Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Game 113: Marlins at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg returns tonight to face the Marlins.
Hello from South Capitol Street, where both the Nationals and Stephen Strasburg return tonight. The Marlins are in town, and this will mark the first time Strasburg has faced an opponent for the second time. (He, of course, was supposed to face the Braves in a rematch two weeks ago before he was scratched with shoulder tightness.)

The Nats also will be honoring former Expos great Andre Dawson before tonight's game. Dawson, who now works in the Marlins' front office, also will see his name unveiled as part of a brand-new "Ring of Honor" that has been erected on the facade of the club level behind home plate. Eighteen people who are in the baseball Hall of Fame and have ties either to the Nationals, Senators, Expos or Homestead Grays will be honored in the ring: Dawson, James "Cool Papa" Bell, Ray Brown, Gary Carter, Joe Cronin, Rick Ferrell, Josh Gibson, Goose Goslin, Clark Griffith, Bucky Harris, Walter Johnson, Harmon Killebrew, Buck Leonard, Heinie Manush, Cumberland Posey, Sam Rice, Jud Wilson and Early Wynn.

Continuing with the Expos theme, several Nats players and coaches are wearing tri-colored Expos hats during batting practice today. They won't, however, be wearing them during the game.

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

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 91 degrees, Wind 5 mph out to RF
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Michael Morse
C Ivan Rodriguez
2B Adam Kennedy
P Stephen Strasburg

MARLINS (54-56)
SS Hanley Ramirez
LF Logan Morrison
1B Gaby Sanchez
2B Dan Uggla
CF Cody Ross
RF Mike Stanton
3B Wes Helms
C Ronny Paulino
P Anibal Sanchez

3:44 p.m. -- Here's pitching coach Steve McCatty in an Expos cap...
Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

6:42 p.m. -- The Andre Dawson ceremony is currently taking place behind the plate, with fellow Expos Hall-of-Famer Gary Carter on hand to catch Dawson's ceremonial first pitch. Meanwhile, in deep right field, Stephen Strasburg is playing catch and preparing to head toward the bullpen.

6:48 p.m. -- You can debate whether the Nats should be honoring Dawson and the Expos, and I understand the arguments on both sides. I'll just say this: Upon seeing his name included on the Nats' new Ring of Honor, Andre was in tears and unable to speak to Charlie Slowes. Clearly, this means something to him, and that's what should count more than anything.

7:02 p.m. -- Stephen Strasburg will start tonight's game. I repeat: Stephen Strasburg will start tonight's game.

7:08 p.m. -- We are underway, and Strasburg starts Hanley Ramirez off with a 99 mph fastball for ball one. Sighs of relief emanating from around Nationals Park.

7:20 p.m. -- On the bright side, Strasburg certainly didn't lose any velocity from the layoff. If anything, he gained some. He fired up five 99 mph fastballs in the top of the first and hit 100 mph once. On the down side, he struggled big-time to locate his curveball, which consistently put him behind in the count. Worse, Dan Uggla turned on a 98 mph heater and deposited it into the flower patch just over the left-field fence. Marlins up 2-0. Strasburg threw 23 pitches, 14 strikes in the first.

7:25 p.m. -- Nothing doin' for the Nats in the bottom of the first. Two flyouts and a groundout against Anibal Sanchez, who barely broke a sweat. Strasburg is right back on the mound for the top of the second, his team trailing 2-0.

7:33 p.m. -- That's more like it. Strasburg retires the side in the second, striking out the Marlins' first two batters. He blew away Mike Stanton with a 3-2 high fastball, then caught Wes Helms looking at a 2-2 curveball. Ronny Paulino grounded out to second to end the frame. Total of 38 pitches, 22 strikes so far from Strasburg, who has only thrown fastballs and curveballs. No changeups yet.

7:39 p.m. -- Another 1-2-3 inning for Sanchez, who got Dunn, Willingham and Morse. For what it's worth, since Nyjer Morgan went down last week, Morse is 4-for-23 (though two of the hits were homers).

7:52 p.m. -- Dan Uggla OWNS Stephen Strasburg. Drilled a two-run double to the base of the wall in left in the third, putting the Marlins up 4-0. So he's now 2-for-2 with a homer, a double and four RBI in three innings. Strasburg's biggest issue: He can't get ahead in the count. Threw first-pitch balls to the last four batters he faced in the third, went to a 3-0 count on two of them. Things got so shaky there, Craig Stammen actually started warming up in the bullpen. He got out of the inning, but he's at 60 pitches and trailing by four runs. Wonder how much more he'll get tonight.

8:22 p.m. -- It's now 4-1 Marlins after four, the Nats' lone run coming thanks to an error by Wes Helms in the third. Strasburg made it through the fourth on only 11 pitches, though he did allow a leadoff double to Stanton. He continues to fall behind batters -- he's gone 2-0 or 3-0 to five of his last eight batters.

8:45 p.m. -- Well, that didn't exactly go well for the kid. Gave up a leadoff double to Ramirez on an 0-2 curveball to open the fifth, and it quickly went downhill from there. When Sanchez also roped a line drive to deep left, off Willingham's glove -- it was inexplicably scored a double, not an error -- Strasburg's night was over. Sitting on 84 pitches, with Uggla coming up next, Jim Riggleman decided not to take a chance. He pulled the rookie an turned to Miguel Batista, who only added more fuel to the fire. He walked Uggla, walked Stanton, then allowed a two-run double to Helms that closed the book on Strasburg. His final line: 4 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 6 earned runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts. That's both the shortest outing and the most earned runs he's allowed in 10 big-league starts. The Marlins now lead 7-1 in the bottom of the fifth of a game that feels even more lopsided than the score.

9:15 p.m. -- This is about as dead as this ballpark has been in a while. Just no energy at all. Perhaps that's because the Nats trail 8-1 after six excruciating innings. Perhaps it's because of the sweltering heat and humidity and stagnant air. And perhaps it's because a good number of those in attendance tonight have already left the park. Whatever the case, this game is officially a dud. And we've still got three innings to go.

9:25 p.m. -- Tonight's paid attendance: 25,939. That's the smallest crowd for any Strasburg start (home or away) by about 2,000. And it's the smallest crowd for a Strasburg home start by about 6,000. The reason: Tuesday night against the Marlins with not much advance notice about Strasburg pitching. Makes sense.

9:46 p.m. -- Great chance for the Nats to get back within striking distance in the bottom of the seventh. They scored on unearned run thanks to Anibal Sanchez's error, then loaded the bases with two outs for Adam Dunn. But Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez countered with recently acquired lefty specialist Will Ohman, who has very good career numbers against Dunn: 3-for-18, five walks, 10 strikeouts. Dunn nearly got him, driving an 0-2 pitch to the warning track in left. But Morrison camped underneath it and made the catch to kill the rally. So it's still 8-2 as we head to the eighth and more fans head to the exits.

10:05 p.m. -- Just what you want to see in the ninth inning of an 8-2 game: Rain.

10:12 p.m. -- And that will do it. Nats lose 8-2 in one of their worst all-around performances of the season. Strasburg falls to 5-3, his ERA rises to 3.07.


U-Hoo said...

I think that may be the best possible lineup, unless you fancy Nyjer over Bernadina.

sjm105 said...


Put on your gm hat for a second and give me reasons for pitching SS tonight.



JaneB said...

sjm105==you got some reasons why they SHOULDN'T pitch SS tonight?

NatsJack in Florida said...

Can't be the best lineup yet. Not with Adam Kennedy in it.

Give me Alberto Gonzalez over him any day.

Doc said...

Mark, thanks for the photo of McCatty in the Expos cap--I used wear one just like it.

Anonymous said...

@U-Hoo -- stand back and wait for the Michael Moorse fans to weigh in. Ha. My $0.02 regarding this lineup is I'd like Nyger in there, and the middle infield needs work.

Anonymous said...

This celebration of Expos is fine, I suppose. Has the team ever done much with the Senator heritage? There was speculation about using Frank Howard, which would be a fine idea, but it would have cost a few dollars. As a Marlin employee, Andre Dawson is in town on their dime.

It's true that most young fans don't know Frank Howard (or other Senator veterans) but the sport has always generated nostalgic enthusiasm in a lot of fans and the Nats might find it so here. The Dodgers to mention one team has an organization of retired Dodgers who are enlisted for fan events.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Any lineup with Nyjer Morgan in it is worth about $0.02.

Stew Magnuson said...

They did have a Frank Howard bobblehead last year.

Anonymous said...

NatsJack in Florida is right. Replace Kennedy with Gonzalez in today's lineup and you have achieved max capacity!!!!

meixler said...

I'm not exactly sure why, but I think I'd prefer to see Desmond and Bernadina flipped. Maybe it's just so that there'd be a right, left, right, left, right through the top of the order. Now, I know that putting Desi in front of Bernadina could limit #2's speed, but... I don't know. Am I crazy? It's just something I think could work.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't Frank Robinson, a legend who is "in the baseball Hall of Fame and [has] ties either to the NATIONALS, Senators, EXPOS or Homestead Grays", not to mention the O's, included? Is Nats management still mad at him for merely keeping the franchise afloat those 6 years??

Anonymous said...

...in the "ring of honor" that is (not in today's lineup) (not that that wouldn't be an improvement)

Anonymous said...


Your opinion is subjective; the numbers say Kennedy is a better hitter than Gonzalez.

Mark Zuckerman said...

sjm105 said...
Mark: Put on your GM hat for a second and give me reasons for pitching SS tonight.

1) He's healthy.

2) He needs to build up his innings count before the season ends so he doesn't face the same 160-inning limit again next year.

3) He sells tickets (not saying that's a legit reason to bring him back, but you'd be naive not to admit it's a factor).

natscan reduxit said...

... I know it might stick in the craw of some, maybe many, of today's Nationals fans. But as one of those fans, who came over with the EXPOS! from Montreal, I simply want to say 'thank you' to the Washington Nationals Baseball Team, its owners and its front office for this gesture of keeping the Expos alive for those of us who refuse to let them die. Mark, if you have the ear of anyone with the FO, please express my thanks to them.

Go Stevie Wonder! Go Nats!!

JayB said...

Hey mark,

Is the picture current....OF still looks dead and patched on TV....

Mark Zuckerman said...

JayB: Yes, just took a new photo today. There's definitely still patches of yellow grass in center field, though not nearly as bad as during the last homestand.

Anonymous said...


I knew as soon as that tip went through Pudge's glove that the homer was coming. This team seems to be snake bit as every mistake seems to be taken advantage of by the opponents. They cannot make any mistakes it seems.

Les in NC said...

As with any game I "watch" via Gameday, I can't see the locations Pudge is calling for on each pitch. So I have to ask, did he call for a fastball up and in on Uggla? Or was that one that got away from S.S? Seems like Uggla's coldzones are low and away....

Les in NC said...

Another 'up and in' fastball to Uggla and the Nats are in a deep hole now.... So far the defense can't be blamed for this one! Hopefully the bats will wake up for the home team.

Dryw Loves the Nats said...

Ok, he's human. But only barely....

dj in Fl. said...

That is three balls over the head of our outfielders tonight, and not up the gap. Should we maybe play a bit deeper againist this team ?

Michael J. Hayde said...

Sigh. Here we go again. Another injured Nats pitcher gets burned. The poor kid had no control tonight. Zip. Strasburg's arm and shoulder are about to go bye-bye, thanks to the brilliance of our pitching coach, Steve "I don't know what perfect mechanics are" McCatty.

Anonymous said...

I have a new nickname for Little Stephen, "Lump of Coal", you wake up thinking you have been good all year but when you look under the Strasmas tree you get bubkus....Bah Humbug! I cannot wait to see what holiday we get next Maya-mas or JZimm-mas, whichever comes it will be much more exciting to the rotten eggs Little Stephen has laid in his diaper after his debut!!!

A DC Wonk said...

Willingham misplayed at least three balls tonight. On the homer in the first, he froze, and then went back, and the ball landed a few inches past the wall. No harm as I'm not sure anyone can reach that high -- but he didn't play it right.

On Uggla's double to the wall in the fourth, Willingham took a step forward, before sprinting back. The ball went over his head and hit the base of the wall.

And then the one off of his glove later.

I'm not sure the first two were noticeable by those watching TV -- but I was at the game sitting in the nosebleed seats just to the right of home plate, so I had a perfect view. On all three he not only didn't get a good jump on the ball, but jumped the wrong way.

Did anyone else see that?

Natsfan2005 said...

I was in the nosebleed seats just outside 1st base and saw the same misplays. There has to be something physically wrong with Hammer, likely eyes, affecting his fielding now (clearly not picking up the ball off the bat) as well as his hitting.

Ernie said...

Back from the game. What's the line? Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. We just plain got beat tonight. A few thoughts:

1. I'm right there with DC Wonk and Natsfan2005 on Willingham. We sprung for the fancy seats behind the Marlins' dugout tonight and had a great view of Willingham misplaying what seemed like every ball hit out to left. There were a couple of fair-weather Strasburg-gawkers behind us asking if the guy in left field was any good or if he was a scrub who'd just been called up. I said something in his defense (I'd like to see him extended as well) but after a while I just gave up. He had what must have been his worst fielding night of the year.

2. The Dawson ceremony was a really neat idea - I especially loved him throwing out the first pitch to Carter - but the fan reception left something to be desired. A couple Nats "fans" near me were extra-classy in their decision to boo the guy, apparently blaming him for the absence of Frank Howard from the Ring of Honor. I have to say, springing for the pricey seats was pretty disappointing - the "fans" down there were uninterested in the game, rude, and relatively clueless about the team. Looking forward to returning to the 300 level again.

3. It looked like Strasburg was really struggling with control throwing from the stretch. It was hard to see balls and strikes from out seats, though. In the third it seemed like his fastball (I assume that's the pitch - 95/96 mph on the scoreboard) was not being called for a strike very much. Sunday will be revealing as to what's going on with his arm. I would hardly call the guya failure though. Everyone gets beat up in this game from time to time, and he certainly had some strong innings as well. Uggla and Ramirez were hot tonight though...

4. Why do you hate me Willie Harris?

JaneB said...

Ernie, check out the seats behind first base. We have a few fair weather gawkers but lots of knowledgeable people and generous rooters. And we have a lovely usher, too, who is great with hooking up kids to the players in and just after BP.

The walks SS issued were not what anyone wanted, Hits, too, But people were patient, in a way they haven't been patient when the Bad Stammen shows up, or that awful day that Marquis blew up. If I had PTS from that, I bet he still does too. Anyway. I like that our fans are there to support the team, even in an 8-2 loss. SS will be better Sunday, and Olson will pitch well tomorrow. Anyway, come on and sit with us in 131, down at the front. You'll like it there.

Anonymous said...

When are the Texas Rangers going to have Frank Howard Night? Because its the same thing -- only less ridiculous and insulting to their fan base because at least Frank did play ONE season there.

Anonymous said...

As far as the misplays on the balls by Willingham....

1) The HR ball would not have been caught by Willingham even if he broke correctly on it, while it landed just over the fence the trajectory would have required quite a leap..maybe JMax could get if but not Willingham.

2) The ball hit the bullpen door, no one even the vistors play that deep in our LF, I do not even think that Nyjer's speed would have gotten that one.

3) The one he got twisted up on...yep that hurt.

But I think the bottom line is as has been said before the lights shine right into the eyes of the leftfielder, this does not happen at any other park in the majors...BAD DESIGN...thank you Lerner family!

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