Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Game 95: Nats at Reds

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg will battle the Reds (and possibly the weather) tonight.
CINCINNATI -- In an absolute shocking development, it's hot and muggy again today in Cincinnati, with intermittent storms passing through. Same as Monday. Same as yesterday. Same as it's supposed to be tomorrow.

Which means Stephen Strasburg may have a new challenge to face tonight: the weather.

To date, Strasburg has pitched in heat, humidity and wind, but rain hasn't been an issue. It certainly could be tonight, whether it comes in the form of a delay before the game starts, a delay once things are already underway or a steady drizzle that can be played through but still proves to be an annoyance. We'll see how the rookie handles that, not to mention the potent Reds' lineup.

One note about the Nationals' lineup: Ian Desmond is back in the 8-hole, with Cristian Guzman batting second. Jim Riggleman did say yesterday he planned to start moving Desmond around more, though he never said the shortstop wouldn't hit eighth at all. Appears that when Guzman is playing, he'll stay in the 2-hole, forcing Desmond down.

Also, note that ESPN is televising tonight's game to a national audience ... but you won't be able to watch that broadcast in the D.C. or Cincinnati areas. In D.C., it's on MASN as always. In Cincinnati, it's on FSN Ohio.

Check back for updates throughout the afternoon and evening...

Where: Great American Ball Park
Gametime: 7:10 p.m.
TV: MASN, ESPN (outside D.C. and Cincinnati)
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Chance of storms, 84 degrees, Wind 9 mph RF to LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Cristian Guzman
1B Adam Dunn
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Josh Willingham
RF Roger Bernadina
C Ivan Rodriguez
SS Ian Desmond
P Stephen Strasburg

REDS (53-42)
2B Brandon Phillips
SS Orlando Cabrera
1B Joey Votto
LF Jonny Gomes
RF Jay Bruce
3B Miguel Cairo
CF Drew Stubbs
C Ryan Hanigan
P Bronson Arroyo

3:34 p.m. -- Ross Detwiler tossed seven shutout innings today for Class AA Harrisburg, the latest strong start for the left-hander. You've got to wonder if he might be joining the Nationals' rotation in the near future. Over his last three starts at Harrisburg, Detwiler has a 1.59 ERA, striking out 17 while walking only three over 17 innings. He wouldn't be able to replace Luis Atilano on Sunday, because that would require pitching on short rest. But with Monday being an off-day, it wouldn't be difficult to slide Detwiler into that spot next week.

5:45 p.m. -- Adam Dunn is currently taking grounders at shortstop during BP. That kind of versatility has got to add at least an extra $1 million to his contract demands, right? Or at least convince opposing GMs to give up a big-league player in return for a trade, right?

7:10 p.m. -- We're underway with a ball from Bronson Arroyo to Nyjer Morgan. Crowd still filing in, but it looks like this could be close to a sellout.

7:22 p.m. -- Superb first inning from Stephen Strasburg, who made some very good Reds hitters look silly. Brandon Phillips grounded out to short on a 3-1 fastball. Orlando Cabrera broke his bat on an inside fastball and hit a weaker liner to short. Joey Votto then looked baffled, swinging at a changeup in the dirt and then freezing on a 2-2 curveball for strike three. Really nice start to the evening for Strasburg.

7:30 p.m. -- Not too much going on offensively so far for the Nats. Roger Bernadina was the lone man to reach base in the first two innings, blooping a two-out single to left in the second. So once again, Strasburg has no margin for error.

7:40 p.m. -- More of the same from Strasburg in the second inning. He did walk Miguel Cairo on a 3-2 fastball that just missed. But he struck out both Jonny Gomes and Drew Stubbs and had three swings and misses in the inning. 31 pitches, 19 strikes so far in a scoreless game.

8:01 p.m. -- Looked like Strasburg was going to get through the third unscathed, but then Phillips smoked an 0-1 fastball off the wall in right-center for a two-out triple. Moments later, Strasburg hung a 2-2 curveball to Cabrera, who laced an RBI single to left and put the Reds up 1-0. First really poor pitch he's made all night, but it cost him.

8:14 p.m. -- The Nats managed to get the run right back. Dunn drew a leadoff walk, then Zimmerman smoked a double inside the third-base line. Neither runner could advance on Willingham's line drive to shallow center, but Dunn came home on Bernadina's subsequent sac fly. So it's 1-1 heading to the bottom of the fourth.

8:16 p.m. -- Even Pete Rose has Strasburg Fever. They just flashed the all-time hit king on the Jumbotron, and he got a standing ovation from the crowd. Apropos of nothing, anyone know what the betting line on tonight's game was? (Sorry, I had to.)

8:27 p.m. -- Looked like Strasburg was in trouble in the fourth when Bruce and Cairo singled back-to-back. Bernadina made a great throw to third that would have nailed Bruce, but the ball hit the runner and bounded away from Zimmerman. Moments later, Roger got some redemption. Stubbs hit a fly ball to right, and Bruce tagged. Bernadina's throw was up the line a bit, but Pudge made a nice tag to complete the 9-2 double play and end the fourth. Still 1-1. 64 pitches for Strasburg, 42 strikes.

8:40 p.m. -- Needing a big hit to take the lead, the Nationals turn to noted power source ... Cristian Guzman??? Yep, Guzie smoked a pitch into the right-field bleachers, putting the Nats up 3-1 and providing Strasburg with a real, live cushion for the bottom of the fifth!

8:52 p.m. -- Pitching with a lead for only the eighth time in 55 innings as a big-leaguer, Strasburg retired the side in the fifth, recording two more strikeouts. He's now got 7 K's through five, pitch count at 80.

9:02 p.m. -- Desmond smokes a two-run single off the third baseman's glove, and all of a sudden it's 5-1 Nats in the sixth. It's an offensive explosion! Have to say, Desmond has made some really solid contact in recent days, could be a sign of him breaking out. Arroyo is done and our old friend Bill Bray is in to face Nyjer with two on and two out in the sixth.

9:06 p.m. -- Wow, even Nyjer gets into the act. He laced a two-run single up the middle off Bray, a lefty, to make it 7-1!

9:09 p.m. -- Get this: Nyjer has only 18 RBI all season. Four of them, though, have come in the last three days.

9:24 p.m. -- After all that, Strasburg won't get credited with a quality start. Hard to say he wasn't quality tonight, though. Despite a two-run single by Cairo with two outs in the sixth, he still pitched extremely well. Was charged with three runs on seven hits, but struck out seven and walked only one. That's the fifth time in nine starts he's issued zero or one walk. His season strikeout-to-walk ratio is a ridiculous 75-to-15. ERA was under 2.00 for a moment, but that last hit raised it to 2.32.

9:47 p.m. -- Tonight's paid attendance: 37,863. It's actually a sellout, though, because the Reds distributed 2,338 complimentary tickets to students who had straight A's during the school year.

9:53 p.m. -- This game is far from over. Drew Storen loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh, bringing Cabrera to the plate representing the tying run. Storen caught Cabrera looking at a nice 1-2 curveball, but now Sean Burnett must face Votto and Gomes with the bases still loaded and the Nats still leading 7-3.

9:57 p.m. -- Burnett did his job, getting Votto to ground out to second, though it did bring a run home to make it 7-4. Now it's Tyler Clippard to face Gomes. Clippard threw two scoreless last night, and it looks like he'll need to record four outs tonight.

10:02 p.m. -- Wow, really impressive job by Storen, Burnett and Clippard. They got out of that jam allowing only one run. Clippard blew away Gomes with a 94 mph fastball to end the seventh. The lead remains 7-4.

10:20 p.m. -- So Ryan Hanigan hit a towering drive to left that resulted in fireworks being set off. The only problem: It was a foul ball. Oops. Hanigan still managed to draw a walk, and that has forced Riggleman into another pitching change. Matt Capps will face pinch-hitter Chris Heisey with two on and two out in the eighth.

10:26 p.m. -- Heisey greeted Capps with an RBI single to cut the lead to 7-5, but the closer battled back to get Phillips to hit a groundball. So we head to the ninth of a game the Nationals are trying like crazy to hang onto.

10:29 p.m. -- If I had told you four hours ago the Nats would hit two home runs tonight, you'd have guessed Guzman and Harris, right? Willie's solo shot makes it 8-5 and gives Capps some cushion.

10:46 p.m. -- At long last, it's over. The Nats hang on to win, 8-5. Strasburg improves to 5-2. Capps earns his 24th save.


Anonymous said...

No Morse again. Yet he is the "hot hitter" is he not? That was the rationale behind playing Guzman as a "starter"?

natsfan1a said...

Atta boy, Ross. But no chili news? :-)

Brian said...

Hilarious given Ladson's headline from yesterday that, "Desmond's Days of Batting Eighth are Over."

Actually, hilarious or sad? Why cater to Guz unless you're hoping to trade him this week.

Section 222 said...

The Reds starter is right handed so back to the bench for Morse. If we're lucky they'll bring on a leftie in relief at some point so Morse can get a pinch hit at bat. Otherwise, we get the joys of he who hopes to glimpse the Mendoza line (Willie Harris) off the bench yet again.

Stew Magnuson said...

I witnessed John Lannan's start in Harrisburg on Saturday. Very mediocre. I wondered if I will ever see him pitch for the Nats again.
This was the 4 and half hour 9 inning game that ended with Altoona winning 18-15. The Curve put 10 runs up at the top of the 9th. The only member of the bullpen capable of putting out the fire was Adam Carr. It was a night to remember.
And one last note: Now that Harrisburg has finished remodeling its stadium, Potomac is now the uncontested worse place to watch a baseball game in the Mid-Atlantic region. The park is an embarrassment to the franchise.

Souldrummer said...

Amen to your comments on the Pfitz. It got to the point last year where I'd prefer to head up to Frederick (about an equal drive for me to Potomac and less stressful with the traffic) to watch the P-Nats play road games there. Plus that seems to be Burgess' favorite park to hit. Can you give any more specifics on what you saw with Lannan?

Doc said...

I think Willie has already slipped below the Mendoza line--however low that it is?? Riggs lineup is like a kid randomly playing a baseball video game.

Anonymous said...

Riggleman loves lineup juggling but that juggling never includes Michael Morse, perhaps the best hitter on the team. If Dunn gets traded, that would open up first base, probably for Adam Kennedy but certainly not for Morse.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it time to put Desmond in RF again, and maybe Wil Nieves at SS. With Riggleman, you never know what he is going to pull out of his hat. The only thing that's certain is whatever he does won't work.

Matt said...

Doc: Since the Mendoza line is .200, he's been under pretty much the whole season!

Bowdenball said...

Anonymous 4:13-

I like Morse too, but let's not get carried away. Best hitter on the team? You're working with kind of a small sample size, no? Why not declare Tyler Clippard the best hitter in baseball history? He's batting 1.000 this year with an OPS of 2.000.

Morse has been great this year and I really want to see what he can do, but remember that we've got a whole lot more than just 75 at-bats to judge him on. He's been playing ball at every level for years and years, and his numbers over time don't suggest that he's a star. Better than Willie or Nyjer, yeah, sure. But not better than many of our other regulars. He's got a lifetime OPS under .800 in both the majors and the minors.

Anonymous said...

CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
LF Josh Willingham
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
RF Michael Morse
C Ivan Rodriguez
2B Alberto Gonzalez
P Stephen Strasburg

This is my lineup for the rest of the year. Play the young guys and find out what they can do. Willingham's OBP help set-up more opportunity for Z man and Dunn.

Souldrummer said...

Hope remains. Detwiler had a nice day pitching in Harrisburg's matinee. 7IP, 0R, 5H, 1BB, 7K. Espinosa 1-3, BB. Marrero 1-2, 2BB. Lowrance hits a 2R HR in a 2-0 Harrisburg victory.

Anonymous said...

I like Morse too, but let's not get carried away. Best hitter on the team? You're working with kind of a small sample size, no? Why not declare Tyler Clippard the best hitter in baseball


I believer you are putting words in my mouth? Not a good thing? I never said "best" hitter, I said "hot" hitter. He is most certainly hot especially given the small sample size and the fact he is usually cold when he comes to the plate.

As I recall that was the rationale Riggleman used to continue to start Guzman over Kennedy, making the latter rust as Riggleman admitted in his mea culpa. Again why play Guzman when he is poor against right handed pitching while not playing Morse who has been good against right handed pitching?

Riggleman scares me with his obsession with Harris, Guzman, and Maxwell.

Bowdenball said...


You said "perhaps the best hitter on the team." It's right there in the post time-stamped 4:13, unless you're a different Anonymous then the person to whom I was replying.

Whoever said that, whether it was you or someone else, was getting a little carried away.

court said...

I like Anon's lineup. You could rotate Guzman/Kennedy/Gonzalez in that 8th spot. If you must play Nyjer, bat him 8th and have the 2B hit 6th if Morse sits or hit 2nd if Roger sits.

I wonder how many times Zim has hit with no one on? Too many, is the short answer.

dj in Fl. said...

Does no one remember how horrible Gonzo was last year. Manny gave him second base and he played his way out of the lineup. If you do not like errors, you do not want Gonzo starting everyday.

Anonymous said...


Ooops sorry different anonymous, my comment is at the top.

HHover said...

If you do not like errors, you do not want Gonzo starting everyday.

Reality check - Gonzo had 9 errors at SS (280 inn) but only 1 at 2B (363 inn) last year.

What killed him was his bat - .265 on the season, but only .234 post All Start Game.

natsfan1a said...

You know, there *is* a way around that problem. Simply choose a moniker/name and use it consistently. I'm not saying, I'm just saying... ;-)


Anonymous said...


Ooops sorry different anonymous, my comment is at the top.
July 21, 2010 5:30 PM

Anonymous8 said...

Mark Zuckerman writes ...5:45 p.m. -- Adam Dunn is currently taking grounders at shortstop during BP. That kind of versatility has got to add at least an extra $1 million to his contract demands, right? Or at least convince opposing GMs to give up a big-league player in return for a trade, right?

Hilarious! I wish he scooped that ball from Zim last night or got a clutch hit too!

JayB said... is about winning games, not goofing off in batting practice.

Richard said...

Amen to the "Pfitz is the pits" comments. Gotta be the worst minor league park in the nation. Much of the field looks to be painted green rather than grass. And it's hard to watch a day game there in the summer -- no cover. P-Nats deserve better. Nice new "million dollar" scoreboard though. IMHO, Hagerstown is much better place to watch a game. BTW, the Nats seemed posed to sign-up for more years in Syracuse per the article at, for those who haven't read it yet. Will the AA team move to Richmond? Harrisburg media mentioned the possibility. Stan K. seems to like Richmond.

Sec3MySofa said...

To be fair, .200 for the Mendoza Line is from rounding it down from .215.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...


Now, cut him.

Smatt1001 said...

And a homer from Willie Harris!?!

Anonymous8 said...

My Silver Elvis to Guzy tonight.

Richard said...

The Guzman bashers can take the night off! Nice break for the rest of us.

natsfan1a said...

Nice win tonight, though a tad nerve-wracking in the late innings. Do they even do the Silver Elvis anymore? I kinda liked it, but maybe it ran its course for the guys?

natsfan1a said...

In other news, who knew that flying open could be a jersey issue for a pitcher? :-)

VCUAlum Kyle said...

When they announced the double switch last night and said Willie Harris I was like "OMG", Riggs got lucky having Harris hit that Home Run.

Steve, I have never been to the Pfitz but if you ask me who has the worst minor league stadium on the East, I would say it is right here in Richmond called The Diamond. Awful facility.

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