Saturday, July 17, 2010

Game 91: Nats at Marlins

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals look to make it two in a row tonight at Sun Life Stadium.
MIAMI -- How long had it been since the Nationals last shut out the Marlins in their home ballpark? Before last night's 4-0 victory, it previously occurred on Sept. 26, 2005, also a 4-0 win. The starting pitcher that night? Hector Carrasco. The big hit? A two-run double by Cristian Guzman, who went 3-for-4 to RAISE his batting average to .215.

So this was a rare occurrence indeed. And it may take another rare occurrence for the Nats to make it two in row tonight. That's because the Marlins send ace Josh Johnson to the mound, and arguably, there isn't a better pitcher on the planet right now. Overall, the right-hander is 9-3 with a 1.70 ERA. Over his last 14 starts, his ERA is 1.17.

The Nats did beat Johnson earlier this season, sort of. On May 8 at Nationals Park, the Nationals scored three runs in six innings against him and put him in line for the loss. A Gaby Sanchez homer off Tyler Clippard in the seventh took Johnson off the hook, but the Nationals (who sent Matt Chico to the mound that afternoon) ultimately came back to win, 5-4.

Livan Hernandez starts tonight for the Nats, looking to prove his outstanding first half was no fluke.

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

Where: Sun Life Stadium
Gametime: 7:10 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 86 degrees, Wind 12 mph RF to LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
RF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
2B Adam Kennedy
SS Ian Desmond
P Livan Hernandez

MARLINS (42-47)
LF Chris Coghlan
1B Gaby Sanchez
SS Hanley Ramirez
2B Dan Uggla
3B Jorge Cantu
CF Cody Ross
RF Mike Stanton
C Ronny Paulino
P Josh Johnson

7:11 p.m. -- This one is underway with a strike from Josh Johnson to Nyjer Morgan.

7:18 p.m. -- If you haven't seen it yet, I posted an update on several rehabbing pitchers (Scott Olsen, Ross Detwiler, Jason Marquis, Jordan Zimmermann) plus John Lannan on Mike Rizzo had some interesting things to say about all of them.

7:26 p.m. -- You have to assume you're only going to get a handful of scoring opportunities against Johnson, so you better take advantage of them. Which makes the top of the first inning frustrating for the Nats. Morgan and Roger Bernadina each singled off the Marlins ace, but neither could score. Ryan Zimmerman advanced Morgan to third with a flyball, but Adam Dunn struck out an 0-2 slider, then Josh Willingham roped a line drive right at Dan Uggla for the third out. By night's end, we may look back at that missed opportunity as crucial.

7:33 p.m. -- Solid first inning for Livan Hernandez, capped by a fantastic strikeout of Hanley Ramirez on a 63 mph curveball that would have made Bugs Bunny proud.

7:36 p.m. -- There's a major infestation of bees down the third-base line here, near the Nationals' bullpen. They've roped off two full sections with yellow caution tape, and there are a couple of beekeepers on the scene, wearing T-shirts that read (I'm not kidding): "I'll Bee There."

7:49 p.m. -- Oh, that Nationals infield defense. Ian Desmond was charged with his MLB-leading 22nd error to open the second inning, though it was a tough-luck error. Desmond had a bead on Dan Uggla's popup behind the bag, but there was a near-three-way collision with Adam Kennedy and the second-base umpire. Of course, that came back to haunt the Nats when Ronny Paulino delivered a two-run single to right a few minutes later. Marlins take a 2-0 lead, with one of the runs unearned.

7:59 p.m. -- Another wasted opportunity for the Nats in the third. Two on, two out and Dunn strikes out. Still 2-0 heading to the bottom of the third.

8:20 p.m. -- Adam Kennedy is not having a great night. He just got thrown out at the plate trying to score from second when Dan Uggla booted Ian Desmond's grounder. In Kennedy's defense, he was just following Pat Listach's orders. But Kennedy certainly has found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time a couple of times already tonight. It's still 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth.

8:26 p.m. -- Two-out walk issued by Livo in the fourth, but otherwise he cruised through the inning. He's allowed two runs (one earned) and three hits through four, walking two and striking out three. Marlilns still lead 2-0 after four.

8:40 p.m. -- Speaking of rough nights, Adam Dunn has now come up to bat three times with two men on base. He's struck out all three times, the latest on a check swing to end the fifth. Still 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth.

8:45 p.m. -- 1-2-3 fifth for Livo, who has now recorded five strikeouts. But unless the Nats can get to Johnson, he'll take a hard-luck loss.

8:51 p.m. -- Nothing doing for the Nats in the sixth. The key to this game so far: Their 1-2-3 hitters are 5-for-9. Their 4-5-6 hitters are 0-for-9 with five strikeouts. Marlins up 2-0 going to the bottom of the sixth.

9:01 p.m. -- Can't fault Livo for anything tonight. He's been fantastic again, allowing one earned run and four hits through six innings. Of course, he's still trailing 2-0, but perhaps the Nats are about to get their breakthrough. Josh Johnson is out of the game after throwing 109 pitches in six innings. Jose Veras now in from the bullpen as we go to the seventh.

9:17 p.m. -- Yet another wasted opportunity for the Nats in the seventh. Runners on the corners, two outs, Zimmerman at the plate. He swung mightily at Veras' 3-0 fastball and nearly hit it out of Sun Life Stadium altogether. But a strong wind blowing in from right field pushed it foul. Zimmerman then took a fastball for strike two and then a wicked breaking ball for strike three. Nats have now stranded nine men on base in seven innings, still trail 2-0. Tyler Clippard coming on to pitch.

9:24 p.m. -- Nice bounceback performance from Clippard in his first appearance of the second half. He retired the side in the seventh, striking out Mike Lamb. Encouraging development for the reliever. Not so encouraging: The Nats still trail 2-0 as we go to the eighth.

9:30 p.m. -- This is bordering on the absurd. The Nats have put 11 men on base in eight innings tonight. None has scored. Potential eighth-inning rally killed by Pudge, who grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. So we head to the bottom of the eighth in a game that has been 2-0 since the second.

9:36 p.m. -- Make it two perfect innings of relief for Clippard, who just set down the side in the eighth. This may have been an important outing for him, even if it comes in a loss. Might restore some of his confidence. The Nats, though, are down to their final three outs. We go to the ninth, still 2-0, with Leo Nunez out to close it and Kennedy, Desmond and a pinch-hitter due up for the Nats.

9:44 p.m. -- Wow, what a tough loss. Final score: Marlins 2, Nationals 0. That's the only stat that tilted in Florida's favor. The Nats outhit them 11 to 4. Doesn't matter. Josh Johnson improves to 10-3 with a 1.62 ERA. Livan Hernandez falls to 6-6 despite a 3.27 ERA.


Anonymous said...

No commenters? After the rip-roaring comment on last night's game? I'll start. Notice that when the beleagured [sp?] Guzman isn't in there, the middle infield hits at the bottom. I still that that Guzman should be in every lineup. He's got one of the few solid major league bats on the roster.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...SNAFU in the middle infield...Guzman's not available for scapegoating...deafening silence from Periculum's corner

phil dunn said...

Defensively, the entire infield (except for Zimmerman and Gonzalez) is a defensive disaster.

Les in NC said...

Having to rely on "watching" the game via 'Gameday', and for some reason I am getting no coverage. My screen is stuck on the bottom half of the 2nd just after Paulino knocked 2 in.

I guess I'll watch the Braves play on Fox...

Aussie Gus said...

I've got the same problem as Les... Mark, are you able to give inning by inning updates, even if only a really brief summary?

Anonymous said...


Is Jennedy's mind in the game. Runs into Desmond to cause and error, Runs home through a stop sign and out by 15 feet.

Anonymous said...

Nats need to DFA Adam Kennedy. He is a disaster in every respect.

Les in NC said...

Still no 'Gameday'.

Ah well, I need to do laundry anyway.....

Mark Zuckerman said...

For those of you who can't get the Gameday updates to work, I'll try to provide some more detail here. Keep checking back.

Anonymous said...

Great base running by Kennedy.

Hey anon7:12 if Guzman is so great why do they never have guys on when the amazing 3,4,5 (on a last place team again) never have anyone one when they hit home runs?

You have two really terrible fielders on the right side. The defense: worst in baseball!! Which would you rather have in the game? Adam Dunn and 22 homers, .292 avg, 41 walks, 26 doubles and 2 triples at first base? Or Guzman? Because Dunn's neophyte first base skills require flawless fielders around him to ensure they don't make him look worst. Something Guzman is supremely good at.

What has this wonderful major league bat done against right handed hitters batting left-handed (he should always bat right by the way)?
He is hitting .266/.322/.656 with just 13 walks batting second?

Guzman's fielding at second base is atrocious as we saw in last night's game.

And this team isn't going to be in any playoff hunt is it? So why are they playing Guzman who will most certainly be gone next year? Even Kennedy is questionable? Its not just **my** opinion but one shared by Greg Di Palma, Dave Nichols, and Brian Oliver.

Every rep he takes away from a young player like Gonzalez hurts this team.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...SNAFU in the middle infield...Guzman's not available for scapegoating...deafening silence from Periculum's corner

So, Di Palma, Brian Oliver and Mike Nichols are wrong too? I'm not the only one who thinks they should be playing Gonzalez. I never said Kennedy should play ... he's had chances ... Riggleman claims he doesn't want him to get rusty? Why? They aren't going anywhere? They need to look at the younger players who can actually field the position? Don't you think?

Nervous Nats Fan said...

Think that was missed communication or bad coaching on Kennedy running home. It looked like Listach said go, go, go. Then as Kennedy was on his way home, he threw up the stop sign, and Kennedy either didn't see it or was too far to give up.

Anonymous said...


Upon further review, I am blaming Listache as he waving him to go. Why? I am clueless the ball dropped to Uglla's feet. No way Kennedy was going to score.

TO my usualy rant RISP average.


Zim so far 0 for 2, Dunn 0 for 2 (3 total K's), Willingham 0 for 1. Desmond 0 for 1, Total 0 for 6.

People have complained about them not having enough runners on base when they come up, well they had plenty tonight.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous@8:29 pm,

Hit a nerve there, did we, with our implied criticism of the World's Oldest Young Shortstop?

And Alberto Gonzalez, young talent? The man's 27 years old!!

Your irrational, hysterical hatred of Guzman blinds you to the fact that none of our 4 MIs is very good. Guz and Kennedy are on the downward arcs of pretty good careers. Gonzo, at age 27, is what he is. I agree that Desi needs to play every day at SS, but mainly because we have no other options and he may (no guarantees) get better. He's getting a golden opportunity to improve, but he'd better take advantage of this window of opportunity while it's still open. For someone who's keenly aware of Guzzie's OBP deficiencies, aren't you just a little bit concerned about Desi's record in that area? Not to mention his K/W ratio?

Anonymous said...

Your irrational, hysterical hatred of Guzman blinds
Sticks and stones ... hey where's Sister Natsfan1a and MK?

For someone who's keenly aware of Guzzie's OBP deficiencies, aren't you just a little bit concerned about Desi's record in that area? Not to mention his K/W ratio?

I'm also aware of Willingham's OBP strengths and believe he should bat second. I feel the same way Di Palma, Brian Oliver and MIke Nichols have and expressed as much ... Riggleman had his chance to prove "his veterans" could win. Now they are sliding ever more deeply in the cellar playing them. Why?

Desmond is still a prospect, an older one at that. He is getting his opportunity. If they were in the hunt I would indeed be worried about playing him. I would hope they would send him back to AAA to work on his hitting and fielding.

But then we would have a guy playing shortstop who now has limited range and a very weak arm! One who has become an atrocious fielder on that left side. Yes, Guzman and that's who Riggleman would start.

Why not get another look at Gonzalez? Why not get a look at Morse? They don't have anyone even close to ready in the minors ... like everything else the Loria rifled farm system is still a work in progress. Heck why not bring up AAA all star Chase Lambin and see what he can do at second base? He has to be better than Guzman and might actually hit better.

Guzman should not be batting left handed ... at all. He should just hit right handed all the time. He has started to walk more but its not enough to warrant batting second. He is a veteran, he is supposed to know better. Know that he is hurting his team. He's not a power hitter he's a guy who needs to get on base and get driven in.

Guzman's fielding leaves a lot be desired at second base and at short stop. He is worst than Dunn in right field. Why is he in the game? Why is it that Gonzalez can play this position better? Guzman is the veteran? Isn't he supposed to be a better fielder coming from shortstop? Instead he is atrocious. But, Kennedy is almost as bad.

What I say to you is stop coddling guys who are supposed to be veterans with world series rings ... who aren't that old yet. If they don't do the job they should sit.

Anonymous said...

the 3,4,5 plus failed miserably tonight ... that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Willie Harris now batting .179. Against right handed pitchers: .187 with a .294 OBP.

Michael Morse now batting: .310. Against right handed pitchers .364 with a .417 OBP.

Jim Riggleman is bound and determined to lose 100 games.

greg said...

is it really irrational hatred of guzman to realize he's not "one of the few solid major league bats on the roster??"

(a) if that's true, this roster is significantly worse than even the most pessimistic fan thought

(b) it's blatantly not true.

natsfan1a said...

hmmm...looks like it was sock puppet night for commenters last night

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