Saturday, March 13, 2010

Nats vs. Astros -- 3/13/10

Photo by Rachel Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Former president George H.W. Bush (second from right) and wife Barbara (left) are here.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- What do you know, the sun is back out and baseball will be played today. After two straight washouts and some of the longest stretches of intense rain I've ever seen, the Nationals can breathe easy knowing there are no weather concerns today.

Well, actually, that's not entirely true. The system that passed through the state of Florida the last two days has left a vicious wind in its wake. So we've got a stiff, 21-mph breeze blowing out to right field today at Osceola County Stadium. Scott Olsen and Co. will have to be careful not to leave the ball up in the zone, lest they want to add to the Nationals' already unsightly spring pitching numbers.

Check back for updates throughout the day, and check out other new posts for non-game-related stuff...

Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: Astros radio via XM and MLB Gameday Audio
Weather: Sunny, 71 degrees, Wind 21 mph out to RF

CF Nyjer Morgan
LF Willie Harris
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Chris Duncan
DH Josh Willingham
2B Adam Kennedy
RF Justin Maxwell
SS Ian Desmond
C Wil Nieves
(P Scott Olsen)

CF Jason Bourgeois
2B Jeff Keppinger
RF Hunter Pence
LF Carlos Lee
1B Geoff Blum
3B Pedro Feliz
C Jason Castro
DH Humberto Quintero
SS Edwin Maysonet
(P Bud Norris)

11:32 a.m. -- Change to the Nats' lineup. Elijah Dukes was scratched due to a minor injury to his left foot; he was hit by a pitch the last game he played, and though it's not considered serious, the Nats wanted to be cautious because the field is very soft and muddy today following all the rain. Justin Maxwell will now start in right field and bat seventh.

11:50 a.m. -- An update on Cristian Guzman, who is still back in Washington after his wife gave birth the other night. Jim Riggleman said the shortstop is due to fly back to Viera either tomorrow night or Monday morning. He won't rejoin the lineup immediately, will have to get back into the swing of things, especially with his throwing. Asked if there's any concern Guzman's surgically repaired shoulder won't be 100 percent by Opening Day, Riggleman said: "I think 'concern' is a little bit of a strong word. I thought he was throwing the ball OK, maybe not 100 percent, but I thought he was throwing it OK. Guzie's a veteran. I think he paces himself with his arm. He's probably holding back a little bit right now. The information we have from the doctors is that he's recovered extremely well. Now it's just a matter of building arm strength. I don't think we're going to have an issue with that. If we do, we're just going to have to read that, how the ball is coming out of his hand, and is he going to be ready?"

12:51 p.m. -- Other Nats pitchers scheduled to throw today: Matt Chico, Drew Storen, Matt Capps, Sean Burnett.

12:54 p.m. -- George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush in attendance today.

1:16 p.m. -- Not much doing for the Nats in the top of the first against Bud Norris. Nyjer Morgan grounds out. Willie Harris gets hit by a pitch in the foot and steals second. But Ryan Zimmerman flies out to left and after a Chris Duncan walk, Josh Willingham flies out to right to end the inning.

1:26 p.m. -- Shaky start for Scott Olsen. Jason Bourgeois sends a deep drive to the wall in left-center that neither Nyjer Morgan nor Willie Harris could track down, leading to a triple that could have been an inside-the-park homer if Bourgeois wanted to give it a shot. Jeff Proletariat ... er, Keppinger then sends a drive to deep right-center for an RBI double. The wind definitely aided both hits, but each was still struck with authority. A trio of flyouts ends the inning, so all five batters hit the ball in the air to the outfield. Fourteen pitches for Olsen, nine of them strikes. Astros lead 1-0 after one.

1:34 p.m. -- The Nats as a team may not be hitting this spring, but Ian Desmond sure is. He just roped another double to right-center, raising an average that coming in was already at .471. Nothing doing for the rest of the guys, though, as Adam Kennedy hits a soft liner back to the mound, Justin Maxwell strikes out and Wil Nieves grounds out to third.

1:41 p.m. -- Olsen looked better in the second. After allowing a leadoff single to right to Pedro Feliz, he struck out Jason Castro on a nice breaking ball, then got Humberto Quintero to pop out and Edwin Maysonet to line out to right. Still 1-0 Astros after two, Olsen has thrown 25 pitches, 15 strikes.

Photo by Rachel Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Ryan Zimmerman sent a solo homer to right field in the third inning.
1:52 p.m. -- The Nats take the lead. Ryan Zimmerman clubs a wind-aided, solo homer to right on an 0-2 pitch. Josh Willingham then slams a double to left, scoring Chris Duncan. All of this came with two outs and gave the Nationals a 2-1 lead heading to the bottom of the third.

2:01 p.m. -- Olsen showing some signs of improvement as his afternoon moved on. Retired five in a row at one point before Hunter Pence laced a double to left in the third. Carlos Lee flied out to deep left, though, to end the inning, so Olsen is done. Final line: 3 ip, 4 h, 1 er, 0 bb, 1 k, 41 pitches, 27 strikes. I'll try to find out what his radar gun readings were.

2:18 p.m. -- Drew Storen enters for the fourth and picks up right where he left off last time, pumping strikes. Punched out Geoff Blum on three pitches. Got ahead of Pedro Feliz, 0-2, then was victimized when Chris Duncan couldn't overcome the wind on a pop up behind first base. Cheap single, the first off Storen this spring. Jason Castro (Storen's former batterymate at Stanford drew a walk, then Humberto Quintero fouled out to first and then got Edwin Maysonet looking at a great breaking ball to end the inning. Fifteen pitches, 11 strikes. Nats still lead 2-1 after four.

2:30 p.m. -- A little "small ball" produces two more runs for the Nationals. Willie Harris beats out a bunt, steals second, takes third on Ryan Zimmerman's single to right, then scores on Chris Duncan's groundout. Josh Willingham then singles to left to bring Zimmerman home and make it 4-1. Matt Capps coming on for the bottom of the fifth. Looks like Matt Chico will be pitching the final three innings of the day so the relievers can get work earlier against Houston's regulars.

2:43 p.m. -- Both horrible and fantastic defense from the Nats in the fifth. Chris Duncan boots another routine pop-up at first base, and Nyjer Morgan lets a fly ball bounce right off his glove moments later. But Justin Maxwell saves the day with a diving catch on a sinking liner to right, bailing out Matt Capps. Capps wasn't especially sharp -- 11 of 19 pitches for strikes -- and he walked a batter. But with better defense, the inning might have looked much cleaner. Still 4-1 through five.

2:49 p.m. -- The Nats have come to play (finally). Maxwell doubles. Desmond drives him in with a single up the middle. Nieves singles to left. That makes it 5-1, with Matt Chico now emerging from the bullpen trying to protect the lead.

3:05 p.m. -- Not a good start to Chico's second outing of the spring. Walked Castro on five pitches, then allowed a single to Quintero and a two-run double to Maysonet down the third-base line. Some nice infield defense from Desmond and Zimmerman saved Chico, but he really labored through the inning, needing 28 pitches to get through it. It's now 5-3 after six.

3:38 p.m. -- Even worse second frame for Chico. Gave up four runs and six hits without retiring a batter, including a pair of RBI doubles, one of them to the wall in right-center. Final line for the lefty: 1+ ip, 8 h, 6 er, 1 bb, 0 k. Not that one appearance will shatter a guy's chances altogether of making the rotation, but Chico absolutely did not help himself one bit today. The Astros now lead 7-5 after seven, and the Nats will need to rally to avoid falling to an astounding 0-9 in the Grapefruit League.

3:51 p.m. -- The Nats draw to within a run, thanks exclusively to Justin Maxwell, who singled, stole second, took third when the catcher's throw scooted away and then scored on a wild pitch. So it's 7-6 Astros heading to the bottom of the eighth. Sean Burnett will try to keep the deficit at one and give his teammates a chance to win it.

4:09 p.m. -- What's this: A ninth-inning rally? Believe it. Willie Harris draws a leadoff walk. Eric Bruntlett drills a double to left-center. Mike Morse then brings the tying run home with a groundout to second, Harris scampering home. But the go-ahead run is stranded at third, so we're heading to the bottom of the ninth tied at 7. Burnett taking the mound for his second inning. If it goes extras, Andrew Kown is the lone remaining Nats pitcher here.

4:18 p.m. -- So much for that. Burnett issues a walk and allows two singles to left, giving the Astros an 8-7 win and the Nationals an 0-9 record for the spring after all. George and Barbara stayed for the whole thing, too, though it's entirely possible Mrs. Bush fell asleep at some point.


Anonymous said...

Good, Desmond is playing shortstop today. Can't suffer the weak throwing arm named C. Guzman.

Anonymous said...

Oh, look. Someone bitching and moaning. How novel.

peric said...

But he is right to point it out. You have to wonder if Guzman is going to be able to start the season at short with a sore arm. Its an exaggeration but its kind of like putting Jesus Flores back at catcher.

Maybe the guy needs to go to Harrisburg hospital AA along with soft-tosser now AAAA pitcher Scott Olsen, CM Wang, Jordan Zimmermann, and Ryan Mattheus. Probably Flores will end up there as well.

Still you have to wonder ... with that new stadium they built in Harrisburg it behooves the Nats to field a better team there than they did last year.

Kim said...

Mark, Just wondering if you are hearing anything more about trades for starting pitching. The Tigers are throwing Robertson, Willis (gulp) & Bonderman three innings each today, all with no concrete role. Do you think there is any interest on the Nats side?

Doc said...

Mark, wad ya think about Morse vs. Duncan? Don't think we'll see both on the roster. Morse is more versatile in the field. His bat may be just as good.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Doc: That's going to be one of the more interesting decisions Rizzo and Riggleman will have to make. The subject came up the other day and I've been meaning to expound on it, will try to do that in the next couple days. But Riggleman did say there's a chance both guys could make the roster because of the lefty-righty difference. Obviously, they're very similar players in every other way.

peric said...

Both Morse and Duncan hit for power ... something Harris, Bernadina, and Maxwell (potential but still not there yet) don't do.

Meanwhile, it looks like Dukes was scratched in favor of Maxwell. We'll get to see Duncan and Maxwell.

peric said...

Olsen, Storen, Capps, Chico and Burnett?

My theory about Mr. Obvious selections for IntraSquad pitching continues to hold water.

Anonymous said...

@peric - Stadium in Harrisburg is being renovated; it's not new. Also, the Nationals do not own the Senators and therefore have no business interest in "fielding a better team" there. They had the chance, for example, to defend the 2008 Carolina League title but did nothing in terms of player movement last August.

JayB said...


Does anyone in the Media (I would do it, believe me) ever going to hold Nats FO and Manager's feet to the fire about anything they say....

Come on...for months they have been saying Guzman is 100% and ready to go....lots of us have been well schooled in being skeptical about what they say about injuries. This constant wishful thinking winter planning every year leads to a team that is not competitive in April and out of the race by May 15.

Now on the plus side of the news....Guzman always sucked going back to 2005 in the field and never should have been given the Starting SS anyway. Omar V or Adam E should be in camp as insurance for Ian D. Nats Front office is not looking like they had any clue what they were doing this off season. Eddie G was held out as a major signing at Fan what? Mark, please do not let them just say anything without the follow up of...."that is not consistent with what you have been telling us for the past 3 months, what happened?"

peric said...

Given the amount of "renovation" they have done in Harrisburg you might as well call it new. They must have some business interest in fielding competitive teams? Look what they did in Syracuse ... and they did promise Syracuse they would field a competitor and came through on the promise to the folks that own that franchise.

JayB is right. Guzman was the starting shortstop on a team that LOST OVER 100 games twice in a row!!! One of the things both Rizzo/Riggleman/McCatty pointed to was poor fielding as a culprit in the poor pitching performances. They pointed to the middle infield. I'm not sure they have fixed the problem.

Anonymous said...

Mark--are you sure today's game is on XM radio? I can't find it on the XM lineup on the web.


Mark Zuckerman said...

Astros media notes say game is on KTRH-AM in Houston. Don't XM and Gameday Audio always pick those up?

JayB said...

Just Gameday....XM has dropped several Nats games they could have covered....100 loss seasons have wide reaching effects...

Anonymous said...


I'm cutting and pasting from the main XM site and find only these games:

Blue Jays @ Braves N/A 1:05PMET 183

Twins @ Phillies N/A 1:05PMET 184

Marlins @ Rays N/A 1:05PMET 176

Pirates @ Red Sox N/A 1:05PMET 177

Dodgers @ Diamondbacks N/A 3:05PMET 185

Rangers @ Indians N/A 3:05PMET 186

Angels @ Royals N/A 3:05PMET 178

Mark Zuckerman said...

Hmm, guess it's not on XM, only online to those who have Gameday Audio. I'll try to provide as much update as I can here for those who can't listen.

Anonymous said...


Raining and miserable here. No TV. No Radio.
No baseball. You are it, brother!

Waiting on your impressions of Olsen. Fingers crossed.

Also, concerned that we have yet to see our starting lineup on the field all at the same time. How can they get ready for April 1 if they never play together? When will they put the team together for a dress rehearsal? The night before the play opens?

JayB said...

Anyone else tired of Maxwell? Year after year it is the same story. I thought we had these great new front office guys who could make solid baseball decisions....why is Maxwell still in camp? Same of Alberto G....really, is it that hard to see they are not ever going to be more than AAA guys?

Anonymous said...

Zimmerman hit an 0-2 pitch out to RIGHT field?
Those outfielders must be staggering around out there trying to keep up with those fly balls. Hope nobody breaks an ankle.

alexva said...

Storen was sharp, the hit was a misplayed popup.

BarneyBear said...

JayB - Nope, its definately just you.
Now shut up and quit whining.

JayB said...

When the Nats play some decent baseball and I will get more positive....oh and nice handle BB....mine is my name...yours?

Positively Half St. said...


I am with you on Gonzalez, and I have been fading in support for Maxwell for a while Willie Harris needs a larger role.

I was hoping for a monster spring from Chris Duncan, but so far it is just monstrously bad defense and a low average. Bring on Mike Morse.

I am doing my best to remember that Spring Training records are meaningless, but it is getting harder all the time.

JayB said...

I liked Mike Morse back in September....He has to have a big role on the team. Harris is the 4th OF in my view and Morse should get time at 3rd, 1B and RF. Roger B. is the 5th OF. Time to make cuts and get rid of Duncan, Maxwell, Willie T., Alberto G., none of those guys can help this team and they are hurting moral right now.

Wally said...

Has there been any report on Olsen's radar readings?

If Desmond keeps this up for another 2 weeks and doesn't win the SS job, there will be a real credibility gap with the players. He has been their best position player so far, and I don't even know who would be next

Wally said...

Mark, I am also curious about Chico's radar readings.

jeeves said...

Oh, shut up JayB. I used to be a regular on Nat's Journal. I essentially quit blogging there, mainly because of you and your ilk. And, of course you are here too.
I'll be surprised if Maxwell does not become an above average major league player.
Normally, I don't get confrontational like this, especially considering you love the attention. But I guess we all have a limit.

JayB said...

Sorry you feel that way Jeeves....but you are very off on Maxwell....he is not going to be "an above average major league player" if you want a fantasy and sunshine blog I can not help you there.

JayB said...

But hey Jeeves there are sites where all is rosy with this near 300 loss team over the past 3 years....I am sure you can find people who believe all is well and all our prospects as highly respected by the League...Stan's email is I think...he sounds like someone you would believe.

peric said...

I think he never posted above 88 on radar. So, really no difference from the previous start. In this one he had only 1 ground out, 1 strike out, and the rest all fly outs.

For those who consider JD Martin a "soft tosser", it seems that Scott Olsen has now permanently joined those ranks along with Matt Chico. It really doesn't look they will be the same pitchers in the end.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Olsen's fastball was clocked between 86-88, according to a scout who was in attendance today. Still trying to find out about Chico. Just posted a new, in-depth analysis of several issues that emerged today.

Anonymous said...

JayB why cut position players now or send them to minor league camp? There are still 15-20 spring games left, so I guess the Nats should play Zim and friends every game all nine innings. Surely you have never coached any team in any sport before for it makes no sense to wear out your primary players in the pre-season. Do other teams cut the AAA fodder two weeks into spring training? No...on April 5th, your wishes will most likely come true as Alberto G. etc. won't be on the roster. Until then, the team needs warm bodies to play some innings and keep the starters fresh. Chill please.


JayB said...

They have plenty of none starters who will be sitting most of April on the 25 man roster. I am just asking to get ride of the ones who suck so bad they take all the energy out the the team. Danny E should be getting AB's before Alberto. Harris and Morse and Bartlett and Roger B all will be sitting in April on the them a lot now....and bring up Chris M for a week too....there are better prospects in Minor League Camp right now than who is "just taking up air in the MLB Camp."

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