Friday, June 25, 2010

Game 74: Nats at Orioles

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Sparkling Camden Yards, home of the not-so-sparkling Baltimore Orioles.
BALTIMORE -- Say what you want about the Orioles -- and there are plenty of negative things to say about this franchise -- but they still call Camden Yards home, and there are few ballparks in American that can top this place.

That's about the only thing the Orioles can hang their hats on right now, though. They were struggling last month when they came down to D.C. and lost two of three, and they're struggling worse now. Dave Trembley was fired, Juan Samuel has taken over as interim manager and the search for a permanent replacement goes on. In the most astounding stat you'll ever find, Baltimore first basemen have yet to hit a single home run this season. Think about that. Just mind-boggling.

So, once again, the Nationals have an opportunity to seize the moment and take down an inferior opponent. They won't have Stephen Strasburg in this series, but they will have J.D. Martin (who has pitched well despite his 0-3 record), Livan Hernandez (who was fantastic his last time out) and Luis Atilano (also coming off a strong start).

Now, the question on everyone's mind: Who is DH'ing tonight? The answer; Josh Willingham. Willie Harris is in left field. (Don't blame me, I'm just the messenger.) However, Michael Morse is starting in right field. Roger Bernandina is on the bench.

Check back for updates throughout...

Where: Camden Yards
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN-HD (Nats pregame and postgame shows on MASN2)
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 88 degrees, Wind 3 mph out to CF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
DH Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
RF Michael Morse
LF Willie Harris
SS Ian Desmond
(P J.D. Martin)

ORIOLES (20-52)
LF Corey Patterson
3B Miguel Tejada
RF Nick Markakis
DH Luke Scott
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Garrett Atkins
2B Julio Lugo
SS Cesar Itzuris
(P Jake Arrieta)

5:22 p.m. -- Jim Riggleman, on Nyjer Morgan's struggles and what the future holds for him: "I've got a lot of patience with Nyjer. I think one thing we kind of hang our hat on is: Last year when we got Nyjer at this time of the year, Nyjer had been doing OK in Pittsburgh, not having a great start, just kind of treading water. And about this time of the year, he took off. I really was encouraged the last four or five games that he had some better at-bats. He played a very good center field. He kind of did some things that we saw him do last year when we got him in the trade. Again, the glass is half-full. He's just treading water right now, and he knows he hasn't gotten it going yet. This is the time he got it going last year, and he feels like he's ready to get it going. We need him at the top of the lineup, so we're going to be real patient with him."

7:02 p.m. -- Looks like it's gonna be a good crowd tonight. Decent number of Nats fans in attendance, but not overwhelming.

7:05 p.m. -- Before we get started, for those who don't know, John Lannan makes his Harrisburg debut tonight against Reading. I'll provide some updates along the way.

7:08 p.m. -- And away we go. Jake Arrieta starts Nyjer Morgan off with a fastball for ball.

7:23 p.m. -- It was the ultimate manufactured run, but the Nats will take it. Morgan leads off with a groundball single through the right-side hole, takes second on Cristian Guzman's walk (yes, a Guzman walk!), takes third when Matt Wieters throws away a pickoff attempt, then scores on Adam Dunn's grounder to first. Prior to tonight, Nyjer had scored in only one of his last 18 games played. Yeah.

7:26 p.m. -- So, the first two batters John Lannan faced at Class AA? Struck them out. This is a guy who struck out on 24 batters in 75 big-league innings this year.

7:29 p.m. -- Last thing J.D. Martin wanted to do: Walk Corey Patterson to open the bottom of the first. (Patterson had drawn only nine free passes to that point.) First thing Martin wanted to do as soon as Patterson got on: Get Miguel Tejada to hit into a double play. Add a lineout to left from Nick Markakis, and Martin has himself a scoreless first. 1-0 Nats after one.

7:34 p.m. -- And with a bunt single, Willie Harris just ended his 0-for-20 slump.

7:47 p.m. -- Wow, the Orioles just loaded the bases with no outs and managed not to score a run. After putting three men on via two singles and a hideous error on Guzman, Martin got Garrett Atkins to ground into a tailor-made, 5-2-3 double play, drawing some big-time boos from the crowd. Julio Lugo then roped a liner at Guzman, who caught the ball this time to end the inning and preserve the Nats' 1-0 lead after two.

7:56 p.m. -- Nyjer Morgan and Cristian Guzman have combined to reach base four times in three innings tonight. And they've proceeded to score three runs, thanks to two RBI from Adam Dunn and one from Ivan Rodriguez. So let's see: When the top two guys in the lineup get on, they're able to score. What a novel concept! Nats lead 3-0.

8:09 p.m. -- Holy cow did Nyjer Morgan just make an unbelievable catch to rob Corey Patterson of a homer. I don't know if I've ever seen anyone go that high over the fence like that. Unbelievable. Nyjer came to play tonight.

8:31 p.m. -- Now Nyjer's just showing off. Roped an RBI double to left-center in the fourth. So he's now 3-for-3 with an RBI, three runs scored, a stolen base and one whale of a catch. Even Adam Dunn is coming through with clutch hits -- a two-out, two-run double to right. Nats lead 6-0 in the fourth and exorcising all their demons in the process.

8:40 p.m. -- Lannan update: He's allowed one unearned run through six innings. Three hits, one walk, five strikeouts. Ten of 11 outs via groundballs. A couple more starts like that and he'll be back up here in no time.

8:50 p.m. -- It was just pointed out to me that the Orioles, at 20-52, have the same record as the 1988 club that is widely considered the worst in franchise history. If they lose tonight, they'll also be on pace for 120 losses this season. Yeah, these guys are really bad.

9:04 p.m. -- Handed a 6-0 lead, J.D. Martin can't even get through the fifth. He just got yanked with one out, two runs in and two more runners on. Two errors on Ian Desmond (including an inexplicably bad throw to second base when he had no chance to retire the runner) didn't help. But Martin hasn't particularly shown an ability to overcome mistakes made behind him. The Nats still lead 6-2, but Martin can't be credited with the victory now because he couldn't go the minimum five innings. Doug Slaten now pitching.

9:15 p.m. -- The fifth inning is over at last, but not before the Orioles score another run on a swinging bunt single. It's now 6-3 through five, and Jim Riggleman will need four strong innings out of the rest of his bullpen to get through this one.

9:23 p.m. -- Nyjer Morgan is now 4-for-4, with three runs, an RBI, a stolen base and two fantastic catches in center field. And he may come up to bat twice more before this one's over.

9:47 p.m. -- Jim Riggleman just used four relievers (Slaten, Batista, Burnett and Storen) to record five outs. In the fifth and sixth innings of a 6-3 game. Tonight's attendance: 43,484. You'd have thought they'd sell out Game 7 of the World Series.

10:04 p.m. -- Another no-hitter in MLB! Edwin Jackson of the Diamondbacks just did it to the Rays down in St. Petersburg. Walked eight. Threw 149 pitches! Arizona won, 1-0. What's the record for most pitches ever thrown in a no-hitter? My first thought was A.J. Burnett (who walked nine in his) but I just looked it up and he only got to 129.

10:06 p.m. -- Nice job by Drew Storen. He struck out Tejada to end the sixth, then got through the seventh unscathed thanks to a 5-4-3 double play. The official scorer is going to have an interesting call crediting one of the Nats' relievers with the win if the lead holds up. Storen might have the strongest case when it's all said and done. It's 6-3 in the eighth.

10:23 p.m. -- Uh-oh. Tyler Clippard walked Wieters to open the eighth, then fell behind pinch-hitter Scott Moore 3-0, then served up a two-run homer that makes it 6-5.

10:32 p.m. -- And it's now tied 6-6. We can probably stop talking about Clippard as an All-Star candidate now. His ERA just went from 1.58 to 2.12.

10:51 p.m. -- Great at-bat from Roger Bernadina with two on and two out in the ninth, but he couldn't beat out a great throw from shortstop Cesar Izturis deep in the hole. So it's still 6-6 heading to the bottom of the ninth, and Tyler Clippard (who threw 35 pitches in the eighth) is back out to pitch for the Nats.

10:55 p.m. -- Well, that was predictable. Clippard gets the first out, then puts two runners on. So after 44 pitches, now Matt Capps has to come out of the bullpen and try to pitch his way out of a jam.

11:01 p.m. -- What a horrible loss. Capps gets what should have been an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, but Guzman threw it away and allowed the winning run to score. Nats turned a 6-0 lead in the fourth into a crushing 7-6 loss. Four errors committed tonight (two apiece by Desmond and Guzman).


Anonymous said...

Finally! After all that time being stuck on the bench! You've got to play your best 9 and for once we get to see Willie Harris get the spot he so badly deserves! Also - why the he!! did we ever trade Hanrahan? Bring back Milledge!

HHover said...

Glad to see Morse in there. Too bad Riggleman apparently feels he has to start Willie in LF for balance.

Cwj said...

Hanrahan was a disaster for the Nats last year. He's doing OK for the Pirates, but the Nats have Storen, Clippard and Capps. Also, Burnett (who they traded for) continues to pitch well.

The Nats simply must take this series against the terrible O's. It's a shame Stras' schedule doesn't allow for a start this series. It would likely be a mismatch.

Peanuts and Cracker Jack said...

Funny joke -- when will you post the real news that Willy was DFA'd?

Anonymous said...

"In the most astounding stat you'll ever find, Baltimore first basemen have yet to hit a single home run this season."

Oh man! Why do I have this sinking feeling that Garrett Atkins is going to go yard tonight??

JayB said...


What are you hearing about Harris's future anyone with the Nats...beside Riggs backing him for more playing time? Orr would be a better hitter and can play anywhere...he has 8 HRs. Mench, Davis, Boomer W. even Maxwell would be a better bat than Harris.

Anonymous said...

still wont watch any games against the orioles until the owner gives up ALL his rights on the nationals. I would rather drive 500 miles to cincinnati than 40 miles to baltimore.

Cwj said...

@JayB - Maxwell? Surely you jest

Bowdenball said...

I disagree with your assessment about the Baltimore 1B woes being the most astounding stat you will ever see.

LF is generally considered the prime "offensive" spot in the field. It's the best place to hide.

The Washington Nationals starting LF, on a day AFTER A DAY OFF, is batting ... drumroll please ...

.151, with an on-base percentage of .240, and slugging percentage of .321.

And he's not even batting in the lowest spot in the order.

THOSE are the most astounding stats I, or anyone else, will ever see.

Anonymous said...

Maxwell? Seriously? I swear some of you guys have such a man-crush on that guy you'd marry him if you could. Is that why you all want him in DC again, now that it's legal? He's probably the only player that's been on the team this year to perform WORSE than Harris at the plate...

Mike said...

1. Re Maxwell and man-crush: Maxwell is married and bigamy is still illegal, even in D.C., so that's out.

2. Camden Yards may be a gem but that Hilton hotel is an abomination.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Is Willy Mo Pena still around? He could be DH'ing and batting ahead of the other great Willie on this club.

JayB said...

I said even Maxwell....which tells you how far Harris's skills have slipped. He is just a complete waste of roster space....ANYONE would be better. He is not going to turn his season around....he is done (except for making outs for Riggs it seems)!

Anonymous said...

Maybe we could re-sign Anderson Hernandez..just in case we need to put on another suicide squeeze...

There are some real quality players that the Nats have had. Maybe in the spirit of the All-Star game and Willie Harris getting a start someon could put together a Nats' All-Star roster featuring Harris, Kearns, etc.

Doc said...

How about Rick Eckstein weighing in on what's going on with the hitters right now? He seems to be one coach who is really doing his job!

alm1000 said...

No No No!!! Harris for Bernadina - our worse hitter for our best. Good thing the rest of the team can pick up the slack...

Harris must go, there must be someone in AAA or AA that can hit better than .150.

Slidell said...

Was hoping for a "shake'em up" lineup against the O's--- Substituting Michael for Roger doesn't exactly cut it. And, starting Willie in Left amounts to a thumb in the eye for all his complainants. Also, it completely negates the theory of the DH. JD has as good of a chance at the plate. Why, in the name of all that is holy, can't we put our best possible lineup on the field?

JayB said...

IF....Riggs is right then what does that mean for a good team....If Morgan is only good in July-August then what good is he to a team that is trying to win 90 games? Riggs is the perfect .456 win% manager. He is gone next year.

JayB said...

"so we're going to be real patient with him." ......Isn't this the exact words Riggs used a few hours before Rizzo shipped Lannan to AA?

Anonymous said...

At this point I prefer Whiting and his 25 runs above average total zone plus his .420 OBP over JMax. Right handed Nyjer?

natsfan1a said...

Wait...Nyjer is treading water in a glass? I'm sooo confused. :-)

True, the placement of that hotel is quite unfortunate (of course, we have some ugly parking garages in our view at Nats Park, so I'll just hold on to my stone here). My fave view is at AT&T Park, but I am not unbiased...

Ernie said...

Riggleman is aware that the interleague games still count on our record, right? They're not like exhibition games where you don't have to win. Where on earth does he get this idea that the DH position is for the scrubs to get a chance to play?

Willie might be the greatest guy in the world, but the world doesn't owe him the right to play. He's still getting his money. I loved the guy last year, but he's slowed down a lot since then.

Whether we're contenders or not, I buy my season ticket package with the idea that the goal is to field the strongest team on a daily basis, not to give some good guys a chance to break out of slumps. I grew up in Columbus watching hitters with the Clippers trying to break out of slumps so they could get back to the majors. I paid a lot less for those seats. A major league ticket should mean I get to see the guys who already know what they're doing.

They handled Lannan well. I want to see him work it out and get back up here. I want the same for Willie. Just not for my $50 a night...

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Baltimore park: a faux park, top to bottom. No soul. Everything in it is fake - the warehouse, the fake retro lettering, and so on. Not my favorite park.

Regarding the lineup -- not the shakeup I was waiting for.

From another thread: I kinda like this dribble. [sic]

Anonymous said...

Zimmerman is striking out nearly every time he bats. What is wrong with him and why can't Eckstein straighten him out?

Anonymous said...

Zimm flied out just now, with two on, none out. Making contact is an improvement for this guy as he makes his all star drive. Sure.

Anonymous said...

Send Nyjer to Anaheim!

Anonymous said...

Nyjer's fielding has officially returned.

Anonymous said...

That's the faux park -- with the fences designed to produce catches like that.

Cwj said...

Uh, not quite haha :) But hopefully it'll shut a few mouths if they win by 1 run

Steve M. said...

Props to Nyjer. Nice catch. Looks like Nyjer of last June, FINALLY!

Riggleman is showcasing Willie Harris? No Bernadina? Come on Jim.

NatinBeantown said...

Lannan through 5: 3H, 3K, 1BB, 0ER. An Espinosa error away from a nice clean start. Here's hoping John can right the ship and get back to DC and help the club.

NatinBeantown said...

Haters be damned. It'll be nice to see Tony Plush sporting the Elvis wig if the guys keep rolling.

Anonymous said...

NatinBeantown, come on, nice to see but lets not start the band. This is AA. Strasburg was no-hitting these guys in AA.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or is it kind of crazy that the only position player on the 40-man that's in the minors is Justin Maxwell. The only other position player on the 40-man is Maldonado, but he's on the 15-day DL.

Do we really need an extra 13 pitchers on our 40-man?

Mark, I think this should be something to bring up to the Rizz when you get the opportunity.

Steve M. said...

So Nyjer screws on his head and Desmond unscrews his. What in the world does this guy think some times?

Steve M. said...

Mark Zuckerman wrote: 9:04 p.m. -- Handed a 6-0 lead, J.D. Martin can't even get through the fifth. He just got yanked with one out, two runs in and two more runners on.

It looked like JD had nothing left in the tank. He had 2 decent innings and was helped by stellar defense and hurt in the 5th by lousy defense.

Slaten did his job on the lefty. Batista did a good job even with that ugly swinging bunt by Adam Jones.

Anonymous said...

One of the fist signs of the apocalypse Nyjer 4 for 4.

Steve M. said...

Anon @9:23, Nyjer 4 for 4 is like last year when the Nats picked up Nyjer as he did it with the glove, OBP, and running.

I am hoping this is the start of Nyjer channeling his Tony Plush and his swagger. He can ignite this sleeping offense.

Anonymous said...

OK I guess I'll wait on the 4 horseman :)but if he goes 6 for 6 I'm going to start to believe in the Jay B conspiracy theory between Juan Samuel and Riggleman.

Anonymous said...

OK I'll wait on the 4 horseman but if he goes 6 for 6 I'm going to start to believe in Jay B's conspiracy theory between Juan Samuel and Riggleman :).

Les in NC said...

..And now we don't have to worry about who the official scorer might give a 'W' to. At this rate, we ARE going to have to worry about which Nationals pitcher will get the 'L'.

Anonymous said...

Holy cow, 4 errors!

Jim Riggleman said...

Well I guess sometimes you've just got to tip your cap to the other team and let's give some credit to Willie Harris who finally got a hit. You can't win them all and we'll just have to go out there and play a little harder tomorrow afternoon. But I'm proud of Willie and I consider that a victory of it's own kind. And what are you really going to do about it? Rizzo doesn't have the balls to fire me! Just wait until tomorrow when I bench Zimmerman and Dunn both because Kennedy and Gonzalez need some playing time. You can't stop me!

Anonymous said...

Orioles sweep--Riggleman gets fired.

HHover said...

I'll say this for the Nats--I'm impressed with their ability to find fresh ways to lose.

The crap-stastic play of the middle infield means that Jim doesn't have to worry about making excuses for playing Willie.

Grant Mulkey said...

I'm driving home from Baltimore now. This one definitely hurts the most. What a demoralizing loss.

Anonymous said...

Riggleman will find some way to polish the turd. He always does.

Anonymous said...

You've got to give credit to the Orioles. They're a professional team, they brought their "A" game, they had their "game face" on today, and they never quit on themselves.

It's still a long season and it's just one game. Tomorrow's another day. One loss is the same as any other loss. Since our two teams have a strong financial interest in MASN, we're not going to get too upset about this one.

In terms of "Rivalry," none of our players care about Washington. Few could find Washington and Baltimore on a US map--they couldn't care less about either city. They make lots and lots of stupid errors. It's a low IQ team. Low team for hitting in the clutch. Very, VERY low intensity team.

Not one Nationals player is as mad as any of the people writing on all these Nats boards. They are the picture of indifference.

We are all wasting our time and money.

Cwj said...

Crushing loss. I only watched off and on on the TV. 6-0 at one point, 6-3, 6-7. Yowza.

I really think Capps should have replaced Clippard before the lead was given up in the 8th. If Capps is the closer, test him.

natsfan1a said...

Yep, this one hurt. Plus, Nyjer was robbed of the Elvis wig - by his own team.

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