Thursday, April 7, 2011

Game 6: Nats at Marlins

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats need to beat Josh Johnson tonight to avoid a series sweep.
MIAMI -- Not that you ever want to put yourself in a position where you need to win a series finale on the road to avoid being swept, but the Nationals' current predicament is especially daunting. Not only do they need to win tonight against a Marlins club they've lost seven straight and 41 of 55 against, but they need to do it against their ace.

Josh Johnson (career 7-0, 3.27 ERA) starts for Florida, five days after he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning on Opening Day against the Mets. He'll be opposed by John Lannan, who also pitched well in his season debut but is 2-3 with a 5.34 ERA in six career starts against the Marlins.

As expected, Wilson Ramos is behind the plate for the Nats. As was not expected, he's batting fifth behind Adam LaRoche. Michael Morse (2-for-17 to begin the season) is on the bench, with Laynce Nix starting in left field and batting eighth.

Meanwhile, up in Rome, Ga., tonight, Bryce Harper and the Hagerstown Suns take the field for the first time this season. I'll provide some updates from that game (which starts at 7 p.m.) within this game thread, so be sure to check back for that...

Where: Sun Life Stadium
Gametime: 7:10 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM)
Weather: Partly cloudy, 79 degrees, Wind 10 mph in from RF
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
CF Rick Ankiel
2B Danny Espinosa
LF Laynce Nix
P John Lannan

CF Chris Coghlan
2B Omar Infante
SS Hanley Ramirez
1B Gaby Sanchez
LF Logan Morrison
C John Buck
3B Wes Helms
RF Emilio Bonifacio
P Josh Johnson
7:10 p.m. -- We're underway here in Miami, and they're already underway in Rome, Ga., where Bryce Harper delivered an RBI single to center in the first at-bat of his minor-league career.

7:15 p.m. -- Very quick top of the first for the Nats, with Ian Desmond flying out to center, Jayson Werth caught looking at an inside fastball for strike three and Ryan Zimmerman popping out to second. Obviously, I'm not in Rome at Harper's debut, but I'm betting they've got a bigger crowd there than we've got here at Sun Life Stadium. Can't be more than 1,500 people actually in their seats right now.

7:27 p.m. -- Not a promising start to evening for John Lannan. He walked Chris Coghlan to open the bottom of the first, then served up a single to Omar Infante and an RBI double to Hanley Ramirez. It could've been much worse, though. Lannan battled to get out of the inning allowing only two runs, stranding Hanley on third thanks to a big strikeout of Logan Morrison. Still, that's a daunting 2-0 deficit to be staring at after one inning.

7:35 p.m. -- Let's see. Josh Johnson has faced six batters in two innings. He's yet to put a man on base. And he's retired three by called strikeout. Draw up the worst-case scenario for how this game might start, and this is pretty much it.

7:44 p.m. -- Another shaky inning for Lannan and Co., but they got out of it without allowing another run. Lannan walked the leadoff man for the second straight inning. Ramos attempted an ill-advised throw to second on a sac bunt attempt (and was charged with an error when he pulled Desmond off the bag). Still 2-0 after two.

7:50 p.m. -- Hoo-boy, Josh Johnson is dealing tonight. Nine up, nine down. Four strikeouts, all of them looking. Only one ball has left the infield so far: Desmond's game-opening flyout to center.

7:53 p.m. -- Bryce Harper update: He's 2-for-2, having added a bunt single in his second at-bat of the night. So, the greatest power-hitting prospect in a generation has two singles, one of them on a bunt, and a stolen base in his debut?

8:11 p.m. -- Well, Johnson's perfect game is over, and so is Werth's home run drought. Werth clubbed a solo shot off the top of the right-field fence with one out in the fourth, though no one knew for sure at first whether it was a homer or not. Werth kept running and wound up sliding into third base. First base ump D.J. Reyburn signaled home run, but the crew convened and decided to review it. After a short delay, they emerged and upheld the call, saying the ball struck a metal railing behind the fence. So Werth has his first homer as a Nat, and the Nationals have trimmed the lead to 2-1 in the fourth.

8:29 p.m. -- And now it's a 2-2 game, thanks to some shaky defense from Hanley Ramirez. He made a great diving stop of Ramos' sharp grounder to his left but threw the ball away. Then he couldn't handle Ankiel's bouncer up the middle. With runners on first and third, Espinosa nearly placed a hit-and-run single through the right side of the infield. Instead, Gaby Sanchez made the play and Espinosa had to settle for an RBI groundout.

8:40 p.m. -- Lannan isn't exactly in top form tonight, but he's somehow managed to be effective. Through five innings, he's allowed only those two early runs on five hits. His pitch count is at 84, so figure one more inning for him. Still 2-2 here in the top of the sixth.

8:43 p.m. -- Meanwhile, Bryce Harper struck out in his third at-bat of the night. So he's now 2-for-3 with two singles, a strikeout, a stolen base and a caught stealing. Hagerstown leads Rome 2-0 in the sixth.

8:48 p.m. -- How about that, the Nationals have taken the lead. Desmond led off the sixth with a single, then stole second and advanced to third when John Buck's throw sailed into the outfield. Ryan Zimmerman delivered the RBI single to right, and just like that the Nats have taken a 3-2 lead on Johnson and the Marlins.

8:53 p.m. -- Another minor-league update for you, this time from Harrisburg. Senators play-by-play man Terry Byrom reports that Henry Rodriguez hit 100 mph on the stadium radar gun tonight in his first rehab appearance. Rodriguez is pitching in relief of Brad Meyers, the organization's 2009 pitcher of the year, who battled a foot injury last season but enjoyed a nice debut tonight in striking out nine Bowie Baysox batters over five scoreless innings.

9:05 p.m. -- We're tied again, though once again the Nats were fortunate to get out of a jam without giving up more. Lannan got knocked out after two batters, the second of which launched a double to the deepest part of the ballpark, off Rick Ankiel's glove in front of the 434-foot sign. Riggleman turned to Tyler Clippard to try to pitch out of the second-and-third, two-out jam, and Clippard did about as best as you could ask. He did allow a run-scoring groundout to Bonifacio, but he then struck out both Greg Dobbs and Chris Coghlan to end the sixth. So it's now tied 3-3, and both starters are out of the game.

9:16 p.m. -- Missed opportunity for the Nats to retake the lead in the seventh. Ramos drew a leadoff walk, but that put Ankiel in the awkward position of having to face a left-hander (Mike Dunn). As you might expect, Riggleman had Ankiel drop a sacrifice bunt, which worked but put the pressure on Espinosa and Jerry Hairston (pinch-hitting for Nix) to drive in the run. Neither did. Espinosa popped out. Hairston grounded out. Still 3-3 at the stretch.

9:27 p.m. -- What a job by Clippard. He wound up throwing 17 of 21 pitches for strikes, recording six outs, three via strikeout. His final pitch in the seventh was a ball, but he'll take it. Perfectly timed pitchout to nail Hanley trying to steal second. So it remains 3-3 as they go to the eighth.

9:29 p.m. -- Bryce Harper grounded out to second in what was likely his final at-bat of the night. So he goes 2-for-4 with two singles, a stolen base, a caught stealing, a strikeout and a groundout. Hagerstown leads Rome 3-2 in the eighth.

9:40 p.m. -- Another golden opportunity to retake the lead: Two on, one out, Zimmerman at the plate ... and he grounds into a 6-3 double play. Killer. The Nats are now 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position tonight, 7-for-50 for the season. Drew Storen on to pitch the bottom of the eighth, still 3-3.

9:46 p.m. -- Storen has quietly started to pitch really well. Just retired the side in the eighth, striking out Wes Helms on a 95-mph fastball. This after a strong appearance Tuesday night.

9:53 p.m. -- And we go to the bottom of the ninth, still tied 3-3. Storen is back out there to face Bonifacio, a pinch-hitter and Coghlan. Hanley Ramirez due up fifth.

10:00 p.m. -- Another stellar inning from Storen, who retired the side again and struck out two. He completely froze Mike Stanton on back-to-back sliders for his second K of the inning. Really impressive fastball-slider combo from the right-hander. So we go to the 10th.

10:11 p.m. -- Smallball just reared its ugly head in the top of the 10th. After Espinosa led off with a single, Hairston sacrificed him to second. That allowed the Marlins to pitch around Matt Stairs, putting runners on first and second with one out for the red-hot Desmond. So what happened? Espinosa got gunned down trying to steal third. Yeah, why was he trying to steal third in that situation, with your hottest hitter and then your two best hitters due up next? Whatever the reason, it didn't work. We go to the bottom of the 10th, Todd Coffey on to face Infante, Hanley and Sanchez.

10:18 p.m. -- Well, Coffey's appearance tonight sure turned out a lot better than his appearance from last night. Retired the side, striking out Hanley Ramirez on a tight slider. Let's go to the 11th! Who cares that we all have early flights to New York tomorrow morning!

10:25 p.m. -- Ladies and gentlemen: Adam LaRoche, he of the .130 batting average. Two-run bomb to right. Nats take a 5-3 lead in the 11th.

10:34 p.m. -- Ballgame. Nats get a much-needed, 5-3 victory in 11 innings over the hated Marlins. Coffey gets the win. Burnett gets the save. LaRoche gets the big hit. And the Nats bullpen gets a hearty thank-you for a spectacular performance. Clippard, Storen, Coffey and Burnett's combined line: 6 ip, 2 h, 0 r, 0 bb, 8 k.


The Joker said...

Riggs and the gang may as well chug down Margarittas and Screwdrivers for lunch so they can stomach tonight's route.

JamesFan said...

Tough one tonight. Does any manager in baseball flip his starting lineup like Riggs? I guess we'll find out if Nix is "overmatched" by Josh Johnson. If Ramos hits the ball hard against Johnson, will Pudge start tomorrow?

joemktg said...

"If Ramos hits the ball hard against Johnson, will Pudge start tomorrow?"

If Ramos hits the ball hard against Johnson, he'll be batting cleanup tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Wow, nice diving catch by Nyjer Morgan in right field! Opps, he's now playing for the Milwaukee Brewers. Sorry! Wow, Manny Acta sweeps three games from Big, Bad Boston! Opps, Manny now manages the Cleveland Indians! Sorry! Where are those guys when the Nats need them the most?!?!?! Oh, I know, GONE!

The Joker said...

Yes, I know I misspelled rout.

But more fun and games for Riggs. Why not bat Cora lead-off to start but do a double switch in the bottom of the first with Desmond put in at short but put in the seventh spot for starting second baseman Hairston while Espinosa assumes the first spot and plays second. That'll shock the Marlins' manager out of his socks for sure and take him off his managerial game.

erocks33 said...

Let's hope that Lannan can channel his inner Levale Speigner for tonight's matchup versus Josh Johnson.

The Joker said...

Another cool Riggs joke. Have Desmond and Espinosa switch positions every new inning. That'll befuddle those confused sailfish wannabes.

John O'Connor said...

When you have a left fielder batting eighth, you must have one heckuva catcher and set of middle infielders. So all must be well.

P. Cole said...

Lots of Riggleman haters out here today. But it doesn't matter what your lineup is if NOBODY CAN HIT THE BALL.

Jokin' Jimmy said...

Riggs should juggle his line-up like little league. Have Hairston, Nix, Stairs, Cora and Rodrgiguez play the first three innings and then have Espinoza, Morse, LaRoche, Desmond and Ramos take over in the fourth. Everybody plays.

JamesFan said...

Riggleman is the new Nyger now that Nyger is gone.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

"Ennn wyyyy Jayyyy eeeeeee arrrrrr!"

Anonymous8 said...

I saw a headline "Rodriguez Heads to Doble-A on Rehab". Not Pudge IRod, it's HenRod.

Personally, I like Pudge so it is nothing personal and I still take him over Nieves just that this alternating days is like High School.

Anonymous8 said...

Bryce Harper tonight in a Hitterish State of Mind

Anonymous said...

If Ramos hits the ball hard against Johnson, he'll be batting cleanup tomorrow.

Mr. Howell will be back to starting tomorrow ... remember we're on Giggleman's Isle.

Anonymous said...

Bryce Harper tonight in a Hitterish State of Mind

Must have changed his name to Seth Bynum who has a three run homer and bases loaded double in the opener so far ... that's raking.

Tim the Enchanter said...

Harper predictions- fly out to center, strike out, double, foul out.

N. Cognito said...

Watch the Nats or do taxes?

I think I'll do taxes.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather have my vasectomy reversed by a fish monger than watch this game.

LoveDaNats said...

This familiar feeling about my Nats is starting to worry me. I watched the Phillies home opener on Friday. Phillies were down 5-0 in the 7th. They got 2 then proceeded to play small ball in the bottom of the 9th until the final score was 6-5 Phillies. What is it that the Nats lack that doesn't allow them to play like that and come from behind? Is it a mindset or lack of talent? I can't believe the latter since almost everyone is a talented athlete, they just can't seem to do it at the same time. It's discouraging and demoralizing. And I'm talking about for the fans. I was a Riggleman supporter but am now wondering if some of you just might be right. JaneB....I can't get that quote from the scout in Fla. out of my head "No offense is no offense". *Sigh* Thanks for listening to the rant.

SonnyG10 said...

Time to win one tonight. Nats hitters are going to break out and the pitching and defence will be outstanding. Drinking the cherry flavored Kool-Aid.

LoveDaNats said...

Pass it over.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

I asked a long-time Cubs beat writer about Riggleman, and he said "Get him some talent."

Maybe Riggleman's like Joe Torre--nice guy, very successful in one particular situation, but otherwise, pretty average.

Feel Wood said...

"I asked a long-time Cubs beat writer about Riggleman, and he said "Get him some talent."

I agree. Get him some managerial talent. But how the hell do you do that?

N. Cognito said...

LoveDaNats said...
"They got 2 then proceeded to play small ball in the bottom of the 9th until the final score was 6-5 Phillies."

Six singles is not the definition of small ball. Small ball is an attempt to manufacture a run or two while giving up outs.

LoveDaNats said...

My bad.....

Anonymous said...

Anybody know how best to get the radio feed of the Harperstown game tonight? I'm using a Mac made in this decade, so the Suns' options of RealAudio and WinAMP aren't really cutting it for me... :)

Anonymous said...

How will we win without Mickey Morse?

Will said...

‎Love Carpenter's "Coulda Been Worse!" ...can we make this the new Nats marketing slogan?

Anonymous8 said...

Bunt...Ramos to Desmond.........looked out at 2nd to me!

Anonymous said...

Lady Antebellum to Bryce Harper - " We need you now"

RickH said...

Hmmm ... 3-2 Nats in the 6th. I need to look up the definition of "rout." Must mean something other than what I thought.

Natsochist said...

@RickH not if Ankiel's give has anything to say about it.

Phil Dunn said...

Ankiel=Nyjer. There goes the ball game,

Wally said...

C'mon people. No comments about Hairston instead of Morse?

phil dunn said...

The Nats, with four hits tonight, now have a team batting average of .203 for the season. Anyone think Rick Eckstein deserves a raise?

Anonymous said...

Where is JayB and his 82 wins prediction for the season? Maybe he's rooting for the Orioles.

phil dunn said...

Morse is looking more and more like Pudge with the bat. At this rate, he will be on his way to Syracuse soon.

Smatt1001 said...

Oh Desi...why did you have to try and steal third?

Smatt1001 said...

And there goes LaRoche!!!

sjm308 said...

Man, what a catch by Coughlin!

Do you guys think Riggs had the steal on or was that Espinosa going on his own - LaRoche sort of erased that memory and lets hope we can hold on

Go Nats!

Andrew said...

Nice win! On a night where Josh Johnson was throwing no hit stuff, a good comeback!

RickH said...

Rout. Noun. Any overwhelming defeat.

All I'm saying is, let 'em play the game instead of declaring a "rout" before the game even starts.


Anonymous8 said...

Smatt1001 said...
Oh Desi...why did you have to try and steal third?

April 7, 2011 10:13 PM

I think you mean Espi. Why wasn't Riggleman pinch running for Stairs? That should have at least been a double steal so you keep a man in scoring position if the lead runner is caught stealing (like he was) or best case 2 in scoring positon if the steal was successful.

You have pitchers who run faster than Stairs, heck I think Livan runs faster than Stairs. You have to pinch run for him. Where Riggles over manages, he seems to under manage in situations like this.

Andrew said...

The Nats are now tied with the World Series Champ SF Giants at 2-4 and 2 games ahead of the pre-season AL favorite Red Sox. So the good news is the season is 6 games old. A few wins in NYM set the Nats up much better next week against the Phillies.

The bullpen was stellar, Lannan came back strong. 2 HRs from your 2 new big dollar guys were the difference makers.

Almost every starter contributed with offense except Ramos went 0-4 and could have been 2-4 as he was robbed in CF and earlier by Hanley.

Desmond and Zim were both solid with the glove. Just glad the Nats won so we don't have to disect all the mistakes.

natsfan1a said...

Nice to win one in extra innings. Also, can FP tear off a number or what?

JaneB said...

Not to get all kumbaya on you, but it sure isfun to read Mark's live blog of the game. Then you all make me laugh along the way. Our team may not be on a hot streak (YET YET! There's alway hope ) but you all make things a lot more fun.

2 curlie w s.... 79 more to go.

natsfan1a said...

Agreed on all counts, JaneB. Oh, and I liked that the final out was Bonifacio, whiffing.

FS said...

So let me go back and check what I said yesterday. I claimed (more like hoped) Nationals would beat Johnson today. That did not exactly happened but we got the win, which matters.

I was at the O's game today so missed all the updates. First thing I did when I got back is check this post. Mark, we may not say it all the time but we really appreciate your updates. Awesome way to catch up on the game, along with some highlights. Thank you.

Jeeves said...

Hmmm, Phil Dunn quit posting--C'mon Phil, give us a positive comment now.

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