Thursday, May 27, 2010

Game 48: Nats at Giants

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats and Giants play the rubber game at AT&T Park this afternoon.
SAN FRANCISCO -- OK, the above photo is totally misleading. I took it yesterday, when the sun was shining and the backdrop was beautiful. Today, it's gray, overcast and currently pouring. The forecast is not promising at all. But since this is the final game of the series (and the Nationals don't make another trip here this season) they're going to have to do whatever they can to try to get this game in.

If and when it does get underway, Jim Riggleman will have a totally new-look lineup out there against Giants left-hander Barry Zito. Justin Maxwell is in center field, Cristian Guzman is in right field, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn have been flip-flopped and Carlos Maldonado is behind the plate.

Check back for updates throughout...

Where: AT&T Park
Gametime: 3:45 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Showers, 50 degrees, Wind 12 mph RF to LF
CF Justin Maxwell
RF Cristian Guzman
1B Adam Dunn
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Josh Willingham
SS Ian Desmond
2B Alberto Gonzalez
C Carlos Maldonado
P Craig Stammen

GIANTS (23-22)
RF Andres Torres
2B Freddy Sanchez
3B Pablo Sandoval
1B Aubrey Huff
SS Juan Uribe
CF Aaron Rowand
LF John Bowker
C Eli Whiteside
P Barry Zito

2:32 p.m. -- Weather update: There has actually been a little clearing in the skies over the last 20-30 minutes, and the tarp just came off the infield. For now, they're saying we'll start on time.

3:45 p.m. -- Sure enough, we are underway on time, with a ball from Barry Zito to Justin Maxwell.

3:48 p.m. -- And just like that, the Nats take a 1-0 lead. Adam Dunn pounces on Zito's first-pitch fastball and deposits it above the right-field fence and into the "Levi's Landing" here at A&T Park. Dunn's team-leading, 10th homer of the season puts the Nats on top early.

4:00 p.m. -- Craig Stammen gave the run right back to the Giants in the bottom of the first, but it almost seems unfair to blame the pitcher for this one. Freddy Sanchez hit a bloop single to right. Then with two outs, Aubrey Huff hit what would normally be a routine grounder to the second baseman. Except Alberto Gonzalez was positioned way over to the right side of the infield and had no chance to make a play. Stammen did his job; he got a groundball. But that prolonged the inning and allowed Juan Uribe to smoke a line-drive single to left that brought home Sanchez and tied this game 1-1 after one.

4:03 p.m. -- No sooner did I type that than Josh Willingham mashed a 2-1 fastball from Zito into the left-field bleachers. The Hammer is on a tear right now. He's got 10 hits in his last 26 at-bats, three of them homers, two of them doubles, with eight RBI, seven walks and a .590 OBP over that span. Nats retake a 2-1 lead.

4:17 p.m. -- Make it 3-1 thanks to a fortuitous call by first-base ump Casey Moser. Moser called Maxwell safe on a grounder to third because Aubrey Huff's foot came off the bag while catching the throw from Sandoval. Technically, Moser was probably right. But it was real close. And usually you don't see that call unless it's blatantly obvious. The Nats, of course, will gladly take it. They lead 3-1 going to the bottom of the second.

4:37 p.m. -- I think we just saw how the little game "Flip" that several Nats play before BP can actually pay off. Alberto Gonzalez just made a nifty flip to Ian Desmond to start off a pretty, 4-6-3 double play to end the third and preserve the 3-1 lead. Stammen has pitched pretty well, recording six of nine outs on groundballs so far.

4:53 p.m. -- Stammen allowed a leadoff homer to Aubrey Huff in the fourth, but it didn't look like a terrible pitch, a sinker down and in. Stammen shook it off and went back to work, getting a double-play grounder out of Aaron Rowand and another groundball from John Bowker. 3-2 Nats through four.

5:11 p.m. -- Just when it looked like Stammen was in trouble -- allowing two walks in the fifth, including one to Barry Zito -- he got a big groundball out of Sandoval to end the inning. Stammen's at 70 pitches through five. No one warming in the pen, so he'll bat in the sixth and return to the mound for the bottom of the inning.

5:17 p.m. -- After the early outburst, the Nats have done very little with Zito. They've got three singles (one of them an infield hit) over the last four innings. They still lead 3-2, but with Stammen starting to show some cracks in the foundation and four more innings to go, it's a dangerous proposition to assume three runs wins this game.

5:22 p.m. -- Great job by Stammen in the sixth. Retired the side, all on groundouts, needed only 10 pitches to do it. Thirteen of 18 outs on the ground so far today.

5:32 p.m. -- Instant replay time! Adam Dunn's drive bounced off the top of the wall in right and was ruled a double. According to the locals, the ground rule says that's the right call. It would need to have hit off the green "roof" farther to the right to be a home run.

5:34 p.m. -- And the umps just confirmed it. Double for Dunn.

5:43 p.m. -- The Nats salvage one run out of the inning, thanks to Willingham's sac fly. So it's now 4-2 heading to the bottom of the seventh. Stammen coming back out to pitch, sitting on 80 pitches. Remember: Tyler Clippard pitched two innings last night, would think he's unavailable. Sean Burnett is currently warming up.

5:54 p.m. -- Things are getting hairy here, and very little of it is the fault of the Nats' pitching staff. Stammen departed after two batters in the seventh, the first of which reached on Adam Dunn's error. Sean Burnett entered and made a good, 1-2 pitch to Nate Schierholtz (a slider down and away). Schierholtz somehow went down, got the ball and drove it to center field for an RBI single. Burnett then broke Andres Torres' bat but still watched the ball fall into right field for a double. It's 4-3, tying run on third, go-ahead run on second, and Tyler Walker is now on to pitch.

5:57 p.m. -- There goes the lead. Walker falls behind Sanchez 2-0 and then leaves a tailing fastball over the plate, which Sanchez lines to left for a two-run single. The Giants now lead 5-4. Wow.

6:12 p.m. -- The Nats are down to their final three outs. Despite a leadoff single from Adam Kennedy in the eighth, Willie Harris hit into a double play and Roger Bernadina flied out to center. A game that tilted in the Nationals' favor not long ago is on the verge of turning into a loss.

6:21 p.m. -- Here we go: Ninth inning, down one. Maxwell, Morgan, Dunn and (possibly) Zimmerman against Giants closer Brian Wilson.

6:28 p.m. -- That'll do it. Wilson retires the side in the ninth, and the Nats drop a very winnable game, 5-4, and the series. They head to San Diego now for three this weekend.


Mac said...

Are we just not trying today?

cass said...

"Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn have been flip-flopped"

This scared me at first... I was picturing Dunn playing 3B and Zimmerman playing 1B.

DKSW said...

I am rooting for Maxwell to have a breakout performance today...

Capitol Baseball said...

I know it's a day game after a night game on the west coast, so I understand putting in some backups. But after lighting up one of the best pitchers in baseball for 6 runs in 4 2/3rds last night (even though he may not have had his best stuff), I tend to agree with Mac on this one. Especially with Stammen on the mound. We're going to need run support.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, newness. Its so crazy it just might work. Bernie and Nyjer are slumping a little, giving them a day off isn't a terrible idea. Zimm's slumping too, so again, I like it.

At first I thought that you meant Zimm and Dunn would be switching fielding positions. Then we could have agreed that Riggles was phoning this one in.

Anonymous said...

I hope they get this game in....because after the Padres, the Nats are definitely going to be at the bottom of the standings.

Doc said...

How about one more righty in the lineup--Morse in for Dunn? Nothing lost with Maxwell in for Morgan, and maybe something positive will happen. I was hoping Riggs would put Guzman in right.

Mac said...

I don't understand why we are trying Guzie in RF. Wasn't the reason we were worried about him this year is because he could no longer make the throw from the hole form short to first? If that's the case (which it is) then why is he in the one spot where you need a cannon for an arm?

Not saying it isn't nice to have his bat in the lineup, cause he is on fire. I'm just saying if I'm the Giants 3rd base coach I am sending everyone.

Anonymous said...

Okay, play Maxwell against Zito but why have him leadoff? This is some poor soul's brainstorm because he was leading off in Syracuse, too, despite all evidence to the contrary. Another "try out" in Natsville, something we're all too accustom to.

A DC Wonk said...

I'd rather have seen Willingham flip-flopped with Dunn.

And I'm glad to see Desmond move up to the 6-spot

Chris said...

Anonymous said...
I hope they get this game in....because after the Padres, the Nats are definitely going to be at the bottom of the standings.

The Pads are a fraud. They'll finish no better than .500. Unless, of course, you really believe that Jon Garland will stay on pace for 20 wins and a sub 2.20 ERA.

Sec$39.99 said...

May I refer you to the thorough spanking "are we just not trying" was administered on the NJ? That is all.

Janner33 said...

Re: Anon @ 1.33pm

Did Mark's blog just get his first trash talker from another team? Exciting news! Means the blog is becoming more mainstream :)

erocks33 said...

"Okay, play Maxwell against Zito but why have him leadoff?"
who else ya got? Guz? then who bats second? Desmond batting second? then you've got Maxwell, Gonzalez, Maldando and the pitcher rounding out the bottom of the order. Willingham would get intentionally walked every time he came up!

sometimes it's best to change just one batting position than changing multiple ones ...

Anonymous said...

Ordinarily, I might question what the heck is going on with the line-up, but instead, I've come to the conclusion that Jim Riggleman knows more than I do...imagine that. GO NATS....JTinSC

Sec$39.99 said...

Anyway, no, Guzman was not moved because of his arm. It's his range that's much diminished. True, he's not going to make anyone forget Roberto Clemente, but he's in there to hit, mainly, and make the normal plays, which he'll do.

sec3 said...

Janner, good catch. I thought that was just another of our own Eeyores.

Janner33 said...

@sec3 LOL - Yeah, we have enough to fill Nats Park. Speaking of which i haven't seen JayB or Aeliano around for awhile?

Section 222 said...

I'm waiting for the first time that Guzman really misplays a flyball or makes a truly awful throw from RF. I imagine the experiment will continue until that happens because using him in RF gives Riggleman another option for putting him in the lineup.

David said...

how come Clippard didn't get a save last night? he faced 6 batters over two innings, and was given a 4 run lead to protect, and ended the game? i don't get it. i thought that was a textbook two inning save.

Anonymous said...

The save rule, from Wikipedia:
A save is a statistic credited to a relief pitcher, as set forth in Rule 10.19 of the Rules of Baseball. That rule states the official scorer shall credit a pitcher with a save when such pitcher meets all four of the following conditions[2]:

He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his team;
He is not the winning pitcher;
He is credited with at least ⅓ of an inning pitched; and
He satisfies one of the following conditions:
He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning
He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, at bat or on deck
He pitches for at least three innings
If the pitcher surrenders the lead at any point, he cannot get a save, but he may be credited as the winning pitcher if his team comes back to win. No more than one save may be credited in each game.

For Clippard to get a save when coming in with a 4 run lead, he would have had to pitch at least 3 innings. He didn't, ergo no save.

Natsochist said...

Hey Mark - I remember you mentioning earlier this year how often the Nats allowed at least one run in the half-inning after they scored.

Granted this one wasn't his fault, but it seems to me that a large number of those situations seem to come with Stammen on the mound. Anyone able to confirm this, or do you get the same feeling?

Mark Zuckerman said...

Natsochist: You're right that earlier in the year the pitching staff had a knack for allowing runs right after scoring. Though I feel like that hasn't been the case as much lately. Stammen certainly had that problem in his game at Philly in early April (that hideous game where the scoreboard was filled with non-zeroes).

NATurallyYours said...

Through 2, the "not trying", "flip-flopping", no-Morse line-up seems to be OK. I'm thinking JTinSC is on to something. Maybe, just maybe, baseball lifer Jim Riggleman knows more about his team than we do. Nah, that can't be it...

Sec$39.99 said...

Yes, and that bum Gonzalez, what's he doing there? Just a double and starting a circus doubleplay...

Sec3 said...

Mark, is that the game they call "Nieves a fuera"?

I hope I'd still be laughing if it was "[me] a fuera"...

Mark Zuckerman said...

Sec3: Yes, that's the game. For those who can't translate, that means "Nieves is out."

sec$39.99 said...

Don't know the ground rules, but it looks like it hit the cement cap, off the iron railing, and back in, which I'm guessing is in play.

meixler said...

If you look at the side angle replay of that Dunn double (*cough* homer *cough*), it really does look like a double ricochet, off the top of the wall then off of either that little fence thing or the back of a seat. I don't think the umps looked at that one well enough.

Anonymous said...

An interesting question is "why didn't the runner on first score?" Dunn's hit was in the air so long and had such a high bounce that the runner should have scored.

meixler said...

True dat, but luckily Maxwell eventually made it home anyway.

Sec$39.99 said...

5:38 Anon, with the way the wind works in that park, he probably thought there was a fair chance it would stay in and be caught.

Anonymous said...

Dunn is a disgrace at first base.

Anonymous said...

Dunn has just blown the game.

phil dunn said...

Dunn just batted, why didn't Riggleman remove him for defensive purposes with a 4-2 lead??????

JayB said...


Honestly, do you see any value in Maxwell? Any at all?

Anonymous said...

Maxwell can't even hit at the triple A level and he'll never hit in the majors. The Nats need to show him the door. He looked scared when he faced Brian Wilson in the 9th and didn't even take the bat off his shoulder.

NatsNut said...

when you see Ladson, tell him the Nationals reliever is TYLER Walker, not Todd.


An Briosca Mor said...

"An interesting question is "why didn't the runner on first score?" Dunn's hit was in the air so long and had such a high bounce that the runner should have scored."

The ball left the park and came back in, the only question was where it left. If it wasn't a home run, then it would have to have been scored a ground rule double. Runner on first automatically gets two bases.

sec3 said...

no, not a GRD. It never left the field of play, and there was no fan interference. Same as if it were (unambiguouisly) off the wall.

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