Sunday, June 27, 2010

Game 76: Nats at Orioles

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats try to avoid a sweep today at sweltering Camden Yards.
BALTIMORE -- It's hot. No, I mean it's really hot. It was 91 degrees at 10 a.m. It's going to be 94 at gametime and 97 by the ninth inning. If this game was being played under the same conditions in Arizona or Houston, they'd have the roof closed. Of course, there's no roof at Camden Yards. That would kind of defeat the purpose of the place, wouldn't it?

Anyways, inside this cauldron of sweat the Nationals will attempt to avoid an indignity unlike any other they've experienced this season: A sweep at the hands of the Orioles. Losing three of four to the Astros was bad. Losing two of three to the Indians was really bad. Getting swept by the Orioles would be humiliating.

After blowing leads of 6-0 and 5-0 the last two days, perhaps the Nats will try a new strategy today: Get behind early and then really to win. Even better, perhaps they'll simply hold a large lead for a change. (I know, it's a novel concept.)

Today's lineup shuffle: Adam Dunn is DH'ing, so Michael Morse starts at first base. The big surprise: Alberto Gonzalez makes only his ninth start of the season, his first at shortstop. Seems like a good time for a day off for Ian Desmond, who has just three hits in his last 34 at-bats and has seen his batting average plummet from .276 to .249.

I'm back at the park today, so check back for updates before, during and after the game...

Where: Camden Yards
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
TV: Ch. 50-HD, MASN-HD (Nats pregame and postgame shows on MASN2)
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 94 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to CF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
DH Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Roger Bernadina
1B Michael Morse
SS Alberto Gonzalez
C Wil Nieves
(P Luis Atilano)

ORIOLES (22-52)
LF Corey Patterson
3B Miguel Tejada
RF Nick Markakis
1B Ty Wigginton
DH Luke Scott
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
2B Scott Moore
SS Julio Lugo
(P Jeremy Guthrie)

11:45 a.m. -- Lineup change: Cristian Guzman woke up with a stiff neck this morning, so he's been scratched. Adam Kennedy takes over at second base and batting second. Jim Riggleman said he doesn't believe the neck issue is serious and believes Guzman will be back in the lineup tomorrow in Atlanta.

11:47 a.m. -- Meanwhile, big news from the Orioles' clubhouse: Garrett Atkins has been designated for assignment. Given a $4.5 million contract over the winter, the first baseman hit .214 with one homer and nine RBI in 44 games. Right-hander Koji Uehara has been activated off the 15-day DL to take Atkins' roster spot.

1:37 p.m. -- And we are underway with a strike from Jeremy Guthrie to Nyjer Morgan. 94 steamy degrees at first pitch.

1:39 p.m. -- It took Guthrie all of eight pitches to retire the side in the top of the first. Caught Morgan looking at an 0-2 fastball, then got Adam Kennedy to hit a soft liner to center and Ryan Zimmerman to fly out to left.

1:45 p.m. -- How about a mirror-image bottom of the first from Luis Atilano? Also retired the side on eight pitches, six strikes. Two flyouts to center, one flyout to left. Good start for the rookie right-hander, who is attempting to earn his seventh win of the season (tops among all Nats starters).

2:11 p.m. -- The Nats have made Guthrie work a bit over the last two innings, drawing three walks. They still don't have a hit and haven't advanced a runner past first base, but at least Guthrie has already thrown 52 pitches through three (pretty amazing considering he only threw eight in the first inning). Heading to the bottom of the third, no score, no hits from either team.

2:23 p.m. -- Well, well, well. What do we have here? Three innings in the books, and nary a hit surrendered yet by Atilano or Guthrie. Atilano hasn't allowed anyone to reach base, striking out three through three. Very interesting...

2:30 p.m. -- Well, I apparently just jinxed it for Guthrie, cause the Nats have exploded for three runs in the fourth. Zimmerman led off with a walk, then after Adam Dunn struck out, Josh Willingham lined a triple past a frozen Adam Jones in center field. First hit of the day for the Nats produced the first run of the day. Moments later, Roger Bernadina tattooed a 1-0 pitch from Guthrie into the left-field bleachers, an opposite-field blast that has put the Nats up 3-0. Now, let's see if they can actually hold a lead today.

2:40 p.m. -- Miguel Tejada records the Orioles' first hit of the day off Atilano ... and then proceeds to get thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Nice play and throw by Bernadina, who really has been solid in right field. Atilano's no-hit bid is over, but he has still faced the minimum over four innings.

2:57 p.m. -- Hmm, where have we seen this before? Up 3-0 in the fifth, Atilano proceeded to allow four straight hits, trimming the lead to 3-2. Then Adam Kennedy threw wild trying to turn a double play, allowing another run (this time unearned) to score and leaving the game tied 3-3 after five innings. I mean, seriously, are these guys just playing by a pre-written script or what?

3:10 p.m. -- I think the Nationals could plug in Bill Mazeroski at second base and he'd still commit a throwing error within five innings.

3:12 p.m. -- Atilano bounced back with a 1-2-3 sixth, so he still ends up with a quality start (three runs, two earned, in six innings). But unless the Nats score in the top of the seventh, he'll get a no-decision. (This is all assuming Atilano doesn't return, which I think is a safe bet.) Still 3-3 here at the sauna.

3:24 p.m. -- I take it back. Atilano remains in the game for the seventh. Nats have to hope he's still got something left. It's currently 98 degrees (heat index 102) in downtown Baltimore.

3:27 p.m. -- Wow, nice job by the rookie. Retires the side in the seventh, completing a solid afternoon. Things kind of fell apart there in the fifth, but otherwise Atilano was fantastic. Final pitching line: 7 ip, 5 h, 3 r, 2 er, 0 bb, 3 k. It's still 3-3 headed to the eighth.

3:40 p.m. -- Do these guys have any concept how to manufacture a run anymore? Two on, nobody out in the eighth inning of a tie game. So what happens? Dunn strikes out on three pitches. Willingham strikes out on three pitches. Bernadina strikes out on three pitches. Unbelievable.

3:54 p.m. -- The Nats can't help but give the Orioles a late lead even when Baltimore tries everything in its power to beat itself. When Julio Lugo inexplicably got picked off second base for the second out of the eighth, all seemed fine in NatsTown. Think again. Tyler Clippard, after getting squeezed on a 2-2 curveball, watched as Corey Patterson tagged his next pitch down the right-field line for a double. Miguel Tejada followed with a sharp single up the middle, and Nyjer Morgan's throw to the plate was way too late to get Patterson. Even worse, Tejada took second when no one was covering second. Adam Kennedy was over near first base for some reason. I have no idea why. So it's 4-3 Orioles after eight, and the Nats are three outs from suffering a third straight loss here, having held at least a three-run lead in each game.

4:07 p.m. -- A terrible weekend of baseball for the Nationals is over. They lose this one 4-3, completing a three-game sweep at the hands of the worst team in the majors. All three losses came by one run. All three came after blowing a comfortable lead. Easily the worst 72-hour stretch of the season for the Nats.


Anonymous said...

Reality has set in. There's no mistaking it. 2010 is another episode in the ongoing struggles of Washington baseball. Is hope on the horizon with Strasburg and Jordan Zimermann? Right now it seems like we will find a way to lose no matter what.

Anonymous said...

As I'm finding out I'm a masochist, because I'll be watching the game again today. However, at least I did not drive up 95 to watch it live. I'm much too embarrassed to do that. Anyway, here's to hoping my TV set doesn't end up broken from me throwing the remote at it.

May God help the Nats!!!

JayB said...


Is Rizzo and Kasten there? Are they talking at all? What about this "super smart" baseball brain trust we hired.....somebody must be saying something about this sad state of affairs that is Nationals 2010 baseball? We would like to hear the off the record, behind the curtain thought of these guys....just the general idea of what the problem is and what needs to happen next please......

Anonymous said...

Being a fan of the Nationals is like growing up in an alcoholic family.

The Nats, like the drunken father, fail and fail and fail. They make overwrought promises they'll do better, and once in a great while they do something really special. Then the kids believe Bad Daddy is gone forever and no one talks about how the front door got broken.

They have the drunk's special gift for being able to make grand promises about tomorrow, while slipping into a stupor today.

This team needs an intervention. Daddy's sick, and the teams he's playing against are all sober. The game starts at 1:30, and he's still throwing up in the shower.

JayB said...

You know that is not too far off.....Someone in the Nats leadership has to speak to this 4th year of Lerner ownership failure. What if MLB had picked the better ownership group.......what if....

Anonymous said...

"Is Rizzo and Kasten there? Are they talking at all?"

Haven't you learned that these two duds go into hiding when everything goes south? In the off chance you could corner them, they'd just tell you to be patient, that lots of good things are happening beneath the surface. They have been singing this tune for 5 years now, and finally nobody is buying it.

JayB said...

I agree on Kasten...but it is funny to hear him spin....Rizzo on the other hand will tell the truth off the record....I am hoping Mark can share some general themes from the none Stan types....

Anonymous said...

The Braves slumped early, the Mets got off to a slow start, the Phillies have had a bad streak, the Marlins are who they are and the Nats started fast and are now in there swoon. It aint even July yet, calm down. JTinSC

N. Cognito said...

I have the option of watching the game today or driving nails into my head with a nail gun. I think I'll go with the nails.

JayB said...

Fish fired there is not July yet....tells you why the Fish always overachieve year after year......they do not put up with bad baseball

Anonymous said...

Oh crap!!! And I have to put up with Oriole announcers on TV, too. Where's the radio? I need Charlie and Dave. I can't stand anything from these Baltimorons.

2nd Base is a Problem said...

Kennedy finds his way back in. Zero range. Not motivated. Doesn't want to get his jersey dirty.

Riggleman had his chance to reinsert Desmond at SS and move Gonzalez to 2nd.

Anonymous said...

Good point Mark with Camden Yards not having a roof. Part of the charm of baseball is playing outside on natural grass. Delays/rainoutsare part of the game.

greg said...

the fish succeed *DESPITE* firing managers constantly. they succeed because their front office is the best in baseball at finding and developing talent, before they trade it away to avoid paying it any money.

the marlins are the pirates with smart baseball people who manage to keep the team afloat despite the loser who owns the team.

Anonymous said...

Nice throw by Bernadina. It was great seeing Tejada give him the spotlight after throwing him out.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I finally have had enough of Dribble with his incessant non-stop critical analysis of everthing baseball that isn't exactly the way he see's it!

The game is actually more enjoyable while the mute button is engaged!

2nd Base is a Problem said...

2nd Base is a Problem said...
Kennedy finds his way back in. Zero range. Not motivated. Doesn't want to get his jersey dirty.

Riggleman had his chance to reinsert Desmond at SS and move Gonzalez to 2nd.

Can I add to this doesn't use his brain also?

Anonymous said...

Rather have Guzman out there -- stiff neck and all.

Anonymous said...

Almost threw the remote that time. C'MON, IT'S THE PIECE OF CRAP ORIOLES FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!

DFA Time said...

When is Rizzo going to bite the bullet and give Kennedy a chance to play every day...

...yes, every day in the Minor Leagues!

Every season, they make a Free Agent or Trade mistake and to the team's detriment, don't bite the bullet.

It is time for a DFA, maybe 2 if you do a 2-fer with Willie Harris.

Anonymous said...

No broken TV (yet), but broken remote and two dents on the coffee table. Oh yeah, and cursing like a mad man. Lowpoint of the season by far. EMABARRASING!!!

Anonymous said...

Fire Riggleman now!
Fire Riggleman now!
Fire Riggleman now!

Anonymous said...

You had to have known the bullpen couldn't keep up their torrid pace. Luis had an overall solid outing, Bernadina is solidifying his case to be the Nats right fielder. The team has to hold together and not buckle with this poor stretch.

Anonymous said...

And now the Nats fan, like the child of the alcoholic father, comes to the worst realization of all:

The "good times" with dad were an illusion. They were only good when compared with the long dark nights of alcoholic misery and brokenness. With or without alcohol, the father is a mediocre, middling, less-than-average individual.

And the Nationals, despite all the lies and illusions, are lousy too.

Jim Webster said...

AAA ball for big league prices. But Os were classy, giving out free cups of ice. Dang it was hot.

LoveDaNats said...

First step in rehab is to hit rock bottom. I think we're there. I don't know what's worse... being the worst team in baseball or getting swept by the worst team in baseball. Believe it or not, I'm looking forward to the all star break.

Anonymous said...

RB has won right field. That's one problem solved. Regardless of all the hot air we spill, Desmond and Guzman should play the middle. Nyger in CF, for better or worse. I still want to discuss in what order these guys hit. As for the intervention -- there's no serious talk regarding replacing Riggleman, is there?

Anonymous said...

Kasten and Rizzo have an organizational philosophy that rewards yes-men and attracts very mild people.

Acta. Riggleman.

Players that make waves are avoided. If they are discovered to be on the team, they are gotten rid off. Intensity and conflict are avoided. Meekness and cooperation are rewarded.

The highest reward for a member of the Nationals organization goes to players who are "good in the clubhouse." Unfortunately, other clubs make personnel decisions based on who is "good on the field."

Our leadership model was just destroyed by Peter Angelos.

Anonymous said...

Let's hire Valentine before he slips away to Florida! something has to be done, I say fire Riggleman 1st as a message and if that does not change thing, make a bunch of trades and get whatever we can!!

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