Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Game 23: Mets at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Losers in five of their last six games, the Nats try to get back on track tonight.
The Nationals' upcoming schedule isn't very kind. They've got four games this weekend against the World Series champion Giants (with Tim Lincecum slated to pitch Friday's opener). Then a nine-game road trip to Philadelphia, Florida and Atlanta, three locales that haven't been so kind to these guys over the years.

The next two evenings against the Mets, then, start looking really important. After dropping last night's game 6-4, the Nats can ill afford another loss that would drop them to three games under .500.

Tom Gorzelanny, still in search of his first win with the Nationals, gets the ball against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Jim Riggleman is sticking with his same lineup from last night, including rookie catcher Wilson Ramos (who is starting his third straight game for the first time).

Updates to come...

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Chance of storms, 76 degrees, Wind 16 mph out to LF
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
LF Michael Morse
3B Jerry Hairston
SS Alex Cora
P Tom Gorzelanny

METS (10-13)
SS Jose Reyes
2B Justin Turner
3B David Wright
RF Carlos Beltran
LF Jason Bay
1B Ike Davis
CF Scott Hairston
C Mike Nickeas
P R.A. Dickey
6:50 p.m. -- It hasn't been announced officially, but the start of this game is going to be delayed. There's a major storm sweeping through town from the southwest, with tornado warnings posted in a few areas. No rain here at the ballpark yet, but the tarp is over the infield and pitchers haven't begun warming up.

7:18 p.m. -- While we wait for this game to start, a couple of notes: 1) Ian Desmond is scheduled to rejoin the Nats in time for tomorrow's game after missing the last two for the birth of his son. The club will need to take someone off the roster to open space for Desmond. No actual knowledge here, but just a hunch that Brian Bixler will be sent down. That would keep Roger Bernadina around for a little while, at least until Ryan Zimmerman comes off the DL. ... 2) Wilson Ramos, as you know, is making his third straight start behind the plate. Jim Riggleman said this could become more of a regular occurrence. "I was looking for some times to start playing him three days in a row, and even more," Riggleman said. "The only reason we don't play him a lot more than that is because Pudge is such a good player himself. Pudge has been contributing a lot. Pudge has gotten some big hits for us. He's doing his thing behind the plate, he's playing very well. So we certainly can't ignore what Pudge is doing for us. But everybody knows that Ramos is our future, and we don't want Ramos to be a two-days-in-a-row or every-other-day guy. We've got to get him taking the load on that catchers take, which is sometimes a week. We won't do that because of the quality of Pudge's play. But we will see him more often than we have been."

7:37 p.m. -- The tarp has been removed, the pitchers are warming up and we should have baseball soon.

7:50 p.m. -- And we are underway following a 45-minute delay. Tom Gorzelanny starts Jose Reyes off with a fastball for strike one.

7:54 p.m. -- Very nice top of the first for Gorzelanny. He struck out Reyes looking at a 91-mph fastball on the inside corner, then retired Justin Turner and David Wright. Needed only nine pitches (eight strikes) to retire the side.

8:00 p.m. -- Two-out double from Jayson Werth, but that was the extent of the Nats' offensive attack in the bottom of the first. R.A. Dickey got Danny Espinosa to pop out, Rick Ankiel to ground out and Adam LaRoche to whiff at an 0-2 knuckleball.

8:19 p.m. -- The Nats aren't having a whole lot of success against Dickey's knuckleball so far. Michael Morse did send a deep fly ball to right, and Jerry Hairston singled to left in the bottom of the second, but Alex Cora struck out to end the inning. Still scoreless here.

8:28 p.m. -- The Mets break out some small ball to take a 1-0 lead in the third. Mike Nickeas beat out an infield single when Espinosa couldn't quite get to his sinking liner. Nickeas then took second on a sac bunt, took third on a groundball to the right side and scored on Turner's single to right. So it's 1-0 as we go to the bottom of the third.

8:49 p.m. -- Morse has hit two deep fly balls to right field in two at-bats tonight. His latest was deep enough to score Werth from third and tie the game up at 1-1 in the fourth. Either Dickey is pounding the strike zone with his knuckleball, or the Nats' hitting approach is to go up there hacking. Just about every batter has swung at the first pitch he's seen.

9:05 p.m. -- The early hacking approach worked again in the fifth. Ankiel lined Dickey's first pitch to left for a two-out RBI double, scoring Cora. Nats take a 2-1 lead, with Gorzelanny heading back out for the top of the sixth having allowed only three hits so far.

9:13 p.m. -- Six strong innings so far for Gorzelanny, who has done a nice job holding the Mets' hot lineup in check. One run and four hits allowed so far, and he's at only 79 pitches.

9:25 p.m. -- With two on, two out and the No. 8 hitter up, Riggleman had Matt Stairs in the on-deck circle to pinch-hit for Gorzelanny and Tyler Clippard warming in the bullpen. But after Cora ended the inning, Gorzelanny is back to the mound for the top of the seventh, still up 2-1.

9:30 p.m. -- Jayson Werth has very quietly committed four errors already this season, including a drop of Ike Davis' sinking liner to right just now. That's it for Gorzelanny, who is pulled in favor of Clippard to face pinch-hitter Willie Harris. Roger Bernadina also takes over for Morse in left field as part of a double-switch.

9:35 p.m. -- Clippard does what he does best: Inherit a jam and pitch his way out of it. He got Harris to foul out on his first pitch, then struck out Nickeas to end the seventh with the 2-1 lead preserved. Clippard has now successfully stranded 14 of 18 inherited runners this season.

9:48 p.m. -- Well, Werth's error total just dropped by one. The official scorer has changed his call from earlier, taking away the error and making it a single.

9:52 p.m. -- Holy cow, Jose Reyes just went on an all-time tirade after getting called out by third-base ump Marvin Hudson. Reyes was trying to stretch a double into a triple, and though he beat Rick Ankiel's one-hop throw from the warning track, his foot came off the base. Jerry Hairston tagged him, and Hudson called Reyes out. It's possible Reyes kept his hand on the bag as this was happening, and so he should have been safe. Either way, it was an incredible throw by Ankiel. And an incredible tirade by Reyes, who somehow avoided getting ejected.

9:54 p.m. -- So much for that. Daniel Murphy just followed the Reyes play with a homer to right off Clippard. Fastball up over the plate. All of a sudden, we're tied 2-2, and the Nats have to feel fortunate Reyes wasn't standing on third base at the time. Otherwise they'd be trailing right now.

10:13 p.m. -- The Nats have re-taken the lead, thanks to Jason Bay's drop of Adam LaRoche's blooper down the left-field line, a passed ball by catcher Josh Thole and then a sac fly by Wilson Ramos. But in a very curious move, Riggleman sent in Brian Bixler to pinch-run for LaRoche after the latter reached third. With nobody out in a tie game in the eighth. Was that necessary? I'm not sure. LaRoche certainly would have scored on the sac fly, which was hit to medium-deep center field. The problem is that now Alex Cora is going to play first base in the ninth inning with the Nats ahead one run. Sean Burnett is out of the pen in search of the save.

10:23 p.m. -- And the Mets have incredible tied and then re-taken the lead. Burnett allowed three straight singles to open the ninth: two that never left the infield, one a sinking liner that Bernadina nearly caught. A sac fly to right brought the tying run home. Then with the infield in, Thole sent a chopper up the middle. Bixler made the play and looked to the plate but couldn't pull the trigger and settled for the out at first. That brought the go-ahead run home. And then Murphy brought two more home with a double to right. It's 6-3, and this one has officially turned into a disaster.

10:38 p.m. -- It's over. Nats lose 6-3 after allowing five runs in the eighth and ninth innings. That, my friends, was an ugly finish to a ballgame. Oh, and now the Nats are in last place in the NL East at 10-13.


masnstinks said...

Glad to see Ramos playing - we need the offense! The rest of our offense is truly offensive.....

Anonymous8 said...

Ramos 3 games in a row! I guess Riggleman is thinking about generating offense!

carolync said...

Should be interesting. How well I remember when JZimm faced RA Dickey in the Mets home opener and the Nats won 6-2. JZimm and Pudge both had 2-run singles and the other two RBI's went to Desmond on a FC groundout and to Morse on a bases loaded walk. I think Ankiel and Espinosa both had multiple hit games but I'm not sure. I remember thinking we needed a hitting coach to teach our guys to hit knuckleballs.

So perhaps JZimm and Pudge are good candidates to pinch hit tonight.

Off to the game. Go Ramos! Go Nats!

natsfan1a said...

Also, I seem to recall Werth saying that he liked to face Whiffle, er, knuckleball pitchers.

JaneB said...

Danny hasn't been hitting well lately. Is if the dreaded lead-off slot?

Greg said...

I just started listening to the game on radio. Anything wrong with Dave? Charlie is in the booth with Rizzo and Phil Wood. Thanks!

Mark Zuckerman said...

Greg: Dave had to attend a funeral in New York today, so Charlie is flying solo.

Greg said...

Thanks Mark. It's just not the same without him. My condolences to Dave.

Rob Dibble's Ghost said...

Dave is back!

Anonymous8 said...

Mark - Charlie had Phil Wood with him to start the game. I couldn't stand listening to Phil so on goes the sound of FP and Carps.

Anonymous8 said...

Bad bunt by Espinosa and worse than that is he didn't hustle to 1st on the bunt popup. Should have been a disaster if Dickey lets the ball drop!

Anonymous said...

Bixler is staying in as SS? I hope this doesn't come back to bite the Nats...

dryw said...

Danny Espinosa can play some baseball. In case anyone wondered. ;-)

FS said...

@ JaneB, no it is the curse of Fantasy League. As soon as I added a Nats player to my fantasy team, they start to suck.

Very few people around tonight.
Anyways, two on and no outs for Mets in top of the ninth.

Doc said...

More likely having Cora play 1B will come back to bite them. Hmmmm, must check out his height???

ballstonNat said...

Wow. This is a Riggleman classic. Tons of switches leaving no hitters out there. Cora the large and in charge first baseman. And glad we're saving Storen for the 10th? Wow. This is killing me.

Stranded_in_Philly said...

I am so sick of watching Riggleman manage the Nats out of games. This is atrocious.

JaneB said...

FS, as soon as I buy or have a Nats shirt made, the player leaves. Or has his number changed. So I've sworn off shirts for Nats, even though I really want a Livo shirt. Maybe you should swear of fantasy Nats. :-)

Oh Sean, not your night.

Anonymous8 said...

What was the deal with Werth going back on that sac fly in the 9th. He looked like he was stumbling and confused.

OUCH said...

This is a sad 9th inning.

CBinDC said...

Wow can so this is stupid ball ....who is to blame WHO ???????? RIGGLEMAN

OH another night of the away team feeling better in Nationals Park..... That is the CHEAP LERNERS

Anonymous8 said...

That Willie Harris bunt should have been fielded by Hairston at 3rd for an out. At least you get 1 out there. 2 outs with the Sac Fly and you get out with a tie game.

These Veterans don't play like they have been there before.

Anonymous said...

I wish we could ask the questions during the post game.
1. Riggs, why Burnett over Storen?
Probable answer...well, Burnie has been good for us all year and did a good job, he just had a few bad bounces.
2. Riggs, after the first 2 hits, why not make the move to Storen?
3. Riggs, how did it feel to have all of your offensive weapons used up when you needed them?

Anonymous said...

Welcome to last place in the NL East. This is where the Nationals will reside for the rest of the season. What else is new?

Anonymous said...

The Phils are 16-8. We are 10-13 after tonight's disaster. This entire season will be an exhibition show, where no one really cares if the Nats win or lose on a given night. It is April 27th, 2011, and the Nationals' season is COMPLETELY over.

Andrew said...

CBinDC, it is bad enough that the Nats blew a 9th inning lead but your stupidity makes it worse. You are an idiot with your statement in paragraph 2.

FS said...

Yep JaneB, dropping Danny as soon as the week is over. The problem is there is a dearth of 2B around league.

I am not watching the game but shouldn't this loss be Burnett's 'fault'? I don't see anything wrong with Riggleman's any decisions tonight. His team is performing like crap, that's about it. What we need right now is a walk-off grand slam by Justin Maxwell.

Fed Up. said...

The Washington Nationals: Making me give up and actually look forward to Redskins draft day since 2005. It's hard enough living in NYC, but these guys make me actually get mocked by Mets fans. METS FANS! Fire everyone involved with this loser organization except Zimmerman, Strasburg, Harper and Ramos. Except Zim is getting the F out of this place in 2013. Good luck in Boston, big guy.

Joe Seamhead said...

I just don't get it. For the first time,I'm really pissed off. The mananger lost this game,

Mark'd said...

OMG, the world is ending! This thread is pathetic as the game. Then you have loser CBinDC who wants to blame the owner for the 9th inning meltdown.

Anonymous said...

And does anyone wonder why there are "only" 13,000 at the game? The Nats should be blessed that ANYONE wants to see these losers!

Cwj said...

Burnett should be pitching the eight, Storen the 9th.
I think Storen's ready now for the full time closer job.

I'm not really worried about Burnett. Just a very bad time to implode. They really needed a win tonight

Andrew said...

Anonymous8 said...
That Willie Harris bunt should have been fielded by Hairston at 3rd for an out. At least you get 1 out there. 2 outs with the Sac Fly and you get out with a tie game.

These Veterans don't play like they have been there before.

April 27, 2011 10:29 PM

That sums it up well. Plenty of mental mistakes in this one and hindsight being 20/20 obviously Burnett starting the inning vs. Bay is a head scratcher.

Ribuld said...

This shaping up to be a pretty miserable home stand. /sigh

CBinDC said...

The Nats blow another season ....and we are not out of April ......what is Stairs now 0 for 15 ......errors all over the place hits when it counts ....... it all feels just like the last 5 years

BTW is not the payroll on this team less this year then last and the lowest since 2005 .....

Anonymous said...

Nats will be lucky to draw 1,000,000 fans this year. The dopes who run this franchise have destroyed the fan base, just like Angelos did in Baltimore.

brandon said...

I want Jim Riggleman FIRED...his decisions are PUZZLING!!!

FS said...

You can argue that if our team is going by closer-by-committee approach, they should have gone with Storen in the ninth against Bay. But once Burnett was in, you do not take out your closer after two hits.

Anyways, what is more annoying than the loss are the stupid comments written by anonymous users.

CBinDC said...

The Lerners I blame for not creating an atmosphere that supports a fan base ....NOT the 9th inning meltdown

Unkyd said...

Well, I'm glad the season is over. Maybe these crybaby losers will go the beach, and stay there. Listening to this team grow will be SO much more enjoyable, without the childish whining..... Do your mothers know you carry on like this?

Anonymous8 said...

One week ago all was well. Now the team is 3 games under .500 and the world is ending. This is a 75 win team. No Ryan Zimmerman. Very poor bench. Horrible situational hitting.

This is on Rizzo. He got the open checkbook and goes and gets Stairs, Hairston and Cora and Todd Coffey and Gaudin out of all the players available. Trades Nyjer for nothing and Alberto Gonzalez for nothing and Willingham for prospects.

Then Rizzo sticks with the guys he signs instead of giving them a quick Bruney treatment. Oh yah, that's right, put them on the DL. Hah

Bixler and Bernadina at least hustle. Nice to see. Since March 29th so many thought you shouldn't keep both Nix and Stairs and should have kept Bernadina. Its a shame when the commentors are right most of the time.

Can't wait to read the morning comments.

Anonymous said...

Hey Unkyd. I suggest you start attending Nats games and blow kisses to the team 'cause you will be the only sucker in the stands in a couple of weeks!

Andrew said...

CBinDC, you have nothing to say. It has been so nice that we have gone months with no mention of the owners. This has nothing to do with the owners. I agree with Unkyd, stop whining. You don't like the Lerners because of some hatred towards them. It is clear. I mean they guaranteed a player $126 million and probably will be extending Zimmerman soon. They have signed Strasburg and Harper and on top of that dropped ticket prices and given more benefits. Heck, I am thrilled with what the owners have done. The correct comments are on the personnel decisions.

Espinosa is now lost at the plate and LaRoche is slumping. The problems are on the field, not in the owners box.

Anonymous8 said...

Burnett stood up to the firing squad aka the Press in the postgame. Classy.

Start winning tomorrow.

Doc said...

Once the bases were loaded, I knew that Riggleman had blown the game.

Thanks Jim. Storen should have been in there in the 9th! Burnett hasn't been doing his thing lately, and that should be obvious to you and the pitching coach.

If Rizzo isn't really pissed off about this game, then he needs to be DFA'd with Rigglecan!!!!

Grandstander said...

This is just another case of this team finding a way to lose. The first couple of weeks, we were finding ways to win, but these past 2 series, it's the opposite, which is just what it was like the past few seasons.

We were given every chance to win this ballgame. The passed ball, Reyes out at third even though he was clearly not, and we still couldn't pull it out.

There's a lot of blame to go around, as there always is after a tough loss, but you could pretty much spread it around wherever you want to (except Gorzo who threw a terrific game).

What's more concerting is that the attitude on this team has notably changed from an aggressive, find a way to win type club, to the same old error-prone, mistake-ridden nats. I just hope our "veteran leadership", which has done zilch on the field steps up in the clubhouse tonight and makes some noise.

JaneB said...

Wow. We are the fans guys. Why is there so much venom at our own team? They lost. It was ugly. They play again tomorrow. And the next day. They will win and lose again.

What does it accomplish to spew $@&! Like this? We do more to help them with positive vibes. Don't take it so personally, and you won't feel as angry. Angry doesn't help you OR them.

Anonymous8 said...

Grandstander - It isn't lack of aggressiveness, it is the lack of skilled personnel and clubhouse energy. This is the same problem of early May last year. Guys start slumping and bring the energy level down. That is why you need to make some changes. It took way to long to get Bernadina back and even though Bixler has done nothing, he is fighting for a job which is a positive thing. Cora and Hairston and Stairs etc are here on entitlement.

Werth is aggressive. Ankiel has been super aggressive. Cora and Hairston are just over-the-hill guys and don't have the athleticism left to be aggressive. Did you see some of the throws from the left side of the diamond to LaRoche that he had to scoop? Just bad.

I think what you think is not being aggressive is the lack of energy in the dugout. Well you got Stairs telling Zuckerman that "he can't hit" and Rizzo should have DFA'd him immediately. That guy is the bad apple in the bunch. Espinosa has changed his tune now also since he is slumping and clearly his mind is slumping too.

There are a few bright spots but overall it has been the pitching that is outstanding. I liked the idea when it was suggested in Spring Training and I like it more now to get Detwiler here now for the Bullpen and DFA Slaten. Send Stairs packing PLEASE! Keep Bixler for nothing more than he hustles and plays hard and send Cora packing.

Personally, I don't think Rizzo has the guts to do anything and it was his job to DFA Stairs after that interview. I am wondering if Stairs can get to 0-20.

Manassas Nats Fan said...

In general the bullpen has been fine. Tonight of course two blown saves in 1 game.

However what was much worse was the press with RIggleman. Good grief they threw him nothing but softballs. Burnett faced tough questions,. I wanted questions on the decision making, and they kept asking softballs. I saw Gorzalanny pitched well, I don't need a question on that. I wanted to know after each person making base on Burnett why Storen wasn't brought in. After hit, 1,2,3 Still no Storen. What was the thought process. That is what I wanted to know, and the press didn't ask. We want to know why questions, not what questions,. We see what. We cannot see why.

I am glad no one blamed Desi. I saw Bixler couldn't throw the ball home. I bet had Desi did the same play everyone would be complaining that he threw to first.

Anonymous8 said...

Manassas, sadly, you are correct. Desmond is the new Nyjer and hasn't done nearly what Nyjer did to deserve the most despised label.

Good think Desmond wasn't in this game.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Manassas Nats Fan: I don't know what they showed from Riggleman's press conference on MASN, but I asked the very first question, asking him why Burnett was used in the ninth instead of Storen. In his answer, Riggleman explained he wanted Burnett to face all the lefties the Mets were sending up there after Bay. There really was no reason to ask a follow-up about why he didn't switch to Storen sooner because he had already answered that off my first question.

Golfersal said...

Sorry but tonight was down right awful.

What a great evening for Baseball once the early storms moved away, yes a little rain in the 5th but on the whole a perfect night. This was my 5th game of the year and the previous 4 I froze my butt off so it was great to have a nice evening at the ballpark.

But not very nice that Burnett couldn't hold the game. The way the Nats played perfect baseball to get the run in the 8th only to have the Burnett implosion is beyond words.

Question for either Mark or some other bright stat guy.
How many times has the Nats had a terrible offensive night in which the starting pitcher gets relieved in the 6th or 7th and the bullpen puts up zeros in allowing runs.

But then how many times does the bullpen get into a position to hold on and don't. I bet tonight has been repeated before and the point I want to bring up, the Nats are never going to be good until they first do on a regular basis what they did tonight in the 8th inning and punch out that all-important run.
Then the bullpen has to do there job and preserve that 1 run lead for a victory and not imploded like tonight.

I long for the Chad Cordero days back from 2005 & '06 which we knew that if the Nats had the lead going into the ninth it was an automatic win.

Someone at the Nats has to make that happen to be a good team which we aren't right now.

Anonymous said...

I've been saying this and saying this, it's all Desmond fault. Everyone has been thinking about him and don't have their minds on the game. They think about him when he's playing 'cause they know he'll screw up, and they think about him when he's away 'cause they know he'll be back. He's the reason they can't hit. He's the reason no one can field. He's the reason for them in their usual last place position. Go Nats!


NatsPac said...

After thinking about this disappointing finish to a pretty good game; Gorzo pitched well, Ramos hit well, defense was "okay", managing was kinda "okay", overall vibe was suspect. Call me crazy but, even after Ramos has played well I want Pudge behind the plate tonight catching Livo to settle things down.

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