April 2013

Will the Nats Heat Up in Hot-lanta?

The Nats just completed a 4-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park and completed this homestand in which they faced difficult opponents from the NL Central, the Cardinals and the Reds.  They don’t play the Reds again this season.  The Nationals won the season series 4 games to 3.
 I was at Sunday’s Nats-Reds game, the only game they lost in the home series against the Reds. If you missed the game, here are some highlights:

  •  The Nats threatened a few times but couldn’t take the win. They stranded bases loaded in the 4th with back-to-back Ks by Desmond and LaRoche  LaRoche extended his hitting slump to 0-for-Jersey Number.
  • In the 5th, Anthony Rendon was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first on a hit by Denard Span.  He hesitated rounding second and probably should have held a third.
  • In the 7th, Kurt Suzuki laced a double down the left field line that scored Ian Desmond.  This time Rendon stayed at third due to a laser shot on the relay from Xavier Paul to Todd Frazier. 
  • The next inning, Ian Desmond took a Jonathan Broxton pitch high to the center fielder Shin-Soo Choo. Choo tried to make a diving basket catch, but the ball dropped. It probably will not surprise you if I told you that Bryce Harper scored from 1st on that play.
  • Henry Rodriguez came on in the 8th for the Nats.  He got the first out but then walked the bases loaded.  One pitch hit the backstop and ricocheted back and almost hit Rodriguez on the mound.  Wow!
  • Aroldis Chapman was able to get Denard Span out to finish up the game. Span did have another amazing catch at the wall in the 4th.  The Reds defeated the Nats, 5-2. 

Now, the Nats head south to take on the NL East Divison rivals.  The Braves just got swept by the Detroit Tigers in interleague play.  They are on the kind of slump the Nationals were in when they last played each other about 2 weeks ago.

As the team plane travels to Hartsfield-Jackson, the Nationals need to find “The Upton Strategy.” And out of our luck, Mike Rizzo was once the General Manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Justin Upton’s former team. That means he could help us win.

The Braves haven’t seen the reinvented Jordan Zimmermann, the 4-1 Zimmermann, and Dan Haren, the 1-3 Haren. The Nats haven’t seen Julio Teheran, the 1-0 Teheran, and Kris Medlen, the 1-3 Medlen.

If Justin or B.J. Upton hits a home run, the Braves usually win. If Bryce Harper hits a home run, the Nats usually win. If Paul Maholm pitches, the Braves are awesome. If Jordan Zimmermann pitches, the Nats are awesome. Wednesday will be a good game because Jordan Zimmermann is up on the hill against Paul Maholm. LaRoche needs to break his slump. Wilson Ramos will be off the 15-day Disabled List.

The Nationals bats, which have been sleepy most of April, stopped hibernation in the first three games against the Reds. That only seemed to last three days, though. As the team goes down to Georgia, will their bats heat up in Hot-Lanta? I just hope LaRoche’s offense wakes up soon.  He used to play for the Braves, so maybe he’ll feel comfortable there and start hitting the ball.

Tonight’s Game: NATIONALS @ BRAVES at TURNER FIELD

STEPHEN STRASBURG (1-4, 3.16 ERA) VS. JULIO TEHERAN (1-0, 5.48 ERA) 


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My Experience Watching BP From the Field

On Monday, I went to Nats Park to see the Nationals take on the Cardinals for the first time since October 2012.  Before the game, I went on the field for Batting Practice. I went on the field with our Season Ticket Rep, George Stone.  This is the first year my family bought season tickets, and I think we should buy tickets from George again next year because this was the best experience ever.

Desi wearing Matt’s Bats shirt on MASN post-game show

As soon as I walked on the field, I said hi to Ian Desmond.  He was standing next to Kurt Suzuki waiting to take batting practice.  He said, “Hey Matt’s Bats!”  I said thanks for wearing my shirt on TV. 

He said “it’s a pleasure.”

Then I saw F.P. Santangelo and he came over to talk to us.  He was wearing a suit, not a sweater vest.  I talked to him a little bit, but I was distracted by watching batting practice.

I met Dave Jageler, too.  I told him about my blog and that I am on Twitter.  He took out his iPhone and said he would follow me on Twitter.  I didn’t know that he had Twitter, but I followed him back.  He only had 13 followers then, but later I sent out a tweet that people should #FF him.

He tweeted back to me.

Then lots of people started following him.  Now he has over 500 followers!  I bet he freaked out the same way I did when Fake FP #FF’d me.

I met and got autographs from Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Steve Lombardozzi, and Gio Gonzalez. I told Desi that I was getting his autograph on a ball for my friend Meggie.  It was so fun!  Most journalists aren’t allowed to get autographs, but I am just a kid and not a professional journalist.  But if anyone from the Nationals wants to give me a press pass, then I will definitely take it!!!!

I told Lombo that I am friends with his girlfriend Brooke on Twitter.  He said, “Aren’t you a little young to be tweeting to Brooke?”  It’s true that I am young to be on Twitter, but I only go on with my parents watching.

I got Bryce to sign my Sports Illustrated with him on the cover.

I also met Mike Rizzo, Johnny Holliday, and Dan Hellie.

Johnny Holliday and me

Me and Dan Hellie from NBC4

I waved to Davey Johnson

I said “Good luck, Rendon” to Anthony Rendon right before his major league home debut.  We started calling him”TONY RENDONY.”

It was an awesome experience, even though we lost the game 3-2.  I’ll be back Sunday to watch them take on the Reds.

TODAY: NATIONALS VS. CARDINALS

JAIME GARCIA (1-1, 3.22 ERA) VS. STEPHEN STRASBURG (1-3, 2.96 ERA)
HASHTAG: #GOYARDONTHECARDS (courtesy of @NorthCaroliNats)


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Big Fun at the Big Train Celebrity Softball Classic

BETHESDA, MD– As the sun set on Saturday, the wind brought chills to all the fans who packed Shirley Povich Field at Cabin John Regional Park. Still, fans kept their eyes on the field as the 2013 Bethesda Big Train Celebrity Softball Classic began. The yells and the cheers from the fans around echoed off the field to the ice rink across the parking lot. Even though the 50 degree temperatures and wind made it feel like a little like springtime in northern Saskatchewan rather than Washington, DC, no one in the whole entire crowd cared because they were having fun watching baseball and raising money for charity.

The Big Train Celebrity Classic, which is in its 2nd year, benefits a charity that fixes and rebuilds baseball fields in the DC area.  This year, a team of 17 professional athletes took on a team of 16 media personalities.  The athletes team included Redskins players such as Chris Cooley, Kai Forbath, Lorenzo Alexander and Ryan Kerrigan; Baltimore Charm quarterback Angela Rypien; Byron Mouton from University of Maryland’s 2002 national champion basketball team, and others.  The media team included Doug Kammerer, NBC4 weatherman; Mike Wise from the Washington Post; Grant Paulsen and a bunch of his co-workers from 106.7 the Fan, and others, like Adam Bradley from Ball Hogs Radio.  

Assistant General Manager of Bethesda Big Train Bart Lambergman expected near 1,000 people, but actually thinks they surpassed that on gameday.  “Every seat is taken and we’re at standing room, so we are very pleased with the crowd,” Lambergman said.  The event raised “a sufficient amount of money” for Big Train’s charity, but they haven’t yet totaled up the money from sponsorships and ticket sales.

Lorenzo Alexander

Former Redskins, now Arizona Cardinals, linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who was playing for the second year in a row, said he decided to play in the game because it is “for a great cause.  I’m here to help them raise money, using my platform and the things I’ve been blessed with just to help people have some things.”

NBC4 meteorologist Doug Kammerer, who played RF in college and SS in high school, agreed.  “It’s a great opportunity to get together with a bunch of the Redskins and bunch of the other media and raise money for a good charity.”

Doug Kammerer

Looking at the lineups, you would think the athletes would have an easy time with the media team.  Lorenzo Alexander said, “of course we had an advantage!  We’re professional athletes or people who played in college.  Most of those people sit behind a desk all the time.  They’re somewhat athletic but not up to par.”  His teammate Ladell Betts laughed and said “it’s all in fun.  We’re all out there having fun and trying to have a good time.” Chris Cooley, Redskins tight end, agreed, “I would have been disappointed if we didn’t beat the media.  With all the good athletes on the team, we definitely had the advantage.”

The athletes did get off to a good start. They scored three early runs in the second and third innings.

Then, Kevin Shafer of the Kevin and Rock Show on 106.7 the Fan, playing for the media team, stepped up to the plate with fellow broadcaster Rocky Parrish on base. Shafer pounced on the ball and hit it over the fence in center for 2 runs. This was the only home run of the night, and hit by a media guy, not an athlete.  The fences were brought in for the softball game, but it was the only home run.  That made the game 3-2.

Grant Paulsen

The athletes really broke it open in the sixth, scoring another several runs.  Byron Mouton ended the night 2-for-2 with 2 ground rule doubles.  Grant Paulsen of the media team later named him the MVP of the game in my post-game interview with him.  He also liked the performance of Comcast Sportsnet host Chick Hernandez on the media team who “was playing very well in the outfield.  He tracked a couple balls down that I didn’t think he would get to.”  Hernandez also did a somersault as he was running down the first base line on a ball he hit foul.

The game ended with a final score of 10-3 in favor of the athletes.  Paulsen flew out to center to end the game, but nobody was disappointed because it was all just a friendly game.

Fans also enjoyed the game.  I talked to Paige Hicks from Ohio and her friend Eric Meleney from Rockville, who came out to root for the athletes.  After the game, all the fans were invited onto the field to meet the players and get autographs.  Lots of kids were also playing on the outfield grass and running the bases.

Chris Cooley

After the game I interviewed a bunch of the players.  I asked almost everyone which MLB players they tried to play like in the game.  A lot of people, of course, said Bryce Harper, including Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.  But Kerrigan laughed and said that he only grounded at twice in the game.

Doug Kammerer tried to play like his childhood baseball hero Cal Ripken, Jr.  Kai Forbath, the Redskins kicker, tried to play like Giancarlo Stanton, who he called “Mike” Stanton, because he knew Stanton from when they went to high school together in Los Angeles.  Chris Cooley said that he tried to “hit it hard like Chipper Jones.  And if it goes over the fence, well then it sometimes it goes over the fence.”

It was so fun covering the game and I thank the Big Train organization for giving me a press credential for the night. I hope I can do it next year, too! For anyone who wants to learn more about the Big Train or the Celebrity Classic, go to www.bigtrain.org. The Big Train plays in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League (college summer league baseball in the DC-Baltimore area).  They also have camps in the summer for kids.


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That Ball Is Gone!

Home runs were flying out of ballparks on Thursday. There were 32 home runs on Thursday.  There were only 11 games played.  If the Nationals were playing yesterday, there would have been even more home runs.

Put that in your note book. You may never see that many again!  It surely was a day of homers.

The only games that did not feature homers were the Chicago White Sox @ Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers @ Seattle Mariners.  I bet if Michael Morse were in the game, he would have hit one for the Mariners.

The most exciting home run yesterday was hit by Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters.  He hit a walkoff grand salami to push the O’s by the Rays, 10-6.

In fact, the “Catchers Brigade” was hitting across the MLB yesterday. Catchers on all teams were hitting well.  Lots of doubles. MANY doubles. MORE RBI doubles.

The offense in the MLB on Thursday was certainly stellar.  But if you like the long ball, you were in for a treat on Thursday.  Here’s a list of all of them that were hit.

Tampa Bay @ Baltimore

Desmond Jennings (TBR) (OF)

Evan Longoria (TBR) (3B)

Noland Reimold (BAL) (OF)

Jose Molina (TBR) (C)

Steve Pearce (BAL) (DH)

James Loney (TBR) (1B)

Matt Wieters (BAL) (Walkoff grand slam in 12th) (C)

San Francisco @ Milwaukee

Ryan Braun (MIL) (OF)

Yovani Gallardo (MIL) (P)– Yes, even the pitchers were hitting home runs!

Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) (C)

Brandon Crawford (SFG) (INF)

Texas @ Chicago NL

Anthony Rizzo (CHC) (1B)

Alfonso Soriano (CHC) (OF)

Ian Kinsler (TEX) (2B)

Nelson Cruz (TEX) (OF)

New York NL @ Colorado

Josh Rutledge (COL) (2B)

Dexter Fowler (COL) (OF)

Troy Tulowitski (COL) (SS)

Arizona @ New York AL

Didi Gregorius (ARZ) (SS)

Martin Prado (ARZ) (3B)

Robinson Cano (NYY) (2B)

Francisco Cervelli (NYY) (C)

Atlanta @ Pittsburgh

B.J. Upton (ATL) (OF)– Another lead-off homer for B.J. Upton!

Russell Martin (PIT) (C)

Chris Johnson (ATL) (1B)

Pedro Alvarez (PIT) (3B)

Justin Upton (ATL) (OF)

Evan Gattis (ATL) (PH)– Another Gattis home run off the bench.  He’s really cleaning up!

Boston @ Cleveland

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (BOS) (C)

Saint Louis @ Philadelphia

Carlos Beltran (STL) (OF)

Miami @ Cincinnati— Small ball park, what do you expect?

Justin Ruggiano (MIA) (OF)

Todd Frazier (CIN) (3B)

* * * *


The next Nationals game is tonight versus the Mets.  It’s a good match-up, Stephen Strasburg versus the new phenom Matt Harvey.  Watch F.P. and Bob tonight!

NATS @ METS: 7:10 PM
MATT HARVEY VS. STEPHEN STRASBURG 
CITI FIELD, FLUSHING, QUEENS, NY
USE HASHTAG #UPSETTHEMETS


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Nats News 04-17-2013

The Nationals traveled to Miami this week to take on the Marlins for the second time this year.  The Nats won the first and third games in the series, but lost the second one.  Washington pulled off some awesome things in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory that made big differences.

The reason Bryce Harper and Denard Span sat out Tuesday’s 8-2 loss to Miami was because they had the flu. But Bryce was back on Wednesday. Bryce actually vomited in the 2nd inning, but still went 4-5. He still played after that, which I love. Bryce inspires me to be tough and hustle when I play baseball. Denard should be back during the New York series.

 

After being hit by a pitch in Sunday’s 9-0 loss to Atlanta, Nats 2B Danny Espinosa will be back on Friday against the Mets, according to Davey Johnson. Utility Player Steve Lombardozzi, Jr., has been subbing for Espinosa and he has been doing a fantastic job. He has had some clutch hits against the Fish. Lombo is great to have on the team because he can fill in at almost any position and he is great.


Pitcher Ross Detwiler is the 6th best pitcher in the MLB with a 1-0 record (because of some problems with the bullpen) and only a 0.90 Earned Run Average. There was a play at the plate yesterday that the ump got wrong and if he were called out that would have lowered his ERA more.  He won his first game last night because the bullpen took over the rest of the game and shut the door.

As I said on FOX 5 on my interview last Saturday, my biggest 2013 surprise was that the Nats catchers, Kurt Suzuki and Wilson Ramos, were really producing at the plate. The Marlins game last night was a good example: Kurt Suzuki hit a home run and a triple.  His defense was great too.  He clearly tagged Chris Vailaika out at the plate, when he was called safe, he argued to the home plate ump.

The Nats have an off day as they travel to New York to take on the Mets this weekend.  I hope that Bryce and Denard don’t get everybody sick.

The Braves lost to the Royals 1-0, so their winning streak is over.  So now is the time for the Nats to gain some ground.  The Nationals come home to face some tough competitors. I am going to the Nats-Cards game on Monday. When Pete K _ _ _ _  is announced, I will boo as loud as I can!

Next game is Friday:
NATS @ METS: 7:10 PM
MATT HARVEY VS. STEPHEN STRASBURG 
CITI FIELD, FLUSHING, QUEENS, NY


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A Friday In Baseball

The Nationals take on Tim Hudson and the Braves today at Nationals Park.  The game will be shown on FOX starting at about 1:00.  But when it’s over, DON’T TURN OFF THE TV.  I will be on FOX 5’s Post-Game show right after the game at about 4:00 pm. Please watch it!  We taped the interview yesterday.  I talk about the Nats and other interesting stories in baseball.

Last night, the Nationals showed problems with the bullpen.  This is a topic I talked about with Dave Ross in the Fox interview before the game.  Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Craig Stammen all gave up walks and runs, but Detwiler had an amazing game.  In the end, Ramiro Pena hit a 2-run homer in the to push the Braves over the Nationals, 6-4.

Here’s what else happened around the league on Friday night:

  • The Yankees turn a 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple play. Adam Jones made a costly error with the bases loaded. It helped New York beat Baltimore, 5-2.  Check out the amazing triple play.
  • Starlin Castro hits a walk-off double as the Cubs beat the Giants, 4-3. Dioner Navarro, David DeJesus, and Castro all hit homers
  • Nick Swisher hit a walkoff single in the ninth off pitcher Jesse Crain of the White Sox. Cleveland defeated Chicago, 1-0.

  • Brandon Phillips hit 2 homers to keep the Reds alive, but Andrew McCutchen hit a go-ahead homer in the 7th that kept the Pirates lead, 6-5, through the ninth.

  • Chase Utley hit a go-ahead triple in extra innings that gave the Phils the lead. Philadelphia 3, Miami 1.
  •  John Buck doesn’t mind the snow and the 34 degree weather in Minnesota.  He hit a grand slam in the 2nd inning, when the score was already 10-5. The Mets routed the Twins, 16-5.

  • The Blue Jays beat the Royals, 8-4, but lost Jose Reyes to an injury when sliding into 2nd base.  Reyes will be out for a while.

  • Kyle Lohse comes back to Saint Louis in a gray Milwaukee uniform, but Yadier Molina had 2 RBIs to push the Cards over the Crew, 2-0.

  • Josh Wilson made an amazing turn to Cliff Pennington for the 4-6-3 double play to end it. Patrick Corbin pitched a 3-hitter as the D-Backs defeated the Dodgers, 3-0.

  • Josh Donaldson of the Oakland Athletics hit a solo homer in the 12th to walkoff the Tigers, 3-4.

  • 2 struggling teams faced off in Anaheim, but the Astros beat the Angels, 5-0.  The Angels are World Series contenders on paper but awful on the field.

  • Dexter Fowler and Josh Rutledge hit homers for the Rockies to beat the Padres, 7-5.

  • Two Japanese people, Hisashi Iwakuma and Yu Darvish faced off, but Iwakuma had the better side as the Mariners beat the Rangers, 3-1.


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A Costly Southern California OUCH!

L.A. Dodgers starter Zack Greinke broke his collarbone in Thursday’s game in San Diego. Greinke hit outfielder Carlos Quentin in the shoulder with a pitch, and then Quentin started the bench-clearing brawl. Greinke tried to have a little bit of a WWE fight with Quentin, trying to stop this. But Carlos totally rammed into Greinke, which caused the injury. 

Dodgers Zack Greinke, Matt Kemp and Jerry Hairston, Jr. (the former Nat) were ejected, but Juan Uribe still hit a pinch hit homer to nail the Dodgers’ win 3-2.

Matt Kemp argued with Quentin more after the game in the parking lot.  Things are going to be crazy when they play the Padres again at home on Monday.

Greinke said he didn’t hit Quentin on purpose and there really doesn’t seem to be a reason for him to hit him.  Quentin must have thought Greinke did it on purpose.  Quentin made too huge a deal over it.  Quentin should take a lesson from Bryce and if he’s hit, he should just take his base and try to steal home!

This was only Greinke’s second start in his 6-year $147 million contract.  No one knows yet how long he will be out. Quentin will probably also face punishment from MLB.

NATS NEWS

The Nationals swept the Chicago White Sox this week.  They play their Division rivals the Atlanta Braves starting today.  This is going to be a tough match-up.  Luckily, the Nationals are starting Ross Detwiler against Julio Teheran tonight, Stephen Strasburg against Tim Hudson on Saturday, and Gio Gonzalez a day after his bobblehead promo day against Paul Maholm. 

Highlights from last night’s game: 
BOTTOM 4TH: DAN HAREN HITS DOUBLE. DYLAN AXELROD THROWS WILD PITCH. DAN HAREN SCORES. BRYCE HARPER INTENTIONALLY WALKED. RYAN ZIMMERMAN DOUBLES. JAYSON WERTH AND BRYCE HARPER SCORE. NATS UP 5-3. 

TOP 6TH: ADAM DUNN HITS RBI DOUBLE.  NATS UP 5-4.   

BOTTOM 8TH: BRYCE HARPER HITS BALL OUT TO ALEX RIOS.  DENARD SPAN SCORES.  JAYSON WERTH THROWN OUT AT 3RD.  

TOP 9TH: RAFAEL SORIANO GETS THE BATTER TO WEAKLY GROUND OUT TO THE PITCHER.  NATS WIN 7-4.

FINALLY, today I will be taping a segment with Dave Ross for Fox 5 TV to air on the post-game show after Saturday’s Nationals game.  Watch it!

* * * *


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What Is A Balk?

Yesterday, Washington starter Gio Gonzalez made a costly mistake in the first inning while facing Alexei Ramirez with 2 outs and the bases loaded and a full count.  Home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi called a balk on Gio for making an illegal action while stepping off the rubber.  So, what is a balk?

The balk rule was introduced in 1898. It is meant to prevent the pitcher from confusing the batter or base runners.  The home plate umpire will call a balk if a pitcher does any of the following things:

  • Switching from the windup to the set without touching the rubber
  • While standing on the rubber, he goes into his delivery and does not throw the ball
  • When about to pitch, fails to make a complete stop with hands clasped together
  • Trying to pick a runner off a base with the body of the pitcher towards home plate
  • Throwing a ball to first, with the base vacant
  • Stepping away from the rubber to make a pickoff attempt at first (You are allowed to do it at 2nd and 3rd)
  • Throwing a ball right after receiving the ball from the catcher
  • Dropping a ball while standing on the rubber, with 0, 1, or 2 outs
  • When intentionally walking a batter, delivers a pitch when catcher is out of the catcher’s box with 1 or 2 feet
  • Delays the game for no apparent reason
  • Pitching when not standing towards the batter 
  • Separating his hands on the rubber, not throwing
  • Fakes a pitch with out a ball 
  • Throwing to first when the first baseman is not there

The full rules are in the MLB Rule Book in Sections 4.03, 7.07 and 8.0.  Here is rule 8.01(a) from the official MLB Rule Book on what a pitcher can do from a windup position. And I’ll explain what Gio did wrong.

The Windup Position. The pitcher shall stand facing the batter, his pivot foot in

contact with the pitcher’s plate and the other foot free. From this position any natu-
ral movement associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to
the pitch without interruption or alteration. He shall not raise either foot from the
ground, except that in his actual delivery of the ball to the batter, he may take one
step backward, and one step forward with his free foot.
When a pitcher holds the ball with both hands in front of his body, with his pivot
foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate and his other foot free, he will be considered
in the Windup Position.
Rule 8.01(a) Comment: In the Windup Position, a pitcher is permitted to have his “free” foot
on the rubber, in front of the rubber, behind the rubber or off the side of the rubber.
From the Windup Position, the pitcher may:
(1) deliver the ball to the batter, or
(2) step and throw to a base in an attempt to pick-off a runner, or
(3) disengage the rubber (if he does he must drop his hand to his sides).
In disengaging the rubber the pitcher must step off with his pivot foot and not his free foot first. He may not go into a set or stretch position—if he does it is a balk

Gio is a left handed pitcher.  He was pitching from the windup because the bases were loaded.  He stepped off the rubber with his right foot first.  This broke the rule which says that in a windup the pitcher “pitcher must step off with his pivot foot and not his free foot first.

I think this probably the right call by the ump, but it was a bad break for the Nats.  This is kind of a complicated rule and it didn’t look like he was trying to fool the batter.  But when you pitch in the major leagues you should know all the rules and not break them on a dumb mistake.

The penalty for a balk is that all runners advance a base. If there aren’t any runners on base, then there is no penalty.

Yesterday, the White Sox actually had bases loaded with a full count, so when Gio was called for a balk, Jeff Keppinger scored from third. On the next pitch, Ramirez popped out to Denard Span to end the frame for the Sox.  So if Gio did not balk, he would have gotten out of the inning with no runs scoring.  Instead, he ended the first down 1-0.  That was a very important run for the Sox because it ended up being a 1-run game.  The Nats won 8-7, but it could have been 8-6.

In 2012, Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto was the NL leader in balks, as well as the MLB leader. In the AL, Ivan Nova, Clay Buchholtz, Luis Mendoza, Jake Peavy, and Felix Hernandez were tied for 2. For the Nationals, Mike Gonzalez, Gio Gonzalez, Ross Detwiler, and Henry Rodriguez each had one.


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Opening Series Review

This is a recap of the 2013 Opening Series. The Washington Nationals took on the Miami Marlins. There was at least 1 home run hit by a National in each game of the series. For the first 2 games, the Nats made the Marlins the only team in the MLB that hadn’t scored a run.  With the Nationals sweep, the Nats are again, first in the National League East. If they stay in that same position by September 28, 2013, they are heading to the playoffs!!!!!

Opening Day: April 1 (2-0 Nats)
On Opening Day, Bryce Harper was the man. He hit 2 bombs into the right field stands. It sparked the series sweep.  Stephen Strasburg pitched 7 scoreless innings, and he reached high speeds in the upper 90s. Tyler Clippard was on in the 8th inning, giving up a walk, but recovering by getting the next three Marlins out. Rafael Soriano, the new closer, was on in the 9th inning to close out a win by striking out the dangerous Giancarlo Stanton looking.  Check out this post for my full Opening Day recap.

For Miami, Ricky Nolasco pitched six innings, giving up 2 solo home runs to Bryce Harper in his first 2 at bats of the season. In the 8th, Michael Dunn gave up a hit to Denard Span, his first in a Nats uni, with an out already recorded, and Dunn got the next two.  The Marlins, however, were not hitting on Opening Day; three hits for no runs.

Wednesday, April 3 (3-0 Nats)

On a cold and windy night, Gio Gonzalez pitched a scoreless 6 innings for the Nationals, and his curve was amazing. He also recorded his 2nd career HR by hitting one into the 1st row of the left field stands that cleared the flower bed. Go Nats! Ryan Zimmerman also hit a triple.

Nats reliever Ryan Mattheus, pitching in front of his Dad and nephew from California, got an easy 7th, going 1-2-3. Drew Storen also took advantage of the AAA Marlins team playing in DC, and got another 1-2-3. Rafael Soriano struggled a bit in the 9th, giving up a single to Donovan Solano and walking Giancarlo Stanton, but he got Justin Ruggiano to fly out. The Nats won their second-straight, a rare thing for a team to open up with 2 shut outs in a row.  Team ERA of 0.00.
 
Marlins pitcher Kevin Slowey went 6 1/3 for Miami, giving up the homer by Gio Gonzalez. Ryan Webb pitched 1 1/3 with a tough 7th. Espinosa scored on a force out by Denard Span. A.J. Ramos pitched the 8th, giving up a double by Bryce Harper. Bryce came speeding home on Ryan Zimmerman’s single. 

Thursday, April 4 (6-1 Nats)

Jordan Zimmermann had pressure on him to make it 3 in a row.  He pitched 6 innings for the Nats, giving up a homer to Justin Ruggiano. Otherwise, he was amazing. He didn’t get the shutout, but that’s OK.

The highlight of the game was Jayson Werth’s three-run shot over the Marlins bullpen to seal the game.

Everyone held their breath as Henry Rodriguez took the seventh and surprisingly got a 1-2-3 inning. Good Henry showed up!  Tyler Clippard had a 1-2-3 8th, and Craig Stammen got the last few outs and the Nats won again.

Miami’s starter, Wade LeBlanc, went 5 innings and gave up a 2-run double to Ryan Zimmerman. Jon Rauch also gave up a single to the Z-Man, but was scoreless in relief. Mike Dunn came on after Jon Rauch did his time, but Jayson Werth hit it far over the opposing bullpen.

* * *
As I predicted, the Nats easily “Squished the Fish” in a 3 game sweep to start the season.  They travel to Cincinnati to face the Reds on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I predict the Nats will win the weekend games and take the 2 of the 3 games in the series.   

The Nats will “Put the Reds to Bed.”  So, this weekend, use the hash tag #PutTheRedsToBed.


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2013 DC-IBWA Nats Preseason Survey Results

I am a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association: Washington D.C. Chapter (or just DC-IBWA) Last month, they asked members their prediction for the nationals 2013 season.

Here are the questions we were asked and my answers:

1)    Who will lead the Nats in home runs in 2013?

Adam LaRoche

2)   Who will lead the Nats in RBI? 
Ian Desmond
3)   Who will lead the Nats in stolen bases? 
Denard Span
4)  Who will lead the staff in wins?

Gio Gonzalez

5)   Who will make more appearances for the Nats this season: Rafael Soriano, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard or Craig Stammen?

Tyler Clippard

6)   Who will get more at bats for the Nats this season: Kurt Suzuki or Wilson Ramos?

Kurt Suzuki

7)   Which minor leaguer are you most interested in keeping tabs on this season?

Anthony Rendon

8)   Date of Anthony Rendon’s Major League debut?

June– the 14th at Cleveland, to be specific!

9)   How many all-stars will the Nats have? Who?

4, LaRoche, Desmond, Gio, and Harper.

10)  Total wins and what place in the division?

100 wins, first place.

Essay: What should be the single most important development for the Nats this season?

Lots of speedsters in the National League stole bases against Washington in 2012. The pitchers for the Nats need to work on speeding up their delivery, and Suzuki and Ramos need to work on throwing baserunners. However, the high stolen base rate against the Nats last year may have been due to the absence of star catcher Wilson Ramos. Backup catcher Jesus Flores was catcher for most of 2012, and like most other Nats fans, I was disappointed that we didn’t have our main guy.  Runners beware!   You have been Zuked!

Now, check out the full survey results on the DC-IBWA website to see what other Nationals bloggers think.

How do you like my predictions? I compared my results and they are pretty much in the majority!

Let other baseball fans know about my blog (www.mattsbats.com) and Twitter (@MattsBats).  I love getting new followers and RTs.  If you want to receive an email whenever there is a new post you can SUBSCRIBE HERE.