Saturday, September 24, 2011

Game 157: Braves at Nats

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Chien-Ming Wang faces Brandon Beachy today at Nationals Park.
The final home series of each season always includes a few bittersweet moments, and one of those will probably come today in the penultimate game at Nationals Park this year. Ivan Rodriguez is in the lineup and behind the plate for the first time since July 4, after which an oblique strain threw a wrench into his 21st big-league season.

Davey Johnson wanted to make sure Pudge got an opportunity to start two more games: This one and Wednesday's finale at Florida, where Rodriguez was a World Series hero in 2003. Given the progress Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores have made this season, there is no realistic chance the Nats will re-sign Pudge for 2012. So that makes this his swan song, and hopefully the fans here will recognize it the way they did last night when he came up to pinch-hit and got a standing ovation.

Chien-Ming Wang also makes his final appearance of the season today, his 11th start since returning from major shoulder surgery. Like Rodriguez, Wang is due to become a free agent. Unlike Rodriguez, he appears likely to return; the two sides have begun preliminary talks on a new contract.

Updates to come, so please check back...

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 184
Weather: Chance of rain, 76 degrees, Wind 4 mph in from RF
SS Ian Desmond
CF Rick Ankiel
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
RF Jayson Werth
2B Danny Espinosa
1B Chris Marrero
C Ivan Rodriguez
P Chien-Ming Wang

BRAVES (89-68)
CF Michael Bourn
LF Martin Prado
3B Chipper Jones
2B Dan Uggla
C Brian McCann
1B Freddie Freeman
SS Jack Wilson
RF Jason Heyward
P Brandon Beachy
1:06 p.m. -- We're underway with a ball from Chien-Ming Wang to Michael Bourn. It's a cool, overcast afternoon, but it appears it will stay dry.

1:10 p.m. -- A 1-2-3, eight-pitch top of the first, with two groundballs and a strikeout for Wang? That'll work.

1:25 p.m. -- Say what you want about Ivan Rodriguez, but the guy still has a cannon of a right arm. He just ended the top of the second by throwing out Brian McCann, the 11th would-be basestealer he's gunned down in 23 tries this season. Still scoreless heading to the bottom of the second.

1:42 p.m. -- Chris Marrero delivers his 10th career RBI with a base hit up the middle, scoring Jayson Werth and putting the Nats up 1-0. Unfortunately, they squandered a chance to pad that lead when Pudge struck out and Danny Espinosa was thrown out trying to steal third to end the bottom of the second.

1:53 p.m. -- Wow, what a catch by Rick Ankiel to rob Bourn of extra bases and end the top of the third. Went way back and caught the ball back over his shoulder just in front of the fence. Really nice play to keep this a 1-0 game in the middle of the third.

2:00 p.m. -- For all the angst among Braves fans over the state of their rotation, maybe Brandon Beachy is answer to all their problems. He's already got seven strikeouts today in only three innings and now has 167 K's in only 138.2 innings this season. That's 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings, which would be the fourth-highest rate in MLB history for a rookie pitcher with at least 24 starts (behind Kerry Wood, Dwight Gooden and Hideo Nomo). What about Stephen Strasburg, you ask? Well, he actually bested them all with a 12.2 strikeouts-per-9-innings rate last season, but he only made 12 starts.

2:11 p.m. -- Four scoreless innings in the books for Wang, who has looked quite sharp so far in scattering three hits while throwing 56 pitches. Meanwhile, congrats to Jayson Werth on being declared the winner of today's president's race. Seriously. He, Rick Ankiel and several relievers ran interference on the four regular competitors, holding them back and preventing any from actually completing the race. So when Werth came jogging across the tape, arms extended, PA man Jerome Hruska declared the right fielder the winner.

2:29 p.m. -- And the Nats break this one open with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Credit to Espinosa, who continued his late-season surge with a two-run single scoring Zimmerman and Werth. Espinosa is now hitting .391 over his last 13 games, salvaging what had been a wretched second half. Then, the Braves elected to intentionally walk Ivan Rodriguez to bring up Wang with two outs and two on. And what happened? Wang delivered an RBI single to right for the first hit of his career. Only took 33 big-league at-bats before it happened. Nats lead 4-0 after four.

2:34 p.m. -- And Wang immediately gives one of the runs back as Rookie of the Year candidate Freddie Freeman tags a 3-1 pitch into the Red Porch to open the fifth. It's now 4-1.

2:56 p.m. -- Six innings in the books, and that might be it for Wang, who has allowed just one run over 85 pitches. If this ends his season, he certainly closed it out strong. Over his final nine starts, he could wind up 4-1 with a 3.69 ERA. It's pretty much accepted now that the Nats will re-sign him this winter.

3:03 p.m. -- Yep, that'll put a wrap on Wang's impressive 2011 comeback season. Tom Gorzelanny in to pitch the top of the seventh, trying to protect a 4-1 lead.

3:16 p.m. -- You know, Gorzelanny has really blossomed into nice reliever. The problem: If the Nats bring him back next year, he'll be guaranteed at least $2.5 million or more because he's arbitration-eligible. Can't see them spending that much money on a middle reliever. One of the (many) flaws of baseball's salary structure system. Still 4-1 at the seventh-inning stretch.

3:36 p.m. -- Another runner caught stealing by Pudge, who is now at 50 percent for the season. He gets a standing ovation from the crowd. Wondering if Davey will pull him from the game early to let him depart to another ovation.

3:54 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. Nats win 4-1 to deal the Braves a setback in their wild-card pursuit. The Cardinals rallied to beat the Cubs, so they now trail Atlanta by only two games. So the Braves cannot clinch tomorrow at Nationals Park. Chien-Ming Wang improves to 4-3. Drew Storen gets his 41st save. Pudge gets a nice sendoff from the D.C. fans.


Anonymous said...

I'll miss Pudge around the ballpark but I see why there's no need to sign him. I hope that when he retires he will consider coming here as a coach to our pitchers and catchers, as that's what he's basically doing already and he does it so well.

sm13 said...

Yay Pudge!! I hope he's back with us next year. I love Flores, but I'd like Pudge to provide a veteran spark and be a mentor to Ramos for another season!!

JaneB said...

Yay Pudge! I want some Livo!

JaneB said...

PS Michelle s we are 141 row r seats 10-12

Anonymous said...

I can't be at the game today but was there last night. I loved the ovation for Pudge. Could anyone there describe if anything special happens as far as ovations, cheers, etc. for him? Thanks.

Eugene in Oregon said...

After Marrero's RBI single, Carpenter compared his September call-up to Desmond's. That led me to check the stats for both of them, which then led me to check Zimmerman's and Espinosa's, as well. Here's how they compare (with Marrero's September obviously still in progress):

20 Gs, 58 ABs, .397/.415/.569 slash, zero HRs, 10 2Bs, 6 RBIs

21 Gs, 82 ABs, .280/.318/.561, 4 HRs, 7 2Bs, 12 RBIs

28 Gs, 103 ABs, .214/.277/.447, 6 HRs, 4 2Bs, 1 3B, 15 RBIs

Marrero (going into today's game)
26 Gs, 91 ABs, .275/.303/.330, 0 HRs, 5 2Bs, 9 RBIs
(given his hit today, add a few points to his slash line numbers and one RBI to his total).

I don't have any profound analysis to add, but just thought it was worth looking at the September numbers for these four.

Chien-Ming Wang said...


(Translation: Rick: I owe you a beer)

Eugene in Oregon said...

Kidding aside, the players are sending a strong message to the Nats' management: Let's stop perpetuating this notion of a 'cute loser'! That's an important message to convey.

fpcsteve said...

It's becoming clearer with each start. Wang has to stay.

Chien-Ming Wang said...


Translation: What do I do now?

Anonymous said...

anybody see Strasburg dipping? I thought he quit smokeless tobacco

baseballswami said...

Pretty quiet here today - hope a lot of you are actually at the game. Eugene - thanks for the comparison - it seems like almost every year someone stands out. I kind of wish Lombardozzi had gotten to play more, but Desi and Espi are kind of young to give up playing time. Mixed messages again - we are not trying to win, just need to see a lot of everyone vs. we are playing to win and he is not playing very well so we play the hot hand? Love the "CMW said" comments -- I am so glad he did not have to run the bases, though.I would have had to cover my eyes.

Superstitious lurker said...

Mark Z: Please don't use expressions like "and the Nats break this one open with..." It offends the baseball gods.

Anonymous said...

The president's race was actually funny this weekend for a change. Maybe tomorrow they will "change the culture of losing" and end the season on the right note. Maybe it will help our baseball kharma. Some of the guys seem to be getting punchy. The relievers changed some lottery numbers on a sign the other night. I am surprised they didn't get arrested for tampering with state property or something, because we know the folks up there have no sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

Should the ump still be in this game? If that had been a player, he would have been out.That hit was no joke.

gonatsgo said...

Eugene - feel that I have to comment on your comparisons -- what I noticed was that Espi had a low batting average but better stats in the other areas. That sounds just like this year - the batting average stat can be deceiving, I guess. You can get a lot of hits, but they can be just noise - or you can get hits with risp -- the rbi and hr totals are higher. Just like we are going away from just using wins and losses for pitchers, but using era and whip, maybe we should use more of OBP, OBPS, runs scored and rbi totals to evaluate hitters in a more effective way - and yes, I did just see Moneyball, which has influenced my thinking. Still makes sense, though.

CBinDC said...

Hi everybody ...... I have said before and will say it now Teddy wins the day the NATS are in FIRST in the NL East least that I think is the plan and that BTW has not happened since the Racing Presidents appeared ...before that they were video game characters in little race cars and only three no Teddy was included was the Monument Three not the Rushmore Four

Dave said...

It looks like everybody's out at the game. Not many posting here.

I've been washing the car, and I'm glad to see the Nats up 4-1 in the sixth.

Eugene in Oregon said...

gonatsgo, I agree with you completely; BA is only one of many indicators we should be using in evaluating a hitter. And while I, like others, have been critical of Werth this year -- and there's no question he's had an extremely disappointing year -- it hasn't been as bad as some have made it out to be (one of the announcers today mentioned that Werth is 10th in the league in walks, for example).

For what it's worth, I note that R.A. Dickey took a no-hitter into the 7th. And while I'm hoping the Mets lose, I love a good knuckleballer, as I've said before.

Chien-Ming Wang said...


(Translation: Bullpen, given the structure of my incentives package, I respectfully request that you keep the game under control.)

Drew8 said...

Zero walks for CMW, who lowers his ERA to 4.04

Get it on,
bang a gong,
Chien-Ming Wang...

RickH said...


UnkyD said...

HaHa... T-Rex reference.... I believe Dave dropped a "St. Stephen" (Grateful Dead) on us yesterday....

I love you guys.....

Tyler Clippard said...

Pudge, I owe you a beer!

(Translation for Chien-Ming Wang: 屠夫,我欠你的啤酒!)

Nats Fan in Annandale said...

Blast. The FAN has just dropped the Nats for Hokies football (like I care). And I can't get good AM reception here at the Beltway. Nats, can't you negotiate a better radio package for next year?!

Steady Eddie said...

Eugene in Oregon said...

Kidding aside, the players are sending a strong message to the Nats' management: Let's stop perpetuating this notion of a 'cute loser'! That's an important message to convey.
September 24, 2011 2:18 PM
fpcsteve said...

It's becoming clearer with each start. Wang has to stay.
September 24, 2011 2:26 PM

@ both of the above: Word.

Chien-Ming Wang said...

Are any of those actual Mandarin or just Google Translate gibberish?

(I've frequently tried to use Google Translate on Vietnamese and it does come out as mostly gibberish.)

Nattydread said...

St Louis walks off 2-1. Nats can be spoilers tomorrow if St Louis wins again.

Chien-Ming Wang said...

佐先生,您可以发送到我的经纪人我的续约合同 请.

(Translation: Why don't we all just have a beer or two or three!
And Mr. Rizzo, you can send my contract extension to my agent, please.)

RickH said...

Way to go NATS!!!

Steady Eddie said...

Boy, after that Cards' walk-off win, it sure looked like the Braves kind of threw in the towel there in the 9th. Didn't hurt that Drew was totally on, either, though.

Steady Eddie said...

According to Google Translate (hah!) that was pretty close "Chinese".

Except "Pudge" came out "Cow", "Clippard" came out "Butcher", and "Rizzo" came out "Junior" (???).

Guess everybody else IS at the game. Mostly talking to myself here...

Not at the game said...

but (sigh) at work.

GREAT win! Pudge--WOW


Drew8 said...

For all of my angst about Balester, Slaten, HROD and Maya con Dios, this has proved a very useful September. Davey was right -- winning and assessing talent have not been mutually exclusive.

Look what we've learned:

Barring a big acquisition, the rotation for 2012 coming out of spring training looks pretty much set, with Stras, Zimm, Lannan, Detwiler and Wang.

Detwiler throws 94, he's greatly improved, he's out of options and the Nats refused to include him in a deal for Michael Bourn.

Milone and Peacock have looked great, but they both have options. That means they'll lose out in the numbers game and start the year in Syracuse, as Detwiler did this year, despite a fine spring. Those two and Matt Purke will pressure Lannan to KEEP THE BALL DOWN.

We've learned that Stammen and Gorzy make a dandy pair of three-inning, spot start guys. That leaves Balester out of the mix.

One unanswered question is next year's LOOGY. Slaten won't do and Severino hasn't inspired confidence.

We've learned that Lombo, after the O-fer, looks like a gamer and a fount of line drives. He could supplant Cora and end the big drop-off in offense when Zim, Desmond or Espinosa needs a day off.

Course, there is a looming logjam in the middle of the diamond, when Rendon joins the mix. That might wait until the next bright wave of September call-ups: Harper, Rendon, Purke. Solis? Norris? Hood?

Man, this is gonna be fun.

baseballswami said...

What a nice next-to-last game at nats park with all the things we want to see: big crowd -- and really a loud home-type crowd, Pudge - what can you say?, clutch rbi's by our youngest guys, Wang triumphant after adversity,the entire team contributing in some way, Clip and Store, and spoiling a division foe's day.If it was a script you would have written it this way. Just the total package - 4 to go and I am starting to feel it...

Dave said...

That's pretty good Chinese if it comes out of Google Translate that close, I must say.

Great day by so many Nats. Was that Pudge's last start as a Nat in Nats Park? Does anybody think he catches Strassy in Florida on Wednesday?

Come on, boys, you can string together 4 more wins for an 81-80 season! GYFNG!

See y'all at the ballpark tomorrow. Looking forward to that Strasburg t-shirt.

fpcsteve said...

Switching Peacock for Detwiler next year. He just can't pitch every eight days. It doesn't work that way. But it would be nice to go four straight and have a winning record. Go Nats!

N. Cognito said...

"I don't have any profound analysis to add, but just thought it was worth looking at the September numbers for these four."

Since it's too few at bats for analysis, thank you for not adding any, profound or otherwise.

N. Cognito said...

"Kidding aside, the players are sending a strong message to the Nats' management: Let's stop perpetuating this notion of a 'cute loser'! That's an important message to convey."

You should have continued the trend of your first post.

Anonymous said...

Nats have so many young arms, it might make sense to package a few to see if you could get a top of the line starter in return.

Just throwing stuff at the wall here, but could a rebuilding team like Seattle be talked into parting with King Felix for a package of Peacock, Lannan and Detweiler?

Nats should explore possibilities like this.

fpcsteve said...

Lannan and Detwiler? OK. Not Peacock.

baseballswami said...

Dave - interesting to hear what you think of two things from the movie - first, the conflict between the manager and the gm about the one year contract ( sounded familiar), and second - the conflict between the manager and the gm about the line-up. Well written and well played by all involved.

JaneB said...

Fun to read these comments from you all today.

Sniff sniff. One last game to go at home. I'm rooting for the Phillies for the first time in my LIFE to bet the Mets so we own third all alone. And for the Cards to beat these Braves in the wildcard.


Steady Eddie said...

JaneB -- are you going to be in your usual seats tomorrow? We'll be in Red Carpet seats nearby.

Steady Eddie said...

Boy has this team become more fun to watch and follow! I can feel contention just over the next hill, coming soon (whenever Harper and Rendon are ready and we get that CF OBP racehorse)....

Drew8 said...

I still think some kinda deal for a CF -- Upton? -- makes a lot of sense.

The Nats have surpluses in the middle infield, at first base, at catcher and in young arms. They now have so many positions of strength that they could swing a deal.

As for Anon 5:36 -- I don't know about King Felix, but something's got to give. Matt Purke has a major league deal and they're not sending Solis to the Arizona Fall League to boost tourism.

Dave said...

Swami, those two things you mentioned about "Moneyball" were interesting to me as well. I read a couple reviews and discussions online today that were somewhat critical of the movie for portraying that relationship between Art Howe and Billy Beane as more hostile than it was in real life (and in the original book).

I thought immediately of Riggleman/Rizzo when Howe was insisting on a contract extension. I note, however, that Howe didn't refuse to get on the bus for a road trip as our own one-year guy did.

As I was watching the scene in which they clashed over the lineup, I did wonder how likely that would be to happen in the real world. I was immediately reminded of George Steinbrenner's meddling with Billy Martin in 1978 (my year of the Yankees, when I lived in NYC).

It seemed to me that, well, the GM is in fact the big boss of the baseball end of things. On the other hand, the field manager wants to be left alone to run the games and create the lineup he wants to. I think that basic conflict was probably drawn more sharply in the movie that it was in reality.

natsfan1a said...

Carrying forward, or backward, or --- I'm so confused. But happy.

natsfan1a said...

woooo - that was one fun game! Loved Wang's hit, also Ankiel's catch. Thought it must have been Wang's first, as I noticed them take it out of play and toss it to the Nats dugout. Also loved the two Pudge throws to nail runners. Didn't hear the interview after but did he happen to say to Debbi "I'm not going to lie to you. Those were both missiles that I threw."?

I thought it was kinda funny when Werth took the race. Hope that this foreshadows the end of Teddy's losing ways. After all, that's two games in a row and Werth and the 'pen denizens took matters into their own hands. (Though I seem to recall a game back in the day where the 'pen guys got into the action. I think Rauch was still with the team?)

(Also, I'm undefeated when wearing my silver-on-white curly w tee at both P-Nats and big boy Nats games this year. A compulsive part of me wants to wash it so I can wear it to tomorrow's game, but that way lies madness, right? Yeah, that's what I thought. :-))
September 24, 2011 8:15 PM
natsfan1a said...

Oh, and Werth's new nickname should be El Presidente. You heard it here first.
September 24, 2011 8:16 PM

Anonymous said...

At least Kilgore is making some sense ... even if Mark and his former protege' Ben Goessling are lost in political correctness.

While John Lannan has become a stalwart for the Nationals’ rotation, he could be the most logical pitcher for the Nationals to consider trading for outfield help. Lannan would draw interest – he turns 27 in two days and is one of 27 pitchers to post an ERA of 4.00 or better in at least 700 innings since 2008. He is due a large raise in arbitration this offseason, too. The Nationals would not be thrilled to trade him, but they will need to deal some player of value to acquire the outfielder they’re looking for,

“I’d like to add at least one bat,”Davey Johnson said. “We might have it within the system with some of the guys already here. It’s not like a must move. I don’t think we’re going to have to be making dramatic moves over the winter. The big move that we made this year is establishing the young guys. The lineup is much more efficient now that these guys have established themselves.”

And Johnson will be kept closely in the loop on potential trades where Riggleman was ostensibly left out. Why? Read the LAST SENTENCE ABOVE ye who claim to have inner knowledge from unnamed sources: The lineup is much more efficient now that these guys have established themselves Riggleman was complete opposed to this and preferred playing his veterans. Period. End of Story.

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