Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Nats vs. Tigers -- 3/9/10

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Though there was a threat of rain this morning, today's game shouldn't be disrupted.
VIERA, Fla. -- The crowd is beginning to file into Space Coast Stadium. The media throng is trying to get the wireless internet to work in the press box. And down in the clubhouse, Stephen Strasburg is making final preparations for the most-hyped two innings in the history of the Grapefruit League.

No, this isn't your ordinary, run-of-the-mill Tuesday in Viera.

Check back throughout the afternoon for updates from Strasburgmania...

TIGERS AT NATIONALS
Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Fla.
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: MASN/MLB Network/WFED-1500 AM
Weather: Cloudy, 71 degrees, Wind 8 mph in from CF
STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Josh Willingham
2B Adam Kennedy
RF Ian Desmond
1B Chris Duncan
DH Josh Whitesell
C Wil Nieves
(P Stephen Strasburg)

TIGERS
CF Austin Jackson
LF Clete Thomas
RF Magglio Ordonez
1B Miguel Cabrera
DH Carlos Guillen
3B Don Kelly
C Alex Avila
2B Brent Dlugach
SS Ramon Santiago
(P Rick Porcello)

11:36 a.m. -- Nats pitchers following Strasburg today: Miguel Batista, Tyler Walker, Aaron Thompson, Victor Garate, Atahualpa Severino. Drew Storen won't be throwing today after all. He's slated to go tomorrow against the Cardinals. As for Batista, though he's pitching in relief, the Nats are still stretching him out to be a starter. He'll go three innings today.

11:41 a.m. -- Spoke to Scott Olsen a few minutes ago in the clubhouse. He says his arm feels "great" today, no unusual day-after effects.

11:48 a.m. -- For those wondering ... Garrett Mock is scheduled to start tomorrow in Jupiter, with J.D. Martin right behind him. Livan Hernandez will stay in Viera and throw a simulated game. John Lannan starts Thursday against the Astros, with Craig Stammen relieving him.

12:16 p.m. -- Lineup change ... for the Tigers. (Sorry, didn't mean to scare you.) Brent Dlugach now starting at second base and batting eighth. Scott Sizemore was scratched, adding to his bad luck. Sizemore was supposed to face Strasburg in the Arizona Fall League but before getting to bat broke his ankle when Danny Espinosa slid hard into him at second base.

12:32 p.m. -- The ballpark is maybe half-full at this point, but there's a huge pack of fans lined up along the railing down the right-field line, overlooking the Nats' bullpen. Wonder what's going on over there right now.

12:50 p.m. -- Big roar from the crowd as the PA announcer reveals today's starting pitcher. Doesn't look like it's going to be a sell-out, but it's definitely a larger-than-normal crowd for a Tuesday afternoon in Viera.

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg fires to the plate in the second inning.
1:27 p.m. -- OK, I just watched Strasburg's two innings from the third row behind the plate. In a word: Wow. Three groundouts in the first, total of seven pitches, all fastballs ranging between 96 mph and 98 mph. Gave up a pair of two-out singles in the second -- a line drive to left by Don Kelly and a groundball up the middle by Alex Avila -- but struck out Miguel Cabrera on a 98 mph fastball at the letters and struck out Brent Dlugach looking at a filthy, 81 mph breaking ball to end the inning. Total of 27 pitches, 15 strikes in his two innings. Four-seam fastball consistently between 96 and 98. Breaking ball in the low-80s. Two change-ups that registered 90 and 91. And a two-seamer that was around 95. Only issue at all? He fell behind in the count most of the time, only threw first-pitch strikes to two of eight batters faced.

1:43 p.m. -- Oh, is there a game going on here today? Miguel Batista keeps the shutout going, though it took a nice catch by RIGHT FIELDER Ian Desmond charging in and to his right to record the third out of the third inning. Still scoreless here at Space Coast.

2:05 p.m. -- Tigers lead 2-0 after four innings. Batista allowed both runs in the top of the inning on an RBI double by Nat-killer Don Kelly and an RBI single by Brent Dlugach. Nats hitters didn't do anything with Rick Porcello (who ain't too shabby himself).

2:19 p.m. -- Tyler Walker, not making a very strong impression so far. Gave up a three-run homer to Ordonez to deep RF. And future Hall-of-Famer Don Kelly doubled off the top of the wall in CF, making him 3-for-3. Walker has now allowed eight runs and 10 hits in two innings this spring. Tigers lead 5-0 in the fifth.

2:37 p.m. -- How secure is Tyler Walker's spot in the bullpen? Just gave up another homer, to Austin Jackson, followed by a triple to Clete Thomas and an RBI single to some guy named Brennan Boesch. That's 10 runs and 13 hits allowed in 2 2/3 innings for Walker.

2:41 p.m. -- Spoke too soon. Another RBI double by Cabrera off Walker, who has now allowed 11 runs and 14 hits in 2 2/3 innings. Tigers lead 8-0, by the way.

3:35 p.m. -- Just spent the last inning interviewing Stephen Strasburg and Wil Nieves in the Nats' clubhouse. Plenty of material from both that I'll include in a full Strasburg analysis story later today. But for what it's worth, Nieves said most of those fastballs today were two-seamers. Yeah, 97 mph two-seamers. Only threw a couple of four-seamers, probably the ones that hit 98 mph.

3:39 p.m. -- And for those still paying attention to this game, the Nats have come to life in the bottom of the eighth. An Ian Desmond double and a Chris Duncan single (among other things) have helped produce four runs and leave the Nationals trailing 8-4 heading to the ninth.

4:07 p.m. -- Final score: Tigers 9, Nats 4. Washington falls to 0-7 in the Grapefruit League, having surrendered 76 runs, 105 hits and 14 homers in the process. Time to panic? Sounds like many of you are.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wish I was there. Tell us about the "buzz" later.

Steven J. Berke said...

And the big story today is...Ian Desmond getting the start in RF!!!...Obviously not, but you might spend a couple of minutes explaining the thinking behind it.

markfd said...

Looking forward to the updates Mark! Who is pitching following SS?

I am excited to see what happens in the 1st two innings, once again Riggleman is putting out a soild lineup behind the starter. I know space Coast Stadium has never seen anything like this, seats that have probably never been occupied will have posteriors in them today.

court said...

Desmond's played in the outfield every game he's been in, I believe. The Rigglemonster is auditioning him as an Upton-esque SuperUtility guy. If the organization does not see him as the SS of the future (Espinosa maybe?), then why not? So far he's outplayed Dukes for what it's worth.

Nats fan in NJ said...

I don't think anybody has impressed more than Desmond. If they can get him out there 4 days a week, OF or SS, I say keep him up at the Majors. Then, next year, when Guzman is gone, he's the full time SS.

Dave Nichols said...

it's ludicrous that Desmond is getting so much OF time. if the reason he isn't the starting shortstop is because he still has trouble with some of the throw from short, how's he going to correct that playing OF. poor decision-making by the Nats, IMO.

e said...

the reason Desmond hasn't been getting much time at SS is because Guzman needs to get some time in as well. Guz is coming off an injured shoulder (and don't forget the bunions!) and he needs to prove that he's healthy enough to be there. If he's not, then I'm sure we'll be seeing Desmond in there lickity-split. I, for one, have no problem with moving Desmond around right now. He very well may become our very own Chone Figgins (who moved all over the field his first three years in Anaheim).

Steve M. said...

I would think the first 2 innings would be the real starters in their real positions behind the starter.

Reminds me of an Acta move with Lannan on the mound in 2008 and you have LoDuca in LF, FLop at 2nd, and Belliard at 1st.

It doesn't give a first-time pitcher 100% confidence when he says the 7 guys behind him playing new positions.

Anonymous said...

I cannot express my excitement for the
G-triple S-TD!

Jeeves said...

I'm not sure I understand why Demond's defense is such an issue. He has great range, soft hands, and one of the strongest arms in the system. Yes, he throws too many balls away. So did Zimmerman at one point last year. Given the chance, I think, as a shortstop, Desmond could be not only good, but outstanding defensively.

Tigerlily said...

Mark, I think Miguel is playing first base for the Tigers though Magglio could use some help once in a while:)

estoppel.08 said...

I've just gotten up at 3 am here in Tokyo!!
I am so exited!!

Anonymous said...

Three up, three down, three ground balls.

He looks a little nervous, but I'm impressed thus far.

I'm surprised that the MASN folks didn't bother to tell us how fast he was throwing.

I would guss that's an important stat right now.

Anonymous said...

So happy to hear that we have a guy who can get groundball outs, instead of 1st pitch HRs like the rest of the guys in camp!!!

Anonymous said...

Gave up two singles in the 2nd off of fastballs, but after going 3-0 to the last better in the inning, came back with two fastballs for strikes and threw an absolutely filthy breaking ball -- buckled the guys knees and he was called out looking.

2 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 1 K

Anonymous said...

ESPN blog said in the first inning no fastball dipped under 96 mph, topped out at 98.

Anonymous said...

first inning nothing under 96, topped out at 98 according to ESPN twitter

bdrube said...

That's what Charlie and Dave reported on the radio broadcast--all fastballs were 96-98. And the change came in at 81!

Mark Zuckerman said...

bdrube: That 81 mph pitch was his breaking ball. Change-up was 91!

Anonymous said...

2IP - 27 pitches 15 strike 2 hits allowed and at least one strike out.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Final line was: 2 ip, 2 h, 0 er, 0 bb, 2 k. 27 pitches, 15 strikes. Four groundouts, two strikeouts.

greg said...

i think that changeup is what can make him ungodly. yeah, the heater is hot. the breaking ball is filthy. but when you're dropping 5-10mph and still at 91 with the same motion... having both the breaking ball and the change as high quality pitches to keep guys from sitting fastball. that's the difference.

Anonymous said...

How was the breaking ball traditional Uncle Charlie 12 to 6???

He needs to take more off of his change, it is too much like a fastball at 91 MPH, great pitchers (not good ones) have about a 9-10 mph difference between fastball and changeup, if he could slow it down to about 86-88 and keep his breaking ball about 80-81 then he is what we have been waiting for a great pitcher!

Nats fan in NJ said...

As for Desmond - only playing OF because of Guzman. Don't think there is too much concern over his defense, in as much as Guz can't play anywhere else. Unfortunately, for $8M, we can't ship him anywhere either.

On a side note, please allow me a few minutes to day dream of Strasburg and Chapman in the same rotation. Ah, pleasant thoughts...

Mark Zuckerman said...

Breaking ball is a "slurve," breaks down and away from a right-handed hitter, 10 o'clock to 4 o'clock. Looks a lot like Kerry Wood's (not to worry everyone).

Anonymous said...

Who IS Brent Dlugach? I'm a Nats and Tigers fan, and NEVER heard of him until this spring, and he seems to be the big bat in each game!

Anonymous said...

Oh - LIKE the socks as well!

greg said...

anon, if he's throwing a 98 FB and a 90-91 change, that's enough difference there.

from jason stark's twitter: "One scout's instant review of Strasburg: "Makes Porcello look like he's playing catch with his sister.""

Wally said...

Re: Desmond - big mistake to divert any time away from learning the SS position. They should not be distracting him with learning anything else while there is even a modicum of hope that he can become a full time, major league SS. Even if they want to trade him, his value is highest if he is an everyday SS, not a super sub.

Positively Half St. said...

Tyler Walker-

You are supposed to be a good pitcher, whether you play for a playoff team or for the worst team in the majors. Please wake up and do your job.

Joe said...

I disagree with most of the comments here about Ian Desmond. If we're really committed to getting him at bats, and we all know Guzman needs the fielding help too, I see no problem with putting him in RF when it's Kennedy's turn at 2nd. No one knows what Dukes will look like in April, May, and beyond, and I, for one, wouldn't hate seeing Desmond in the outfield if he can prove capable of the task while Guzman and Kennedy are playing the middle infield.

Anonymous said...

The bullpen is a disaster. Get me Joe Beimel's agent on the phone. I'm not kidding, this guy pitched well for us last year and could help us big time. Make the call Rizzo!

HabsProf said...

Re: Desmond in the outfield. My question is what do the other outfielders think of this? I'm thinking in particular of guys like Maxwell and Bernardina (sp?). Aren't they supposed to be competing for the fourth outfielder spot? What does someone like Harris think? Isn't he supposed to be the utilityman who gets 300AB a year?

Anonymous said...

Mark, any clue why they wasted a line up spot on Whitesell? He has no chance to make the team. We need to see more of Maxwell/Morse/Bernadina.

Sec314

Steve M. said...

A disappointing display by 80% of the team.

JMW4th said...

Tyler Walker is not going to make this team, pitching like that.

PDowdy83 said...

Mark, do you have any thoughts on Aaron Thompson? He has only allowed 2 runners in 4 innings so far this spring, does he look sharp or is it him not facing any really strong hitters?

Mark Zuckerman said...

PDowdy: You know, I honestly haven't been able to watch Thompson much at all. Seems like he's been pitching around the fifth/sixth inning every time, and that's when I'm usually in the clubhouse interviewing the starter. But the little I've seen has looked impressive, and I've heard good things from team execs. He's still pretty inexperienced, never pitched above Class AA, so that leaves him lower on the depth chart. But I would not be surprised at all to see him in the majors sometime late this season.

PDowdy83 said...

I appreciate the response Mark. Definitely looking like he has some potential and should hopefully make some of those people who were unhappy with the Nick Johnson trade last year feel a little better.

Anonymous said...

I think by this time next week we will see some pitchers either releasd from the organization or sent to minor league camp..the bleeding has to stop, especially by Tyler Walker!

natsfan1a said...

Another plus about Thompson is that mullet. Seriously.

natsfan1a said...

I'd also give Nyjer a gold star for the way he bunts for a hit and for those pop-up slides. (You know who had a really pretty pop-up slide? Jamey Carroll, that's who.)

natsfan1a said...

And the more I see of Desmond, the more I like him. He just looks like a gamer, as does Adam Kennedy (but, geez, could you have any more tobacco stains on the uni, dude? ;-))

Can you tell I'm a little spun up after watching my first Nats game in ages?

JMW4th said...

Nats are 12th in Baseball Prospectus' Organizational Rankings. that's up from 29th last year.

Anonymous said...

Joe,

I think the problem is that the Nationals should be more concerned with getting him changes at SS rather than ABs. Desmond is not a great defensive SS, but has made consistent progress and one would think he is only going to get better by playing more.

Plus, while I wouldn't "hate" seeing Desmond in the OF, I wouldn't love it either. He's not exactly the prototypical RFer. I'd rather see the Gnats give some other guys the ABs.

Of course, the answer to all of this is that Guzman has no business in the lineup. If you are going to rebuild (or build in the first place), do it.

natsfan1a said...

Apologies if this was already stated, but for those who missed it live, MASN is supposed to replay the game at 7 tonight.

Anonymous said...

Well, that was fun. Though I usually root for the Tigers (they have won their share this spring) I was hoping the Nats could pull this one out. I do notice Riggleman leaves the youngins' in to sink or swim. Leyland will pull his to save them loss of complete confidence. I am chalking it up to having to sort through alot more chaff to find the wheat. Didn't care for Dibble and his cohort dumping on Magglio for his power outage last year. Suppose they didn't know his wife was suffering from thyroid cancer. Once, she was on the road to recovery his stats picked up.

Pelric said...

As I suspepcted another coup by Rizzo. Thompson, Strasblerg, now imagine Chapman. You wait JD, Holder, Karns ...
Pericles

NatsGirl said...

You know what, I don't care how bad the Nats are, how many runs they gave up, or how bad they looked in the field. Make fun all you like, but it was just SO great to come home, turn on MASN and see Nats baseball on TV! Woohoo! It's springtime!

natsfan1a said...

No mocking here, NatsGirl. I was glad to see the team, too, as always.

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