Thursday, April 14, 2011

Game 12: Phillies at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jordan Zimmermann faces Cliff Lee tonight in the rubber game of this series.
For all the hand-wringing over the ninth inning of last night's game, the Nationals have a chance today to do something they haven't done for a little while: take a series from the Phillies. The last time they pulled that off: last July, when Ryan Zimmerman clubbed a walk-off homer off Brad Lidge hours after the team chose not to trade Adam Dunn.

To pull this one off, the Nationals will need a strong pitching performance from Jordan Zimmermann (as detailed earlier today), some timely hits against Cliff Lee from a lineup that has Michael Morse back in left field and clean defense after Ian Desmond's two-error game last night.

It's an absolutely beautiful day for baseball. If you don't already have tickets, head down this way and take advantage of this spectacular spring evening. Updates to come...

PHILLIES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2, MLB Network (outside of D.C.)
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 175
Weather: Clear, 66 degrees, Wind 4 mph LF to RF
STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (5-6)
SS Ian Desmond
CF Rick Ankiel
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
LF Michael Morse
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Jerry Hairston
P Jordan Zimmermann

PHILLIES (8-3)
CF Shane Victorino
3B Placido Polanco
SS Jimmy Rollins
1B Ryan Howard
RF Ben Francisco
LF Raul Ibanez
C Carlos Ruiz
2B Wilson Valdez
P Cliff Lee
5:17 p.m. -- One short pregame note to pass along: Henry Rodriguez's rehab stint with Class AA Harrisburg has ended after three appearances. The right-hander has been bumped up to Class AAA Syracuse to continue the assignment. Rodriguez, on the 15-day DL since the end of spring training with a neck injury, was fantastic at Harrisburg, tossing four scoreless innings, striking out seven and not walking a batter. His Syracuse stint got off to a bit of a rougher start, though. Pitching in the first half of today's doubleheader against Pawtucket, Rodriguez walked two and struck out one over 1 1/3 innings. There's no sure timetable for his return to D.C. -- he's allowed to remain on rehab until May 7 -- but once he's healthy, he'll have to be placed on the 25-man roster or risk being lost on waivers.

7:06 p.m. -- And we are underway. We may not enjoy a nicer night for baseball all season than this. 69 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, a very light breeze. Even the cherry blossoms are in bloom behind the left-field fence.

7:09 p.m. -- Can't ask for anything better out of Jordan Zimmermann in the top of the first: three groundball outs, eight total pitches. Here comes Cliff Lee. What's the over-under on three-ball counts for Lee tonight? I'm saying it's 3.

7:14 p.m. -- Upset of the night: Lee threw first-pitch balls to the first three batters he faced. Of course, he still retired the side, striking out both Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth while getting Rick Ankiel to ground out. Eleven pitches, seven strikes for the lefty in the bottom of the first.

7:20 p.m. -- So far, so good for Zimmermann. Six up, six down. Five groundball outs and a strikeout of Raul Ibanez on a 95-mph heater.

7:31 p.m. -- At some point, someone from either team will probably reach base. But it hasn't happened yet. Lee has retired all six Nats he's faced. Zimmermann has retired all nine Phillies, striking out three. He's only thrown 33 pitches, 24 of them strikes. Looks really sharp so far.

7:43 p.m. -- Well, the Nats got their first baserunner of the night when Danny Espinosa led of the third with a double to right-center. He took third moments later on Jerry Hairston's flyball to center, setting up an interesting scenario with one out, a man on third and Zimmermann up. The Phillies brought their infield in, anticipating the squeeze. They didn't get that; Zimmermann swung at the first pitch and rapped a sharp grounder right at Jimmy Rollins. Unfortunately, Espinosa was running on contact and was thrown out easily at the plate. Not quite sure I understand the thinking there. Why not hold Espinosa and hope Desmond could drive the run in. Of course, Desmond struck out looking at a fastball, so what do I know? Still scoreless here after three.

7:50 p.m. -- Twelve up, twelve down for Zimmermann. He's got four strikeouts, a couple of them on 95 mph fastballs. Only one guy has hit the ball out of the infield (Valdez on a lineout to right in the third). Rollins did smoke a line drive right at Adam LaRoche to end the fourth, but that's as close as the Phillies have come to putting a man on so far. Only 46 pitches (34 strikes) through four innings for Zimmermann. Impressive.

7:55 p.m. -- Man, are these two guys efficient or what? Zimmermann and Lee have combined to throw 86 pitches in four full innings so far. That's roughly what it took for Daniel Cabrera to get through two innings a couple years ago. Still a few late-arriving fans trickling into the park. They've already missed four innings.

7:59 p.m. -- Fifteen up, fifteen down for Zimmermann. He needed only eight pitches to navigate his way through the fifth, getting a halfway-decent catch from Werth on Francisco's sinking liner to right. The Nats obviously watch Zimmermann's pitch count closely and won't let him go much beyond the century mark. But he's at only 54 through five, so it's really not a concern yet. The fact the Nats haven't scored yet, however, is.

8:09 p.m. -- Oh well, so much for that. Carlos Ruiz just crushed a hanging breaking ball from Zimmermann off the top of the left-field fence. So the Phillies lead 1-0 in the sixth and Zimmermann's date with history will have to wait.

8:16 p.m. -- And just like that it's 2-0 Phillies after Jerry Hairston made an ill-advised and wild throw to first after making a nifty play on Polanco's sharp grounder to third. That allowed Victorino (who doubled moments earlier) to score an unearned run. Tough break for Zimmermann, who is not charged with that run but still finds himself trailing by two runs against a really tough opponent. We go to the bottom of the sixth.

8:21 p.m. -- Ian Desmond tonight: 3 at-bats, 3 strikeouts. Looks totally lost up there.

8:32 p.m. -- Cliff Lee is taking this thing to new levels. He's now notched five consecutive strikeouts and has faced only one more than the minimum through seven innings. Nats are suddenly down to their final six outs, trailing 2-0 and with little reason to believe Lee is going to come out of this game anytime soon.

8:40 p.m. -- That'll do it for Zimmermann, who departs to a nice ovation after loading the bases with nobody out in the eighth. He wasn't helped by his defense; Espinosa booted a grounder from Lee to set up this situation, with Drew Storen entering to face Victorino and nowhere to put him.

8:48 p.m. -- Not that this game looked all that winnable down 2-0 to Lee in the eighth, but it really looks unwinnable now that the Phillies lead 4-0 thanks to a run-scoring groundout from Polanco (Espinosa made a fantastic play to get to the ball up the middle and flip to Desmond for one out) and an RBI single from Rollins. Storen is out of the game, Doug Slaten is in to face Ryan Howard and the Nats are in serious trouble.

8:52 p.m. -- Normally, a pitching line like this (7 ip, 5 h, 1 er, 0 bb, 4 k) gets you a win. Barring something dramatic happening here soon, it's going to get Zimmermann a loss.

8:59 p.m. -- Hide the women and children before reading this: Ian Desmond and Michael Morse are now a combined 1-for-36 at home this season. And Cliff Lee ha recorded 12 strikeouts in eight innings, including a stretch of seven of eight batters until Hairston popped out to end the eighth. Still 4-0.

9:12 p.m. -- That's it. It's over. Nats lose 4-0 as Lee tosses the second straight complete game by a Phillies starter. Jesus Flores did lead off the ninth with a single in his first big-league at-bat since September 2009 (and his first big-league hit since May 9, 2009, the night he fractured his shoulder). But that's all the Nats could do against Lee. Can't say they didn't play the Phillies tough over the last three nights. Still lost two of three, though.

65 comments:

erocks33 said...

Nats versus Lee ... time for another Levale Speigner game!

natsfan1a said...

I knew Levale Speigner. I watched Levale Speigner. And Jordan Zimmermann is no Levale Speigner. (No offense, Levale.) That said, gooooo Jordan!

SonnyG10 said...

OK, Nats, let's win this series tonight! Go Nats!

carolync said...

So the weather is not an excuse for staying home. Sparse crowds the last two days were troubling.
Also seems like most of the obnoxious Phillies fans are out in the right field stands so they can heckle Werth.

Sure would be nice to see a big crowd of Nats fans!

Mr Donkey said...

Hoping for a second night of 5$ seats and then moving down near to my partial season seats in 106 in the later innings.

Grandstander said...

It's sad that our pitcher and our 3B have the same amount of hits. I hope these guys smell blood in the water and we take the series. That would really be something to build off of.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Mark, glad you're out of that hockey dungeon and get to breathe that sweet, spring air tonight. Here's all you need to know about that "other sport" and our local choking dogs: Rangers in seven. Enjoy the game. Missed you last night.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Order up about 7 days worth of tonites weather for me when I come up for the Mets and Giants series in 12 days.

After suffering through opening day and Saturdays game 2 weeks ago, you people owe me some good weather after what we served up for you during Spring Training this year.

Unkyd said...

Big Night, Desi.... Focus, My Boy, Focus!!!

natsfan1a said...

Yeah sure, NatsJack, we'll order up a little sunshine for you. fyi, they don't do airboat rides up here, though. Maybe a water taxi. Bo-ring. ;-)

btw, the local SABR chapter is hosting a program at Nats Park before the April 30 game. Some Nats FO types will be among the speakers. You can find details here, just in case you might be interested:

http://chapters.sabr.org/bobdavids/

Scooter said...

In other around-the-division news, Scott Hairston hit a home run today.

We got the wrong Hairston.

Rizzo FAIL. >:-(

natsfan1a said...

otoh, LOL = SUCCESS. :-D

NatsJack in Florida said...

Scott Hairston hit a home run in another LOSS for the Mets. You forgot to mention that.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Just say no to all Hairstons. Friends don't let friends Hairston. I am so sick our Our Guy. He looked pathetic against Mr. Halladay last night.

A DC Wonk said...

Off topic:

Kilgore notes: "Nationals learned they received the 23rd pick, where the Chicago White Sox would have picked in the first round, and the 34th pick, the very first pick in Compensatory Round A, as compensation for losing Adam Dunn to free agency. Along with the sixth overall choice, earned thanks to their 69-93 record, the Nationals have three of the first 34 picks."

But what about what the Nats have to give up for signing Werth? The Nats lose their sixth pick in the second round -- instead of the first round -- because the first 18 picks are protected.

The sixth, and two more of the first 34 picks . . . that's nice.

natsfan1a said...

um, I think maybe Scooter was kidding around.

Grandstander said...

If HRod needs to be on the 25-man by 5/7, that means Gaudin, Coffey, Slaten and Broderick are pitching for their jobs at this point. I'd like to think the Nats would hold onto their Rule 5 pick unless he really shows no promise at all. He had a shaky couple games but was perfect against Philly last night.

Slaten has pitched well all season so far and is also one of only 2 lefties (the other being Burnett, our ostensible closer), so I'd gather he's pretty safe. So either Coffey or Gaudin will be packing their bags May 7th barring an injury.

JD said...

Grandstander,

Many things can happen between now and 5/7: Injury, trade, use of an extra pitcher. I wouldn't be so sure about who's packing bags just yet.

A DC Wonk said...

Wow -- after two innings:

Zimmermann: first six retired, only 19 pitches, only 5 of them balls

Lee: first six retired, only 19 pitches, only 5 of them balls

Aussie Gus said...

What's the shortest game ever? Could we be watching history in the making?

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

I believe the shortest 9-inning game record is 54 minutes. It's safe.

Alan_A said...

I wonder if Zimmermann was supposed to be bunting there. The way Espinosa was looking at him after the tag, makes me think something got screwed up.

Cwj said...

@Alan- It looks to me like Espinosa was instructed to run on contact. Unfortunately, that was the wrong call from Riggleman.

Exposremains said...

What needs to happen for Desmond to be removed from the leadoff spot? This is embarassing. What are they waiting for? They want him to lose all of his confidence.

Cwj said...

@Exposremains- Who would you put in the lead off spot? The Nats lack a leadoff hitter this year, in my opinion.

Alan_A said...

@Cwj - yes, agreed - to be filed (with so many others) under "questionable Riggleman calls" in... the Nationals Zone...

Exposremains said...

Just want to see Espinosa there to see if it works this year, move Desmond to 7th spot until he gets back on track and move him to 2nd spot.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

shortest games: well, I was close.
www.baseball-almanac.com/recbooks/rb_gmlg.shtml

Cwj said...

Ugh, I hate the phillies.

CBinDC said...

A Phillie fan punches the racing President and the Nationals management does nothing. That is way I am at home ...you can have that Filthydelphia crowd not me.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

I'm on the sofa myself, obviously, but I have a question, CB--if you are at home, how do you know they did nothing? Can you still see the fan?

CBinDC said...

I have not seen any movement of the guy he is on the right field rail about mid up looks like he is still there to me.

Anonymous said...

Carlos Ruiz absolutely kills Nats pitching.

FS said...

Lee is dominating us right now, better than Halladay did last night. We should have done better than this when we have decent right handed guys in Werth, Ramos, Espinosa, and others.

This is painful to watch. I did not see the singles but I saw Danny's wobble there. That was a double play ball he got from Lee and he screwed it up big time. Calm down guys.

WilliamTells said...

Was at work today and was shown that the Phillies website offers group travel packages to DC. Does this mean they coordinate directly with the Nats' ticket offices? Why are we helping give away 9 home games a year to a division rival?!?! I'd sure like answers on this from Mssrs. Rizzo and Lerner.

Anonymous said...

Without Zimmerman, Nationals have no offense.

phil dunn said...

Nats team batting average now .214.

Aussie Gus said...

WilliamTells - Sports teams create travel packages to make money. They usually charge the visiting fans a little extra for the tickets, and if they are good, they also get a clip of the bus/hotels and meals. If your own fans aren't going to come along, then fill the seats for more than the face value of the tickets. It's just good business.

Tim said...

I'm already looking forward to Nyger being introduced to Ramos' arm. ;-)

FS said...

Why Lee why? Why did you not sign with us? Phillies would be striking out right now and we would be happy. And Ruiz is just hot right now. I do not remember him being so troublesome before.

I know it does not matter much but how does Zimmermann has four earned runs. That botched play by Danny was a double play ball and also moved another run in scoring position. It should be at most 3 ER.

Irony is I have Cliff Lee on my fantasy team.

WilliamTells said...

Aussie- it's shortsighted business. I know many friends who avoid Phillies series because of the bused in groups. Amounts to damaging the growth of your brand in return for short term profit. Or as the Lerners call it, a business model.

Cwj said...

Tough loss. But I'll still take this year's Nats over last year's.
Zimmermann looked great. Bullpen is still one of the best in the NL (the hit off of Storen was on a very good pitch).

But yes, the Nats do indeed miss Zimmerman's bat.

Jeeves said...

Other than Zimmerman, the only players who are hitting are the two rookies. From a glass half full perspective, the future appears promising. Jeeze.

FS said...

I know this Nats played tougher than any previous year we would have. To give trouble to Halladay (even if it was in ninth) and matching Lee's dominant start for most of the game, we have improved. The promising way the series started, we should have taken one more from Phillies. This just proves the old saying, pitching is always the reason a team wins or loses. Lee was on tonight. I don't think having Ryan in the lineup would have helped much.

BTW will we be facing Zack this weekend or still on DL?

Doc said...

In spite of the two errors to-night, and their cumulative total this year, I still think that these Nats are lots of fielding steps ahead of recent Nats' teams.

LaRoche was making some really good plays all evening, particularly the one where he grabbed the ball on the line and flipped to Broderick. Espi,late in the game, also saved a hit on the SS side of 2B, and flipped to Desmond for the out.

It's time the Nats' bats came on line!

Wait'll next time!!!!

Mr Donkey said...

Two comments:

1-WTF: hit and run with no outs and RAMOS on first and Espinosa on deck. Should have had Morris bunt. But no. Hit and run strike him out throw him out. Game over.

2-Desmond should NOT be leading off. He's freaking out. Can't hit and now can't field. For now, end the experiment. Like the guy but he is so deep in his head he can't play.

Aussie Gus said...

William Tells - if the stadium was full of Nats fans, and visiting fans were given 3 bays to choose from, then I think you might find the banter rather enjoyable. Visiting fans are always more manageable when they are outnumbered and their team is losing. Having a travel business is not short sighted, it's actually really good for everyone in the long term, assuming it's managed correctly, just like the rest of the business.

Trust me, when the park is full of Nats fans and they drown out the 300 Philly fans that have been allowed in, and the Nats win 10-2, you'll go, and you'll enjoy it.

CBinDC said...

Look the fan base in this town is to damn smart to keep going back to be abused in their own stadium .....The Lerners created this mess and STILL have not owned up to the mistake ......and now we have a lead of who can not get on base, a PH specialist who can not get a hit, a line up that is last in the league in hitting ....and we are back to errorville ....so why go again to vomited on by a fan from Filthy

Anonymous8 said...

What idiot at MASN sent out the text message about Jordan Zimmermann's No Hitter going? As soon as that text hit my phone Ruiz hit the HR.

Bad one MASN! Great pitching performance Jordan Zimmermann!

Manassas Nats Fan said...

Sp far this year Pitching is so much better than last year.

Fielding about the same. Errors at the wrong time.

Hitter far inferior to last year.

What is the primary role of a lead off hitter? Get on base? Who is getting on base the most? Ramos. Move him to lead off he can't do any worse than the incumbent is doing.

Ernie said...

Beautiful night at the ballpark. The fielding was disappointing, but really after that home run it was over anyway. Zimmermann really shut down the heart of the Phillies linueup too. Their 3-6 hitters were 1 for 16. Unfortunately, Ruiz owned him tonight.

Half of our starting 8 position players ended the day at or below the Mendoza line. I posted the other day that I don't think numbers mean anything, but these kinds of aggregate numbers are starting to mean something to me.

CBinDC said...

Is it to early to write some players names in to the Nationals Wille Mo Pena Hall of Shame ?

WilliamTells said...

Aussie-

I would enjoy that, yes. But my point is we'll never get to a full park and 10-2 wins if we keep undercutting our brand by welcoming out of control Philly fans with open arms at the expense of respectability.

Anonymous said...

Linked at left - Racing Thomas Jefferson hit by Philthy fan - http://blog.letteddywin.com/2011/04/14/phillie-fan-hits-racing-president/

Very nice - Kasten's legacy lives on - Moneygrubber.

Anonymous said...

When we play da Fillies, one of the best teams in MLB, taking one out of three games is not a disgrace. Now, if we continue to win only one of three games from da Brewers, da Pirates, and da Mets, then we REALLY know we're in trouble! The next few weeks will tell all for this season!!!

A DC Wonk said...

"What idiot at MASN sent out the text message about Jordan Zimmermann's No Hitter going? As soon as that text hit my phone Ruiz hit the HR. Bad one MASN!"

It's OK, you can blame it on me. I called out to my wife "hey, he's got a perfect game going" somewhere between 5 and 10 seconds before the home run.

Manassas Nats Fan said...

I too text a friend to tell him it was time to start watching, so I get a piece of the blame too.

A DC Wonk said...

One of the Anons wrote: "When we play da Fillies, one of the best teams in MLB, taking one out of three games is not a disgrace. Now, if we continue to win only one of three games from da Brewers, da Pirates, and da Mets, then we REALLY know we're in trouble!"

That's actually a good point. If the Nats could seriously beat up on the *weak* teams, _that_ would be taking care of business and get us going. We couldn't even get that done last year.

DCDingo said...

Phillies fans were in great numbers tonight and were fairly well behaved except for the puke in the bathrooms. "Another great Phillies win at home," cried one Philphies fan as I took a post-game leak. A Nationals fan offered a loud FU in response, but winning is the only real answer to this obnoxious invasion.

Grandstander said...

Philly will forget it has a team in another few years and all will be right again. I went to plenty of Mets/Phils games in philly where the Mets fans pulled the same shit and now look where they are.

I have a rule though that I never go to Nats games when they Phils are playing. If it means I see 9 less games a year, I don't care. At least I'll enjoy myself at them.

Ernie said...

I love how the people who complain loudest about the Phillies fans taking over the stadium are the ones who swear they won't go to Phillies games. I've been to 7 or 8 games against Philadelphia in the past couple years. Their fans are loud and obnoxious, but I still have yet to experience any direct hostility. Tonight I had a few groups near me and they were vocal but made good conversation and we all enjoyed ourselves. One thing we all had in common is a low opinion of Blanton's skills as a starting pitcher. (I sit in one of the the 300 sections around the infield. It's not dangerous. Really.)

The only solution I see to the out-of-town invasion is to go to games and cheer for the Nats. What's the old line about "if you're not part of the solution..."? If you're really so afraid of them that you can't go to the ballpark, maybe the problem isn't them.

And really, does anyone seriously think that a comment from Stan Kasten three years ago is the reason they come to the stadium? What is the team supposed to do? Ask for a secret Nats handshake when they sell tickets?

(I am fully aware that I am about to be declared the biggest idiot in the history of blogging for saying these things. Or that my experiences in the stadium are completely different from the experiences of people who have already declared they don't even go.)

CBinDC said...

I complain the loudest because I have had the displeasure of Filthy games in the past, 3 times last year and every one was the worst experience at the ball park I have ever had. Now if you want the full run down as to what happened I'll be glad to enlighten. My point is that I am now not going back to Nats Park during those games. The folks running the stadium seem helpless to stop it so I stay home. BTW I went to a game up in Filthydelphia and it was a completely different experience I guess the real filth only comes here

Anonymous said...

I was wondering why the perfect game was interrupted. What the hell is wrong with you guys? You don't even mentioned anything to anyone not even to yourself about a no hitter/perfect game through five innings. It's verbatim!!! I hope we learned from this experience...


UNTERP

Unkyd said...

Atta boy, Desi!!! Way to work it!

Unkyd said...

Ooops! Wrong game thread.....

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