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Game 53: Nats at Astros

Jun 1, 2010, 8:35 PM EST

Photo courtesy Houston Astros
The Nats go for two in a row tonight at Minute Maid Park.

Well, that was quite the offensive explosion from the Nationals yesterday, wasn't it? A lineup that averaged 3.6 runs per game during the first two legs of this road trip ran roughshod over the Astros to the tune of 14 runs on 14 hits.

No sense tinkering with perfection, so Jim Riggleman is sticking with his reconfigured lineup tonight. Cristian Guzman (3-for-6, three runs) again bats leadoff with Nyjer Morgan (3-for-4, walk, four runs) staying in the 2-hole.

Craig Stammen, who put together a solid start his last time out in San Francisco, is on the mound for the Nats. Former Phillie Brett Myers (career 10-9 with a 4.18 ERA in 33 appearances against the Nationals franchise) starts for the Astros.

I didn't make the trip to Houston with the club, so there will be no in-game updates. As always, please feel free to converse with each other throughout…

Where: Minute Maid Park
Gametime: 8:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 86 degrees, Wind 12 mph out to LF

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

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  1. N. Cognito - Jun 1, 2010 at 8:54 PM

    After the 14 run outburst, I'm predicting the Nats will score 8 runs over the last 3 games. That could be enough to win all 3.

  2. dj in Fl. - Jun 1, 2010 at 9:28 PM

    NO NO NO Mr. N.Cognito,I think that as the team plane left San Diego, there was a huge sigh of relief. The toughest part of the schedule is over and they were only one under .500. Quickly followed by a lets go take out a few frustrating years, on some lesser talent. I am excited about this month and the opportunity the guys have to get on a roll. It is the perfect month for everyone on this team to pad their stats and get some wins, one night at a time.

  3. Herr Anonymous - Jun 1, 2010 at 9:44 PM

    Except the Reds who are next … that may be like bringing San Diego home.

  4. Anonymous - Jun 1, 2010 at 9:51 PM

    Still would like to see what would happen if they bat Willingham second, Dunn third, Zimmerman 4th, Guzman 5th, Pudge or Bernadina, Desmond with Morgan leading off. That looks to be the most effective lineup.

  5. dj in Fl. - Jun 1, 2010 at 10:18 PM

    The Reds have faced the Pirates and Astros 15 times this year. Not the toughest schedule.Plus they will be in our house, with plenty of fans who were buying in hopes of seeing SS.

  6. Cwj - Jun 1, 2010 at 11:14 PM

    I like Morgan batting #2. Gives him a chance to sacrifice bunt, with the possibility of beating out the throw.

  7. Les in NC - Jun 1, 2010 at 11:51 PM

    So far the DC boys are 2-4 for Tuesday games. When we win tonight, Strasburg can even that record up next Tuesday (if everything goes as planned schedule wise).@ Cwj: I also like putting Morgan in the best position for an early sac bunt with a chance to beat out the throw. But we have tried batting Guze leadoff in the past and came to the conclusion that that is not the best fit for him.

  8. Anonymous8 - Jun 2, 2010 at 12:22 AM

    Is Stammen throwing BP in the 1st inning?

  9. Brian - Jun 2, 2010 at 12:23 AM

    I think Stammen's performance so far is making the decision of who goes when Strasburg comes much easier.

  10. Anonymous - Jun 2, 2010 at 12:40 AM

    And Batista is up … that should be interesting to see as well …

  11. Slidell - Jun 2, 2010 at 1:10 AM

    Only partially in jest— Convert Stammen to a RF; solves 2 problems with one stroke. Good hitter.

  12. Anonymous - Jun 2, 2010 at 1:26 AM

    This is tough to watch. Stammen TWICE couldn't get bunts down!

  13. Anonymous - Jun 2, 2010 at 1:29 AM

    It is Nyjer's shaved head making the difference!

  14. Anonymous - Jun 2, 2010 at 1:39 AM

    Get the man 4 runs and a tie game and Stammen shoots himself in the foot again with a HR in the 5th.

  15. Les in NC - Jun 2, 2010 at 1:46 AM

    That should do it for Stammen. I'm surprised they let him finish the fifth, after delivering another homerun ball then having 2 singles against him with 2 outs. Luckily he (and the coach) perservered to get Myers to groundout to end it.

  16. Section 222 - Jun 2, 2010 at 1:51 AM

    Too bad Stammen couldn't pitch better to be more appealing trade bait for Oswalt….

  17. Les in NC - Jun 2, 2010 at 2:37 AM

    With bases loaded and 1 out in the top of the 8th, the only way they can score is get hit by a pitch?Thats frustrating to watch. I hope Maldanado is a defensive upgrade over Nieves, otheriwse why bring him in? Did Nieves suffer an injury?

  18. Les in NC - Jun 2, 2010 at 2:57 AM

    Last chance for the 'meat' of the order to turn this game around.Also, to expound on another thought I had earlier.The Nats records on each day of the week.Day/Record/Runs Allowed/# of games/ Runs per GameM) 3-4 36 7 = 5.14/ gameTu) 2-4 29 6= 4.83/gameW) 5-3 45 8= 5.63/gameTh) 4-3 35 7= 5.0/gameF) 4-3 25 8= 3.5/gameSa) 4-5 38 9= 4.22/gameSu) 4-4 32 8= 4.0/game

  19. Dan - Jun 2, 2010 at 3:06 AM

    Hey, look at that!

  20. Les in NC - Jun 2, 2010 at 3:14 AM

    *That's Runs allowed per game.Runs for per game:M)4.57Tu)3.83W)5.5Th)5.86F)3.75Sa)4.38Su)3.25The 'meat of the order' did its job, now Let's see Capps do his against the backend of the Astros' order.

  21. Anonymous - Jun 2, 2010 at 3:33 AM

    Lannan is likely going to be the trade bait for Oswalt or Lee.

  22. Dan - Jun 2, 2010 at 3:37 AM

    Capps didn't do his job, but that was a strike on Berkman. Agh. Under .500 again.

  23. Cwj - Jun 2, 2010 at 3:44 AM

    The batting average against Capps on balls in play (BABIP) is very high. And he's still throwing good pitches, so I'm not too concerned about him. It's kinda strange though, a lot of closers are going through slumps right now.Still, this loss is a tough one.

  24. Anonymous - Jun 2, 2010 at 5:23 AM

    It seems like each time Capps comes in lately…. the D gives up an error, which leads to bad news! Tough loss. Thought we were going to steal a W.

  25. Anonymous - Jun 2, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    Now we are seeing the real Matt Capps, the bum that the Pirates unloaded.

  26. Jim Webster - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    Anon 5:43 AM: Let's not be too hard on Capps. On balance he's been pretty good. But Bill Hohn is another story. Not only did he blow it the previoius night in ejecting Oswalt but he completely missed Berkman's third strike, which the replay clearly showed that his bat crossed the plate. He needs either a second very firm phone call from the commissioner's office or to be sent down to single A.

  27. Anonymous8 - Jun 2, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    That error set up a bad start to that inning. With the bottom of the order up, he would have rolled right through it.Can't pin this on Capps.

  28. K.D. - Jun 2, 2010 at 12:13 PM

    Not sure if that was the right pitch to throw, but it wasn't a bad location. Berkman is a big strong guy, he was trying to atone for his throwing error and he got lucky. Not to upset with losing this game, could be worse the Nats could be the Astros.

  29. Anonymous - Jun 2, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    The Nats shouldn't have even been in that game after that horrible pitching performance by Stammen.The offense kept them in the game.

  30. Arlington Big Fish - Jun 2, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    Did anyone notice that, on the double by Bourn in the 9th, Morgan once again mis-judged the trajectory of a ball most major league outfielders should catch? He's got the speed to get to the ball, but speed doesn't help if he loses his perspective when he gets close to the wall.

  31. Scooter - Jun 2, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    You have a sort-of point there, Big Fish, in that Morgan has always had trouble *catching* the ball, relative to his outstanding range. (I assume this is what you're going for. I mean, "most major league outfielders" would have watched it plunk off the wall.)((For what it's worth, those other outfielders also wouldn't have made the baserunner wait to tag up at second, thinking the ball might be caught, and … ah, getting too complicated now.))

  32. Steve M. - Jun 2, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    Arlington – That was the PH Sullivan who had the double in the 9th, and while Morgan was back at the wall, it would have been a tough catch. I will give him a pass on that one.Guzman made a heck of a play on that slapper to him at 2nd to cut off the guy at the plate.All in all, any way you disect it, you can't start Capps off with an error on the #7 hitter to open the inning with a 1 run lead. You also can't give up 5 runs in 5 innings to the worst hitting team in the MLB. 15 hits to these guys + 6 walks is a JOKE. Stammen should just pack his bags voluntarily and make it easy on Riggleman. On the plus side, the batters kept battling. The offense kept the Nats in the game.In hindsight, Riggles should have pinch run for Adam Dunn and he would have scored on Bernadina's single. Other than that, the offense did its job.

  33. Steve M. - Jun 2, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    Umpires: HP: Gary Darling. 3B: Bill Hohn.These guys missed the most critical play in the game on the 2-2 count to Berkman in the 9th with 2 outs.I saw it replayed on ESPN. The ball was outside but Berkman definitely swung.

  34. Scooter - Jun 2, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    Oh, and here's the other thing about Sullivan's (thanks Steve) double: I liked the way Morgan and Willingham worked together. Morgan could take the chance and go for the catch, because Willingham was right there to play the carom.Same thing happened several innings earlier, where I thought Willingham wanted to play a carom, but because Morgan was there to back up, he actually tried for the catch. (Looked damn ugly doing it, too.)

  35. N. Cognito - Jun 2, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    Anonymous said… "The Nats shouldn't have even been in that game after that horrible pitching performance by Stammen.The offense kept them in the game."I think you meant the Atros's horrible pitching and defense kept them in the game.

  36. Scooter - Jun 2, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    You say Cognito; we say Cognato.

  37. Anonymous - Jun 2, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    We got royally screwed on that check swing.

  38. Steve M. - Jun 2, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    Scooter, Good one. The Nats had a decent .363 OBP for the game so that is good offense.Yes, the Nats were helped by 2 errors but still made their own breaks. If it is Adam Dunn running instead of Nyjer Morgan, does their shortstop approach the ball so aggresively and make that error?Ryan Zimmerman got 4 walks, but he worked every count frustrating each pitcher. Dunn worked 2 walks.Morgan was still 2 for 5, Nieves 2 for 3, Desmond 2 for 5, and Bernadina got a clutch hit so I would say the offense came through.Yes, Willingham stuggled but still contributed with a Sac Fly.The one horrific part of offense was the 2 ugly at-bats Craig Stammen had. Simply unexplainable and this isn't the first time he couldn't help himself in a game bunting. He actually is a good hitter so either let him hit away or teach him to bunt.

  39. Anonymous - Jun 2, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    This hasnt been brought up on the negative side which was the pinch hitting. Not counting Willie Harris HBP, the at-bat by Morse was ugly with a strikeout and Kennedy struck out also.Morse showed his worth last year coming off the bench as a pinch hitter and this year doesnt seem to have the same approach.

  40. N. Cognito - Jun 2, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    8 hits3 for 12 with runners in scoring position.If we had hit decently, we'd have scored more.We scored 3 unearned runs and gave up 2.The Astros kept us in the game.

  41. Anonymous - Jun 2, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    Morse showed his worth last year coming off the bench as a pinch hitter and this year doesnt seem to have the same approach.At least he's not hitting .180 like Harris or .188 like JMax. Both of these guys have undeservingly received more starts and reps at the plate than Morse now haven't they?And as I recall last night's game I seem to remember the man who never walks swinging strike 3 with the bases loaded. Riggleman will surely forgive that even though the previous hitter, Harris, was able to work a walk with bases loaded. Guzman is the one WHO REALLY looked terrible.

  42. Steve M. - Jun 2, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    Cognito – Subtract out those 2 bad pinch hit strikeouts and the 2nd bunt (non-bunt) strikeout of Stammen and the Nats were essentially 3 for 9 with runners in scoring position.I am trying to look at the glass 1/2 full. Houston is in last place for a reason. Their starting pitching was good. Their team offensive statistics are horrible. Stammen made them look like an offensive dynamo.A .363 team OBP is a typical Yankees night but eclipses any other team's average so I think it was a good offensive performance. You almost have to look at who is in 30th place in team OBP—–yes, the Houston Astros at a MLB bottom of .286

  43. Scooter - Jun 2, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    Steve, I just wanted to echo your Stammen frustration. I was grumbling last night that someone who apparently hits pretty well is so god-awful at bunting. (I didn't even want him to bunt that one time, which makes me grumble even more — you know, because of the smugness.)

  44. Andrew - Jun 2, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    It's interesting analyzing the Nats game like a Redskins football game.The tough part is that National League players play both offense and defense.The game was just plain ugly all around with the walks, errors, strikeouts and missed pitching locations.Just like the refs in football, I hate when an Ump misses a call.





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