Nationals Magazine Digest: Postseason 2016

The latest edition of Nationals Magazine is on sale at Nationals Park
The latest edition of Nationals Magazine is on sale at Nationals Park.

The final issue of Nationals Magazine for 2016 featuring the Washington Nationals celebrating a walk-off victory is now on sale at Nationals Park. The latest magazine includes a vibrant series of photographs featuring “Signature Moments” from the 2016 regular season and two short articles written by the radio broadcasters.

Nine “Signature Moments” are featured in the magazine. Fans should definitely pick up a copy of the magazine to relive the moments by checking out the photos and reading the recaps. Video clips celebrating the “Signature Moments” were featured on NatsHD before the previous postseason games.

  1. April 4 – The Pursuit Begins – The section celebrates the success of Harper on Opening Day and the arrival of Daniel Murphy.
  2. April 14 – One Hundred Grand – Bryce Harper hit his 100th career home run in style.
  3. April 24 – The Roller Coaster – I never leave games early because of games like these. Bryce Harper delivered a game saving pinch-hit home run and Chris Heisey delivered a game winning home run in the 16th inning agains the Minnesota Twins.
  4. May 9 – The Accidental Walk-Off – In a game most notable for Harper’s ejection and subsequent outburst against home plate umpire, Brian Knight, Clint Robinson hit a walk-off home run without knowing the inning of his pinch hit appearance.
  5. May 11 – 20th & K – Max Scherzer had, arguably, the most dominant games of his career when he struck out 20 players in a nine inning game. Strikeouts are sexy.
  6. June 15 – 2 Legit 2 Quit – Jayson Werth told his critics that they could kiss his ass after he delivered a walk-off against the Chicago Cubs.
  7. June 30 and July 3 – See You L-8-R – Danny Espinosa won NL Player of the Week honors after an offensive outburst against the CIncinnati Reds. His most notable achievement was hitting home runs from both sides of the plate in both games including two grand slams.
  8. July 29 – Rule of Three – This one took place late at night on the road in San Francisco. Dusty Baker made a triple switch and substituted in Danny Espinosa, Ryan Zimmerman and Sammy Solis. The result was the first 3-3-5 triple play in MLB history.
  9. September 9 – The Perfect Ending – Trea Turner could probably be elected Mayor if he wanted to put his baseball career on hold. The two time NL Rookie of the Month belted two home runs including a walk-off home run to center field to top the Philadelphia Phillies.

In “You Never Know,” Dave Jagler writes about how the Nationals can very feasibly have a successful postseason run. Jagler describes how anything can happen in October and that teams with the most elite hitters, starters and bullpens are not guaranteed the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Charlie Slowes echoes a similar sentiment in “Hero Time.” Slowes describes how players like Daniel Murphy, Max Scherzer, Trea Turner can each play a role in a successful postseason run.
The magazine also contains a large (two-page) scorecard which you can use Thursday to score the game.

TOPPS NOW: Daniel Murphy Drives in Four Runs for the Washington Nationals

Daniel Murphy drove in 4 RBIs and had three hits in NLDS Game 4. Murphy drove in 2 RBIs in at bats against Clayton Kershaw.
Daniel Murphy drove in 4 RBIs and had three hits in NLDS Game 4. Murphy drove in 2 RBIs in at bats against Clayton Kershaw.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were clinging to their postseason lives entering Game 4 of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine. Manager Dave Roberts made the decision to throw, three time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP, Clayton Kershaw on just three days rest.

Daniel Murphy, the 2015 NLCS MVP and 2016 NL runner-up for the batting title, continued his hot hitting this postseason against Kershaw.

Murphy, who hit a monster home run against Kershaw in the 2015 NLDS, put the Washington Nationals on the board in the first inning when he slapped a 1-1 curveball with runners on first and second base into right field to score Trea Turner.

The Nationals countered Kershaw with Joe Ross, who was making his MLB postseason debut. The Dodgers took a 2-1 lead the next half inning after Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run home run. Ross was on a short leash and was pulled in the third inning after surrendering another run.

Murphy drove in his second RBI of the game in the third inning when he hit a deep sacrifice fly off of Kershaw into center field which plated Turner and evened the game at 2-2.

Kershaw recorded 11 strikeouts in his outing and exited after loading the bases in the seventh inning.

The Nationals were able to pounce on the Dodgers bullpen just as they did Monday night. Werth did not have to swing the bat to make it a 5-3 game when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Murphy’s turn was next and he made Kershaw bury his face in his hands when he slapped a single to left center field off of Luis Avilan to score Turner and Bryce Harper. The game was tied 5-5 and Murphy had 4 RBIs on the night.

Daniel Murphy had his fingerprints all over the game. Topps released a limited edition Topps Now card celebrating Murphy’s performance even though the game slipped away in the eighth inning. The card will be available until 4:30pm on Thursday.

The Moment:

Daniel continued to do in Game 4 exactly what he’s done all season for Washington–come up with timely hits and drive runners in. Murphy went 2-3 with four RBI against starter Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, inflating his average this Postseason to .462 (6-for-13). Manager Dusty Baker on Murphy’s performance, “he knows how to hit…he comes through in the clutch.”

TOPPS NOW: NLDS Game 2 Daniel Murphy and Jose Lobaton Cards

Jose Lobaton crushed a 3-run home run in Game 2 of the NLDS which gave the Washingon Nationals a lead they never relinquished.
Jose Lobaton crushed a 3-run home run in Game 2 of the NLDS giving the Washingon Nationals a lead they never relinquished.

The Washington Nationals desperately needed a win Sunday afternoon to avoid having to fight for their postseason lives in Chavez Ravine just to force a decisive Game 5 in Washington.

Things did not get off to a strong start for the Nationals. Chase Utley got the Dodgers off to a 1-0 lead in the first inning after he slapped a line drive for a home run to right center field off Tanner Roark.

The Nationals offense came out flat against Rich Hill, a midseason acquisition from the Oakland Athletics, as he managed to strike out Trea Turner, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth.

Jose Lobaton was having an especially rough day. The Nationals back-up catcher, who played in just 39 regular season games during the regular season, squandered a bases loaded rally in the second inning  when he into an inning ending 1-2-3 double play on the first pitch he saw from Hill.

To make matters worse, Lobaton also mishandled a strong throw from Bryce Harper during a close play at the plate in the third inning. Lobaton could not handle the ball and reached across the plate to tag Justin Turner without the ball. The Dodgers now had a 2-0 lead which they held until the fourth inning.

The bad vibes surrounding Lobaton evaporated when he crushed a three-run home run into the visitor’s bullpen. It gave the Nationals a lead they would not relinquish.

Dave Jagler, a Washington Nationals play-by play announcer, enthusiastically described the scene at the ballpark after the home run.

“Delirium here at Nationals Park,” he said.

The moment brought everybody to their feet and kept the team fired up.

Daniel Murphy scored a run and drove in two runs as he went 3-for-3 with a walk in Game 2 of the NLDS.
Daniel Murphy scored a run and drove in two runs as he went 3-for-3 with a walk in Game 2 of the NLDS.

Daniel Murphy was one of the runners to score on the home run after reaching base on a walk. Murphy also had three hits in Game 2 including an RBI single in the 5th inning which chased Hill from the game and gave the Nationals a 4-2 lead. Murphy’s final hit of the game was another RBI single which scored Jayson Werth and gave the Nationals a 5-2 lead.

Topps Now released two limited edition baseball cards on Monday afternoon which celebrate the stellar Game 2 performances by Lobaton and Murphy. These baseball cards will be available until 4:30pm.

 

Moments:

(#558) The Washington Nationals trailed the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0, in the bottom of the fourth inning, as they held a 1-0 deficit in the NLDS. With runners on first and second and two outs, Jose Lobaton delivered a clutch, three-run shot that put the Washington Nationals out in front for good, as they came away with an eventual, series-tying, 5-2 victory.
(#559) Daniel Murphy continues to rake in Postseason play. Murphy went 3-for-3 in Game 2 of the NLDS, accounting for two RBI and a run scored for the Washington Nationals. Murphy’s offensive efforts helped lead the Washington Nationals to a series tying, 5-2 win.

TOPPS NOW: Daniel Murphy Hits in All 19 Games vs. Mets in 2016 Season

Daniel Murphy tortured the New York Mets this season and the latest Topps Now card celebrates his 19-game hitting streak against his former team.
Daniel Murphy tortured the New York Mets this season and the latest Topps Now card celebrates his 19-game hit streak against his former team.

News broke on Christmas Eve that the Washington Nationals had finally come to a deal with a free agent. They had already missed out on big deals with Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward who signed with the Chicago Cubs, despite receiving more lucrative offers from the Nationals. This time, however, the Nationals got the man they wanted–Daniel Murphy–and they signed him to three-year $37.5 million contract.

Murphy rejected a one-year $15.8 million qualifying offer from the New York Mets after a miraculous postseason where he hit seven home runs in nine games and was named NLCS MVP. He hit just 14 home runs during the 2014 regular season and there were critics of the deal who thought the Nationals were paying for his hot postseason numbers.

Murphy began the season on a tear and entered the first game of a 19-game season series against the Mets on May 17 with a .400 AVG and 5 home runs. Fans gave him a warm ovation before the start of the game when a one-minute long video played on the videoboard. He was also cheered when he came up to bat in the second inning. 

The Nationals would explode on the Mets over the next two games. Boos replaced cheers almost immediately. Murphy drove in two runs on a single and a sacrifice fly in a 7-1 victory. Mets fans were even more critical the following night when Murphy hit a two-run home off, Mets “ace,” Matt Harvey and the Nationals bounced him from the game and the rotation with a 9-1 victory.

I was fortunate to witness this ownage at five of the 19 games this season including two games in New York. Perhaps my favorite exhibition of Murphy’s damage to the Mets came when the teams met in late June. Murphy had a monster solo home run into the second deck of Nationals Park above their bullpen to open the scoring for the day. Murphy made it a multi-home run affair in the eighth inning when he took Sean Gilmartin deep and drove in Bryce Harper to make it a 4-0 game.

The Nationals defeated the Mets 4-2 on June 29 thanks to a multi-homer game from Daniel Murphy.
The Nationals defeated the Mets 4-2 on June 29 thanks to a multi-homer game from Daniel Murphy.

Murphy has been the best player for the Nationals this season. He leads the major leagues with a .348 AVG. He is second to only Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz in other offensive metrics including .598 SLG and .991 OPS. Murphy also leads the National League in doubles (45)  is second to only Ortiz in the majors with 46.

Murphy, somehow, was able to save some of his best hitting for the matchups against the Mets. The Nationals won 12 of the games and Murphy made Mets fans regret their decision to let him walk by walking all over the Mets.

The latest Topps Now card commemorates Murphy’s success against the Mets. His historic 19-game hit streak is rivaled by only Lou Brock. Fans can purchase this limited edition card, that may as well be called the “Thanks for Murphy Card,” until 1pm on Friday.

The Moment:

With a first-inning single vs. the New York Mets on September 14th, Daniel Murphy capped off the first season of play vs. his former club by hitting in all 19 games played. The 19-game hit streak marks the longest single-season streak against any one team in the divisional era (1969), and also goes down as the longest streak by a player vs. his former club since Lou Brock’s 17-game streak in 1965 vs. the Chicago Cubs. All told, Murphy’s 2016 stats vs. the Mets round out to .413/.444/.567 with 7 HR and 21 RBIs.

Nationals Magazine Digest: September 2016

 

Daniel Murphy is featured on the cover of the third issue of Nationals Magazine this season.
Daniel Murphy is featured on the cover of the third issue of Nationals Magazine this season.

The third issue of this season’s Nationals Magazine is on sale at Nationals Park and features Daniel Murphy on the cover along with an accompanying story by Mike Feigen highlighting Murphy’s success at the plate over the last year.

Feigen describes the specific changes Murphy made to his mechanics last season which resulted in his breakout 2015 postseason that carried over into the 2016 regular season. He also highlights how Murphy’s performance, like his clutch game-tying home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 17, can be a “leverage point” that can tilt the scale for the Washington Nationals as they play into October.

Danny Espinosa is also featured in an article by David Driver. In “The Switch,” Driver presents the highlights of Espinosa’s season through the prism of his playing career as a college student in the Cape Cod League–the premier summer wooden bat league. The article has quotations from his coach with the Chatham Anglers and his coach from Long Beach State University which contextualize how Espinosa developed athletically and rose to finally become a starter for the Nationals.

The final feature story in the magazine is written by Charlie Slowes and highlights the work of the groundskeepers and grounds crew who maintain the field at Nationals Park. The story describes the decision making that went into deciding to delay the start of a game against the New York Mets and the subsequent decisions that went into delaying the game. Fans will come away from the story with an understanding that taking care of the field is a 365-day-a-year job. The article also features five photographs of the grounds crew in action.

This photo of Mark Melancon is just one of the "Easter eggs" Nationals fans will find in the latest issue of Nationals Magazine.
This photo of Mark Melancon is just one of the “Easter eggs” Nationals fans will find in the latest issue of Nationals Magazine.

The issue contains two “Easter eggs” for Nationals fans. The first is a public service announcement for TobaccoFreeBaseball.org on page 23. The second is on page 76 where a headshot of Mark Melancon features him in his uniform from his days with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Nationals Magazine can be purchased at the Nationals team store and most clubhouse stores in Nationals Park.

TOPPS NOW: Daniel Murphy Named the NL Player of the Month of July

A limited edition TOPPS NOW card commemorating Daniel Murphy's stellar performance in July was released Monday afternoon.
A limited edition TOPPS NOW card commemorating Daniel Murphy’s stellar performance in July was released Monday afternoon.

It was announced that Daniel Murphy was voted the National League Player of the Month for July in an August 3 press release on MLB.com, marking the second time he received this honor in his career.

Murphy’s only other Player of the Month award came this season in May 2016. His stellar performance landed him a place on Topps Now baseball card #121 alongside Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. The latest card features Murphy and Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts who received the American League honor.

Murphy was featured on a Topps Now card after he took home NL Player of the Month Honors for May.
Murphy was featured on a Topps Now card after he took home NL Player of the Month Honors for May.

The second baseman for the Washington Nationals played in 22 games in July and he led the Major League in doubles (11) and extra-base hits. Two of his extra-base hits were especially memorable and they both set the table for thrilling extra-inning games.

The Nationals began a series with the Cincinnati Reds on July 1 and Murphy had an immediate impact. The Nationals were down 2-1 in the the sixth inning of the Friday night game and with Jayson Werth standing on second base, Murphy hit his 21st double of the season over the head of Jay Bruce in right field to tie the game 2-2. The Nationals went on to win the game in the 14th inning on a walk-off double by Ben Revere.

Murphy was also involved in one of the most memorable moments of the season in a game he did not start on Sunday, July 17. The Nationals were down 1-0 in the ninth inning and they were down to their final out when Murphy entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Ben Revere. Murphy was down to his last strike before he connected with a pitch from Mark Melancon and launched his 18th home run of the season over the right field wall to force extra innings. The Nationals ended up losing that game in the 18th inning.

Fans can add the latest limited edition card to their collection by placing their order on the Topps Website before Tuesday, August 9 at 3:30 p.m.

The Moment:

Daniel Murphy took home the NL player of the month award for July; his second Player of the Month award so far in 2016. Murphy, who’s enjoying a career year, slashed .346/.372/.744, with six home runs for the month. Mookie Betts earned the AL Player of the Month honors for July, which is the first award in his young career. Betts slashed .368/.415/.653 for the month, with five home runs and five stolen bases.