Game 108 Review- Cubs 7 Nationals 4

contreraswatch

Chicago’s Willson Contreras admires his sixth inning two run home run off of Washington’s Matt Grace in the Cubs 7-4 victory over the Nationals on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Game 108

Nationals’ Record- 64-44, first place in the National League East, 13 games ahead of Miami

Chicago Cubs 7  Nationals 4

WP-  Lackey (9-9)   LP- Jackson (2-2)  SV- W. Davis (23)

HR- Harper Was (28),  Avila Chc (12), Contreras Chc (19)

As was the case with Friday afternoon’s game, there was a playoff atmosphere at Wrigley Field yesterday as the Nationals and Cubs squared off in game two of their weekend series.  This time it was the Cubs who emerged victorious, riding the wave of a four run first inning and holding late threats by the Nats to earn a 7-4 victory.

STARS OF THE GAME

On a team with popular superstars such as Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant and established veterans such as Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward, it is easy for some of the team’s younger players to get lost in the shuffle.  If talented Willson Contreras keeps playing like he’s been recently, that is not going to be possible. Contreras drove in three runs, including two on a laser shot home run in the bottom of the sixth, to pace the Chicago attack. Since the all-star break, Contreras 27 RBI match Colorado’s Nolan Arenado for the most in the Major Leagues.

Contreras played left field in yesterday’s game because Joe Maddon had new Cub Alex Avila start behind the plate. The veteran backstop made his start count, hitting a two run first inning home run off of Washington’s Edwin Jackson to give the Cubbies a 4-1 lead.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Nats’ left-handed reliever Sammy Solis was a valuable asset out of Washington’s bullpen in 2016, posting a solid 1.1 WAR on the year.  Things have not gone as well for the 6’5″ Minnesota native so far in 2017, but he did a superb job in yesterday’s contest.  Solis threw 1.2 scoreless innings with four strikeouts, punching out Rizzo and Contreras to leave two Cubs stranded in the seventh inning and fanning Zobrist and Heyward in a one-two-three eighth.

NATS NOTES

After allowing four runs on five hits in the first inning, Washington starter Edwin Jackson settled down nicely over his final four innings of work.  From innings two through five, Jackson allowed no runs on only one hit while striking out seven Cubs.

On Saturday, Bryce Harper demonstrated some of the skills that make him one of the Major League’s best players. He hit a long solo home run off of Cubs’ starter John Lackey in the top of the first, giving him a Major League best 12 first inning home runs this year.  In the bottom of the frame, Harper threw a laser from right field to cut down Contreras at third base.  Harper displayed his range in right in the bottom of the fifth, robbing Jon Jay of a potential extra base hit with a running catch at the wall in right center.

On a team with numerous offensive stalwarts, Washington’s Jose Lobaton is not expected to provide much at the plate.  Since the all-star break however,  Lobaton has picked his game up somewhat.  The affable backstop worked a ninth inning walk off of Cubs’ closer Wade Davis in the top of the ninth to keep Washington’s hopes alive, and moved his post-break OPS to .876 in the process.  Before the break, Lobaton’s OPS was an anemic .437.

Both Matt Grace and Matt Albers gave up runs out of the bullpen in yesterday’s game, continuing a trend that has seen the relievers get roughed up in recent outings.  Grace was touched for two runs in the game, giving him 10 runs allowed in his last nine innings pitched since July 23rd.  The Cubs touched Albers for a single run, and the stout righty has now allowed seven hits, three runs and two walks over his last three appearances.

UP NEXT

Sunday’s contest is the rubber game in the seven game regular season series between the two division leading teams.  The Cubs go with veteran left-handed ace Jon Lester, who has a 3-0 record with a 2.77 ERA and a .769 WHIP in his three post-All Star game starts.  Washington’s Matt Wieters has had success (.327 average, four extra hits in 49 at bats) against Lester in the past, but Ryan Zimmerman (2-14, four strikeouts), Daniel Murphy (2-11) and Howie Kendrick (8-46, nine strikeouts) have not.

Rookie Erick Fedde looks for his first Major League win today.  Last Sunday, Fedde gave up 10 hits and seven runs as the Nats fell at home to Colorado.

Advertisements

Game 95 Review- Diamondbacks 6 Nationals 5

pollock 

Arizona’s A.J. Pollock scores from third with the winning run on Brandon Drury’s RBI single as the Diamondbacks beat the Nats 6-5 on Friday night in a battle of probable National League playoff squads.

NATIONALS 57-38, first in the NL East, 10 games ahead of Atlanta 

Arizona 6  Washington 5

WP- Rodney (4-3)  LP- Romero (2-4) 

HR-  Peralta AZ (10), Pollock AZ (4), Lamb AZ (23)

The Nationals began a three series stretch against potential playoff teams last night in Arizona, and dropped a tough one to the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Washington battled back from a 5-0 deficit to tie the score in the eighth, but Arizona got the last laugh on a one out bases loaded single by Brandon Drury that was the game winner.  Here’s a look at some of the key happenings from game one of the series.

STARS OF THE GAME

A.J. Pollock went 3 for 5 with three runs scored, a home run and a triple to pace Arizona’s attack. The Diamondbacks’ centerfielder led off the bottom of the ninth with a triple off of Enny Romero to set the stage for Arizona’s walk-off win.

With seven career home runs against the Nats, the most he’s had against any non-National League West team, Jake Lamb is earning a reputation as a Nats killer.  The left-handed swinging third baseman was at it again on Friday, going 2 for 3 with a home run and two RBI.

The Nats eventually got to Arizona starter Zack Godley for four runs in 5.2 innings pitched, but the young hurler was impressive on the night. Godley registered a career high 10 strikeouts, and displayed a tremendous curveball that baffled the Nats’ hitters on occasion.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Southpaw Matt Grace has flown under the radar to become a solid contributor in the Nats’ bullpen. Grace was amazing on the night, allowing only a scratch single and fanning three in 1.2 scoreless innings.  In his last four outings over four innings pitched, Grace has allowed no runs, only one hit and has struck out five batters.

NATS NOTES

Daniel Murphy broke out of an 0 for 11 slump with three hits in four at bats, a pair of doubles and a RBI. The three hit game was the 13th of the season for the Nats’ hitting machine, only two fewer than the 15 three plus hit games Murphy had in his sensational 2016 campaign.

In 87 career starts for the Nats, Max Scherzer has gone five or fewer innings only nine times.  The Nats’ ace’s five innings pitched was the fewest in a start since May 20th when he went five frames in Washington’s 5-2 loss to Atlanta.  Scherzer’s shortest outing as a National came on August 14, 2015 when he went only three innings in Washington’s 8-5 loss at San Francisco.

Bryce Harper went 1 for 3 with a run scored and a double and walked twice.  Harper’s two free passes give him 63 on the year, tied with Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona for the third most in the National League.  The Reds’ Joey Votto leads the way with 69 walks, and St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter is next with 66.  Harper’s .444 on-base percentage is the second best in the Senior Circuit, trailing only Los Angeles’ Justin Turner’s .467 mark.

UP NEXT

Washington’s Tanner Roark looks for his eighth win of the year tonight at Arizona, with lefty Anthony Banda making his Major League debut for the home team.

Roark is 1-2 with a 3.13 ERA lifetime against Arizona, and is 109 with a 1.80 ERA at Chase Field.  Jake Lamb is 2 for 8 with two homers against Roark and Chris Hermann is 2 for 3 with a homer, while Jeff Mathis is 0-9 with six strikeouts.

Banda was 7-5 with a 5.08 ERA at AAA Reno so far this year, and the Corpus Christi, Texas native gave up a whopping 15 hits and seven runs in five innings pitched in his last start against Salt Lake (Angels’ affiliate).

 

 

Game 90 Review- Nationals 10 Reds 7

Nationals_Reds_Baseball_15984

Anthony Rendon homered twice and drove in six runs to lead the Nationals to a 10-7 victory over the Reds at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati on Saturday night.

NATIONALS 10 REDS 7

Nationals Record 54-36, first place in NL East, 9.5 games ahead of Atlanta

WP- Scherzer (11-5)  LP-  Castillo (1-2)   SV- Grace (2)

HR- Rendon 2(18),  Raburn (2), Gennett 16

Saturday’s game two of the Nats’ four game series with the Reds was not as clean a contest as the team’s 5-0 win on Friday, but the bottom line is that the Nats won in a contest where they continued to show their lineup is a force to be reckoned with. Here’s a look at some of the highlights (and a few lowlights) from the game.

STARS OF THE GAME

Every time Nats’ ace Max Scherzer takes the mound, something exceptional is bound to happen.  The fiery righty was on his game again on Saturday, albeit with a few bumps in the road that he smoothed over by overwhelming the Reds as he has many opponents before them. Scherzer threw six shutout innings and struck out 10 to earn his 11th win of the season, and lowered his ERA to Major League best 2.01 in the process.  Scherzer’s brightest moments in the game came in the first and third innings, where he worked out of two on, no out jams to keep the Reds off of the scoreboard until his mates began their destruction of the Reds’ shaky pitching staff.

Anthony Rendon homered twice, including his second career grand slam, and drove in six runs to pace Washington’s 10 run attack.  Rendon has hit safely in nine straight games, and is 15-31 with five runs scored, five doubles, two homers, 11 RBI and seven walks in those nine contests.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Cincinnati’s Scooter Gennett may be small by Major League Baseball standards, but he certainly comes up big when he plays against the Nationals. Gennett drove in four runs, three coming on his career high 16th home run in the ninth inning, to give the Reds a chance for a miracle comeback. In 18 at bats against the Nationals this year, Gennett has nine hits, three home runs and seven RBI.  His six career home runs against Washington is the  most he’s hit against any opponent.

NATS NOTES

Washington’s Ryan Raburn contributed to the team’s offensive fireworks with a seventh inning solo home run, the 93rd of his career and the second in his time as a National.  The blast came on an no ball, two strike pitch from the Reds’ Michael Lorenzon, making the round tripper the first Raburn his hit in career when down 0-2 in the count.

Excuse the members of the Reds’ pitching staff if they feel queasy when the see players wearing the Nats’ curly W enter the batters box to face them. In Washington’s last ten games against the Reds, the Nats have scored in double digits five times, have put up 81 runs and have hit an astounding 24 home runs.

Trevor Gott’s nightmare outing in the bottom of the ninth marked the sixth time that a Nationals’ pitcher has allowed five or more runs without recording an out in the contest. Prior to last night, former National Felipe Rivero was the last player to achieve the dubious mark. Rivero gave up six runs without getting anyone out in a 7-3 loss at San Diego on June 18, 2016.

The news regarding the Nats’ bullpen was not all bad last night.  Enny Romero struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh, giving him nine strikeouts in his last four innings pitched over four outings.  Romero has not been scored upon in 15 of his last 18 appearances. Fellow lefties Oliver Perez and Matt Grace also registered one, two, three innings, with Grace becoming the first National with saves in back to back games since Koda Glover did the trick at San Francisco on May 29th and 30th.

UP NEXT

Tanner Roark allowed three or fewer earned runs in nine of his first 13 starts, but has done so only once in his last four times as the starting pitcher. The righty will look to get things moving in the right direction again when he takes the mound later today.  Both Gennett (5-15, home run, four RBI) and Tucker Barnhart (5-10, double) have had success against Roark in the past, while Billy Hamilton (2-14) and Zack Cozart (1-12) have not.

Opposing Roark will be lanky Texan Homer Bailey, who has allowed only two earned runs over his last two starts after surrendering 14 (including eight at Washington last month) in his first two.  Adam Lind is 3 for 3 with a home run against Bailey in his career, while Bryce Harper has only one hit (a triple) in eight at bats against him.

 

Game 89 Review- Nationals 5 Reds 0

 
harper-homers-1500085514

Bryce Harper circles the bases following his third inning home run off of Cincinnati’s Tim Adleman in Washington’s 5-0 victory over the Reds at the Great American Ballpark on July 14th.

NATIONALS  5  Reds 0

Record 53-36    9.5 games up on Atlanta in the NL East

WP- Gonzalez (8-4)  LP-  Adleman (5-7)  SV- Grace (1)

HR-  Harper, Was 2(22)

The second half of the Nationals’ season began with a great all-around effort as Washington defeated the Reds 5-0 in the first game of a four game series at Cincinnati.   Here’s a look at some of the news and notes from the game.

STARS OF THE GAME

Gio Gonzalez was razor sharp on the night, allowing only four hits in 8.1 shutout innings to earn his eighth win of the year. Gonzalez induced 14 ground ball outs and struck out six as he registered his 17th game in 19 starts on the year where he’s allowed three or fewer earned runs.   Gonzalez’s 79 pitching game score was his highest in a road contest since September 9, 2013 when he posted a 91 score in Washington’s 9-0 rout of the New York Mets.

Nationals’ rightfielder Bryce Harper is a unique talent, and his power stroke was on display on Friday night.  Harper homered twice for the fourth time this year and registered the 14th multi-home run game of his career to pace Washington’s attack.   The all-star has a nine game hitting streak going, and is 15-34 with 12 runs scored, two doubles, four home runs and 10 RBI during that time period.

He may not have been part of the All-Star festivities in Miami earlier this week, but anyone who has watched Anthony Rendon play this year realizes that the Nats’ third baseman is playing at an All-Star level. Rendon was 2 for 3 with a double and a run batted in at the plate and made several sparkling defensive plays to support Gonzalez’s strong outing.

STRONG EVEN IN DEFEAT

The Reds have a large supply of power arms in the bullpen, and righty Asher Wojciechowski’s ability to throw hard was on display on Friday.   The South Carolina native struck out four, including Harper and Rendon, in two scoreless innings pitched.

NATS NOTES

Brian Goodwin led of the contest with a double to right and later scored the game’s first run on a Stephen Drew RBI hit.  The first inning success for the Nats’ rookie is nothing new. In 24 at bats in the first inning so far this year, Goodwin is hitting .375 with a 1.194 OPS.

Catcher Matt Wieters had a strong game, working with Gonzalez to shut down the Reds and picking up two hits in three at bats. The multi-hit game was the 14th of the year for Wieters, but only his third in games played away from Nationals Park.

Rendon was not the only Nationals’ player flashing the leather on Friday night.  Goodwin and Chris Heisey both made sparking catches, with Goodwin’s keeping the Reds off of the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth with Washington holding only a three run lead.  Middle infielders Drew and Wilmer Difo also were strong with the glove, with Drew turning a potential two run single by Tucker Barnhart into a game ending out to end a Reds’ bases loaded threat.

UP NEXT

Later today, Cincinnati fans will get to see something they’ve not had a chance to do previously.  Nats’ ace Max Scherzer will make the first appearance of his career at the Great American Ballpark as he looks for his 11th win on the year.  In his career Scherzer has posted a 2.75 ERA, the best mark in any month for the All-Star righty.

Opposing Scherzer will be rookie Luis Castillo, who is 1-1 with a 3.13 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched. The righthander has been more effective keeping lefties (.222/.286/.469) than righties (.286/.375/.452) off base so far this year.

So far this year the Nationals have not been living it up on Saturday night, or at any time during the weekend’s first day for that matter.  Washington is 6-8 in Saturday contests so far in 2017.