Results tagged ‘ Ian Desmond ’
by Jacob Emert | MLB.com
Teams: Washington Nationals (58-58, -4.5 in NL East), San Francisco Giants (62-53, -2.5 in NL West)
Streaks: Nationals: L5, Giants: W3
First pitch: 4:05 pm ET (1:05 PT)
Watch & Listen: MASN 2 / 106.7 The FAN
WSH Lineup: Michael Taylor (CF), Anthony Rendon (2B), Bryce Harper (RF), Yunel Escobar (3B), Ryan Zimmerman (1B), Ian Desmond (SS), Jayson Werth (LF), Wilson Ramons (C), Joe Ross (RHP)
SF Lineup: Grego Blanco (CF), Matt Duffy (3B), Brandon Belt (1B), Buster Posey (C), Hunter Pence (RF), Brandon Crawford (SS), Justin Maxwell (LF). Kelby Tomlinson (2B), Madison Bumgarner (LHP)
- Gio exits after surrendering six runs in the third inning (link)
- Bryce Harper fouled a ball off his leg in the 7th inning and left the game, X-rays were negative (link)
- Ian Desmond obliterated the eighth-longest HR this season (link)
- The Nationals’ diving, deflected, barehanded 3-4-1 putout may be the play of 2015 (link)
- Sunday’s preview (link)
Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com Follow me on Twitter @JacobEmert.
By Bill Ladson
LOS ANGELES — After Monday’s 8-3 victory over the Dodgers, one would have never known that Ian Desmond had a game to remember. All he kept talking about were the eight shutout innings Gio Gonzalez threw and the important win the Nationals needed to stay close with the Mets in the National League East.
But Desmond was the hitting hero, going 3-for-4 with two homers and three RBIs. In fact, since July 20, Desmond is 23-for-73 (.315) with seven home runs and 16 RBIs. According to manager Matt Williams, Desmond is seeing the breaking pitch much better. For example, Desmond was able to hit a curveball in the second inning for a home run off Dodgers left-hander Brett Anderson.
“He is not drifting toward the pitcher,” Williams said about Desmond. “He is seeing [the ball] fine. His hands are lightning quick. If he could sit down a little bit [in the batter’s box], he sees the pitches longer. It allows him to get in the strike zone lately. He is swinging well.”
Although Desmond is having the worst year of his career, he never lost the respect of his teammates.
“I played with Ian for a long time,” first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “He is going to continue to grind it out, play hard. That’s why he has earned the respect he has around here. I don’t think anyone is pulling for him more than the guys in this clubhouse.”
By Bill Ladson
WASHINGTON — Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond and third baseman Anthony Rendon were the recipients of the 2014 National League Silver Slugger Award at their positions Thursday.
It’s the third consecutive year Desmond received the honor, while Rendon won his first award.
Both Demond and Rendon had solid seasons. The longest tenured member of the Nationals, Desmond got off to a slow start because of the flu, but he made up for lost time and was among the team leader in homers  and RBIs . He has had three straight years of 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a season.
Rendon has performed like the club’s Most Valuable Player in his first full season with the Nationals, hitting .287 with 21 home runs and 83 RBIs. Not only has he done the job offensively, but he plays Gold Glove-caliber defense at third and second base. One would never know that Rendon is one of Washington’s best players based on his personality. After great games, Rendon is a man of few words. He sometimes tries to avoid the media. He would rather stay humble and credit God for his success.
Although he was one of the team’s best players, what impresses bench coach Randy Knorr is Rendon’s demeanor. No one can tell if Rendon is in a slump or on a hitting streak.
“It’s unbelievable,” Knorr said about Rendon. “For a young kid like that, the way he goes about his business, it’s incredible. He never gets excited, he is always laughing. He never gets excited. He is smiling, he is laughing. He has a good time, he has the ability — at a young age — to get past at-bats.”
By Andrew Simon
WASHINGTON — The Rockies faced a difficult choice in the sixth inning of Monday’s game at Nationals Park, as Bryce Harper trode to the plate with runners at second and third and one out in a 2-2 game. They could have right-hander Rob Scahill pitch to Harper, or walk him intentionally to load the bases in order to go after Ian Desmond in hopes of inducing an inning-ending double play.
Colorado manager Walt Weiss picked Option B, setting up Desmond to punish yet another free pass. And when Scahill looped a first-pitch curveball over the plate, Desmond blistered a shot down the left-field line for a go-ahead, bases-clearing double.
The hit made Desmond 11-for-16 (.647) with 16 RBI in his career when the previous batter is walked intentionally, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It’s certainly a small sample, but an impressive one nonetheless.
“I just try to do the same thing I do every other time,” Desmond said. “And it’s just a good situation to hit in — bases loaded, less than two outs — that’s what you’re looking for.”
Indeed, Desmond has feasted in those spots as well.
With the bases full this season, he has gone 6-for-6 with a double, a home run and 14 RBI. In 61 career plate appearances in those situations, he has posted a line of .444/.377/.611, with three doubles, two home runs and 54 RBI, including seven sacrifice flies. Among active players with at least 50 bases-loaded plate appearances, Desmond’s batting average ranks first.
Always an aggressive hitter, Desmond certainly has been a free swinger with the bases packed, never drawing a walk. In his six chances this season, he has seen a total of 14 pitches.
But Desmond said that regardless of the situation, he doesn’t walk up to the plate with any additional motivation to do damage.
“If you need any extra boost at this level, you’re not where you’re supposed to be,” he said. “None of us are up there hoping for an extra boost or an extra edge or anything like that. I’m trying to do my best when there’s nobody on or when the bases loaded, or intentional walk or not.”
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By Bill Ladson
WASHINGTON – After Sunday’s 4-1 victory over the Braves, Nationals manager Matt Williams acknowledged that shortstop Ian Desmond and right fielder Jayson Werth needed a day off during the team’s road trip, which starts Monday.
Both players are currently in slumps. During the four game series against Atlanta, Desmond went 2-for -16 [.125] with 10 strikeouts. In the last two games combined, Desmond struck out six straight times.
“It’s a long road trip, a very tough couple of games against the Astros and all the expectations of this series [against the Braves]. Guys get mentally tired. So to answer your question, [Desmond] needs a day,” Williams said.
Werth is 4-for-37 in his last 10 games and has seen his batting average dip to .271. On June 12, Werth was at .296.
“We need to look long and hard about Jayson. We’ll spend a couple of hours on the plane talking about that one,” Williams said.
By Andrew Simon
WASHINGTON — For the second time in five nights, Ian Desmond stood in front of his locker and answered questions about his faltering defense following Monday night’s 4-2 loss to the Angels.
Desmond had spoken forcefully about his struggles after making two errors on Thursday against the Cardinals
“I’m going to keep on grinding,” he said at the time. “I was out there hoping that they would keep on hitting me ground balls. That’s all you can do, just go out and keep on playing. As long as my name’s in the lineup, I’m going to go out there and play as hard as I can. It’s not a lack of effort. It’s just, I’ve got to execute. And I will.”
Desmond appeared much more subdued on Monday after racking up his Major League-leading eighth and ninth errors of the season during a disastrous eighth inning that saw the Angels score four runs to rally from a 1-0 deficit.
“Not making the plays,” said Desmond, who again sat waiting at his locker for reporters to arrive. “I wish I had an answer.”
Leading off the eighth against Tyler Clippard, Albert Pujols bounced a ground ball up the middle. Desmond ranged to his left, reached out and had the ball glance off his glove. He scrambled to pick it up, but it was too late to attempt a throw.
It wasn’t a routine play but one Desmond certainly expects himself to make.
“I’m a big league shortstop,” he said. “Not that tough.”
By the time Desmond made his second miscue of the inning, the damage was done. Erick Aybar tied the game with an RBI single, and Raul Ibanez smacked a three-run double, with Desmond throwing wildly to home to allow Ibanez to take third.
It was Desmond’s third two-error game of the season, with all nine of the mistakes coming in the past 12 games — five fielding, four throwing. Going into Monday, no other Major League player had more than five total, and five entire teams had fewer than nine.
As Desmond pointed out on Thursday, he’s been through and come out of this sort of stretch before. Just last year, he committed seven errors by April 21, then didn’t make his next one until June 28, finishing with 20 and as a Gold Glove finalist for the second straight season.
The Nationals, who lead the Majors in errors as a club, will have to hope Desmond can reverse course again. He believes he can.
“You use everything in the past to make yourself better,” he said. “This is going to be one of those circumstances, and I’ve just got to weather the storm.”
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By Andrew Simon
WASHINGTON — The Nationals’ defense has been an issue all season, but the sloppiness seemed to rise to another level during Thursday night’s 8-0 loss to the Cardinals.
The Nats committed a season-high four errors that helped bring in two unearned runs, and that doesn’t even include some of their other miscues in the field. It was only the 12th game with at least four errors in the franchise’s 10-year Washington history, and the first since July 15, 2011, against the Braves.
“Those happen,” Nats manager Matt Williams said of the mistakes. “ It just seems like it’s happening an extraordinary amount to us.”
Williams isn’t imagining things. Washington now leads the Major Leagues with 20 errors on the season, including seven by shortstop Ian Desmond, who committed two on Thursday. By contrast, the Orioles have an MLB-low three errors, and several other teams remain in single digits.
Of course, errors don’t tell the whole story, but advanced metrics aren’t smiling on the Nats’ gloves either. Even before Thursday’s showing, they ranked 23rd in the Majors in FanGraphs’ defensive value and 26th in Baseball Prospectus’ defensive efficiency.
Friday might have been the low point — or at least the Nats will hope it was.
The Cardinals started a three-run first-inning when Desmond mishandled Matt Carpenter’s grounder and pitcher Taylor Jordan did the same on Kolten Wong’s. In the fourth, Desmond made a bad throw to first, and on the next play, umpires ruled that second baseman Danny Espinosa dropped Desmond’s flip while transferring to his throwing hand. In the sixth, Desmond failed to make a play on Adam Wainwright’s grounder into the hole, although that was ruled a hit. And finally, in the eighth, right fielder Jayson Werth lost Yadier Molina’s line drive in the lights as it sailed past him.
First baseman Adam LaRoche said he doesn’t see any trend in all the miscues.
“Some of it gets magnified, you kick a couple of balls,” he said. “Maybe we’re pressing a little. It’s the same way at the plate. Like tonight, nothing going on, guys trying a little too hard to expand the zone and you end up looking worse. It could be the same way defensively. We have a really good defensive club, is the thing. It’s not showing right now, but I have a feeling that by the end of the year those numbers are going to be our specialty. We are just too good defensively to make the kind of errors we are.”
Williams isn’t prescribing any radical fixes. The team will prepare the way it already was scheduled to on Friday, which means a full session of ground balls.
“We just keep grinding away at it,” he said.
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By Andrew Simon
When Ian Desmond swiped second base in the seventh of Sunday’s nightcap against the Marlins, it gave him 20 stolen bases and his second consecutive season with at least 20 steals and 20 homers.
Considering that Desmond plays a prime defensive position at shortstop, that blend of power and speed is a rare commodity. Six other players have hit the 20-20 mark this year, and all of them are outfielders. Only three other infielders are anywhere close with a week left to go, but none of them are shortstops.
In fact, Desmond is now only the seventh shortstop in history with multiple 20-20 seasons, joining Hanley Ramirez (four), Jimmy Rollins (four), Alex Rodriguez (three), Derek Jeter (two), Barry Larkin (two) and Alan Trammell (two).
“He does it all,” said center fielder Denard Span, who is first-year teammates with Desmond. “I’m gonna be honest with you — has a strong arm, hits for power, hits for average. He’s the total package. I knew him for a few years before I got here but I never had a chance to watch him play up close and personal and he’s definitely the real deal.”
Span also praised the intelligence, work ethic and drive Desmond brings on a daily basis.
The 28-year-old has played in and started 153 of the Nats’ 156 games this year and on Monday will hit the 154-game plateau for the third time in his four full big league seasons. Manager Davey Johnson called him “Iron Man Desi,” on Saturday, when he brought him up as a worthy candidate for team MVP, alongside Jayson Werth.
Quality has matched quantity, too. Desmond’s .286/.338/.465 batting line with 20 homers gets him close to his numbers from a breakout 2012, and he already has set a career high with 80 RBIs. He also has accrued a career-best 5.1 wins above replacement (according to FanGraphs.com), thanks to solid contributions offensively, defensively and on the bases. That puts him second among MLB shortstops, behind only Troy Tulowitzki.
“Every day he’s ready to go, same intensity,” Span said. “He never looks tired, never looks frustrated or flustered. He’s always ready to go. He’s definitely a gamer.”
Two innings after Desmond reached 20-20, he took first on an intentional walk. With one out in the ninth inning of a tie game, he broke for second on the back end of a double steal and slid in safely for No. 21.
Clearly, he wasn’t satisfied.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s definitely a blessing,” he said of the accomplishment, which earned him an ovation from the crowd at the end of the inning. “I wasn’t always headed down this road in my life, and I’m just fortunate and try to take every day as a blessing and just try to do the best I can every day.”
By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter
With their all-important doubleheader sweep of the Braves on Tuesday, the Nationals have won 10 of 11, 21 of 27 and 27 of 37.
But with only 11 games remaining, their playoff odds have not improved much.
CoolStandings.com pegs Washington’s chances of reaching the postseason at 3.8 percent. Baseball Prospectus has them even lower, at 3.3 percent.
The Reds have a 4 1/2-game lead in the National League Wild Card race, which is fairly significant with less than two weeks left in the season. Their magic number to clinch the Wild Card is seven, meaning a combined seven Reds wins and Nats losses.
“I mean, we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Denard Span said. “We haven’t gotten over any humps yet. [The Braves] are in the playoffs. We’re not. So it feels good for today … but that’s all I’m concerned about right now.”
Yes, long odds like these have been overcome before. In 2011, St. Louis went 8-3 and passed the Braves, who finished 2-8. That same year, the Rays trailed Boston by four games with 12 to play and won the Wild Card. But it doesn’t happen often.
For a team that has struggled with expectations all season, however, that might be a good thing.
“We’re playing with house money,” Ian Desmond said over the weekend. “Everyone kind of wrote us off, and we’re fighting our way back in. Just keep on playing and what will be will be.”
The easiest way to think about the race is in terms of that magic number: seven. If the Reds finish 7-3, they automatically clinch the Wild Card — even if the Nationals go 11-0. If the Reds go 5-5 and the Nationals finish 9-2 (which is still a tremendous stretch), the Reds still clinch.
All of that assumes, of course, that we have a two-team race for the second Wild Card spot. In reality, it is a fluid situation.
The Cardinals, Pirates and Reds are separated by 2 1/2 games in the NL Central. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will play six of their final nine games against one another. The Nationals will open a three-game series in St. Louis at the beginning of next week. Depending on how those games shake out, the Nationals could find themselves targeting another NL Central team for that final Wild Card spot.
That said, it’s hard to overstate the importance of the Nationals’ sweep of the Braves on Tuesday. The Reds are in Houston beating up on Bo Porter and the Astros, so if the Nationals can win again Wednesday and merely keep up with Cincinnati over these three days, it will be a major victory.
Playoff implications aside, the Nationals are building momentum for a strong finish. They beat a Braves team that had bullied them at Nationals Park all season. It was about pride as much as anything else.
Sure, the odds say that the Nats will not make the playoffs. But they also seem poised to finish well above .500 with the confidence that this core group of players can still get the job done, even if they have to wait until next year to do so.
“By no means are we to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow yet,” Desmond said. “But we are playing better and I think that’s all of us in here really wanted to see us do, finish the season with some pride and put up the year people thought we were going to.”