Sunday, May 29, 2011

Game 52: Padres at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Yunesky Maya makes his 2011 debut today against the Padres.
When we last saw Yunesky Maya in Washington, the results were pretty unspectacular. In five September starts, the right-hander went 0-3 with a 5.88 ERA and made it through the sixth inning only once. But after a strong showing in the Dominican Winter League and then another strong showing this spring, the 29-year-old Cuban seemed to suggest he has turned a corner.

We'll find out today whether that's true. Maya has been recalled from Class AAA Syracuse, where he went 1-4 with a 3.79 ERA in nine starts, to pitch this series finale against the Padres. Of course, the way the Nats' lineup is producing right now, even a brilliant performance from Maya may not be enough.

Couple of lineup changes from yesterday. Roger Bernadina is back in the leadoff spot and in center field. Wilson Ramos is back behind the plate. Alex Cora is at second base, with Danny Espinosa getting a day off. You'll also notice Jerry Hairston is at third base, even though he was suspended one game by MLB for his actions Friday night with umpire Ed Hickox. Hairston (who is celebrating his 35th birthday) has appealed the suspension, so he's allowed to keep playing until his appeal is heard.

Updates to come...

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
TV: MASN, Ch. 50
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Partly cloudy, 85 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to LF
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
LF Laynce Nix
1B Michael Morse
C Wilson Ramos
3B Jerry Hairston
2B Alex Cora
P Yunesky Maya

PADRES (21-31)
CF Blake Tekotte
SS Jason Bartlett
LF Ryan Ludwick
1B Brad Hawpe
3B Chase Headley
RF Chris Denorfia
C Kyle Phillips
2B Logan Forsythe
P Dustin Moseley
1:37 p.m. -- And we're underway with a strike from Yunesky Maya to Blake Tekkote. Another hot and muggy afternoon here.

1:42 p.m. -- If the first inning is any indication, this is indeed a new-and-improved Maya. Cruised through the frame, allowing only a two-out single to Ryan Ludwick. But he threw 12 of his 15 pitches for strikes, caught Tekkote looking at a 90-mph sinker for a strikeout and worked at a nice, quick pace.

1:55 p.m. -- Some serious "SmartBall" (TM) in the bottom of the first gives the Nationals a 2-0 lead. Roger Bernadina reached on an error by first baseman Brad Hawpe, then stole second. Ian Desmond beat out a perfect bunt down the third-base line. Jayson Werth then perfectly placed a hit-and-run single past the second baseman's position to score the day's first run and advance Desmond to third. And Laynce Nix lofted a sac fly to left to score Desmond (even though it appeared Ian's front foot never touched the plate and catcher Kyle Phillips applied the tag in time). Hey, take whatever breaks you can get, right? Nats lead 2-0 after one.

2:19 p.m. -- Wow, this doesn't appear to be a fluke from Maya. Three innings in, he's allowed only the one baserunner. He's got three strikeouts. And he's thrown 29 of 38 pitches for strikes. Impressive so far.

2:38 p.m. -- Or maybe I spoke too soon. Maya labored through the fourth inning, allowing a run on three hits. Worse, he slowed his pace down significantly. This was an issue last season, seems like Maya struggles once he's put men on base. Now 2-1 heading to the bottom of the fourth.

3:10 p.m. -- I definitely spoke too soon. Maya came to a grinding halt in the fifth, laboring and slogging his way through the inning. He loaded the bases with two outs, then surrendered a two-run single to Brad Hawpe. Just like that, the Padres are up 3-2, and Doug Slaten is in the game. After throwing 38 pitches through three innings, Maya needed 52 to get through the next 1 2/3.

3:16 p.m. -- And Slaten does what he usually does: Enter with men on base and let them score. Chase Headley doubles down the left-field line to bring home a run and put the Padres up 4-2. So the lefty has now allowed 12 of 23 inherited runners to score this season.

3:28 p.m. -- Well, the Nats did one run back in the bottom of a fifth inning that took forever. A double to right-center from Bernadina scored pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel, trimming the lead to 4-3. Bernadina did, however, get thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple. So we go to the sixth, with Cole Kimball now on the mound.

3:55 p.m. -- I suppose the bright side to all this is that the Nats have tied the game 4-4 in the sixth. But it sure wasn't pretty, and they sure had a chance to take the lead. After an inexplicable decision by Padres third baseman Chase Headley to try to throw out Jayson Werth at the plate on Michael Morse's grounder, the Nats had runners on first and second with nobody out and Wilson Ramos at the plate. And Jim Riggleman called for a sacrifice bunt. Yes, the same manager who didn't call for a bunt yesterday down a run with a man on second and nobody out. Well, this time it put runners on second and third with one out and the bottom of the lineup up. Which resulted in Jerry Hairston bouncing into a fielder's choice on the first pitch, then getting picked off first base to end the inning. Just atrocious baseball.

4:14 p.m. -- More ugliness in the seventh. Despite back-to-back singles by Cora and Espinosa (on a bunt) to open the inning, the Nats couldn't score. Bernadina fouled off a bunt attempt, then swung away and lined out to center. And then Desmond grounded into a double play on the first pitch he saw from Luke Gregerson. This has not been an aesthetically pleasing ballgame, to say the least. Still 4-4 heading to the eighth.

4:34 p.m. -- What do you, another squandered scoring opportunity in the bottom of the eighth! Werth led off with an infield single that combined with an error left him on second base with nobody out. And he didn't score. Nix tapped a comebacker. Morse drew a walk. Ramos flied out on the first pitch he saw. And Matt Stairs, to his credit, smoked a line drive .... right at right fielder Chris Denorfia to end the inning. Still 4-4 going to the ninth, Drew Storen entering.

4:43 p.m. -- The way things have gone today, you didn't figure the go-ahead run would score on a well-struck ball. Sure enough, the Padres have taken a 5-4 lead thanks to a bloop double from Jorge Cantu and an infield single from Ryan Ludwick that somehow scored Cantu all the way from second. The ball went up the middle and was knocked down by Ian Desmond. Cantu kept on chugging, and though Desmond made a nice throw to the plate, it was a split-second late (plus, Ramos wasn't able to hold onto it). So Storen, after 21 consecutive scoreless appearances, has now given up runs in three straight.

4:55 p.m. -- It's over. Final score: Padres 5, Nationals 4. They lose the series and fall back to eight games under .500. On the bright side, they now get to face the Phillies, who will send Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt to the mound the next three days. Oy.


Stranded_in_Philly said...

Nice matchup of AAA lineups today.

Carl in 309 said...

Here's hoping Maya takes advantage of his opportunity; and a great day for a little hitting break-out (why one would expect that is a different matter).

I do sense some anxiety/edginess around the team, and among its fans, but I found the game on Friday evening (which I watched at the ballpark) was encouraging for the crispness of the play. Especially considering we have no Z-man at 3rd, and MM was fielding throws at 1st. Always preferring to see the glass half full (even when it's arguably barely a quarter filled), reading Mark Z.'s early note on Maya's call-up that the Nats are the last team to reach for a 6th starter was a part of what gives me greater satisfaction in watching this team--even at it's maddeningly most troubling (e.g., blowing a big lead when on the road recently).

Lastly, a couple of readers wondered if the Nats are being "squeezed" by the umpiring crews and disrespected by the MLB front office (I suspect they are) in commenting on the 1-game suspension for Jerry Hairston. Much as I admire the work of umpires in general, I am not dazzled by consistency or fairness. But Hairston was aggressive--that was the whole point of his tirade. Like Riggleman's on Bernadina's bunt hit/out.

Anonymous said...

"Its Riggleman more than Rizzo for the 25-man. Rizzo, Clark, Kline, etc. more than Riggleman for the 40-man and down into the minors."

How do you know?
What are your sources?

Boz, (Thomas Boswell) for the 450th time, who has more insider connections to the Nationals and Orioles than probably any other beat writer period. If you are tired of broken records anon then stop asking.

Need additional references?


Ben Goessling said: I think Boz has a keen sense of what's going on with the team.

STOP ASKING and I'll stop beating you over the head with Boz's quote. Which inexorably proves my point, like it or not.

Anonymous said...

And just to be clear Boz doesn't blame Rizzo or Riggleman for the roster.

He points upward ... as he said, one major league executive was a bit miffed that the Nats salary level has remained the same for over 5 years. Under their market level.

It is my contention that Werth was also pointing upward. Not entirely but mostly in that direction. Ted Lerner was regaling players with how much he wanted to win for old DC during spring training.

Time for the rubber to meet the road. Way past time.

ExposedinDC said...

Hard to believe we did not have a better option than Maya....disappointing

NationalsFanatic said...

I'd have set them up this way: Bernie, Hairston, Nix, Morse, Werth, Ramos, Cora, Desi and Maya......but that's just me.

phil dunn said...

I was going to the game today but cancelled my plans as soon as I saw that Maya was pitching. Only the Nats would promote a pitcher who was 1-4 at Syracuse. That speaks volumes about the quality of their minor league pitching prospects. Just about every highly touted minor league pitcher has turned out to be a complete dud. By the way, anyone know how much money Rizzo blew on Maya? I seem to recall it was a fairly significant amount.

Anonymous said...

prediction--Moseley shuts out Nats on two hits and Riggleman and Eckstein are fired after the game. Rizzo has to know by now that Werth won't stop pouting until Riggleman is gone. Big shake up is needed!!

Anonymous said...

Nothing like rooting against the home team and campaigning for people to be fired. What a nice way to start the Memorial Day weekend.

Anonymous said...

So much for the predicted shutout.

Anonymous8 said...

Mark Zuckerman writes...Some serious "SmartBall" (TM) in the bottom of the first gives the Nationals a 2-0 lead. Roger Bernadina reached on an error by first baseman Brad Hawpe, then stole second. Ian Desmond beat out a perfect bunt down the third-base line. Jayson Werth then perfectly placed a hit-and-run single past the second baseman's position to score the day's first run and advance Desmond to third.

It has been weeks since we have seen "small ball" aka "smart ball" which is what won so many games early in the season. It demoralizes the opponents and pumps up the Nats dugout.

Certainly "big inning" baseball is great for good offensive teams which the Nats clearly aren't right now.

Anonymous8 said...

If Hairston gets a "hit" on his bouncer to 3rd, how doesn't Bernadina get a "hit" on his smash to first in the 1st?

Anonymous said...

Forget the shutout.

This might prove something I've been thinking ... once they promote Brad Peacock the Syracuse Chiefs might just have a better starting rotation than the Washington Nationals. That's Rizzo's strength, the big club might look pathetic but the minors are dealing compared with just 2 years ago.

Its good news. Pitching bright enough to require sun glasses.

If you're looking for offensive help, that's likely there too but its likely a ways off ... around 2+ years I'd imagine.

JaneB said...

Tell me why why why they bring in Slaten when he is so bad with inherited runners? Why?

sm13 said...

Gee, Maya's act looks a bit familiar -- 3 or so decent innings and then he blows up and can't make it past the 5th. Doesn't seem like his time in AAA has changed a thing. I hope we give someone else -- Craig Stammen, hopefully -- a chance to fill in for Gorzo in Arizona.

JaneB said...

What sm13 said. We've seen enough.

Big Cat said...

Maya was promoted because of the money we blew on him. Next to come up will be Detwiler, because he was a #1 draft pick. He should still be in Potomac. Check his stats down there. He got hammered. He never earned a promotion, he was given one

NattyNation said...

WHHHHYYYY is berni swinging?? just do your job. that is right back on riggs. where is the discipline? what are we doing?

NG said...

Can MLB actually increase Hairston's suspension when they hear his appeal? Like, say, 110 games?

UnkyD said...

Ohhhhhh, Desi..... wait on it..... sigh...

FS said...

I do not trust our batters at all from now on except Zimm when he comes back. A runner at 2nd and I would not trust anyone to get him home. Whoever the batter, just straight up ask them to bunt the runner over to third.

We can not really wait for a 3-run homer with these lineups.

JaneB said...

I'm turning into JayB instead of JaneB. They need to get rid of Stairs so theybRe never again tempted to pinch hit him again. And send down Slaten while they're at it. Shhesh. Am I grumpy!

Manassas Nats Fan said...

I have come to the conclusion that none of the front office, coaching staff or players studied much history.

Winston Churchill siad, "He who doesn't study and learn from history is bound to repeat history."

Well lets see Doug Slatin can't stop inherited runners from scoring, so h is brought in to pitch with men on and some score.

The sacaraffice buntoday worked very well including 2 hits. So when Bernie fouls one off it is taken off.

Storin gives up a run three straight games now.

But worst of all the Hitting with RISP just terrible.

A;sp when Hairston was picked off why he just stand there and be tagged. Take off for second, and maybe the runner can come home. What was that all about?

Tomorrow is a new day, and I say beat the Phillies 2 out of 3. They need to pitch, hit, field and run the bases with no mistakes.

Jeeves said...

Oh boy, another first round pick coming up. Good grief, I've become a negative poster. There is no hope. Heck even Jane B has shown tendencies in the same direction. If Natsfan1 goes there, well...

FS said...

Use of Stairs again and again is inexplicable. Does he have some material against Riggleman and Rizzo that he is threatening to make public on his unconditional release? Slaten has been sucking since day one too.

Rizzo needs to admit his mistakes and attempt to correct them now.

Also the talk of 'this-team-being-better-than-standings-indicate' does not seem to hold any truth to it anymore.

Very frustrated with this team.

Anonymous said...

The Nats better keep giving away "baby bats" because, at the rate they are playing, there won't be 5,000 fans in the stands without a giveaway. Word Up!

Eugene in Oregon said...

Ugly, ugly, ugly. I was considering a quick trip down to SF to see the series with the Giants, but I just don't think it would be worth it...

Mark - One request - when next you have an opportunity to ask Rizzo or Riggleman, please get an on-the-record statement as to why they are keeping Stairs around.

Anonymous said...

Hey Eugene. Go down to SF! The Nats will need a friendly face in the crowd and you will probably get on TV here (wear your Nats RED!). And, hey, are you Eugene from Eugene? :-) My bro lives in Corvallis! Go Beavers!

Get Some Players said...

Josh Willingham just hit a 3r homer off the O's best pitcher (Britton). The Lerners apparently couldn't afford him. Nice job Rizzo/Lerner.

Anonymous said...

One thing is for sure ... if you want to return Maya to AAA you had better send Desmond along with him. And Stairs and Cora were signed to minor league contracts ... its a shame they can't be assigned there as well.

Grandstander said...

So, considering the type of baseball this team is playing, how many of you brave souls are going to trek to Citizens Bank Park South tomorrow?

I know I'm not going to ruin my Memorial Day.

I will lay off my Matt Stairs hate because that ball was actually hit pretty well. But Hairston... My oh my, Jerry, I hope you get an angry call from your father tonight. That was some serious ugly baseball today.

Mark, I don't even think you need to write different headlines for your gamers anymore. Just keep using squandered opportunities. It seems to hold true every day.

Anonymous said...

With 3 games against the Phillies and the Nats looking like a good way to up their win totals ... things could get decidedly worst.

Small ball is not "smart ball" Giggleman, its losing ball

Anonymous said...

Get to say it twice to correct my error ;)

With 3 games against the Phillies and the Nats looking like a good way to up their win totals ... things could get decidedly worse.

Small ball is not "smart ball" Giggleman, its losing ball!

Rabbit said...

@Grandstander.......It looks like my day will be ruined. I'm going to the game because the tickets were a gift. Obviously from people who hate me! At least I'll see the second best team is baseball. Halladay will have a great chance at another no-hitter. I figure we will need at least seven runs to win against the Phillies. A good bet would be that Phillies will score more runs than we get hits. Oh well, at least when I get home I can jump in the pool.

Manassas Nats Fan said...

I feel a win coming tomorrow (heck I feel that every day though)

Anonymous said...

Milone or Meyers deserved the callup more than Maya. But at Lerner Field, getting top prospects up before the Super 2 deadline isn't likely to happen, even if costs the team some games.

Post a Comment