Monday, August 2, 2010

Game 106: Nats at Diamondbacks

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Chase Field, the sometimes-indoor, sometimes-outdoor home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
PHOENIX -- Good afternoon from Chase Field in downtown Phoenix, where it's a dry and balmy 95 degrees right now, gorgeous weather for this time of year in the Valley of the Sun. Don't worry, the mercury is expected to climb well past the century mark the rest of the week.

As you can tell from the above photo, the roof is currently closed. Sometimes, they open the thing right before gametime, but according to the Chase Field Roof Hotline -- yes, they actually have a hotline -- it's going to stay closed tonight.

Livan Hernandez takes the mound for the Nationals, facing a Diamondbacks lineup that produces a ton of home runs but strikes out even more. Five players have already struck out more than 90 times this season, led by Mark Reynolds, who is on pace to shatter his own MLB record of 223 whiffs in a season.

Rodrigo Lopez starts for Arizona, which can only hope to get a quality start out of the journeyman right-hander and avoid having to ask too much of a bullpen that owns an atrocious 6.51 ERA. Yes, the Nats have to like their chances at the plate tonight and throughout the series.

Check back throughout the evening for updates...

Where: Chase Field
Gametime: 9:40 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 95 degrees, Wind 4 mph in from LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Roger Bernadina
C Ivan Rodriguez
SS Ian Desmond
P Livan Hernandez

CF Chris Young
2B Kelly Johnson
RF Justin Upton
1B Adam LaRoche
C Miguel Montero
3B Mark Reynolds
SS Stephen Drew
LF Gerardo Parra
P Rodrigo Lopez

9:03 p.m. -- For news on Stephen Strasburg's latest throwing exercise and an update on Jordan Zimmermann's timetable to return to the majors, please check out my article for

9:40 p.m. -- And we're underway here at Chase Field with a strike from Rodrigo Lopez to Nyjer Morgan. Really small crowd for the first pitch. It's too bad. This place used to be packed with 40,000-plus every night during the franchise's early years (1998-2002). Interest has obviously waned considerably since those days.

9:52 p.m. -- The good news: Four of the Nats' first five batters reached base, and Josh Willingham (who has been slumping for a while now) delivered a two-out, RBI single to center. The bad news: The Nats only scored one run out of the whole thing because Nyjer Morgan got picked off for the 10th time this season (and this might have been the ugliest of them yet) and because Adam Dunn took an 82 mph pitch from Lopez that could not have been a bigger creampuff. I mean, it was right down the heart of the plate, and Dunn took it for strike three. So what could have been a big first-inning rally instead is only a 1-0 lead.

10:02 p.m. -- Nice first inning for Livo. He allowed a broken-bat single to Kelly Johnson but struck out Justin Upton and got Adam LaRoche to ground out to end the inning and preserve the Nats' 1-0 lead.

10:08 p.m. -- Wow, when's the last time Ivan Rodriguez crushed a ball like he just did? I mean, he launched it into the left-field bleachers for his first home run since May 16. This was a milestone shot, though: Pudge's 300th career homer as a catcher. The only other catchers in the 300-homer club? Mike Piazza (396), Carlton Fisk (351), Johnny Bench (351) and Yogi Berra (306). Nats lead 2-0 in the second.

10:20 p.m. -- The D'backs get one back in the second. Pair of singles, then a run-scoring groundout to second (with Adam Kennedy making a nice, diving stop of the roller to his left). Nats now lead 2-1 after two.

10:26 p.m. -- The ball is flying out of here tonight. Either that, or Rodrigo Lopez has nothing on his fastball. Probably a combination of the two. Anyways, Adam Dunn just killed a high fastball from Lopez and sent it screaming to right-center field. It landed 10 rows behind the infamous swimming pool. Just a bomb for Dunn's 26th homer of the season. That makes it 3-1 Nats in the third.

10:39 p.m. -- Looked like the Nats were going to score for the fourth straight inning when Ian Desmond (who is really starting to make solid contact on a regular basis) doubled and Livo hit a hard bouncer back up the middle. Looked like it would be an RBI single to center, but Lopez managed to get a piece of the ball with his bare hand and slow it down. Kelly Johnson corralled it and threw to first to end the inning. So it remains 3-1 as we go to the bottom of the fourth.

11:07 p.m. -- Just got back from the stands, where I was taking some photos. I think I got a decent one of that butchered rundown play at second base, though I still need to look at my shots. I will, however, say three things with certainty: 1) Josh Willingham was safe at first on that slow roller to short in the top of the sixth. I could see that plain as day at full speed. I assume the replay confirmed it. 2) Livo is cruising. Has allowed only one run and four hits through six. 3) The Diamondbacks' racing ex-players (Randy Johnson, Mark Grace, Luis Gonzalez and someone else I don't remember at the moment, maybe Matt Williams) couldn't be any more of a rip-off of the Nationals' racing presidents. I mean, they looked exactly like the presidents in body type, ran the same kind of race and then wandered through the stands taking photos with fans. Somebody in Arizona has been to Nationals Park recently... But anyways, the Nats still lead 3-1 as we go to the seventh.

11:33 p.m. -- Here comes Livo for the bottom of the eighth. His pitch count is only 81, so he's got plenty of bullets left and certainly could go the distance tonight if the situation presents itself. He's allowed only one batter to reach since the second: Stephen Drew, who beat out an infield single in the fifth.

11:37 p.m. -- OK, seriously, look at these guys and tell me they didn't just take the head molds for George, Tom, Abe and Teddy to create these. Also, apparently Mark Grace has never won a race, making him the Arizona version of Teddy.

11:41 p.m. -- And of course after I suggested Livo might go the distance, he puts two guys on in the eighth and gets pulled by Riggleman as part of a double switch. Sean Burnett comes on to face Kelly Johnson, while Willie Harris takes over for Josh Willingham in left.

11:48 p.m. -- Well, that was a bit unconventional -- after Burnett struck out Johnson, Riggleman left him in to face the right-handed Upton -- but it worked. Upton hit a grounder to short to end the inning and preserve the 3-1 lead. We go to the ninth. Wouldn't be surprised if Burnett stays in just to face LaRoche before giving way to Drew Storen for the final two outs.

11:54 p.m. -- Yep, Burnett's back out to start the bottom of the ninth. He'll face LaRoche, then Storen will enter to face Montero and Reynolds, looking for his first career save. Hang on.

11:59 p.m. -- Yeah, maybe not. Burnett just stayed in to finish the whole thing off. One reason is that Montero bats lefty (I should've known that). Another is that he was cruising. So there you have it. Ballgame over. Nats win 3-1. Game even ended before midnight on the east coast!


Anonymous said...

Amazement ... blinking in the bright sunlight ... ???

No JMax immediately inserted into the lineup? Wow!

Anonymous said...

i'm thinking sweep.


Anonymous said...

JMax in with the first double-switch ... my guess? For Willingham.

cadeck13 said...

JMax will be the first double switch. I think Riggleman needs an intervention, he's seriously addicted to double switches. Is there any other manager who uses this tactic daily?

Doc said...

I'll bet that Riggleman double switches his wife, kids, and dogs.

kgwcoach said...

If you have starting pitchers that consistently go seven innings you don't have the need to do a lot of double switches. But when you have a starting pitching staff that is lucky to make it past 4 innings it forces more double switches to keep pitchers available for more than a inning.
Give Riggs eight every day players, then you would see a lot less substitutions in the field also. Folks there is a cause and effect at play with the way Riggs manages.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

I'm with kgwcoach. Lannan killed us yesterday by barely making it through five with 96 pitches. Riggs had to double-switch to avoid running out of pinch-hitters (He only had four bench players, ahead of the return of the much-adored J-Max). So every time Riggs wanted a lefty-righty switch on the mound, he had to do a double-switch to avoid pinch-hitter for the pitcher in the next inning or so. Riggs probably overmanages, but sometimes there is no alternative.

Nattaboy said...

Staying up late to watch this whole series, because I'll miss it so bad in December, even if they stink it up.

Who's with me?!

Anonymous8 said...

I don't follow the DBacks. Crazy to see Mark Reynolds in the 6 hole.

souldrummer said...

I'm with you Nattaboy! I must say, it is a bit frustrating that Strasburg won't get to face the D'Backs this year. These guys are a K factory and he could rack up some scary K numbers against this team.

Nattaboy said...

Souldrummer for comment of the night :)

Mark - where does Arizona rank as far as places/ballparks to visit? Do beat writers get access to the pool in center field?

Prediction: nats win 8-6. Livo goes 6 scoreless but has to fight off rallies. Nats with early rout but bullpen struggles make it close. Big nights for willingham and Desmond

Sec3MySofa said...

Mark, you *know* you've just jinxed the [expletive] out of them, right?

Richard said...

Does anybody else think "Sunshine_Bobby ..." was mis-named? Lannan killed us? He went 5 innings allowing 2 runs, none after the first inning. He's just back from AA, maybe we allow for a little human emotion. And a lot of regular Major League starters don't go 6 innings. Okay, its not a "quality start", which I'd call 7 innings, but Strasburg only goes 6 innings for now and he's not "killing us".
Anyway, I'm staying up with Nattaboy to watch the game to find out who'll kill us this time.

Nattaboy said...

The guy has one of the best user names you'll ever see and mostly lives up to it. I agree with you but I'll give him a pass. Lannan's start did hurt us but it wasn't john's fault, as the bullpen had already been taxed.

Sec3MySofa said...

Nattaboy, speaking strictly for me, not one of my favorite places, although I will say this for them: the ushers do seem to enforce the Wait for a Stop in Play rule. When the team isn't in the playoffs, it's the world's largest elevator, except it doesn't go up or down--but nobody talks or looks at the people next to them, apparently.
At least in DC, they talk to the people they came in with.
The park had one of the best names as The BOB--then they sold the rights elsewhere. Bummer.

Anonymous8 said...

That pickoff of Nyjer was as bad as some I have seen in our local kids league when the player isn't paying attention. EMBARASSING!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I wonder why pitchers bother pitching to Nyjer. Why not intentionally walk him and then pick him off?

Nattaboy said...

Thanks for the report. Go Zim!

Speaking strictly for me:
Nats Park
Jacob's (progressive or whatev)
Old Yankee Stadium
Miller Park
Fulton County

Yeah hammer! So far so good

Nattaboy said...

Anybody see what that banner said? It'd be very cool if it was supporting AZ's new law and Livo had it torn down.

p.s. Pudge is awesome

Nattaboy said...

Ruh roh.

URban@DC said...

Dunn Dunn Dunn

Section 222 said...

According to AKilgore on Twitter, the banner said "Don't Fund Hate." AZ fans cheered when it was taken down.

I'm part of the "staying up because I'll miss baseball in December" club. And if we keep hitting dingers that will make dragging around the office tomorrow very worthwhile.

Doc said...

Mark, about catchers hitting more than 300 HR, you might add Gary Carter and his 324 HRs, unless he was playing other positions at some point.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Doc: Gary Carter came up just short. Only hit 298 of his 324 homers as a catcher. The rest came as PH, 1B and RF(?!).

Michael J. Hayde said...

"It landed 10 rows behind the infamous swimming pool."

Is this swimming pool noted for being especially vile or evil? Because that's what "infamous" means... it does not mean "extra-famous" or "extremely well-known."

Sorry for the snark but, as a writer, this has long been a pet peeve.

Anonymous said...

i believe it is known as ubiquitous or silly, and famous for such. so while it may not be evil, i think the spirit of infamous extends itself towards things that are famous for reasons other than greatness

Bzl. said...

Fielding, base running, now run-downs. Is this the stupidest team ever?

Michael J. Hayde said...

Anon 10:51. Sorry, but according to Merriam-Webster:

1 : having a reputation of the worst kind : notoriously evil
2 : causing or bringing infamy : disgraceful
3 : convicted of an offense bringing infamy

Popular usage of 'infamous' as "things that are famous for reasons other than greatness" has not yet extended to the dictionary. Maybe it will one day, if people keep using it incorrectly. But gadflies like me will continue to harp on it.

Back to the game. We're still winning!

Slidell said...

Lots of long outs tonight. Ball must carry the way it does in Denver.
Livo seems dialed in; maybe another CG?

Mark Zuckerman said...

Michael J. Hayde: I understand what you're saying, though I'd make the case I was using it as your No. 2 definition. The swimming pool here has long been thought of as a joke and a very minor-league thing to have in a major-league ballpark.

Nattaboy said...

That's ridiculous. Marks usage definitely fits with your Webster bit. Traditional baseball folks would say having a swimming pool at a ballpark would give you a reputation of the worst kind.

Anyway, great info on the banner. 2 bits says t plush swipes this one

Anonymous said...

You mean that when FDR said “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy” referencing Pearl Harbor, he did not mean that Pearl Harbor was famous for other reasons besides a surprise attack by the Japanese? Wow you learn something new everyday. Desmond's defense or lack there of does meet the second definition.

Nattaboy said...

Racing ex-players? Weak.

I get the feeling that of these 2 teams that are out of contention, the nats just care more. At this rate I'll get to bed at a fairly regular hour...

Go nats!

Nattaboy said...

Ooh. Those of you who had Maxwell in the double switch pool can bring your $5 to Cheryl in accounting

Section 222 said...

Ok, I'm sorry. Why do a double switch there? Is he really going to use Burnett in the 9th? If not, there's no reason for it. But now he's taken Dunn and Willingham out of the lineup. And we're only up by two runs against one of highest scoring teams in the league. This doubleswitchitis is simply out of control. Ok Sunshine, off to you to defend him.

Nattaboy said...

Bang zoom! Nice work Sean!

5 of the last 7. Break em' up!

Goodnight and go nats!

Cwj said...

Burnett had some nice stuff tonight. Had Riggs pulled him after the second out in the 9th, I would have been pissed.
Since acquired last summer, Burnett has been quietly effective.

Michael J. Hayde said...

Okay, so now I have to clarify 'infamous' definintion #2 by defining 'infamy?' Sheesh!

Again, from Merriam-Webster:

1 : evil reputation brought about by something grossly criminal, shocking, or brutal;

2 : an extreme and publicly known criminal or evil act.

Attack on Pearl Harbor (or World Trade Center and Pentagon), yes. Cheesy swimming pool, no.

And, continuing my notorious - but not infamous - post from an earlier thread, with tonight's win, the Nats have begun the 12-game winning streak that will, combined with .666 ball through the end of September, will bring them at or near contention. That is, if they want it enough.

Anonymous said...

Less of this infamous discussion of infamous. More bashing Desmond for being dumber than dirt.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the swimming pool is infamous because Dunn bombed it.

OlneyTerp said...

Mark: I know Desmond is supposed to be an up-and-coming star, but is he coachable? Does he respond to coaching? Is he not real smart when it comes to baseball intelligence? I mean in one week he has botched a first-and-third play and just ambushed a run down play tonight. And it goes without saying that many of his fielding errors are because he sits back and waits for the ball to come to him instead of working his body toward the ball. I know he has to have been instructed on these things from the high school level up. I mean, most high school coaches would have a fit with the mistakes he makes. Any idea as to what is up with him? And don't tell me he is just a rookie. He has been playing pro ball for several years, and again, his mistakes aren't even acceptable at the high school leve.

Buzz Killjoy said...


Mark, you are likely too young to have followed the Expos, especially in their early years, but Gary Carter came up with the team as a right fielder. He had a penchant for all out play from day one and the team decided that they'd save him from himself, after he crashed the wall one too many times, by making him a catcher and thus put less strain on his body!

BTW, Jarry Park had a swimming pool just past the right field fence. Although it was outside the stadium, it was a favourite spot for Rusty Staub to park many of his home runs.

Anonymous said...

Mike Hayde: perhaps you are unfamiliar with the concept of "connotation," an associated or secondary meaning of a word, outsid of its strict dictionary definition, or "denotation." Additionally, one of your Mirriam-Webster definitions (number 2, I think) states that infamous means "disgraceful." The pool in the outfield at Chase Field is disgraceful and can therefore correctly be called infamous, denotatively.
If you want to correct Mark's vocabulary, that's your call, but you should at least wait until he actually misuses a word to do it.

TheNotoriousS.O.F.A. said...

Mike, clearly "infamous" has been covered, but how you could whiff on Anon 10:51's "ubiquitious or silly" is beyond me.

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