Tag: Matt Thornton

Lucas Duda

Lucas Duda’s last eight hits have been home runs


Update: Well, the streak is over. Duda hit a go-ahead RBI double in the eighth inning against lefty reliever Matt Thornton.

Mets first baseman Lucas Duda is on a home run tear. The slugging lefty drilled solo home runs in each of his first two plate appearances on Saturday night against the Nationals, giving him eight since July 25, a span of seven games and 25 plate appearances. What’s more: all eight of those hits have been home runs.

The rundown:

  • July 25: Duda hit two solo home runs in a 15-2 rout of the Dodgers.
  • July 28: Duda hit a two-run home run off of James Shields in the first inning in an eventual 4-0 win against the Padres.
  • July 29: Duda swatted three solo home runs, providing all of the Mets’ offense in a 7-3 loss to the Padres.
  • August 1: Duda provides both of the Mets’ runs against Nationals starter Joe Ross with two solo home runs.

The game is tied 2-2 after seven innings at the time of this writing.

Duda’s triple-slash line is up to .244/.345/.476. On the season, he’s slugged 20 home runs and knocked in 47 runs. He hit a career-high 30 home runs last season and could be on his way to equaling or surpassing that by season’s end.

Report: Nationals have talked to the Reds about Aroldis Chapman

Aroldis Chapman

The Nationals are set at closer with Drew Storen having a terrific season, but they’re still searching for late-inning bullpen help, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports. Among Nationals relievers who have tossed at least eight innings, only one pitcher — lefty Matt Thornton — has an ERA below 3.70.

Aroldis Chapman is one of the Nationals’ targets, and they’ve reportedly talked to the Reds about a trade, though nothing is close, per Morosi. Chapman has had another terrific year, going 12-for-13 in save situations with a 2.30 ERA and a 45/17 K/BB ratio over 27 1/3 innings. He and Storen would make for a terrifying one-two punch at the back of the bullpen. The Nationals, by the way, finished second in bidding for Chapman back in 2010, as James Wagner of the Washington Post points out.

Xavier Cedeno designated for assignment by the Nationals

Xavier Cedeno Nationals

Nationals manager Matt Williams thought highly enough of reliever Xavier Cedeno to use him in five of the team’s first seven games, but the left-hander struggled and now he’s been designated for assignment.

Cedeno hasn’t logged more than a dozen big-league innings in a season since 2012, but he’s got a 2.83 ERA and 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings in 108 career appearances at Triple-A.

Washington previously traded away left-hander Jerry Blevins to the Mets while keeping Cedeno on the roster, so now the bullpen is down to Matt Thornton as the lone southpaw.

Matt Williams’ must-win strategy could use some work

Division Series - Washington Nationals v San Francisco Giants - Game Four

How do you lose a 3-2 game without ever using either of your two best relievers or the No. 1 starter you designated to the bullpen for the day?

Nationals manager Matt Williams used six pitchers in Tuesday’s Game 4 loss to the Giants. None of them were named Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen or Stephen Strasburg.

Williams made the proper move in taking Gio Gonzalez out for a pinch-hitter after four innings, but that was the only time he showed a real sense of urgency in the game. Gonzalez’s hiccup came in the second inning, when he botched a comebacker and then came momentarily unglued, giving up a pair of unearned runs. He was throwing well afterwards, and he was at just 55 pitches, but trying to score runs was the priority in the top of the fifth.

Williams, though, then decided to turn to his fifth starter, Tanner Roark, in the bottom of the fifth rather than his co-ace in Stephen Strasburg. That started the procession: Roark, Jerry Blevins, Matt Thornton, Aaron Barrett and Rafael Soriano.

RELATED: Sick of seeing Cardinals, Giants in NLCS? Too bad

The biggest mistake in there was letting Thornton, a lefty, face Buster Posey with one on and one out with the score still 2-2 in the seventh. Only after Posey singled did Barrett take over, but a righty should have been in the game already That it was Barrett over Clippard was something of a surprise. Not to take anything away from Barrett, who was excellent as a rookie and has a promising future, but with the score tied in the seventh inning of a must-win game, that situation had Clippard written all over it.

Unfortunately, Barrett walked Hunter Pence to load the bases and threw a wild pitch to allow Joe Panik to score. It was then that something truly bizarre happened: Barrett set up to intentionally walk Pablo Sandoval, airmailed to throw home and would up with an out anyway after making a play on Posey at the plate.

At that point, it seemed like a given that Barrett shouldn’t continue. So it was finally Clippard time, right? Nope. On came exiled closer Rafael Soriano with the dangerous Brandon Belt at the plate. At least that all worked out for Williams — Belt lined out to left and Soriano stayed in to pitch a scoreless eighth — but it was still an awfully dangerous choice in a one-run game.

In the end, the Nationals’ NLDS downfall had much more to do with the offense than Williams’ self-destructive pitching changed. Nine runs in four games — essentially five games, since one was 18 innings — isn’t getting the job done. Of course, the Giants also scored nine runs in the series and they’re moving on. That’s not all due to the skippers, but anyone who voted Williams ahead of Bruce Bochy in the NL Manager of the Year balloting should be hiding their heads in embarrassment right now.

Giants-Nationals NLDS Game 2 headed into the 18th inning

Jordan Zimmermann

The second game of the NLDS between the Giants and the Nationals is now in the 18th inning, becoming the second-longest playoff game in playoff baseball history. Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS between the Astros and Braves, won on a one-out walk-off home run from Chris Burke in the bottom of the 18th, was the only playoff game to go longer.

A long time ago, the game appeared to be in the bag for starter Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals, but the Giants rallied with two outs in the ninth to tie the game at 1-1, and the game has remained scoreless ever since.

Yusmeiro Petit has pitched six shutout innings of relief for the Giants, following scoreless frames from Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, and Santiago Casilla once it got into extra innings.

On the Nats’ side, they got scoreless extra-inning relief from Tyler Clippard, Matt Thornton, Jerry Blevins, Craig Stammen (three innings), Rafael Soriano, and Tanner Roark. Roark is back on the mound for the start of the 18th inning.