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Game 39: Nats at Cardinals

May 17, 2010, 8:15 PM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Busch Stadium hosts the Nationals for a quick, two-game series.

ST. LOUIS — If yesterday's game at Coors Field was a "must-win" for the Nationals — one they proceeded to lose, 2-1 — what does that make tonight's game at Busch Stadium? Absolutely-must win?

Whatever you want to call it, this is a big game for the Nats, who for the first time this season come to the ballpark riding a three-game losing streak. Not that a four-game streak and a 20-19 record would be devastating to a club few would have expected to be in this position in mid-May, but it would erase some of the good vibes the Nationals have built over the last couple of weeks.

There's also some added emphasis on winning tonight because the Cardinals will send ace Chris Carpenter to the mound tomorrow. The last thing the Nats want is to have to beat Carpenter to avoid a five-game losing streak. Tonight's starter, Kyle Lohse, is much more beatable (he's 3-13 since last April).

Of course, if this one is close late, Albert Pujols will be looming in the St. Louis lineup. How much would you love to see Pujols step to the plate in a one-run game in the eighth inning, when all of a sudden the bullpen door swings open and Drew Storen comes trotting in to make his big-league debut? (OK, that may be too much to ask for, but it would make for a great story, wouldn't it?)

Check back for updates throughout…

NATIONALS AT CARDINALS
Where: Busch Stadium
Gametime: 8:15 p.m.
TV: MASN-HD
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Cloudy, 58 degrees, Wind 11 mph in from LF

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (20-18)
RF Willie Harris
2B Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Josh Willingham

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  1. Anonymous - May 17, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    Go get'em Nats

  2. NatinBeantown - May 17, 2010 at 8:40 PM

    Nice photo. Aren't the Cards concerned that their $120m left fielder could hurt himself on the Arch cut into the OF grass? :)(perhaps you should get some lawn-care tips for our boys back home, Mark)

  3. alm1000 - May 17, 2010 at 8:45 PM

    Thanks Mark.Have you made a prediction in the "when will Strasburg debut for the Nats" guessing game?

  4. Doc - May 17, 2010 at 8:47 PM

    Lohse looks ripe for the pickin'–then again the Rox had 2 pitchers who beat us, one with a 9+ ERA and the other some guy who hadn't pitched in the Bigs for a year or so! Gooooo Nats!

  5. Bowdenball - May 17, 2010 at 8:47 PM

    I assume just a scheduled day off for Nyjer Morgan … but why not wait until they're facing a lefty?At least this is one way to avoid his ill-advised stolen base against elite defensive catchers.

  6. NatsNut - May 17, 2010 at 8:47 PM

    Ok, Stammen. Go get 'em, Tiger.

  7. SilverSpring8 - May 17, 2010 at 8:48 PM

    I see Nyjer gets the day off. Good thing — he's really struggling at the plate.

  8. SBrent - May 17, 2010 at 8:59 PM

    Sounds like you're making a media splash, Mark. Congrats!

  9. Anonymous - May 17, 2010 at 9:10 PM

    I pray for more bone-headedness from FLop to save the day!

  10. Sunderland - May 17, 2010 at 9:36 PM

    NatinBeantown – I thought the exact same thing when I saw the photo.1 – Damn, that's a pretty ballfield.2 – They invested $120 in Matt Holliday and they're willing to let him play on grass that's not evenly cut? That's just plain reckless.

  11. Grandstander - May 17, 2010 at 9:42 PM

    It's hard not to read more into this off day for Morgan considering over the last 15 games his OPS is an abysmal .563 (.295 OBP) and he has as many caught stealings as steals this season.A leadoff man ain't worth much if he can't get on base and when he does get on base and tries to steal, half the time he makes an out.Let him sit and think about it for a day. Hopefully the bench time will let Tony Plush come back out.

  12. Anonymous - May 17, 2010 at 9:43 PM

    All right all you bright lightbulbs, remember those designs are rolled not cut into the grass. It is all cut the same length.

  13. NatinBeantown - May 17, 2010 at 9:58 PM

    Anon 5:43 – Easy there, fella. It's just some humor going back to our own Curly W that is MIA from Nats Park this year. See Mark's Opening Day post (6:19 update):http://natsinsider.blogspot.com/2010/04/game-2-nats-vs-phillies.html#more

  14. Souldrummer - May 17, 2010 at 10:16 PM

    The righty lefty obsessions of Riggles strikes again. Wouldn't mind seeing Morse get another game after 2 hits yesterday. Lohse may be a righty, but he's a struggling righty. Didn't they use Storen last night in Syracuse? I'd rather see a long start out of Stammen and see our guys put together a strong bullpen effort tomorrow out of Clip, Store, and Save to help even the odds against Carpenter.

  15. Anonymous - May 18, 2010 at 12:04 AM

    Morgan's performance or lack thereof makes a potential trade for BJ Upton a bit more urgent I suspect. They need a mix that produces runs. Last year his game provided that spark. He hasn't been the same?

  16. Doc - May 18, 2010 at 12:08 AM

    One of our pitchers has to plunk FLOP! He's the Anti-Nat! All Nats fans should utter curses in his name. Gooooooooooo Naaaaaaaaaaaaats!!!!

  17. JayB - May 18, 2010 at 1:00 AM

    Harris should have caught that ball in the first inning. Rizzo still loving his RF production? This team needs to make a move to get a competent RFer at the MLB level.

  18. Anonymous - May 18, 2010 at 1:03 AM

    Bernadina has been showing some life in the RF position… Harris on the other hand has been slumping.

  19. Dryw - May 18, 2010 at 1:06 AM

    Mark, that Hardee's guy story is now officially the best part of my day! Mind if I share it?

  20. Mark Zuckerman - May 18, 2010 at 1:07 AM

    Dryw: Please, share away!

  21. NatsNut - May 18, 2010 at 1:18 AM

    I'm jealous. I wish OUR concession cashiers knew about arbitration and Super Two and visiting team prospects.

  22. meixler - May 18, 2010 at 1:22 AM

    Okay, aside from the first Stammen hasn't been too bad… now our offense needs to get going. Can't win a game with 0 runs.

  23. dj in Fla. - May 18, 2010 at 1:23 AM

    New News? Daily Dish has the Nationals making a play for Oswalt, giving up Norris and a couple of pitching prospects.

  24. meixler - May 18, 2010 at 1:35 AM

    dj,I don't know what Daily Dish is, but Buster Olney was speculating the same thing on espn.com. Of course, if the Nats were to make a trade for a big name pitcher, I'd personally rather see them get Cliff Lee who could then stick it to the Phillies as much as he pleases.

  25. dj in Fla. - May 18, 2010 at 1:44 AM

    meixler,http://www.mlbdailydish.com/We have the Cards feed here tonight and they said Lohse got gifts from the ump on his last two pitches to Stammen.And I'd take Lee in a minute alsoNice catch Bernadina

  26. JayB - May 18, 2010 at 1:44 AM

    Harris really is not any solution for a winning team except maybe a 25th man who never plays. He dropped another on and is batting under .150. Rizzo get busy please….we need a RFer.

  27. meixler - May 18, 2010 at 1:54 AM

    well after that catch at the 400, I'm glad it's Bernadina in center and not Harris.

  28. Mark Zuckerman - May 18, 2010 at 1:55 AM

    Meixler: OK, fair enough. Not sure Willie makes that play. Great catch by Roger, on a play that was identical to the one in which he broke his ankle a year ago.

  29. Dryw - May 18, 2010 at 2:16 AM

    Aaaarrggghhhh!!!!

  30. Anonymous - May 18, 2010 at 2:25 AM

    I guess this is natural, after the last two seasons, but tonight's game feels exactly like 2008 and 2009.In those days, being down two runs felt insurmountable. Same same.

  31. NatsNut - May 18, 2010 at 2:28 AM

    Poor Storen. Not quite as bad as Matt Chico, but close. Deep breaths, kid.

  32. meixler - May 18, 2010 at 2:34 AM

    He worked his way through it… and striking out Holliday should give him some confidence. Way to go, Storen! Now let's win this game.

  33. NatinBeantown - May 18, 2010 at 2:35 AM

    What an AB vs Holliday. Storen's got stones.

  34. Mike M - May 18, 2010 at 2:39 AM

    Great mental toughness from Storen. Hitting Ludwick isn't a concern for me at all. Chalk thal all up to nerves.And how about the curve and sinker he was tossing? Wow!Looks like the Rizzo knew what he was doing when he took Drew above slot.

  35. meixler - May 18, 2010 at 3:01 AM

    I'm glad they actually used Storen in this game, because aside from his debut there hasn't been much to talk about.Come on, Nats.

  36. Anonymous - May 18, 2010 at 3:09 AM

    I feel like this losing streak is punishment for us thinking that the Nats had a chance to make the post-season. Nice play of vaulted one in the sky, I won't make that mistake in May again. :(

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 72 53 --
ATLANTA 66 61 7.0
MIAMI 63 63 9.5
NEW YORK 60 68 13.5
PHILADELPHIA 56 71 17.0
Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
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.
WED: 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.

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