Sunday, April 24, 2011

Game 20: Nats at Pirates

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The tarp's on the field right now, but they should be able to play today at PNC Park.
PITTSBURGH -- Good afternoon from soggy PNC Park on the banks of the Allegheny River. There has been rain (or the threat of rain) all weekend, though it looks like things should clear up enough this afternoon for the Nationals and Pirates to play the second game of this series.

No matter the weather conditions, the Nats need to start hitting if they want to snap out of their three-game slide. Considering the lineup they're fielding today, that might be easier said than done. Only two members of the lineup boast batting averages over .225: Danny Espinosa and Jason Marquis (whose .286 average is tops in this lineup by leaps and bounds).

Ian Desmond, who committed two errors during last night's loss, has the day off. He's still in uniform and with the team, though he could leave at any point once his wife goes into labor. Meanwhile, Todd Coffey was officially activated off the DL and is available to pitch.

Plenty of updates to come live from the ballpark, so please check back often...

Where: PNC Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 186
Weather: Chance of rain, 62 degrees, Wind 5 mph RF to LF
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Michael Morse
3B Jerry Hairston
C Ivan Rodriguez
SS Alex Cora
P Jason Marquis

PIRATES (9-11)
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Jose Tabata
1B Lyle Overbay
2B Neil Walker
RF Garrett Jones
3B Pedro Alvarez
C Chris Snyder
SS Ronny Cedeno
P Kevin Correia
1:35 p.m. -- And we're underway on time. Skies are gray, but we're good to go for now.

1:39 p.m. -- Pretty feeble top of the first for the Nats. Danny Espinosa struck out on a 1-2 slider from Kevin Correia. Rick Ankiel dropped a bunt about six inches in front of the plate and was easily thrown out. And Jayson Werth bounced a grounder up the middle that Neil Walker handled for the third out.

1:55 p.m. -- Wow, not a good first inning for anyone wearing the curly W. Jason Marquis got himself trouble right off the bat when he served up a double off the left-field fence to Andrew McCutchen. He compounded his problems by walking No. 3 hitter Lyle Overbay on five pitches, paving the way for Neil Walker's RBI single to left. The real head-scratcher came when Alex Cora (filling in at shortstop today for Ian Desmond) couldn't throw out Pedro Alvarez on what sure looked like a routine grounder. Nothing about Alvarez, but we're not exactly talking about Ichiro-like speed there. Somehow, Marquis managed to get out of it all allowing only the one run. But that was not a pretty inning, in a lot of ways, for the Nats, who now trail 1-0.

2:04 p.m. -- The Nats put themselves in position to do something in the top of the second, getting back-to-back, one-out singles from Michael Morse and Jerry Hairston. But the potential rally fizzled. Ivan Rodriguez grounded weakly to second, then Correia made a nifty snag of Cora's sharp comebacker to end the inning.

2:27 p.m. -- Jayson Werth hasn't had a whole lot of RBI opportunities this season. But he's got to take better advantage of the ones he does get. The big guy came up with the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the third ... and promptly grounded into a 5-2 fielder's choice on the first pitch he saw from Correia. Not what the Nats needed from that at-bat. Leave it to Morse, though, to take care of business. Two batters later, Morse crushed a 2-2 fastball from Correia into the left-field bleachers for a three-run homer. Combined with LaRoche's RBI groundout, that gives the Nats a 4-1 lead. Morse, by the way, has quietly heated up at the plate. He's now got nine hits in his last 22 at-bats.

2:43 p.m. -- Another RBI chance for Werth in the fourth, with runners on second and third and two outs. He grounded out to short. Really pressing at the plate now, having stranded five runners in two innings, leaving his season RBI total stuck on five.

2:51 p.m. -- Marquis struggling to protect the lead he had been given. He issued a leadoff walk to Garrett Jones, then a double off the top of the right-field wall to Alvarez. A Chris Snyder sac fly and a Ronny Cedeno double to deep left-center brought home two runs, and has trimmed the Nats' lead tp 4-3 after four innings.

3:00 p.m. -- And LaRoche finds the bleachers high atop the 21-foot right-field fence here at PNC to put the Nats up 5-3 in the fifth. I'm guessing he hit a few balls into those sections during his time playing for the Bucs. Though based on all the boos he gets every time he steps to the plate here, perhaps not enough times for these folks.

3:03 p.m. -- That'll do it for Correia, who is done after allowing 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings. Daniel McCutchen (no relation to Andrew) coming in to pitch for Pittsburgh.

3:32 p.m. -- He hasn't been sharp at all, but Marquis has managed to get through five innings and keep the Nats' streak of five-inning starts alive. The rotation has now done it 20 straight times to begin the season. Marquis allowed two more hits (giving him eight total today) in the fifth but got out of it by inducing groundballs from Jones and Alvarez. Still 5-3 as we go to the sixth.

3:39 p.m. -- Jim Riggleman has been criticized at times for not letting his starting pitchers go deeper in games. Give the manager credit for sticking with Marquis today. He had a couple of opportunities to pull the right-hander in the fifth and sixth with men on base. Instead, he stuck with Marquis, and the veteran lived up to his end of the bargain. Just got out of the sixth by striking out pinch-hitter John Bowker and getting McCutchen to ground out. Still 5-3 heading to the seventh.

3:49 p.m. -- OK, who had the seventh inning in today's "When will Michael Morse be double-switched out" pool? Tyler Clippard on to pitch in relief of Marquis. Laynce Nix in to play left field in place of Morse.

3:59 p.m. -- Nice job by Clippard in the seventh. He allowed a two-out single to Neil Walker but blew away Garrett Jones with a 93 mph fastball to end the inning and preserve the 5-3 lead.

4:09 p.m. -- Laynce Nix has turned out to be a fairly productive bat off the Nats' bench. He just doubled in Cora to make it 6-3 in the eighth, and he's now got eight hits in his last 22 at-bats, with seven RBI in the process.

4:15 p.m. -- Two scoreless innings of relief from Clippard, who started a 1-6-3 double play to end the eighth. He's now sporting a 1.26 ERA in 11 appearances.

4:25 p.m. -- Werth really looks lost at the plate right now. After an 0-for-5 showing (with a strikeout) today, his batting average has dropped to an even .200. Meanwhile, Drew Storen is on to pitch the ninth with the Nats up 6-3.

4:34 p.m. -- That'll do it. Nats win 6-3 (after Werth guns down McCutchen at the plate) and snap their three-game skid. Marquis (2-0) gets the win. Morse and LaRoche hit the big homers to pace the lineup. And Storen gets his third save, tying him with Sean Burnett.


Doc said...

You gotta belive!

Kevin Rusch, Section406 said...

Wow, Pudge, Cora _AND_ Hairston? Marquis better throw a shutout AND hit a homer.

sparky said...

Better to belive than the other option.

Marquis will keep us in the game.

dj in Fl. said...

The last time we had a lineup like this, we started a 4 game win streak.
That would suit me just fine.

Cwj said...

This team has a habit of winning with there B lineup. Just as long as pitching and DEFENSE (ugh, Desmond) hold up.

Go Nats. This is a must win game as far as I'm concerned. They gotta stay at around the .500 mark until Zimmerman comes back.

Anonymous said...

anyone else having problems with the feed on Cox Sports (Ch 74) in NoVa?

SCNatsFan said...

Marquis hitting 286 leads us... otherwise not a guy over 250 and 5 guys hitting below 211. Get on the phones Rizzo. We are hovering around .500 by using Harry Potter like magic.

And I'm tired of hearing what a magician Eckstein is. If I was the Nats hitting coach I'd be hiding in the locker room right now.

carolync said...

Wasn't going to watch this game because of the beautiful day but a day without Desmond is too much of a treat to pass up.

dj in Fl. said...

2 for 2 with a homer!
Break-out time for Morse.

Anonymous said...

Michael finally gets it done!

Anonymous said...

Six hits in three innings. Now we're getting somewhere.

Anonymous said...

@carolync: Zing! That a left a little bruise. LOL.
Alas poor DESI THE DAD: last July's manhood of bone has turned to this April's hands of stone....................

Mark'd said...

So happy for Michael Morse. Nice swing!

Natsochist said...

So with Morse sitting at 2-2 with a hr, he must be due for a double-switch next time Marquis gets into trouble, no?

Cwj said...

Morse is ever so slowly bring his numbers up. Now if 5 or 6 other hitters would do the same...

LaRoche continues to amaze me at first base. I can't say enough about this guy.

Anonymous said...

Werthless. Just Werthless.

Mr Baseball said...

Would anyone know where I can find a Navy Blue Flag with the Curly W in White outlined in Red the Nationals used at home last year, when they took the field. The logo is still the richest and most professional the team has ever used. The Navy Blue has prestige and really set out with the red trim. I cannot understand the Lerners wanting to copy the Phillies, (the closest team in our division to us and our biggest rival) the Reds, Cardinals, Astros, and one of our old teams the Rangers.

Cwj said...

Werthless? Nonsense. He'll be fine. It's a long season.

Anonymous said...

Desmond is on track for 50+ errors this year. Hopefully, he will like paternity leave and never return.

Anonymous said...

Werthless is toast because he has no lineup protection like he had last year in Philadelphia.

dj in Fl. said...

It looked as if Riggleman was giving Marquis the 'you can pitch better than this' talk in the 5th.
We are going to have to continue getting innings out of our starters to do well the next 16 days.

NatinBeantown said...

How has Laroche's shoulder looked on the multiple put outs at 2nd (especially the DP ball)? Just catching up on the game after Easter festivities...

Mark Zuckerman said...

NatinBeantown: Not so great. Those are definitely the plays when you notice the shoulder injury the most. One of them would have been a routine double play if LaRoche is able to throw with his regular "oomph."

Tim said...

You remember Bagwell at the end of his career? He couldn't throw either. He threw just like LaRoche is throwing right now. I wonder if it was the same injury.

If I were the opposing team, I'd try to make LaRoche field and throw.

Cwj said...

Anon 3:46 - When Zimmerman comes back, that changes. Werth - Zimm. - LaRoche (I don't think the order matters that much with them).
Ideally I would bat Espinosa #2, but they don't have anyone to replace him as leadoff hitter.

Bill said...

Agree with Jimmy. Blue was the base color of the original Senators, and the blye flag, blue-based uniforms would have looked much classier.

BTW: I am watching on RCN, not Cox, and the feed is constantly freezing.

Cwj said...

I still say even an unhealthy LaRoche is a plus first baseman. I honestly can't tell he's not 100% in the field.
Looks fine to me.

NatsJack in Florida said...

And I still like Lance Nix.

Cwj said...

So, assuming the Nats enter the last of the 9th with a "save situation", who do you throw out there?
Storen or Burnett?
I'll go with Burnett, needs to regain some confidence.

Sam said...

Just about any Major League pitcher should be able to get 3 outs with a 3-run lead. I would throw Coffey out there. Or Gaudin. No point in wasting Burnett or Storen today.

It's really silly to be so confined by "save situations."

NatsJack in Florida said...

Either one is fine by me. May go to Storen based on Diaz as a PH and McCutchen to follow, two right haners.

Sam said...

I wonder who would be pitching now if the "save" didn't exist.

Cwj said...

Sam - That's why I put "save situation" in quotes ;)

It's a weird stat. In fact, I believe Clippard has "saved" many more games than the "closers" this year. Often in the 7th inning!

Sam said...

Sorry. I'm not attacking you. You seem to have exactly the same thought process as me. I am attacking the establishment as a whole.

With no days off for two weeks, it's situations like these where you would like to save your best relievers for when you might actually need them.

Cwj said...

No prob Sam!
I completely agree

Cwj said...

Wow! Werth has a GUN of an arm. Nats win!

Sam said...

$126 million throw right there.

UnkyD said...

Out at the plate. Curly W.


Anonymous said...

5 LOB. Yes, Werthless.

NatinBeantown said...

Thanks Mark. I was afraid of that looking at all the 4-6's.

A DC Wonk said...

What an ending. First of all, McCutchen was safe. But, more importantly, it was a major bonehead play on McCutchen's part. You don't try to tag up in the ninth when you're three runs down. That decision was, shall we say, Morgan-esque?

(Maybe he learned it from Morgan when Morgan was over there a few years back)

A DC Wonk said...

Bill said...

"Agree with Jimmy. Blue was the base color of the original Senators, and the blye flag, blue-based uniforms would have looked much classier."

And I agree with both of you. Going red was the first ridiculously bad decision they made. And, on top of that, red makes me think of Phillies (ugh ugh patooie)

Cwj said...

DC Wonk - I'm not so sure. Who would have thought the Nats (specifically Werth) would not concede the run?

NatinBeantown said...

Er, 3-6's.

Let's see a series win tomorrow.

fpcsteve said...

Good win. Good day for the vets. Good for them and good for the Nats. Go Nats!

SonnyG10 said...

A nice win to get us back to .500. Could have done without the ugly errors, though. Really happy Morse got his first home run today. Boy did he have a big smile on his face when he crossed home plate. I believe a lot of our batting averages will go up once the warm weather kicks in for good.

A DC Wonk said...

Cwj said...

"DC Wonk - I'm not so sure. Who would have thought the Nats (specifically Werth) would not concede the run?"

So, go halfway and see if Werth was throwing it.

Look -- I'd agree if somebody else was on base. But why would the Nats concede a run if nobody else is on base -- what else is Werth going to do with the ball? He might as well just throw it home in case something good happens.

McCutchen's run at that point in the game was 100% irrelevant. Whether he scored or not, two more Pirates still needed to get on base and score that inning. His scoring from third, at that time, didn't help the Pirates at all -- they would have been in the same position either way. The only thing it did was increase the odds of a third out. Total bonehead play. No excuse. This is basic high school baseball stuff. You never ever ever risk making an out in the ninth when you are not the tying or winning run. Ever.

BTW, I was listening on the radio. If anybody was watching it -- what was the third base coach doing? (He should have been standing in McCutchen's way to make sure he didn't do anything stupid ;-) -- but, seriously, he should have told McCutchen before the play not to do anything like that).

sjm308 said...

Watched the game at relatives. Thought on the way home about how many would be screaming at Riggs for the double switch of Morse but it worked out well. Nix made a nice running catch and drove in run #6. Also liked Riggs leaving in Marquis for the 6th inning. Totally disagree about early posters calling for Coffey or Gaudin in this game. You play to win NOW and Clip and Storen were as good as usual. We still have Burnett, Gaudin, Slaten, Coffey and Broderick for tomorrow so our bullpen is not stressed at this time.
Love that we are hovering around .500 without Zimm.

Go Nats

Sam said...

I think you're missing the point. Any Major League reliever should be able to get 3 outs with a 3-run lead. If not, that reliever does not belong in the Major Leagues.

Navy Nats Fan said...

DC Wonk - check the slo-mo replay at the end of this highlights package - he was definitely out. And FP had it right - if you are tagging on that play you need to be high-fiving your teammates by the time the throw reaches home. He never should have run. And I loved the quote from Pirates manager Clint Hurdle - "The only reason we're asked that question is because he's out," Hurdle said. "There are probably two guys in the league that can make that throw. He's one of them."

Um, then why were you running on him, Skip?

Joe Seamhead said...

Mark Z said: 3:49 p.m. -- OK, who had the seventh inning in today's "When will Michael Morse be double-switched out" pool? Tyler Clippard on to pitch in relief of Marquis. Laynce Nix in to play left field in place of Morse.

OK, Nix got an RBI hit, but the Riggleman continual switching with Morse is kind of weird. What a great way to pat the guy on the back by going 3-4.Nothing can slow up a guy getting hot at the plate like yanking him just as starts heating up.

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