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Game 66: Nats at Tigers

Jun 16, 2010, 7:33 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats have their work cut out for them tonight against Justin Verlander.

DETROIT — The Nationals have faced their share of top pitchers this season. Roy Halladay. Johan Santana. Roy Oswalt. Tim Lincecum. Josh Johnson. Ubaldo Jimenez. Chris Carpenter.

Tonight, another big name is added to the list: Justin Verlander, the Tigers' flamethrower from just outside Richmond who has established himself as one of the best young right-handers in the game. In 4 1/2 seasons in Detroit, the 27-year-old is already 72-47 with a 3.89 ERA. He owns a no-hitter, a Rookie of the Year award, two All-Star Game appearances, a 19-win season and a 269-strikeout season.

Oh, and like a certain Nationals rookie, he regularly tops 100 mph on the radar gun.

Not exactly the kind of opposing pitcher the Nats want to face when needing a win. Unfortunately, this is the scenario they've left themselves in after losing last night 7-4 in a very winnable game. They had Max Scherzer on the ropes but went silent at the plate the final five innings. And they couldn't overcome John Lannan's ragged start.

So Jim Riggleman will try a little different lineup tonight. As promised, Josh Willingham gets a scheduled night off. Willie Harris is in left field, with Michael Morse DH'ing.

Check back for updates throughout…

Where: Comerica Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly sunny, 77 degrees, Wind 15 mph out to LF

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


  1. slopitchtom - Jun 16, 2010 at 7:39 PM

    For crying out loud, if Riggs insists on putting Harris in the lineup why isn't he hitting 9th!? I just don't get it. Well, at least he's not dh'ing and hitting 6th like he was in Cleveland on Saturday.

  2. Anonymous - Jun 16, 2010 at 7:42 PM

    Who on first?

  3. David - Jun 16, 2010 at 7:42 PM

    who's DHing? and who's playing first?… your lineup says we have two DH's :-)

  4. David - Jun 16, 2010 at 7:43 PM

    I dunno, second base!

  5. Doc - Jun 16, 2010 at 7:43 PM

    Mark,how many DHs are you allowed to have in one lineup? I'll bet that DH beside AD's name was meant to be a 1B. Anyway, 2 DHs in the lineup is better than one in the bush! Or does that have to do with birds?????

  6. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 16, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    I believe Mark said Morse was DH'ing so Dunn would be on first.

  7. Mark Zuckerman - Jun 16, 2010 at 7:47 PM

    OK, OK. You got me. Dunn's at first base, Morse is DH'ing. That's what I get for cutting and pasting last night's lineup and tweaking that instead of starting from scratch.

  8. Doc - Jun 16, 2010 at 7:50 PM

    Anyway, regardless of Who's on first, and What's on DH, Riggs is really supplying the humor with WH in LF—batting 7th. 'Cept it's not that funny! We want The Hammer!

  9. Anonymous - Jun 16, 2010 at 8:03 PM

    If his goal is to make Willie interesting trade bait … it's not working Riggleman. Other than that there doesn't seem to be any other reason to put him in the lineup. Kind of like beating the dead horse named JMax.

  10. Section 222 - Jun 16, 2010 at 8:08 PM

    Presumably Harris and Bernadina are hitting in front of Morse because they are lefties. Let's hope they can punch and judy their way on base and Morse can deliver a big hit. And with the Hammer out of the lineup, Dunn is hitting third so they can't pitch around him. Seems sensible, though I'm with the rabble that would rather see Harris continue to ride the bench.

  11. N. Cognito - Jun 16, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    More musical chairs from Riggs.

  12. Arlington Big Fish - Jun 16, 2010 at 8:21 PM

    Is it my inagination, or does Livo get stuck pitching on most of the nights we're facing young stud pitchers? I seem to recall he faced Santana & Lincecum & John Johnson.

  13. Arlington Big Fish - Jun 16, 2010 at 8:23 PM

    Make that Josh Johnson

  14. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 16, 2010 at 8:23 PM

    And don't forget Hibaldo Jimenez. Only gave up 4 hits in that game and lost 2-0.

  15. K.D. - Jun 16, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    You know with all the complaining about Willie he will go 3 for 3. We will need to play small ball tonight to scratch out a few runs. Bunt and run Nyger! Zimm and Dunn should be better since they aren't DH. Morse shouldn't have a problem as long as he treats his at bats like a PH.

  16. David - Jun 16, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    i think the abbott and costello reference was unnoticed

  17. nattaboy - Jun 16, 2010 at 8:36 PM

    Willie Harris has also seen tough luck, getting his few starts against the toughest hurlers. I like the lineup. I like Riggleman. I love the Nats.

  18. N. Cognito - Jun 16, 2010 at 8:38 PM

    David said… "i think the abbott and costello reference was unnoticed"No. Poorly done, so ignored.

  19. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 16, 2010 at 8:54 PM

    And for the a second time in a week… I agree with N. Cognito.

  20. natsfan1a - Jun 16, 2010 at 8:59 PM

    And here I thought it was Zuckerman's subtle homage to Abbott and Costello, no doubt inspired by recently observing the "Who's on First" artwork outside of Jacobs Field. You should never have fessed up, Mark. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. Bowdenball - Jun 16, 2010 at 9:02 PM

    I gotta come clean. At this point in the season I find myself hoping that Riggleman will start Willie Harris just so I can read all the jokes about it on the internet.

  22. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 16, 2010 at 9:09 PM

    The Pirates have just designated Aki Iwamanura (or however you spell his name) for assignment.There is a second baseman to consider that might come cheap.

  23. David - Jun 16, 2010 at 9:11 PM

    Man you guys are a tough crowd. That's one of my favorite movies of all time (The Naughty Nineties). I couldn't help myself. :-)

  24. Big Oil - Jun 16, 2010 at 9:13 PM

    Willie Harris circa now is making Termel Sledge circa '05 look downright legitimate.Have a game, Willie.

  25. Traveler8 - Jun 16, 2010 at 9:16 PM

    I want to ask for a moratorium on cute non-references to Stephen Strasburg. Last night, re Schertzer, it was :He struck out 14 Oakland A's in only 5 2/3 innings in his first start back in the majors. (Hmm, sound like anyone we know?)And tonight, re Verlander, it is: Oh, and like a certain Nationals rookie, he regularly tops 100 mph on the radar gun.This is really getting old, and sounds totally unclever done more than once – and it has been done by a lot of writers a lot more than once. From now on, please, just refer to him as Strasburg and we can go on from there. Otherwise, I love this blog, thanks Mark, and the rest of you.

  26. A DC Wonk - Jun 16, 2010 at 9:18 PM

    At least we haven't heard a comment demanding that Mark ask Rizzo why Riggs is trying to throw the series to the Tigers . . . ๐Ÿ˜‰

  27. meixler - Jun 16, 2010 at 10:29 PM

    All I can say is that if Roger is on first and Willie is asked to bunt he'd better get it down!

  28. JayB - Jun 16, 2010 at 10:29 PM

    Riggs did not try to lose the CLE games, he just decided he would use those games as an opportunity to play his worst players all at once in some lame attempt to get them to hit above .150 and he knew if it did not work Acta would benifit. Harris should not be playing at all but at least it is not at DH and Morse is in the line up. I hope it is very long time before we see Kennedy at 2B two days in a row!

  29. dj in Fl. - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:46 PM

    I would like to see Kennedy get enough time in to get out of his fielding slump. He takes Ian to the park in a cab before each game and hits him grounders and teaches him how to play the game right. Give him a break!His 5 errors at 2b this year cost contributed to a loss, but what has his effort given us in improved play at short.

  30. Doc - Jun 17, 2010 at 1:42 AM

    Looks like Roger B. is a lock on an outfield spot. It comes down to Morgan/Harris vs. Morse. What is it that Morgan/Harris can do that Morse can't. We know what they can't do, and what Morse can do. If Morgan was doing what he did last half-season, this would be a short discussion; but he isn't, and in all probability he won't be.

  31. Doc - Jun 17, 2010 at 1:58 AM

    @ David: One of my favorites too! Those guys knew baseball, and were friends with a lot of players. As a kid, I had my picture taken with them. I think Mark made the mistake, just to have us 'Insiders' generate some discussion. However, I do think that Riggleman, with all his substitutions, gets confused about Who's in RF–thats when Guzman ends up there!



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