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Game 43: Orioles at Nats

May 21, 2010, 7:30 PM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Orioles come down the Parkway for the weekend interleague series.

I feel like I've been writing this a lot the last week, but the next few days are big for the Nationals.

Perhaps they brought this upon themselves with that five-game losing streak, putting added pressure on each subsequent game, but it's a fact. The Nats really need to play good baseball this weekend against an Orioles club that is in disarray. Two out of three is a must, if only to ensure their record remains above .500 heading into a tough West Coast swing to San Francisco and San Diego (plus Houston) next week.

Scott Olsen is on the mound tonight, hoping to extend his surprisingly dominant run. Perhaps his teammates will supply him with some run support for a change. He hasn't received a decision in his last three starts, despite giving up a total of four earned runs in the process.

Interesting lineup twist for Jim Riggleman: Slumping Nyjer Morgan is on the bench. Roger Bernadina's in center field, with Willie Harris in right.

Check back for updates throughout…

ORIOLES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN-HD, MASN2-HD
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM, WTEM-980 AM
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 79 degrees, Wind 8 mph out to LF

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (21-21)
RF Willie Harris
2B Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn

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  1. Anonymous - May 21, 2010 at 7:37 PM

    You know what I just realized? We need a Right Fielder.

  2. Grandstander - May 21, 2010 at 7:40 PM

    Ian Desmond – .277 BA .326 OBPWillie Harris – .182 BA .289 OBPWhy is Harris leading off over Desmond? It makes zero sense to me.

  3. Anonymous - May 21, 2010 at 7:41 PM

    why do they keep playing harris?

  4. Anonymous - May 21, 2010 at 7:47 PM

    Nyjer gets benched for at least a game … and look there's Willie? Leading off with .182 and a .289 OPB, followed by a guy with a lifetime .308 OBP? Who is hitting abysmally when he bats left-handed? At least put Kennedy at second batting second with Guzman in right field batting lower in the order? Why not try Bernadina as lead off? These are days when you wonder what Riggleman is thinking and where he gets those thoughts.

  5. Uncle Atom - May 21, 2010 at 7:59 PM

    Man, and I'm wearing my T Plush shirt to the game tonight. Hope the benching motivates better defensive thinking. I can excuse a batting slump and, be Nyj needs to step it up on the defensive side and get his brain in the game when running the basepaths too.

  6. Anonymous - May 21, 2010 at 8:08 PM

    At the rate he's going I think, by September, a T Plush shirt will be as archaic as a Brad Wilkerson bobblehead.

  7. Jaxpo Nat - May 21, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    I'm guessing Desmond ultimately lands in the 2 slot. Just a matter of how long it takes Riggleman to realize that is where he belongs. Give the young stud some protection and dump one of the other losers in the 8 slot.

  8. bdrube - May 21, 2010 at 8:21 PM

    I too would like to know what is up with Harris leading off. Either Desmond or Bernadina would be a much better choice at this point. Give the young guys a chance. You never know, it might actually work.

  9. cadeck13 - May 21, 2010 at 8:22 PM

    Mark,Nyjer is not just slumping with the bat, but mentally he doesn't seem to be in the game, i.e. poor base running, poor fielding (in the park homer)as well as other balls off the wall and bad throwing twice that I remember in just last night's game. Is anything going on with him or is he just pressing?Also, Dibs really goes off a lot on the pitch selection. Who calls the pitches? Catcher, bench? I don't see the pitchers shaking off the pitch selection a lot.

  10. Doc - May 21, 2010 at 8:29 PM

    Mark, if Morgan will give an interview, try and find out what's going on. Maybe getting rid of what appears to be a chaw of tobacco in his left cheek would help.

  11. RICHARD IN BETHANY - May 21, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    Anon 3:41 Willie needs playing time. Why don't you try to remember that Guzzie played 2 years half blind! No wonder his "lifetime" OBP is a little low.I'm real happy with the way Riggleman is calling the shots. At least we're competive! Every game we 've got a shot to win===more than one could say last year.

  12. dj in Fl - May 21, 2010 at 8:55 PM

    Good question cadeck13I think Rigleman knows exactly what he is doing. We leave Monday for a road trip that will decide who is on the roster when they return and SS arrives. I do not think for a minute that management is going to allow SS to endure the poor fielding we witnessed last night. Everyone has been discussing at length the pitching moves that have to happen, but I would not sell Rizzo short. I think that some of the trade packages being kicked around will include all Milledge type fielders/baserunners.They play Guz because of his attitude and to showcase his bat. He is doing much better from the left side and could alos be part of a package.

  13. Jaxpo Nat - May 21, 2010 at 9:14 PM

    @cadeck 13: "Also, Dibs really goes off a lot on the pitch selection." Wouldn't put too much stock in what Dibbs says. If you pay attention he will say one thing one minute because it sounds good and makes sense… then quite often just minutes later will say the complete opposite and it too sounds good. In general he seems to just talk out of his arse quite a bit. Case in point last night, regarding Atilano's pitch selection. In one breath he complained that Atilano wasn't throwing his sinker, that he had "gotten away from his strength" as he put it, "and his strength is his sinker." Then, IN THE SAME AT BAT, he commented that sometimes when your best pitch isn't working you have to go to something out: "I don't know why he isn't throwing his cutter more." Two completely contradictory statements, each made with such conviction that he seemed to be implying each was just common sense and what the hell is wrong with these pitchers? Dibbs=Not the best analyst. Colorful, but not exactly a Rhodes scholar.

  14. cadeck13 - May 21, 2010 at 9:30 PM

    Jaxpo Nat – yeah, I hear what you are saying about Dibs, but I'm still curious as to who calls the game for the Nationals the catcher or the bench. I asked Dibble that question on air last year and he never gave me a straight up answer.

  15. Jaxpo Nat - May 21, 2010 at 9:41 PM

    It is my understanding that nearly all major league catchers call their own games. The only time they look over at the bench is for calls on the running game (pitchouts, pickoffs, etc). Not so in college where almost no catchers call their own games. That is why you often hear coaches lament the fact that, even though a catching prospect might be ready otherwise, they haven't yet learned to properly call a game yet so they need a little more time. Consider what Sabean recently said about Buster Posey: Sabean said Posey was "still learning how to catch. Some of that is game calling. Some of that is the consistency that he'll need as, we hope, an offensive catcher." I guarantee you Pudge calls his own game (and Nieves for that matter). You won't see them look at the bench unless there is a runner on base, and even then it is just to check baserunner calls.

  16. Souldrummer - May 21, 2010 at 9:43 PM

    @allWillie Harris is probably being rewarded for his Pinch Hit at bat last night in a game where a lot of people had poor performances. I think that this lineup is some kind of message to his ballplayers. I'm going to reward Guz and Harris for good professional at bats last night. I'm going to punish Nyjer Morgan for his defense a little bit, and I'm going to keep playing Bernadina every day while getting a look at his defense in CF. I'm not going to put Desmond early in the lineup because his defense yesterday didn't earn him at bats. Also, remember that Riggleman likes the RLR stuff down in the order. Desmond doesn't take enough pitches for me to bat leadoff. I'd like to see him batting 6th because I think he'll be better the rest of the year than Pudge is and is more likely of some pop should OBP guys Dunn and Hammer get on base. I don't think that's going to happen because Riggles is loyal to his veterans. Good for the clubhouse, I suppose, but not as appealing to us fans or to the guys who try to make more decisions purely based on current and likely future production.

  17. Mark Zuckerman - May 21, 2010 at 9:44 PM

    To answer all the questions about pitch selection … the Nats always let their catchers call the pitches. Pudge in particular has made a real impression with the pitching staff. Most guys insist they hardly ever feel the need to shake him off.

  18. Anonymous - May 21, 2010 at 9:48 PM

    MLBTR says Roy Oswalt has requested a trade to a contender. Assuming the Nats are a contender, what would it take to get him if hte Nats ate all of his contract $31M total through '11. Detwiler? Espinosa and Chico? Is he worth it to the Nats for a year an a half and does he fit into "the plan" for the Nats?

  19. The Great Unwashed - May 21, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    Jaxpo Nat,Funny you should mention Dibble's contradictory statements last night about Atilano's sinker. I caught that too, and I wondered why Carpenter didn't call him on it. Too funny!

  20. Jaxpo Nat - May 21, 2010 at 9:58 PM

    @ The Great UnwashedDibble does that all the time. I too often wonder what must be going through Carpenter's head sometimes. He seems like a pretty details-oriented guy and you know sometimes he must be thinking "whatever Rob," but obviously wouldn't want to call out his partner. Or maybe he doesn't notice because he is too busy scribbling in his patented scorebook.

  21. wpcorbett - May 21, 2010 at 10:06 PM

    Looking at tonight's lineups, who would be a contributing regular player on a contending team?Zimmerman, Dunn certainly. Desmond, Willingham probably.Orioles: Markakis. That's it.

  22. Souldrummer - May 21, 2010 at 10:15 PM

    @wpcorbett…Don't know about Desmond yet.For the Orioles, Adam Jones is slumping this year and very well may improve. Miggy on a short term deal would not be bad and he could be a tradable piece for them at the deadline. Wiggington's been raking and has had an out of body experience to this point.Otherwise, you got me.

  23. court - May 21, 2010 at 10:35 PM

    I'd rather include Marrero than Espinosa in a deal for Oswalt. I would not trade Detwiller though. Marrero doesn't really have a position, whereas Danny and Ian can be our middle infield for years to come. Detwiler's still young so I'd rather deal Stammen (who reportedly had value over the winter). Considering the amount of salary the Nats would have to pick up, maybe a deal can be worked out without giving up our top guys. We'll see.As for the plan, Oswalt is only 32 (I think) and you can never have too much pitching. Plus, having a real ace in Oswalt will take some pressure off of SJS. And a '11 rotation of Oswalt, SJS, Zimmermann, Wang and Lannan/Olsen/Detwiler could be a division favorite depending on how the Phillies' offseason plays out (especially if we can steal Werth for RF).

  24. Kemp - May 21, 2010 at 11:29 PM

    This is being purely silly, but since we're talking about the Astros, how about a package deal where we swap Bourn and Pence for Nyjer, Bally, and Mock? Bourn for Nyjer is a pretty straight trade IMHO.

  25. Anonymous - May 21, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    IMHO dibbs is head and shoulders above Sutton. And Orel on ESPN for that matter. I want the baseball man in the booth to stick to baseball. And Dibble does that.

  26. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - May 22, 2010 at 12:10 AM

    Dibs is a jerk-along who just likes to hear himself talk. The reason Carp doesn't call him out for his diametically opposite thoughts within the same inning is Carp is too dumb to realize they make no sense.Bring back Ron Darling.

  27. Dryw - May 22, 2010 at 12:17 AM

    Are we really that worried about Dibbs and Carp when THE NATS ARE LOSING 4-0 TO THE Os????? The Os!! Or are we just trying to pretend that something that painful isn't happening?

  28. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - May 22, 2010 at 12:46 AM

    SIGN. OSWALT. NOW.

  29. Anonymous8 - May 22, 2010 at 12:51 AM

    So Amber Theoharris (sp?) says that Adam Jones is out with leg cramps and may be back in the game. Does she realize that this isn't Little League and he can't go back into the game?

  30. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - May 22, 2010 at 1:37 AM

    IQ Test, Amber Theoharis vs. Debbie Taylor: Over/under: 55.

  31. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me - May 22, 2010 at 1:43 AM

    Super WILLIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

  32. Mac - May 22, 2010 at 1:55 AM

    RE: SunshineDon't you mean Theoharis + Taylor: over/under 55?

  33. Anonymous8 - May 22, 2010 at 2:20 AM

    Come on, Debbi Taylor knows her baseball. Some of the questions aren't great but I doubt she is the one writing the script.Worth rewinding your TiVo to listen to Amber. Duh?

  34. Mac - May 22, 2010 at 4:03 AM

    Anon8:Watch her next postgame interview after a win. I guarantee that her first question will be: What was your approach there? Its a lock.

Archives

NLDS: NATIONALS VS. GIANTS

FRI: Game 1 at Washington, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2 at Washington, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3 at San Francisco, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4 at San Francisco, TBA (FS1)*
THU: Game 5 at Washington, TBA (FS1)*
*if necessary

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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