Friday, May 21, 2010

Game 43: Orioles at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Orioles come down the Parkway for the weekend interleague series.
I feel like I've been writing this a lot the last week, but the next few days are big for the Nationals.

Perhaps they brought this upon themselves with that five-game losing streak, putting added pressure on each subsequent game, but it's a fact. The Nats really need to play good baseball this weekend against an Orioles club that is in disarray. Two out of three is a must, if only to ensure their record remains above .500 heading into a tough West Coast swing to San Francisco and San Diego (plus Houston) next week.

Scott Olsen is on the mound tonight, hoping to extend his surprisingly dominant run. Perhaps his teammates will supply him with some run support for a change. He hasn't received a decision in his last three starts, despite giving up a total of four earned runs in the process.

Interesting lineup twist for Jim Riggleman: Slumping Nyjer Morgan is on the bench. Roger Bernadina's in center field, with Willie Harris in right.

Check back for updates throughout...

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM, WTEM-980 AM
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 79 degrees, Wind 8 mph out to LF
RF Willie Harris
2B Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
P Scott Olsen
ORIOLES (13-29)
LF Corey Patterson
2B Ty Wigginton
RF Nick Markakis
3B Miguel Tejada
1B Luke Scott
CF Adam Jones
C Craig Tatum
SS Cesar Izturis
P David Hernandez

7:07 p.m. -- We are underway with a first-pitch flyout to center from Corey Patterson. Lot of empty seats here. Lot of orange among those who are here.

7:12 p.m. -- A nice, efficient first inning from Scott Olsen, who has made a real habit out of this. Twelve pitches, 10 strikes. And that included a two-out single by Nick Markakis.

7:24 p.m. -- Olsen has thrown two pitches in the second inning ... and allowed two runs. Luke Scott led off with a single to right. Adam Jones followed by blasting a high 85 mph pitch from Olsen over the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center, putting the O's on top 2-0 and stunning the home portion of the crowd.

7:40 p.m. -- Not much doing for the Nats offense so far. Through two innings, only Josh Willingham has reached (on a walk). David Hernandez (0-5 with a 5.84 ERA, by the way) made Pudge look silly with an 0-2 slider over the heart of the plate. Nats still trail 2-0 after two.

7:46 p.m. -- Ryan Zimmerman has been having some throwing troubles for the last week or so. It hasn't resulted in many actual errors, but he's not been as sharp as we've become accustomed. Twice in a span of three batters in the third, he made poor throws to first. Dunn saved him on one and tagged Wigginton. The other (on a barehand play) turned into a wild throw well past Dunn, but Miguel Tejada would have beaten it out anyway, so he was credited with a hit.

7:56 p.m. -- This is not the Scott Olsen we've come to expect. He walked two batters in the third, loading the bases in the process, then fell behind some guy named Craig Tatum 2-1 and watched as the Orioles' backup catcher grounded a two-run single up the middle. Baltimore leads 4-0 and Miguel Batista is warming in the Nats bullpen.

8:02 p.m. -- In his last three starts, Olsen walked a total of three batters. In a span of four batters in the third inning tonight, he walked three.

8:06 p.m. -- How about this surprise development: Scott Olsen is out of the game after three innings. The man pinch-hitting for him: Livan Hernandez. Olsen's final line: 3 ip, 6 h, 4 r, 3 bb, 1 k, 64 pitches, 41 strikes.

8:13 p.m. -- It's perhaps not surprising that we just learned Scott Olsen left tonight's game with tightness in his left shoulder. Had to figure something wasn't right.

8:36 p.m. -- The Nats do not have a hit in four innings against David Hernandez. What I mean to say is: David Hernandez is throwing a NO-HITTER through four innings.

8:55 p.m. -- Words you thought you'd never say: Thank god for Miguel Batista.

9:07 p.m. -- Batista has done a nice job putting out the fire and keeping this game manageable after Olsen's early departure. It's still 4-0 heading to the bottom of the sixth. By the way, the stands have filled up nicely, especially in the upper deck. Turned into a pretty good environment for a ballgame, with plenty of Orioles fans in attendance.

9:17 p.m. -- Well, they finally knocked Hernandez out of the game. The unheralded right-hander allowed one hit over 5 1/3 innings but walked Zimmerman and Dunn in succession in the sixth to end his night. Matt Albers now pitching for Baltimore.

9:29 p.m. -- Good news: The Nats scored a run finally. Bad news: They didn't do it via a base hit and managed to score only once despite loading the bases with one out. Orioles 4-1 through six.

9:35 p.m. -- Tonight's paid attendance: 27,378.

9:40 p.m. -- Look out, here we go. Nyjer Morgan comes off the bench and doubles down the left field line, and then Willie Harris hits a bomb off the facade of the second deck in right. Just like that, it's 4-3 in the seventh.

9:43 p.m. -- I know there are a lot of Miguel Batista haters out there, but what he did tonight is exactly the reason he's on this team. With four scoreless innings in relief of Olsen, Batista kept his team in the game and made this rally possible.

9:52 p.m. -- Drew Storen now pitching the eighth. Third career appearance. All have come in tight, late situations. Clearly, Jim Riggleman isn't afraid to put him out there.

10:02 p.m. -- The kid isn't perfect after all. After walking Tatum to lead off the inning, Storen surrendered a two-out single to Corey Patterson. Drew just learned what every big-league pitcher before him already knew: Those leadoff walks will kill you every time. Orioles 5-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth.

10:09 p.m. -- For what it's worth, the Orioles bullpen has blown eight of 16 save opportunities this season.

10:22 p.m. -- And we go to the bottom of the ninth. Pinch-hitter, Harris and Guzman due up for the Nats. Alfredo Simon on the mound for the O's.

10:30 p.m. -- For the first time since April 15 (when they were 4-5), the Nationals are under .500. With this 5-3 loss, they've now dropped seven of their last eight. Blip on the radar screen, or the beginning of the end?


Anonymous said...

You know what I just realized? We need a Right Fielder.

Grandstander said...

Ian Desmond - .277 BA .326 OBP
Willie Harris - .182 BA .289 OBP

Why is Harris leading off over Desmond? It makes zero sense to me.

Anonymous said...

why do they keep playing harris?

Anonymous said...

Nyjer gets benched for at least a game ... and look there's Willie? Leading off with .182 and a .289 OPB, followed by a guy with a lifetime .308 OBP? Who is hitting abysmally when he bats left-handed? At least put Kennedy at second batting second with Guzman in right field batting lower in the order? Why not try Bernadina as lead off?

These are days when you wonder what Riggleman is thinking and where he gets those thoughts.

Uncle Atom said...

Man, and I'm wearing my T Plush shirt to the game tonight. Hope the benching motivates better defensive thinking. I can excuse a batting slump and, be Nyj needs to step it up on the defensive side and get his brain in the game when running the basepaths too.

Anonymous said...

At the rate he's going I think, by September, a T Plush shirt will be as archaic as a Brad Wilkerson bobblehead.

Jaxpo Nat said...

I'm guessing Desmond ultimately lands in the 2 slot. Just a matter of how long it takes Riggleman to realize that is where he belongs. Give the young stud some protection and dump one of the other losers in the 8 slot.

bdrube said...

I too would like to know what is up with Harris leading off. Either Desmond or Bernadina would be a much better choice at this point. Give the young guys a chance. You never know, it might actually work.

cadeck13 said...


Nyjer is not just slumping with the bat, but mentally he doesn't seem to be in the game, i.e. poor base running, poor fielding (in the park homer)as well as other balls off the wall and bad throwing twice that I remember in just last night's game. Is anything going on with him or is he just pressing?

Also, Dibs really goes off a lot on the pitch selection. Who calls the pitches? Catcher, bench? I don't see the pitchers shaking off the pitch selection a lot.

Doc said...

Mark, if Morgan will give an interview, try and find out what's going on. Maybe getting rid of what appears to be a chaw of tobacco in his left cheek would help.


Anon 3:41 Willie needs playing time. Why don't you try to remember that Guzzie played 2 years half blind! No wonder his "lifetime" OBP is a little low.I'm real happy with the way Riggleman is calling the shots. At least we're competive! Every game we 've got a shot to win===more than one could say last year.

dj in Fl said...

Good question cadeck13

I think Rigleman knows exactly what he is doing. We leave Monday for a road trip that will decide who is on the roster when they return and SS arrives. I do not think for a minute that management is going to allow SS to endure the poor fielding we witnessed last night.
Everyone has been discussing at length the pitching moves that have to happen, but I would not sell Rizzo short. I think that some of the trade packages being kicked around will include all Milledge type fielders/baserunners.
They play Guz because of his attitude and to showcase his bat. He is doing much better from the left side and could alos be part of a package.

Jaxpo Nat said...

@cadeck 13:
"Also, Dibs really goes off a lot on the pitch selection."

Wouldn't put too much stock in what Dibbs says. If you pay attention he will say one thing one minute because it sounds good and makes sense... then quite often just minutes later will say the complete opposite and it too sounds good. In general he seems to just talk out of his arse quite a bit.

Case in point last night, regarding Atilano's pitch selection. In one breath he complained that Atilano wasn't throwing his sinker, that he had "gotten away from his strength" as he put it, "and his strength is his sinker." Then, IN THE SAME AT BAT, he commented that sometimes when your best pitch isn't working you have to go to something out: "I don't know why he isn't throwing his cutter more." Two completely contradictory statements, each made with such conviction that he seemed to be implying each was just common sense and what the hell is wrong with these pitchers?

Dibbs=Not the best analyst. Colorful, but not exactly a Rhodes scholar.

cadeck13 said...

Jaxpo Nat - yeah, I hear what you are saying about Dibs, but I'm still curious as to who calls the game for the Nationals the catcher or the bench. I asked Dibble that question on air last year and he never gave me a straight up answer.

Jaxpo Nat said...

It is my understanding that nearly all major league catchers call their own games. The only time they look over at the bench is for calls on the running game (pitchouts, pickoffs, etc).

Not so in college where almost no catchers call their own games. That is why you often hear coaches lament the fact that, even though a catching prospect might be ready otherwise, they haven't yet learned to properly call a game yet so they need a little more time. Consider what Sabean recently said about Buster Posey:
Sabean said Posey was "still learning how to catch. Some of that is game calling. Some of that is the consistency that he'll need as, we hope, an offensive catcher."

I guarantee you Pudge calls his own game (and Nieves for that matter). You won't see them look at the bench unless there is a runner on base, and even then it is just to check baserunner calls.

Souldrummer said...

Willie Harris is probably being rewarded for his Pinch Hit at bat last night in a game where a lot of people had poor performances. I think that this lineup is some kind of message to his ballplayers. I'm going to reward Guz and Harris for good professional at bats last night. I'm going to punish Nyjer Morgan for his defense a little bit, and I'm going to keep playing Bernadina every day while getting a look at his defense in CF.

I'm not going to put Desmond early in the lineup because his defense yesterday didn't earn him at bats. Also, remember that Riggleman likes the RLR stuff down in the order. Desmond doesn't take enough pitches for me to bat leadoff. I'd like to see him batting 6th because I think he'll be better the rest of the year than Pudge is and is more likely of some pop should OBP guys Dunn and Hammer get on base.

I don't think that's going to happen because Riggles is loyal to his veterans. Good for the clubhouse, I suppose, but not as appealing to us fans or to the guys who try to make more decisions purely based on current and likely future production.

Mark Zuckerman said...

To answer all the questions about pitch selection ... the Nats always let their catchers call the pitches. Pudge in particular has made a real impression with the pitching staff. Most guys insist they hardly ever feel the need to shake him off.

Anonymous said...

MLBTR says Roy Oswalt has requested a trade to a contender. Assuming the Nats are a contender, what would it take to get him if hte Nats ate all of his contract $31M total through '11. Detwiler? Espinosa and Chico? Is he worth it to the Nats for a year an a half and does he fit into "the plan" for the Nats?

The Great Unwashed said...

Jaxpo Nat,

Funny you should mention Dibble's contradictory statements last night about Atilano's sinker. I caught that too, and I wondered why Carpenter didn't call him on it. Too funny!

Jaxpo Nat said...

@ The Great Unwashed

Dibble does that all the time. I too often wonder what must be going through Carpenter's head sometimes. He seems like a pretty details-oriented guy and you know sometimes he must be thinking "whatever Rob," but obviously wouldn't want to call out his partner. Or maybe he doesn't notice because he is too busy scribbling in his patented scorebook.

wpcorbett said...

Looking at tonight's lineups, who would be a contributing regular player on a contending team?

Zimmerman, Dunn certainly. Desmond, Willingham probably.

Orioles: Markakis. That's it.

Souldrummer said...

Don't know about Desmond yet.

For the Orioles, Adam Jones is slumping this year and very well may improve. Miggy on a short term deal would not be bad and he could be a tradable piece for them at the deadline. Wiggington's been raking and has had an out of body experience to this point.

Otherwise, you got me.

court said...

I'd rather include Marrero than Espinosa in a deal for Oswalt. I would not trade Detwiller though. Marrero doesn't really have a position, whereas Danny and Ian can be our middle infield for years to come. Detwiler's still young so I'd rather deal Stammen (who reportedly had value over the winter). Considering the amount of salary the Nats would have to pick up, maybe a deal can be worked out without giving up our top guys. We'll see.

As for the plan, Oswalt is only 32 (I think) and you can never have too much pitching. Plus, having a real ace in Oswalt will take some pressure off of SJS. And a '11 rotation of Oswalt, SJS, Zimmermann, Wang and Lannan/Olsen/Detwiler could be a division favorite depending on how the Phillies' offseason plays out (especially if we can steal Werth for RF).

Nick said...

This is being purely silly, but since we're talking about the Astros, how about a package deal where we swap Bourn and Pence for Nyjer, Bally, and Mock? Bourn for Nyjer is a pretty straight trade IMHO.

Anonymous said...

IMHO dibbs is head and shoulders above Sutton. And Orel on ESPN for that matter. I want the baseball man in the booth to stick to baseball. And Dibble does that.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Dibs is a jerk-along who just likes to hear himself talk. The reason Carp doesn't call him out for his diametically opposite thoughts within the same inning is Carp is too dumb to realize they make no sense.

Bring back Ron Darling.

Dryw Loves the Nats said...

Are we really that worried about Dibbs and Carp when THE NATS ARE LOSING 4-0 TO THE Os????? The Os!! Or are we just trying to pretend that something that painful isn't happening?

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...


Anonymous8 said...

So Amber Theoharris (sp?) says that Adam Jones is out with leg cramps and may be back in the game.

Does she realize that this isn't Little League and he can't go back into the game?

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

IQ Test, Amber Theoharis vs. Debbie Taylor: Over/under: 55.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...


Mac said...

RE: Sunshine

Don't you mean Theoharis + Taylor: over/under 55?

Anonymous8 said...

Come on, Debbi Taylor knows her baseball. Some of the questions aren't great but I doubt she is the one writing the script.

Worth rewinding your TiVo to listen to Amber. Duh?

Mac said...


Watch her next postgame interview after a win. I guarantee that her first question will be: What was your approach there?

Its a lock.

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