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Game 4: Nats at Marlins

Apr 5, 2011, 7:34 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The sun is out right now, but it was pouring earlier, and it may rain again tonight.

MIAMI — This is the Marlins' final season at Sun Life Stadium, which has had about 13 different names over the years. And let me tell you, they can't move out of this place soon enough. Forget about the lack of intimacy inside an 80,000-seat football stadium, though that's a major problem itself. The bigger issue is the lack of a roof, which in this town really is necessary.

Case in point: It was absolutely pouring when I arrived here a little while ago, with a ferocious wind that forced the grounds crew to hold down the tarp with about nine tractors. The amazing thing is, this wasn't anything new around here. Hardly a game day goes by without some sort of delay or squeegeeing of the field. Fortunately, the new park (which is being built on the site of the old Orange Bowl) has a retractable roof.

As for tonight's game, the first in a three-game series with the Marlins, the Nationals' lineup will have its first new look of the young season. Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa are on the bench, with Jerry Hairston and Alex Cora taking over middle infield duties. Before you get all worked up about Jim Riggleman benching the two young guys (especially Desmond, who is 0-for-13), this was planned all along. The manager has wanted to make sure both Hairston and Cora get some at-bats during the season's first week. Desmond and Espinosa should be back in the lineup tomorrow.

Jason Marquis faces Anibal Sanchez, each right-hander making his 2011 debut. Plenty of updates (hopefully none of them weather-related) to come, so check back throughout the evening…

Where: Sun Life Stadium
Gametime: 7:10 p.m.
Radio: WHFS (1580 AM)
Weather: Scattered storms, 80 degrees, Wind 8 mph out to RF

2B Jerry Hairston
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche

Read more »

  1. Anonymous - Apr 5, 2011 at 7:42 PM

    Jose Reyes leading off next year for the Nats.

  2. Stranded_in_Philly - Apr 5, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    Ok, riddle me this. If you're planning on giving our two starting middle infielders a day off and getting the bench guys some work… WHY would you plan to take two starters out on the same day??

  3. JayB - Apr 5, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    Riggs is a loser…what value has this constant playing of bench guys ever given this team….Willie Harris and Adam Kennedy…..He manages like this is rec ball…..Stupid and it is going to cost him his job by July.

  4. Anonymous - Apr 5, 2011 at 7:49 PM

    Stupid is as stupid does… – Forrest Gump -UNTERP

  5. Tcostant - Apr 5, 2011 at 7:53 PM

    I agree with Stranded_in_Philly, it fine to give the starting IF a day off, but why not over a couple of days. This wiould have been a great opportunity to give Desmond the day off and let Espinosa lead off for the day.

  6. JayB - Apr 5, 2011 at 7:57 PM

    and play SS….oh but then Cora would not be sharp for the next time he is needed… every 4th day…you watch…Riggs is going to play these guys at the expense of wins and experience for the youth….it is just in his DNA. Oh well this team is still going to win 82 games….but most of them with a new manager….Bo Porter is my choice.

  7. Anonymous - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    I rode the BUS up there from downtown Miami once. Had I known it was practically in Ft. Lauderdale, and had I taken five minutes to note the bus route went straight through Liberty City, I'd have skipped the totally forgettable baseball. You're right – it's an awful stadium.I asked a cabbie how much Coral Gables was after two innings of ball. He said $50, I said I'd pay $75, and left that stadium in the rear view.

  8. Rabbit - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:05 PM

    I have to agree about Riggleman. He seems to manage with blinders on. As far as Strike Three Desmond is concerned, I didn't care for him last year so I guess I really don't mind him on the bench. Espinosa will do fine.

  9. bgib - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    It was planned all along? So what? That makes it better? It's like Little League and everybody plays so they can get their participation trophies at the end of the season. Sheesh.

  10. Anonymous - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:08 PM

    Since Interim Jim is so big on keeping his bench guys fresh, how come he never lets Bench Coach John McLaren manage the game in order to keep him fresh, so he'll be ready to step in whenever Interim Jim gets ejected or fired?

  11. Steve M. - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:10 PM

    They don't need a day off. They had a freebie yesterday.

  12. Sam - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:12 PM

    I don't mind giving the infielders a day off either. What is mind-blowing is that he would do it on the day of the start of pitcher who gives up the most balls in play and has an extremely high ground ball rate. I think it's safe to say that Desmond and Espinosa are better defensively than Hairston and Cora. I would much rather give these guys a day off with a guy like Zimmermann pitching because he actually strikes guys out. Or, split up their days off so you get one of Desmond or Espinosa at short stop on both days.

  13. cadeck13 - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    I really hate to complain being it's so early in the season, but sheesh!, don't the Yankees, Phillies, Giants, etc. (you know the teams that win) put the same guys out there game after game?

  14. sjm308 - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    Really would have liked to have Espinosa play short for this game but I am not a Riggs hater like several on here. Its a long season and this won't be the last time the kids get rest. Not sure but my bet is that whoever the new manager is (whenever that is) JayB will be railing against something he does within a week. I mean who knows more baseball? He is a fan though and I appreciate all the comments on here.That is what makes it a great game, people can give various opinions on exactly the same play or move during a game. Go Nats! On a totally different not that probably no one cares about, the RCR program is up and running, our group has allocated points and while I have not redeemed anything yet, it looks like it will be fairly easy.

  15. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    Like I see Charlie Manuel set down Rollins AND Utley (when healthy) in tandem ALL the time. Sheesh! Riggs is beginning to get to me and I've promoted a long leash for the guy. That leash is getting pretty short.And as for Sun Life Stadium (better known as the "ROB" in the day). I HATE (with a CAPITAL HATE) the place.

  16. Harper_ROY_2012 - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    If this was a day game after a night game I could understand giving Desmond and Espinosa the day off but coming off an off day, PLEASE! This "keeping guys fresh" mantra that Riggleman is preaching doesn't make sense, when do you see backups playing for contending clubs, answer: almost NEVER unless there is an injury involved! I cannot wait to see what happens when he gives the OF a day off! RF: Nix, CF: Hairston, LF: Stairs!?????

  17. Anonymous - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    I know people don't like to hear about Rigg's philosophy of keeping his bench players fresh with somewhat regular PT but he's responsible for the whole team over a 162 game schedule. I guy can't sit for a week and be expected to perform in the 9th inning with the winning run on 2nd.Having said that I am also baffled as to why you would sit both middle infielders with a ground ball pitcher like Marguis starting.

  18. Scooter - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    I think Riggleman heard the complaints about the bench, so he decided to upgrade it by putting Despinosa there.

  19. Anonymous - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    Like most stupid moves, this one will probably result in a win. Which will make Riggs think that it will work all the time. Which will result in some horrific choices in the future a la 2010.

  20. DFL - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    Desmond and Espinosa are young men who just had an off-day. It is ridiculous to give them a day off. Give them days off on an occasional 98 degree day, not now. It's not as if they had the constitution of Dimitri Young or Rusty Staub.

  21. phil dunn - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:51 PM

    Look what has happened to the Orioles since they hired a real manager. Beginning when Buck Showalter took over about mid-season last year, the team has done a total reversal. Prior to that, the Os manager caliber was about the level of Manny Acta and Riggleman. You know what I mean, not real managers but they work on the cheap and are easy to manipulate because they don't have any employment options. Can you imagine what might happen to the Nats if they hired a real manager?

  22. N. Cognito - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:57 PM

    Who says it's a day off and not an opportunity to get Hairston and Cora some playing time. The baseball season is a marathon and you do want them to get more than 4 at bats a week.I don't understand Desmond and Espinosa out at the same time, but maybe Riggs wants to get the substituting over with.If Desmond (has he even had a good at bat this season?) and Espinosa should be playing almost every day but if they end up sitting regularly, then there will be a problem. Let's wait and see how it plays out.

  23. masnstinks - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:58 PM

    Has Matt Stairs actually had any at- bats yet? Maybe one? I really hate having him on our team – he is a waste of space – oh, wait – since he is a "high character" guy and a "true Professional" he gets paid to sit there and be a good guy. Well – at least he won't be a "defensive Replacement" – having used my quota of quotation marks for today, I am done.

  24. Anonymous - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:59 PM

    The manager has wanted to make sure both Hairston and Cora get some at-bats during the season's first week.Why Mark? They are veterans who are supposed to "know their role"? Right? The YOUNG PLAYERS NEED THE REPS. You might as well start Riggleman in right field he isn't that much older than Stairs? It took only 3 games and already we find ourselves in a tropic island mess here on Giggleman's Isle?

  25. Ernie - Apr 5, 2011 at 9:20 PM

    From MLB Trade Rumors: "Rizzo defended his veteran bench acquisitions, explaining that a team can't have young players at every position, and the veteran mentors won't take at-bats away from prospects."Ummm…did he not see tonight's lineup card?

  26. Mikey Morse Club Member # 1 - Apr 5, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    I agree with much of what has been said. Sam earlier nailed it for me though. Mind boggling to sit both these guys when Marquis is pitching.Maybe he was planning on sitting Desmond, but decided Espinosa needed to be taught a lesson for the errors in the last game.Just win 2 out of 3 against the back end of the Marlins rotation and I'll be happy.

  27. DFL - Apr 5, 2011 at 9:35 PM

    Barring injuries, Desmond and Espinosa should each start 150 games this year. They are young men and need no coddling. Same goes for Zimmerman, Werth and, if they are hitting, Morse and LaRoche.

  28. Wally - Apr 5, 2011 at 9:38 PM

    Trying not to get too excited at Game 4, but there really isn't any answer to Sam's point, is there? It would seem very straightforward that you want the guys you think of as your best fielders out there for Jason. At least one of them.Well, Stanton isn't playing. That's something.

  29. Anonymous - Apr 5, 2011 at 9:45 PM

    I know that this is a radical idea, but if neither Espinosa nor Desmond succeed at leadoff, what about hitting Werth there? It's basically the same rationale for sticking him in the 2-hole, he has the best OBP of anybody on the team. He has power, yeah, but he could end up being an Alfonso-Soriano-before-he-sucked leadoff type.

  30. Doc - Apr 5, 2011 at 9:49 PM

    Uncle Jimmy would make a hellofa AA or AAA manager!

  31. Anonymous - Apr 5, 2011 at 10:02 PM

    No Doc, he'd be awful. He'd play the washed up vets rounding out the roster to keep them fresh in exchange for at bats of the real studs in the organization.

  32. Anonymous - Apr 5, 2011 at 10:02 PM

    When did Bonifacio become an outfielder?

  33. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 5, 2011 at 10:08 PM

    Mark… What"s with that 5:22 post?

  34. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 5, 2011 at 10:09 PM

    Sorry… missed the "tomorrow night" thing.

  35. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Apr 5, 2011 at 11:08 PM

    Gosh, I hope we get some runners on so we can run dizzy on Emilio B's arm in right. His arm makes Nyjer look like Rocky Colavito…

  36. BinM - Apr 5, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    Don't like Riggleman sitting the starting MI combo with a ground-ball pitcher on the mound – One I could see, but both, not so much. Good luck tonight Jason; Looks like you'll need it.

  37. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Apr 5, 2011 at 11:29 PM

    Mickey Morse doing it with the bat and glove.

  38. phil dunn - Apr 5, 2011 at 11:47 PM

    There's nothing like clutch hitting and when it comes to clutch hitting the Nats are hopeless.

  39. Anonymous - Apr 5, 2011 at 11:49 PM

    Even without Mike Stanton, I see Marlins sweeping this series. Not trying to be pessimistic but that second SO of Werth was disgusting. FS

  40. Mr. NATural - Apr 5, 2011 at 11:55 PM

    It is extremely important the Nationals win this game. THIS game.(Cue the managers and players and MASN guys saying, "Well, it's a long season, one game doesn't really matter that much blah blah blah.")Over the last several months, we were all told this was a different, better team. More athletic, better defensively, no more crybabies or felons, better baserunners and pitchers and proven veterans with rings, a better bench. We were told over and over "this team was going to surprise a lot of people."Then we lose 2 of 3, at HOME, in the opening series versus Atlanta. The last game being a debacle, as pathetic as anything the Nats have done since 2005. The image is setting in that it's the same old Nationals. Say we lose 2 of 3 in Florida, then 2 of 3 in New York. Then we come home on April 12th to face the Phillies. It could get very ugly very fast.It is amazing listening to our radio guys, and the Florida radio guys (on XM), and to read Mark's post above–all summarizing how completely the Marlins have spanked us collectively, and how their pitchers have burned our hitters individually.If you are going to change from a loser to a winner there has to be a day when things change. Today has got to be that day. I look at my TV, see 1000 people in the stands in Miami, and I conclude that if we cannot beat the Florida MARLINS the majority of the time, then all the off-season and spring training talk was BS, pure hype, from a team that has gotten very, very good at rationalizing losses.Make the change TODAY.

  41. Anonymous8 - Apr 6, 2011 at 12:15 AM

    Nothing like plate discipline in the top of the 4th. Cora and Hairston hacking with Hairston popping up the 1st pitch. At least Marquis worked him for 5 pitches!

  42. Anonymous8 - Apr 6, 2011 at 12:53 AM

    Top of the 6th after a really nice Marquis hit and into the bullpen and Hairston again does nothing on the 2nd pitch.I would have pinch hit for him with Espinosa, but that's just me so Espi could hit from the left side w/ Werth on deck….

  43. JaneB - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:02 AM

    Well, I am loving this new color guy. And readimg the live blog of the game during the game. And watching Jason pitch. Wish we had Espy and Desi in, so we could see them with Espy in the one hole and Ramos catching. And, may I say, hitting. He's gonna make it hard for them to play Pudge every other day.

  44. Smatt1001 - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:09 AM

    And Zimm walks again… 1HR and the marlins got very afraid.

  45. Smatt1001 - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:22 AM

    And nothing doing…3 walks and then a ground out

  46. BallstonNat - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:34 AM

    Is it that our starters can't get through the 7th? Or that our manager won't let our starters get through the 7th?

  47. Anonymous - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:37 AM

    Wouldn't it have been a good time to use Stairs for Cora right there? Then have Desi take his spot in the field?

  48. Anonymous - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    Same old Nats–dumb base running. There goes the ball game.

  49. Doc - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:44 AM

    Right Uncle Jimmy double switch out Morse, leaving a banjo hitter in LF, with your best power hitter grabbing some pine in a tie game—just really genius managing skills here!Rizzo ought to double switch Riggleman with the Hagerstown bus driver!

  50. Mr. NATural - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:44 AM

    Yes, it looks like we are a much better baserunning team than last year.

  51. Smatt1001 - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:44 AM

    Damn and now a good shot lost Werth to a run down…

  52. Mr. NATural - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:45 AM

    Walk the leadoff, Clip. We want to get to Hanley Ramirez.

  53. josh f - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:47 AM

    This game is making me sicker than I already felt!

  54. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Apr 6, 2011 at 1:47 AM

    What was he thinking? Where was he going?Bring back Nook Logan!

  55. Jim Webster - Apr 6, 2011 at 2:06 AM

    Like my Jayhawk alumni son said at halftime of the Kansas-Butler basketball game: "I've seen this movie before and I don't like the way it ends."

  56. Mr. NATural - Apr 6, 2011 at 2:37 AM

    This is so painful to watch.

  57. FS - Apr 6, 2011 at 2:39 AM

    I have never liked intentional walks. I realize they are part of the game but I would like pitchers (especially Nationals pitchers) to take the challenge and face the guy, instead of walking him. Hanley is a great hitter, but that does not mean we shy away from him. It worked earlier in the game but that does not mean it will work now. So there we have it bases loaded and no outs.FS

  58. Anonymous - Apr 6, 2011 at 2:50 AM

    Well I'm glad Zimmerman stepped up and spoke out after Sunday's game. That really made a difference.Same old Nats.

  59. FS - Apr 6, 2011 at 2:53 AM

    OMG My heart almost stopped beating when Burnett got two outs. I guess it was too much to wish for, to come out unscathed after loading the bases. I am not sure if losing one-run games mean anything to us. but it is tiring to see the mistakes again and again.Having Storen on my fantasy team is really hurting me, should have gone with Kimbrel.

  60. Anonymous - Apr 6, 2011 at 2:55 AM

    Two strikeouts and a game losing error. Welcome to DC sports, Jayson Werth. At least the check will clear. At least I'm close enough to NYC to keep up with Zimmerman when he bails for the Yankees out of frustration in 2013.

  61. Anonymous - Apr 6, 2011 at 2:55 AM

    Time now for the Nationals' paint-by-numbers interviews. Pick one from columns A, B, and C.A."The season is still young.""We can take a lot of positives from this game.""Just one play goes the other way and we win the ballgame."B."It's early.""It's a long season, a long grind. We can't get upset about one game.""We got a quality start from {insert pitcher name} and we have got to be encouraged there."C."Their {insert opposing team's name} pitching was lights out tonight.""Player {insert name} got a tough hop/lost it in the lights/didn't hear the second baseman call him off…it wasn't really his fault.""{Insert Nats' pitcher's name} didn't get a couple of calls he mighta got."

  62. Anonymous - Apr 6, 2011 at 3:09 AM

    The big question for tonight's Nats fan is what do you think the Nat's record with be on May 1st? That bad huh? Write to Rizzo ask him to fire Riggleman … he's going to have to do it May 1st anyway.

  63. Anonymous - Apr 6, 2011 at 3:13 AM

    >>>Same old Nats.<<<

  64. Anonymous - Apr 6, 2011 at 3:25 AM

    Good point, Anonymous 10:55. If you listen to the post-game talking heads on TV, you'd think the Nats WON the game! The whole team showed a lot of promise and the score was just an afterthought! I was laughing so hard I almost fell over. SSDD, except that it's no longer 2010, it's 2011!!!!

  65. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 6, 2011 at 3:31 AM

    Lots of new characters doing the same crap as last year.Error allows winning base runner on base. 12 guys left on base.base running mistake is a killer.Third base coach who either made the sign to late or he was on bad position.Still think Eckstein has to go clutch hitting is not a priority with his team. Either he goes or they go.

  66. Anonymous - Apr 6, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    This season turned twice tonight, on Porter waving home Hairston, then putting on the breaks and the runner being thrown out, and then Werth dropping a pop-up…They will not recover.The Nationals remind me of the New York Knights. Until the Hobb boys get here (Strasburg and Harper), they're toast…UNTERP





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