Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nats vs. Yankees -- 3/24/10

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
George M. Steinbrenner Field, spring home of the New York Yankees.
TAMPA -- Hello from Yankee country, otherwise known as George M. Steinbrenner Field. The 27-time World Series champs host the zero-time World Series champs tonight, and even without that disparity it probably wouldn't be a fair fight.

New York manager Joe Girardi is starting all his regulars, including A-Rod, Tex, Jeter and old friend Nick Johnson. Washington manager Jim Riggleman is fielding a travel lineup that boasts cleanup hitter Josh Whitesell.

But for those of you baseball-starved fans back home, tonight's game is on MASN, so be sure to check it out for yourself. If nothing else, you can watch Livan Hernandez attempt to further his case for a spot in the rotation.

Check back here for game updates throughout the late afternoon/evening and check the homepage for any non-game news, such as the news that just came out a little while ago that J.D. Martin will start tomorrow night against the Tigers, not regularly scheduled starter Garrett Mock...

George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: MASN
Weather: Partly cloudy, 70 degrees, Wind 4 mph LF to RF
LF Roger Bernadina
SS Cristian Guzman
3B Willie Harris
1B Josh Whitesell
CF Justin Maxwell
2B Adam Kennedy
DH Ian Desmond
C Wil Nieves
RF Willy Taveras
(P Livan Hernandez)
SS Derek Jeter
DH Nick Johnson
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
C Jorge Posada
CF Curtis Granderson
RF Nick Swisher
LF Brett Gardner
(P Javier Vazquez)

7:07 p.m. -- We are underway with a strike from Vazquez to Bernadina.

7:12 p.m. -- Easy 1-2-3 inning for Vazquez, who strikes out Bernadina and Harris around a weak groundout from Guzman. Why do I have the feeling this is going to be a recurring theme tonight given the lopsided matchup?

7:19 p.m. -- Good bottom of the first for Livo. Got Jeter to fly out, old pal Nick Johnson to ground out to first and then struck out Teixeira on a high, 86 mph fastball. Proof you don't have to be able to blow it by a great hitter, just the ability to fool him.

7:21 p.m. -- Speaking of Nick, said a quick hello to him during BP this afternoon. Stood around the Yankee clubhouse for 30 minutes hoping to talk to him more in-depth later, but he never emerged. Looked good, though, and according to some New York writers he's played well this spring. The plan is for him to almost exclusively DH, in part because Teixeira is a Gold Glove first baseman but also in an effort to keep Nick from getting hurt (always a concern).

7:27 p.m. -- This isn't fair. Vazquez is just mowing through the Nats' B lineup. He's faced six batters so far and retired all of them, four by strikeout. Justin Maxwell was one of the K victims, he's now batting .098 (4-for-41) this spring. Gotta think his chance of making the roster has just about gone poof.

7:40 p.m. -- And the Nats have their first baserunner of the night. Willy Taveras (who more and more looks like someone who might make this club) singles to left with two outs in the third, ending Vazquez's streak of eight straight batters retired. Of course, Taveras then was gunned down trying to steal second and he's been barking at umpire Vic Carapazza throughout the commercial break. Still scoreless here in Tampa, with Livo returning to the mound for his third inning of work.

7:44 p.m. -- Mike Morse is now in right field for the Nats. Not sure if Taveras was ejected. Hopefully we'll find out shortly.

7:51 p.m. -- Taveras was indeed ejected.

8:05 p.m. -- The Bronx Bombers have struck first. After Nick Johnson draws a leadoff walk in the fourth and Mark Teixeira strikes out on another 86 mph fastball, A-Rod drills an RBI triple off the right-field fence. Nick comes motoring around third graceful as ever to score the night's first run. Yanks lead, 1-0, after four.

8:22 p.m. -- Can we just go ahead and put Livan Hernandez in the rotation now? Seriously. Five innings of three-hit ball tonight, allowing just one run (on the A-Rod double). He's walked two, struck out three and basically looked perfectly comfortable facing the mightiest lineup in the majors.

8:32 p.m. -- Jason Bergmann coming on to pitch the bottom of the sixth, with the Nats still trailing, 1-0. They've managed three singles off Vazquez so far.

8:46 p.m. -- Unlike his predecessor on the mound, Bergmann can't handle the meat of the Yankee order. Johnson doubles off the right-center field wall. A-Rod sends an RBI single up the middle, then takes second on a poor throw to the plate by Justin Maxwell. Cano sends an opposite-field single to left to score A-Rod, then gets thrown out himself trying to stretch it into a double. Bergmann then walks Posada, allows a single to Granderson before finally striking out Swisher to end the inning. Yankees now lead 3-0 after six.

8:56 p.m. -- Justin Maxwell is absolutely lost at the plate. He just had the worst swing of anyone this spring, striking out on a pitch from Damaso Marte. Now 4-for-43 this spring.

9:33 p.m. -- Sorry, was down in the clubhouse interviewing Livo for much of the last two innings. Game just ended, Yankees win, 3-1. Nats scored their lone run in the seventh, on a single by Cristian Guzman and a double by Alberto Gonzalez. Otherwise, not much doing at the plate tonight for the lads. Check back on the homepage in a little while for a full Livan story.


Anonymous said...

How DARE you! We're taking credit for the 1924 World Series, thank you very much.

cadeck13 said...

Hi Mark!
If you get to talk to Nick make sure you tell him we miss him!!!

natsfan1a said...

Second that, cadeck.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Other Anon - But that WS title belongs to Minnesota. Insisting otherwise only proves how stupid you are.

Traveler8 said...

2nd Anon - I agree that Washington certainly has the 1924 WS. Even if you disagree with how the counting is done, and that is your privilege, it is totally unnecessary to refer to anyone as stupid.

Nate said...

Mercy rule in effect for this one I hope?

HabsProf said...

Hmmm.... "Insisting otherwise only proves how stupid you are." Was that sentence really necessary?

Name-slinging and insults are the sort of thing that has driven me (and many others) away from sites like this. Your first sentence would have made your point without have to throw around words like "stupid".

Doc said...

MarkMeister: It's OK about the Yankess and their WS history. Without money they're nuttin!!!! Nats do their game without the big Steinbrenner bucks. Hell with the Yankees!

Bonzai!!! said...

Look, we fly the 1924 WS flag at Nationals Stadium. The Twins do not. Say what you will about who "owns" the history, etc., etc. But that's a Washington Baseball Club record, not a franchise record. I hardly see a Twins fan reminiscing about the days of Walter Johnson.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how "stupid" it is to claim the 1924 World Series as our own, since the Twins don't include it in their championship banners hanging in the stadium, unless they are really "stupid", too.

Sec314 said...

Who's got the multi-armed Walter Johnson statue outside their stadium?

'Nuff said.

Doc said...

Hey that's neat about MacDougal! I'll bet he's still got some stuff in the tank!

Anonymous said...

that lineup looks like the Little Sisters of the Poor against the Raiders.

Jim Webster said...

. . . a plea for civility here, fellow Nats fans. Those of us who have had to endure the incivility of the health care debate (in all its ramifications) these last few months see baseball as an escape from the ugly . . . even when some of the play is that too.

natsfan1a said...

This statement, on the other hand, is perfectly acceptable. :-)


Hell with the Yankees!

Positively Half St. said...

Livo threw a pitch at 86?!?!?! Olsen hardly does better. I can't watch the game, since I will be helping one of mine with math homework, so I will check in periodically.

Anonymous said...

i don't think livo's hit 86 in at least 7 or 8 years...

Mark Zuckerman said...

They've got the MASN feed on here in the press box and that pitch to Texeira registered 86. Can't vouch for its accuracy, but that's what the gun said.

Anonymous said...

Listening to the Rizzo interview is like listening to a replay of his NatsFest comments. Because our pitchers are doing so poorly, and their prospects for a winning season are so tiny, we're getting two innings of Rizzo talking about how he's got the Best and the Brightest in the front office. I am reminded of the Best and Brightest on JFK's staff that gave us Vietnam.

It's also odd to hear Rizzo's comments about right field. You could take the combined-best aspects of all three contenders for the job and still have a mediocre player. But we are told to be excited because the competition between the three players is so intense. Why do I care if three mediocre players are competing?

I think Rizzo and Stan would be wiser to say Folks, our team is a little bit better than last year. We may win a few more games. But the problems the fans have seen all spring are real, and these problems will continue during the season.

Doc said...

It's hard to trust anything that front office/manager/coaching staff say---they're into PR(or worse---BS!). I have to think that Maxwell's chances of making the team are less than 4 out of 41!!

Positively Half St. said...

It's pretty funny that MASN advertised the Red Sox game versus the Nats on April 3 by showing Boston players cranking big hits against the Nats. I guess they know how they are likely to get the biggest viewership.

Positively Half St. said...

Oh, Teixeira- why couldn't you have signed with us?

(Don't answer- your ring answers for you.)

JayB said...


Not sure if he are able to hear Rizzo and Riggs on MASN but....those are some softball questions. I know I was not lucky enough to get my chance at those two but someone has to ask them some tough questions and follow up with them. Rizzo just told us that hey will be happy getting about what they got last year from RF position this year with a combination of 4 guys. COME ON...CALL RIZZO ON THIS...make him tell you what the Numbers from RF last year were and then TELL US WHY WE SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT GETTING THAT AGAIN THIS YEAR. BOB and RAY are buffoons!

Anonymous said...

Some say win-loss record in spring training doesn't impact a team's regular season record. But I believe some indicators give us a pretty decent idea of what to expect:

Good News:

- The MASN guys said we're a much faster team. It's true. We're 3rd in NL this spring in steals. I think we might be 1st if Nyjer hadn't been out for several games.

Bad News:

- 4th highest in NL in errors.
- 2nd-to-last in fielding percentage.
- 1st in number of hits given up by our pitchers.
- Last in ERA.
- Last (or near last) in strikeouts by our pitchers.

That's a profile of a team that will struggle.

Anonymous said...

I hope they pitch Strasburg and Livo back-to-back in the same series this summer. Going from 99 to 65 from one day to the next would be interesting.

Jeff Wang said...

They should do that on a double header some time. That would be cruel.

Anonymous said...

The Nats have a couple of serious internal contradictions as a team:

1. We have a number of speedy defensive outfielders to help us hold leads late in games. The problem is our pitching staff shows no signs of being able to hold leads at any point in games.

2. We have a pitching staff, by and large, that relies on pin-point control, not strikeouts from power pitching. The problem is our infield is plagued by lack of range (Guzman and Dunn) and being error-prone (Desmond and Dunn). Therefore our pitchers are going to have lots of innings where our defense gives the opposition four or five outs.

3. Lots of players but little depth. I understand that the Nats left Zimm and Dunn out of this game. Still, it must be funny to be a member of the New York Yankees and see guys like Whitesell, Nieves, Bernadina, and Maxwell out there. I'm happy Livan did well, but the Yankee starter looked like he was throwing to a junior high team.

Anonymous said...

Mark--question: How long is the Nats' lease in Viera? Thanks.

Nervous Nats Fan said...

Another somewhat random question - for ST games, do both catchers travel for away games, do they have someone designated as an "emergency" catcher, or would they just forfeit if the catcher were injured in game?

Anonymous said...


Some fan feedback.

I tried this site tonight for the opportunity to interact with a reporter on the ground, at the game, who could get answers to tough questions and ask the experts around you and get back to us fans.

I saw your note about going to interview Livan. That's great, but from 734pm till 940pm there were lots of things fans wrote about and asked about, including me, and we got no feedback from you, making this site no different from 5 others where fans can write it whatever's on their mind.

You're in a tough spot, what the Times did was wrong to the whole staff, and I think you're brave as heck to do what you're doing on your own initiative. But my advice is make your number one priority being WITH the fans DURING games.

Don't mean to be harsh. Just honest feedback to a guy who I believe is a great, honest reporter.


Anonymous said...

Fellow anonymi, you've gotta remember.
The Nationals are not building a 2010 team--they're building for 2011. The 2010 team should win 70-75. The 2011 should, by the grace of a topline free agent signing, win in the mid to upper 80's. And then wait for 2012. Or so management wants us to believe.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Anon 9:44 -- Sorry you feel that way. I've been trying to respond to comments as often as I can, but it's obviously a juggling act watching the game, writing updates, taking photos, writing about other news going on (such as the MacDougal signing today), interviewing the starting pitcher while the game's still going on, etc. Perhaps once we get into the regular season routine it will be easier, but I'm kind of learning as I go with this, because covering the team for this site is different in many ways from covering it for a newspaper. All I can promise is that I'll continue to do my best.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Oh, other in-game tasks I forgot to mention: transcribing interviews, transferring audio files to my computer to be emailed to subscribers and starting to write postgame analysis so I'm not here til midnight.

natsfan1a said...

Anon doesn't speak for all of us. I personally have no expectation of immediate feedback. I like having a beat writer who watches the game, interviews the players - that type of thing - while the game is going on. ;-) You're doing a great job, IMO.

In other news, it was fun having the opportunity to watch old Livo hurl the mango on tv. I can't help myself - I just love the guy.

Was also nice to see Nick, who looks the same - big plug in his cheek, interesting facial hair configuration. I still like him, too. Even if he is a Yank. :-)

Anonymous said...

Any chance Maxwell is dropped completely from the organization? I think this spring shows he is a year old and not wiser, we do not need a lighter hitting Langerhans in the organization. Keeping him in Syracuse does nothing for us but keeping Duncan, Mench, Daniel or Ownes from fixing their defects and getting to the majors.

Anonymous said...

Man...the last thing I want to do here is sound like I'm kicking a good man who's doing something like you're doing--independently.

I just mean, from a marketing perspective, that I believe if you provide great interaction during games your site will boom, if you don't, it will be a good site, but one among many.

No offense intended.

Nervous Nats Fan said...

For the record, I agree with 1a. I appreciate you responding to some of the comments whenever you have the time.

I'm also curious about the response to Anon 10:15. I'm wondering if the Nats will just get to the point where Maxwell's strikeout numbers are too high (although he does walk a lot) and try to engineer a trade, even if it's not that favorable. I just looked up Maxwell's numbers in AAA last year, and he struck out 136 times in 448 PAs (54 BBs). Rizzo seems to like him, so any chance he'll send him elsewhere for a change of scenery?

Mark Zuckerman said...

Maxwell's going to be a tough call for Rizzo and Co. He does have an option, so he can go to Syracuse and try to get his swing back together. But maybe the organization just decides it's not going to happen and figures it might as well cut ties. My gut says that's unlikely and that Justin will end up at Class AAA. But certainly stranger things have happened.

Anonymous8 said...

I have to agree with you guys on Maxwell. Everyone knows Maxwell is a buttkisser with the brass which he learned watching JimBo to MarkL. That all would be fab if he could hit his weight against anyone but AAA's and September callups.

I see Maxwell is a CAA client like Ryan Zimmerman and John Lannan so hoping there is no arm twisting from his agents that keep him there when he doesn't deserve it.

This team may play in Washington so here is hoping no Politics are in play here. Let it be on merit.

Michael Dempsey said...

Anon 9:44...I could not disagree with your comments more. Mark is doing an incredible job giving us the "inside scoop" and unprecedented coverage of spring training. I would much rather have him looking for a story in the clubhouse then sitting by his laptop answering questions.

This blog is truly amazing.

Richard Moore said...

Mark should trust his gut on what to chase down and not be hung up on a blow-by-blow react during the game. I liked what he got from Livan and the details on MacDougal. He can and does circle back to answer questions and etc. I love what he's doing! Great stuff.

On Maxwell, Rizzo wouldn't be doing the guy (or the team) any favors keeping him with the big club. He needs to go somewhere he can play and get his swing back.

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