First 18-gamer of 2018: Happy to escape at 9-9

Lots of us would rather just forget the beginning of this season, so I’m almost reluctant to bring back the 18-gamers.  But here we are – exactly 1/9th of the way through the season, so it’s time to take a look back at the first 18 games of the 2018 season Continue reading

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A managing brain freeze throws this game away.

Dave Martinez

Photo by Lynn Grody

On a night when Ryan Zimmerman hits 2 home runs and a triple, you have to win — right? Well, could have, should have, would have, if only. Ryan Madson is 37 years old with a lot of local mileage on his arm this week and he has pitched the last two games in a row. Prior to the game, we wrote that we did not expect Madson and Brandon Kintzler to pitch. Well, with a 4-to-2 Nats lead the first reliever used tonight was Ryan Madson and he imploded and he departed with a blown save and the loss. We are not going to blame Ryan Madson who is a Tommy John survivor and turning 38 years old in August. This is on manager Dave Martinez to know his players. We have said it before including yesterday with Gio Gonzalez — know your players. Continue reading

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Game #19 Series finale in CitiField; Nats trying to get healthy

 

Cuatro amigos: Pedro Severino, Rafael Bautista, Wilmer Difo, Victor Robles

With all of the Nationals health problems, they limped into this series with replacement players who were not projected as starters — and some who were not even part of the plans for this season. These three Dominican players dubbed the Tres Amigos have come up big in this series. We are talking about Pedro Severino and Moises Sierra along with bench utility man Wilmer Difo. This is what you need to win games when you are missing star players like Daniel Murphy, Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon. In this series, the tres amigos combined for 8 hits in 19 at-bats (.421) with 5 RBIs and were keys to both wins. Continue reading

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The Nationals clinch this series with tonight’s win in CitiField; Finale tomorrow with Roark!

MASN Screenshot

The Nationals led wire-to-wire in this game, but it was way closer than the final score would look like in this 5-to-2 win over the Mets to clinch this series. The Nationals move back to an even .500 and look like a different team. Continue reading

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Game #18 The limping Nats must feel healthier today!

Photo by Paul Kim of Kevin Long

With the bats coming alive last night, Kevin Long has to feel better today. Long came over from the New York Mets and for 7 innings last night watched his ex-students dominate until the stats turned and BABIP turned positive for the Nationals. Continue reading

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The Nats were left for dead down by 5 runs in the 8th inning; Hits happen — Nats win!

Nats stage historic comeback

Photo from Washington Nationals Instagram

Can you believe what you just saw? If you watched the entire 9 innings of this game you saw things you have never seen before in a baseball game. Have you ever seen anything like Bryce Harper‘s home run when he snapped his bat into two pieces or a 6-run 8th inning to snatch this game from the jaw’s of defeat. The Nationals made mistakes, and the Mets made more. The Nationals finally took advantage of the other team’s mistakes and sent a dirty dozen to the plate in the decisive 8th inning. Clubhouse manager Mike Wallace and staff will have to work late tonight on all of those dirty jerseys. Trea Turner’s jersey was covered in grass from dives on shifts in the outfield grass and head-first slides. There were a lot of blood, sweat, and tears shed in this game. Continue reading

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Game #17 Nats limp into NYC as the underdog

Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats

With Anthony Rendon limping on that bruised toe, he is like his team right now who are hobbled. The Nationals are in New York now for a pivotal series with the rival Mets who are winning games by small margins with four of their twelve wins by one run and another four wins by two runs. One thing that could shock you is that the Nationals and the first place Mets are tied at batting .239 with runners on base. How is that possible? Yes, it is hard to believe that the Mets have also been run deprived and they are winning games on pitching from their bullpen and timely hitting late in games. The Nats have scored 67 runs this season and the Mets have only scored 65 — but full disclosure, the Mets have played two fewer games — but still!

Of note, in the 3rd inning today the season is officially 10% over for the Nationals with 90% of the season remaining to play and that is good news for the Nats to turn their season around. Continue reading

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Down on the Farm

Juan Soto hit a long home run last night.

We’re now ten days in for the minors and we have that lovely convergence of our #1 prospect getting hurt [Forrest Gump voice] again while our #2 guy is filling the void and raising expectations, which is almost always inversely proportional to how the big club is doing.

This is new territory for me, as I wanted to do something for the Natmosphere this year like I did for MASN last year, but without the pressure of a set schedule. So I can’t promise how often I’ll post, but I can almost guarantee it’ll be written on the weekends (a.k.a. when I have a bit more time on my hands, though I’m not fond of bar stools or talking like a damn fool).

For the first post, I’ll take a swing through the affiliates–from AAA to Low-A–and make some observations. Obligatory reminder: IT IS EARLY and these sample sizes are tiny.

SYRACUSE
Since 2015 or so, the Chiefs just have not been good. Nine games in, they’re 6-3 and tied for first place in the I.L. North. The pitching, aided by the chilly weather, has been league-average but a couple of age-appropriate guys have stood out. Austin Voth has not gotten shelled in his first two starts (after an extremely disappointing ’17 at 4-12, 5.94 across AAA and AA) and has 15 K’s in 10 IP. Erick Fedde has also pitched well, but not quite as effectively (12H, 2BB, 7K in 10IP).

The hitting has been carrying the team (3rd in the I.L.) but it’s been the AAAA brigade of Alejandro De Aza, Chris Dominguez, and Moises Sierra. Andrew Stevenson (4-for-29) and Jose “Orange” Marmolejos (8-for-39) have struggled early.

HARRISBURG
The Senators are breaking even at 4-4 but have had two postponements already; both due to the cold. Consequently, just three pitchers have made more than one start. Jefry Rodriguez, added to the 40-man last November, was bad in his first start and good in his second; both starts were against Bowie, so there’s not much to really take away.

All four of the BA-ranked position players (Daniel Johnson, Drew Ward, Osvaldo Abreu, and Kelvin Gutierrez) currently on the roster are either on the interstate or barely hitting their weight. Johnson has already stolen five bases despite a .256 OBP. Again, it’s early.

POTOMAC
The P-Nats are over .500, thanks in large part to their league-leading offense (57R through the first 10G) but the pitching has been roughly league-average. Like AA and AAA, the roster skews older with just five players who won’t turn 23 before the season’s end and eight who will be 25 or older.

Blake Perkins has looked great, both in the field and at the plate, while Carter Kieboom has homered three times already but has just five RBI (i.e. just one not on the longball). Jakson Reetz is both missing a “c” and the ball at 2-for-16, though defensively he’s been fine.

Yesterday, I made it up to Frederick to see Wil Crowe pitch and he did not disappoint, except perhaps that he was lifted after just 56 pitches in five innings. After not allowing him to pitch more than three innings at a time last summer, it would appear that they are still being ultraconservative in managing his innings pitched despite being more than two years removed from TJ surgery.

HAGERSTOWN
Unlike years past, the Suns are starting very, very slowly (3-7). Even F.P. can tell you why: The starting pitching has been awful — a combined line of 6.00/3.64/1.69, lowlighted by 21 runs allowed by the Jacksons (Tetrault and Stoeckinger) across 16 IP and four starts combined.

As aforementioned, Juan Soto has been tearing the Sally League a new one up with four HR’s and eight XBH’s for a line of .361/.489/.861 with 10 walks, seven runs scored, and 19 RBIs. Unfortunately, the production drops off sharply after that. Teenagers Yasel Antuna and Luis Garcia are both struggling, piling up the K’s (18) and the E’s (5).

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Harper and Wieters homer; MAT scores two; Difo/Zim strand 12 runners

The photo above seems like a daily occurrence of frustration. A promising start to this game ends like a gut punch with Ryan Zimmerman weakly grounding out to end the game and stranding Bryce Harper in a 6-to-5 loss. Rockies manager Bud Black elected to do a pitch-around of Bryce Harper as  the tying run and take their chances with Zimmerman as the potential winning run with his All-Star closer, Wade Davis, on the mound.  Continue reading

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Game #16 Strasburg takes the mound if Mother Nature cooperates

Welcome to Jackie Robinson day. On this day, all players will wear jersey #42 to honor Jackie Robinson and his legacy. Today is the scheduled finale of this series with the Colorado Rockies. Weather reports have temperatures falling into the 50°s with precipitation rolling into the region. Stephen Strasburg takes the mound if Mother Nature cooperates. Per Capital Weather Gang, it will be lighter rain until tonight when the heavier rains come into the Washington, D.C. area. Continue reading

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