Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Game 108: Nats at Diamondbacks

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals reach the two-thirds mark of the season tonight at Chase Field.
Lineup change below

PHOENIX -- Game 3 of this four-game series in the desert features a couple of starting pitchers who have virtually no experience against their opposing lineups.

Ian Kennedy -- a former Yankees prospect who came to Arizona in last winter's three-team trade with Detroit that involved Curtis Granderson, Edwin Jackson, Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer and others -- starts for the Diamondbacks. Nobody on the current Nationals roster has ever faced the right-hander. (We saw last night how all the guys who had never seen Joe Saunders before fared.)

Craig Stammen, though, is equally a mystery to the Diamondbacks. Their only batters who have faced him before are Adam LaRoche (3-for-5 with two homers) and our old friend Ryan Church (1-for-5 with a double). Church, who since last playing for the Nats in 2007 has been traded three times and played for four teams (the Mets, Braves, Pirates and now Diamondbacks), makes his Arizona debut tonight batting eighth and starting in left field.

Nice to see Mark Reynolds back in the Diamondbacks' lineup after getting drilled in the head last night by Collin Balester. Only change for the Nationals is at shortstop, where Alberto Gonzalez gets the nod over Ian Desmond tonight.

This being Game 108, the Nats reach the two-thirds mark of the season. A win tonight would put them on pace to finish 72-90.

Check back throughout the evening for updates...

Where: Chase Field
Gametime: 9:40 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 105 degrees outdoors (78 degrees indoors)
CF Roger Bernadina
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Michael Morse
C Ivan Rodriguez
SS Alberto Gonzalez
P Craig Stammen

CF Chris Young
2B Kelly Johnson
RF Justin Upton
1B Adam LaRoche
C Miguel Montero
3B Mark Reynolds
SS Stephen Drew
LF Ryan Church
P Ian Kennedy

6:38 p.m. -- LINEUP CHANGE: Nyjer Morgan has been scratched. Roger Bernadina moves to the leadoff spot and center field. Michael Morse now starting in right field and batting sixth. Not sure of an exact reason for the change, but I do know Nyjer has been dealing with a minor quad strain for a few days. Wouldn't be surprised if that's it.

7:35 p.m. -- Actually, it's a right hip injury for Nyjer Morgan. He thinks it may have first happened two weeks in Cincinnati when he was chasing down a ball at the fence. Since then, he occasionally feels a sharp pain in his hip, especially when he wakes up in the morning. Seems to be less of an issue when he's actually playing, though it's most noticeable when he's running the bases. Morgan underwent an MRI this morning and is waiting for the results. He's still hopeful it's nothing major, and he's actually on the field right now doing his regular pregame stretch with teammates. Full story coming soon on

8:37 p.m. -- To update my earlier posting today about possible changes coming to the Nationals' starting rotation, Jim Riggleman said it's highly unlikely he'll go with a six-man rotation at any point. He did say it's possible a starter could be moved to the bullpen at some point to make room for a returning pitcher like Stephen Strasburg or Jason Marquis.

9:40 p.m. -- This ballgame is underway with a strike from Ian Kennedy to Roger Bernadina. Gametime temperature: 109. That's outside, of course. In here, it's a chilly 78.

9:49 p.m. -- I've been critical of Adam Dunn's struggles with two outs and runners in scoring position before (he entered tonight 4-for-45 in that department) but the big guy should be credited with two hits for that gargantuan bomb he just hit down the right-field line. Looked like it might have actually gone over the top of the foul pole and then nearly landed in the concourse behind the bleachers. Gotta be at least 450 feet. More importantly, it puts the Nats up 2-0 in the first.

9:53 p.m. -- By the way, that was Dunn's 27th homer of the season, which ties him with Joey Votto for the NL lead.

10:03 p.m. -- What's been Craig Stammen's biggest problem this season? Giving up runs right after his teammates give him the lead. Sure enough, Stammen opened the bottom of the first by walking Chris Young, then allowing a single to Kelly Johnson and a sac fly to Justin Upton. Another single by Adam LaRoche created a real threat, but Stammen was fortunate to get out of the inning without any more damage thanks to a 4-6-3 double play off Miguel Montero's bat. So the Nats still lead 2-1 after one, hoping Stammen will come out for the second much sharper than he did for the first.

10:13 p.m. -- Scary moment in the top of the second, when Michael Morse slid hard into Stephen Drew. Morse wound up tearing up Drew's left forearm, not a pretty sight. It was a clean slide, though. Morse didn't go in with spikes up or anything.

10:29 p.m. -- What's worse: Walking the leadoff man after being handed a 2-0 lead, or walking the opposing pitcher with two outs? Stammen has already done both tonight in two innings. Not good. Somehow, though, he's managed to avoid giving up more than the one run. Can't imagine he can keep that up much longer, though.

10:35 p.m. -- Roger Bernadina singles, steals second and then scores on Adam Kennedy's RBI single off Ian Kennedy. There's a bad Kennedy joke here, something about how Kennedys are always stabbing each other in the back. But I can't come up with a good one. Anyways, Nats now lead 3-1.

10:47 p.m. -- It hasn't been pretty, but Stammen is somehow getting it done. Put two more guys on in the third, but got out of it with a 1-6-3 double-play from Montero. Still 3-1 after three.

10:55 p.m. -- You think Adam Dunn likes to hit in this ballpark? He just crushed another homer, this one a solo shot to right to lead off the fourth. So he's now got about 850 feet of home runs tonight. He's taken over the NL lead with 28. And he's now hit eight homers in his last eight games at Chase Field. Nats lead 4-1 in the middle of the fourth.

12:00 a.m. -- Just got back from a couple of innings in the stands taking photos and visiting with some family members who are here tonight. The Nats have taken a 5-1 lead in the seventh thanks to an RBI double from Adam Kennedy, who has had a nice night. Stammen came out during the sixth but still managed to get through his evening allowing only one run. Adam Dunn is about to step to the plate in search of his third homer of the night. He'll be facing right-hander Blaine Boyer.

12:06 a.m. -- No hat trick for Dunn, but an RBI single will suffice and put the Nats up 6-1.

12:17 a.m. -- Tonight's paid attendance: 15,670. That's the smallest crowd in Diamondbacks history.

12:24 a.m. -- Michael Morse launches a solo homer into the swimming pool that is famous for not-so-good reasons to put the Nats up 7-1. That made him 2-for-3 with a homer and a walk and raised his season average to .343, his on-base percentage to .393, his slugging percentage to .606 and his OPS to .999. So, naturally, when the top of the eighth ended, Justin Maxwell took over for him in right field.

12:56 a.m. -- This ballgame is over. Nats win 7-2. Stammen improves to 4-4. Dunn is the offensive hero with two homers. Nats have now won six of nine and have a chance to take three of four from the D'backs tomorrow night.


Bonnie Jo said...

I thought the D-backs showed exemplary sportsmanship last night in NOT beaning any of the Nats in retaliation for MArk Reynolds. They saw that Ballestar screwed up and didn't start a beanball war, unlike the Pirates (sorry, Mark) who took McCutchin's ball to the head personally. I disagree with the umpires' guidelines that instruct them to take every pitch at the head as intentional. As we have seen, not all pitchers at the major league level have such accuracy.

Anonymous said...

Balester has no idea where he is throwing the ball. He belongs in the grave yard for pitchers where Logan Kensing is buried.

Anonymous said...

I know this may sound crazy but what if the nats batted Dunn 2nd. First when nyjer gets on base pitchers needs to throw over to first a ton (one easy way to get him out), when this happens a pitcher is more likely to throw a mistake pitch the next pitch he throws. Dunn takes advantage of this. also with Dunn being a leftly it ubstructs the catchers view of morgan and it would be easier for him to steal. You have zim batting behind him so he has protection. and zim has protection from willingham. also with dunn batting earilier in the line up the nats will have more of a chance where a def sub can come in for him without having to give up his bat in the top or bottom of the ninth. I know riggs seems to like to bat dunn ahead of zim. maybe one day hell try this.

Kevin Rusch, Section406 said...

Anon: I love the idea. Plus, Dunn has a great OBP and doesn't swing & miss often, and having his bat higher up in the lineup is A Good Thing.

Section 222 said...

Dunn doesn't swing and miss often??

I wonder if Nyjer's quad strain was aggravated by that running catch in left center last night. He didn't look too happy afterward.

Anonymous said...

dunn needs to bat behind Zim to protect him.

Anonymous8 said...

Glad to see Bernadina getting the work in the leadoff.

Ernie said...

Is it wrong that I'm actually happy to see Ryan Church again? I always felt the same way about Schneider, Johnson and Vidro too. In the past week I've been following the AL a little bit with Capps and Guzman. The only way for a Nats fan to have a rooting interest in the postseason: follow our "alumni." Kind of like following college football players once they go to the NFL. (No, wait, that would mean that the Nats are like an amateur team... I shouldn't say that...should I?)

test said...

Ian Desmond + Adam Kennedy = Ian Kennedy? (or his evil cousin Adam Desmond...)

Sam said...

Dunn had made contact 71.3% of the time he swings in his career. League average is right around 80% every year. So, he does swing and miss a lot, but it's not a terribly high amount.

Also, protection does not exist. It has been studied over and over and over...doesn't exist.

Anonymous said...

so if your batting and a player hitting 330 and a good # of jacks is behind you your saying you wouldnt be given more strikes. I find that hard to believe.

Dryw Loves the Nats said...

Got to love lead-off walks.

DKSW said...

I am afraid that tonight it's going to be Bad Stammen. Better drop a few more bombs, Mr. Dunn.

Anonymous8 said...

Stammen got the DP. That could have been super ugly as Stammen was throwing BP before the DP....

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Can I vote Stammen off the island once Jesus, Marquis, Maya, et al, return to form?

It takes him 15 pitches to get an out, he walks pitchers on five pitchers, can't even waste an 0-2 pitch on those rare occasions when he gets ahead of the batter, and is absolutely the worst on the staff in trying to protect a lead.

I know everybody raves about his stuff: what I see is a so-so 90-91 mph fastball, a so-so slider he often leaves up in the zone, terrible location and very little mental toughness.

Stammen = Bally Star of 2009

Anonymous8 said...

DKSW - Ask and you shall receive. DUNN x 2

Anonymous8 said...

Whoa, Matt Capps with a blown save for the Twins.

Looks like Danny Espinosa hit 3 HRs tonight so maybe Dunn wants to meet or exceed that total!

Chris said...

Love the big middle finger Adam Kennedy is giving JayB tonight.

Makes me happy.

Nervous Nats Fan said...

Mark, please don't write about the double plays tonight, or they might ground into 9 tomorrow.

Anonymous8 said...

Chris - Let's be fair to all on Adam Kennedy. The guy wouldn't get his jersey dirty until recently and for the last 3 weeks is playing inspired baseball.

Now if you can get Willie Harris and Justin Maxwell playing that way, then this team may go on some nice winning streaks!

Doc said...

That homer Morse hit for his 7th, only Zim hits balls like that for the Nats. Hopefully, Morgan will get the rest for his hip that he deserves!

Aussie Gus said...

Not that I don't like our catcher named Wil, but the other catcher named Wil has made a VERY nice start in AAA. 4 games, 15 AB, 4 R, 6 H, including a HR and a 3B.

HabsProf said...

No doubt J-Max was inserted as a defensive replacement. The is little chance he will bat in this game.

Slidell said...

A curly W in the books!

HabsProf said...

And it is nice to see Stammen get that curly W. (I've always had a soft-spot for those who have to fight and claw for a roster spot).

Anonymous8 said...

Nice offense and good defense and a little bit of luck!

Doc said...

MarkMeister, there's no reason for that swimming pool not to be 'infamous'. As Yogi would say, " could look it up....".

Michael J. Hayde said...

Doc, kindly resume your role as armchair GM and leave the evolution of the English language to the professionals.

Mark, thank you for the inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Doc, I have to agree with you. Maybe Mr. Hayde should try his hand writing about real people.

Michael J. Hayde said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael J. Hayde said...

"Maybe Mr. Hayde should try his hand writing about real people."

Actually Anon, I've written about several real people; creative people who use their real names. Pity that won't be you in this or any other lifetime.

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