Results tagged ‘ Taylor Jordan ’
Let me start by stating that things could not be better here in Viera. The weather is wonderful, the workouts are crisp and the results have been encouraging. Yes, a team’s Grapefruit League winning percentage can, at times, be misleading, but winning games is always better than the alternative.
Seven wins, four losses and a tie. But what is most encouraging is how Manager Matt Williams has them playing the game. I love the aggressive base running. Taking an extra base. How fantastic was it to see Danny Espinosa score from second base on Saturday on a dribbler back to the pitcher? This brand of baseball really is infectious.
Fifteen home runs in 12 games. Only five allowed. That’s a good ratio.
Strong offensive starts from stalwarts like Ian Desmond (.286, 2 HR, 3 RBI), Adam LaRoche (2 HR, 4 RBI), Wilson Ramos (.474, HR, 10 RBI) and Ryan Zimmerman (.389, HR, 2 RBI) among others.
And many of our young players are making their marks. Zach Walters is hitting .615 with four extra-base hits and five RBI. He is as hot as anyone. Brian Goodwin and Michael A. Taylor have each made memorable catches in the outfield. Matt Skole hit .357 and four of his five hits went for extra bases before he was assigned to Minor League camp earlier this week so that he can get additional at-bats.
- I have not even mentioned the pitching. There truly are too many to name, but I’ll risk mentioning three standouts: Taylor Jordan (team-leading 11 strikeouts), Jerry Blevins (3.2 hitless innings) and A.J. Cole (6.2 scoreless innings).
- Forgive me if I think it is 2005 all over again watching Jamey Carroll and Luis Ayala perform admirably as they battle for roster spots. Jamey’s approach at the plate (.333 OBP), base running and defensive versatility are all a real plus. Meanwhile, Luis can throw a strike whenever he needs to. He has that same veteran savvy gene our friend Livan Hernandez had during his playing days.
- And Matt Williams? What’s not to like? Crisp, precise and purposeful baseball usually yields wins. I love what Matt brings to our dugout and clubhouse. I especially like how our team has taken to his aggressive nature.
- I was pleased to see President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo sign Michael Gonzalez to a Minor League deal last weekend. Gonzalez was a big part of our bullpen’s success in 2012 and there are very few southpaw relievers who can match his experience in tight situations. Welcome back Michael!
- I just counted. Only three of the club’s 18 errors have been committed by players who were “regulars” in Washington last season. And one of those miscues was charged to Mr. Perfect, Denard Span! Remember, Denard did not commit an error last season. As I have said before, he should have won a Gold Glove!
- I’d like to thank all of our fans in Central Florida, but especially those from our local area on the Space Coast (Viera, Melbourne and Rockledge). The crowds for the Cardinals and Yankees games in the last week were the two largest we have ever enjoyed hosting.
- As for our fans from back home, I’ve had quite a few friends remark upon arrival in Viera about the significant pockets of Nationals fans on their flights from DC to Orlando. It’s hard to ignore all the smiles and Curly W shirts, sweaters and hats. It is great to see so many of our fans catching on to just how special Spring Training is.
Until next time …
Another summer of Nationals baseball is in the books.
Eighty-six wins and a late-season charge that both captivated and frustrated fans and players alike.
I have been asked by friends and fans how a team with such a talented roster could play sub-.500 baseball for four months – breaking our hearts – and then come back and play so well during the season’s final six weeks?
All I know is there is no ‘sure thing’ in our game and we were certainly reminded of that in 2013. Some might answer that baseball’s true beauty is rooted in its humility. I’m proud of the way this team struggled back to finish the season, going 32-16 in the last seven-plus weeks – giving us back our hope for 2014.
Here are a few of my final thoughts on this season:
- Congratulations to Ian Desmond on his second consecutive 20-homer, 20-stolen base season. It is a joy to watch a true professional play at his level, day-in and day-out. From my seat, I see that he’s quickly becoming the best shortstop in baseball.
Jayson Werth’s stellar season should put him on a short, short list for National League Comeback Player of the Year. His return from last year’s gruesome left wrist injury is simply remarkable. I know from personal experience how seriously and with what care he treats his health – intense rehab and workouts, and near fanatical nutrition.
- Wilson Ramos is a difference-maker in our lineup. His ironman streak of 24 consecutive starts behind the plate with seven home runs and 24 RBI was one of the major factors in bringing this team up in the standings.
- It was disappointing that Jordan Zimmermann was not able to capture his 20th win last week at Busch Stadium, but that takes nothing away from a terrific ‘13 season. I would expect Jordan to capture some votes in the National League Cy Young Award voting.
- While Denard Span’s 29-game hitting streak was memorable, I also think it meant he finally found his comfort level in D.C. and the National League. If you remember, Jayson coped with some of his own transition issues when he joined us in 2011 after a long tenure with the Phillies, but found his groove and became the team contributor that we see today.
- We had our fair share of injuries and adversity in 2013. I would have loved to see one more month out of Werth, 130 total starts from Ramos, and for Bryce Harper to have avoided that right field wall at Dodger Stadium at the beginning of the season, but those were the cards we were dealt. That said, those injuries afforded Anthony Rendon, Taylor Jordan, Ian Krol and Tanner Roark the opportunity to showcase their talents over the long stretch. Both the team and the players will benefit from those innings on the field.
- I’d be remiss if I did not thank Davey Johnson for an historic run as our manager. Who will ever forget the summer of 2012, when postseason baseball returned to The Nation’s Capital for the first time since 1933? I know I won’t. Thanks Davey for helping to author memories that will never fade.
- Lastly, I want to thank not only those reading this blog, but all of our fans that stand behind this team on a daily basis. Attendance was up over 9% this season. TV ratings were fantastic. Your passion for Nats baseball is felt all the way to the clubhouse – I’ve even heard our players talk about it. Your enthusiasm reminds us all why this game matters. Thank you!
Mike Rizzo will soon begin interviews to find our next manager. With most of our young talent in place for the next several years, and a strong pitching foundation built around an accomplished rotation, I have to think we have an attractive position to offer. I know Mike has a working list of candidates in mind, but he’s also talking to executives from around the game that he respects. This search will be extensive and we expect he’ll deliver the right man for the job.
It’s my hope that many of you will be able to meet our new skipper at NatsFest in January. We will be rolling out the specifics on our signature offseason event shortly. And MLB’s Winter Meetings (December 9-12 in Orlando, FL) will be here in short time too. Almost time to fire up the Hot Stove.
Yes, I know we all just completed a grueling 162-game season, but my optimism is already on ‘high’ for 2014.
On Thursday, Washington Nationals pitchers Taylor Jordan and Drew Storen joined Screech for a visit with patients of all ages at the MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital (MedStar NRH), which specializes in treating patients with physical disabilities.
“It’s about the third or fourth time I’ve done this,” said Storen, who explained that the day was about more than just signing autographs. “They’re going through the same thing every day and it’s really rewarding to come in and give them a new face to look at and to just talk a little baseball. It’s pretty cool to see how many people are watching our games here.”
During the visit, the players and Screech participated in fun activities that helped with the patients’ rehabilitation process, including hitting a Nationals jersey piñata with a baseball bat, playing catch with a beach ball and throwing tennis balls into an inflatable catcher’s mitt.
“My favorite part is just coming here and making them happy,” said Jordan, a rookie on his first such visit. “They seem to really be big fans so it’s good to make them happy.”
The children at the hospital were grinning from ear to ear in anticipation of talking to the players about their baseball careers. One young boy was simply eager to share his learning booklet with both Storen and Jordan.
Then, with the professional athletes at their side, they were determined to show their strength and take a swing at the piñata, which was filled with candy and baseball toys.
The young patients were in for another surprise when Screech walked through the door and then “body slammed” the piñata, as Storen described it. Laughter filled the room as they collected the prizes, while more candy magically spilled from underneath Screech’s cap.
Sporting Nationals gear in support of their favorite team, the adult patients shared their life stories with the day’s special guests while they aimed with power and precision for the inflatable target Screech held. As the players signed Nationals baseball hats, Screech brought the room to life again when he pretended the inflatable catcher was a punching bag that popped right back up.
The visit brought smiles to the faces of patients and players alike. As Storen and Jordan returned to Nationals Park, the patients planned to tune into the night’s game, and were treated to a 9-0 shutout of the Miami Marlins as the Nationals swept the three-game series.
Washington Nationals (59-61) vs. Atlanta Braves (74-47)
RHP Taylor Jordan (1-3, 4.14) vs. LHP Alex Wood (2-2, 2.78)
Rookies Taylor Jordan and Alex Wood will square off in game one of a three-game series, the final matchup between the Braves and Nationals in Atlanta this season.
Jordan will be making his ninth start of the season, his first against the Braves, while Wood faces the Nationals for the first time after 20 appearances, including five starts. Wood, the 85th-overall pick (second round) in the 2012 Draft out of the University of Georgia, will be the third pitcher from his Draft class to face the Nationals this season; Washington roughed up fourth-overall pick Kevin Gausman of the Orioles on May 28 at Nationals Park, and faced Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez (82nd overall/second round) on three occasions earlier in the year.
Both Jordan, a lanky right-hander, and Wood, a tall, sturdy lefty, induce ground balls at a high rate. Jordan has a ground out/air out ratio of 1.69:1, inducing eight double plays in 45.2 innings, while Wood has posted a 1.71:1 GOAO with three double plays turned behind him in his 45.1 innings of work.
Wood features a deceptive delivery that is equally tough on righties and lefties, holding left-handed hitters to a .200 batting average and right-handed hitters to just a .207 mark. He has been even stingier with runners in scoring position, holding opponents to a .146 (6-for-41) batting average against in those situations.
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. Taylor Jordan RHP
D.C.’S HIT MAN SOON TO BE EXPOSED
With a .331 batting average entering play Friday, Jayson Werth would rank second in the National League behind Atlanta third baseman Chris Johnson (.337) with enough plate appearances to qualify. Werth, currently at 357 plate appearances, will need 145 more trips to the plate over the Nationals final 42 games (3.45 per game) to qualify for the 502 necessary to win the batting crown. Meanwhile, Johnson is just 5-for-32 (.156) in his last eight games against Nationals pitching.
EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT!
Ian Desmond’s third-inning double on Thursday was his 52nd extra-base hit (33 doubles, two triples, 17 homers) of the 2013 season. No other Major League shortstop has more than 40 extra-base hits this season. Desmond’s 33 doubles trail only Manny Machado (42) and Matt Carpenter (40) among all big leaguers, leaving him in a five-way tie for third with Mike Trout, Joe Mauer, Chris Davis and Jay Bruce.
DAVEY’S LAST STAND
Nationals Manager and former Braves second baseman Davey Johnson will make his last appearance in Atlanta this weekend. Johnson’s 42 home runs as a second baseman (43 total) in 1973 as a member of the Braves remains the top output by a second sacker in baseball history. Dan Uggla, with 35 in 2011, is the only other Braves second baseman to crack more than 21 long balls in a single campaign. Uggla is currently on the disabled list following corrective eye surgery this week.
As a baseball player, you can’t always control when you will hit certain career milestones. Often times, they occur simply within the flow of the game, perhaps having little impact on the actual result. Two Nationals players hit memorable milestone marks Saturday night, one helping directly contribute to the other.
After an RBI-single his second time up got the Nationals on the board, Jayson Werth stood at 998 career hits. In the sixth inning, he would fight through a classically Werthian at-bat, fouling off four pitches before swatting a single the other way and eventually scoring Washington’s third run. That set him up for a chance to reach the 1,000 mark in his next at-bat, which came in a tie game against Phillies reliever Zach Miner with a runner at first and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The normally methodical Werth took no time to make his presence felt, jumping on a first pitch slider and wrapping it inside the left field foul pole for a go-ahead, two-run home run. He even took a curtain call following the blast, which put the Nationals ahead for good.
“Unbelievable moment for him, to get his 1,000th career hit on a homer against them,” said Bryce Harper after the game, referencing Werth’s achievement coming against his former club.
While Werth himself downplayed the significance of the milestone occurring against the Phillies, he nevertheless took a moment to savor the accomplishment, one he didn’t even realize he was on the precipice of reaching. He was watching tape in the clubhouse after his third at-bat when batting practice pitcher Ali Modami made him aware of the situation.
“When you start out playing this game, however many years ago, it’s one of those benchmarks you put on the list of things you want to accomplish,” said Werth after the game.
Perhaps overshadowed by Werth’s heroics was the yeoman work put in by Tanner Roark in just his second big league appearance. Coming on in relief of Taylor Jordan, Roark needed just 12 pitches to navigate two scoreless frames on the mound, keeping the Nationals in the game. When Washington pushed in front in the seventh, it lined Roark up for his first Major League win.
“Yeah, I realized it,” said Roark of the situation setting up to possibly provide him with his first victory, a smile creeping out of the corner of his mouth. “Most important, we got the win. The team got the win.”
Both Werth and Roark’s milestone performances proved vital to that happening, though.