Nationals

Beninati: OT Over In A Flash

Beninati: OT Over In A Flash

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 11:51pm

By Joe Beninati
Capitals-Play-by-Play

With all the excitement associated with NHL hockey games that go to overtime, you can't help but love it when things wind up going the home team's way.Before this season began, Tomas Fleischmann had never scored against Carolina. He has two goals against them now and this most recent one gave Washington a hard fought victory tonight.The Hurricanes always play the Capitals close as they are considered the most intense of the division rivals. Even though these organizations have never met in the playoffs, this rivalry is supercharged from battling for division titles year after year.Alex Semin started the scoring this evening with a fancy backhanded finish on a breakaway less than three minutes into the contest. Mike Green was shooting well this evening as he bagged a pair of power play goals against veteran netminder Manny Legace. Legace has always had great reflexes and still does at age 37.

At the other end, 33-year-old Jose Theodore was tested severely at times and made several fine stops as dangerous Hurricanes like Ray Whitney, Eric Staal, and Brandon Sutter bore down on him. Theodore remained perfect against penalty shots in regulation this year when he stopped the young Sutter in the first period.Let's go back to Mike Green for a second...He will be blamed for coughing up the clearing pass that led to Tuomo Ruutu's second period goal. The Hurricanes did a nice job of taking away his options on that play. The boards were not available and his decision to play the puck to Nick Backstrom in the middle got him in trouble. The safest way would have been to drill that puck off the glass, but a skillful player like Green doesn't prefer that option.Jussi Jokinen's goal through a heavy screen forced OT after a scoreless third period. In extra time Eric Belanger showed off his passing game to find Fleischmann, joining a three-on-two rush. The game was over in a flash and these two teams collide again next week in Raleigh.The homestand ends Friday with Tampa Bay and we know the Lightning won't lay down in DC.

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Nationals win despite having to turn to little-known pitcher for pivotal start

kyle_mcgowin.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Nationals win despite having to turn to little-known pitcher for pivotal start

WASHINGTON -- If any bump was coming from a return home or Mike Rizzo’s public pregame words or simply being out of New York, it was not apparent Friday.

Three errors committed in the first four innings. The first reliever into the game, Joe Ross, allowed three earned runs before recording a second out. Starter Kyle McGowin barely made it through the fourth inning of an eventual and desperately needed 12-10 win.

The rally kept the Nationals from creeping toward of new level of dubiousness in this muck-filled season. They pushed 2 ½ games in front of the Marlins for the National League’s worst record. Juan Soto hit a three-run homer in the eighth. Matt Adams followed with a solo homer. Sean Doolittle had trouble, but closed the game. Those efforts kept this from being another story about the bullpen (five more runs allowed Friday).

So, here’s a different question to ponder (there are a million or none, depending on point of view) after Friday night: How did the Nationals end up with 27-year-old McGowin starting a surprisingly pivotal game?

The nuts-and-bolts version is because of injuries. Both Anibal Sanchez -- who threw a simulation game Friday -- and Jeremy Hellickson are on the injured list. The deeper answer comes from looking at the recent erosion of pitchers in Washington’s minor-league system.

McGowin made his second career start Friday because there is no one else. No hot minor-league prospect, no early-round pick who has been up and down and received another shot, no veteran stashed in the minor leagues for such situations.

Looming behind all of this is the 2016 trade of three pitching prospects to acquire Adam Eaton. Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning were all sent to Chicago for Eaton’s advanced-stats and cost-friendly contract. The departure of three starting pitchers in one shot reverberated Friday when the Nationals were forced to use McGowin in a spot start as the seventh starter of the season.

This is more a volume than quality issue. Neither Lopez or Giolito were effective in limited chances at the major-league level with Washington before being traded. Once in Chicago, Giolito became arguably the worst pitcher in baseball in 2018. No one allowed more earned runs or walks that season. Lopez had a quality season, finishing with 3.1 WAR.

The two have reversed outcomes in 2019. Giolito has rediscovered his velocity. After throwing 100 mph in the 2015 Futures Game, his velocity caved. Giolito was down to 92-93 mph with the Nationals and, initially, Chicago. Thursday, he hit 97 mph in the ninth inning of a shutout against Houston. The outing drove his ERA down to 2.77.

Lopez is struggling. His 5.14 ERA is venturing toward Giolito’s status of a year ago. His walk total -- always the concern -- is up, as are his homers allowed.

But what Giolito and Lopez have, at age 24 and 25, respectively, is potential. Giolito, who often fussed with his mechanics in Washington, has discovered a delivery to expedite his fastball and an approach to boost the effectiveness of his changeup. Lopez’s 2018 showed he can be a solid back-end rotation member. They were expected to follow behind Erick Fedde and Joe Ross in establishing a future rotation. But, those two are in Chicago, Ross is in the bullpen, where he gave up three runs Friday, and Fedde just returned to the rotation after being moved to the bullpen.

So, it was McGowin on the mound Friday. Four innings, six hits, five runs, one walk, two strikeouts, two home runs allowed. Why? No better choice is available.

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Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and Nationals grant boys wish to be a player for a day

Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and Nationals grant boys wish to be a player for a day

The Nationals welcomed 10-year-old cancer patient Parker Staples as the newest addition to their team on Friday, in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic Foundation.

While battling lymphoma, Staples learned he would receive a wish and didn’t hesitate about what he wanted to choose. After being sidelined for two years during treatment, Parker couldn’t wait to celebrate his remission by becoming part of his favorite baseball team. 

Staples was introduced to his new teammates and got signed autographs from Matt Adams, Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, and Yan Gomes. He also got to spend time hitting and playing catch with his new teammates, as well as being interviewed as the newest member of the team. It gets even better than that, Staples threw the ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park leading up to the Marlins-Nationals game Staples 

"My favorite moment was throwing the first pitch. It was really cool," Staples said.

"Probably the biggest day of my life."

The Nationals are hosted the Miami Marlins in the series opener Friday.

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