The Nationals said in a press release issued on Friday that they “were not happy with the final product” and will re-issue a Jayson Werth bobblehead during the off-season. The first 25,000 fans to enter Nationals Park on August 30 will be given a voucher for the new bobblehead plus another gift.
Alex Parker of ABC7 has a picture of the first edition:
Dodgers 1, Reds 0: A win for the Dodgers but a costly one as both Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig left with injuries. Gonzalez’s is minor and he says he’ll play tonight. Puig says his hamstring is worse now than his original strain, so it’s not unreasonable to think he’s done for the year. But at least they have Zack Greinke, who tossed seven shutout innings and lowered his ERA to 1.61. If the season ended today that would be the fifth lowest ERA in the live-ball era.
Angels 2, Tigers 0: As everyone expected, a pitchers duel between Matt Shoemaker and Randy Wolf. Shoemaker was scoreless into the eighth, tossing one-hit ball. The game story notes that Shoemaker is from just south of Detroit and he was happy to pitch in front of family and friends. So just like Jerome Bettis. In case you were unaware. Also: the Harbaughs are brothers.
Rangers 4, Blue Jays 1: The Blue Jays are finally cooled off. Yovani Gallardo was scoreless into the sixth and picked up his 100th career win. Delino DeShields walked three times, scored twice and had two hits, including a single on which he totally rounded the bases because Jose Bautista let the ball roll under his glove and all the way to the wall.
Royals 5, Orioles 3: Yordano Ventura struck out 11 in six innings. He’s 5-0 in his last seven starts. Not bad for a guy who was demoted in he middle of the year. The bullpen this time was not as impressive — Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland each got beat up a bit — but K.C. held on. Costly loss for the O’s too, as Adam Jones ran into the wall and had to leave the game. He doesn’t leave games often. I think he once played three innings after a gator bit is dang leg off.
Giants 9, Cubs 1: If you think Ventura was overpowering I’ll raise you a Madison Bumgarner, who struck out 12 in six innings. And he did this:
Also, Kelby Tomlinson hit a grand slam. Which has to be a joke because there is no way someone named Kelby Tomlinson is not a backup quarterback for an SEC team. More of a runner than a thrower, but coach is trying to get him to stay in the pocket more to keep the defense honest.
Nationals 4, Padres 2: Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman homered, and starter Joe Ross allowed only one hit. That’s good! Meanwhile, Yunel Escobar, Michael Taylor and Denard Span are all sidelined by injuries now. That’s bad! So bad it’s inspiring some Nats fans to be less-than-optimistic:
At this point, maybe the Nats should just start losing games on purpose to get better draft picks.
Hard to script this any better if you’re a Mets fan.
Pirates 2, Marlins 1: Gerrit Cole allowed one run into the eighth and the Pirates take three of four. Pedro Alvarez homered and Francisco Cervelli tripled and scored.
Rays 5, Twins 4: The Twins’ six-game winning streak is snapped. Rays relievers Brandon Gomes, Alex Colome and Brad Boxberger combined for four and two-thirds scoreless innings. The Twins fall just behind Texas for the second wild card.
White Sox 4, Mariners 2: Adam Eaton had three hits and scored three runs and Carlos Rodon took a shutout into the seventh. More importantly, the White Sox looked like this:
If Rafael Soriano played for the 1976 White Sox, what would he do to celebrate each save? Tuck IN his shirt?
Cardinals 5, Diamondbacks 3: Seth Maness got came into the game with the bases loaded in the eighth and no one out, the Cardinals clinging to a two run lead. He got two strikeouts and induced a groundout, threat over. The Cards just aren’t fair sometimes.
Denard Span’s return means the Nationals finally have their projected Opening Day lineup
Center fielder Denard Span is off the disabled list after missing the past six weeks with a lower back injury and for the first time all season the Nationals have their planned Opening Day starting lineup available for a game.
Here’s the lineup it took 124 games for the Nationals to have together and healthy:
C – Wilson Ramos
1B – Ryan Zimmerman
2B – Anthony Rendon
3B – Yunel Escobar
SS – Ian Desmond
LF – Jayson Werth
CF – Denard Span
RF – Bryce Harper
That’s a pretty good group, which is a big part of why so many preseason projections had the Nationals running away with the NL East. Instead they’re 62-61 and 5.5 games behind the Mets
Orioles 5, Mets 4: Henry Urrutia with the walkoff bomb to cap a night in which the O’s rallied from 3-1 and 4-3 deficits. It was Urrutia’s first big league homer. A Mets fan caught it and gave it back to him, after which Urrutia said “That’s the best gift for me tonight. Now I can give that baseball to my son.” If this was a bad 1980s action movie the terrorist with whom Urrutia served in special forces back in the day would now kidnap the son, causing Urrutia to go on a rampage after him. In the final battle, Urrutia and the terrorist would exchange some one-liners, the terrorist would say something like “we’re not so different, you and I” and then Urrutia would kill the terrorist with the actual baseball from that homer, and the credits would roll as he hugged his son. Man, they don’t make good movies anymore.
Rangers 7, Mariners 2: Derek Holland came back from four months on the disabled list and allowed two runs while pitching into the seventh inning. Mitch Moreland, Mike Napoli and Elvis Andrus all went deep as the Rangers keep pace with the Angels and Astros in the west and the Angels and Orioles in the wild card race. Still not quite believing the Rangers are in the thick of things, but they are.
Brewers 8, Marlins 7: Remember when I said a week ago or so that the only time I notice Khris Davis is when he hits two homers in a game? It happened again. A two-run shot and a three-run shot for a man with the most specific and odd super power of all the comic book heroes. Not as useless as Aquaman or anything, but still very esoteric as far as these things go.
After the low-budget A’s won 5-4 in 10 innings Tuesday night, they beat baseball’s biggest spender again to win consecutive games following a seven-game skid on a recent road trip through Toronto and Baltimore.
Fun fact: there is basically no correlation between payroll and playoff contention this year, with just as many low budget teams in playoff position as high budget and just as many big spenders near the bottom of league standings as poor sisters. It’s always fun for baseball writers to talk about payrolls, but it’s fair to say that the A’s disappointing season is just as much a function of their bad decisions as their payroll this year. As such, it’d be just as insightful to say the “green-wearing team beat the blue-wearing team” in the above passage.
Padres 3, Braves 2: The Padres complete the three-game sweep of the Braves, for whom San Diego has become a personal hell in recent years. But at least the opposition beating up on my boys looked sharp as hell yesterday:
Phillies 7, Blue Jays 4: Aaron Altherr, which sounds like a name some underaged kid makes up on the spot when questioned by campus security about where he got that beer, homered, doubled and drove in three runs. The real story here, however, is that this was the first Phillies game in nearly a decade and a half in which Chase Utley was not a member of the team. Which is causing some feelings among Phillies fans, you should know:
Pirates 4, Diamondbacks 1: J.A. Happ pitched six shutout innings. Not gonna say there was a lot going on at the trade deadline, but I completely missed that Happ was traded to the Pirates. Hi, I’m Craig Calcaterra, baseball news man.
Red Sox 6, Indians 4: David Ortiz, Travis Shaw, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Ryan Hanigan all homered. It was Dave Dombrowski’s first game as team president following his, I dunno, inauguration, or whatever it was that happened yesterday. As Bradley hit that homer, I assume he was fondly remembering all of the times he flipped peaking outfielders for way better value in trades when he ran the Tigers. I almost feel bad for Dave Stewart, because the odds of him getting fleeced out of a great player when Dombrowski calls him this winter have been taken off the Vegas boards.
Royals 4, Reds 3: Ben Zobrist had four hits. And, for the first time in my baseball-watching life, some dude tried to score from third after the infield fly rule was called. Jason Bourgeois of the Reds, specifically. He was tagged out. What in the heck? Bourgeois was also picked off first base early in the game. Not the best day on the basepaths for him.
Cardinals 4, Giants 3: Yadier Molina hit his 100th career homer to put the Cards over the Giants. He also had an RBI single in the game. I suppose this will cause Cards fans to renew that whole “Molina is better than Posey” argument that always makes me smile. Posey has 99 homers in his career, for what it’s worth. In five fewer seasons.
Tigers 15, Cubs 8: Tigers starter Daniel Norris homered but he also suffered an oblique injury, so a decidedly mixed bag for him last night. A worse bag for Jon Lester, who got pounded by Tigers hitters to the tune of three homers and seven runs in two and two-thirds innings. Nick Castellanos homered twice and drove in five.
Astros 3, Rays 2: Carlos Correa homered and hit a walkoff single in the 13th inning. It’s so cool to watch a star being born. Two straight walkoffs in extra innings for the Astros over the Rays. An .895 OPS and a 20-homer pace for Correa, who will end the season playing in around half of his team’s games. This kid is going to be incredible.
Nationals 4, Rockies 1: As I’ve been watching Nationals fans melt down over the past few weeks, two of their favorite targets have been Stephen Strasburg and Jayson Werth. Here Strasburg pitched seven strong innings and Werth hit a tiebreaking triple in the eighth, so I guess they get a day off of abuse.
Angels 1, White Sox 0: A sixth inning homer from Carlos Perez was all that happened with the bats here. Jered Weaver pitched shutout ball into the seventh. That homer was all that Jeff Samardzija let happen. In light of that, how this game went nearly three hours is a mystery to me, but I guess not everyone is Mark Buehrle.
The Nationals have lost six straight, eight of ten and are now under .500
Back in March the Nationals were everyone’s favorites. They had just signed Max Scherzer to a mega deal which put him alongside Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, and Gio Gonzalez as perhaps the best rotation in baseball. They had a core of guys with both speed and defensive bonafides in Anthony Rendon, Denard Span, Ian Desmond. They had Jayson Werth. They had a healthy Bryce Harper and a healthy Ryan Zimmerman.
They also had, in terms of competition, a Braves team which decided to punt the year and rebuild, a Phillies team which looked like a disaster and Mets and Marlins teams which, while on the upswing, didn’t figure to match the firepower of the Washington Nationals. Simply put, no one in their right mind did anything but pick the Nationals to win the East and win it easily. And they still may win the NL East. There’s a month and a half of baseball to go and anything can happen.
Right now, however, they are looking terrible. They’ve lost six in a row, eight of ten and find themselves at 58-59, four and a half games back of the Mets. Who, by the way, also got swept this weekend, which means the Nats lost a prime opportunity to make up ground. Or, if you’re more of an optimist, saved the Nats from being buried even deeper than they are.
Also, if you’re optimistic, you can say that it was gonna be an ugly road trip to begin with. Yes, they’re 1-6 on the west coast swing and were just shut out for the third time in six games, but those three shutouts came at the hands of Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner, who are probably the three best pitchers in the game. And, after an off-day today, they do get to play the Rockies who are no great shakes. We’ll just forget for a moment that the Nats dropped two of three to the Rockies at home last week.
No matter how you want to spin it, the numbers don’t lie and the numbers are pretty ugly. The Nats are 10-20 since the All-Star break. While four and a half games don’t seem like an insurmountable deficit, it becomes harder and harder the longer time goes on. If the Mets play at their current pace the rest of the way the Nats have to go something like 12-games over .500 for the remainder of the season to beat ’em out. And, because the wild card deficit is so big — nine and a half games — there is no margin for error here. Second place means watching the playoffs from home.
Time to get moving, Nats. You have a lot of expectations to live up to and not a lot of time left to do it.