May 292012
 

So far this season, a return to the Pfitz has been the cure for Potomac’s road woes but last night the home cooking had the same recipe: good pitching coupled with bad luck and worse hitting in a 3-2 loss to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

Robbie Ray’s third home start was the best of the three so far, and almost as good as his last time out in Wilmington. He went six and 2/3rds and gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks. But he struck out just two versus eight, and still has not fanned a left-handed batter thus far this season. This is always troubling because southpaws are supposed to negate the other team’s lefties — especially when the lineup had five of them.

Of course, Ray’s counterpart was the Rangers’ #6 prospect Cody Buckel and the undersized righty lived up to his billing, flashing low-90s heat, a 12-6 curve that he reportedly learned from Barry Zito (sure looked like it) and devastating change.

Last time he pitched here (April 28), Potomac touched him for three runs in the second pass through the lineup, but the best that you could say is that they were able to make the 19-year-old work hard for his nine strikeouts, as they managed just three hits against him in six innings.

Ray gave up single runs in the 2nd, 4th, and the 7th. That last run was the most painful, not just because it was the margin of victory but because it came when it was obvious that Buckel was done and with the 4-5-6 men coming up, this was their chance to make some hay. Instead, the defense faltered again (the 4th inning run came after SS Zach Walters threw a bullet 5′ over Justin Bloxom’s glove) unable to snag a flyball to short RF for a leadoff double.

But Ray was not blameless, as it was his wild pitch that sent in the run with runners on 1st and 3rd and one out.

Potomac finally got on the board in the last of the 8th, as Justin Bloxom shattered his bat for broken-bat popup to CF that fell in for a single and Adrian Sanchez tripled him home. But as mentioned previously, luck was not on the Woodbridge Nine’s side as strikeout and a line drive back to the mound (for a 1-5 double play) ended the 8th.

J.P. Ramirez led off the 9th with nifty piece of place hitting, as the noticeably trimmer left-fielder legged out an opposite-field double. He showed off that newfound average speed to take third on a deep flyout to CF and slid home safe on ball that went off the Pelican pitcher’s glove that David Freitas lumbered to first for an infield single.

Francisco Soriano was called upon to pinch-run for Freitas and was promptly picked off 1st for the inning’s second out while Walters compounded his fielding miscue with his third strikeout to end the game.

The loss put Potomac back in the Carolina League North cellar, 8½ games behind division-leading Lynchburg and tied with Frederick. Matt Grace (2-6, 6.70) takes the hill for Game Two of the four-game series while the offense should get a badly needed jolt of energy with the addition of Michael Morse in the lineup on a rehab assignment.

May 132012
 

They say that history doesn’t repeat itself… but it sure as hell rhymes.

For the second straight game, the Potomac pitchers coughed up nine runs, losing this one 9-1. Walks were the culprit in this debacle — seven given up, six of them coming around to score — as the Mudcats only had two extra-base hits, quite the contrast from Friday night.

The damage came in three big innings… a three-run 3rd, a three-run 7th, and a two-run 8th. All three pitchers were torched touched, with Matt Grace giving up four runs on seven hits, Joe Testa two runs on four walks, and Wilson Eusebio giving up three runs, and both extra-base hits.

It should come as no surprise to learn that Potomac has given up the most runs (earned or otherwise) in High-A baseball.

Offensively, as the “1″ suggests, things weren’t clicking. Justin Bloxom’s solo HR in the 3rd — a monster shot that cleared the high fence in right field was one of just four balls hit out of the infield. Randolph Oduber’s double to left was the second, Zach Walters nearly hit one over the Carolina centerfielder in the 7th (he snagged it on the run, taking two steps onto the warning track), and Bloxom struck again with a single two batters later.

Three hits, seven baserunners, and six left on base, and 0-for-6 with RISP. That was the extent of the offense.

With the loss, Potomac falls to 13-19 and back into 3rd place in the Carolina League North. Paul Applebee (1-0, 4.40) gets the Sunday start this afternoon and the task of helping to avoid a three-game sweep and a 1-6 road trip.

Apr 282012
 

The first five runs in the game were earned, the last four weren’t. The Pelicans got three of those four on three P-Nats errors to overcome a 3-2 deficit and hold on for a 5-4 win on a cold Friday night.

The miscues also masked a gutsy outing by Adam Olbrychowski, who got hit (again) early with two runs in the 2nd inning but then settled in and settled down. After an RBI groundout for the second inning’s second out, the 25-year-old retired 13 of 15 batters.

The two that he didn’t get were walks, and were erased on two nifty double plays by Zach Walters and Franciso Soriano. A single to left followed, ending Olbrychowski’s night with just four hits and three walks allowed. More importantly, by pitching into the 7th he gave the bullpen the task of getting just seven outs, a little relief for the ‘pen that had worked three or more innings the past four games.

Before describing what happened next, it’s important to note that while Olbrychowski was setting them down in order inning after inning, so were the Pelican pitchers. Starter Wilmer Font gave up the first three runs, including a two-run shot to right-center by Wade Moore, but struck out six in his three innings of work. Middle reliever Randol Rojas was easily the true star of the game with five no-hit innings of relief, with just a walk in the sixth.

So while it’s natural to think “those three errors killed us,” the real culprit was the lack of hitting.

Back to the top of the 7th… runner on 1st, two outs, Rob Wort pitching. Josh Richmond lifts a flyball to medium right-center. Michael Taylor and Randolph Oduber converge but neither can get to it. And neither could pick it up cleanly, the error charged to Oduber as the runner came around all the way to score. Game is tied, 3-3.

In the 8th, an errant pickoff by Wort throw sets up a sacrifice fly. Myrtle Beach goes up 4-3.

In the 9th, Wilson Eusebio butchers a grounder with one out. Walters makes a sensational throw after going deep into the 5/6 hole, but the runner moves up and Richmond strikes again with an RBI single. The Pelicans now lead 5-3.

David Freitas, who singled in the first Potomac run way back in the first, strikes out to lead off the ninth. Michael Taylor follows suit. For those without a scorecard, that’s 22 of 25 batters retired since Moore’s homer in the 2nd.

Myrtle Beach commits its sole error as Justin Bloxom reaches on his counterpart’s mistake. After taking second on defensive indifference, Moore collects his third RBI of the night to pull the P-Nats within one at 5-4.

Despite the offensive drought, Potomac had a chance to win or tie. Brian Rupp rolled the dice by sending up big man Kevin Keyes, an all-or-nothing hitter, and giving Wade Moore the green light to steal second.

Moore succeeded, but Keyes didn’t, striking out to end the game.

The loss extends Potomac’s losing streak to six games. Chien-Mien Wang is slated to pitch tonight in a rehab start, with a pitch count of approximately 65 pitches. Matt Swynenberg is likely to be the first man out of the ‘pen as it’s his turn in the rotation. They’ll be opposed by 19-year-old Cody Buckel, the Rangers’ 2nd-round pick of the 2010 draft.

Apr 192012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 6-1
(11 inn.)
vs. Pawtucket,
12:00 p.m.
Duke (1-1, 4.91) vs.
Wilson (1-0, 1.80)
Harrisburg Won, 7-1 @ Trenton,
7:05 p.m.
Ballard (0-1, 5.23) vs.
Romanski (1-0, 5.23)
Potomac Postponed vs. Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Hansen (1-1, 7.88) vs.
Celestino (1-1, 3.60)
Hagerstown Lost, 6-2 vs. Lakewood,
7:05 p.m.
McKenzie (0-1, 10.50) vs.
Kleven (1-1, 2.45)

Pawtucket 6 Syracuse 1 (11 inn.)
• Lannan (ND) 6IP, 6H, R, ER, BB, 2K
• Arnesen 2IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Brown 1-3, 2BB
• Michaels 1-3, R, 2B, BB

The Chiefs had held the PawSox to just two runs over the previous 22 innings, but the levee broke in the top of the 11th with a five-run implosion as Pawtucket defeated the Chiefs, 6-1. John Lannan finally turned in the kind of start you’d expect from a major-leaguer at AAA, with just a solo HR given up over six innings. The problem is that the Syracuse offense, which was shut out on Tuesday, was just as woeful on Wednesday: Just five hits and five walks over 11 innings. Hassan Pena took the loss, loading the bases on a walk and two singles, and sending in the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk. Josh Wilkie nearly escaped the jam with a first-batter strikeout (out #2 of the inning), but then gave up a bases-clearing double to put the game out of reach, and a single to add insult to injury. Bryce Harper went 0-for-5 to drop his season average to .222

Harrisburg 7 Altoona 1
• Rosenbaum 9IP, 4H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 9K, 95-71 B-S
• Pahuta 2-4, 2R, HR, 3RBI
• Rahl 2-4, R, HR, 2RBI
• King 2-4, RBI

Already the most accomplished Nats pitching prospect in the organization, Danny Rosenbaum put another notch on his belt with a four-hit, nine-inning complete game in a 7-1 win over Altoona. The 24-year-old southpaw needed just 95 pitches to do it, pounding the zone with 71 strikes. Can’t say that this surprises me; I’ve seen something like it before. The Senators also gave Rosenbaum plenty of support, with the 4-5-6 batters (Pahuta-Rahl-King) each going 2-for-4, with Pahuta and Rahl smacking back-to-back jacks in the 7th. The Senators finished their first homestand with a 4-3 mark and now hit the road for Trenton and Altoona before returning to City Island next Friday.

Potomac vs. Frederick — PPD
The rains that pelted the DC area yesterday forced the first postponement of the 2012 campaign. The game will be made up with a doubleheader on Tuesday, June 5th, which might be pivotal as last year’s two playoff teams from the Carolina League’s Northern Division were already set for a four-game series. Currently, both are in second place, two and a half games behind Lynchburg. The P-Nats return to Woodbridge tonight for a four-game series against the Salem Red Sox.

Delmarva 6 Hagerstown 2
• Turnbull (L, 0-1) 4⅔ IP, 9H, 6R, 6ER, 2BB, 5K
• Hill 3⅓ IP, 4H, 0R, 0BB, 3K, 1-0 IR-S
• Jimenez 2-4, 2B, 2RBI
• Burns 1-3, R

The Shorebird batters turned into the Lehman Brothers in the middle innings, putting up crooked numbers in three consecutive innings for another 6-2 win over the Suns. Kylin Turnbull took the loss with all six runs charged against him over four and 2/3rds innings, giving up nine hits and two walks. Taylor Hill finished the game with three and 1/3rd scoreless innings. Despite the solid relief, the Hagerstown nine couldn’t mount a late-inning charge and were limited to just six hits and one walk. Hendry Jimenez was the leading batter with a 2-for-4 night, driving in both Suns runs with a third-inning double. The Suns will be back in action tonight at the Muni for a four against the Lakewood BlueClaws.

Apr 092012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probables (’11 #s at Level)
Syracuse Lost, 10-0 vs. Scranton/WB,
6:00
Zach Duke (1-0, 8.44) vs.
Adam Warren (6-8, 3.60)
Harrisburg Won, 5-2 @ New Britain,
6:35 p.m.
Mike Ballard (8-3, 3.33) vs.
Alex Wimmers (2-3, 4.20 @ A+)
Potomac Lost, 3-2 OFF DAY n/a
Hagerstown Won, 8-6 vs. Lexington,
7:05 p.m.
Chris McKenzie (4-7, 6.97) vs.
Kyle Hallock (3-4, 2.63 @ NYPL)

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 10 Syracuse 0
• Lannan (L, 0-1) 2IP, 6H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 1K, 0HR
• Arnesen 4IP, 4H, 0R, 3BB, 0K
• Martin ⅔ IP, 5H, 5R, 5ER, 1BB, 0K, 0HR
• Teahen 1-3
• Brown 0-2, 2BB

John Lannan did not make his case for being traded, instead getting pounded for five runs over two innings. Meanwhile, the Syracuse bats were held silent by the Yankees #16 prospect, D.J. Mitchell, and two veteran relievers. Mark Teahen’s fifth-inning single was the sole base hit for the Chiefs, who managed just six total baserunners. Erik Arnesen was solid in relief, throwing four scoreless innings, but Rafael Martin was not, giving up five hits and a walk over two-thirds of an inning as the Yankees doubled up their 5-0 lead to the eventual 10-0 final in the 7th. Bryce Harper’s defensive struggles continued with a fielding error and an offline throw that enabled a runner to move up.

Harrisburg 5 Bowie 2
• Rosenbaum (W, 1-0) 6IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 1K, 1HR
• Lehman (SV, 2) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Perez 2-4, R, 3B, BB, RBI
• Kobernus 1-3, R, BB, SB (5)

Danny Rosenbaum turned in a quality start for his first win of the season, allowing just a run on four hits and no walks over six innings. Rehabbing Michael Morse drove in the first three Harrisburg runs on an RBI groundout and a two-run double while Eury Perez led the rest of the lineup with a single, triple, walk and a run scored. Jeff Kobernus had his mutlihit game streak snapped with a mere 1-for-3 effort and his 5th stolen base in four games. Pat Lehman notched his second save with a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out the last two batters he faced. Harrisburg heads up I-95 to visit the New Britain Rockcats for three games before returning to Metro Bank Park on Thursday for the home opener.

Lynchburg 3, Potomac 2
• Oblrychowski (L, 0-1) 5IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 1K, 1HR
• Wort 2IP, 1H, 0R, 1BB, 1K
• Skelton 2-3, 2RBI
• W. Moore 1-3, R, 2B

Make that three straight losses for Potomac, as the P-Nats could only muster six hits against the Hillcats in a 3-2 loss. Adam Olbrychowski took the loss, giving up three runs on seven hits and three walks over five innings, including a two-run shot in the bottom of the first. Veteran backstop James Skelton paced the offense with a two-out, two-run single in the top of the 2nd and went 2-for-3 overall. Monday is an off day as the P-Nats head south to Myrtle Beach for three games before heading back to Woodbridge for the home opener on Friday night.

Hagerstown 8 West Virginia 6
• Turnbull (ND) 4IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 1K
• Hill (W, 1-0) 4⅓ IP 5H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 1K
• Meza (SV, 1) ⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Goodwin 2-5, HR, 3RBI, E (2)
• Martinson 1-3, 2R, 2BB, 3SB (5)
• Skole 1-2, R, 2B, 2RBI, 2BB

Kylin Turnbull didn’t fare so well in his pro debut, giving up three runs on five hits with no walks and just one strikeout, but a pair of three-run rallies gave him the no-decision as the Suns held off a late Power surge for an 8-6 victory and a 3-1 series win. Brian Goodwin connected for a three-run shot in the bottom of the third, taking the sting off his second error in four games. Jason Martinson stole third twice and second once to push his total to five steals in four games. Taylor Hill got the win in long relief, tiring in the 9th as West Virginia rallied for two runs before southpaw Christian Meza got the last two outs for his first save of 2012.

Mar 242012
 

The starter got rocked, the bullpen was so-so, and the offense was sparse. It’s been a familiar theme for the past 11 games for the Nationals, losing today to the Orioles in Sarasota, 12-3.

The new wrinkle is the bugaboo that always shows up in the midst of a losing streak: errors. Four today, with two by Steve Lombardozzi while playing third base (both on throws). Lombardozzi singled once in three ABs to improve his spring average to .302 and notched two assists.

Corey Brown also got a start. He went 0-for-4 with an RBI and snagged two flyballs in LF. Other notable minor-leaguers to get in the game were:

  • Adrian Sanchez took over for Danny Espinosa at second base, going 0-for-1 at the plate and handling all three chances on defense over the last four innings
  • Michael Taylor pinch-ran and scored a run but struck out in his sole AB. He manned CF for the last three innings but had no errors, putouts, or assists.
  • Brett Newsome also scored as pinch-runner and flew out to LF in his lone plate appearance. He took over at 1B and notched three putouts in three innings.
  • Chris Rahl pinch-ran but did not score, going 0-for-1 while taking over RF duties from Brett Carroll. He had one putout.
  • Josh Johnson took over 3B for Lombardozzi, and grounded out to end the game for his 0-for-1 line.

The Nats return to Viera tomorrow afternoon to host the Mets. Stephen Strasburg makes his fifth spring start. The game can be heard locally on 106.7FM and 1500AM.

Mar 232012
 

If you’ve been drinking the Flavor-Aid, the lack of offense and winlessness are merely coincidence. So no need to worry about today’s 5-1 loss to the Astros (losers of 106 games in 2011). If, on the other hand, you’re aware that Opening Day is less than two weeks away, perhaps you may have some cause for concern.

Since Sunday, the Nats have scored a grand total of three (3) runs and collected 20 hits over those four games. While it’s true that stats don’t matter in Spring Training, claiming they’re completely meaningless is both specious and disingenuous. Pitching was this team’s strength in 2011 and while it’s been significantly upgraded, the same cannot be said for the hitting.

Of course, this is minors site, so I’ll stop the fan rant right here.

As you might imagine, a lot of oh-fers in today’s minors guy rundown:

  • Chris McConnell went 0-for-1 while subbing at SS, where he had one assist
  • Josh Johnson had one of the three hits (1-for-1) and had an assist at 2B
  • Stephen King went 0-for-1 and played the last two innings on defense at 3B
  • Randolph Oduber went 0-for-1 and handled his lone defensive chance in RF
  • Tim Pahuta struck out his AB and notched three putouts and an assist in four innings at 1B
  • Steve Lombardozzi pinch-hit (0-for-1) and played the 8th without incident in LF

The Nats next face the O’s tomorrow afternoon in Sarasota with Edwin Jackson taking the hill. The game will be televised on MASN (warning: Orioles broadcast crew) and on the radio on 106.7FM.

Mar 222012
 

With just four hits on offense, albeit with the scrubs, Washington was the narc caught at the St. Louis biker rally for a 9-0 loss this afternoon.

Gio Gonzalez took the brunt of the beatdown, giving up eight runs (all earned) on 10 hits and four walks over three and two-thirds of an inning. He threw 85 pitches, 50 for strikes, but walked four.

Steve Lombardozzi led off once again and went 1-for-3 while playing shortstop. He made three putouts and three assists during his five innings on defense.

Other notable minor-leaguers to see game action:

Blake Kelso pinch-ran and played third base, executing on his only defensive chance for a 5-4 play to end the 8th. He went 0-for-1 at the plate with a groundout.

Chris Rahl also pinch-ran and subbed in RF, where he had no defensive plays in two innings. He went 0-for-1 with a flyout.

Destin Hood pinch-hit in the 8th and struck out, he played the 8th inning in RF but nothing was hit his way.

Tomorrow afternoon the Nats head for Kissimmeee to visit the Astros. Jordan Zimmermann gets the start, opposed by Bud Norris for Houston. The game can be heard on MLB Audio.

Mar 212012
 

A leadoff walk in the 9th and an Danny Espinosa error in the 10th helped the Nats snatch defeat from the jaws of victory for a 3-2 loss in Grapefruit League action this afternoon.

John Lannan threw four scoreless innings to bolster his case for the No. 5 starter, while Ian Desmond went 3-for-4 with a walk and a double in his return to the leadoff slot. He also made an error. The No. 2 batter Espinosa stranded six runners in an 0-for-5 effort, striking out once and grounding into a double play.

Of course, we’re now at that point in the spring where the posts get shorter, as just two notable minor-leaguers saw game action.

Steve Lombardozzi made his first appearance in the outfield, playing left field and making three putouts over six innings. Offensively, he went 1-for-3.

Atahualpa Severino had his first 1-2-3 appearance of the spring, inducing a groundout and two flyballs for his second hold.

The loss drops the Nats to 5-10 in Grapefruit League play. Gio Gonzalez makes his third start as the Nationals hop the bus for an afternoon game at Roger Dean Stadium vs. the St. Louis Cardinals. The game can be heard or seen live on MLB.com and on tape delay on the MLB Network tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m.

Mar 102012
 

The Nats offseason was largely spent bolstering the pitching, with the implication that the offense would come later with a healthy Zimmerman, a comeback by Jayson Werth, and the addition of some kid from the minors.

It may be early, but the worry that the hitting won’t support the pitching wasn’t put to rest on Friday night as the Marlins blanked the Nationals, 3-0.

Stephen Strasburg was charged with the loss, giving up two runs in a sloppy third inning that began when he knocked down a grounder by Bryan Petersen and let it slip from his grip for an infield single. Two batters later, Jose Reyes launched a triple to center to plate Peterson and Emilio Bonifacio singled Reyes in for a 2-0 lead. Strasburg next hit Hanley Ramirez but then settled down to retire the next two batters.

Just four Nationals hit safely and no one reached base via the walk. Three of the four hits came from the minor-leaguers as Steve Lombardozzi went 1-for-3, Tyler Moore went 1-for-2 and Corey Brown went 1-for-2. Incumbents Ian Desmond, Roger Bernadina combined to go 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, while backup catcher Jesus Flores was the only other National to hit safely (1-for-2).

Anthony Rendon started at 3B but went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and made a putout and an assist in his four innings of play. Carlos Rivero replaced him and made an assist while going hitless in his one at-bat. Jhonatan Solano was also a defensive replacement and went 0-for-1 in the field.

It’s a busy day today as the Nats split the squad to visit the Tigers while the rest stay home to host the Mets. Lombardozzi, Brown, Solano and Eury Perez are expected to start on the road in Lakeland. Both games are at 1 p.m. can be heard on MLB Audio.