Dodgers Series Finale Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: The start of the series finale with the Los Angeles Dodgers was delayed by rain.
The Washington Nationals and Dodgers sat through a three hour and seventeen minute rain delay in the first game of the three-game set in the nation's capital. Today they waited for an hour and forty minutes for a storm to clear out before they could start the third game of three for LA in D.C.
Stephen Strasburg struggled to get outs in a 25-pitch first, surrendering four straight one-out singles that put the Dodgers up 2-0 early in Nationals Park.
Adam LaRoche battled Dodgers' starter Dan Haren for nine pitches in his one-out, two-on at bat in the Nats' first, and LaRoche doubled off the top of the wall in right field to drive in two runs and tie things up at 2-2.
The Nationals loaded the bases with one out in the fifth and took the lead when Wilson Ramos came through with a sac fly to right that brought Denard Span in from third. 3-2 Nats.
Strasburg pitched into the eighth and Jerry Blevins and Tyler Clippard finished off the inning, with the two runners on base when they entered the game stranded.
4. Strasburg vs LA: Both managers who watched Stephen Strasburg's last start, a six-inning outing in Citizens Bank Park, were impressed with what they saw from the Nationals' 25-year-old right-hander. Nats' skipper Matt Williams told reporters he liked the way the '09 no.1 overall pick bounced back from a rough first inning which was extended by an error on a two-out fly to right that Jayson Werth dropped in foul territory. Given a second chance at an RBI opportunity, Marlon Byrd hit a three-run home run out to right field in CBP to give the Phillies an early 3-0 lead. Strasburg threw five scoreless innings after that, however, and the Nationals once again rallied for a win.
"He settled in," Williams said after the game. "Really good changeups. He threw some sliders again tonight to get himself back in the count and then used -- his fastball was really good tonight, 95-96 mph, so he felt good about it."
"He's tough," Phillies' skipper Ryne Sandberg told reporters. "He really went to his changeup. Really gave our left-handers a hard time with his changeup primarily. With the right-handed hitters he went to the breaking pitch and fastballs."
The six innings on the mound in which he allowed just those three unearned runs, left Strasburg with a 3.60 ERA, a 2.58 FIP, four home runs (0.90 HR/9) and 13 walks (2.93 BB/9) allowed and 58 Ks collected (13.05 K/9) in 40 IP so far in 2014.
Strasburg made his eighth start of the season this afternoon in Nats Park, where he faced the Dodgers for the fourth time in his major league career. In the previous three outings, he received no decisions, but put up a 1.42 ERA with one walk (0.47 BB/9) and 19 Ks (9.00 K/9) in 19 IP, over which he held LA's hitters to a combined .206/.239/.265 line.
Once the rain stopped today and the Nationals took the field, Strasburg got right to work but struggled again in the first...
1st: In his first game back off the DL, Wilson Ramos was forced to pop out of his crouch to field a weak bunt by Dee Gordon, who was thrown out at first in the first at bat of the game. Carl Crawford sent a grounder back over the mound and through the middle of the infield for a one-out single. Hanley Ramirez sent a 94 mph 1-1 fastball through the left side of the infield for the second straight ground ball hit. Adrian Gonzalez connected for the third straight single, battling for 10 pitches then singling to right through a screen by the runner and under Adam LaRoche's glove. Crawford scored on the hit and it was 1-0 LA early. Yasiel Puig singled through short for the fourth straight hit and a 2-0 lead. A fly to left from Andre Ethier and a groundout to first by Juan Uribe ended a 28-pitch first inning.
2nd: Given a clean slate after the Nationals tied it up at 2-2 in the home-half of the first, Strasburg got the first out of the second with three pitches on an 0-2 curve to Miguel Olivo. Strasburg wasted an 0-2 curve in the dirt on Haren, but got a groundout to short with a 94 mph 1-2 fastball. Anthony Rendon jumped on a swinging bunt by Dee Gordon and fired to first to end a 10-pitch frame. 35 total for Strasburg after two.
3rd: Carl Crawford popped weakly to short on a 94 mph 1-0 fastball. Hanley Ramirez grounded out to short on an 80 mph 2-2 curve. Adrian Gonzalez K'd swinging through a 95 mph 0-2 fastball to end a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 third that left Stephen Strasburg at 50 pitches overall after three. Eight straight batters set down.
4th: Yasiel Puig was the ninth straight batter set down by Stephen Strasburg after the four straight singles in the first. Andre Ethier broke the streak of retired batters there with an opposite field single to left on a 95 mph 2-2 heater. Juan Uribe sent a 94 mph 1-0 fastball to third in the next at bat, starting an inning-ending 5-4-3. 10-pitch frame, 60 pitches total for Strasburg after four.
5th: Miguel Olivo flew out to right to start the Dodgers' fifth. Dan Haren grounded out to short. 12 of 13 set down. Dee Gordon K'd swinging at an 80 mph 1-2 curve to end a nine-pitch fifth by Strasburg, who was up to 69 pitches, with 13 of the last 14 batters set down and three Ks on the day.
6th: Carl Crawford singled to right on a 93 mph 1-1 fastball from Strasburg. Hanley Ramirez flew out to left on a 2-2 curve. Adrian Gonzalez chased an 87 mph 1-2 change down in the zone that dove away from the left-handed slugger's bat. Yasiel Puig went to a full count and walked in an eight-pitch at bat. Andre Ethier was 1 for 2 when he stepped in with two on and two out, and 1 for 3 when he grounded out to second. 22-pitch inning, 91 pitches overall for Strasburg after six.
7th: Danny Espinosa missed a basket catch on a pop to foul territory in right off Juan Uribe's bat. Uribe grounded out to the mound to end the AB though. A 78 mph 1-2 curve got Miguel Olivo swinging for out no.2 and K no.5. Pinch hitter Justin Turner K'd swinging at a 96 mph 2-2 heater up high to end the Dodgers' seventh after 15 pitches by Strasburg who was up to 6 Ks and 106 pitches.
8th: Dee Gordon bunted his way on to start the Dodgers' eighth on a ball Strasburg couldn't reach and Espinosa couldn't play then stole second base with Hanley Ramirez up at the plate. Carl Crawford lined out to left for out no.1, but a one-out walk to Hanley Ramirez ended Strasburg's outing. Jerry Blevins came on in relief and popped up Adrian Gonzalez for out no.2. Tyler Clippard came on to face Yasiel Puig with two on and two out and got a flyout to center with the first pitch he threw.
• Stephen Strasburg's Line: 7.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 114 P, 77 S, 10/3 GO/FO.
3. Haren's (4-0)? With a 2.3-what ERA?: Through six starts with Washington last season, then-32-year-old right-hander Dan Haren, who signed a 1-year/$13M deal with the Nationals, was (3-3) with a 5.01 ERA over 32 1/3 IP in which he'd allowed 42 H, 22 R, 18 ER, seven home runs (1.95 HR/9) and five walks (1.39 BB/9) while recording 24 Ks (6.68 K/9). Opposing hitters had a combined .311/.350/.519 line against him. He eventually ended up on the DL, and once he returned, the veteran starter put together a strong second half, but when the season ended, the Nats let him walk, without a qualifying offer.
Haren signed a 1-year/$10M deal with the Dodgers this past winter. In six starts before he returned to the nation's capital this afternoon, the now-33-year-old righty was (4-0) with a 2.39 ERA over 37 2/3 IP in which he'd allowed 37 hits, 17 runs, 10 earned, two home runs (0.48 HR/9) and seven walks (1.67 BB/9) while recording 34 Ks (8.12 K/9). Opposing hitters had a combined .252/.290/.381 line against him. He told reporters, including MLB.com's Bill Ladson, before today's start that he's carried the success he had late last season over into 2014.
"'I'm getting much better results,'" Haren said. "' I try to maintain a momentum that I had the last few months of last year that I take into this year.'"
In Nationals Park this afternoon, in a start delayed for two hours and forty minutes by rain, Haren gave up a leadoff single by Denard Span and a one-out double off the Kaiser Permante® sign in left-center by Jayson Werth that put runners on first and third in front of Adam LaRoche, who doubled off the very top of the right field fence to drive two runs in and tie things up at 2-2. Wilson Ramos, in his first at bat off the DL, took the first pitch he saw to left for the second straight double. Ian Desmond walked to load the bases for Danny Espinosa, who K'd swinging through a high fastball. Kevin Frandsen's popout to short right ended a 39-pitch inning by Haren.
Haren bounce back with a quick, 12-pitch, 1-2-3 second and he retired the side in order again in an 11-pitch third, leaving him at 62 pitches total after three. Kevin Frandsen singled with two down in the fourth, but a groundout by Stephen Strasburg ended a nine-pitch frame. 71 pitches overall.
A leadoff single by Denard Span and a one-out hit by Jayson Werth put runners on the corners with one down in the Nats' fifth. A wild pitch to Adam LaRoche allowed Werth to move into scoring position and LaRoche walked to bring Wilson Ramos up with the bases loaded. Home plate ump James Hoye gifted Haren a 1-1 strike, but Ramos battled and flew out to Yasiel Puig in right, deep enough to score Span from third for a 3-2 lead after five.
Haren was up to 102 pitches after he retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the sixth.
Dan Haren's line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 102 P, 64 S, 5/5 GO/FO.
2. #Hornsup: For the first time since Opening Day in New York's Citi Field, Nationals' catcher Wilson Ramos was penciled into the starting lineup this afternoon. After missing over a month following surgery to remove the broken hamate bone from his left hand, the oft-injured 26-year-old backstop finally returned for the series finale with the Dodgers. Ramos was tested early when Dee Gordon dropped a bunt down in the first at bat of the game, but he came out of the crouch quickly to get that out and then doubled to left field in his first at bat in the bottom of the first inning. #hornsup
Ramos was 1 for 2 after he flew out to right to end the third in his second at bat.
At bat no.3 came with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth. Ramos hit a sac fly to right and it was 3-2 Nationals after five in the series finale.
Ramos came up in the top of the eighth vs Brian Wilson and for the first time I can recall, the stadium announcer prompted the crowd with Phish's Wilson, which the crowd was quick to pick up.
1.The Wrap-Up: Matt Williams brought Stephen Strasburg back out for the eighth even though he was up to 106 pitches after seven. A bunt single by Dee Gordon and a one-out walk ended his outing, however, with Jerry Blevins coming on with two on and one out to face left-handed hitter Adrian Gonzalez. The lefties battled for 10 pitches before popped out to foul territory off third. Tyler Clippard came on to face Yasiel Puig and got out no.3 on a line drive to center that Denard Span caught.
Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano! Nationals' closer Rafael Soriano took the mound in the top of the ninth looking for save no. 7 in seven opportunities and his 25th straight scoreless inning in relief. Andre Ethier grounded out to second. ONE!!! Juan Uribe K'd swinging through a 2-2 cutter. Matt Kemp went down swinging at a 1-2 slider. Ballgame.
Work's done! Untuck that jersey, son!! Nats win, 3-2 final.
Nationals now 19-15