Nationals

Quick Links

Matt Adams collects 2 HRs, 5 RBIs in win over San Diego

matt_adams_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Matt Adams collects 2 HRs, 5 RBIs in win over San Diego

SAN DIEGO -- Trea Turner and Stephen Strasburg had done enough to give the Washington Nationals the lead against the San Diego Padres when Matt Adams broke the game open with two majestic home runs.

Adams connected in consecutive innings, Turner went deep in his first at-bat at Petco Park and Strasburg beat his hometown team again, leading the Nationals to an 8-5 victory Monday night.

Adams hit a towering, two-run drive to right field off Tyson Ross in the four-run sixth and a three-run shot to right-center in the seventh off Matt Strahm for an 8-2 lead. He has 10 homers this year. It was his seventh career multihomer game and second in a week after he went deep twice against Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

"It's huge," Adams said. "We go out there and we play the game hard. For me to be able to contribute the way that I'm doing, it means a lot. I think it also means a lot the way the team has bounced back to a little rocky start. We knew all along what this team was capable of doing. It's been a fun stretch and we plan on keeping it going."

Said Strasburg: "Pretty impressive. He's even showing off the glove, which is not what he's known for. Matt plays hard and is a great guy to have in the clubhouse. It's fun to watch."

Turner, San Diego's first-round pick in the 2014 draft who never played for the Padres, drove a 1-1 pitch from Ross an estimated 396 feet into the home bullpen in center field with one out in the first inning. It was his third on the season.

"Homers are fun in general. It was nice to put a good swing on the ball," Turner said. "It was a good atmosphere, good stadium, good field, it was fun. We got the win, which is the most important thing.

"I think anytime I play them it's always reminding me that I was there," he said about facing the Padres. "Not that it was my decision, but no regrets about anything. Everything's worked out great for me individually and I'm happy to be a part of this team."

San Diego made Turner the 13th pick overall in 2014 and then dealt him to Washington -- along with Ross' younger brother, Joe -- that December in an 11-player, three-team trade that sent Wil Myers from Tampa Bay to San Diego.

Turner couldn't head to the Nationals until the following June due to a rule at the time that said a player selected in the amateur draft couldn't be traded until one year had passed since he signed his initial professional contract.

Joe Ross had Tommy John surgery in July.

"He's turned out to be a pretty good ballplayer," Tyson Ross said of Turner. "He put a good swing on a bad pitch in the first and gave their team the early lead right there."

Turner walked leading off the four-run sixth and scored the go-ahead run on Anthony Rendon's double to left. Adams followed with his first homer, Howie Kendrick doubled and Matt Wieters hit an RBI single.

"The leadoff walk, that's always trouble for the pitcher and after that it was just poor execution with two strikes," Ross said. "I made two bad pitches to Rendon and Adams and they made me pay, and then they jumped on two first pitches after that. It kind of steamrolled pretty quick right there and I've got to be better with two strikes."

Strasburg (4-3) improved to 7-2 in nine career starts against the Padres. He allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings, struck out five and walked one.

Strasburg went to West Hills High in suburban Santee and then pitched at San Diego State under Tony Gwynn before going to the Nationals as the top pick overall in the 2009 draft.

"We won a nice game tonight," manager Dave Martinez said. "Nice to see Strasburg do what he did. He ran out of gas a little bit at the end but he pitched really well."

Ross (2-3) permitted five runs and six hits in six innings.

Jose Pirela had three hits and drove in a run for San Diego. Right fielder Travis Jankowski made a nice play against the wall to rob Bryce Harper of an extra-base hit to end the eighth.

MORE NATS' NEWS: 

Quick Links

Nationals rally, but find themselves treading water again

nats-cubs-rubber.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Nationals rally, but find themselves treading water again

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals lost to the Chicago Cubs, 6-5, Sunday to drop their record to 19-27. Here are five observations from the game…

1. A word about Anthony Rendon first.

His three-run homer dragged the Nationals to within 6-4 on Sunday night. He also walked and a soft liner off his bat was caught by a leaping Addison Russell at shortstop. He was stellar in the field. After an initial rusty patch when returning from the injured list, he is back to his normal self and one of the most dangerous hitters in the National League. He could finally be going to his first All-Star Game.

Second, a word about Howie Kendrick.

He homered -- again -- his seventh already this season. Things around the Nationals’ poor start are not great. They would be severely amplified if Kendrick wasn’t walking around with a .317 batting average and an almost 1.000 OPS.

Their work was not enough Sunday. The Cubs took a 4-0 lead early, then hung on late, spoiling the Nationals chance for a rare second consecutive series win.

2. “Little things” kicked in again Sunday.

A fourth-inning passed ball by Kurt Suzuki moved a runner to third with one out. Kyle Schwarber’s sacrifice fly drove him in.

Juan Soto’s late break from second with two outs in the sixth inning led to third base coach Bob Henley giving a rare stop sign at third base. Albert Almora Jr.’s throw for center field went soaring over bot the catcher and pitcher at home plate. If Soto broke early or Henley took his usual chance, another run would have scored.

The Nationals’ overall defense was cleaner Sunday. Rendon made multiple quality defensive plays, Brian Dozier also two slick stops. But, two smaller incidents flipped two runs in what became a 6-4 game.

3. Jeremy Hellickson is going in reverse.

He lasted just three innings Sunday, and was lucky to make it there. Hellickson opened the game by loading the bases via walks. Despite him laying the groundwork for a devastating first inning, he allowed just a run.

Runners made it to second and third to start the second inning, but just one scored. A leadoff homer for Anthony Rizzo bumped the Cubs’ lead to 3-0 in the third. Hellickson wiggled away from a double in the inning to finish his evening in arrears, 3-0.

He threw 64 pitches, just 30 strikes.

The outing was the second time this season Hellickson lasted just three innings in a start. He gave up five earned runs the last time. Four of his previous five outings delivered a Game Score of 34 or lower (50 is the starting point with potential to go up -- or down). A non-analytical measure of those outings is to simply call them uncompetitive.

The trouble for Washington is it has no clear option to replace Hellickson and his 6.23 ERA in the rotation, if it decided that was the best course of action going forward. Joe Ross could swap spots wit Hellickson, flipping Ross into the rotation and Hellickson into the bullpen. Kyle McGowin, called up from Triple-A Fresno on Friday, relieved Hellickson on Sunday. He’s not big-league ready.

Austin Voth is the only minor-league starter on the 40-man roster but not on the 25-man roster. Voth has a 3.89 ERA in Fresno this season.

4. Trevor Rosenthal continues to creep toward a return.

He threw a bullpen session in Nationals Park on Sunday after a day off Saturday. Rosenthal pitched in back-to-back games Thursday and Friday for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators.

Rosenthal is going to Harrisburg to throw another inning Monday, then be re-evaluated. He had another rough outing Friday for the Senators: ⅓ of an inning, 21 pitches, 11 strikes, a walk and hit allowed.

Nationals manager Davey Martinez said the misses were up and down in the zone. Rosenthal was previously pulling pitches to his left.

“I watched video,” Martinez said. “His mechanics are pretty good right now.”

Is he close to returning?

“I think he’s really close,” Martinez said. “We’ll see how this next outing goes for him.”

5. More progress for the injured.

Matt Adams (left shoulder strain) took 40 swings Sunday, felt good afterward, and is nearing a pre-game stint on the field, possibly Monday with the team in New York.

Ryan Zimmerman (plantar fasciitis) continues to swing and play defense. He was expected to run Sunday, the final step in his rehabilitation. He could be ready “very soon” according to Martinez.

Tony Sipp (oblique) took Sunday off after pitching an inning Saturday for Single-A Potomac.

Outfielder Andrew Stevenson (back spasms) was sent back to Triple-A Fresno on Sunday. He will begin playing games with the Grizzlies on Monday.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Cubs drop protest, but not stance about Sean Doolittle's delivery

doolittle-umpires.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Cubs drop protest, but not stance about Sean Doolittle's delivery

WASHINGTON -- Sunday afternoon’s discussions still revolved around Saturday night’s close, which Washington manager Davey Martinez referred to as a “fiasco” on Sunday.

Chicago manager Joe Maddon started a chaotic situation when he popped out of the dugout following Sean Doolittle’s first pitch in the ninth inning Saturday. Maddon contended Doolittle’s “toe-tap” was an illegal delivery, akin to when Chicago reliever Carl Edwards Jr. tried to add a pause in spring training, but was told the move was illegal.

The umpires told him, and Doolittle, the delivery was legal. Chicago filed a protest with the league. After consulting with Major League Baseball and MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer, Joe Torre, the Cubs dropped their protest Sunday morning.

A point of differentiation is whether the pitcher is taking a second step. Umpires previously determined Edwards was taking a second step. They determined Doolittle was not. This is a judgment call for the umpires and is not reviewable.

Official Baseball Rule 5.07(a) states in part: “The pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch. If there is a runner, or runners, on base it is a balk under Rule 6.02(a); if the bases are unoccupied it is an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b).”

The league, according to Maddon, said there is a difference between Edwards placing his full foot on the ground and Doolittle grazing the mound with a cleat when he delivered. Maddon continued to not agree with the interpretation.

“We went through the whole process,” Maddon said. “Our guys in the office spoke to MLB and I talked to Mr. Torre. The whole thing I wanted to really get done was protect Carl. I really didn’t anticipate a whole lot to be done with it. Even though I still don’t agree with the conclusion, because I think it’s exactly what Carl did, only a different version of it. But the point was, I would not be a good parent if I had not spoken up for my guy. And that’s what I was doing last night and, again, it’s just to eliminate any gray area there just for future because it’s going to happen again down the road somewhere and you’re just trying to delineate what is right and what is wrong. In my mind, it wasn’t a judgment call, I thought it was black-and-white. It wasn’t gray.”

Maddon said multiple times that Doolittle tapped with his toe in addition to grazing the mound, both of which, he contended, were not legal or different than Edwards' attempt at deception.

The congenial Doolittle was steamed postgame Saturday and remained irritated Sunday. Saturday, he took multiple shots at Maddon during his postgame commentary. He also taunted the idea when throwing warmup pitches while Maddon argued with umpires by making exaggerated kicks with his leg and multiple stops with his foot. Doolittle switched to a delivery without any stops -- one he often uses -- after the protest as a way to show Maddon he didn’t need the tweak to be successful.

“In that moment, he's not trying to do anything other than rattle me and it was kind of tired,” Doolittle said Saturday. “I don't know. Sometimes he has to remind people how smart he is and how much he pays attention to the game and stuff like that. He put his stamp on it for sure.

"I actually have to thank him. After they came out the second, the [Kyle] Schwarber at-bat, I threw two fastballs and a slider and a fastball to [Kris] Bryant and those were probably the best ones I've thrown in a while. I don't do the tap when there's somebody on base so I can keep my pickoff move available if I need it. I've had a lot of traffic recently, so I've had practice doing it, so it wasn't like a huge adjustment to me. I don't know. In a way, I kind of need to thank him."

Asked Sunday if Doolittle’s comments were relayed to him, Maddon smiled and said yes.

“Listen, I have no issue with that whatsoever,” Maddon said. “We’re all emotional. I’ve said a lot of things I didn’t want to say years ago -- even in this ballpark. I think if he understood the entire context, he might have had a different opinion. Even if he was the manager himself -- if he was me -- or if he was being protected by his manager under similar circumstances, I think his stance may be different.”

No one -- the league, Maddon or Doolittle -- changed their perspective a day later.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: