Sunday, June 3, 2012

Game 52: Braves at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Gio Gonzalez goes for his eighth win of the season today at Nationals Park.
How rare is it for a Nationals pitcher to be shooting for his eighth victory so early in a season? Well, if Gio Gonzalez does it today, he'll record win No. 8 faster than any previous Nats hurler has done it ... except for one. Yes, Livan Hernandez was 8-2 on May 29, 2005 en route to an All-Star selection later that summer.

Gonzalez already dominated this Braves lineup lineup six days ago, allowing just one hit in seven innings. He'll look to pick up where he left off on Sunday Night Baseball.

Tommy Hanson, meanwhile, makes his first start of the year against the Nationals. They did beat the right-hander twice in three outings last season.

Plenty of updates to come on a beautiful afternoon from the ballpark, so please check back...

ATLANTA BRAVES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, Ch. 50, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Partly cloudy, 77 degrees, Wind 11 mph out to RF
NATIONALS (30-21)
LF Steve Lombardozzi
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Michael Morse
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Jesus Flores
LHP Gio Gonzalez

BRAVES (28-25)
CF Michael Bourn
3B Martin Prado
1B Freddie Freeman
2B Dan Uggla
LF Matt Diaz
RF Jason Heyward
C David Ross
SS Andrelton Simmons
RHP Tommy Hanson

UMPIRES
HP Ron Kulpa, 1B D.J. Reyburn, 2B Jim Wolf, 3B Derryl Cousins (cc)

1:25 p.m. -- Breaking news: Gio Gonzalez has been named NL Pitcher of the Month for May. And Bryce Harper has been named NL Rookie of the Month for May. That's after Stephen Strasburg was previously named NL Pitcher of the Month for April. So, in two months, the Nats have had more NL monthly award winners than in the last seven years combined.

1:36 p.m. -- We are underway with a strike from Gonzalez to Michael Bourn. Another spectacular afternoon in the nation's capital, 74 degrees at first pitch. And it appears as though it'll be another full house today at the park.

1:43 p.m. -- A leadoff single by Bourn through the right-side hole put the Braves in position to inflict some first-inning damage, but the rally never materialized. Gonzalez struck out Martin Prado (as Bourn stole second base) and then got Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla to fly out. So we head to the bottom of the first.

1:52 p.m. -- Well, that's not a bad way to get things started, huh? Steve Lombardozzi belts a 2-1 fastball from Tommy Hanson off the back wall of the right-field bullpen for his first career homer. Nice moment for Lombo, but he didn't get to savor it for long, because Bryce Harper crushed Hanson's very next pitch into the second deck in right field for his fifth career homer. Just a bomb from the 19-year-old. The Nats take an early 2-0 lead.

2:00 p.m. -- Gio again got himself into a little bit of trouble in the second, with David Ross blooping a two-out single to center and Andrelton Simmons delivering his first career hit with a double into the left-field corner. Simmons might have notched his first career RBI as well, but Ross was chugging around the bases like he had an elephant strapped to his back. Why not try to score, especially with the pitcher due up and two outs? Because Ross has been dealing with a bad groin. And with Brian McCann sidelined after taking a hard foul ball behind the plate yesterday, the Braves can't afford for their only semi-healthy catcher to go down. So Gio and the Nats caught a break, because Hanson struck out to end the inning and leave the runners stranded at second and third. Still 2-0 as we go to the bottom of the second.

2:09 p.m. -- Danny Espinosa couldn't have dropped a better drag bunt than he just executed if he had 100 cracks at it. Just perfect placement between the pitchers' mound and first base for a one-out single. And then he was able to take third on Jesus Flores' single to right. Gio sacrificed Flores to second, setting the stage for Lombardozzi. But Bourn made a fantastic, diving catch on Lombo's blooper to center. So it remains 2-0 after two.

2:20 p.m. -- The Braves get a run back in the third as Prado singles and Uggla sends a double to the wall in right-center. This provided Morse with his first opportunity to really throw a ball since he came off the DL, and he didn't exactly put a lot of mustard on it, though he did get the ball to Espinosa, whose relay was a tad late. So that makes it 2-1 as we go to the bottom of the third. Gio has already thrown 50 pitches.

2:30 p.m. -- Zimmerman continues to struggle to get himself going at the plate. He's now 0-for-2 today with a couple of groundouts, leaving him with a .236 average, .315 on-base percentage and .338 slugging percentage. For what it's worth, his splits through the same 148 at-bats last year weren't much better: .248/.339/.409. So there's still time for Zim to snap out of it (and there is some track record to suggest he can). That said, this isn't what the Nats paid $100 million for.

3:02 p.m. -- Gio had been playing with fire all afternoon, showing very little command and putting himself into several jams. And he finally got burned by it in the fifth via two singles, two walks (one intentional) and two wild pitches. He was one strike from getting out of the inning, but Heyward sent a soft liner into left field, scoring two and putting the Braves up 3-2. That also brought Davey Johnson out of the dugout for a surprising, early hook of Gio after only 91 pitches. It's the first time he's failed to go at least five innings since his first start of the season in Chicago when he lasted only 3 2/3 innings. Craig Stammen in now.

3:12 p.m. -- Harper came within a couple of feet of his second homer of the day (and sixth of the season) with a rocket off the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center. Denied the homer, he tried to stretch it into his fifth triple ... and was consequently thrown out. Bryce wasn't happy with himself for that moment of over-aggressiveness. Still 3-2 as we head to the sixth.

3:23 p.m. -- Things have settled down a bit. Nothing happening for either club in the sixth as Stammen and Hanson each retire the side. Morse did finally hit a ball hard. Unfortunately, it was right at shortstop Andrelton Simmons. Still 3-2 heading to the seventh.

3:30 p.m. -- Craig Stammen keeps doing what Craig Stammen does best: Retire hitters. He's set down nine in a row, which in essence has given the Nats the equivalent of a quality start. Combine Stammen and Gio Gonzalez and you end up with three runs allowed over seven innings. Now, can the Nats scratch out another run?

3:41 p.m. -- Don't worry, folks. They didn't suddenly change the rules and allow a pitcher to re-enter the game after being pulled. That's not Gio Gonzalez on the mound for the eighth. That's the just-promoted Mike Gonzalez.

3:47 p.m. -- Pretty nice job by Gonzalez in the eighth. He did allow a one-out single to Ross but bounced back with a double-play grounder to get out of the inning. Fastball sat at 92 mph. Not bad for his first big-league appearance of the year.

3:57 p.m. -- Well, the two rookies did their part to start the bottom of the eighth. Lombardozzi and Harper each drew walks to set the stage for the heart of the lineup. But that heart of the lineup once again came up short. Zimmerman got behind 0-2, battled back to 2-2, then grounded into another double play (4-6-3). And then LaRoche lofted a fly ball to the warning track in left. Rally killed. The Nats still trail 3-2 after eight.

4:07 p.m. -- Last chance for the Nats. It'll be Morse, Desmond and Espinosa in the bottom of the ninth against Craig Kimbrel.

4:14 p.m. -- Not today. Kimbrel finishes off the job, and the Nats suffer a 3-2 loss in what sure felt like a winnable game.

79 comments:

baseballswami said...

In 2005 the Nats had a pretty good season. However - that team was not built to last and the National League East was certainly not the beast it is today. I appreciate Livo's place in Nats history - but this is truly a totally different time and place. Apples and Oranges.

UnkyD said...

Here I am!!! Sec 138....

Big Daddy Goob said...

I was wondering where clippard stood after his many wins in 2010, but he didn't get number 8 until June 4

Big Daddy Goob said...

I was wondering where clippard stood after his many wins in 2010, but he didn't get number 8 until June 4

natsfan1a said...

From a stats standpoint, shooting for your 8th win is shooting for your 8th win, so it seems like apples to me, but what do I know? (That's rhetorical, btw.) :-)

clap-clap-clap-clap-clap
clap-clap-clap-clap- GIO!!

Go, GIO! Go, NATS!!

natsfan1a said...

On the update: That's great news re. the awards. Two in one month when in the past we were lucky to get one in a season. Congrats to Gio and Bryce. That's pretty Old School, for a rookie. :-)

Faraz Shaikh said...

Yay great to hear about GG and Harper.

Smatt1001 said...

And a lead off bomb for Lombo!

Smatt1001 said...

Back to back for Harper!

MicheleS said...

LOMBO'S FIRST HOMER! AND NOW BAM BAM!

Gonat said...

If you blinked you missed some back to back Jacks!

Joe Seamhead said...

In deference to Mark's request:
HECK YEAH!

Gonat said...

Tommy Hanson looked shaken on the mound after Harper's smackem yackem. Hitting is contagious and then Zim rolls one over.

Oh well, definitely will take 2 in the first. Nats scored that over 9 innings yesterday!!!!

Gonat said...

Lucky on that double that it was a slow catcher on 1st base.

baseballswami said...

Has that ever happened before? One and two, both rookies back to back to start a game? That was awesome!!!!!

Gonat said...

Shutout perserved thanks to a .071 pitcher up with 2 RISP and 2 outs.

Gonat said...

baseballswami, great question as that could be a record and if not would definitely tie a record.

I know back-to-back-to-back HRs to start a game has only been done 4 times in MLB history. If Zim hit one it would have tied that record.

Gonat said...

and as I finish writing that Bob and FP just discussed if that set a Lombo/Harp back-to-back jacks to start a game as Rookies set a record.

Gonat said...

I like the straight sacrifice with no outs but I don't like a straight sacrifice in a 1 out situation with a man on 3rd and the pitcher up. Put it in a play. The straight sacrifice only moved the runner to 2nd and then you have 1 shot with 2 out.

hiramhover said...

So Lombo homers and Danny bunts for a hit.

What a topsy turvy game....

Gonat said...

hiramhover, yah, one has a sweet swing and one has swing & miss mechanics. Any way Danny can get on batting LH is a good at-bat if he gets on 1st safely.

Gonat said...

Desi! Saves a run there!

baseballswami said...

You just can't keep Dan Uggla from hurting you for very long. Especially when you have to also go through Prado and Freeman. More offense, please.

Gonat said...

Zim fouls off the hanging slider and then rolls over a harmless grounder for a 6-3

Gonat said...

baseballswami said...
You just can't keep Dan Uggla from hurting you for very long. Especially when you have to also go through Prado and Freeman. More offense, please.

June 03, 2012 2:19 PM
____________________________

Gio was very fortunate. The first pitch missed the location and Uggla swung thru it. Could easily be 2-2 right now.

Strasburg pitched him perfectly yesterday.

Gonat said...

Can't walk Ross. The guy was 0-17 coming into the game and coming off of the muscle strain.

Gonat said...

Look at Danny. Great at-bat there. Almost had a double on the swing before that.

rabbit34 said...

Nats are going to lose this game; they have too many holes in their lineup.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Thanks rabbit. Now I can turn the game off and take a nap.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Actually, if you can tell me who's going to win the Cards/Mets game tonite, I can forgo the nap.

JaneB said...

What has happened to Gio? I am watching on the MLB in the airport. What is going wrong?

mick said...

maybe sjm is on to something about 6 starters? Gio jusy had one of those games today.... we alos need to score a few more

Gonat said...

Gio had Diaz ready for a K and couldn't put him away. A shame as that walk sets up the 2 run single by Heyward.

mick said...

we should still win this game, even though Zim is a ground ball machine and we will have to wit about 15 games for Morse to hit

Gonat said...

JaneB, too much nibbling and not enough strikes today.

mick said...

we are drawing over 40,000 now at home, we have to win these games

mick said...

why not 5 day rest for pitching staff, that way both Wang and detweiler can still start?

baseballswami said...

How about they directly said that Gio was striking out too many guys and needed to pitch more to contact?Seems like right from the first inning they were making contact - and the balls were dropping. Did it mess with his head? How about we just let him strike people out? Very quick hook, though.

mick said...

agreed swami, you may be right

mick said...

glad to see Perry bye bye and why on earth would anyone want Coffey back here???

mick said...

why not send Bryce, Zimmerman is an automatic OUT anyway.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

Gio's worse inning as a Nat. Outh hsutled to first on a routuine grounder to first. 2 eild pitches (thought the last should have been called strike 3 ) ending the inning with no runs. 2 walks. Just bad pitching. Now no more bad pitching.

Gonat said...

Davey just needs to remind Bryce that the league has wised up to him. They are sprinting to balls instead of jogging. That's twice in a week being thrown out trying to take the extra base.

rabbit34 said...

No better player in MLB than Harper. You're welcome NatsJack.

JaneB said...

Thanks gonat.
I am just leaving a conference where I heard a report on research showing fan influence on baseball games. A topic in the q&A, not even asked by me, was whether teams like the Nationals were getting more fans as a result if being better or were better as a result of getting more fans. No conclusion. But I did make myself known as a Nats fan and several people shook my hand as the first one they'd ever met.
I'm glad to read that Zimm had similar stats last year because I was starting to worry. Less so now. But man do I want us to win today.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

Talk about bad luck. the ball thrown to Prado takes a bad bounce he still catches it, though it appeared to me the foor was on the bag. The Nats in general do not get as good a bounces as their oppoents do. Though maybe that is my rose colored glasses look at it.

mick said...

Gonat, or Davey needs to remind Bo Porter not to go stupid as a coach. Porter sent him and that is all on Bo Porter.

baseballswami said...

No wonder Bryce is trying to do so much -- the 3, 4 and 5 spots have become desert wastelands.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

Come on hitters. Make good contact. Take away a few guys and they have basically stunk now for 5 games. It can't be they are tired.

baseballswami said...

MNF - the Nats are actually getting quite a few days off right now, so you are correct about that. I almost think the beginning of this game set a bad tone because now every single hitter thinks he is going to come up and hit the first pitch out of the park. That inning was just ridiculous the way they got out so darn fast. Take a few pitches, eh? Make the guy work a little bit. Morse is making contact - talked his way back in to the major league line up after only a very few AB's -- he will take a while to get his stroke back. But Zim and ALR? They need to pick it up.

mick said...

this is why I hope Rendon can be healthy which will force Zimmerman to play better. Zim's ground balls and DP's have gotten old

NatsJack in Florida said...

It wouldn't bother me at all if Stammen got moved to the 5 spot in the rotation at some point later on in the season.

Faraz Shaikh said...

I hope I am proved wrong but hanson is going 9 I think.

SCNatsFan said...

Ankiel has quickly become a wasted roster spot unless you think you need a defensive replacement every night. He doesn't have the eye to pinch hit or spot start. Carrying him and Nady really hamstrings the bench.

SCNatsFan said...

What a waste. This team needs to learn in a hurry how to put teams away.

Drew said...

What a terrible at bat by Zim.

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

The young guys are doing fine getting on, then Zim another double play. Then LaRoche flies out. You guys are the ones making the big money, produce like you are, the young ones not making nearly as much are doing their job.

Fear and Ignorance said...

Ryan Zimmerman sucks!!! I have been telling everybody this for 6 months now. What an awful contract. Thanks Rizzo!!!

peric said...

Zim still has issues with the shoulder. He should be batting sixth not 3rd or he should be on the DL.

Another_Sam said...

RZ is the reincarated Cal Ripken in the last half of CR's career -- leads the world in GIDP in key situations.

Another_Sam said...

peric -- i'm for moving him down in the order, or giving him a few days off.

mick said...

Frear and Ig : AGREED, totally over rated and a DP machine. I hope A. Rendon can make it and we can ship Ryan and his over paid contract somewhere else. I actually root for him to strike out if there is a man on first and one out or less.

peric said...

Ryan Zimmerman sucks!!! I have been telling everybody this for 6 months now. What an awful contract. Thanks Rizzo!!!

Still their best player bar none ... its kind of hard to hit the way Zim hits with a bad shoulder. Statistically, there's no one else even close ... not even Bryce Harper who is really just getting started.

baseballswami said...

That -- was -- depressing :( The rookies are setting the table. Two runs yesterday wins it because Stras was almost perfect. Two runs today doesn't cut it. Gio gives up three - we all feel like he had a total meltdown out there. When other pitchers lose it they give up 8. Offense goes icy cold again. Zim and ALR looking pretty bad out there and Morse not quite back. 2,3 and 4 - sigh.

baseballswami said...

Sorry - 3, 4 and 5

Bigfish said...

Does anyone besides me think pitchers are having success throwing outside to RZim because he stands too damn far away from the plate?

mick said...

we are starting to sell out and we hit like STIFFS

mick said...

get Zim the hell outta here.. take all his BS stats and throw them out. All I know is he played on 2 back to back 100 loss teams and he does not hit when it counts, all those wlak off games he won were with crappy teams in seasons that we were out of it by June..

baseballswami said...

Remember the good old days with the late inning, come-from-behind, clutch fireworks. I miss those games.

peric said...

I hope A. Rendon can make it and we can ship Ryan and his over paid contract somewhere else.

I any glove is replacing Zimmerman's at third base its going to be Espinosa's now that Lombardozzi looks ensconced in the lineup. Its his best position.

Rendon with two bad ankles? Three surgeries ALREADY!? Fear, Ignorance and Mick is right ... the FO is looking worse on the Rendon signing right now!!! Its why he dropped to them over his injury concerns! Should and both ankles now!! And now Zim has the shoulder from making web gems in April. I think most of us will be ecstatic just see him finish an entire season healthy at this point!

Rendon looks like a second bagger or first bagger with those ankles. Could be another fragile player like Nick "the stick" Johnson.

mick said...

peric,,, if he has a bad shoulder then Davey needs to tell us... put him o DL or have surgery... i am sick of everyone defending him... that AB was terrible

SCNatsFan said...

I have no doubt Ryan is hurt. This team right now has alot of guys who need to look in the mirror and stop hoping someone else wins the game for us.

And damn Kimbrell just hits corners.

And damn the Braves announcers make every single player they have sound like Mantle or Cy Young. Such damn homers.

Smatt1001 said...

Zimm needs to get this figured out either the shoulder's not right, he's pressing or both.

Here's hoping another off day helps....

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

Hitters 3 through 6 in these two games (and too many games lately) 1 for 32 or so. What is the problem guys?

However that being said, this is the 4 lost in a row that we leading after our 4tth at bat, and the starter had he just held serve would get a win. Come on guys do not give up runs once we have the lead.

peric said...

peric,,, if he has a bad shoulder then Davey needs to tell us... put him o DL or have surgery... i am sick of everyone defending him... that AB was terrible

And Michael Morse didn't look pathetic? Meanwhile, Adam LaRoche is returning back to his mean.

They are going to wait on Zim, as I've stated, to see if, with time the shoulder completely heals. Their patience isn't unlimited as we've already seen.

I'm fairly sure that I DO NOT want Lombardozzi with that arm at third base. I don't think Teahen's bat is going to even come close to replacing Zims. Neither will his glove.

As for the heart of the line up? Right now the contingency plans are in place. Tyler Moore is going to get time in right field (Morse). Corey Brown in CF (Harper), and Xavier Paul mostly in left with Mark Teahen (Lombardozzi) and he gets moved around the infield quite a bit as well.

That's it. They aren't going to make a completely worthless trade at this point ... not when the plan is finally working. Plus there is this year's draft. One in which the players must be signed in July and then they will get assigned to minor league affiliates.

There's NO ONE out there until free agency next year. Wright and Longoria would be available but then they might have the same problems with them and they would have to trade Zim. Its not going to happen!

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

I don't want to replace ZImm. I want him to do what he is paid to do.

peric said...

Finally, have a care listening to Bill Ladson. He is never right in his personal "trade" predictions. However, sometimes his sources make flat-out here it is statements. When Bill posts those they are bland, terse, and to the point.

When you start reading about Denard Span and other wild out there ideas Bill gets then you know he is stating what he, Bill the fan, would like to see.

Another_Sam said...

Although I'm frustrated and annoyed by his highly visible lack of production, I'm not at all for giving up on RZ. A slump is a slump, and CR he's not. I say give him a week off, or put him down in the lineup, or both, and get him right. I agree with those who say that he's among the cream of this team.

natsfan1a said...

I'm with you on Zimm, Sam.

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