Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Game 65: Nats at Tigers

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Comerica Park, home of the Tigers, with downtown Detroit in the background.
DETROIT -- Good afternoon from Motown, a city with a proud baseball tradition that has already been at the center of plenty of news this season. Armando Galarraga's should-have-been perfect game. Ernie Harwell's passing. Dontrelle Willis' trade.

In the middle of it all is a pretty good Tigers team that currently sits at 33-29 and sends an intriguing young right-hander to the mound tonight in Max Scherzer. Picked up from the Diamondbacks in the three-way Curtis Granderson trade that included the Yankees, Scherzer is only 2-6 with a 6.30 ERA but since returning from a minor-league stint has looked much better. He struck out 14 Oakland A's in only 5 2/3 innings in his first start back in the majors. (Hmm, sound like anyone we know?)

The Nationals counter with John Lannan, who is coming off a rough outing (five runs, 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Pirates) but has overall pitched well since overcoming his elbow/forearm issue.

No Stephen Strasburg in this series, but that doesn't mean he's out of the spotlight entirely. Sports Illustrated revealed today that he's on the cover of this week's issue. If he gets hammered by the White Sox Friday night, you'll know who to blame.

Check back for updates throughout...

Where: Comerica Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Cloudy, 78 degrees, Wind 13 mph in from CF
2B Cristian Guzman
CF Nyjer Morgan
3B Ryan Zimmerman
DH Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
RF Roger Bernadina
1B Michael Morse
SS Ian Desmond
(P John Lannan)

TIGERS (33-29)
CF Ryan Raburn
DH Johnny Damon
RF Magglio Ordonez
1B Miguel Cabrera
LF Brennan Boesch
2B Carlos Guillen
3B Brandon Inge
C Gerald Laird
SS Danny Worth
(P Max Scherzer)

6:28 p.m. -- I've amended the weather forecast for this game. Looks like any threat of rain isn't going to arrive until after midnight. So unless this game goes 26 innings, we shouldn't be affected by it.

6:37 p.m. -- If you haven't seen it already, I posted injury updates on Scott Olsen, Chien-Ming Wang, Jesus Flores, Ross Detwiler and Jordan Zimmermann on the homepage, so be sure to check that out.

7:06 p.m. -- And we are underway here with a ball from Scherzer to Guzman.

7:11 p.m. -- What do you know: Nyjer Morgan scored a run almost entirely by himself! Beat out a bunt single. Stole second. Took third when Gerald Laird's throw skipped away. Scored on Ryan Zimmerman's sac fly to right, narrowly beating Magglio Ordonez's throw to the plate. Nats lead 1-0.

7:16 p.m. -- John Lannan managed to navigate his way through the heart of the Tigers' lineup without suffering any damage. He put Ordonez and Cabrera on with two outs, but got a groundball out of Brennan Boesch to end the first inning without a run scoring.

7:37 p.m. -- Everyone was raving about the punch at the bottom of the Nats' lineup tonight, but it failed to come through there in the top of the second. With two on and one out, Michael Morse struck out on a 2-2 slider from Scherzer. Ian Desmond then flied out to left, stranding both runners on base and keeping the score 1-0 Nats heading to the bottom of the second.

7:52 p.m. -- If I told you Lannan was going to give up three hits and a walk in the second inning, how many runs would you think he surrendered? How about only one? Thanks to some nice plays by Desmond and Morse to gun down two runners at the plate, Lannan escaped without significant damage. The Tigers did push one run across when he walked Ryan Raburn on an outside 3-2 fastball with the bases loaded. But Lannan came up big to get Ordonez to fly out to left with the bases still loaded to end the inning. So it's only 1-1 after two. Lannan has, however, already thrown 44 pitches. He may not be long for this game at that rate.

8:08 p.m. -- Talk about a clutch hit. With two on, two out and facing an 0-2 count, Willingham tags a pitch from Scherzer into right-center field to score Morgan with the go-ahead run. Moments later, Rodriguez singles up the middle to bring home Dunn and put the Nats up 3-1. Couple of really big hits from those two after the Tigers intentionally walked Dunn. Apparently Jim Leyland didn't realize Dunn is 0-for-25 with two outs and runners in scoring position this season.

8:19 p.m. -- And Lannan proceeds to give one of the runs back. Cabrera laces a double to left to lead off the third, takes third on a grounder to the right side (nice diving play by Guzman) and then scores on a chopper to first. Morse tried to throw out the Tigers' third baserunner at the plate already tonight, but his throw was just slightly to the right side of the plate, and Pudge couldn't make a spinning tag of Cabrera, who slid in untouched. Lannan has put men in scoring position in each of his three innings so far, hasn't looked sharp. It's 3-2 Nats after three.

8:26 p.m. -- Michael Morse to the rescue! Crushed an 0-2 fastball from Scherzer over the right-field fence. Dude is now hitting .429 with a .679 slugging percentage. Jim Riggleman says there's not really a place for him in this lineup on a daily basis. Might be time to find one.

8:41 p.m. -- Another inning, another jam for Lannan to try to pitch out of. He couldn't quite do it this time. Tigers brought home two more runs, thanks to an RBI double by Ordonez and then a sac fly by Guillen which followed an intentional walk to Cabrera and an actual walk to Boesch. Lannan has put 12 men on base in four innings. Something's not right here. Either he's hurting, or he's regressed as a pitcher, big-time.

8:59 p.m. -- Well, you had to see that coming. Starting the fifth on 91 pitches, Lannan crumbled. Laird led off with a single (his third in three at-bats). Guzman then booted Worth's slow roller. That set the stage for Rayburn to destroy a 1-0 fastball over the heart of the plate to left field for a three-run homer. Tigers lead 7-4, and Lannan is done. His pitching line is not pretty: 4.1 ip, 10 h, 7 r, 4 bb, 1 k. 104 pitches, 63 strikes. As my colleague Adam Kilgore just pointed out, Lannan has now recorded 23 strikeouts in 13 starts this season. Stephen Strasburg has 22 in two starts.

9:28 p.m. -- Things have settled down here, though not necessarily in a good way. Tyler Walker has silenced the Tigers' lineup since entering for Lannan. But the Nationals' lineup has done nothing since Morse' homer in the fourth. Scherzer retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced, and lefty Phil Coke retired the side in the seventh. All of a sudden, the Nats are down to their final six outs and still trail by three runs. It's 7-4 in the bottom of the seventh.

9:43 p.m. -- Ten in a row retired by Detroit's pitching staff. Nats are down to their last three outs, still trail by three runs and will most likely face closer Jose Valverde (13 saves, 0.66 ERA) in the ninth.

10:03 p.m. -- Ballgame over. Nats lose 7-4. Lannan falls to 2-4. Will be interested to hear what he and Riggleman say after this one.


Anonymous said...

Now that's an (AL) lineup.

JayB said...

Agreed....still can not believe Riggleman took 3 tries to get this right.

JayB said...

From Kilgore....."the Nationals as constructed today are using their deepest possible lineup."....unlike Friday or Sat in Cleveland!

Section 222 said...

This lineup makes alot of sense. And as long s Morse keeps hitting, when we're back in the NL, put him in RF, bump Bernadina over to CF, and you've got yourself our best hitting lineup without sacrificing all that much defense. Nyjer and Willie for late inning defense (but not too early, please). Try it for a few weeks Riggs and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

hells yeah. what he said.

Anonymous said...

Doesnt look like we will get this one in. Raining hard in Detroit and there is no sign of letting up.

K.D. said...

Okay, I am eating a little humble pie here. Nice to see Pudge in the lineup and catching Lannan for a change.

Les in NC said...

A definite "A" line-up!! Now lets see what happens. I will be surprised if they dont score 5-6 runs tonight. But the Nats do have a knack for making opposing pitchers look good unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

This lineup makes alot of sense. And as long s Morse keeps hitting, when we're back in the NL, put him in RF, bump Bernadina over to CF, and you've got yourself our best hitting lineup without sacrificing all that much defense. Nyjer and Willie for late inning defense (but not too early, please). Try it for a few weeks Riggs and see what happens.

Trade Willie to Acta where he seems to want to go. Move onward and upward with the guys they have plus the Syracuse depth (Chris Duncan).

markfd said...

Love the linup but probably would bat Bernadina 9th.

It looks from the forecast that the rain will halt before game time and not start up again until after midnight.

Anonymous said...

What are you talking about Anon @ 449. It isn't raining in Detroit.

Anonymous said...

Our BIG PROBLEM tonight is..... Lannan. Oh well.

Anonymous said...


meixler said...

I'm actually curious to see how well Dunn hits tonight. Yes he's been tearing it up lately but he's also made comments about how the switch to first base has helped him keep his head in the game defensively as well as offensively. I just hope riding a bench between at bats doesn't have an adverse effect.

Doc said...

See Uncle Jimmy has been readin' and listenin' to us. A goooooooooooooooood lineup! Suppose Fox bought up the Saturday game coming, in order to catch Wee Willie at DH? Maybe not.

Good to see that they're working on a new contract for AD. Last time I checked he had the best defensive stats in the infield. Maybe Uncle Jimmy will keep him in the game late; Kennedy has more errors than he does!

Mark L said...

Agreed, play the hot hand. Make Morse start getting out before he's pulled this time. Thanks, Mark.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...

Will a rainout tonight mean Jesus gets bumped to Saturday's Fox-athon game? Conspiracy theorists, start your engines...

Anonymous said...

Hey you rainy guys. Michigan is the state that looks like a mitten when you're looking at a map. It's not raining there. It's raining on LAKE Michigan, but last I checked, there is no baseball on the schedule there for tonight.

Also, I would switch Bernie and Desmond, since Dez is pretty adept at knocking guys in so far.

Anonymous said...

regarding Dunn and keeping his head in the game -- i'm not sympathetic with a pro who can't keep his head in the game regardless of his situation. just my $0.02

Anonymous said...

Dunn is so laid back I've got the feeling he will be better at DH than Zimmerman & Willingham.

Anonymous8 said...

Is that Nyjer's 1st bunt hit this season? WOW, also Zim would have helped himself on that popup to the outfield to have turned 1st and caused problems for Magglio. Glad things worked out!

Les in NC said...

Still, that was a decent AB from Morse. Sherzer just got Morse guessing wrong on the 8th pitch.

K.D. said...

Go Nyjer, Go Nyjer!!

Anonymous8 said...

Lannan. Yeeezsh. He keeps digging a hole for himself. Laird 2 for 2?

When Detwiler comes back, I think Lannan needs to re-learn his craft in AAA.

Sorry John.

Anonymous8 said...

Morse. BAM!

K.D. said...

Morse just made up for his poor decision to throw home. Nice. Good pick at first also. The Detroit announcers keep saying as long as Lannan won't pitch inside the Tigers will keep looking away.

Les in NC said...

There may not be a place in the lineup for Morse when playing in NL ballparks, but for these AL games he must be in!

JayB said...

Morse should be playing RF and Roger in CF....trade Morgan fast before everyone else in baseball notices how many steps he has lost.

Doc said...

Uncle Jimmy thinks that there is no place for Morse on a regular NL lineup basis. Right, he provides better offense than anyone in the OF except The Hammer!!! Someone needs to sit Uncle Jimmy down for a long talk on run production.

Anonymous said...

KD - Morse knew a slow runner was on 3rd. He made a poor throw. If the throw was on target he easily would have had the out.

LANNAN, what is up with him???

Les in NC said...

Is the 'Hammer' that much of a threat to run at 1st base? He has drawn alot of attention over there, and even 1 pitchout! Or maybe that's Sherzer's way of throwing off the timing of the batters?
At any rate, Scherzer is doing his best Strasburg imitation by striking out 9 in 5 innings. I knew we could find a way to make an 'ace' out of him.

Dryw Loves the Nats said...

Ugly and getting uglier. Let's go bullpen!

Les in NC said...

"Well, you had to see that coming."
I DID see that coming. I imagine everyone saw it coming. IT begs the question why Riggs left Lannan in the game at all for the 5th inning. Lannan is not 100%, he was already over 90 pitches, and Batista is rested...

K.D. said...

Oh this is just great, here comes Zumaya.

K.D. said...

Nice job by Walker & Burnett, I can't figure Lannan out, his struggles seem more mental than physical.

Anonymous said...

Really feels like old times. An impotent offensive team when under pressure. The Nats roll over.

Richard said...

Looking on the brighter side, it's surprising the Nats have done as well as they have so far this year considering their starting pitching. Marquis and Detwiler = nada. Olsen is injured, after showing some great moments. Lannan is not the same pitcher we've enjoyed watching up to this point. Livo has been great -- in many ways. (I hope he's never dissed again by the Nats.) Anyway, with all that, the Nats have battled and are near .500. Pretty amazing.

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