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Game 77: Nats at Braves

Jun 28, 2010, 7:40 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg is playing tonight at Turner Field. Jason Heyward is not.

ATLANTA — Hello from Turner Field, where the Stephen Strasburg Summer Tour arrives tonight. This one has been particularly hyped-up, because of the potential for three or four confrontations between Strasburg and Braves Rookie of Year candidate Jason Heyward. Unfortunately, Heyward is not in the Atlanta lineup for the third straight day because of a thumb injury. An MRI was taken this morning, and there's concern around here that the test is going to show a sprained ligament, which could land the 20-year-old right fielder on the DL.

So Strasburg will have to carry the show on his own. Shouldn't be a problem, since he's managed to carry the show on his own four times already in the last three weeks. Once again, a national TV network has picked up this game (ESPN2). And once again, you won't be able to watch that telecast in the D.C. area. It's Bob and Rob on MASN or Charlie and Dave on 1500 AM.

As has also been the case four out of the five times Strasburg has pitched, the Nationals will be asking their young ace to stop a losing streak. The pressure might be even greater tonight given the hideous weekend sweep in Baltimore.

Facing a very tough right-hander in Tim Hudson, Jim Riggleman is going with a slightly tweaked lineup. Ivan Rodriguez gets bumped up to the 2-hole. Also, Alberto Gonzalez starts at second base.

Check back for updates before, during and after the game…

Where: Turner Field
Gametime: 7:10 p.m.
TV: MASN, ESPN2 (outside D.C. area)
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 87 degrees, Wind 8 mph out to CF

CF Nyjer Morgan
C Ivan Rodriguez
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn


  1. Nats2005 - Jun 28, 2010 at 7:48 PM

    Looks like Riggleman has finally figured out (no one ever accused him of being overly bright) that his job is in jeopardy. Gonzales (at last) at second and Guzman and Kennedy (mercifully) riding the bench. But Morgan is still takin gup space . . .

  2. Grandstander - Jun 28, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    If Morgan was replaced with Bernadina, and Morse replaced Bernadina, that would be the perfect lineup. Unfortunately, we'll be back to the blahtoon of Kennedy and Guzman tomorrow.

  3. Anonymous - Jun 28, 2010 at 7:57 PM

    Nats2005, If his job was on the line, he wouldn't have started a horrific player like Alberto Gonzalez. That guy should have been nowhere near the lineup. I guess making everyone happy is better than winning in Riggleman's eyes.

  4. Anonymous - Jun 28, 2010 at 7:58 PM

    We need some housecleaning for sure. But we also need Zimm to get hot and carry the team for a few weeks. I am trying to think if he has ever done that for a prolonged stretch. He has always had his numbers, and he had that hit streak..and he has the walk-offs. But not sure he ever carried the team.

  5. Anonymous - Jun 28, 2010 at 8:06 PM

    It's a long season everyone, and yes, it's been a particularly gruesome 30-game stretch where we've played last-place baseball. However, with a break here and there, we'd be near .500. We're not getting breaks, we're not getting calls (see definition – "check swing"), and we've been hot & cold with the bats.With a 50-31 second half (see 2005 1st half Nats), we'd win the wild card and maybe the division. It's not impossible. We just need to string some wins together, get some confidence going, and start playing winning, smart baseball.Go Nats!

  6. 2nd Base is a Problem! - Jun 28, 2010 at 8:09 PM

    I guess Riggleman and Rizzo read this blog!

  7. NatinBeantown - Jun 28, 2010 at 8:21 PM

    I'll have what Anon 3:58 is having. Go Nats!

  8. Nats2005 - Jun 28, 2010 at 8:24 PM

    Anonymous 3:57Check the stats (from the Nats site, today): POS G INN TC FPCT 6. A Gonzalez SS 3 14.0 5 1.000 7. A Gonzalez 2B 14 29.0 24 1.000 25. A Kennedy 1B 28 61.0 67 .985 28. C Guzman 2B 49 364.1 215 .972 29. C Guzman SS 14 99.2 66 .970

  9. A DC Wonk - Jun 28, 2010 at 8:33 PM

    Et tu, Mark? (and everybody else)Revisiting Friday's disaster:Infielder number 1:2 errors, one of them leads to three unearned runs, they are his 17th and 18th errors of the season. UZR/150 is 6.7 In four plate appearances, he goes 0-for-3 with a walk, a run scored, leaves 2 men on base.He's currently hitting .249/.289/.376. His WAR is 0.7 (wRC+ is 78). WPA is -1.33Infielder number 2:2 errors, one of them leads to one unearned run, they are his 8th and 9th errors of the season. UZR/150 is 1.4 In five plate appearances, he goes 0-for-3 with a walk, hit by pitch, a run scored, leaves 2 men on base.He's currently hitting .297/.330/.382 (.297 leads the team for those who have enough PA to qualify for the league lead). His WAR is 0.5 (wRC+ is 91). WPA is -1.14So what's the conclusion that everybody makes? We have to keep #1 and #2 has got to go.(It should be obvious to everybody that #1 is Desmond and #2 is Guzman).I'm just trying to figure out how we can blame yesterday's loss on Guzzie. There must be a way, right?

  10. A DC Wonk - Jun 28, 2010 at 8:39 PM

    Nats2005, you need to add in Desmond, too:33. I Desmond SS 70 557.1 330 .945

  11. Cwj - Jun 28, 2010 at 8:53 PM

    My Strasburg prediction (unlikely but still fun I think).8 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 11 SOAnd of course the Nats will lose 2-0

  12. Knoxville Nat - Jun 28, 2010 at 8:56 PM

    Nats2005 says "Morgan is still taking gup(?)space"Maybe I watched a different series but I thought Morgan had a pretty decent game or two in Baltimore?As for Gonzalez at 2nd base, half of this freakin board constantly jumps on Riggleman for errors made by Desmond, Kennedy and Guzman asking that "he shake it up". Okay so tonight the lineup gets a little shake up (I like Pudge in the 2 hole)and there is still no pleasing you a$$holes! When will you people realize that the manager can only do so much? If the players given to him by the front office cannot make the plays or cover territory than it is incumbent on the GM to find better players to take their place. Right now they simply don't exist in our minor league system. We knew coming into the season that Desmond would make a high number of errors. We also knew that Guzman was limited in his range had never played second base and would eventually cost us at some point as an infielder. We also knew that Kennedy was perhaps a second choice in the off season (behind Hudson)and there was question by some if Hudson was really that much better than AK given the price differential for a 1 year player. Remember, Robinson Cano was not available!!Bottom line to me is the players have to step it up, hitting in the clutch, fielding their position, hitting the cut off man and being in the game mentally. We need to find starting pitching that can go beyond 4 or 5 innings when given a 5 run cushion without promptly giving the runs right back to the opponent. Go Nats!!

  13. Cwj - Jun 28, 2010 at 9:04 PM

    Knoxville Nat, Well said. The whining does get old. Let's forget Baltimore, firing Riggs etc. Don't know about you guys but I'm excited for tonight's game.

  14. Anonymous - Jun 28, 2010 at 9:12 PM

    Nats2005, You are missing the point once again. Look at his hitting numbers vs. RHP this year and in his career. Then compare them Wil Nieves numbers, they look very similar. It's not like Gonzalez is an amazing defender who should play because of his defense.

  15. A DC Wonk - Jun 28, 2010 at 9:12 PM

    Right on, Knoxville.BTW, I also like Pudge at #2. If Nyger can get on, I see some hit-and-runs in our future . . .

  16. Andrew - Jun 28, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    Nice interview Mark on ESPN News!

  17. dj in Fl. - Jun 28, 2010 at 10:24 PM

    Well said Knoxville NatWe have added pitchers and added pitchers, and not sought out position players to support them.We continue to have no backups good enough to allow Riggleman to pull anyone in a slump.

  18. Anonymous - Jun 28, 2010 at 11:03 PM

    You guys still laughing? Guzman is on the pine while our superb but geriatric catcher hits second?

  19. K.D. - Jun 28, 2010 at 11:11 PM

    I like Pudge batting second because 1) he will get an extra at bat 2) didn't he hit a homerun off of Hudson this spring? Well said on most of your point Knoxville Nats, though you could lose the name calling.

  20. Michael J. Hayde - Jun 28, 2010 at 11:23 PM

    Okay, that "pick-off" was, what, the 87th blown call we've been handed so far this season? I'm starting to suspect there's some gambling going on amongst the umpires and we're threatening their over/under.

  21. Anonymous - Jun 28, 2010 at 11:36 PM

    I've seen comments on here that we have a low IQ team. I think it's true.After all these losses and all this misery, after a team meeting with Riggleman, with a .300 hitter at the plate, Morgan gets picked off.I don't know how these things happen, but this team does have a large number of unusually dumb men.

  22. Anonymous - Jun 28, 2010 at 11:42 PM

    Anonymous8 said: I don't know how these things happen, but this team does have a large number of unusually dumb men.What, you thought pro ballplayers were clamoring to get into Mensa?

  23. Bonnie Jo - Jun 28, 2010 at 11:45 PM

    Did anyone else see the pregame interview with Steve McCatty? I thought I was going to fall off the couch laughing when Cat mentioned that, when he asked Stras what he thought he could improve on, Stras said, "Yeah, I threw too many strikes." You can take your NLCS MVP from the 90s and shove it, Dibble! Talk about just desserts.

  24. Anonymous8 - Jun 28, 2010 at 11:55 PM

    Anon at 7:42. I didn't make that quote.Nice DP turned by the Nats middle infield!

  25. Les in NC - Jun 29, 2010 at 12:04 AM

    Do the Nats ever have a team 'plan' against an opposing pitcher? Looks like the Braves are all in agreeance that they aren't waiting for that back breaking curve that is gonna strike 'em out. They are hacking at the first blazing fastball they see in the zone! (except Blanco, he must not have got the memo). It seems our guys are all at the dish with their own plan on how to approach the pitcher, (and it isnt working) maybe if they were to try and execute a team gameplan or even share secrets they might be harboring against pitchers they have had success against in the past, we could present an considerably menacing force.Just wondering….

  26. Les in NC - Jun 29, 2010 at 1:03 AM

    So now that the 'Stras' has 7 Ks on the night, its got me wondering whats the record for the most strikeouts in one's first 5 games?

  27. Andrew - Jun 29, 2010 at 1:15 AM

    Golden opportunity wasted in the Top of the 7th. Bernadina continues to impress.

  28. Anonymous - Jun 29, 2010 at 1:15 AM

    It'd be nice if you could trust Gonzalez to do anything but strike out with a man on third and one out. With him and Strasburg up, I'd rather see Desmond swing away

  29. Anonymous - Jun 29, 2010 at 1:20 AM

    This is the worst defensive team I've ever seen!

  30. Anonymous8 - Jun 29, 2010 at 1:24 AM

    So, an inning of missed opportunities with the Nats at bat and then on defense, bad and stupid rear their ugly heads with the error and Nyjer missing the cutoff.

  31. Smatt1001 - Jun 29, 2010 at 1:25 AM

    And the defense kills us again.

  32. NatinBeantown - Jun 29, 2010 at 1:27 AM

    Nats getting taken to task for terrible defensive fundamentals by the ESPN guys. Deservedly so. I've not been as hard on Morgan as a lot of commenters, but seriously, in High School we would have taken away the decision from him: he would be required to throw to the SS in cutoff position in every ball hit to CF.

  33. Dryw - Jun 29, 2010 at 1:29 AM

    I might cry.

  34. Les in NC - Jun 29, 2010 at 1:32 AM

    And then bringing in Burnette to face Blanco is the icing on the cake…Strasburg running on empty with his arm hanging by threads to his shoulder socket is a better option against a AAA player like Blanco with Hudson behind him. UGH, I'm out. Same time tomorrow? Same ugly Nationals?

  35. JayB - Jun 29, 2010 at 1:34 AM

    Mark,You have to ask Riggs why Morgan has not learned how to hit a cut off man or worse why has he not learned what base to throw to. Please Mark, it is time to call it like it is….Rizzo is doing it, how about the media learns to call it like it is too?

  36. Anonymous - Jun 29, 2010 at 1:45 AM

    You have to feel sorry for Strasburg. No run support and poor defense behind him. If I were him and Boras, I'd be looking at my calendar to see when I'm eligible to sign with a team that going to support him.

  37. Anonymous - Jun 29, 2010 at 1:50 AM


  38. Anonymous - Jun 29, 2010 at 1:51 AM

    The Natinals are back.

  39. A DC Wonk - Jun 29, 2010 at 2:16 AM

    Only one solution to all this . . . Guz has to go, right? (He must be somehow involved with all that shoddy defense tonight) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  40. Dryw - Jun 29, 2010 at 2:28 AM

    And the kid describes his performance as "not good enough to win the game." Yeah, next time he really should play all nine positions and bat every AB. Then he might be good enough.

  41. Anonymous - Jun 29, 2010 at 2:28 AM

    Tony Plush is getting tough to watch.

  42. Dave - Jun 29, 2010 at 2:34 AM

    @ JayB – I am now convinced that it is pure selfishness / ego driven for Nyjer. He wants to be the man and to often comes up short. Suck it up and be who you are, an average outfielder with a poor arm, but has some speed. As fans we can live with that, not the High School mistakes.

  43. JayB - Jun 29, 2010 at 2:41 AM

    Been saying it for months. Morgan is not an answer in CF for a MLB team. Roger is so make the move Rizzo….it is past time. DFA Harris and Kennedy now. Trade Guz for whatever he brings and pay his full salary. Bring up Orr and Maxwell. Send Ian D to AAA until after the All star break. Move Alberto to SS and Orr to second.

  44. NatinBeantown - Jun 29, 2010 at 2:50 AM

    JayB, if the Nats did anything you just suggested, I'd stop cheering for them immediately. That list would set this team back two years… sell low! abandon youth for AAAA veterens! dump useful pieces with career track records for 50 AB trends! Fortunately, there's zero chance that Rizzo does those things.

  45. JayB - Jun 29, 2010 at 3:00 AM

    Watch as and learn. Kennedy and Harris are done…they have no value cut your loss and move on. Ian D will be back in a few weeks…He is just lost and needs to reset in the Minors. Morgan….just not a baseball player…..Guzman….he is gone in a few months anyway and also like Harris and Kennedy aging right in front of your eyes. Rizzo made the mistakes in the off season…now we are just paying the bill.



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