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Game 151: Astros at Nats

Sep 21, 2010, 7:30 PM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
John Lannan faces fellow lefty J.A. Happ tonight at Nationals Park.

One night after an embarrassingly ugly 8-2 loss to the Astros, will the Nationals rebound with a better performance that snaps their four-game losing streak? One night after the smallest paid crowd since baseball returned to the District, will attendance pick up or actually drop?

These are the broader questions surrounding tonight's game at Nationals Park. On a more-specific level, will John Lannan continue his superb second half, one that has seen the left-hander post a 6-2 record while allowing more than three runs only once? And can the Nats get some semblance of offensive production from the bottom half of their lineup? That group hasn't exactly been tearing it up lately, especially Roger Bernadina, who since the All-Star break is hitting .226 with a .279 on-base percentage and .633 OPS.

Bernadina, who has typically been hitting fifth since Josh Willingham's season came to a premature end, has been dropped down to seventh tonight against Astros lefty J.A. Happ. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn have been flip-flopped, with Michael Morse and Ivan Rodriguez each bumped up a spot to bat fifth and sixth, respectively.

Check back for updates throughout…

ASTROS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 75 degrees, Wind 8 mph out to LF

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (62-88)
2B Danny Espinosa
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam Dunn
3B Ryan Zimmerman

Read more »

  1. Sam - Sep 21, 2010 at 7:53 PM

    The Nats have to go 8-4 down the stretch in order to get to the vaunted 70-win mark that many fans and analysts (including myself) had predicted for them. Let's hope they can do it. A win here would be a good start!

  2. JaneB - Sep 21, 2010 at 10:44 PM

    A few weeks ago, when people started posting what it would take for them to get 70 wins, I thought,"piece of cake!" ummmmmm…..But I love them. And I also have come tom love reading what Mark writes, and what you all contribute. We should all find some place at the stadium to meet each other at the final home game. I know we aren't all IN DC, but still… I'm driving up 95 tonight and won't even hear most of the game, but I'm looking forward to being there tomorrow, no matter who bats fifth. Go Nats!

  3. Ariasln26 - Sep 21, 2010 at 11:18 PM

    This team is a piece of SH**!!!

  4. rmoore446 - Sep 21, 2010 at 11:23 PM

    JaneB, I am with you in all you say. 70 wins seemed so easy and now it is a distant goal. But I do love them and I do love Mark's reports. I hope Mark decides to continue for another year. We need to beat the drum to encourage him to do just that.

  5. LoveDaNats - Sep 22, 2010 at 12:04 AM

    @rmoore446 I'm with you and JaneB. On Sunday, I said to my husband "As soon as the Nats win this game, they can't lose 100 this year" I said this at the top of the ninth when it was 6-3 and Drew Storen was coming in. Anyway, it was not to be and 100 losses looms ahead unless something happens. But I feel the same way. My name says it all and I'll be back in the stands next year.Love Mark and his work.

  6. LoveDaNats - Sep 22, 2010 at 12:09 AM

    I meant bottom of the ninth.

  7. LoveDaNats - Sep 22, 2010 at 12:18 AM

    OK….now they're starting to hit.

  8. JayB - Sep 22, 2010 at 12:20 AM

    Mark,Did the ushers just let everyone in the part move down to $300 seats behind Home Plate? Just looked like a rush at a concert on tv…

  9. Mark Zuckerman - Sep 22, 2010 at 12:36 AM

    JayB: Didn't see the rush, but looking down at the Presidents Club, it does look pretty packed.

  10. JayB - Sep 22, 2010 at 12:43 AM

    Mark,Do you ever talk to Barry S? It would be really interesting to get his take on this mess and why it has happened.

  11. lesatcsc - Sep 22, 2010 at 1:01 AM

    What a shame to waste a good start by Lannan. This may be the worst hitting team in MLB at the moment. Outside of Zimmerman, it's difficult to find a hitter that inspires much confidence. Some of them are cause for despair. Let's pray that Maxwell, Neives, Harris, and Mench are elsewhere next year, and that Bernadina, Espinosa, Gonzales and Morgan are not being relied on to do more than hone their skills in the minors or play a role off the bench.

  12. JayB - Sep 22, 2010 at 1:03 AM

    I mean really…who would have ever guessed that 2010 in the new park we will sell less tickets than 2006 in RFK when we spent the off season thinking the Park deal fell through or 2007 with Robert Fick at RFK…..Amazing…sure would be interesting to get some perspective from Boz, Barry, Tom L….someone who can assess correctly assign some accountability to this surreal turn of events.

  13. BallstonNat - Sep 22, 2010 at 2:22 AM

    Way to twist a knife in Storen's confidence Riggs. So what if he walked the last batter, let him battle through with the help of the crowd. That is a horrible decision, in a game that doesn't mean anything in the standings, but could have proven a great time to get Storen back on the horse.In other news…At least Debbie Taylor's mic didn't work.

  14. josh f - Sep 22, 2010 at 2:23 AM

    That was the most fun inning I've seen maybe all year?

  15. Michael J. Hayde - Sep 22, 2010 at 2:24 AM

    Nice to see the Nats finally get a Yankee-esque late inning comeback. Good things can happen with this team once in awhile… which I guess is why we keep coming back for more punishment.

  16. John R. - Sep 22, 2010 at 2:28 AM

    Good job by Riggs to pull Storen and make sure the game is won. Storen had already failed by giving up the HR and the walk.

  17. natsfan1a - Sep 22, 2010 at 2:59 AM

    No worries, Mark. JayB complained about Barry, too, back in the day. (But you probably already know that.) I think you're doing a great job, fwiw.Great win tonight and another good start by Johnny Boy Lannan. A big Atta Boy to Pudge for getting the hit parade started.

  18. Dryw - Sep 22, 2010 at 3:20 AM

    Last night on TV, I thought the team had given up. Tonight at the park, even before the eighth, they looked like they were still playing hard. I'm hoping to see a lot more of that this week and next.However, I will say that it is more likely that the Nats will win 100 games this year than that there were 11,000 people in the park. In the second inning or so, we were estimating it at less than 5,000, although a few people were still trickling in. And, no, the ushers were not being absolute sticklers for section numbers on tickets tonight. (after all, a 3 looks kinda like a 1, doesn't it?)

  19. BQ - Sep 22, 2010 at 3:47 AM

    no Dryw, it doesn't. ;)Anyways, I tried to stay away from this blog and baseball for couple of days. But who am I kidding? Good win tonight. We have finally officially avoided the 100 loss mark this season. Lannan has been doing well and I hope he carries this form over to the next season and improved on it. Espinosa has lost his hit stroke it seems but I would still have him as my starting 2B next season (I can't believe I am actually saying this) so he can earn some experience and for defense. We also heard that talks between Dunn and Nats have picked up. Guess that's a good thing. I hope we pick more wins until the end. Otherwise I wouldn't mind another high draft pick come next June. :)

  20. Ernie - Sep 22, 2010 at 4:15 AM

    Th walk home from the game was the nicest 20 minutes I've spent after a Nats game in a long while. After the past week of dreadfulness I had almost decided to stay home tonight, but my warped sense of duty to see this season to its miserable end pushed me to go. I'm glad I did. I could pick on dumb at- bats and boneheaded mistakes, but the small crowd wasn't as dead as it had been in recent games I've attended and the team seemed to be trying. They were legitimately stymied by a good pitcher for the first 2/3 of the game, but stuck with it and managed to look like the kind of baseball team I want to root for. Even the guys I want to see DFA'd came through tonight, which made me feel good and remember why it is that I like this game. I was actually smiling and laughing in a non-cynical way during the 8th inning. I can't remember the last time this team had that effect on me. And the crowd was great, even if it was small.I have tickets to 3 more on this homestand. I think I'm going to be there for all of them. Of course, we'll probably lose them all, maybe in heartbreaking ways, but after tonight I don't think the taste will be as bitter.I'll never understand why I love this game so much, but after tonight, I am still sure that I do.

  21. JayB - Sep 22, 2010 at 10:02 AM

    1a…can we stop worrying about Mark's Psyche.He knows we all appreciate and respect him. Hell we all pay for him to do this…not enough I am sure but still….would it not be very interesting to hear a discussion of the major players who have been there in the media…with access to all the players for 6 years….reflect on what has happened to the promise of baseball in DC…what has caused the team to reach a new low in attendance in year 2010……Mark by design or skill set rarely gives opinions or holds people accountable in public so if he facilitated such a discussion that would be cool too…..relax mark is a grown man in the new age a media and he is doing great…we are not helping him by just saying thank you all the time.

  22. natsfan1a - Sep 22, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    Yes, I agree that would be interesting, JayB. Svrluga did some posts for the Journal earlier this year, but they were retrospective rather than looking at the state of things today.On the opinion-giving/holding the team accountable front, my impression is that would tend to fall more under the role of a columnist/editorial writer than that of a beat writer. That said, my impression has not been that Mark pulls his punches. You mileage may vary, as always.In other news, I'll continue to say "thank you" when I think it's warranted, because that's how I was raised. Old habits die hard. ;-)

  23. natsfan1a - Sep 22, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    You = Your.

  24. SpringfieldFan - Sep 29, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    It has been worse:"September 7, 1954: The Senators and Athletics draw just 460 fans to a game, the smallest crowd in Griffith Stadium history. The Senators win 5-4."At the time, the population of DC was somewhere around 800,000, which is more than live in the city now. Of course, the suburbs have boomed in the meantime.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 77 57 --
ATLANTA 71 65 7.0
MIAMI 68 68 11.0
NEW YORK 63 73 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 62 73 15.5
Through Saturday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SUN: Nats at Mariners, 4:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
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.
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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