Sunday, June 6, 2010

Game 58: Reds at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Will cooler heads prevail in today's series finale against the Reds?
After some heated moments late in last night's game (all of them involving Brandon Phillips) the Nationals and Reds return to the field for today's series finale and rubber game, hoping the focus is all on good, clean baseball and nothing else.

The way Phillips' taunting was handled last night -- with a fastball to the ribs from Miguel Batista -- you would think there won't be any carryover today. Players all said the matter was handled "professionally" and there's no reason to think there's need for any more retaliation today. We'll see if that actually holds true.

Jim Riggleman is going with the same lineup once again. No changes, despite his club's recent lack of clutch hitting and the fact this is a day game after a night game.

Big start for Craig Stammen, whose job could be on the line. Will he be the one replaced by Stephen Strasburg? And if so, will he be sent down to Syracuse, or moved to the bullpen, in which case someone else has to go?

Check back for updates throughout...

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 88 degrees, Wind 15 mph out to RF
2B Cristian Guzman
CF Nyjer Morgan
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
C Wil Nieves
P Craig Stammen

REDS (32-24)
SS Orlando Cabrera
3B Miguel Cairo
1B Joey Votto
2B Brandon Phillips
RF Jay Bruce
LF Laynce Nix
CF Drew Stubbs
C Corky Miller
P Bronson Arroyo

1:11 p.m. -- Pudge update: Ivan Rodriguez ran the bases and took BP this morning and had no problems with his lower back. He will play five or six innings at Potomac tomorrow night, and if that goes well, he'll come off the DL Tuesday and catch Stephen Strasburg's debut.

1:15 p.m. -- Ross Detwiler update: The left-hander was here at the park today to throw a bullpen session. He's now ready to begin his rehab assignment and will pitch at Potomac Wednesday night. After that, he will probably move up to Harrisburg. Once he's built his arm strength back up, the Nats will have to decide if they think Detwiler deserves a spot in the big-league rotation or whether he should remain at Class AAA. However long it takes, Ross is just happy to be back pitching somewhere. "Just getting out of Florida, it feels great," he said. "Being around here, especially, it gives me something to work for."

1:20 p.m. -- It's hot today. I mean, really hot. And there's a huge line of thunderstorms approaching from the west, supposed to hit sometime around 3 or 4 p.m.

1:27 p.m. -- The guy who created the electric violin out of a baseball bat just played the national anthem, Jimi Hendrix-style. Love it.

1:37 p.m. -- Craig Stammen greets Orlando Cabrera with a fastball for strike one, and we are under way.

1:42 p.m. -- If Stammen is pitching for his job today, he didn't help his cause there in the top of the first. Leadoff double by Cabrera. RBI single by Joey Votto. Yet another shaky first inning for Stammen.

1:50 p.m. -- Stop the presses: Nyjer Morgan got a good bunt down. I mean, seriously: Stop the presses. It even led to a run. After Cristian Guzman (who doubled to lead off) moved to third on the sac bunt, Ryan Zimmerman lofted a base hit to right. We're tied 1-1 after one.

1:53 p.m. -- First rumbles of thunder from behind the third-base stands. The skies are darkening.

2:06 p.m. -- Wil Nieves is one of the nicest human beings I have ever met. But his batting average is now down to .184. Anyone who thinks the Nats haven't missed Pudge very much haven't been paying attention.

2:13 p.m. -- Much better stuff from Stammen now. He retired the side in the third and has retired six of the last seven he's faced. Still 1-1 going to the bottom of the third.

2:34 p.m. -- Just as the rain starts, Ian Desmond sends a double off the left-field wall, scoring Roger Bernadina to put the Nats up 2-1 after four. All of a sudden, the Nats are three outs from being declared the winners in this one.

2:52 p.m. -- Boy, has Craig Stammen settled down nicely as this one's played out. He's now allowed just one run on six hits in six strong innings. Getting a lot of groundballs, too. Eight of the 18 outs he's recorded so far have been on grounders to Cristian Guzman at second base. Nats still lead 2-1 heading to the bottom of the sixth.

3:01 p.m. -- So they give the Silver Elvis Wig to the player of the game, right? Well, at this rate, Adam Dunn is one more strikeout from receiving the Golden Sombrero. Just looks lost at the plate against Arroyo.

3:04 p.m. -- Today's paid attendance: 27,202. Most of them are currently under cover.

3:06 p.m. -- Wow, quick hook for Stammen. Two outs in the 7th, up 2-1, only on 66 pitches? Riggleman apparently has more faith in Drew Storen getting Orlando Cabrera out here.

3:08 p.m. -- And it works. Storen gets Cabrera to fly out and preserves the 2-1 lead.

3:32 p.m. -- Tyler Clippard needed 21 pitches to get through the eighth, but he threw 16 of them for strikes. Nice job by Store and Clip. Just up to Save now to finish this one off.

3:42 p.m. -- No sombrero for Dunn. He flied out to end the eighth. So we head to the ninth, Nats up 2-1, and Matt Capp... no wait, Clippard is staying in! Capps is warming, though.

3:46 p.m. -- OK, Clip was left in to face the left-handed Laynce Nix. Blew him away with a fastball, too. Now Capps is on to finish it off.

3:50 p.m. -- Oh boy, here we go again. Back-to-back doubles by the Reds, one a line drive over Roger Bernadina's head, the other a sharp grounder past Ryan Zimmerman. It's tied 2-2, and the Reds are threatening to take the lead.

3:55 p.m. -- And Scott Rolen's two-run homer to left puts the Reds on top 4-2. Capps' third blown save in a week. Panic time in NatsTown?

4:08 p.m. -- Michael Morse, ladies and gentlemen. We're tied again, 4-4. Guzman will be intentionally walked, so it's up to Nyjer Morgan to win it.

4:10 p.m. -- And we're going to extras. The Nats' lineup is a mess. Adam Dunn's gone. Nieves is gone. Jamie Burke's catching. There's no one left on the bench. Doug Slaten is now pitching.

4:30 p.m. -- Slaten couldn't get the third out in the 10th, so Riggleman turned to Miguel Batista. That didn't work. Drew Stubbs with the RBI single that gives the Reds the lead again. So it's 5-4 heading to the bottom of the 10th. Zimmerman, Kennedy (batting in Dunn's spot) and Willingham due up.

4:42 p.m. -- Another crushing loss is in the books. Reds win 5-4 in 10. Slaten takes the loss. Capps gets the blown save. The Nationals are four games under .500 for the first time. If only they could call up a savior from the minor leagues in time for their next game Tuesday. Then again, someone still has to close for Strasburg...


Anonymous said...

And Bally isn't looking so hot in Syracuse's bullpen right now ...

Anonymous said...

I know Guzman's empty .314 BA is fabulously impressive, but it really seems to me the team is better -- has a better chance to win -- with Kennedy at 2b, at least against RHPs. Guz should start at 2b against lefties, and get in every so often against RHP either at ss or 2b - but to have him start more than 50% of the games is a mistake.

Anonymous said...

Why don't they bat "Mr. Clutch" behind Willingham?

Jim Kurtzke said...

The thunderstorms have started out here in Ashburn. Heading your way.

A DC Wonk said...

I don't know why Guzzy is slammed so hard compared to other folks on the team. Yeah, I know, I know, he has limited range as a fielder and hardly ever walks.

But he has more two-out-RISP hits (two) in the last three games than Adam Dunn has had all season (zero).

And I thought this even before he led off today's game with a double (which puts him into a tie for third most on the team, btw -- to go along with his 3 triples, second highest on the team).

Enough with the Guz bashing already.

A DC Wonk said...

Not bad -- a six pitch inning for Stamme (top of third)

A DC Wonk said...

windy and raining here in fairfax at 2:22 pm

Anonymous said...

Kennedy to second, Guz to first, Dunn to the pine. Or: Morse [did i say that?] to first, Dunn to the pine. Or: The batboy to first, Dunn to . . .

Joe K said...

In line with DC Wonk...

The thing about Guzman, in my opinion, is that he does some things well, though he isn't a great player. Perhaps the Nats could find someone who can hit right-handers, and set up a platoon at second base. The Cubs have a bit of a traffic jam in the middle infield - it makes me wonder how much it would take to liberate Fontenot (or Theriot) in the off-season, if they choose not to retain Kennedy.

Grandstander said...

Skies are black over Pentagon City right now. Hopefully we can get this thing called before we blow it.

Guzman makes up for that pathetic feed to Desmond earlier.

Bill DeBaun said...

Rizzo just said to Debbi Taylor that "unless something changes" between now and then, Bryce Harper will be the pick.

Cranky Fan said...

Let me be the cranky old man for a moment. Why is it that during any break in the action -- rain delay, middle of an inning, conference at the mound, and so on -- the wizards operating the scoreboard take down the out of town scores and replace it with the dancine curly W or some other inane graphic. Not even and ad, which I could understand. Breaks in the action are where one most wants the out of town scoreboard.

Grandstander said...

@Cranky Fan

The graphics are there to entertain the casual fans who get frustrated during breaks in the action, not the hardcore baseball fans who are interested in what is happening elsewhere.

A DC Wonk said...

Joe K -- the thing is, as of this moment, Guz is batting .288 against right handers, which is a better BA than anyone else in today's starting lineup (except for Zim).

You're right -- he does a few things well, and some things not so well. But he's on a team that can use his hits.

A DC Wonk said...

... and Stammen's only thrown 60 pitches through six innings.

OK -- Mark, anyone else -- who do you send down when Strasburg comes up?

Anonymous said...

It's clear to me that the club needs Guz as an everyday player at least as long as he keeps up this level of play. One high profile error doesn't change the big picture, IMHO.

Grandstander said...

The thing with Guzman is, he's only valuable when he's hitting. If he starts slumping, all you have is a leadoff/#2 guy who can't hit, can't take a walk, can't bunt, can't steal and can't play defense.


LoveDaNats said...

How about move Stammen to the bullpen and send down Tyler Walker?

Grandstander said...

"How about move Atilano to the bullpen and send down Tyler Walker?"


Dave said...

@Cranky Fan: I agree with you, but I think Grandstander hit the nail on the head. They do all that useless crap for the casual fan, not for those of us who really follow the game.

I wish, simply, they would consistently get the in-game stats properly updated. I'm not in the park today, but last night (knock on wood), I don't think I noticed a single scoreboard mistake. First game I've seen all year where that's the case.

Cranky Fan said...

@Dave: right on; the scoreboard has come a long way since the sad and embarassing [sp? doesn't look right] first year. that first year in the new park we saw wrong pictures; pictures of one guy, stats of another, the auxillary boards not synced with the big board, and so on. but still it's hard to find the numbers on the big board. I could do with less of the cool pictures and more numbers.

Grandstander said...

I'd venture to guess that 95% of the people at any game couldn't tell you what a slugging percentage is and would rather see a blooper reel. Actually, we should bring back the blooper reel!

A DC Wonk said...

I was really hoping it'd be just "Store and Clip" today . . . sigh . . .

Anonymous said...

Carpenter just uttered ominous words: "It's up to Mike Morse." I had this typed before he doubled in the tying runs. I've learned my lesson.

Smatt1001 said...

Can I get a tums for anyone else?

sbrent said...

@smatt1001... better buy us the economy size bottle, please.

Suicide Squeeze said...

I think Riggs should get some credit for the unconventional double steal there before Morse's at-bat. Might have gotten two anyway, but there would have definitely been a play at the plate.

Doc said...

Time for Capps to work it out in a set-up role or less. Make Storen the closer until he proves otherwise!

Smatt1001 said...

So close once again and we come up short. I'm still liking this season better than last though.

Grandstander said...

That's like saying I prefer an interesting life with ups but a few more downs as opposed to a slow, painful, dragged out death.

Dryw Loves the Nats said...

Smatt1001, thanks for the reminder. It is still WAAAY better than last year, although these late-inning losses are getting old.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid this loss goes to Riggleman, Clippard knocking them dead and he inexplicably brings in Capps to blow it! Jim seems like a great guy, but everyone i our section was wondering why the heck he was bringing in Capps.

Anonymous said...

If he's your closer he's your close...gotta do it..once you go another way and it works you have to stay the's a big he ready to make that decision NOW? We'll find out after presser..would I like to see him hand job to Storen? Yes, i would. But what to do with Capps? Does he accept demotion or become an attitude problem..I assume Riggs and Rizzo are going to be talking about it tomorrow...we'll see

Smatt1001 said...

I'm not saying I like these but last year I had a paperback book in my ball park bag that was usually open by the 6th or 7th inning. At least now it's worth watching the 8th and 9th most of the time. Maybe it's time to see what Clippard can do as the closer until the Nats are ready to throw Storen into the mix.

NG said...

The Nieves batting average is abysmal, but his game calling has arguably been even worse. The decision to have Capps throw back-to-back sliders to Rolen after Rolen had shown no ability to make good contact on Capps' fastball was really the defining moment in this game. Terrible plan + terrible execution = terrible result.

I don't think it's a coincidence that Capps' struggles have coincided with Pudge being on the DL. I was one of those who was skeptical that Pudge's game-calling was going to make a big difference, but I'm a believer now. With Pudge back and Strasburg on Tuesday, it's almost like a new season here.

Anonymous said...

Every time Capps has some adversity, he blows up. Bernadina should have probably caught that fly to left. So instead of Capps bearing down he gives up the next double, OK tie game. Settle down, sh-t happens.

He then strikes out Rolen on that check swing but it isn't called. He sees adversity again and throws Rolen that same hanging breaker like he threw to El Caballo in Houston and same result, 2 run Homer.

I don't get it. I would have thought McCatty or the catcher would have calmed him down after the blown checkswing call to Rolen.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, meant Bernadina "right" field.

Anonymous said...

NG, you make an interesting point--that Capps troubles began about the time Pudge went on the DL. Nieves may have a lot of responsibility here and not just with Capps. I may be listening to Dibs too much but I think there's something to it.

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