Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Game 22: Mets at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
After a rainy road trip, the Nats are back home tonight to face the Mets.
The Nationals open a seven-game homestand tonight, still reeling somewhat from their disappointing 2-4 trip to St. Louis and Pittsburgh and in need of a bounce-back victory tonight. Under normal circumstances, a home series against the Mets would be exactly what the doctor ordered, but the Nats may be catching their division rivals at the wrong time. New York has won four in a row, and right-hander Chris Young (who one-hit the Nationals April 10 at Citi Field) is back from the DL starting the opener.

Jordan Zimmermann gets the start for the Nats, trying to bounce back himself from his worst start of the season (five runs, eight hits allowed in St. Louis). Zimmermann has already beaten the Mets once this year.

With Ian Desmond officially off the roster while on paternity leave, Alex Cora will be starting at shortstop. Roger Bernadina has been recalled to temporarily take Desmond's roster spot; the outfielder will be available off the bench tonight.

Check back for updates throughout, and catch me on CSN's "SportsNet Central" live from the ballpark at 6 p.m. ...

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Chance of storms, 75 degrees, Wind 13 mph out to LF
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
LF Michael Morse
3B Jerry Hairston
SS Alex Cora
P Jordan Zimmermann

METS (9-13)
SS Jose Reyes
2B Daniel Murphy
3B David Wright
RF Carlos Beltran
LF Jason Bay
1B Ike Davis
C Josh Thole
CF Jason Pridie
P Chris Young
6:25 p.m. -- Couple of pregame items to pass along: 1) Jayson Werth did not take BP this afternoon. He fouled a ball off his foot last night and was still feeling the effects of it today. Though he's still listed in the lineup for now, the Nats are considering scratching him. We should know for sure within a few minutes. 2) Ryan Zimmerman did some light baseball activities this afternoon -- played catch from about 60 feet, took some lightly thrown grounders and jogged about 90 feet. The way Jim Riggleman described it, it sounds like it's still going to be at least a week until Zim is activated off the DL, maybe longer. I'll have a full post on that soon. 3) Grayson Wesley Desmond was born at 3:56 p.m. today in Sarasota, Fla. He weighs 6 pounds, 11 ounces, and along with his mother, Chelsey, is doing very well. Ian Desmond will miss tomorrow's game but could return Thursday.

7:03 p.m. -- The Nats have taken the field, and Jayson Werth is in his customary spot in right field. Werth was able to take some swings in the underground batting cage here, and team officials deemed his sore foot good to go. Breathe easy, everyone.

7:13 p.m. -- Fantastic play by Rick Ankiel to snag Carlos Beltran's drive to the wall in center field. Saved a run and ended the first inning with the Mets still scoreless. Jordan Zimmermann looked real good in striking out David Wright looking at a 1-2 breaking ball. Wright couldn't pull the trigger.

7:18 p.m. -- Three infield popups from the Nats in the bottom of the first against Chris Young, who is known to record plenty of outs in the air. Scoreless after one.

7:27 p.m. -- The Mets pounced on Zimmermann in the second, scoring two runs in the process. Jason Bay beat out an infield single, then took third when Ike Davis dropped a double just inside the left-field foul line. With the infield back, the Nats conceded a run on Josh Thole's grounder to short. Then Terry Collins took a page right out of Jim Riggleman's "Smartball" book: Perfect squeeze bunt by Young to score Davis and put New York up 2-0.

7:32 p.m. -- MLB released this year's All-Star ballot today, and you may have noticed Wilson Ramos isn't on it. Ivan Rodriguez is listed as the Nats' starting catcher, which I suppose was true on Opening Day. So if you all want to get Ramos to Phoenix in mid-July, you better start your write-in campaign now. Helping your cause, Wilson just clubbed his first homer of the season, into the left-field bullpen. He's now hitting .357, and the Nats now trail 2-1 in the second.

7:42 p.m. -- The Mets are teeing off on Zimmermann so far. Three innings in, he's already allowed three runs on six hits. Included in that are three doubles (including Beltran's RBI double off the right-field wall just now) and some hard-hit outs (including Beltran's ball to center that Ankiel corralled). Mets lead 3-1 and Zimmermann needs to figure this out soon.

7:50 p.m. -- Big-time squandered opportunity from the Nats in the bottom of the third after Alex Cora's leadoff double. He took third on Zimmermann's sac bunt, but was stranded there after Espinosa struck out swinging and Ankiel struck out looking.

7:59 p.m. -- A quick programming tease for you: Chase Hughes and I will have another live edition of Beltway Baseball tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. on CSNwashington.com (also live-streamed here on NatsInsider.com). This week, we're going to answer questions from you readers. Go to the thread I just posted on the homepage to submit your question, and then watch tomorrow afternoon to see if we selected it.

8:03 p.m. -- Werth's foot really must be fine cause he just crushed his fourth homer of the season, taking a high 3-2 fastball from Young well into the left-field stands. And moments later, Ramos crushed his second homer of the night, also to left field. Who's starting up the All-Star write-in campaign? Tie game here now, 3-3 in the fourth.

8:19 p.m. -- Zimmermann has settled into a nice groove. Since allowing the RBI double to Beltran in the third, he's retired seven of eight Mets. And the only guy to reach (Jose Reyes) was picked off first. Reyes and Collins argued, but to no avail. Pretty good move from Zimmermann there. Still 3-3 as we go to the bottom of the fifth.

8:31 p.m. -- Second and third, two outs and Werth stepping to the plate in the bottom of the fifth. Collins isn't going to take any chances here. He gives Young the heave-ho and signals for Ryota Igarashi from the bullpen to face the big guy in a big spot.

8:35 p.m. -- And Igarashi gets Werth swinging at a 1-2 fastball. Fifth inning over. Game still tied.

8:42 p.m. -- He's only at 73 pitches, but Jordan Zimmemann is done with one out in the sixth inning. He allowed back-to-back singles, and now with lefties Josh Thole and Jason Pridie coming up, Jim Riggleman will go with Doug Slaten. Not exactly showing a lot of confidence in the young right-hander, though Zimmermann wasn't exactly in top form tonight either.

8:47 p.m. -- Well, that didn't work. Thole lined a double to left, just past a lunging Morse, bringing home two runs. The Mets take a 5-3 lead as Slaten allows two inherited runners to score.

8:53 p.m. -- This is why relievers' stats can be really misleading. Slaten has a 0.00 ERA this season. Yet he's allowed eight of 19 inherited runners to score. Hasn't done his job particularly well, even though the numbers might suggest otherwise.

9:09 p.m. -- Nice job by Todd Coffey, who got a huge ovation when he sprinted in from the bullpen to the strains of the Ultimate Warrior's Theme, then retired the side in the seventh, striking out Wright and Beltran in the process. Still 5-3 at the stretch, Nats running out of time.

9:17 p.m. -- So trailing by two runs in the seventh, the Nats just did the following: bunt single, sac bunt, foul-pop, strikeout on three pitches. Not a particularly inspiring attempt at a rally there. And now they're down to their final six outs.

9:32 p.m. -- Ramos singles home Ankiel with two outs in the eighth to cut the lead to 5-4. Third RBI of the night for the rookie catcher. Send Wilson to Phoenix!

9:46 p.m. -- Really poor job by Sean Burnett to hold the deficit to one run. He came in to face old friend Willie Harris (who got some nice applause when he stepped to the plate) and plunked him. Then he plunked Daniel Murphy, loading the bases for David Wright. He did get a groundball from Wright, but that still allowed a run to score. So now the Nats are trailing 6-4 heading to the bottom of the ninth against Francisco Rodriguez. Hairston, Cora and Roger Bernadina are due up for D.C.

9:59 p.m. -- And it's over. Nats lose 6-4. They've now dropped five of their last six and have fallen to two games under .500 (10-12). Jordan Zimmermann, meanwhile, has fallen to 1-4.


Sec314 said...

Cora at Short? Are they just obstinant or do Riggleman and Rizzo fear that if Espinosa plays SS he will vaporize?

TheYellowSlant said...

So Cora at 2nd and Espinosa at SS is magically better? Even though Espinosa hasn't played there this season at all and they're trying to keep him comfortable in one position?

Sec314 said...

I'm firmly in the "Flip Desmond and Espinosa" camp. The only objection I've heard is that management fears messing with Desmond's head if they did that. So why not at least try Espinosa at Short now while Desmond is off?

Ballston Nat said...

I am ready for Espinoza to try out short. This is a business and we must win. But it would be a gutsy move by Riggs and Riz to do the switch at the time of Desmond's first child...Always look at the kid and think I was a shortstop until you came long.

If Desmond is meant to lose the job, he will continue to play out of it. Perhaps we can clone Espinoza and have him at both ends of the double play.

JamesFan said...

No,let's not flip players around 20 games into the season. My problem with the Nats in the past is that players move around so much, they never get used to their regular position.

There is no miracle with this team. Let them play and make incremental changes.

Anonymous said...


Desmond is already 1/4 of the way to 40 errors ... that's FORTY? And, again, as for the past six years, too many on easy chances. That also means the Nats project to have 110 errors. NO improvement in that category over last year ...

Its way past time to make those incremental changes ... no-arm, no bat Cora at shortstop? That's far and away worst than Guzman! They've gone backwards ... waaaaaay backwards requiring more than just an incremental change?

carolync said...

It's too late to put Espinosa at short. They asked him to adapt to a new position and he's done that very well. He does not deserve to be jerked around. I think he has a good chance to go to the All-Star Game at 2B. I don't see much competition there with Utley still out and Uggla not hitting. Would be nice to have him and a couple of our pitchers.

Besides, I don't think Desmond could adapt to second and I think Rizzo feels the same if you read between the lines of the statement he made when Danny came up.

We're stuck with Desmond at short. The best we can hope for is for him to have some hot streaks like he did last year.

We're going to the game tonight after all! Can't pass up a chance to enjoy some Nats baseball without having to hold my breath when a ball goes toward short.

Manassas Nats Fan said...

A new night a new opportunity to finally start hitting the ball. Don't be afraid to swing at strikes. I am not of the camp going into a count. That is for teams with a bunch of power. We are 15th in the league in homers, so we need to hit like contact hitters not sluggers. Swing at the first good strike, hit the balls on the outher third to the opposite field, putt the inner third and drive at the pitcher's head the middle third.

We bat like we are all power hitters. I blame this approach to Eckstein. (which of course I think is a bigger problem than Desmond's fielding).

Wally said...

I don't think moving Desmond to 2B will help much. I think his issue is basic fielding. He'll get less chances at 2B probably, but not enough to matter.

I have been a big Desi fan, but 180 games or so is enough to start drawing some conclusions, and I am losing confidence in him. I guess I am coming around to JayB's idea of trying him in CF, but that has to happen at Syr. He can't try to learn that in DC.

DFL said...

Nats have the wrong Eckstein. Fire Rick Eckstein, drop Cora, and sign David Eckstein.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the Mets would accept a package of Desmond, Carr and Stammen for Reyes. They get a shortstop with upside (despite the errors) to replace Reyes, a potential starter (they have no pitching)in Stammen and a good relief prospect in Carr.If that deosn't get it done, I'd throw in Brad Peacock as well.

Will said...

But you only get a five month rental of Reyes, then he'll fit the FA market to make big bucks.

He's been playing very well this year, and seems to be 100%. There's no reason that he wouldn't expect a contract around 5/$100mil.

So why not just wait until October to throw silly money at him and save the prospects?

UnkyD said...

Espy is in a groove at 2nd...please let's not yank him about in his rookie year! Keep My Boy at SS until a full time replacement is available. I don't see the replacement ready to go, right now, without moving Espi, which just shifts your problem one spot to the left, anyway. Sheesh!! Anyone would thing SS is the only thing standing between us and the 2011 World Series Title. Newsflash: not the case! This team is SO much better than it was 2 years ago, and the most optimistic of us will be grinning like chimps, if we win 81 this year. I gonna let Rizzo continue to build this monster, and he definitely gets the benefit of MY doubt. It's a process, and less whining would make it more enjoyable....

Will said...

Also, a switch makes a lot of sense, though I can understand management waiting at least a whole month.

Desmond hasn't shown any improvement. If anything, he's regressed. At this rate, he's on pace for 50+ errors, and he doesn't have a scapegoat in Adam Dunn anymore to explain away a third of them.

Who knows, maybe something will click for Desmond at 2B, and we'll have a solid defensive infield. But as it stands now, he's a constant liability in the field. I'd be interested to see how many unearned runs have been caused by Desmond over the past two seasons, and how many of those runs produced a Nats loss.

Not Werth It said...

Congrats Desi!

Everyone relax. Desmond is 20 games into his second season at shortstop. He'll cut down the errors.

"You know the best thing about 1st year shortstops? They turn into 2nd year shortstops."
-Rizzo? Riggleman? someone important for the Nats said that last year. And I liked it.

Anonymous8 said...

Cora is slow to the ball. Bad break on that 1st single of the game. Not sure he would have gotten to it but the effort was poor.

rainraingoaway said...

Nice catch!

Andrew said...

What a catch by Ankiel. He may not hit but he makes some nice catches and throws from CF!

Doc said...

About 18 straight 4-seamers, at 85-87 mph, from Young to Espi, Ankiel, and Werth--all ending in popups.

They must have been overly excited and swung too hard!!!

Edward said...

hey Mark at some point you should post the link to All-Star voting on the blog. Its still early of course, but with all the loyal nats fans that read this site, it could make a big difference

JaneB said...

Congratulations to the Desmond family.

I agree that this team is SO much better than we were. Desi will get it.

Chris Young is looking great.

Anonymous said...

Zimmermann thinks he is pitching batting practice. Nats will be in the basement of the NL East after this series.

Anonymous said...

Hey, JaneB! Lately, the Nats are making every opposing pitcher look like Cy Young! This team ain't gonna be "so much better than we were" once they return to last place where they feel most comfortable. "Expect it!"

Wally said...

Nice shot by Werth. He has 4 singers now, and I can remember at least 3 shots he has hit off the top of the wall for doubles. A few more feet and he has 7 homers on the season. Wouldn't be too much talk about him starting slow.


Wally said...

'singers' = dingers. Damn auto correct. At least it didn't change hits to doubles.

NatinBeantown said...

Send Wilson to Phoenix!

TimDz said...

At this point, I believe some introductions are in order :
Pudge, Bench...
Bench, Pudge...

JaneB said...

Auto correct was more polite inits correction than it was to me earlier today. In a business email, no less.

How does one go about starting a write in campaign? We want a second campaign, wherein we petition for Wilson to bat every inning. Just 'cause.

UnkyD said...

Averages coming up slowly.....5 batters over .225. Keep it up, fellas!

rainraingoaway said...

Man - Ankiel really swings for the fences , doesn't he?

HHover said...

So Z'mann is out - doesn't the Jim Riggleman Big Book of Managing call for him to do a doubleswitch and remove Werth?

Anonymous said...

So you live by your LH specialist and you die by your LH specialist. This is why I liked the idea of having Detwiler on the team as Slaten has good looking stats if you look at ERA but inherited runners is a big stat that has to be considered.

dj in Fl. said...


It is very easy to write in Ramos. Go to the Nats home page and click on the All Star link.
The write in option is at the bottom of the list.
You can vote up to 25 times in a row for you selections.

Anonymous said...

I think it is time that the Nats stop thinkiing of Zimmermann as a potential top of the rotation starter. He's not down to the Jason Bergmann level yet but he's beginning to remind me of Craig Stammen.

Anonymous said...

Two runs behind, seems like 20 runs behind for these lame hitting Nats. Put this game in the loss column.

Natman said...


Luckily there are such statistics, but not a simple one like ERA. His WHIP is 1.71 and his H/9 is 11.6. But looking deeper his BABIP is an ungodly .429 way higher than his usual .280-.300 mark. He's either a bit unlucky or his fielders don't get to balls that they should.

Doc said...

Man, these guys are truly the epitome of the proverbial 'hitless wonders'.

Both Maholme, last night, and Young tonight should have been chased in the first 2 innings!


CBinDC said...

3 HR's and nobody on base ......only the Nationals could make HR's look like liabilities

Anonymous said...

Even Ryan Zimmerman's return can't save the rest of these "hitless wonders." Back to last place, "Expect it!"

JaneB said...

dj I FL, I can't find the AllStars link. But I will keep looking. Thanks.

Brian is better than y'all thought he was. Admit it. :-)

FS said...


After selecting all other players (make sure not to select a C), go all the way down on the page and write in Wilson's name after selecting the right club and position.

I don't think he deserves it yet. Buster will still get my vote.

CBinDC said...

Well here goes a long losing streak the question is how long
You wish that they had enough to come back and take the game in the 9th but you feel nothing coming from this team

Anonymous8 said...

Stairs actually elevated one. Too bad it wasn't 30 feet further in the air.

Waddu eye no said...

Matt stairs. Eggmann. Goo goo ga joob

Anonymous said...

I agree with a previous poster - isn't it time JZimm starts taking it up a notch? I'm starting to wonder if Rizzo knew something when he was so willing to throw him the Grienke trade.

Anonymous said...

Doug Slaten has the worst 0.00 ERA in the history of major league baseball.

Manassas Nats Fan said...

Simple stats remains. When the team gets 9 hits or more they are 7-0. 8 or less 3-12.

Pretty simple solution to losing to me.

Anonymous said...

Just a desultory, lifeless, losing affair. Irredeemable fecklessness. Bored people watching bored people.

Tonight was a trip back to the days of Fick, Bard, and 100 other anonynationals. We used to joke, when the Nats were down a couple of runs, that one word applied to a two-run deficit: "insurmountable."

This is where we are now. A journeyman team of re-treads, untesteds, and sure-to-fails. 1/3 of the team in Head Start, another 1/3 on Social
Security. And 100 percent of them protected by the Nationals Excuse Factory, Inc.

Andrew said...

Bryce Harper decided to hit a HR tonight to join in with Werth and Wilson Ramos.

Drew8 said...

That's three homers in four games for Harper, in case you're scoring at home.

(If so, at least someone's scoring.)

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