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Game 72: Royals at Nats

Jun 22, 2010, 7:30 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nationals Park, shortly after a monster storm rolled through tonight.

It's mostly gone unnoticed because the Nationals have lost far more games than they've won over the last month, but this club's bullpen continues to be among the best in baseball.

Check out these ERAs for Washington's relievers in June…

Tyler Clippard: 0.90
Sean Burnett: 1.35
Tyler Walker: 2.08
Drew Storen: 2.53
Matt Capps: 3.38
Miguel Batista: 3.86
Doug Slaten: 5.79

Pretty impressive. For the season, the Nationals' bullpen owns a 3.45 ERA. That's fourth-best in the NL, seventh-best in the majors. Again, pretty impressive.

Tonight, the club will pay homage to the two guys who have been pitching the eighth and ninth innings all season: Clippard and Capps. Tonight's giveaway T-shirts have a picture of a giant coupon, emblazoned with the words "Clipp and Save." (Yes, that slogan was first coined by former Washington Times copy editor Steve Repsher.)

"It's kind of neat," said Capps, who got a glimpse of the shirts the other day. "It's a cool feeling, and something neat for your friends and family to see and to have. For the team to think that much of you, it's a good feeling."

So, how might the Nationals best commemorate the occasion tonight? How about taking a one- or two-run lead into the eighth inning against the Royals, then handing this game over to their most-trusted relievers? We'll see if they can pull that off.

Check back for updates throughout…

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 90 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to CF

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

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  1. Anonymous - Jun 22, 2010 at 7:41 PM

    Does the lineup mean Nieves is catching Strasburg tomorrow?

  2. Anonymous - Jun 22, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    Seriously, tje shakeup in the lineup is Kenndey for Desmond, why aren't we giving Zim the day off before a day game tomorrow? Or will he likely be off tomorrow and Stras will have a lineup like this one behind him tomorrow afternoon:CF BernadinaSS Desmond3B Gonzalez1B KennedyLF HarrisC NievesRF Morse2B Guzman?????

  3. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 22, 2010 at 7:45 PM

    I guess a 25 Yo is tired and needs a rest. Guzman makes an error tonitr guaranteed!And good job Michael Morse. Your reward is…. ta da… Pinch Hitting!!!

  4. Anonymous - Jun 22, 2010 at 7:48 PM

    WORST MANAGER IN THE LEAGUE !!!!!! No competition. The dumbest baseball manager I have ever witnessed. Its getting pretty frustrating to watch.

  5. Grandstander - Jun 22, 2010 at 7:52 PM

    Everyday I find myself anxiously awaiting the lineup, hoping beyond hope that there's some kind of shakeup. Bernadina leading off, Morse in RF, Morgan not in it…Putting Guzman in SS for Desmond and slotting Kennedy at 2B was not what I had in mind.

  6. A DC Wonk - Jun 22, 2010 at 7:55 PM

    The stats in the article is more evidence for something I've been wishing for a while — Clippard should be the closer.

  7. A DC Wonk - Jun 22, 2010 at 7:58 PM

    Oh, and one more thing I wanted to mention. When complaining about Rizzo, folks ought to take a look at this bullpen and compare it to last years' — which was one of the league's worst. Last year the bullpen averaged an ERA of over 5 — this is quite an improvement. And it's almost all new guys.

  8. A DC Wonk - Jun 22, 2010 at 8:02 PM

    NatsJack wrote: I guess a 25 Yo is tired and needs a rest.Sounds weird, but it might be true. Or, even he isn't tired — Desmond is is 2 for his last 24, and could use a day on the bench, imho.(sorry for making three posts in a row)

  9. Bowdenball - Jun 22, 2010 at 8:04 PM

    Just a guess here, but I'm wondering if the people who are attempting to predict tomorrow's lineup based on today's lineup and guessing that Zimm or others will rest are forgetting that we have a day off on Thursday followed by a 45 minute "road trip" on Friday.Tomorrow's not your typical getaway weekday afternoon game. There's no reason everybody in the lineup today can't go tomorrow, including Pudge if he feels up for it.

  10. JayB - Jun 22, 2010 at 8:06 PM

    My vote for post of the season is……"Anonymous said… WORST MANAGER IN THE LEAGUE !!!!!! No competition. The dumbest baseball manager I have ever witnessed. Its getting pretty frustrating to watch. "

  11. Anonymous - Jun 22, 2010 at 8:09 PM

    Why in the world is Morse not playing. He is the hottest hitter they have. I said it before the season started and I will say it again – Nyjer Morgan is the 2010 version of Nook Logan. Guess we are going to have to wait for Logan, I mean Morgan, to get injured so Morse can get some serious playing time. All the guy does is hit. And please… no more Adam Kennedy.

  12. JayB - Jun 22, 2010 at 8:16 PM

    I sat with Adam Dunn at the Season Ticket holders lunch. I remember him asking if Morse was coming back because "that guy can really hit". Adam went on to say he should 'playing everyday somewhere in this league"…..right you are Mr. Dunn!

  13. Bonnie Jo - Jun 22, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    Any thoughts on the idea that Rizzo/Riggles are showcasing trade bait? Guzman? Morgan even?

  14. Anonymous - Jun 22, 2010 at 8:50 PM

    Riggleman is far better than Manny, and i liked Manny personally, but hated his baseball decisions. Especially when a pitcher got down 6-0 and he left him in.At least Riggleman yanked Lannon three times in less than 5 innings.The brand of baseball this year is much better than it has been in a few years.I can see the forrest amounst the trees.

  15. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 22, 2010 at 8:55 PM

    I agree that it is much better this year. We didn't win our 33rd game till August 3, 2009 last year so we are a good 6 weeks ahead.But I am getting tired of not playing our best lineup night in and night out. At least this year, we have players on the bench that have proven (at least for the short term) that they can play solid baseball.I like Riggleman personally, but he's reallly esting me with his hard headedness.

  16. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 22, 2010 at 8:57 PM

    really testing

  17. Jaxpo Nat - Jun 22, 2010 at 9:01 PM

    Why do I have a bad feeling that it will be Willingham, not Morgan or anyone else, that gets traded within the next few weeks, leaving us with Morgan/Bernandina/Morse in the OF. Just have a not-so-pleasing hunch.

  18. Mark L - Jun 22, 2010 at 11:05 PM

    Baseball manager is the one job in sports where the fans have as much information on hand as he does. We know what he knows — he has two centerfielders, and he keeps running out the lessor one. And, by putting out the lessor CFer, he keeps the Nats hottest hitter on the bench. What's wrong with this picture?

  19. natsfan1a - Jun 23, 2010 at 12:14 AM

    Just got home from a meeting and came here to check re. the rain delay. Stay safe out there!

  20. dj in Fl. - Jun 23, 2010 at 12:33 AM

    Great csn article Mark….Would all the Riggleman haters please take note of Clips comments on how everyone knows exactly when they will pitch has made the pen solid.Please do not think the fan has has as much knowledge abd insight as all the powers that be that witness practice everyday. After attending 300 Nats games the last 5 years I can finally say there is progress this year.Enjoy it as it is now, and even more in the years to follow as they upgrade the position players. I bet there is a plan we know nothing about for every position on that team right now.

  21. dj in Fl. - Jun 23, 2010 at 12:41 AM

    When retired guys try to multi task the english language is the first to go. Hopefully you got my point, sit back, relax, and enjoy the game.

  22. Matt - Jun 23, 2010 at 1:21 AM

    It is pretty impressive that the Nats have only scored 4 runs on 10 hits, 2 of them homers, in 5 innings.

  23. Anonymous - Jun 23, 2010 at 1:47 AM

    Like I said… sending down Lannan was the best possible thing Rizzo could have done for this team. It woke the rotation the hell up. This is easily Atilano's best performance to date from a pure stuff perspective, and it's not ALL thanks to Pudge.

  24. tappy - Jun 23, 2010 at 2:32 AM

    It's OK to use Clippard tonight — I asked Santa for a no-no for my first Strasmas.

  25. LoveDaNats - Jun 23, 2010 at 2:57 AM

    I somehow missed the connection between Clipp and peaches. Anyone care to elaborate?

  26. A DC Wonk - Jun 23, 2010 at 3:03 AM

    Did anybody else think that "swinging bunt" in the ninth was rolling foul when Pudge picked it up?And two more hits for the Guz.

  27. Mark Zuckerman - Jun 23, 2010 at 3:15 AM

    LoveDaNats: Clippard's entrance song is "Peaches" by the Presidents of the United States. One of the strangest song choices in the majors, but definitely cool and fitting for Tyler.

  28. Anonymous - Jun 23, 2010 at 3:20 AM

    Peaches by The Presidents of the United States of America is Clippard's walk-in music. If you want to know why, I suppose you'd need to ask him.

  29. Doc - Jun 23, 2010 at 3:28 AM

    Riggleman was recently asked about Morse playing more. He said that it was hard to find playing time for him with Hammer and Bernie in the OF. He absolutely didn't mention Morgan, like Morgan is an 'untouchable' in CF. Many Nats fans see Bernie as a better fielder that Morgan, and Morse as a way-better hitter.Riggleman then went on to say that Morgan is still learning the game. Yeah, right! He's been playing professional ball for 10 years, and he's still needs to figure it out from a teacher like Riggleman. Even when Morgan was playing hockey in the winter, he played ball in the summer, all the way through he teens. Does Riggleman really think that Nats fans are so much below him in baseball acumen that only he understands Morgan's value (or lack of value)?Mark's stats on Nats leading MLB in HRs with no one on base is a tribute to both Morgan's and Guzman's deficient OBPs. I don't think that neither Riggleman, nor Rizzo are very stats savy. If they were, the OF would be Hammer, Bernie, and Morse. Bernie might even make a pretty good lead off guy.

  30. Anonymous - Jun 23, 2010 at 4:35 AM

    Even after 2.5 years I see the Lerners still can't figure out who to call to FIX THE STUPID HUGE CURLY-W CLOCK!





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