Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Game 34: Nats at Mets

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats and Mets play the rubber game of the series ... if the weather cooperates.
NEW YORK -- Good morning from Citi Field, where the tarp is on the field (as you can see in the above photo). It started raining last night and has continued through this morning.

The forecast, though, looks pretty decent. There's only a 10 percent chance of showers through much of the afternoon, picking up to 30 percent later on.

Assuming this one gets going without a hitch, the Nationals will be fielding an unusual lineup. Josh Willingham gets the day off, as do Ian Desmond and Ivan Rodriguez. That leaves Cristian Guzman starting at shortstop and batting fifth, with Willie Harris in left batting sixth.

Craig Stammen gets the start against Mike Pelfrey, hoping to make last night's meltdown a distant memory.

Check back for updates throughout...

NATIONALS AT METS
Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 1:10 p.m.
TV: MASN-HD
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Chance of rain, 50 degrees, Wind 11 mph in from RF
STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (18-15)
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
SS Cristian Guzman
LF Willie Harris
RF Roger Bernadina
C Wil Nieves
P Craig Stammen

METS (18-15)
CF Angel Pagan
2B Alex Cora
SS Jose Reyes
LF Jason Bay
3B David Wright
1B Ike Davis
RF Jeff Francoeur
C Rod Barajas
P Mike Pelfrey

12:46 p.m. -- The conditions are pretty nasty (cold, windy, drizzling) but the tarp is off the field and the grounds crew is preparing things to get this game started on time.

1:10 p.m. -- We are underway, with a strike from Mike Pelfrey to Nyjer Morgan. Sparse gathering here on this unpleasant Wednesday afternoon. Gametime temperature: 48 degrees.

1:15 p.m. -- Not exactly a rousing start for the Nats in the top of the first. Pelfrey struck out Morgan, Adam Kennedy and Ryan Zimmerman in succession. Twelve pitches, nine strikes. Yikes.

1:20 p.m. -- For those who haven't seen it yet: Jason Marquis says he'll likely need surgery to remove the bone chips in his elbow. Here's my full story on CSNwashington.com.

1:45 p.m. -- Just when you thought the Nats were going to squander a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation in the second, Craig Stammen of all people comes through. After Roger Bernadina and Wil Nieves both struck out, Stammen battled Pelfrey to a 2-2 count and then laced a sharp single past a diving David Wright. Adam Dunn (who should have scored earlier on Cristian Guzman's single) and Guzman both scored easily this time, and the Nats take a 2-0 lead despite their overall struggles against Pelfrey. The right-hander has allowed three hits and a walk, but he's already recorded five of his six outs via strikeout.

2:03 p.m. -- And the Mets' pitching strikes right back with his own bat. After intentionally walking Rod Barajas to load the bases, Stammen serves up an RBI single to Pelfrey. A sac fly by Angel Pagan brings another run home, so we're tied 2-2 after two. Stammen throwing a lot of pitches (41) and not finding the strike zone (only 20 strikes so far).

2:18 p.m. -- As promised, I just posted an item on the homepage about Jim Riggleman's decision to remove Scott Olsen from last night's game. You can read Riggleman's explanation for the move, Olsen's admitted frustration over it and the positive conversation the two had today about it all.

2:19 p.m. -- Also, this just in off the transaction wire: Matt Chico has officially been optioned to Class AAA Syracuse, completing the unusual DFA move from earlier this week.

2:25 p.m. -- Well, Roger Bernadina and Wil Nieves just made up for their earlier strikeouts with the bases loaded. Bernadina crushed a 1-2 pitch from Pelfrey down the right-field line for his first career home run. Seconds later, Nieves belted a double down the same right-field line. Nats now lead 3-2, still batting in the top of the fourth.

2:27 p.m. -- Whoa, make it 4-2 after Stammen laces his second hit of the day, this one an RBI single up the middle. Stammen is now batting a healthy .357 (5-for-14) for the season with four RBI. Not bad.

2:34 p.m. -- Stammen's cruising now on the mound. He's retired eight in a row, and has needed only 17 pitches to get through the last two innings.

2:59 p.m. -- Really ill-advised throw to the plate there from Nyjer Morgan. Angel Pagan was going to score easily on Alex Cora's single to center. By firing a pointless (and offline) throw home, Morgan allowed Cora to take an extra base. For all the good plays Nyjer makes out there, he still has a penchant for messing up on some fundamental stuff. Nats now lead 4-3 in the fifth.

3:02 p.m. -- And lo and behold, the Morgan play comes back to haunt him. Jose Reyes doubles down the right-field line to score Cora without a throw to the plate. We're tied 4-4 and Stammen is suddenly on the ropes.

3:15 p.m. -- Oh my, did Bernadina just make an incredible catch in right field to save Stammen. He initially looked fooled on Francoeur's tailing liner. But he rebounded quickly and made a diving, backhanded grab of the ball. If you're not able to watch this game live, be sure to check the highlight later. I assure it will be shown repeatedly. That Web Gem keeps the game tied 4-4 after five and saves Stammen's hide.

3:30 p.m. -- Tough day at the plate for Ryan Zimmerman. After striking out with two on and two out in the sixth, he's now 0-for-4 with a pair of punchouts. Sean Burnett coming on to pitch the bottom of the inning for the Nats. Once again, Washington's bullpen will determine the outcome of this game.

3:49 p.m. -- Tyler Walker now on from the bullpen to dace Jose Reyes with a man on first and no one out in the seventh. Willy Taveras also in left field as part of a double-switch.

3:56 p.m. -- Nice job by Walker, getting a double-play grounder and later striking out Wright. The big right-hander has looked better and better each time out and making a case to become Riggleman's third most-trusted reliever behind Capps and Clippard. Also, kudos to Burnett, who retired three of four batters faced, two by strikeout. Still tied 4-4 going to the eighth. As much as we've focused on the bullpen, eventually this lineup needs to score another run and take the lead.

4:00 p.m. -- It's the matchup you've been waiting all day for: Fernando Nieve vs. Wil Nieves!

4:04 p.m. -- Today's head-scratcher from Jim Riggleman: Why did he double-switch and put Taveras in left in the seventh if he was just going to pinch-hit with Willingham in the eighth?

4:15 p.m. -- Still nothing doing for the Nats lineup, as Zimmerman grounds into a fielder's choice with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth. Still 4-4, with Tyler Clippard on to pitch the bottom of the eighth, shooting for league-leading win No. 7.

4:28 p.m. -- Nice job by Clip. We go to the ninth, still tied 4-4. K-Rod will pitch for the Mets. Dunn, Guzman and the pitcher's spot due up for the Nats.

4:34 p.m. -- Ladies and gentlemen: Roger Bernadina. Two homers, including a two-run blast off K-Rod to give the Nats a 6-4 lead in the ninth, plus a fabulous catch in right field earlier. Get the silver Elvis wig ready.

4:41 p.m. -- Ballgame. Nats win, 6-4. Berndina's the hero. Tyler Clippard earns his MLB-leading seventh win. And no "vulture" this time. He earned it. Matt Capps 14-for-14 in save opportunities. And amazingly, the Nats' last eight games have all been decided by two runs or less. They're 5-3 over that span.

54 comments:

U-Hoo said...

Not liking the prospects today -- they have the better pitcher, and we're basically playing with six offensive players.

Apparently, the Mets do not abide by the "day-after-night-game, rest-the-catcher" principle.

Anonymous8 said...

Aw, its a new day!

Souldrummer said...

@U-Hoo
Isn't one of their catchers on bereavement leave? I think that they've brought somebody up for about a week, but they may not trust him with their staff or with key offensive bats as they go all out for a momentum building series win.

Souldrummer said...

@Mark
I'm calling last night the Zuckerman game after your blogpost on the 2005 meltdown stirred up bad karma amongst the faithful and roused the sleeping boogeymen from 2nd half of 2005. I actually liked the post and support more of that kind of history stuff that others in the Natmosphere are not as qualified to offer but the coincidence from last night is horrid unless having exorcised some demons we go on to a new high water mark in the next two weeks for so.

Anyways, I posted on Federal Baseball about my thoughts on what to do with Brian Bruney.

Here's the link: http://www.federalbaseball.com/2010/5/12/1468816/thoughts-on-the-zuckerman-game-and

Of course, I'd be honored by any of your thoughts over there about Bruney but I'm interested on what you want them to do (think that's bring up Storen) and what you think that they will actually do on that one.

Will continue to read your stuff religiously and thank you for all of your work. Praying that I can find my own job and source of income so that I can contribute at some point later on in the season. I'd also be interested in any suggestions for nonmonetary ways that college students and folks down on their luck can contribute to your efforts.

cadeck13 said...

Souldrummer,
I'm keeping you in my prayers too for finding a good job! Keep the faith :) I enjoy your posts!

Bowdenball said...

My boss would like to thank Jim Riggleman for my increased productivity today, as I see little need to watch a game that the team doesn't feel the need to try to win.

I get that Hammer needs to rest. I get that Desmond needs to rest. But you don't rest them on Pudge's rest day. This lineup has two productive hitters, one decent leadoff man and six holes. The only possible chance for a win is a masterful showing from Stammen. Go get em, you handsome devil.

Anonymous said...

@Mark

Did anyone in the media ask Riggleman about pulling Olsen (WAY TOO) early? I really think it is the first big mistake he has made this year.

Obviously he is entitled to a mistake after such a great start, but I can't believe the media didn't call him out on it?

In my opinion, it was clearly the turning point in the game and completely wrong with the state of the Nats bullpen. I hope he learned from it.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Hey guys, both Riggleman and Olsen talked this morning about last night's game and pitching change. The two spoke with each other this morning and cleared the air a little bit, though the way Riggleman described it earlier, he had no problem with Olsen being upset at being taken out. Riggleman also strongly believes he made the right decision to pull Scott when he did. I'll have more details from both shortly.

natsfan1a said...

Souldrummer, ditto what cadeck said. Hope that something turns up for you soon. Until then, we've got you covered on the NI contributions front. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the quick response Mark. I will be very curious to read why Riggleman thinks it was the right decision after 80ish pitches with our bullpen.

Anonymous said...

Today's lineup is very reminiscent of our 2008 and 2009 lineups. After our #5 hitter, the opposing pitcher can count on 4 easy outs.

Souldrummer said...

@all
Thanks for support and I'm confident things are moving in good directions.

alm1000 said...

I also dont understand why 2 players have to be given the same day off as Pudge. This is crap. I dont like crap.

Aeoliano said...

Poor Stammen. Riggleman leaves him twisting in the wind. I hope someone calls him on it after the game.

Aeoliano said...

Guz need the rest not Desmond. Guz looked awfully slow Riggs ...

Matt said...

On the other hand, the Desmond error was really the key in the 8th inning blowup last night. According to the Mets announcers, he made some lame excuses after the game. It's possible the Desmond benching is Riggleman sending a message.

rmoore446 said...

We need an early lead in case the game is shortened by rain. Maybe all the understandable questions about the bottom of this lineup will be turned into unexpected success.

Doc said...

Game 3 with the Metsies, bases loaded with Nieves up--sounds like the Nats are going backwards!

rmoore446 said...

Jeeze, has Roger ever gotten wood on the ball after two strikes???

Bowdenball said...

Stammen at the plate saves our incompetence from the RF spot. Perfect. Love that guy.

I don't care how much praise people want to lavish on Rizzo and friends for the Nats' fast start and new attitude. It is absolutely inexcusable for a major league baseball team to have such pathetic offensive production out of RF. I don't care if Willie Mays is out there playing defense for us- if he's hitting like my dead grandmother, it's not worth it.

Section 222 said...

Here here Bowdenball! I don't know about yours, but my dead grandmother wields a mean stick too. It seems pretty clear that Bernandina and Maxwell are not major league hitters. Sad, but true.

rmoore446 said...

Actually, Bowdenball, Willie Harris' walk moved the two runners to second and third and resulted in two runs on Stammen's hit. That's not incompetence in my book...but then I'm not a glass half-empty kinda guy. I wonder from your "name" and criticism of Rizzo if you are missing our former GM?

Carl in 309 said...

Did Bernadina just homer? Cool! Contributions from everywhere!

rmoore446 said...

Jeeze, the bottom 5 in the order are doing the damage so far today. I nearly fainted at Bernadina's homer

Carl in 309 said...

Gotta love the bottom part of the order today. Stammen with two hits and three RBIs. Still early, but these guys are not giving up.

Bowdenball said...

Bernadina goes deep. Now I've seen it all.

Where does that put us at now on production from RF? Something like .200/.290/.350? Are they now outstripping average MLB production from the P spot?

Bowdenball said...

romoore446- not quite. I'm just a regular old guy who understands that the season is 700 plate appearance long, and 175 or so plate appearances old, and that a walk or two, or even a homer or two for that matter, doesn't excuse production that would barely be acceptable from a pitching spot, let alone from a corner outfield. Pretty sure I'm not alone in that assessment. And I'm a glass half-full guy most of the time, too- just not on-line. Don't want the powers that be who read this stuff- and they do read this stuff- thinking we're all satisfied!

And the screen name is ironic. The day that bum left town is among my top five days as a Nats fan.

rmoore446 said...

Well, Bowdenball, glad you decided to follow the game after all today. It's a pretty good one. Your boss should understand. As for RF, I'm not happy with the production from that spot either. I look forward to Morse getting up here, if nothing else develops. But my biggest gripe is relief pitchers who come in and immediately put men on base and squander a lead. That said--half full coming back--I am very happy with all the improvements that have us with a winning record.

Bowdenball said...

rmoore446: I was fooling myself, and I knew it. I couldn't possibly ignore a Nats game with the team 18-15 and looking to take a series from the Mets and move into second place alone. Even if they ran out Austin Kearns, Nook Logan, Aaron Boone and Felipe Lopez out there, I'd be following along every inning.

I've been upset about the RF situation since they let Dukes go. Not because they let him go ... but because they obviously had at least been considering it in the offseason (it happened so fast, it can't have come out of nowhere) and hadn't bothered to provide an alternate plan. It was by far my least favorite decision- or set of decisions- in the generally positive Rizzo era.

Janner33 said...

Did i just hear "Bruney in the bullpen?" Is that a joke?! OMG the team's decision makers frustrate me sometimes! We can't afford to take the "get right back on the horse" approach with Bruney!! We've done this with Bergmann for 2 years!

Anonymous said...

Bowdenball if you have 12 problems you can't solve them ALL at once, you have to prioritize which ones you fix first. I think team chemistry was higher on the list that RF production. There are still a lot of holes, but so far (IMO) they have made the proper effort to fix the top priority ones. I can live we the RF situation for a few more months, while the complete higher priority fixes.

Matt said...

Speaking of RF, that was an absolute circus catch. Wow.

joe said...

It is true that the production in right field has been poor, but I think you have to get as many at-bats for Bernadina as possible. If there were no possibility of the Nats contending, I'd think the best move would be to force-feed Bernadina and Maxwell as platoon partners, and see if one of them seizes the job. We don't want to be wondering in December whether the Nats need a right fielder or not, so we might as well find out now. Mike Morse might turn out to be the kind of player who hits 290 with 35 doubles in a full time role. However, even though I'd like to see what Morse can do with significant playing time, I'd be reluctant to pursue that if it takes away from Maxwell's development. However, if the Nats hang around the pennant race, and Maxwell doesn't turn a corner by late July, then Bernadina & Morse platooning in right field is more reasonable. Even so, I haven't seen Morse play right field very much, and it looks to me as if Maxwell is a fine defensive player.

alexva said...

Bernadina and Maxwell should be getting all the at bats in right to see if they can hit MLB pitching. Ultimately, however, they are both CF'ers and since I'm not sold on Morgan I think we need to pick one of the three to start in CF in 2011. Trade one of the others and keep the third as 4th outfielder.

Jeff Wang said...

why the F was Jose Reyes trying to bunt? isn't that carrying moneyball a bit too far?

Bowdenball said...

Anonymous- sure you can.

If they thought Dukes might not be the answer during the offseason- and they clearly must have- they could have brought in a free agent to provide some sort of production out of RF. There were some available, and the Nats certainly have the money.

Please, please don't get me wrong, overall I'm very happy with the direction of the team this season. But I'm not going to give the front office a pass on the RF debacle just because they're doing a good job elsewhere. I pay a small fortune to watch this team play, I feel justified in asking for major league quality play at every position. Sure we've saved a few runs compared to the MLB average on defense in RF this season, but we've given away DOZENS compared to the MLB average in RF. That's not OK to me, and I cringe every time I read something suggesting it's OK to Rizzo or Riggleman.

Bowdenball said...

"Dozens on offense", that should read.

yankish2 said...

I now understand why the Pirates traded Nyjer Morgan. The more he plays the worse his fundamentals get. Not taking charge in centerfield on popups, throwing to wrong bases, not being able to slide properly. Sorry to say right field is not our only problem. Be warned front office.

alexva said...

Your future CF just put them back on top

Knoxville Nat said...

Bernie, Bernie!!!!

Bowdenball said...

And I will continue to rant about RF production as long as it keeps getting results like this!!!!! Go Roger!

SpringfieldFan said...

BERNIE BERNIE BERNIE!

Carl in 309 said...

I give up--this last game in the Mets series looked like our least favorable match-up, and who would have predicted that the bottom half of the Nats line-up--led by Bernadina and Stammen--would be the offensive heros. And who says the set-up guy can't win 20 games! Just keep winning series! Now, is it too much to hope that after Colorado finishes up with a double-header today that they'll be too tired to put up a fight tomorrow?!

Anonymous said...

Richard Section 312--For all of you who despaired after last night not only take heart from today's great win, but always remember what Earl Weaver once said: "This ain't football we do this every day."

Jack T. in Florida said...

yankish2said.... you are absolutely correct. I was in Miami last week and watched Morgan break back on almost ever ball hit (Lastings Milledge anyone?) and take circle routes to balls hit in the gaps.
He clearly has flaws.

Bowdenball said...

Carl: As long as we're asking, how about if they also take at least one off the Phils in that doubleheader, too?

I feel personally responsible for this one. My RF production rant clearly lit a fire under Bernadina. You're all welcome.

Section 222 said...

I choose to think that Roger heard me and Bowdenball dissing him and decided to show us what fools we are! Thanks Roger. Keep it up!

Carl in 309 said...

@Bowdenball: Well, if you're responsible, rant away. Could I suggest hanging on the top third of the order for tomorrow?

Certainly is better when they win!

natsfan1a said...

I thought the Elvis wig looked very nice on Roger. Way to bounce back, Nats!

An Briosca Mor said...

So how many times has the right fielder ended up wearing the Elvis wig already this year? Bernadina and Harris at least once each, if not more. And how many times do we think Dukes would have worn it by now if they hadn't cut him? Not as many, that's for sure. If at all.

That's all that matters in this RF situation. Just win, baby.

David said...

Tyler Clippard the second coming of Elroy Face.

Jeeves said...

I am so frustrated trying to post on this site. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. I wrote about the abilities of Bernadina and Maxwell and how they had to be given a chance. They are both good defensive players with speed and potential offensively. They, of late seem to be the blogger's whipping boys. (That, despite the fact that Bernadina's batting average is higher than most of the regulars)Alexva knows what she is talking about--to differentiate from a number of others.

Jeeves said...

Oh, frustrated, despite the fact that I love your coverage, Mark.

Anonymous said...

Very early in this thread I wrote that our last 4 batters in the lineup were easy outs.

For the record, I apologize to Roger Bernadina!

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