Saturday, March 6, 2010

Nats vs. Mets -- 3/6/10

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Space Coast Stadium, filling up for today's home opener against the Mets.
VIERA, Fla. -- It's a beautiful, if somewhat chilly, Saturday afternoon at Space Coast Stadium, and the crowd is beginning to file in for the Nationals' spring home opener against the Mets. Presumptive Opening Day starter John Lannan is on the mound for the Nats, Mike Pelfrey pitching for New York.

Pelfrey is one of the few legitimate Mets who made the trip. By my count, only nine players on their 40-man roster are here today, three of them pitchers. The Nats, meanwhile, will be sending out their first respectable lineup of the spring after sending mostly backups on the road.

Check back throughout the afternoon for updates...

Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Fla.
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: WFAN-AM (Mets radio via XM and MLB Gameday Audio)
Weather: Sunny, 64 degrees, Wind 13 mph out to RF
CF Nyjer Morgan
DH Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
RF Mike Morse
LF Willie Harris
C Wil Nieves
SS Alberto Gonzalez
2B Eric Bruntlett
(P John Lannan)

CF Angel Pagan
LF Fernando Martinez
2B Jolbert Cabrera
DH Mike Jacobs
3B Mike Hessman
1B Ike Davis
C Henry Blanco
RF Kirk Nieuwenhuis
SS Ruben Tejada
(P Mike Pelfrey)

11:57 a.m. -- You'll notice Cristian Guzman is DHing today, not playing shortstop. Manager Jim Riggleman said he simply wanted to let Guzman ease his way into action. He's slated to start at shortstop on Monday. All reports are that his shoulder and foot are fine, though obviously we're going to need to actually see him in the field before we can judge that for ourselves.

12:02 p.m. -- For those wondering, the pitchers scheduled to appear following Lannan today are: Shawn Estes, Aaron Thompson, Tyler Walker, Atahualpa Severino, Andrew Kown and Sean Burnett.

1:05 p.m. -- The Nats take the field to the strains of John Fogerty's "Centerfield." First of 187 times we'll hear that song this season.

1:17 p.m. -- Bit of a ragged start for Lannan, who allowed a one-out single to Martinez, then plunked Cabrera in the back with an 0-2 pitch and then walked Jacobs. A sac fly and a line-drive single to center by Davis completes the rally and gives the Mets a 2-0 lead. If not for two fine catches by Willie Harris -- the Mets must hate that guy! -- the damage would have been worse. For Lannan, 27 pitches, 14 strikes.

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Eric Bruntlett (right) is congratulated after clubbing a three-run homer.
1:44 p.m. -- After the Nats strike back for one run in the bottom of the first on Adam Dunn's double to right, Lannan bounces back and posts a 1-2-3 second, striking out both Nieuwenhuis and Tejada. Then the Nats' bats really break out in the bottom of the second against Pelfrey, with Eric Bruntlett crushing a three-run homer to left. Washington now ahead, 4-2, with Shawn Estes coming on to replace Lannan.

2:17 p.m. -- Estes did not impress in his relief stint. After becoming the latest in a growing list of Nats pitchers to serve up a home run to their first-ever batter faced (a solo shot by Martinez) Estes proceeded to walk Jacobs and then allow back-to-back singles to Davis and Blanco. The veteran lefty was supposed to go two innings, but he was yanked after only one, with backup Josh Wilkie summoned early to pitch the fourth.

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Willie Harris grounded out in his first two at-bats but made two nice catches in left field.
2:46 p.m. -- Two clean innings from left-hander Aaron Thompson (the guy picked up from Florida in the Nick Johnson trade). Thompson retired five of six batters faced, and the one hit he allowed (a Pagan double in the sixth) turned into an out when Morgan, Gonzalez and Zimmerman combined to nail Pagan at third.

2:48 p.m. -- Mike Morse ties the game 5-5 with a leadoff home run off lefty Eric Niesen in the bottom of the sixth. Ball cleared the fence in right-center. Somewhat wind-aided, but impressive nonetheless.

3:08 p.m. -- Tyler Walker's first batter faced as a National: Home run. Is this written into their contracts or something?

3:11 p.m. -- And now Mike Jacobs takes Walker deep to put the Mets on top, 7-6 in the seventh. Nationals pitchers have now surrendered 10 homers in less than four Grapefruit League games.

3:19 p.m. -- It's getting ugly again. Walker is getting hammered by the Mets' "C" lineup. He's now allowed five runs in the seventh. And those defensive fundamentals? Well, New York's Ruben Tejada just singled up the middle to drive in two runs, then coasted into second base because nobody was covering. Looks like the blame is on Alberto Gonzalez, who for some reason was covering first after Mike Morse moved in to receive the relay throw to the plate. Whatever the case, it wasn't pretty. Mets now lead 10-6.

4:14 p.m. -- This one is ovah. Final: Mets 14, Nats 6. Sean Burnett allowed four runs in the ninth. For those keeping score, in four Grapefruit League games the Nationals have now surrendered 50 runs on 67 hits, 10 of them home runs. Oh, and their record is 0-4. But these games don't count and are no reflection of a team's true ability. Right? Right?


Anonymous said...

I'm interested in how this group of pitchers debuts... Granted, they're facing the Mets "B-squad", but live competition is always a better test than bullpens & batting practice.


FakeReiss said...

"1:05 p.m. -- The Nats take the field to the strains of John Fogerty's "Centerfield." First of 187 times we'll hear that song this season."

Does that mean they're no longer going to be taking the field to fireworks at Nationals Park? Always thought that was rather pretentious and condescending of them to do that. Spending money on fireworks instead of players. How cheap can you get?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't call any lineup with AAAAlberto GonzAAAAlez in it "respectable".

Chuckles said...

I've noticed the last two games have been carried on radio on the opponent's side. Why aren't the Nationals doing at least weekend games on radio? Would make for good background noise instead of insufferable college basketball games.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Chuckles: Charlie and Dave have been here the last couple days, but they're just doing research in preparation for their season debut on Monday. They'll have four games next week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. And MASN will be showing Strasburg's start Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

Mark, you're complaining about the weather again...

HabsProf said...

Mark: Like a lot of Nats fans, I'm curious as to how Adam Dunn looks at first. Does he look like he has improved? I'm not just talking about this game, but also in all the drills that you must have observed him taking.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Anon: "It's a beautiful, if somewhat chilly, Saturday afternoon..." Where was I complaining? This may be the nicest day we've had down here in two-plus weeks!

HabProf: So far, so good with Dunn, but it's way too early to make any real evaluation of him in the field. Let me see him a bit more, get a few more chances, before declaring anything.

JayB said...

Wfan guys said Dunn should have at least knocked down the Will N error throw....Said he was NOT a MLB first baseman.

Doc said...

Hey Mark! Another Nats pitcher(Shawn Estes)plays Home-Run Derby with the oposition. Where does Frank get these guys--Help Wanted Ads??

FakeReiss said...

Hey, anyone who's upset that the Nats aren't on radio today should come on over and join me and my fellow Yankee fan FakeNeedham. We're watching MLB Network and catching up with our favorite team that's now featuring retreads from the team we love to hate. So far Zech Zinicola has sent his catcher to the hospital and Jonathan Albaladejo got lit up. You can take the boy out of NatsTown, but you can't take the NatsTown out of the boy!

Doc said...

So how's Willie Harris a lock? I'm a Mike Morse fan. So far he's providing more offense than Willie demonstrated all last year!

HabsProf said...

Mark: Thanks. I recognized it was early (and for that matter, Dunn is still supposed to be a work in progress at first) - I just wanted early impressions. But I know what you mean when you say it is early. We are all falling all over ourselves with respect to Nats pitching, but (repeat after me) it is still early.

I'll start worrying when a Nats pitcher stinks consistently for 3 or 4 consecutive starts.

HabsProf said...

I'm starting to think the catcher should just call a pitch out for the first pitch.

phil dunn said...

Looks like the same crappy team as 2008 and 2009--lousy pitching, poor defense (Dunn) and no clutch hitting. The Nats follow the same pattern every year. They get creamed in the Grapefruit League, then carry over their losing habits to the regular season.

Nats fan in NJ said...

Two pitchers I'm most curious about are Thompson and Chico. Thompson's start today seems to have been encouraging. Of course, any pitcher that doesn't give up an immediate home run is probably considered encouraging at this point. I'm looking forward to "seeing" how Chico does tomorrow. He remains my dark horse favorite for the #5 spot, especially with how these first several games have gone!

HabsProf said...

Repeat after me: small sample size, small sample size, small sample size.....

Ugh. Surely there were some good things we can take from this?

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...

Mark, do I start to get worried NOW?

I'm worried Lannan is not a No. 1.
I'm worried none of the young pitchers are ready.
I'm worried Zimm and Dunn won't hit enough early.
I'm worried the bullpen is still eligible to be a Superfund site.
I'm worried they're going to go 6-and-24 in ST, and start the season 6-and-36.
I'm just plain worried.

peric said...

Leaving where they left off at the beginning of last season with Manny?

Dave said...

Hard to see much good in a pitching squad that gives up 40 runs in 3 days.

peric said...

Wilkie's multiple appearances this spring does make one wonder ... is he gaining enough trust to be a potential reliever on the big club?

Doc said...

Mark, as President of NatsNation, you need to tell Frank that it's time to start checking the stands for pitching reinforcements. There are guys sitting there, only too willing to give up home runs and walks. Moreover they'll do it for free--won't cost him and the Learners any money! The management of the other teams might help kick in some bucks for uniforms.

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