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Game 13: Rockies at Nats

Apr 19, 2010, 7:10 PM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals host the Rockies in the first of four games.

It's a beautiful — if a tad chilly — day at Nationals Park, and with the home team playing .500 ball and a quality opponent in town, you'd think tonight's game would register more than a blip on the local radar screen.

But something tells me the Nats-Rockies series opener won't.

There's always one or two dates on the baseball schedule that figure to draw especially low interest, and tonight's game fits that bill on several fronts.

– It's a Monday night in April, typically some of the least-attended games of the season.

– It's a low-profile opponent. Though the Rockies are a good club, they don't have many followers east of … well, the Rockies.

– The Capitals are playing Game 3 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series at the same time tonight.

Stan Kasten doesn't like giving out season ticket numbers, so there's no way to know for sure what the Nats' base is this year. But pay attention to tonight's announced attendance, because it's probably going to be close to the season ticket number.

For reference, the smallest crowd in Nationals Park history was 12,473, set on April 20, 2009, a Monday night against the Braves that started more than two hours late because of rain. (That was also Jordan Zimmermann's big-league debut.)

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

ROCKIES AT NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN-HD
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Clear, 63 degrees, Wind 9 mph LF to RF

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (6-6)
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn

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  1. Traveler8 - Apr 19, 2010 at 7:29 PM

    Mark, when you get a chance, can you ask why they are not putting a curly W in the outfield – did the stencil wear out? I liked it and hope they will start doing it again.

  2. Daniel - Apr 19, 2010 at 7:32 PM

    I heard it was because the way the ball was breaking in the 'W' made it harder to field.

  3. Craig - Apr 19, 2010 at 7:35 PM

    They got a new Head Groundskeeper and I dont think he is quite comfortable with doing anything different yet.

  4. Aeoliano - Apr 19, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    The head groundskeeper said that it could create a hazard in the outfield that might lead to potential injuries. He has placed it on the back of the pitching mound.

  5. Jeff Wang - Apr 19, 2010 at 7:45 PM

    Mark did ask sometime ago. It was "safety" issues, because the grass was set in different ways. supposedly the ball could bounce wierd or a cleat can catch wierd. Either way, it could cause an injury. (I don't particularly buy it, but that's the answer.)

  6. Anonymous - Apr 19, 2010 at 7:53 PM

    you know it had to be an money issue

  7. natsfan1a - Apr 19, 2010 at 8:00 PM

    They had the w on the back of the pitching mound last year, too.

  8. NatsNut - Apr 19, 2010 at 8:07 PM

    Add 5 to the number tonight. We're going off-plan tonight. =)

  9. Traveler8 - Apr 19, 2010 at 8:13 PM

    Okay, thanks, did not realize the subject had been discussed. It seems to me that other clubs do something similar (Red Sox do the stockings in the infield) – and the W has been on the back of the pitching mound at least since last year.Other subject – per Mark's preview of the series, looks like Zimmerman has trouble hitting all these pitchers.

  10. BowdenBall - Apr 19, 2010 at 8:20 PM

    Mark:I posted this at the Post blog for Adam as well …Why does Guzman hit in the 2 or 3 spot when he plays, while Desmond hits 8th? Presumably Desmond won the starting job in large part because of his offensive potential- after all, he's no Ozzie Smith. He's also faster and more patient than Guz. Given this, and the team's presumed conclusion that Desmond was the better hitter generally, why is Guz worthy of the 2/3 spot but Desmond gets buried behind Willie Harris while relative lightweight Adam Kennedy hits in the 2?I'd be very curious to hear Riggleman's answer to this.

  11. BowdenBall - Apr 19, 2010 at 8:22 PM

    Mark:I posted this at the Post blog for Adam as well …Why does Guzman hit in the 2 or 3 spot when he plays, while Desmond hits 8th? Presumably Desmond won the starting job in large part because of his offensive potential- after all, he's no Ozzie Smith. He's also faster and more patient than Guz. Given this, and the team's presumed conclusion that Desmond was the better hitter generally, why is Guz worthy of the 2/3 spot but Desmond gets buried behind Willie Harris while relative lightweight Adam Kennedy hits in the 2?I'd be very curious to hear Riggleman's answer to this.

  12. Dave - Apr 19, 2010 at 8:25 PM

    @Aeoliano: "The head groundskeeper said that it could create a hazard in the outfield that might lead to potential injuries. He has placed it on the back of the pitching mound."The curly W's been on the back of the pitcher's mound since at least 2006 at RFK. Certainly it was there for every single game ever played at Nationals Park.I don't miss it in center field all that much; but I have to say, blaming the grass curly-W for potential misplays in the outfield has a definite Actaesque quality about it.

  13. Aeoliano - Apr 19, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    @Dave, @natsfan1a1,The groundskeeper could have made the same judgement about the curly w on the mound. Let's face it our pitchers are probably more prone to injury than any other position. Yet he kept it. Just saying ….

  14. Dave - Apr 19, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    @Aeoliano: "The head groundskeeper said that it could create a hazard in the outfield that might lead to potential injuries. He has placed it on the back of the pitching mound."The curly-W has been on the back of the pitcher's mound since at least 2006 in RFK.I don't miss it that much in centerfield. However, I must say that blaming the grass curly-W for potential misplays has a definite Actaesque ring to it.

  15. Anonymous - Apr 19, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    Not sure why attendance is news worthy. I guess for the same reasons you listed for the game itself not being very interesting. Newsflash…attendance will be very low, maybe 10K or so. Predictable.

  16. Dave - Apr 19, 2010 at 8:32 PM

    I apologize if I posted twice. Blogger's acting very strangely today. (And now I've commented THREE times. Sheesh…)

  17. David - Apr 19, 2010 at 9:32 PM

    Mark – do you think Stammen might be on a short leash at this point? I noticed that JD Martin is pitching tonight for Syracuse and has had dramatically better results in his first two starts. If things continue tonight, might they switch places by next time around the rotation?

  18. Nervous Nats Fan - Apr 19, 2010 at 10:42 PM

    Mark, Has anyone indicated how serious Mock's injury is considered? Just wondering if this is just a minor setback or a career threatening injury.

  19. Mark Zuckerman - Apr 19, 2010 at 10:42 PM

    BowdenBall: The answer to the Guzman batting No. 2 question is: That's where he's most comfortable and has had the most success. When he batted in other spots last year, he struggled. So Riggleman wants to make him as comfortable as possible when he does play.David: I don't necessarily think Stammen's leash is so short that he's pitching for his job tonight, but I do think he needs to put together a much better outing. After Marquis' blowup yesterday, the Nats can't afford anything less than five innings from Craig tonight.

  20. NatBiscuit - Apr 19, 2010 at 11:14 PM

    Mark, If I recall correctly one of Randy St. Claire's strengths was his use of video to help pitchers identify mechanical flaws. McCatty was heralded as more of a motivational and accountability guy. McCatty realized some quick success, but lets face it St. Claire was not to blame for poor performance, bad pitchers were. So in light of Marquis' struggles, isn't fair to ask if McCatty uses video enough? I don't know the answer, but I'd like to.

  21. Gus - Apr 19, 2010 at 11:30 PM

    Mark, living in Australia means I get the New Yorker a little later, but congrats on the article. It was a great read, and now my wfie understands why this blog is always top of our history.

  22. meixler - Apr 19, 2010 at 11:36 PM

    The point that we win when we get quality pitching has already been made, but the MASN broadcasters kinda hammered it home with these early season statistics: The Nats have 2 of the top 5 players in the NL for OBP (#1 Willingham and #5 Rodriguez), they lead the league in stolen bases, and they've only had one ATTEMPTED stolen base against them… When you can get on base and run, while limiting the movement of other teams, you should stand a pretty good chance to pick up a curly W… as long as your starting pitchers don't give up 6 runs.

  23. meixler - Apr 19, 2010 at 11:39 PM

    Maybe Desmond batting behind Harris is to offer some protection so fast Willie can keep on hitting those homers… hahaha!!!

  24. K.D. - Apr 19, 2010 at 11:50 PM

    The guys seem to be gaining confidence each game (win or lose). Showing a little swagger, I like that. Pudge's offense was down last year, but he did play winter ball and the classic last year, might have had something to do with it.

  25. Anonymous - Apr 19, 2010 at 11:54 PM

    OK, what fountain of youth did Ivan Rodriguez drink from this winter? Hey, if Senator Mitchell couldn't figure that out, then I don't care!

  26. Anonymous - Apr 19, 2010 at 11:56 PM

    IMHO, removing the curvy W from center field for "safety" reasons is the biggest load of bulls–t to come from this team since, well, since they got here…

  27. meixler - Apr 20, 2010 at 12:27 AM

    Here's hoping Stammen makes it through the 5th.

  28. Gus - Apr 20, 2010 at 12:51 AM

    Nats WIN, NATS WIN!

  29. Nervous Nats Fan - Apr 20, 2010 at 1:00 AM

    Whoa there Gus, let's not get ahead of ourselves.Mark, any word on attendance tonight?

  30. Mark Zuckerman - Apr 20, 2010 at 1:03 AM

    Nervous Nats Fan: They haven't announced attendance yet, but it's sparse. I'm thinking 10,000.

  31. JayB - Apr 20, 2010 at 1:20 AM

    Season Ticket number is likely under 8K then.Man Stan and Lerners have done a bad job so far. Lucky Jimbo and Acta did such bad jobs they had to be fired or we would still be in free fall.

  32. Nervous Nats Fan - Apr 20, 2010 at 1:21 AM

    I'm with you on Dunn. I would love to see him walk one more time tonight.

  33. Nervous Nats Fan - Apr 20, 2010 at 1:31 AM

    I can only hope that Marquis rebounds from his last start so well. Nice work, Stammen.Also, ouch on the season ticket holder numbers/paid attendance.

  34. meixler - Apr 20, 2010 at 1:41 AM

    11,623

  35. K.D. - Apr 20, 2010 at 1:49 AM

    They keep winning, there will be fannies in the seats soon. Good clean game.

  36. Grandstander - Apr 20, 2010 at 2:20 AM

    Attendance will always be low for games like this for the reasons Mark stated above. The real test is what the attendance is against the weekend non-division games like the one we just had against the Brewers. All the cheap seats were sold out for those. I could barely snag the $10 RF terrace, let alone grandstand seats, where, as my moniker suggests, I enjoy to sit (or at least buy tickets for…)There's been a longstanding tradition with this team to fill up the cheap seats because it's just not worth more than 10 bucks to see them play. When THAT begins to change, we'll know we've turned a corner. Until then, I'll take my $5 field level seats and enjoy them greatly!As for the game, am I the only one who feels we're getting incredibly lucky on a lot of these plays? We seem to be making stupid mistakes, but the other teams seem to be making more, and we seem to miraculously get out of the bad situations we're in. Any sabres out there have some BABIP numbers for our winning games?

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 80 15.5
NEW YORK 76 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 85 20.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Monday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (4) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 67 2.5
y-ST. LOUIS 88 69 4.0
-------------------------
PITTSBURGH 85 71 +0.5
SAN FRANCISCO 84 71 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Monday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
(End of regular season)
MON: OFF
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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