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Game 33: Nats at Mets

May 11, 2010, 7:58 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Back to Citi Field tonight for Game 2 between the Nats and Mets.

NEW YORK — Nothing about Scott Olsen's performances through the majority of spring training suggested the left-hander was capable of retiring, let alone dominating, big-league hitters over an extended period of time.

Olsen, to be honest, looked finished. His fastball rarely hit 90 mph, and even when it did, opposing hitters battered it around the park. I keep thinking back to his March 23 start against the Tigers in Lakeland, when he gave up six runs and 12 hits in only 4 1/3 innings, retiring only 12 of 25 batters faced. Worse, Jim Riggleman felt afterward that was "the best he's thrown" all spring.

Boy, were we all wrong. When he takes the mound tonight against the Mets, Olsen will carry with him a 2-1 record, 3.54 ERA and one earned run allowed over his last 20 1/3 innings. The turnaround has been remarkable. For one thing, he's throwing better pitches than he did all spring, combining a well-located fastball that now regularly tops 90 mph with a sharp-biting slider and an effective changeup that have confounded opposing hitters.

Maybe more importantly, Olsen is pitching with purpose. As Riggleman puts it, it's like every pitch he throws is the most important one of his career. That strategy has worked well for Olsen his last three times out. Can he sustain it? We'll find out in a few hours when he returns to the mound at Citi Field.

Check back for updates throughout…

Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 7:10 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Chance of rain, 54 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to LF

CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn

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  1. NatsFaninTexas - May 11, 2010 at 8:13 PM

    Tomorrow being a day game after a night day, we should see Nieves in the lineup. Then for on Thursday it looks like Pudge will be catching Lannan for the first time since opening day.

  2. Section 222 - May 11, 2010 at 8:45 PM

    Great. Willy Taveras is rewarded for his excellent baserunning last night with a start in RF. Let's hope this is a "show us something or you're going down when Morse is ready" message.

  3. BowdenBall - May 11, 2010 at 8:50 PM

    STARTING LINEUPSNATIONALS (18-14)…RF Willy Taveras…Eww. Gross.It's hard enough to score runs with only eight productive lineup spots. Why are we gonna try to do it with seven?

  4. Jack T. in Florida - May 11, 2010 at 8:53 PM

    This has to be a farewell appearance for Willy T.I cannot imagine he gets to stick with Morse ready to come down from Syracuse.

  5. Natsochist - May 11, 2010 at 8:54 PM

    If they're going to start Taveras, I'd like to see them do it when Livo's pitching — then put Livo 8th and Taveras 9th in the order. Livo's not a terrible hitter, for a pitcher, and at least that way they've got speed in front of Nyjer if Taveras happens to get on base.

  6. aspenbubba - May 11, 2010 at 8:56 PM

    Mark,What happened with Guzman playing RF? He played a few games and then went back to platooning in the IF.I never saw anything written by either you or Adam.

  7. Mark Zuckerman - May 11, 2010 at 8:58 PM

    AspenBubba: Funny you should bring Guzman up, because I just asked Riggleman about that a few minutes ago. Said he did consider starting Guzie in RF tonight but was worried about putting him out there with the windy conditions. I wouldn't be surprised to him back out there sometime in the near future, especially against LHP.

  8. Souldrummer - May 11, 2010 at 8:59 PM

    It's not in the blog list, but there's a nice article on Clippard in the New York Times today.Here's the link:

  9. Doc - May 11, 2010 at 10:11 PM

    Couple things Mark. First, Olsen has never pitched this well in his MLB career. Pudge says its locating his fastball, but that hard slider is totally impressive.Second, Guzman's bat, R or L, is better than those clowns that are playing in RF. Riggleman and Co. are missing a bet not playing him more there.

  10. Aeoliano - May 11, 2010 at 10:23 PM

    Guzman's OBP is now at .314. His SLG is .384. OPS .698. Well below Willie Harris? I suspect that when Morse comes up there will be some pressure on Riggleman to put Morse in to see if he helps the offense. Batting Guzman third when Zimmerman was out must have contributed greatly to the current shortage of offense.If Morse comes in and immediately starts hitting you'll be seeing Guzman at 2nd base with Bernadina and Morse in right

  11. Souldrummer - May 11, 2010 at 10:30 PM

    Doc appears to like the BA stat. Guz has zero pop, grounds into DPs never walks and will play bad defense in RF. We are using Guzman too much for my tastes right now. Kennedy had a nice night last night and is rewarded for it with another ride on the pines.

  12. Section 222 - May 11, 2010 at 10:42 PM

    Soul — Thanks for that link to the NY Times piece on Clippard.

  13. Souldrummer - May 11, 2010 at 10:49 PM

    No worries, man. The stuff about how we tried to change his delivery was helpful.

  14. Nervous Nats Fan - May 11, 2010 at 10:57 PM

    Why has Morse been out so long? Is his injury much much worse than they thought at the time (when he claimed he didn't need to go on the DL), or are they just hiding him in the minors to avoid making decisions on the 40 man?

  15. Positively Half St. - May 11, 2010 at 11:17 PM

    Hah- I was trying to get on to sak that we have a laugher tonight, and then Dunn creams one. It is not a laugher yet, but just a start.

  16. Joe - May 11, 2010 at 11:21 PM

    Dunn – swinging on 3-0? Beautiful

  17. Matt - May 11, 2010 at 11:34 PM

    Guzman walks twice… in 1 game?!

  18. Aussie Guy - May 12, 2010 at 12:09 AM

    Taveras hits twice… in 1 game?!

  19. Aeoliano - May 12, 2010 at 12:14 AM

    Taveras 4 RBI's were against the Mets earlier in the season. Maybe Riggs is smarter than we think? And he was safe as 2nd. Umpire missed that. He was straddling the bag not touching it and did not have control of the ball. Thus sayeth former Mets pitcher Darling Mets color man.

  20. Souldrummer - May 12, 2010 at 12:15 AM

    @NervousI think the issue is that both Morse and Taveras are out of options so that they want to maximize Morse's 20games of allowed rehab before they DFA one of the two of them.

  21. K.D. - May 12, 2010 at 12:41 AM

    Atta Boy, Pudge! I don't think any of the options at right field have had a chance to get comfortable. Everyone is sweatin' and trying to do too much at the plate.

  22. K.D. - May 12, 2010 at 1:03 AM

    That's Mr. Olsen to you Mets fans. Nice job.

  23. Anonymous - May 12, 2010 at 1:16 AM

    Olsen did NOT look happy being taken out. Pretty sure I saw a "that's f@#$in bull$%!t." Nice.

  24. JayB - May 12, 2010 at 1:19 AM

    Yea that was classic….he is a hot head but so much better than when he was "young"….I remember some huge blow ups with the Fish….

  25. Aeoliano - May 12, 2010 at 1:26 AM

    @souldrummer,Mike Rizzo himself said that if they DFA Morse he would be claimed. He categorically stated that he would return to the active roster. If its true its Riggleman asking for Taveras. Its pretty clear Riggleman has his favorites. Right now he is trying to finagle a way to convince Rizzo to let him replace Olsen in the rotation with his 'fav' Batista.

  26. Will - May 12, 2010 at 1:56 AM

    Even with a four run lead, I know better than to leave the sound on when Bruney comes in. CUT THIS CLOWN.

  27. Anonymous - May 12, 2010 at 2:00 AM

    Anybody but Bruney!!! I'd take the afroementioned Joey Eischen over Bruney!

  28. Aeoliano - May 12, 2010 at 2:01 AM

    Darling said that it was a pretty crappy play by Desmond on an easy ground out. He had time to set and thrown instead of hurrying it. Back to Clip 'n Save.

  29. Aeoliano - May 12, 2010 at 2:07 AM

    And who suggested Willingham in right field? Yikes. The snooze alarm just went off.

  30. Waddy eye no - May 12, 2010 at 2:07 AM

    LOSE BRUNEY!!!!!

  31. Janner33 - May 12, 2010 at 2:10 AM

    Dear Mr. Bruney. Go Home. Please. Just go.

  32. Aeoliano - May 12, 2010 at 2:11 AM

    Uh Clipp may need relief Riggs … too late … the Mets bring on their closer now.

  33. Aeoliano - May 12, 2010 at 2:14 AM

    10 – 6 Mets: Here comes Batista … Riggs go-to guy. Lose Bruney? How about this guy … sigh … just coming off allowing a homer last night, now has four with plenty of walks to go with it … If you lose Bruney, you lose Batista (how did he make this team anyway? Had to be Riggleman … ), and you lose Bruney. Walker is looking better.

  34. Aeoliano - May 12, 2010 at 2:16 AM

    IBB : here comes the Batista special: grand slam.

  35. Aeoliano - May 12, 2010 at 2:18 AM

    I'll take Bruney over Batista every single time.

  36. rmoore446 - May 12, 2010 at 2:21 AM

    OMG, this is like a flashback to last year–lousy defense and worse bullpen. Yes, cut Bruney…and why no defensive substitution for Willingham with the big lead?

  37. Aussie Guy - May 12, 2010 at 2:21 AM

    Aeoliano… who are you talking to?

  38. Natsochist - May 12, 2010 at 2:29 AM

    Mark – MASN broadcast showed it clearly foul as well. Dibble chewed out Davis for his "WHAT?!?" reaction after a whopping 1-2 weeks in the big leagues.

  39. Nervous Nats Fan - May 12, 2010 at 2:30 AM

    Oh man, that was close. Also, I guess Clippard got a taste of his own medicine there from Batista. Hopefully all those stories about the 2005 meltdown did not jinx them for the rest of the season.

  40. Aeoliano - May 12, 2010 at 2:37 AM

    Biggest comeback of the year for the Mets. Just great … really just great.

  41. K.D. - May 12, 2010 at 2:44 AM

    That might be it for the Bruney audition. Got to come back strong tomorrow, set the tone. No slacking on get-away day.

  42. Doc - May 12, 2010 at 2:48 AM

    Be strong Nats fans! We shall overcome!

  43. Anonymous - May 12, 2010 at 2:52 AM

    It all started when Nyjer let that routine pop drop between him and Guzman. We all love Morgan, but that was totally, totally unacceptable, and set the tone for the rest of the night.

  44. LoveDaNats - May 12, 2010 at 2:53 AM

    Bruney. The Hanrahan of the 2010 Nats. Do you think the Pirates might want him?

  45. Anonymous - May 12, 2010 at 2:53 AM

    This loss can be blamed on many people, but it's mostly Riggleman's fault. Him taking Olsen out in sixth was just stupid.

  46. rmoore446 - May 12, 2010 at 2:55 AM

    Let Bruney figure it out in AAA. He's had enough chances here. Time to bring up our reliever phenom and, while we're at it, bring up Morse. I'm tired of the banjo-hitting Bernadina and Taveras in right field.

  47. rmoore446 - May 12, 2010 at 3:01 AM

    I agree with Anonymous 10:42 about Nyger's screw-up on the pop drop. He looks like a world-beater for much of the time but then loses concentration or something and makes a bush play. He's a little better than half-baked but that under-done side keeps turning up. Really, several of the team lost focus tonight at times, almost as if they were spoiled by the big lead.

  48. Anonymous - May 12, 2010 at 3:07 AM

    I blame Zuckerman. He dredges up memories of the Nats bullpen imploding and blowing a big lead late the last time they were four over .500 in 2005, and then they go and do it again tonight. Mark, this is not what people made all those contributions to you for.

  49. The Great Unwashed - May 12, 2010 at 3:19 AM

    Bruney:Ball, ball, base hit.Ball, ball, base hit.Ball, ball, base hit.Seems like the only strikes he throws are hittable. Why is this guy still on the roster?

  50. Section 222 - May 12, 2010 at 3:27 AM

    Actually, I'd say this loss is Sept. 18, 2005-esqe. :-)

  51. Sunsince_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - May 12, 2010 at 3:52 AM

    Nicely said, Sec. 222. There was every nightmare out there tonight with the exception fo Khalid Greene.Evem my bourbon and Maalox isn't touching this heartburn tonight.

  52. Anonymous - May 12, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    I'm okay with Morgan; he makes for interesting [?] baseball. But Bruney? No thank you. Get the hook, and then a train ticket. But seriously, in spite of recent performance, pitching reliability and depth are the gaping holes with this club, IMHO, and I'm hopeful and patient.

  53. natsfan1a - May 12, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    Does seem as though the miscommunication with Morgan was a turning point. On the other hand, I was with Olsen on his getting pulled (although I phrased my concern differently than he did as I addressed my tv set ;-)).Have to admit that was a great catch by Drama Boy (What? That's a HR! OMG, I can't believe this! My life sucks!) to end it.





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