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Game 93: Nats at Reds

Jul 19, 2010, 7:15 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Reds host the Nationals in a four-game series along the banks of the Ohio River.

CINCINNATI — Hello from Great American Ball Park, which when you view from this vantage point behind home plate looks like it sits in the middle of nowhere. That's the Ohio River running behind the right-field fence, with Northern Kentucky in the distance.

But wait, isn't this ballpark located right in downtown Cincinnati? Why, yes, it is. There are a bunch of skyscrapers directly behind us. For some reason, the folks here decided to point the park in the opposite directions. Just one of several things about this place that leave me underwhelmed.

The Nationals' lineup was mighty underwhelming over the weekend, getting shut out the last two days in Miami and scoring in only one of 27 innings against the Marlins. I mentioned this yesterday but it bears repeating: Josh Willingham's three-run double Friday night was the only run-scoring hit by a Nats player in the entire series. Simply remarkable.

They'll try to snap out of the slump this week against a Reds club that spent much of the season's first half in first place thanks to an outstanding combination of deep pitching and a potent lineup. Even these guys are prone to the occasional slump, though — their last three losses have all come by a score of 1-0. Sound familiar?

Check back for updates throughout the afternoon and evening…

Where: Great American Ball Park
Gametime: 7:10 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 85 degrees, Wind 6 mph RF to LF

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

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  1. JayB - Jul 19, 2010 at 7:21 PM

    Willie Harris…..amazing…..Riggs just does not get it at all…..Fire him how and put him out of his discussion…he is not a winning manager.

  2. JayB - Jul 19, 2010 at 7:22 PM


  3. Bowdenball - Jul 19, 2010 at 7:31 PM

    I hate to say it … but I agree 100% with JayB. I can't think of a single way that starting Harris over Bernadina or Morse helps the ballclub. He's way beyond the point of having any trade value whatsoever, so they can't be running him out there as trade bait. And Bernadina and Morse are not only much better ballplayers at this point, but they're also younger players whom you'd think the club would want to get as much playing time as possible so they can learn and improve and be evaluated for the benefit of the club in the future.I'm officially done with Riggleman. I sat through the stupid, counterproductive sacrifice bunts in early innings. I sat through the preposterous base-running errors. But this is the straw that broke the camel's back for me. There is NO reason for Willie's name to be in that lineup.

  4. Bowdenball - Jul 19, 2010 at 7:33 PM

    … unless one of the "real" right fielders is hurt or sick, of course. In that case, I withdraw the above comment.

  5. ckstevenson - Jul 19, 2010 at 7:34 PM

    Skyline Chili ( or Ben's Chili Bowl? Report back to us tomorrow Mark!

  6. Mark Zuckerman - Jul 19, 2010 at 7:36 PM

    ckstevenson: I've already got a lunch trip to Skyline planned, so I'll definitely report back. I've been there before, though, and I have to say I really like Cincinnati-style chili: on top of spaghetti, all covered in cheese. (Hey, wait, is that where the song came from?)

  7. NatsJack in Florida - Jul 19, 2010 at 7:37 PM

    I can't think of any other team in either league that has the gall to start a .177 hitter this late in the season and bat him 7th no less.After the terrific offensive performance displyed over the week end, this is what we get.Unbeleivable!

  8. JayB - Jul 19, 2010 at 7:37 PM

    It is so interesting that so many of you finally are facing the facts….this team is so poorly run right now that they are going backwards solely because of lineups and game decisions by Riggs and Rizzo's failure to react to hard data on his winter roster moves.

  9. Bowdenball - Jul 19, 2010 at 7:45 PM

    Don't get carried away, Jay. The fact that the fan base is down on Willie isn't exactly news. Just because I agree with you in this case and I am at my limit with Riggleman this year, doesn't mean I agree with your overall feelings about our front office– Rizzo in particular– or the direction of the club generally.

  10. Les in NC - Jul 19, 2010 at 7:46 PM

    @ JayB – Maybe Berny needs a day off, and Morse has splinters in his a@@ from all the pine riding he has logged this season! We can't really know what goes on in the clubhouse until we get a hard nose reporter (like Mark) to answer our enquiring minds' questions. Just relax, until we lose another close one, then we can jump up and down until Riggleman starts tipping his cap again. *rolls eyes*

  11. Anonymous - Jul 19, 2010 at 8:01 PM

    Man Crush Mode (MCM) Riggleman full speed ahead to 100 losses and another #1 of #1's pick! Yeah baby!

  12. NatsJack in Florida - Jul 19, 2010 at 8:01 PM

    I've been down on Nyjer since the first time I saw him taking Lasting Milledge routes for routine fly balls in the gaps and displaying his "gurlyman" arm during Spring Training.I've been down on Harris since early May when it became apparent he's lost all confidence at the plate.And I don't even want to get started on Kennedy. He's performing exactly as he did during spring training where a bunch of us thought Bruntlet (no longer in the organization) and Orr outplayed him. But like everyone else, I've grown extremely weary of the ever changing lineup that NEVER, EVER includes our best lineup which would include Berandina in CF and Morse in RF.

  13. d in Fl. - Jul 19, 2010 at 8:13 PM

    If Mark had of provided an advance copy of the series preview to Riggs, he would have seen who should, and should not have been in tonights lineup. Come on Mark, help them out.

  14. HHover - Jul 19, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    Just to try a thought experiment here and see if Riggs really deserves the fury:* The Nats have a 10-game stretch without a day off, and there's an argument for resting their starting OFs at least once in that stretch.* Starting Willie vs a RHP makes more sense that starting him vs a LHP, and you can save Morse and Bernadina for a late-inning offensive and/or defensive replacement.* Starting Willie now is better than starting him in 2 days when Strasburg starts. * Why sit Bernadina rather than Nyjer or Willingham? Willingham can actually hit and is the subject of trade rumors, so keeping him out there makes sense; amazingly, I’ve seen Nyjer’s name mentioned at least once in trade discussions, so maybe they want to keep him out there to showcase him. Nyjer also hit better in the last series than Bernadina, and so maybe Riggs wants to keep him out there while, judging by his own standards, Nyjer is relatively hot.The real question it seems to me is not why Willie plays: if he’s on the roster, he’s going to play and–yes–start occasionally, or Riggs is essentially playing a 24-man roster (23, if you want to insert a joke here about Maxwell). The real question is why he’s on the roster, which is not Riggs’ responsibility. And the answer is that there aren’t obviously better choices in the minors (cf earlier crack about Maxwell), which is also not Riggs’ responsibility. None of which is to argue that starting Willie is a good idea–it's just to point that it's the product of a bad situation as much as of a bad manager.

  15. Anonymous - Jul 19, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    Mark: What are Willie Harris's lifetime stats against Cueto?

  16. Bowdenball - Jul 19, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    HHover-That argument would make sense if we had only one starting RF. But we already have a platoon, and we're sitting them both. Are we facing right-handed pitchers every day for ten days in a row?Also, not that it matters since we have a decent platoon for RF that doesn't involve Willie Harris or any Willie Harris-like substance anyway … but ten games in a row really isn't that much, especially coming off a four-day break. Guys play ten games in a row all the time.

  17. NatsJack in Florida - Jul 19, 2010 at 8:35 PM

    How can anyone classify Nyjer as "relatively hot"? I guess "relatively" is a pretty low bar.Guzman has a better OBP than Morgan and he doesn't get picked off or thrown out stealing (although they are equally inept defensively).His average fluctuates between .240 and .260 so I guess the fact that he's at .255 makes him hot.

  18. Matt - Jul 19, 2010 at 8:36 PM

    Mark – as frustrated as the fans might get over Riggleman's lineup decisions, I think you've done a very good job of presenting Riggleman's rationale. However, I'd be really interested in getting a bit more perspective on how other top baseball people would approach the Nats lineup — how far out of the mainstream is Riggleman here? On the other hand, I suspect the reason you haven't written about this yet is because you'd have trouble getting people to go on the record or that it might burn your bridges with Riggleman.

  19. Anonymous - Jul 19, 2010 at 8:38 PM

    @HHover,Just to try a thought experiment here and see if Riggs really deserves the fury:Michael Morse got a clutch hit as a PH in the top of the ninth. While Willie Harris was mostly ineffective throughout the Marlins series. He did get used quite a bit even if he didn't start.So, please explain the logic in punishing a guy who is hitting over .364 against right handed pitching by starting him over a guy who makes the Nats offense basically look terrible? His left handed bat? Your thought experiment makes very little sense in the light of hard facts. Again, Man Crush Mode Riggleman full speed ahead to 100 losses.

  20. Les in NC - Jul 19, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    I have to agree with Bowdenball here. HH, you had almost convinced me with "Starting Willie now is better than starting him in 2 days when Strasburg starts." But, like Bowden said, the platoon is set in RF so neither Berny or Morse should have to rest due to the nature of it.

  21. JayB - Jul 19, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. JayB - Jul 19, 2010 at 8:43 PM

    Oh come on now don't need to over think this people….Harris is starting because Riggs feels bad that he struck out again in a key situation and thinks he owes Harris some at bats (again) in hopes of "getting him going"…..Again… is endless….well at least until Rizzo fires him because Lerner starts to ask tough questions about a perfectly OK salary base producing nothing yet again.

  23. moondogy51 - Jul 19, 2010 at 8:48 PM

    Not a Fan of Willy either. My wife and I, here in Cincinnati for the games, prefer roger over "Michael". Mark come on down behind the Nats dugout tonight or wednesday night, we'll be sitting near the top of the row near the concorse in our NATS gear.It would be nice to meet you.

  24. Anonymous - Jul 19, 2010 at 9:04 PM

    I felt that the consensus among this august group was that Bernadina has ended the RF shuffle. Go figure. There once was an outpost of skyline chilli in Merrifield — long gone now. I like the Brats and Metts in Cincinatti.

  25. Mark Zuckerman - Jul 19, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    Willie Harris career vs. Cueto: 2-for-9, 2 Ks.Roger Bernadina career vs. Cueto: 0-for-4, 2 Ks.Michael Morse career vs. Cueto: Never faced before.

  26. Anonymous - Jul 19, 2010 at 9:25 PM

    Bernadina should have ended the RF shuffle. He is producing better there than Dukes ever did, and he has significantly better defense than Morse (which is something people here keep overlooking–nobody has any problems with his bat). And Harris is at least solid defensively. Unfortunately that doesn't make up for his hitting this year.

  27. Anonymous - Jul 19, 2010 at 9:28 PM

    I am surprised by the amount of energy that has been generated by the start of Willie Harris. Although I agree with everyone, this is but a mere drop in the bucket of the poor management of this team. What will it take for Riggleman to get angry, show some emotion, bench a player immediatly who has just made a bonehead play (Nyjer Morgan)! This team is in last place. The season is over. What is Riggleman afraid of? Can things get worse if he manages with some passion?I guess it's just not within him. Where is Earl Weaver when you need him?

  28. HHover - Jul 19, 2010 at 9:53 PM

    Thanks to Bowdenball and others for the responses–everything you say is correct but still doesn't get to the underlying point. I didn't say it's a good decision to start Willie, but that it's a decision that flows at least as much from factors beyond as within Riggs' control. The factor beyond his control, and from which everything else flows, is that Willie is on the roster in the first place. Once he is, he's going to play and even start occasionally, and so the question for Riggleman isn't "When is it a good idea to start Willie?" but, "When is it a less bad idea to start Willie?" For the reasons I noted, this seems like a less bad time. And if that's the case, then Riggs doesn't deserve all the grief he's getting here–or least, there's plenty of grief left over for Rizzo and the FO, whom almost no one seems to be complaining about.

  29. Anonymous - Jul 19, 2010 at 9:57 PM

    Others have already made the point about the Harris madness far better than I could, so I'll just say this: Riggleman is to Harris as Gibbs was to Mark Brunell. Not that Riggleman can even see Gibbs's place on the coaching pantheon from where Riggles sits, but just like Gibbs just couldn't quit Brunell, Riggleman never gives up on Harris.It's like batting a lineup of:(1) Guzman (2b)(2) Bernardina (cf)(3) Zimmerman (3b)(4) Dunn (1b)(5) Willingham (lf)(6) Rodriguez (c) (7) Morse (rf) (you could flip Morse and Pudge and I wouldn't bat an eyelash)(8) Desmond (ss)Would be admitting that the last two months have been a colossal managing error in progress. Riggles has got his guys and he's going to ride them deep into last place.On the bright side, Kennedy isn't starting. On the downside, why is Kennedy still on this team? For his lousy hitting, crappy fielding, poor baserunning or shining example?JCC from DC

  30. dj in Fl. - Jul 19, 2010 at 10:05 PM

    Only one major problem with that Annon. 5:53If we had Morse in right for any length of time, he too would be costing us games. I yield to those who have commented on his fielding a couple of weeks ago.The crux remains that guys need days off, and we have no one on the bench to strike fear in an opposing pitcher should he walk Desmond to get to the pitcher.

  31. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Jul 19, 2010 at 10:10 PM

    The logic behind starting Willie Harris is the same that a blind squirrel eventually finds an acorn or a blind mouse will eventually write "War and Peace" when left alone on a keyboard long enough.There are longshots. There are blind longshots. Then there is starting Willie Harris on the hope it "will get him going."The Washington Monument will move first.

  32. Anonymous - Jul 19, 2010 at 10:26 PM

    Same as always, just getting Willie at-bats. Nothing more. We do that sometimes to give Willingham a day off.Ahmm he got 2 at bats in the Florida series? Gonzalez got just one? Morse got just one? Harris has been hitting way sub-Mendoza for a long, long time now? I didn't see Riggleman doing this with Kearns last year?Again, Man Crush Riggs full speed ahead to 100 losses! And yet another #1 of #1's we just need to beat the Orioles again!

  33. Anonymous - Jul 19, 2010 at 10:32 PM

    I have never posted; only read the comments, but I have to say that JayB is a complete a**. Seriously, I have not seen one positive post from him ever. He is the reason message boards are intolerable at times.

  34. Anonymous - Jul 19, 2010 at 10:42 PM

    Morse might cost the team in right if he played regularly. But we don't KNOW that. That's why finding out until the end of the season would be so important. Yet Riggs refuses to play him regularly. Put Bernie in center and Morse in right and see how they do defensively. The season's gone anyway, might as well do something that gives you an idea who could contribute next year and who won't be able to.We already know Kennedy, Harris, and Morgan are not the answer.It is downright criminal with respect to this team's future not to test a Bernadina-Morse in CF/RF in the next two months.

  35. Anonymous - Jul 19, 2010 at 10:44 PM

    And JayB, keep it up, finally a few people are waking up. I'm so sick of the "but they are better than last year" crowd.

  36. Michael J. Hayde - Jul 19, 2010 at 11:05 PM

    Anon 6:32: Amen. These guys all want the Lerners to be George Steinbrenner and Riggleman to be Billy Martin AND Joe Torre… and I'll bet my 401k that they all hate the Yankees.If you don't want to grow cynical and dysfunctional, just read the posts and ignore the couch potato GMs.

  37. Anonymous - Jul 19, 2010 at 11:11 PM

    Oh jeez, "the season's gone anyway" my ***. Didn't know we were 44 games out of first.Please, all of you cynical losers just take your gripes to the O's blogs, or root for the Braves, or the Red Sox, or anybody else. You're all sick sorry little people.

  38. dj in Fl. - Jul 19, 2010 at 11:21 PM

    I think what we need is a win tonight to calm the crowd. We are all at wits end as the losses mount.

  39. Anonymous - Jul 19, 2010 at 11:46 PM

    With his lineup juggling, I am beginning to conclude that Riggleman is a worse manager than Manny Acta. This circus he has created is a joke.

  40. Brian - Jul 19, 2010 at 11:54 PM

    Okay, I've been pretty silent up to this point regarding Willie Harris, but I'm getting increasingly baffled at why Harris is getting so much more playing time than Morse. Even though Cueto is a RHP, Charlie and Dave have mentioned how right-handed hitters have a much higher average against him (but LH hitters are hitting for more power). Riggs really needs to start Morse and Bernadina together in the same game sometime – good things will happen. Whatever…this game may as well already be over before Willie's first at-bat.

  41. Steve - Jul 19, 2010 at 11:54 PM

    Is Dibble posting here during the game? Is he reading the comments during the game? He just insisted Bernadina needs to be playing every day, and he's shredding the team, and the lineup. (Not without reason.)

  42. phil dunn - Jul 19, 2010 at 11:55 PM

    Dribble is hard assing the Nats big time tonight. His not so subtle shots are right across the bow of Riggleman and Rizzo.

  43. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me - Jul 19, 2010 at 11:58 PM

    If you think the guys on this board are tough on Riggs, Old Man Dibs is really hammering the MGR on starting Harris over Bernie or Morse.Dibs is full of horsefeathers most of the time, but on this score I believe he is correct.

  44. Anonymous - Jul 20, 2010 at 12:09 AM

    Go Dibs–keep the heat on. Don't let up.

  45. HHover - Jul 20, 2010 at 12:10 AM

    I'm getting increasingly baffled at why Harris is getting so much more playing time than MorseThat's easy. Here's the source of your bafflement–he's not. Willie got a lot of starts early in the spring and Morse little, but that's changed. Morse had 36 AB in June and 21 in July; Willie is 26 + 14. Morse has started 5 games in July; this is Willie's third.

  46. d in Fl. - Jul 20, 2010 at 12:13 AM

    We have the Cincy crew on mlb extra innings tonight. They have taken Guz to task, as well as discussed how hard it is to watch a team play, that can not play defense.

  47. Anonymous - Jul 20, 2010 at 12:15 AM

    They halted the game so Dibs could take a couple of Valium.

  48. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Jul 20, 2010 at 12:21 AM

    @Anon 8:15 p.m.:Dibs won't let up. He's washing those Valium down with straight gin.

  49. Edward - Jul 20, 2010 at 12:30 AM

    Is Dibs on a two- or three-year contract? His criticism of the front office won't buy him many friends when it's renewal time…

  50. Les in NC - Jul 20, 2010 at 1:06 AM

    Q: Whats the best way to improve on your season batting average of .176?A: Watch 3 very hittable fastball strikes go by without swinging. (Harris)

  51. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Jul 20, 2010 at 1:37 AM

    I don't think we're playing our left fielder high enough.

  52. CBinDC - Jul 20, 2010 at 2:12 AM

    I do not think Dibble is playing for the long term contract …BTW does anybody care if he or Carpenter are gone they are after all the 5th worst broadcast team in baseball

  53. CBinDC - Jul 20, 2010 at 2:18 AM

    I want to point out that this team does not act as if they believe that they control the outcome of a game …..a few things they do right and then you feel they are waiting for the luck to appear

  54. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for-Me - Jul 20, 2010 at 2:20 AM

    @CBinDC: I'll personally buy Bobby's bus ticket to Paducah if the Lerners pull the plug on Sunshine-and-Cloudy…

  55. CBinDC - Jul 20, 2010 at 2:27 AM

    We all know the members of the Bowden All-Fail Team but has Rizzo earned the same collection …it seems to me that every FA this year has been a FAIL but is it enough of a FAIL to rival the Bowden teams

  56. LoveDaNats - Jul 20, 2010 at 2:46 AM

    This is getting old……

  57. Thomas - Nov 7, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    I believe that we should emphasizes more and more towards utilizing the footer area as a way to promote useful information.printing companies in ft Laudedale





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