Sunday, March 14, 2010

Nats vs. Cardinals -- 3/14/10

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
A near-sellout is expected today at Space Coast Stadium.
VIERA, Fla. -- Happy Selection Sunday to everyone out there. Before you start filling out your brackets, though, we've got some more Grapefruit League action to enjoy.

Stephen Strasburg makes his second start this afternoon, facing a Cardinals lineup that won't include Albert Pujols or Matt Holliday but will feature Yadier Molina, Colby Rasmus, Skip Schumaker and everyone's favorite ex-Nat Felipe Lopez. Adam Wainwright on the hill for St. Louis, providing a good test for a Nationals club trying desperately to get into the win column for the first time this spring.

Strasburg will throw three innings, but you don't need to abandon the park immediately after he's done, because Livan Hernandez is due to follow the rookie. Livo is making his first appearance in an actual game this spring and will throw at least three innings. Manager Jim Riggleman said the veteran righty will most likely get to start his next time out, further indication Hernandez is a strong candidate to wind up in the Opening Day rotation.

Check back all day for updates...

Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Fla.
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: KTRS-AM (Cardinals radio via XM and MLB Gameday Audio)
Weather: Partly cloudy, 67 degrees, Wind 20 mph out to LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Elijah Dukes
DH Mike Morse
C Wil Nieves
SS Alberto Gonzalez
(P Stephen Strasburg)

2B Skip Schumaker
DH Felipe Lopez
1B Allen Craig
CF Colby Rasmus
3B David Freese
RF Nick Stavinoha
C Yadier Molina
LF Joe Mather
SS Tyler Greene
(P Adam Wainwright)

12:53 p.m. -- Not many empty seats to be found at Space Coast Stadium. As Strasburg warms up in the right-field bullpen, there's again a crowd of fans standing along the railing to watch, though not nearly as many as on Tuesday for his debut.

1:06 p.m. -- A 96 mph fastball (called strike) from Strasburg to Skip Schumaker and we are underway.

1:16 p.m. -- Great start for Strasburg, who retired Schumaker and Felipe Lopez on comebackers with ease. Got into some trouble after that, though, allowing a line drive single to center to Allen Craig and then walking Colby Rasmus. Came back strong to strike out David Freese on a 2-2 breaking ball. Total of 24 pitches, 13 strikes in the top of the first. Fastball ranged between 94 mph and 97 mph. Seven breaking balls between 78 mph and 81 mph. One change-up at 88 mph.

1:21 p.m. -- Oh yeah, Adam Wainwright (an actual, 19-game winner in the big leagues) is pitching today as well. Mowed right through the Nats lineup, getting Nyjer Morgan and Adam Kennedy to ground out and Ryan Zimmerman to fly out.

1:22 p.m. -- Game is officially a sellout. They're turning away fans at the gates.

1:28 p.m. -- Much smoother second inning for Strasburg. He allowed a leadoff single to Nick Stavinoha (hard grounder up the middle) but struck out a dumbfounded Yadier Molina with a 2-2 breaking ball on the inside corner and then got Joe Mather to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. Twelve pitches, seven strikes. Total of 36 pitches, 20 strikes in two innings. Velocity is a tick down today (mid 90s instead of high 90s) perhaps because he's sort of pitching into the wind.

Photo by Rachel Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg tossed three shutout innings in his second outing of the spring.
1:47 p.m. -- Strasburg's final inning of the day was his best. Quick and easy third, getting Tyler Greene to foul out to first, Schumaker to ground out to second and Lopez to ground out to third. Only 13 pitches, nine strikes that inning. His final line: 3 ip, 2 h, 0 r, 1 bb, 2 k. 49 pitches, 29 strikes. Six groundouts, one popout. He's yet to retire anyone on a fly ball to the outfield. No runners have reached third base in his five innings so far.

2:00 p.m. -- The Nationals take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third, getting an RBI triple from Adam Kennedy and an RBI single from Ryan Zimmerman. If they somehow manage to hold these lead the entire day, Strasburg would get the win. What are the chances of that happening?

2:03 p.m. -- Livan Hernandez breaks out his first "Bugs Bunny" curveball of the season, a 61 mph floater that totally fools David Freese. So let's see: 97 mph from Strasburg, 61 mph from Livo. Slight difference there.

2:13 p.m. -- One nice pitch from Livo does not make the inning. The Cards get to the wily veteran for two runs on two hits and two walks (including one with the bases loaded). A throwing error on Zimmerman didn't help, though. Livo's fastball checking in around 80-81 mph. In other words, about 10 mph slower than Strasburg's change-up.

2:31 p.m. -- Much cleaner second frame from Hernandez, who walked Rasmus but otherwise was untouched. In the bottom of the fifth now, game tied 2-2.
Photo by Rachel Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Livan Hernandez allowed two runs in three innings of relief.
2:41 p.m. -- Hernandez got stronger as his afternoon progressed. Tossed another clean inning in the sixth, eschewing a one-out single to get an inning-ending double play. His day should be done, with the following pitching line: 3 ip, 3 h, 2 r, 1 er, 3 bb, 2 k. Nothing spectacular, but nothing awful either.

2:46 p.m. -- Paid attendance: 6,290. The place allegedly holds 8,100, and there aren't more than a handful of empty seats, so there must have been plenty of comps today.

3:12 p.m. -- Down in the clubhouse talking to Livo and Wil Nieves, and wouldn't you know it: The Cards take a 4-2 lead. Tyler Clippard was pitching (first runs he's allowed this spring). Still working on details, but the inning apparently included a double by Allen Craig and a sac fly by David Freese.

3:25 p.m. -- Ron Villone (in relief of Clippard) just walked in a run, putting the Cardinals on top 5-2 in the eighth. Barring a rally, the Nats are staring 0-10 right in the face.

3:47 p.m. -- Two more runs allowed by Villone in the eighth make it 7-2. The Nats go down quietly in the bottom of the eighth, so they've got three outs left to make up a 5-run deficit. Doesn't seem likely.

4:05 p.m. -- Hang 10, folks. The Nats have lost again. Offense produces two runs in the third off Adam Wainwright, then nothing else the rest of the afternoon against St. Louis' pitching staff (aside from a garbage run in the ninth). Stephen Strasburg and Livan Hernandez look fine through six innings, but the bullpen implodes and allows five runs to score in the seventh and eighth. Final score: Cardinals 7, Nationals 3. Nats' spring record: 0-10. Every other major-league club has won at least twice this month.


JayB said...


Am I a bad person for thinking about the possibility of PLOP taking a 100MPH Fastball in the ass? OK, I about Lopez looking at 3 straight pitches and sitting down thinking it is the Fans fault he is not motivated to swing?

Positively Half St. said...

I am also filled with distaste for FLop.

What is really a fun thought is having the power of Strasburg followed by the floating junk from Livo. That should really mess with the Cardinal hitters' minds.

May we please have a win today? Please?

natsfan1a said...

I don't know. Am I a bad person for wishing that Pudge was playing so he could throw F-Lo out again? Nah.

Yeah, a curly W in the books would be nice. With a Bang! and a, um, what comes after Bang! again? Trying to nudge the memory bank here. uh...I got nothing... :-)

Doc said...

To-day's lineup without ID, looks like its missing something! Oh, that's Gonzalez in there.
Guess Riggleman still needs some more time--hasn't had a chance to see what Al can't do!

peric said...

Or ..

He is playing Alberto today because "Guzzy" isn't ready and hey ... if I play any more of Desmond he is going to make the case for keeping "Guzzy" at short very, very, very unpopular with fans and players alike.

Boooooo Riggleman. You're going to get fired with that mentality and approach.

peric said...

Hilarious Mark ...

Doc said...

Mark, ya jest gotta be patient. 10 losses is still a long way from 103. There's lots of time to win a couple.

Jim here for Nats games said...

OK. Losing just gets to us all. We can not forget that no one cares about these games no matter what!! We should be looking at what individuals do and their progress. Fundamentals like throwing strikes, errors and defense in general, base running, and good at-bats. It is time now with 40% of the ST games behind to say good by to those guys who have continued not to perform. Send them to the minor league camp or release them. This will give those who will be regulars more at bats and the pitchers who will stick more innings to get ready. The GM should continue to try to sign a solid arm if one is actually available.

There are three more weeks to bring together a team that will be competitive, not in June but starting in April. We real Nat's fans will not except less this season.

I believe that Stan, Mike and Jim all realize this. And we must understand this isn't easy given where we started after JimBo.

peric said...

If they lose 10 at that start (and its possible given the schedule) you know they will be calling it 20 .. and looking back to that 103. They need to weed some guys out now and get started on putting together something competitive ...

NOW is the time for all GM's to come to the aid of their fans.

Anonymous said...

Should it be a foregone decision that SS starts the season in the munor leagues? He's the best pitcher they have, based on spring training to date. If he proves to be the pitcher they think he will be, they're going to have to mortgage White Flint Mall to keep him. What difference should it make whether it's in 2014 or 2015?

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