Defeat in D.C. Nationals Outfielder Jayson Werth and the Nationals bench after the game (Washington Post Photo)
The outstanding season of the Washington Nationals came to a stunning end on shortly after midnight was the St Louis Cardinals overcame a 6-0 deficit to win 9-7. The Nationals had the best record in baseball with 98 regular season wins while the Cardinals had worked hard to secure the second Wild Card berth in the National League and had to defeat the Atlanta Braves to get into the NLDS.
The Nationals won the first game of the series in St Louis before having their pitching staff, which had been one of the best in baseball shelled in games two and three by the Cardinals. The Nationals had a walk off win in game four to tie the series and went into the game with ace Gino Gonzalez going up against Jonathan Wainwright of the Cardinals.
The loss was hard to watch. The Nationals scored three runs before the Cardinals got the first out of the 1st inning. By the end of the 3rd inning the lead was 6-0. The Cardinals who I expected to win the series looked like they were done. However Cardinals chipped away at the Nationals lead, scoring 1 in the 4th, 2 in the 5th and 1 in the 6th inning and at the end of seven innings the score was 6-4. They made it 6-5 in the top of the 8th when Daniel Descalso homered against Nationals set up man Tyler Clippard . The Nationals scored in the bottom half of the inning and went to the 9th leading 7-5 with ace closer Drew Storen on the hill.
Storen has been outstanding this year but got into trouble in the 9th. By the end of the inning the Cardinals had scored 4 runs to give them a 9-7 lead. The positive emotion of the crowd which had been building in anticipation of a victory that would send the Nationals into the NLDS hit a wall and the silence was deafening. The Nats could not score in the bottom half of the 9th and the Cardinals as they have so many times before won an elimination game. One only has to look at 2011 when the Cardinals spent the month of September playing elimination games before going on the win the World Series.
No one expected the Cardinals to achieve what they did after losing Albert Pujols and Manager Tony LaRussa. Rookie manager Mike Matheny was an unknown quantity and the Cardinals had to contend with a very strong NL Central. They will go on to face the Giants in the NLCS.
The Nationals have built a winning team. I chalk the series loss up to their inexperience in playoff baseball. They are a solid team that is also young. They are in a tremendous position to become a regular in post season play. One wonders if they had allowed Stephen Strasbourg to be on the playoff roster, if they might have one game two or three, or had him available to possibly stem the Cardinal tide in the 6th or 7th inning.
It was a terribly disappointing end to an amazing season for the Nationals and their fans. But I expect them to be back.
Stephen Strasburg pitched no-hit ball for 6 innings against the Tides (AP Photo)
The Norfolk Tides and the Syracuse Chiefs met in the third game of a four game series on Wednesday night and the story was pitching, in particular the pitching of Stephen Strasburg. The high sought rookie and MLB number one draft pick made his second AAA appearance for the Syracuse Chiefs as he is prepared by the Nationals organization for his Major League debut and it was a beauty. Strasburg owned the Tides tonight and went six innings surrendering no runs and no hits, striking out seven and walking just one leaving Norfolk Tides batters wondering just what train hit them.
Strasburg also had a little help from his friends at the plate and in the bullpen. The Chiefs scored four runs in the bottom of the 5th inning and that would be more than enough to roll back the Tides on this cool, cloudy and windy night in front of 6720 fans at Alliance Bank Field on the west side of downtown Syracuse near Lake Onondaga. Drew Storen came on in the 7th inning and pitched and and a third innings giving up a single and two walks. Ron Villone came in with one out in the top of the 8th inning giving up just a hit and a walk.
The Tides started Troy Patton and with two outs in the 5th inning his game came apart. After getting Pedro Lopez to hit into a 4-6-3 double play Patton walked Justin Maxwell. Former Tides outfielder Chase Lambin singled bringing up Kevin Mench who singled to left to score Maxwell and send Lambin to third. Troy then Mike Morse walked on 4 pitches to load the bases. Josh Whitesell took the count to 3 and 1 and then tripled to clear the bases. Patton then retired Seth Bynum on a called third strike to end the inning. Denis Sarfate and Alberto Castillo pitched the final two innings for the Tides allowing no runs on no hits and only a walk surrendered by Sarfate.
The final was the Tides 0 runs on 2 hits and 1 error with 4 men left on base. The Chiefs had 4 runs on 6 hits and 1 error with 7 left on base. Patton (2-4 5.65) got the loss and Strasburg (2-0 0.00) the win. The teams play again to close out the series before most of our lunch breaks beginning at 1030 AM at Alliance Bank Field. Brandon Erbe (0-6 7.20) gets the start for the Tides and will face Andrew Kown (1-2 2.79) who will take the hill for the Chiefs.
Corey Patterson was promoted the the Orioles and singled and scored a run in his fist game with the O’s
There was a personnel move involving the Orioles and the Tides. Second Baseman Paco Figueroa was assigned to the Tides from AA Bowie while Corey Patterson who in his brief time with the Tides earned a place back on a major league roster was promoted to Baltimore and Nolan Reimold who has struggled battling a nagging heel injury that occurred in 2009 that has limited his play and effectiveness was optioned to the Tides.
Alfredo Simon got his 4th save as the Baltimore Closer after serving in a starting role at Norfolk
Meanwhile in Baltimore it was a night for former Tides pitchers. Brad Bergeson after coming back to the O’s from a brief stint with the Tides picked up his third victory in as many starts and Alfredo Simon got his fourth save. Corey Patterson singled and scored a run in his Orioles debut. The Orioles defeated the Mariners at Camden Yards by a score of 5-2.
Jake Arietta pitched 7 innings but got a no decision
The Norfolk Tides travelled north to Syracuse on faced the Chiefs in the opening game of a four game series at Alliance Bank Field. The Chiefs who are the AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals lead the North Division of the International League with a record of 18-11 and are playing very good ball. Even more surprising for the Nationals organization is that the Nationals have an 18-14 record and sit in second place in the NL East trailing the division leading Philadelphia Phillies by two games.
In front of a crowd of 3612 fans who braved temperatures that fell into the 40s as the night wore on and variable winds of 11 miles an hour the teams took the field. Although it was cold the weather was nowhere near as bad as the weekend where two games between the Chiefs and the Gwinnett Braves were postponed due to winter weather including snow on Sunday. The Tides started Jake Arietta who faced Sharion Martis of the Chiefs. Arietta (3-1 1.67) pitched seven innings allowing 2 earned ruins on 4 hits. He gave up an unearned run in the bottom of the 4th inning when after walking Josh Whitesell and then on a 1-1 count hit Mike Morris. This brought up Pete Orr who bunted to Arietta who fielded the ball the throw was late to First Baseman Brandon Snyder but also wild which allowed Whitesell to score on the play. Orr was given a hit on the play but Arietta the error as the throw enabled Whitesell to score and Orr to advance to second.
The Tides scored one run in the top of the 4th inning when Corey Patterson continued his ferocious hitting by launching a triple to right field and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Josh Bell his 20th RBI of the season. The Tides would score again and tie the game in the 6th inning. Corey Patterson walked to lead off the inning and was followed by Josh Bell who popped up to third baseman Pete Orr in foul territory. Scott Moore then singled and Patterson was held at second base. To the plate came Brandon Snyder who had a key role in the Tides win against the Mud Hens on Sunday. Brandon took a called strike from Martis and then fouled tow pitches off before taking ball one. With a 2-1 count Snyder tripled to right to bring both Patterson and Moore home to tie the score. Justin Turner struck out swinging and when the ball got away from catcher Carlos Maldonado Snyder attempted top come home. Maldonado threw to relief pitcher Drew Storen who tagged Snyder out at the plate to end the inning.
Brandon Snider had 2 2 RBI Triple in the top of the 6th inning
The game remained knotted at 3 until the bottom of the 8th inning. Arietta left at the end of the 7th and was relieved by Ross Wolf who has been very effective in relief this year. Wolf faced Kevin Mensch who after working the count to 2-2 by fouling off four pitches took the seventh pitch and doubled to center. Josh Whitesell singled to right fielder Michael Aubrey scoring Mensch. Wolf would work his way out of the inning but the damage was done and the Tides were unable to score in the 9th inning despite a single by Corey Patterson and the Chiefs took game one by a score of 4-2.
Arietta went seven innings and got a no decision giving up 2 earned runs on 4 hits. His problem came due to control; he gave up five walks and hit one batter as well as the throwing error that cost the run in the 4th inning. Ross Wolf (0-2 2.89) got the loss in relief giving up one run on two hits. Chiefs reliever Ron Villone (1-1 9.53) got the win and Joel Peralta (0-0 S8) got his eighth save of the season. The teams meet again on Tuesday with Chris George (1-1 4.50) getting the start for the Tides and Chuck James (2-0 4.85) taking the hill at home for the Chiefs.
The Tides made a number of personnel moves over the weekend sending pitcher Jim Miller and catcher Steve Lerud to Baltimore’s short season “A” team the Aberdeen Ironbirds, and activating pitcher Denis Sarfate and catcher Michel Hernandez from the disabled list. Pitcher Jim Johnson who had been sent down from the Orioles last week was placed on the 7 day disabled list for elbow pain.