Thursday, April 4, 2013

Nats open season with sweep of Marlins

Photo by USA Today
All good teams, regardless of sport, have to beat up the little guys when they get the chance. If you play up to certain teams and conversely play down to others, you probably aren’t very good.

So despite playing a Marlins team not expected to compete for much in 2013, the Nationals took pride in completing the series sweep with a 6-1 victory on Thursday. They took care of business against a less talented team and opened their season with three consecutive wins.

“Every game’s a big game, and we’ve had trouble with the Marlins no matter what,” manager Davey Johnson said.

“Not just last year, but through the years. No matter what they put out there, we’ve had trouble with them. So it was good to spank them this series.”

The Nationals split the season series with Miami in 2012, with the Marlins taking nine of the 18 matchups despite winning just 69 total games. In this season opening series, Washington allowed just one run through three games in an altogether dominant showing at Nationals Park.

Nats starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann actually let go of a 19-inning scoreless streak in the second inning. The Marlins had previously been shut out through the season’s first two games and the first inning on Thursday.

Miami broke their dubious run with a solo home run by Justin Ruggiano. The center fielder took the first pitch Zimmermann delivered in the second inning over the right field scoreboard.

“He swings first pitch all the time and I figured if I threw a fastball down and away I would get him to roll over or hit a fly ball,” Zimmermann said. “I kind of left it over the middle and he made me pay.”

Zimmermann had a long day with 89 pitches through six innings of work. He allowed just one earned run, but gave up eight hits to match his 2012 season high.

“I had to battle and make pitches when I needed a ground ball,” he said. “It was just one of those days where you get a couple of strikes on a guy and you want to put him away and they battle you for a few balls and then get a hit off of you.”

The Nationals got on the board early with two runs in the bottom of the first. Jayson Werth started the rally with a single after fouling off four in a seven-pitch at-bat. Bryce Harper then took the first pitch he saw for a single to right field. Ryan Zimmerman hit both of them home with a double off the wall in center field.

Marlins pitcher Wade LeBlanc threw a changeup on a two-two count and Zimmerman got a good piece of it.

“LeBlanc is one of those guys who can kind of throw anything at any time, mix it up. I just kind of stayed back on a two-strike changeup and put a good swing on it,” he said.

“With two strikes, those are the pitches where you just worry about staying short. Those are the ones where if they make a mistake, you hit the hardest, because you're not trying to do too much.”

Zimmerman has now reached base in six consecutive plate appearances. He finished Thursday’s game with three hits, two RBI, and a walk.

Zimmerman’s double brought both Werth and Harper home, but the second run was a close call. Harper collided with catcher Ron Brantly’s elbow in a close play at the plate. He laid on the ground for a moment, but was able to get up and shake it off.

“It feels fine,” he said. “He got me on the chin and it didn’t really hurt too bad. I was seeing if it was bleeding or not at the plate.”

The Nats added another run in the third inning off Harper’s second hit of the day, a single that drove in Denard Span. Harper is batting .500 through the season’s first three games with six hits in 12 at-bats. Today was his third multi-hit game of the season.

The Nationals scored their final three runs off one swing of the bat. In the seventh inning, with runners on first and third, Jayson Werth took a one-one pitch to nearly the same spot he hit the walk-off homer in Game 4 of the NLDS last October. This hit, however, was even further, clearing the bullpen and giving the Nats a nice cushion for the rest of the game.

“He got all of that one, didn’t he?” Johnson said. “He wasn’t real happy the first couple games about the way he was swinging because he was really swinging good coming out of spring training. But he swung really good on that one.”

Werth’s homer perhaps put to rest any questions about his left wrist which was injured last season and a topic of mild concern in spring training.

“I feel good. I feel strong. I had a good winter and I'm looking forward to this season. We've got a good club and I really enjoy playing with these guys.”

The Nationals swept the Marlins allowing just one earned run with three starters going at least six innings and all but one of their relief pitchers getting work. Only Zach Duke out of the bullpen has yet to appear.

Even Henry Rodriguez pitched a perfect inning on Thursday. Working with a fastball in the low 90s rather than his typical high 90s heat, Rodriguez capped his outing by striking out Giancarlo Stanton looking at a curveball.

Johnson was happy to see Rodriguez perform so well and says it should be expected moving forward.

“That’s going to be his role, setting up, late-inning relief. And if he’s on the ball club, I’m using him. Threw the ball good. 1-2-3. Can’t beat that.”

The Nationals now head to Cincinnati to play the reigning N.L. Central champions. The Reds have one of the best lineups in the majors and should prove a big test for Washington.

Werth is looking forward to the series as an early season test, but also just another step in a long season with one big goal in mind.

“We've gone from an up-and-coming team to a championship team in a very short period of time,” he said.

“Championship-caliber clubs they continue to get better. I think that's where we're at. The window's definitely open for us right now and hopefully it'll stay open for us for a long time, but you've got to jump through that window at some point so, as the season goes on, we'll continue to learn and learn a lot about ourselves and each other and it should be fun.”

59 comments:

peric said...

I hear T-Mo likes TyMo better!

Not what his friends call him nor is it his twitter handle.

MicheleS said...

Whats the over/under on the combined strike out totals of the Upton Brothers. I am guessing Over 325

Drew said...

The Nats are off to a brisk start -- and I'd take the Syracuse lineup over the Astros (current) lineup.

On Opening Day in Syracuse, Michah Owings has a 3-run jack and 4 RBIs in the first 5 innings.

What's not to like?

Joe Seamhead said...

peric, if you knew so much about the Nats as you say you would know that Del Unser threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Nats very first game 2005 in CBP in Philly.

baseballswami said...

Since when is 15 pitches per inning some kind of laborious outing? It's not amazingly good but it's not that bad, either. The guy gave up some junk hits, one run. First outing. Had to have been pretty similar to Gio's numbers. I will be happy when each starter is past that first game. Haren against the Reds. Ugh. Are we optimistic? Votto. Just say no to pitching to him.

NatsJack in Florida said...

They have to let Lee finish this thing.

And my vote for greatest Washington center fielder goes to Willie Tasby.

Joe Seamhead said...

Jack, my bet would be Papelbon in the 9th, but you never know with Cholly.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Papelbon is warming up. I thinj it's a mistake if they don't let him finish.

NatsJack in Florida said...

OK....getting that first out makes me feel better.

Joe Seamhead said...

Well, Cliff Lee deserves the win. Hold those guys to 2 hits/ no runs for eight is a helluva effort.
Papelbon will blow his share this year, though.

Gonat said...

Nats are in 1st place all by themselves and Medlen loses his 1st start of the season!

NatsJack in Florida said...

And counting the wild card game. 2 in a row.

Poor Chris.

baseballswami said...

Aaaah. And it looks like the minor leaguers are doing well, too. Sens won, Chiefs are up 7-0 over the Ironpigs.

Gonat said...

peric said...
I hear T-Mo likes TyMo better!

Not what his friends call him nor is it his twitter handle.

April 04, 2013 9:11 PM
________________________________

Do Ryan Zimmerman's friends call him Zim or Zimmy or RZ or Z-man or Mr. Walk-off?

Are you saying Tyler Moore only has 1 nickname because of his Twitter handle?

OK, cool. I'll continue to call him TyMo when I see him or Big Country as other people call him and maybe I will throw in a T-Mo for you!

MicheleS said...

SonnyG10.. Saw that with Trent as well. That windmill is going to kill his shoulder. Hope ices it after the games.

Also, now re-watching the HROD inning. At least I can watch this time with my eyes open

Doc said...

Oh Jeez, I'm rootin' for the Philthies in this one with the Braves! What a revoltin' development!!!

Time for uuuus to beat the Braves and anyone else beat the Philthies at the same time!

NatsLady said...

Batters faced: Rodriguez, H 3, Clippard 3, Stammen 3.

I this this stat.

Gonat said...

Just noticed Chase wrote this. Home Run Chase!

D'Gourds said...

has MASN Gotten Rid Of Sideline Bimbo akra? I Notice Carpenter And Fp Interview the game's Mvp After The Game. Now They Should Get Rid Of Johnny Holliday. Gosh, He's awful.

MicheleS said...

DGourds. Kristina is in the big time now.She is on MLB Network. She was fun and will be missed.

Candide said...

D'Gourds,I Want To Thank You For Introducing Me to your Heretofore Unknown Rules For Capitalizing. i Used To Think Capitals Were Only for The First Letter of The First Word In A Sentence, as Well as For Proper Nouns. but You have Introduced Me To A Whole New World. Thanks!

gyFNG!!!

Joe Seamhead said...

Personally, I never would have put Kristina Akra and "bimbo" in the same sentence. I agree with MicheleS that she was fun, and I will add articulate, and she will be missed. Whatever. To each their own.

D'Gourds said...

She Was Cute, But Was Clueless About Baseball. Her Typical Question Was "When You Hit That Home how Did You feel?" But I Will Give Her This, She Was Better Than Debbie Taylor.

Joe Seamhead said...

[Candide, feel free to correct my punctuation].

Dave said...

Candide, that was laugh-out-loud funny.

I Mean, It Was Laugh-Out-Loud Funny.

Section 222 said...

LOL Candide!

Dave said...

Apparently, MLB Network Disagrees With D'Gourds.

Gonat said...

I noticed Ryan Zimmerman was back to sliding in feet first today.

D'Gourds said...

You're Welcome Candide! You Can Actually Thank My Phone Which Does It On Its Own!
Btw , I'll Refer To Johnny Holliday As A Bimbo Also! Maybe Bozo? He Has Got To Go! The Worst Is When Carp Takes A Break And He Fills In Doing Play By Play.

D'Gourds said...

Would Ms. Akra Have Landed That Gig On Mlb If She Looked Like Hillary Clinton? Don't Think So.

Candide said...

D'Gourds, your phone is a dumbass. This was sent from my phone, FWIW.

D'Gourds said...

Yeah, I know--It Is!

sjm308 said...

woops - lower case "know" in his last post.

someone might not be telling the truth (wanted to use all caps but my computer won't let me)

D'Gourds said...

Would I Lie About SomethinG Like That? Come On Sjm! The Phone Is A Dumbass, Plain And Simple. Night Guys And Gals.

sjm308 said...

Too funny but that "know" is there.

By the way - trying to put an end to best Centerfielder - He only played 3 years in Centerfield but Sam Rice ended up in the Hall of Fame so he gets my vote.

Section 222 said...

Sole possession baby. Sole possession. Last year, the first time we were in sole possession was April 12, after game #7. We were there or tied until May 13, when they fell into 2nd. We got the lead back on May 22, were tied on June 3, and back in the lead for good on June 5.

Wire to wire this year?

Joe Seamhead said...

I doubt the wire to wire. The Braves are for real. So is our schedule outside of the division. I'd love to see it though. Easier on my nerves!

baseballswami said...

In my dreams, Joe, in my dreams.

Joe Seamhead said...

BTW, regarding the ceremonial first pitch for the [new] Nats very first game in Philly by Del Unser in 2005:
http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20050404&content_id=999169&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb
I always thought it kind of stunk that the Nats had to start their new franchise on the road.

Section 222 said...

Hey, what happened to The Baseball Show? I thought it was every Thursday night at 11 pm. Cancelled after one episode?

baseballswami said...

Starting late tonight.

baseballswami said...

National League East lesson after three games. The Braves can really hit and score some runs, however they can also be silenced. The Phils still have some pitching, but their team is inconsistent one through nine.

Drew said...

You know the rout is on in Syracuse when Danny Rosenbaum pinch hits, walks, scores a run and does not pitch.

Chiefs take the opener 11-2.

baseballswami said...

Anyone awake? Waiting for the grown up kid to arrive from out of state in this stinky weather. Talking baseball sure does pass the time.

Drew said...

Safe travels to your guk, Swami.

baseballswami said...

Thanks. At least I can bask in the highlights of a good three days of baseball. Even the caps and our two minor league teams won.

SonnyG10 said...

Just one last check-in Swami, but my eyelids are drooping. Must sign off and hit the sack.

baseballswami said...

Thanks, guys. Kid and dog arrived in one piece. Unfortunately for me, alarm goes off in a few hours.

320R2S15 said...

Hey, I saw Del Unser play, he was pretty good, but he was no Denard Span.

sjm308 said...

Good Morning All:

Hope Peric doesn't read Boswell this morning, he will definitely be off his list of favorite baseball writers as he discusses the pluses of adding Span and losing Morse.

This CF thing got me interested enough to go back through the teams I rooted for. Man! were we horrible in CF!!! The few that even deserve mention are as follows: Jim Busby in the early 50's was capable if nothing else - Albie Pearson won Rookie of the Year in CF in 58 but was 5'6" and was moved to a corner spot in 59 for Bob Allison who also won Rookie of the Year in CF. Great trivia question. Back to Back ROY same team, same position and to make it an even better triva question, the Giants did the same thing in the same years with Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey at first base. OK back to CF for our Washington Senators. Allison was moved to RF and the damn team moved to Minnesota!!
Our expansion team got the old and damaged Jimmy Piersal and Will Tasby. Don Lock played for several years and was not horrible and he was followed by Del Unser until 1971 when POOF - no more baseball in DC.

OK, very long way of saying once again. Span is the finest CF to play in Washington DC

Putting all this at the end of a post is probably for the best.

Go Nats

320R2S15 said...

The late Curt Flood might have had something to say about this..

Joe Seamhead said...

Hey, I'm not anointing Span the best Washington CF of all time, but I do think it's hard to argue that he isn't the best since baseball returned in 2005.

Faraz Shaikh said...

I don't know about finest CF ever but yes, he is clearly better than we have seen in recent times.

Doc said...

Question brought up by Farid and NJ on the status of Werth's left wrist.

In a past interview a few months ago, Werth quoted his surgeon/treating physician as stating that the wrist doesn't gain its' full strength for up to 18 months.

Presumably, the 18 months is a rough clinical average. Someone like Werth, who works out regualarly, may be able to reduce the 18 months to a period of time that reflects the bomb that he hit last night.

GooooooooooooooooooNats!!!

NatsJack in Florida said...

434' home run on a cold day says something about his wrist, don't ya think?

Joe Seamhead said...

Hey, Jack, check it out, Werth's walk up got a USA Today plug:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/gameon/2013/04/04/jayson-werth-at-bat-song-is-about-werewolves/2053021/

MicheleS said...

Got a chuckle out of Kilgores gamer when Werth referred to Haper as the "Little guy"

Doc said...

Correctomundo NJ!

Cold, beginning of the season, and 434 feet of raw left wrist energy!!!! LOL

sjm308 said...

I left out Flood but like Piersal,his better days had past - on to a new post

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