Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Game 47: Nats at Giants

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Luis Atilano takes on Tim Lincecum tonight at AT&T Park.
SAN FRANCISCO -- As you can tell from the above photo, it's an absolutely gorgeous day here at AT&T Park. You can also see how spectacular this ballpark is from the upper deck, with the complete view of the bay beyond the outfield fence.

The Nationals hope to bounce back from last night's 4-2 loss to the Giants, though to do so they'll have to beat Tim Lincecum. I detailed the reasons the Nats could take down the two-time Cy Young Award winner (most of them with tongue firmly planted in-cheek) earlier today, so I'll refrain from more of that. Let's just say it's going to take a superb effort both from the Nats' lineup as well as starter Luis Atilano, who has been shaky his last two times out.

Only one change to the starting lineup from last night's game: Adam Kennedy starts at second base, with Cristian Guzman (who is about to become the NL's leading hitter) getting the night off. Otherwise, it's the status quo for a Nats offense that has averaged just 3.4 runs over its last 11 games.

Check back for updates throughout...

Where: AT&T Park
Gametime: 10:15 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly sunny, 51 degrees, Wind 11 mph out to LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
C Wil Nieves
P Luis Atilano

GIANTS (23-21)
LF Andres Torres
2B Freddy Sanchez
3B Pablo Sandoval
1B Aubrey Huff
SS Juan Uribe
C Bengie Molina
CF Aaron Rowand
RF Nate Schierholtz
P Tim Lincecum

10:15 p.m. -- Tim Lincecum, who takes the mound to the strains of "The Doors," rares back and fires a high ball to Nyjer Morgan to get this one underway.

10:24 p.m. -- The good news: Lincecum was not nearly in top form in the top of the first. The bad news: The Nats couldn't take advantage of that. After Adam Kennedy drew a one-out walk, Ryan Zimmerman hit into a fielder's choice. Then, after Zim advanced to second when first baseman Aubrey Huff inexplicably threw wild back to the pitcher after a pickoff attempt, Adam Dunn struck out on a low sinker. Dunn, if you were wondering, is now 0-for-19 this season with two outs and runners in scoring position. Yeah, 0-for-19.

10:28 p.m. -- Eh, this Lincecum guy is OK, but he's no Luis Atilano. The bespectacled rookie just mowed down the Giants in order in the first, needing only nine pitches to do it. Nice job, kid.

10:38 p.m. -- The Nats don't have a hit through two innings, but they have made Lincecum work. He's thrown 42 pitches already, only 20 strikes. He's walked three (one intentionally) and he went to a three-ball count on five of the first eight batters he faced. If you can't beat him, at least try to knock him out early.

10:45 p.m. -- Six up, six down for Atilano, all six groundouts.

10:51 p.m. -- Wow, that wasn't pretty but it resulted in a run for the Nats. Nyjer Morgan singled to lead off the third, then stole second (the first stolen base for any National since May 10, but the ninth successful basestealer in as many chances against Lincecum this year). Adam Kennedy then dropped a sinking liner to center that looked to everyone like a clean single. Everyone except Morgan, who held up for a moment. By the time he reached third, Pat Listach had the stop sign up. Nyjer, though, kept running. And he somehow beat Aaron Rowand's throw the plate, even though he didn't slide and nearly took out Ryan Zimmerman's knees. No matter, the Nats took a 1-0 lead.

10:55 p.m. -- Make that 3-0 thanks to Josh Willingham's double to the deepest part of the park in right-center and Ian Desmond's RBI single to right. Willingham got thrown out trying to add another run, but that was a good "send" by Listach with Wil Nieves on-deck. Gotta take chances against Lincecum. How about this start by the Nats?

11:05 p.m. -- Thanks to a really nice play by Ian Desmond going to his left, Atilano keeps the Giants scoreless through three. It's 3-0.

11:25 p.m. -- Someone wrote this afternoon (I can't remember who) that the Nats could have success against Lincecum by stealing off him. Well, they're already 4-for-4 through four innings tonight, and two of those steals (back-to-back by Kennedy) set up the Nats' fourth run of the night (on Dunn's sac fly. It's still early, but things are shaping up well here so far.

11:32 p.m. -- And with a soft base hit over the first baseman (Todd Wellemeyer would call that a "duck fart"), Ian Desmond puts the Nats up 6-0 in the fifth AND knocks Lincecum out of the game. Wow.

11:53 p.m. -- Atilano served up a leadoff homer to Juan Uribe in the fifth, but he battled back to get out of the inning without any more damage. If the rookie can get through the sixth unscathed, Jim Riggleman might feel like that's enough and then turn the rest over to his bullpen. As it stands, the Nats lead 6-1 going to the bottom of the sixth.

11:59 p.m. -- So much for that. Atilano is out after two batters in the sixth. Roger Bernadina didn't help him by misplaying Andres Torres' line drive into a triple, but even so, with one out, a runner on third and the Nats up five, why not let Atilano face Pablo Sandoval? Even if Sandoval homers, it's still a three-run lead. Curious. Anyways, Doug Slaten is now in.

12:03 a.m. -- And Slaten promptly serves up a double to Sandoval, bringing home a run. It's now 6-2, with two outs in the inning, and Drew Storen has come on. Meanwhile, the fans out in the center-field bleachers are all over Nyjer Morgan. Not sure if Nyjer is egging them on (he might well be) but it's gotten pretty animated out there.

12:06 a.m. -- Three pitches from Storen, three strikes. Inning over. Wow. We head to the seventh, Nats leading 6-2.

12:35 a.m. -- Storen allowed his second run as a major-leaguer, but it wasn't all his fault. Ian Desmond was charged with an error for a wild throw to first on a double-play attempt, though blame also goes to Adam Kennedy for a poor feed to Desmond and Adam Dunn for letting the wide throw get past him. Storen came up big in striking out Torres with a 3-2 offspeed pitch. It's now 7-3, heading to the eighth.

12:50 a.m. -- A perfect eighth for Tyler Clippard, who struck out two. Clip has really gotten back on track his last few times out. He hasn't put a man on base in his last four appearances.

1:03 a.m. -- That's your ballgame. Nats win, 7-3. Luis Atilano improves to 4-1 and records the first win for a starter since he beat the Mets on May 10. Tim Lincecum suffers his first loss of the year. It's not quite Speigner over Santana, but this one certainly ranks right up there.


Brian said...

Great...let's sit our best hitter against the league's best pitcher. What is Riggs smoking? I know Kennedy deserves some playing time, but tomorrow's day game might have been a better time to make the switch.

Anonymous said...

What's your take on the rumor that Strasburg won't start until the Pirates series? Any idea what the Post's source is on that one?

natsfan1a said...

Source, as cited on WaPo's Nationals Journal, is Bill Ladson, the Nats beat writer at

Souldrummer said...

I believe Ladson is virtually an agent of the organization. At this point, with 6/4 almost sold out, it's to their advantage to stoke some speculation on some other days for that homestand.

Anonymous8 said...

Do you realize how often Bill Ladson is wrong?

I remember the day Adam Dunn signed that Ladson wrote a piece in the morning that the Nats probably weren't going to sign Dunn and then after it was announced that same day that Dunn signed with the Nats then Ladson edited his own piece as if he had the right story all along which I guess was in hopes nobody would notice.

Maddy said...

Sounds like something someone who posts anonymously might do

K.D. said...

Chalk one up for Maddy.

natsfan1a said...

Hey, Maddy. Good to "see" you over here.

Michael J. Hayde said...

Desi's doing his best to earn the Silver Elvis wig tonight.

And it was just pointed out to me that, should the Nats hold on and win, the NL East will be the only MLB division where EVERY TEAM has a winning record.

So what's all this rubbish about the AL East being so tough? ;-)

Doc said...

Mark I've been looking up in my older Bill James Book, and I can't find any stats on duck farts. Do you know who holds the season record?

K.D. said...

The team must read your blog Mark, speed kills! Great game for the good guys.

Les in Nc said...

With a 6 run cushion, and our bullpen being pretty dominant thus far, I'm going to bed with a good feeling about this one.
Knock 'em dead Atilano!

Anonymous said...

just how unusual is it, for every team in a division to have a winning record? i don't remember seeing this in other divisions, in recent memory.

Carl in 309 said...

Let's send Mark to the All-Star Game--the guy is prescient! Either that or he should be on the Nats coaching staff. I know it's early, but the Nats appear to be walking around the bases--a little like Carl Crawford heisting bases against the Red Sox (he apparently stole another tonight). Alas, Lincecum has been pulled.

Anonymous said...

On this date in 2006, all five NL West teams were over .500:

nattaboy said...

Props, Mark. Major props. Lincecum looked rattled out there. Great that Nyjer started it off as we really need him to get going - including his defense with huge outfields to roam in San Fran and San Diego.

Go Nats! Who's still up?

greg said...

Brian... Brian, Brian, Brian... did you really just call Guzman "our best hitter?"

He has a good batting average, but that does not make him our best hitter (and it's only one facet of hitting). I would venture to say he is, at best, the 5th or 6th best hitter on the team (and I'm not sure he's really that good). Certainly behind Zimm, Dunn, Willingham, and Rodriguez. And I wouldn't put him ahead of Desmond right now, either. And Bernadina is right there with him, too.

Kyle said...

Guzman is a great hitter. He may not have great plate discipline but he literally puts wood on the ball with great frequency. I know its some type of fad to hate on Guz, but woah folks, he's second in the NL with batting average (which, unlike you know sabermetrics gets you a hitting title at the end of the year)

Anonymous said...

Freddy Sanchez won a batting title.

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