Saturday, October 2, 2010

Game 161: Nats at Mets

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Yunesky Maya faces fellow Cuban Raul Valdes today at Citi Field.
NEW YORK -- After all that rain the last few days, this is a welcome sight: It's a gorgeous, autumn afternoon here in the Big Apple. Feels like October baseball. Which I suppose this technically is, though not nearly as significant as the baseball that will be played next week when the Nationals and Mets are back home watching on TV.

Yunesky Maya makes his fifth and final start of the season for the Nats, still seeking his first career win (or quality start, for that matter). Maya's four previous outings have all carried a similar pattern. He pitches OK but is victimized by one big inning. He's also had trouble consistently finding the strike zone, leading to some whopping pitch counts (he's averaging roughly 5 1/3 innings and 90 pitches each time out). We'll see if he can put everything together today and leave everyone with a good taste in their mouths heading into the winter.

Kind of an, uh, interesting lineup for the Nationals today. Adam Dunn, who since clubbing his walk-off homer Tuesday night is 0-for-8 with six strikeouts, is not starting against Mets left-hander Raul Valdes. So that leaves the Nats without any of their Opening Day 3-4-5 hitters. Today's group: Ian Desmond, Michael Morse and Wilson Ramos. And your No. 6 hitter? Alberto Gonzalez, who needs to drive in at least one more run this season to avoid becoming only the third player since 1901 to have more than 175 at-bats and fewer than five RBI.

Updates to come throughout, so be sure to check back along the way...

Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 1:10 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 64 degrees, Wind 9 mph in from LF
2B Danny Espinosa
LF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
RF Michael Morse

C Wilson Ramos
3B Alberto Gonzalez
CF Justin Maxwell
1B Adam Kennedy
P Yunesky Maya

METS (78-82)
CF Angel Pagan
RF Jesus Feliciano
3B David Wright
1B Ike Davis
LF Lucas Duda
2B Joaquin Arias
C Josh Thole
SS Ruben Tejada
P Raul Valdes
11:50 a.m. -- Dunn's absence from today's lineup has more to do with his lingering hamstring issue than anything else. It was bothering him some last night, so Jim Riggleman decided to give him today off. Dunn is available to pinch-hit if the right situation arises.

1:00 p.m. -- Always a treat to run into Frank Robinson at the ballpark. Frank, who is now working in the commissioner's office, is here today and was on the field talking to Mike Rizzo and other members of the Nationals during BP. He still follows the Nats pretty closely. First thing he said to me: "So who's going to be the new president?" When I told him I wouldn't be surprised if they don't fill Stan Kasten's soon-to-be-vacated position, he replied: "Makes sense."

1:11 p.m. -- And we're underway. Raul Valdes starts Danny Espinosa off with a fastball for strike one.

1:17 p.m. -- Picking up right where they left off last night, the Nats start today's game with back-to-back strikeouts. Only Ian Desmond put the ball in play in the top of the first, and that was a foul pop-up to the catcher. So, 14 strikeouts last night, two more already today. If you're wondering, no team in baseball this season has struck out 14 times in consecutive games.

1:22 p.m. -- The Mets hit a couple of balls hard in the bottom of the first, but both were hit right at outfielders. Along with a groundball to second, Yunesky Maya got this one off on the right foot. Only nine pitches, seven strikes for the rookie right-hander.

1:31 p.m. --  If Alberto Gonzalez was ever going to drive in his fifth run of the year, this was the opportunity. Runners on second and third, nobody out. Sadly, Gonzo's fly ball to right wasn't deep enough for Michael Morse to tag. So he's still stuck on four RBI. Even worse, the Nats couldn't push across a single run by the end of the inning. Even after Justin Maxwell walked to load the bases with one out, Adam Kennedy swung at Valdes' first pitch and hit another shallow fly ball to center field. Not a good at-bat with Maya in the on-deck circle. Maya, of course, struck out to end the top of the second with nary a run on the board.

1:54 p.m. -- Still scoreless here in the middle of the third. Nats had another chance to put a run on the board just now, with a man on second and one out. But Desmond flied out to center and Morse struck out, giving Valdes four K's on the afternoon.

2:06 p.m. -- The Mets take a 1-0 lead after three, but it could've been a lot worse. With runners on first and third and one out, Feliciano skied a pop-up into no-man's land behind second base. Espinosa and Desmond each went back, but ultimately it was Maxwell who came charging in to make a great diving catch. Tejada tagged from third to score the game's first run, but Maxwell's catch helped prevent the inning from getting worse. Credit also to Maya, who has had a history of letting an inning get out of control, for getting Wright to fly out to end the third without any more damage.

2:14 p.m. -- Oh my, Lucas Duda way up into the second deck in right field. Just killed that pitch from Maya. 2-0 Mets in the fourth.

2:47 p.m. --  Michael Morse delivers again. Just a towering shot to left for his 15th home run of the season. Did you know he has hit only one fewer homer than Josh Willingham, despite more than 100 fewer at-bats? Not bad. 2-1 Mets in the top of the sixth now.

3:00 p.m. -- Sadly, this is what happens when you field a 6-7-8 of Gonzalez, Maxwell and Kennedy and a bench in which Kevin Mench is an actual option: Despite Ramos' double following Morse's homer, they couldn't score him. So now Maya's day is done, his final line; 5 ip, 6 h, 2 er, 1 bb, 4 k. If the Nats don't rally, he'll end up 0-4 with a 5.88 ERA in five starts, having allowed 17 earned runs and 30 hits in 26 innings, striking out 12 and walking 11. Neither all that impressive nor all that unimpressive.

3:06 p.m. -- Yes, Riggleman just pulled Morse and put Willie Harris in right field. It's not even a double switch. I'm honestly not sure what the rationale for such a move would be, unless Morse is hurt.

3:13 p.m. -- Harris now batting against a lefty with two outs a man in scoring position. Morse HAS to be hurt. There can be no other explanation.

3:26 p.m. --  Wow, Ramos just came within inches of notching his third double of the afternoon. Instead, it goes as a game-tying single that ricocheted off third base. 1-1 in the seventh, and now Dunn is pinch-hitting for Gonzalez. Really, Jim. Pinch-hitting the 103-RBI guy for the 4-RBI guy? Come on.

3:29 p.m. -- Dunn draws the walk, so now Justin Maxwell will step to the plate with the bases loaded. Just how he likes it. Remember his career numbers in this situation: 3-for-4 with three grand slams and 12 RBI.

3:34 p.m. -- And Maxwell strikes out swinging at a 3-2 fastball at his eyelids. Inning over. Game tied 1-1.

3:37 p.m. -- OK, this makes sense now. Morse came out of this game with a tight left hamstring. As the Mets PR rep aptly put it, his status is "day."

3:49 p.m. -- Rough weekend for Tyler Clippard. He gave up the game-winning homer last night to Josh Thole. And he just gave up a three-run bomb to David Wright that reached the facade of the second deck in left field. Just crushed that pitch. Barring a rally, Clippard's about to fall to 11-8, a staggering number of decisions for a reliever. The only pitcher on the staff with more is Livan Hernandez at 10-12. Mets lead 5-2 as we go to the eighth.

4:03 p.m. -- Two-run pinch-hit homer for Chris Carter off Collin Balester blows this one wide open. Nats now trail 7-2 in the bottom of the eighth and are three outs from their 93rd loss.

4:22 p.m. -- That's a wrap. Nats lose 7-2 and fall to 68-93 with one game to play. Clippard takes the loss and falls to 11-8. Livan Hernandez vs. Mike Pelfrey in tomorrow's season finale.


Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

C'mon Gonzo! History is in the balance. Four RBIs in 175-plus at-bats. You talk about born to be a Nat. The 1962 Mets had Choo Choo Coleman; the 2010 Washington Nationals had Alberto Gonzalez. The amazing thing about this guy? He could return as part of the new, improved 2011 Nationals. With Willie and Adam "Where Have You Gone, Mrs. Robinson?" Kennedy almost assuredly non-tendered after tomorrow, Gonzo is basically our only insurance at first, second, third and shortstop. The guy is versatile in the field; at the bat, he's, um, consistent. You have to give him that.

Mark, enjoy the weekend in New York. For us, the Hot Stove League starts Monday.

souldrummer said...

What is this? Benching Nyjer against a lefty! Be still my beating heart. I guess Maya's performance is the main reason to tune in today. We're running out of reasons, though, and I'm mostly interested in rooting against the Braves today. They let me down about keeping Philly out of the playoffs and for that I would like them to stay home.

Anonymous said...

This line-up is so awful. I expect them to score 10 runs as usual when they trot out a no power no hit team. Guaranteed Morse gets the first double switch for..... Willie Harris or Nyjer Morgan.

CapPeterson said...

And Nyjer's sitting at 0 HRs, 86 Ks. The suspension and the stint on the DL robbed him of a chance to join old Toronto SS Manny Lee as the only major leaguer in the O HR-100 K club. If Gentleman Jim had started him today, he'd have had a fighting chance to join the still-exclusive o HR-90 K club (includes Gary Pettis IIRC).

BinM said...


Willie is a FA starting Monday (expiring contract), so he's already gone, along with Dunn. Rizzo might sit on Kennedy for a while, since he has a team option, but they'll probably buy him out.

Doc said...

Besides Zim, Morse has been the Nats most consistent offensive force, not that Wiggleman has figured it out yet! Let's see another deep one to-day!

Hot Stove League baby!

Natman said...

One day in the future I hope that I will feel like I am rooting for an MLB team, not this years version of the Bad-News Bears.

Souldrummer said...

Alberto Gonzalez failed with his RBI opportunity last night with Maxwell on second with two outs. He had some really bad at bats yesterday. All of this playing time is starting to expose him a bit much.

Anonymous said...

The 0 HR 85 K club includes 10 players all time. Four Ks by Nyjer over the next two days puts him as only the seventh player in the 0/90 club.

Elvis Andrus (0/95) has a chance to get into the 0/100 club. BTW, another member of the 0/85 club is Natinals legend Nook Logan.

And Alberto's season is epically bad. Three players EVER. Amazing.

Souldrummer said...

Here's The General's big chance. 2nd and 3rd with nobody out! Of course, now they will probably walk him to prevent his RBI opportunity.

Souldrummer said...

Gonzalez FAIL! 2nd and 3rd nobody out and no RBI.

Another_Sam said...

A lot of these guys have been quite consistent over the season. Get my drift?

CBinDC said...

Why is this always the discussion that we need to keep parts of a bottom of the league team ...... .....Maxwell is an example ..not to pick on him but sorry but below .200 avg is not good in any league.... so when are we sure that he is potential to be seen or potential that is spent ?

Anonymous said...


What are your intentions for this blog over the off-season and then on to next year? This is easier the best Nationals reads out there.


Mark Zuckerman said...

Mike, thanks for the kind words. I'll have a posting on Monday about my offseason plans. Rest assured, the Hot Stove League will be alive and well at the Insider.

The Anti-Clint said...

Mark: you said Maxwell "came charging in to make a great diving catch," but the Mets radio announcers ripped into JMax, saying he misplayed the ball and broke back instead of coming in, and was lucky to get it, though it still led to the run scoring. Defense is about the only thing JMax has going for him, since he can't hit a beach ball, and it sounds like he's been struggling in the field this series. There's a lot of Nyjer hate on here, but I really want to see Morgan get another shot next year to see if he can play like he did last year. I really don't want to see JMax ever again - he's had his chances and he has never capitalized.

Speaking of defense, has anyone else noticed that Super-Willie is no more? Lately, it seems like he's missing a lot of catches that he's made in the past. I love what Harris has done for us, but I think he's done. Best of luck whereever you end up, Willie.

And Morse goes deep! I want to see him in a regular role next year. And I also like what Ramos has done in his limited playing time so far. Let's see if AG can get him in this time...

JayB said...

Now that is good news!

JayB said...

Yea, remember when we all wanted Morse to play everyday back in June....I still recall Ben G. telling us we were all fools because and to be careful about what we wished for because Morse was not an everyday player and could not hit RH pitching.....Well Ben what say you now?

Sec3MySofa said...

FWIW, Ray Knight was just re-capping the two catches Maxwell made, and he noted that while he did break back initially, [as they run into another out on the bases...] the sun is very tough, and when it's tough to see the ball, the first move usually is back, and it was a good play.

Sec3MySofa said...

[Disregard] the starting rotation. I want a [expletive] bench.

dryw said...

And the source of our only two runs in the past two days is now out of the game.

Slidell said...

I don't know why the bar is set so high for Morse. With "exposure", he continues to thump the ball. As for his fielding, I saw him make a nice running shoe-top grab on Wednesday. While he may not be a Gold Glover, he should play every day next spring unless there's a GOOD reason for having him out. Is it possible that his roid background has prejudiced Riggs against him?

BethesdaFan said...

Mark --
Glad to know that you will continue to inform and amuse us. There will be lots of news until and including March and beyond.

Anonymous said...

Sigh when is Mike Rizzo and company going to replace Riggleman. IMHO the real problem with this team is the idiosyncratic, cronyistic lineups and lineup changes that Jim "Giggleman" Riggleman makes. It doesn't matter if you improve this club with a top pitcher or two. It won't make progress as long as Riggleman is there.

He absolutely MUST GO. NOW!

Sec3MySofa said...

Slidell, I doubt it, since they traded Langerhans to Seattle to get Morse, reportedly Riggleman's idea, but I've had the feeling there must be something bad between them.
And Ray and Bob are speculating there must be something wrong with Morse, an injury, to have Willie Harris PH for him.

Anonymous said...

Wrong BinM, just WRONG.

Willie is a FA starting Monday (expiring contract), so he's already gone, along with Dunn.

He has already stated that he (Harris) wants to come back. Desperately. If Riggleman is still managing what do you think will happen? Harris will be back. Unfortunately for the Nats and their fans.

Time for Riggleman to go.

wcoastpete said...

Way to go Rigs, replace our only offense. Nice to know when you hit a homer you get replaced, if that's not motivation I don't know what is.

The Anti-Clint said...

Mark...unless we get an injury update on Morse, PLEASE ask Riggs what he was thinking pulling Morse out in favor of Willie Harris. If Morse is not hurt, then I want my seat on the "Fire Riggleman" bandwagon. Heck, I'll even volunteer to drive it!

"He has already stated that he (Harris) wants to come back. Desperately. If Riggleman is still managing what do you think will happen? Harris will be back. Unfortunately for the Nats and their fans." Ahh...fortunately, Riggs does not make the personnel decisions. I have faith in Rizzo on this one. Don't let me down, Mike...

Sec3MySofa said...

This time last year, they said they wanted Dukes back, too. Let's see what happens.

Doc said...

If Morse isn't hurt, this will rank as Riggleman's dumbest move. Willie batting against a LH pitcher, for the only guy in the lineup that currently qualifies as a hitter.

The Anti-Clint said...

Bases loaded for JMax - can he do it again?

Anonymous8 said...

Watching JMax twice today in clutch situations look so bad makes me wonder why a .140 guy even is invited to Spring Training next year.

Who does he have dirt on in the Nats organization?

Sec3MySofa said...

Debbie says Rizzo says "left hamstring" on Morse.

For what that's worth.

Slidell said...

Anti-Clint--- The answer is "no".

Anonymous8 said...

Ramos is going to finish the season with a real nice BA.

Left hamstring bothering Morse? Do we really believe that? Morse is batting .291 and if you use 530 at-bats for Mike's season he is a 30 HR guy with 82 RBIs. This has to give him the RF spot for 2011.

Can you imagine a whole season of:

2) Willingham LF
3) Zimmerman 3B
4) Dunn/TBD 1st
5) Morse RF
6) Espinosa 2B
7) Desmond
8) Ramos/Pudge C

The bench especially from the right side has to be better than Mench .118 and Maxwell .140

souldrummer said...

Willie Harris did work a walk against the lefty to extend the inning folks.
Just sayin'

Feel Wood said...

Ever notice that whenever Riggleman makes a questionable lineup decision his reason always seems to be "hamstring"? Dunn out of the lineup today - hamstring. (Oddly, healing seems to have occurred because he's in there now, finishing out the game. Did someone lay on hands in the dugout?) Morse pulled after hitting a home run - hamstring. I fully expect that when Riggleman is ultimately fired and some reporter asks Rizzo why, his answer will be "Hamstring."

Sec3MySofa said...

Well, with a roster like that, he WAS hamstrung.

oldtimerjim said...

Let's just get this over and get to the off season. I am really tired of watching this ineptitude. This will be the most important off season since the Nats arrival. If the Nats are to stay on the "Plan" they must re-sign Dunn and sign a top of the rotation guy, trade Morgan, cut Maxwell, give Morse the full time job, and cut Kennedy. If the Lerners and Mike Rizzo don't step up, the future of the Nats is grim, a healthy Stras will just not be enough.

Anonymous said...

Way to NOT hustle it in the 8th for JMax. What is wrong with this guy. A thumb injury is his excuse? Why is he playing then?

Riggleman, you have a healthy outfield and you choose to play him?

Rizzo, why didn't you call up a few more guys so the bench had better guys to choose from. I am sure there were a few more able bodied guys than Maxwell and Mench and before anyone says NO, I am sure Boomer Whiting can hit higher than .150

Anonymous said...

Time for Riggleman to go ... as far away from the Nats as possible.

Souldrummer said...

I hate Fox. I hate Bud Selig. We get Boston vs. New York as our national game when there are two far more important NL pennant race game. I'd rather see the NL West game since the Braves almost have things sewn up. I could live with the Braves game with updates. But to get Yankees BoSox is why baseball is a screwed up game that will forever be behind college football, pro football and why the NHL regular season Caps will trump the baseball playoffs for me.

Just as you start to get hyped for the pennant race, Bud screws it up.

Anonymous8 said...

When the voters are considering Ryan Zimmerman or David Wright for the 3rd base Silver Slugger, that 3 run center cut fast ball that Clippard threw to David Wright could be the decisive icing on Wright's stats to give him the award.

With Ryan missing so many games and ending with 85 RBIs and 25 HRs, the voters may look at Wrights 29 HRs and 103 RBIs in their decision.

I hope not but those are big numbers.

Anonymous said...

Only one more day of this.

I was trying to come up with the worst Nats lineup possible for tomorrow, and thought of this. Trying to be somewhat legit and filling all positions. Everybody here has played these slots in the majors...

Maxwell CF
Kennedy 2B
Bernadina RF
Morse 1B
Mench LF
Gonzales SS
Harris 3B
Nieves C
Poor Poor Poor Livan P

Anonymous said...

That looks like a AAAA lineup dcusiman123 except for Bernie, Morsie, and Livo. The rest is a pathetic bunch that couldn't be the creme to rise to the top.

Justin Maxwell has had more lives and more excuses than a dirty cat.

natsfan1a said...

Souldrummer, I agree re. Fox game of the week programming. If you can get MLB Network, they've been covering the pennant race quite well, imo, with studio analysis as well as a game airing most days.

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