Quick Links

Nats come back twice to win a wild one

819573.png

Nats come back twice to win a wild one

The 2012 Washington Nationals just will not go down without a fight. After losing the lead on a blown save in the ninth and twice being one out from defeat, the Nats beat the Mets 5-4 on a wild pitch by Pedro Beato that brought Ryan Zimmerman home for the walk-off win.

The victory was their second of the season on a game-ending wild pitch, but given the lead changes it may have been their most exciting win all year.

Thats my kind of ballgame, manager Davey Johnson said. Ive said it a hundred times, the makeup on this ballclub is off the charts. Theres no give-up, they are all competitive.

The Nats rallied to tie the game in the tenth after catcher Jhonatan Solano led off with a single. Bryce Harper then belted a 1-0 slider off Tim Byrdak, a line drive that flew over Scott Hairstons head and bounced off the wall. Solano scored to make it 4-4 and Harper broke up a David Wright tag attempt on a head-first slide to land safely at third.

The Mets then intentionally walked Zimmerman and Ian Desmond to get Tyler Moore to the plate. Moore took the wild pitch on a 1-2 count against Beato to let Zimmerman come home.

I'm trying to make him hurry up, tell him come on and score, Moore said. It was going on long enough. I'm just glad we got a run across.

I didn't know it got away at first because he was kind of blocking me with the angle but it hit the dirt pretty hard and it bounced up on him. I'm just glad it got away from him enough where we could score.

Moore hit a solo home run in the fifth inning to put the Nats up 1-0, his fifth of the season. He is just 25 years old and in his first big league season, one of the youngest players along with Harper, 19, who had the game-tying hit. 23-year-old Steve Lombardozzi also had a big hit in giving the Nats a two-run led in the eighth with an RBI single, along with some key defensive plays at second base.

The trio of young players once again played a role in a Nats victory and their manager has taken notice.

They have been doing it all year, Johnson said. Tyler Moore and Lombardozzi, it is a tribute to the organization. They got some really smart people out there, really signing good athletes with good makeup. Theyve been doing it every year since Ive been here and theres more coming.

The Nationals also saw a great performance from their young pitcher in 26-year-old Ross Detwiler. Detwiler pitched seven scoreless innings and would have been the story of the game if it werent for a few late mistakes by the bullpen. Detwiler finished with zero earned runs, five hits, no walks, and four strikeouts. He left the game with only 86 pitches and would have liked to stay in for the eighth.

I think Johnson knows that. I know what hes doing there. I kind of struggled my last couple outings and he wants me to get out of there with a chance to get the victory," Detwiler said. "But I thought I had a little more in the tank, but what is it, 112 here today?

It was actually 99 degrees when Detwiler threw the first pitch, but the seven innings he lasted was the most he has pitched in a game all year. He has pitched at least seven just three times in his career with a career high of 7.1 innings in 2011. All in all it was the best outing of Detwilers season and that is saying something. He now sits with a 3.15 ERA through 85.2 innings this year, pretty good for a fifth starter.

The shame of the game is that Det played a great game. That was an unbelievable game, I mean eleven days off and seven strong innings, Johnson said. He just really pitched great. He had great stuff, his fastball was just diving and moving. It was just a great effort, its a shame we wasted it for him.

Detwiler left after seven with a one-run lead and a shutout going. Sean Burnett took care of business in the eighth, but Tyler Clippard struggled and blew the save in the ninth. He gave the Mets a lead on a three-run homer by a pinch-hitting Jordany Valdespin. Danny Espinosa then tied the game for the Nationals in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single to score Ian Desmond.

Michael Gonzalez started the tenth and gave up a leadoff single to Daniel Murphy. Murphy was advanced to second on a Kirk Nieuwenhuis sacrifice bunt and then scored home on a double by Josh Thole.

The Nationals moved to 52-36 on the season, sixteen games above .500 on July 17 for the first time since moving to Washington. With the Braves recent hot streak, the Nats will have to make close games like this one count if they want to hold on and win the division.

Thats what first-place teams do. They find a way to win every game possible. This is a big month for us, playing the Marlins, Mets and Braves coming in next, Detwiler said. We just need to go out there and do the best we can to win every game.

Quick Links

Updated MLB Postseason 2017 Bracket Projection

sanches_gregorius_yankees_usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Updated MLB Postseason 2017 Bracket Projection

Postseason teams are continuing to win, except for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and some incredible runs put on by teams just outside of the playoffs are being pushed to the side.

Although most of the divisions have been wrapped up, the battle for first place in each league and the overall top seed for home-field throughout the playoffs are getting heated. Of course the Dodgers losing three straight to Philadelphia Phillies, with the potential for the sweep tonight, is a huge factor.

RELATED: IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE WILD CARD RACE

Still at 96 wins they hold the best record in baseball but everyone is charging fast. Cleveland is now a game behind for home-field throughout the playoffs and Houston is 2.5 back. The Indians have won 26 of their last 27 and the Astros have claimed six straight.

The Washington Nationals (NL East Division Winner) have all but clinched the No. 2 seed in the National League and are slowly catching up to the Dodgers for No. 1.

After getting swept by the Boston Red Sox at home, the Baltimore Orioles postseason hopes are all but gone. With the possibility of losing Zach Britton it may be time to see the white flag.

Since the last bracket update on September 18, only the Boston Red Sox have clinched a postseason spot.

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

Things are not looking good in Los Angeles as the Phillies are in control of the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw gave up a grand slam in the sixth of his lone start and the bullpen has not been much better in the last two games. With the potential of the sweep tonight, the Dodgers are not trending in the right direction with the playoffs around the corner.

As a result, the Nationals are back into the fold for first place after winning two straight against the Atlanta Braves (the series finale is tonight). Only back 3.5 games for the top seed in the National League, the Nationals are in a golden opportunity. On top of making this run with a six-man rotation to get playoff starters rest, the team is going against opponents with a .432 winning percentage the rest of the way.

MORE NATS: SCHERZER'S HSITORIC NIGHT

While the Dodgers have struggled, their NL West rival, the Arizona Diamondbacks have not done much better. Arizona lost two of three to the Padres, only gaining one game on the Dodgers division lead. Los Angeles’ magic number is two with ten games remaining.

The National League Central Division has crunched up slightly from Monday. Chicago still leads but it is now down to 3.5 edge over the Milwaukee Brewers. Right behind the Brewers are the St. Louis Cardinals five games back of the Cubs. It is now gut-check time for the Cubs who have won seven of their last ten. Today they head to Milwaukee for a four game series that will likely decide the division and then head to St. Louis who are still in the thick of things.

Despite the bumps, Arizona is still well in control of their playoff fate. Colorado is behind them by 5.5 games for the first Wild Card, but the Brewers (-1.0 game) and Cardinals (-2.5 games) are now within striking range.

If the season were to end today, here is how the National League bracket would look:

Wild Card Round (Winner-take-all):

No. 5 Colorado Rockies (82-70) at No. 4 Arizona Diamondbacks (88-65)

National League Divisional Series (Best-of-5):

No. 1 Los Angeles Dodgers (96-56) vs. Wild Card Round Winner
No. 2 Washington Nationals (92-59) vs. No. 3 Chicago Cubs (84-67)

Wild Card Race:

Arizona Diamondbacks:  +5.5
Colorado Rockies:             ---
Milwaukee Brewers:         -1.0
St. Louis Cardinals:          -2.5
Miami Marlins:                -10.0

AMERICAN LEAGUE:

Both the Indians (AL Central Division Winner) and the Astros (AL West Division Winner) continue to win so there is not much change among the top teams in the American League. The lead for Cleveland for the top seed is 1.5 games. This upcoming weekend, Houston does face their division rivals, the Los Angeles Angels who are battling for one of the two Wild Card spots. Likely it is the chance for Cleveland to pull away.

The New York Yankees completed a dominant sweep of the Minnesota Twins in a battle of potential Wild Card teams. However, the Boston Red Sox also swept the Orioles preventing the Yankees from gaining any ground in the AL East race. Still back three games, New York still has the advantage of playing lesser opponents (combined .478 winning percentage) at home. Surprisingly there will not be an end-of-season series between the two to decide the division.

Boston’s sweep earned them a post-season berth but their magic number for the division is eight games.

With the Twins getting swept, ten teams remain in contention for the final Wild Card spot. Again, New York/ Boston has all but locked up the top Wild Card. The Texas Rangers (2.5 games back) have taken two straight in Seattle, vaulting the Rangers into contention but dropping the Mariners (4.0 games back). Facing the Indians, the Los Angeles Angels have barely moved (1.5 games back). Creeping in after being after-thoughts are the Kansas City Royals (3.5 games back) and Tampa Bay Rays (4.0 games back).

MORE ORIOLES: TIM BECKHAM WAS A MLB TRADE DEADLINE STEAL

Fortunately for the Twins, they get the chance for a rebound series against the Detroit Tigers this weekend.  Los Angeles travels to Houston for three games, New York heads to Toronto, Texas continues their West Coast road trip with the Athletics, while the Royals host the lowly White Sox.

If the season were to end today, here is how the American League bracket would look:

Wild Card Round (Winner-take-all):

No. 5 Minnesota Twins (78-74) at No. 4 New York Yankees (85-67)

American League Divisional Series (Best-of-5):

No. 1 Cleveland Indians (95-57) vs. Wild Card Round Winner
No. 2 Houston Astros (93-58) vs. No. 3 Boston Red Sox (88-64)

Wild Card Race:

New York Yankees:     +7.0
Minnesota Twins:           ---
Los Angeles Angels:     -1.5
Texas Rangers:             -2.5
Kansas City Royals:      -3.5
Seattle Mariners:           -4.0
Tampa Bay Rays:          -4.0
Baltimore Orioles:          -5.5
Toronto Blue Jays:        -7.0
Oakland Athletics:         -9.0

All records and standings are as of Thursday morning at 9:00 am, check back next Monday and Thursday for MLB bracket updates.

MORE MLB NEWS: WHEN WILL BRYCE HARPER RETURN TO THE NATS?

Quick Links

Nationals vs. Braves Preview: Gonzalez looks to rebound

gio422.png
USA TODAY Sports

Nationals vs. Braves Preview: Gonzalez looks to rebound

ATLANTA -- One of the questions the Atlanta Braves brass must answer during the offseason is whether right-handed pitching prospect Lucas Sims belongs in the rotation or the bullpen.

Sims (2-5, 5.52 ERA) will make another start Wednesday against the Washington Nationals, who send veteran left-hander Gio Gonzalez (14-7, 2.68) to oppose him in the second contest of a three-game series at SunTrust Park.

The Nationals won the series opener 4-2 on Tuesday to take a 9-8 lead in the season series. The loss guaranteed Atlanta (67-82) would have a losing record for the fourth consecutive season.

RELATED: WHEN WILL BRYCE HARPER RETURN?

Gonzalez, like teammate Max Scherzer, is a candidate for the National League Cy Young Award. The southpaw is coming off a poor showing against Atlanta on Sept. 12, when he allowed five runs in five innings despite eight strikeouts.

"You get the strikeouts and then all of a sudden, the hits came in," Gonzalez said. "It was just one of those games. You take it for what it was, sweep it up the rug and get ready for tomorrow. It was one of those games you can't really understand what happened, just pick up where you can and go from there."

The Braves have fared well against Gonzalez. In 20 career starts against Atlanta, he is 4-11 with a 5.27 ERA. This season, Gonzalez is 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA in three starts vs. the Braves.

Sims, a rookie who was the team's first-round draft choice in 2012, has made 11 appearances (seven starts). He has made it clear that he prefers to be a starting pitcher.

The Braves moved Sims to the bullpen after his Sept. 2 start against the Chicago Cubs, when he allowed seven runs in three innings. Because he was stretched out, Sims had the ability to throw multiple innings out of the 'pen, which he did in two of his subsequent four relief appearances.

However, on Sunday, the Braves announced Sims as the starter for the Wednesday game and moved left-hander Max Fried to the bullpen. Fried is another rookie who will be under consideration to join the rotation in 2018.

"The kid never quits," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Sims. "He keeps pitching. He competes."

In seven starts, Sims has averaged 5 1/3 innings per outing. In 44 innings overall, he has recorded 31 strikeouts and 15 walks.

Sims has made only one appearance against Washington, that a perfect one-inning stint on Sept. 13.

Atlanta has had trouble scoring runs of late. Over the past five games, the Braves managed only 11 runs.

The Braves likely will be without catalyst Ender Inciarte on Wednesday. The center fielder left the game early Tuesday with right thumb soreness. Snitker said there was no structural damage and that Inciarte needs a day of rest.

"We just have to back off," Snitker said. "It's just sore."

Inciarte doesn't like to take a day off under normal circumstances, must less when he is chasing 200 hits. He was 0-for-2 on Tuesday, leaving him with 190 hits. He is trying to become the first Atlanta player to reach the milestone since Marquis Grissom in 1996.

Washington is close to getting its injured players back.

Outfielder Bryce Harper (hyperextended left knee) and infielder Stephen Drew (left abdominal strain) ran before the Tuesday game. Both are eligible to come off the disabled list whenever they are deemed healthy.

RELATED: MLB POSTSEASON 2017 BRACKET PROJECTION