Saturday, June 12, 2010

Game 63: Nats at Indians

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
J.D. Martin faces Fausto Carmona tonight at Progressive Field.
CLEVELAND -- There was a time when J.D. Martin was a top pitching prospect for the Cleveland Indians. Martin, the 35th overall pick in the 2001 draft, always dreamed of starting a game on the mound at Progessive Field.

Nine years later, Martin will finally get the chance. Wearing a Nationals uniform.

Having never made it with the Indians, in part because of arm injuries, Martin caught on with Washington last season, made the first 15 starts of his big-league career and has since returned to make two more starts this year. Tonight, the 27-year-old right-hander returns to the mound, and this time he'll do it against his former franchise. (There's just all kinds of intriguing Nats-Indians history in this series, isn't there?)

Fausto Carmona, a 19-game winner in 2009 who has battled injuries and inconsistencies since then, starts for Cleveland.

Check back for updates throughout...

Where: Progressive Field
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 83 degrees, Wind 9 mph out to RF
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Cristian Guzman
1B Adam Dunn
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Josh Willingham
DH Willie Harris
RF Roger Bernadina
2B Adam Kennedy
C Wil Nieves
(P J.D. Martin)

INDIANS (24-36)
CF Trevor Crowe
RF Shin-Soo Choo
C Carlos Santana
DH Travis Hafner
LF Austin Kearns
1B Russell Branyan
3B Jhonny Peralta
2B Luis Valbuena
SS Jason Donald
(P Fausto Carmona)

5:35 p.m. -- It's turn-back-the-clock night here in Cleveland, circa the 1920s. The scoreboard is only being shown in black and white. Ushers are wearing bowler hats. The Indians will wear 1920 throwbacks. The Nats will wear 1924 Senators throwbacks. Navy blue caps with a block, white W. Very simple gray uniforms -- only a navy blue W on the left sleeve and the number on the back.

5:53 p.m. -- Some of you are curious about tonight's lineup. A couple of points: Ivan Rodriguez is not in there because Jim Riggleman wants him catching Stephen Strasburg tomorrow. And since he's coming off that back injury, Pudge won't be allowed to catch three or four games in a row very often. "It's not going to fall where he catches Stephen Strasburg every time," Riggleman said. "But these first couple of times, we are doing that. If he caught tonight and tomorrow, that would be four in a row, a day game after a night game. With what's going on with Pudge's back, he would have had either today or tomorrow off, so we just made it tonight. He'll catch Stephen tomorrow." ... As for Willie Harris and Adam Kennedy starting for the second straight night, Riggleman said he feels like he's been leaving those two out of the mix too much lately, and it's adversely affecting their performances. "Two guys who we really need to help this ballclub are Kennedy and Harris, and it's just been a situation where I haven't been able to give them enough work," the manager said. "I think it's shown up in their game a little bit. We've just got to get them in there. We've just got to use Desmond's spot in the lineup to get Kennedy in there and use the DH spot to get Harris in there, and let them see pitches three or four consecutive at-bats so that when we call on them to pinch-hit, they'll have something to draw from. They'll be sharper."

7:07 p.m. -- With a strike from Fausto Carmona to Nyjer Morgan, we are underway.

7:12 p.m. -- Not an impressive top of the first from the the Nationals, who looked mighty feeble against Carmona. Morgan tapped a weak grounder to first. Cristian Guzman struck out looking. And Adam Dunn (who probably looks more ridiculous in those short pants than anyone else on the roster) grounded right into the teeth of the Indians' shift for the third out.

7:24 p.m. -- All of you who were aghast at Adam Kennedy starting at second base again tonight just got some more ammunition for your argument. He made a bad throw to second on a potential double-play grounder that would have gotten J.D. Martin out of the first inning unscathed. Instead, that runner came around to score on Travis Hafner's sac fly. That's now four errors by Kennedy in his last five starts at second base. Indians lead 1-0 after one.

7:50 p.m. -- Well, this one's off to a rousing start. The Indians have exploded out to a 5-0 lead after two innings. They strung together four runs and five hits off Martin in the second, the biggest of them a two-out, two-run double by rookie catcher Carlos Santana (who received starting ovation for the first hit of his big-league career). Martin was victimized by the Kennedy error in the first, but he was tagged by Cleveland's lineup in the second, not an encouraging development.

8:08 p.m. -- The Nationals have sent 12 men to the plate in four innings against Fausto Carmona, and all 12 have been retired in one form or another. It's not a no-hitter -- Adam Kennedy did single up the middle in the third. But Kennedy was promptly retired on a 5-4-3 double play on a grounder hit by Wil Nieves. That's the extent of the Nats' offense so far. They still trail 5-0, and more and more, it's looking like Stephen Strasburg will have to play the role of stopper tomorrow afternoon lest the Nationals get swept by Manny Acta and the Tribe.

8:17 p.m. -- Fausto Carmona doing his best Stephen Strasburg imitation tonight. He's recorded four straight strikeouts and has still faced the minimum through five innings. Zimmerman, Willingham and Harris had no chance in the fifth; all struck out swinging.

8:21 p.m. -- And now Santana has hit his first career home run. Crushed a 1-1 fastball down the middle from Martin into the right-field bleachers to make it 6-0 in the fifth. Absolute domination from the Indians tonight.

8:30 p.m. -- Another hit surrendered by Carmona, but another double-play grounder. So he's still faced the minimum through six.

8:51 p.m. -- The Nationals will send more than 27 batters to the plate tonight after all. Ryan Zimmerman clubs a solo homer to left to lead off the eighth. So it's 6-1, though Carmona continues to cruise. Amazingly, Martin is still in this game. He's allowed one run on two hits over his last five innings. The damage, though, was done earlier.

9:10 p.m. -- And it's over. Nats lose 7-1, as Carmona goes the distance and faces only one batter over the minimum. At least it was quick. Time of game: 2 hours and 3 minutes.


Anonymous said...

Willie Harris batting .170 protecting Willingham? Guzman battng second with the low OBP playing shortstop? Really? Throw in the weak hitting Nieves? Chalk up another loss on Jim Riggleman.

Anonymous said...

Riggleman wants to lose this series. That's pretty clear. Maybe its a behind-the-back handed favor for his old boss Manny Acta?

Anonymous said...

This is getting ridiculous. Why is Morse not the DH?? Harris hitting behind Willingham? And Willingham in the field instead of Harris? Are you kidding?
Reminds me of this:

Les in NC said...

There is no question, IMO, that you guys may be right that Riggs is attempting to throw this series for Manny for whatever reason. Its ludicrous! When given the oppurtunity to "hide" Guzman from the field of play and yet keep him in the game, Riggs decides to play him at one of the most important (defensively) positions in the field??! What gives?

Doc said...

Willie Harris has been quoted as saying he would like to play for Acta---with this lineup, he already is!!!!

Anonymous said...

Harris is hitting worst than Austin Kearns did last year. Where's the hue and cry against him playing that there was last year? And Guzman is slumping badly?

Doc said...

I'll bet Riggleman paid a tea-leaves reader to give him this line-up.

Anonymous said...

I'm not the sort to jump on every single little decision a manager makes. But Willie Harris - two days in a row? Seriously?!

Anonymous said...

Riggleman is losing it. I have never seen a DH with a .170 batting average.

Slidell said...

It does make one wonder. It would be hard to concoct a weaker, more-illogical lineup from the Nats roster. Maybe Riggs knows something, or (if one wishes to adopt a conspiratorial complex) maybe "they" want us to look bad 2 days in a row so that You Know Who looks all the better by comparison tomorrow.

Doc said...

EARTH TO JIMMY RIGGLEMAN: Mike Morse hits RHPs better than LHPs! Also, Mike Morse vs. Wee Willie, on the subject of RHPs: BA .556 vs. .171! Yeah, yeah I know, Morse has lesser data, but still!

Doc said...

Hey Jimmy, hows 'bout keeping Morse sharp? Or does his sharpness count less than Harris'?

Anonymous said...

Cronyism is what it amounts to for Jim Riggleman.

Les in Ottawa said...

I understand why Nieves is in the lineup, Pudge can't catch every game and there really doesn't seem to be anybody else, but when you're starting a huge offensively liability for defensive reasons, why on earth would you start and even bigger offensive liability when you have a guy hitting over .400 on the bench. It's called balancing your lineup to compensate for necessary evils. It's good, though, that he split Harris and Nieves up so that they can kill rallies more effectively. If they were hitting back to back the other seven might actually be able to get something going.

Slidell said...

@Les--- good point about splitting Willie and Wil.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mac said...

RE: Riggs explanation of Harris.

So, we are giving up a spot in the lineup and a better chance to win to give Harris some BP? Isn't that what batting cages and batting practice are for?

natscan reduxit said...

... well now I'm fully on the bandwagon. Not the one which claims Riggleman is a crummy manager; I'm not there yet because he does have a track record. But that day is coming soon if any more lineups like these pop up. Willie Harris as DH?? MM would be the logical choice. Or Pudge, who could hit with his back, just not catch. Where's the logic?

Go Nats!!

dj in Fl. said...

Anonymous said:
"Riggleman wants to lose this series. That's pretty clear. Maybe its a behind-the-back handed favor for his old boss Manny Acta?"

For those short on memory, Manny did not hire Riggleman or any one else on his staff last year. On the final day of the preceeding season Jim Bowden fired them all. So save the conspiracy theory and accept what Riggs had said since day one. It is a long season and everyone will play. These are the players he has been given and it is his job to rotate them in. Is there some thought process between mgmt. going on behind the curtain we do not know about?
You betcha, and we will see who has earned a spot for the rest of the season by the trade deadline.

Anonymous said...

If we had a Nats beat writer with b***s, they'd ask Riggleman if he's trying to throw this series!

JohnD said...

What is with these lineups?? Why i'snt mike morse in the lineup but willie harris is?? What is riggelman thinking?? These past two games made me really start to dislike this guy. First it was all the double switches that dont make sence now its these disgusting lineups. I wish i could call the front office and start screaming. They should be embarrassed with these lineups.

Big Oil said...

Incredibly poor managing. Keep Harris and Kennedy sharp? With Nieves already catching? Isn't the reason they are on the bench in the first place that they aren't good enough to start? So under the guise of "keeping them sharp", when they are already playing poor, is the rationale? Embarrassing and inexcusable for a Rizzo team.

Our manager believes not playing equates to causation for their struggles, rather than their true talent which has told us over the course of their careers that this is largely who they are.

Anonymous said...

I Kennedy trying to get released?

K.D. said...

Kennedy has a serious case of the "yips", hopefully he will settle down. J.D. looks great.

JayB said...


Is Rizzo in the Stands? Can you ask him about what he thinks about the lineups used the last two nights? Are they trying to save Acta's job for him or what? No possible excuse for Kennedy and Harris in the lineup again. NONE! Did you follow up on Rigg's rationalization and what the fans want to he trying to lose these games?

K.D. said...

Well, I sure spoke too soon.

Les in NC said...


JayB said...

Riggleman is to blame for the dead energy this team is showing the past two games. Morse should be in the games. Desmond should be playing. Come on this team looks like it looked at the line up card when they got to the park and said f it is Riggs does not care we will just go through the motions.

Rizzo has to get some better catching in place soon. No way this team can win with Wil N playing this much.

Anonymous said...

I realize this is kind of pointless to say but, I was always a Manny Acta fan :P. I never thought they should have fired him. It wasn't his fault he had a terrible team, I thought he was a fantastic manager.

Anonymous said...

A baffling lineup to be sure. I say put the batboy on the mound. Couldn't do much worse. Riggo often IMHO overengineers the lineup and defensive switches. But I feel for the guy when he looks at who he's got to throw sometimes

JayB said...

I do not want to here any Riggs BS about how tough Fausto was tonight. Nats line up was the weakest I have seen since 2007 and Robert Fick.

Kennedy, Nieves, Harris, Morgan all have proven they can not hit anyone the past month. Save it Riggs, you lost the game before it started. Put Morse and Ian out there and give us a chance please.

Anonymous said...

For those short on memory, Manny did not hire Riggleman or any one else on his staff last year. On the final day of the preceeding season Jim Bowden fired them all.

Actually, Manny did hire Riggleman. At the end of the 2008 season Bowden fired all the coaches (except St Claire) but kept Manny. Simultaneously, Riggleman got fired from the interim mgr job in Seattle. Then Manny hired Riggleman as his new bench coach, with Bowden's approval of course.

Les in NC said...

We appreciate you 'taking one for the team' J.D!
Too bad Riggs set you up for the loss before you ever took the mound.

Brian said...

Why doesn't Riggs just put three pitchers in the lineup instead of Kennedy, Harris and Nieves? I understand Nieves - I don't like it, but I understand it. But batting Willie sixth in last night's deflating loss sure didn't work, so why do it AGAIN? What does Riggs have against Morse? Seriously? Mark, I hope you or someone else gets a chance to ask Riggleman for a further explanation. Putting Harris and Kennedy in the lineup because they're slumping is bunch of BS. This is a MAJOR LEAGUE baseball game and Riggs' job is to put out the lineup that gives the team the best chance of winning (this sure as heck isn't it), not to do favors and give guys playing time just for the sake of giving them playing time. Unbelievable!!!!

Arlington Big Fish said...

A technical question. The volume level on the Nats telecast (on Verizon FIOS Channel 1) is consistently about 1/2 the level of the other MASN channel. It's been this way for a couple of weeks. I've complained to MASN, & they say they can't tell any difference. Is anyone else experiencing this

Ernie said...

It was retro night. Problem was that we dressed like the 1924 Senators but played like the 2008-09 Nats. Not the retro I want to dwell on that much....

A DC Wonk said...

If we had a Nats beat writer with b***s, they'd ask Riggleman if he's trying to throw this series!

Riiiggght. And Riggleman's motive for that would be what, exactly?

It's a long year. I realize that fans live and die with every pitch, inning, and game, but really . . .

Doc said...

If you're a Nats fan, you have to be frustrated. Really no excuse for Pudge not to be at DH when he's not catching. Desi(maybe our best clutch hitter) did not need to be sitting on the bench, and Morse should have been in there at RF, with Bernadina in CF.

Now there's 3 offensive players who might have made a differece, if only because there was nobody in their part of the lineup that was better than them!

Riggleman will never be anything other than a .500 manager, because that's the way he manages. What's the point of having a front office full of statisticians/sabermetricians, when the manager pays them no heed.

Dave said...

@Arlington Big Fish: Re: the reduced audio on MASN2 on Verizon, I also notice that. The audio is very quiet--until those commercials for Verizon FiOS come on. They will blast you out of your seat.

This is not on MASN--it's on Verizon, which still refuses to offer MASN2 in HD, even though their major competitors have all offered the HD version all season.

Shame on Verizon for giving us a crappy picture and sub-audible sound in the week that Strasburg makes his debut.

At least for tomorrow's game, you can watch the HD version on channel 50.

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