Thursday, April 22, 2010

Game 16: Rockies at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals look to take three of four from the Rockies.
There may not be a better pitching matchup all season in the major leagues than the one we'll see this afternoon at Nationals Park.

OK, that may be a bit of a stretch, because few would consider Livan Hernandez vs. Ubaldo Jimenez the best matchup of the year. But let's give these two right-handers their due respect. Hernandez has an 0.00 ERA this season and is coming off a four-hit shutout of the Brewers. Jimenez, meanwhile, is coming off a no-hitter against the Braves.

You know how many times in the last 90 years a pitcher coming off a no-hitter faced an opponent coming off a shutout? How about once. That was May 17, 1996, when the Marlins' Al Leiter (coming off a no-hitter) faced the Cubs' Jim Bullinger (coming off a 2-hit shutout). And you know who was manager of the Cubs for that game? Why, none other than Jim Riggleman. (All info there courtesy Nats PR, via the Elias Sports Bureau.)

So Jimenez will be attempting to duplicate Johnny Vander Meer's back-to-back no-hitters from 1938, still the only pitcher in baseball history to do that. (And, in my opinion, the one record that absolutely will never be broken. Seriously, who's going to throw THREE no-hitters in a row?)

The Nats won't exactly be fielding their best lineup against Jimenez. Ryan Zimmerman is out with his right hamstring injury. Josh Willingham has the day off as well.

Check back for updates throughout the game...

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 4:35 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 73 degrees, Wind 12 mph out to RF
CF Nyjer Morgan
RF Cristian Guzman
LF Willie Harris
1B Adam Dunn
C Ivan Rodriguez
2B Adam Kennedy
SS Ian Desmond
3B Alberto Gonzalez
P Livan Hernandez

RF Carlos Gonzalez
CF Dexter Fowler
1B Todd Helton
SS Troy Tulowitzki
3B Ian Stewart
LF Ryan Spilborghs
C Miguel Olivo
2B Clint Barmes
P Ubaldo Jimenez

3:25 p.m. -- Update on Ryan Zimmerman: Though he's out of the lineup today, the Nats are calling his injury more of a severe cramp than an actual hamstring strain. The feeling is that this is less serious than the other hamstring injury that kept him out of the lineup for five days. But as we've seen time and again, always assume recovery time will be longer than the initial prognosis.

3:28 p.m. -- Update on Jason Marquis: He's in Cincinnati today getting a second opinion from orthopedist Tim Kremchek, and the Nats are awaiting word on that. Assuming Kremchek finds the same "floating bodies" in Marquis' right elbow that the Nats doctor did yesterday, surgery would seem inevitable. That would probably mean at least a couple of months of recovery, similar to what Craig Stammen went through late last season.

3:32 p.m. -- A quick public service announcement: The Nationals will be collecting new elementary-level books at the center field gate before Saturday's game. All books will be donated to Everybody Wins DC, a non-profit organization that promotes child literacy by pairing students with reading mentors. Members of the Nats front office participate in this worthy program, regularly spending their lunch hour with students at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School in the District.

4:11 p.m. -- Clint is currently interviewing the guy who invented "Earth Day" on the Jumbotron. Mike Wallace and Morley Safer should fear for their jobs.

4:38 p.m. -- A foul ball from Carlos Gonzalez off a pitch from Livan Hernandez opens this ballgame.

4:46 p.m. -- Livo wasted no time in the top of the first, eschewing a two-out walk to Todd Helton by striking out Troy Tulowitzki on a 65-mph Bugs Bunny curveball (I've said it before, and I'll say it again: That's my favorite pitch in the majors).

4:51 p.m. -- Johnny Vander Meer's descendants can pop that bottle of champagne. No back-to-back no-hitters for Ubaldo Jimenez. Willie Harris tagged a double off the right-center field wall with two outs in the bottom of the first.

5:02 p.m. -- The Rockies strike first. Hernandez hangs an 81-mph slider to Miguel Olivo, who deposits it into the left-field bleachers for a solo homer. Nats trail 1-0 heading to the bottom of the second. Considering the late-afternoon shadows, you'd think this would be a difficult environment to hit. But in the very early going here, that doesn't seem to be the case.

5:17 p.m. -- Both pitchers starting to settle down now. Hernandez retired the side in the third and has allowed only the solo homer to Olivo thus far. Jimenez, meanwhile, is picking up in velocity and movement. He's allowed two hits but has retired the last five and just struck out Nyjer Morgan to end the third. Rockies still up 1-0 after three.

5:46 p.m. -- Definitely a pitchers' duel brewing here. Livo continues to look sharp, allowing only two hits through five (both by Miguel Olivo). Ubaldo, meanwhile, has yet to allow a run but escaped a jam in the fourth when he got Adam Kennedy to ground into a fielder's choice with two on and two out. Still 1-0 as we head to the bottom of the fifth.

5:49 p.m. -- Oh yeah, with two more hits today Ivan Rodriguez is now batting .468 (22-for-47).

5:55 p.m. -- If there are any silver linings so far for the Nats, they have made Jimenez throw 84 pitches through five innings. So he may not be able to go the distance. But boy, he looks pretty good right now.

6:03 p.m. -- Can we start saying Adam Dunn has become an adequate first baseman? He just made a really nice pick of Ian Desmond's one-hopper to complete a 1-6-3 double play. Dunn has made probably a half-dozen plays already this year I never would have expected him to make a year ago. Still 1-0 Rockies going to the bottom of the sixth.

6:18 p.m. -- Barring a comeback by the Nationals, the starting pitcher/innings streak is going to come to an end. Livan Hernandez has pitched into the seventh, but he just allowed a solo homer to Ian Stewart on a grooved, 84 mph fastball, so the Nats now trail 2-0. If they don't rally against Ubaldo, this will be the first game this year in which the starter went five or more innings but they still lost.

6:25 p.m. -- Today's paid attendance: 15,518.

6:31 p.m. -- Ubaldo Jimenez is The Man. Seven shutout innings, four hits. But he's already at 114 pitches, after throwing 128 in his no-hitter five days ago. There's no one warming in the Rockies bullpen, so it looks like he'll come back out for the eighth.

6:38 p.m. -- Give Livan Hernandez credit. Eight innings of 2-run, 4-hit ball. His only mistakes were those two solo homers. And he only needed 95 pitches to do it. But he's going to be pinch-hit for by Josh Willingham in the bottom of the eighth, with the Nats needing some offense.

6:43 p.m. -- That's it for Jimenez. Former Nat Joe Beimel coming on to face Nyjer Morgan with one out and a man on second in the eighth. Decent ovation for Ubaldo from the Nationals Park crowd as he departs.

6:52 p.m. -- Missed opportunity there for the Nats. They had a chance in the eighth, but Nyjer Morgan popped up a bunt back to Beimel. Then with runners on the corners and two out, Jim Riggleman let Willie Harris hit against the lefty. Ryan Zimmerman, for what it's worth, was in the dugout with a helmet on and bat in hand. Harris flied out to right to end the inning. So it's still 2-0 Rockies heading to the ninth.

6:54 p.m. -- Something to consider for the bottom of the ninth. Rockies closer Franklin Morales, a lefty, has a very good but controversial pickoff move. He gets called for balks often, and the Rockies have a problem with that and have sent video to MLB offices. If the Nats put a man on first in the bottom of the ninth, that could come into play.

7:08 p.m. -- So much for that. Morales took care of business in the ninth. Adam Dunn flied out. Ivan Rodriguez grounded out. Justin Maxwell (pinch-hitting for Adam Kennedy) managed a line-drive single to left. But Ian Desmond struck out on a nasty breaking ball to end the game. Final score: Rockies 2, Nationals 0. Tough loss for Livan Hernandez. Washington falls to 8-8 heading into a weekend series with the Dodgers.


K.D. said...

Hopefully a pitchers duel that Livan wins.

Tcostant said...

What a huge difference in the average fastball MPH in the two starting pitchers. Would be a fun game to watch - but got to work!

natsfan1a said...

Viva Livo!

David said...

go LIVO!

P. Cole said...

Willie Harris batting 3rd? Why not Pudge?

Rich said...

Pudge probably requested his stop in the line up. Riggleman seems to do whatever he asks...

Natsochist said...

@P. Cole - Why not Desmond? He's certainly got enough pop in his bat when he hits it.

Stew Magnuson said...

Fernando Tatis hit two grand slams in the same inning. So there is one other record that may never be broken. And off the same pitcher, Chan Ho Park, if I recall correctly.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to get home to watch the game. Even without Zimm and the Hammer, the lineup looks quite good. Livan will give it a little pop too! I'm scoring this one a win!! GO NATS!! Come on SS!

Jeff Wang said...

Livo can belt his own HR, and win a 1-0 pitcher's duel.

Tuna said...

Whoa with the negative comments. Let's just
enjoy while we can - Go Nats

Section 222 said...

Why not bat Livo third? :-)

Spike94wl said...

Christian Guzman in RF scares me...

Kyle said...

I know this is off topic.. but..

Can someone inform me as to why Tyler Clippard isn't getting any consideration for a spot in the rotation? Are there concerns with durability? Because last night, and every other night for that matter, he seems to really excel the longer he is in the game. And he is throwing his pitches so much better than a majority of the starting staff.

Kevin Rusch, Section406 said...

Well, Clippard probably doesn't have enough pitches in his skillset. The conventional wisdom is that to be a good middle reliever, you just need 1 excellent pitch and 1 decent other pitch.

If you stay in the game long enough to go through the opposing lineup more than once, (again, this is conventional wisdom here) 1 1/2 pitches aren't enough.

Kyle said...


Thanks for the answer! I know Clippard has a pretty good change up, but now that you mention it, I don't really remember him throwing anything with motion on it. Makes sense.

phil dunn said...

Zimmerman, left hamsting pull last week, right hamstring pull this week. Maybe he needs to change his workout routine or maybe the Nats need a new trainer. He's 50% of the Nats' offense so losing him like this is ridiculous.

Doc said...

If I were the Learners, I'd be questioning Rizzo about the results of which he was made aware of from Marquis' physical exam, before the $15 mill signing. My guess is that Rizzo blew off the medical findings. Marquis was an orthopedic DL waiting to happen. Baseball GMs need to get a better grip on medical findings/consults.

PDowdy83 said...

Phil, not sure Zimm is 50% of the offense. That is a little dramatic. Nyjer and Willingham are a good portion of it, so are Pudge and Guzman right now.

NatinBeantown said...

When will the Nats diagnose the floating objects in Clint's head and put him on the 60 day DL. Or better yet, DFA.

Anonymous said...

When did Clint start annoucing? I remember seeing him in RFK, but I don't think he was there in the first season. The one thing I notice is that he's got a cannon of an arm (No, Seriously). Watch him throw the t-shirts next time, he routinely throws them into the upper deck.

Anonymous said...

I just remembered the worst attended Nats game of all time. Maybe not by tickets, but attendees. It was September 28, 2006 (Ryan Zimmerman's birthday) and it was pouring rain all night but the Phillies needed to play it because they were in the race with the Mets and every game counted. They didn't start the game until after midnight. They didn't charge for parking and let you sit anywhere for 5 bucks and there might have been 1,000 fans there. Clint gave all of the giveaways to the fans in one section where there were about 20 people and there were enough bodies to fill up the background. The Nats won by the way.

Tcostant said...

I was at the game the first year at RFK vs. the Mets. It rain after the 5th inning and the grounds crew could not get the tarp down in the rain and wind before the field was unplayable. It was very funny and even the vendors came on the field trying to help. I just think they never thought that getting the tarp on would be hard, so no one was trained.

Still funny and the Nats won when the game was called and the Mets file a grevance since the game could not be played when the rain stopped because the field took to much rain.

Doc said...

Mark, what about a nick-name for Hernandez--"Buggsy"?

Jim Webster said...

OK, Livo just completed 6th. Must mean we win.

meixler said...

Was that the Bugs Bunny curve that struck out Tulowitzki?

Mark Zuckerman said...

Meixler: Yes, that was it, in all of its 64 mph glory.

Unknown said...

"And, in my opinion, the one record that absolutely will never be broken. Seriously, who's going to throw THREE no-hitters in a row?"
Do you want the readers of this blog to answer that question? I think the initials would be SS...

Anonymous said...

The kid in Cincinnati Aroldis Chapman may also be that good someday.

Cwj said...

-Well pitched game today on both sides. This is the type of loss I can deal with (as opposed to 10-4, 14-7, etc).
-When is Dunn going to wake up? I know it's early, but he's so frustrating to watch sometimes.
-Bruney is coming around (4 straight impressive appearances). I've grown to like the bullpen this year.

Suicide Squeeze said...

@Doc-- ALL pitchers are orthopedic DL's waiting to happen. And "guessing" aside, i would find it hard to believe that any GM would blow off something as important as a medical exam, especially when there's nothing to say that his medical exam wasn't sparkling at the time and this developed over the off season. Pitching is an un-natural act, and it doesn't take much to go from feeling great to the DL.

Again, any GM in Rizzo's situation would have made the Marquis deal, and no one pretends or billed him as great pitcher -- just a solid, average to slight above average pitcher that would stabilize a young rotation and be a short-term bridge to those in development. And yes, Marquis got a stellar deal for his talent level, but the Nats have to pay a premium for everything right now.

Doc said...
If I were the Learners, I'd be questioning Rizzo about the results of which he was made aware of from Marquis' physical exam, before the $15 mill signing. My guess is that Rizzo blew off the medical findings. Marquis was an orthopedic DL waiting to happen. Baseball GMs need to get a better grip on medical findings/consults.
April 22, 2010 4:11 PM

Anonymous said...

My thought for worst attended game - Randy Johnson's 300th win. Attended by me and 250 of RJ's closests friends. In the drizzle. Start was postponed from the previous night's rainout.

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