Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Game 152: Astros at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jason Marquis faces Wandy Rodriguez tonight at Nationals Park.
Last night, the Nationals produced one of their best rallies of the season, scoring seven times with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to beat the Astros, 8-4. So Jim Riggleman is sticking with his same lineup for tonight's game. Why tinker with something that actually worked?

That does, however, mean Ivan Rodriguez will make back-to-back starts behind the plate for the first time in two weeks. Pudge has actually been pretty hot lately, with 11 hits in his last 31 at-bats, two homers and 12 RBI. Wilson Ramos, meanwhile, has done pretty well himself, with 8 hits in 27 at-bats (including two doubles and a homer) since his recall from Class AAA Syracuse at the beginning of the month.

Jason Marquis is on the mound tonight, hoping Friday night's implosion in Philadelphia in which he retired only one of nine batters was a bump in an otherwise smooth road back from elbow surgery. Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez starts for Houston.

Check back for updates throughout...

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 75 degrees, Wind 8 mph out to CF
2B Danny Espinosa
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam Dunn
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Michael Morse
C Ivan Rodriguez
LF Roger Bernadina
CF Justin Maxwell
P Jason Marquis

ASTROS (73-78)
CF Jason Bourgeois
SS Angel Sanchez
2B Jeff Keppinger
LF Carlos Lee
3B Chris Johnson
1B Brett Wallace
RF Jason Michaels
C Jason Castro
P Wandy Rodriguez

7:05 p.m. -- This game is underway with a fastball from Jason Marquis to Jason Bourgeois in a big-time confrontation of dueling French classes.

7:12 p.m. -- Very nice first inning for Marquis. Three batters, three balls that stayed in the infield. Pop-up to third. Then grounders to short and third. He's already exceeded his last start by leaps and bounds.

7:24 p.m. -- Let's see, the Nats loaded the bases with two outs, getting a single from Adam Dunn, a double from Ryan Zimmerman and a walk drawn by Michael Morse. That brought Ivan Rodriguez to the plate. Repeat from last night's eighth inning? No. Weak grounder back to the mound? Yes. First inning over, no score, and the Nats have already stranded three men on base.

7:29 p.m. -- When's the last time you saw a runner called out for tagging up too early ... from first base??? Nice job, Carlos Lee. You win the award for Dumbest Play of the Night.

7:53 p.m. -- Three scoreless innings for Marquis now, though he did allow a pair of singles in the top of the third. Struck out Angel Sanchez to end the inning and keep things scoreless as we head to the bottom of the third.

8:00 p.m. -- And the Nats are on the board thanks to Danny Espinosa's triple off the center-field fence and Ian Desmond's infield single to the left-side hole. 1-0 in the third.

8:08 p.m. -- Fantastic, all-out diving catch by Roger Bernadina on Carlos Lee's line drive to left in the fourth.

8:14 p.m. -- Now it's time for the Astros to string together a two-out rally. After Bernadina's great catch, Marquis plunked Chris Johnson, then allowed back-to-back singles to Brett Wallace and Jason Michaels. So it's now 1-1 in the middle of the fourth.

8:49 p.m. -- Back from some time in the stands shooting photos. Unfortunately, I just missed Michael Morse clubbing a solo shot to center field to lead off the bottom of the fourth. Morse's 12th homer of the season put the Nats up 2-1, and they continue to hold that lead as we enter the sixth.

9:03 p.m. -- Nothing doing on either side in the side. Marquis coming back out for the top of the seventh, having allowed one run on six hits. He's at 95 pitches, and his ERA is at a season-low 7.01. (Progress, people. Progress.)

9:04 p.m. -- And before I can hit the "Post" button on that last update, Marquis allows a leadoff double to Jason Michaels and is promptly pulled by Jim Riggleman. Doug Slaten coming on to face Jason Castro.

9:08 p.m. -- And Slaten proceeds to walk pinch-hitter Anderson Hernandez on five pitches. With the opposing pitcher stepping to the plate with nobody out and two on, Riggleman now turns to Tyler Clippard.

9:20 p.m. -- And there goes the lead. Clippard walked Bourgeois on a questionable check swing that had Riggleman arguing vehemently. Then Sanchez singled to right, bringing the tying and the go-ahead runs home. Astros now lead 3-2, with Slaten suddenly in line for the loss.

9:26 p.m. -- Clippard did get out of the inning by striking out both Keppinger and Lee, but the damage was done earlier. The Nats will once again need a late-inning rally to win this one.

9:36 p.m. -- Danny Espinosa to the rescue! Two-run homer just over the wall in right-center puts the Nats up 4-3.

9:39 p.m. -- And guess who's suddenly in line to earn what would be his team-leading 11th win? Yep, Clippard.

9:42 p.m. -- Adam Dunn had better have injured his hand when he was hit by that pitch in the fifth. Otherwise, it's going to be really tough for Riggleman to explain pinch-hitting Kevin Mench for his best power hitter. Even against a left-hander, Dunn has a better chance of getting on base than Mench. Really strange.

9:46 p.m. -- Meanwhile, with Joel Peralta pitching the eighth and the Nats up 4-3, Riggleman could have his choice of Sean Burnett or Drew Storen to pitch the ninth. Intriguing decision either way.

10:02 p.m. -- Wow, Peralta's going to come back and at least start the ninth. He only threw 11 pitches in the eighth (and looked pretty good in the process). Burnett is warming in the pen, however.

10:04 p.m. -- Adam Dunn did indeed get hurt when hit by that pitch in the fifth. The Nats just said he suffered a right elbow contusion.

10:07 p.m. -- Peralta struck out three of four batters, but just like last night, with Geoff Blum stepping to the plate, Riggleman will call upon Burnett.

10:13 p.m. -- Burnett gets the job done, and the Nats win 4-3. Espinosa is the hero with his two-run homer in the seventh. Clippard is your new team leader with 11 wins. And Burnett notches his third save.


NatsJAck in Florida said...

A line up without Willie Harris, Adam Kennedy and Nyjer Morgan.... Finally..I'll even accept Justin Maxwell at this stage of the season.

Can't wait till Friday and Saturday when I get to see the FL Instructional League guys at work!

Section 222 said...

For everyone who jumped all over Michael Morse when he cooled down a bit in his first few weeks of playing regularlly, I give you this from Adam Kilgore's piece in NJ:

"Since Josh Willingham played his last game before season-ending knee surgery on Aug. 15, Morse has started 28 of 33 Nationals games and appeared in three others.... In 100 at-bats over that span, while serving as the Nationals' primary right fielder, Morse has hit .320 with a .389 on-base percentage and a .510 slugging percentage. That .899 OPS ranks best on the team over that span by 129 points; Ian Desmond is second."

Quietly making a statement. Good for him.

NatsNut said...

Speaking of the Morse article, Mark, can you answer a question for me? It might sound facetious, but I'm honestly confused.

Say a player says something like, "One of the biggest parts is just keeping with my approach day in and day out and not changing anything, no matter what the result is. It's something that I think everybody that's an everyday player works on constantly. It's pretty much just believing in your ability, not changing anything because of who's pitching or what the game says. Keep your approach no matter what the game dictates,"

What's the difference between that and when players say they constantly have to make adjustments when pitchers figure them out?

They sound like two completely conflicting explanations of a hitter's job.

Anonymous said...

They are different things.

The first is basically don't over adjust or tinker too much when you get into a slump. You might still look at video to see if your swing has changed, but slumps are combinations physical (i.e. not seeing the ball well, sore thumb) and emotional (i.e. Dad's ill) conditions and just plain bad luck.

The second is to change how you approach your at bats because pitchers have learned how to get you out. Elijah Dukes was a potential monster, but pitchers quickly learned that they could get him out by throwing off-speed pitches away. Dukes never adjusted.

Anonymous said...

section 222,

I think Morse has definitely proved that he can be counted on as an everyday player in the middle of the lineup.

The big thing is that they let him play through his slump where he was able to get 100 at bats over 28 games.

If they would play Maxwell for 28 games and he is still unable to put up decent numbers I would agree with the hords that he will likely never hit but having 100 at bats over 150 games where you never play 3 or 4 games in a row does not prove anything.

Richard said...

Continuing to have Espinoza leadoff is interesting. The young guy is struggling to get on base right now. Big hole at the top. The team ain't scorin'. It would seem better to have some other, more veteran guy leadoff and take some of the pressure off Danny. Maybe they gots nobody else to lead off, you say, but that seems a questionable rationale for putting the young rookie there. Or maybe they see him in that position next year and have confidence in his pysche to handle it and want him to get reps, something like Leo Durocher and Willie Mays. Do they know what they're doin'? ...

Anyway, NatsJAck, a full FL IL report ASAP pls.

Les in NC said...

So what's the over/under on earned runs allowed by Marquis in the first 2 innings of tonights game?

Les in Ottawa said...

I don't know, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed we see good Marquis tonight and not his evil twin.

Doc said...

Does anybody in the Nats FO ever give Morse any credit for putting together a pretty good season?

Jus' wondering!

swang said...

That was a freakin' swing!

sec3 said...

and another brilliant night of insight by the gallery. Espinoza can't hit, and Marquis is a bum.
Keep your day jobs, fellas.

Richard said...

Apparently sec3 can't understand english. Re-read the Espinoza comment. It doesn't say he can't hit, jacka**.

Doc said...

Ok sportsfans, why not J. Peralta as The Closer next year???

DCGuy7 said...

go look up Peralta's career stats. i love what he's doing this year, but it's not his norm.

nats win! nice.

JaneB said...

We win! But second most delightful moment was Livo and Maya dancing to Pudges music in the dugout. I love my Nats!

Anonymous said...

Maxwell has problems hitting major league fast balls. Power hitters (to which Maxwell aspires apparently) feast on these. Maxwell cannot hit major league hitting. He will always be in a "slump". He needs to find a way to learn to do something he should have learned in 'A' ball. Instead he was promoted far too quickly.

Bill B said...

Morse has earned first dibs on starting in RF or at 1B next year (depending on Dunn or a FA signing). Solid defender, good hitter, strong attitude.

JaneB said...

On facebook, the Nats announced that they will officially announce that they have signed Riggleman for next year. Good bye to hopes of Torre, Johnson or Valentine.

Steve said...

You know who's starting to sound managerial -- or at least hitting-coachy-y? Ray Knight.

natsfan1a said...

Crud, I missed the dancing in the dugout. Another nice, if not uneventful, win.

My fave Knightism from last night, "the world is your cherry." (And I suppose that life is just a bowl of oysters, too. :-)) Seems like a nice guy and all, but...dang.

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