Saturday, March 3, 2012

Nats vs. Astros - 3/3/12

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Osceola County Stadium, spring training home of the Houston Astros.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- They may have played an exhibition ballgame yesterday, but the actual exhibition season begins today for the Nationals. Yes, it's the Grapefruit League opener, and it's already got a nice little storyline to it: Livan Hernandez facing his old team.

Cast aside by the Nationals over the winter, Hernandez hooked up with the Astros on a minor-league contract. By all accounts, he's pretty much assured of a spot in their Opening Day rotation, and the Nats' all-time leader in wins and starts will be on the mound today wearing his ninth different big-league cap.

Livo will be facing a Nationals lineup that features more regulars than saw action yesterday against Georgetown (Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Rick Ankiel chief among them). All eyes, though, will once again be on Bryce Harper, who is starting in right field and batting seventh. Can't wait to see the 19-year-old try to put wood on Livo's 59-mph Bugs Bunny curveball.

No TV today (Bob and F.P. will be on tomorrow from Space Coast Stadium) but Charlie and Dave will have their first radio call of the year. And, of course, I'll have plenty of updates and analysis here throughout, so be sure to check back...

WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. HOUSTON ASTROS
Where: Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV: None
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), XM 185
Weather: Sunny, 86 degrees, Wind 16 mph out to CF
STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
1B Chad Tracy
DH Jason Michaels
3B Mark Teahen
RF Bryce Harper
LF Roger Bernadina
C Jesus Flores
(P Edwin Jackson)

ASTROS
LF J.B. Shuck
2B Jose Altuve
RF Travis Buck
DH Jack Cust
3B Chris Johnson
SS Jed Lowrie
1B Brett Wallace
CF Jason Bourgeois
C Jason Castro
(P Livan Hernandez)
12:09 p.m. -- Not to distract too much from the game thread, but since we've got an hour to kill until first pitch, be sure to read my just-posted article on Jayson Werth, who will be starting tomorrow in ... center field.

1:09 p.m. -- And we are underway as Livan Hernandez lobs a sinker over the plate to Ian Desmond for strike one. No radar gun here at Osceola County Stadium, but even if they had one, it probably wouldn't have registered.

1:16 p.m. -- Pretty typical Livo in the top of the first: Slow, slower and even slower. And it worked. Desmond did work the count, fouling off three straight pitches, but then grounded out meekly to shortstop. Danny Espinosa was caught looking at a sinker on the inside corner. Rick Ankiel got a hold of one and sent a ball off the center field fence, legging out a triple (though, honestly, that would've been a routine flyout if the wind wasn't blowing straight out). Chad Tracy then lofted his own fly ball to center, this one staying shallow enough for Jason Bourgeois to haul it in. Scoreless as Edwin Jackson takes the mound for the bottom of the first.

1:29 p.m. -- Jackson's first batter faced as a member of the Nationals: A five-pitch walk. Oy. He also threw first-pitch balls to the Astros' first three hitters. Double oy. By inning's end, he had thrown 21 total pitches, only 10 of them strikes. Triple oy. However, he sustained no damage, thanks in large part to a 4-6-3 double play he induced off Travis Buck's bat. It's obvious this guy has got great stuff, but it's also obvious his consistency is a question mark. Scoreless after two.

1:37 p.m. -- Yes! Livo starts off Bryce Harper with Bugs Bunny himself. Big swing and a miss from the kid on that curveball at his ankles. But credit to Harper, who hung in there and rapped Hernandez's 2-1 pitch on the ground through the right side of the infield for his first base hit of the spring. Nothing else doing for the Nats, though, because Jason Michaels (after leading off with a single) was thrown out trying to steal second. Mark Teahen then struck out looking at Mr. Bugs Bunny. Roger Bernadina ended the inning with a soft liner to short. Still 0-0 heading to the bottom of the second.

1:45 p.m. -- Well, Jackson seems to have this 4-6-3 thing down. He just induced his second double play in as many innings. He did, however, walk his second batter in as many innings right before that. Looks like his afternoon is done. Final line: 2 ip, 1 h, 0 r, 2 bb, 0 k, 28 pitches, 12 strikes. Top of the third now, Kyle Weiland in to replace Livo, whose final line reads: 2 ip, 3 h, 0 r, 0 bb, 2 k, 33 pitches, 23 strikes.

1:55 p.m. -- A leadoff double by Jesus Flores (which nearly cleared the fence in left-center) goes to waste as Desmond strikes out on a breaking ball in the dirt, Espinosa grounds out to first and Ankiel grounds out to second. It's still scoreless heading to the bottom of the third as Ross Detwiler enters from the Nationals bullpen.

2:04 p.m. -- Good stuff from Detwiler in the bottom of the third. His fastball had some life, and he had several Astros reaching for pitches on the outside corner. Got a groundout and a routine fly to center, then got a weak grounder to third that Teahen couldn't quite corral (resulting in an infield single). Detwiler then caught Jose Altuve looking at strike three to end the inning. Still scoreless.

2:18 p.m. -- Well, so much for the upbeat take on Detwiler. Things went decidedly downhill for him in the bottom of the fourth, though he did begin with another called strikeout on an outside fastball. Unfortunately, he then walked Jack Cust after getting ahead of him 0-2. Then Chris Johnson destroyed a 1-0 pitch to center field for a two-run homer. I mean, even if the wind wasn't blowing out, it still would've gone 420 feet. Just a laser over the fence. Detwiler rebounded to get a popout and then struck out Brett Wallace, but his day ends on a less-positive note than it began. His final line: 2 ip, 2 h, 2 r, 1 bb, 3 k. Astros lead 2-0 after four.

2:27 p.m. -- Harper's second at-bat of the day came against new Houston closer Brett Myers, who had his way with the 19-year-old. Got ahead of him 0-2 on fastballs, then got Harper to ground out on a breaking ball. Bernadina, though, responded with a drive off the center-field wall for a double. And moments later, Flores delivered his second double of the day (this one down the right-field line, scoring Bernadina). It's 2-1 Astros as we go to the bottom of the fifth and Chad Durbin enters to pitch.

3:01 p.m. -- Just got back from a visit to both teams' clubhouses. Talked to Edwin Jackson, who said his biggest issue today was timing. He threw 15 extra pitches in the bullpen to work on that and felt better about things afterward. Over on the Astros' side, Livan Hernandez was his usual self. On facing the Nats, he said: "It's tough, but you've got to do your job. We're still friends." I asked him if at the end of the season he felt like there was any chance he might come back to Washington. He said a few people with the team said they wanted him back, but "inside, I was like, 'Yeah, right.'" Livo has no hard feelings toward Davey Johnson, Mike Rizzo and the rest of the organization, though. He understands this is a business. I'll have plenty more on him in a full article later. In the meantime, the Nats still trail 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh. Bryce Harper's day is done. He went 1-for-3 with a single and a pair of groundballs to second. Chad Durbin tossed two innings of scoreless relief. Atahualpa Severino now on the mound.

3:28 p.m. -- We go to the ninth, and it's now 3-1 Astros after Severino gave up a run in the seventh (aided in part by an error on third baseman Carlos Rivero). Sean Burnett tossed a scoreless eighth, which could actually be a bad sign for Burnett, who earlier in the week was talking about how his perfect 2011 spring wasn't actually good because it didn't allow him enough time to work on his offspeed pitches.

3:33 p.m. -- That's a final. Nats lose 3-1 and are officially 0-1 in the Grapefruit League. Plenty of reaction and analysis to come, so check the homepage later for all of that.

92 comments:

MicheleS said...

WOOO HOO.. Real Baseball!!!!

Stinks that we don't get to see Livo on TV today, but I am sure Charlie/Dave will be just as entertaining!

(Mark, also would love to hear how Livo is doing..

MicheleS said...

Reposting...

1A... CSN seems to be the only Sports channel from our area that is actually covering the Team. I watched the MASN report yesterday and about 20 minutes of a 2 hour show on Nats, Rest O's. I actually like AMber.. too bad she is an O's fan.

In Other news.. I have been up since 7 am making Chocolate Chip cookies (i have to make them for someone's birthday).. I wonder if there is a way to get a care package to Detwiler. He still looks like he needs to gain some weight.

Marty said...

It is going to take a while for me not to be confused about playing the Astros and seeing a DH spot in the lineup.

natsfan1a said...

Yay for real baseball! Yay for Charlie & Dave! Yay for CSN coverage! Yay for chocolate chippers! (hmmm....maybe I need to cut back on the coffee a bit - nah, what the heck) Yay for Livo and his Bug Bunny curve (for old times' sake)!

natsfan1a said...

oops, I dropped this "s"

natsfan1a said...

I don't think that they move to the AL until 2013, so you have a while to get used to it. I think the DH today is a function of ST preferences.

natsfan1a said...

Oh, and I vote yes on a Livo update. When you have a chance. No pressure. :-)

Anonymous said...

anybody know where this game might be televised on the internet? Besides MLB tv?

NatsJack in Florida said...

Todays game is not televised.

Anonymous said...

No games are ever televised on the internet outside of MLB.tv. That's the point of MLB.tv.

baseballswami said...

Woo, hoo - Charlie and Dave today!!! Is Mark still there and will there be a game thread? Can't wait!!! And- some of the regulars are actually playing today.

natsfan1a said...

Sounds like there will be, swami. If memory serves, Mark is there until March 6 on this early ST stint.

NatsLady said...

Working. Hope I can listen. Got my autographed Livo jersey on!

JaneB said...

I kinda hope Livo is lights out for his three innings and then we score big in the last six innings. Even though people are working on stuff, which trumps actually winning. Even though Livo plays for another team. It's good that, in the regular season, he still gets to hit because he's one of the few who can. Shoot, we were better with him last year s a pinch hitter than we were with Matt Stairs. But that was last year. And we are better in all ways this year. Can't wait til 1:05.

NatsLady said...

This from Twitter. You could almost feel sorry for the Astros. Livo in Nats gear.

It looks like a Nationals pitcher vs a Nationals pitcher... no new pic for Livo? #Nats

http://pic.twitter.com/p0StPWdj

sjm308 said...

I am guessing this group realizes that Livan is not even on the 40 man roster and that this start means a great deal to him. I looked at the Astro's depth chart and he is not even listed in their top 8 starters. I realize all the stats point to him not performing well last year but I loved watching him pitch when he was on. Nothing better than that 64 mph curve after an 81 mph "fastball". All the best to Livan today, but:

Go Nats!!

Drew said...

Michele:

I hope Ross's cookies make it past old friend Livo, a graceful athlete with a physique built by Cookie Monster.

Waddu eye no said...

I'd rather watch, but i'd also rather hear charlie & dave , so i'm happy.
Gyfng

lls45 said...

Mark -- will the XM broadcast be called by Charlie and Dave, or is that just the FM broadcast?

Mark Zuckerman said...

lls45: I believe the XM broadcast will be the Astros' radio feed. For spring training games, they appear to use the home team's call most of the time.

baseballswami said...

Hi, Mark - you must have been lurking to answer that question so fast. I have always had a feeling that you follow what we chat about here pretty much- how often do you check in? Just wonderin'.....Wouldn't want you to catch us being naughty or anything. You can skip the John Lannan and Desi stink conversations, though - they are pretty much all the same.

Mark Zuckerman said...

baseballswami: It depends. If I'm sitting in front of my computer at the time and not furiously typing away at something else, I see the comments immediately. But if I'm in the clubhouse or on the field or otherwise occupied, I may not see them all for a little while.

I do monitor all comments, though. Can't trust you guys entirely to keep things civil and family-appropriate! ;)

dabassguy1 said...

I just sprang for the MLB.com app for the i-devices (phone, pad and pod). All three devices for 14.99 for the year. Includes all game day audio, including today's game. Looking forward to hearing some live Nats baseball.

Knoxville Nat said...

Since we are just killing time here waiting for the game to begin let me ask Mark this important question. Has baby Z started on the switch hitting yet?

sjm308 said...

Test

sjm308 said...

Rumor at my gym is Willie mo baby Z was hitting the weights last week. Could not get Ladson or Boz to confirm.

MicheleS said...

UUUUGGGGGGGHHHH..
I just turned on 106.7.. Seriously.. 10 minutes to game time and We have to LISTEN to Redskins talk???? Where is the pregame show!

Mark Zuckerman said...

Knoxville Nat said...
Since we are just killing time here waiting for the game to begin let me ask Mark this important question. Has baby Z started on the switch hitting yet?


No switch-hitting yet, but we have noticed he seems to pick up toys and spoons with his left hand more than his right. Hmm...

NatsLady said...

Charlie and Dave in my ear!! Great sound.

natsfan1a said...

I hear you, MicheleS. I tuned it in on my way home from the grocery store. At least it's baseball now. Yay!

All of you fans at the game, I want to hear a big welcome home for Ramos today!

natsfan1a said...

Oh, wait. He's not in today's lineup. Well, I want to hear it tomorrow, then. :-)

(Don't worry, Mark. If he's a lefty, he'll always be in his right mind, just like me. :-))

MicheleS said...

For those of you that need to see a game today.. MLB is at Yanks and Phillthies..Just an fyi.. The Clearwater park of the Phillthies is one of the best string training parks to go to! Took my Dad there he loved it.

natsfan1a said...

All the Livo talk on the pregame makes me kinda wistful. Sigh. (I know, I know. No room on the roster, the future is now, yada yada yada. Still.)

SweetBlues said...

I can't get 106.7--- d%&$

HAL jr said...

SweetBlues, they are on the internet.

baseballswami said...

Desi took 8 pitches!!!! That is a very good sign.

SweetBlues said...

Tnx Hal!

dabassguy1 said...

Ankiel with a triple. Good omen, I hope.

natsfan1a said...

Sounds like the wind helped some. Livoudini gets out of it. :-)

natsfan1a said...

(Sorry, can't help it. grrrr...Livo escaped)

natsfan1a said...

er, yeah, what Mark said.

Rick Ankiel got a hold of one and sent a ball off the center field fence, legging out a triple (though, honestly, that would've been a routine flyout if the wind wasn't blowing straight out).

Cwj said...

How can they not have a radar gun in a Spring Training game? For some pitchers, velocity is very important to monitor during the spring.
Odd...

baseballswami said...

So about Jackson - is this what we can expect or is this way too early to panic? Somewhere back in Viera, John Lannan is smiling.

natsfan1a said...

Too early, imho. (Disclaimer: I'm not a GM or scout, blah blah blah.) :-)

Scouting report on Bugs is here.

Cwj said...

Swami- Way too early :) Almost ridiculously early.
I would wait until April when the games count to worry about Jackson. But I'm sure he'll be fine.
His control was actually pretty good last year so this is likely an aberration.

Jim Kurtzke said...

I'm still trying to get my head around $10 million for a #4 starter.

Sunderland said...

I might only spend 2 innings with Charlie and Dave today, but it's great to listen in. So glad Livo looked good and seems to have a rotation spot. I think Pudge might join him in a couple more weeks.

MicheleS said...

That Gasbag John Heyman is at the game..

Cwj said...

Jim Kurtzke- On a one year deal that's not bad, considering he'd be a #3 on Teams that don't have Stras, Zimm and Gio.
Had it been 4 years 40 million however, that would be ridiculous.

natsfan1a said...

Come on, fellas, let's see that 2012 "get 'em in" Natitude. :-)

A leadoff double by Jesus Flores (which nearly cleared the fence in left-center) goes to waste as Desmond strikes out on a breaking ball in the dirt, Espinosa grounds out to first and Ankiel grounds out to second.

Cwj said...

Michele- Why don't we like Heyman again? I can't remember :-)

natsfan1a said...

Heyman needs to be under the Cone of Silence. :-)

Cwj said...

I too am glad that Livo pitched well. I really want him to make the Astros roster.
However, when he eventually considers retiring, the Nats should sign him just so he can retire as a Nat.
Always one of my favorite Nats, and is in my Nats hall of fame.

natsfan1a said...

Agreed re. Livo, Cwj.

In ex-Nat news, somehow I missed or forgot that Kearns has a minor league deal with the Marlins.

Steady Eddie said...

Cwj -- Heyman wrote a ridiculous and shallow piece about how the Nats' extension for RZim was a gross overpay.

Clueless about things like leadership by example and Mr. Clutch, and what all of that means to a young, up and coming club.

natsfan1a said...

What is this, a ballgame or an air raid? I like our sub horn better. :-)

Anonymous said...

Detwiler gave up a HR? Cut him. Yesterday.

Cwj said...

Steady Eddie- Oh yeah I do remember reading that.
Forgot that it was Heyman who wrote it.

baseballswami said...

RossD gave up a home run and walked the guy before him but has struck out 3 batters. Where are the cookies??? Ross needs cookies!

natsfan1a said...

I think that MicheleS couldn't find a FedEx office that would ship them on a Saturday. ;-)

Cwj said...

Time to go to the store so I can listen to some of the game :-)
Reception not so good in my house.

Cwj said...

I think anyone who goes hitless or gives up a run this spring should immediately be cut from the team :D

natsfan1a said...

I had the same problem with their AM station. See you later. Oh, btw, we need choc. chip cookies.

natsfan1a said...

Yay! Nats on the scoreboard.

baseballswami said...

Nats are abusing the wall today - 3 balls hit off the wall. I hope this call " and Harper swings at the first pitch and misses" is not going to become a habit. Nats on the board - nice hitting by the shark and flores, who both have something to prove.

MicheleS said...

I know he needs those cookies!! Good Grief that boy is working his way into the Pen!

Godd for J Flo...

MicheleS said...

Meant... Good for J Flo..

natsfan1a said...

Maybe Flores is fully healed. Good for him if so.

natsfan1a said...

LOL, I have to get into midseason form. I'm halfway listening to the radio and Durbin's coming in. Thinking of his Phillies days, I'm like: we can hit him. Oh, wait. He's a Nat now.

MicheleS said...

That's Okay 1a.. we all need spring training!

Look Bixler is in (and not for the Nats)

natsfan1a said...

Glad that Bixler caught on somewhere.

waddu eye no said...

MicheleS said...
That's Okay 1a.. we all need spring training!

good point

Anonymous said...

Same ole Livo - 3 hits in 2 innings, but no damage. Haven't checked the schedule, but hope he gets to pitch in DC for the Stros this summer. The place will be rocking as long as he's in the game, which will be a sure-fire sellout.

Love that J Flo looks so solid. He may make it tough on Davey if he keeps raking like he is today.

natsfan1a said...

Astros are in DC from April 16-19 (all weekday games).

Rabbit said...

Harper is getting the bat on the ball. Better than the Desmonds and Espinosas.

natsfan1a said...

Yay! Thanks, Mark.

Livo has no hard feelings toward Davey Johnson, Mike Rizzo and the rest of the organization, though. He understands this is a business. I'll have plenty more on him in a full article later.

MicheleS said...

Well.. off to the b-day party and delivering the cookies.. I hope I can get the radio reception in Lovettesville.

Anonymous said...

Mark, since I now know you read this, thank you very much for hosting the best Nats blog in the world. We all appreciate your work, and we know that you are an important factor in the level of civility that we choose to keep here. It is out of mutual respect, respect for the Nats, and respect for you.

Corky

Cwj said...

While driving back from the store I got to hear Charlie and Dave talking about how Jackson was working on his new mechanics today, and felt a little awkward at first but felt more comfortable throwing in the pen after he left the game (or something to that effect).

Hopefully they don't tinker with him too much, causing him to lose confidence. Probably not likely, but just a thought.

Cwj said...

Well said Corky.
Best Nats blog by far.

natsfan1a said...

Have fun, MicheleS!

Agreed re. the blog, Cwj and Corky.

waddu eye no said...

anybody else already tired of hearing mark sanchez' heartbeart?

which reminds me. i hope our optimism extends to advertisers so we get more varied commercials this year. if i have to see those two whiny women on the beach again all year i'm going to puke. that and the cave man going for a smoothie.

best 25 commercials go north!

natsfan1a said...

Eh, we'll get 'em tomorrow.

Will be (somewhat) interesting to see the new commercial lineup in tomorrow's broadcast. Will be even better to see our guys in action!

Section 222 said...

For all those following the radio and concerned about reception in different places, let me highly recommend the MLB app for your smartphone or tablet. Provides Gameday play by play, scores, video highlights, and news, but the best feature is you can get the home and away radio broadcasts for all major league games, including the preseason and the postseason. Of course you need a cell phone signal (or wireless) but sometimes these days that's more reliable than radio reception. There are no blackouts so you can listen while you're in the local area, and it's great for when you're traveling and want to hear the soothing tones of Charlie and Dave. Finally, because the broadcast is about 15 seconds behind, with a little trial and error, you can synch it with the MASN TV broadcast if you'd rather listen to Charlie and Dave than FP and Bob.

Just $14.99 a season and worth every penny.

waddu eye no said...

222 -
and how.

Cwj said...

Thanks Sec 222, I'll look into that. By synchronizing the two broadcasts do you mean by using the dvr on cable? Like pausing it, waiting for the radio to catch up, then playing?
I never thought about that before...

JaneB said...

what corky said.

The radio reception is even worse this year than last. The MLB app is great -- spring for it, guys!

waddu eye no said...

cwj - Like pausing it, waiting for the radio to catch up, then playing?

works great

Cwj said...

Good day for Bryce against actual major league pitchers, and Flores as well.
Jackson showed he can get out of jams by inducing grounders.
Detwiler's strikeouts seem to indicate he'll be good out of the pen.

That's what I take out of this game. Can't wait to see them on tv tomorrow!
Go Nats!

Dawn said...

Making my daily visit to Nats world, first stop always Nats Insider. Unless it's on national television the only way I can watch the Nats is on MLB.com, todays game was not available to watch, will listen to it later while on the treadmill. Not sure why the rancor towards Heyman's comments regarding Zim. Love Ryan, but with his seemingly annual stints on the DL I understand other people might hesitate to approve. Up to Zim to prove them wrong. Hope Livo gets a spot in the Astros rotation, rooting for him.

Section 222 said...

Cwj -- yes, you can synch by pausing your DVR and letting the audio broadcast on the iPhone app catch up. I use the crack of the bat as a way to get them exactly together!

Scooter said...

When Jason Bourgeois came up for the first time, I turned to my dad and said, "Right now, Zuckerman is up there typing his Joe Proletariat joke. I love that one."

Mark Zuckerman, I am very disappoined in you.

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