Nats Narrowly Avoid Sweep by Orioles; Caps Pick Up 11 New Players
June 25, 2012
After the Yankees snapped their six-game winning streak, the Nationals have been hit or miss. They won two of the three games against the Rays last week, but picked up just one in the Battle of the Beltway this past weekend.
Davey Johnson hoped to highlight his return to Orioles Park with a win and put Jordan Zimmerman on the mound to start the first in the three-game Beltway series. Johnson, who played seven seasons in Baltimore and managed them for two, had his hopes spoiled early when Zimmerman gave up a solo homerun to Mark Reynolds.
While Zimmerman was solid through the sixth, giving up just one walk and two runs on eight hits, the Nats were unable to produce against Jason Hammel. Their one unearned run came in the fifth, when Ian Desmond scored on an error. Hammel was nearly untouchable, keeping the Nats to just one run over eight innings and leading the birds to a 2-1 win.
On Saturday, Johnson started Edwin Jackson, and you would never have known that he wasn’t feeling well before he took the mound, as Johnson revealed afterwards. The right-hander was strong for 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits.
Lucky for Jackson, his offense offered support early, with the Nats scoring two runs in the second inning, and Adam LaRoche adding a third with a solo homerun in the fourth. Thanks to Jackson’s near-perfect pitching, three runs were all Washington needed to take the win home.
Saturday’s 3-1 win turned out to be the only one of the weekend for Washington, who once again fell 2-1 to the Orioles in Sunday’s series finale. They scored a run early, which was enough to maintain a lead thanks to Ross Detwiler’s scoreless five inning outing. Craig Stammen was effective for the next two, and the Nats were still holding onto their fragile lead when Sean Burnett took the mound in the eighth.
They were just one inning away from victory when Matt Weiters sent the third pitch he saw to left-center for his 10th homer of the season. His two-run shot stunned the Nats, none more than Burnett, who had given up just one homerun in his last 50 appearances.
The Nats were unable to mount a rally in the top of the ninth, but thanks to Saturday’s win didn’t leave Baltimore empty-handed. They next host the Colorado Rockies for a four-game series beginning on Monday night. The match-up should provide some easy wins for the Nats, as the Rockies are 27-44 and have dropped their last four of six.
The Caps had a league-high 11 picks during this weekend’s NHL Draft–and they used every last one of them.
They selected 10 players along with acquiring veteran Mike Riberio from the Dallas Stars. Their first pick was young Swedish forward Filip Forsberg, who was one of the highest rated forwards in the draft. His presence and availability came as a surprise to Caps GM George McPhee, who seemed ecstatic to get such a high quality player. He was still left when the Caps picked at No. 11, as most teams were looking to build their defense, not offense.
Despite the impact the franchise is hoping the 17-year-old Swede will make in their clubhouse, the Caps will have to wait at least one more year. Forsberg has one year remaining on his contract with his current club overseas, which he intends to honor before coming to the NHL. But McPhee believes he made the right call and is willing to wait for a player he believes will be a focal point in the future. “At the table, the scouts were unanimous,” said McPhee. They said, “‘We have to take this guy; he’s a fantastic player.’”
What’s the next thing on the Capitals’ list? A new coach.