Friday, June 18, 2010

Game 68: White Sox at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats are back home, and Stephen Strasburg is back on the mound.
Hello again from Nationals Park, where the Nats return following a brutal 1-5 road trip through Cleveland and Detroit that included a sweep at the hands of the Tigers. Actually, the only game this team has won in a week was Stephen Strasburg's last start.

Fortunately, the kid's on the mound tonight, looking to stop yet another losing streak. He was originally due to face Mark Buehrle, but then Jake Peavy was dealing with some shoulder problems and was bumped back two days, so Buehrle and Gavin Floyd were bumped up. Thus, Floyd starts tonight, with Peavy (Strasburg's favorite pitcher growing up in San Diego) starts tomorrow.

Jim Riggleman returns to his conventional lineup for this one. Nyjer Morgan is leading off in center field. Cristian Guzman is batting second and playing second. Michael Morse is back on the bench.

Check back for updates throughout...

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN-HD, MLB Network (outside of D.C. and Chicago)
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 81 degrees, Wind 5 mph out to LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
RF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
P Stephen Strasburg

WHITE SOX (31-34)
LF Juan Pierre
3B Omar Vizquel
CF Alex Rios
1B Paul Konerko
RF Carlos Quentin
C A.J. Pierzynski
SS Alexei Ramirez
2B Gordon Beckham
P Gavin Floyd

5:41 p.m. -- Not to get everyone too excited, but there's a rumor floating around that noted White Sox fan Barack Obama will be attending tonight's game. No one's saying it officially yet, but I will say that I saw a couple of security guys with earpieces down on the clubhouse level, and there are a few barriers up that aren't normally here. That doesn't necessarily mean anything, but these aren't things I normally see here.

6:05 p.m. -- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, asked this afternoon if he wished he was still playing so he could face Stephen Strasburg: "I faced Clemens, bro!"

6:08 p.m. -- Ivan Rodriguez is catching Strasburg for the third straight time tonight, but that battery won't continue forever. Jim Riggleman said he's planning to have Wil Nieves catch one of Strasburg's next two starts. Considering his next one is a Wednesday late-afternoon game against the Royals, that would seem a logical choice.

6:12 p.m. -- Speaking of that start against Kansas City, it doesn't look like we'll be getting an epic Strasburg vs. Zack Greinke matchup. Greinke is slated to start tomorrow, so he would have to come back on short rest to face the Nationals on Wednesday.

6:15 p.m. -- And, for those who haven't heard already, Fox has picked up the Saturday, July 3 game against the Mets, so that game will now start at 4:10 p.m. If Strasburg's five-day schedule holds to form, he'll pitch that day. Of course, Fox has already gambled once before on Strasburg and missed him. They're televising tomorrow's game, featuring J.D. Martin on the hill. So no guarantees.

7:05 p.m. -- We're underway with a 98 mph strike from Strasburg to Pierre.

7:12 p.m. -- Obama's here. Shook hands with some fans on the club level, many who were not allowed to get to their seats until he arrived.

7:14 p.m. -- The President didn't get to see a fantastic first inning from the kid. Juan Pierre beat out a grounder to first, beating Strasburg to the bag. (He wasn't late, just got beat by a fast runner.) Omar Vizquel then blooped a double just inside the right-field line. Another grounder to first by Alex Rios brought Pierre home. So even though Strasburg rebounded to strike out both Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin on changeups, he's trailing 1-0 after one.

7:23 p.m. -- As the bottom of the first was taking place, the entire third-base side of the stadium was turned around, cheering for the President, who is sitting in the owners' box right behind the club level. Fortunately, no foul balls were hit that direction. Nats went down in order.

7:27 p.m. -- 1-2-3 second for Strasburg. The inning included his first two 100 mph readings of the night.

7:43 p.m. -- He's really clicking now. Retired the side in the third, striking out two. He's now retired nine straight batters, striking out five in the process. Total of 38 pitches, 27 strikes. Nats still trail 1-0.

7:54 p.m. -- Eight pitches for Strasburg in the fourth, all strikes. Two more strikeouts and a lineout to center. He's retired 12 straight, seven on strikeouts. Only 46 pitches (35 strikes) through four innings.

7:59 p.m. -- You know, it would sure be a shame to waste a pitching performance like this. At the moment, the Nats are. They've managed one hit and one walk in four innings against Floyd, and both times grounded into double plays. So Floyd has faced the minimum so far. Still 1-0 Sox after four.

8:05 p.m. -- Man, is this guy on a roll or what? He's retired 15 in a row, nine on strikeouts. He's only thrown 56 pitches (42 strikes!) through five innings. He now has 31 strikeouts in his first three MLB starts, shattering J.R. Richard's previous record of 29.

8:09 p.m. -- Oh yeah, did we mention that the White Sox have struck out fewer times than anyone else in the American League this year?

8:14 p.m. -- Meanwhile, Gavin Floyd has faced the minimum through five. What a pitchers' duel we've got going on here!

8:23 p.m. -- Strasburg finally gave up another hit ... to Floyd of all people. Just squeezed a ball inside the first-base line for a single. No problem, cause Strasburg retired the next three. So through six, he's allowed one run on three hits, no walks, nine strikeouts. Pitch count is 71, 50 of them strikes. Still 1-0 Sox as we go to the bottom of the sixth.

8:28 p.m. -- We've found something he can't do: bunt. Just whiffed on a 2-2 pitch. Even worse, Ian Desmond got caught too far off first base, completing an inning-ending double play. So Floyd still has faced the minimum through six. Still 1-0.

8:39 p.m. -- Through seven: 10 Ks, 0 walks, 85 pitches (59 strikes). Drew Storen has just begun warming in the bullpen, but I wouldn't be surprised if Strasburg is allowed to come back to start the eighth.

8:42 p.m. -- OK, Nyjer Morgan just struck out on a ball that bounced first, then hit him in the leg. He tried to run all the way to second base as though it was a wild pitch, but once it hit him, it's a dead ball. Everyone's booing but sorry, it's the right call. Horrible swing by Morgan, by the way.

8:50 p.m. -- Big, BIG hit from Adam Dunn ties this game 1-1 in the seventh. He tagged a pitch from Floyd to a wide-open left-center (Rios was shaded well over to right-center) for a double. Ryan Zimmerman scored and the crowd went nuts.

8:52 p.m. -- Ooh, Strasburg's done after seven. Tyler Clippard has come on. So no-decision for the kid. His final line; 7 ip, 4 h, 1 er, 0 bb, 10 k. 85 pitches, 59 strikes. In three starts now, he's recorded 32 strikeouts while walking five.

8:53 p.m. -- Tonight's paid attendance: 40,325. That's a sellout, the Nats' third of the year. Strasburg pitched in two of them. Obama also was in attendance for two of them.

8:57 p.m. -- Not to be outdone by his rookie teammate, Clippard just retired the side in the eighth on 11 pitches. All of them strikes. Wow. Still 1-1 heading to the bottom of the eighth. Electric atmosphere here at the park. Barely anyone's left their seats, though it appears Obama is one of the few who ducked out early.

9:05 p.m. -- We go to the ninth, still tied 1-1. Matt Capps coming on to pitch, even though Clippard only threw 11 pitches and is due up first in the bottom of the inning. Interesting call here by Riggleman.

9:12 p.m. -- No debating this. Capps retires the side in the ninth, three groundouts. We go to the bottom of the ninth, still 1-1. Floyd is done. Matt Thornton coming out of the pen for Chicago.

9:22 p.m. -- Adam Dunn strikes out with the winning run on second and two outs in the ninth, which now makes him 1-for-28 with two outs and runners in scoring position this season. But really, the blame for this failed rally goes to Cristian Guzman, who grounded out on the first pitch he saw after Nyjer Morgan singled. Completely ruined any chance of Morgan trying to steal second. That also allowed the Sox to intentionally walk Zimmerman and pitch to Dunn. We go extras.

9:29 p.m. -- The Sox threatened in the 10th, putting the go-ahead run on third with two outs. And when Gordon Beckham smoked a 2-0 pitch from Storen to right-center, there was a moment of panic for everyone in the park. But Nyjer Morgan came to the rescue, covered a lot of ground and made a running catch to end the inning. We go to the bottom of the 10th. By the way, this place is still mostly full. This is by far the most fans I've seen stay in the ballpark this late into the game.

9:35 p.m. -- Nothing doing in the bottom of the 10th. We go to the 11th. Storen coming back out for his second inning of relief.

9:43 p.m. -- What a tough way to give up the go-ahead run. Two outs in the 11th, man on third, Zimmerman makes a fantastic diving stop of Rios' smash down the third-base line. He fired to first and threw just a tad bit too high for Dunn to be able to haul it in. It goes down as a single and an E5 for the throw. White Sox take a 2-1 lead and the life has been sucked out of this ballpark.

9:53 p.m. -- Last chance for the Nats. It'll be Desmond, a pinch-hitter (probably Harris) and Morgan due up. Bobby Jenks coming out to pitch for Chicago.

10:00 p.m. -- Tough, tough loss for the Nationals. They fall 2-1 in 11 after going down in order in the 11th. Strasburg's brilliant start wasted. Obama's probably happy, though.


swang said...

The whining starts, in 3.... 2.... 1....

Jim Webster said...

Apologies to Will Shakespeare and Richard III:
"My kingdom for a Morse."
(groan . . .)

Grandstander said...

His splits for the season are:


Since he started getting regular playing time he's gone 8 for 16 with 2 HRs!

Even if it's just a hot bat, you've got to play it til it goes cold!

This is madness...

THIS IS RIGGLES!!!! :kicks logic down abyss:

Cwj said...

My prediction for Strasburg tonight:
6 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 10 Ks.
Oh, and I think the Nats will win :)

Les in NC said...

@ Cwj, will those 2 runs come on a long ball? That would keep his streak alive....

Cwj said...

@ Les- Most likely. I'm sure one of the White Sox hitters will close his eyes and swing as hard as he can at a 99mph fastball, resulting in another HR given up by S.S.

Anonymous said...

So the big decision is.....Morgan or Morse. Because thats the only difference in the lineup. I just dont understand how he can look at his lineup and choose Morgan !?!?!?! Its just mind-numbing.

A DC Wonk said...

Over on Nats Journal they're saying that J-Zimmermann threw hard from a mount at Nats Park this afternoon.

Any more info?

Cwj said...

Just for fun, does anyone wanna take a guess at how Stras will do tonight? My own prediction is several comments above. (6IP, 4H, 2ER, 2BB, 10K)
Come on guys and gals, let's enjoy the fact that the Nats own one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Cwj said...

I can't believe some of you are quibbling over the starting lineup when Strasburg's pitching.
The only necessary is Pudge catching.

swang said...

He's Due. 4IP, 8H, 5ER, 2 BB, 5K

cadeck13 said...

I'm in and full of hope and excited he's on our team. Plus it seems to me the boys behind him perform better when he's pitching.
7IP, 3H, 2ER, 1BB, 11K

natsfan1a said...

Go get 'em, boys!

Anonymous said...

I say we beat the Sox, but the lineup struggles.

7IP, 7 Hits, 3ER, 0BB, 12K

Nats win 4-3 but rally late to get Clippard the win.

natsfan1a said...

I don't do predictions. Surprise me.

Doc said...

Managers, including Riggleman, are quoted as saying they'll always play the hot hand. Which of Morgan's hands is hot?

Anonymous said...

The first game I went to in 2005, W was there. But they never announced it, so I didn't know until I got home and saw it on TV. He may have done an interview in the booth during the game, but the crowd at the ballpark was blissfully ignorant of his visit. In 2007 I was at another game with W in the house, but again it wasn't announced. That time though I figured it out from the snipers mounted next to the light stands on the RFK roof.

I suspect that if Barack is actually here tonight it will be handled exactly the same way. You'll see him on TV, if at all.

Cwj said...

The tally so far is 24IP, 22H, 12ER, 5BB, and 38K.
Divide that by the 4 who responded and you get: 6IP, 6H, 3ER, 1BB, 10K.
Seems reasonable :)

meixler said...

The last time the President was here, didn't he get embarrassed by Dibble? I think he was asked who some of his favorite White Sox players from years passed were and he couldn't even name one. I wonder if he's studied up since then.

A DC Wonk said...

Question to anybody: they just put up a list of the most K's ever for a pitcher's first two starts. Does anyone know what the record is for the first _three_ starts?

Anonymous said...

WH press pool report that President is at the game.

Jim Webster said...

NJ says POTUS got there in bottom of first. Haven't heard Bob & Rob mention it as of bottom third.

meixler said...

As for all the questions about starting Morgan over Morse: something to consider is that Morse has home run potential which Riggs might like to be able to place anywhere in the lineup bard on late game situations. If we had any other bench players with that legitimate power potential then I think Morse would be given more opportunities to start.

meixler said...

based* on late game situations

dj in Fl. said...

Now if our bats would show up.

A DC Wonk said...

ok, they just flashed the records for first three starts -- 29 by JR Richard -- which Strasburg just tied.

NatinBeantown said...

8 pitches, 2 Ks in one inning? I guess Boz's article this week was off the mark... you can keep pitch count down and get Ks. Just gotta keep the BBs low (booo Cleveland's groundscrew!)

And, um... let's get some runs?

meixler said...

Dolly Parton is writing a new song about Stephen Strasburg. It's called "9 through 5."

swang said...

Why'd Riggs send out Capps? Is Clippard that over used?

dj in Fl. said...

Glad to hear it is electric in the park tonight.
Hope they can go home happy and show up again, no matter who pitches.

Cwj said...

Strasburg outdid the predictions. Closest would be Cadeck13.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

All-time low for Bobby Carpenter:

MASN showed a shot of the Kennedy Center and Bobby Haircut called it the Lincoln Center.

What an absolute freakin' AAAA embarrassment.

Go back to Tulsa, you boob.

swang said...

Please don't PH Harris in there, don't we have anyone else? what about AG?

Richard said...

Hanging the ninth inning on Guzman is too much, IMHO. The left-handed pitcher was throwing hard and looking directly at Morgan. Given Morgan's success ratio, there was very much no guarantee he'd be able to steal second. He runs himself off the bases frequently. And, in that spot against mid-90s heat the free-swinging Guzman's got to find a pitch to hit and he almost did, pulling it over third but just not hard enough to get it into left field. Morse and Dunn did strike out, too.

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