Apr 282014
 

Potomac rallied from a 4-0 deficit and scored in each of the final five innings for a 6-5 walkoff win, their third straight of the homestand and fifth in a row against Lynchburg.

Doug Fister started for the first MLB rehab outing of the season by a pitcher in Potomac but struggled with his command early, racking up deep counts to the first three batters. Two of them would reach: one by an error — Stephen Perez’s team-leading 6th — another by a single before Fister would strike out his first batter looking.

Veteran minor-leaguer Kevin Ahrens cashed in the error with an RBI single to left before Fister would forget the outs and throw over to 1st on a tapper back to mound. The P-Nats defense let him down again as a passed ball by Pedro Severino scored the second Lynchburg run.

Fister settled down in the second and third innings, facing the mininum as double-play ball erased the third hit he gave up in the 2nd.

Things got hairy again in the 4th as a high-hopper to the left side was ruled an error when Adrian Sanchez couldn’t convert it into an out and the Hillcats got to Fister for three straight hits, though the first (Tyler Tewell) gave himself up by straying too far from 1B and the Potomac defense made him pay for his boneheadedness for the second straight game.

Fister rolled another double play ball to finish his day with four innings pitched, three runs allowed (all unearned) on six hits but no walks and three K’s on 59 pitches, 42 of which were strikes. The 31-y.o. former Tiger is expected to make another rehab start on Friday before returning to Washington next week.

As noted in the previous LNIW, Brett Mooneyham came on in relief instead of starting but seemed to respond well to the lower-pressure situation, though he gave up runs in his first and last innings of work. He walked a season-low of just one batter (though he hit two) and earned his second win.

This, of course, was courtesy of the offense, which scored in each of the last five innings and tallied 13 hits total; three apiece by Perez and Severino and another pair of singles by Adrian Sanchez.

Lynchburg would committ a critical balk in the 9th to set up the walkoff win, the miscue moving up Khayyan Norfork to second with nobody out after the Potomac second baseman led off with a single. The Hillcats elected to intentionally walk Oscar Tejeda to pitch to Brandon Miller and got the strikeout but Shawn Pleffner singled to center to drive in Norfork and give the P-Nats (and Mooneyham) the win.

Dakota Bacus (1-1, 2.08) gets the start tonight against Jarrett Miller (0-2, 3.86) in Game 3 of the four-game series.

Aug 172013
 

Potomac scored seven times with two outs as they completed a three-game sweep of Frederick with a 7-3 win.

Ross Ohlendorf made the rehab start but was not sharp. The 31-year-old journeyman gave up all three Keys runs on eight hits, including three hard-hit doubles.

While he walked just one, the former Diamondback farmhand faced multiple long counts as his command was spotty. For the velo who..er, enthusiasts, peeks at the guns were in the 89-91 range.

His counterpart, however, would need a vehicle to hit that speed. Frederick’s knuckleballer in training Zach Clark had the Potomac lineup fooled for about seven batters before Justin Miller knocked a flutterball off the left field wall in the 2nd, then Randolph Oduber put one over it for a two-run shot that gave Potomac a 2-1 lead.

Potomac would add three more in the third with three doubles by Caleb Ramsey, Kevin Keyes, and Adrian Sanchez. Clark would finish the evening by retiring the last seven in a row, but lost his sixth decision for the Keys while lowering his ERA from 14.06 to 13.19.

Greg Holt relieved Ohlendorf after he gave up his eighth hit to the leadoff batter in the 5th and earned his seventh win with two innings of scoreless relief, though he walked three — including the first two batters of the 6th. A grounder to third, a popup to third and strikeout enabled the 24-y.o. to escape the jam.

Colin Bates pitched the 7th and 8th and Rob Wort the 9th, as both relievers worked around multiple base hits (two in each inning) and combined for three scoreless innings.

The win was the fifth in a row for the P-Nats, who hit the road for four games in tax shelter Delaware against the Blue Rocks before returning home for their final regular-season homestand on Wednesday.

May 162013
 

After scoring just three runs in the previous 20 innings, the Potomac Nationals tripled that output in one game in a wild 9-6 win over Wilmington.

The offensive resurgence featured 12 hits, including three doubles, a triple, and a Justin Miller home run that bounced halfway up the LF light tower that served as an double exclamation point (a two-run shot, natch) as the P-Nats scored the last seven runs without an answer from the Blue Rocks.

The highlight of the night was the 7th inning, in which Potomac rallied from four down to score five. It began with a whimper, not a bang, as Randolph Oduber took one off the left ankle and had to leave the game in favor of Wilmer Difo. Michael Taylor followed with a rocket to right-center that easily pushed Difo to third.

A wild pitch pushed across Difo and moved up Taylor, but a shallow flyout by Miller and a strikeout by Cutter Dykstra left it up to cleanup man Jason Martinson. The two-time Carolina League Player of the Week delivered Taylor with double to dead center, the second in as many nights, for the fourth Potomac run.

Kevin Keyes continued his walking ways with his seventh BB of the homestand while Caleb Ramsey delivered the fifth P-Nat run with a single to left. Adrian Sanchez capped off the rally with two-run triple to right-center, reminiscent of Taylor’s shot six batters earlier.

Unfortunately, the comeback was made necessary by another uneven outing by A.J. Cole. The 21-year-old was torched for six runs on six hits and two walks and just three strikeouts. The latter matters because it’s his go-to when the going gets rough, and the escape route wasn’t there last night.

That’s because Cole couldn’t get his breaking stuff over enough to keep hitters honest. Too much gets made about velocity nowadays and it cannot be repeated too often: Even in single-A, a batter can hit a 95 m.p.h. fastball when he knows it’s coming.

Hence, a pair of two-run home runs that accounted for four of the six runs Wilmington hung on his pitching line, one preceded by a double, the other by a walk. He would be lifted with no outs in the sixth.

Tyler Herron came to relieve Cole and promptly loaded the bases with a walk and two singles. He cleaned up his own mess with help from Dykstra on a tapper to third for a force at home, then two strikeouts.

Greg Holt would get the win for his two innings and also a little help from the 23-y.o. third baseman as he raced across the diamond to corral a slow roller and gun down the Blue Rocks leadoff man to end the 8th inning, helping Holt strand two runners in scoring position.

Derek Self tossed a 1-2-3 ninth for his third save.

With the win, Potomac returns to second place, a game behind Lynchburg in the Carolina League North. Jayson Werth, who went 1-for-2 with a sharp single to center and threw out a runner at the plate as part of a 9-2 double play to end the 2nd, is expected to rehab for a second night.

The rubber match of the series will feature a matchup of “northpaws,” with Taylor Hill (3-1, 2.21) going for Potomac and Kyle Zimmer (0-2, 4.09) pitching for Wilmington.

Jul 192012
 

Lynchburg’s Gus Schlosser was on last night, tossing eight shutout innings in a 6-2 win over Potomac.

The 23-year-old allowed just a leadoff single to Adrian Sanchez, who stole second and took third on an error after a Ricky Hague flyout. Sanchez was erased on a 5-2 putout at the plate, with Xavier Nady reaching first on the fielder’s choice.

After Nady, it was nada. Twenty-two straight batters were retired — six by way of the K, ten on groundouts, and six flyouts.

Thus, while it’s tempting to go off on a rant about the foibles of Chien-Ming Wang (the Taiwanese John Patterson?) and Nady (0-for-3), it’s unfair to Schlosser. Even Nathan Karns would have probably lost last night.

Wang gave up three runs on three hits and two walks. His apologists, who are legion, will take comfort in the 10 groundball outs. But the three hits were two doubles and a triple, and none of them would have been turned into outs by a major-league outfield.

Robbie Ray, the originally scheduled starter, followed Wang on the mound and turned in three serviceable innings, working around a leadoff doubles in the 5th and 7th and a hit batsmen in the 6th before giving up a run in the 8th (home run) and two in the 9th (back-to-back singles and a double).

Ray had trouble locating his fastball and by the 9th, his fifth inning of work, the Hillcats were keying on his breaking pitches, with several fouls ripped into the third-base stands. He finished with three runs allowed on seven hits and no walks, though he did set down six on strikes.

Potomac broke through with two runs in the 9th against reliever Blaine Sims, as Kevin Keyes led off with an opposite-field double down the right field line, Adrian Sanchez singled and took second on an error (sending in Keyes). Ricky Hague followed with an RBI double, though the umpire saw it differently and called him out at second on throw in from left field.

With the loss, Potomac missed an opportunity to tie Lynchburg for the division lead, instead falling back to two games behind, tied with Wilmington and Frederick at 12-14.

The series finale is this afternoon, with Matt Grace (4-9, 5.91) starting for the P-Nats, facing off against Cody Martin (10-6, 2.80) for the Hillcats.

Jun 242012
 

It wasn’t until the ninth inning and the fifth Potomac pitcher that Winston-Salem couldn’t put up a run last night, as the Dash demolished the P-Nats, 16-6.

The Dash pounded out 20 hits over the first eight innings, including three doubles and four home runs. Perhaps the biggest mystery might be why cleanup hitter Dan Black only went 1-for-6.

Starter Matt Grace suffered the worst of the beating, giving up 10 runs — all earned — on 12 hits over three and 1/3rd innings. The outing pushed his ERA from 5.24 in 6.27 in little more than an hour.

The team’s other Matt (Swynenberg) didn’t fare much better, taking a boot to the [prosterior] with four runs over two innings, but answering the question as to which starter was the odd man out when Potomac dropped from a six-man rotation to the usual five after playing multiple doubleheaders in the last two weeks before the All-Star break.

Joe Testa and Ryan Demmin were both roughed up before Rob Wort, who hadn’t pitched in eight days, was summoned for the final frame. The closer struck out the side in a 1-2-3 ninth.

Offensively, Potomac fared fairly well, especially with a pair of rehabbing major-leaguers that brought the donuts (0-for-7 combined) and hustled like DMV clerks. Conversely, Randolph Oduber and Adrian Sanchez each had three hits, with the Groovin’ Aruban beating out two infield hits and tripling to the right-center gap and Sacnhez doubling to the left-center gap.

Jason Martinson capped off the Potomac scoring with a solo shot in the last half inning.

The loss drops Potomac to 2-1 in the second half and back into second place behind Lynchburg.

Wilmington comes to town for four, with today’s start time pushed from 1:05 to 4:05 to accommodate the Blue Rocks’ coming in from Zebulon, NC after a doubleheader. Nathan Karns (1-2, 4.15) is slated to take the hill against Tyler Sample (1-8, 5.86).

Jun 102012
 

Sometimes rehabs giveth and sometimes they taketh — and sometimes it’s both.

Rehabbing Chris Marrero singled twice (one flare, one line drive) and drove in one but two grooved fastballs (read: no-doubt-about-it HRs) by rehabbing Ryan Mattheus tied and lost the game in the 8th as the Potomac Nationals fell 3-2 in the final home game of the first half.

Potomac opened the game with a leadoff single by Blake Kelso, who stole second (#19) an third (#20) to set up Marrero’s RBI grounder to 3B, which was momentarily bobbled to prevent a play at the plate.

Salem would tie the game at 1-1 as reserve catcher Carson Blair doubled in 19-year-old Xander Bogaerts off starter Trevor Holder, who gave up five walks in five inning.

Holder was in a position to win, thanks J.P. Ramirez’s leading off the 5th with a single to center, taking second on an error, third on Erick Fernandez’s sacrifice bunt, and sliding in under a poor throw as Kelso tapped a high grounder to short.

Jimmy Barthmaier followed Holder with two shaky innings, rescued by a diving stop and tag of third and toss across to first DP by Kelso to end the 6th and Salem’s Jackie Bradley Jr. baserunning miscue that doubled him off to end the 7th.

Despite Mattheus’s poor showing, the P-Nats still had a chance to win as Marrero and Bloxom, who both went 2-for-4, reached base with one out but neither Zach Walters (strikeout) nor Michael Taylor (flyout) could push either runner across.

After another 1-2-3 outing by Rob Wort, Potomac’s 7-8-9 batters followed suit.

Combined with another win by Lynchburg, the elimination number for the P-Nats is now just four with seven games to play — the next four on the road against the Winston-Salem Dash, which leads the Carolina league with 37 wins, 20 at their home venue of BB&T park, where the P-Nats were swept in late April.

Aug 222010
 

The Winston-Salem Dash reasserted themselves as the class of the Carolina league with a 9-8 victory (and a series win) over Potomac today. But with a four-run eighth and the tying run being cut down at the plate in the ninth to end the game, Potomac let it be known that this may not be the last time these two teams meet in 2010.

The allure of a rehabbing pitcher is a great marketing tool to draw casual fans to a minor-league, but regular readers of this space already know that rehab starts are overrated. This Sunday was no exception.

Despite the threat of rain, Yunesky Maya took the mound in Potomac and looked every bit the pitcher who hadn’t faced experienced professional hitters in more than a year. And make no mistake: This Winston-Salem team can hit. As a team, they’re averaging a line of .287/.351/.432 in a league where the median is .260/.330/.386

Maya’s command was spotty, but he got hitters out the first time through the lineup while fiddling with both his pitches (fastball, slider, curve) and his arm angle (overhand and three-quarters). At times his motion was fluid, but more often than not, he was slow and deliberate. The most impressive of his pitches was his curve, which he threw at two distinctly different speeds.

The second time through the lineup, the Dash took advantage of Maya’s rust as the first six batters reached base in the fourth inning before he retired the No.9 hitter by strikeout, as the Dash scored five runs on five hits and two walks during the inning. The fifth inning wasn’t any better, as the cleanup hitter smacked a long solo HR to right field and the second batter walked before he was lifted with no outs by manager Gary Cathcart.

Maya’s final line: four-plus innings, six runs (all earned) on seven hits, with three walks and four strikeouts.

Put in a 6-1 hole by a rehabbing pitcher, the Potomac offense did not, however, roll over. They would mimic their opponents in the sixth with a walk and four singles sandwiched around a strikeout by Jose Lozada, who smacked a would-coulda-grand slam for a very loud strike one, to cut the lead to 6-3.

Winston-Salem answered right back with three runs in the seventh to go back up 9-3. Like a punch-drunk boxer, the response would come late, in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Lozada doubled, Jerome Walton singled to score him for a 9-4 tally, then Francisco Soriano walked to load the bases for Chris Curran.

Curran blistered a ball down the first base line that the first baseman was unable to handle — a questionable ruling as an error — but a play that sent home both Walton and Soriano to narrow the gap to 9-6. Sean Nicol’s infield single off Dash closer Tyson Corley would complete the four-run rally, Winston-Salem 9, Potomac 7 after eight full innings.

In the bottom of the ninth, Potomac would rally once again with one out. Sean Rooney doubled to left, Lozada singled to move him to third, and Walton singled to score Rooney. Soriano would fly to right, Lozada tagging to take third. A wild pitch sent Lozada scampering home for the possible game-tying run, but the catcher got a strong rebound and gunned it to Corley for the tag, the third out, and a 9-8 final in favor of the Dash.

The loss, combined with a Wilmington win in Lynchburg, reduces the Potomac lead back to 1½ games as the Blue Rocks come to town tomorrow for a three-game showdown. Trevor Holder is set to take the hill against Aaron Crow, the Washington Nationals No. 9 draft choice that went unsigned in 2008.

Aug 102010
 

Thunder and lightning suspended this game at 8-2 last week, and Potomac used every bit of that anomaly to come away with an 8-7 score-that-counts-as-a-win in the first game played last night in Woodbridge.

Lynchburg’s three pitchers that took the mound on Monday shut down the Potomac offense, limiting them to just four hits and two walks by (who else?) Derek Norris while striking out nine batters.

Meanwhile, Marcos Frias, who had been pitching last Wednesday, resumed the game and immediately gave up two runs to cut the deficit from 8-2 to 8-4. He would settle down and retire eight of nine before surrendering a solo home run in the sixth, his team- and league-leading 16th of the season. It was now 8-5, Potomac.

Clayton Dill would follow Frias on the mound in the eighth and surrender a double to right, and suffer an error by Jose Lozada before getting a double play ball, which plated another run, shaving the lead to 8-6 for Potomac.

Justin Phillabaum took the ball in the ninth, and also gave up a leadoff double. But like Dill, he got two groundball outs, the first sending the runner to third, the second scoring him on a bullet down the LF line that Dan Lyons snared and fired across the diamond for out #2. After a two-out single, Phillabaum induced a fly to right field and sigh of relief from the stands, with the game in hand for an 8-7 victory.

Garrett Mock took the hill in Game Two, and did little to disprove the NationalsProspects.com mantra that rehab starts are overrated, coughing up a two-out, two-run blast to admittedly red-hot Denis Phipps (home run #8 since being demoted from AA Carolina) in the first inning, hitting two batters and surrendering eight hits over our innings. He also gave up a run in the fourth, his final inning of work.

It could have been worse were it not for a terrific relay on a two-out double to deep CF by Lynchburg’s Justin Greene. Speedsters Chris Curran and Francisco Soriano showed off their arms with a strong throw from the warning track to shallow and a bullet to the plate. Norris blocked the plate, absorbed the hit, and then glared at the baserunner — opposing catcher Jordan Wideman, who broke the catcher’s code by not sliding — before flipping the ball towards the mound, the body language roughly translated as: Is that all you got?

Unfortunately, the great defensive play did not spark the offense, which went down 1-2-3 for the next four innings. Newly acquired reliever Joe Testa worked the final the final three innings, the last of which saw him get roughed up for two runs on three hits.

With the split, Potomac’s lead over second-place Wilmington drops to just one game again. Adrian Alaniz is the scheduled starter for Potomac in today’s noontime barbeque ballgame, opposed by Curtis Partch for Lynchburg.

Jul 172010
 

Folks who showed up an inning late, missed a whole lot of action. So did the folks who went home early, as the Potomac Nationals somehow prevailed 8-7 despite spotting the Kinston Indians three runs early and two runs late.

Rehab starts are overrated. It’s not just a snarky tag, it’s a cold, hard truth about minor-league baseball. Tyler Walker was the latest to victimize the fans at Woodbridge put teeth into this saw, walking four and striking out two while facing just seven batters in the top of the first inning. He was charged with three runs, as reliever Patrick McCoy walked one and struck out one in his brief, and undoubtedly unexpected appearance.

To their credit, the P-Nats showed their mettle by immediately loading the bases on a Josh Johnson single, a double by Steve Lombardozzi and a walk by Derek Norris. T.J. McFarland, a Carolina League All-Star, got taken to the woodshed by Tyler Moore, courtesy of a grand slam to left-center to give Potomac a 4-3 lead.

Marcos Frias, the announced starter online, came on to start the second and sporting a much-improved changeup, blanked the Kinston nine for the next three innings. McFarland reverted to form and matched Frias’s goose eggs.

The Indians would lead off the fifth with back-to-back singles, then went small-ball with a sacrifice bunt and a high chopper to first to tie the game at 4-4. Norris and Moore would go back-to-back with doubles to reclaim the lead at 5-4.

Kinston chased Frias in the sixth with two more runs, but the 21-year-old nearly escaped the jam. A single, walk, and a sacrifice-turned-single loaded the bases with nobody out. Frias only struck out three in his 4⅔ innings, but two of them came in this inning when he needed them most. A pitch-to-contact pitcher, Frias couldn’t get the grounder he needed from Kyle Bellows who singled to put the Indians ahead, 6-5.

“Dolla” Bill Rhinehart tied the game with a leadoff home run to right-center in the bottom of the sixth which is where it would stay until two outs in the ninth… when lightning was spotted and play was halted for 36 minutes.

The folks who remained were then treated to an improbable tenth inning. The Indians took the lead at 7-6 on a walk, sacrifice, and a single and nearly went up by two, but for Robby Jacobsen gunning down a runner for the third out.

With one out, the PNats got runners on first and second via a hit batsmen and a walk, and then the weirdness set in. Rhinehart grounded to first for what would have ordinarily been a 3-6-1 double play, except Kinston first baseman Nate Recknagle struck the runner at first base, Jacobsen, and the ball rolled into left field, allowing the lead runner to tie the game at 7-7.

Kinston’s throw from left was cut off and Rhinehart was caught in a rundown, the putout going 7-6-3-1. Jacobsen, who had taken third after the ball hit him, took home just as Rhinehart was tagged out, leaving the Indians on the short end of an 8-7 score.

With the win, Potomac goes two games over .500 for the first time the season at 11-9, three games behind Wilmington. Brad Peacock (3-9, 4.09) makes his first start since his complete-game shutout on July 5th (his turn had been missed at the Fenway Futures game rainout) as the Nationals look to take the series. Joey Mahalic (3-4, 4.15) takes the ball for Kinston.

Jul 152010
 

Jordan Zimmermann threw four solid but not spectacular innings of work, but took the loss last night thanks to poor defense and a weak offense. No, that’s not a cut & paste from a ’09 WaPo game recap, but it sure seems like one, doesn’t it?

As many minor leaguers do against rehabbing major leaguers, once they realize that they have no hope of getting ahead in the count — which was evident when Zimmermann dispatched Kinston’s leadoff hiter Lucas Montero on three pitches — they sit on the fastball and hope for the best. The next batter doubled, took third on a groundout to first, and came in on an error charged to shortstop Jose Lozada on an olé by Tyler Moore.

Zimmermann retired six of the next seven batters with ease before running into a little bit of trouble in the fourth. Back-to-back singles put runners on first and second with one out, but Zimmermann caught the lead runner leaning and got a break on some high-school-ego baserunning. Jeremie Tice doubled to the wall in right-center but speedy CF Chris Curran was just a step behind and gunned the ball to Steve Lombardozzi, who threw a one-hop seed to catcher Derek Norris. Kinston’s manager saw this and put up the stop sign, but Juan Diaz ran through it and was out by 25 feet.

As was the case in the previous rehab start in Woodbridge, Zimmerman’s velocity was there, his control was decent, but the pitches were just a little up in the zone — enough for High-A hitters to get decent wood on them.

The change of pace from fireballer (Zimmermann) to control artist (Alaniz) did not disrupt the Indians in the fifth, as the first three batters he faced tripled, doubled, and singled off him for the second and third runs of the night. Alaniz would settle down and pitch three scoreless innings, finishing the night with a halfway decent line of two runs allowed on six hits over four innings.

The PNats got their lone run in the bottom of the sixth, as a Derek Norris was hit by a pitch (you already know it was on his left arm, right?) and took second on wild pitch. Tyler Moore drove him in with the only solidly hit ball of the night, an opposite-field double to right.

With the loss, Potomac falls to back to .500 at 9-9 in the second half. A.J. Morris is projected to make his return to the rotation, opposed by Kinston’s Austin Adams for today’s noontime tilt.