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Game 3: Braves at Nats

Apr 3, 2011, 3:20 PM EDT

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jordan Zimmermann face Tim Hudson in the rubber match of this series.

Few pitchers in baseball have owned the Nationals over the years like Tim Hudson, who enters today's game with a 10-2 record and 1.91 ERA in 18 career starts against this franchise. There's something about the way the Braves' veteran right-hander mixes up his pitches that has always fooled members of the Nationals lineup.

Ah, but that was before Jayson Werth, Rick Ankiel, Laynce Nix and Matt Stairs joined the club. Check out those newcomers' lifetime numbers against Hudson: Werth (7-for-20, HR, 6 RBI), Ankiel (3-for-6, RBI), Nix (6-for-14, 2B, RBI), Stairs (5-for-6, 2 2B). Perhaps the tide is about to turn in this previously lopsided match-up.

Jordan Zimmermann makes his season debut for the Nationals, coming off a fantastic spring in which he was scored upon in only four of his six Grapefruit League starts. Scouts and opposing teams raved about the right-hander's stuff this spring. Now we'll see if it translates into the regular season.

It's a gorgeous (if a bit chilly) day on South Capitol Street. Updates to come all afternoon, so check back often…

BRAVES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
TV: MASN, Ch. 50
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM)
Weather: Mostly sunny, 55 degrees, Wind 11 mph LF to RF

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche

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  1. Mr. Doggett - Apr 3, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    Love these kinds of games. If they win, we get to say it means a lot. If we lose, we can easily shrug it off. But I guess that's pretty much true about every game.

  2. Grandstander - Apr 3, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    So your two predicted outcomes for this game are them winning and us losing?Man, I thought I was pessimistic.

  3. Doc - Apr 3, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Guess we may get to see Ramos PH. I was hoping, in spite of the statements yesterday on alternating Cs, that we'd get to see W. Ramos' hot hand from yesterday!!!

  4. Rob Dibble's Ghost - Apr 3, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    I believe Pudge has pretty good numbers lifetime against Hudson.

  5. Rob Dibble's Ghost - Apr 3, 2011 at 4:02 PM

    16-36 for a .444 average, to be exact.

  6. ehay2k - Apr 3, 2011 at 4:08 PM

    Just some comments on the new Nats (feel free to disgree – in a civil manner please): In terms of team changes, I loved Nyjer in '09, because he carried the team with his energy, but I was VERY over him in 2010. He still brought a lot of energy, but also kept repeating the same knucklehead plays. (At age 30, you REALLY should know how to hit the cutoff man, and how to execute the SuiSqueeze.) I wish him well, but I will say I have seen these types of playes, in every sport, and it usually does not end well.As for Dunn, I was really not pleased that we let him go, and more upset at the way it happened – we could have gotten a lot more if we'd traded him last year. (On that second point, I am still not pleased.) At any rate, he is a DH which is where he belongs because he has neother the range nor the glove to play in the field. (Sorry Dunner, it's just true) . Laroche has proven in just 2 games what a defensive liability Dunn was at 1b. I used to think that Dunn's miscues at 1b were more than wiped out by his power at the plate, However, I now believe that is not the case. The defensive upgrades at CF and 1B are huge for us this year, more than making up for any offiensive decrease (if there actually is any, because Ankiel seems to be an upgrade over Morgan.) With a young pitching staff, giving the opposing team an extra out, and an extra man base, is really asking for trouble. Without a good defense behind them, our pitchers are afraid to let anyone hit the ball, and get into a rut of nibbling around the plate, walking folks. Let a guy get on base with what should have been an out (by a 1b with decent range and glove), and the young pitchers get rattled. I saw that a few times last year.Get caught stealing (EVEN if the pitcher is batting with 2 outs) and you have put your team, and the pitcher's psyche, in a hole. We are not a good enough team to survive that. In fact, we lost a LOT of close games last year where you have to wonder if we'd just played solid baseball on the bases and in the field, we would have won. In the first game, Desi led off the inning either 3 or 4 times. That means the number 8 hitter didn't screw up. Just saying.To me, the changes we made were not popular, but that is exactly why I respect the guys who made them. If the Lerners just wanted to fill seats ans save $$ and not win, they would have paid Dunn half of what they gave Werth, for just over half the contract life, and they would have made more money with fans of the Big Donkey coming out to see him hit, and the Nats lose. That is not what is happening. While it is still too early too see if their plans will work, there is no doubt that they are trying to improve, and are not cheap.

  7. Theophilus - Apr 3, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    Especially if your pitcher is batting w/ two outs — not "even." If you get caught stealing w/ two outs, the pitcher leads off, which is horrendous.

  8. Anonymous - Apr 3, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    Is it too late to predict 161 – 1? UNTERP

  9. A DC Wonk - Apr 3, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    ehay2k — wise words. I completely agree with your analysis, both of the team, and the wisdom of Rizzo/Lerner on the changes over the last year and a half.

  10. Doc - Apr 3, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    @ Rob Dibble's Ghost: Thanks for the research on Pudge and Hudson. Not sure that's why non-sabermetricnut Riggleman has him in there, but at least it makes us feel better that Pudge will be able to put up a good fight against Hudson!Goooooooooooo Nats!!!!

  11. dj in Fl. - Apr 3, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    ehay2k – right on pointRizzo appears to actually have a plan that is in our best interest

  12. phil dunn - Apr 3, 2011 at 5:58 PM

    Recall how the Nats ruined Lastings Milledge by forcing him to bat leadoff in 2009? Milledge never recovered. I fear they are doing the same to Desmond, who is obviously ill equiped to bat leadoff.

  13. Anonymous - Apr 3, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    The mlb network (India Incorporated) must be completely overwhelmed. You can't even really get to the web site.

  14. TimDz - Apr 3, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    Nice to see them come right back in the bottom half of the first…23 pitches by Hudson …

  15. SCNatsFan - Apr 3, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    Its not like Pudge even makes them work for DPs anymore; its just tailor made ball after tailor made ball. Glad he's saying the right things because it getting old watching him just beat balls into the dirt.That and I have to listen to the horrific homers that are the Braves announcers.

  16. Wally - Apr 3, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    You know, not to keep bashing Pudge, but does anyone think his exagerrated set up does his pitcher no favors? I mean, the umpire seems like he is squeezing Zimm anyway, but Pudge isn't helping him but setting up so far on a corner so that if Zimm misses his spot, but still has the ball over the plate, it doesn't look like it to the ump.

  17. SCNatsFan - Apr 3, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    Zimm sure has been squeezed today. Werth isn't doing his pitchers and favors either.One thing for sure when they play like this they aren't alot of fun to watch.

  18. Cwj - Apr 3, 2011 at 7:16 PM

    Hmmm, Desmond can't handle short hops. Not good, with aggressive outfield arms like Werth.

  19. Cwj - Apr 3, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    Oh and the Umpires are squeezing the Nats' pitchers. That's a shame.Frustrating though.

  20. LoveDaNats - Apr 3, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    In the last three games, Slaten has shown me it's time to recall Balester.

  21. Exposremains - Apr 3, 2011 at 7:53 PM

    It really seems to me that the Braves paid the umpires for this series. All the calls are in their favor safe/out ball and stikes and noiw there getting calls overturned. Its the same old thing, favor the winning team. Riggleman last year talked about getting respect that hasn't happened yet.

  22. Anonymous - Apr 3, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    Pudge is totally washed up. He can't hit anymore.

  23. Jeeves - Apr 3, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    I must have posted half a dozen times that Balester should be here instead of Coffey. I want Ramos to play most of the time. I want Kimbell instead of, well, most of them. And I'm not negative about this team. Still think they will win eighty-four or more. But, please put the best team out there.

  24. Anonymous - Apr 3, 2011 at 8:23 PM

    Let's see, hitters score runs, pitchers win games. Nats "vaunted" bullpen implodes in a replay of 2005-2010. In answer to your repeated question, Mark, "Is this good?" the answer, obviously, is a resounding NO!

  25. JaneB - Apr 3, 2011 at 8:35 PM

    From where wr were sitting, we don't know why they left Heyward in after he wad called out at second when he mowed down Espinosa and killed the chance for a double play. Can someone explain please?

  26. Doc - Apr 3, 2011 at 8:36 PM

    We need some relief, from our middle relief!!!BallyStar and Kimball are only short air ride away! Let's find a LHer while were at it!!!

  27. Steve - Apr 3, 2011 at 8:44 PM

    Jane, radio crew speculated that 2B umpire was overruled by 3B umpire — and TV replays show Heyward beat the throw, even before the ball was dropped.

  28. Tim - Apr 3, 2011 at 10:18 PM

    Mark, I didn't read everyone's comments, but you really need to get out of the press box and go take pictures like you did this Spring. Works like a charm!The Zuckerman Effect needs to be tested in the regukar season!

  29. dj in Fl. - Apr 3, 2011 at 10:43 PM

    I do believe our future relief corp is still here in Fl. Maybe they could grab the morning southbound train. Heck, I'll drive em south if needed.I am disapointed in the support Zim got, or didn't get. Seemed to be a lack of concentration.

  30. JaneB - Apr 3, 2011 at 11:30 PM

    Tim is right! I kept trying to post during the game to get the heck outta the press box and into the stands, Mark, but I couldn't get a good signal.Thanks for the explanation, Steve.PS. I still love these guys. Even after today.

  31. dryw - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:09 AM

    JaneB,I'm with you. We've got to love our boys! I'm still pleased with the way the season has started overall and am willing to believe they're going to straighten out some of the sloppy play from today FAST.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 73 54 --
ATLANTA 68 61 6.0
MIAMI 64 63 9.0
NEW YORK 60 69 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 57 71 17.5
Through Friday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SAT: Giants at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Giants at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Mariners, 10:10 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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