Archive for the 'Nationals' Category

A Doo-Littleless Pen Shines

Saturday, June 22nd, 2019

There were a number of people who thought Dave Martinez had lost it Friday night. First he brought in Tony Sipp in the eighth, a lefty to face Freddie Freeman with the Nationals up 4-3. This is a lefty who has had trouble getting lefties out facing a future Hall of Famer. Tony struck out Freeman, then gave up a double to Josh Donaldson. When fans looked into the bullpen to look for Tanner Rainey warming up all they saw was Trevor Rosenthal. He of the 19.90 ERA. Did anyone tell Davey this was the Braves he was playing? It was like a nightmare for Nats fans. Pinch me to wake me up.

He allowed Sipp to face the lefty hitting Nick Martinez. Nick hit a harmless fly to left. Fans did their best to calm their racing hearts. Out walked Martinez from the pen. The hearts began running like it was a President’s race. In from the bullpen with the tying run at second came Trevor Rosenthal. To face the rookie Austin Riley. Who had clubbed a two run shot off Stephen Strasburg earlier in the game. This can not be a reality that I am witnessing.

Gotta give Trevor credit. He threw strikes. Worked the count to 1-2. Austin then hit a slow roller to Anthony Rendon. It appeared Anthony lost the ball briefly as you could see it hanging like a snow cone from his glove, but he was able to recover and throw Riley out at first. Disaster averted. Now quit fooling around. Bring in Doolittle.

But for the ninth that was Wander Suerro warming up in the bullpen. He of the above 5 ERA and no career saves on the back of his bubble game card. There have been some blown saves on the back of that card. Now the hope was the Nationals would score some insurance runs to give Suerro some cushion. A lot of insurance runs. That was not to be. They went down 1-2-3. In came Suerro to protect a 4-3 lead. Mercy. Mercy. Someone take me to the hospital. I think I’m about to lose it.

What does Suerro do? He walked the leadoff batter. Ozzie Albies lined his first pitch into centerfield for a base hit. This did not look good. Not good at all. Davey would be roasted tomorrow. Charlie Culberson came up. The Nationals expected him to bunt. He did not and after getting two strikes he flew out harmlessly to right. Suerro was now facing the rookie of the year last year Ronald Acuna Jr., who has been known for a few of his clutch hits, more game winning hits than Suerro has saves. Wander was not phased and blew a 93 mile per hour cutter past him for strike three.

Now it was Dansby Swanson up with Freddie Freeman on dice. Matt Grace of the ERA above 6 was now warming up in the bullpen. This did not look like it was going to end well. Dansby swung at the first pitch he saw. He blooped it into right field. Dozier raced back for it. Robles came charging in. It looked as if it was going to fall with two bodies colliding into each other. Robles slides to avoid crashing into Dozier. He reaches out with his glove and catches the ball. Nationals win. What a game.

Now it is off to Omaha for myworld to watch some College World Series. Davey is a genius. If he is going to make a playoff run he is going to have to trust his bullpen, even those pitchers who did not get the job done at the start of the season.

Nats Sweep Phils Behind Mad Max and Corbin

Thursday, June 20th, 2019

With two games being rained out on Monday and Tuesday the Nationals played a day/night split double header against the Phillies on Wednesday. They got two strong pitching performances, the first from Patrick Corbin and the second from Max Scherzer to sweep the Phillies 6-2 and 2-0, despite the prediction of rain through Thursday. There was a brief drizzle in game two, but it did not interrupt the game.

In the early game the Nationals called on Patrick Corbin to give the Nationals a critical win. He gave up a solo shot to Scott Kingery, a two out solo bomb deep into the back of the left field bullpen. That was the only time in the day the Phillies had a lead. Corbin shut down the Phils through the next six innings, at one time striking out 7 of the eight hitters he faced in the second through fourth innings, striking out the side in the fourth. For the game he struck out eight.

The Nationals responded in the bottom of the first off Zach Eflin. Adam Eaton hit a ball off the right centerfield scoreboard for a double. Kingery had a ball clank off his glove for an error putting runners on first and third with just one out. Juan Soto tied the game up with a single into right field.

The Nationals took the lead in the fourth after a one out double by Matt Adams into the right field corner. Bryce Harper had the ball hit off his glove when reaching for it, had trouble picking it up as it landed against the scoreboard, allowing Adams to race to second. With two outs Gerrado Parra, getting a rare start in centerfield lined a single into right center to give the Nationals a 2-1 lead. Parra turned the hit into a double hustling into second. He was ultimately stranded there when Yan Gomes was intentionally walked and Corbin grounded a pitch to third where Kingery dove to make the stop and flipped the ball to second to end the inning.

The Phillies had an opportunity in the sixth. Bryce Harper led off the inning with a walk. Scott Kingery grounded a single into centerfield. Harper hesitated about going to third after rounding second, but then turned on the afterburners. Parra picked up the ball barehanded and just barely threw Harper out, with a video of the play confirming the call. Rhys Hoskins grounded a single past the diving Trea Turner to put two runners on. J.T. Realmuto grounded to third, Rendon looked just a bit casual trying to turn two and only retired the lead runner at second. No harm as Corbin got Sean Rodriguez to ground to third for the final out, swinging at a 3-0 pitch with runners on first and third.

The Nationals came back to add another run in the bottom of the sixth. Juan Soto led off the inning with a walk, stole second and was able to score on a Brian Dozier double down the left field line. Another intentional walk to Yon Gomes brought up Corbin to hit and he struck out on three pitches.

Corbin retired the side in order in the seventh. The Nationals went with young rookie Tanner Rainey for the eighth inning in a 3-1 game. He struggled a bit with his command, walking one and hitting one. With two outs he ran the count full to J.T. Realmuto. Under most circumstances the bullpen would have caved. Rainey stayed his course, getting Realmuto on a ground out to short to send it to the ninth.

The Nationals had Sean Doolittle warming. Brian Dozier hit a two run homer in the flower bed in left field. Gerrado Parra made it back to back sending a ball off the scoreboard behind the right field bullpen. Doolittle was no longer needed.

With the score 6-1 Javy Guerra came out of the bullpen. He retired the first two hitters, but Cesar Hernandez singled and pinch hitter Brad Miller skipped a pitch down the right field line. He ended up at third after the ball went past Parra after bouncing around the corner in right field, scoring Hernandez. The fans got a little restless, but Corbin retired Jean Segura on a ground out to short to end the game.

The night cap was all Mad Max. He was going against Jake Arriata. Despite his broken nose and black eye he threw seven shutout innings, striking out 10. The only time he allowed a runner to reach third base was in the first inning. In the seventh he gave up a leadoff double to Cesar Hernandez but despite being visibly tired he struck out the side to end the inning.

Jake Arriata was equally as sharp. He gave up a second inning solo shot into left field in the second inning to Brian Dozier to give the Nationals an early 1-0 lead. He only gave up one other hit in the fourth. He ended up going six innings after the Phillies pinch hit for him in the top of the seventh, giving up just the one run.

In the top of the eighth Wander Suerro retired the side in order, striking out two. He did take the count to 3-2 to the two hitters he whiffed. In the bottom frame the Nationals got an insurance run when Victor Robles popped a pitch into the left field bullpen for a 2-0 lead. Doolittle did not need the extra run, retiring the side in order in the ninth to complete the sweep.

Game Notes: As the weather has gotten warmer Brian Dozier has gotten hot. He is 28 for 97 (.289) with 7 of his 12 homeruns and 21 of his 28 RBIs since mid-May…Lots of boos for Bryce. If he ever enters the Hall of Fame he will not be wearing a Nationals hat. He appears to have worn out that welcome…Anthony Rendon is too casual on defense when he makes the play. He also does not run hard when he doesn’t think he can take the extra base. Depending on his asking price myworld would not pay above market price to extend him…The more I watch Juan Soto the more I am convinced that DH is his best position. He does hustle for balls hit to him but he falls short of too many balls, or misplays them…For the first Brian Dozier homerun in game one, a Phillie fan retrieved it from the flower bed and threw it into left field. Leftfielder Sean Rodriguez picked the ball up and threw it back into left field. So much for that statement…The Phillies played the shift with Adam Eaton on third and Matt Adams up. The third baseman was almost playing shortstop. This allowed Eaton to take a leadoff halfway down the third base line. I was hoping he would steal home…The first game saw more empty seats than occupied seats. You could almost count the attendance. The announced crowd was 17,960, but take away the “1″ and it would be closer to the number of people in the park….Patrick Corbin had an ERA of 11.37 in his last three starts…Scherzer’s fastball had a little more velocity than his previous outings. Myworld saw him hit 98 twice and he was consistently at 97. In the seventh inning he began to tire and you saw the fastball drop to 94/95. But he still struck out the side, putting out all his effort to get that 97 mph reading…Pat Neshek came back to the Phils on Sunday from the disabled list. He was on the IL for a strained shoulder. After facing three hitters in the second game he strained his left hamstring and may have to return to the IL.

Force is with the Diamondbacks

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

It was Obi Sean Kenobi bobblehead day at Nationals stadium. The first 10,000 fans received Sean Doolittle bobbleheads. They also promoted a Star Wars theme with the Nat pack all dressed in Star Wars characters. But the force was with the Diamondbacks. They blasted five homeruns in their 10-3 drubbing of the Nationals and ensured at least a split of this series.

It did not start off well for Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals. Ketel Marte deposited the first pitch from Strasburg into the Nationals bullpen in right field. Before the shock could wear off two outs later Adam Jones belted a pitch just over the left field wall. Juan Soto attempted a leap to catch the ball but the wall was too high.

The Nationals did come to life in the bottom of the first. Trea Turner bounced the first pitch he saw into the left field corner. When left fielder David Peralta fell trying to retrieve the ball Turner hustled to third for a triple. He scored on a fly ball to center by Adam Eaton. With two outs the Nationals created some fireworks of their own with back to back homeruns from Juan Soto and Matt Adams. Adams shot went over the right field bullpen into the second deck.

It did not take long for the Diamondbacks to respond. In the top of the second Christian Walker led off the inning with a blast into the centerfield bleachers. Nick Ahmed hit a ball into the left centerfield gap. Soto stabbed at the ball but it hit the fence and bounced past Soto, rolling along the left field warning track. By the time Eaton retrieved the ball Ahmed was standing on third with a triple. A Carson Kelly single put the Diamondbacks up 4-3.

Taylor Clarke was not sharp but after the first inning he bent but he did not break. He did not last the requisite five innings to get the win, falling one out shy. The Nationals could only muster four more hits off him.

The Diamondbacks continued to have their way with Strasburg. In the third Strasburg was able to retire the first two hitters. Eduardo Escobar and Christian Walker followed with singles. Nick Ahmed slashed a pitch into the hole. Turner dove for the ball it but it tipped off his glove. The ball rolled into left field while Ahmed could glide into second with a double, the Diamondbacks tacking on another run for a 5-3 lead.

Ketel Marte went deep again off Strasburg to lead off the fifth. Strasburg was able to retire the next six hitters in a row but the damage prior to that was too great. Down 6-3 the Nationals bats went quiet with just three hits off the Diamondbacks pen.

The Nationals pen was not as stingy. They have been failing much of the year and they failed again today to keep this game close. Javy Guerra pitched two shutout innings. In the eighth Kyle Barraclough gave up a two run homer to Kevin Cron. He failed to find the strike zone after that, walking the next two hitters. Tony Sipp came on to replace him to try to get the last out but gave up an RBI single to David Peralta to ante up the score to 9-3.

The Nationals have their unique specialty reliever. Instead of using a position player to pitch in a blow out game, the Nationals turn to Trevor Rosenthal. He brought his 21.60 ERA to the mound, walked the first two hitters, coughed up a single to Nick Ahmed and gave up an SF to Nick Ahmed to put the Diamondbacks in double digits. He was able to get Kevin Cron to hit the ball hard to the shortstop that was turned into a double play, lowering his 21.60 ERA to 19.50.

Game Notes: Not too much to get excited about in this loss. Davey Martinez has a couple arms he can trust in Tanner Rainey and Sean Doolittle. Most of the arms he can not trust. The Nationals bullpen from those arms can turn close games into blowouts…There were 38,044 at the game for the bobblehead day, enough to call the game a sellout. This was not the performance the Nationals wanted to put on the field to get the fans returning to the park…Stephen Strasburg had a little talk with the umpire when the top of the fourth inning ended. Davey Martinez joined in the discussion…The score could have been worse, but with runners on third and second and one out in the eighth Sipp was able to get a double play ground out. Adam Jones hit a ground ball to Anthony Rendon. He threw home to tie up Ildemaro Vargas, who was tagged out trying to return to third. Rendon then threw to second where he got Peralta wandering too far off second base. Peralta was tagged out to end the inning…The last time Strasburg gave up 9 hits in a game was back in 2016, 65 starts ago…The Nationals came into this series hot. Unfortunately, the Diamondbacks are also hot. The Diamondbacks have won eight of their last 10 games to get closer to the wild card hunt. The Nationals can put together winning streaks against teams playing below .500, but have trouble finding victories against teams who are above them in the standings. They fall further from the wild card position…The Nationals are now 16-17 at home. The only team that has a losing streak at home are the Diamondbacks. They are 24-18 on the road while the Nationals are 16-21.

Scherzer Rights Nats Ship

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

The Nationals scored some runs for Scherzer and Max gave the team seven solid innings to avenge their opening day loss with a 7-3 win. Michael Taylor got a rare start and his speed proved to be troublesome for the Diamondbacks.

The Diamondbacks were the first team to strike. Carson Kelly, who in St. Louis was more noted for his defense than his offense, launched a 96 mile per hour fastball that Max got a little bit up deep into the left field bleachers for an early 1-0 lead. Up until that time he seemed unhittable, striking out four of the seven hitters he faced.

Robbie Ray also looked pretty tough but a critical mistake by him in the bottom of the third allowed the Nationals to bounce back. Michael Taylor started the inning with a single to right center. Max Scherzer attempted a bunt but struck it too hard and Ray fielded it just short of the mound. He went to second but may have rushed his throw seeing Michael Taylor running and threw it into centerfield. Taylor advanced to third. A Trea Turner double down the left field line tied the game up. Victor Robles hit a fly ball to center and Scherzer tagged, hustling home to give the Nationals a 2-1 lead. A Juan Soto checks swing single into left field scored Turner, his slide home coming just ahead of the throw.

With a 3-1 lead and Scherzer pitching you feel pretty confident. In the fifth Nick Ahmed rocketed another high fastball hitting the plate at 95 mph over the left field bleachers to pull the Diamondbacks to within one. National fans squirmed in their seats. If it is one weakness of Scherzer it is he likes to give up homeruns. This year he has been pretty good at limiting the homerun balls. The Ahmed homer made it the first time Scherzer had given up two homers in a game this year.

The Nationals responded in the bottom of the sixth with two gigantic shots. Anthony Rendon blasted a pitch from Ray far into the centerfield bleachers. One batter later Howie Kendrick lined a shot into the left field bleachers. As he circled the bases fans chanted “this is Howie do it.”

The Diamondbacks went to the bullpen in the seventh. Michael Taylor got things started laying a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. He stole second. A walk to Turner put runners on first and second. A little TnT followed as Taylor and Turner pulled a double steal. Victor Robles lined a single past the outstretched glove of third baseman Eduardo Escobar to score Taylor. Rendon hit one deep enough into center to score Turner on a sacrifice fly.

Scherzer departed for a pinch hitter in the seventh. With the Nationals bullpen a 7-3 lead is not safe. Wander Suero made things interesting in the eighth. A one out walk to Ketel Marte and two out single to Adam Jones put runners at first and second. Eduardo Escobar lined a pitch the opposite way that one hopped into the right field bullpen fence for a double. That was it for Suero and in came Tanner Rainey, a bullpen savior since being called up. Kevin Cron lined a pitch off the leg of Rainey. He was able to find the ball, rifled a throw to first and just nipped Cron to lesson the damage to just one run.

Doolittle has not been the most effective closer this season, giving up a number of ninth inning runs. Carson Kelly drove a pitch just left of the left field foul pole or he would have had a two homerun game. He did line a pitch to Taylor in centerfield, who took a bad rout to the ball and it went past him for a double. A two out walk to pinch hitter Christian Walker made things even more interesting. Doolittle finally got Ketel Marte to swing and miss at his high 96 mile per hour fastballs to end the game.

Game Notes: Scherzer struck out 10 batters last night to slip past two Hall of Famers, Warren Spahn and Bob Feller on the all time strikeout list. His 2,585 whiffs put him in 27th place on the all time strikeout list. Next on the list is Tom Glavine at 2,607. Justin Verlander and C.C. Sabathia are the only active pitchers ahead of him on the strikeout list. Scherzer currently leads the National League in strikeouts with 136…At one point Carson Kelly was considered one of the top catching prospects in baseball. Unfortunately, Yadier Molina stood in his way as the starting catcher for the Cardinals. The trade of Kelly to the Diamondbacks has given Carson the opportunity to show what he can do with his bat. Kelly is hitting .264 with eight homeruns, numbers most teams would love to have from their catchers. Coming into this season Kelly had a career major league average of .154 with 0 homeruns in 117 at bats…Kind of like the dark gray uniforms of the Diamondbacks. On day games, when it is really warm they look the color of light gray uniforms dripping with sweat…Did learn at the game that a book written by Eddie Dominguez, who was a security agent for the Red Sox and eventually a cop with the DOI for major league baseball, titled “Baseball Cop” spoke of David Ortiz and his habit of hanging out with shady characters. Back in 2005, one of those characters named Monga was betting on baseball and to Ortiz objections was banned from the locker room. That ban had to be taken back when Ortiz threatened not to play. Monga was later arrested at Ortiz residence for immigration violations. The book was released in 2018. David Ortiz denied any link to gambling after the book came out.

Greinke Stymies Nationals

Friday, June 14th, 2019

Looking at the pitching matchups it did not look good for the Nationals. The Diamondbacks were throwing their ace Zack Greinke, while the Nationals were throwing their number five starter Erik Fedde, who began the season in the bullpen. Greinke shut down the Nationals on two hits in just over eight innings, while Fedde had trouble throwing strike one. The weather and not the National bats was the only element that could remove Greinke from the game. An unexpected rainstorm hit after Greinke had retired the first hitter in the eighth, delaying the game for just over an hour. The Diamondbacks went to the bullpen and they were able to reserve the 5-0 shutout win.

Greinke had a no hitter until the seventh inning. His fastball may no longer touch the 90s with great regularity, and the swings and misses are rare, but the Nationals hit 8 balls in the outfield with no result. The first hit came in the seventh when Trea Turner grounded a ball through the hole to the right side of the infield. Christian Walker made a tremendous diving stop, but bobbled the ball as he transferred it from his glove to his hand. Turner beat the throw. Adam Eaton lined a clean single to left to finally give Nationals fans something to get excited about. Up until that point Greinke had faced the minimum 18 hitters, with the only baserunner eliminated on a line out double play. Anthony Rendon hit the ball hard, but right at the shortstop for a 6-4-3 double play. Juan Soto hit a weak ground ball to the pitcher and the rally was ended.

Greinke only throws 88-90 at max. He locates his pitches well and mixes in a slider and a slow curve ball that hits between 67-77. Hitters whacked at the ball and carried it to the outfield, but they were “at em” balls. That is when you wonder whether Greinke’s success is with a low batting average on balls in play. The hitters probably felt pretty good about hitting the ball to the warning track, hoping to face him another time where they were confident they could get a hit. And again Greinke would get them to hit the ball into an out. He struck out three in his 8.1 innings of work with mostly 1-2 or 0-2 counts on the hitter when he hit the ball (10 of his 23 hitters faced).

Erik Fedde was not so fortunate with his pitches. He had trouble finding the plate early. A lead off double by Jarrod Dyson on a ball hit into right field got things started for the Diamondbacks. Two walks loaded the bases. Fedde did get Adam Jones to hit a hard grounder to Anthony Rendon that should have been turned into a double play, but Rendon dropped the ball and could only get the out at first on a slow moving Adam Jones. Eduardo Escobar hit a line drive single to left field that dropped in front of Soto and the Diamondbacks were up 2-0.

Alex Avila got ahead in the count 3-1 against Fedde, then blasted the next pitch into the centerfield bleachers for a 3-0 lead. In the fourth the usually light hitting Jarrod Dyson lifted a ball into the right field bleachers for a two run homer and a 5-0 Diamondbacks lead.

That was all the Diamondbacks needed for victory. The rains came visiting with one out in the eighth. Greinke had only thrown 75 pitches so it would have been an easy complete game for him if not for the rains.

Game Notes: Myworld does not believe the Nationals have the personalities and the bullpen to get back in the race. With three teams ahead of them in the standings they have a better shot at the wild card than the division. That means beating teams with a better record than them. The Diamondbacks were 36-33 and are not going to catch the Dodgers. The win now puts them five games ahead of the Nationals in the wild card race. Above the Diamondbacks in the wild card are the Cubs, Phillies and Rockies. The Nationals are 8.5 games behind the Braves in the Division race…Greinke has not thrown a no hitter in his career, but if you listen to him he would prefer not to throw one. It only comes with a bunch of “hassles”…After Greinke hit Eaton and the decision was being reviewed by the umpires, Zack actually walked over to first base and spoke with Eaton. That was a nice gesture. The umpire had initially ruled the ball did not hit Eaton, but as Eaton was talking to Greinke he was pointing to his foot…The homerun for Alex Avila made it three consecutive games in which he has hit a homerun…Trevor Rosenthal pitched his second consecutive shutout inning in relief. This one he retired all three hitters he faced, striking out two…In bullpen news both Koda Glover and Justin Miller have been shut down because of shoulder or elbow issues. It could be July before you see them next on the mound.

Stat of the Week

Sunday, June 9th, 2019 carries some interesting statistical numbers. Last week we listed the top ten players for speed. Some of the names surprised us. This week we list the top ten players in exit velocity on average and distance to see how they marry. Not too many surprises here.

Exit Velocity

1) Joey Gallo (96.3) - Having a career year in batting average (.276) with 17 homeruns.
2) Nelson Cruz (94.5) - At 38 years of age his homerun numbers are going down, but it appears he still hits the ball hard.
3) Josh Bell (94.4) - Having a career year with 18 homeruns and leading the NL in RBIs (57).
4) Christian Yelich (93.8) - Gunning for another MVP award with 23 homeruns leading major league baseball.
5) Gary Sanchez (93.4) - A good bounce back year for him with his 19 homeruns already exceeding last year’s totals in less at bats.
6) Shohei Ohtani (93.3) - He can still throw the ball harder than he hits, but that exit velocity is still impressive.
7) Josh Donaldson (93) - The flyer the Braves took on him signing him to a big one year contract is paying off
8) Franmil Reyes (93) - One of the best young hitters in baseball. Staying with the big boys with his 19 homeruns
9) Carlos Santana (92.9) - Not changing his evil ways against American League pitchers. Homerun numbers are down (12).
10. Yoan Moncada (92.9) - Finally reaching his number one prospect potential. Also only 12 homeruns but a .284 average.

Tommy Pham just missed the top ten at number 11 with an average exit velocity of 92.8.

The top ten in average homerun distance has some surprise names because some of the players on the list have not hit a lot of homeruns. So myworld took a look at the average distance a player hits the ball and the top ten from that list:

1) Gary Sanchez (236) - He appears in our top ten exit velocity.
2) Jay Bruce (233) - He has blasted 18 homeruns but a low batting average indicates a lot of soft contact in his game.
3) Anthony Rendon (229) - They call him Tony Two Bags because of all the doubles he hits into the gaps.
4) Joey Gallo (227) - Number one on our exit velocity list
5) Jorge Polanco (225) - Not noted for his homerun pop but lots of doubles this year. His 10 homeruns is approaching his career high of 13.
6) Justin Smoak (222) - Seems to be having a quiet year with a .237 average and only 12 homeruns and 6 doubles.
7) Mike Trout (220) - About time this superstar appears somewhere on this list.
8) Daniel Vogelbach (219) - We never saw his major league homerun production coming.
9) Brandon Belt (218) - His offensive numbers seem to be down. Perhaps a lot of fly ball outs to the warning track.
10) Cody Bellinger (216) - If not for Yelich he would be gunning for the NL MVP honors. A NL league leading .362 average

As far as distance, the top five homeruns for distance have been hit by Nomar Mazara (482), Ketel Marte (482), Keon Broxton (474), Josh Bell (474) and Mike Trout (473). Marte and Broxton are two interesting names I wouldn’t associate with power, though Marte has been hitting some homeruns this year.

A lot more interesting stats at Hope to give you more next week but you can check the numbers yourself.

Turner Walkoff Gives Nats the Sweep

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

The bullpen yet again failed the Nationals, letting a 4-1 lead disintegrate. Trea Turner came to the rescue in the bottom of the ninth with a walkoff two run homerun in the bottom of the ninth to give the Nationals a 6-4 win over the Chicago White Sox and a sweep of their brief two game series. For Turner it was his second walk off homerun of the season as he replaces Ryan Zimmerman as Mr. Walkoff. Prior to the walkoff he was 0 for 4 with three whiffs.

The bullpen blowup denied a victory to Anibal Sanchez, who pitched an excellent game. He pitched 5.1 innings of shutout ball, until a Yoan Moncada solo blast ended his shutout and the day for Sanchez. It was his second solid outing since returning from the disabled list.

The Nationals were able to get to Dylan Covey early, but not all their hits resulted in scores. In the first inning they stranded runners on second and third with two outs after Howie Kendrick grounded out to end the threat. They did plate a run in the second after Matt Adams led off the inning with a double into the right field corner. Kurt Suzuki roped a broken bat single into right center to score Adams, who just beat the throw home for an early 1-0 lead.

The Nationals tacked on another run in the fourth after two infield hits, a Juan Soto bunt past the pitcher and a slow grounder up the middle that Yolmer Sanchez could not handle. The scorer ruled it an error but myworld thought it was a tough chance for Sanchez. Matt Adams hit a sinking liner to left. Eloy Jimenez attempted to make a sliding catch but the ball clanked off his glove. Soto should have scored but he was tagging up at second on a play. The ball bounded far enough from Jimenez that he probably would have scored if he had gone halfway. He would not have advanced to third if Jimenez had caught the ball. With the bases loaded Kurt Suzuki hit a slow grounder to third scoring Soto with the second run and giving the Nationals a 2-0 lead. With runners on first and third and one out Victor Robles struck out looking.

The Adams and Suzuki show again struck in the bottom of the sixth to give the Nationals a 4-1 lead. Adams led off the inning with a walk and Suzuki advanced him to third with a double. Robles drove in Suzuki with a sacrifice fly and Suzuki scored after a fielding error by Tim Anderson on a tough pop up hit by pinch hitter Gerrado Para.

The win looked secure but with the Nationals bullpen no lead is safe. Jose Abreu hit a two run homerun off Kyle Barraclough in the eighth, his second inning of work. He had not pitched in six days. Wander Suerro came on in relief, his second appearance in two days and Wellington Castillo took his first pitch deep to tie the game.

The Nationals had to use Sean Doolittle in the ninth, his fourth appearance in five days. He gave up two hits but kept the White Sox off the scoreboard, striking out the final two hitters with runners on first and second.

Game Notes: The walkoff gives the Nationals a four game winning streak and victories in nine of their last 11. They still are chasing the Phillies, Braves and Mets in the standings…The Nationals bullpen ERA is still an ugly 6.68, last in the National League…The White Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning. Tim Anderson struck out and Yolmer Sanchez lined out to third. Wellington Castillo found himself too far off the bag and Rendon stepped on third to double him off…Myworld likes the smooth actions of Tim Anderson at shortstop. If his bat continues to play he could be one of the best shortstops in the American League.

Stat of the Week - Speed

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Who is the fastest player in major league baseball? Some would say Byron Buxton. Others could argue Billy Hamilton. The fastest player will surprise you. Below is the top ten fastest players in the major leagues according to baseballsavant. It measures feet per second travelled by the player.

1. Tim Locastro (Diamondbacks) - 30.4. He was drafted in the 13th round by the Blue Jays in 2013. The Blue Jays traded him to the Dodgers in 2015 for two international bonus slots and Chase DeJong. He got into 21 major league games for the Dodgers in 2017 and 2018, hitting less than .200. The Dodgers traded him to the Yankees at the end of the 2018 season for Drew Finley and cash. In January 2019 the Yankees traded Locastro to the Diamondbacks for Ronald Roman and cash. A couple nights ago he hit a walk off single for the Diamondbacks and is hitting .275 while playing the outfield. He has yet to hit a homerun, but is 4 for 4 in stolen bases making him 9 for 9 in the major leagues. What is even more amazing is he has been hit 8 times in just 20 games this year.

2. Byron Buxton (Twins) - 30.3. The Twins keep waiting for him to have his breakout season after drafting him in the first round of the 2012 draft, the second player selected in the draft. Injuries have kept him harboring in the minor leagues for too long. Currently the starting centerfielder for the Twins.

3. Trea Turner (Nationals) - 30.2. Led the league in stolen bases last year with 43. The Padres drafted him in the first round in 2014 then traded him to the Nationals in 2015 for basically Will Myers. Injuries have kept from making a larger impact in the major leagues.

4. Terrance Gore (Royals) - 30.2. A player whose only worth so far in the major leagues is as a pinch runner. Drafted in 2011 by the Royals in the 20th round he has appeared in more games (86) than at bats (46). He has also stolen more bases (33) than he has gotten base hits (11). The 2019 season has been his first year where he has actually gotten an opportunity to play going 10 for 30 for a .333 average, racing for a double and triple, the first extra base hits of his career.

5. Isaac Galloway (Marlins) - 30.1. Drafted in the 8th round way back in 2008. Finally got a major league opportunity in 2018 only to be designated by the Marlins to the minors this year. A career .186 major league average. You can’t steal first base.

6. Adalberto Mondesi (Royals) - 30.0. The second Royal on this list and the first international player, signed in 2011 and making his major league debut in 2014. The son of slugger Raul Mondesi. Leads the majors in stolen bases this year with 20.

7. Jon Berti (Marlins) - 30.0. The second Marlin on this list, but those teams accentuating speed are at the bottom of the standings. Berti has bounced around, drafted by the Blue Jays in the 18th round in 2011 and being released and signed by teams throughout his career. He signed with the Marlins after the 2018 season. This season has been his biggest major league opportunity with 22 games.

8. Socrates Brito (Blue Jays) - 29.8. Once a top prospect for the Diamondbacks but injuries set him back. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 and released by the Diamondbacks in spring training this year. The Padres picked him up on waivers and traded him to the Blue Jays where he was hitting .077 in 43 at bats. Despite his speed he has not stolen a base in the major leagues since 2016.

9. Keon Broxton (Orioles) - 29.6. The Diamondbacks drafted him in the third round of the 2009 draft. Traded a couple times, most recently by the Mets to the Orioles in May 2019 for international bonus slot money.

10. Garrett Hampson (Rockies) - 29.6. Recently called up by the Rockies and played centerfield. Only hitting .194 this year, and is just 1 for 3 in stolen bases. Drafted in the third round of the 2016 draft.

To date, only two of the top ten speed players are impact players in the major leagues (Turner and Mondesi). Two others have a chance (Hampson and Buxton). The others appear to be disappointments, though teams continue to pick them up via free agency based on the current stat metrics.

Cubs Take Series from Nationals

Monday, May 20th, 2019

The Cubs took advantage of the wildness of Jeremy Hellickson, who walked the first three hitters he faced and failed to find the plate in his three innings of work, putting the Nationals in a big hole in their 6-5 loss. The Cubs did not have to do too much to win this game, with Hellickson facing three ball counts on seven of the 16 hitters he faced and hitting a batter on an 0-2 count.

This was the eighth start for Hellickson. In his first start he threw six innings of shutout baseball. After that he has failed to finish six full innings. In his last three starts he has given up 14 runs in 12 innings. He has also walked 10 batters during that time. Too much nibbling with his curveball and changeup missing the strike zone. His pedestrian fastball does not make pitching behind in the count successful.

In the first inning he threw two strikes to the first three hitters. The Nationals were fortunate the Cubs only scored one run. Daniel Descalso grounded into a double play with the bases loaded. Anthony Rendon made a diving stop of a Javier Baez grounder to prevent the Cubs from having a big inning to get the first out.

In the second inning Hellickson did not walk a batter but he got behind in the count consistently. Jayson Heyward led off the inning with a single and Albert Almora Jr. started a perfect 3 for 3 day with a double down the left field line. Kyle Schwarber drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

Anthony Rizzo led off the third inning with a homerun. It was the only run they got, though Wilson Contreras doubled off the right field wall. Even though Hellickson batted in the bottom of the third he did not come out to pitch in the top of the fourth.

Kyle McGowin came on to make his first appearance as a National in the 2019 season. Almora started the inning with double down the third base line. He moved to third on a passed ball and scored on another Schwarber fly out. That put the Cubs ahead 4-0.

Kyle Hendricks was cruising. He had a perfect game after three and a no hitter after four. Kurt Suzuki blooped one into center for the first hit. Gerrardo Parra rammed a double down the right field line, but in his slide at second he went past the bag and was tagged out. The Nationals scored their first run on a grounder to second by Brian Dozier.

McGowin struggled in the sixth. Hayward lined a single into center and advanced to third on two wild pitches. Almora walked. Hendriks laid down a bunt. McGowin tried to do a glove flip to home, but the ball went nowhere and Heyward scored. Kris Bryant blooped a single just over the head of Dozier to score Almora to up the score to 6-1.

The Nationals failed to quit. In the home frame Anthony Rendon mashed a ball into the right field bleachers for a three run homer to close the lead to 6-4. Juan Soto followed with a double off the right field wall. A Parra single moved Soto to third and Parra advanced to second after Amora air mailed his throw over the catcher’s head and into the back stop. Brandon Kintzler got some revenge on the Nationals after his release last year, coming on to replace Hendricks and getting Brian Dozier to fly to left.

Howie Kendrick led off the seventh with a homerun off Kintzler. That closed the game to 6-5. Steve Cishek came on to get the last out of the seventh inning and shut out the Nationals the final two to close out the 6-5 win to pick up his fourth save.

Game Notes: Interesting strategy to bat Hellickson in the third and then not pitch him in the fourth. The Nationals bench is extremely shallow, as evidence by Adrian Sanchez pinch hitting in the eighth with the Nationals down by one. He struck out…Javier Baez hurt his heel in the third inning after fielding a grounder. He was later taken out of the game. He hopes to play Monday…Juan Soto struck out swinging in the second and struck out looking in the eighth. That gives him 43 whiffs in just 36 games. Last year he only struck out 99 times in 116 games. His exit velocity when he makes contact is similar to what it was last year so my world is not worried…My world loves grilled cheese sandwiches. We also have a fondness for crab. So the grilled cheese crab sandwich seemed perfect. It was not. The bread was too crunchy and the crab appeared tasteless. Not something I would repeat…Maddon dropped his protest on the delivery of Sean Doolittle.

Strasburg Tames Cubs

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

His fastball was not blistering, sitting in the low 90s, but where Stephen Strasburg excels is when his curveball and change are working. He also stayed ahead of the hitters, walking none and getting to a three ball count to just one hitter. Strasburg worked eight innings, retired the first nine in the order and pitched the Nationals to a 5-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.

It was a late arriving crowd. The attendance was announced at 37,582. It was a peppery blue and red mix with most of the blue sitting along the third base side and much of the red occupying the first base side. The Nationals dugout is along the first base side. In many areas of the stands the blue seemed to drown out the red.

The Nationals struck first in the second inning when Brian Dozier lifted a high fly ball into center field that eventually settled into the bleachers. When the weather gets warm the bat starts clicking for Dozier, at least that was true during his Minnesota Twins tenure.

The Nationals poured it on off Jon Lester in the third. Trea Turner led the inning off with a single. Adam Eaton laid a bunt down the third base line. David Bote barehanded it but threw it past Anthony Rizzo at first. Turner advanced to third but Eaton stayed at first. Eaton tried to steal second but the throw from Wilson Contreras got there way ahead of Eaton. He got into a run down before being tagged out, Turner wisely staying planted on third.

Anthony Rendon walked on a 3-2 pitch. Howie Kendrick lined a pitch down the third base line for a double to score Turner. Juan Soto followed grounding a double down the first base line scoring Rendon and Kendrick. Brian Dozier blooped a single into centerfield but Soto had to wait halfway and only advanced to third. The Nationals could not add any more damage as Yan Gomes flied to shallow left and Michael Taylor struck out to end the inning.

The Cubs scored a run in the fifth when Strasburg and Gomes appeared to get confused with their signals. Singles by Wilson Contreras and Addison Russell put runners on first and second with two out. Gomes had a ball pop out of his glove and trickle behind him to allow the runners to move up a base. The next pitch glanced off his glove and hit him in the face mask, ricocheting toward the Cubs dugout. Jayson Heyward scored but Russell was thrown out at home when Rendon was able to retrieve the ball and threw to a back pedaling Gomes, who tagged him out. It appeared Gomes was expecting a fastball and got a curve ball on the first pitch and the second pitch he was expecting a curve ball and got a fastball.

The Nationals got the run back in the bottom of the fifth. Anthony Rendon drove a pitch that nailed the centerfield fence for a double. Juan Soto drove him in lining a single past the second baseman into right field. That ended the day for Jon Lester.

The only big hit of the day Strasburg allowed was in the sixth when David Bote took his first pitch of that inning into the left field bullpen. It was the fourth and last hit Strasburg would allow in the game. He struck out seven and walked none. Five of the eight innings he retired the side in order and in one of the innings the baserunner was eliminated on a double play ground out.

The Nationals could have broken the game open in the eighth when they loaded the bases. Brad Brach came in and struck out Anthony Rendon to end the threat. That created the situation for the Nationals to bring in Sean Doolittle.

Joe Madden put on some theatrics, objecting to the toe tap in the delivery of Doolittle after his first pitch. He claimed the delivery of Doolittle was no different than Carl Edwards, who major league baseball had forced to revamp his toe tap. The Cubs claim this change in delivery has resulted in the Edward’s struggles this year (9.45 ERA). The umpires disagreed and Maddon protested the game. Doolittle was able to retire the side in order to seal the victory, not bothered by Madden’s attempt at getting in his head.

Game Notes: For most of the day Strasburg sat in the low 90s, hitting as high as 94. Normally he reaches 95/96 with his fastball but myworld did not see that. He struck out the side in the third and struck out three consecutive hitters between the seventh and eighth. So six of his seven whiffs came consecutively. He threw just 93 pitches in his eight innings and if not pinch hit for in the eighth may have completed the game. Strasburg has now pitched six or more innings in nine of his ten starts. He also only had one three ball count to a batter, the next to last hitter he faced in the eighth…Jon Lester came into this game with a 1.16 ERA. He could not last past the fifth, coming out of the game with more pitches thrown (98) than Strasburg threw in his eight innings. It was his first start this season where he gave up more than two runs…Myworld did not notice a lot of called third strikes on the National hitters. Trea Turner looked at a third strike in the fourth, one of the seven Nat whiffs…The Nationals have put Justin Miller on the disabled list and recalled Tanner Rainey. Tanner was acquired in the Tanner Roark trade with the Reds. He throws hard but has trouble finding the plate, though in his last seven relief appearances in the minor leagues he has struck out 18 and walked just one. Not finding the plate seems endemic to the Nationals bullpen. Tanner pitched briefly in the majors for the Reds last year and gave up 19 earned runs in seven innings for a 24.43 ERA. That appears to be the typical bullpen fodder the Nationals present.