Friday, May 27, 2011

Game 50: Padres at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
After a dismal road trip, the Nationals return home tonight to face the Padres.
There's no sugar-coating this: The Nationals are reeling right now. They've lost five in a row, having just dropped seven of eight on the road. Their $126 million right fielder made some cryptic comments the other day about the need for change. The clubhouse vibe, for the first time this season, is not exactly an upbeat one.

But if ever there was an opportunity to snap out of this funk and get things going in the right direction again, this is it: A weekend series against the equally reeling Padres, who have lost five of six and boast the majors' worst lineup. John Lannan, who hasn't pitched particularly well this month, needs to take advantage of this matchup.

With Clayton Richard on the mound for San Diego, Jim Riggleman is going with what appears to now be his regular lineup against lefties. That means Brian Bixler in left field over Laynce Nix, a career .192 hitter against left-handers.

In other words, first team to score tonight wins. Check back for updates...

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 189
Weather: Chance of storms, 80 degrees, Wind 9 mph out to LF
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
1B Michael Morse
C Wison Ramos
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Jerry Hairston
LF Brian Bixler
P John Lannan

PADRES (20-30)
RF Chris Denorfia
SS Jason Bartlett
LF Ryan Ludwick
1B Jorge Cantu
CF Cameron Maybin
3B Chase Headley
C Rob Johnson
2B Alberto Gonzalez
P Clayton Richard
6:59 p.m. -- Before we get started, Jim Riggleman met with Jayson Werth today seeking clarity on the right fielder's cryptic comments from the other day in Milwaukee. Be sure to check out the story for Riggleman's take on the matter, and check back postgame for Werth's reaction (he told a team spokesman he'll speak after the game).

7:06 p.m. -- And we're underway with a strike from John Lannan to Chris Denorfia. Nice tribute for Harmon Killebrew (who passed away since the Nats were last home) before the game, and a No. 3 Killebrew jersey is again hanging in the home dugout.

7:10 p.m. -- Very nice top of the first for Lannan, who needed only 11 pitches to get three groundballs. And very nice job by new first baseman Michael Morse, who twice scooped throws from Ian Desmond out of the dirt to prevent errors. The second one, in particular, required Morse to stretch well to his right and make the backhanded stop. Who needs Adam LaRoche?

7:22 p.m. -- Another strong inning from Lannan in the second, and another example of stellar defense behind him. Danny Espinosa went way down the first-base line to make a sliding catch of Jorge Cantu's pop-up. Lannan then struck out Cameron Maybin on a 3-2 fastball and got Chase Headley to ground out. Two innings down, only 22 pitches from the lefty.

7:35 p.m. -- Those of you here at the park may have noticed a sudden change of PA announcers in the top of the third. Not sure why that is. Hopefully everything's OK with regular announcer Jerome Hruska.

7:38 p.m. -- OK, so Hruska fell ill, which is why he's not serving as PA announcer. Who is? Why, none other than everyone's favorite between-innings scoreboard guy Clint! (I wonder if this was the change Jayson Werth had been hinting at all along...)

7:46 p.m. -- The skies have darkened, the rain is falling sideways, the wind has whipped up and after a bolt of lightning, the umps have cleared the field. We're in a delay in the top of the fourth.

8:05 p.m. -- While we wait for the rain to pass, here's an update on Adam LaRoche, who was back at the park today and still hopes to return to play this season before needing surgery on his shoulder.

8:18 p.m. -- The rain has eased up and the tarp is currently being removed from the infield. They're hoping to resume play at 8:35 p.m.

8:23 p.m. -- John Lannan is jogging in the outfield. Looks like he'll remain in the game after a delay of what will be about 50 minutes.

8:33 p.m. -- And we're back after a 47-minute delay. Still top of the fourth, scoreless.

8:40 p.m. -- The Padres got their first baserunner in the fourth when Ryan Ludwick drew a walk. Lannan, though, has yet to surrender a base hit.

8:51 p.m. -- Lannan finally allowed a hit in the fifth on Headley's sharp single up the middle. That came moments after the Nats caught a break. Maybin appeared to beat out a bunt fielded by Lannan, but first base ump Ed Rapuano called him out, much to the chagrin of Padres manager Bud Black. So this game is halfway complete, and there has yet to be a run scored by either team. Anyone surprised by this? Didn't think so.

8:57 p.m. -- Danny Espinosa to the rescue! Solo homer into the left-field bullpen to lead off the bottom of the fifth, and the Nats have taken a 1-0 lead. That's Espinosa's seventh homer this season, third-most among all major-league second basemen and third-most among all major-league rookies. Not too shabby.

9:02 p.m. -- Pretty amazing: Lannan has allowed only one ball to leave the infield through six innings. Then again, he's done this against the Padres, so I'm not sure if it actually counts. Still 1-0 heading to the bottom of the sixth.

9:20 p.m. -- Seven innings in the books for Lannan, who has still allowed only the one single and one walk. He's only thrown 77 pitches, and he's due up fifth in the bottom of the seventh. No movement so far in the Nats bullpen, though.

9:32 p.m. -- Wow, Jerry Hairston ejected by plate ump Ed Hickox after flying out to center. Appeared Hairston was trying to call for time before the pitch was thrown by Richard, and Hickox didn't grant it. Hairston went livid, and before Jim Riggleman could get out there to protect his player, Hickox gave Jerry the heave-ho. Meanwhile, Lannan just crushed a ball to deep right, only to watch Chris Denorfia haul it in at the fence. The crowd was ready to explode, still gave Lannan a standing ovation as the seventh inning ended. Still 1-0.

9:43 p.m. -- Just when it looked like Lannan would get through the eighth, he gets squeezed by Hickox on a 1-2 breaking ball that appeared to nick the top of the strike zone. Lannan wound up walking Brad Hawpe to put two on with two out in the eighth, and Riggleman has come out to remove him. Big ovation for Lannan as he departs, and (surprisingly?) Drew Storen has come out of the pen in search of a four-out save.

9:47 p.m. -- Big-time strikeout by Storen to end the eighth. He got ahead of Denorfia with a fastball and a slider, then missed on his 0-2 pitch, then caught Denorfia looking at a fantastic 1-2 slider. So we go to the bottom of the eighth, the Nats still leading 1-0.

9:54 p.m. -- Nothin' doin' in the bottom half of the eighth, so we go to the ninth. Storen will face Bartlett, Ludwick and Cantu, trying to protect a 1-0 lead.

9:57 p.m. -- Oh, dear. Storen's first pitch of the ninth is a fastball up and in to Jason Bartlett, who deposits it just over the left-field fence. We are tied 1-1. Unbelievable.

10:04 p.m. -- Michael Morse to the rescue! Crushes the first pitch he sees from Mike Adams to left-center. Nats win 2-1.


HHover said...

I can't really disagree with the choice of Bixler, but it's not a good sign your "upgrade" is a guy hitting .239 career vs lefties, and .118 overall this year.

That said ... go Nats!

Big Cat said...

Man....its gloom and doom in Washington. I am glad Werth spoke up. Shake things up a little. Couldn't do any worse. The rats will start jumping off the ship as it continues to sink. I'm tired of hearing about the hitting. Shut em out tonight Lannan and we'll win. Boy, if ever we need a shutout....tonights the night. Lets go Nats!

SonnyG10 said...

Go Nats!!!

Ernie said...

RE: Needing a shutout

# of times Lannan left the game having given up no runs in 2009 = 3
# of times Lannan left the game having given up no runs in 2010 = 0
# of times Lannan left the game having given up no runs in 2011 = 0

The last time he did it was July 21, 2009 against the Mets.

Total games started in that period = 68

JD said...

Here is Fangraphs take on the possibility of the Giants acquiring pudge:

Although Ivan Rodriguez is probably the most available catcher on the trade market and still carries quite a bit of name value, there's little to suggest that he can help a team win baseball games at this point in his career. Now 39 years old, Rodriguez hasn't been a productive hitter for several years, and he's bottomed out in Washington with a .256 on-base percentage so far in 2011. In fact, Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projections actually suggest that he's a worse hitter than Whiteside at this point, and his once-legendary defense is hardly an asset anymore.

Rodriguez has carried heavy workloads before, but his body isn't what it once was, and he likely would have to share time behind the plate with Whiteside. The upside of making a deal is that the Giants would be able to avoid giving significant at-bats to Stewart, so acquiring Rodriguez would represent an upgrade to the team as long as Rodriguez wouldn't get much more playing time than the superior (and younger) Whiteside.

Doc said...

Bixler vs. Nix: When it comes to hitting LHPs there's not a lot to expect from Nix, the last time I checked his career stats.

All a manager can do sometimes is play the probabilities, and Bixler is, unfortunately, the only alternative.

masnstinks said...

Supposedly our hitters like hot weather and home games - we're playing the Padres. Last Friday we scored a lot of runs. Does any of this mean anything? Not in the game of baseball, folks. We'll get what we get and none of it will be predictable. Probably why we like it! Go Nats!

Wally said...

JD - their report seems a little harsh, especially the part about defense, but I definitely agree that there won't be a great prospect coming back. Maybe a Travis Ishikawa (who I think that we could have had on waivers, IIRC). I bet Pudge doesn't get traded because (a) Rizzo values him more highly than anyone else will, and (b) they don't think Flores is ready to play twice a week (needs regular ABs after missing all that time)

Cwj said...

The Nats absolutely must sweep this series.
Time for Lannan to prove that he should remain in the rotation.
If he can't handle this lineup, what lineup can he handle?
Go Nats!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure Werth "spoke up", because he really didn't say anything. He fueled a lot of speculation about what he meant, but if you're gonna speak up, say what you mean and own it. I'm a big Werth fan but I think his cryptic comments did no good for anyone -- including himself.

wally said...

By the way, following on the draft discussion from the other thread. here is a pitching recap from Mayo

Mark'd said...

Orlando Hudson just got placed on the DL.

Sunderland said...

Won't be there. Someone pick me up and cheer extra loud when Alberto Gonzalez gets his first plate appearance.

Wally said...

C'mon Morseheads, is no one going to mention the two scoops he made from our intrepid SS? Ok, the first one as a one hopper, but second one was very nice.

Mark'd said...

Michael Morse really trying to show he can play 'D' as well as hit!!!!

Wally said...

I think Espy just sprinted 40yds for that catch. Nats playing some D so far

Anonymous8 said...

Wally, lets hope it all comes together for the Nats!

JaneB said...

Why did the PA guy go away?

Wally said...

Tough time for a rain delay for Lannan, he was on on a roll. I think that this is the third time it has happened to him this year.

TimDz said...

There will be a bit of a delay...just went through this cell in Stafford (the trees went at a 45 degree angle for a while there). The good news is that the weather passed quickly...Lannan looks good so far...hopefully, the system will pass quickly...

Feel Wood said...

Everyone has always said that Clint is nothing but a Ryan Seacrest wannabe. Dick Clark has a stroke, who's there to step right in? Ryan Seacrest. Jerome "falls ill" and who's there to step right in? Clint.

No coincidence that the thunder hits and the skies open shortly thereafter. The world is coming to an end, one week late.

Anonymous8 said...

Sorry, I would be pinch hitting for Lannan and go to the bullpen. 7 full shutout innings from Lannan and give it to the 'pen.

Anonymous8 said...

I almost ate my words there. Nice pop on that one Lannan.

Anonymous said...

Definitely Lannan should have been pinch hit for ... here's double-switch Riggleman not pulling the double-switch (as he should) for a Riggleman 'fav' guy. Inconsistent and incompetent: Interim Jim Riggleman.

Mark'd said...

Whether Lannan makes it through this 8th or not facing the bottom of the order, Lannan should have been pinch hit for.

Anonymous said...

If they lose this game: that's "ON Rig and his coaches" as Boz would put it.

Anonymous8 said...

See, this isn't second guessing. This was written before Lannan put 2 on base. Just not the situation you want to be in a 1-0 game.

Should have handed a clean inning to Clippard and if you got to a lefty then have Burnett finish him off and then Storen to get a clean 9th inning.

Mark'd said...

Anon8, it is smart baseball as you pinch hit for him as the smart play. This isn't the 5th inning. Storen got them out of trouble luckily.

JaneB said...

I'm glad it was Storen and not another HRod experiment.

Andrew said...

Anonymous8 said... Should have handed a clean inning to Clippard and if you got to a lefty then have Burnett finish him off and then Storen to get a clean 9th inning.

May 27, 2011 9:46 PM

Well, you said it. Wish it wasn't the case.

Anonymous said...

Actually H-Rod first followed by Storen would have been the best solution JaneB. But H-Rod has worked a lot recently ... and so ... here we are ... again this loss on Rig and his coaches.

Anonymous said...

Time for a change ... I'm betting on Werth showing big smiles and a long sighs of relief when that happens ... he is already tired of Giggleman Island reruns.

Sam said...

Why, exactly, would it have been better to bring in Rodriguez before Storen? Storen is the best reliever on the team, hands down. 2 outs, 8th inning, tying run on second. That is the perfect time to bring him in. No questions asked. I'm really proud of Riggleman on that one. He just happened to make one bad pitch in the 9th.

Sam said...

On a different note, any reason Cora came in for Bixler? Why couldn't Bixler have grabbed his infield glove and moved to 3B? Was it so important to bring in Cora as part of a triple switch?

Andrew said...


Well deserved!!!!!!

Les in NC said...

Thank you Morse for cleaning up this mess!

Anonymous said...

Thank god for "In Giggleman's dog house" Michael Morse ... saving your hash Rig. Sheesh. Wanna double-switch for the guy now ???

Ivan Tuski said...

wow, did we need that. great managing and some clutch plays. It is time everyone takes a deep breath and enjoys baseball in Washington.

Anonymous said...

Michael Morse now ties Zimmerman with 4 homers in 4 games. Would you double-switch for Zimmerman Rig?

dryw said...

Michael Morse!!

Anonymous8 said...

San Diego stinks but the Nats defense was great as the Nationals bats couldn't get clutch hits again so my frustration is that 1-0 had to hold up. Riggles had the perfect opportunity to pinch hit for Lannan and go to Clippard for the 8th and Storen for a clean 9th.

Michael Morse bailed Riggles out.

Drew8 said...

Well, I've never been so pleased to be wrong.

I criticize the Nats for not bringing up Marrero and Morse goes off.

I hammer Lannan and he throws a gem.

As that famed scout Michael Corleone used to say:

"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."

P.S. If any of you are going to Saturday's game, I'll be the guy in the Nats cap.

Doc said...

Someone needs to tell me what LaRoche does at 1B that Morse can't--man, what a play to stretch and catch that ball in the early innings. I wonder if Riggleman knows what Morse is doing for this team, both AB and in the field.

I too am surprised that Riggleman didn't double switch Morse. Rizzo needs to double switch Riggleman!

Anonymous8 said...

I am another Riggleman guy but have no problem criticizing him when he goes bone head.

He needs to study his own work. Pinch hit for Lannan. If you don't have confidence that Clippard can go 1-2-3 against the bottom of the Padres odor (mis-spelled on purpose) then shame on Riggleman because the Padres STINK!

Drew8 said...

Dunn -- 5 homers, 22 RBIs, .186

Morse -- 6 homers, 20 RBIs, .288


Sam said...

@Anonymous8: I don't think it was a bad move at all. Lannan was dealing and had only thrown 77 pitches. Plus, no one on the bench can hit worth a crap. You can't predict the future, so Riggleman had no idea Lannan would seemingly fall apart (although, I would have left him in to face Denorfia).

It's about time the starters went more than 6 innings. You can't rely on Clippard, Storen, Burnett, et al every day. Sure, there was an off-day yesterday, but one isn't good enough. The less you have to use them the better.

Manassas Nats Fan said...

1 more win to win the series. Lets get it done tomorrow.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Two ponts in a win that I do not undertand.

In a game you are winnibg 1 - 0, why does your starting pitcher hit with a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the 7th, and in the same inning, who in the hell let Desmond swing away at 3 - 0 with a man on first THAT JUST FRIGGIN WALKED? WITH NOBODY OUT!!!

We won this game in spite of Jim....

Anonymous8 said...

Sam said...
It's about time the starters went more than 6 innings. May 27, 2011 10:57 PM

Sam, he pitched 7 full innings. With men on 1st and 2nd, and a 1 run lead, go to a pinch hitter and give Clippard the 8th inning.


SonnyG10 said...

Hot Diggidy Dog....We Won!!! Go Nats!!!

SonnyG10 said...

I was going to rip Desmond tonight for swinging on the first pitch after a 3-0 count, when the batter before him walked...he should have taken at least one pitch; then later on he strikes out on a passed ball and just stood there instead of running to first base right away. By the time he did run, it was too late.

But all's well that ends well.

Grandstander said...

Some of these comments are ridiculous. I mean, I'm in the "negative camp" I guess, because I'm like, realistic. But why would you pull Lannan when he was under 80 pitches in the 7th and cruising with a 1 hit ball game? I wasn't angry at all even with the outcome. Pulling him would have been moronic, but as soon as it was clear he was tired, Riggs got Storen, basically our only reliable, 100% reliever to get the last out.

He made a mistake to Bartlett, but are you really not going to have Storen pitch there? I mean, seriously? He messed up but he recovered.

Also, not bringing Bixler to 3rd, really? Really? Bixler was only in tonight because he was right-handed. Put your best defense out there. Smart move in that place after Hairston was tossed.

The only move I saw that I thought was dumb was Espinosa's steal, setting up Bixler's iBB to get Lannan out. But I'm not even sure that came from the bench.

Overall, an awesome win, so much fun and energy at the park, even with the delay. I guess we know what it feels like to face us, because Lannan pitched a gem.

dryw said...

Drew8, what a will be the guy named Drew in a Nats cap, and I will be the girl named Dryw in a Nats cap! Think we're twins?

NatsJack...I'm not convinced there is much in the world that can prevent Desi from swinging his bat, even on 3-0 after a walk. The boy does love to swing...

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