Saturday, May 15, 2010

Game 37: Nats at Rockies

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Luis Atilano meets Jason Hammel in the nightcap of the doubleheader
DENVER -- The Nationals have been good all season about shaking off tough losses and rebounding the next time out. Well, they'll only have about three hours to forget this afternoon's 6-2 defeat to the Rockies before retaking the field for the nightcap of this doubleheader.

I wouldn't expect any hangover factor. If anything, the Nats felt like they put together some decent at-bats in Game 1. They just were done in once again by Ubaldo Jimenez, the majors' best pitcher of the season to date.

Even though his team lost the opener, Jim Riggleman has to feel good about his chances in Game 2. If rookie Luis Atilano struggles, he's still got all of his top relievers rested and ready to go. That's the reason Tyler Walker, Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps didn't appear in the opener. Had there only been one game on the slate today, Walker probably would have pitched the eighth inning of what was then a 3-2 game. But with the nightcap looming, Riggleman wanted to preserve his best arms in case his team holds a late lead.

One guy who I wouldn't expect to pitch in the second game is Brian Bruney. Actually, I wouldn't be stunned if the guy doesn't throw another pitch for the Nationals. Riggleman was not happy with the right-hander's performance today, in which he walked the first two batters he faced and then allowed an RBI double and two-run single later. Riggleman and Rizzo spent time behind closed doors immediately following the game, and Rizzo was on the field on his cell phone for a while after that. I don't want to assume anything here, but I wouldn't be shocked if there's a roster move after tonight's game and there's a bullpen change in time for tomorrow's series finale.

Check back for updates throughout...

NATIONALS AT ROCKIES
Where: Coors Field
Gametime: 8:10 p.m.
TV: MASN2-HD
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 58 degrees, Wind 8 mph in from CF
STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (20-16)
CF Nyjer Morgan
LF Willie Harris
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
2B Cristian Guzman
RF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
C Wil Nieves
P Luis Atilano

ROCKIES (17-18)
CF Carlos Gonzalez
LF Seth Smith
RF Brad Hawpe
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Todd Helton
3B Ian Stewart
2B Clint Barmes
C Paul Phillips
P Jason Hammel

8:10 p.m. -- Game 2 is now underway with a strike from Hammel to Morgan.

8:16 p.m. -- And the Nats go down in order. Couple of flyouts to left after Morgan struck out looking at a 2-2 fastball on the outside corner. Apparently, Nyjer didn't get the memo that Miguel Olivo isn't catching the nightcap. This is the time to try to get on base and challenge backup Paul Phillips.

8:25 p.m. -- Luis Atilano was a bit shaky in his half of the first, walking Seth Smith and then leaving an 0-2 fastball up to Brad Hawpe that turned into a single. But Atilano battled and got a double-play grounder from Troy Tulowitzki (with Ian Desmond making a really nice turn and laser throw after Cristian Guzman gave him a sloppy feed) to end the inning. Scoreless after one.

8:28 p.m. -- Some of you were wondering about Josh Willingham being out of the lineup again and wondered if that was a product of him getting hit by a pitch in the last game. No, Willingham's groin still isn't 100 percent, and Jim Riggleman didn't want to take a chance. That's also why Willy Taveras pinch-ran for the Hammer after that HBP in Game 1.

8:44 p.m. -- Just like the opener, we've got good pitching and little offense here so far. Scoreless through 2 1/2, with one hit per side. Hammel (who entered with a 9.16 ERA) has baffled the Nats lineup so far, especially Morgan (who has struck out twice).

8:52 p.m. -- Atilano just served up a two-run homer to Carlos Gonzalez, but it's hard to blame the pitcher for that one. Atilano threw an 0-2 breaking ball that was well down and inside of the strike zone. Gonzalez somehow managed to turn on the pitch and keep it just inside the foul pole. Impressive piece of hitting there. Rockies lead 2-0 in the third.

8:53 p.m. -- That one you CAN blame on Atilano. Left a 2-1 fastball right over the plate to Seth Smith, who crushed it into the second deck in right-center. Back-to-back jacks have the Rockies up 3-0 now.

9:26 p.m. -- Once again, the Nats rally while I'm down in the stands shooting photos. Roger Bernadina delivers a big, two-run double in the top of the fourth, cutting the deficit to 3-2. Bernie's 2-for-2 tonight, and all of a sudden he's hitting .311. He's raised his average 100 points in about four days! Heading to the bottom of the fifth now, Atilano has settled down some.

9:43 p.m. -- And we are tied 3-3. Adam Dunn lofts a 3-0 fastball from Hammel over the right-field fence for a solo homer in the sixth. That's the second time in a week Dunn has homered on a 3-0 pitch. I said it back then and I'll say it again: That's really smart of Dunn to take a hack on 3-0. He's the kind of guy who zeroes in on one particular pitch. If he locks in on a fastball in that count, why not swing away? Whole new ballgame here now.

9:49 p.m. -- Jim Riggleman will hand this one over to his bullpen. Double-switch here in the sixth, with Sean Burnett now pitching and Willy Taveras in right. This is why Riggleman felt he needed to use Brian Bruney in the first game, to save Burnett and Tyler Walker and Tyler Clippard for the nightcap. We'll see how it works out.

9:57 p.m. -- Clean inning for Burnett, who set down the Rockies in order in the bottom of the sixth. This guy really is key to the Nats' fortunes. They need him to do that more often.

10:00 p.m. -- One last thing about Dunn's homer: That was only the fifth of his career on a 3-0, but his second in the span of a week.

10:13 p.m. -- Ian Desmond just got charged with an error that let the go-ahead run score, but the blame has to go to Dunn. Seth Smith's chopper up the middle was deflected by Burnett. Desmond made a fabulous play to lunge for the ball and then made an off-balance throw to first. It bounced, but right into Dunn's glove. Dunn dropped it. Would have had Smith by three steps. Instead, Desmond gets the error and Phillips scores to put the Rockies up 4-3 in the seventh.

10:17 p.m. -- Former Nat Joe Beimel on to pitch the eighth for Colorado. Johnny Cash cranking over the P.A. system. I really miss this guy.

10:27 p.m. -- Beimel retires both batters he faced, but Matt Belisle allows a two-out single to Zimmerman. With a chance to tie the game or take the lead, Dunn whiffs at a 2-2 changeup. So it's still 4-3 Rockies, and the Nats are three outs away from a disappointing doubleheader sweep. Tyler Walker now pitching the bottom of the eighth.

10:36 p.m. -- Here we go, last shot for the Nats. Manuel Corpas pitching the ninth. Guzman, a pinch-hitter (Josh Willingham) and Desmond due up.

10:44 p.m. -- Tough day at the old ballpark. Nats drop both ends of the doubleheader, this one by a 4-3 count. Burnett takes the loss even though he pitched well. Nats just couldn't push another run across. They'll need to win tomorrow's series finale to salvage a four-game split before heading to St. Louis.

33 comments:

DJ said...

Mark-

Solid reporting, thank you. Any hunch on who you think may get the call to replace Bruney (praying for Drew Storen).

Oh and does Does Taveras get dropped for Morse?

Also, I see Josh Willingham was hit by a pitch in the first game in his pinch hit AB and isn't in the line-up in the night cap ... he okay? Or is Riggleman just giving him some more time to rest?

Thanks!

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

I second the Morse up, Tavares down and Bruney down, Storen up emotion.

Bruney = Brutal.

I believe there is a non-stop United flight from DIA to SYR every evening. If Bruney hurries...

natsfan1a said...

Thanks for the background, Mark. Verrry interresting...

A DC Wonk said...

... or will Storen be held down until the Super Two deadline passes (whenever that is)

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Alumni news: Jesus "Every Day" Colome is still serving up 400-foot pitches. He gave up the game-winning HR to Willie Aybar in Tampa Bay's win over last-place Seattle.

Spike94wl said...

I think we have a better chance of seeing Peralta up before seeing Storen. I feel like he and Stras are a package deal for the big league call-up...

Arlington Big Fish said...

Jesus Colome is still pitching in the majors? How abour my old favorite, Saul Rivera?

Anonymous said...

Posted this idea last week....The amount of money wasted on Brain B and Tyler W. is about the same as being saved by letting Storen sit in AAA until June. This team was until today the wild card winner. A win or lose in May is the same as September. Lerner has saved enough money over the years.....Storen needs to be on this team like a month ago....JayB

Grandstander said...

As pure speculation, Mark, do you see them calling up Severino? He's on the 40 man and has been pitching pretty damn well in Syracuse, better than English.

bdrube said...

@Arlington Big Fish:

Rivera is currently in AAA with the Indians. Manny apparently is waiting until no one is paying attention to have him called up to pitch the 7th inning every other game. :)

Souldrummer said...

Rivera's got an ERA under 1 for Columbus but is still walking too many people. No great loss IMHO. I don't think Severino or Storen is coming up either. I think that you don't let major league problems affect the development of your prospects and I think Peralta and Slaten were brought in as backup options for just the situations that we're seeing here. Villone and Macdougal are similar backup options if our current bullpen guys don't handle the job.

Aeoliano said...

I'm still waiting for the other shoe to fall. Riggs 'fav' (like Many 'fav' Rivera) Miguel Batista to pitch.

The guy has now allowed FIVE, that's right FIVE home runs including a grandslam in just 22 innings. He has a 10.80 ERA against these Rockies. His whip at 1.57 isn't anything spectacular and he has walked 16 and only struck out 12. In 17.2 innings Bruney has allowed 20 walks but only 1 home run against 16 total strike outs.

I really believe that of the two Batista is the worst, my argument? Bruney is more often put in critical situations with 1 run leads in the set up role. Batista gets to hide in Batista land way too often. Batista's 6.04 ERA isn't all that much better. Batista is getting paid $1,000,000 which is only $500,000 less than Bruney and $600,000 more than Bergmann.

I still don't see what Riggleman is thinking with either of those catastrophes.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

I had forgotten all about Macdougal. If I'm going to have a guy lose all control and walk batters and get behind everyone before grooving a 3-1 pitch, I'd rather Macdougal do it with his 94 mph sinker than Brutal Bruney with his 92 mph riser.

JayB said...

Not a chance they bring up Macdougal or Ron V......that would be just like Jimbo...Rizzo will reward performance and that is Storen.....Except that Lerner is too cheap to care about wins. He has a big gate with Phil at the end of July....Stan has been burning up the phone lines with Bars in Philly.

waddu eye no said...

maybe with bruney gone, batista will see himself as the next to go, and maybe straighten up. bruney is hopeless. every interview he talks about how confident he is.
i'm confident that this is as good as he gets.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Memo to Goozie: You are not an option quarterback. Please throw overhand on tosses over five feet to second base.

Bowdenball said...

Another thing about Storen- it's not like were talking about many millions of dollars. He'll be a youngish reliever, probably a setup guy, at the relevant time. He wouldn't be in line for the type of arbitration payday that a guy like strasburg might be.

Aeoliano said...

There are way too many really good pitchers in AAA Syracuse and AA Harrisburg to have to put up with either Batista or Bruney. Batista was a non-roster invitee that was slated to pitch in Syracuse as veteran depth. I can't see how you could pick this guy over say Andrew Kown who has done well the last 2 years in Syracuse? Okay you could even use Stammen in place of Batista. Slaten can do that job. And it is what Clippard was supposed to do. If they bring up Peralta or Severino and Storen perhaps Clippard can return to his role? At some point soon Strasburg will be brought up and hopefully they won't send someone down who doesn't deserve it.

Aeoliano said...

It finally looks like the weather has cleared up ... kind of sunny right now with blue skies.

Aeoliano said...

Let's hope things are different at the end of July. We can hope that perhaps it will be the Nats in first place with the Phils trying to catch up. Now, if mostly Philly fans show up and take over ...

Mark Zuckerman said...

Aeoliano: You've posted 42 comments today on this site. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the traffic, but perhaps you could condense your thoughts into a few less postings? Or at the very least, step outside for a couple minutes, breathe in some fresh air and take a little strain off your eyes? :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Zuckerman.

Aeoliano said...

Glad to oblige ...

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Alanna Rizzo is related to Mike?

joNAThan said...

The decision to delay Storen is not about the money per se, its about being able to control him an additional year. Holding him back 10 weeks (or whatever it is) in 2010 means he becomes a free agent in 2016 instead of 2015. Hmmm,,,10 weeks or 1 year? Easy, intelligent decision.

Anonymous said...

Mark, why did they just take Bernadina out and put Taveras in? Is he hurt? I didn't think he even ran the bases on that last PA...

Anonymous said...

Never mind. Double switch.

Anonymous said...

I do not usually watch out games on TV, when they are in town I am here and on the road I usually catch the games on radio, but I have to say, Carpenter and Dibble are the WORST broadcasters I have ever heard in my 38 years listening to TV broadcasts, what the heck is this cheering like they are fans, they are SUPPOSE to be objective observers, also they have no idea what they are talking about baseball wise, Desmond's HORRIBLE throw was the problem not Dunn's attempted stretch...also they dog Guzman at every opportunity, report the facts and let me watch the game..this will be the last Nats game I will watch on TV, I wish I could listen to the road broadcast on MASN!

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

C'mon with the Wreck of the Ol' 97: Blow it up, Beimel. Just like last year, baby.

Anonymous said...

Actually, they aren't really supposed to be objective observers. They are getting checks from MASN...this isn't a National Broadcast.

Anonymous said...

Yeah but it's still really annoying. Carpenter less so because I'd say that most of the stuff that comes out of his mouth isn't crap, unlike his partner.

Souldrummer said...

FYI, someone just tweeted that Taveras has been DFAed and that Morse is getting called up.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Souldrummer: Yeah, that someone was me. Check the homepage. ;)

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