Jun 112016
 

Boone Whiting and Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez combined on a two-hit shutout while the P-Nats broke a six-game losing streak for a 6-0 win over the Keys.

Whiting allowed just two of the four baserunners he allowed to reach second base: an infield single and his own error in the 2nd, a two-out walk followed by a single to right in 7th. In between, he retired 15 straight batters en route to his second win in three starts against Frederick.

The final line for the new Daddy in his first start since returning from paternity leave: 6⅔ IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 6K.

Of course, it always helps to pitch with a big lead and Potomac wasted no time giving him one. Andrew Stevenson tripled down the right field line to lead off the game and could have played hopscotch on his way home from third as Osvaldo Abreu tripled over the head of the centerfielder to send the All-Star in. Jose “Orange” Marmolejos drove in Abreu with a double to right-center to plate Abreu to give Potomac a 2-0 lead after one.

In the 2nd, Drew Vettleson opened with a single, stole second and third while David Masters walked (quite literally in the case of the latter), and scored on a Khayyan Norfork sac fly to push the lead to 3-0.

After a Stevenson chop to third pushed Masters to second for the second out, Abreu drew a walk. Back-to-back singles by Marmolejos and Raudy Read pushed the lead to 5-0.

Potomac struck for the final time with two outs in the 5th as All-Stars Drew Ward (double) and Alec Keller (single) combined to score the sixth run for the home team.

Estevez came on to get Whiting out of trouble and stranded both baserunners by getting the last out of the 7th. “The Weekend” issued just a walk over the final two and 1/3rd innings while striking out four to close out the game and complete the shutout.

The five-game series continues with a doubleheader tonight at 5 p.m. Neither team has announced its starters, but recently demoted Austen Williams and long reliever Mario Sanchez have not pitched since June 5th and it would be fair to guess that one or both of them may tonight start for Potomac.

May 292016
 

Another strong outing from Erick Fedde was nearly ruined by an MLB rehab, but the P-Nats survived scares in the 8th and 9th innings to take another from the Dash, 5-2.

About the only issue you could take with his outing is that Fedde put on the leadoff man three times in six innings. Winston-Salem batters reach second just twice — a leadoff double by longtime Dash 1B Keon Barnum in the 2nd, a two-out double by Brett Austin in the 5th.

In between, the 23-y.o. Las Vegas native ran the table with nine straight retired before giving up a leadoff single in the 5th that was erased with a 5-4-3 DP. Fedde finished with four hits allowed, one walk, and five strikeouts to even his won-loss record at 3-3.

Offensively, the lower half of the Potomac order carried the day with six of the nine hits and all five runs scored.

Bryan Mejia (1-for-3) doubled and scored on an Alec Keller (2-for-3) single in the 2nd. Narciso Mesa (2-for-3) led off the 3rd with a single and scored on a 4-6-3 DP, then capped off a three-run 4th with a two-run triple that brought in Keller and David Masters (1-for-3).

Matt Belisle came on in the 7th to “work on stuff” and was worked over by the last-place Winston-Salem lineup for two runs on four hits over two innings. The veteran reliever did strike out three in his third appearance since joining the P-Nats.

R.C. Orlan came on in the 9th and high-wired his way through the 9th with an Osvaldo Abreu error and two wild pitches bringing the tying run up to the plate with two outs before a flyout ended the game.

The win, Potomac’s fourth straight, improved the second-place P-Nats to 26-20 but that’s still 4½ games off the pace set by Lynchburg.

The two teams will meet this afternoon for the third of four games, with Boone Whiting (5-1, 3.45) taking the hill for Potomac vs. Jordan Stephens (0-6, 5.31) for Winston-Salem.

May 082016
 

Luis Reyes issued seven walks and five-plus innings. Somehow, none of them scored.

The 21-y.o. Dominican was both lucky and good (well, at times) but was in trouble in five of the six innings he began. The lone leadoff batter he retired was also his only 1-2-3 inning (the third).

Frederick got to Reyes for their two runs in the 4th when he put the first two runners on with… wait for it… a walk and a single. The next batter chopped a high ground ball that somehow Drew Ward leapt for and snagged. He stepped on third for the force but couldn’t get the double play on the toss across to first.

The next batter sliced a double past Jose Marmolejos, who almost flinched in time to take a step towards the ball, and down the right field line. Dale Carey chased it down and kept the runner at first from scoring but Frederick got the first run in.

The second runner came in after, yes, a walk loaded the bases and once again Ward made the out but couldn’t turn two for the second Keys run.

Potomac answered immediately in its half of the 4th when Frederick’s Matt Grimes decided to get in on the walking fun, putting the first two on with bases-on-balls. Bryan Mejia laid down a bunt that Grimes couldn’t field cleanly and turned into an infield single.

Despite bases loaded and nobody out, the P-Nats just got one, as Alec Keller grounded out to second for an RBI, Matt Reistetter popped to second, and Cody Dent made his 69th out in his 85th High-A plate appearance.

The breaks evened out in the 5th when the Keys made a two-out error to allow Marmolejos to reach and moved him up with a wild pitch. Dale Carey tied things up with single.

Reyes issued walk nos. six and seven to open the 6th before Tripp Keister got the hook and called up on Mario Sanchez, who got some defensive help from Andrew Stevenson on a deep drive to the warning track in right-center for the first out, a liner to Marmolejos for the second out, and grounder to 1st for the third out.

Potomac scored the gamewinner in the last of the 6th on a Keller triple followed by a Reistetter double. The P-Nats threatened again in the 8th on a Ward double to dead center followed by a Mejia sacrifice, but Keller and Restetter couldn’t two-team again, as they made the second and third out respectively.

Sanchez earned the win with three strong innings, allowing one and hit and striking out. Ryan Brinley worked around a one-out single and a stolen base to pitch a scoreless 9th and earn his fourth save.

The series concludes this afternoon with a matchup of Phillips Valdez (3-1, 4.40) vs. Cory Jones (1-1, 3.94).

Apr 302016
 

Potomac scored not once, but twice before Wilmington responded, confusing fans at the Pfitz as they cruised to a 5-1 win.

OK, fine. It helped that Luis Reyes has figured out the Blue Rocks*, beating them for the second time after getting manhandled 12 days ago. The 21-year-old Dominican struck out eight over five and 2/3rds innings while giving up the lone run on five hits and three walks.
* With a little help with a lopsided schedule that has had the two teams play 13 times in 22 days thus far.

Perhaps with a little better defense – a “wild pitch” and an error extended the 2nd by two batters and at least 10 pitches – Reyes might have gone six scoreless and one or two fewer walks.

As the lede suggests, the P-Nats have often gone up to the plate in the bottom of the first in the hole. While the sample size is small, even Stevie Wonder can see that with (now) a 12-0 record when scoring first and a 1-8 record when they don’t, keeping the opponent off the board early is the key to winning at home, which they’ve done twice now in the past three games after once in the previous seven.

Dale Carey and David Masters teamed up for the first run with the a double and a single respectively in the 2nd. In the 3rd, Andrew Stevenson drew his second walk and broke up a double play ball, which allowed Osvaldo Abreu to reach. The Potomac shortstop swiped two bags and scored on Raudy Read’s RBI single.

The Blue Rocks chased Reyes with a single, walk, and an RBI double that cut the lead to 2-1 before Mario Sanchez put out the fire in the 6th with a popup that stranded the tying and go-ahead runs at second and third.

Narciso Mesa, who kept the lead intact with a strong relay throw in the top of the 6th, walked with one out in the 7th and scored along with Stevenson on Abreu’s two-run single to extend the lead to 4-1. Bryan Mejia closed out the scoring with one-out triple and came home on a wild pitch.

Sanchez wobbled through the 7th and gave way to R.C. Orlan in the 8th. The southpaw closed out the game with two strong innings, fanning two and working around a single, to earn his second save.

The series continues tonight with (yet another) rematch of Phillips Valdez (3-1, 5.40) vs. Zach Lovvorn (0-4, 4.50).

Apr 172016
 

They still gave up their customary six to the Blue Rocks. They still were sloppy on defense. But the lumber came out of its slumber as the P-Nats pounded out 13 hits and stopped a two-game slide with a 14-6 win over the Blue Rocks.

They only waited on (Wilmington starter Ashton) Goudeau until the 2nd inning, when they took advantage of two errors to score four runs, highlighted by Khayyan Norfork scampering home from second base on the second miscue and ending with a two-run triple from Osvaldo Abreu to take a 4-1 lead.

Potomac starter Boone Whiting couldn’t stand the prosperity and gave the lead right back with three runs in the 3rd. The veteran eventually would win for the second time in as many starts but with a Jack Morris line of six runs on ten hits over five innings with one walk and three whiffs.

In the 4th, back-to-back walks followed by a sacrifice by Narciso Mesa enabled Potomac to leverage its speed and score twice on an groundout by Andrew Stevenson and an infield single by Abreu. Jose “The Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz then, um, crushed the ball over the right field wall for a two-run homer to push the lead to 8-4.

Potomac would put the game away with a three-run 6th. A pair of walks and a single loaded the bases for Drew Ward, who emptied them with a double to the left-center gap, a ball hit hard enough for catcher Raudy Read to amble in all the way from first base for an 11-6 advantage.

Three doubles in the 7th (Mesa, Abreu, Marmolejos-Diaz) pushed it to 13-6 while a Keller triple and a wild pitch in the 8th plated the 14th and final P-Nats run.

Relievers Mario Sanchez (3IP) and Justin Thomas (1IP) combined for four scoreless innings of relief to close out the game.

Potomac will shoot for the 2-2 series split with Luis Reyes (0-1, 4.50) getting the ball vs. Colin Rodgers (0-0, 0.00) for Wilmington.

Apr 162016
 

Erick Fedde and the P-Nats were done in by three home runs – two over the wall, and one “inside the park” – as the Blue Rocks doubled up the P-Nats, 6-3.

For the second straight game, Wilmington struck in the first. Fedde fell behind the first batter 3-0 before working the count full and walking. After getting the second man on a flyout to right, the third batter hit a hard line drive in front of center fielder Andrew Stevenson.

Stevenson ultimately stumbled and flopped and the ball skipped past him to the wall, allowing both runners to score. It was initially (correctly) ruled a single and a three-base error, then inexplicably (and incorrectly*) changed to a home run.
* That he never touched the ball didn’t change the fact that he clearly misplayed it, which allowed both the batter-runner and the baserunner to advance additional bases.

Shitty Questionable scorekeeping aside, Potomac was trailing again after just a half-inning. Unlike the previous night, they were able to answer immediately as Jose “The Orange” Marmolejos-Diaz singled with two outs and scored on a Raudy Read double to cut the lead to 2-1 in favor of the visitors.

After the “homer,” Fedde settled down to retire 10 of the next 12 batters he faced. He ran into trouble again in the 6th when the Blue Rocks went deep twice in the space of three batters to extend the lead to 4-1. Fedde whiffed the final two batters he faced to finish with six but was on the hook for the loss.

Andrew Robinson followed from the ‘pen but was lit up for two run on three hits, including a triple and double, in just one inning to push the Wilmington advantage to 6-1. Ryan Brinley closed out the game with two scoreless innings, with one walk and two strikeouts.

Unfortunately, the P-Nats bats also went silent after 1st and didn’t awaken — except for one-out singles in the 5th and 6th — until the 8th when Stevenson singled to lead off the inning then trotted home ahead of Osvaldo Abreu’s two-run homer that cut the Blue Rocks’ lead to the eventual final of 6-3.

Despite a uniform-grazing HBP to lead off the 9th, Potomac went quietly in the 9th to lose again and drop into second place in the Carolina North, a half-game behind Lynchurg.

The four-game series continues tonight, with Boone Whiting (1-0, 1.80) getting the start for the P-Nats against Ashton Goudeau (1-0, 3.60) for the Blue Rocks.

Aug 152015
 

On a warm August night, the sunlight fading like the hopes of playing past Labor Day, the Potomac Nationals put it all together in all three phases of the game for a 4-0 win over the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

Three pitchers combined on the seven-hit shutout, led by starter Austen Williams. The 22-y.o. Texan was perfect through three and allowed three hits total through six innings. He walked one and struck out three to earn his fourth win for Potomac and 12th overall, which for what it’s worth, leads the Nationals minors.

He was followed by Derek Self, who was his usual self in turning in two scoreless but uneven innings with three hits allowed, no walks, and one whiff for the hold, his third for Potomac. Dupra closed out the ballgame in the 9th with one hit allowed and one strikeout.

Offensively, it wasn’t so much the bats as it was the legs of Rafael Bautista. The young Dominican drew a leadoff walk, then stole second and third rather easily, then scored on Grant DeBruin’s two-out single — the first of three RBI for the veteran minor-leaguer.

Two innings later, Bautista singled and stole second. In the 5th, he doubled, stole third (that’s four, if you’ve lost count) and stole home on a flyball to shallow center field, though technically it was sacrifice fly for Alex Keller.

In his final at-bat, he easily beat out a tapper to third but was picked off trying for his official fifth base. Final line: 3-for-3, 2R, 2B, BB, 4SB. In total, the P-Nats rapped out 11 hits, with DeBruin also getting three, and John Wooten going 2-for-4 with a double. They were 4-for-11 with RISP and left on just six.

With the win, Potomac improves to 22-25 in the second half but trails the Lynchburg Hillcats by five and a half games and just three games left between the two teams. Their elimination number stands at 18 with 23 games left to play.

The series continues tonight with a matchup of Brian Rauh (2-1, 2.21) for Potomac vs. Alec Mills (6-6, 2.73) for Wilmington.

Aug 012015
 

Potomac fell behind early, the offense couldn’t get it going, and the bullpen was uneven in a 5-1 loss to Salem.

It seems like a broken record for the P-Nats, who continue to lose games in bunches. Their current losing streak is four games, and they’ve lost three or more eight times thus far.

Reynaldo Lopez got the start last night and was both wild and uneven. Much has been made about his velocity, but it bears repeating because it is still misunderstood: it doesn’t matter how hard you throw if you’re not throwing strikes.

Lopez threw an inordinate amount of breaking pitches compared to previous starts. The good news is that he broke off some really nice ones, helping him to fan five. The bad news is that he had tremendous difficulty locating his fastball and was seemingly behind nearly every batter last night.

The result? Salem was able to sit on that mid-90s fastball and tee off for seven hits, including two doubles and moonshot HR over the left field wall. He would give up four runs and walk two over five innings and suffer his seventh loss.

Offensively, Potomac wasn’t up to snuff as they were able to get runners on early, but hit into three double plays in the first four innings. Were it not for Salem’s defensive struggles (two passed balls, a throwing error) and errant pitching (wild pitch, hit batsman), Potomac would have likely been shut out as they managed just five hits total.

The two teams continue the series tonight with a matchup of Ian Dickson (1-0, 2.50) versus Salem’s Daniel McGrath (1-4, 3.86)

Jul 252015
 

Down 3-0, the Potomac Nationals got back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases in the bottom of the 7th.

Then the #8 hitter (Cody Dent) struck out swinging. So did the #9 hitter (Narciso Mesa), albeit on a check wwing. Then—if you;ve been playing along at home, you know what’s coming—the leadoff man flailed and failed for the third whiff and the end of the inning.

Frederick would tack on two in the top of the 8th, as Potomac inexplicably (well, maybe not — they’ve got seven starters and five relievers on the staff right now) sent an ineffective Justin Thomas out for a fourth inning of work, where he was predictably lit up for two more runs to put the game out of reach at 5-0.

The P-Nats would break up the shutout with a run in the bottom of the 8th, as Anthony Rendon drew a leadoff walk and scored on John Wooten’s subsequent double for the game’s eventual 5-1 outcome.

Phillips Valdez got the start but struggled with his command, walking three as he wobbled through four scoreless innings. Thomas came on in the 5th and worked around a leadoff walk to retire the side, but gave up the winning runs — with an “assist” from Drew Ward’s 21st error in 77 games — in the 6th to garner the loss.

The P-Nats matched the Key with eight hits, with Wooten and Grant DeBruin both going 2-for-4 with a double, but were an abysmal 1-for-14 with RISP and left on eight runners in the loss, which was their third straight and ninth in ten games to fall back into the Carolina League North cellar at 12-15 in the second half.

Potomac now hits the road for six games — three against Salem, three against Myrtle Beach — before they return to the Pfitz next Friday.

Jul 192015
 

wheelscameoffthebus
A five-run 6th turned a slim 3-2 lead into a 7-3 deficit that Potomac could not overcome, as they dropped their fourth straight to Myrtle Beach by a 7-4 score.

Starter Phillips Valdez struggled with his command in the first inning, giving up two runs before retiring his first batter as a walk, single, and a steal put two runners in scoring position for Jacob Rogers’ double to the right-centerfield gap. He would issue two more walks but escaped further damage.

Unfortunately, much like the old saw that the prizefighter who lands the first solid punch wins the fight, such is the case with the P-Nats in 2015. Potomac’s record when that happens: 16-32 (vs. 28-15).

Valdez would recover to put in four scoreless innings before getting lifted after five innings. His final line: 5IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 5BB, 5K.

Meanwhile, rehabbers Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth joined the team and combined for three hits and two RBI, but only exerted enough energy to not get hurt. Werth, for example, watched a would-be double to the gap before settling for a single while pinch-runner Narciso Mesa scored all the way from first base.

The wheels came off the bus in 6th when Tyler Mapes was knocked for five runs on on five hits, including a three-run homer to put the game out of reach. Derek Self and Brian Dupra combined for three scoreless innings afterwards.

Potomac would score one last time in the 9th as Alec Keller singled and took second on an error with one out, then scored on Narciso Mesa’s single. Spencer Kieboom would lead the regulars with a 2-for-4 night, though he also struck out twice.

Despite the loss, Potomac remains in 1st place in the C.L. North by a ½ game as they make the short trip to Frederick for three against the Keys. Reynaldo Lopez (5-5, 4.30) gets the ball, opposed by Frederick’s Ariel Miranda (0-1, 5.63).