 2013 season last night off the bat of Steve Lombardozzi, who looped a sac fly to left with to score Adam LaRoche from third base in the ninth inning. With Dan Haren on the mound tonight, the Nats look to build off last night’s late rally and provide better run support, after only collecting three hits in Haren’s last start against the Orioles.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Rendon 2B

7. Lombardozzi LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Haren RHP

NOW THAT’S A PLATE APPEARANCE

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Steve Lombardozzi’s nine-pitch sac fly was the longest plate appearance of the season to conclude in a game-ending RBI. In fact, the last player to end a game with a plate appearance lasting in excess of nine pitches was Jayson Werth, who homered on the 13th pitch of his ninth-inning at-bat in Game 4 of the National League Division Series against St. Louis to give the Nationals a 2-1 win.

FIRST BLOOD

The Nationals are 22-5 when scoring first in 2013 and their corresponding .815 winning percentage ranks second among National League teams behind only Atlanta (24-3, .889).

GOOD WOOD, SLICK LEATHER

Ian Desmond has hit safely in eight straight games at a .333 clip (10-for-30) with three doubles, two homers, three RBI, a walk and four runs scored. Defensively, Desmond has played 39 consecutive errorless games (155 total chances) since last committing an error on April 21 against the New York Mets at Citi Field.

Walk On

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It’s actually hard to believe.

As Adam LaRoche tagged from third and raced home, his slide into beating the throw from left field to hand Washington a 3-2 victory Tuesday night, it was the first time the Nationals had recorded a walk-off win since Jayson Werth’s mammoth home run in Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS.

Adam LaRoche pumps his fist after scoring the game-winning run Tuesday night.

Adam LaRoche pumps his fist after scoring the game-winning run Tuesday night.

Of course, there was some symmetry to the fact that Werth was back in the dugout for his first game after over a month on the shelf. And though he was not personally a factor in the ninth-inning rally that turned what was looking like a gloomy, 2-1 defeat into a rousing, 3-2 win, there he was on the top step of the dugout, cheering and encouraging teammates.

“I’ve got all the confidence in the world in this team,” said Werth in the clubhouse after the big emotional victory. “It’s time to get going.”

To that point in the game, the only run had come via an Ian Desmond solo home run in the fourth. Otherwise, their best scoring chance came with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth.

Until Tuesday night, Washington had only notched two ninth-inning runs in 57 games. The Nationals had to buck that trend as well to keep from wasting another brilliant start from Jordan Zimmermann, who allowed just a pair of unearned runs over eight strong innings. They did so, just in the nick of time.

“I was out of breath,” said Steve Lombardozzi of the celebratory dog pile on the field for his first Major League walk-off. “I think I blacked out for a little bit there.”

Fans who followed the Nationals closely last year may have felt the same way. For a moment, the excitement, the passion, the energy that the 2013 edition of the squad has been looking to rekindle could be seen flowing through the huddle out in front of home plate.

The team was looking for a spark. They got it when they needed it most, at the last possible moment Tuesday night. Now it’s time to build a fire.

Highlights: 6.4.13

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6.4.13 – Nationals 3, Mets 2

Stat of the Game: Steve Lombardozzi delivered Washington’s first walk-off win of the season, capping a two-run ninth with a game-winning sacrifice fly.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Ian Desmond extended his hitting streak to eight games with his eighth home run, then doubled in the ninth to move the winning run to third base.

It Was Over When: Lombardozzi’s fly ball forced Mets left fielder Mike Baxter deep enough on his heels to allow Adam LaRoche to race home from third with the winning run.

Stammen The Tide

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A couple weeks ago, when discussing the options for taking over the injured Ross Detwiler’s spot in the rotation, Davey Johnson opted not to go with Craig Stammen, despite the righty’s excellent numbers early in the season. In fact, it was precisely because of those numbers that Johnson felt he needed Stammen in case of emergency long relief, or if the team needed quality extra-inning work. And while one never wishes for such situations to arise, when one did Friday night in a crucial series opener in Atlanta, Stammen was there to answer the call.

Did he ever.

Craig Stammen silenced the Braves over four innings of emergency relief to earn his third win.

Craig Stammen silenced the Braves over four innings of emergency relief to earn his third win.

The right-hander came on with the Nationals ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the third and set down all 12 Braves batters he faced, three by strikeout, to bridge the gap to the back of the bullpen. Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano tossed an inning each to finish out a 3-2 victory, one that seemed a stretch to believe after Stephen Strasburg departed with tightness in his back after just two frames.

“He was unbelievable, he did a great job,” said Johnson of Stammen’s clutch performance. “I thought he could go about 50 pitches, and he did. He probably could have gone further…It was a big win. We needed it bad.”

While it’s hard to call any single outcome in a 162-game season a must-win, Friday night may well have been the most significant single matchup on the schedule so far this season. Coming off a pair of disappointing setbacks in Baltimore, the Nationals sat with even .500 record, trailing the first-place Braves by 5.5 games in the division. With Strasburg on the mound against up-and-down rookie starter Julio Teheran, Washington appeared to have the advantage in the pitching matchup heading into the evening. When that assumed advantage was suddenly thrown out the window, it was Stammen who led the charge, as the team came together to gut out a huge win.

“I try to stick to my routine of taking it one pitch at a time,” explained Stammen, acknowledging the overused phrase, but emphasizing the importance of that mindset. “It may sound cliché, but that’s really the only way you can look at it. If you put your heart and soul into every pitch, every time, sooner or later you look up and you’re through three or four innings.”

Denard Span used his speed to deliver two of Washington's three runs.

Denard Span used his speed to deliver two of Washington’s three runs.

Stammen’s four innings gave the offense enough time to piece together another run, just enough to squeak out a victory. All three runs came via productive outs, and all three were set up thanks to hustle plays. Leading off both the first and sixth innings, Denard Span stretched for an extra base after lacing a ball into the right-field corner, notching a pair of triples. In each case he went on to score easily on a deep sacrifice fly to right field by Steve Lombardozzi. The only other Washington tally came after Roger Bernadina and Danny Espinosa each singled with one out in the second, The Shark racing around to third base after Espinosa’s chopper bounced through the right side of the infield. Kurt Suzuki followed with a grounder to third, but busted hard out of the box, beating out the back end of a potential inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play, allowing Bernadina to score.

Together, the bullpen and lineup showed the kind of hustle and effort it will take to win games with Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Jayson Werth still out of the lineup. Ultimately, Friday night’s game was one of sacrifice – Stammen’s well-earned tourniquet victory, Lombardozzi’s pair of run-scoring fly balls – of giving up whatever was needed to get the victory. It was epitomized by Stammen’s attitude afterward, one which the Nationals will need to embrace as they slowly get back to full strength.

“I’ll be here tomorrow with my cleats on,” he said, despite throwing 49 pitches over his four perfect frames. “If it goes 20 innings, I’m sure I can flip something up there.”

Turning On The Heat

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When a team is looking to find its offensive stride, as the Nationals have been through much of the early part of the season, they will try just about anything to get going. As baseball is arguably the most superstitious of sports, lineup shuffles will give way to bizarre rituals, including – but certainly not limited to – beard growing. Even manager Davey Johnson has gotten in on the act, sporting an ever-lengthening gray goatee over the recently concluded five-game homestand.

And while Washington’s offense began to pick up a tad – the bats registering three straight double-digit hit totals during the Philadelphia series for the first time since doing the same against the White Sox April April 9-11 – the Nationals hadn’t put together a real breakout game yet. That task was even taller with four regulars – Danny Espinosa, Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Jayson Werth – each out of the lineup nursing various injuries.

The Nationals got production and power from all over the lineup Tuesday night.

The Nationals enjoyed production and power from all over the lineup Tuesday night.

But the game finally came on a rainy Tuesday night in D.C., and against one of the more unlikely foes available, no less. All year long, the toughest opposing pitchers against the Nationals lineup have been of the young, flame-throwing variety. From the Mets Matt Harvey (who, admittedly, has shut down pretty much everyone) to Los Angeles hurler Clayton Kershaw and his 1.68 ERA, Washington’s bats had struggled to find their timing. All that changed against Baltimore’s Kevin Gausman, who was brushing 98 on the Nationals Park radar gun.

Denard Span lashed the first pitch of the game for a loud out, then Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Zimmerman each singled to set the stage for the red-hot Adam LaRoche. After laying off the first two pitches out of the strike zone, LaRoche turned on an offering from Gausman and blasted it into the right-centerfield seats. Four batters in, 3-0 Nats.

“When you see a couple guys getting on him early, it boosts everybody’s confidence,” said LaRoche of the first-inning outburst.

For a team that had gone 19-4 when scoring first and 22-4 when plating at least three runs this season, it was a welcome early sign. But what followed in the next eight innings may have signified a much more profound change.

Nathan Karns impressed enough in his first Major League start to earn another Sunday.

Nathan Karns impressed enough in his first Major League start to earn another Sunday.

The Orioles came back to tie the game in the fourth against Nathan Karns, called up from Double-A Harrisburg to make his Major League debut. No sooner had Baltimore done so than Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina, two Nationals still looking to find their groove at the plate, went back-to-back off Gausman, each on a two-strike pitch, to reestablish the three-run lead.

And while four home runs (LaRoche would add another late) will pretty much always win you a game, it was the notable lack of another number that should have Washington fans excited.

In spite of the powerful swings and the high velocity pumping in from the opposing starter, Washington struck out just once Tuesday night. Compare that to the eight whiffs they had against Harvey and the Mets or the 12 against Kershaw in Los Angeles.

LaRoche’s second home run in the eighth inning provided mere icing on the cake of this game and his torrid month of May. After a slow April, the slugging first baseman has put on a display this month, batting .341/.422/.648 with seven homers and 19 RBI, with still three games to play before the calendar reaches June.

With temperatures projected in the 80s and 90s all week in Baltimore and Atlanta, perhaps the Nationals bats will follow the weather and heat up for good, just as they did last season. And despite Moore’s claim that he hopes Davey “looks like Santa by the end of the year,” if LaRoche and the offense can maintain anything close to their recent output amidst the rising temperatures, the skipper may shave his beard sooner rather than later.

Highlights: 5.26.13

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5.26.13 – Nationals 6, Phillies 1

Stat of the Game: Stephen Strasburg struck out nine without walking a batter over eight strong innings to earn his third victory. 

Under-the-Radar Performance: Steve Lombardozzi delivered his fifth hit and fourth RBI of the series with his two-run double in the seventh.

It Was Over When: Denard Span slashed an RBI-double to cap a five-run seventh inning, Washington’s largest output in a single frame all season.

What to Watch for: 5.25.13

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Philadelphia Phillies (23-25) vs. Washington Nationals (25-23)

RHP Jonathan Pettibone (3-0, 3.00) vs. RHP Dan Haren (4-5, 5.44)

The Nationals go for their third straight win as they face the Phillies in the second of a three-game series. After a two-out rally in the fifth last night, the team looks to continue their offensive success and hand Jonathan Pettibone his first loss of the 2013 season. In addition, the Nationals selected infielder/outfielder Jeff Kobernus from Triple-A Syracuse and designated right-handed pitcher Yunesky Maya for assignment.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Harper RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Suzuki C

7. Moore LF

8. Lombardozzi 2B

9. Haren RHP

21 LETTERS DOOM THE PHILLIES: ZIMMERMANN & LOMBARDOZZI

Steve Lombardozzi sparked the Nationals 10-hit attack with three hits, the last of which was a two-run double that capped the scoring. Jordan Zimmermann became the National League’s first eight-game winner by allowing just two runs on six hits in 7.0 innings. Washington took the lead for good thanks to a four-run fifth, which matched their largest single-inning output of this season.

STINGY WITH THE LONG BALL

Nationals pitchers rank fifth in Major League Baseball, having allowed only 39 home runs this season (0.83 per 9.0 innings). Last season, Washington ranked second in MLB in fewest home runs allowed (120) and homers allowed per 9.0 innings (0.79 per 9.0 innings).

CATT’S MEOW

Steve McCatty’s starting staff has fashioned a 3.24 ERA this season that currently ranks third in MLB behind only the Cardinals (2.64) and Reds (3.21).

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