Tag: Jonathan Papelbon

Washington Nationals' Michael Taylor, right, celebrates with relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon (58), and Jayson Werth, back center, as he comes home for his game-winning three-run homer during the10th inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Washington. The Nationals won 5-2. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Settling the Score: Friday’s results


The Nationals still have a lot of work to do, but they are trying to make things interesting in the National League East.

Michael Taylor slugged a pinch-hit, walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning last night as part of a 5-2 win over the Braves.

The Braves held a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth before Matt den Dekker delivered a game-tying pinch-hit single with two outs against Arodys Vizcaino. After Jonathan Papelbon pitched his second straight scoreless inning, Bryce Harper led off the bottom of the 10th with a walk against Matt Marksberry. Brandon Cunniff entered the game to pitch to Ryan Zimmerman, but gave up a single to move Harper to third. Taylor, who has been dealing with a knee issue over the past two days, then hit for Papelbon and sent everyone home happy.

The Nationals have won three straight games and sit at 69-65 on the year. The Mets lost to the Marlins last night, so Washington is five games back in the NL East with 28 games to play. The two teams will begin a huge three-game series Monday in Washington, D.C., but the Nationals will try to pick up more ground by beating up on the Braves this weekend.

Your Friday box scores and AP recaps:

Diamondbacks 5, Cubs 14

Rays 2, Yankees 5

Orioles 10, Blue Jays 2

Indians 8, Tigers 1

Phillies 5, Red Sox 7

Braves 2, Nationals 5 (10 innings)

Mets 5, Marlins 6 (11 innings)

White Sox 12, Royals 1

Pirates 9, Cardinals 3

Twins 0, Astros 8

Rangers 2, Angels 5

Giants 1, Rockies 2

Mariners 11, Athletics 8

Dodgers 8, Padres 4

Brewers/Reds – postponed

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

Clayton Kershaw

Dodgers 2, Giants 1: Kershaw: Complete game, one earned run, 15 strikeouts. He also got a hit. That’s 251 Ks on the year for Kershaw and he still has five or even possibly six starts left, barring him being skipped a time or two to get ready for the postseason. And given that the Dodgers just swept the Giants and opened up a six and a half game lead in the West, I’d say the postseason looks pretty certain.

Nationals 4, Cardinals 3: Ryan Zimmermann homered twice and the Nationals managed to hold a slim lead in the late innings for once. Max Scherzer struck out 11 but gave up 11 hits while clinging to a 3-2 lead, forcing him out after six innings. Matt Williams decided that, rather than letting a bad reliever blow the save, he’d just let everyone in a Nats uniform pitch. Matt Grace, the third pitcher of the seventh inning, did the save-blowing honors here. allowing an inherited runner to score to tie things up. Williams used four pitchers in the seventh in all. Zimmermann thankfully tied things up with an eighth inning double and in the eighth and ninth Williams went with Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon who did their usual jobs. I shudder to think what Williams might’ve done if he DIDN’T have a lead in the ninth on the road. Maybe have Zimmerman pitch? Could be cool?

Marlins 7, Braves 3: Marlins sweep the Braves, who just lost the last eight games of a nine-game homestand. That’s the longest home losing streak for Atlanta since 1988. Which is wonderful, because the 1988 Braves were the best Braves team ever.

Reds 7, Cubs 4: The Cubs were down by two in the eighth inning when Kris Bryant hit a game-trying home run. Yay! Then, in the ninth, with the score tied, Bryant let a Jay Bruce grounder go through the wickets on what would’ve and should’ve been out number three. That extended the inning and allowed Joey Votto to come to the plate and he promptly hit a three-run homer. Oops! Votto on the season: .316/.457/.567 and 27 homers. He could easily make the list my friends Mike and Bill at the Platoon Advantage did several years ago of The Greatest Individual Seasons on Terrible Teams.

Angels 9, Athletics 4: Albert Pujols had an RBI singe and a two-run homer. The homer was his 35th, giving him 10 35-home run seasons in his first 15 years. Only four guys have done that before. The only other ones: Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt and Alex Rodriguez.

Yankees 13, Red Sox 8: The Yankees scored eight times in the second inning, with homers from Greg Bird, John Ryan Murphy and Carlos Beltran in that inning and added dingers from Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius later in the game. Bird’s homer came off Henry Owens, a lefty, so maybe all that talk about the need to platoon Bird at first base is overstated. Twenty-one runs in this game and it still lasted “only” three and a half hours. Which is something for a Yankees-Red Sox game. Back in the day a 2-1 game with complete games from both starters would push four hours. Viva La Innings Clock.

Mariners 8, Astros 3: Shawn O’Malley had three hits, including a tiebreaking RBI single in a two-run eighth inning. Not bad for his Mariners debut. A Seattle kid, O’Malley said after the game that “my grandpa and father were huge Mariners fans.” Given that I remember when people still invariably referred to the Mariners as “an expansion team,” I find it hard to get my brain around the idea of anyone’s grandfather being a Mariners fan. Of course I’m an old fart, so whatever.

Rangers 4, Padres 3: Mitch doubled in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning, cutting first-place Houston’s lead in the AL West to two games. Which, holy moly, it’s crazy enough that Houston is the team they’re chasing, but the Rangers getting close is just as amazing given what everyone was thinking back in the spring.

Orioles 7, Rays 6: Two homers from Chris Davis including the walkoff bomb in extras. Watch that second one as it enters the stands.

It’s very nice of Davis to wake up that man sleeping in the center field bleachers, no?

Blue Jays 5, Indians 1: R.A. Dickey went the distance, allowing only one run on four hits. In case you were looking for even more data points about how the Blue Jays have surged, how about R.A. Dickey being  7-0 with a 2.78 ERA in the second half?

Mets 9, Phillies 4: Ruben Tejada hit an inside-the-park home run on a ball when outfielder Domonic Brown flipped over the wall down the right field line trying to field it:


Oops. Yoenis Cespedes and rookie Michael Conforto had homers that didn’t make Phillies fielders look silly.

Royals 12, Tigers 1: Yordano Ventura struck out 11 in seven innings and Royals batters formed conga lines around the bases against Tigers pitching. Not long until the Wolverines, Wings and Lions get started, Michigan people. Yes, even the Lions are worth looking forward to this year.

Brewers 9, Pirates 4: The Brewers have been owning the Pirates lately, notching their fifth straight win against them. Jonathan Lucroy drove in three runs. Lucroy has a ten game hitting streak in which he’s 18 for 40 (.450) with three homers and 14 RBI.

Twins 3, White Sox 0: Tommy Milone tossed seven shutout innings and Miguel Sano hit a long homer. As Aaron drooled yesterday, Sano  is hitting .295/.403/.608 with 14 homers, 13 doubles, 33 walks, 41 RBI and 32 runs through 50 games. Extrapolated to 162 games that works out to 45 homers, 42 doubles, 107 walks, and 133 RBIs. And, as we noted the other day, he’s only 22 friggin years old.


Rockies 9, Diamondbacks 4: Two homers for Carlos Gonzalez, including a grand slam and seven driven in. Nolan Arenado also hit a homer. The two of them are tied for the team lead with 33. They’re also the only two reasons to really watch Rockies games.

Quote of the Day: Matt Williams writes his managerial epitaph

Matt Williams

This is a quote from Matt Williams’ appearance on a local radio show this morning. It represents him doubling down on his postgame comments last night regarding his failure to use Jonathan Papelbon on two straight nights when the Nats blew late leads. We talked about all of that this morning, of course. Frankly, I’m amazed that he’s sticking with this mantra:

“He’s our closer,” Matt Williams said Wednesday morning in his weekly spot with “The Junkies” on 106.7 The Fan, speaking of Papelbon, idle the previous two nights. “He’s the one that closes the game.”

It’s less technically accurate but more cosmically accurate to picture Williams repeating that to himself, over and over again, as he walks through his dark, empty house this winter, trying to come to grips with his state of unemployment. The tone and inflection changes each time he repeats it — “He’s OUR closer . . . ” “He’s our CLOSER!” as if they were different arguments in service of a grand point. Every now and again his family members come by and, reassuringly but with great sorrow, say “Yes, Matt. He is our closer . . . now turn on a light and have something to eat. We’re all worried about you.”

Oh well. That quote is served up in Barry Svrluga’s fairly devastating takedown of Williams in the Washington Post. Not devastating in its sharpness, really, but just by virtue of the local press clearly turning on Williams in a city whose press corps doesn’t turn on the local coaches all that often.

Matt Williams puts up another strong performance in his quest to get himself fired

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

It’s like watching a car crash. Wait, that’s not quite right. A car crash happens quickly and, in the moment, there’s a sense that you can’t do anything to stop it, so that’s not it.

This is more like watching someone slowly pedal a tricycle over a cliff. Only you notice them heading toward the edge 200 feet before they get there, you keep yelling at them to stop, at first panicked and then almost amused at just how determined they are to roll over the edge. But they don’t stop so instead of trying to stop them you just sit back and marvel at their suicidal determination. Hey, if they have no sense of urgency or regard for their own well-being, why in the hell should you?

I’m talking about Matt Williams and his performance behind the handlebars of the Radio Flyer that is the 2015 Washington Nationals. Last night he wheeled them and himself ever closer to the edge, wheels squeaking, horn honking and bell ringing. At this rate, we’ll soon see the little orange flag attached to the back flutter and then watch them disappear entirely.

The Nats carried a 5-3 lead into the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals last night. As Williams said after Monday’s late innings loss, the eighth inning belongs to Drew Storen. Except Storen didn’t have anything. He allowed the first two batters to reach, one via a plunking, and then allowed a run to score on his own throwing error. After an intentional walk he induced a double play which scored a run — fair enough tradeoff I suppose — and then got out of the inning. The game was tied 5-5.

In the ninth inning, Matt Williams had a choice. He could go to Jonathan Papelbon, one of the best closers in baseball history and the big piece for which Mike Rizzo traded at the deadline, or he could go with Casey Janssen, who imploded to give up four runs in Monday night’s debacle, throwing 26 pitches. Williams went with Janssen. Who, after getting two outs, gave up a double and a walk, likely due to the fatigue of throwing 45 high-leverage pitches in two nights to that point.

Why not go with Papelbon, either to start the inning or after it was clear that Janssen was tiring? Here’s Williams:

“We want him closing games out, yeah. So we’re down to two guys. We need a one inning guy there because we’re going to have to hit for the pitcher anyway and we’re going to have to go long with Sammy [Solis] in that regard.”

Which is to say that Jonathan Papelbon, as a closer, needs to pitch only with a lead and can never come in a game in the middle of an inning. Never mind that he’s your best relief pitcher and has hardly been used in the second half. Never mind that Janssen authored the previous night’s loss. Never mind that Williams already knew the Mets lost and that this game gave him a GOLDEN opportunity to make up some ground. And never mind that the Cardinals have scored 10 runs in the seventh through ninth innings over the past two nights, with Jonathan Papelbon not once getting into the game.

The book says you don’t use your closer in a tie game on the road, dammit. And that holds even if the alternative is letting a known arsonist into the fireworks shop and asking him to make sure the place is locked up before he leaves.

The result:


Credit to Brandon Moss and the Cardinals, of course. They’re the best team in the game this year and they’re gonna get theirs more often than they don’t. But they didn’t need to get this one. Or the one the night before. Those are games that even the good teams in the Cards’ position lose and even the bad teams in the Nats’ position win more often than not.

The Nats are not a bad team as we tend to think of bad teams. They just have a bad manager. A bad manager who will be looking for a job soon. As soon as early this afternoon if I or anyone with anything approaching a sense of urgency was running the Washington Nationals.

Phillies could keep GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. beyond 2015

Ruben Amaro Jr.

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has been something of a lightning rod in recent years, getting most of the blame for the team’s fall from grace after the 2011 season. There were a number of poor decisions made under his leadership, including the Ryan Howard extension, the Cliff Lee trade to Seattle, separate trades to acquire Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence which depleted the minor league system, as well as some regrettable public comments with which he insulted Ryan Howard, showed he didn’t understand how OPS worked, and denigrated the value of walks.

The Phillies hit rock bottom earlier this year, when manager Ryne Sandberg quit suddenly due to an inability to effectively communicate with his players. Amaro named Pete Mackanin the interim manager, and the team has played much better and players have effusively praised Mackanin. Amaro also oversaw the overhauling of the Phillies’ minor league system, trading Jimmy Rollins during the off-season and executing trades of Jonathan Papelbon, Ben Revere, Cole Hamels, and Chase Utley. The Phillies now arguably have one of the five-best minor league systems in baseball.

And that may be reason enough for the Phillies to bring Amaro back for the 2016 season, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. Amaro’s contract expires after the season, but incoming team president Andy MacPhail — taking over for outgoing president Pat Gillick — may keep Amaro in the GM seat rather than find a new candidate from outside the organization.

Heyman does cite as potential external GM options J.J. Piccolo of the Royals, Matt Klentak of the Angels, and John Barr of the Giants.