Archive for the 'Nationals' Category

Strasburg Pitches Nats One Win Away from World Series

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

As he walked alone from the bullpen before the start of game three of the National League playoffs, the fans cheered. Stephen Strasburg gave no reaction. It appeared he was focused as he took each step to the dugout. Failed to hear the cheering fans or just so focused he did not want to react to them. When he got on the mound he was almost unhittable, striking out 12. He did give up seven hits, but three of them were in the seventh inning, his last. That is when he gave up his only run. Juan Soto slipping in the outfield and then making a wild throw to the infield. The ball flew past Trea Turner and Rendon and skipped past an inattentive Strasburg.

In the past, an incident like that would have unnerved Strasburg. A 7-0 lead was now 7-1. Two runners were on base with only one out. Strasburg had just given up three hits, all line drives or clunkers into left field. A defensive player had just made an error that cost the team a run. Time to man up. Matt Wieters came in to pinch hit and Strasburg struck him out. Derek Fowler came up, 0 for 3 with two strikeouts on the day. Strasburg threw three pitches past him for the whiff. You could see Max Scherzer in the dugout giving out a big fist cheer. There was a big group hug for Strasburg as he reached the dugout, led by Gerrado Parra.

The Nationals broke this game open in the third inning off Cardinals pitching phenom Jack Flaherty. Victor Robles got the inning started with an off the end of the bat seeing eye ground ball single into centerfield. Strasburg bunted him to second. After Trea Turner struck out for the second out the Nationals needed a clutch hit from Adam Eaton. They got one with a ground single to the right of second base that scored Robles.

Anthony Rendon blooped one into left field. Marcel Ozuna charged the ball and tried to make a sliding catch. The ball hit off his glove and rolled far enough in front of him for Adam Eaton to score the second run. It was a catchable ball that was ruled a double. Juan Soto walked and Howie Kendrick lined the first of his three doubles, this one into right center that scored both Rendon and Soto. The Nationals were up 4-0. They probably should not have scored any.

Flaherty lasted only four innings. Tyler Webb was the first to come on in relief to start the fifth. He gave up a single to Anthony Rendon. With a bucketful of right handed hitters coming up the Cardinals went with John Brebbia. Howie Kendrick swung at his first pitch and lined it into the left center field gap. Rendon was being waved home and made it easily after Ozuna dropped the ball the first time he tried to pick it up. Ryan Zimmerman got behind in the count 0-2 and lined a pitch into the left centerfield gap for another double to put the Nationals up 6-0.

In the sixth Victor Robles led the inning off with a homerun. He was one of the least likely players to be voted dinger of the day, but he was the only National to have the ball leave the park. It barely left the park. His mom watching him play for the first time in the United States had to be proud.

The Cardinals finally got to Strasburg in the seventh. Jose Martinez ran the count to 3-2, fouled a number of two strike pitches off and then lined a single to left, his second hit of the day. Yadier Molina followed with a single on the next pitch from Strasburg to put two runners on. The pitch count for Stras had reached 100 but he struck out Tommy Edman. Paul Dejong blooped a single to left. The Cardinals were happy to keep the bases loaded, even after Soto slipped on the grass and fell. He got up and wildly threw the ball to the infield, past Turner and Rendon. Strasburg was not looking and the ball got past him. Suzuki chased after the ball that had now rolled past the first base foul line, but Martinez scored. That is when Strasburg showed his mettle, striking out the next two hitters to end the inning and his day at 117 pitches.

The Nationals got the run back in the bottom of the seventh. Howie Kendrick tied a record for most doubles in a National Championship Series by again finding the gap into left center. Ryan Zimmerman lined a single past the third baseman to score Kendrick.

Fernando Rodney and Tanner Rainey each pitched an inning and retired all three hitters they faced, each striking out two. Rainey hit 102 on the radar gun with his fastball.

Game Notes: In addition to his two fielding gaffes in left field, Ozuna made a base running mistake in the second inning that changed the complexion of the game. He led the inning off with a double to left field. Jose Martinez grounded a pitch to Strasburg. Ozuna strayed too far off second and was tagged by Strasburg for the first out, not even trying to get in a run down…Paul Goldschmidt struck out all four times he came to the plate…The announced attendance was 43,675, but there seemed to be many of those fans looking like blue seats. Columbus day weekend may have resulted in some no shows…The 50-50 payout was a bit over $33,000…Security was plentiful. Lots of dogs and lots of guns. Made me wonder who pays for all this security…Six of the seven runs the Nationals scored were on two out hits. Only the Victor Robles leadoff homerun in the sixth came with less than two out…Kurt Suzuki got his first hit of the playoffs with a single to left in the fourth inning…Strasburg has a playoff ERA of 1.10. The only two pitchers with a lower playoff ERAs are Sandy Koufax (0.96) and Christy Mathewson (1.06)…The Robles homerun was witnessed by his mom, who was watching her first game in the United States…The “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” announcer was at the game and made his patented call, just before “play ball”…The first pitch was thrown by the Make a Wish kid. He wish was to become a National for a day, and signed a one day contract. The Nationals were 19 and something when he signed. They had the best record in baseball after he signed a contract.

Dodgers Maul Nationals Pen

Monday, October 7th, 2019

It has been a problem for the Nationals all season and it became a problem for them yesterday. After five superb innings from starter Anibal Sanchez, the bullpen coughed up nine runs in four innings in a 10-4 loss to the Dodgers. Starter Patrick Corbin started the bullpen meltdown, failing to get past the sixth. David Freese got the critical two out pinch hit single to extend the inningleading the charge for the six hitters after him to get on base for a seven run sixth.

It was a great start for the Nationals. Hyun-Jin Ryu, who rarely walks anyone, issued a one out walk to Adam Eaton. With two outs Juan Soto buried a ball into the right field bleachers and the Nationals had a 2-0 lead. Ryu settled down after that, shutting the Nationals down for the next four innings.

Anibal Sanchez was magnificent. He got into trouble in the first inning, fighting with his control to find the strike zone. A single sandwiched between two walks loaded the bases with two out. He got A.J. Pollock to swing and miss at a change to end the threat. From that point he went on to strike out five straight hitters using his slow stuff to keep the Dodgers hitters off balance. In the fifth Cody Bellinger blasted an 0-2 fastball deep into the right field bleachers. Dave Martinez pinch hit for him in the bottom of the fifth.

Patrick Corbin came on to pitch the sixth. The plan was probably for him to pitch two to three innings to turn it to Doolittle for the 8th and Hudson for the ninth. While Corbin pitched well and was the victim of bad luck, that is what sometimes wins and loses playoff games.

Cody Bellinger led off the inning with a single to right. Corbin struck out the next two hitters. David Freese pinch hit for Gavin Lux, the same David Freese that was a playoff hero for the Cardinals back in 2011. The Nationals played David to pull with the second baseman playing him up the middle. Freese hit what should have been a routine grounder to second, but no one was in that spot and it trickled into right field for a single. It got nasty after that.

Corbin got ahead of Russell Martin 0-2. Martin did not chase two pitches off the plate. The 2-2 slider he blasted into the left centerfield gap for a double, scoring two runs. Chris Taylor walked. The Dodgers had Kike Hernandez pinch hit for Joc Pederson and with another left handed hitter on deck Martinez chose to stay with Corbin. Kiki drove a 1-2 hanging slider into the left centerfield gap to score two more runs. The Nationals chose to walk Max Muncy intentionally and bring in a right hander to face Justin Turner.

In strides the confident but still inexperienced Wander Suero to face the veteran Justin Turner. The count goes full. Turner sees a pitch he likes and mashes it over the left field bullpen to complete the seven run sixth.

The Nationals still had a chance. Joe Kelly, who has trouble finding the plate came in to pitch for the Dodgers. He walked two and gave up a single to Howie Kendrick to load the bases. A wild pitch scored one run. Another walk loaded the bases. That was it for Kelly. He was replaced by Julio Urias without retiring a hitter. Julio got pinch hitter Asdrubal Cabrera to fly out to right deep enough to score Juan Soto. Howie made a baserunning blunder hesitating on his tag to third and getting caught in a run down when Freese cut the ball off and threw to third. That killed the rally and any attempt at a comeback from the Nationals.

The final scoring came off Hunter Struckland, who gave up a two run pop to Russell Martin in the ninth. Strickland has now pitched 13 playoff innings in his career and given up 9 homeruns. Up until that point 7 of his 8 homeruns had been solo jobs so his 7.62 ERA is not too bad considering all the gopher balls he has given up.

Game Notes: Medal of honor winner David Bellavia threw out the first pitch. He is the only living Iraqi war veteran to earn the medal of honor…Juan Soto has two stances when he bats. One with less than two strikes when his left foot points inward. The second stance when he has two strikes and his left foot is planted on the ground facing the pitcher…Fernando Rodney gave up a double and walked two in the seventh inning. He was lucky that Max Muncy swung at ball four and flew out to center, otherwise the score could have been worse…The Nationals have their two aces, Scherzer and Strasburg going for them in the final two games. If the Nationals had won the game on Sunday myworld would not have been surprised to see Strasburg come into the game on Monday as the closer. Now I would be surprised if he pitches on Monday. Leave it to Max for seven innings…Odds are not good for the Nationals. Teams with 2-1 advantages in five game series with the 2-2-1 format have gone on to advance 71 percent of the time…All seven runs the Dodgers scored in the sixth inning came after two were out and all the hits that drove in the runs came with two strikes. So the Nationals were just one strike away many times from either getting out of the inning, or making the inning less explosive…David Freese finished the game 3 for 3, continuing his clutch performances in playoff games. In 67 playoff games he has an OPS of .918.

Dodgers Maul Nationals Pen

Monday, October 7th, 2019

It has been a problem for the Nationals all season and it became a problem for them yesterday. After five superb innings from starter Anibal Sanchez, the bullpen coughed up nine runs in four innings in a 10-4 loss to the Dodgers. Starter Patrick Corbin started the bullpen meltdown, failing to get past the sixth. David Freese got the critical two out pinch hit single to extend the inningleading the charge for the six hitters after him to get on base for a seven run sixth.

It was a great start for the Nationals. Hyun-Jin Ryu, who rarely walks anyone, issued a one out walk to Adam Eaton. With two outs Juan Soto buried a ball into the right field bleachers and the Nationals had a 2-0 lead. Ryu settled down after that, shutting the Nationals down for the next four innings.

Anibal Sanchez was magnificent. He got into trouble in the first inning, fighting with his control to find the strike zone. A single sandwiched between two walks loaded the bases with two out. He got A.J. Pollock to swing and miss at a change to end the threat. From that point he went on to strike out five straight hitters using his slow stuff to keep the Dodgers hitters off balance. In the fifth Cody Bellinger blasted an 0-2 fastball deep into the right field bleachers. Dave Martinez pinch hit for him in the bottom of the fifth.

Patrick Corbin came on to pitch the sixth. The plan was probably for him to pitch two to three innings to turn it to Doolittle for the 8th and Hudson for the ninth. While Corbin pitched well and was the victim of bad luck, that is what sometimes wins and loses playoff games.

Cody Bellinger led off the inning with a single to right. Corbin struck out the next two hitters. David Freese pinch hit for Gavin Lux, the same David Freese that was a playoff hero for the Cardinals back in 2011. The Nationals played David to pull with the second baseman playing him up the middle. Freese hit what should have been a routine grounder to second, but no one was in that spot and it trickled into right field for a single. It got nasty after that.

Corbin got ahead of Russell Martin 0-2. Martin did not chase two pitches off the plate. The 2-2 slider he blasted into the left centerfield gap for a double, scoring two runs. Chris Taylor walked. The Dodgers had Kike Hernandez pinch hit for Joc Pederson and with another left handed hitter on deck Martinez chose to stay with Corbin. Kiki drove a 1-2 hanging slider into the left centerfield gap to score two more runs. The Nationals chose to walk Max Muncy intentionally and bring in a right hander to face Justin Turner.

In strides the confident but still inexperienced Wander Suero to face the veteran Justin Turner. The count goes full. Turner sees a pitch he likes and mashes it over the left field bullpen to complete the seven run sixth.

The Nationals still had a chance. Joe Kelly, who has trouble finding the plate came in to pitch for the Dodgers. He walked two and gave up a single to Howie Kendrick to load the bases. A wild pitch scored one run. Another walk loaded the bases. That was it for Kelly. He was replaced by Julio Urias without retiring a hitter. Julio got pinch hitter Asdrubal Cabrera to fly out to right deep enough to score Juan Soto. Howie made a baserunning blunder hesitating on his tag to third and getting caught in a run down when Freese cut the ball off and threw to third. That killed the rally and any attempt at a comeback from the Nationals.

The final scoring came off Hunter Struckland, who gave up a two run pop to Russell Martin in the ninth. Strickland has now pitched 13 playoff innings in his career and given up 9 homeruns. Up until that point 7 of his 8 homeruns had been solo jobs so his 7.62 ERA is not too bad considering all the gopher balls he has given up.

Game Notes: Medal of honor winner David Bellavia threw out the first pitch. He is the only living Iraqi war veteran to earn the medal of honor…Juan Soto has two stances when he bats. One with less than two strikes when his left foot points inward. The second stance when he has two strikes and his left foot is planted on the ground facing the pitcher…Fernando Rodney gave up a double and walked two in the seventh inning. He was lucky that Max Muncy swung at ball four and flew out to center, otherwise the score could have been worse…The Nationals have their two aces, Scherzer and Strasburg going for them in the final two games. If the Nationals had won the game on Sunday myworld would not have been surprised to see Strasburg come into the game on Monday as the closer. Now I would be surprised if he pitches on Monday. Leave it to Max for seven innings…Odds are not good for the Nationals. Teams with 2-1 advantages in five game series with the 2-2-1 format have gone on to advance 71 percent of the time…All seven runs the Dodgers scored in the sixth inning came after two were out and all the hits that drove in the runs came with two strikes. So the Nationals were just one strike away many times from either getting out of the inning, or making the inning less explosive…David Freese finished the game 3 for 3, continuing his clutch performances in playoff games. In 67 playoff games he has an OPS of .918.

A Wild Nats Win in a Wild Card Game

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

In the Nationals recent playoff history they have had trouble advancing past the first round. Winning a wild card game in a one game playoff may not count as advancing, but the Nationals will take any win they can get. They got two clutch hits from two of their clutch players, Juan Soto and Ryan Zimmerman in the 8th inning to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3. Many strange events occurred in that inning, but myworld will detail them below.

Max Scherzer got the start over Stephen Strasburg in this game. That was one of the big questions in D.C., who do you start in a must win wild card game? There was no consensus among the Nat fans. The Brewers chose to start Brandon Woodruff. He started 22 games in 2019. This is his third season and while he has lots of talent, he is not considered an ace in the mold of Scherzer or Strasburg.

The game did not start well for Max. He appeared too amped up, his fastball getting to the plate at 97-99 miles per hour. Normally he is at 95-97. Many may think faster is better, but Max could not find the plate. He walked leadoff hitter Trent Grisham on a 3-2 count. Yasmani Grandal then took his first pitch and sent a line drive into the left field bullpen. Nats fans were stunned.

In the second inning Max got behind the first hitter Eric Thames 1-0. Eric drove the next pitch from Max high into right center and just reaching the bleachers to give the Brewers a 3-0 lead. In his second at bat in the fourth inning Eric would send a high fly to left field that just fell short of being a homerun. Juan Soto lept for the ball at the fence, but it fell behind him and Eric cruised into second with a double. There were a lot of discussions in the stands about starting Strasburg instead.

Max only worked five innings before being pinch hit for Brian Dozier in the bottom of the fifth. Stephen Strasburg came on in relief for the first time since he was the closer his freshman year at San Diego State. He pitched three brilliant shutout innings, dropping his playoff ERA to 0.41. If the game had turned differently there would have been some serious Monday morning quarterbacking about who should have started the first game of the wild card.

Brandon Woodruff pitched well for the Brewers. Myworld did not think he threw as hard as he did, but his fastball was hitting 99-100 miles per hour. He was only supposed to be used as an opener but he pitched so well the Brewers extended him for four innings. Trea Turner tagged him for a solo shot in the third inning, a line drive that found its way into the left field bullpen. He gave up only one other hit in his four innings of work.

The Brewers went with little used Brent Suter and Drew Pomeranz to shut down the Nationals the next three innings. For the eighth Josh Hader was called on to get a two out save. He struck out leadoff hitter Victor Robles. The Nats called back Ryan Zimmerman from the on deck circle and instead went with Michael Taylor. It was the second time Ryan was called back from the on deck circle as a pinch hitter. Myworld questioned the move thinking this was a strikeout waiting to happen.

For the Brewers it was the start of a chaotic eighth inning. On a 3-2 pitch a Hader fastball came inside and hit Taylor. Or did it hit the bat? I did not see where the ball landed after Taylor was hit but the Brewers threw to first and then appealed the ruling saying the ball hit the bat before it hit Taylor. Video replays were not conclusive and the call stood. Trea Turner then struck out and it was two down.

Dave Martinez finally chose to use his ace to bat for Adam Eaton, trying to take advantage of the lefty/righty split. Hader had trouble throwing strikes, running the count to 2-1. Zimmerman was jammed on the next pitch and his bat split as he plunked a pitch into center field. Lorenzo Cain was playing him deep and the ball fell in front of him. Lorenzo was questionable for the start of this game because of a sprained ankle. Was his ankle bothering him as he charged the ball? Andrew Stevenson pinch ran for Zimmerman. The bat died a happy death.

Anthony Rendon worked the count to 3-2 and walked to load the bases. Up strode the young but confident Juan Soto. Hader is a killer against lefthanders. They are hitting just .143 against him. Soto was not deterred. He lined a 1-1 pitch into right field. Pinch runner Stevenson was being waved home. It appeared a close play at the plate was in the future, but the ball skipped past the glove of right fielder Trent Grisham as he tried to charge the ball to make the throw. Now Rendon was being waived home and he scored easily for the go ahead run. Soto was thrown out at third, stopping before he reached the base and being tagged in the run down. Normally Christian Yelich plays right field, but a fractured knee cap ended his season in September. Would he have made the play?

The Nationals went with Daniel Hudson to close out the game. The same Daniel Hudson that had been released by the Los Angeles Angels during spring training this year and traded by the Toronto Blue Jays to the Nationals for a song. He had also pitched in 40 games for the Dodgers in 2018, but they chose not to resign him. He gave up a one out single to Lorenzo Cain, but retired the next two batters, the last on a deep drive to center by Ben Gamel that Victor Robles caught short of the warning track. The celebrations began, something the Nationals had not done in the post season. Now it’s on to L.A. where the Nationals will face the Dodgers. Daniel Hudson is probably looking forward to it.

Game Notes: On the video board before the game the Nationals had clips of Morgan’s Minute, as Morgan, a young girl interviewed various players and people in the Nationals organization. She did a good job and has a future in the broadcasting industry. Myworld enjoyed the interviews…Aaron Barrett threw out the first pitch for the Nationals. He made his first appearance with the Nationals this year after Tommy John and a fractured elbow took him four years to recover, then had an emotional scene in the dugout weeping over his first appearance since his struggles. Good luck to him next year…There appeared to be a power outage somewhere in the Nationals stadium, with fire alarms going off in the distance and the stadium without sound for a half inning. The racing Presidents ran in silence and then did a dance with no music from the loud speakers…This was Juan Soto’s first playoff appearance. Perhaps his clutch hit will change the narrative of the Nationals performing so poorly during playoff games. He was 0 for 3 with two whiffs before his clutch hit against a tough pitcher…It was an emotional night for the fans in the stands. There was a lot of hugging among strangers and high fives as people were leaving the stadium. In Panama it is tradition that when the home team wins beer is thrown in the air in celebration. Of course, beer in Panama is only $1 per cup while at Nats stadium they charge about $9. There were reports of a lot of beer raining down on the stadium after the win. The 50-50 winner also came home $27,000 richer. Perhaps he or she will buy the next beers after a Nationals victory…The Nationals had gone 8-0 in their last home stand. Losing a home playoff game after that 8-0 finish would have been tough to deal with.

Nats Pull Out Victory Day After Clinching Playoff Spot

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

Normally, teams do not play as well the day after clinching a playoff spot. There are a lot of celebrations and the manager usually rests the top players the next day. Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner were not in the lineup today, but despite that the Nationals were able to squeeze out a victory against the Phillies 5-2. Another win and they will complete a rare five game sweep.

Both Anibal Sanchez and Drew Smyly were sharp early. Smyly retired the first 12 hitters he faced, seven of them on strikeouts. Sanchez retired nine of the first ten hitters he faced.

The Phillies struck first and it was Bryce Harper who led the charge in the fourth inning. He lined a hit into left center and clearly did not want to settle for a single. He took advantage of a somewhat casual Juan Soto and Victor Robles pursuit of the ball and turned it into a double. Rhys Hoskins dribbled the next pitch from Sanchez up the middle and into centerfield. The determined Harper raced home to score the first run. The one thing you can say about Harper is he can hustle with the best of them, but he can also turn it off just as easily if circumstances do not go well.

The Nationals tied it in the bottom frame. After Smyly had retired the first 12 batters, Howie Kendrick ran the count full before pulling a pitch into the left field bleachers for his 17th homerun.

Both pitchers continued their zeros until Brad Miller took the first pitch from Anibal in the seventh and sent it over the Nationals bullpen into the third deck. Miller had hit two homeruns his previous game. Scott Kingery laced a two out single and stole second and third, taking advantage of the shift being deployed for Andrew Knapp. Sanchez was able to strike out Knapp to limit the damage to one.

Just like they did in the third, the Nationals battled back in the bottom frame. Asdrubal Cabrera sent Smyly to the showers with his one out single. Yan Gomes lined a double past the glove of Rhys Hoskins that settled into the right field corner to put runners at second and third. Victor Robles drove in one run with a shallow fly ball to center, the throw skipping past the catcher into the back stop, otherwise it would have been a close play at home. Wilmer Difo punched a single into right center to score Gomes and give the Nationals a 3-2 lead.

The Nationals added two more insurance runs in the eighth off Jose Alvarez. Brian Dozier led the inning off, taking a 2-0 pitch from Alvarez into the left field bleachers. Cesar Hernandez booted a slow roller from Adam Eaton for an error. Hoskins misjudged a foul popup from Kendrick and Kendrick took advantage of the extended life by lining a single to left field, Eaton advancing to third. Juan Soto scored Eaton with a deep fly to center.

Sean Doolittle came on to pick up the easy save in the ninth. He looked sharp, striking out three hitters. He gave a one out single to Jean Segura, but struck out the next two hitters to complete the save.

Game Notes: Harper was critical of the fans in the bleachers in right field. In the eighth inning he was responding to them, almost signaling for them to bring it on. After the game he said the fans had taken it too far, but did not provide specifics as to what the fans had done. He did take the opportunity to praise the Philly fans when comparing them to Nationals fans, looking forward to returning to Philly and their 60,000 loyal fans. Myworld does not blame Harper for going to Philly. Virtually all the fans who are booing Harper would have made the same decision as Harper did when leaving the Nationals. The Phillies offer was clearly better. The Nationals offer was just enough to save face, but a clear message to Harper that they did not want him. Let’s hope they do not take the same approach with Anthony Rendon…Harper had another hustle double in the eighth that was ruled a single and an error after a Robles bobble…Adam Eaton looked horrible on a ball hit to right, turning the wrong way and watching it hit at the base of the fence. He looked like a player who had still not recovered from a night of heavy libations…Myworld will be the first to admit that we gave up on the Nationals making the playoffs after their 19-31 start. It was a remarkable show of resiliency they were able to come back and clinch a playoff spot after that horrible start…The Nationals still need to win games in order to host the wild card game. They are a game ahead of the Brewers who are just a game and a half behind the Cardinals for the NL Central Division…The loss for the Phillies dropped them to .500 and was another mini-collapse as the season came to a close (18-34 the last two Septembers). This can not be a good thing for the long term future of Gabe Kapler…J.T. Realmuto appears done for the season. He will need minor knee surgery to clean up his meniscus. He becomes a free agent after this season.

An Epic Comeback by Nationals

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Myworld did not attend this game. We were at the game yesterday that the Nationals slept through, losing to the Mets 7-3. The greatest comeback we’ve ever witnessed was when the Angels came back from a 12-5 deficit, scored 8 runs in the bottom of the ninth, capped off by a Dick Schofield grand slam to win 13-12. This would have been close to that Angels win if we had attended.

Myworld listened to the game on the radio. We had just gotten back from our volleyball match in which we made a great comeback to win our first game. The Mets were winning 5-4 going into the ninth. Based on the announcers account of the game the Nationals were making a number of mental errors, mistakes they should not be making in September.

The bullpen gave up five runs in the top of the ninth, four of them unearned after a Matt Adams error and a Trea Turner mental error when he could have turned a double play but he forgot how many outs there were in the inning. That put the score at 10-4. Met fans at the stadium were probably rubbing it in, ready to celebrate their second straight victory over the Nationals and hopefully put themselves in the playoff race.

With a 10-4 lead Mets manager Mickey Calloway saw no need to keep their most effective bullpen pitcher Seth Lugo in the game. Juan Soto had just hit a 2-run homer off Jacob deGrom in the eighth and Lugo came on to protect what was then a narrow 5-4 lead. He retired the Nationals in order to keep it at 5-4.

When the Mets scored five runs in the top of the ninth Mickey Calloway went with Paul Sewald to start the ninth. He got the one out in the inning, a Howie Kendrick fly out after Victor Robles led off the inning with an innocent single. Trea Turner made up for his mental blunder when he forgot how many outs there were and doubled to right, scoring Robles. Asdrubal Cabrera singled and Anthony Rendon singled to score Turner to make the score 10-6. The tying run was not yet coming to the plate but Calloway saw another need for a change.

Calloway replaced Sewald with Luis Avilan to pitch to the lefty hitting Juan Soto, who had homered in the eighth. Soto singled to right to load the bases. Matt Adams was scheduled to hit but Davey Martinez went with Mr. Walkoff Ryan Zimmerman to pinch hit for Adams. Calloway went with their failed closer Edwin Diaz, who the Mets shed a number of prospects to acquire. The Z-man doubled to right to score two and make it 10-8. Michael Taylor came in to pinch run for Z-man, who was the tying run at second.

Kurt Suzuki came to the plate, a 2019 addition by Mike Rizzo to replace what had been a woeful catching position last year. He put the biggest exclamation point to the game and perhaps the season with a booming shot deep into the left field bleachers. He knew the ball was gone as soon as he hit it, pointing to the dugout, whose players were already beginning their celebration.

Coming into this game this year teams were 274-0 when leading by six. The Nationals changed that narrative. Wow!!!!

Myworld has lost our momentum to do the write up for the Monday night loss that we attended. That would be such a downer after this win.

Strasburg Almost Perfect; Rendon More of the Same

Sunday, September 1st, 2019

The Nationals relied on their Cy Young contender Stephen Strasburg and their MVP candidate Anthony Rendon to cruise over the Miami Marlins 7-0. Strasburg was almost perfect, giving up two hits in the first inning and then retiring his last 22 hitters, 14 on strikeouts, 12 of those whiffs of the swing and miss variety. Rendon mashed two homeruns into the left field bleachers to continue his assault on National League pitchers.

Strasburg struggled a bit in the first inning. He gave up back to back singles to Harold Ramirez and Starlin Castro with one out. Neil Walker grounded one up the middle, which was fielded by Strasburg, who started the 1-6-3 double play. After that only 7 of the next 21 hitters put the ball in play as Strasburg showed his dominance with 14 strikeouts.

In the bottom of the first Rendon put his stamp on the game. He launched a 3-2 pitch from Pablo Lopez high into the left field bleachers. Juan Soto followed by going the opposite way on the second pitch he saw, trying to kiss the Rendon shot by also depositing it into the left field bleachers. The back to backs were the 30th homeruns for Soto and Rendon.

Pablo Lopez did not have it this night. In the second inning he gave up a run, Stephen Strasburg ripping a two out single into the third base hole to score Kurt Suzuki. In the third inning Rendon was hit on the elbow with a pitch. Soto lined a hit and run double down the right field line, scoring Rendon. Kurt Suzuki mashed a pitch into the center field bleachers to make it 6-0.

Wei-Yin Chang replaced Lopez and pitched well. He gave up a leadoff double to Victor Robles. After that he retired the next 12 hitters he faced, combining with Strasburg to pitch a perfect game. He was not quite as dominant as Strasburg, striking out just two in his four innings of work, but he got seven ground ball outs with the 13 hitters he faced.

Adam Conley came on to pitch the eighth. Anthony Rendon took his first pitch and launched it into the left field bleachers to finish off the scoring. Tanner Rainey came on to complete the shutout striking out three and walking one. He tested the patience of the National’s fans by getting behind Harold Ramirez 3-0 after walking Jon Berti, but he recovered to strikeout Ramirez.

Game Notes: The Nationals honored the South Loudoun Little League team, who were the first team from Virginia in 25 years to advance to the Little League World Series. They represented themselves well in the games, reaching the finals of the winner’s bracket before losing their last two games…The last time two Nationals had 30 plus homeruns in the same season was in 2009 when Adam Dunn hit 38 and Ryan Zimmerman swatted 33…The homerun in the first inning advanced the hitting streak for Rendon to 16 games…The 14 whiffs gives Strasburg the league lead in strikeouts with 215. He also leads the National League in innings pitched (179) and wins (16). A couple bad outings puts his ERA at 3.47…Strasburg now has a 12 game winning streak against the Marlins…Lewis Brinson was ejected from the game in the eighth inning for objecting to a called third strike, the last of Strasburg’s strikeouts. The replays show that the ball crossed over the plate into the strike zone. Perhaps that is a reason Brinson is struggling to hit major league pitching…With a runner on third and one out Trea Turner grounded out to third, not a place you want to hit the ball. If you want to score that run you have to hit the ball to the opposite side of the infield or find the outfield.

Rendon Walkoff Secures Sloppy Victory Over Marlins

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

The Nationals played the game last night as if they did not want to win. Sloppy fielding plays and the usual poor pitching by the bullpen would have resulted in a loss against most teams except they were fortunate to be playing the Marlins, who have their own issues finding victories. The Marlins can play as poorly as the next team and Anthony Rendon took advantage of a wild pitch that put two runners in scoring position and blooped a single into left field that scored the tying and winning run to give the Nationals a 7-6 win.

Neither starting pitcher had their best stuff. In the first inning Harold Ramirez deposited a pitch from Anibal Sanchez into the centerfield bleachers, just to the right of the bullpen. Elieser Hernandez gave the run right back and added another in the bottom frame. The first three hitters in the order, Trea Turner, Gerardo Parra and Anthony Rendon all singled for one run. A ground out scored the second run and it was 2-1 Nationals.

In the second inning Victor Robles started it off with a double. Anibal bunted him to third and on a slow grounder to Starlin Castro at third he chose to go to first rather than taking the risky throw home. Hernandez settled down after that, retiring the Nationals in order in the next three innings.

The Nationals exhibited some poor fielding in the third inning. A walk by Sanchez to Jon Berti started the inning off. Harold Ramirez hit a sharp grounder to Turner that should have been a double play. Turner’s throw to Asdrubal Cabrera was high, Asdrubal tried to catch it barehanded to make the throw to first but dropped the ball. The error was given to Turner. With one out Neil Walker hit a hard grounder to Matt Adams at first that could have been two. The ball popped out of his glove. He recovered quickly and flipped the ball to Sanchez covering first but Sanchez bobbled the throw and the runner was safe to load the bases. The Nationals got out of the inning when Sanchez struck out Jorge Alfaro on three pitches and Isan Diaz popped to short.

Anibal gave up a run in the fourth, but it was a sloppy fielding play from former gold glover Parra that created a run. He poorly tracked what should have been a routine fly ball to right, turning the wrong direction and letting the ball bounce to the left of him and into the right field bullpen for a ground rule double. What should have been an out was a double for Brinson. Sanchez had trouble throwing strikes and walked his fourth hitter of the game. Hernandez bunted the runners over and a ground out to second scored a run for the Marlins that shouldn’t have scored.

The Nationals took advantage of some sloppy fielding by the Marlins in the sixth. In some generous scorekeeping by the home team Rendon hit a single that bounced in front of the right fielder and then glanced off his leg. If he could have fielded the one hopper cleanly Rendon would have been held to a single. Because it bounced off his leg and trickled behind him Rendon was able to advance to second on what was ruled a generous double. A balk advanced Rendon to third where he scored on a legitimate double by Juan Soto.

Hunter Strickland came back from his paternity leave and the Marlins treated him rudely in the seventh. Jon Berti started the inning off with a bloop single to right. Harold Ramirez and Starlin Castro followed with hard singles to center to score one. Strickland walked Neil Walker to load the bases and after striking out Jorge Alfaro for the first out was replaced by Roenis Elias to face the lefthander. Elias walked Isan Diaz, a player who doesn’t like to walk, to force in a run and tie the game. Lewis Brinson grounded into a double play to Rendon to keep the game tied.

The Nationals scored one run off Kyle Keller without putting the ball in play. Keller walked two and struck out two and was replaced by the lefty Jarlin Garcia to face Juan Soto. Soto lined one into the right field bullpen wall for a double scoring Max Scherzer, who had pinch run for Adam Eaton. With the uncertainty of the Nationals bullpen it would have been nice to score more, but they didn’t.

In the ninth Dan Hudson came on to close the game. Harold Ramirez hit a slow roller to Rendon and beat the throw the throw to first by an eye lash. The play was reviewed and the call could have gone either way. Starlin Castro lifted one into right center and the ball hit off the top of the fence just in front of the right field bleachers for a delayed call homerun. Castro had stopped at third when the third base umpire circled his fingers to complete the four bagger. Hudson was able to retire the next three hitters to keep the deficit at one.

Ryne Stanek, who came from the Rays was asked to close out the game. For the Marlins coming into this game he had been given four save opportunities, succeeded in one and blown three. Howie Kendrick led off the ninth with a pinch hit single and Trea Turner took a walk. Para tried to bunt the runners over and popped it up to the pitcher. Stanek though could not take the generosity and advanced the runners over, throwing a pitch high over the catcher’s head that was for some reason ruled a passed ball. Stanek succeeded in doing what Parra could not. With the count 2-1 Rendon did not hit the ball hard, but hard enough, blooping it over the shortstop for a single and allowing Turner to race home with the winning run. That was the fourth blown save for Stanek, who was used a lot as an opener for the Rays.

Game Notes: The Marlins had two players from Colombia in their starting lineup, Jorge Alfaro and Harold Ramirez. That has to be a first for a major league team to have two Colombians as regulars in the starting lineup…Myworld still likes the construction of the Nationals new bullpen once Sean Doolittle gets healthy. Daniel Hudson and Hunter Strickland are two setup relievers who throw 95 plus along with Wander Suerro. They can get the ball to Doolittle. Myworld is also comfortable using either Hudson or Strickland as closers if Doolittle continues to struggle. Roenis Elias is a better lefthanded option than Matt Grace…After the leadoff hitter got on in the second inning Elieser Hernandez retired the next 12 hitters before running into trouble in the sixth…Anibal Sanchez takes a long time getting to home plate from his stretch position. The Marlins runners were getting some big jumps off him…The three hits by Rendon extended his hitting streak to 15 games and he is leading the National League in hitting with his .333 average.

Top Second Base Prospects

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Normally your second baseman of the future are shortstops who have to move to second base because another shortstop is better than them. This list is thin with a number of former shortstops on it. Not a big fan of Isan Diaz, though he is currently up with the Marlins.

1. Brendan Rodgers (Rockies) - Rodgers was the Rockies first round pick in 2015. He has Trevor Story ahead of him on the Rockies roster. Last year he was troubled by shoulder issues. This year his season ended early because of a torn labrum that required surgery. He did hit .350 with 9 homeruns in his 37 AAA games before getting a callup to the Rockies after a Story injury. He did not put up awe inspiring numbers, hitting just .224 with a .250 slugging. That is when they discovered the torn labrum. The defensive tools are there to play shortstop, but this surgery could make a move to second base more likely. His bat is solid with a .490 slugging percentage entering the 2019 season. If he recovers from his shoulder issues and the Rockies find an alternative at second base (Ryan McMahon) he could become trade bait. Expect him to start the 2020 season in the minor leagues if he is healthy and a later promotion once he has seen some games.

2. Vidal Brujan (Rays) - The Rays found a bargain in Brujan, signing him for just $15,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. His bat has shown the ability to make contact with more walks (150) than whiffs (136) during his minor league career. His speed could make him a top of the order hitter, with 55 stolen bases last year. The down side in Brujan’s game is his lack of power. Despite his small frame (5′9″) he does not drive the ball like an even smaller Jose Altuve or Jose Ramirez. Defensively the tools are there for him to play short, but with Wander Franco climbing the minor league ladder the Rays have been using him at second base. This year he has stolen 46 bases in 93 games. His strikeouts have increased since his climb to AA (18/31 walk to whiff) resulting in a drop in average (.263). Brujan can make an impact if he can get on base and allow his speed to create havoc.

3. Nick Madrigal (White Sox) - Nick was the White Sox first round pick in 2018. He led Oregon State to the College World Series. The defensive tools are there for him to play shortstop, with an arm that may be borderline, but there always seems to be a better defensive option ahead of him. At Oregon he was forced to play second because of a better defensive shortstop. The White Sox have been using him at second base. Despite his small frame (5′8″) Nick has some pop in his bat. That pop will be defined mainly by hits into the gaps but he should reach double digit homerun numbers. Last year he did not hit a ball out of the park in 155 at bats but did hit .303. This year he has already found himself in AAA, hitting .307 at the three levels with a .414 slugging percentage. He has also stolen 34 bases. Defensively he will be an asset to the White Sox at second base and with Yoan Moncada moving to third there is little to stop him from playing there in 2020.

4. Jahmai Jones (Angels) - Jones was a second round pick of the Angels in 2015. Because of a crowded outfield the Angels moved him to second base in 2018. What appeared to be a solid bat struggled in his first year at second base, dropping below .250 with a slugging average under .400. When he played outfield his bat played above those numbers. The speed is there for him to steal 20 plus bases per year. The Angels were hoping he would become comfortable in his second year at second base and his bat would return to their 2016 and 2017 numbers, but he continues to struggle (.236). His power numbers have also dropped. His defense is not at the level where he will survive in the major leagues at second base unless the bat returns to where it was at when he played the outfield.

5. Isaac Paredes (Tigers) - Isaac may be best used as a utility player. He lacks the range to play short on an every day basis and his power is not there for third base. Second base could be a move but his 225 pound frame makes playing a middle infield position challenging. He will need his bat to carry him if he is to play second base. He was first signed by the Cubs out of Mexico for $500,000 in 2015. The Cubs traded him to the Tigers for some relief help (Justin Wilson). The one big tool Isaac has is his bat. Power could come like a Jose Ramirez later in his career. As it is now he is hitting .288 in AA with 11 homeruns. That is about where his bat should be in the major leagues. Speed and defense are lacking from his game.

6. Xavier Edwards (Padres) - Edwards has the defensive tools to play shortstop but with Fernando Tatis there the Padres have been using him more at second base. He was a first round supplemental pick of the Padres in 2018. In his first season at rookie ball Xavier hit .346. He lacks the strength to hit for power so he needs to rely on his ability to make contact. Speed will be a big part of his game. Last year he stole 22 bases in just 45 games. His arm may be a little weak for short, but it will be fine at second base, making him above average defensively. This year his bat continues to shine at the full season level with a .323 average and 31 stolen bases. As he matures he could pick up some gap power.

7. Nick Gordon (Twins) - The half brother of Dee Gordon and son of Tom “Flash” Gordon started his career as a shortstop, just like his half brother Dee. He was a first round pick in the 2014 draft. It has taken some time for him to climb the minor league ladder, but he has finally reached AAA where he is hitting .298 with four homeruns. That is a big improvement over his .212 average in AA last year. Like Dee, Nick does not hit for power and his speed lacks the burner capability of Dee. He will need to hit if the Twins want to keep a spot open for him. The concern is there is no one tool that makes him great. His best spot may be as a utility player.

8. Mauricio Dubon (Giants) - Mauricio is the only player in minor or major leagues born in Honduras. He came to the United States at 15 years old to attend high school and improve his baseball abilities. The Red Sox originally drafted him in the 26th round of the 2013 draft and then made him part of the Travis Shaw trade to acquire the recently released Tyler Thornburg. The Brewers traded him to the Giants this year for bullpen help. His bat carries very little power but he had a career .299 batting average entering the 2019 season. His range falls a little short to be playing short on a regular basis. With Marco Luciano ahead of him in the depth chart a move to second base is in his future.

9. Freudis Nova (Astros) - The Astros signed Nova for $1.2 million in 2016. He could have gotten more but he failed a drug test and his signing price dropped in half. Nova has the tools to play short, with a strong arm his best tool, but with Carlos Correa at short he has played some second in anticipation that short will not be available when he is ready. His bat has the potential to hit for power, though that power has yet to appear. This year is his first in a full season league. A 12/61 walk to whiff ratio shows a lack of patience and could result in a lower batting average as he rises up the minor league ladder if he does not improve. At Low A he is hitting .255 with a .293 OBA. He has good speed to run the bases, but it appears not to be stolen base speed. It will take some time for him to reach the major leagues. At 19 years of age and playing in Low A expect him to be ready no earlier than 2021.

10. Luis Garcia (Nationals) - Luis was signed by the Nationals in 2016 for $1.3 million. That is similar to Nova, but Luis is already playing at AA. Shortstop is occupied by Trea Turner and the power is lacking to move to third. It could develop as he matures but not in time to play third after Rendon’s departure next year. Last year he split time between Low A and High A, his average falling just a couple points short of .300. This year he is finding AA a bit of a challenge. His lack of patience is being exposed with the AA pitchers (17/81 walk to whiff) resulting in a lower batting average (.253). The Nationals have no barriers in front of him to take over second base in 2020 if he can show the bat to play the position. He may have to start the first part of 2020 in AAA.

Brewers Outslug Nationals 15-13

Sunday, August 18th, 2019

The balls were flying out of Nats Park Friday night. Sean Doolitle came into pitch with a three run lead and he threw five strikes to the first four hitters he faced. He gave up three homeruns and a double into the gap. The last homerun, the eleventh in the game, was the game winner by Eric Thames, a two run shot in the top of the 14th inning to give the Brewers a 15-14 win. The Nationals scored one in the bottom of the 14th and had the go ahead run of first, with the tying run on third, but ran out of position players and had to pinch hit Joe Ross for Javy Guerra. He struck out to end the game.

The game started out innocently enough with the Brewers erupting for five runs in the top of the third off Anibal Sanchez without benefit of a homerun. With one out Anibal walked the pitcher Jordan Lyles and the leadoff man Trent Grisham. That proved costly as five consecutive hits, four singles and one double plated five runs for the Brewers to jump into a 5-0 lead.

The Nationals were the first to hit the ball out of the park. That came on a two run homer from Juan Soto in the bottom of the third, a ball that just reached the left field bleachers. The Nationals got three more in the bottom of the fourth and tied the game on a three run homer from Adam Eaton into the right field bullpen. What appeared to be a Brewer rout early was now a game.

The Brewers got their first homerun when Ryan Braun hit a ball off the top of the right field bleachers off Matt Grace. The umpires originally ruled it a double, but after review they reversed the call and gave Braun the homerun. Matt Grace gave up another homerun in the top of the sixth, hit by lefthander Trent Grisham to give the Brewers an 8-5 lead. That was it for Grace. As he left the mound the crowd was roaring something other than “Doooo”.

Just when they thought they had gained the momentum the Nationals struck back off Freddy Peralta, who could not get anyone out. Kurt Suzuki led off the inning with a double off the right field scoreboard. Victor Robles followed with a run scoring blooper down the left field line that he turned into a double. Peralta walked Howie Kendrick and then Trea Turner turned on a Peralta pitch and lined it into the left field bleachers just to the right of the left field foul pole for a three run homerun. The Nationals had the lead for the first time 9-8.

It appeared the Nationals put the game away in the seventh when Howie Kendrick launched a ball into the centerfield bleachers for a two run homerun and a 11-8 lead. Fernando Rodney retired the Brewers in order in the eighth. Doolittle had pitched the day before. Most in the stands wanted a rest day for Doolittle and felt a three run lead was enough for Daniel Hudson to pitch, but on came Doolittle.

He got behind Christian Yelich 1-0 and Yelich hit homer number 40 on the next pitch into the left field bleachers. He got behind Keston Hiura 2-0 and Keston ripped the next pitch into the left centerfield gap for a double. He got behind Mike Moustakas 2-1 and the Moose tied the game rifling a pitch over the center field wall. Not wanting to get behind anymore Doolittle threw his first pitch to Ryan Braun across the plate and Braun sent it deep into the left field bleachers to give the Brewers a 12-11 lead. Doolittle did face one more hitter, Eric Thames, who got the barrel of the bat on the ball and hit one deep into center, but Robles was able to catch the ball. That was it for the Doo.

Josh Hader came on to seal the game in the bottom of the ninth. Yan Gomes drew a walk. No pinch runner but no bench players left for Davey. Kurt Suzuki lined a 2-0 pitch into leftfield. Gomes raced for third and the throw from Braun was way off line. Suzuki advanced to second. Now you had two catchers on base. There had to be a pitcher that was faster than Suzuki on second who represented the winning run. Victor lined a single into right field to score Gomes but Suzuki was held at third. Robles advanced to second on the throw because the throw went home to get Suzuki. Robles run meant nothing. Kendrick was walked intentionally to lead the bases with no outs. Trea Turner ran the count to 3-2, even fouling a pitch into the left field bleachers but just foul. He swung and missed for strike three. Adam Eaton was overmatched against the lefty Hader, failing to make contact on three pitches. Anthony Rendon came up with two outs and he too struck out. Extra innings.

The Brewers got another homerun from Christian Yelich in the top of the 13th to take the lead again. The Nationals made it four comebacks with a Victor Robles sacrifice fly to tie the game.

A two run homerun from Eric Thames in the top of the 14th to make it 15-13 appeared to seal the deal. The Nationals still battled back thanks to a throwing error by Keston Hiura with two out that allowed one run to score and advance Soto to second. The Brewers chose to walk Asdrubal Cabrera intentionally to put the game winning run on base, knowing the pitcher’s spot was coming up next and the Nationals had no position players left to pinch hit. Davey pinch hit Joe Ross for Javy Guerra and he struck out. No fifth come back was in the cards because the Nationals had run out of players.

Game Notes: Victor Robles threw out two runners at second, Mike Moustakas and Keston Hiura, who were trying to turn singles into doubles. That is four assists for Robles in the week….After Joe Ross pinch hit for Javy Guerra the Nationals had run out of bullpen pitchers. If the Nationals had tied it would Davey had pitched Joe Ross in the 15th…Patrick Corbin had pitched the previous night. It was Patrick Corbin bobble head tonight…Christian Yelich inched closer to becoming the first player in major league history to 50/30 by hitting two homeruns and stealing a base to put him at 41/24…Both Hader and Doolittle are struggling. Hader has blown four of his last five save appearances with an ERA of 10.50 in his last seven appearances. Doolittle has given up seven homeruns in his last 10 appearances and seen his ERA rise to a non closer like 4.33. In his last seven appearances his ERA is 15.00, even though he has been credited with four saves during that time…The Nationals gave up five homeruns after the ninth inning, which tied a major league record, another one of many homerun records being broken or tied this year. Who says the ball is not juiced?…Other than Sean Doolittle Matt Grace is the lone lefty in the Nationals bullpen. He has given up 11 homeruns in 44 innings. Lefthanders are hitting .313 against him (righthanders .320). He is not too successful at getting anyone out.