Monday, May 16, 2011

Game 41: Pirates at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The tarp is on the field right now, but they should be able to play tonight.
It was just pouring here at Nationals Park a few minutes ago, canceling outdoor batting practice about 10 minutes into the proceedings. But the system seems to be moving out of the area and the forecast looks OK for tonight's series opener against the Pirates.

Ian Desmond is back in the Nationals' lineup after missing two games with a strained quadriceps muscle. Michael Morse is also back in the lineup for only the second time in 13 days, a product of left-hander Paul Maholm starting for Pittsburgh. That also bumps Wilson Ramos into the cleanup spot, with Adam LaRoche and Morse to follow.

John Lannan starts for the Nats, looking to take down a Pirates club that has lost five in a row after surpassing the .500 mark last week.

Updates to come, so check back...

PIRATES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 189
Weather: Cloudy, 72 degrees, Wind 7 mph in from CF
STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (19-21)
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
C Wilson Ramos
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Michael Morse
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Jerry Hairston
P John Lannan

PIRATES (18-22)
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Jose Tabata
2B Neil Walker
RF Matt Diaz
1B Steve Pearce
3B Brandon Wood
C Chris Snyder
SS Ronny Cedeno
P Paul Maholm
7:06 p.m. -- John Lannan starts Andrew McCutchen off with a fastball for ball one. Not a whole lot of people here. They did sell out their allotment of $1 tickets, but those all appear to be down the line in the upper deck. The lower deck is pretty much empty.

7:16 p.m. -- And the Nats are an early 1-0 hole thanks to three singles and a walk in the top of the first. Lannan almost got out of it without allowing a run when Jerry Hairston made a spectacular diving stop of Steve Pearce's grounder down the third-base line. Hairston's throw got to first just as Pearce's foot hit the bag, and umpire Dan Bellino called him safe. Tough to tell from replays, it was really close.

7:31 p.m. -- The hit-and-run giveth, and the hit-and-run taketh. It worked with Wilson Ramos at the plate and runners on first and second. Ramos sent a single through the left-side hole to score Ian Desmond and snap a 1-for-21 slump by the rookie catcher. But it didn't work moments later when Jayson Werth took off from second and got doubled up when Adam LaRoche lined right at shortstop Ronny Cedeno. 1-1 after 1.

7:45 p.m. -- Unless he turns things around pretty quickly, this might be a short night for Lannan. He's thrown 48 pitches in only two innings. Only allowed the one run so far, but he's put six men on base. Which then raises this question: Who's the Nats' long man in the bullpen tonight? Todd Coffey is unavailable after taking a line drive off his elbow yesterday. Brian Broderick is gone. Chad Gaudin is on the DL. Do you go with erratic Henry Rodriguez or lefty Doug Slaten? Could make for an interesting decision.

7:57 p.m. -- Better stuff from Lannan in the third. He retired the side and was pretty efficient doing it. Nice play from Desmond, too, going deep in the hole to get Pearce.

8:00 p.m. -- By the way, Bruce Boudreau sitting next to Mark Lerner in the front row here tonight. I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere. I'll leave up to all of you witty readers to come up with it.

8:12 p.m. -- Boy did the Nats and Lannan get bailed out by some terrible baserunning by the Pirates in the top of the fourth. Brandon Wood tried to take third on a base hit up the middle, and even though Roger Bernadina's throw was a little off-line, Hairston was able to make the tag in time. Then after Cedeno doubled to put runners on second and third, Clint Hurdle put on the suicide squeeze. Except Maholm couldn't get the bunt down and Chris Snyder was hung out to dry off third base. Somehow Lannan managed to not give up a run despite retiring only one of four batters in the inning. Still 1-1 in the fourth.

8:26 p.m. -- Nice sliding catch from Werth to end the top of the fifth, one of several nice plays the Nats have made in the field tonight. That -- and the Pirates' inept fundamentals -- have allowed Lannan to be in position to earn a "quality" start with one more inning of work. And yes, I put "quality" in quotes, because John would be the first to admit he has not been very good tonight.

8:34 p.m. -- When you really need someone to hit the ball out of the park, who do you call upon? Why, Jerry Hairston, of course! Solo homer to left puts the Nats up 2-1 in the fifth. I'll tell you what, Jerry has done a pretty nice job as Ryan Zimmerman's primary fill-in at third base. Has played solid defense, and he's come up with several clutch hits to help the cause.

8:51 p.m. -- Who would have guessed an hour ago that Lannan would be on the mound to start the seventh inning? He's at 94 pitches, so the rope may be short. Still, pretty remarkable after needing 48 pitches to get through two innings.

8:56 p.m. -- OK, Lannan walked Cedeno to open the seventh, then got Maholm on a sac bunt. (Why on earth did Clint Hurdle send Maholm, who had already failed twice on bunt attempts, go back out there to hit again?) Anyways, now McCutchen is coming to the plate with the tying run on second base. And who will Jim Riggleman call upon to face him in this key spot? Cole Kimball. Wow, third straight day Kimball is used in a tight spot. And he's only been a big-leaguer for these three days!

9:05 p.m. -- And Kimball immediately surrenders an RBI triple to McCutchen, leaving the game tied and the go-ahead run on third. To his credit, the rookie battled back to get Tabata to ground out and then Walker to strike out. So we're tied again, 2-2, at the seventh-inning stretch.

9:14 p.m. -- Danny Espinosa hit the ball really hard his first two times up, only to be denied by McCutchen. Still, you had to think he was due to connect for one. Sure enough, Espinosa crushed a 2-run homer into the right-field bullpen off Jose Ascanio just now. Puts the Nats back on top, 4-2.

9:25 p.m. -- Nice job by Kimball and Sean Burnett in the eighth. Kimball's in line to "vulture" the win now. Burnett really needed a quick, effective outing after some of his recent struggles. So it remains 4-2 heading to the bottom of the eighth. The stage is set for Drew Storen in the ninth.

9:39 p.m. -- And here comes Storen, up two in the ninth. But remember, he's NOT the Nationals' closer. Riiight.

9:42 p.m. -- Looks like the Pirates have a plan against Storen: Swing at his first-pitch fastball. Couple of hits and a hard line out by McCutchen all on the first pitch.

9:48 p.m. -- But no worries, cause Drew got the job done. That's your ballgame. Nats win 4-2. Congrats to Cole Kimball, who gets his first career win. And Storen gets his ninth save in nine tries. His updated ERA: 0.38.

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

first... go nats!

Doc said...

Nix has been a shot in arm for the Nats--one of Rizzo's better signings last winter although Gorzo and Coffey have done real well for them too.

Unfortunately, a review of Nix's stats suggests that he has never done well against LHPs.

This is Morse's chance to pick up were he left off in ST--whatever happened in between!

Goooooooooooooooooooo Nats!

Unkyd said...

GOGOGOGOOOOO!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

With Nix batting so well, I think Morse is on a "short leash." Morse has got to start proving he is not only a defensive player but can also contribute offensively! The Nats can ill afford a "one-dimensional" position player at the anemic rate they are hitting.

Positively Half St. said...

I am all for Morse and Nix and winning without Zimmerman. I can only hope for close to .500. In the meantime, I am thinking ahead to the draft and the possibility of having Bubba Starling in center field and Bryce Harper in right. Our whole team will be Boras products eventually.

+1/2St.

Andrew said...

More bad news for the Mets. David Wright has a stress fracture in his lower back. Not sure if he can play through the pain but the Nats travel there on Wednesday.

Rabbit said...

Lannan is going to lose this game.

2^3 anon and on said...

"Bubba"? Srsly, sombody still calls people that? Maybe Whitey will come back as an unironic nickname...

Jim Webster said...

Bruce Boudreau sitting with Mark Lerner behind batter's box. Who's courting whom?

TimDz said...

Lannan is all over the place...with our defense, we can hopefully minimize the damage and hope that Lannan can get thru 5 innings...

Anonymous8 said...

Steve - You called that one!

Steve M. said...The job for Lannan is keeping McCutcheon off the bases. He seems to nibble against him and ends up giving up too many walks to him. Make him earn his way on.
May 16, 2011 10:27 AM

TimDz said...

Say what you will about LaRoche's bat, but his glove is MONEY...

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

"Which then raises this question: Who's the Nats' long man in the bullpen tonight?"

Indeed. Apparently, they expect Coffey will be available inside of 15 days, and are willing to play with 24 for as long as it takes him to recover. Detwiler must be really unimpressive nowadays.

Andrew said...

TimDz, not only LaRoche, nifty play by Desmond to end the Top of the 3rd and Hairston saved a run by keeping a would-be double to an infield single.

Andrew said...

Nice play Bernie!!!!!

Anonymous said...

This is as bad as John Lannan has ever been.

Mark'd said...

Lannan is throwing so uninspired. His defense keeps bailing him out.

Anonymous said...

That is precisely why the Pirates have been losers since forever.

Candide said...

Pirates bailed Lannan out this time.

Anonymous8 said...

I think Riggleman has to bring in a reliever to start the 5th. Lannan needs to screw his head on. He thought he was throwing BP and bad baserunning, botched suicide squeeze, and tremendous defense bailed him out.

Mark'd said...

Defense saved him again. Werth with a GREAT catch and Bernadina cutting off that double.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

And yet, look at that scoreboard: 1-1, baja 5.

Maybe the baseball gods are just going to give Lannan a break for once, for a few innings tonight.

Anonymous said...

It's official. The Pirates are REALLY bad.

How can John Lannan get a quality start with what he's throwing tonight???

yankish2 said...

Why would any pitcher throw a 3-1 fastball to Jerry Hairston with the pitcher up next? Glad he did but that was dumb.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

O-kaaay. The baseball gods, the Pirates, *and* the home plate ump.

TimDz said...

They only showed the replay once, but Werth may have trapped that ball...not that I'm complaining...
Andrew...agreed...the defense has been exceptional...and the Bucs offense has been...helpful...

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

"I'll tell you what, Jerry has done a pretty nice job as Ryan Zimmerman's primary fill-in at third base. Has played solid defense, and he's come up with several clutch hits to help the cause."

Can I get a macro of that?

Anonymous8 said...

Lannan didn't deserve the "W" but the defense deserves a "W".

Andrew said...

Cole Kimball batting? Cole Kimball going for his 1st win!

FS said...

Is that overworking Kimball? If I am not mistaken, third straight game out of the pen for at least an inning.

I hope all that negativity about Danny dies down a little bit for some time.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, Morse should be starting at first base and La Roche should be on the DL. If Morse doesn't succeed they have Marerro + Aubrey and Tyler Moore could be ready later on. LaRoche just isn't right. It makes no sense to continue this.

And yes its on Riggleman.

TimDz said...

Pretty sure that Espy mouthed something like "about $%*@# time" as he trotted down the first base line...

dj in Fl. said...

Desi must of read all the nice things folks on here said about him over the weekend.

Saturday the Marlins tv crew said that after Friday nights game they saw Espinosa still in uniform at 11:30, in the batting cage with Eckstein working on his swing.

Anonymous8 said...

Riggleman guessed right that the Pirates would load up 2 LH pinch hitters in a row. Glad Xavier Paul swung at ball 4 in a 3-1 count....

Anonymous said...

Riggleman leaving H-Rod in the bullpen makes no sense either. He needs to developed just as Ramos does Riggleman?

Anonymous said...

Burnett is also pitching worst than Slaten right now ... you sure you want to credit Riggleman's move?

Andrew said...

I stayed away from the recent Desi and Espi bashing and it was funny that Ray Knight ate his words after the Home Run on criticising Espi's swing but some of the constructive criticism has been on point. Espi has to make adjustments.

Those good RH hacks is maybe what he needed.

JaneB said...

Gosh. Danny can't hit, can he?

I couldn't help it. Go Danny! Go Cole! Bring up Collin!

GO NATS!

dj in Fl. said...

A healthy Morse, does not compare to an injured La Roche on defense. The others are in the minors and proving that is where the need to remain.

Anonymous8 said...

Anonymous said... Burnett is also pitching worst than Slaten right now ... you sure you want to credit Riggleman's move?
May 16, 2011 9:25 PM
__________________________

2 bad innings? If that was the case then Matt Capps wouldn't have pitched again after that dreadful Houston series.

Riggleman has pushed Slaten next to HenRod now that Broderick has been replaced.

Andrew said...

I just looked over at the Josh Johnson game vs. the Mets and Willie Harris has taken David Wright's place at 3rd base.

Anonymous8 said...

Boudreau has left the house. I think he doesn't like anything Pittsburgh!

Andrew said...

9:48 p.m. -- But no worries, cause Drew got the job done. That's your ballgame. Nats win 4-2. Congrats to Cole Kimball, who gets his first career win. And Storen gets his ninth save in nine tries. His updated ERA: 0.38.
======================

No worries? Another nailbiter at the end!

JaneB said...

I feel bad for Mr. Wright. Makes an ab tear look a whole lot better.

Unkyd said...

So, Espi tagged one (not quite far enough) earlier, too. Does that mean Eck was tryna groove his big ol' swang, in the cage Sat...and not shortening it?

dj in Fl. said...

No Unkyd-
It means that after the game is over that these guys are still working on weaknesses trying to improve. Another part of the game that we do not see. And if this improves his swing and timing, and the ball goes over the fence, I say hooooray!

natsfan1a said...

Yes, I read about that somewhere. Espi and Eck working in the cage after the game.

Also, the way Drew was bouncing around in the bullpen before he came in reminded me of Gerald McBoing-Boing. Yeah, I'm that old. Deal with it. :-)

Nice win today. Now to finish off the home stand with another win (weather permitting)...

(And the captcha is "cabal." Conspiracy theory, anyone?)

Unkyd said...

Me too, dj... Just needling the Eyeores. While it makes sense, to me, to have him (and others), any solid contact is good, to me... :)

Waddu eye no said...

Ahhhh. Once again des & werth can't get on, espy can't hit, and utter failure results. And it's all giggleman's fault.

Unkyd said...

Makes sense to shorten, meant to say....

Anonymous said...

Credit to Desmond for a multi-walk game. Hope its a sign of things to come for him.

Unkyd said...

My Boy....;)

sjm308 said...

Sure, lets put LaRoche on the bench and allow two to three more batters to reach base each game. Maybe I am not watching the same game as negative anon but who has been more important on defense this year than LaRoche. He has saved so many errors I have lost count. I realize he is hitting poorly but there is no way I take him off the field. This is the first great fielding first baseman we have had. Nick was good but this guy is spectacular. I don,t think he has one error yet! Love to look back at the negative comments after a win but could not let that one go. LaRoche needs to start hitting and I think he will but as long as he makes the plays he has, I will take him even hitting below Mendoza.
Nice win for the team with the best bullpen in the majors. If we start hitting we honestly can compete for the wild card.

Go Nats!!

SonnyG10 said...

Wow, another great win...back to within one game of .500. You know these nail biters are more fun to watch the second time around when you know they are going to win. I've recorded some of them for a second viewing in a much more relaxed manner :)

Drew8 said...

Considering the five daunting series that preceded the Pirates, I'll be really pleased if the Nats get back to .500 tomorrow.

Meantime, here's tonight's Bob Evans report (down on the farm.)

Harper has another o-fer. Kelso has three hits to catch up with Bryce at .366.

At Potomac, Eury Perez is on a hot streak. He's raised his average to .314 and in 20 games he has 13 stolen bases in 14 tries.

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