Thursday, August 26, 2010

Game 128: Cardinals at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Bryce Harper takes his first round of BP at Nationals Park.
There's a game to be played tonight, and there's a pretty important storyline to it with Jordan Zimmermann returning to the mound 12 months after undergoing Tommy John surgery. But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention what's taking place on the field right now.

Bryce Harper, who will be formally introduced in a couple of hours, is taking his first round of batting practice at Nationals Park. And I've got to say, it's quite a show. The 17-year-old laid down a couple of token bunts to get started, then intentionally struck several line drives toward center and left-center fields. Then he finally attempted to pull the ball for the first time ... and reached the third deck down the right-field line. Yeah, that's right. Harper has hit about five other home runs during five rounds so far. Impressive.

Anyways, we'll have more on Harper later. As for tonight's game, Zimmermann's return is obviously the big story. If the 24-year-old needs any evidence of what he can do in the wake of Tommy John surgery, he needs only look at the right-hander who will oppose him tonight: Chris Carpenter. The Cardinals ace had the same surgery in 2007. Since then, he's 31-9 with a 2.52 ERA.

The slumping Nats lineup gets a shakeup tonight. Ian Desmond, one of the few hot hitters right now, will bat fifth for the first time. Nyjer Morgan gets bumped down to the 2-hole, with Adam Kennedy leading off. Interesting.

Check back throughout the evening for updates...

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly sunny, 82 degrees, Wind 6 mph in from LF
2B Adam Kennedy
CF Nyjer Morgan
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
SS Ian Desmond
LF Roger Bernadina
C Ivan Rodriguez
RF Willie Harris
P Jordan Zimmermann

SS Felipe Lopez
CF Jon Jay
1B Albert Pujols
LF Matt Holliday
RF Randy Winn
C Yadier Molina
2B Skip Schumaker
3B Pedro Feliz
P Chris Carpenter

7:05 p.m. -- Jordan Zimmermann is officially back from Tommy John surgery. His first major-league pitch in 13 months is a 94 mph fastball to Felipe Lopez for ball one. Low and inside.

7:09 p.m. -- The first batter didn't go so well (Zimmermann walked Lopez on four pitches) but things picked up from there. He got Jon Jay to ground into a 4-6-3 double play, then got Albert Pujols to ground out to short. Fastball was in the 93-94 range, breaking ball in the 77-78 range. Twelve pitches, seven strikes. All things considered, looked pretty sharp.

7:15 p.m. -- A promising bottom of the first fell flat for the Nats, who got a leadoff double from Adam Kennedy, who then took third on Nyjer Morgan's sac bunt. But when Ryan Zimmerman rapped a grounder to third, it all fell apart. Kennedy broke for home but had no chance to score and wound up in a rundown. Zimmerman, meanwhile, failed to at least advance to second as Kennedy was buying him time, salvaging something. In the end, it didn't matter, because Adam Dunn grounded out to first to end the inning scoreless.

7:24 p.m. -- The Cardinals strike first. Yadier Molina doubles to deep left-center, then scores moments later on Skip Schumaker's single up the middle. Didn't help that Nyjer Morgan's throw was a five-hopper to the plate, allowing Schumaker to advance to second. So Zimmermann has allowed one run on two hits through two, with one strikeout and one walk. Twenty-seven pitches, 18 strikes. Cardinals lead 1-0.

7:48 p.m. -- Anybody here miss Felipe Lopez? Yeah, didn't think so. The former National just giftwrapped his old team's first run of the night, taking a routine grounder to short and heaving his throw into the camera well for a two-base error. Zimmerman's two-out chopper over the pitcher's mound brought Kennedy home and tied this game 1-1 in the bottom of the third.

7:53 p.m. -- New No. 5 hitter Ian Desmond is now 2-for-2 and just drove in two more with a two-out single to left. Nats lead 3-1 after three.

8:18 p.m. -- Unfortunately, the night didn't end well for Zimmermann. He was greeted in the top of the fourth by an Albert Pujols home run (Pujols is now 4-for-5 with two homers in his career against J-Zimm). He then saw the Cardinals bat around, scoring four runs in the process. So that's it for Zimmermann. He went four innings, allowing five runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out four. He threw 70 pitches. Nats now trail 5-3.

8:47 p.m. -- A sac fly by Adam Dunn in the fifth and another sac fly by Michael Morse in the sixth has tied this game 5-5.

8:48 p.m. -- Good things come in threes. Adam Kennedy lofts a sac fly of his own, giving the Nats a 6-5 lead as the sixth inning comes to an end. No loss for Zimmermann tonight.

8:56 p.m. -- Have to say this: Chris Carpenter may have allowed three earned runs in six innings tonight, but nothing about that start was "quality." He gave up six total runs on 10 hits.

9:15 p.m. -- Willie Harris 2-run single makes it 8-5 in the seventh. Break up the Nats!

9:31 p.m. -- Tyler Clippard started the eighth and immediately gave up a rocket of a double to Pujols, a sinking liner to Holliday and then an RBI single to Winn. You've got to wonder how much more Jim Riggleman can entrust him in a setup role. Fortunately, Drew Storen came to the rescue. He got two outs on three pitches, preserving an 8-6 lead as we go to the bottom of the eighth.

9:37 p.m. -- We go to the ninth, Storen back on the mound. Pujols due up fifth.

9:52 p.m. -- Ugh. Storen has blown his first career save. Gave up two singles, then a double to open the ninth. He struck out Jay, then with runners on second and third, he intentionally walked Pujols. That brought Holliday to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. And for what it's worth, Storen struck out Holliday in his big-league debut in May. Not this time. Storen nailed Holliday in the left hand with a fastball, forcing in the tying run. Now it's 8-8, the bases are still loaded with one out and Sean Burnett is in to face Randy Winn.

10:00 p.m. -- And Winn sends a two-run single past a drawn-in Desmond at short, putting the Cardinals up 10-8. This, folks, is a colossal meltdown.

10:04 p.m. -- Adam Dunn will lead off the bottom of the ninth. Oh wait, no he won't. He was pulled for defense in the top of the ninth. Alberto Gonzalez will lead off.

10:10 p.m. -- Un-be-liev-able. Bernadina 2-run homer off Ryan Franklin ties the game 10-10.

10:30 p.m. -- Let's go to the 11th.

10:41 p.m. -- Bottom of the 11th coming up. Fernando Salas coming out of the Cardinals bullpen to face ... Ryan Zimmerman, who as we all know, leads MLB with seven walk-off homers since Sept. 2005.

10:49 p.m. -- As if this game didn't have enough drama already, Albert Pujols just appeared to seriously injure himself making an awkward climb up the tarp while trying to catch a foul ball. He went down in a heap clutching his right leg and the Cardinals trainer and Tony La Russa went racing out there to tend to him. But after a couple of minutes, Pujols got up and gingerly walked back to first base. He's staying in the game.

10:51 p.m. -- To the 12th we go, still 10-10.

11:19 p.m. -- Oh my lord, it looked like Adam Kennedy just won the game with a two-out line drive up the middle. And then Brendan Ryan came out of nowhere to make a diving, sno-cone catch to end the inning and send this game to the 13th. Doug Slaten, the last man standing in the Nats' bullpen, is coming in. Why do I have a feeling Livan Hernandez (three days shy of throwing 121 pitches) is going to appear in this game before it's over?

11:33 p.m. -- Bottom of the 13th now. The Nats have used 22 players. Only Livo, Olsen and Lannan (who is currently in the bullpen) are still available.

11:40 p.m. -- Nats win! Nats win! Ian Desmond sends a chopper up the middle and off Skip Schumaker's glove to score Nyjer Morgan. Final score: 11-10 in 13 innings. Time of game; 4 hours, 35 minutes (longest of the year).


Knoxville Nat said...

Interesting lineup tonight with Desmond behind Dunn and Kennedy at the top. I can't fault Riggleman for shaking it up as something needs to happen to get some hits out of these guys.

And to see Harper in the batting cage.....what a show that must have been. Can't wait to see him in the everyday lineup.

markfd said...


Wow, AK leading off, what are his career stats vs Carpenter, I am asuming pretty good? Overall, a tough lineup to provide any support to JZimm!

Who was pitching BP to Harper? Even though it was just BP, sounds impressive..thanks for the dose of optimism for the future!!

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...

Two of the most worthless leadoff hitters ever:



natsfan1a said...

Hope that Pudge can put out F-Lo a time or two on the basepaths tonight... (evil grin)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great stories about tonite's game. Third deck?!

/"remain calm, he's 3 years away. remain calm..."

natsfan1a said...

So, HR Derby in which year, now? ;-)

HHover said...

I don't see the need to bash Kennedy here for batting lead off.

There aren't many better options. He's one of the more patient batters on a team that doesn't have many (yes, I'm looking at you, Ian Demond). And he's been hitting well lately--10 for 33 over his last 10 games, with 3 BBs.

Sec314 said...

He's not wearing the goofy make up, right?

nattaboy said...

Woo, Desmond batting 5th! I think he's gonna step up and take that role for the rest of the season. Unless we call Harper up :)

FOTB said...

Harper ... Third Deck ... Outstanding!

Pete said...

Sorry, until the Nats are a consistent winner you can't convince me that season tickets are a good idea. I probably go to 20-30 games a year and I rarely have to pay face value. Once I scored two Diamond Club tix for $40 because some lobbyist didn't feel like going that night. So I was behind home plate, and the tickets came juiced with $35 worth of concessions. I understand the argument that it is worthwhile to support the team, but I buy enough $8 beers to do my part. Also, I never have to attend games I don't want to, or feel obligated to go when I don't need to.

MM said...


Rumor has it that CM Wang will be in DC Mon/Tue to meet the LLWS team from Taiwan. If things are slow might you give him a call to chat about life after Viera?


Anonymous said...

No one was telling you to feel obligated to buy tickets you don't want to buy. You asked why anyone would want to be a season ticket holder, and I told you why I do. I don't feel obligated to buy them either. I want the team to be good and be successful because I suffered a long time without baseball here, and I want to support it financially as well as with my time and attention. Everyone's circumstances are different -- not everyone can afford season tickets -- but the facts are that if people don't support the team financially by paying for tickets and if it doesn't draw enough revenue to pay for good players, the "Lerners are cheap" argument doesn't hold water.

Oh yeah, and I love being at the ballpark, so I consider it a bargain for six months of nightly fun and entertainment. I WANT to go every night.

JamesFan said...

Six days until the call-up. I hope the manager will bench the "vets" who are not everyday players and use this time to give major league experience to Ramos,and to test Espinoza, Whiting and Burgess.

natsfan1a said...

fwiw re. Nyjer, the Nationals Journal site has a post up about a Phillies fan who was there and contacted the Post with an eyewitness account in which Nyjer comes off far better than he has in today's coverage around the Internetz.

Anonymous said...


Whiting is almost 27 (I don't thing he is a prospect .615 OPS in Syracuse = atrocious), Burgess just moved up from A to AA and was only at .781 OPS in A ball; may be a prospect but minimum 2 years away. Ramos hurt his knee yesterday; I don't know how serious but he came out of the game.

Sorry to rain on your parade but there it is.

Anonymous said...

Willie Harris. Really??? C'MON, WHY???

Dave said...

@ natsfan1a - Sounds about right.

[Before the inning started, Morgan looked at the crowd. A boy of about 12, Holman recalled, leaned over a railing and called for the ball.

Standing 30 or so feet away, Holman wrote, Morgan lobbed the ball "rainbow-style" in the direction of the boy. The ball sailed over the boy and smacked a fan who was looking in a different direction in the shoulder.]

Always overthrowing the cut-off man!!

Anonymous said...

Still wondering why they didn't dump TAWH on waivers and claim Cody Ross? Harris should
be on the waiver wire not Ross ... In spite
of Vanilla Riggleman's.

Les in NC said...

How many 17 year olds can drive a baseball (with a wooden bat) into the third deck of a major league park while actual major leaguers and major league personnel are watching over his shoulder? I dare say that would be a small number!!
I have a hard time believing Bryce won't be in the majors before he is 20 (for more than a cup of coffee).

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...

Ah, FLop. Same old FLop. Same old jaker FLop.

Why does any team put up with this bum?

Anonymous said...

I'm so over Bob Carpenter and Ray Knight's ultra optimistic view of the National's future. Come on guys, lets not pretend the organization has an abundance of prospects in their farm system. I don't always agree with Dibble, but at least he doesn't read the Nats' talking points verbatim during the game like Ray does. Vom!

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

I'm with you, tystoneman.

They're laying it on pretty thick with the Kool-Aid tonight.

jeanne b said...

I am fairly impressed with Harper's time in the booth - good sense of humor, and a sense of baseball history.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...

So was I, Jeanne B. Plus, he was polite to Bobby C., even deferential. Seemed like a very-together 17-year-old. Not at all what I was expecting. Hope it all works out. There's an open right field spot, that's for sure.

Aussie Gus said...


CBinDC said...

I have had to endure many bad teams in this city but this year has produced the saddest time of all.

Aussie Gus said...


Anonymous said...

This team wears me out...the collapse in the nineth is a good example. But then they come back to tie the game and so I sit in a hotel room in Austin, Texas listening via Gameday to the Nats radio broadcast for another inning or two. I want to go to bed but I can't turn it off.

I think 2008 was the low point for me--pre-Strasburg, pre-Harper, pre-Pudge, hope anywhere to be seen. That was the worst. I would have turned that team off after blowing the lead in the 9th

A DC Wonk said...

Cut Carp and Knight some slack . . . we had Zimmermann finally come back (ok, so that didn't look great tonight, but he looked good at the start) on the same day that Bryce, the first time he tries to pull the ball, jacks it to the upper deck, and the day after Marquis' second consecute stellar performance. It's OK to be a bit optimistic today.

Matt said...

I wonder how Joe West feels about how long that game took...

JaneB said...

Thrilling!!! Bryce Harper autograph, and a foul ball on top of it! I love my Nats. And shout out to usher Susan Perry!!!

Faraz Shaikh said...

awesome. we win. congrats nats fans. we usually drop these kind of games but not tonight. awesome.

Faraz Shaikh said...

forgot to mention Dunn's contribution. He may not broken out of the slump completely but a sac fly and an extra base hit are an improvement over what he had been doing before. And what should we say about Desmond. He is a beast. He is the definition of clutch right now. but during regular season, he is more suited to be #2. Really looking forward to tomorrow's game.

josh f said...

Mark - where does this day rank now in Nats history? Bryce Harper's first visit to DC, and a gutsy thrilling walkoff!

Ernie said...

So glad I got to be there for a win. And in extra innings--a first for me!

1. Desmond is looking a lot better in the field. He fielded a shot from Jay in the 12th and nailed the throw to first in what was maybe the cleanest play I've ever seen him make. Looked better than Zimmerman in the field tonight.

2. Bernadina's shot was hit so hard on a line that everyone in my section thought it was a flyout well short of the wall.

3. A lot of ups and downs tonight, but it was great to see them win as a team. Alberto, WillieHarris, Bernadina, Kennedy, others all had great moments and deserve some credit for the win. Maybe it was the weather, but this felt like the team I was watching in April and May this year.

4. With Willingham out and Guzman gone our bench looks sickeningly weak. LaRussa's pinch-hit pitchers looked better at the plate than some of our usual suspects.

5. All of the double-switches came from the third base dugout!

6. Maybe Willie Harris does not hate me as much as he used to.

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