Friday, September 24, 2010

Game 154: Braves at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals shoot for their first four-game winning streak of the season tonight.
The Nationals somehow managed to win yesterday's game against the Astros in convincing fashion despite having neither Ryan Zimmerman nor Adam Dunn in their lineup. They'll get Dunn back tonight, his elbow and hamstring having healed enough to allow him to play. But they won't have Zimmerman, who continues to be bothered by a strained ribcage muscle and could miss several days.

The Nats certainly wouldn't mind having their full starting lineup tonight against the Braves, because they'll need everything they've got against Tim Hudson. These numbers have been repeated several times here this season (every time he pitches against the Nats) but it has to be said again: Hudson OWNS the Nationals to the tune of a 10-1 record and 1.55 lifetime ERA.

Meanwhile, Jordan Zimmermann returns to the mound, trying once again to recapture the dominant form he displayed in Florida three weeks ago but that has eluded him since. Not that his status within the organization isn't already secure, but it would be nice to see at least one more glimpse of the good Zimmermann before the end of the season. He's only got one more start after this, so time's running out.

Check back for updates throughout...

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 89 degrees, Wind 12 mph out to CF
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam Dunn

RF Michael Morse
LF Willie Harris
C Ivan Rodriguez
3B Alberto Gonzalez
P Jordan Zimmermann

BRAVES (86-67)
2B Omar Infante
RF Jason Heyward
3B Martin Prado
C Brian McCann
1B Derrek Lee
CF Nate McLouth
SS Alex Gonzalez
LF Matt Diaz
P Tim Hudson
7:05 p.m. -- We're underway with a strike from Jordan Zimmermann to Omar Infante. Bigger crowd here tonight than earlier in the week, many of them Braves fans. Place still isn't half-full, though.

7:10 p.m. -- Strong top of the first for Zimmermann. Retired the side on 14 pitches, the last of which hit 96 mph on the stadium radar gun. The results have been mixed since his return from Tommy John surgery, but there's no debating his arm is in top shape.

7:14 p.m. -- News from the Braves: Jair Jurrjens (trying to pitch through a partial tear of the meniscus in his right knee) was unable to complete a bullpen session today. Which means he won't be able to start Sunday's series finale. Which means rookie right-hander Brandon Beachy will likely make his second career start instead. Things not looking good for Atlanta right now.

7:28 p.m. -- We've detailed all the struggles the Nationals have had against Hudson, but one of the few guys who has had success against him in the past is Adam Dunn. So while Dunn's solo blast halfway up the Red Porch seating area just now was impressive, it wasn't all that surprising. Dunn is now 10-for-29 with three homers in his career against Hudson. Nats lead 1-0 in the second.

7:38 p.m. -- Chance for the Nats there to really bust out against Hudson. They had two on with one out, but Alberto Gonzalez struck out. Then after Jordan Zimmermann singled to load the bases, Danny Espinosa hit a weak comebacker to end the second with the Nats leading only 1-0.

7:50 p.m. -- Zimmermann has allowed only one batter to reach base in three innings (Matt Diaz, who was hit by a pitch) but he's already thrown 53 pitches. Tough to go deep into a game at that rate, no matter how few hits you've surrendered.

7:57 p.m. -- Add another homer to Dunn's ledger against Hudson. Crushed a two-run shot into the left-field bullpen, his second of the night and 37th of the season. Nats now lead 3-0 in the third. (Chants of "Sign Adam Dunn!" coming from the upper deck now.)

8:08 p.m. -- Looks like Zimmermann only has 49 pitches entering the fourth. Scoreboard here had it wrong.

8:18 p.m. -- Very nice job by Zimmermann to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth. Struck out McLouth on a 93 mph fastball, then got Gonzalez to ground into a fielder's choice to end the inning without a run crossing the plate. Still 3-0 as we head to the bottom of the fourth.

8:46 p.m. -- We're now in the top of the sixth, the score now 3-1 and Zimmermann now out of the game. He allowed a solo homer to Infante off the left-field foul pole in the fifth, but otherwise was very sharp tonight in allowing only the one run on three hits. Tyler Clippard has come in out of the bullpen. I would have thought he'd be in line to pitch two innings, but his spot's due up third in the bottom of the sixth, so maybe not.

9:14 p.m. -- Look out, the Nats are on fire. They just plated three more runs in the sixth, getting a sac fly from Bernadina and then a huge, 2-out, 2-run single from Dunn against left-hander Mike Dunn. Up 6-1 heading to the seventh, this game might BE done now. Clippard, by the way, got to hit for himself and dropped a sacrifice. So he's back out for the top of the seventh protecting a five-run lead.

9:19 p.m. -- How about that Tyler Clippard, folks? He just retired all six Braves batters faced, striking out four in a row at one point. You already know he leads the staff with 11 wins. Did you know he now has 106 strikeouts, only trailing Livan Hernandez by four for the team lead in that category as well?

9:26 p.m. -- Ladies and gentlemen, we've got an inside-the-park home run from Willie Harris. Crushed a 3-2 pitch from Kyle Farnsworth off the center-field fence. The ball caromed far away from Nate McLouth, and as soon as Harris rounded second and saw where the ball was, he turned on the afterburners. Slid into home plate but didn't have to because the throw was high and wide. That's the second inside-the-parker in Nats history, the first one having come off Austin Kearns' bat in 2007. Meanwhile, the Nats now lead 7-1. And since the Phillies have already beaten the Mets, the Braves are six outs from staring at a seven-game deficit in the NL East with eight games to play.

9:42 p.m. -- Adam Dunn giveth and he taketh. Bad error on a routine grounder allows a run to score. But he's also got five RBI tonight, so he's at a +4 for the game. Alex Ovechkin would take that.

9:56 p.m. -- If the Braves fail to make the playoffs this season, the Nats will have played a significant role in making that happen. If they hang on to win here -- they're up 7-3 now in the bottom of the eighth -- they'll have won three of four against Atlanta in the last two weeks. And they'll be 9-7 against them for the season.

10:03 p.m. -- We go to the ninth, Nats up 8-3 and Miguel Batista coming out of the pen to pitch the ninth.

10:06 p.m. -- And Jim Riggleman just pulled his first quintuple switch of the season. Maxwell enters to play center field. Bernadina shifts from center to left. Harris shifts from left to right. Morse shifts from right to first base. Dunn takes a seat on the bench with Batista hitting in his spot.

10:14 p.m. -- Ladies and gentlemen: The Nationals have their first four-game winning streak of the season (in Game 154). They win 8-3. Zimmermann gets his first win of the year. Dunn is the offensive hero. The Braves are in serious trouble.


slopitchtom said...

Please, someone explain to me why Harris is batting 6th. It's one thing to have him in the lineup, but batting 6th!

Sam said...

Because each of the three batters batting behind him are, in fact, worse hitters than him.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Jordan Zimmermann MAY be a worse hitter than Harris but as far as this season goes, I'll take Pudge and Gonzo over him any day.

NatsJack in Florida said...

OK .... the FIL Nats played at Kissimmee this afternoon and got beat by the Astros.

I did get to see Bryce harper knock a triple off the 410' sign just to the left field side of the CF batters eye in the first inning. That drove in Eury Perez who had led off with a sharp single to left and sac bunted to second by Blake Kelso. JP Ramirez followed with a sac fly to drive in Harper which accounted for all the runs (unless they somehow managed to score in the top of the 9th after Bryce led off with a strikeout).

Bryce walked in the third and singled to CF in the sixth so with the K in the 9th he ended up 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored.

AJ Cole threw the first two innings and looked pretty good showing a sharp breaking ball while giving up one run on 2 hits and a walk.

I'll post a little later about some of the younger players that impressed the 15 or so of us that weren't affiliated with either club sitting in the stands.

BinM said...

NatsJack: Thanks for the 'eyes-on' report from Viera. News on FIL developments is hard to glean from the various websites.

Faraz Shaikh said...

MLb shows 49 pitches against Zmann's name. Hope we manage to hold on to this lead and knock someone out of the playoffs.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Am I the only one watching the game on TV tonite? Is everyone else at the game?

Faraz Shaikh said...

I am following it online, using live mlb scoreboard. I guess everyone went to watch after we won three games in a row. LOL

OMG bases loaded against Zmann. Can't imagine him getting out of it without giving up a run.

Anonymous said...

I'm watching TV and lurking. Waiting for more info from you.

kgwcoach said...

Bad decision to slide into first. Slide slows you down.!!

Faraz Shaikh said...

I am glad to be proven wrong about the previous inning. 83 pitches in 5 innings, not really efficient.

I really hope Nationals win this one because I am already sitting at an anime club meeting watching a dubbed anime, worst thing happened to me all week.

sec3 said...

What, watch on TV and miss all the intel in here, plus no Charlie and Dave??

Anonymous said...

Watch TV, Listen to the radio, lurk. Great way to spend the evening.

NatsJack in Florisda said...

FIL games are interesting. I'd compare to high "a" ball with an interspersal of quality "AA" guys.

The two teams agree on the format before the game and today it was decided that both teams would use 2 DH's.

Destin Hood and JP Ramirez were our DH's.

Hitting wise, aside from Bryce and his two hits, the only guys that consistently put good wood on the ball today were Eury Perez (CF) and David Souza (3B)

Jason Martinson looked good covering alot of ground in LF and David Souza made a couple of nice plays at 3B but otherwise the defense was sloppy (3 E's plus a couple of misplayed balls).

The Nats used 8 pitchers today and all except for Chad Jenkins looked pretty good. jenkins pitched to 4 hitters in the 4th inning and walked all four of them.

Starter AJ Cole looked good. Ryan Mattheus threw for the first time after coming off TJ surgery and threw real well in his one inning.

Remember the name Miguel Navarro. He's a 17yo Dominican that looks alot bigger than the 6'2" 180lbs. he's listed as. Throws hard with movement. He broke a couple of bats with his heater and has a nice sharp curve to go with it.

The other guys that threw today and looked solid were Graham Hicks (LH). Pedro Encanacion (RF), Mark Herrera (RH) all thowing 1 inning apiece and Bobby Hansen, a 6'5 left hander that threw 2 sold innings.

I'm going to check out the Nats/Braves tomorrow so I'll post what I see at that game. I believe Robbie Ray is throwing.

Oh, by the way, a couple of guys who saw yesterdays game in Viera said Sammy Solis was real solid in his 2 innings.

Sunderland said...

NatsJack - Thanks a ton. Real nice to hear this stuff.

Sec3MySofa said...

Agreed, thanks for the reports. Consider yourself owed a beer and brat.

Faraz Shaikh said...

I am not sure if we should be happy that a reliever leads our team in wins and SO. But I am really happy for Clippard.

OMG did Willie just an insider? Awesome. We need to have this guy back as our leadoff next season. Just kidding.

Sec3MySofa said...

Slopitchtom, I think Willie Harris just answered your question...

dj in Fl. said...

What an enjoyable game. There is nothing better than an inside the park HR.
But isn't it great that when our starter can go 5 or 6 and not give up 5 or 6, we do not have to watch Riggleman have to create something from nothing. No double switches or defensive shuffles in trying overcome an insurmountable deficit. With Kasten leaving I do not think they will change managers also. So give Riggs a good starting rotation and see what happens. I think a number of our Insider participants would be plesantly surprised with the results.

Michael J. Hayde said...

And we're one-third of the way to that 12-game winning streak to finish the season. Go Nats!!!

Anonymous said...

Watched half on my iPhone and half from mlb from the 'puter.
Not as much as last night's game .. full of web gems galore!
Still Dunn notches 5 RBI after a rest ... perhaps he should be rested more
during the season to keep him fresh?

Thanks for the update on the FIL Natsjack!

Anonymous said...

Tonight's Attendance: 22,000+

People still think it's fun to go to the ballpark, even when the team is finishing up another last place season. Late September weeknight games against the Houston Astros were always doomed to draw miniscule crowds. Good to see the fans return tonight.

natsfan1a said...

Loved the inside-the-parker (was watching on tv) even more than Dunn's two. What can I say? It was awesome. Good for you, Willy!

Four in a row. Who'd a thunk it?

(And the Captcha is "lickedem"? O-kay. :-))

sec3....err Anonymous. said...

if I sez it, I gets a whoopin ...

natsfan1a said...


And apologies to Mr. Harris, whose given name I mistyped in my excitement. W-I-L-L-I-E!!

Traveler8 said...

Good time at the park tonight. NatsJack, thanks for your reports, good to come home to read them. Please keep posting.

Big Cat said...

Natsjack......good stuff.

Kind of exciting knowing a lot of these kids could be in Potomac next season.

Checked on this Navarro kid. His stats say his problem is control. 20 bb's in 20 innings in the Gulf Coast League. Course, thats why he's in Fla. to work on these things

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