With just five games left in the regular season, the National League East remains the only division in the league without a clear-cut winner – odd when you consider the fact that the team leading the division is also tied with the Cincinnati Reds for the best record in baseball. But after an Atlanta Braves loss to the New York Mets, which came on a three-run home run from Mets outfielder Lucas Duda, the Washington Nationals’ (95-62) magic number finally fell to two.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals (85-72), who are fighting for the league’s second Wild Card, are looking for some combination of three wins or Los Angeles Dodgers losses to reach a one-game playoff with the Braves.
Both teams hope to take one step closer to clinching their respective playoff spots tonight in the second of a three-game series that will pit Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann against Cardinals right-hander Kyle Lohse in a rematch of their September 1 meeting. Continue reading →
Watching Washington Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez through the early innings of yesterday’s eventual 7-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, one would have likely had a hard time believing that the left-hander is in the running for the National League Cy Young Award. It is especially true when you consider the performance that New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey put on just a few hours earlier when he earned his 20th win of the season after tossing 7 2/3 innings, allowing just three runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out 13 batters.
But if you were to check the box score after the game, Gonzalez’s start would have appeared to be business as usual – three runs on six hits and three walks while striking out six through six innings. After suffering a hiccup in the first inning, which included three walks and three runs on a lofty 37 pitches, Gonzalez settled down. The following five innings, through which he allowed not a walk or a run, required just 69 pitches.
Now, once again, Gonzalez sits atop all of baseball after earning his major league leading 21st win as he continues to build his case for the NL Cy Young. But for Gonzalez, the path to the award is still very much an uphill climb as two contenders remain in the mix – one obvious and one less so. Continue reading →
You have seen it before, countless times probably. A player gives four strong years to a team, including a round of postseason heroics that contribute heavily to a World Series win, before moving on and signing with another team as a free agent upon the completion of his tenure. That, of course, fills the vacated fan base with vitriol. So angered are they that they feel it necessary to show the player that he is not only unwelcome in his former stomping grounds, but that he is also unwelcome in his new home. They accomplish the latter by buying up every right-field seat for each meeting between the two teams so that they may tell the player personally. Methinks, however, that this scenario is more a case of not knowing what you have until it is gone – a phenomenon that seems to have most recently affected fans of the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth.
Werth, who ended his run with the Phillies after signing a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Nationals in December 2010, has since incurred the wrath of those who would not have him back.
That wrath has never been more apparent than it was last night when the league’s classiest baseball fans went out of their way to show Werth how much he is missed. But in dealing with their grief over Werth’s departure, Phillies fans seem to have pigeonholed themselves into the second stage of the Kübler-Ross model – anger. Continue reading →
Apparently, revenge is a dish best served on a warm 78-degree afternoon. And yesterday, the Washington Nationals (92-59), led by left-hander Gio Gonzalez, got their revenge on a Milwaukee Brewers (78-73) team that usurped a win in the ninth inning of Friday night’s four-game series opener.
For Gonzalez, the outing was a perfect response to an earlier July 29 outing in which the Brewers handled his repertoire by belting five runs on five hits and earned seven free passes on five walks and two hit batsmen. The fact that yesterday’s win marked number 20 for Gonzalez, who is the only pitcher to have reached that mark this year, was icing on the cake.
“This is like a dream,” Gonzalez said, “and I feel like I’m still sleeping in it.”
This afternoon, the Nationals will look to ensure, at least, a series split as they take on red-hot right-hander Yovani Gallardo. On the mound for Washington, making just his fifth start of the year is sinkerballer Chien-Ming Wang. Continue reading →
Though the Washington Nationals (91-59) suffered a disappointing 4-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers (78-72) last night after a blown save from Tyler Clippard, the team actually managed to move a step closer towards clinching the National League East. With the Atlanta Braves’ loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Nationals’ lead stood pat at 5 1/2 games while their magic number dropped to seven. And despite a recent string of less-than-stellar performances from Clippard, manager Davey Johnson has no plans to reduce the co-closer’s role in the bullpen.
“He’ll be fine,” Johnson said. “That one just got away. One battle. He’s been pretty awfully good.”
This afternoon, all eyes will be on another Nationals pitcher as left-hander and sole 19-game winner Gio Gonzalez heads to the mound in search of his 20th win. To earn it, he will need to out-pitch Brewers right-hander Wily Peralta, who started his first major league game earlier this month. Continue reading →
By this point, you have likely already been made aware of the Washington Nationals’ (91-58) series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers last night and the playoff implications surrounding said win. But because this is the first time the nation’s capital has been able to express what follows in 79 years, it bears repeating – the Nationals are officially headed to the postseason.
As exciting as the news is, the Nationals still have some games to win before the real celebration begins. Last night’s win clinched a Wild Card berth and as manager Davey Johnson has made clear on numerous occasions, they will settle for nothing less than a division title.
“That was fun but it’s not what I had my eye on,” Johnson said, “It’s a nice step to get here, but every manager that’s leading a division, that’s the only thing that matters – winning your division.”
The team’s magic number for clinching the National League East still sits at eight. In order to chip away at it they will need to take a few games from the red-hot Milwaukee Brewers during the four-game series that begins tonight when Brewers right-hander Shaun Marcum takes on Nationals right-hander Edwin Jackson. Continue reading →
There is something to be said of Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson. After all, you do not just luck your way into the playoffs with four different franchises. If you did, there would probably be more than two managers throughout the many years of major league history to have done so. But looking back through the record books, it seems that Billy Martin is the only other to have achieved such a milestone.
No, there is definitely something to be said of Johnson and it seems Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth said it best just minutes after the Nationals clinched the first playoff appearance for a Washington baseball team in nearly eight decades.
“There’s a lot of people around here that you can point fingers at that had a lot to do with the change in direction and everything that goes into that in the ballclub and the organization, but none any bigger than Davey,” Werth said. Continue reading →
There are many things to be said of Ross Detwiler, the Washington Nationals’ power left-hander.
Presumably, you were aware of that juicy tidbit, provided you have watched alongside the rest of the Washington Metropolitan Area as he has developed into a frontline-caliber starter since his selection in the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Nationals.
His prowess was on full display last night as he led the Nationals to a series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on six innings of one-run ball, through which he allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out five.
With the victory, he added another talking point to any discussion involving him by notching his 10th win of the season, marking the first time he has reached double digits in the win column as a professional.
Now, on its own, that might not be seen as much of an achievement. But because in doing so, Detwiler became the pitcher of record for the game that clinched the first playoff berth for a Washington baseball team in 79 years and will forever be remembered by Nationals fans. Continue reading →
After splitting yesterday’s straight doubleheader with the Los Angeles Dodgers (77-72), the Washington Nationals (90-58) will have to play at least one more game before clinching a playoff berth that will mark the first for a D.C. baseball team in 79 long years.
With a win in the first game of the doubleheader, the Nationals ensured that they would live to play more than 162 games this year as they clinched a worst-case scenario that involves a 163rd game – one that would decide the winner of the second National League Wild Card.
Now, with their NL Wild Card magic number sitting at one, they can ensure that the 163rd game never happens by taking tonight’s game – and the series – from the Dodgers.
Still, Nationals manager Davey Johnson is concerned with only one thing.
“The only thing that means anything to me is when we clinch the [division],” Johnson said. “That’s the only thing I’m concerned with.”