Posts Tagged ‘Washington Nationals’

We’re three weeks into the NFL season and our pick contest. Schaumburg Stu and Dan the Man tied for the lead in Week 3 at 9-7. Mr. Fantasy came in with a 8-8 record and I was under .500 at 7-9 for the week. For the season Schaumburg Stu has the lead at 29-19. Dan the Man is just one game out of the lead at 28-20. Mr. Fantasy and I are tied and under .500 at 23-25 on the year. Maybe I can get myself over .500 with a good Week 4.

The Houston Texans hold the early lead in the AFC South with a 2-1 record. The Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans are 1-2 with the Jacksonville Jaquars at 0-3. It’s a very winnable for the Texans, but their chances of doing that took a huge blow now that J.J. Watt is going to be out an extended period of time. There are reports that the Texans will place Watt on injured reserve (IR) today. That means Watt won’t be allowed to practice for 6 weeks and won’t be able to return to game action for 8 weeks. If Watt goes on IR the earliest he could return would b November 27th against the San Diego Chargers. As tough as it would be for the Texans to stay in contention with Watt gone 8 weeks there is talk that this injury may keep him out for the rest of the season. There’s a quote from a Texans team source that’s making the rounds saying “I do believe that he will miss the season, but with the new rule this year, if he were ready in December, he could come off IR”. Long shot. Watt missed all of training camp and the preseason after he had surgery for a herniated disk in his back in late July. The 3-time defensive player of the year and 4-time Pro Bowler played part of last season through the injury, before aggravating it late in the offseason. He also had surgery in January to repair five torn core muscles. Watt started all three of the Texans’ regular season games so far this season. Watt has 1 1/2 sacks, 1 tackle and assisted on 7 other tackles. Watt has never missed a regular season game in his 6-year career and when he missed practice on Monday Texans head coach Bill O’Brien called it “a day off”. The Texans did re-sign defensive end Antonio Smith to help in the place of Watt. Now if Brock Osweiler and the offense can step up in Watt’s absence maybe the Texans can compete in the AFC South, but if they can’t handle the extra pressure even if Watt returns in 8 weeks it might be too late for the Texans to get into the playoffs.

The Washington Nationals clinched the National League East division last week and where battling with the Los Angeles Dodgers to see who would host their opening round playoff series. Now the Nationals knew they would face the Dodgers and any other playoff opponent without inured pitcher Steven Strasburg, but in Monday’s 14-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos torn his ACL and is done for the season. Ramos was injured a throw to the plate where he had to jump to make the catch. There was no contact with another players, but when Ramos landed he torn the ACL. Ramos is over shadow in Washington by the Bryce Harper name and the season Daniel Murphy is having, but Ramos was putting up good numbers before he got hurt. Ramos played in 131 games and was hitting .307. Ramos had 22 home runs 80 RBI’s as well as 25 doubles. Now it’s not just the hitting the Nationals will miss. Ramos has caught 1096 1/3rd innings this season for a staff that has an ERA of 3.50. That’s the second best ERA in baseball. When Ramos caught the teams ERA is 3.46.

How will the Nationals replace Ramos. Jose Lobaton is the veteran option Dusty Baker could go with. Lobaton has played in 36 games for the Nationals this season and is hitting .226 with 3 home runs and 6 RBI’s. Washington does have another option in 23-year old rookie Pedro Severino.  Severino has played in 13 games this season and is hitting .333 with 1 home run and 3 RBI’s. I’m sure both catchers will be on the playoff roster, but who’s going to get the at bats. Do you go with the veteran in the playoffs or do you take a shot with a rookie? Will have to wait and see what decision Dusty baker makes.

Now I mentioned Washington was already short handed with Strasburg out due to a strained flexor mass in his pitching elbow. There is a chance that Strasburg could be back before the NLDS, but it looks like they’ll be going into the playoffs without him, at least for the first round. Also added to the injury list is 2015 MVP Bryce Harper. Harper has been banged up all season and is now dealing with a thumb injury. There have also been reports that Harper has been dealing with a shoulder injury all season, but he has denied that. Either way he’s not playing like the MVP he was last season.

Now playoff related with the Ramos injury is the fact that he’s going to be a free agent this off season. He was looking at a pretty good pay day until this injury. now you have to ask yourself; what’s a team going to pay a catcher who’s recovering fro a torn ACL. With this injury happening so late in the season you have to wonder if his recovery will carry over into next season. What kind of a contract will a catcher who’s going to miss the start of the 2017 season get. If Ramos’ rehabilitation takes longer than expected he could be out until the All-Star break. Ramos is 29 and it will be interesting to see if there’s a team out there that’s willing to pay him will he’s doing his rehabilitation.

Have you watched any pre-season NHL yet? They just got the pre-season going this week and I’m going to check out some of the Chicago Blackhawks/Pittsburgh Penguins game tonight. Now with the World Cup of Hockey in the finals there are still a few guys that aren’t with their NHL teams. Since it’s pre-season and there are only 2 more possible games left in the finals those players will be back with their teams soon. Before you know it October 12th will be here and they’ll be dropping the puck in the regular season.

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It seems as though just a short time ago everyone was sold on the Chicago Cubs where easily the best team in baseball. The Cubs have hot there first real rough patch of the season and that seems to have allowed other teams to come back into the conversation. The Cubs still have the best record in the National League at 50-26, but the San Francisco Giants aren’t too far behind at 49-30. It is an even number year, so that makes San Francisco the World Series favorite, doesn’t it?

The Washington Nationals have the third best record in the NL at 46-32. While one of these teams should be the odds on favorite to make it to the World Series out of the NL they all seem to have a common weakness, the bullpen.

The Cubs bullpen issues showed up last night, but they where able to over come them and win the game in extra innings. Hector Rondon entered the game with a 2-0 lead, but allowed the Cincinnati Reds tie it up blowing his 3rd save chance in his last 4 opportunities. While Rondon has had his issues as of late he does still have an 1.65 ERA for the season. While Rondon has stayed healthy and is the only Cubs reliever to record a save, the Giants have had 5 different pitchers pick up at least 1 save.

Santiago Casilla is San Francisco’s closer, but he’s blown 4 saves this season and has missed some time with injuries. Casilla’s ERA is 3.23 and you have to wonder at age 35 if his time is running out as the Giants closer. The Nationals are in full on juggle the end of the game mode as their closer Jonathan Papelbon is current on the disabled list. Papelbon was 16 out of 18 in save chances before getting injured. While Papelbon has been out Shawn Kelly has 3 saves in 4 chances while Yusmeiro Petit and Felipe Rivero have both picked up 1 save in 2 chances while Papelbon has been out. Papelbon started a rehab assignment on Monday and should be back with the Nationals this weekend as long as things go as planned.

With these teams bullpen’s rough shape, are they looking to make a trade?  Any time you talk bullpen everyone goes to the New York Yankees and expect them to deal Andrew Miller and or Aroldis Chapman. Of course with the Yankees in contention for a wild card spot why would they break up their bullpen. So if any of these three teams are looking to make a trade is there a team out there selling?

Now I have started to hear and read that the Oakland A’s may be ready to start making deals. If you’re looking for bullpen help would Ryan Madson be someone your team should take a look at. Madson has converted 15 of 18 save chances and has an ERA of 3.00 and is 3-2 this season. If you’re not interested in Madson should your team or a team take a chance on Sean Doolittle. Doolittle has pretty much miss the last two seasons with injuries, but this season he has converted 4 of 5 save chances and has a 2-2 record with an ERA of 2.93. Both Madson and Doolittle can close or set up; so there’s some versatility for your bullpen. You could give the rebuilding Atlanta Braves a call, but I don’t think they’re going to trade 25-year-old Arodys Vizcaino as he appears to be the closer of the future. The Braves do have Jason Grilli in their bullpen, but do you want your team going that route?  The Minnesota Twins lost their closer Glenn Perkins for the season with an injury; so there probably out for bullpen help.  Jeanmar Gomez has been a surprise at the back-end of games for the Philadelphia Phillies converting 21 of 23 games with an ERA of 3.00 and has a 2-2 record. It’s the first time Gomez has closed on a regular basis; so it would be tough to see a contender going out to get him. Will one of these teams make an early move or will they stand pat and wait to see if the Yankees or another team with some possible bullpen help fall out of contention?

In the American League, the Texas Rangers have really put everyone on notice with the best record in baseball at 51-27. The Baltimore Orioles are 46-30 and where looking like the next best team in the AL until the Cleveland Indians went on an 11 game winning streak to equal the Orioles at 46-30. I wasn’t sold on the Indians at the start of the season.  I wasn’t sure they would hit enough to support the pitching staff they have.  Cleveland has the 14th best team betting average at .260.  They are tied for 12th in home runs with 96 and tied for 2nd in stolen bases with 62.  Don’t forget that the Indians have done this with their best player Michael Brantley playing just 11 games.  

Now the Orioles seem to be doing it with smoke and mirrors on the mound.  Chris Tillman has been very good for them, 10-1 with an  3.52 ERA in 16 starts. Other than Tillman the rotation is a mess.  Ubaldo Jimenez has an 6.63 ERA with a 5-7 record in 15 starts. Kevin Gausman has a solid 3.93 ERA and just had his first solid outing of the season, but has a 1-5 record in 13 starts.  Tyler Wilson has made 12 starts and is 4-5 with a 4.50 ERA.  Yovanni Gallardo has been injured and has made just 6 starts after being signed as a free agent in the off-season.  It’s amazing that Baltimore’s record is what it is when you look at their starting rotation.  

The Rangers are starting to look like the best all around team, but the question with them, can they stay healthy. The everyday line up has stayed healthy and with the addition of Jurickson Profar, they look good.  Starting pitching is where the injury bug has caught the Rangers.  Nine different pitchers have made starts this season. Currently, starters Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Yu Darvish are on the disabled list.  Lewis isn’t scheduled to start throwing for four weeks, while Darvish is scheduled to throw a simulated game today and Holland is supposed to start playing catch today.  

So it seems as every top team has questions.  Can the Indians hit enough to win?  Do the Orioles have enough starting pitching to win?  Can the Rangers stay healthy enough to win? 

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Battle for the Hill

Posted: June 15, 2016 by Sports Time Radio in baseball, fantasy, sports, Sports Time Radio
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Wrapping up the 9 game road trip out East, Jason Hammel seeks to grab his eighth win of the season coming off loss at the hands of the Braves but he is taking on Steven Strasburg who hopes to improve his perfect record to 11-0.   He would not start off in that direction giving up a leadoff to Ben Zobist who lead off due to a day off for Dexter Fowler.  Jason Heyward would send his 11th double of the season to center.  Bryant would strike out for the first out and before Rizzo could strike out to end the inning, Jason would get caught stealing second base.  Hammel gives up a lead off single to Ben Revere but gets the next two batters to ground out but Revere would make it to third.  With Daniel Murphy at the plate, Hammel would throw a wild one scoring Revere.  Murphy would double for the second hit of the inning but Zimmerman would go down swinging.  The second and third innings would see a couple base runners for both teams but no runs would cross the plate.  After 3, we are all tied at 1.

Strasburg would start off the fourth by hitting Kris Bryant but would strikeout the next three batters.  Hammel would make it  quick 1-2-3 inning.  Jason Hammel would get the only hit of the fifth and make it another 1-2-3 bottom half  of the inning.  Strasburg would see his first 1-2-3 inning of the day.  Hammel would follow suit due to an overturned call.  After 6, we are still tied at 1.

The seventh inning would only see a double in the top half by Albert Almora, Jr and a single in the bottom half by Zimmerman.  Both pitchers would come out in the 8th, Felipe Rivero for the Nats and Pedro Strop for the Cubs.  He would get two K’s in the 8th but gives up a solo home run to Stephen Drew.  Nats up 2-1.  Matt Belisle enters the 9th giving up a lead off double to Bryant prompting Dusty Baker to bring in Oliver Perez to give up a two run dinger to Anthony Rizzo.  He would get Fowler to fly out and that would bring Shawn Kelley to come in to end the inning.  Hector Rondon enters the game for the Cubs walking Harper who moves over to second base on Murphy’s ground out.  With two outs Wilson Ramos would single to left scoring Harper.  Rondon would get out of the inning and take us into extra innings.  After 9 we are all tied up at 3.

Shawn Kelly stays in for the 10th getting all three batters out with a walk and a double play.  Justin Grimm enters the 10th getting a ground out and walk to bring in Travis Wood to get Clint Robinson to end the inning with a 1-6-3 double play.  Yusmeiro Petit  enters the 11th only giving up a two out walk to Rizzo.  Travis Wood walks both Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy, despite getting Harper to pop out, he is pulled for Trevor Cahill who ends the inning.  After 11, we are still tied at 3.

The 12th inning, the Nats are sticking with Petit who gives up a lead off single to Almora, strikes out Baez.  With one out and one on, Addison Russell sends a ground ball to center scoring  Almora to put the Cubs up by one in the 12th.  Trevor Cahill still in the game strikes out Rendon, but hits Espinosa who steals second base with Michael Taylor at the plate, who singles to score Espinosa and tie the game at 4.  Maddon would bring in Adam Warren to try and stop the Nats from taking the series and gets the second out of the inning but gives up a walk off single to Jayson Werth to give the Nationals the series.  The Cubs may have lost this series but out of seven games the Cubs took 5 to the Nats 2.

@DanZeeeMan

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Game two at Nationals Park has John Lackey up against the struggling Gio Gonzalez with Lackey looking to secure win number 8. Dexter Fowler would lead off the game with a single to right but is caught up in a double play ball hit by Heyward.  That would be all the action in the first two innings with Lackey having three K’s to Gio’s 1.  

Gio would continue the third with getting the first two outs of the inning but gives up a single to Lackey.   Fowler would smack his 19th double of the year pushing Lackey to third.  Heyward redeems himself with a two RBI double.  A visit to the mound and they decide to walk Bryant but gets Rizzo to strikeout to end the top half.  Lackey gives up a lead off single to Danny Espinosa but strikes out Jose Lobaton.  Then he hits Gio and gives up a single to Ben Revere to load the bases.  Jayson Werth would send a fly ball to right scoring Danny for a sac fly.  Harper walks but Daniel Murphy lines out to end the inning.  Cubs 2, Nats 1 after 3.  

Ben Zobrist leads off with a walk, Baez grounds out to Gio pushing Zo to second.   Zo steals third as Russell reaches by walking.  David Ross singles to center scoring Zo for another run.  Dusty Baker visits Gio again calming him down enough to strike out Lackey and get Fowler to flyout to end the inning.  Cubs up 3-1.  Lackey adds another K in his half of the inning for a 1-2-3.  

Gio gets a quick 1-2-3 fifth.  Lackey tries to follow but puts two men on but gets out of the inning with no runs added.  Gio strikes out the side in the sixth, Lackey only gets two K’s.   

Gio would walk Ross in the top of the seventh and Lackey’s bunt would push him to second prompting a call to the pen for Oliver Perez who shuts down the inning. Lackey gives up a walk by hitting Espinosa who ends up at third on Lobaton’s double to right.  Maddon decides to bring in Pedro strop who gets out of the inning but not before allowing Danny to cross the plate.  After 7 it’s 3-2 Cubs.  

Sammy Solis enters the game and gives up a two out double to Zo but strikes out Baez to end the inning. Travis Wood comes in for the Cubs walking Harper and getting Murphy to line out to bring in Hector Rondon who gives up a single to Ryan Zimmerman, then a sac fly to Rendon who brings in Harper to tie the game.  

With Solis still in for the Nats, he walks Russell to start the 9th who moves to second on Ross’s sac bunt.  Albert Almora, Jr who came into the game when Wood was pulled smacks a sharp liner to left scoring Russell putting the Cubs back up by 1 going into the bottom of the 9th.  Hector Rondon still in also makes it a 1-2-3 bottom half to end the game and add another W for the Cubs.  In what could be a playoff preview the Cubs really have the Nationals number making this a better foreshadow for the Cubs.  

@DanZeeeMan

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The Cubs wrap up their 9 game road trip in starting with game one in Washington with Kyle Hendricks on the mound against Max Scherzer.  Max starts the  game off and takes a perfect game into the top the sixth striking out the side in the first and third innings.  

In the first and second innings, Kyle would give up singles to Ben Revere and Anthony Rendon who would steal second before Danny Espinosa walks.  With one out in the third, Kyle would walk Jayson Werth who scores the first run of the game off Bryce Harper’s line drive to center field.  Nats up 1-0.  

Kyle would get through the fourth and fifth with a runner reaching on an error and another on a walk.  Scherzer starts off the sixth with an out but takes Addison Russell deep into the count and gives up the first hit of the game, a line drive home run just inside the foul pole in left.  Cubs tie the game at 1.  

Kyle gives up a lead off home run to Wilson Ramos.  Rendon would send a line drive to left for a double and would score on Danny Espinosa’s single to left.  He would move to third on Scherzer’s sac bunt.  Justin Grimm enters the game giving up an RBI single to Ben Revere.  He would get the next to batters out but the Nats are up 4-1.  

Scherzer would give up a two double to Rizzo in the top of the seventh but gets Zobrist to pop out to end the inning.  Justin Grimm would get into trouble giving up two singles and then an intentional walk with two outs loads the bases to get to Max but Dusty Baker pinch hits for him but Chris Helsey strikes out to end the inning.  

Oliver Perez enters the game striking out Javier Baez then is replaced by Shawn Kelly who strikes out Ross and Russell.  Clayton Richard comes into the game in the bottom half of the 8th getting the first out but gives up a hit but gets out of the inning.  

The Cubs have one more shot with three outs to get back in this game and pull out a come from behind victory.  Shawn Kelley stays in the game for the save and gets Albert Almora to strike out for the first out.  Fowler sends a line drive to a diving Zimmerman who tosses it a little too high for Kelley out number 2.   Heyward with two outs, strikes out to end the game.   

On another day if Kyle would have given up 4 earned runs, the Cubs offense would have had no problem putting runs on the board but not tonight.  Scherzer, Perez and Kelley would strike out a combined 16 batters out of the 27 outs.  Can’t worry about today, there’s two more games in the series.  

Go Cubs Go!

@DanZeeeMan

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It took 13 innings, but the Chicago Cubs found a way to extend their winning streak to 7 with a 4-3 victory over the Washington Nationals. The win also gives the Cubs a sweep of the 4-game series.

After a Kris Bryant double tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the 7th both teams had opportunities to score, but couldn’t get that hit they needed. Finally with 2 outs in the bottom of the 13th inning Blake Treinen hung a 2-2 slider to Javier Baez and Baez sent the ball into the left center field bleachers for a walk off 4-3 win.

Jake Arrieta started for the Cubs while Tanner Roark was the starter for the Nationals. Both of them where long gone by the time this one ended. While it looked as though the Cubs had an advantage on the mound going into the game it didn’t start that way. Arrieta had one of his worst outing in who knows when. He lasted just 5 innings giving up 3 runs with 2 of then being earned. He also walked 4 while striking out 7 and it took him 100 pitches to get through those 5 innings. Roark lasted 1 inning longer than Arrieta and gave up just 1 unearned run while walking 2 and striking out 7. It was in the hands of the bullpens after that. The Cubs bullpen pitched 8 scoreless innings while the Nationals bullpen went 5 1/3rd scoreless innings before the Baez home run ended that streak and the game. Travis Wood picked up his 1st win of the year and Treinen (2-1) took the loss.

Kris Bryant had 3 hits and 2 RBI’s for the Cubs with 1 of his hits being a double. Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell each had 2 hits for the Cubs. Wilson Ramos and Danny Espinosa each had 3 hits for the Nationals and Ramos also drove in a run while 1 of Espinosa’s hits was a double. Daniel Murphy also added 2 hits with 1 being a double for Washington. Bryce Harper tied a major league record by walking 6 times on a game. Harper had no official at bats in the game as he had the 6 walks and in his other plate appearance he was hit by a pitch.

Washington (19-12) gets t head home after a 10-game road trip. They face the Detroit Tigers tomorrow. The Cubs (24-6) get to stay at the friendly confines as the San Diego Padres come to town to start a 3-game series on Monday.

@Burketime
The Podcast

It was about 25 degrees cooler than yesterday and the wind was blowing straight in at Wrigley Field, but the Cubs and the Nationals still combines to score 13 runs in the Cubs 8-5 victory. It was the 6th win in a row for the Cubs and there 3rd straight over the nationals. The Cubs will go for the sweep of the 4 game series tomorrow afternoon. Lefty Gio Gonzalez got the start for the Nationals and through 5 innings he was able to keep the Cubs in check and the Nationals had a 4-3 lead. Jason Hammel struggled through 5 innings for the Cubs. It took Hammel 97 pitches to get trough those 5 innings and he walked more batters (4) then he struck out (3). Spencer Patton was the first Cubs reliever out of the bullpen, but he couldn’t get anyone out. It was Patton’s first appearance since being called up from Triple-A Iowa. Patton gave up 1 run while walking a batter and not recording an out before Clayton Richard came in to finish off the top of the 6th inning. With the way Gonzalez was pitching it looked like the 2-run lead might be enough for him. After a line out a single and a sacrifice bunt there where 2 outs and a man on 2nd for the Cubs. Jorge Soler singled to right, but 3rd base coach Gary Jones choose not to test the arm of Bryce Harper and the Cubs had runners on 1st and 3rd. Addison Russell singled to make the score 4-3 and end Gonzalez’s day. Blake Treinen walked the only hitter he faced; pinch hitter Tommy LaStella to load the bases. Lefty Sammy Solis was brought in to face left handed pinch hitter Ryan Kalish. Kalish managed a chip shot into short left field that Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa just missed. How ever you want to describe Kalish’s hit it drove in 2 runs and gave the Cubs a short lived 5-4 lead. Travis Wood started the Top of the 7th on the mound for the Cubs, but after giving up a lead off triple t Ben Revere he was removed for Adam Warren. After a strikeout for the 1st out of the inning Harper was intentionally walked and it looked like when Ryan Zimmerman hit a ground ball that Warren would get the Cubs out of the inning. Zimmerman beat the double play throw to first base as Revere scored and the game was tied at 5. In the Bottom of the 7th with 1 out Anthoy Rizzo hit a ground rule double. After and intentional walk to Ben Zobrist Solis was replaced by Shawn Kelley. It was Russell again who came through big for the Cubs. He hit a fly ball down the right field line that looked like it might go foul. Harper moved over to the foul line to try and catch the ball and it went off his glove barely in fair territory for a double. Two runs scored on the play and the Cubs had a 7-5. “Russell’s hit could be described as a Wrigley Field double as it looked as through Harper pulled up a little to not hit the wall. In any other ballpark he would’ve had the room t make the catch and end the inning.   Now the game was in the hands of bullpen combo Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon. Strop pitched the 8th and struck out all 3 Nationals hitters he faced. A Zobrist RBI single in the bottom of the 8th gave Rondon a 3 run cushion for the 9th inning. A Daniel Murphy fly out to left. a strikeout of Revere looking and an Espinosa ground out 3rd to 1st ended the Nationals 9th inning and gave the Cubs their 6th win in a row.

Warren (3 -0) got the win for the Cubs. Strop picked up a hold (7th) and Rondon recorded his 6th save of the season. Solis (0-1) took the loss for the Nationals. Tomorrow it’s Jake Arrieta against Tanner Roark in the series finale.

@Burketime

The Podcast 

There where two pretty interesting series that opened this Labor Day. The New York Mets traveled to Washington to play the Nationals in a 3 game series and in another three game series the Chicago Cubs went on the road to play the St. Louis Cardinals. So far the visiting teams have managed to win the first 2 games in these series with the series finales being Wednesday. No matter what the outcome is in today’s game the Mets will have put some more distance between themselves and the Nationals and while it doesn’t look like the Cubs can catch the Cardinals they have cut into that division lead with this series. Let’s look closer.

This was suppose to be the series where the Nationals showed that they where the team everyone predicted they’d be at the start of the season and eat into that Mets lead in the National League East, but it hasn’t worked that way. The Nationals had Max Schrerzer starting Game 1; who they paid quite a bit of money this off season to win these type of games. Mets starter Jon Niese was giving a 2-run lead in the Top of the 2nd as Michael Conforto (6) and Kelly Johnson (13) both hit solo home runs off Schrerzer.The Mets added a run in the Top of the 4th inning as Yoenis Cespedes 31st home run of the season was upheld on review; 3-0 Mets. In the bottom of the 4th the Nationals got it all back and then some as Wilson Ramos hit a grand slam to give the Nationals a 4-2 lead. Jayson Werth also doubled in a run to give the Nationals a 5-3 lead after 4. Now this is the point where Schrerzer is suppose to take over the game and get his team a big win to start the series, but that didn’t happen. The Mets came back with solo runs in the 5th and 6th innings to tie the game 5-5 . That ended Schrerzer’s night after 102 pitches and he gets a no decision. The Mets took advantage of the Nationals bullpen combination of Blake Treinen, Felipe Rivero, Casey Janssen and Matt Thornton in the top of the 7th for 3 runs to make the score 8-5 which is how it ended. So with their ace on the mound the Nationals where unable to gain any ground in Game 1.

Last night (Tuesday) it was Jordan Zimmerman facing Matt Harvey. Now there have been a lot of talk about Harvey’s what seems to be self imposed innings limit looming. You had to wonder if it would affect him mentally and even though he’ll say it had nothing to do with his performance he went out and had one of his worst outings of the season. Washington jumped on Harvey right away scoring twice in the 1st inning and once in the 2nd. The Mets where able to get a run in the top of the 2nd; so it was 3-1 Nationals after 2 and that’s how it stayed until the bottom of the 6th. Michael Taylor singled to center with the bases loaded and with the help of a Cespedes error all 4 runners scored making it 7-1 Nationals and it looked like the series would be even at a game apiece. Erik Goeddel came in to finish the inning for Harvey who was done after 5 1/3rd and giving up 7 earned runs. Zimmerman was also taken out of the game in the 6th officially pitching 5 2/3rd innings before turning it over to the Nationals bullpen. Treinen started the 7th and he struggled again giving up 3 runs. Rivero relieved him, but couldn’t get anyone out and was charged with 2 runs. Drew Storen was next out of the Nationals bullpen, but the former closer had issues to and walked in the game tying run before getting out of the inning. So it’s 7-7 after 7 innings and Harvey’s teammates got him off the hook. Jonathan Papelbon entered the game in the top of the 8th with the game still tied 7-7. Papelbon got the forst 2 outs of the inning and then it was the pitchers spot due up. Kirk Nieuwenhuis pinch hit for Addison Reed and hit Papelbon’s 2nd pitch of the at bat into the right center field seats to give the Mets an 8-7 lead. Tyler Clippard pitched a 1,2,3 8th and while Jeurys Familia did give up a single and a walk in the bottom of the 9th he was able to close the game out for the Mets and give them a win in the 2nd game of the series.

So it’s Game 3 tonight and it is as close to a must win for Washington as there is in baseball. While a win would help them knock a game off of the Mets 6 game lead in the division just from a mental stand point a win is important. Don’t forget that these two teams end the regular season with a 3 game series in New York October 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Washinton will send Steven Strasburg to the mound to try and avoid the sweep tonight. While Strasburg’s season numbers aren’t great 8-6 with a 4.35 E.R.A. in 18 starts; 4 of his last 5 starts have been very good. While he did struggle in his last outing against the Miami Marlins he’ll need to find that form from those 4 starts before that to get the Nationals a win tonight. The Mets will counter Strasburg with last seasons Rookie of the Year Jacob deGroom on the mound for them. deGroom has been good all season long for the Mets. He’s 12-7 with a 2.40 E.R.A. in 26 starts; so the Nationals have their work cut out for them. Now even if the Mets sweep this series they’re still not home free in the N.L. East, but it would make quite the statement with under 25 games left to go in the season.

The Cubs went into St. Louis in 3rd place and they’ll leave there in 3rd place. Chicago is 6 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the National League Central and while they might be able to pass the Pittsburgh Pirates for that 1st wild card spot it will be very difficult for them to catch St. Louis at the top of the division. What is interesting is how the first 2 games of this series has played out.

Lance Lynn made the start for St. Louis in Game 1. St. Louis has had the best pitching staff in baseball this season, but Lynn lasted just 2 1/3rd innings giving up 6 runs on 7 hits and the Cubs never looked back as they cruised to a 9-0 victory. Overall the Cubs got 12 hits on the night against the Cardinals pitching staff with 4 extra base hits. Dexter Fowler doubled and homered, Addison Russell also homered while Anthony Rizzo doubled. What may be the biggest take away from Game 1 for the Cubs is the fact that Dan Haren pitched 7 scoreless innings. Haren did give up 7 hits while walking 2 and striking out 5 to even his record up at 9-9. Haren hasn’t been sharp for the Cubs since they picked him up from the Miami marlins at the trade deadline; so could this outing turn the corner for Haren?

While the score of Game 2 an 8-5 victory for the Cubs looks like a closer game it really wasn’t. The Cubs had an 8-0 lead before the Cardinals finally got to Jason Hammel and Justin Grimm for 5 runs in the bottom of the 7th to tighten the game up at 8-5. A Cubs bullpen combination of Clayton Richard, Fernando Rodney, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon who picked up his 27th save they ended the Cardinals scoring over the last 2 2/3rd innings to get the Cubs their 2nd win in a row this series. It was another rough outing for a Cardinals top starter as Michael Wacha gave up 6 runs on 6 hits over 4 innings while walking 3 and giving 2 home runs; to Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro.

As the Cubs go for the sweep this afternoon they turn to Jon Lester on the mound to get the job done. While the Cubs have had a very positive season Lester has to be the biggest disappointment in it. Over his 27 starts this season he is 9-10 with an E.R.A. of 3.59. Not the kind of numbers he was expected to out up when he was signed for 6 years and $155 million this past off season. St. Louis will send out Carlos Martinez to try and avoid the sweep. Martinez is 13-7 in 25 starts with a 3.04 E.R.A. It not a must win or anything close to that for the Cardinals, but what a confidence builder this series has to have been for the Cubs. The winner of the wild card game will face St. Louis in the NLDS and if the Cubs can get by the Pirates in that wild card game they’d be hosted by the Cardinals and how nice is it for a young team to go into a place like St. Louis and not just win a series, but sweep it.

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The New York Yankees defeated the Detroit Tigers 7-2 last night in New York. In the bottom of the 1st inning Alex Rodriquez (A-Rod) hit his 13th home run to right center field off of Justin Verlander to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. It was the 667th home run of Rodriguez’s career, but more importantly on this night it was his 3000th career hit. With his home run Rodriguez became the 29th player in Major League Baseball history to reach the 3000 hit milestone. Rodriguez is also the 3rd player who’s 3000th hit was a home run; the other 2 are Wade Boggs and A-Rod’s former teammate Derek Jeter. Rodriguez, who will turn 40 next month and is the first player to reach 3,000 hits since Derek Jeter did in July 2011. Compared to the celebration four years ago for Jeter’s accomplishment, there was noticeably less buildup for Rodriguez’s chase of 3000 hits. Rodriguez’s previous admissions of performance-enhancing drug use and season-long suspension in 2014 created a much different feeling. Four years ago, the Tampa Bay Rays applauded in unison for Jeter’s homer; on Friday, the Tigers mostly declined to acknowledge the moment, though a few opponents did tip their caps. After the game’s final out, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera offered Rodriguez a congratulatory hug. Rodriguez joined Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray and Rafael Palmeiro as the only players to log both 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. Rodriguez, who played seven seasons (1994-2000) in Seattle Mariners and three (2001-03) for the Texas Rangers before collecting 1,465 hits and counting with the Yankees.

Zack Hampie is the fan who caught Rodriguez’s 300th hit and he has told the Yankees that he won’t be giving the ball back. On his Twitter account Hampie posted a picture of the baseball mention that he “Got it authenticated by @MLB” and also said :I’m keeping it”. Hampie elaborated further on why he wouldn’t give the baseball back to Ropdriguez to http://www.NJ.com saying “I think that someone like Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez, who has made half a billion dollars in his career, doesn’t really need a favor from a normal civilian and a fan like me” Hampie went on to say ” I don’t know right now if I’m going to sell it. I mean, depending on what the Yankees could offer, I would consider giving it back. I’m not giving it back for – I don’t plan to give it back for a chance to meet him and fully autographed bats, because I don’t collect bats, I collect baseballs. Just having this baseball is so meaningful to me. I can’t believe that I got it. If you had caught Rodriguez’s 3000th hit; want would you do with the baseball?

Now that Rodriguez has reached the 3000th hit milestone; who’s next on the hit list. Ichiro Suzuki has 2886 career hits; so it looks like he’ll be the next player to get to 3000 hits. After Ichiro it’s Adrian Beltre with 2657 hits, Albert Pujols with 2587 hits, Tori Hunter with 2386 hits and Carlos Beltran rounds out the list with 2373 hits. I would think we’ll see Beltre and Pujols become members of the 3000 hit club before their careers end, but I’m not sure if we’ll see Hunter or Beltran get to 3000. Including Rodriguez these are the Top 6 players in career hits right now; so those 5 players are the closest to 3000 hits.

How do you feel about Rodriguez joining the 3000 hit club? I consider myself a fan of the Seattle Mariners and used to root for him. The Mariners selected Rodriguez with the 1st pick of the 1993 amateur draft. As I mentioned before Rodriguez did miss all of last season because he was suspended for P.E.D. use. While Rodriguez has won a slew of awards and made countless All-Star teams; he’ll also be coming up on 700 home runs very soon. All of these numbers are tainted for me as I always wonder where he’d be if he hadn’t taken P.E.D.’s.

How much more can the Washington Nationals take? Some how the Nationals are just 1/2 game out of the lead in the National League East behind the New York Mets. I’m not sure if any team has had more injuries to key players than the Nationals have. The Nationals season started with Anthony Rendon missing the first 2 plus months of the season along with Jayson Werth missing some time. Denard Span also missed some games at the start of the season. Werth returned played 27 games and then fractured his left wrist and will be out until at least August. While Span has returned to play full time Rendon suffered a set back working his way back and while he has returned he’s been in only 15 games for Washington. 1st baseman Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the 15-day disabled list last week with left foot plantar fasciitis and there is no timetable for hi return. Nate McLouth was going to be the Nationals 4th outfielder, but he hasn’t played a game this season due to injury. McLouth was just moved to the 60-day disabled list as he felt pain in his shoulder earlier in the month while swinging a bat. The pitching staff hasn’t been immune to the injury bug either. Doug Fister is just returned from his injury on June 18th pitching 5 1/3rd innings against Tampa Bay. Fister struck out 3 gave up 9 hits and 5 runs while taking the loss. Steven Strasburg has a left  trapezius strain and has just started a minor league rehab assignment and the Nationals expect him back in the starting rotation by the end of June. Craig Stammen got off to a great start out as a set up man this season. Stammen got in 5 games covering 4 innings and hadn’t given up a run until he had an issue with his forearm. Stammen ended up needing season ending surgery on that forearm. Aaron Barrett was working out of the Nationals bullpen and has appeared in a team high 30 games this season. Barrett ended up on the disabled list this week with a  right biceps strain. There’s no timetable set for Barrett’s return. Then there’s Bryce Harper. Harper hasn’t been placed on the disabled list, but he did suffer a mild left hamstring strain when he slipped on the outfield grass making a throw home. Now this brought out a lot of talk about how baseball handles rain delays and especially the way they remove the tarp. After seeing replays of Harper’s injury I’m not sure the way they removed the tarp had anything to do with Harper getting hurt; it really just looked like he didn’t get good footing making a throw and injured his leg. Even if you’re not a fan of the Nationals or Bryce Harper with the season he’s having you don;t want to see him get hurt. Now if you are a fan of the Nationals can they handle an injury to Harper were he misses time? Being a baseball fan I understand that teams are going to have to deal with injuries, but a lot of those teams weren’t picked to go to and in some cases win the World Series.Can the Nationals live up to those expectations? and will they suffer any more key injuries this season?

So how was your week?

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The Washington Nationals were pretty much everyone’s pick to win the National League east and the World Series this season. Now there’s no real concern after a 3-1 opening day loss to the New York Mets, but what may become an issue are the Nationals injuries. The Nationals are starting the season with 4 players on the disabled list. Denard Span has been out since March when he had core muscle surgery. Span was the engine that got the Nationals offense rolling last season and there’s a big hole at the top of the order with him out. Span may return at the end of the month, but it may also take him a while to get into game shape against major league pitching. Span missed a big chunk of spring training and you have to wonder if a minor league rehab stint will be needed to get him back on track. Jayson Werth is still recovering from the shoulder surgery he had in January. Werth did hit in some minor league games at the end of March and it shouldn’t be too much longer before he’s able to return to the Nationals line up. Just like Span; you have to wonder how far behind Werth will be since he’s been out for 4 months. Washington needs Werth’s bat back in the middle of their line up and they may get it about the middle of this month. Nate McLouth would’ve been the guy to fill in for Werth, but he’s out as well. McLouth had shoulder surgery in August of 2014 and has a difficult time returning from it. McLouth may be back this month as well, but hiss absence has been twice as long as anyone else and you have to wonder how far away he is from being ready to hit major league pitching. Casey Janssen was brought in by the Nationals to provide a some bullpen support and take some pressure off of closer Drew Storen, but Janssen landed on the DL with right shoulder tendinitis. Janssen is another Nationals player who may return this month, but it’s his throwing arm that’s the issue and you have to wonder if this will hang around all season long with Janssen. Storen had some injury issues as well during spring training, but didn’t end up on the DL. With Janssen out and Storen having some issues; what kind of shape is the Washington bullpen in? Anthony Rendon was talked about as being the break out player of 2015, but his year has started on the DL with an MCL sprain in left knee. When Rendon first got hurt it was reported as minor and that he would miss a few days. Then the report changed to Rendon would miss the rest of spring training, but he should be good to go for the start of the season. Then as the season was getting ready to start Rendon went on the DL with his time table being set for a possibly April return. Rendon has avoided knee surgery and the Nationals are right to be very careful, but they’re also missing a huge piece of their line up. On the plus side for the Nationals none of their starting pitchers have ended up getting injury. That may be enough to keep them in games and get them some wins early in the season, but with Soan, Werth and Rendon’s bats on the sidelines they’re going to have to find ways to score runs. There’s nothing that can derail a teams run more than injuries to their key guys.

NASCAR took the week off last weekend, but they return Saturday in Texas for what has to be Dan the Man’s favorite race. the Duck Commander 500 at the 1.5 mile Texas motor speedway. Chris Olmstead from BeyondtheFlag.com will join our podcast Friday night around 10:30 p.m. to preview this race for you. It’s a full weekend in Texas for NASCAR. On Thursday from 4:30 pm-5:30 pm there’s NASCAR Xfinity practice. The Xfinity drivers return from 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. for their final practice. Friday has a full day of activity starting at 11:30 am with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice. At 2:00 p.m. the Sprint Cup drivers hit the track again for their final practice. At 4:45 pm it’s time for NASCAR Xfinity Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying. After the Xfinity guys qualify the NASCAR drivers get back on the track around 6:45 pm for their qualifying runs. Friday night wraps up with the NASCAR Xfinity Series O’Reily Auto Parts 300. Then on Saturday night the Sprint Cup drivers will go 334 laps or 501 miles in the Duck Commander 500.

Now normally on the podcast it’s Dan the Man who comes up with the conspiracy theories, but I actually have one of my own. Yesterday the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs had a night game schedule at Wrigley Field. Just a little after Noon I turned on the MLB Network to catch some updates and on their crawler at the bottom of the screen there was an announcement saying the Cubs/Cardinals game had been postponed. They where siting the weather that they predicted would hit the Chicago area. While it would’ve been a tough night to play baseball the rain and wind that was being forecasts to hit Chicago area didn’t. These two teams have another game scheduled for this afternoon and the weather outside is just as bad as it was last night and there is rain in the forecast. So the question is; will they play today’s game? Now there was no make up date announced for yesterday’s day and why do I have a feeling that the date will be after the construction at Wrigley Field is done. I’m pretty sure you can see what I’m implying here. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if today’s game ends up being called off because of the predicted weather. Even though Wrigley Field didn’t look bad on television Sunday night it obviously isn’t in the condition the team would like it to be. Not to mention the more games they can play after construction is done the more people they can squeeze into the ballpark. All you have to do is remember that Cash Rules Everything Around Me!

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