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Nats-Phillies instant analysis

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Nats-Phillies instant analysis

Game in a nutshell: Coming off an 8-0 trouncing at the hands of the Phillies, the Nationals hoped to get back on track in the second game of this series. And they appeared to get off to a rousing start, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first thanks to a pair of botched plays by the Philadelphia infield. But then the bats went silent just as Edwin Jackson started serving up home runs, three of them in total. The Nationals bullpen did its job to keep the deficit at one, and everyone in the ballpark nervously waited for the lineup to break through with the game-tying (and perhaps game-winning) rally. It never came. All of a sudden, the Nationals have lost two in a row and have seen their record fall back to 19 games over the .500 mark.

Hitting lowlight: Stymied for the better part of seven innings by Vance Worley, the Nationals finally got their chance to rally against the Phillies' highly suspect bullpen in the eighth. And they were in prime position to drive in at least the game-tying run after Ryan Zimmerman (who was out of the lineup for the second straight night with lower back tightness) came off the bench to deliver a pinch-hit single up the middle. But Michael Morse swung right through a 93 mph fastball from Josh Lindblom, then Zimmerman surprisingly tried to steal second on lefty Jeremy Horst's very first pitch to Adam LaRoche. He was immediately gunned down to end the eighth, the most frustrating moment in a very frustrating game.

Pitching lowlight: This was something of a strange outing for Jackson. On the one hand, he put 12 men on base in only 5 23 innings. On the other hand, he managed to escape allowing just three runs, all scoring on solo homers. The right-hander was by no means sharp, and his pace was painfully slow at times, especially after he slid hard into the plate to end the bottom of the second. But he did find a way to get some outs when he really needed to, and because of that he at least gave his team a chance. Davey Johnson perhaps gave his veteran starter more rope than others in his rotation, not even having anyone warming in the bullpen during a shaky fifth inning. That's the kind of respect he'll give an experienced pitcher like Jackson, and ultimately the strategy worked.

Key stat: Tonight's official paid attendance was 23,777. That's the first crowd at Nationals Park under 25,000 since May 15.

Up next: The series concludes Thursday at 7:05 p.m., with Ross Detwiler taking the mound for the Nationals against fellow lefty Cole Hamels (who makes his first appearance at Nationals Park since he intentionally plunked Bryce Harper in the back on May 6).

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Former Nationals outfielder admits to drinking vodka before MLB games

Former Nationals outfielder admits to drinking vodka before MLB games

When it comes to sports, we sometimes forget that the athletes we look up to are just normal people.  Normal people who have a lot to prove to millions of people on a weekly basis.  Former Nationals outfielder Rick Ankiel has discussed one his human moments in an interview with 590 The Fan in St. Louis.

Ankiel admitted to drinking vodka during his plight as a pitcher. He referenced his first two starts of the 2001 season, in particular against the his opener Arizona Diamondbacks where he allowed his anxiety to giving in to alcohol to soothe him. In the previous postseason, he became the first pitcher since 1980 to throw five wild pitches in a single inning. 

It may have worked for a couple of games but Ankiel eventually realized it was only making matters worse.

Ankiel began playing in the MLB at the age of 19 and has had a fluctuating career through six teams.  All the while, he has keep a “never give up” mentality.

Why the sudden need to vent? The St. Louis baseball pitcher is getting up close and personal with his upcoming book, “The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed my Life” which is co-written with sports writer, Tim Brown will be released on April 18.  

His two seasons with the Nationals, resulted in 127 hits and 52 RBIs as an outfielder. 

MORE NATS: Can't miss Nationals promotional schedule

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Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

The Washington Nationals have signed former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters to a one-year deal with a player option for a second year, according to multiple reports. 

Wieters spent the first eight years in the Majors with the Baltimore Orioles, being named to the AL All-Star team four times and winning two gold glove awards. Last season the switch-hitting catcher posted a .243 average with 17 homers and 66 RBI.  

The Nationals have been in the market for catchers all offseason after Wilson Ramos left for Tampa Bay in free agency. The team traded for former Padres catcher Derek Norris, whose role is now in question. The Nationals still have Jose Lobaton on the roster as a strong defensive backup catcher who has a proven rapport with many of the pitchers in the Nationals rotation. Wieters had been linked to the Nationals all offseason because of the team's need a the position and because of the Nationals close relationship with Wieters' agent Scott Boras. 

The only significant time that Wieters has missed due to injury in his career came in 2014-15 when he had Tommy John surgury. Prior to that surgury, however, Wieters had played in at least 130 games for four straight seasons and became a large part of the Orioles' identity. 

The 30-year-old backstop will give the Nationals lineup more depth and power. Wieters had three consecutive 20-homer seasons from 2011-13 and since 2009 when his career began, he ranks fifth among catchers in all of baseball in home runs with 117. 

Related: Nationals 2017 promotional schedule includes snow globes and fedoras