With a 9-2 loss to the Dodgers today, victims of a series sweep and losers of six out of their last seven, the Nationals fell to 48-50 in third place in the NL East. Jayson Werth provided all of the offense this afternoon with two solo home runs; the rest of the lineup had just two hits (both singles) in 29 at-bats. Starter Jordan Zimmermann had the worst start of his career, allowing seven runs in two innings of work. As Adam Kilgore put it, “They may now know what the abyss looks like.”
Werth wasn’t willing to be pessimistic.
I think at any moment, this team could take off,” Werth said. “But I’m not going to get into the doom-and-gloom stuff, because we’ve got way too many games to play. I believe in this team. I’ve said it from the beginning. We got a long way to go. We’ll be fine. We’re a good team.”
You can understand Werth’s point of view as well, as he was a member of the 2007 Phillies when they overcome a seven-game deficit with 17 games left to play in the 2007 season to overtake the Mets for the NL East crown. In 2008, the Phillies were 3.5 games behind the Mets with 16 games left and again took home the division title en route to winning the World Series.
Manager Davey Johnson, however, isn’t happy, but appreciate’s Werth’s perspective.
“There’s a good attitude,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “I’m the one that’s frustrated. I’m the one that has trouble sleeping. I feel like we’re going to be fine.”
The Nationals will play a four-game set against the similarly-slumping Pirates. Since the mathematical halfway point of the season, the Buccos are 6-9.
Rangers rookie outfielder Nomar Mazara crushed the longest home run of the season to date, according to Statcast, with a 491-foot shot to the upper deck in right field against the Angels on Wednesday afternoon. With the bases empty and no outs in the second inning, Angels lefty Hector Santiago threw a 1-1 off-speed pitch, which did not fool Mazara in the slightest.
Statcast measured it at 491 feet. Giancarlo Stanton previously had the longest home run at 475 feet off of Hector Neris on May 6. Franklin Gutierrez hit a 491-foot shot on Saturday against Reds pitcher John Lamb.
Mazara entered the afternoon hitting a terrific .317/.364/.483 with seven home runs and 18 RBI in 162 plate appearances.
The Blue Jays announced on Wednesday afternoon that the club has activated second baseman Devon Travis from the disabled list. To create roster space, ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte has been optioned to Triple-A Buffalo.
Travis, 25, last played on July 28 last year. He battled a shoulder injury for which he would undergo season-ending surgery. He burst onto the scene as a productive rookie, batting .304/.361/.498 with eight home runs and 35 RBI in 239 plate appearances before being sidelined.
Thus far, Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney have handled second base for the most part for the Jays. But the club has gotten a meager .585 OPS out of the position, the lowest mark in the league. The return of Travis should be quite a boon. He is batting eighth in Wednesday night’s lineup against the Yankees.
It’s probably not a big shocker that a pitcher is not a big fan of the strike zone being made smaller, but Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals and he tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he is not a fan of the proposed changes to the strike zone we wrote about recently, calling the proposal “a horrible, horrible idea.”
Horrible, he acknowledges, because he’s a pitcher with a vested interest so, yes, let’s give Wainwright credit for self-awareness and for disclosing his self-interest. But he thinks it’s a bad idea for another reason too: more hits will lead to more balls in the gap and thus longer games.
I get the intuitive nature of that — the longer it takes to retire a side the longer games go — but it doesn’t necessarily follow that offense and game times are related in the way Wainwright implies. There was a lot more scoring in the 1990s and early 2000s and games were actually shorter then than now. Partially because of other factors (i.e. there were not quite as many pitching changes and because guys played at a faster clip). Partially, I suspect, because there were fewer strikeouts and strikeouts take a longer time than guys grounding out or having some of those balls in the gap caught on the run by a fast outfielder.
As I said last week, I suspect that we’ll see fewer balls in the gap than Wainwright implies and, rather, a lot more walks as pitchers test umpires to see if they’re really taking away that low strike. In the short term that’ll actually make games longer, though not for the reason Wainwright thinks.
SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo hears from a source that former major leaguer Jonny Gomes has decided to retire from baseball. The 35-year-old spent the 2016 season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Japan Pacific League, but he struggled at the plate, batting .169/.280/.246 in 75 plate appearances. Gomes left the Eagles by mutual consent back on May 11.
Gomes won a championship with the Red Sox in 2013 and the Royals last year. He ends a 13-year major league career having hit .242/333/.436 with 162 home runs in 4,009 trips to the plate.
Gomes was known as a clubhouse leader during his playing career, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up coaching or managing in some capacity in the future.