Thursday, April 15, 2010

Game 9: Nats at Phillies

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats look to avoid a sweep this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
PHILADELPHIA -- Whew, busy day already here at Citizens Bank Park.

If you haven't seen all the roster moves, check the homepage for details, but in a nutshell...

-- Jason Bergmann was designated for assignment, clearing space for Scott Olsen to be recalled from Class AAA Syracuse to start today's game.

-- Justin Maxwell was recalled from Syracuse to take the spot left open by last night's demotion of Roger Bernadina. Maxwell will start in right field.

-- Garrett Mock, who had been optioned to Syracuse on Sunday, has actually been called back and placed on the 15-day DL with a neck injury.

So after all that, there's still a game to be played, with the Nationals looking to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Phillies. Check back here throughout the game for updates, and check the homepage for other news...

Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 3:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly sunny, 71 degrees, Wind 9 mph LF to RF
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
2B Cristian Guzman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
RF Justin Maxwell
3B Alberto Gonzalez
P Scott Olsen

CF Shane Victorino
3B Placido Polanco
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
RF Jayson Werth
LF Raul Ibanez
SS Juan Castro
C Carlos Ruiz
P J.A. Happ

3:01 p.m. -- Plenty of stuff going on here today. The Phillies just got their NL championship rings, and Nats reliever Tyler Walker (who pitched for Philadelphia last season) got one himself. Also, it's Jackie Robinson Day across the majors, and all players on both sides will be wearing No. 42 today. This day is particularly special for Willie Harris, who grew up in Robinson's hometown of Cairo, Ga., and today was moved when he got to touch a bat once used by Jackie.

3:15 p.m. -- We're underway, about 10 minutes late, because of the various pregame festivities. Gorgeous day here and a full house on hand, as has been the case here in Philly for several years now.

3:28 p.m. -- Chase Utley has homered against the Nats. Shocking development, I know. Utley tattooed a 90-mph fastball at the letters from Scott Olsen, who didn't help himself falling behind the Phillies slugger. Olsen emerged from the first inning without allowing anything else, but his fastball ranged between 85 and 90 mph, and he fell behind both Utley and Victorino. Only 10 pitches for the inning, though. So after one, the Phils lead 1-0.

3:46 p.m. -- Better second inning from Olsen. He retired the side, got a couple of groundball outs and then struck out Juan Castro on three pitches, including a 91 mph fastball.

3:54 p.m. -- The Nats suffer their first caught stealing in eight attempts this season but actually score a run because of it. Huh? Allow me to explain: Nyjer Morgan took off for second but was picked off by J.A. Happ. Ryan Howard's throw to second, though, was offline and Morgan was safe on what was ruled a caught stealing+E3. A sac bunt by Ian Desmond moved Morgan to third, and a groundout by Cristian Guzman brought him home. So: Walk + caught stealing + error + sac bunt + groundout = run. We're tied 1-1 heading to the bottom of the third.

4:02 p.m. -- Don't look now, folks, but Adam Dunn is starting to look like a halfway decent first baseman. Dunn just made a nice play on Happ's sac bunt attempt, gunning a throw to third to nail Carlos Ruiz. He's made several nice plays over the last week, plays frankly he wouldn't have made a year ago. Scott Olsen, meanwhile, looks sharp. He's allowed only the Utley solo homer and Ruiz's leadoff double in the third, otherwise has retired everyone else. He's consistently hitting 90 mph with his fastball, and he's throwing strikes (22 of 29 pitches so far). Still 1-1 after three.

4:24 p.m. -- Where was this Scott Olsen all spring? Through four innings, he's allowed one run on two hits with one walk. He's struck out three, including Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez. He's showing command of both his fastball and slider. And he's only thrown 51 pitches so far. Impressive.

5:10 p.m. -- Scott Olsen's day is over, and though it didn't end well (a two-run single to Juan Castro with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth) it will really be a shame if the left-hander is charged with the loss. Plain and simple, he pitched really well. He did kind of struggle here in the sixth, though it wasn't a meltdown by any means. With two on and two out, he battled Raul Ibanez and had the Nat-killer out in front of several breaking balls that rolled foul before finally walking him during an eight-pitch at-bat. He threw some good pitches to Castro, too, before allowing that single on a 2-1 fastball. Phillies now lead 3-1, with Tyler Clippard pitching in the sixth.

5:31 p.m. -- Oh my god, it's a clutch hit late in the game for the Nationals. Ian Desmond smokes an RBI single up the middle to score Alberto Gonzalez in the seventh and cut the Phillies' lead to 4-2. For those keeping score at home, that's now a total of three runs scored by the Nats after the fourth inning this year. Yeah, three runs in nine games after the fourth inning. Pathetic.

5:44 p.m. -- Olympic speedskater Apolo Ohno is on top of the Phillies dugout with the Phanatic. Why, I have no idea. But he got a nice ovation.

5:46 p.m. -- Adam Dunn has hit a home run. I repeat: Adam Dunn has hit a home run. First of the year, including spring training. First since Sept. 22, 2009. Crushed one to right-center on the first pitch from Danys Baez in the top of the eighth. All of a sudden, the Phillies' lead is down to 4-3.

5:49 p.m. -- And now Ryan Zimmerman is stepping to the plate as a pinch-hitter. Guess he's not going on the DL.

5:52 p.m. -- And Zim crushes a 1-0 fastball just over the right-field fence for a two-run homer. First career pinch home run for Zimmerman. Nats lead 5-4 in the eighth.

6:03 p.m. -- Jim Riggleman is going to ask Matt Capps to record a five-out save. Protecting a one-run lead. Against the Phillies lineup. Hold your breath.

6:11 p.m. -- Despite a misplayed, bloop single to shallow right field -- Willie Harris has got to take charge on that play and call off Cristian Guzman -- Capps gets out of the eighth. And he only threw 11 pitches, so he's got plenty left in the tank for the ninth. Due up for the Phils: Victorino, Polanco, Utley, Howard. You just knew those guys were going to get one more shot, didn't you?

6:26 p.m. -- Not only did Pudge Rodriguez just drive home two big insurance runs with a base hit to left, but a big section of Nats supporters in the upper deck down the third-base line went nuts. NatsTown has invaded Philly! Nats lead 7-4 now, still in the ninth.

6:29 p.m. -- Stat of the day: The Nats scored a total of two runs after the fourth inning in their first eight games. Today, they've scored six runs after the seventh inning.

6:32 p.m. -- Those insurance runs look pretty good right now. Victorino leads off the bottom of the ninth with a solo homer. It's now 7-5. Capps, for what it's worth, has never recorded a save of more than one inning.

6:42 p.m. -- Ballgame. Capps retires Utley, Howard and Werth and the Nats win, 7-5. For all the turmoil and disastrous pitching, they actually went 3-3 on this road trip to New York and Philly and stand at 4-5 overall.


BowdenBall said...

I wonder if Christian Guzman has the lowest career OPS of any #3 hitter in the modern baseball era. He's gotta be pretty close.

alm1000 said...

Come on Justin, we are pulling for you.

Mark, what did he do at AAA to deserve the call-up?

Section 222 said...

Sounds like JMax didn't do much of anything, other than continue hitting right-handed and the Nats expect to face a bunch of lefties in the next week or so, so they'd rather have JMax here than Bernadina.

Jeeves said...

Actually, Maxwell did very well during his brief time in Syracuse.

jeeves said...

Actually, Maxwell did very well during his brief time with Syracuse.

natscan reduxit said...

... so Garret has pressure on his neck. Now he should understand the pressure he has placed on the shoulders of Nats fans everywhere.

... and clearly the pictures Bergie has stashed away are fading in the bright light of day.

Go J. Maxwell!

Go Nats!!

Les in NC said...

This has been asked a couple of times 'how has JMax done in Syracuse?' so here is his stat line...


4 15 5 5 2 0 0 2 7 5 3 2 2 .524 .467 .333 .990

not bad...
I hope he does well, we certainly need some good luck.

Les in NC said...

Another Utley HR?! Do we not have any scouting reports on this guy?! We certainly aren't pitching to him like they do....

Tcostant said...

Anyone thinking about going to Stephen Strasburg tomorrow, it now a sell out.

Anonymous said...

Scouting report on Utley: knock him off the plate. Nobody does it.

Question: Dibble made several points about pitch selection last night. Who calls the pitches -- Pudge? Is the 'fear of shaking off Pudge' factor that Lannan identified a couple of weeks ago perhaps a contributor to the pitching staff's poor performance?

Noah said...

The idea that no one knocks Utley off the plate is totally ignorant of reality.

He's the Major League leader in HBP the last 3 years running.

Tcostant said...

The Phils pitcher has alreasy walked 4 in three innings and thrown 58 pitches already. The Nats need to jump on this guy.

Section 222 said...

It's great how well Olson is pitching thus far, but let's wait until he gets to the seventh inning before we proclaim him a big success. Pitching a few scoreless innings and $3.50 will get you a latte at Starbucks, if you blow up in the fifth or sixth.

K.D. said...

Raymitten, Pudge is calling the pitches today against the same line-up, the difference of course is that Olsen is making them close, and believing in them.

Anonymous said...

Oh Ok Section 222 thats a great way to look at it, I'd sure take a latte and some scoreless innings as opposed to that stiff last night...

Jeff Wang said...

we're averaging 1 SB per game... Wow.

NatinBeantown said...

Mark (or others watching):
For those of us stuck at work, please describe that Utley K in the 6th. A good sign to be this deep in the game and still getting a Natkiller to miss.

Mark Zuckerman said...

NatinBeantown: Olsen did a nice job using all his pitches to get Utley. Fouled off a fastball for strike one. Swung and missed at a nasty slider for strike two. Swung and missed a changeup for strike three. Really, Olsen has been impressive.

Nervous Nats Fan said...

Until now...

Anonymous said...

Awesome another pitcher who cannot make it through 6 complete innings! Our bullpen will have their arms in slings before SS ever throws a major league pitch!

Mark - are we last in the majors in quality starts in 2010? Over the last 5 years?

Oy vey!

NatinBeantown said...

Nice work by Clippard. I always think it's a bad idea to bring in a guy to IBB his first batter. Not easy to find the plate after that. Why not leave the last guy in to IBB?

And thanks for the Utley K breakdown, Mark!

K.D. said...

Hey, if Olsen pitches like this in his next game, I would be happy.

Nervous Nats Fan said...

Beantown - I think they only intentionally walked him after Clippard fell behind 2-0. So it was kind of his fault.

sweetesq said...

Clippard is really the only reliable guy coming out of the bullpen these days.

Jeff Wang said...

go Zimm!

sweetesq said...

Dunn and Zimmerman go yard! Now this is what we hoped for.

Jeff Wang said...

I just noticed, Mawell was up 3 times, 2 BBs and 1 SO. Not bad.

David said...

that was huge! pudge comes through, i know he's way up there in age, but it's been a pleasure to watch him play for us

natscan reduxit said...

... yes, Yes, YES!!! Matt Capps for President ... no wait, for Commissioner!

Go Nats!!!

Natsochist said...

Fun stat from Fangraphs: Zimm's HR had a .447 WPA. Not bad, my man! (Also, that's one way to get around a balky hammy).


LoveDaNats said...

That's one way to raise your heart rate without going to the gym! Yeah

Sam said...

Natsochist: The graph at Fangraphs is hilarious. I love that huge drop.

natsfan1a said...

I would have thought Capps for Surgeon General the way he gets our heart rates going, natscan. :-)

Very nice win for the Nats on getaway day, to hand the Phillies only their second loss.

Suicide Squeeze said...

If any of us Nanatics had been offered 4-5 going into a ten game homestand at the beginning of the year, we would have taken that in a Cardiac Capps heart beat. We know reinforcements are coming and April would be a tough month, so anything close to .500 in however fashion is EXACTLY what this team needs to do. Well done, boys!

Mark Zuckerman said...

Suicide Squeeze: You read my mind. Check out the first paragraph of my postgame story!

Suicide Squeeze said...

Maybe I should start a blog!

( :)

Anonymous said...

It was nice to see Dunn and Zim homer but no one is talking about the reason we actually won the game...Pudge! Without his hitting we would have gone into extra innings last night, does anyone think Burke, Bard, Flores or Nieves drives in those runs!?

NatsNut said...

How do you find these little tidbits so quickly in the middle of a game? It takes me forever to find a stat to make a point I'm trying to make, I have no idea how in the world you find them on a play as it's happening.

"...Adam Dunn has hit a home run. First of the year, including spring training. First since Sept. 22, 2009."


"It's now 7-5. Capps, for what it's worth, has never recorded a save of more than one inning."

Mark Zuckerman said...

NatsNut: Thanks, these nuggets come from a few different places. is a fantastic site to look up stuff and is used by myself (and other writers) on a daily basis. The Nats' PR department also puts out a daily notes package that includes info like the last time every player homered. And sometimes when there's a particularly unusual development -- like both starting pitchers failing to make it through two innings as Craig Stammen and Kyle Kendrick did the other night -- either team's PR department can call up the Elias Sports Bureau and find out quickly when the last time something like that happened (2008: Baltimore's Garrett Olsen vs. Detroit's Zach Minor).

natsfan1a said...

For those fans who might be interested, press pass notes are published on the team site before game time (see link below). Back in the day, you used to be able to get them from some of the program vendors at RFK, which was cool, in a geeky kind of way. I sometimes print them out before heading out to a game (if they're posted there before I leave).

NatsNut said...

Mark and 1a, thanks. good stuff to know.

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