Sunday, May 30, 2010

Game 51: Nats at Padres

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Livan Hernandez and Jon Garland square off in the series finale at Petco Park.
SAN DIEGO -- The Nationals came west at the beginning of the week, facing a difficult road trip that kicked off with six games against the tough Giants and Padres. Four more games in Houston against a wretched Astros club still await before this road trip is over, but the toughest leg ends today at Petco Park.

A win in the series finale against the Padres would leave the Nats at 3-3 on this west coast swing. It would be hard not to be satisfied with that. Even a loss today would leave them at 2-4, hardly an embarrassment given the competition. So a victory today could be looked at as gravy, and certainly the Nationals have to like their chances with Livan Hernandez on the mound. Jon Garland, who spurned Washington in favor of San Diego last winter as a free agent, has enjoyed a fine season as well. So this is no pushover.

Jim Riggleman sticks with his regular lineup. Nyjer Morgan remains in center field. Roger Bernadina remains in right field. Wil Nieves remains behind the plate.

Check back for updates throughout...

NATIONALS at PADRES
Where: Petco Park
Gametime: 4:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2-HD
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 72 degrees, Wind 5 mph LF to RF
STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (25-25)
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
SS Ian Desmond
RF Roger Bernadina
C Wil Nieves
P Livan Hernandez

PADRES (29-20)
RF Will Venable
SS Jerry Hairston
1B Adrian Gonzalez
3B Chase Headley
LF Matt Stairs
C Yorvit Torrealba
CF Tony Gwynn Jr.
2B Lance Zawadzki
P Jon Garland

4:08 p.m. -- And this one is underway with a strike from Garland to Morgan. The Padres are wearing their camouflage jerseys and hats today, in honor of Memorial Day weekend. Probably the most distinctive uniforms in the majors right now. Then again, this is a franchise that has cornered the market of distinctive uniforms over the last 40 years.

4:14 p.m. -- Ryan Zimmerman had quietly been in a bit of a slump the last two weeks, had only two RBI his last 14 games. Well, he perhaps just busted out of that with a towering blast to right-center, a two-out poke to the deepest part of the yard. It's the 100th home run of Zim's career, and his first since that two-homer game in Colorado on May 13. Nats lead 1-0.

4:18 p.m. -- If you were wondering when Zimmerman hit his first homer ... it came in the second game of the 2006 season, at Shea Stadium, a blast off Billy Wagner in the top of the ninth to send that game into extra innings.

4:32 p.m. -- Good start to the afternoon for Livan Hernandez. He eschewed a one-out single by Jerry Hairston to toss a scoreless inning. He even blew Adrian Gonzalez away with an 86 mph fastball.

4:45 p.m. -- If I told you this morning that the starting second baseman for the San Diego Padres was going to be someone named Lance Zawadski, would you have believed me? I wouldn't have.

4:52 p.m. -- Garland has done a nice job since Zimmerman's homer of keeping the ball down in the zone. The Nats have hit into six straight groundouts over the last two innings. It's still 1-0 heading to the bottom of the third.

4:57 p.m. -- Speaking of doing a nice job on the mound, Livo has cruised through his first three innings. Couple of singles, but that's it. He's thrown 42 pitches thus far. As expected, this is shaping up to be a tight pitcher's duel. What else would you expect between these two teams in this ballpark?

5:18 p.m. -- So much for that. The Padres finally got to Hernandez in the fourth and picked up two runs in the process. Three singles off the big right-hander, including a blooper to left field by Tony Gwynn Jr. (papa must be so proud) that brought home Matt Stairs from second. With that, the Nationals now trail 2-1 after four. The damage, though, could have been far worse if not for two stellar defensive plays by Adam Kennedy. He ranged far too his left and dove to grab Yorvit Torrealba's grounder to the hole. Then he made an over-the-shoulder catch of Zawadski's pop-up to end the inning.

5:49 p.m. -- The last time Ryan Zimmerman hit a home run (before today), he belted two at Coors Field. So of course he's ended that power drought today with two solo homers at Petco Park. This one was a line shot to left in the top of the sixth. We're tied 2-2 in another tight, low-scoring ballgame here in San Diego.

6:10 p.m. -- Big, BIG strikeout of Will Venable by Doug Slaten right there. Summoned from the bullpen with runners on second and third and one out, Slaten really had to try to strike Venable out. Just about anything else other than a popup would have given the Padres the lead. So nice job by Slaten to hurl a 2-2 fastball past Venable for the second out. The threat isn't over, though. Drew Storen now on to face Jerry Hairston, with Adrian Gonzalez on deck.

6:15 p.m. -- Sure enough, Storen walks Hairston, loading the bases for the Padres' best hitter. The kid does have a sense for drama, doesn't he?

6:18 p.m. -- You can breathe again. After running the count full on Storen, Gonzalez hit a sharp line drive to center field. Nyjer Morgan got twisted around twice but finally composed himself to make the routine catch. Inning over. Disaster averted. Game still tied 2-2 heading to the eighth.

6:35 p.m. -- As nice as those two homers were earlier, you probably would have traded one of them for a better at-bat there from Zimmerman in the eighth. With the go-ahead run on second and two outs, Zimmerman swung and missed at a 2-1 slider from Mike Adams, then swung and missed at a 94 mph fastball. We go to the bottom of the eighth, still tied 2-2. Tyler Clippard on to pitch for the Nats.

6:45 p.m. -- Another Nats reliever comes up big. Clippard strikes out Torrealba, and Wil Nieves guns down Chris Denorfia trying to steal for an inning-ending double play. We go to the ninth, with Padres closer Heath Bell on the mound to face Dunn, Willingham and Desmond.

6:55 p.m. -- Nothing doin' in the top of the ninth, other than a near-bonehead baserunning play by Dunn. So we'll go to the bottom of the ninth. Clippard staying on for his second inning of work. Bottom of the order due up for San Diego.

7:02 p.m. -- Apparently, the Nats just don't want to leave San Diego. I can't really blame them. We go to the 10th.

7:23 p.m. -- Let's play 11!

7:45 p.m. -- Well, someone was going to have to score eventually. Nick Hundley sends a two-out single to left, scoring Lance Zawadski with the game-winner to beat the Nats, 3-2, in 11. The hit came off Matt Capps. The loss is charged to Sean Burnett. But it's an unearned run because of Adam Kennedy's wild throw on Zawadski's grounder. Tough, tough loss for the Nationals.

13 comments:

Andrew Stebbins said...

I'd like to see Harris gets some starts and hit in the bottom third of the order.

Doc said...

Beat the Pads to-day, 4-straight over the Stros, and sign The New Babe in the MLB Draft------GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NATS!!!!

BinM said...

@Andrew:
The problem with Willie right now is that he's not hitting, and has been squeezed out at his natural positions (LF, 2B, 3B). If Riggleman gives him a start in CF, there's a hole in the lineup at leadoff, and he's not good in RF, imo. If they're going to give him a start, it would mean moving Bernadina or Desmond to leadoff, just to get Willie into the starting 9.

rmoore446 said...

Agree that he's being squeezed at LF, 2B and 3B. It's hard to hit when you are seldom playing long consistently enough to get it going--even so he's won a couple of games with his bat and others with his glove. Sometimes, as Nyjer demonstrates, it can be hard even when you are playing well. The most likely spot for him, barring injury, is in center field if Riggleman ever believes some time on the bench would do Nyjer some good. Willie was a decent CF in the past and, right now, he'd be an improvement over Morgan.

NatinBeantown said...

Livo vs. Garland should be called the Fangraphs Fraud Game. Both guys are dominating so unexpectedly, and with such frightening peripherals, it has all the sabre guys undies in a twist. I don't know what will happen today, I'd be willing to bet that Livo is the guy still standing in August.

Souldrummer said...

@rmoore446
Willie Harris plus an inventory arm should be the move to get a decent right handed hitting RF.

Grandstander said...

Way to go, Zim!!!

That dude loves this park!

Doc said...

How about Desmond at Leadoff anyway? ID can do a lot of things, including laying down a bunt, which is more than poor ol' Nyj can do.

Doc said...

Hard to say what a routine catch for Morgan is anymore.

Sec$39.99 said...

eschewed?? Gesundheit!
http://tinyurl.com/292w4bs

rmoore446 said...

@souldrummer
I wouldn't be surprised (nor would I be unpleased) to see Harris bundled with someone else in a trade that brings in a solid right fielder. I like Willie but a trade now might be best for all parties. We do have a lot of versatility on the bench and could spare him.

Sam said...

Bob Davidson's strike zone was absolutely awful today. How was the 1-2 pitch to Hundley not a strike after it had been all day? I guess he got his wish. He wanted the game to end, and it did on the next pitch.

natsone_va said...

That pitch was a freaking strike all day. It's upsetting.

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