Another wasted gem….
In Pro Sports, injuries are apart of the game. Teams must endure them as a badge of honor of sorts, if they cannot win through their particular Injury Phase, then most likely, the team will underachieve for the season. This is whats happening with the 2013 Nationals season after the 1st 2 months. Mediocre and uninspired play collectively from the lineup has put this team in a precarious position where they are just not getting clutch atbats and its costing them games in the standings to the suddenly hot-again Atlanta Braves. And the Nats arent just losing, they are losing in heartbreaking fashion whether its the one game the team breaks out of the season long slump at the plate, losing a pitchers duel to a journeyman, wasting great starts from one of your aces and lastly and probably the one thing we ALL as Nats fans can agree upon, finally ridding this team of the guy with the great stuff, but just cant put it together in Henry Rodriguez.
4 Game series vs Baltimore
In the 1st really meaningful Battle of the Beltway, The Nats and O’s met for a 4 game series with 2 games here at Nats Park and 2 at Camden Yards, truly a cool scheduling quirk that should mandatory in the season schedule every season. Both parks had great turnouts and the fans were truly into every game. In Game 1, Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez had control issues from the start. After allowing only five earned runs and posting a 3-1 record in his previous four starts, Gonzalez gave up four runs and eight hits over 5 2/3 innings with four walks and three strikeouts as the O’s battered the Nats for 15 hits in a 6-2 win. In Game 2, Adam LaRoche homered twice and drove in four runs, and the Nationals barreled past the Baltimore Orioles 9-3. LaRoche, Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina also went deep to support Nathan Karns, a rookie call-up who made a spot start but didnt make it out of the 5th inning. It eventually didn’t matter as the Nats scored the most runs as a team since April 15th. Game 3 meant a quick trip up I95 to Camden Yards for one of the most entertaining regular season games I can remember. Ryan Zimmermann single-handedly carried the offense early in the game with his 1st 3HR game of his stellar career. He did so in his 1st 3 AtBats within 5 innings, yet the Oriole bats awakened in the 7th inning with an onslaught that only a team with a Murderer’s Row of top quality batters could do. MVP Candidate Chris Davis went 4-4 with 2 HRs and Manny Machado continues to stake his claim as the best young infielder in the game today with the game winning double off Jordan Zimmermann in the game clinching 6 run 7th inning as the Birds won a classic 9-6. Zimmermann gave up seven runs and 10 hits in six-plus innings. He came in with a 1.71 ERA and a streak of 15 straight starts allowing three runs or less. Finale, Journeyman pitcher Freddie Garcia totally shut down the Nats lineup (albeit without Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Wilson Ramos who are all officially on the Disabled List) with eight innings of three-hit ball to get the best of Dan Haren in a duel of veteran right-handers as the Orioles beat the Nats 2-0 to take the series 3 games to 1.
3 Game series at Atlanta
In Game 1 of this huge series, Stephen Strasburg left Friday’s game with no definitive reason after pitching pretty well in the 2 innings he was on the mound. Because of that uncertainty, the Twitterverse went absolutely bonkers with theories and home diagnosis. Turns out after the MRI, the injury would be classified as strained Oblique muscle in his back, which could place another player on the disabled list. Meanwhile as our fans held their collective breath, versatile pitcher Craig Stammen was summonsed to pitch some long relief and he did just that with 4 perfect innings, and Denard Span tripled twice and scored two runs to help the Nationals snap a two-game skid with a 3-2 win. With this win, a series win which looked bleak at best when Strasburg left the game, seemed a real possibility with Gio Gonzales starting in Saturday’s game. He and veteran Tim Hudson put on a pitching clinic, both giving up only 1 run as the game entered the 9th inning. The Nationals had a chance to win the game but couldn’t score in the ninth after having runners on second and third with no outs against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel. With the game tied 1-all, Ryan Zimmerman led off the ninth with a soft single that fell just beyond the reach of shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who was running toward the outfield. Zimmerman moved to third when Adam LaRoche followed with a double to center field. Kimbrel struck out Ian Desmond before Roger Bernadina hit a grounder to third baseman Chris Johnson, who threw out Zimmerman at the plate, and LaRoche advanced to third. Danny Espinosa popped out to left fielder Justin Upton to end the inning. In the Bottom of the 10th, Davey Johnson had to bring in Henry Rodriguez from the taxed bullpen and the results were obviously not good. After a 4-pitch walk to Evan Gattis, BJ Upton, who is mired in a season long slump with a batting average under .150) wins the game with a solid single scoring the run from 2nd base as the Nats lose a heartbreaker 2-1. I know Henry Rodriguez has great stuff, he routinely clocks 100+ on the radar gun but time and time again, he just doesnt have the mental fortitude to be trusted in games that really matter…its time to make a move and possible ship this guy out of town. Davey Johnson has shown that he’s very loyal and in this case, and possibly with Danny Espinosa, to a fault.
Player of the Week:
Ryan Zimmerman – 10 hits, 3 Home Runs, 5 Runs scored, 5 RBIs and a .357 average
Next Weeks Schedule:
6 Game homestand with 3 games vs the Minnesota Twins and 3 vs the NY Mets