Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Game 120: Reds at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Chien-Ming Wang faces Mike Leake tonight at Nationals Park.
After an unexpected two-day layoff thanks to Sunday's rainout in Philadelphia and yesterday's off-day in D.C., the Nationals are back in action tonight, opening a 10-game homestand. First up: The Reds, the only NL opponent the Nats have yet to face this season.

Chien-Ming gets the start, hoping to build off his fantastic outing at Wrigley Field last week, in which he carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. It's probably too much to expect the right-hander to pull that off again, but the Nationals would love to see another solid outing from him.

Tonight, the Nationals will be honoring members of the military (especially those Navy SEALs who died in the recent helicopter attack) by wearing special caps during batting practice and their stars and stripes jerseys during the game. Should make for a nice scene.

Updates to come....

REDS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Partly cloudy, 82 degrees, Wind 9 mph in from CF
STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (57-62)
CF Rick Ankiel
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Michael Morse
RF Jayson Werth
LF Laynce Nix
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
P Chien-Ming Wang

REDS (59-62)
CF Drew Stubbs
SS Edgar Renteria
1B Joey Votto
2B Brandon Phillips
RF Jay Bruce
C Ramon Hernandez
LF Yonder Alonso
3B Todd Frazier
P Mike Leake
5:20 p.m. -- Couple of pregame notes to share ... Ivan Rodriguez is here today and was working out in the underground batting tunnel earlier. No swings, just throwing. Davey Johnson, though, still doesn't want Pudge pushing himself too hard to return from an oblique strain that has already sidelined him more than a month. "He needs to hold himself back to heal," the manager said. "He doesn't have anything to prove. ... There's no reason for him to push it. But he's going to push it anyway."

5:23 p.m. -- John Lannan, meanwhile, has been running without feeling any effects of the knee he tweaked Saturday night in Philadelphia. The real test, though, will come tomorrow when he throws his regular bullpen session, because Lannan needs to see how his left leg feels when he's pushing off the rubber. That said, he's not at all worried about missing his next start. "No," he said. "I hugely doubt it."

5:28 p.m. -- I conducted a brief, one-on-one interview with Mike Rizzo a little while ago, during which time I asked him about last night's draft signings and Stephen Strasburg's rehab. You can watch the full interview on Comcast SportsNet during the 6 p.m. SportsNet Central show, but one tease: He said either Anthony Rendon or Matt Purke could play in the Arizona Fall League this year.

6:17 p.m. -- Wow, are the stars out tonight at Nationals Park, or what? Maury Povich is here (I can't confirm nor deny whether he made Mike Rizzo give up his DNA to test whether he is in fact Stephen Strasburg's father). The Miller High Life delivery guy ("Chubbly-Bubbly!) is here. The guy who plays the "batolin" (the electri violin carved into a baseball bat) is here to play the national anthem. What a night!

6:55 p.m. -- Apparently, the "batolin" is now called the "Electric Slugger." Whatever the case, it still sounds cool. Best anthem ever.

7:08 p.m. -- And we're underway on a very pleasant, if a bit windy, Tuesday night. In front of a sparse crowd (I heard advance ticket sales were only 14,000) Chien-Ming Wang starts off Drew Stubbs with a strike.

7:19 p.m. -- Well, Wang's first-inning struggles have returned. He allowed two runs on three hits and a walk, though it might have been only one run had Jayson Werth been able to catch Ramon Hernandez's line drive over his head. Not the easiest play in the world, but the ball did go right off his glove. Werth did make a nice, sliding catch earlier on Brandon Phillips' blooper down the line. Cincinnati has taken an early 2-0 lead.

7:33 p.m. -- Man, does Michael Morse possess raw power or what? He just hit a ball off the end of his bat that normally would have resulted in a routine flyout to right field. Except the ball just kept carrying, well over Jay Bruce's head for an RBI double. Really impressive how Morse has been connecting to all fields this season. Also impressive is how Ian Desmond has begun producing at the plate. He laced a big two-out, two-run single to center, giving him a .302 batting average over his last 11-plus games. Just like that, the Nats take a 3-2 lead at the end of an eventful first inning.

7:53 p.m. -- The good news is that Wang has retired six in a row and basically eight in a row when you consider the only batter to reach since the first inning was Todd Frazier on Ryan Zimmerman's error. The bad news is that only one of the nine outs Wang has recorded (aside from a sac bunt) has come on a groundball. Everybody's hitting the ball in the air, evidence that Wang's sinker isn't sinking the way it's supposed to. We'll see if he can start to control that. It's still 3-2 Nats going to the bottom of the third.

7:58 p.m. -- And what do you know? Morse hits another opposite-field home run, his 21st of the year, raising his RBI total to 71. This extended display of power is starting to border on the absurd. Nats lead 4-2.

8:10 p.m. -- Speaking of Morse, his batting average is now a stout .325. In their brief history, the Nats have had only three qualifying hitters finish a season at .300 or better: Dmitri Young (.320 in 2007), Cristian Guzman (.316 in 2008) and Ryan Zimmerman (.307 in 2010).

8:15 p.m. -- And they tack on another run in the fourth, thanks to Ramos' double off the right-field wall and Joey Votto's error on Ankiel's chopper to first. It's 5-2 as we head to the fifth.

8:22 p.m. -- Make it 12 in a row retired now by Wang. And really it should be 14 in a row because of the Zim error. He did get a couple of groundballs in the fifth, but his sinker still isn't sharp the way it was in Chicago last week. Something's working, though.

8:25 p.m. -- Ladies and gentlemen: Ryan Zimmerman. Almost reached the concourse beyond the left-field foul pole. A titanic blast, the seventh of his abbreviated season, to put the Nats up 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth.

8:38 p.m. -- I'd guess that will be it for Wang, who was laboring a bit in the sixth and allowed one more run to make it 6-3. He's due up third in the bottom of the inning, with the following line to his credit: 6 ip, 5 h, 3 er, 1 bb, 0 k, 72 pitches, 48 strikes. Hardly a fantastic outing for him, but ultimately he got the job done.

8:41 p.m. -- And I apparently spoke too soon, because here's Wang to hit for himself with two outs in the sixth. Not sure if I like this move. You've got a completely fresh bullpen at your disposal, and Wang was all over the strike zone his last inning. Why not just be satisfied with a quality start?

8:51 p.m. -- What do you know? Wang gives up a pair of hits in the top of the seventh, including a bomb of an RBI double to Renteria (who pulled up lame and has been replaced by Paul Janish). Now Davey has to summon Tyler Clippard to face Joey Votto representing the tying run. Sorry, but this scenario was totally predictable and totally unavoidable.

8:58 p.m. -- Another brilliant job by Clippard pitching his way out of a jam. He got Votto to popout, then struck out Brandon Phillips on a 3-2 fastball. But that was yet another high-stress inning for the most-worked member of the Nats bullpen, and he'll still need to go another inning in this one. It's 6-4 as we reach the seventh-inning stretch.

9:15 p.m. -- Clippard does it again. He allowed a flyball to the warning track to Hernandez, then a two-out single to Alfonso. But he got Frazier to popout to end the eighth, having thrown 25 pitches to record five outs and preserve the Nats' 6-4 lead. We go to the bottom of the eighth, and former Nats first-round pick Bill Bray (2004) is on to pitch for the Reds. You'll recall Bray was one of the players involved in that epic Austin Kearns-Felipe Lopez trade. Really nice guy. Only ballplayer I've ever seen reading the International Business Times in the clubhouse.

9:23 p.m. -- We go to the ninth. And here's Drew Storen in search of his 32nd save.

9:31 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. Nats win, 6-4. Wang (2-2) gets his second consecutive win. Storen retires the side in the ninth to record his 32nd save. Morse and Zimmerman club home runs. 23,888 witnessed it. A good time was had by all.

70 comments:

natsfan1a said...

Go, Wang! Go, Nats!

NatinBeantown said...

Reposting this from someone else's comment in the previous thread. Vote for NatsInsider as Washington's best sports blog ("Latest and thoughtful info on the Nats, accompanied by (sometimes) intelligent comments")

Well, sorry for the days I comment and drag down the site IQ! But seriously, go and vote!
http://washington.blogger.cbslocal.com/most-valuable-blogger/vote/sports/

WillieHarrisUnderpants said...

"Chien-Ming wants gets the start"

Whatever Chein-Ming wants, Chein-Ming gets.

NatStat said...

Chien-Ming Wants?

We'll see how much he's lacking after to-nights' game.

Must be a hard name to get right. Cubs' broadcaster Rick Monday kept getting Wang's name wong and calling him 'Wong'.

Anonymous said...

NatStat said...

Not sure about your comment, but it is pronounced 'WOng' with an 'O'.

Unkyd said...

Um, it is "Wong", out loud....

Bryan Scrafford said...

Any word on what the Nats are planning on doing with Chien-Ming Wang's contract? Seems like they wouldn't have invested all that money in his rehab if they weren't going to sign him once he's pitching again, but I also don't think you can sign him to more than a season (MAYBE two) without seeing how he does throughout the course of a full season.

NatStat said...

Wang is wong, and Wong is right.

I guess it needs an English spelling to give it the correct pronunkiation

Mark'd said...

Let's see Yonder Alonso in the field. A Minor Leaguer 1st baseman converted to outfielder.

baseballswami said...

Seeing "Game 120" in print is kind of making me sad. Where did the season go? Before you know it, we'll be doing our "best and worst" moments. There has already been lots of talk about 2012. Promise I will stop the pity party and move on -- plenty of baseball left to go! GYFNG!!I would love to see the Nats put together a nice run in the next 6-7 weeks -- starting right here with the Reds.

Davey Johnson said...

1. Rick Ankiel CF
2. Danny Espinosa 2B
3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B
4. Laynce Nix 1B
5. Jayson Werth RF
6. Jonny Gomes LF
7. Ian Desmond SS
8. Wilson Ramos C
9. Chien-Ming Wang P

Anonymous said...

"Any word on what the Nats are planning on doing with Chien-Ming Wang's contract?"

Wang is a free agent after this season.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

I'll see yonder Alonso, and raise ye this here Wonts.

D Johnson said...

I've had a few drinks over at Camelot's and have changed my mind. Three gin martinis, stirred not shaken, will do that to you.

1. Rick Ankiel CF
2. Danny Espinosa SS
3. Ryan Zimmerman 1B
4. Laynce Nix LF
5. Jayson Werth RF
6. Wilson Ramos C
7. Alex Cora 3B
8. Ian Desmond 2B
9. Chen Ho-Wang P

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Thanks, beantown, but here it is, in Interwebz:
vyfniv.

natsfan1a said...

LOL, Beantown! I voted earlier but missed the parenthetical "sometimes" when I did. fwiw, I would think that you tend to fall in the intelligent comments category.

("Latest and thoughtful info on the Nats, accompanied by (sometimes) intelligent comments")

natsfan1a said...

Swami, it occurred to me earlier today that we're nearly 3/4 of the way through the season. But it ain't over 'til it's over so I'll savor it while I can. ;-)

natsfan1a said...

Also, re. the voting, the site says that one vote per category is allowed per day. So vote early and vote often.

Nats Outsider said...

natsfan1a said... "the site says that one vote per category is allowed per day."

That's what it says, but it appears that there is one vote per *Web Browser* per category per day. Some people have Firefox plus Safari, or Chrome plus Internet Explorer, and I'm just sayin' . . .

Dave said...

@NatsOusider, you are CORRECT! With Firefox, Safari, and Opera, I was just able to vote three times.

Wait, I also have Safari on my iPhone! That's four!

Dawn said...

Love Pudge, hope he is in the dugout tonight! Glad to see the Nationals are at least enticing strong draft picks to sign. The "proof will be in the pudding" or on the field, exciting times. Nice to have baseball tonight. Go Nats!

natsfan1a said...

Thanks for the tips, Outsider and Dave. I'm just saying...hehe

LoveDaNats said...

If two days without baseball feels like forever, I'm in a world of hurt this winter.

Depot Master said...

Do two Wongs make a Wright?

baseballswami said...

LoveDaNats - I hear ya - this past two days has felt really long.

JaneB said...

Love that we can vote for Mark! Thanks for that heads up. Swami, I had the same sinking feeling in my stomach at the "Game 120."

GYFNGGGGGGGG!

Joe Seamhead said...

Tough play, but Werth has to catch that ball with two outs.

baseballswami said...

Uh, oh - let's hope that Wang can recover after the first like he did in his first two starts. Now - we absolutely , positively , need offense!!! Should Werth have had that one? Looked like it was not a sure thing.

gonatsgo said...

Ankiel goes up swinging -- a familiar phrase. This time it fell in, thank goodness.

NatinBeantown said...

Loving the Zuckerman snark tonight. Hey man, whatever gets you through the night, after a long night, smack in the middle iof the dog days...

(my preferred method is derived from distilled 51% corn mash)

Anonymous said...

Way to go Desi!!!

Joe Seamhead said...

Nice hit from Desmond, but Laynce Nix' s AB was just ugly. Come on CMW, get the ball down!

Anonymous said...

Halladay gave up a run on 3 singles and is actually behind in the game to the d'backs. That just warms my heart.

Matt said...

Just a quick heads up for those (like me) out of area: today's game is free on mlb TV.

NatinBeantown said...

Wang's results are ok so far, but all these flyballs are trouble. Sink, ball, sink!

baseballswami said...

Lovin the Beast Mode!

JaneB said...

Sign that guy to an extension RIGHT NOW! Oh, how sweet is it gonna be when we get the Prince of OppoBoppo hiting with Morse and Zimm. And imagine when Werth comes back around.

Meanwhile, Wang keep the darn ball sunk. Nats, win this game!

LoveDaNats said...

Beast just keeps getting better and better!

Bigfish said...

I know some of us have been complaining that Ramos was standing too far from the plate. Just heard Rizzo say they moved him a couple of inches closer to the plate about a week ago. Does Nats management read this blog? ;-)

Joe Seamhead said...

Yowza!

baseballswami said...

Yes, bigfish - because they know we all have too much time on our hands and we are total experts on all aspects of the game. Noooooo - just kidding. But, then again, maybe they do listen - Matt Stairs is retired, isn't he?

gonatsgo said...

Well - that was just a freaking bomb, wasn't it? Go Zim! Competing with Michael Morse, hey? Go for it!!!

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...

Wang (Wong) got his quality start. Now let's get him outta there.

It may be the cynic in me, but I always worry when this guy pitches. Time for the Coffey-Clip-and-Store show.

baseballswami said...

Why did Wang bat for himself? Do we really have to prove he can go more than six right now and risk it? Please, Burnett, Coffey - fresh bullpen, anyone?

baseballswami said...

And why Clip in the 7th?

Anonymous said...

Totally agree, Mark. This was bonehead - could have had a pinch hitter, could have had a reliever start a clean inning.

FS said...

Seriously there is nothing better than reading the game updates here after missing the first few innings. Love it Mr. Z. Thank you.

Joe S. said...

Having Wang pitch into the seventh is a bonehead move if you want to win games. It makes a bit more sense if you want to see what Wang can do. Is the guy a #2 pitcher, like he used to be? A #3? A #4-5? Not worth the money? You have to answer the question now, because you have to decide how much money (if any) you want to offer him at the end of the season.

More data on this question is worth the risk, especially if you are three runs ahead, as the Nats were at the beginning of the seventh.

JaneB said...

We even get REDS Insider dope! See? This IS the Best Sports Blog in DC!

Was Wang always shakey in his first inning, or is the new Wang?

Mick said...

Good start, now darn it, the Nats need to run off 5 in a row at a clip. There is no reason they can't be at 500 or above by 9/1

baseballswami said...

Drew Storen was totally filthy tonight! And Tyler did his Houdini thing. A thing of beauty and Wang with 2 wins. Really - confess - did you see this coming a couple of weeks ago? I know I did not.

Grandstander said...

I initially suggested it as a joke, but I'm really starting to wonder if a simulated 1st inning might do Wang some good.

Drew8 said...

Nice win, boys!

P.S. In Hagerstown tonight, Robbie Ray was pulled after three innings, with a 7-0 lead.

The box says the weather was clear, so I don't think it was a rain delay. Hope he's OK.

Mark: Might it be that the kid has an innings limit?

baseballswami said...

Fast game - time to watch "The Franchise".

ehay2k said...

Listening to the post-game report, and D J said Zimmerman called his homer in the dugout before he went out to hit.

Zimmerman is amazing.

Mick said...

This is fun and it brings back childhood memories of the 1969 Nats who finished 86-76. Only now, we have a team here for the long haul that is very young and will be very good very soon.

FS said...

Just saw Ryan's home run. That was the most violent swing I seen from him. He disgustingly put that one away for good.

Nice win for Wang.

Dryw said...

Just got in from the game, and I'm not sure whether the homers or Drew's 9th were the highlight of the game. Filthy, filthy stuff from Drew indeed and our 3-4 hitters are the real deal. I love winning! GYFNG!!!

gonatsgo said...

It was great to see Pudge in the dugout - I think his presence means something in there even when he is not playing.If you watch him - he never sits back, he is always involved.What a class act.

Dryw said...

Oh, and is it just me, or do a lot of our boys just seem to play with particular joy in the game? Zim, Danny,the Beast....they just seem to love the game of baseball.

Anonymous said...

Cardinals and Giants both lose - again. Is the play off picture starting to emerge?

baseballswami said...

Dryw - I know exactly what you are talking about. Zim seems happy just to have his body back, Morse is just happy to be playing every day, Danny would play all day every day if you let him. It really is great to watch - I love the passion.

natsfan1a said...

Nice win, and I also enjoyed seeing Pudge back in the dugout. I believe this team misses him when he's away.

natsfan1a said...

Just read Mark's commentary. Dang, I missed the Miller High Life guy? I love him! Seriously, that is one funny dude.

Andrew said...

I have video with the Miller High Life guy as he was sitting behind me. I will load it later.

Drew8 said...

At MLB.com Bryan Horowitz has a really nice feature on Harrisburg's Erik Arnesen, the Eastern League pitcher of the week.

This section plays into what Rizzo's been saying. The Nats don't just sign talented players. They develop players. Huzzahs to Randy Tomlin and Spin Williams.


"Arnesen is 8-3 for Harrisburg, ranks third in the Eastern League with a 2.36 ERA and is second with a 1.07 WHIP. After adding a split-finger fastball to a repertoire that includes a low-90s fastball, Arnesen has compiled a 115-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 124 1/3 innings between Harrisburg and Syracuse. In the Eastern League All-Star Game, he struck out all three batters he faced."

Arnesen and Shairon Martis (3.03 ERA, 126 Ks, 36 walks at AA) might rank 15th and 16th among the Nats' quality pitching prospects.

That is some impressive depth!

NatsLady said...

Boy, I don't know what you do about this one. Bottom of the 10th, guy drags a bunt, gets tagged but the ump doesn't see it because his view is blocked, and calls him safe. Indians got robbed. Hope they don't lose on that play.

NatsLady said...

I hope Shairon Martis makes it. Another guy like HRod, full of talent.

Another MASN Ranter said...

I see it's been a while since anyone has added a comment to this post, which no doubt means the blogosphere had moved on, so maybe it's a good place to vent. Here goes: Is it possible that somewhere in MLB there's a pre- and post-game show worse than what MASN offers? The guys doing the show (names withheld because they seem to be good guys and gals and this is not a personal attack) ramble on many times incoherently and, re the anchor guy, cluelessly. The latest very typical example: Last the anchor guy, while trying in his usual amazingly uninformed way to toe the company line and praise the Nats draft picks, says Rendon is a great hitter (true) and that his 2011 year was even better than his spectacular 2010 (NOT!). (Rendon had a shoulder problem -- and had injured his ankle during the previous summer -- and he had to DH in 2011 and his BA and homers were down (colleges changed bats, too), altough still good. (2) And the color rarely analyzes anything, he just offers "atta boy" stuff. His stumbling review of the game's highlights is painful to experience. (3) The gal who does the player interviews almost always merely asks how the players "feel" about something, for example, a good play or winning a game, or what a win makes a player feel. (4) And I don't understand why MASB didn't pick up Bob Carpenter's option for 2012. I've listened to a lot of baseball commentary and Bob's is one of the best, IMO. Okay, F.P. Santanglo was a great hire and he and Bob work well together. So now, along with skipping the pre-game show and fast-forewarding through the post-game show (except the manager's press conference), I now have to worry about Bob for 2012. Oy.

Scooter said...

Nice rant. Though I have to warn you, you might need to sound a little more crazed to really qualify as a "Ranter."

I don't care for the pre- or post-game shows either ... but then, I usually don't care for ANY pre- or post-game show, so I wasn't gonna watch anyway.

I also skip the manager's press conference, but that's a personal choice.

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