Sunday, August 15, 2010

Game 118: Diamondbacks at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg battles the D'backs and the rain this afternoon.
It's a dreary, rainy morning here at Nationals Park. The tarp is on the field and will likely stay there for a while. But I expect there to be baseball today, for two reasons:

1) This is the Diamondbacks' last scheduled game in D.C. this season.

2) Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to pitch.

This will be Strasburg's first appearance since his shaky outing Tuesday against the Marlins in his return from the disabled list, and all eyes will be on the rookie to see how he responds.

Another rookie right-hander who has gotten far less publicity than Strasburg, Barry Enright, starts for the Diamondbacks. Enright beat the Nats 10 days ago in Arizona, allowing two runs over six innings.

Check back for weather, and hopefully game updates all afternoon...

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
TV: Ch. 50, MASN2
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Rain showers, 79 degrees, Wind 13 mph out to LF.
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam Dunn
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Josh Willingham
RF Michael Morse
C Ivan Rodriguez
2B Adam Kennedy
P Stephen Strasburg

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 Barry Enright

12:13 p.m. -- Your weather update: The tarp remains on the infield, and it was pouring here a few minutes ago. It's eased up since then, but the forecast is pretty spotty all afternoon. There's a 55 percent chance of rain at 1 p.m., then only a 20 percent chance at 2 p.m., then back up to a 90 percent chance at 4 p.m. So it looks like there is a "window" to get this game started, either on-time or shortly thereafter, but it could be tricky to get it completed before the next round comes.

12:58 p.m. -- The tarp is currently being rolled up and the infield is being dried and groomed. Looks like we may start on time.

1:22 p.m. -- Before we get started, two things. 1) Check out the homepage for an update on Jason Marquis and what might happen with him moving forward. Jim Riggleman was again noncommittal this morning, waffling back and forth between saying Marquis will make his next start and suggesting he could be replaced by Jordan Zimmermann, Yunesky Maya or someone else. 2) There are some reports out there this morning that the Nats have signed both second-round pick Sammy Solis and fourth-round pick A.J. Cole. Here's what I've been told: Neither signing has officially been completed yet, but they're extremely close to being done. Probably just a matter of fine print at this point. Which means the Nats can safely turn their attention to Bryce Harper and tomorrow night's deadline.

1:36 p.m. -- We are underway with a 98 mph fastball from Stephen Strasburg to Chris Young for ball one. Not a lot of people in the stands at first pitch, though there's still a steady stream coming through the gates. Definitely won't be anywhere close to a sellout, there are huge sections of empty seats down the lines in the lower deck and in the outfield.

1:42 p.m. -- Best first inning we've seen from Strasburg in a while. Retired the side on 16 pitches, 10 strikes. Struck out two. Got Kelly Johnson to whiff at a 92 mph changeup. Got Justin Upton to whiff at a 99 mph fastball. Also mixed in several good curveballs. Looked really sharp.

1:48 p.m. -- Not much going on for the Nats in the bottom of the first. Adam Dunn did bloop a two-out double past a diving Gerardo Parra in left field, but he was stranded there when Ryan Zimmerman grounded out to third to end the inning. Scoreless heading to the second.

2:00 p.m. -- Not a good second inning for Strasburg. It started with a 2-0 fastball to Adam LaRoche that wound up in the right-center field bleachers. It continued with a one-out single up the middle by Mark Reynolds. It could have been killed when Stephen Drew hit a weak comebacker to the mound, but Strasburg airmailed the throw past Dunn and down the right-field. Three-base, run-scoring error. Parra's subsequent sac fly made it 3-0 Diamondbacks. Strasburg did throw 15 of 20 pitches that inning for strikes, but he got in trouble because he fell behind LaRoche and then because he couldn't make a play in the field.

2:10 p.m. -- It's not a huge sample size, but Ivan Rodriguez now has eight hits in his last 17 at-bats, including an RBI single just now to score Josh Willingham and cut the deficit to 3-1. Perhaps Pudge is at long last snapping out of that multiple-month-long slump?

2:19 p.m. -- Strasburg isn't really having trouble throwing strikes (30 of 45 pitches so far have been) but he is having trouble getting ahead. He's only thrown first-pitch strikes to five of 12 batters, and he's gone to a 2-0 count three times. Still, he retired the side in the third only only nine pitches, so it remains 3-1 as we head to the bottom of the third.

2:35 p.m. -- One thing we can say for sure: Strasburg is throwing a whole lot more changeups today than he did last time out. Twelve of his first 60 pitches today were changeups. Tuesday against the Marlins, he only threw one changeup out of 84 total pitches. One possible reason for this: The D'backs lineup is loaded with left-handed hitters, while the Marlins are really heavy on right-handers. The changeup is more effective diving down and away from lefties. Whatever the reason, Strasburg has definitely mixed it up more today. Also has six strikeouts through four. Nats still trail, though, 3-1.

3:00 p.m. -- Bottom of the fifth now, the game now tied thanks to Josh Willingham's two-run homer, his first long ball since July 2. Strasburg made it through the top of the fifth at 85 pitches, and he's leading off the bottom of the inning. Might not make it through the sixth, though.

3:04 p.m. -- And we just had a coordinated protest of the Arizona immigration law. Four young people (three men, one woman) jogged onto the field rather casually from different areas. One of them had a sign. There was also a banner unfurled high above the center field fence reading: "Bud Selig Move The All-Star Game, No SB1070." The five or six security guards who were down there took care of everything after a little disruption.

3:11 p.m. -- Well, Strasburg won't pitch the sixth at all. Despite hitting for himself to open the bottom of the fifth, he doesn't take the mound for the top of the sixth. Tyler Clippard has come out of the bullpen in a 3-3 game. Very strange move. Strasburg's final line: 5 ip, 5 h, 3 r, 1 er, 0 bb, 7 k, 1 hr. 85 pitches, 57 strikes.

3:34 p.m. -- Nice job by Clippard over two innings of relief. He allowed a leadoff single in the sixth but then retired six straight, three via strikeout. Still 3-3 as we reach the seventh-inning stretch.

3:38 p.m. -- Jordan Zimmermann update: He threw six innings today for Syracuse at Indianapolis. He allowed one run on six hits, walking one and striking out three. Threw 73 pitches, 43 strikes.

3:40 p.m. -- Today's paid attendance: 21,695. Far and away the smallest crowd to see Strasburg pitch this season. Previous low came Tuesday night, when 25,939 came to see him against the Marlins. Before that, every home start drew at least 31,000.

3:46 p.m. -- Ian Desmond gives the Nats a 4-3 lead. With two outs and Adam Kennedy on second, Desmond stroked a base hit to right. Looked like Upton might have had a play at the plate, but he never threw the ball. Might not have had a good grip on it. Whatever the case, the Nats have taken the lead in the bottom of the seventh.

3:53 p.m. -- Sean Burnett OWNS the Diamondbacks. Just tossed a scoreless eighth, striking out two. He's already got two multiple-inning saves against Arizona in the last two weeks. He threw 16 pitches in the eighth. Will Riggleman bring him back out for the ninth? Right-handed slugger Mark Reynolds is due up first, but he's followed by lefties Stephen Drew and Gerardo Parra.

4:01 p.m. -- Ryan Zimmerman may have just made the decision a lot easier. Crushed a solo homer to open the bottom of the eighth and put the Nats up 5-3. There's nobody warming in the pen at the moment. Looks like Burnett will return for the ninth.

4:04 p.m. -- OK, Drew Storen started warming up with one out in the eighth and and is now in for the ninth. He'll be looking for his second career save.

4:09 p.m. -- Ballgame. Nats win 5-3. Tyler Clippard, who won eight of the Nats' first 56 games this season, finally gets his ninth win in Game 118. Drew Storen (six pitches, six strikes) gets his second career save. The Nats get a much-needed series victory over the Diamondbacks.


Faraz Shaikh said...

SS needs to rebound for this team to start a winning streak. Bigger worry is the offense which has been quiet most of the past two series. I am really disappointed in our 3-4-5 hitters lately, especially Dunn and Zimm given that Hammer is dealing with an injury. Last night with Desmond on 2nd and non outs, our 3-4-5 guys couldn't get him across the home plate. That's embarrassing. i hope they can do a better job againt Enright tonight, better than 2 runs in six innings.

dj in Fl. said...

mlb trade roumors says deals are completed for A.J. Cole and 2nd round Sammy Solis at well above slot money. Rizzo says deal are not completed. Hopefully only their signatures are missing.

Anonymous said...

The Nats year will be judged by signing Harper and Dunn. Not sure if that is fair but I believe it is true. Not signing Dunn means that Nats will not be offensively competitive for several more season. There just are not going to be any better free agent hitters this off-season. Not signing Harper means they will have no future hitters in their system. Failure to sign both will mean people will not come to the park except for maybe Strasburg games and even those are dropping some.

Grandstander said...

Just because it isn't "official", doesn't mean it didn't get done. Because Cole's signing is a record and well above slot, Selig probably wants them to hold the announcement until the deadline. And considering they spent $2 million on him, I can't imagine they won't get Harper done. Dunn on the hand... They're acting like they'd just rather have the draft picks then lock up one of the best power hitters in the game.

Mr Baseball said...

The Nats should use the following line-up for most of the remaining season. This would give everyone a read on their future.
1-Morgan LF When he returns Wednesday
2-Bernadina RF
3-Zimmerman 3B
4-Dunn 1B or Mors
5-Desmond SS
6-Maxwell CF We need to see if he can hit over an extended period.
7-Pudge C Bring up Ramos and get his feet wet
8-Gonzales 2B or Esponsia to see what he can do at SS and 2B

We know what we have in Harris, Kennedy, (Willinham can pinch hit only for the rest of the season.) Neives can be the bull pen catcher.

This season is over (we know we are cellar dwellers again) and we need to find out about some of the other guys. We also have to put a stop to Double Switch Riggleman and make him let these guys play against both left and right. handed pitchers. Double Switch would have benched Babe Ruth against left handers.

Doc said...

Assuming that the Nats and the Dunn team are 1 year and $15-20 million apart, maybe they ought to be thinking about the $15 million they threw away on Jason Marquis!

They need Dunn, more than Dunn needs them.

Faraz Shaikh said...

To watch SS do that, terrible. He might be buckling under all the pressure after all. Stop calling him savior, Jesus, and all. Let him just play ball.

Anonymous said...

I hope they put those idiots who ran onto the field in gen pop at the DC jail and they get a taste of DC hospitality!!! ;)

Anonymous said...

Another mediocre performance from the Savior....bring on Maya and Zimmermann the real stars!!!

Anonymous said...

Can we please stop harping on this Dibble comment about two chatty cathys he did not say all female fans were disinterested he talked about two specific individuals and if those individuals are too stupid to conme forward and defend their actions then this story does not deserve the light of day that certain special interest bloggers are giving it...those people make Nats320 look like an informative blog!

Anonymous said...

Mark, thanks for reporting on the protest. Seriously. It's not nice to see people delay the game, but it is nice to see people stand up for a proper cause. But enough politics, Let's Go NATS!!

David Josephson of Phoenix said...

So which rookie pitcher had the better outing? Enright, who entered the game with a better ERA than Strasburg's, was effective, except for one pitch. And please don't cite Strasburg's strikeouts. The Diamondbacks lead the world in striking out. By a mile.

Cwj said...

Nice outing by Stras. Remember, he's a rookie and is having a great year. He's a keeper :)

I'd like to see Storen pitch in more save opps. from now on. That's what he's here for.

Arlington Big Fish said...

Maybe all us Michael Morse fans (& I'm one) should admit that Riggleman might have been doing the right thing in the way he was handling Morse -- given that MM is now 1 for his last 22. Maybe he DOES play better in when he plays infrequently.

LoveDaNats said...

I was at the game. As the Man Who Knows, what do you know about the people who track the "K's" under the Miller Light sign at the scoreboard? Are they random fans? They seem to be at every game.
BTW, I wore my Insider shirt and was able to sing your praises to a couple of people who asked.

Faraz Shaikh said...

David Josephson-san, Enright: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 XBH, 3 ER, 1 SO, 1 HR vs SS: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 XBH, 1 ER, 7 SO, 1 HR. Pretty obvious to me who had a better night.

CapPeterson said...

I was at the game and moderately encouraged by Morse's ABs. Tried to go to RF his 1st time and lined out. Was robbed by Drew his next AB on as good a play going in the hole as you'll see by a SS. One of the drawbacks of being at the game of course is that we're never shown replays of nice plays by the opposition--would like to have seen that one again.

Dryw Loves the Nats said...

What do you think is the chance that the decision not to put Strasburg back in for the sixth had some relationship to the extra time he sat out waiting for security to get the idiots off the field? (sure, stand up for things you believe in, but preferably in ways that will actually do some good rather than just making you look stupid) I know it wasn't a terribly long delay, but after having Stras bat for himself, my friends and I were just looking for SOME sort of reason to then turn around and pull him....

Mark Zuckerman said...

Dryw: That's exactly what happened. Riggleman was planning to send Strasburg back out to start the 6th, but the extended delay from the protest (combined with the fact he was at 85 pitches and is still on a shorter leash coming back from the DL stint) prompted the manager to pull the plug at that point. I'll have Riggleman's full explanation shortly in a story I'm writing for

Anonymous said...

Enright is better right now than Strasburg.

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