Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Game 146: Nats at Braves

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Lefties John Lannan and Mike Minor face off in today's finale at Turner Field.
ATLANTA — Good morning one last time from Turner Field, where we've got a quick turnaround from last night's game to today's 12:10 p.m. series finale between the Nationals and Braves.

John Lannan starts for the Nats, looking to improve to 6-2 since his return from Class AA. Fellow left-hander Mike Minor starts for the Braves, who have fallen two games behind the Phillies in the NL East and desperately need a win.

Funky lineup for the Nats today. Adam Dunn and Roger Bernadina each get the day off. That leaves Nyjer Morgan batting second, Ian Desmond batting third and Alberto Gonzalez starting ... at first base.

Check back for updates throughout the afternoon...

Where: Turner Field
Gametime: 12:10 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly sunny, 83 degrees, Wind 4 mph out to LF
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Michael Morse
C Wilson Ramos
1B Alberto Gonzalez
LF Justin Maxwell
P John Lannan

BRAVES (83-63)
2B Omar Infante
RF Jason Heyward
3B Martin Prado
1B Troy Glaus
LF Matt Diaz
SS Alex Gonzalez
CF Melky Cabrera
C David Ross
P Mike Minor

12:10 p.m. -- This game is underway with a bunt from Danny Espinosa that was struck a bit too hard down the third-base line and made for an easy play from Martin Prado. Another nice September day in Atlanta, a little hazy but a very comfortable 84 degrees at first pitch.

12:14 p.m. -- Quick top of the first from Mike Minor. After the Espinosa bunt out, he got Nyjer Morgan on a slow roller to second and then caught Ian Desmond looking at a 2-2 fastball on the outside corner to end the inning.

12:21 p.m. -- And an equally quick bottom of the first from John Lannan. Though he allowed a two-out double to Martin Prado, Lannan was otherwise solid, snagging a comebacker off Omar Infante's bat, striking out Jason Heyward with a high fastball and getting Troy Glaus to pop out. Only 11 pitches in the inning for Lannan.

12:36 p.m. -- Justin Maxwell may not hit very many home runs, but when he does, he sure makes the most of it. Can you say grand slam? Yep. Maxwell tagged a pitch from Minor down the left-field and inside the foul pole, bringing Michael Morse, Wilson Ramos and Alberto Gonzalez home and putting the Nationals up 4-0 in the second. Justin has now hit nine home runs in his career; three of them have been grand slams.

12:43 p.m. -- Here's your stat of the day: Justin Maxwell has had four career plate appearances with the bases loaded. He's 3-for-4 with three grand slams, 12 RBI and a 3.750 OPS. Also, he's now hit three times as many grand slams in his career as Derek Jeter.

12:46 p.m. -- Your average, run-of-the-mill, 1-6-4-3 double play to end the second. John Lannan deflected David Ross' ball up the middle to Ian Desmond, who flipped to Danny Espinosa, who fired an absolute bullet to first to complete the play. Nearly took Alberto Gonzalez's left arm off. Nats lead 4-0 after two.

12:55 p.m. -- So after watching Nyjer Morgan hit two weak grounders and get thrown out each time, I decided to do a little research. Nyjer's batting average on balls hit to the infield is .114. For comparison's sake, Ryan Zimmerman's is .107. Shouldn't the speedy guy be beating more of those grounders out?

1:01 p.m. -- You don't see this every day, but Jason Heyward was just called out for making contact with a batted ball. He tried to avoid Martin Prado's smoked chopper to the right side of the infield but the ball still clipped his foot. So Heyward is out with Gonzalez getting the unassisted putout, Prado is credited with a single and Lannan is out of the third without allowing a run. Still 4-0 Nats.

1:22 p.m. -- It's 4-1 now in the top of the fifth after the Braves pushed across a run in the bottom of the fourth. Could've been worse, though, after Lannan issued a walk and gave up a double to start the inning. Battled back to get a foul out and two grounders to short, keeping the damage to a minimum.

1:54 p.m. -- Nats now up 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth as the Braves try to chip away at Lannan. Washington's bats have pretty much gone silent since Maxwell's grand slam in the second. Minor has departed and given way to the Atlanta bullpen, with Peter Moylan tossing a scoreless top of the sixth.

2:04 p.m. -- Lannan seemed to be teetering on the brink there in the sixth, putting two on with two out. But after a visit from Riggleman, the lefty came through and struck out David Ross to end the inning and preserve a 4-2 lead. Pitcher's spot is due up fifth in the seventh. Even if he doesn't come up, thinking Lannan's day is done.

2:13 p.m. -- I thought for a moment Lannan was going to stay in. But Riggleman waited until after John had thrown all his warmup pitches and Diory Hernandez was announced as the Braves' pinch-hitter before emerging from the dugout for today's double-switch. Joel Peralta will pitch. Adam Kennedy takes over at first base. And Bobby Cox counters with Eric Hinske pinch-hitting for the pinch-hitter.

2:21 p.m. -- So, Hinske skies a fly ball to shallow center. Nyjer comes charging in and calls off Desmond and Espinosa ... then loses the ball in the sun. Gift double for Hinske. Then Infante drops a bunt down the third-base line that requires a spectacular play from Zimmerman, who fired a perfect throw to first while parallel to the ground. Incredible. Now, Sean Burnett is in to face Heyward with a man on third and one out.

2:26 p.m. -- And Burnett comes up big again. He broke Heyward's bat and got a weak lineout to second. Then he struck out Prado with a nasty 2-2 breaking ball. Burnett has been really good for a while now, really establishing himself as a guy who get key outs late in a game, against lefties or righties.

2:32 p.m. -- Strange moment in the top of the eighth. After Kennedy led off with a single, Bobby Cox came out of the dugout to talk to plate umpire Paul Nauert, flashing a lineup card. All four umps wound up huddling with Cox and looking at the card. Maybe he was trying to say Kennedy wasn't properly double-switched in? Whatever the case, the umps had no problem with anything, so nothing's changed.

2:50 p.m. -- Five big outs from Sean Burnett (including a perfectly placed inside fastball to strike out Matt Diaz) has sent this game into the ninth with the Nats still leading 4-2. Barring a rally in the top of the inning to extend the lead, Drew Storen will come on for the ninth for his first save opportunity since August 29.

2:57 p.m. -- We go to the bottom of the ninth and here comes Storen trying to protect a 4-2 lead and secure his fourth career save. Bottom of the order due up for the Braves: Cabrera, Ross and a pinch-hitter.

3:04 p.m. -- Ballgame over. Nats win 4-2. Lannan improves to 8-7. Storen gets his fourth save in five tries. And the Nats take two of three from the contending Braves.


Anonymous said...

Trevor Holder, an absolute bulldog for the P-Nats last night. Hah, when he's up with the big club you idiots still be denigrating the guy ... I can't wait.

Anonymous said...

No Dunn. Coming out of his slump, trying to get 40 HR. So it makes perfect sense to bench him for a light hitting middle infielder. Really, this kind of stuff is frustrating.

Harper_ROY_2012 said...

Wow, this is the most craptastic lineup the Nats have put on the field in the past 5 years. I have sen bettr lineups in the B game of a split squad during Spring Training! I guess we are hoping Lannan loses, blows up in the locker room and then we can DFA him for conduct unbecoming!?

Nice to see the at Braves continue to trot out their guys even after a night game wish we would field a compentitive team down the stretch...oh wait we only have about 5 competent players even with expanded rosters.

Sam said...

If he does get 40 HR, wouldn't his perceived value increase even more? There's definitely a big jump from 39 to 40 home runs. Not saying the Nats are keeping him out of the lineup to lower his price (I mean, the odds of him hitting a home run in any particular game aren't that high anyway - though higher than most players), but it is something to think about. Also, he's a wily old vet, so he gets his day games off after those tough night games.

Thankfully, we get to see Ramos today.

DCGuy7 said...

what happened to (i'm paraphrasing Riggs) respecting teams in playoff contention by not putting out AAA lineups?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if JR went to Dunn and asked him if he'd like the day off, as he is prone to do occasionally with his players. I know he asked Desmond if he wanted the day off after his 4 strikeout night and Desi said he** no, or words to that effect anyway. Perhaps the Donkey is tired and said, yeah, I'll sit this one out skip, but I'll swing a stick late if ya need me, go get em guys. JTinSC

The Anti-Clint said...

My predicition for Maxwell: 0-4 with at least 2 strikeouts.

As for Dunn getting the day off, I do believe it's been a while since he had one. BUT A) HE IS HITTING WELL AND B) THE TEAM IS OFF TOMORROW. I haven't yet jumped on the Anti-Riggleman bandwagon, but this move has me scratching my head. His job is to put out the best possible lineup day in and day out, and this is clearly not it. But some of his "B" lineups have surprised us before, so I'm hoping for the best today...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, what happened to respecting the game Riggleman? Damned hypocrite! Atlanta is what? Neck-and-neck with the Phillies? 1 or 2 games ahead for the wildcard?

And what does Riggleman do? Puts in a lineup that looks one the P-nats can beat. He really has to go.

Chris said...

8 hits and 2 ER over 5 1/3 = absolute bulldog?

I'm rooting for Trevor as much as anyone, but it's comments like those that make the Holder-haters come out in droves. And for good reason.

Come on people.

Anonymous said...

Adam Dunn in first meeting against Mike Minor - 0-3 with 2 strikeouts. Riggleman loves to manage by match-ups, and this line-up is almost exclusively right handed hitters. Any further questions??

Bowdenball said...

Can we already say that the Anti-Clint made the worst prediction in the history of predictions?

Anonymous said...

Anti-Clint has some crow to eat. need a spoon?

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

I think the Anti-Clint may be Clint.

Anonymous said...

8 hits and 2 ER over 5 1/3 = absolute bulldog?

I'm rooting for Trevor as much as anyone, but it's comments like those that make the Holder-haters come out in droves. And for good reason.

Uhhh dude!? Are you reading challenged? Do you have dyslexia? Because that is an actual quote by his manager after the game. Absolute
bulldog. And he was the Georgia Bulldog's ace for 3 years.


Anonymous said...

Meanwhile Maxwell makes us all look like idiots and Riggleman clairvoyant. This can't be right?

Anonymous said...

Morgan is, in general, terrible against lefties. Surprised to see him in the lineup instead of say, the right handed Mench?

Anonymous said...

Now go sit in the corner anti-clint.

First give me your football 'guarantees' for this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Bone headed base running by Atlanta's highly touted rookie ... kind of reminds you of the Nats this year.

alexva said...

Anon 11:06/12:48 - it's better to remain unposted and be thought a fool tha post away and remove all doubt.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:06/12:48 - it's better to remain unposted and be thought a fool tha post away and remove all doubt.

Or be someone who thinks just the way they write Post-It notes ... those yellow stickies that somehow get lost ... kind of like losing all your yellow marbles ...

Golfersal said...

I love everything that happened yesterday and today is shaping up great.
But that is the frustration. If the Nationals can do it today and yesterday, why can't they do it on a more regular basis?
Why can the Nats make it look so easy against a powerhouse like Atlanta, then get the crap beat out of them by inferior clubs like the Marlins, Mets and Cubs?

How does a guy like Justin Maxwell, who about 95% of the folks on this and other blogs have given up on, then he comes in a hits a clutch grand slam.

I just don't get it and can't put my fingers on it, does any of you bright minds have any ideas???

The Anti-Clint said...

So look what I missed while I was at a lunch meeting! I guess I'm having crow for dessert. Like I said in my first post, sometimes these lineups can yield surprising results. I'm happy for JMax for finally coming through. He doesn't get a ton of hits, but he certainly gets some big ones. Didn't he also hit a grand slam in Atlanta late last season too?

Golfersal said...

No, it was the last game of the season at home against the Mets, may not of been a grand slam but was a walkoff homer when the Nats looked like they were going to lose

Section 222 said...

Oh no. I had hoped Maxwell's .132/.292/.250 in 76 ABs before today might finally spell the end of the idea that he has a future with the Nats. But today's grand slam like the other two he has hit in meaningless September games will undoubtedly give him new life. Deja vu all over again.

The Anti-Clint said...

Anyone watching or listening know what the delay was starting the top of the 6th?

That's something about JMax's stats with the bases loaded. We should just use him as a pinch-hitter exclusively in those situations :)

Sec3MySofa said...

It's not that tough, Gol. The guy isn't hitting well, but he's not hitting .000, either. Three for four (with a K, as I recall) in grand slams is very cool, but if he sticks around long enough, he won't be slugging 3.00 in that situation forever.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Anti-Clint: There was a problem with the mound, a hole that had been dug up by Lannan and Minor, so the grounds crew came out to fix it between innings.

Post-It Notes from on high said...

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise:
and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
Ps 17:28

Golfersal said...

I may of jinxed you, I swear that I read your post the moment Maxwell step up to the plate and I was laughing saying, bases loaded a strikeout here will send Maxwell down to the Gulf League
Only problem is not now this prolongs what is going to happen, Nats finally giving up on him.

Funny I was at the last home game last year when Maxwell hit the walkoff homerun and we said the same thing. That Maxwell was on the way out and then does this to let people what to see him a few more games.

Frankly we have to see a lot more of this from Maxwell which I don't think is possible. Just think it was a lucky stab at the right time. Hope I am wrong but he just doesn't seem to be able to hit consistently in the major leagues.

To the haughty caster of Post-It Notes said...

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise:
and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
Ps 17:28

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Sec3MyAnonymous said...

what haughty? it was a literary reference!

Geez, some people can't take a joke. Lighten up, Francis.

z11 said...


Charlie and Dave shared your speculation that Cox was questioning whether Kennedy was batting in the correct order. My question: do the rules really allow you to wait until after Kennedy gets a hit to challenge that? I would think that argument would go away as soon as he steps in and you don't challenge it then and there.

Mark Zuckerman said...

z11: No, you have to wait until after the guy who batted out of order completes his at-bat to bring it up to the umps. Otherwise, the correct batter just takes over in mid-AB.

natsfan1a said...

I guess I must have provided the counter-jinx then, because when J-Max stepped in I said something to the effect of "this is a job for Grand Slam Maxwell." The rest, as they say, is history. :-)


I may of jinxed you, I swear that I read your post the moment Maxwell step up to the plate and I was laughing saying, bases loaded a strikeout here will send Maxwell down to the Gulf League

Anonymous said...

He' s not on the FIL roster although God knows he should be. Can't help but think Maxwell isn't long for the 40 man roster though.

Richard said...

Just finished watching the DVR of today's game and gotta give some large love to -- Jim Riggleman. I thought he did a great job of managing today. Putting Lannan on the mount to start the 7th was great as was the use of Peralta, Burnett and Storen. Heck, I didn't even mind the double switchin' today.

waddu eye no said...

i love reading the comments after the game. especially when people trash the lineup before a win. to paraphrase yogi or casey (can't remember)
"it ain't over til it at least STARTS"


btw - bible quotes. made me think of what poor flores thinks when he sees ramos

john 11:35 - "jesus wept"

Faraz Shaikh said...

I know this wasn't the most dominant outing Lannan is capable of but has he earned some respect among Nationals fans after this outing against a contender? or do we still visualize any nats future rotation without Lannan?

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