Friday, September 3, 2010

Game 135: Nats at Pirates

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The depleted Nats face the Pirates tonight at PNC Park.
PITTSBURGH — It would appear Nyjer Morgan has appealed his latest suspension, because he's leading off tonight against the Pirates. Morgan, who was suspended eight games today by Major League Baseball for a series of events in the last week that culminated with Wednesday night's brawl, also has another appeal pending on a seven-game suspension stemming from his actions in Philadelphia on August 21.

Jim Riggleman, however, will not be managing tonight as he begins to serve his two-game suspension. Bench coach John McLaren will fill in as manager. Third base coach Pat Listach will begin serving his suspension Sunday.

Danny Espinosa gets his first big-league start tonight, playing second base and batting eighth. With left-hander Zach Duke on the mound for the Pirates, Roger Bernadina takes a seat and is replaced in left field by Justin Maxwell.

Check back for updates throughout the evening...

Where: PNC Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 75 degrees, Wind 11 mph out to LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
RF Michael Morse
C Ivan Rodriguez
LF Justin Maxwell
2B Danny Espinosa
P Livan Hernandez

PIRATES (44-89)
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Jose Tabata
2B Neil Walker
1B Garrett Jones
3B Pedro Alvarez
C Ryan Doumit
RF John Bowker
SS Ronny Cedeno
P Zach Duke

7:25 p.m. -- We're through 1 1/2 innings here at PNC Park, no score yet. Ryan Zimmerman has the lone hit: a two-out double in the first. Otherwise, nothing doing for the Nats against Zach Duke. Livan Hernandez, meanwhile, retired the side in the bottom of the first.

7:38 p.m. -- Danny Espinosa's third career at-bat results in his first career homer. The rookie second baseman crushed a 1-1 pitch from Zach Duke the other way, depositing it into the right-field bleachers to put the Nats up 1-0 in the third.

7:52 p.m. -- The Pirates have tied it up in the bottom of the third, getting a leadoff double from Ronny Cedeno, followed by a sac bunt and a sac fly. Now 1-1 in the third.

8:00 p.m. -- If you haven't read it yet, I've got the full, updated story on all the suspensions (with quotes from Nyjer Morgan, Jim Riggleman and Mike Rizzo) on

8:02 p.m. -- The Pirates aren't letting up on Livo. A two-out rally in the third has produced two more runs. Jose Tabata singled, Neil Walker walked and Garrett Jones doubled both guys home to put the Bucs on top 3-1.

9:16 p.m. -- Sorry for the lack of updates tonight. Was scrambling to write the Morgan and Strasburg news, then spent the last few innings in the stands. We just completed the sixth inning of what has become a wild ballgame. The Pirates lead 8-5, but it was 8-1 after the fifth. Livan Hernandez got tagged for all eight runs and lasted only 4 1/3 innings. The Nats, though, got four runs back in the sixth off Zach Duke, including an RBI double from Danny Espinosa. The kid has looked good so far. In parts of two games, he's now 3-for-5 with a homer and a double. Each of his hits has scored a run.

9:37 p.m. -- Ooh, we've got a Sean Burnett-Lastings Milledge face-off. And Burnett gets Milledge to tap a comebacker to end the seventh. Clearly, Mike Rizzo got the better of Neal Huntington in that half of the trade. Nyjer vs. Hanrahan? Still up for debate. Pirates still lead 8-5 as we go to the eighth.

9:56 p.m. -- Big chance for Espinosa to really turn this into a memorable game, but the rookie struck out swinging at a 3-2 fastball from Chris Resop to end the top of the eighth with runners on first and second. So it remains 8-5 headed to the bottom of the eighth.

10:04 p.m. -- Well, this is probably what you wanted to see all night: Top of the ninth, Nats trailing by three and Joel Hanrahan entering from the Pirates bullpen in a save situation. Hold onto your hats.

10:09 p.m. -- And Hanrahan strikes out Zimmerman to earn his third save in six tries. Nats lose 8-5. That trade looks pretty even right now: Two good relievers, two struggling outfielders.


Souldrummer said...

Um, perhaps it would make more sense to sit Morgan for JMax? JMax is a better CF than Morgan in my opinion, and playing Nyjer right now is just asking for trouble it seems. I really, really wish he hadn't appealed the suspension and the longer this thing drags on the worse that Nyjer and the Nats look.

Wally said...

What happened to seeing if Bernie can hit lefthanders?

Golfersal said...

What a bozo for both Nyjer and the Nationals.

I find it very insulting that Nyjer would have the nerve to fight this latest sentence.
I also find it hard to believe that the Nationals would allow him to do this.

Yes Nyjer was a victim of those pitches but he didn't have to charge the mound. Nyjer didn't have to verbally abuse the fans, Nyjer didn't have to go out of his way to tell the media that he would do this all over again and what he did was justified and right.

Nyjer you have become an embarrassment and now the Nats are letting him do this????
Does anyone have some common sense in the Nats office from Riggleman on up to say, sorry Nyjer you went too far.

Anyone read the comments on this board, Nats.Com, Nats insider and MASN. The fan mail, if you would call this fan mail runs about 3 to 4 that people hate what Nyjer has done and hate what is happening to this team.

With this, having no Stephen Strasburg for 2011 and the Rob Dibble firing a lot of people are going to reconsider their purchase of Nats tickets for not only the rest of the year but also 2011. I have to think that for the front office people after the years of working there butts off they need to be ashamed of all this. It's a black eye on the way the Nats are now doing business, even to the fact that they have the bad luck with Strasburg blowing his arm off.

Somebody in the Nats front office better be reading all of these posts and realize that they are going to piss fans off even more if they allow Nyjer to get away with this.

I have even lost faith in Riggleman and now feel that the club's not that great, we better look for a new manager after this month.


NatsNut said...

NATS MANAGMENT: Golfersal does not speak for all of us.
Thank you.

Knoxville Nat said...

"I also find it hard to believe that the Nationals would allow him (Morgan) to do this (appeal)."

Uh, I believe that the suspension appeal is a right negotiated by MLB and the players association as part of the collective bargaining agreement. As such the Nationals cannot stop Morgan or any other player from appealing his suspension.

Sunderland said...

I'm certain that the Nats can not interfere with Nyjer's right to appeal. It's a labor issue, he's got the protection of the union, and the Nats are powerless to do anything. Even an overt suggestion would be putting the team at some level of risk.

That said, I agree that for most of us, Nyjer serving the suspension and getting this behind us is the preferred route. But like everything Nyjer does, he does for himself, not for you or me or his teammates or the game of baseball.

And so the appeal.

Nate said...

[T]he longer this thing drags on the worse that Nyjer and the Nats look.

To who? Nyjer is within his rights under the CBA to appeal his suspension and that's what he's doing. While he's available if Riggleman thinks he's a better option than J-Max or Roger, well calling the manager a bonehead is a time-honored baseball tradition.

Golfersal, feel free to speak for yourself, but this Nats' fan wants a winning team with professionals calling the games.

Doc said...

Not that Riggleman, & Co. are interested in stats, but The Flying Dutchman actually outhits Maxwell-Mendoza against Lefties, as well as Righties.

Managers that like to stick to their delusions tend to be fired--the stats usually catch up and over-take them.

Sunderland said...

Wally said...
What happened to seeing if Bernie can hit lefthanders?

I'm guessing this has more to do with trying to give Maxwell a chance to produce and earn some confidence than whether Bernie can or can not hit Zach Duke. Duke's BAA v right handed bats is .311, so I'm guessing Bernie can hit him.

The team has decisions to make about Maxwell, and if Bernie sits more than he deserves to help them make a better decision about Maxwell, given the calendar and the standings, I'm OK with that.

FSogol said...

If you are a season ticket holder, you probably don't spend much time watching Dibble.

Also, Morgan gets to play against the friendly Pirates and will serve his suspension during the Marlins series.

Wally said...

Sunderland - you are probably right about the rationale, although I don't agree with the conclusion. I think that Bernie still has questions to be answered for 2011 himself, so I would use the remaining 30 games or so to see if he can play CF against all pitching. I cannot imagine that the questions on JMax are anything more than can he be the 5th OF, so I think that Bernie's time should come before his. But I am usually wrong about these things.

Anonymous said...

If you're Pittsburgh, knowing your going into a three-game set, do you go ahead and plunk Morgan just to see what happens? Maybe you can get a few more players/coaches out of the way for the series?

Anonymous said...

"The team has decisions to make about Maxwell"...Don't you think they've already made that decision? Do you think the Brain Trust is really wrestling with decision regarding, in essence, a 27-y.o. rookie/minor leaguer hitting .134 this year and .209 lifetime? This one ain't much of a puzzler.

DCGuy7 said...

I agree Maxwell ought to play, if only so we can see once and for all that he can't hit (bummer). but it's Morgan who ought to be sitting, and Bernie starting. Starting Nyjer is rewarding him for bad behavior.

Faraz Shaikh said...

I think Nationals missed an opportunity tonight. They should have benched Morgan even if he is eligible to play simply because of his unprofessional attitude towards fans. I still can't get that picture (him raising hands and all) out of my head. Him benching would have made it clear to him that it is okay to play the game with passion but don't make stupid mistakes over it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 3:59 that's what I would do. Perhaps not hit him but give him a steady dose of inside pitching to try to rattle him. And if he gets on first I throw over a lot because you konw he is going to try to make something happen and chances are you will pick him off.

As far as him appealing goes, why would he not? He has that right under the CBA and what's the worst thing that can happen? He gets the 15 games he has now. Maybe he gets one or both of them reduced in some way plus he keeps playing while waiting for the appeal.

Unknown said...

I wonder who made the decision to play Morgan? I'd love to ask their rational, off the record of course.

CapPeterson said...


In discussing the OF options, I notice you omitted the (to me) equally plausible one of playing JMax and Bernie and sitting Nyjer. Leaving aside all the non-baseball issues, isn't Nyjer by this point in the season and his career a known quantity? It seems like Rigs is making a statement of some kind in leaving Nyjer in his customary leadoff and CF role. Has Nyjer become the FOTF? At the least, doesn't look like Rigs would be in favor of DFAing him.

Not so sure BTW about the reception Nyjer will get from those "friendly" Pirates' fans.

CapPeterson said...

I take Nats' management at their word. They see Bernie in LF, not in CF, and have no interest in giving him PT in CF unless it's unavoidable. But I agree--you might still think you would want to find out if your potential starting LFer can hit lefties.

Maybe Bernie is tired from watching Nyjer fight the other night? Or maybe showcasing Nyjer for a
trade to a pennant contender?

Anonymous said...

"I feel I haven't done anything wrong except for playing the game hard and play the game like it supposed to be played," Morgan said. "Wow. I don't know what else to say. I don't think you should be suspended for hitting a catcher. ... I don't understand what I did wrong to get an eight-game suspension."

WOW, just WOW!

Anonymous said...

"showcasing Nyjer for a trade to a pennant contender?"

Ha!!! Send him to Chicago where he and Manny can duke it out for who's the bigger diva/head case...

Sunderland said...

CapPete - Yep, I agree with you. Nice observation.

CapPeterson said...

In discussing the OF options, I notice you omitted the (to me) equally plausible one of playing JMax and Bernie and sitting Nyjer. Leaving aside all the non-baseball issues, isn't Nyjer by this point in the season and his career a known quantity? It seems like Rigs is making a statement of some kind in leaving Nyjer in his customary leadoff and CF role.

Anonymous said...

Kick Morgan out of town.

Anonymous said...

,,,so if Bernie is in LF where is Willingham in 2011?
Traded, 1st base?

CapPeterson said...

1B is my guess. Remember that out of the blue a couple of weeks ago Rigs started saying, "We believe LF is Roger's best position"? I'm thinking that was about the time Nats' management decided they weren't going tro re-sign Dunn. So you axe Dunn, move Willingham to his position, install Rog in LF, and--leave Nyjer in CF. Any splash Rizzo makes in the free agent market this winter will be in grabbing an established MLB RFer. Morse relegated to backup OF, 1B, and #1 PH. Needless to say I hope I'm wrong.

Sunderland said...

I'd like to offer up that the recent play of this team really reflects some failings of Riggleman.

First, the play of Desmond and Kennedy has been quite good since we traded Guzman. Improvement both in the field and at the plate. Riggleman's platooning was harmful to all the players involved, and of course harmful to the team as well. It took Rizzo to fix this.

Second, the play of Morse has been more than adequate. Riggleman kept Morse on the bench while he played Wily Taveras, Christian Guzman and Willie Harris and other less productive players. It took Willingham going on the DL to fix this.

Third, the play of Nyjer has been poor all season, I don't need to detail that. Whatever Riggleman was doing with his platooning, for the most part, Nyjer was in CF almost every day.
He finally sat when he went 15 day DL. And now soon, Nyjer will begin serving some very long suspension time (7 days plus 8 days, perhaps reduced). Riggleman can't sit him, so Bob Watson will.

And Riggleman's statement that he asked some veteran players if they wanted to retaliate after the Marlins hit Nyjer in the 4th shows another real failing in leadership.

We really need a change here.

Anonymous said...

go danny!

JaneB said...

CapPeterson, I love ya. And I REALLY hope you are wrong.

Hurrah for Danny!

Brian said...

Great. We give Livo a contract extension and he melts down against the Pirates. Meanwhile, our offense continues to make mediocre opposing pitchers look like friggin' Cy Young. This team frustrates me sometimes (okay, most of the time...).

Michael J. Hayde said...

@Brian: What was that about our offense?

This is really depressing. Without Dibble, I have to keep coming here during the game for my snark addiction. We're glad you "like Espinosa's swing," Knight, however you don't have to tell us more than once. Wake me up when you say something interesting.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...

Going from Sir Dibbs to Uncle Ray is like going from heroin to 3.2 beer.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...

Thrilledge in for defensive purposes. In right field.

Now, THAT's funny...

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...


Rob Dibble's Ghost said...

Here's a game for everyone: take one shot every time Ray refers to Bob as "Pardner" and two shots every time he calls him "Bobby."

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...

Rob Dibble's Ghost said...
Here's a game for everyone: take one shot every time Ray refers to Bob as "Pardner" and two shots every time he calls him "Bobby."

Oh, my! If I play this game, I'll be back in alcohol rehab by Labor Day!

Doc said...

Maybe Bobby V. could lower his price, or trade some salary for a percentage of the team.

CapPeterson said...

So it's back to normal now? It's just us; Nyjer haters and Nyjer-hater haters have gotten it out of their systems and resumed their quotidian activities. Last one out please lock up and turn out the lights.

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