Results tagged ‘ Nationals ’
WASHINGTON — Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez had his best outing in over a month in an 8-2 victory over the Braves on Saturday night.
Gonzalez had a no-hitter until the sixth inning, when Nick Markakis singled to right-center field to start the inning. Gonzalez left the game after throwing 106 pitches in six innings. Thirty of those pitches came in his last inning, during which the Braves had the bases loaded with two outs, but Andrelton Simmons grounded into a force play to end the threat.
“I thought he commanded the strike zone well today,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said. “He threw some good breaking balls to strike guys out. … He managed pitched counts in innings two through four. He was able to get through six for us.”
As usual, Gonzalez gave credit to the people who played a role in his 10th victory of the season.
“Defense, offense and definitely our catcher. Wilson [Ramos] did a great job back there mixing it up, trying to pound the strike zone,” Gonzalez said. “It’s just being on the same page with your catcher. It helps out a lot, especially with Willie just wanting to be aggressive today. You can hear him, he was telling me yesterday and he was telling me today, ‘Let’s go, let’s pound the strike zone.’
“Before the game I also told Cat [pitching coach Steve McCatty] I trust Willie’s game and I’m going to follow his program, and it worked. He knows what he’s doing back there, and he’s caught some great games.”
By Andrew Simon
WASHINGTON — Trea Turner had some conflicting feelings after he crossed first base in the bottom of the seventh inning on Thursday night at Nationals Park. The rookie infielder had just beaten out a slow ground ball to second base for what potentially was his Major League hit — pending the decision of the official scorer.
“I thought I was out. Then I was hoping they gave me an error a little bit, but then I was hoping for the hit,” he said. “Obviously, your first one, you want it to be special or legit, whatever you want to call it, a line drive somewhere, a base hit. I was hoping for both sides a little bit, but obviously it’s nice to get that out of the way … I’ll take it.”
After a long pause, the scorer made his decision: single. It may have been a generous call, given that Braves second baseman Jace Peterson double-clutched before throwing to first baseman Nick Swisher, who dropped the ball. But Turner, running at a blazing top speed of 21.187 mph, according to Statcast, forced the issue.
And while the hit might not have been pretty, Turner wasn’t going to complain, almost two weeks after his debut, and in his 10th career at-bat. The ball sat in his locker, though Turner planned to give it to his parents for safe keeping.
“You take what’s given to you and can’t complain with any bloop hits, because you’re going to line out a lot,” Turner said. “That’s what I figured out in Triple-A a little bit. I think I started out 0-for-15 or 0-for-18 or something, hit a few line drives, hit a few soft ones and just had those fall in. So when you get a hit, you just take it.”
Indeed, Turner generally been a slow starter. He went 0-for-10 in his first three games for the Padres’ Double-A San Antonio affiliate to begin the year. After a brief stint at Double-A Harrisburg following his move to the Nats organization, he climbed to Triple-A Syracuse and went 0-for-17 over his first five games. He still ended up batting better than .300 at all three of those stops.
Since getting called up on Aug. 21, Turner had been 0-for-9, though he arguably should have had an infield single in his debut on another close play at first. But this is a different challenge for the 22-year-old top prospect, not only because it’s the big leagues, but also because he is having to adjust to coming off the bench. All eight of his appearances have come as a pinch-hitter, pinch-runner or defensive replacement.
“I’ve been seeing it good, I just feel like I haven’t always been on time with the pitches and haven’t got in a rhythm like I would normally getting four or five at-bats every day,” Turner said. “So it’s tough, but you’ve got to battle.”
He’s been leaning on another rookie, albeit a much older one, in Clint Robinson. Like Turner, Robinson has been forced to adapt to a bench roles for much of this season, racking up 39 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter.
“He hangs out with me in the dugout a little bit and has been asking questions, kind of picking my brain a little bit about what I’ve learned this year,” Robinson said. “He knows I’m new to it just like he is. But I’ve got nothing but good things to say about him. He’s going to be a good player for a long time.”
By Bill Ladson
WASHINGTON — By defeating the Marlins, 5-1, on Saturday night, the Nationals are 5 1/2 games behind the Mets, who lost to the Red Sox, 3-1, earlier in the day. It was the first time in 11 days Washington gained ground on New York in the National League East race.
Some of the Nats are denying that they are not paying attention to what the Mets are doing. But first baseman/outfielder Clint Robinson has his eyes on the Mets.
“I don’t know about everybody else, but I do,” Robinson said. “That’s who were chasing in the playoff race. If I see that they lost and it’s a chance for us to gain a game, I want that as badly as I do any other win. We saw it and it was a good opportunity for us to gain a game.”
Manager Matt Williams said the Nationals understand they have to win games, but can’t control anything else.
“If we win, we have an opportunity to [gain ground],” Williams said. “If we don’t, then we don’t. Tomorrow is another opportunity. So if we can win that one, we can have that same chance tomorrow as well.”
By Bill Ladson
WASHINGTON — Nationals center fielder Denard Span knew something was wrong with his left hip after he saw the back specialist a few weeks ago. Span would later learn that he had a torn labrum in the hip and will have surgery Tuesday to repair it.
Span said every time he had back spasms, he would feel pain in the hip, but the pain in the hip felt secondary to the back spasms. But once he received a cortisone shot for his back, that’s when Span knew something was wrong with the hip.
When Span returned to the Nationals earlier this week, he said he didn’t feel that great at all.
“After the second game [against the Padres], I went home,” Span said. “I wasn’t feeling good. I had two hits. Normally, when I get two hits, I’m in an upbeat mood. I just wasn’t. So I talked to my mom and I thought [having surgery] was best for my future. I need to go ahead and get myself fixed so I can be myself on the field.”
Span said he had a terrible eight months. He had hernia and abdominal surgery before the regular season started. He hasn’t fully recovered from the abdominal surgery. Then he had back spasms that put him on the disabled list on July 7th.
“It’s been a domino effect — bad timing, bad luck,” Span said. “It’s just frustrating, but I’m trying to stay positive as much as possible and try to trust in God’s plan that I will overcome this. It’s just another chapter in my book. It’s all I can do right now.”
Span’s latest injury comes at a bad time. He is a free agent after the season and the Nationals are still in the race to win the National League East title.
“It was a tough decision trying to come back and also shutting it down,” Span said. “All around, it’s tough. I worked my butt off to get to this point. I have to wait and get myself better. I’m fine with waiting.”
Span has been a tremendous leadoff hitter with the Nats, hitting .292 with a .345 on-base percentage in three years with the club. Span believes the trade that sent him from the Twins to the Nationals for right-hander Alex Meyer after the 2012 season resurrected his career. Span went so far as to say the Nationals elevated his game.
“I enjoyed my three years here. … This trade was probably the best thing for me at the time. I learned a lot here from the coaching staff, my teammates. It’s been a good time.”
By Bill Ladson
There are two players with the last name of Ross in the big leagues. Joe Ross plays for the Nationals, while his older brother, Tyson, is a pitcher for the Padres. As they play each other in a three-game series starting Tuesday night, Tyson will pitch Wednesday, while Joe will be on the mound on Thursday.
MLB.com caught up with Tyson before Tuesday’s game to talk about his brother’s success in the big leagues.
MLB.com: How surprised are you that Joe has made it this quickly? He has done really well.
Tyson Ross: I’m not too surprised. It’s a matter of opportunity, and he has made the most of it since he was given that shot earlier this year.
MLB.com: What impressed you the most since Joe has been in the big leagues?
Ross: It seems like he has been consistent. He has been in jams and kept his cool. He has been able to make pitches. He doesn’t seem like a 22-year-old kid out there.
MLB.com: The biggest thing they talk about is Joe’s composure. How do you think he was able to get it?
Ross: He has been watching baseball a long time. He followed me around through travel ball. He has seen me in college. He saw me in the professional levels when he was in high school. It’s kind of nothing new to him. In the big leagues or ballparks, he is used to it. He has been waiting his turn. Now that he has got it, he said, “I belong here. It’s time to go to work.”
MLB.com: When you and Gio Gonzalez were with the Oakland A’s, the two of you used to go to Joe’s high school games.
Ross: Before Joe’s debut, the last time I actually saw him was a high school game that Gio and I went to when we were teammates in Oakland. It’s pretty crazy. Those two are teammates. It goes to show how long it has been since I’ve seen Joe play. It’s pretty cool that Gio is a good friend of mine and they are playing together. Now I have Gio to keep an eye on my younger brother.
MLB.com: How does it feel to have your parents watch both of you in the big leagues?
Ross: They are really supportive of both of us. They have a chance to come out here and watch games on back-to-back nights to see their sons pitching. It’s going to be pretty cool.
MLB.com: How does it feel to have him follow in your footsteps?
Ross: It’s cool. It was probably hard on him. He probably felt he was in big brother’s shadow his whole life. But he is his own person. He has done a good job. It’s pretty cool to be playing in the same level at this point. He was steps behind. Now, we are equals.
By Bill Ladson
WASHINGTON — Nationals third baseman Yunel Escobar missed the last two games because of a hyperextended neck, but manager Matt Williams said he expects him to be back in the lineup on Tuesday against the Padres.
“He was available [against the Brewers on Sunday]. He was able to get some treatment postgame and tomorrow. I expect him to be OK,” Williams said.
Escobar hurt his next in the first inning on Friday night. With two outs and a runner on first, Adam Lind hit a ball near the third-base stands. As Escobar was trying to catch the ball, he hit the railing and his head hit a fan’s chest. Williams and athletic trainer Lee Kuntz came to Escobar’s aid.
Escobar left the game and was replaced by Danny Espinosa, who went to second, while Anthony Rendon, who started the game at second, switched over to third.
Center fielder Denard Span was a designated hitter for Double A Harrisburg on Sunday afternoon and went 1-for-3.
By Bill Ladson
WASHINGTON — Nationals reliever Blake Treinen has been virtually unhittable since returning from Triple-A Syracuse on Aug. 6. Since his return, Treinen has pitched nine shutout innings with 10 strikeouts.
The key, according to Treinen, has been staying aggressive in the strike zone, thanks to his 98-mph slider. Getting ahead of hitters also has played a role in his success.
Before he went to the Minor Leagues, Treinen had mixed results with the slider. There were days when it would be sharp and breaking in the inner and outer half of the plate and other days when it would act like a slurvy pitch and stay up in the strike zone. Against the Dodgers on July 19 at Nationals Park, he pitched one-third of an inning and allowed four runs, and was sent to the Minors after the game.
Looking back, Treinen said going to Syracuse was a blessing in disguise.
“Everybody is going to be frustrated when they are told they are going down. But looking back, it was all part of a plan and a purpose for my career,” Treinen said. “The Nationals saw something that needed to be fixed. You have to adjust yourself with the right mindset.
“I was fortunate to get myself in the right mindset to go down and work on things. I know I have been given an opportunity and privilege to be up here. I don’t want to squander it by being pigheaded and not trying to make adjustments. Obviously something wasn’t working. I feel really blessed to have an opportunity to be back with this club.”
By Bill Ladson
WASHINGTON — Before Saturday’s game against the Brewers, Nationals manager Matt Williams had catchers Wilson Ramos and Jose Labaton work on catching throws from right field.
The practice came a day after Lobaton, normally a quality catcher, had a tough time catching a good throw from Bryce Harper in the seventh inning against the Brewers. It allowed two runs to score and Harper was charged with an error on the play.
“We want to make sure, given the homestand and us playing extended games [at Nationals Park], we want to make sure we have a good feel [for the throws]. That’s all it was today,” Williams said.
Ramos, especially, has had problems catching throws with a short hop from Harper. Ramos tries to tag the runner and catch the ball at the same time, which leads to the ball going past Ramos and allowing the runner to score.
There was pitching machine in right field, shooting missiles to Ramos and Lobaton. While they were making the plays, there is nothing like making the plays during the game.
“It helps us get more comfortable at the plate and practice the position of receiving the ball,” Ramos said. “Receiving balls from the outfield, we have short bounces, so it’s not easy catch that ball. You are thinking about the runner and the ball and you want to catch the ball and tag the runner quickly.
“Sometimes, we miss the ball because we try to be too quick. It’s part of the game. I know we have to catch the ball first and then tag the runner. We were practicing today — just catch the ball and [tag] the runner.
By Bill Ladson
WASHINGTON — Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo felt it was time to inject speed, youth and athleticism to the team and that’s why shortstop Trea Turner was called up to the big leagues Friday afternoon.
Rizzo called Turner “a contact bat with a lot of speed” and can play the middle infield spots. Rizzo warned that it may take a while for Turner to warm up to the big league level. While playing for Double A Harrisburg and Triple A Syracuse, for example, Turner got off to slow starts with the bat, but managed to get the batting average up to .300 in both places.
“We thought it was an opportune time to take advantage of his skills,” Rizzo said of Turner. … “We are not expecting him to be the savior of the offense or the savior of the ballclub. We just want him to do what he does best – add his skillset to Matt Williams’ arsenal of tools to win baseball games. We are not trying to develop at the big league level. We are just trying to win games and we are injecting players that we think have skillset that will help us win.”
The Nationals have 42 games left in the season and 27 of them will be at Nationals Park. Asked what improvements he would like to see from this point forward from his team, Rizzo said, “We are trying to win games. We are thinking one game at a time, we are playing with some urgency. … These guys are into it, they are hustling, they are playing hard. We know where we are at. We know what lies ahead of us. We have to play hard and try to win this game.”
By Bill Ladson
SAN FRANCISCO – Nationals center fielder Denard Span started a rehab assignment for Class A Potomac on Sunday and went 0-for-2 against Wilmington, a Royals affiliate.
Span is recovering from back tightness, which placed him on the 15-day disabled list on July 10th.
Span’s assignment to Potomac marks his third rehab stint in 2015 after stops with the Double-A Harrisburg on April 14th and the Class A Hagerstown Suns from April 16th to April 17th.