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Game 136: Nats at Pirates

Sep 4, 2010, 7:35 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
John Lannan faces Paul Maholm in an all-lefty matchup tonight at PNC Park.

PITTSBURGH — Hello once again from beautiful PNC Park, which despite the wretchedness of its regular tenants continues to stand out as the best ballpark in the majors. (Full disclosure: I was born here and grew up a Pirates fan, so my opinion may be slightly biased, though just about every nonpartisan visitor to this park agrees it's tops in the sport.)

Fans in attendance tonight will witness a rarity: A Nats lineup without Adam Dunn. For only the sixth time in 136 games this season, Dunn is not starting. There's been only one game in which he didn't appear at all (May 18 at St. Louis when he had to return to D.C. for a personal matter) so the likelihood is that we'll still see him at some point off the bench. Still, Dunn's absence leaves a pretty major void in the Nats' lineup, which doesn't look nearly as intimidating with Michael Morse batting cleanup and Roger Bernadina hitting fifth.

John Lannan starts for the Nationals, looking to continue his second-half resurgence. In six outings since his return from the minors, the lefty is 4-1 with a 3.25 ERA, having allowed two earned runs or fewer five times. Here's a crazy stat: If Lannan gets the win tonight, he'll improve to 7-6 for the season, which would rank him behind only Livan Hernandez and Tyler Clippard (each with nine wins) on the Nats' pitching staff. Probably says more about everyone else who has pitched out of the rotation this year than anything.

Jim Riggleman, finishing up his two-game suspension, will once again be watching this one alongside Mike Rizzo in a press box suite. John McLaren will manage from the dugout again. Pat Listach begins to serve his two-game suspension tomorrow. Rick Eckstein is expected to coach third base in Listach's absence.

Check back for updates throughout the evening…

Where: PNC Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 63 degrees, Wind 13 mph out to LF

CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Michael Morse

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  1. raymitten - Sep 4, 2010 at 7:40 PM

    Maybe its good Riggs is giving Rizzo and Kasten a preview of how weak the lineup looks with Dunn out of it. Dunn needs to be signed.

  2. TimDz - Sep 4, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    Where in the burg' do you come from Mark? Most of my extended family is from Pittsburgh. Great City (just hate their hockey team)…

  3. TimDz - Sep 4, 2010 at 8:07 PM

    Two left fielders…THAT'S a helluva shift…

  4. Mark Zuckerman - Sep 4, 2010 at 8:16 PM

    TimDz: I was born in Mt. Lebanon, though we moved to Phoenix when I was only 2. But since my whole family was from Pittsburgh originally (and since Phoenix only had the Suns at the time) I just took after them and rooted for the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins (sorry, Caps fans).

  5. joemktg - Sep 4, 2010 at 8:20 PM

    Mark: what is the real issue in not having Dunn signed by now?During Boz's online chat earlier this week, he wrote: "One Nat decision maker, everytime I say "Dunn," responds by saying, "I'm going to get myself a T-shirt made that says, 'Choir,' because when you talk to me about extending him that's who you are preaching to." It seems to me that the baseball people in the organization wanted Dunn signed, but the non-baseball people (read: ownership) are balking because of the price tag. So two things:1) Is this assumption true?2) Are the beat reporters fearful of reporting ownership's reluctance?

  6. Souldrummer - Sep 4, 2010 at 8:28 PM

    Great to see Espinosa getting a second consecutive start at second base. I was hoping Ramos might get a start tonight since he'd caught a strong Lannan start during his last callup. Why, why, why are we batting Morgan leadoff against a lefty again? He's been a knucklehead, he's not hitting and JMax needs starts, preferably in centerfield where he offers the most value. The out machines Pudge Rodriguez and Nyjer Morgan hurt us big time last night, and I would have preferred not to see them tonight.

  7. Anonymous - Sep 4, 2010 at 9:14 PM

    Souldrummer,You are bang on; this is a head scratcher; why would you not play Ramos against the Pirates? Pudge is an absolute rally killer in the middle of the lineup with his .287 OBP and this after a hot April and May. If Ramos isn't the answer at catcher next year we are in big trouble; lets find out about him now.

  8. HHover - Sep 4, 2010 at 9:23 PM

    Souldrummer and Anon – I'd expect that Ramos will start tomorrow's day game, and thus don't really think it's that big a deal he's not starting tonight.

  9. Anonymous - Sep 4, 2010 at 9:42 PM

    HHover;If he is taking over for Nieves as the backup (2 out of 7 games) it will only give him about 8 games this year; why not have him play 20 games?what are we trying to find out about pudge?We already know that he is a terrible hitter at this stage of his career (I am not dissing him he is a first ballot HOF'r).

  10. Sec3MySofa - Sep 4, 2010 at 9:54 PM

    "what are we trying to find out about pudge?"Whether he can get close enough to 3,000 hits to sign him again after next year.

  11. souldrummer - Sep 4, 2010 at 10:01 PM

    @AnonymousIt's not only about "finding out" about Ramos. Part of the deal is that you do want to respect the real humans who are part of this team. I'd like to see Pudge still get 4-5 starts a week and Ramos get 1-2 starts a week. I don't know how loyal you want to be to Wil Nieves during his farewell tour.

  12. HHover - Sep 4, 2010 at 10:03 PM

    Don't get me wrong–I'd like to see Ramos more too.But two points:1. Riggs is loyal to his vets, to a fault, so I can't really see this as a surprise.2. Whether it's 8 starts in Sept. or 20, neither is really enough to get that solid a read on Ramos. That's going to have wait til next year, one way or the other. If they're still just using Ramos as a back up catcher then, I'll join in the hollering.

  13. Mark Zuckerman - Sep 4, 2010 at 10:28 PM

    joemktg said…Mark: what is the real issue in not having Dunn signed by now?Honestly, I think it's just a case of a difference of opinion between the club and the player on how much he's worth. Once Dunn wasn't traded at the July 31 deadline, I believed this would extend into the offseason. Dunn has every right to declare free agency and see what other kind of offers are out there. Then, it's up to him whether he feels another team has made a better offer than the Nats. I'm still of the belief he'll be back here in 2011. Eventually, the two sides will find some common ground.

  14. Mark - Sep 4, 2010 at 10:51 PM

    Glad to hear MARK's opinion on Dunn. I think the Nats should offer him arbitration and I think Dunn will accept making it binding arbitration and forgoing Free Agency.

  15. David Josephson of Phoenix - Sep 4, 2010 at 11:12 PM

    Great stadium photo, Mark, probably your best all season. Looks like a terrific place to watch a ballgame. Is Mrs. Z. along for the weekend? I'd love to see some more of her outstanding photography.

  16. Sam - Sep 5, 2010 at 12:05 AM

    Morse hit the catcher when he didn't have the ball! Suspend him for 8 games!

  17. dj in Fl. - Sep 5, 2010 at 12:41 AM

    So suddenly everyone thinks a hall of fame catcher is not good enough for the Nats. You should all hope you do not have an off day at work and your boss sends you off to the home. Keep it up Pudge, 3,000 hits keeps getting closer.

  18. Sam - Sep 5, 2010 at 12:55 AM

    He's definitely good enough to be a coach. At this point, though, he's just not a good hitter anymore. A few, sparingly hit home runs do not change that. He should be a backup catcher at this point in his career.

  19. Golfersal - Sep 5, 2010 at 1:20 AM

    Hopefully with Riggelman and Rizzo sitting together tonight and watching, Rizzo will hit Riggs over the head and tell him,"Hey dummy, what in the hell are we letting Nyjer still bat leadoff, he is 0 for 6 in this series and having a tough time break .250."Then Riggs can hit Rizzo over the end and tell him,"Hey stupid, why don't you just get rid of him."Guess it's worth dreaming

  20. Sam - Sep 5, 2010 at 1:27 AM

    Sounds like a Monty Python sketch…except he has two hits tonight, so Riggleman will think he is turning some kind of corner or something…

  21. Michael J. Hayde - Sep 5, 2010 at 1:45 AM

    "Maybe its good Riggs is giving Rizzo and Kasten a preview of how weak the lineup looks with Dunn out of it. Dunn needs to be signed."@raymitten: Yeah, but they're playing the Pirates! You can see how well that plan's working out!

  22. CBinDC - Sep 5, 2010 at 1:46 AM

    So is this the right room for an argument ? :)

  23. Sam - Sep 5, 2010 at 1:52 AM

    No, no, this is the abuse room.

  24. Rob Dibble's Ghost - Sep 5, 2010 at 2:07 AM

    How about that…pretty much everyone chipped in tonight, except JMax. The best he did was make a long out (Bob Carpenter: "It's into the bullpen…it's caught in front of the bullpen!")that happened to be a sac fly. Otherwise, his Ks and GIDPs did nothing to contribute, which is typical for him. Sorry, but he's just not going to ever hit major league pitching at this rate and I'm sick of watching him try. It's the same story every night.

  25. Sec3MySofa - Sep 5, 2010 at 2:19 AM

    "So is this the right room for an argument?" I told you once already.

  26. Sec5myBabylon - Sep 5, 2010 at 2:25 AM

    Sam said…"Sounds like a Monty Python sketch…"——-more like Rebo and Zutti.

  27. N. Cognito - Sep 5, 2010 at 2:35 AM

    9-2! What happened?I thought the game was called after the 6th since the Nats had a 7 run lead.That was unprofessional of both the Nats and Pirates to score a run in the 8th.

  28. Richard - Sep 5, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    Hey, why didn't any of the early "Rodriguez is a fossil and shouldn't play" people chime back in to say they're dumb as hell and don't really know what the hell they're talking about? Bad form!





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