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Game 128: Cardinals at Nats

Aug 26, 2010, 7:35 PM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Bryce Harper takes his first round of BP at Nationals Park.

There's a game to be played tonight, and there's a pretty important storyline to it with Jordan Zimmermann returning to the mound 12 months after undergoing Tommy John surgery. But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention what's taking place on the field right now.

Bryce Harper, who will be formally introduced in a couple of hours, is taking his first round of batting practice at Nationals Park. And I've got to say, it's quite a show. The 17-year-old laid down a couple of token bunts to get started, then intentionally struck several line drives toward center and left-center fields. Then he finally attempted to pull the ball for the first time … and reached the third deck down the right-field line. Yeah, that's right. Harper has hit about five other home runs during five rounds so far. Impressive.

Anyways, we'll have more on Harper later. As for tonight's game, Zimmermann's return is obviously the big story. If the 24-year-old needs any evidence of what he can do in the wake of Tommy John surgery, he needs only look at the right-hander who will oppose him tonight: Chris Carpenter. The Cardinals ace had the same surgery in 2007. Since then, he's 31-9 with a 2.52 ERA.

The slumping Nats lineup gets a shakeup tonight. Ian Desmond, one of the few hot hitters right now, will bat fifth for the first time. Nyjer Morgan gets bumped down to the 2-hole, with Adam Kennedy leading off. Interesting.

Check back throughout the evening for updates…

CARDINALS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly sunny, 82 degrees, Wind 6 mph in from LF

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (53-74)
2B Adam Kennedy
CF Nyjer Morgan
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn

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  1. Knoxville Nat - Aug 26, 2010 at 7:45 PM

    Interesting lineup tonight with Desmond behind Dunn and Kennedy at the top. I can't fault Riggleman for shaking it up as something needs to happen to get some hits out of these guys.And to see Harper in the batting cage…..what a show that must have been. Can't wait to see him in the everyday lineup.

  2. markfd - Aug 26, 2010 at 7:45 PM

    Mark,Wow, AK leading off, what are his career stats vs Carpenter, I am asuming pretty good? Overall, a tough lineup to provide any support to JZimm! :(Who was pitching BP to Harper? Even though it was just BP, sounds impressive..thanks for the dose of optimism for the future!!

  3. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me - Aug 26, 2010 at 7:45 PM

    Two of the most worthless leadoff hitters ever:FLop.AK.

  4. natsfan1a - Aug 26, 2010 at 7:58 PM

    Hope that Pudge can put out F-Lo a time or two on the basepaths tonight… (evil grin)

  5. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 8:00 PM

    Thanks for the great stories about tonite's game. Third deck?! /"remain calm, he's 3 years away. remain calm…"

  6. natsfan1a - Aug 26, 2010 at 8:09 PM

    So, HR Derby in which year, now? ;-)

  7. HHover - Aug 26, 2010 at 8:17 PM

    I don't see the need to bash Kennedy here for batting lead off. There aren't many better options. He's one of the more patient batters on a team that doesn't have many (yes, I'm looking at you, Ian Demond). And he's been hitting well lately–10 for 33 over his last 10 games, with 3 BBs.

  8. Sec314 - Aug 26, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    He's not wearing the goofy make up, right?

  9. nattaboy - Aug 26, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    Woo, Desmond batting 5th! I think he's gonna step up and take that role for the rest of the season. Unless we call Harper up :)

  10. FOTB - Aug 26, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    Harper … Third Deck … Outstanding!

  11. Pete - Aug 26, 2010 at 8:38 PM

    Sorry, until the Nats are a consistent winner you can't convince me that season tickets are a good idea. I probably go to 20-30 games a year and I rarely have to pay face value. Once I scored two Diamond Club tix for $40 because some lobbyist didn't feel like going that night. So I was behind home plate, and the tickets came juiced with $35 worth of concessions. I understand the argument that it is worthwhile to support the team, but I buy enough $8 beers to do my part. Also, I never have to attend games I don't want to, or feel obligated to go when I don't need to.

  12. MM - Aug 26, 2010 at 8:43 PM

    Mark,Rumor has it that CM Wang will be in DC Mon/Tue to meet the LLWS team from Taiwan. If things are slow might you give him a call to chat about life after Viera?Tks!

  13. raymitten - Aug 26, 2010 at 8:48 PM

    No one was telling you to feel obligated to buy tickets you don't want to buy. You asked why anyone would want to be a season ticket holder, and I told you why I do. I don't feel obligated to buy them either. I want the team to be good and be successful because I suffered a long time without baseball here, and I want to support it financially as well as with my time and attention. Everyone's circumstances are different — not everyone can afford season tickets — but the facts are that if people don't support the team financially by paying for tickets and if it doesn't draw enough revenue to pay for good players, the "Lerners are cheap" argument doesn't hold water. Oh yeah, and I love being at the ballpark, so I consider it a bargain for six months of nightly fun and entertainment. I WANT to go every night.

  14. JamesFan - Aug 26, 2010 at 8:56 PM

    Six days until the call-up. I hope the manager will bench the "vets" who are not everyday players and use this time to give major league experience to Ramos,and to test Espinoza, Whiting and Burgess.

  15. natsfan1a - Aug 26, 2010 at 9:06 PM

    fwiw re. Nyjer, the Nationals Journal site has a post up about a Phillies fan who was there and contacted the Post with an eyewitness account in which Nyjer comes off far better than he has in today's coverage around the Internetz.

  16. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 9:15 PM

    JamesFan, Whiting is almost 27 (I don't thing he is a prospect .615 OPS in Syracuse = atrocious), Burgess just moved up from A to AA and was only at .781 OPS in A ball; may be a prospect but minimum 2 years away. Ramos hurt his knee yesterday; I don't know how serious but he came out of the game. Sorry to rain on your parade but there it is.

  17. natsone_va - Aug 26, 2010 at 9:16 PM

    Willie Harris. Really??? C'MON, WHY???

  18. Dave - Aug 26, 2010 at 9:27 PM

    @ natsfan1a – Sounds about right.[Before the inning started, Morgan looked at the crowd. A boy of about 12, Holman recalled, leaned over a railing and called for the ball.Standing 30 or so feet away, Holman wrote, Morgan lobbed the ball "rainbow-style" in the direction of the boy. The ball sailed over the boy and smacked a fan who was looking in a different direction in the shoulder.] Always overthrowing the cut-off man!!

  19. Anonymous - Aug 26, 2010 at 11:00 PM

    Still wondering why they didn't dump TAWH on waivers and claim Cody Ross? Harris shouldbe on the waiver wire not Ross … In spiteof Vanilla Riggleman's.

  20. Les in NC - Aug 26, 2010 at 11:26 PM

    How many 17 year olds can drive a baseball (with a wooden bat) into the third deck of a major league park while actual major leaguers and major league personnel are watching over his shoulder? I dare say that would be a small number!! I have a hard time believing Bryce won't be in the majors before he is 20 (for more than a cup of coffee).

  21. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me - Aug 26, 2010 at 11:29 PM

    Ah, FLop. Same old FLop. Same old jaker FLop.Why does any team put up with this bum?

  22. tystoneman - Aug 26, 2010 at 11:39 PM

    I'm so over Bob Carpenter and Ray Knight's ultra optimistic view of the National's future. Come on guys, lets not pretend the organization has an abundance of prospects in their farm system. I don't always agree with Dibble, but at least he doesn't read the Nats' talking points verbatim during the game like Ray does. Vom!

  23. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Aug 26, 2010 at 11:46 PM

    I'm with you, tystoneman.They're laying it on pretty thick with the Kool-Aid tonight.

  24. jeanne b - Aug 26, 2010 at 11:50 PM

    I am fairly impressed with Harper's time in the booth – good sense of humor, and a sense of baseball history.

  25. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me - Aug 27, 2010 at 12:06 AM

    So was I, Jeanne B. Plus, he was polite to Bobby C., even deferential. Seemed like a very-together 17-year-old. Not at all what I was expecting. Hope it all works out. There's an open right field spot, that's for sure.

  26. Aussie Gus - Aug 27, 2010 at 2:01 AM

    I HATE SUPPORTING THIS TEAM!

  27. CBinDC - Aug 27, 2010 at 2:10 AM

    I have had to endure many bad teams in this city but this year has produced the saddest time of all.

  28. Aussie Gus - Aug 27, 2010 at 2:12 AM

    I LOVE SUPPORTING THIS TEAM!

  29. rmoore446 - Aug 27, 2010 at 2:42 AM

    This team wears me out…the collapse in the nineth is a good example. But then they come back to tie the game and so I sit in a hotel room in Austin, Texas listening via Gameday to the Nats radio broadcast for another inning or two. I want to go to bed but I can't turn it off.I think 2008 was the low point for me–pre-Strasburg, pre-Harper, pre-Pudge, etc….no hope anywhere to be seen. That was the worst. I would have turned that team off after blowing the lead in the 9th

  30. A DC Wonk - Aug 27, 2010 at 3:10 AM

    Cut Carp and Knight some slack . . . we had Zimmermann finally come back (ok, so that didn't look great tonight, but he looked good at the start) on the same day that Bryce, the first time he tries to pull the ball, jacks it to the upper deck, and the day after Marquis' second consecute stellar performance. It's OK to be a bit optimistic today.

  31. Matt - Aug 27, 2010 at 3:42 AM

    I wonder how Joe West feels about how long that game took…

  32. Dan - Aug 27, 2010 at 3:54 AM

    Yay!

  33. JaneB - Aug 27, 2010 at 3:57 AM

    Thrilling!!! Bryce Harper autograph, and a foul ball on top of it! I love my Nats. And shout out to usher Susan Perry!!!

  34. BQ - Aug 27, 2010 at 3:58 AM

    awesome. we win. congrats nats fans. we usually drop these kind of games but not tonight. awesome.

  35. BQ - Aug 27, 2010 at 4:11 AM

    forgot to mention Dunn's contribution. He may not broken out of the slump completely but a sac fly and an extra base hit are an improvement over what he had been doing before. And what should we say about Desmond. He is a beast. He is the definition of clutch right now. but during regular season, he is more suited to be #2. Really looking forward to tomorrow's game.

  36. josh f - Aug 27, 2010 at 4:17 AM

    Mark – where does this day rank now in Nats history? Bryce Harper's first visit to DC, and a gutsy thrilling walkoff!

  37. Ernie - Aug 27, 2010 at 4:42 AM

    So glad I got to be there for a win. And in extra innings–a first for me!1. Desmond is looking a lot better in the field. He fielded a shot from Jay in the 12th and nailed the throw to first in what was maybe the cleanest play I've ever seen him make. Looked better than Zimmerman in the field tonight.2. Bernadina's shot was hit so hard on a line that everyone in my section thought it was a flyout well short of the wall.3. A lot of ups and downs tonight, but it was great to see them win as a team. Alberto, WillieHarris, Bernadina, Kennedy, others all had great moments and deserve some credit for the win. Maybe it was the weather, but this felt like the team I was watching in April and May this year. 4. With Willingham out and Guzman gone our bench looks sickeningly weak. LaRussa's pinch-hit pitchers looked better at the plate than some of our usual suspects.5. All of the double-switches came from the third base dugout!6. Maybe Willie Harris does not hate me as much as he used to.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 78 59 -- 18
ATLANTA 72 67 7.0
MIAMI 67 70 11.0
NEW YORK 65 74 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 64 74 14.5
Through Tuesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
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.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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