Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nats vs. Tigers (ss) -- 3/25/10

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nyjer Morgan had two hits and two stolen bases in his return from a hamstring injury.
VIERA, Fla. -- Greetings from Space Coast Stadium, where the wind is kicking up and the clouds are rolling in. Only appears to be a slight chance of rain tonight, though, 10 percent until 10 p.m., then up to 30 percent after that. And though the wind is howling in from left field at the moment, that's supposed to die down as well by gametime.

The Nationals host a split-squad Tigers bunch tonight. J.D. Martin gets his first start in a big-league game this spring, and while the Nats say they want to see the right-hander in action, this feels more like a token appearance than anything. Jim Riggleman said this afternoon it's "a good bet" that Craig Stammen will make the Opening Day rotation. So assuming Livan Hernandez is also in after last night's dominant performance against the Yankees, there are no more available spots for Martin or Scott Olsen. Martin could squeeze his way into the bullpen as a long man, though, and could certainly help his cause with a nice performance tonight.

Meanwhile, Nyjer Morgan is back in the lineup after missing more than a week with a tight hamstring. We'll want to watch closely how he moves around in center field and on the bases.

Check back throughout the late afternoon and evening for updates...

Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Fla.
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: None
Weather: Cloudy, 72 degrees, Wind 11 mph in from LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
RF Mike Morse
2B Alberto Gonzalez
DH Eric Bruntlett
(P J.D. Martin)

CF Austin Jackson
LF Johnny Damon
RF Magglio Ordonez
1B Jeff Larish
C Alex Avila
2B Scott Sizemore
SS Adam Everett
3B Brent Dlugach
DH Andy Dirks
(P Jeremy Bonderman)

6:45 p.m. -- We're 20 minutes from first pitch, and the stadium lights still aren't on. Are they trying to save money or do we have to worry about some technical issues here?

6:58 p.m. -- Seven minutes to first pitch and still no lights. They've already sung the national anthem. Players are warming up. Are they just going to play without lights?

7:00 p.m. -- BREAKING NEWS: We've got flickering in the light standards!

7:20 p.m. -- Ragged start for J.D. Martin. He retired the first two batters of the night, but then everything fell apart after that. Magglio Ordonez singled up the middle. Jeff Larish walked. Alex Avila sent a broken-bat single to center. Scott Sizemore roped a ground-rule double to right-center. Adam Everett sent a hard chopper off Ryan Zimmerman's glove for a double. And Brent Dlugach singled to center. By the time the inning finally ended, the Tigers had batted around, scored five runs on five hits and all but knocked Martin out of the rotation race.

7:24 p.m. -- Nyjer Morgan pops out to short but looks perfectly fine running down the first-base line. Remember: This is Morgan's first game in more than a week, since tweaking his hamstring.

7:37 p.m. -- Martin was better in the second, though he still allowed a pair of singles. Through two innings, he's allowed five runs and seven hits.

8:08 p.m. -- Martin has settled down pretty nicely since that disastrous start. He just retired the side in the fourth and hasn't allowed a hit since the second or a run since the first. The Nats, meanwhile, scored in the bottom of the third when Alberto Gonzalez took third on a wild pitch and then scored when left fielder Johnny Damon booted the ball. Nats trail, 5-1, heading to the bottom of the fourth.

8:23 p.m. -- Another run for the Nationals in the bottom of the fourth, though they could have scored more. Had the bases loaded with nobody out, but Mike Morse struck out, Alberto Gonzalez brought the run home with a ground out and Eric Bruntlett also grounded out to end the inning. Tigers lead 5-2.

8:27 p.m. -- Nyjer Morgan beats out a bunt to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Guess that hamstring is just fine, thank you very much.

8:31 p.m. -- And Nyjer just stole second and third bases.

8:40 p.m. -- Give J.D. Martin credit. After that disastrous first inning, he battled back and kept the Tigers from scoring again. His final line: 5 ip, 7 h, 5 er, 1 bb, 3 k, 87 pitches, 54 strikes.

9:18 p.m. -- We're in the eighth now, and the Tigers have taken a 7-2 lead. Miguel Batista gave up a run in the seventh. Tyler Walker just gave up a run of his own on a pair of doubles in the eighth.

9:39 p.m. -- Just got back from talking to J.D. Martin and Nyjer Morgan in the clubhouse, and all of a sudden it's raining! They're playing through it, but plenty of fans have bolted for cover and the postgame fireworks show could be in jeopardy.

9:45 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. Tigers win, 8-2.

10:22 p.m. -- J.D. Martin blamed his ragged first inning on trying to be "too fine" with some of his pitches. He doesn't think nerves were a factor in his first big-league game in two weeks. "I don't think that had anything to do with it," he said. "It was just a rough start, one of those days, one of those innings." Jim Riggleman complimented the right-hander for battling his way back to finish strong. "I thought he did a heck of a job, with the exception of that four-hitter span in the first inning that cost him five runs," the manager said. Longer post on Nyjer Morgan's impressive return to the field coming up shortly on the homepage.


Anonymous said...

Why is Guzman not in the game tonight? Why did they pull him from the game yesterday? If we need to see him make "the throw" then don't you think we need to play him until he does?

Mark Zuckerman said...

Anon: Guzman is slated to play both tomorrow and Saturday, the first time he'll go back-to-back this spring. He was "pulled" from last night's game just like any other starter would be after 5-6 innings.

JayB said...

Rizzo is really exposed with his stubborn off season insistence that Guzman will be SS and Dukes in RF and Olson in the rotation....looks like he is going to be 0-3.....I like Rizzo and Love that he is not Jimbo but he still has to produce wins this season on the fan base that was such an asset in 2005 will be dead.

Doc said...

Its all about candle power, Mark. Rizzo's hoping that everybody will get the message, about having to save money to pay for Guzman's salary, and bring candles to the next game! Guzman would have made a good second baseman--sorta!!

JayB said...

yup Rizzo and Riggs messed up not forcing Guzman to 2nd last September...we are still paying that price

K.D. said...

Jeez! Mr. Z Was he just pumping in fastballs?

Mark Zuckerman said...

K.D.: No radar gun here tonight, but it looks like Martin's throwing all his stuff. Just not throwing it well.

K.D. said...

Thanks, I'm also following Ben@masn but they have been sidetracked gabbing about the Expos history, division set-up:)

DF said...

Sorry, but off topic, asking for help.

Anyone know if we can still tailgate pre-game at RFK?
Are the shuttle buses still in play, or have the Nat's killed them off?

BrownSheep said...

If Adam Dunn does not prove himself at first base, does Mike Morse automatically have the job or is it possible someone else is in the wings? I will be honest . . . parts of the Nats roster shuffle is like watching a shell game on the streets of NYC.

Anonymous said...

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reporting the Nats had a a scout at Brandon McCarthy's last start. (Link is on MLB Trade Rumors). Another Ground ball pitcher for the Nats? Also MLB Trade Rumors says "several" teams are interested in Dukes. I can't believe we couldn't get a Glen Gibson type for him.

Anonymous said...

"Anyone know if we can still tailgate pre-game at RFK? Are the shuttle buses still in play, or have the Nat's killed them off?"

In the face of declining season ticket sales Lerner had a choice of adding payroll in an attempt to increase demand or to cut the shuttle buses and lay off ticket reps.

Anonymous said...

No more Nats Express. You could probably still tailgate at RFK if you want, but you'll have to walk or drive over to the game.

Mark Zuckerman said...

The Two Anons beat me to the punch, but you guys are correct: The Nats Express bus/RFK parking lot is no more.

sec314 said...

As a Martin fan. I'm disappointed over the first inning. But his ability to shake off problems is what impresses me. When Mock gets in trouble, it only gets worse.

Anonymous said...


Two quick questions:

1. I heard a lot last season about the Nats (and visitors) having trouble with the lights at Nats Park. Do you know if something was done to fix the problem?

2. There's been a lot of discussion about teams that have moved to Arizona for spring training (Dodgers), and also teams that have moved within Florida (Baltimore.) How many more years are on the Nats' lease in Viera?


Mark Zuckerman said...

Anon: Haven't heard anything about the lights at Nationals Park, but I'll ask around. The Nats are locked into their lease in Viera for a loooong time. I believe it was about 30 years from the time the Expos moved here in 2003. The Lerner family, I think, would prefer to have camp somewhere else in Florida. But once they realized they were tied into the lease here, they pumped in a decent amount of money to renovate Space Coast Stadium in 2007, changing the seats to navy blue (they used to be Marlins teal), adding a new scoreboard and making some other modifications. In other words, they're here to stay.

greg said...

brownsheep, i don't think adam dunn is going to be replaced at 1B this season unless he's traded away. not a chance.

Anonymous said...

Geez Mark! Tell it like it was. The Expos didn't move to Space Coast Stadium. Loria the carpetbagger stole the Expos spring training facility along with the video equipment and computers and then stuck MLB, and the Lerner's with an ageing facility.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Anon: Yes, you're right. I figured most people know the history there. But for those who don't ... the Expos used to share the Jupiter facility with the Cardinals. When Jeffrey Loria bought the Marlins and MLB took over control of the Expos, he demanded the move from Viera to Jupiter, leaving the contraction-bound Expos in Viera. Obviously, contraction didn't happen, so the Nats now are stuck with an arrangement they had nothing to do with in the first place.

Andrew said...

Mark - I like the caption under that Nyjer Morgan photo!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Did Nyjer slide in feet-first?

Mark Zuckerman said...

Anon: Feet-first.

peric said...

For all those folks saying that my opinions about Guzman's 'attitude' where unsubstantiated, arrogant, etc, etc. :

masnBen: From everything Riggleman said and everything I heard, Guzman in fact wasn't happy with being bumped down in the order. He also bristles about the second-base question every time he's asked about it.

That opinion appears to be shared dudes and dudettes.

peric said...

Ben's report: -- nothing terribly earth-shattering. Riggleman said he was happy with the way Martin responded, and thought he could have gotten out of the first inning if Ordonez hadn't stuck his bat out at a 2-2 curveball in the first and punched it for a hit. Martin walked a couple guys from there, but settled down after that, and that was the main positive Riggleman drew from the night. He thought Nyjer Morgan looked as good as he has all spring -- "It was a typical Nyjer game," he said.

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