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Game 150: Astros at Nats

Sep 20, 2010, 7:35 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats open their final homestand of the season tonight against the Astros.

Well, we've reached the final homestand of the season, and it's a long one: Ten games against the Astros, Braves and Phillies before the Nationals head up to New York to finish out the season at Citi Field.

On the surface, this four-game series against Houston might look like the easiest portion of the homestand. Dig deeper, though, and this is going to be anything but easy. The Astros have actually been one of the NL's best teams for nearly four months, going 55-43 since June 1. (I'm sure it's pure coincidence that run began with three straight wins over the Nats.) Houston has also won 19 of its last 27, putting together a strong finish.

Livan Hernandez starts tonight for the Nationals, looking to earn his 11th win and even up his record at .500. Right-hander Bud Norris (8-8, 4.95) starts for Houston, having never faced any Nats hitter before.

Danny Espinosa gets the start at shortstop tonight, with Adam Kennedy at second base and Ian Desmond on the bench.

Check back for updates throughout…

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 74 degrees, Wind 9 mph in from LF

SS Danny Espinosa
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn

Read more »

  1. natsfan1a - Sep 20, 2010 at 7:42 PM

    ¡¡¡¡Livo!!! to the rescue (crosses fingers…)

  2. JayB - Sep 20, 2010 at 8:40 PM

    Mark,Have you been watching Kennedy….he is not running out ball, he is not running after lose balls in the OF…he is jogging after pop ups behind Dunn….WHY IS HE PLAYING…give the start to Alberto

  3. swang - Sep 20, 2010 at 9:01 PM

    JayB,I understand that you like our young guns much better than any alternatives, but AG isn't better, I'm sorry to say. I didn't get a good impression of him last year, and this year, my impression of him is lower. He's a AAAA player, at best.

  4. Anonymous - Sep 20, 2010 at 9:04 PM

    Both Gonzales and Kennedy will be back next year, JayB. Better get used to it.

  5. JayB - Sep 20, 2010 at 9:43 PM

    Alberto cares….Kennedy has been dog'en it for weeks…why reward that behavior…go back and look at his last start…watch him jog after ZimmNN's back pick off while winning runs race around the bases….tell me why he is playing after you see that again.

  6. DCGuy7 - Sep 20, 2010 at 9:49 PM

    Can anyone explain why Bernie is hitting 5th instead of Morse – again?

  7. JayB - Sep 20, 2010 at 9:57 PM

    That us a good question….wonder is anyone is at the game who could help out with these fan observations/Questions?

  8. JayB - Sep 20, 2010 at 9:57 PM

    I'm done after that last homestand…gave the rest of my tickets to charity….Mark are you there?

  9. Richard - Sep 20, 2010 at 9:57 PM

    Bernie is hitting 5th b/c Riggleman loves the alternate right and left handers.

  10. DCGuy7 - Sep 20, 2010 at 10:01 PM

    i'd love to see some analysis of whether that actually makes sense or not, vs things like OPS.

  11. JayB - Sep 20, 2010 at 10:03 PM

    dunn is lh and so is Roger

  12. Richard - Sep 20, 2010 at 10:07 PM

    Yeah, but so is Willie H.

  13. JayB - Sep 20, 2010 at 10:11 PM

    wish we could pool our cash and each pay $100 a couple times a year and pay to get these type of questions answered….oh wait….never mind….Kennedy is always working hard and runs everything out so there is no story there…I must be wrong about what I saw last Sunday as he jogged after a ball as Fish ran wild around the bases….

  14. Anonymous - Sep 20, 2010 at 10:29 PM

    JayB, you know that when you give your tix to the literacy charity and then pick them up and go to the game yourself, that's illegal. Right?

  15. Aussie Gus - Sep 20, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    JayB, you know you should start your own blog. Everyone really appreciates your insightful comments and pin point analysis. Maybe then you could get to the games and cover all the bases. I've got lots of questions I want answered too, so there is certainly a hole in the market. Maybe we could have a situation where every single question, from every single fan, at every single professional match around the world gets answered by their own personal blogger!

  16. JayB - Sep 21, 2010 at 12:07 AM

    Or maybe we could get some insight from Mark on this disaster of a season and not just quotes from Riggs about how Ian D has made only 6 errors in 32 games so he is all good now… the fan response to that be of rocket science reporting…..

  17. Anonymous8 - Sep 21, 2010 at 12:09 AM

    Hows about Livan getting off the mound and jogging to 1st. Man, this guys lazy loafing is getting old.

  18. Anonymous8 - Sep 21, 2010 at 12:11 AM

    Willie Harris just blows. I can't stand watching these innings of laziness.

  19. bgib - Sep 21, 2010 at 12:15 AM

    Yikes. Just decided that I'm not going to anymore games this year. They're just not watchable.

  20. Anonymous8 - Sep 21, 2010 at 12:18 AM

    8:02 p.m. — Still 2-1 through four as both Livo and Norris settle in nicely. ———————————Maybe Norris……..

  21. JayB - Sep 21, 2010 at 12:21 AM

    Recall how Mark dutifully reported month after month just what Rizzo said about Flores and Wang making progress and how they would be in MLB games by September….and I said BS…..we need a voice who calls it like it is….not like Stan and Rizzo and Riggs want it to be….Next year we are looking at less than 5000 seats sold for games like this with less than 2000 in the park…..that is the story and that is what I expect hard questions to Nats FO and Ownership about……am I alone?

  22. Mark - Sep 21, 2010 at 12:24 AM

    Really unwatchable. Livan's own laziness to cover 1st set the tone. Livo looked like he was throwing BP.Yah, reward this guy with a year extension.

  23. JayB - Sep 21, 2010 at 12:30 AM

    You know what would be interesting Mark….interview Barry S. about what 2010 and 2011 should have been in his view….Ask him if he thinks a Season ticket base of under 5,000 and a in the ball park number of 3,0000 was what the fans were promised and the city when the build Lerner this city funded park? Ask Barry if he thinks this plan is acceptable. You and he were there from the start but I bet Barry will speak honestly about what has happened here.

  24. Todd Boss - Sep 21, 2010 at 12:33 AM

    No way Kennedy is back; why would we pay $2M (the value of the club option) for a backup infielder? I'd rather pay Pete Orr the MLB min to provide that service.

  25. Anonymous - Sep 21, 2010 at 12:36 AM

    Hey JayB, here's an idea: Why don't you start your own blog, raise $30,000 from your loyal readers and then "tell it like it is" as much as you want. As an added bonus, you'd disappear from this site, which can certainly function just fine without your presence.

  26. Nats fan in NJ - Sep 21, 2010 at 12:39 AM

    Guys, chill. We are all quite frustrated with how this year has turned out and probably all expected more. And no, not every action has turned out well but it's hard to disagree that this team appears to be past the trough. Has the front office done everything possible? Have all the gambles worked out? No, but at least there is more hope today than 18 months ago. We all want it to be faster and the Lerners/FO still need to put more money where their mouth is. But we are in a better position today than at the beginning of the '09 season.I don't think blaming Mark is valid. Barry was also good but had his times when we gave him grief for buying too much into Bowden's BS. I, for one, find Mark's reporting (as well as Adam at WaPo) to be pretty good and about as independent as possible considering they can't butcher these guys and still expect access.

  27. Sec3MySofa - Sep 21, 2010 at 12:46 AM

    Jaybee, I've defended you here and elsewhere in the past, and I don't regret it, but I'm done. Yes, the team sucks. We noticed a long time ago. You don't like Riggleman's work–neither do I, frankly. But going after Mark?? No. You're out of control.Sure, you have a right to–it's a blog, say what you like. But it's moronic. Please quit embarrassing yourself.

  28. Golfersal - Sep 21, 2010 at 12:51 AM

    For Mark,Hey on your 1st post tonight on the number of people at the game, I can attest to it. As a season ticket holder it's been tough since Strasberg left, nobody is buying tickets at any price. We have club house season tickets in section 208, first row some great tickets. But we haven't been able to come close to selling them, today was a all time low, since 7 in the morning the tickets for first row in clubhouse section with a value of $45 was offered for $19.99 and did not sell. Someone on another site said that he bought Presidents club seats that have a face value of $300 he paid at 3pm $40. Shows how bad things have gotten, people have given up on this club.

  29. Golfersal - Sep 21, 2010 at 12:51 AM

    Yes another splendid night in Nat's town. At this rate the Nats are going to have to pay people to come to the games.Sorry but sick of some of the comments that Ray Knight is making. Yes in the six inning Espinosa made a great catch but honestly for Knight to make a big deal about how it's OK for him not hitting and making great plays just doesn't cut it in my mind. Between him and Riggleman they remind of us when little johnny in little league either strikes out or misses a easy fly ball that we all have to tell little johnny, "Good try, no problems". Sorry in my mind this doesn't cut it in the major leagues.In a way it was probably better that Dibble got fired when he did, I honestly don't think he would of made it through the season, he would of out of frustration say something bad.

  30. Sbrent - Sep 21, 2010 at 12:57 AM

    JayB you are without doubt the most irritating thing about this otherwise very enjoyable blog. Why do you have to be such a hostile, negative ass constantly? Dude if you're so unhappy with the blog, by all means stop reading, and PLEASE stop commenting incessantly. The team is hard enough to take without having to take YOU along with it! Give it a freaking rest, man! Please!

  31. CBinDC - Sep 21, 2010 at 1:05 AM

    All season NOTHING Has been said by the Lerners or Kasten about the FANS ……what do they think is the positive from this season … and if they, like we, think this season has been WORSE NOT BETTER then last season.. … then how do they plan to make it better next year and how do they plan to make it up to those of us who have had to suffer this season…..YES THEY OWE US

  32. Anonymous8 - Sep 21, 2010 at 1:07 AM

    JayB said… the city when they build Lerner this city funded park? ————————-The city agreed to build the park as a condition of Washington getting a MLB franchise.This was long before any ownership groups were identified. When you spin it the way you wrote it, it is as if you are saying DC built it specifically for Lerner. Not true.

  33. CBinDC - Sep 21, 2010 at 1:12 AM

    I did want to add that this site is the best thing to come out of this year …Great job Mark

  34. Golfersal - Sep 21, 2010 at 1:14 AM

    Mark, you were spot on in your attendance figure. Bob Carpenter just announced that only 10,999 paid attendance for tonight. So with a season ticket base of around 9,000 it sounds like they didn't sell many tickets for tonight.Guess I better go to the game tomorrow, won't be able to give away the tickets, the folks on Stubhub will want me to pay someone to take the tickets off my hands

  35. JayB - Sep 21, 2010 at 1:19 AM

    Agreed 8 you are correct….how are you enjoying how this season turned out….far cry from what Rizzo and Stan promised….time to stop "reporting" what they say and start telling it like it is.

  36. Anonymous8 - Sep 21, 2010 at 1:23 AM

    JayB, StanK luckily stopped talking. That is great news.Personaly, I have enjoyed this year more with the little dose of Strasburg and the run-up to May 14th.Unfortunately, the weak bench and the sub-par defense bit them in the butt.Tonight is the a lowlight reel of what we all hated about 2010. Lack of hustle and then the errors started.I will happily be at the Park tomorrow and Wednesday and again over the weekend!

  37. JayB - Sep 21, 2010 at 1:43 AM

    You are a better "fan" than I am 8…..impressive….oh and Mark is a big boy he can take some honest feed back from a customer…..he can do better than what he has provided over the past month.

  38. Anonymous - Sep 21, 2010 at 2:20 AM

    It's been bad enough watching the Nats these last three seasons. Now we gotta read an impertinent complainer ruin this blog.

  39. Sec3MySofa - Sep 21, 2010 at 3:23 AM

    Dude, it's not Mark who's complaining.

  40. Anonymous - Sep 21, 2010 at 3:30 AM

    I was there. The most lifeless performance I have seen by a major league team in 45 years. It was sickening.I knew the game was over when Dunn came up with the bases loaded. Has anyone COUNTED the number of baserunners he has left on base this year?While they were in the process of lying down for the Astros, Our Baseball Team shucked and joked with their opponents. All of them. It was a picnic for the Nationals, who did not care who won the game.This night was a pathetic joke played on the fans by the Nationals. They are all looking at their watch, counting down the stupid days till they can finally play golf and enjoy their money.The joke was on us.This is my last post of the season. I'm sick of it.

  41. CapPeterson - Sep 21, 2010 at 3:44 AM

    Just came back from the game. Do I feel better about the team now than I did at this point in the 2009 season? No. The 2009 club got off to a horrendous start under Acta, the season was over by May, but under Riggleman and sparked by Morgan the Nats played entertaining, competitive baseball in June-Sep. This year has been the opposite: entertaining, competitive baseball through May, and then a steady deterioration leading to the death march we are witnessing now.Look, we know the Nats can't measure up to the Phils in terms of payroll and talent. But the Astros? Not a lot of All-Stars in the lineup they fielded tonight. And, given that their farm system is even worse than ours, there's no reason why the rookies they're playing should be outperforming ours. Please, no more excuses over the next three games about how MLB ruined the Expos, what a bad hand Rigs has been dealt, etc. Let's play like major leaguers and take at least two of three from these guys on our home field.

  42. Natman - Sep 21, 2010 at 4:01 AM

    Easy on Mark JayB. He is a reporter, not a windbag that you get on FoxNews or MSNBC who "tell it like it is." Seriously, he reports and doesn't editorialize too much and lets the comments section do that. I know you are frustrated for many reasons, mostly the fact that once again the Nats told us they were putting a competitive product on the field and did the opposite. But Mark has been good at writing articles here and there talking about the effort, the bullpen, the defense and lack of people. And he is asking questions of the FO and Manager. And BTW he is doing a lot of daily's and has been judicial in going out of town. All-in-all a good effort. And its sad you don't recognize his efforts this year.

  43. JayB - Sep 21, 2010 at 9:58 AM

    Again, Mark is a big boy, he can take the feedback and needs it…..he knows how I feel about the Blog… talks….and his most recent effort above this post is long overdue but appreciated none the less.

  44. natsfan1a - Sep 21, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    So, does the money of those of us who feel that Mark has been doing a fine job talk as well? Just curious. (And does it have eyes like on that weird Geico commercial? Hope not, 'cause that's really creepy.)





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 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: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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