Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Game 15: Rockies at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The tarp has been covering the infield at Nationals Park all day.
It's been a miserable day around the D.C. area, but they're hoping to play baseball tonight on South Capitol Street.

Actually, looking at the radar and the extended forecast for the evening, it looks like there's a pretty good chance the Nationals and Rockies will be able to get this one in. There's a 35 percent chance of showers at 7 p.m., but that number drops to 25 percent and 15 percent the next two hours before picking up again to 30 percent around 10 p.m.

With a 4:35 p.m. getaway game scheduled tomorrow -- and the Rockies not scheduled to make any more trips to Washington this season -- you've got to believe they're going to do everything they can to play tonight.

Check back for updates (both weather and game-related) all afternoon/evening...

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Chance of showers, 59 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Willie Harris
2B Adam Kennedy
C Wil Nieves
P John Lannan

LF Carlos Gonzalez
CF Dexter Fowler
1B Jason Giambi
SS Troy Tulowitzki
RF Brad Hawpe
3B Melvin Mora
C Chris Iannetta
2B Clint Barmes
P Jason Hammel

6:05 p.m. -- Weather update: They're pulling the tarp off the infield right now, and the forecast shows clearing ahead. Appears this game will start on time at 7:05 p.m.

6:09 p.m. -- I know a lot of you have been asking about Wil Nieves catching John Lannan for the third time in four starts. Here's the deal: Nieves is NOT Lannan's personal catcher. In fact, Jim Riggleman is not a fan of that whole idea in the first place. "I have great disdain for that," the manager said. Riggleman planned all along to sit Ivan Rodriguez for either tonight's game or tomorrow's game. Originally, Pudge was going to sit out tomorrow. But then he realized Livan Hernandez was starting tomorrow, and after the two paired up for that four-hit shutout last weekend, Rodriguez requested to be behind the plate again. So that meant he had to be out of the lineup tonight.

6:54 p.m. -- They're about to sign the national anthem, and there are seriously about 500 people in the stands.

7:05 p.m. -- First pitch from Lannan to Gonzalez is a strike. It's so quiet in the ballpark, you can clearly hear Charlie and Dave's radio broadcast over the concourse loudspeakers.

7:20 p.m. -- Really ragged first inning for Lannan, who was lucky to get out only allowing two runs. He put five men on base and threw only 18 of his whopping 34 pitches for strikes. He also took a hard comebacker off his left leg, and though he appeared fine health-wise, he perhaps was a bit shaken up by that. Rockies lead 2-0 as the Nats come to bat for the first time against Hammel.

7:33 p.m. -- The Nationals didn't seem too pleased with plate umpire Mike Estabrook's strike zone in the bottom of the first. Estabrook rung up Cristian Guzman with a called third strike, then upset Ryan Zimmerman with a check swing call that left Zimmerman shaking his head in disbelief. The Nats did have a chance to get on the board, with runners on first and second and two out. But Josh Willingham (one of the club's hottest hitters to date) grounded into a fielder's choice to end that threat, so the Rockies still lead 2-0 after one.

7:44 p.m. -- Much better second inning for Lannan, who allowed a one-out single to Gonzalez but struck out Giambi on a high fastball to end the inning in style.

7:55 p.m. -- If Lannan is going to throw a 72-mph curveball with the count full, he can't leave it hanging letter-high. Unless he wants to give up towering home runs to Brad Hawpe, which he just did in the top of the third. Hawpe mashed that creampuff to right-center, putting the Rockies ahead, 3-0.

8:00 p.m. -- If you're interested to read Mike Rizzo's take on Stephen Strasburg (the GM watched him in person today in Harrisburg), here's the link to my story on

8:18 p.m. -- It's amazing what a simple bunt single by Nyjer Morgan can lead to. After dropping a perfect one down the third-base line, Morgan clearly had Jason Hammel's attention divided. What followed was three straight hits -- a single by Ryan Zimmerman, a two-run double by Adam Dunn (who appears to be breaking out of his slump) and an RBI single by Josh Willingham. Willingham then had a heads-up play later when second baseman Clint Barmes booted a grounder. Willingham never let up, rounded third and scored without a throw, completing a four-run third for the Nats, who now lead 4-3.

8:45 p.m. -- Strange things always seem to happen when I leave the press box to take photos. Tonight, it was Nyjer Morgan getting called out for interference on a bunt attempt leading off the bottom of the fourth. Morgan, in the opinion of plate umpire Mike Estabrook, ran inside the foul line and interfered with Jason Giambi catching the throw to first. Upon further review, it does appear Morgan was in fair territory, though you still don't see that call made all that often. So it's now 4-4 in the fifth, with Lannan giving back the tying run in the top of the fourth.

8:58 p.m. -- It would appear John Lannan's evening is over. He needed a whopping 108 pitches to get through six innings and allowed 11 hits along the way. But the score's 4-4, and Lannan did make it through at least five innings (which to this point has ensured a Nats victory). Will the streak continue tonight? Only if these guys get some clutch hits and some quality relief work the rest of the way.

9:10 p.m. -- Another new attendance low at Nationals Park. Only 11,191 paid to watch tonight's game (far fewer actually attended). This after setting the franchise low of 11,623 on Monday. So over the course of the last three games, they've drawn a total of 37,851. Which is still about 4,000 less than the park's capacity.

9:24 p.m. -- Uh-oh. Ryan Zimmerman just struggled to make it to second base on a double off the right-field wall and came out of the game after consulting with assistant trainer Mike McGowan and manager Jim Riggleman. Ian Desmond now pinch-running. It would appear Zimmerman has re-tweaked the hamstring injury that kept him out of the lineup much of last week. Not a good development.

9:30 p.m. -- Come to think of it, this may actually not be a re-tweaking of the previous hamstring injury. That was his left leg. Tonight, Zimmerman was clearly grabbing his right leg after going into second base.

9:51 p.m. -- Riggleman might want to buy a lottery ticket on his way home tonight. He sure seems to have the magic touch right now. With two on and one out in the eighth, he could have elected to pinch-hit for Wil Nieves (probably the weakest hitter on the roster) with Ivan Rodriguez. Instead, Riggleman let Nieves hit, then watched as the backup catcher smoked an RBI double to left-center to give the Nationals the lead. Then Pudge, pinch-hitting for the pitcher, sent a deep drive to left for a sac fly that gives the Nats a 6-4 lead.

9:54 p.m. -- Which countdown is it time for? Why, the final countdown, of course. Here comes Matt Capps.

10:08 p.m. -- And the Nats are back over the .500 mark. Final score: 6-4.


LoveDaNats said...

So, is it looking like Pudge gets the night off every time Lannan pitches?

Knoxville Nat said...

Certainly appears that way doesn't it?

Juan-John said...

Possible rain vs watching the Caps game? Be interesting to see what the announced turnout is....

Moe Greene said...

Under 8,000?

Sam said...

LoveDaNats: Pudge is either playing tonight or tomorrow. He won't play both games with the day game after a night game. I believe it's just a coincidence that Lannan is pitching tonight.

David said...

yeah it seems that way, Riggleman tried to make it sound like tonight was just a night to give Pudge rest, but Nieves has caught every single Lannan start, i find that hard to believe it's just a coincidence

PDowdy83 said...

Pudge caught opening day, David, which was a Lannan start. People are digging too deep into this. Lannan has started a day game twice and the other 2 starts (including tonight) have had a day game following them. Pudge is going to have a day off either the night before a day game or the day game itself.

K.D. said...

I think Lannan is a major league pitcher and takes responsibility for his own mistakes.

NatinBeantown said...

Look at that Rockies infield: Giambi, Barmes, and Mora? Sheesh! Brings back memories of Vidro and Castilla posing for portraits the '05 Nat IF.

David said...

you are right, he never blamed Pudge for his bad opening day start, but that was his least succesful start, it's not uncommon for pitchers to have favorite catchers, this is now 3 in a row with Nieves

Section 222 said...

Pudge could have taken tomorrow off, but Riggleman decided to rest him tonight. I don't have a problem with that since Lannan's last good start was with Nieves. But I wonder who will start on Saturday (day game after night game).

K.D. said...

Okay, no energy in the stands = no energy on the field. Come on Nyger!

K.D. said...

That's what I'm talking about!

Suicide Squeeze said...

Just turned the TV on after having been listening in on the radio....

Looks like the seats behind home plate finally aren't standing out in stark contrast to the rest of the stadium. Evvverrry section looks empty....

meixler said...

Can't watch the game because my cable is out and for some reason when I try to tune in to 1500am via the internet I get the Capitals game... who cares about playoff hockey when it's baseball season?... Anyway, I've been following through ESPN Gamecast, which really doesn't give the vibe of the game... BUT, Lannan made it through 6 and only gave up 4 SO, we should win or break with tradition.

Anonymous said...

The Nats live in denial.

They lose 100 games two years straight and act like it won't affect attendance. Their product on the field got worse every year for five years and they acted like it wouldn't affect attendance or season ticket sales--which are made in the off-season.

They lose what, 10 straight games in spring training, and act like that shouldn't affect ticket sales. They preside over an utter disaster on Opening Day and again, say it'll have no impact on fan loyalty.

They hire uninterested people to work in every part of the ballpark. Any discussion with a Nats fan will come around, sooner not later, to miserable experiences with stadium staff.

Yes, a cool and rainy day, a school night, an April weeknight, and a Caps game all contribute, but I think they've underestimated many of the factors that give us an empty stadium tonight.

If they had only built on the 33K a night they had at RFK in 2005. Now this.

Nervous Nats Fan said...

Mark, like I said, please stay in the press box. Maybe you could suggest that the team buy you a long distance lens to help them win more games. Thanks for considering.

Mr. Doggett said...

Anon 9:19:

Please stop being a negative nancy and just enjoy the fact that the team is exceeding expectations. You sound like a Philly fan.

Sunderland said...

Mr. Doggett, I appreciate your desire to avoid negativity, but it looks to me like Anon 9:19 has just spoken the truth.

K.D. said...

Mark, What's up with Marquis to the DL? Thought he wasn't hurt?

Sec310 said...

Last I checked, (about 5 minutes ago) 3 of Rizzo's new acquisitions are currently leading the NL in BA (Pudge), ERA (Livo), and saves (Capps). A team that many thought would be lucky to win 5 or 6 in the all of April weeks is above .500 and not already eliminated from contention. I'm not saying this won't change--it's early in the season and it certainly will not stay this rosy--but it's tough to complain about the overall results on the field when you consider expectations for the year. Could anyone honestly say this is a letdown so far over last year? This is a team that plays hard and gets results when the starting pitchers don't blow up.

And since I'm already commenting, I know a lot of people are down on Riggleman playing Guzman so much, but if the dude's hitting over .300 now and you want him benched, when DO you want the guy to play? Is he ever going to perform better than he is right now?

I am confident that this year will become a typically disappointing year, but it's not here yet. Let's enjoy it for a few more days (weeks?) while it lasts!

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