Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Game 127: Cubs at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats try to salvage one game from the Cubs tonight.
After getting trounced Monday night and after falling just short with a ninth-inning rally last night, the Nationals tonight look to escape this series with one win against the Cubs.

For that to happen, Jason Marquis will need to pitch well, something he finally showed glimpses of five night ago in Philadelphia even though he still took his sixth loss in six starts. Marquis only allowed one run and four hits in that game. Of greater concern was the fact he walked four and needed 94 pitches to make it through five innings and thus didn't return for a sixth. Better efficiency tonight would be a positive step for the Nats and for Marquis.

Ian Desmond returns to the lineup after sitting out the last two games with a minor right thumb ailment. The rookie shortstop's presence in the lineup is important for this team, especially with Josh Willingham done for the year and Adam Dunn slumping big-time. Over his last 26 games, Desmond is hitting a stout .375 with three homers, 10 RBI, six stolen bases and a .952 OPS. In short, the Nats really need him right now.

Check back throughout the evening for updates...

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 79 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to RF
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Roger Bernadina
RF Michael Morse
2B Adam Kennedy
C Wil Nieves
P Jason Marquis

CUBS (53-74)
RF Kosuke Fukudome
SS Starlin Castro
CF Marlon Byrd
3B Aramis Ramirez
1B Micah Hoffpauir
LF Alfonso Soriano
2B Blake DeWitt
C Geovany Soto
P Ryan Dempster

7:00 p.m. -- It's turned into a busy evening filled with breaking news. If you haven't seen/heard/read it yet, Rob Dibble will not be appearing on the MASN broadcasts of at least the next two games in the wake of his comments on the radio about Stephen Strasburg. Also, Nyjer Morgan has been suspended seven games by MLB for intentionally throwing a ball in the stands in Philadelphia in the middle the ninth inning of Saturday night's game and striking a fan. He's appealed the suspension and remains in the lineup tonight. More details on both of those items on the homepage. Meanwhile, Josh Willingham had arthroscopic surgery today on his left knee to clean up a medial meniscus tear. Recovery time is four to six weeks. Also, Jordan Zimmermann has officially been named as tomorrow night's starter (no surprise).

7:07 p.m. -- We're underway with a fastball from Jason Marquis that Kosuke Fukudome fouls off.

7:19 p.m. -- It wasn't exactly a clean top of the first, but Marquis escaped it without any damage. Fukudome drew a leadoff walk, then was awarded second base when Marquis was called for a balk. After Starlin Castro struck out, Marlon Byrd hit a routine grounder to third, but Ryan Zimmerman's sidearm throw was high and thus he was charged with an error. Aramis Ramirez sent a deep fly ball to left that Roger Bernadina tracked down at the warning track. Micah Hoffpauir then flied out to center to end a strange first inning.

7:30 p.m. -- Marquis has thrown two innings now and has yet to allow a hit. Recorded a 1-2-3 second, though Geovany Soto smoked a line drive right at Zimmerman for the final out. So we go to the bottom of the second of a scoreless game.

7:34 p.m. -- The Nats go down in order in the second, with the heavily slumping Adam Dunn striking out looking. Dunn is really in a funk right now, and you've got to wonder if it's starting to get in his head. After a bad round of BP this afternoon, he chucked his bat way down the third base line out of frustration. Stan Kasten immediately went over to talk to him.

7:52 p.m. -- Still scoreless after three. Nats had a chance in the bottom of the third when Wil Nieves was awarded a single on a little dribbler, then took second on Marquis' sac bunt. But Nyjer grounded out to first to end the inning and strand Nieves at second.

8:10 p.m. -- Your Adam Dunn slump update: With two strikeouts already tonight, he's now 7 for his last 56 with 27 strikeouts. The only thing falling faster than Dunn's batting average is the value of his next contract. (Rimshot. Thanks for coming! You've been great! Be sure to tip your waitresses!)

8:16 p.m. -- Look out, folks: Jason Marquis has thrown five scoreless innings and now has allowed just one run over his last 10 innings of work. Impressive. Meanwhile, there's still no score as we go to the bottom of the fifth.

8:24 p.m. -- Not exactly another stellar offensive showing from the Nats. They've amassed one infield hit (a questionable one at that) off Ryan Dempster in five innings. Dempster has faced only one over the minimum and has struck out six.

8:33 p.m. -- OK, this is getting kind of scary. Marquis has tossed six scoreless innings. After giving up 26 earned runs in his first 16 1/3 innings this season, he's now given up one over his last 11 innings. Pretty remarkable.

8:53 p.m. -- Here's one: Ryan Desmpster tossed seven innings of two-hit ball ... and Jason Marquis outlasted him! We go to the eighth of a scoreless game.

8:58 p.m. -- Here's another one: Marquis departs to a standing ovation from the crowd at Nationals Park, with one out in the eighth inning of a 0-0 game. You really don't ever know what you might see at the ballpark on any given night. Tyler Clippard now in to face Starlin Castro.

9:03 p.m. -- And after all that, Castro doubles off Clippard, scoring Tyler Colvin, putting the Cubs up 1-0 and suddenly putting Marquis in line for the loss. Six more outs and his record falls to 0-7. Wow.

9:08 p.m. -- And after Aramis Ramirez clubs a two-run homer off Clippard, it's now 3-0 and fans are streaming for the exits. Oy.

9:24 p.m. -- Now Soriano homers off Sean Burnett to make it 4-0 in the ninth.

9:38 p.m. -- It's over. Cubs win 4-0 and sweep the series. Marquis pitched a gem but still falls to 0-7. The Nats have now scored five runs in their last four games. And three of those came on Adam Kennedy's ninth-inning double last night.


carolync said...

At least if Desmond is in the line-up, he can't pinch hit. That was one of the the ugliest at bats of the year last night.

Faraz Shaikh said...

It is good to have Desmond back. Let's see how many innings Marquis can last today and will the bullpen continue to churn out shutout innings or finally lose its' thunder. Is it time for Dunn to stop slumping?

Anonymous said...


Interestingly enough Dunn's numbers are almost aligned with his career numbers: Lifetime OPS is .903; this year .901 (OBP lower than lifetime by slugging higher). So I guess the recent slump has brought him back to where he should be; whereas the 1st half was unexpectedly good eventually it all comes out in the wash.

Another interesting tidbit is that while his numbers are a bit lower than last year his overall value is well higher (last year -.5 WAR; this year +3.3) but this is strictly because his defense is less of a liability than when he played the outfield.

Bill said...

Nice analysis by Anonymous. Regression to mean ... It happens to almost everyone who has a great month, half season, or season.

Anonymous said...

I was slow to come to the Nats, not being from this area, but I became a fan and season ticket holder. Earlier this year I was sure I would be renewing for a 4th year, but they need to show something from here out. I did a pretty careful breakdown of last year's results, and in significant ways they were better. Are we going backwards?

Wily Mo Peterson said...

How can anyone claim that this team was better last season? We aren't in the playoffs yet but at least now we don't need to feel foolish for hoping that baseball prosperity may not be too far away. The days of Jimbo and 100 pitchers at spring training are long gone, now its all about how fast our homegrown talent can reach their potential. Will Stras and JZimm be a dominating one two punch next season? Will Storen become an elite closer? How good will an Espinosa Desmond doubleplay combo be? I do not know the answers to any of these questions but I cant wait to watch them be answered. Oh yeah I hear that Harper kid might be pretty good too.

Anonymous said...

Marquee will give up more than 5 runs in less than 4 innings to one of the worst teams in baseball.

Anonymous said...

In August last year the Nats had an 8-game winning streak in which they outscored opponents 57-33. They won their last 7 games, including a 4-game sweep of Atlanta in Atlanta. When is the last time we saw something like that?

Anonymous said...

And in their last 66 games they were 4 games under .500. In their last 20 games this year they are 8 games under .500. I've been following baseball a long time--I remember the year Williams hit .406. And I'm saying these guys need to take it up a few notches. I look ahead too, and I felt better at the end of last season than I do right now. I hope that a month from now I won't feel this way.

swang said...

Breaking news! Marquis ERA now below 10!

Anonymous said...

Is it bad that I was surprised that desmond didn't throw that into the stands behind 1st?

Faraz Shaikh said...

I think I should learn to take only positives from games. Only that way I can keep watching this team. Marquis has shut down the Cubs through 6 innings. Most likely will be back for 7th, considering our bullpen must be very tired. Too bad marquis is opposed by Dempster who is also locked in.

natscan reduxit said...

... why is it that whenever a Nats pitcher surpasses what we have come to expect from him, the rest of the team couldn't but a bat on a ball if they used duct tape?

Go Nats ... a tad harder!

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessiistic_For_Me said...

Nice effort by Marquis! I gotta hand it to the guy. No win, but certainly credible. Maybe there is something there for 2011, after all.

1. Jesus, with the glass elbow
2. Zimm'nn.
3. Livo
4. Maya.
5. Marquis, Lannan, Det, cast of thousands.

Slidell said...

The wide strike zone suddenly narrows in the top of the 8th. Then, good catch by Nyjer saves Jason's bacon, at least temporarily.

Aussie Gus said...

I don't know which website to use, but I'd love to know the batting average of opposition hitters during the first at bat of our first reliever? Does that make sense? It just seems like the runners inherited always score.

Anonymous said...

Wow it seems like the NATS have checked out for the off season already. No one seems really engaged, especially Dunn who might even be hurt.

Arlington Big Fish said...

What is going on in Adam Dunn's head that would allow him to take 3 consecutive called third strikes on fastballs down the middle? If he's guessing pitches, what's he guessing that would not allow him to pull the trigger? I love the guy, but, man, he seems to have a lot of trouble adapting to the pitching circumstances of each game.

Richard said...

Yeah, the major league club has stumbled onto very hard times, but at least there's good news in the minors. Syracuse won with Ramos going yard and Martis pitching very well. Harrisburg won again with Lombardozzi getting three hits (BA .333), Brad Peacock showing well, and Cole Kimball closing it out. And the P-Nats rallied and won, with A.J. Morris closing.

N. Cognito said...

Arlington Big Fish said...
"What is going on in Adam Dunn's head that would allow him to take 3 consecutive called third strikes on fastballs down the middle?"

I didn't see the first two but that third K was a nice pitch by Dempster - on the corner and at the knees. Dunn can't hit those so he lets them go and hopes it gets called a ball.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:01 said: Marquee will give up more than 5 runs in less than 4 innings to one of the worst teams in baseball.
For everyone who hates Jason Marquis because he isn't Adam Wainwright, just note that his last 2 outings have been OK and good. It is amazing what you can do when your arm isn't injured and once you have recovered from surgery.

natsfan1a said...

Sunshine, I agree (and the fact that he took the loss is more evidence of the bogosity of wins alone as indicative of a pitcher's effectiveness). Good on the fans who were there and gave him an ovation. I was happy for him.

btw, I went upstairs during the pitching change break and came back to find Clippard on the mound (and with a man on base? NOOOOO!). Sadly, my fears were not unfounded.

Also, Nats offense to the White Courtesy Phone, please.


Nice effort by Marquis! I gotta hand it to the guy. No win, but certainly credible. Maybe there is something there for 2011, after all.

Anonymous said...

Poor Jason Marquis! He finally returns to his old form and Tyler "I let 37% of my inherited runners score" Clippard blows it up for him, too bad! Also, Dunn needs to be benched along with Morse, September 1st callups cannot come soon enough so we can get some fresh blood in the lineups (Espinosa, Moore/Marrero, Burgess...anyone but they guys we are totting out there right now)

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