Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Game 79: Nats at Braves

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
J.D. Martin has a chance to pitch the Nationals to a series victory tonight at Turner Field.
ATLANTA -- Here's something to brighten your spirits: By the end of the evening, the Nationals could have taken a series from the NL East-leading Braves.

It would require a victory tonight, but the Nats have to like their chances with J.D. Martin (who has allowed two earned runs or less in four of his five starts) facing Jair Jurrjens (who just came off the DL and has dealt with injuries to his shoulder, thumb and hamstring already this season).

For everyone wondering about the Alberto Gonzalez/Ian Desmond lineup debate: Gonzo is starting for the fourth straight game. He'll be at shortstop again. Desmond is on the bench for the second straight game. Same lineup from Jim Riggleman that produced seven runs last night, as a matter of fact.

Check back for updates before, during and after the game...

Where: Turner Field
Gametime: 7:10 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Chance of storms, 83 degrees, Wind 3 mph in from RF
CF Nyjer Morgan
RF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
2B Cristian Guzman
SS Alberto Gonzalez
P J.D. Martin

BRAVES (45-33)
2B Martin Prado
RF Melky Cabrera
3B Chipper Jones
C Brian McCann
1B Troy Glaus
LF Eric Hinske
SS Yunel Escobar
CF Gregor Blanco
P Jair Jurrjens

7:10 p.m. -- This one is underway with a ball from Jair Jurrjens to Nyjer Morgan.

7:15 p.m. -- Jurrjens sure didn't look rusty in his first inning back from the DL. He just retired the side, getting Nyjer Morgan out on a bunt and then blowing away Roger Bernadina and Ryan Zimmerman with high fastballs. His last one to Zim hit 94 mph.

7:36 p.m. -- Not a good first inning for J.D. Martin, who served up a couple of rocket doubles to give the Braves a 1-0 lead, then loaded the bases. Martin Prado led off with a drive to the wall in right-center. He then advanced to third on Chipper Jones' long flyball to left, with Josh Willingham unable to get the ball back in quickly enough. That didn't matter, though, because Brian McCann's subsequent double off the left field fence would have scored Prado from anywhere. Two two-out walks prolonged the inning, and though Martin escaped without further damage, he's already thrown 37 pitches. Last night, Craig Stammen didn't reach the 37-pitch count until the third inning.

7:51 p.m. -- Much better second inning from Martin. He retired the side on two groundballs and a strikeout and needed only 13 pitches to do it. Nice play by Guzman, too, going to his right and making a strong throw to first on Prado's grounder. Meanwhile, the Nats have done nothing with Jurrjens so far. He's got four strikeouts through two innings and is blowing most guys away with his fastball.

8:04 p.m. -- It's still 1-0 Braves after three. Martin has settled down and has managed to avoid any more trouble. The Nats, though, are having a devil of a time figuring out Jurrjens. They've produced two doubles (Dunn and Martin) but nothing else. Five strikeouts through three, and every other out has been made in the infield.

8:27 p.m. -- Jurrjens is doing it all tonight. He's already thrown four scoreless innings, striking out six. Now he just added an RBI single to left on a fake bunt. Nearly took Zimmerman's head off with that laser. A sac fly by Prado makes it 3-0 Braves after four, and leaves the Nats trying to play come-from-behind baseball the rest of the way.

8:39 p.m. -- Opportunity for the Nats in the fifth, but they couldn't finish it off. Second and third, two out, and Bobby Cox decided to pitch around Nyjer Morgan to face Roger Bernadina with the bases loaded instead. The way things have been going here, that would seem to play right into the Nats' hands. But Bernadina grounded out meekly to second to end the inning. Braves still lead 3-0 in the bottom of the fifth.

9:05 p.m. -- Good news: The Nats finally got to Jurrjens in the sixth and knocked him out of the game with the bases loaded and nobody out. Bad news: Ivan Rodriguez killed the rally by grounding Peter Moylan's first pitch to short to start a 6-4-3 double play. Ryan Zimmerman scored, but that's all the Nats got. So they still trail 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth, and Joel Peralta has come on to replace Martin, who finished with three runs and six hits allowed in five innings.

9:22 p.m. -- Pretty weak offensive showing from the Nats tonight. One run on seven hits through seven. And when they have had chances, they haven't converted. Uh-oh, and now Ian Desmond is in right field. I sense some vitriol coming from NatsTown within seconds...

9:36 p.m. -- Uh, now Desmond and Gonzalez have swapped positions. Gonzo is playing right field for the first time in his career. What is going on here?

9:40 p.m. -- It doesn't really matter who's playing where when Miguel Batista walks in a run on four pitches. This has turned into a farce, even though it's only 4-1 in the seventh. Cue the circus theme.

9:58 p.m. -- Last chance for the Nats. Down three in the ninth. Billy Wagner on to close it out for the Braves.

10:08 p.m. -- That'll do it. Final score: 4-1. Nats struck out 12 times tonight. So much for positive momentum.

10:51 p.m. -- For those interested, here's Jim Riggleman's full explanation of the merry-go-round in right field in the seventh: "When I hit Desmond in the 9-spot, I knew that Billy Wagner was going to come into this game eventually. I didn't have anybody else right-handed who could hit against Billy. So I wanted to leave Desi in that spot. I knew that spot would come up. So I left him in the game. Then, the slot that was coming out of the game was right field, because I pinch-hit for Bernie. So I put him in right field. Then, the more I thought about it and played it in my mind ... Gonzalez has really done a lot of work out there lately, so I decided to put him out there. It just didn't hit me, because I haven't had him out there. But I just felt like he's really looked good out there in pregame stuff. He's taken some work out there with the outfielders. And I just felt like I'd go ahead and put him out there. Because Desi hasn't been out there in a year. And Guzy, it's been a while since he's been out there. So I just changed my mind on it."


Nervous Nats Fan said...

I thought Riggleman didn't want to play Pudge more than three days in a row. Was that just while his back was hurting? My memory is short.

Steve M. said...

The Red Sox are searching for a 2nd baseman until Pedroia is back. Why hasn't Rizzo traded Adam Kennedy for a bag of balls and a case of sunflower seeds?

Seriously though, the Nats can get a prospect back for him while the Red Sox are in need.

Knoxville Nat said...

Many people here and elsewhere have been clamoring for more playing time for Michael Morse. With a professional career dating back about 10 years and now with his third major league organization, what exactly is the knock on Morse as to why he isn't playing anymore than he is? He's been in the majors off and on since 2005 but it doesn't appear as if he has ever been a regular anywhere so what is it that seems to hold him back?

NatsJack in Florida said...

Holy Cow Bat Man! You can teach an old dog (or manager in this case) new tricks!

Imagine starting the same lineup (and a successful one I might add)2 days in a row!

Doc said...

Both Kennedy and The Kid have almost as many errors together as some teams. A bag of balls and a case of sunflower seeds seems a fair exchange.

Steve M. said...

You know how the Red Sox love them Kennedy's. I am surprised this didn't happen over the weekend. Maybe Rizzo wants 2 bags and balls and pumpkin seeds?

Section 222 said...

Jair Jurgens -- an easy target just like Bannister, Floyd, and a number of other recent opposing starters who somehow managed to turn into Cy Young for a night. Here's hoping the solid defense and clutch hitting continues for another night. A series win would be awfully nice.

Bowdenball said...

Kennedy's under contract for $1.25 million and through 2011 for another $500K. Pretty sure we'd have to send the Red Sox Kennedy, some cash, sunflower seeds and a bag of baseballs just to unburden ourselves. If you think they're dumb enough to actually throw us a prospect in return, then you haven't been paying much attention to the Red Sox lately.

JayB said...

OK Mark.......... if you are correct about the goal for the organization and the purpose of this season....WHAT IS HARRIS AND KENNEDY DOING HERE? They are not part of any future are they? Does Rizzo really think Willie is going to "figure it out and Adam is going to get hot"? Kennedy's defense is beyond bad....they can not put him in the field so what is the point of keeping him or Willie on the roster this year?

Steve M. said...

Jayb - They trotted out Kennedy as a 1st base defensive replacement last night as they have before.

How do they keep doing that especially with Morse on the bench.

Maybe they want to show the Red Sox that he can back up Youk at 1st also. LOL

Brian (not Schneider) said...

@Nervous Nats Fan: Pudge was off on Sunday, so tonight would be his third straight game. That means we (most likely) won't see him in the lineup tomorrow. Good for Riggs for sticking with this lineup. I'm glad AG is getting some playing time - his 4-4 last night is probably a fluke, but at least his defense is solid.

Anonymous said...

I find JayB complaining about the Nats not trying for the future ironic. This is the same moron who seriously said the Nats should start Pete Orr. What does Pete Orr offer in the future? Nothing. He is a bum. At least Kennedy has had success before.

Anonymous said...

in 2009 Adam Kennedy had an OPS of 758 on 529 at bats; this year he has 67 at bats; Guzman was 696 on 531 at bats. I think that the criticism of Kennedy on this board is way off base. He was signed to solidify the position which Gonzalez failed at but has not been given the chance to play regularly because someone thinks (wrongly) that Guzman is a good hitter.

Anonymous said...

Interesting tidbit, I am pretty sure Pudge caught Jurrjen's first MLB game back when he was with the Tigers.

NatinBeantown said...

On Harris and Kennedy (and Nieves): it does the organization no good whatsoever to have young players who they think can develop sitting on the bench. If they've earned a big league shot, they start (Bernie & Desmond). If they haven't yet, they're playing everyday in SYR or HAR (Espinosa, Norris, etc). The major league bench is for established veterans who have the discipline and the professionalism to sit for two games but then be ready when called on, and to not foul up team chemistry by whining. You can argue that Kennedy and Harris haven't justified a lot of playing time, but they are a big reason why this team's effort/chemistry is still great while 11 games under and in the cellar.

That said, if a contender has any use for them whatsoever, Rizzo should move them.

JayB said...

Orr is a 10 day to 30 day solution at 2B because he does not choke like Kennedy and Harris and Guz. They need to stabilize the position just like they are doing with SS and Alberto.

Rizzo need to make major changes to the 25 and 40 man rosters....Harris, Guzman, Kennedy have no future here and neither does Orr but he will turn a DB to win a game....What can you say about Harris and Kennedy when the game is on the line?

Anonymous said...

What can you say about a Sicilian when death is on the line?

Les in NC said...

here's to a long game of making an 'Ace' out of JJ and making ourselves look foolish in the field....

c'mon boys, prove me wrong! Please?

Anonymous said...

He doesn't need us to make him look good, he already is a very good pitcher.

David said...

there's nothing wrong with desmond in right field, everyones played some right field... or well everyone SHOULD be able to play some right field

K.D. said...

Must have heard you, Gonzo is out there now.

Knoxville Nat said...

Anon, 5:57...darn good point and kudos also to NatinBeantown.....this one individual who constantly harps for Pete Orr at 2nd base and " major changes to the 25 and 40 man roster" is getting to be as tired an act as some of the nonsense coming down from Capital Hill ("We have to pass the bill to know what's in it"). Please,please, please...JayB...GO AWAY!!!!

K.D. said...

Though a loss is a loss, J.D. did okay after a rough start, bullpen was pretty good except for Slaten (who appeared rusty). Pudge made it an interesting ninth inning. Best of all.... NO ERRORS.

Mrs. Z. said...

Anon@6:21--you're close. Pudge was the starting catchers with the Tigers in 2007, but he didn't catch Jurrjens in his debut.
Jurrjens debuted on 8/15/07 and Mike Rabelo caught that game.

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