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Game 3: Nats vs. Phillies

Apr 8, 2010, 4:14 PM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals look to avoid a season-opening sweep this afternoon.

A lot of things have gone wrong for the Nationals in the last 72 hours. But here's one thing that's gone right: The cherry blossoms have been in perfect bloom all week.

OK, so if that's the best thing they've got going for them, you know it's been a rough start to the season. But at least the weather's been great and those cherry blossom trees behind the left-field fence turned pink right on schedule for the first time since Nationals Park opened in 2008.

As for the on-field product … well, the Nats had better hope Craig Stammen puts together a better start today than John Lannan or Jason Marquis did in Games 1 and 2. Stammen had a very encouraging spring. Healthy after pitching much of last season with bone chips in his elbow, the young right-hander had a very nice spring and legitimately earned his spot in the rotation. When he keeps his sinker down and has his breaking ball working as well, he's got a pretty solid groundball/strikeout combo that should be effective against even the Phillies' vaunted lineup.

Couple of lineup changes from Jim Riggleman, both expected. Cristian Guzman starts at shortstop and bats second, with Ian Desmond getting the day off. And Wil Nieves makes his first start behind the plate, giving Ivan Rodriguez a breather.

Check back for updates and analysis throughout the game, and check the homepage for other news and notes…

PHILLIES AT NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 4:35 p.m.
TV: MASN HD
Radio: WFED-1500 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 84 degrees, Wind 19 mph out to CF

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn

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  1. Aeoliano - Apr 8, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    The only offense came from Desmond's bat? Riggleman's calls are confusing? I guess he will just absolutely refuse to bench Guzman. And throw 38-plus year old incendiaries to pitch against potent lineups like the Phillies. I guess I'm confused? Do the Nats want to develop younger, read "cheaper" players? Or do they just want to cobble together a major league lineup from the scrap pile of other teams in order to put a product on the field to keep the turnstiles going? Hopefully, in July it will be looking more like the first choice. Then at least something will be accomplished this year?

  2. Knoxville Nat - Apr 8, 2010 at 4:46 PM

    Mark,May I request one addition to your pre-game notes? In addition to listing the local TV and radio channels how about listing the XM radio signal that is carrying the game for us out of towners who want to listen to the ball game? Thanks for the great coverage of the Nats.

  3. Anonymous - Apr 8, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    Knoxville, you can pull up the xm website and get the channel listings for all the games by going on the mlb link. JTinSC

  4. Knoxville Nat - Apr 8, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    JT….thanks for the info I'll give that a look before leaving work today. Aeoliano writes " Riggleman's calls are confusing?" Are you talking about playing Guzman at SS or are you referring to something else?

  5. Moe Greene - Apr 8, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    What's confusing is that you don't understand the difference between a period and question mark.

  6. Grandstander - Apr 8, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    I'm Ron Burgandy?

  7. Anonymous - Apr 8, 2010 at 5:34 PM

    +1 grandstander

  8. Sweetesq - Apr 8, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    Nice one, Grandstander.

  9. Aeoliano - Apr 8, 2010 at 5:42 PM

    "Moe Greene said…What's confusing is that you don't understand the difference between a period and question mark."Aren't you dead? I thought my family put the hit on you in Vegas. Nothing worst than whining ghosts.

  10. Aeoliano - Apr 8, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    are you referring to something else?Starting pitching looks horrendous … Nationals' top two starting pitchers have combined to allow 11 runs and 15 hits in 7 2/3 innings. And these are supposed to be the two guys they don't have to worry about; PLUS 3 home runs already. Middle relief, starting with Batista, does not look good.Supposedly "the veterans" could be relied upon to be ready for the season? And so they were given holy absolution for poor springs? I think Martin, Thompson and Olsen easily pitched better than Batista, Hernandez and Marquis? It doesn't seem to matter that this team has finished dead last losing 100 games twice? Putting Guzman may be fine and good but taking Desmond out does not seem to make any sense. He is by far the youngest of the "starting" infielders. He needs the most experience. He isn't going to get tired yet? Plus, he certainly is hitting, although he should definitely work on the strikeouts? Why not put Guzman at second base? He needs work there?Are they intentionally setting themselves up to lose?

  11. Greg P - Apr 8, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    MLB Trade Rumors is saying that the Mariners have dfa'd Ryan Langerhans to make room for Jesus Colome.Didn't Langerhans play passable RF?

  12. Souldrummer - Apr 8, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    No, no, no. Langerhand couldn't hit. He's a potential 4th outfielder because he's a defensive upgrade over some of the guys that we have who don't have experience. The RF situation must be addressed via trade. And that's why we're all JD Martin, Scott Olsen, Shairon Martis, and Matt Chico fans. Somebody needs to be convinced that one of our 4/5 starters is worth an OF risk. If I were going to bring anybody back, it would be Church.

  13. Aeoliano - Apr 8, 2010 at 6:20 PM

    Its probably why Pittsburgh kept him on the roster instead of releasing him. They knew he had value to the Nats. Still like the BJ Upton idea. But the Rays are winning … fat chance of that happening until there is an injury.

  14. Aeoliano - Apr 8, 2010 at 6:26 PM

    And btw, I'm the Kodiak bear …

  15. Doc - Apr 8, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    Mark, is Riggleman 'sitting' Desmond because of the errors? What does Riggleman think of the issues that Desmond's errors entail?

  16. Greg P - Apr 8, 2010 at 6:31 PM

    @Souldrummer Agreed, his mlb slash line looks mediocre at best. My memory is a bit fuzzy but I thought at the time of the trade he was an above replacement fielder who was making strides at the plate.

  17. Anonymous - Apr 8, 2010 at 6:33 PM

    Cherry Blossoms islooking good? Is he a new callup? Can he get these guys out?

  18. Anonymous - Apr 8, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    I am all for resting starters (particularly 38 year old catchers), but with the off day on Tuesday, and considering we havent won a game yet, do we really need to deviate from our "A lineup" and "rest" Desmond and Pudge already?

  19. Joe - Apr 8, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    @AeolianoDesmond got the day off because he's a rookie and played a night game before an afternoon game. He needs the break. Not to mention Guzman is a switch hitter and Kendrick is a righty. It's the perfect day to give Desmond the day after having a fantastic day against a lefty yesterday. Desmond is obviously going to be an every day player, and he should be with his performance thus far. That does not mean that the 24 year old rookie won't get a few days off now and then.

  20. Souldrummer - Apr 8, 2010 at 6:57 PM

    @JoeAgreed, I don't have a problem with Desmond sitting today. He needs a mental break, especially after so much time standing on the infield while the Phillies batters pass through the turnstiles. I'm sure he'll get a chance to pinch hit today regardless.Guzman played well and so far has handled things very professionally and deserves his at bats. Probably the next move is a day off for Kennedy during the Mets series. Guzman probably deserves two starts per week and tonight is as good as any for him.

  21. JayB - Apr 8, 2010 at 7:03 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. JayB - Apr 8, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    Mark,Yahoo lead news today with Nats opening day issue…over 800 posts in a few hours. Boz let the topic dominate his chat from Masters with Tiger on the course. Boz says Nats must apologize to fans and that the Group Sales decision was the BIG mistake and was all Kasten and he pushed it hard. Boz says that Kasten is Tone deaf on DC sports and still does not understand the market.For what ever reason you want to focus on bad baseball….nothing new with the Nats for sure and not really newsworthy anymore. Even though your post is deeply lost under game stories …..it is tell getting more posts…..do you have plans to report on the Open Day Story further?

  23. Anonymous - Apr 8, 2010 at 7:10 PM

    Yahoo story link?

  24. Natsochist - Apr 8, 2010 at 7:16 PM

    @Anon 3:10: Enjoy. 1,021 comments as of the time of this posting.

  25. alm1000 - Apr 8, 2010 at 7:21 PM

    How about a link to Boz's chat. I can never find the chats.

  26. CW - Apr 8, 2010 at 7:21 PM

    Mark, Any intel as to whether the Nats have talked with the Rockies to try to pry one of their surplus OFs? A guy like Spilborghs would be a nice and relatively cheap option for us, I think. Morse looks totally lost and Taveras and Harris are pinch hitters/pinch runners at best.

  27. Souldrummer - Apr 8, 2010 at 7:26 PM

    For the JD Martin lobby. JD Martin is leading the Phillies AAA squad 3-2 in the bottom of the 4th. JD hit an RBI triple for his own cause. You may beat us in our own ballpark. Your fans may infest our stands. But no way, no way will we tolerate you messing with "the plan" in the minors by beating up on our Chiefs!

  28. JayB - Apr 8, 2010 at 7:43 PM

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/The-Phillies-fan-invasion-was-orchestrated-by-th?urn=mlb,232653andhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2010/04/01/DI2010040102101.htmlGood Stuff like…."he Nats handled Monday very badly. Kasten's only experience is of sports in Atlanta where he started working for Ted Turner when he was in his early-to-mid-20's. He still has a surprisingly poor feeling for the Washington area and seems tone deaf on some issues. When something blows up in your face as dramatically as the Opening Day fiasco, it should be a hint that you should try to get a better feel for your community before you invite thousands of Phillie fans, in buses, to your "home.""

  29. 6thandD - Apr 8, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    Put Guzman at 2b.

  30. Walk off Walk - Apr 8, 2010 at 7:47 PM

    Proper punctuation: "Wil Nieves? Yes, Wil Nieves."

  31. BarneyBear - Apr 8, 2010 at 7:48 PM

    Can JD Martin play right field? He'd have the arm, and he's 2-2 in Syracuse so far today…

  32. Souldrummer - Apr 8, 2010 at 7:55 PM

    JD Martin hates these Phillies prospects and his bat is a weapon of hate.

  33. NatinBeantown - Apr 8, 2010 at 8:11 PM

    I'd like honest responses to this, if you can: Aside from Opening Day, when Nats fans could/would have filled the park on our own, what's the driving factor in attendance the other days? Is it dedication to the team, to the sport, or watching a winner? I read Chipper Jones comments about how this year was a pleasant change from when Braves fans are outnumbered in their own stadium (link below), and it got me thinking… No one doubts that DC fans will show up when the team is winning, so the team takes the approach to suffer through the lean times and work to build a future winner, as opposed to a more painstaking effort to build a more loyal, less fairweather fan base. This is an approach with Stan K's fingerprints all over it in both cities. Stan's Atlanta teams were famous for not selling out Turner Field even for the playoffs.Honestly, would DC support a non-winning team if it sensed the Ownership cared and was working hard to do everything they could to win now AND win later AND uphold the "public trust" by honoring their fanbase? DC and Atlanta have similar fairweather/transient reputations that don't necessarily support that. Just curious for people's thoughts as we wait for first pitch. (And Go Nats!)http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-braves-blog/2010/04/05/chipper-wants-electricity-from-opening-day-crowd-to-continue/

  34. Jim Webster - Apr 8, 2010 at 8:28 PM

    Nice article about Strasburg, Heyward and … Zuckerman. Nice going, Mark.http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/04/12/100412fa_fact_mcgrath

  35. Anonymous - Apr 8, 2010 at 8:32 PM

    @NatinBeantownI think DC can clearly support a baseball team better than Atlanta if it is even reasonably competitive. Just look at 2005 when they had 2.5 million fans. It is tough to be patient, and this team just had to build from square one as far as a farm system because of the way MLB ran (them into the ground) them before the Lerners. Have the Lerners and Kasten done a great job, probably not. There is a lot of room for improvment there as well. But I am pretty sure if the nats fielded an 80-85 win team that was in the hunt into August every year, they would post that 2.5m in attendance every year as well. This town even puts in pretty good attendence numbers for the Wiz, and they are a god awful embarrassment.

  36. Anonymous - Apr 8, 2010 at 8:32 PM

    "http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2010/04/01/DI2010040102101.htmlGood Stuff like…."he Nats handled Monday very badly. Kasten's only experience is of sports in Atlanta where he started working for Ted Turner when he was in his early-to-mid-20's. He still has a surprisingly poor feeling for the Washington area and seems tone deaf on some issues. When something blows up in your face as dramatically as the Opening Day fiasco, it should be a hint that you should try to get a better feel for your community before you invite thousands of Phillie fans, in buses, to your "home.""Sorry, JayB. That's not Boswell saying the group sales were all Kasten and that Kasten pushed it hard. Learn to read. Then learn to write.

  37. Anonymous - Apr 8, 2010 at 8:35 PM

    "Honestly, would DC support a non-winning team if it sensed the Ownership cared and was working hard to do everything they could to win now AND win later AND uphold the "public trust" by honoring their fanbase?"No. They did not support the Capitols when they were bad and when Leonsis was dismantling the team and spending years rebuilding from the bottom up. Now the Caps are winning, and the fans are supportive and think Leonsis is God. The fickle Washington fans have very short memories.

  38. JayB - Apr 8, 2010 at 8:47 PM

    How about…"I knocked Stan last year for going on the radio in Philly with his "come on down" pitch. A total miss-read of Washington. I know he read it. I guess he's stubborn and didn't like the message; so the Nats ticket people __doing their job as ordered__ doubled down on the original mistake." ….did not want to paste the whole thing….it is full of stuff like this….lots of Stan and Lerner bashing this week from BOZ…look at end for the comment from "out of town High level Exce who walked the park with Boz….Oh and stop being such a jerk who not?

  39. Anonymous - Apr 8, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    Ok, I won't complain, 3-0 after 1 inning is great Keep it up! (But could it have been bigger if Dunn and Willingham took those 3-0 pitches??)Let's go Nats!!

  40. Anonymous - Apr 8, 2010 at 8:54 PM

    I am still confused by the outrage about Opening Day!? Just look at Opening Day and look at last night's crowd..WAY DOWN in attendance that is what you would have gotten on Opening Day without the Phillies in town!

  41. NatinBeantown - Apr 8, 2010 at 8:58 PM

    Anon 4:51…Agreed on the great start. I think Dunn and Hammer are going to be aggressive, since they'll not see many strikes with the Harris-Kennedy-Nieves-pitcher chasm behind him.

  42. JayB - Apr 8, 2010 at 9:05 PM

    Wrong…sold out or very very close to sell outs for each year in the new park….this year would have been a sell out for sure with the weather being so nice….Stan and Nats blew it big time. Everyone knows it…likely they know it…just to small to admit it.

  43. Pete - Apr 8, 2010 at 9:06 PM

    3-1 Nats giddyup

  44. Anonymous - Apr 8, 2010 at 9:19 PM

    They're not promoting the club at all. Recall Orioles at Farragut Square? Can you say Tyson's Corner?

  45. NatinBeantown - Apr 8, 2010 at 9:40 PM

    …and Willie tells me where I can stick my "chasm"!

  46. Sec314 - Apr 8, 2010 at 9:40 PM

    Stammen is working fast and attacking hitters (take note Garrett Mock). I'll bet that slugger JD Martin is doing the same thing in AAA

  47. Dave - Apr 8, 2010 at 9:53 PM

    Ah, Nyjer! Overrunning that ball in CF was really, really not good!It remains 5-4 Nats, but it shouldn't be that close.

  48. Nervous Nats Fan - Apr 8, 2010 at 10:03 PM

    So much for my big dreams of a quality start.

  49. Dave - Apr 8, 2010 at 10:09 PM

    A rough appearance by Burnett. Very disappointing.

  50. Anonymous - Apr 8, 2010 at 11:09 PM

    JayB said: "For what ever reason you want to focus on bad baseball….nothing new with the Nats for sure and not really newsworthy anymore. Even though your post is deeply lost under game stories …..it is tell getting more posts…..do you have plans to report on the Open Day Story further?"I TOTALLY agree with you, JayB. I don't want to hear ANYTHING more about baseball from this site. Ever. Please Mark, change the name to How-the-Philly-Fans-Overtook-Nats-Park-and-are-Now-Overtaking-the-Nats-Blogs-too. I only want to hear about every other team's FANS. Whatever you don't, please Mark, do NOT report on baseball. That's NOT what we're interested in.Does your mom ever let you out of the basement, JayB, or does she just leave your Pepsi and Ring Dings at the top of the steps and close the door?

  51. Mrs. Z. - Apr 8, 2010 at 11:10 PM

    Bottom of the 8th–is it too early to start hoping?

  52. LoveDaNats - Apr 8, 2010 at 11:31 PM

    Victory is SWEET!!

  53. Section 109 - Apr 8, 2010 at 11:35 PM

    WE WON! This is terrific! Sure changes my mood!

  54. leslie - Apr 9, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    As you see, only better and better……gogogo…NATS gogogo…

  55. Tcostant - Apr 9, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    For the record I disagree with the 6:09pm post, I'd like the info you provide in how the Phils took over Nats Park. That is real reporter stuff and while I enjoy coming ti this site. Keep up the good work Mark.

  56. hondo69 - Apr 9, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    Jim Webster, thanks for the link to that New Yorker piece. It was very enjoyable!

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 71 53 --
ATLANTA 66 60 6.0
MIAMI 63 62 8.5
NEW YORK 59 68 13.5
PHILADELPHIA 55 71 17.0
Through Tuesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Diamondbacks at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Diamondbacks at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
FRI: Giants at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Giants at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Giants at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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