Saturday, March 31, 2012

Nats vs. Cardinals - 3/31/12

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg faces the Cardinals in the spring's final home game.
VIERA, Fla. -- Well, we've reached the end of another spring in Viera, home to choices, a living inspiration, and where life is always better. (At least, that's what they've told us on billboards over the years.) The Nationals play their final home game of the spring this afternoon; they'll wrap up the Grapefruit League the next two days with road games against the Cardinals in Jupiter and the Red Sox in Fort Myers.

Stephen Strasburg makes his final tune-up before Opening Day, but don't look for anything spectacular. Davey Johnson plans to pull his ace after only 60-70 pitches, then turn to No. 5 starter John Lannan (who will appear out of the bullpen).

A couple of lineup tweaks, including Danny Espinosa at shortstop (don't get any grand ideas, Johnson is just giving Ian Desmond a rest and preparing Espinosa in case of emergency). Roger Bernadina was originally penciled in as the starting center fielder, but he wasn't due to return from his father's funeral in Curacao in time for the game, so Corey Brown was summoned from minor-league camp to fill that spot.

Plenty of updates to come, so please check back often...

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV: None
Radio: Cardinals feed via MLB Gameday Audio, XM 186
Weather: Partly cloudy, 83 degrees, Wind 11 mph in from RF
STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS
2B Steve Lombardozzi
SS Danny Espinosa
3B Chad Tracy
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
C Jesus Flores
CF Corey Brown
LF Brett Carroll
P Stephen Strasburg

CARDINALS
SS Rafael Furcal
CF Jon Jay
RF Carlos Beltran
1B Lance Berkman
3B Matt Carpenter
C Tony Cruz
LF Erik Komatsu
2B Daniel Descalso
P Jake Westbrook
1:08 p.m. -- And we're underway as Stephen Strasburg fires a fastball high to Rafael Furcal for ball one.

1:15 p.m. -- A potentially scary moment as Strasburg is a bit late covering first base on a grounder to Adam LaRoche, then has to dodge Jon Jay to avoid a collision as LaRoche's throw sails high. Strasburg seemed to be walking around a little slower after that play, and he was kind of slow walking back to the dugout at the end of the inning. Not saying anything actually happened on that play, but it's something to keep an eye on. The good news is that Strasburg pitched quite well in the top of the first, striking out both Furcal and Carlos Beltran on changeups and getting Lance Berkman to ground out to short. 16 pitches, 11 strikes.

1:20 p.m. -- Good news: Danny Espinosa made contact. Bad news: He grounded into a double play. Scoreless after one.

1:34 p.m. -- A shaky top of the second for Strasburg, though his defense didn't help. He gave up back-to-back singles to Matt Carpenter and Tony Cruz, then labored through a long at-bat against former Nat minor-leaguer Erik Komatsu before finally getting him on a fielder's choice. No. 8 hitter Daniel Descalso then roped a double down the left-field line, scoring two and advancing to third when Espinosa's relay throw sailed to the backstop. Descalso surprisingly took off for the plate on Jake Westbrook's chopper to a drawn-in Lombardozzi and would have been out had Lombo's throw not been wide. Credit to Jesus Flores for not even attempting to make the tag and instead firing to first to complete an odd, 4-2-3 RBI groundout. It's 3-0 Cardinals in the middle of the second.

1:49 p.m. -- How often have you seen Strasburg issue a four-pitch walk? Can't remember many of those. He did, however, rebound to get Berkman to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the third. And I have to say, Espinosa looked very smooth turning that double play from the shortstop side. (He says, fully aware he just released the hounds...)

2:03 p.m. -- That'll probably do it for Strasburg. He wasn't in peak form by any means today, but he got his work in. His line: 4 ip, 5 h, 3 r, 2 er, 1 bb, 3 k, 67 pitches, 43 strikes. Nats trail 3-0 in the middle of the fourth.

2:11 p.m. -- Not a whole lot of offense today from the Nats against Westbrook. Though four innings, they've got one hit (Chad Tracy's single up the middle just now) and a couple of walks. Though Jesus Flores did just drive one to the warning track in left. It's 3-0 Cards as John Lannan enters to pitch the fifth.

2:35 p.m. -- Pretty sloppy game here today. The Cardinals added three more runs in the top of the sixth off Lannan, but the lefty wasn't helped by his defense much. Lombardozzi struggled to come up with a grounder to his right. Espinosa made another poor relay throw to the plate. This is by no means the Nats' regular defensive alignment today -- Werth and LaRoche are the only starters at their usual position -- but it hasn't been pretty. Cards lead 6-0 in the sixth.

2:43 p.m. -- Chad Tracy to the rescue. Solo homer off the roof of the batting cages beyond the right-field fence. I still don't think the Nats are going to have room for this guy on the roster, but he's still lingering here in camp. I guess you never say never. It's now 6-1.

3:20 p.m. -- Strasburg following his last start of the spring: "I'm ready to get out of Florida, that's for sure." Aren't we all, Stephen. Aren't we all. 6-1 in the 8th.

3:30 p.m. -- Another 1-2-3 inning for Brad Lidge. His spring totals: 9 ip, 5 h, 1 er, 0 bb, 11 k. Last chance for the Nats, still down 6-1.

3:40 p.m. -- That's yer ballgame. Nats lose this one, 6-2. Stephen Strasburg takes the loss and finishes the spring 1-4. I'm really worried. Aren't you?

58 comments:

bdrube said...

"The Nationals play their final home game of the spring this afternoon"

That's the best news of this whole post. :)

JaneB said...

"The Nationals play their final home game of the spring this afternoon"

Amen, brother.

NatsLady said...

Aw, we are going to see our Rule 5 guy (Komatsu). Guess he has a chance of making the Cards squad.

#4 said...

Off subject

For those of us who like to listen to sports radio and have often lamented the complete lack of knowledge on either station. I offer this. Between 12 and 12:40 today, Danny Rouhier did a Nats segment on 106.7 that was really good. He gave a season preview, did a good interview with one of the MASN reporters, broke down Anthony Rendon's swing, gave his thoughts on why the Nats wuld good this year but not great, etc. The kicker was that he said he felt it was his civic duty after no baseball for 30 years to provide good radio baseball talk. He promised that no matter what he is covering at a given time, if you call his show and want to talk Nats, he will drop whatever subject he is doing, and talk to you. I suggest we all test him. He's on 10AM-12PM every day with Holden Kushner.

Bups said...

Last home game and Strasburg pitching, yet no radio or TV. That is pathetic.

CN said...

Regarding Rouhier, I think he really knows his basketball & baseball. IIRC, he was a college or HS baseball player, so that helps. He's actually knowledgeable when it comes to the "other" pro teams here. He made the evening drive home bearable. I think only 2 sports jockies in the area even know what a baseball looks like, it's Jason Bishop (Lurch) and Rouhier. Everyone else will just patronize Nats fans by asking the easy questions (i.e. Stras, Harper).

gonatsgo said...

#4 - because that is such a good time for us to be able to call into a radio show? Not that I don't appreciate it, it's a good sign and we should try to take advantage of it. Bups - agreed completely - It's a Saturday and I hate being in the dark unless I pay for access. It's gameday for me.

Ben said...

I'm listening to this game on the STL radio feed, and this play by play announcer sounds like he has had one too many drinks. Or maybe he experimented around with too many drugs when he was younger. He sounds like a mix between Homer Simpson and Buck Martinez. Just sayin...

Anyone else feel the same way?

gonatsgo said...

And gameday is going to be hours behind again today.Spring training for them , too?

phill dunn said...

Everyone has been concerned about Desmond but the real cause for concern is Espinosa's bat. MLB pitchers found his weaknesses midway thru last season and since the he's been a disaster at the plate. He needs a competent hitting coach to work with him and it's NOT Eckstein!

jmorrisa said...

#4...
Danny Rouhier's the best. He's arguably the most knowledgeable - and least rude - talking head on that station and doesn't even have a professional background in broadcasting or journalism. Not sure if that speaks to his talent, or the overall lack of talent on 106.7. Perhaps it's both. Thanks for the info.

MicheleS said...

I really don't like Mike Shannon.

Anyway.. they are both making comments on the pace at which Stras is pitching is he always slow? I don't remember that.

Anonymous said...

Is Strassie getting shelled?

DWS said...

Hard to tell but these guys are idiots. Yeah they're on drugs. Wow good ones too.

NatsLady said...

This Cards announcer sounds like he's about 80 and has had about 80 beers--already.

Ben said...

"What college do you have to go to, to do this sound stuff?? ... Space Coast University?" ahahah... NOT.

Anonymous said...

Strasburg is not the domineering, lights out pitcher he was before the TJ surgery. Maybe he just needs more time to get back to that level but he is certainly not there yet.

DWS said...

The announcer woke up...Komatsu made a catch.

Old Lurker said...

Mike Shannon is 72. Played 3B and OF for Cards i 60s.

Ben said...

DWS: I think the drunk announcer has passed out, because I haven't heard him since the 2nd inning. I like this new guy. His sentences are more put together, the content makes sense, and he isn't slurring his words.

MicheleS said...

MarkZ says: And I have to say, Espinosa looked very smooth turning that double play from the shortstop side. (He says, fully aware he just released the hounds...)

Umm Mark, if Espi doesn't hit, the hounds will rip him to shreds

Ben said...

Old Lurker: Was Shannon ever a boxer? I feel like Mohammad Ali might be easier to understand... (Sorry, but I went there)

Kavorka said...

Line-up for the second half of 2012:

Lombardozzi - 4
Espi - 6
Zim - 5
Morse - 7
Werth - 9
Harper - 8
LaRoche - 3
Ramos - 2
Pitcher - 1

Old Lurker said...

Ben: He has about eight years on me. You have to know when to fold them.

MicheleS said...

Wow.. Shannon is 3 sheets to the wind.

bdrube said...

I hereby nominate Anon @ 1:50 for the most clueless comment in this thread.

SS not only pitched very well in his last ST outing and in his final game of 2011, he has shown himself to be the type who turns up the intensity level depending on the individual game circumstances.

Meridian said...

Espinosa clearly has the physical talent to be a successful hitter with more than occasional power. If he fails, it will be a mental failure -- failure to recognize pitches, failure of patience, perhaps even a failure of confidence.

And it that happens to such a gifted player with so much potential to help this team content, a lot of the responsibility -- not all, but a lot -- has to lie with the coaching staff. Let's hope it doesn't.

Dave said...

I am marveling at how absolutely awful Mike Shannon is. I'm hearing a pre-recorded commercial, and he's nearly coherent. Not in the PBP, though.

Tom in AR said...

Mike Shannon has always talked like that. He is kind of like Sonny and Sam in DC, although probably still more coherent than Sam. It is kind of a weird voice, though.

baseballswami said...

In the music business we always say " bad rehearsal, good performance" - as a matter of fact, good rehearsals scare us to death. I think we want to see Strassie with a good sized chip on his shoulder come opening day. He will be a bear between now and then.

Tom in AR said...

Is this going to be a three pitch inning?

NatsLady said...

I was once directing a show with over 200 children aged 5 to 15. It was extremely complicated and the rehearsal was dreadful. None of my "assistants" had any clue that everything I wanted to do was accomplished. The show was great.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a smart move by Davey to give SS the extra day of rest before his last ST start, as opposed to before his Opening Day start. Stras pitches better on his regular schedule.

NatsLady said...

Dreadful in the sense that it seemed noisy and chaotic, with a dozen little sub-plots that all came together in the end.

NatsLady said...

Yes, I think Stras is probably better on a strict routine. There was an article about he gets upset at things that are not the way they are supposed to be (holes in the mound, for example). Also he didn't have the regular fielders. I believe he's getting better about not letting the "little stuff" disturb him, but he's still very intense.

baseballswami said...

I don't think we need to panic over Strasburg in a long-term way, but I do still think Jordan is better and more experienced. SS is still pretty new to the big leagues and there will be rough patches. I don't like the idea of him matching up to the other aces in this first almost-season. Let's see how he adjusts.

NatsLady said...

JZ had a couple of "mental meltdowns" last year. Hopefully he's past that.

On the match-ups, I think given the personalities of the two pitchers you are better matching Stras against other aces. JZ doesn't care who the opposing pitcher is. Stras does, and he wants to face the best.

MicheleS said...

Everyone realizes that we have to listen to this crew again tomorrow.. UGH! Where are Charlie and Dave!!!!

Anonymous said...

gameday for me.

March 31, 2012 1:24 PM
Ben said...
I'm listening to this game on the STL radio feed, and this play by play announcer sounds like he has had one too many drinks. Or maybe he experimented around with too many drugs when he was younger. He sounds like a mix between Homer Simpson and Buck Martinez. Just sayin...

Anyone else feel the same way?

March 31, 2012 1:26 PM
---------------------------

This was mentioned during the first game the Spring that they sounded drunk. Actually much better today. Probably only a few Buds.

NatsLady said...

Are they better than nothing? Which is what we get on Monday.

Section 3, My Sofa said...

Maybe the Cards players all showed up in the best shape of their lives, and gave up wind sprints for marathons. Just a thought.

NatsLady said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The defense hasn't helped their pitchers today. Espinosa with a wide throw that was ruled a single. Not sure if Desi would have made the play.

NatsLady said...

Lot of students absent today (Spring Break) but boring, losing game... They couldn't have picked a better schedule for this?

MicheleS said...

I just hope all the regulars are playing tomorrow.

NatsLady said...

If it's overcast there, which it must be if rain is a-coming, does that affect Espy and the batters eye? Because I think he just struck out again.

Anonymous said...

Another clutch RBI hit for Corey Brown.

NatsLady said...

Well, that game wasn't worth a wad of bubblegum. Later, folks.

jmorrisa said...

NatsLady, I'm in the same boat. Should have had 14 guitar students today, ended up with about 5. Lots of time to follow a game that I would've rather not followed.

Cwj said...

Bdrube- I second that!

Anon 1:50-Strasburg is not the same pitcher before TJ surgery, because he's much more mature now.
He's very much still a lights out pitcher, a true ace, all of that good stuff :-)
His velocity is the same, he's healthy, and will be among the league leaders in ERA (assuming he pitches 162 innings), and K/9, K/BB, WHIP, FIP, etc etc.

Cwj said...

Swami- I disagree about Zimmermann being better than Strasburg, but Jordan is definitely more experienced now.
I think Zimmermann will continue to build on last year's success and have an outstanding season.

Pitch for pitch, Stras matches up well with any team's ace.

dabassguy1 said...

Jmorrisa - What type of guitar do you teach?

I'm a musician as well, tho by hobby, and I play the bass. Hence the moniker. Maybe a jam session on a game trip?

baseballswami said...

Sounds like we could put together quite the NI ensemble!

Cwj said...

I'm actually a drummer, myself. It's just a fun hobby for me. When younger though I wanted to play in a jazz band (and did in middle school).

jmorrisa said...

dabassguy...
I play mostly rock and contemporary, but I've been getting into a lot of hybrid picking folk stuff lately. Here's a youtube of a song I recorded for this past christmas (shameless self promotion warning). We should get jams going!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wllwAbU2yg0

Cwj said...

Wow that's very good Jmorrisa!

dabassguy1 said...

Nice.

One of the drummers I play with is a Deadhead. This is a video we whipped up and he posted for a Dead Covers project contest in Feb.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUqepA0CHyo

jmorrisa said...

Thanks folks! Awesome video, too, dabassguy!

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