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WASHINGTON - For the second time in three years, the Washington Nationals won the most games in the NL and then quickly exited

in Announcements Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:28 am
by jokergreen0220 | 735 Posts

WASHINGTON - For the second time in three years, the Washington Nationals won the most games in the NL and then quickly exited from the playoffs. Eric Dickerson Jersey . Now comes an off-season of questions about manager Matt Williams decisions and a handful of key roster choices, including what to do about Ryan Zimmerman, whether to sign Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond to long-term deals, and how to upgrade an offence that fell flat in October. The window is not closed, Desmond said after the Nationals season ended Tuesday night with a 3-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants in Game 4 of their NL Division Series, but it is closing. At 96-66 under rookie skipper Williams, Washington finished first in the NL East by 17 games and had the best record in the league. Its pitching staff led the majors with a 3.03 ERA, as Zimmermann, who threw a no-hitter in the regular-season finale, teamed with Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark to form as formidable rotation. The lineup lacked superstar numbers, but it managed to finish third in the NL in runs. Then came the post-season. Just like in 2012, when it won 98 games, a top-seeded Nationals club lost to a wild-card opponent in the NLDS. The pitching was fine Washington and San Francisco each scored nine runs in the series although Williams use of his relievers will provide fodder for months worth of talk-radio segments. Should he have lifted Zimmermann with two outs in the ninth in Game 2? Should he have gone through Game 4 without ever using Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Craig Stammen or an available Strasburg? Should he have picked one of those pitchers for the pivotal seventh inning, when the Giants took the lead for good, instead of Matt Thornton and rookie Aaron Barrett, whose wild pitch let the go-ahead run score? Those are our seventh-inning guys, Williams said. Thats how we set this up. The biggest problem of all in the playoffs, though, was the lack of runs. The only batters who produced against the Giants were left fielder Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon, who replaced Zimmerman as the teams third baseman in 2014. Rendon batted .400 in the NLDS. Harper hit .368 with three homers and four RBIs, which might raise an additional second-guess: Why was he batting sixth? The No. 3-4 hitters, right fielder Jayson Werth and 34-year-old first baseman Adam LaRoche, were particularly off. They went a combined 2 for 35 (a .057 average) with a pair of singles and nine strikeouts. They were hardly alone, though. The No. 1, 5 and 7 hitters centre fielder Denard Span, shortstop Desmond and catcher Wilson Ramos were 7 for 54 (.130) with 15 strikeouts, zero extra-base hits and zero RBIs. Its just frustrating to get to this point and not play to our capabilities, Span said. This will stick with me the whole off-season. When the Nationals eventually gather in Florida for spring training in February, the focus will be squarely on why a club so successful in the regular season hasnt been able to follow that up in the post-season. LaRoche might be gone, perhaps replaced at first base by Zimmerman. Second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, a trade-deadline pickup, can become a free agent, and deposed closer Rafael Soriano could be gone, too. As things stand now, the Nationals have a contract option to keep Span for next season, while Zimmermann and Desmond can become free agents after the 2015 season. Were a good team and we had a goal in mind, reliever Jerry Blevins said. This wasnt it. ___ Freelance writer Rick Eymer in San Francisco contributed to this report. Pharoh Cooper Jersey . They probably ruined Tim Duncans hopes of a career change, though. Duncan wants to be a point guard, coach Gregg Popovich revealed Saturday, a wish that wont be granted. Zach Laskey Jersey . Heavily-criticized after allowing a dozen goals on 58 shots in two games in Boston, Luongo continued his dominance at home. Hes now allowed two goals in three home games in this series. http://www.authenticramsfansclub.com/Black-Friday-John-Johnson-Jersey/ .TV Series: Duck Dynasty.BALTIMORE The Blue Jays entered play Sunday with a team batting average of .209, a team on-base percentage of .283 and a team on-base plus slugging percentage of .643. Make what you will of a small sample size, the market will surely correct itself, but slugger Jose Bautista acknowledges that change must come soon and he identifies one stat in particular: the teams .157 batting average with runners in scoring position, entering Sundays game. "I think, obviously, you can not necessarily get on base a whole lot and not out-hit the other team but if you get the timely hits when you need them, youre still going to win as long as youre getting good pitching and defence, which we have been getting," Bautista told TSN.ca on Sunday morning. Bautista points the finger at himself. Through a dozen games, hes been up nine times with runners in scoring position. He has one hit, a home run, two RBI, has walked three times and struck out on three occasions. "Ive gotten my fair chances of driving in runs in different situations and I havent been able to come through so Ive got to focus a little bit better, I think, and just figure out a way to execute no matter what the circumstances are," he said. While Bautista is willing to first look at himself, which is admirable, its difficult to point the finger at him. While his batting average was only .200 entering Sunday, his on-base percentage of .451 (attributable to his major league-leading 16 walks) and slugging percentage of .571 (four of his seven hits have been home runs) constitutes significant production in a dry lineup. The problem is Bautistas getting on base and nobodys taking advantage of it. Hes scored only six times so far on plays that arent a result of his home runs. The main culprit is Edwin Encarnacion, who entered Sunday with a .174/.240/.261 slash line, no home runs and he was still looking for his first RBBI. Torry Holt Jersey. . The consensus on Encarnacion is that its merely a timing issue. Hes not been a slow starter in either 2012 or 2013, his two breakout years, hitting eight and nine home runs, respectively, in the opening month of those seasons. "I dont know if he feels that way but it certainly seems that way from my perspective where he just hasnt found his rhythm yet," said Bautista of Encarnacion. "That being coupled with the way they pitch to us, being so different and so difficult, its easy to kind of get back into rhythm when you see a 2-0 fastball and you can place your bet on that but he doesnt see that very often." Bautista wonders if, maybe, theres something about the way Encarnacion is being pitched. Encarnacion, with two straight big seasons, now is an established superstar. Its similar to what Bautista went through a couple of years ago. "I saw a huge difference after 2011," said Bautista. "Not so much after 2012 but after 2011 it was just a night and day difference on how people were pitching to me. The amount of breaking balls in hitters counts and Ive seen pitches in hitters counts, first pitches, even in 3-0 counts, I was seeing some stuff that Im like, Im not even swinging and Im getting sliders and changeups." The great hitters learn to be patient. They have to be. "Can you lay off of those borderline and bad pitches consistently?" said Bautista of the question that plagues the games elite hitters. Toronto entered Sundays play with a 3.88 starting staff ERA, on track for a great improvement over 2013, and a .993 team fielding percentage, which tied the club for second in baseball. "Were more concerned about more consistently putting a good effort forward and weve done that with every aspect of the game except for the offence," said Bautista.

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