The difference between a five-run shutout and a six-run shutout, the latter of which seemed a definite possibility as the nightcap of last night’s doubleheader between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Washington Nationals entered the bottom of the eighth inning, is insignificant.
The difference between a 6-6 tie and a one-run lead held by the home team heading into the top of the ninth, however, is huge.
After mounting a six-run comeback in the bottom of the eighth inning last night, the Nationals took a tied ballgame – what should have been a one-run lead – into the ninth inning. The Matt Kemp home run that followed should have tied the ballgame, not won it. But because of a blown call in the top of the fourth inning, one that bestowed one of the most unearned-scored-earned runs ever upon the Dodgers, everything that should not have happened did, in fact, happen. Continue reading →
By now, I am sure you have heard that the Washington Nationals were swept by a Philadelphia Phillies team that sits 16 1/2 games behind the Nationals in the National League East. Apparently – and I still do not quite understand this one – the sweep, which came on the heels of a loss in the finale of a three-game series with the Atlanta Braves, makes the Nationals the worst team in baseball despite the fact that they still hold the best record in baseball at 77-50. At least, that is what some Nationals fans would have you believe.
I am not exactly the poster child for positivity, though this blog may have you believing otherwise, but I do understand the absolute inevitability of a losing streak or two (or three or four) throughout the course of a 162-game season. Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who spoke with reporters after Saturday night’s 4-2 loss, understands as well.
“Three! Ugh. We’re ready to quit,” Zimmerman said. “Everything’s going to go into shambles.”
Now, in case you could not tell, Zimmerman was being a bit facetious.
The willingness of the face of the Nationals franchise to brush off what amounts to a bump in the road cements the losing streak as a non-issue. As such, it hardly warrants the bit of discussion it is receiving here. What does warrant discussion, however, is everyone’s favorite teenager Bryce Harper, who in the second half of his rookie campaign is batting .194/.266/.316 with just nine extra-base hits and 12 RBIs. Continue reading →
It seemed that more than a few fans in the Washington Metropolitan Area, and to a larger extent the baseball community as a whole, were surprised by the performance of Washington Nationals 19-year-old rookie Bryce Harper this weekend.
In case you missed it, Harper went 4-for-8 through the weekend set with a triple, two home runs and four RBIs – an effort that helped the Nationals take two of three from the New York Mets and extend their lead over the Atlanta Braves in the National League East to five games. His efforts also put him in elite company, joining Tony Conigliaro, Mel Ott, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mickey Mantle as the top home run hitters at 19 years of age. As if that were not impressive enough, his sixth triple ranks first among teenagers with at least 12 home runs.
Patrick McDermott – Getty Images
It would be less than honest to say that I am not surprised. In fact, I am shocked. I am shocked that anyone is surprised with Harper’s performance because to be surprised is to undermine his talent. What Harper did this weekend was not surprising. He did nothing less than what is expected of him. Continue reading →
With that caliber of pitching, it should come as no surprise that on August 10, with just 50 games remaining on the Nationals’ regular-season schedule, their pitching staff leads most others in many categories. Where they do not lead, they are not far behind.
Here are some of the categories in which the Nationals’ pitching staff ranks first: ERA (3.23), quality starts (73), earned runs allowed (367), runs allowed (395) and opponents’ batting average (.232). They rank second in saves with 38 and third in strikeouts with 927.
For those who prefer the less-than-traditional stats, the Nationals rank first in FIP (3.53), first in BABIP (.277), second in left on base percentage (76.3 percent) and fourth in WAR (15.4).
Considering the fact that the pitching staff has been building those numbers consistently since opening day, it is not surprising at all to see the team in first place. What is surprising, however, is the fact that a Nationals batting order that has been unhealthy since day one has grown more and more potent as the season progresses. Continue reading →
Hi, how are you. Me? I am alright, I guess. There is not too much to complain about. Oh, where are my manners? Let me introduce myself. My name is Bob Carpenter and I am the television play-by-play announcer for the Washington Nationals. Oh you have heard of me? Yes, I am the broadcaster that seemingly jinxes the team time and time again. I point out how misfortunate a potential double play ball would be for the Nationals just prior to it being hit.
OK, you got me. I am not actually Bob Carpenter. I do, however, believe that I have developed his uncanny ability to jinx the team. In my Nationals notes for July 17, I felt the need to write about the diminished likelihood of All-Star shortstop Ian Desmond being placed on the 15-day disabled list. It seemed that I was in the clear with that one, as Desmond would go on to make a few pinch-hit appearances and even start a few games in the days that followed. Naturally, the baseball gods laughed in my face.
Some may even remember my article titled “Has the injury bug had its fill,” in which I suggested that the Nationals could possibly be on the road to health as well as their first National League East pennant. As predicted, posting that article was a bad, bad idea. In his post-game interview with the media following yesterday afternoon’s 9-2 win over the Atlanta Braves, manager Davey Johnson announced that Desmond will be placed on the 15-day DL with a torn left oblique. Today, I will potentially jinx the team again with the following four words: no Desmond, no problem. Continue reading →
Before I get to the bulk of what I want to say, there is something that I have to clear up. Now, I am not sure if you are aware of this or not, but it is a scientifically proven fact that fans can have a direct impact on the outcome of a baseball game. Okay, maybe it has not been scientifically proven, but that that will not stop me from upholding my belief that the many superstitions surrounding the game lead to momentum changes, bloop hits and walk-off wins. The words a fan speaks, the clothes we wear, the positions we sit in, the foods we eat – all of that and more sways the game in different directions. And do not forget that a negative attitude is the best way to propel your favorite ballclub to victory. That said it is with great trepidation that I formulated the thoughts that follow and made the decision to publish them on the Internet. I beg of you, baseball gods, please do not strike down the Nationals because of this lowly fan’s terrible decision-making. Anyway… Continue reading →