Sunday, July 18, 2010

Game 92: Nats at Marlins

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals and Marlins meet in the series finale at Sun Life Stadium.
MIAMI -- A very pleasant Sunday morning to you all once again from Sun Life Stadium, where the Nationals and Marlins play the rubber game of this weekend series today. We've seen a couple of pitchers' duels so far, with Stephen Strasburg beating Ricky Nolasco 4-0 and Josh Johnson beating Livan Hernandez 2-0.

Chances of another low-scoring game today? Not so good. Craig Stammen (2-3, 5.79) faces Alex Sanabia (0-1, 3.09) in less-than-enticing pitching matchup. Stammen, of course, has had his moments -- four times this season he's pitched into the seventh and allowed two or fewer earned runs, including May 7 against the Marlins. But he's also been prone to some really ugly starts, including his last two -- he's allowed 11 runs and 14 hits over his last 8 2/3 innings.

Couple of minor, pre-planned changes to Jim Riggleman's lineup. Wil Nieves starts behind the plate, giving Ivan Rodriguez the traditional day game after a night game off. And Ian Desmond takes a seat, with Cristian Guzman starting at shortstop and Adam Kennedy at second base.

Check back for updates throughout the day...

Where: Sun Life Stadium
Gametime: 1:10 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 89 degrees, Wind 13 mph in from RF
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Roger Bernadina
2B Adam Kennedy
C Wil Nieves
P Craig Stammen

MARLINS (43-47)
LF Emilio Bonifacio
1B Gaby Sanchez
SS Hanley Ramirez
2B Dan Uggla
3B Jorge Cantu
CF Cody Ross
RF Mike Stanton
C Ronny Paulino
P Akex Sanabia

1:10 p.m. -- This one is underway with a ball from Alex Sanabia to Nyjer Morgan. Not exactly a raucous environment here this afternoon. I may be able to count fans by hand.

1:16 p.m. -- An encouraging start to the afternoon for the Nationals ... that lasted about two minutes. Morgan drew a leadoff walk, a rarity if there ever was one. Then he got thrown out trying to steal second, which hardly qualifies as a rarity. A Cristian Guzman flyout and a Ryan Zimmerman strikeout complete the top of the first.

1:28 p.m. -- Craig Stammen put a couple of guys on in the bottom of the first (walking Gaby Sanchez and allowing a single to Hanley Ramirez). But he battled back and got a big strikeout of Dan Uggla on a curveball, then got Jorge Cantu to ground into an inning-ending fielder's choice. After one, it's scoreless here in Miami.

1:35 p.m. -- How many of you felt confident the Nationals would score in the top of the second after Adam Dunn walked and Josh Willingham singled off the left-field wall? With Roger Bernadina, Adam Kennedy and Wil Nieves coming up to bat? Yeah, that's what I thought. Neither runner managed to advance. Bernadina flied out to left. Kennedy struck out. Nieves grounded out weakly to first. Who could have predicted that? (Well, everyone, as a matter of fact.)

1:41 p.m. -- 1-2-3 second inning for Stammen, highlighted by a nifty play by Zimmerman. He jumped up and to his right to snag Mike Stanton's chopper, then made a nice throw all the way across the diamond to complete the play.

1:52 p.m. -- This is now bordering on the absurd. The Nats just loaded the bases with one out in the third ... and failed to score again. First, Guzman struck out with two on and nobody out. Then Dunn struck out on a pitch in the dirt with the bases loaded and one out. Willingham's groundout to third on the first pitch he saw completed another wasted rally. Get this: The Nationals have now put 18 men on base over their last 12 innings. Total runs scored in that time: Zero.

1:59 p.m. -- Looks like "Good Craig Stammen" has decided to show up today. Three scoreless innings so far, two singles and a walk, three strikeouts. Nice job so far from the inconsistent right-hander. We head to the fourth, still 0-0.

2:29 p.m. -- It's one thing to get shut out by Josh Johnson. It's quite another to get shut out by Alex Sanabia, which is what is happening to the Nats through five innings.

2:32 p.m. -- Breaking news: Someone finally scored. Unfortunately, it was the Marlins. Back-to-back doubles by Bonifacio and Sanchez to open the fifth (though you have to wonder if Dunn might have made a better stab at Bonifacio's grounder down the line). Nevertheless, Florida now leads 1-0. The only good news is that Sanabia, who is still building up stamina after pitching out of the bullpen previously, may not go much deeper into this game. Brian Sanches is already warming in the pen.

2:42 p.m. -- They just announced today's attendance as 21,057. Which is about right. If every person here walked through the turnstiles seven times.

2:54 p.m. -- Now, I'm no baseball expert. So I'll just ask all of you this question: When your No. 3 hitter leads off the sixth inning of a 1-0 game with a single, is it good when your Nos. 4, 5 and 6 hitters fly out, strike out on an 89 mph fastball at his eyes and then strike out at a 74 mph changeup in the dirt? Seriously, is that considered good baseball? Man, oh man, this is getting painful. Still 1-0 Marlins going to the bottom of the sixth. The Nats haven't scored. The Nats have had one run-scoring hit in 24 innings in this series so far: Josh Willingham's three-run double Friday night.

3:00 p.m. -- If the Nationals lose today, you can't blame Craig Stammen. He's tossed six innings of one-run ball, striking out six. Definitely one of his better outings of the year. Yet at this point, he's going to suffer a loss barring a sudden realization by the Nats' lineup how to hit.

3:13 p.m. -- There's really not much more to say at this point. The Nats don't have much trouble putting somebody on base. But once they do, they are absolutely incapable of advancing said runner. Just a feeble offensive showing the last 24 hours. Marlins still up 1-0 at the seventh-inning stretch.

3:32 p.m. -- In a shocking development, the Nationals put the leadoff man on in the eighth and didn't score. Guzman singled, but Zimmerman flied out. Then after Guzman stole second, Dunn struck out on a 3-2 curveball from Clay Hensley and Willingham popped out on another curveball. As we head to the bottom of the eighth, the Nats pitching staff has allowed three runs this weekend and is on the verge of losing the series.

3:46 p.m. -- So we go to the ninth. It's still 1-0. The Nats still are looking for some semblance of offense. It'll be Bernadina, Kennedy and Nieves to face closer Leo Nunez. Gotta think Michael Morse and/or Ivan Rodriguez will get a chance to bat before this inning is over, right?

3:54 p.m. -- Not as unbelievable as Kennedy getting thrown out after stumbling around second on Morse's base hit to right. Good lord.

3:58 p.m. -- It's over, and what an agonizing game it was. Nats lose 1-0. They've been shut out in consecutive games for the first time since August 8-9, 2008 in Milwaukee. The combined score of this weekend's series: Nationals 4, Marlins 3. Yet they lost two of three. Unbelievable.


Doc said...

As you have suggested Mark, Gonzo is not up to being a regualar. However, shouldn't he be playing SS or 2nd more than some of those other guys---particularly Kennedy?

greg said...

an ignominous pace for nyjer morgan, via buster olney (and one of his readers):

Thanks to loyal reader Tom Walter, we now know that two different players (Nyjer Morgan and Chone Figgins) reached the All-Star break on pace to strike out 100-plus times while making zero home-run trots. And that's kind of interesting, seeing as how only one player has had a season like that in history, according to Lee Sinins' Complete Baseball Encyclopedia. That would be the immortal Manny Lee (107 SO, 0 HR) in 1991.

greg said...

err... apologies to jason stark (not that he likely would know), that was from his column, not buster's.

natsfan1a said...

Re. the attendance comparison, hadn't heard that, but I believe that the O's get big boosts when the Sox and Yankees are in town, fwiw.

Also, was it commenter sock puppet night on Saturday or what? ;-)

Doc said...

I don't know about Figgins' strike out swing, but Nyjer's goofy swing (with minimal weight shift) is most noted on inside pitches that few successful left-handed hitters would attempt.

Anonymous said...

Gonzo should be at shortstop instead of Guzman that's for sure. Last night without Guzman the top of the order went 5 for 9. I doubt we'll see that today. Another marker on the way to 100 losses and Riggleman's eventual demise.

carolync said...

I very much enjoy the email audios but don't want to hear any more from Desmond. He doesn't deserve all the press coverage he gets. Yet another lack of concentration error last night led to the winning unearned run. Livan deserves better defense. Gonzo should play short. I think he is up to it for a while.

HabsProf said...

I'll tell you what else we can predict: Morgan getting thrown out stealing second.

Why oh why oh why do the Nats continue to give him the green light?

Anonymous said...


Tell me this is not the season in a nutshell. Already 0 for 6 in RISP situations. Tonight when I get chance i am going to through do the RISP for and against the Nats.

That is now at least 0 for their last 15.

Anonymous8 said...

I will say that with Morgan bunting down 1st as well as 3rd base should only help his production while his caught stealing % keeps hurting his production.

The net/net on Nyjer is he can frustrate the opponents as well as the Nats fanbase!

court said...

Anyone who thinks the AG needs more playing time obviously didn't watch any of last season. The guy was given a chance to be an everyday player and failed. He's fine where he is - as a utility guy with some versatility.

Desmond's frustrating for sure, but we have to find out what we have in him. The only way he'll improve is with playing experience. That said, I think he should slide to second when Espinosa's ready. Also, what is Alex Gonzales's contract situation? Is he available this offseason? He would be a nice stop-gap for Espinosa and would allow Desmond to move to second after both Guzman and Kennedy are let go.

phil dunn said...

Same old story, no offense. Yet, the sad sack batting coach, Eckstein, still hangs on. Of course, if competence was a requirement, Riggleman and all the rest of the coaches would be gone.

Anonymous said...

Kobernus, Lombardozzi, and Espinosa aren't ready yet. But Seth Bynum and Chase Lambin are ... ~smiles~

Anonymous said...

Willie Harris ... again instead of Morse. Competence is definitely NOT a qualification or requirement for managing the Nats.

Anonymous said...

And Willie Harris of course strikes out.

Anonymous said...

nats24: with Riggleman 100 losses seem certain.

swang said...

It's pretty damn hard for us to go with 100 losses. we'd have to win 21 games or less in the next 70 or so.

Knoxville Nat said...

Two observations,first the Marlins announcers were saying what a break they caught on Willie's "check swing" strike out. Second, is Willingham having difficulty picking up a breaking pitch? I don't recall what he hit Friday night on his 3 run double but I'm pretty sure it was a straight fastball. He has absolutely looked lost at the plat when a curve ball or a slider comes in the past two games.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Knoxville Nat: Willingham's big hit the other night came on a hanging slider.

Anonymous said...

Love that Adam Kennedy. This is the big leagues. I'm gong to flip the channels looking for a Gilligan's Island marathon. Gotta be better than this.

Anonymous said...

Knight was mentioning friday night that Willingham hitting mechanics were off and he felt
his hit was almost pure luck.

Cwj said...

Disgraceful to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Kennedy is plain HORRIBLE! Rizzo should release him imediately. It's like he's never played baseball before. How can a professional player get caught at second in that situation? Just unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

I hope they file this game as a "Nationals Classic" on MASN. Because that was a classic piece of s**t performance by this team. What a waste of 3 hours.

Anonymous said...

Anyone here who still wants to see AK in the lineup ever again, after this unbelievable play?


Kennedy. He hasn't a supporter all season on NatsInsider besides his family members.

Has no defensive range, weak hitter, and this weekend cost the Nats dearly with dumbsh-t baserunning.

Why is he on the team and even worse, why do they continually play this guy?


Anonymous said...

It's time to blow this team up. The only untouchables should be Strasburg and Storen.

DFA AK said...

It is the curse of the initials AK. AUSTIN KEARNS, ADAM KENNEDY......KILGORE.....

Richard said...

With supposedly something to prove in the second half, the Nats scored in one of 27 innings over the weekend -- 4 runs in the 6th inning Friday night. I guess they're well on their way to proving it.

Anonymous said...

Johnny Holiday just remarked on "Great play by Ryan Zimmerman." What game was he watching?

natsfan1a said...

Third time trying to post without browser blowing up. What the??

RZ did have a good play earlier in the game. The bad throw doesn't erase that (except, perhaps, in the memory of frustrated fans).

dj in Fl. said...

There is no longer any proof that this team is better than last year, or the year before or...

We may not loose 100, but they are not showing any improvement over this time last year.
Our only real progress has been the pitching staff, and they are why we will not loose 100.
Our improved offense, isn't, while our fielding and baserunning still need improvements.

Knoxville Nat said...


Thanks for straightening me out on Hammer's hit this past Friday. But let me ask you, is my main point that Josh looked lost on most breaking pitches this weekend accurate or not?

Sunderland said...

Kennedy makes the 2nd out of the inning running the bases poorly.
Maxwell almost makes the third getting picked off.
In the 9th inning, in a one run game!

Another example of a very poorly coached and managed team.

100 Loses. It's gonna be tough, but if we grind out a few more close loses, we'll have a shot.

Anonymous said...

the base running is just embarrassing. Kennedy should be just released, he is worthless.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Knoxville Nat: You are correct in your overall evaluation. I thought Willingham (and several other guys) really looked lost against breaking balls today, especially late in the game. Some interesting comments from Rick Eckstein afterward about how hitters were approaching some of those at-bats. I'll have those in a little while.

Anonymous said...

Eight more games and its 40-60 and 20 games under.

Theo said...

Nats scored four in Game One; Kennedy gave away 2+ in Game Two (caused Desmond's error, egregiously stupid base-running [Listach took the blame but Kennedy slowed down, was looking at second and running sideways]); Kennedy gave away another run in Game 3 (more awful base-running). So, w/out Kennedy, Nats score at least five runs over three days, give up no more than one. When they signed the guy, I thought he was a reliable, every-day player. Now he's playing like Elijah Dukes without child support payments.

Anonymous said...


I see no emotion on the team. None. We do not need to go ballistic like Carlos Zambrano, but show some emotion so we as fans know you care as much as we care. That was a big problem under Acta, and that part has not changed under RIggleman.

Mark L said...

Mark -- great writing, but still painful.

Anonymous said...

@ Manassas

Just for the record Nationals have struck out 111 more times than they have thrown strike outs. That combined with a lack of hitting is causing big problems.

Cwj said...

@Anon 5:26 -
Strasburg displayed some emotion the other day. Peralta showed some today. Dunn, of course, always seems to show frustration (in his own way) when he and the offense put up zeros.

JayB said...

Kennedy performance is not new people....go back to SD trip to the west coast...Rigglemans instance to play Harris, Kennedy, Morgan and Guzman at the time Pudge was on DL killed this team. It was 5 games over .500 and now look what happened.

Rizzo sat on his hands instead of correcting his mistakes from the winter. They still need a catcher and a 2B and a RF with Roger playing CF most days......I called in 8 weeks ago and finally the rest of you are seeing it.....

Riggleman must be fired now and Rizzo should be next unless he is going to make the moves that need to be made to improve this team. Trade Josh W and Capps today. DFA Harris and Kennedy, trade Guzman and pick up his salary.....should get a C prospect then...This team is going to get real close to 100 loses because it cheeped out this off season....Did not spend on the positions it needed to address...this is a complete lost year because all the same holes still exist one year later.

Cwj said...

JayB- at least the Nats have a bullpen and a true ace. That's something I guess :)
I'm trying to be as optimistic as possible....

JayB said... are correct the bull pen is much better....could it be worse? Is that really a tough fix to make for a competent GM? Rizzo blew 2B, back up catcher, RF and Vet Starting Pitching. All these are still major holes for this winter....JUST LIKE LAST WINTER!

Anonymous said...

I guess one could say that Kennedy and Marquis do not look like good moves at this point. Anticipating potential problems with Flores as well? From Rizzo's perspective unless he gets a power pitchier as a top of the rotation starter he's probably not going to make any great leap. So, they did get one in Strasburg and a future closer in Storen. Jury's out on whether they've found a shortstop. I suspect that right field would be resolved in the near term by just playing Morse every day and having Bernadina move between right and center fields. Instead Riggleman decided to make Guzman "his utility starter". A huge mistake.

I'd be happy to see Gonzalez, Desmond and Morse start the rest of the season and to heck with the stupid platoon. It doesn't work Riggleman. It didn't before and it doesn't now. It produces errors, a league leading quantity. It makes your first baseman look far worst because he has to manage errant throws while still learning this position. You want him for your bat but must you embarrass him in the field? It may effect that bat you so desperately need.

Sunderland said...

JayB - I'm with you on almost 100%.
I'm still up in the air about Rizzo. I just assume he is hamstrung to do much.
He could fix the bullpen on the cheap by signing Capps, hoping, and signing 15 other guys real cheap and seeing which ones panned out.
He tried the same with the rotation with Marquis and a bunch of others (Livo included).
It worked in the bullpen.
It didn't work in the rotation.

Did Rizzo completely blow RF? He certainly knew coming into spring training that there was a really good chance that Dukes was not going to be prepared to play major league baseball. But was he afforded an opportunity to really address this? Who knows. So he signs Duncan, Taveras, Mench, hopes on Bernadina and Maxwell and Morse.

Regardless, Riggleman is indeed killing every semblance of "team" that we have.

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