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Game 119: Nats at Braves

Aug 17, 2010, 8:25 PM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Scott Olsen faces rookie Mike Minor tonight at Turner Field.

While the Nationals' front office (and media corps) was hunkered down at Nationals Park last night into the wee hours for the Bryce Harper deadline, the actual big-league squad was already comfortably settled into its hotel in Atlanta. I'm sure those guys were interested to find out whether Harper signed or not, but I'm also pretty sure they weren't glued to their laptops at midnight in anticipation of the answer.

Many of the current Nationals won't be around by the time Harper makes his big-league debut, so they're more interested in what's happening right now, which is the start of a tough, six-game road trip through Atlanta and Philadelphia. These are the top two teams in the NL East, and until the Nats prove they can hold their own against them, they won't take that key step up and become a division contender.

Scott Olsen starts tonight, hoping to bounce back after two ragged outings against the Diamondbacks and Marlins. He faced the Braves once earlier this season, and it was a good one: On May 6, Olsen carried a no-hitter into the eighth against Atlanta.

He'll be opposed tonight by rookie left-hander Mike Minor, the seventh-overall pick of last summer's draft (six spots behind Stephen Strasburg, three spots ahead of Drew Storen). Minor made his big-league debut last week against the Astros and allowed three earned runs over six innings.

Josh Willingham is not in the lineup tonight; Kevin Mench will get his first start in left field. Mench's time, though, could be running out. Nyjer Morgan is with Harrisburg tonight for his third rehab game, and he's expected to come off the DL tomorrow, which means someone has to come off the roster.

I'm not in Atlanta for this series, but I will be in Philadelphia this weekend. Enjoy the game tonight and please continue to chat with each other!…

NATIONALS at BRAVES
Where: Turner Field
Gametime: 7:10 p.m.
TV: MASN
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 84 degrees, Wind 5 mph out to LF.

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (51-67)
2B Alberto Gonzalez
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn

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  1. natsfan1a - Aug 17, 2010 at 8:40 PM

    Have a good break, Mark. You've earned it!

  2. meixler - Aug 17, 2010 at 8:45 PM

    Morse, Mench and Maxwell? MMMM!!!Only, not really.

  3. cadeck13 - Aug 17, 2010 at 8:46 PM

    Ditto what 1a said Mark. You totally earned a break with your stellar coverage, but needless to say, I will miss you tonight :)

  4. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 8:55 PM

    With Olson pitching, that's another automatic loss, just like when Marquis takes the mound.

  5. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 9:12 PM

    what is this, "bench players are now starters" day?

  6. Michael J. Hayde - Aug 17, 2010 at 9:31 PM

    "These are the top two teams in the NL East, and until the Nats prove they can hold their own against them, they won't take that key step up and become a division contender."Hey… did you forget that the LAST TIME we played these "top two teams," we WON each series 2-1??? And, oh yes, Strasburg didn't pitch that week.Keep this up, and you'll be referred to as "the infamous Mark Zuckerman."

  7. Mark - Aug 17, 2010 at 10:02 PM

    Mench deserves to stay for now as he is more reliable as a pinch-hitter than JMax.

  8. David - Aug 17, 2010 at 10:08 PM

    Josh Willingham likely done for the season he will be taken off the roster on Thursday and Morgan will be called up.

  9. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2010 at 10:30 PM

    I'd rather have Olsen on the Mound than Marquis.

  10. Dryw - Aug 17, 2010 at 10:51 PM

    Nats Extra just did a segment (which I couldn't bring myself to watch closely) with hitting tips from…Justin Maxwell? Really? Was no one else on the team available??

  11. BinM - Aug 17, 2010 at 11:13 PM

    With Harper getting a Major-league contract, there are now 48 players on the Nationals' 40-man roster. This is just some early speculation on where the cuts will occur… 1) Kevin Mench (LF-RF-PH) – As Mark Z. noted, on borrowed time; Could be DFA'd before the end of the season. 2) Willie Harris (UTIL) – Contract expires at end of season = Bub-bye. 3) Jamie Burke (CA) – Approaching 40, will probably retire at end of season. 4) Tyler Walker (RHRP) – 34yo, coming off 2nd shoulder surgery. 5) Carlos Maldonado (CA) – Contract expires at end of season; Possible Minor-league re-sign in off season. 6) Jesus Flores (CA) – Arb-eligible, but Ankle & Shoulder injuries have wrecked him; Most likely a non-tender for 2011. 7) Ryan Mattheus (RHSP) – Bouncing back very slowly from surgery; Another probably non-tender in 2011. 8) Miguel Batista (RHRP) – Expiring contract, turns 40 in February; So long, and thanks for Miss Iowa.

  12. Brian - Aug 17, 2010 at 11:32 PM

    Never fear – this lineup now features Wil Nieves. 5-9 are now pretty much close to automatic outs. The Nats got screwed with Pudge getting tossed. Funny how the umps will never ask for help when we ask them to…

  13. Bill - Aug 17, 2010 at 11:36 PM

    It's not a sure loss with Olsen. He's inconsistent and sometimes throws a good game. Three groundouts to start he game in the bottom of the 1st. Maybe he's on fire tonight.

  14. A DC Wonk - Aug 17, 2010 at 11:41 PM

    Morse and Mench are automatic outs? My, how opinions have changed here in just a few weeks!

  15. BQ - Aug 17, 2010 at 11:47 PM

    Both teams are getting outs quickly. I checked the box score in two minutes and it is 2 outs in top of third. Offense is really weak tonight, especially Dunn not doing anything with runners on lately.

  16. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:03 AM

    Morse was the flavor of the month. Whoops! He isn't so great after all. Who knew? Riggleman.

  17. A DC Wonk - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:09 AM

    Whoa . . . I thought this was NatsInsider, where we're supposed to criticize Rizzo and Riggleman every day! What happened?!

  18. Sec3MySofa - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:24 AM

    Speaking of what happened–why did Pudge get tossed, exactly? I just got back and missed it.

  19. Sec3MyAnonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:27 AM

    More to the point, how did he pass up the chance to double-switch Willie Harris in for Morse?

  20. A DC Wonk - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:29 AM

    Olsen: 5 innings, only 58 pitches (0 BB, 4K's, 1 hit). Nice start!

  21. Feel Wood - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:31 AM

    It's totally Riggleman's fault for not partaking more fully of Morse during the month in which he was the flavor. Even a first grader knows that you eat the whole cone when it's given to you, because if you try to hoard it it ends up melting on you.

  22. Sec3MySofa - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:33 AM

    Either that, Woodie, or Morse just is a bench guy who can't hit when he plays every day.

  23. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:37 AM

    Olsen: shutout through 5 IP. Quite the sure loss. Feel Wood, nice takeoff on my "flavor of the month" line. Nicely done. Your point is well taken.

  24. Brian - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:44 AM

    I will take back my eariler comments. Nieves and Morse do a great job of coming through with two outs! That's why I love this game.

  25. Bill - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:45 AM

    Morse: RBI double. Nice. I guess he can hit. ;)

  26. Slidell - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:46 AM

    What happens if Wil gets hurt? Who catches? Unlikely heroes so far, hope Olsen can keep it going.

  27. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:47 AM

    Morse 2 Atlanta 0. Ice cream for all. Feel Wood is tonight's prophet. Ain't it great when it all comes together?

  28. Brian - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:50 AM

    Our pitchers do not like pitching with a lead, do they? How the **** do you give up a HR to a guy hitting .000 and who HAD one career HR?

  29. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:51 AM

    Whoops! My bad. Morse 1 Atlanta 0. Shouldn't have believed the TV.

  30. Brian - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:51 AM

    Anonymous said… Morse 2 Atlanta 0. Ice cream for all. Feel Wood is tonight's prophet. Ain't it great when it all comes together? *********************************************No love for Nieves?

  31. BQ - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:52 AM

    Well, Olsen is about to tie the game for Atlanta. First a homer, then a triple with no outs in bottom of sixth.

  32. Brian - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:53 AM

    By the way, I HATE the tomahawk chop.

  33. BQ - Aug 18, 2010 at 12:58 AM

    Ruins a perfectly good outing. Peralta comes in now. This is so sad.

  34. Brian - Aug 18, 2010 at 1:00 AM

    this game got ugly really fast

  35. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Aug 18, 2010 at 1:07 AM

    Will this inning ever end?

  36. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 1:31 AM

    @ManassasI figured Olson just couldn't keep it up forever. How can you get 15 of 17 batters out in 5 innings, and not get even 1 of 3 the very next inning?Just to inconsistent for my taste.

  37. A DC Wonk - Aug 18, 2010 at 1:48 AM

    I figured Olson just couldn't keep it up forever. How can you get 15 of 17 batters out in 5 innings, and not get even 1 of 3 the very next inning?Sometimes (at least in the case of Olsen here) you have to give a little credit to the hitters . . . Infante's hitting .343 . . .

  38. HabsProf - Aug 18, 2010 at 1:53 AM

    That's two games now when Stammen has come in to a difficult situation in relief. He almost pulled this one off as well.I'm with Mark: he has to wonder why he is not getting another shot in the rotation.

  39. HabsProf - Aug 18, 2010 at 1:55 AM

    I just noticed – Nieves is now over the Mendoza line!

  40. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:06 AM

    @Manassas I went to a camp run by Charlie Lau on hitting.He said that in every confrontation the pitcher starts with the advantage. The batter take the advantage only if he hits what the pitcher gives him. In other words he said if it is pitched on the outside /13 of the plate go to the opposite field. Inner 1/3 pull it, and the middle 1/3 drive it up the middle. If you do that the batter will hit .350 to .400. The problem most batters have is they try to pull balls outside. Di that and you will bat about .100. The pitchers know you will try and pull most balls, that is why they like to stay outside. The hitters make the pitchers good.In this case Olson hung pitches over the middle of the plate ro inner third and were driven hard. the batter did what he was suppose to do. The pitcher gave the batter control.Lau always said that who ever controlled the game would win. Olson controlled the game until the 6th, then the batters took over. To get the control back Olson needed to pitch to the outside again, which he didn't do after the homer. That was a great camp I went to. Of course my eyesight was never quite good enough to see pitches a few years later, but I understood the game so much better.Batters of today could use a hitting coach like him. Most do not understand the theory of control.

  41. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:17 AM

    Nats fans who want Dunn signed for 3 or 4 years; keep in mind you get crappy defense and lots of strike outs to go with all those bombs you enjoy so much,

  42. HabsProf - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:29 AM

    @Anon 10:17The crappy defense is an issue (though he isn't as bad at first as he was in the outfield and what's more he is improving). However, strikeouts have long been acknowledged to not be as damaging to a team's offense as we used to think. It doesn't advance runners, but neither does a strikeout lead to a DP (the result that really kills an inning). I just checked his stats (don't know if they include tonight's results) and his OPS is 0.921, good for fifth in the NL. The man is an offensive force, strikeouts or not.

  43. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:36 AM

    Another rookie put pitches Strasburg, Minor looks to be on his way to stardom.

  44. HabsProf - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:53 AM

    @Anon 10:36"put pitches"? Did you mean "out pitches"? (I'm not making fun of you – I'm honestly not sure).But if that is what you meant, all I can say is – Wow. Are you in a negative mood tonight or what? Are you also Anon 10:17? Who peed in your coffee this morning?I thought we were only allowed to gripe about Riggleman and Rizzo on this site.

  45. Richard - Aug 18, 2010 at 3:13 AM

    I'm one of those fans who has wanted the Nats to re-sign Adam Dunn. I note the last 9 games have been a nightmare for him and not too good for the Nats, either, despite Zimm's best efforts. As I read it, Adam is 5 for 35 with a homer and an RBI the last 9 games. The week before that he was unbelievably good. From mid-September last year through at least mid April this year, he struggled, too. Then dynamite — until the last 9 games. That's why they do averages.

  46. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 3:18 AM

    Pennlive.com is reporting that Nyger Morgan was a "no call, no show" tonight for his "rehab" start in Harrisburg.

  47. rmoore446 - Aug 18, 2010 at 5:07 AM

    Anonymous@10:06 Wow! I can't remember the last time I heard Charlie Lau's name mentioned. For a time there he was the most in-demand hitting coach in the bigs and his book on hitting was very popular. He was highly respected.He was a catcher for several teams. I remember him mostly as an Oriole, where he had his best years and did two stints. I actually saw Lau play in 1967 with the Atlanta Braves. It was his last season as a player.

  48. Anonymous - Aug 18, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    Habsprof,I was Anon @ 10:17 and I really was in a crappy mood last night. That throw by Dunn really set me off.But you are right; overall Dunn has a 3.5 WOR translating into about 5 extra wins for the team which is really excellent ans is worth the 13 to 14 mil a year he is looking for. The defense is just something that will come with the territory; I don't think he,ll ever be Texiera or even Nick Johnson at 1st base.

  49. Andrew - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/draft/news/2010/2610539.htmlBaseball America rated the Nationals as the big winners in the Draft.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 80 15.5
NEW YORK 76 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 85 20.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Monday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (3) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 68 3.0
y-ST. LOUIS 88 69 4.0
-------------------------
PITTSBURGH 85 71 --
SAN FRANCISCO 85 71 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 5.0
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
(End of regular season)
MON: OFF
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
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