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Game 11: Phillies at Nats

Apr 13, 2011, 7:07 PM EDT

File photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats try to take out Roy Halladay and the Phillies tonight.

The Nationals are riding a nice little wave of momentum right now, having won two straight and four of five, capped by last night's 7-4 triumph over the Phillies. Momentum, however, is only as good as your next day's starting pitcher, as they like to say. And tonight, the Phillies send one of the very best to the mound in Roy Halladay.

Last season, en route to the NL Cy Young Award, Halladay faced the Nationals three times. He went 3-0. With an 0.39 ERA. He allowed one run in 23 innings, striking out 20 while walking five. He was, to put it mildly, awesome.

Since you can't assume the Nats will pound Doc into submission tonight, you've got to figure their only hope is for a quality outing from John Lannan, who hasn't exactly enjoyed much success against the Phillies. In 11 career starts against them (including his big-league debut in 2007), Lannan is 0-8 with a 6.09 ERA. Daunting challenge, indeed.

I won't be at tonight's game — I'm helping cover Game 1 between the Caps and Rangers at Verizon Center for CSNwashington.com — but I'll be sure to post lineups when they're available. And as always, I hope you'll all continue the discussion among yourselves…

PHILLIES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2, ESPN2 (outside of D.C.)
Radio: WHFS (1580 AM), XM 185
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 56 degrees, Wind 12 mph LF to RF

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (5-5)
SS Ian Desmond
CF Rick Ankiel
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche

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110 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Pauloyd - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    Ah the pros and cons of full-time employment.

  2. Feel Wood - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:16 PM

    "I won't be at tonight's game — I'm helping cover Game 1 between the Caps and Rangers at Verizon Center"Ah, I see. You're the flagship Nationals correspondent of Nats Insider. Say hello to the flagship radio guys while you're there.

  3. DFL - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    I'll be positive for once. Lannan pithces well for five, Nats score twice early, Riggs double-switches, relievers do their jobs, and the Nats win 3-2. Odds favor that Lannan pitches well and Halladay has a little hard luck.

  4. Jeeves - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    In reference to the Ian Desmond discussion. Granted, he is having offensive problems at this point. However, he is still second on the team in total bases, and has more RBI's than most. He has made only one error, and Mark suggested, at the time, that it should have been called a hit.Last year, Desmond had an overall better offensive year than the majority of shortstops, arguably better than Jeter's year, or that of Rollins.He is a much better player than his negative detractors suggest.

  5. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    Jeeves, the one that Mark referenced was reversed shortly after. He botched another play. Still not too shabby considering his pace last year.If Desmond sits out roughly 1 out of every 10 games and keeps this pace up he will only make about 16 errors on the year.

  6. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    I like our chances to keep it close and, hopefully get into the Phillies bullpen. Even their fans are on to the fact that the bullpen has been lucky, so far.Lannan has looked lethal against lefthanders all spring and I was hoping we'd be able to get Gorzelany up against these guys, as well. I think they are susceptible to lefthanded pitching in general.I'll make this my last post for the day as I want to get my "game face" on for tonite's telecast.

  7. Grandstander - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:44 PM

    A rematch of opening day last year, hopefully with better results. This is one of those games I want to see this "veteran winning attitude" come out. That's what I'm looking for. Guys who look like they're playing to win this, who believe they will win it.

  8. Anonymous - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:44 PM

    H/T to Kilgore who appears to be more on top of things than many givehim credit for:Nationals1. Ian Desmond, SS2. Rick Ankiel, CF3. Jayson Werth, RF4. Adam LaRoche, 1B5. Laynce Nix, LF6. Danny Espinosa, 2B7. Jerry Hairston, 3B8. Ivan Rodriguez, C9. John Lannan, SPPhillies1. Shane Victorino, CF2. Placido Polanco, 3B3. Jimmy Rollins, SS4. Ryan Howard, 1B5. Ben Francisco, RF6. Raul Ibanez, LF7. Carlos Ruiz, C8. Wilson Valdez, 2B9. Roy Halladay, SP

  9. Rabbit - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:50 PM

    That's the nice thing about sports. All prior results have no bearing on the outcome of the current game.

  10. Sunderland - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:53 PM

    Feel Wood 3:16 – right on. Maybe that's why the concessions are poorly staffed at Nats Park? The flagship beer and dog vendors are at Verizon Center.

  11. Anonymous - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:54 PM

    Kilgore does his job well enough, his proof-reader isn't always up to snuff though….

  12. Anonymous - Apr 13, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    I'm a late goer, but I'm goin'. Go NATS!UNTERP

  13. A DC Wonk - Apr 13, 2011 at 8:08 PM

    Jeeves wrote:"In reference to the Ian Desmond discussion. Granted, he is having offensive problems at this point. However, he is still second on the team in total bases, and has more RBI's than most."He leads the team in stolen bases while we're at it, too.And while his BA is .209, it's worth pointing out that Bryce Harper is batting .211 — the point being that: it's a bit early yet to be drawing conclusions from stats.(And other than Ramos and Zim, nobody is batting above .269! Thankfully, every starter (other than Gorz) has an ERA of under 3.70, and four relievers have an ERA of under 2.00)

  14. Anonymous - Apr 13, 2011 at 8:09 PM

    Lannan doesn't make it through 4 … perhaps 3. Lannan replaced by Gaudin. Phillie's really go to town. Milone called up in time and Lannan traded … phewwwwww …

  15. Anonymous - Apr 13, 2011 at 8:15 PM

    Zimmermann pitches and uses this game and this series as key one upon which to build. Nats win the series 2-1.

  16. Doc - Apr 13, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    Desi is doing OK, in a lot of areas. Just needs to do some oppo boppo, and be careful about going after 1st pitches–he must have watched Guzman too much!The fielding, that was always rangy and inspired, has been more focused and considered. He finally took somebody's advice about charging rollers,instead of waiting for them to come to him. He's also not trying to throw to 1B, every ball he grabs.Still in all, Kid Desi has a lot of spunk!He and Espinosa are a great combo, and should get a lot better. Most teams would love to have their talent–both offensive and defensive.Gooooooooooooooooooo Nats!

  17. JD - Apr 13, 2011 at 8:23 PM

    DC Wonk The more disturbing fact is that his OBP is .227; that my friend is unsustainable at the major league level let alone in the leadoff spot.If he walked once every 10 at bats his OBP would be around .320 which still very low but at least above replacement.

  18. A DC Wonk - Apr 13, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    JD wrote: "The more disturbing fact is that his OBP is .227; that my friend is unsustainable at the major league level let alone in the leadoff spot."Yes, it is. I hear you on that. But my larger point is that I believe that his OBP will rise from .227 just like I have confidence that Bryce's BA will rise from .211The first-pitch swings, and lack of walks, are annoying, from a lead-off hitter — but, like others, I think he's pressing and still getting used to lead-off. I think he'll mellow out a bit. (I hope!)

  19. Scooter - Apr 13, 2011 at 8:34 PM

    Actually, the most disturbing thing is that I'm pretty sure DC Wonk just used a high-school kid's showing in A ball to excuse a major-leaguer's performance. Land sakes! Stop that cart now, or the horse will never catch up.(By the way, Wonk, your actual point is entirely correct. It's the way you made it that's freaking me out.)

  20. JD - Apr 13, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    All I,m saying is that he shouldn't be a leadoff hitter; that's all. Move him to no. 7 and let's see what he does over there. I want to see Werth come up with some runners on for a change.

  21. Anonymous - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:14 PM

    Speaking of Harper, meanwhile, in his first at bat against Lexington and first rounder Foltynewicz Harper flies out to right field.

  22. carolync - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:29 PM

    Stop arguing about Desmond! We're stuck with him!Think positive thoughts about tonight's game. He's a prideful young man and I bet he gets us some slap hit singles. Everyone please come out to the ballpark and help us drown out the Phillies fans.Go Nats!

  23. waddu eye no - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:07 PM

    now that morgan's gone, i guess we have to have someone to argue about. why not desmond? go nats

  24. A DC Wonk - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:10 PM

    Scooter wrote:"(By the way, Wonk, your actual point is entirely correct. It's the way you made it that's freaking me out.)"I can see that. But I know there are (or were) some folks here that were screaming that Bryce should have started the season with the Nats in the bigs — so I had to get my digs in there ;-)

  25. Anonymous - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:46 PM

    Harper gets another single he's 1 for 2 with a walk in the first game of scheduled a seven inning double header. Tomorrow back to nine.

  26. Natman - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:48 PM

    Don't be so critical of Mark. He can't make every game and if you have to miss one, going to a Caps playoff game is not the worst thing to happen. As for Desmond, if this batting first makes him think about drawing a few walks I'm all for it. His approach is that he wants to make something happen. He just needs to let the pitcher throw him his pitch. But everyone seems to forget that he is a pretty talented ball player. He has a lot of range. He has some baseball instincts and he has a lot of hustle. He could use some seasoning, but the team cannot afford to have him do that in the minor leagues. Bashing him makes no sense to me. Bashing Dukes or Morgan or Bascik, or Nook Logan made sense. But Desmond could be a really good member on this team.

  27. Nataholic - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:55 PM

    I am all for statistics but as a former statistician they are what you make of them. For instance, Matt Cains xFIP always sucks because although he gives up a lot of flyballs they don't become homeruns at the rate that the statistic would say it should be. Many over at Fangraphs say he will revert to the mean. Hogwash I say. Cain is the outlier in the formula. Similar to Lannan, his BABIP (except when he was struggling) was always quite low, Greg Maddux numbers in many instances. When he was struggling statisticians said he was reverting to the mean because he got lucky. Hogwash I say, because I've watched the Nats defense, unless he has a skill, a lot of balls were going to be in play regardless of who was behind him. What does that mean when dealing with someone who pulls out statistics? I say take them as a data point, but don't take them as a message from God. O.k., end rant.

  28. Anonymous - Apr 13, 2011 at 11:09 PM

    I do not see the logic of sitting out hottest player (Ramos) for an over the hill bench player every other game (Pudge). He's ready. Stop this platoon stuff.

  29. Carl in 309 - Apr 13, 2011 at 11:57 PM

    Wow–Desmond walked and stole second.

  30. Unkyd - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:00 AM

    Desi's ears are burning! Just looked at six pitches, and WALKED!!

  31. bgib - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:04 AM

    You cannot have your worst fielder playing shortstop, period.

  32. Anonymous - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:10 AM

    Desmond is looking more and more like he isn't the long tem solution at SS. He's not hitting and he's a butcher in the field.

  33. sjm308 - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:26 AM

    Wow: worst fielder and butcher in two posts in a row. Thank goodness neither is a talent evaluator/scout.You don't have to like him but he is not even close to being the worst defensive player on this team. The people that are paid to evaluate rave about his potential and I will trust them rather than the posters. Guess people have to have someone to crush on these blogs. Nyjer is gone, Guzman is gone, Millege is gone, so go ahead and crush Desmond because he defintely does not read this stuff.Go NatsGo Nats

  34. Unkyd - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:30 AM

    Alright….. Desi is officially My Boy!! He's 25, in his second year up. I'm patting him on the back, win or lose, for the rest of the year. Fer Crissake… I'm only 51… I have time to watch a kid with that much upside get it sorted out..GOOOOO DESI !!!!!!!!!

  35. Wally - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:00 AM

    Bryce Harper went yard tonight. 2 run homer.

  36. Tim - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:11 AM

    Did anyone notice that LaRoche one-hopped a throw from first to third on that interference play on Desmond. He couldn't muster the strength. And he's the cutoff man on throws from RF. Hmmmm…

  37. Unkyd - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:22 AM

    Um… Why not PH Ramos…?

  38. Wally - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:40 AM

    Glad we kept Stairs on the roster. Geez.DO NOT LET PUDGE HIT

  39. Wally - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    The ending to this game almost took away all the excitement of the beginning of the 9th. I am very, very disappointed that Riggs let Pudge hit there. Just no excuse with Ramos and Morse available. Has to be the 'don't embarrass the vet' thing.

  40. Unkyd - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:43 AM

    Stairs….. ?

  41. Anonymous - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:44 AM

    Riggs you are an idiot. HOW IN THE WORLD DO YOU NOT PINCH HIT RAMOS OVER PUDGE!!! I am officially joining the masses in disliking Riggs right now… >:(

  42. Anonymous - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:44 AM

    Such a brutal loss. According to MLB Gameday, Halladay got both sides of the plate and each batter's box as the strike zone in the 9th. Tough to beat the other team and a rookie plate umpire.

  43. SCNatsFan - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:46 AM

    At what point does Matt Stairs show why he is on this roster.Both Pudge and Stairs look at strike 3. C'mon guys. I don't care if its Doc Holliday out there take a shot.I've always been a supporter of Desmond but I don't know of his fielding gets any better, and his instinct not to charge the runner on the gift groundball out was something pee wee shortstop could have handled. You just can't give a team like the Phillies so many free outs.

  44. Anonymous - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:48 AM

    Great clutch hitting by Stairs and Pudge. Riggleman should be ashamed of himself for not batting Ramos for Pudge. Riggleman is a spineless dunce.

  45. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:55 AM

    Oh give it a rest Anon 9:44 & 9:48. Pudge has a career .400 average against Halladay. That last at bat was a complete joke because of the homeplate ump calling to blatant balls strikes. Pudge, of all people, would know what the umps strike zone was all night and the ump completely changed it for the last 2 outs of the game.Also find it humorous you call him spineless dunce yet you post under an anonymous name so nobody can associate your individual posts with one person. Ironic much?

  46. FS - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:55 AM

    I have no qualms with Riggleman's decision to let Pudge bat but I am shocked at how the two at bats went. What were the two veteran thinking? Three straight fastballs and neither took a hack. I would DFA Stairs before going to the post-game ceremony for that at bat. Maybe not that serious but watching those two at bats was painful, even if they were not perfect strikes. These kind of losses hurt the most.

  47. Unkyd - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:59 AM

    We'll get 'em tomorrow!! GOOOOOOOO DESI!!!!!

  48. Anonymous - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:01 AM

    Pudge is hitting .400 vs halladay and Stairs was 10-26 with a hr.Can't fault Riggs for going with those numbers. The old men just didn'tCome thru vs a hall of camera and a new strike zone inThe 9th I wanted a w but like the fight go get em tomorrow Nats!

  49. LoveDaNats - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:13 AM

    The Nats of last year would have rolled over and died in the 7th. It's nice to finally see some fire in the late innings. Yeah, we just almost came back in the bottom of the ninth against a Cy Young winner. The glass is half full.

  50. Anonymous - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:22 AM

    Pudge is hitting .400 vs halladay and Stairs was 10-26 with a hr.And Wilson Ramos is hitting .450/.522/1.072 right now? At this point in the season he is their best hitter? And "double-switch" Riggleman is known for Double-switching all over the damned place? And HE HAS THREE CATCHERS now? THREE?And Ivan Rodriguez is hitting .211/.222/.433? Ostensibly Ramos + Flores is why they let Wil Nieves go? In the ninth inning when the heart of his lineup came through Riggleman gave up trying to win and decided to return to that tropic paradise aboard his tiny dugout …. he returned again to Giggleman's Isle.

  51. Anonymous - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:23 AM

    Pudge, struck out in the ninth, and never swung at the ball. Embarrassing. With Ramos and Flores on the bench … Riggleman allowed that to happen. Unacceptable.

  52. Anonymous - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:26 AM

    That last at bat was a complete joke because of the homeplate ump calling to blatant balls strikes. Pudge, of all people, would know what the umps strike zone was all night and the ump completely changed it for the last 2 outs of the game.@Peyton Dowdy,WRONG. When you are 0-2 you protect the plate. No matter how or why you got to 0-2. Did he protect the plate as any little leaguer is taught? If he didn't because he felt he knew the strike zone better than the ump? That is a serious problem.

  53. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:37 AM

    I am just at a lost at the lack of effort in the last two batters. Stairs acted totally uninterested in swinging the bat. Pudge decides he knows that the finally pitch is not a strike (and it wasn't but if the ump calls it you take the hear for taking it).The younger guys in the 9th didn't have a problem swinging the bat. If the old guys aren't interested bench them.

  54. Anonymous - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:51 AM

    >>>The younger guys in the 9th didn't have a problem swinging the bat. If the old guys aren't interested bench them. <<<…or DFA 'em.

  55. Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:52 AM

    Well, at least Mark got a good game. Caps, 2-1 in OT

  56. SonnyG10 - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:56 AM

    It was a great game against a great pitcher and a very good team. Other than not winning, my only disappointment was Matt Stairs not taking even one swing. That was painful to watch. The called strikes against Pudge were really poor calls, but he really needed to protect on that third strike.

  57. Scooter - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:57 AM

    Man, that 9th inning was awesome. A nice rally, to make it close against the biggest of the big guys. I love that Halladay was left in, in a save situation, with over 110 pitches, even as he gave up a couple runs — now, that's old-fashioned country hardball!Wrong ending, of course, but sometimes a good team beats you.(And DC Wonk [from hours and hours ago]: thanks for explaining your thinking on Harper before. Your point was even more correct — and subtle — than I realized. Kudos to you.)

  58. Ernie - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:58 AM

    I thought I saw Ramos in the on-deck circle while Pudge was batting. Was Riggleman planning to use him AFTER Pudge got on? I caught only a glimpse on TV and might be wrong. Did anyone at the game see if this is what was going on?I'm going tomorrow night. What are the chances we're competitive in all three games of the series?

  59. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:08 AM

    I liked the desire of the 9th inning don't get me wrong, but the last two batters simply weren't thinking about hitting, they were thinking about taking, and that is not how you attack Roy Halliday. You need your hitting shoes.The best pitch to hit when he is pitching is always the first, but it seems in today's game, most hitting coaches refuse to teach to be aggressive.The waiting against Halliday sure doesn't work, so maybe next time lets try something different

  60. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:10 AM

    Hey Ernie.We can win tomorrow night. I feel it.it's Ramos' game. to play (is this getting old).

  61. Grandstander - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:26 AM

    I was shocked to see Pudge go out there. But I was more shocked he didn't offer at that 0-2 change. That first strike call should have told him the ump wanted Halladay to get a CG against the lowly Nats and he should swing at anything close. Especially on an 0-2 count. There's no reason not to just foul that pitch off and wait for the next one. Same goes for Stairs. It was obvious anything close to the plate was getting called at the point. How many fastballs can you look at?I don't really fault Riggs there, I fault the veteran bats who should've known better. That being said, still love to see it that close in the 9th. That went from a 2-hit shutout to a dramatic hold by the league's best pitcher. Great work by our "b" bullpen to keep it in striking distance. Great work from Lannan against a club he's been just beat to shit by. There's a lot of positives to draw from this game. I'm going into tomorrow sniffing a win personally.

  62. Whatsanattau - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:58 AM

    Geez, the best pitcher in the game and you guys are busting on the batters and manager for their performance? The ump blew at least two pitches on Pudge. That last strike call was outside unhittable. And this hate on the veteran bench guys is getting old and it is misguided.

  63. Anonymous - Apr 14, 2011 at 5:18 AM

    And this hate on the veteran bench guys is getting old and it is misguided.Clearly Pudge has completely lost it offensively or hitting-wise. He can't even come around anymore? He's 40 years old. Stairs is 43. Need one say more? Ramos is currently hitting .450 with a .522 OPP and an OPS well over 1.0. Did you see him in this game? I've seen Pudge double-switched in for Ramos late in games too many time already.Is this about winning games or about respecting veterans and the game? If its about winning then Riggleman DEFINITELY needs to go.

  64. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 14, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    I think what we are complaining about more is that in the last inning of the game we all have been coached to not take a close pitch when the count is 2 strikes. Most of us were mediocre players at best, and we understood this.We are talking about players who over years have proven they can hit, and they don't remember one of the first things we all were taught. Had they swung and missed, most of us would be disappointed, but not angry. Taking a called third strike in the last inning just goes against everything taught.

  65. dale - Apr 14, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    Some of the old bench players are marginal at best. A playoff team could afford to carry one or two, but at some point production in the field has to outweigh sentiment. Striking out on called strikes when all that is needed is a single up the middle is not the sign of veteran leadership that is so often espoused. Nonetheless it is only April. Rizzo sees what we are all seeing and I presume that he is picturing a different team by June. We have witnessed other April rosters deconstructed in 45 to 60 days in the past.

  66. Anonymous - Apr 14, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    DESI isn't so much a poor fielder as people think. It's much worse than that. This is what he is, a choker…As far as RIGGS is concerned, he's a wusp…UNTERP

  67. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 14, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    There are several posters on this site that should be ashamed of themselves. To criticize the guys who took the best pitcher in baseball and a team considered to be the odds on favorite to win the NL title to the edge of defeat because an umpire became intimidated by Halliday and Manuel is ludicrous.I am proud of the way they fought back, overcoming Desmonds miscues, never giving in to the Phillies and their vociferous fans. I see good things in store for these guys. C'mon… there's 151 more games to play.

  68. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 14, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    NatsJack.I am guessing I am one who should be ashamed. My whole point is that from the time we were boys we were taught never to take a third strike in the last inning. If it is close enough to be called a strike , even when it is isn't you need just flick that away.I have no problem with Pudge playing at all, though Ramos is a better batter at this point, Pudge's primary contribution is behind the plate.I do not understand what Matt Stairs is about at all. Though both players took called third strikes, they are not equal contributors to the team. I know what Pudge's contribution is, I have no clue what Stairs is. No one sent out could contribute more?

  69. Anonymous - Apr 14, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    NatsJack in Florida said… There are several posters on this site that should be ashamed of themselves. All I have to say about your comment is that no one likes a good loser…UNTERP

  70. Anonymous8 - Apr 14, 2011 at 11:54 AM

    Manassas Nats Fan said… I am just at a lost at the lack of effort in the last two batters. Stairs acted totally uninterested in swinging the bat. Pudge decides he knows that the finally pitch is not a strike (and it wasn't but if the ump calls it you take the hear for taking it).The younger guys in the 9th didn't have a problem swinging the bat. If the old guys aren't interested bench them. April 13, 2011 10:37 PM ____________________________________So far I have enjoyed all the offense,,,uh,,,,all the walks Stairs has generated. For all the people that have supported Stairs "In Case Of Emergency Use Stairs"….Last night was an emergency to use Stairs. The reason Rizzo got this Veteran. For just this moment and some others he has not got any hits. I way to steal a victory. 3-2 with 1 out and men on 1st and 2nd and all you need is a single to tie, a double to win or even a WALK to move both runners up.Strike one looking….ok, no problem….Strike 2 looking….strike 3 looking…..If you like meaningless walks, then Stairs is our guy. I said this a few days ago and caught crap because he has such a great OBP and was hoping to eat my words last night….nope, Stairs blew it.Congrats to Ankiel, Werth, Nix and Espinosa for one of the most exciting 9th innings in Nationals history. Sooooo close…..

  71. Gonats - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    You know what NatsJack, any critic of that Stairs at-bat if they called it like they see'd it shouldn't be ashamed. Stairs is the one who should be ashamed.Looking at 2 strikes OK, but looking at STRIKE 3 with a chance to put the ball in play!We have been told by his supporters that he is a SPECIALIST. A one-dimensional pinch-hitting game-changer.Last night was his spot to silence all the critics and he FROZE!I feel sorry for Stairs and the guy holding the Stairs sign in the crowd and all of NatsTown. That was the moment. I was so hoping I was wrong about this guy.

  72. Anonymous - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Hobbs, your up…Come on Hobbs your up! Alright Hobbs knock the cover off the ball…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZkgRwpkh7c UNTERP

  73. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    Look… I was never in favor of keeping Stairs on this roster. Just check the last few posts prior to opening day. But he's on the team and they've identified a role for him and, so far, he hasn't produced. I was just as baffled at his at bat in the 9th as everybody else but to jump Riggleman for using him is absurd. And Pudge wasn't much better but the history against Halliday, especially a tiring Halliday is hard to overlook. Yes, I would prefer Ramos in that spot but, again, to slam Riggleman for the decision is absurd.

  74. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    GoGnatsYour point is what I am trying to say. You can't just look at 3 strikes, with a runner on second with 1 out. We were told this was his specialty and so far when he has had a chance to produce he hasn't, and last night was the worst of all not swinging at one pitch. Today is another day, and you are only as good as your last at bat, so tonight he can atone for his lack of effort last night by producing a run tonight.

  75. Andrew - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… There are several posters on this site that should be ashamed of themselves. To criticize the guys who took the best pitcher in baseball and a team considered to be the odds on favorite to win the NL title to the edge of defeat because an umpire became intimidated by Halliday and Manuel is ludicrous.I am proud of the way they fought back, overcoming Desmonds miscues, never giving in to the Phillies and their vociferous fans. I see good things in store for these guys. C'mon… there's 151 more games to play. April 14, 2011 7:32 AM ____________________________________Overcoming Desmond's miscues? The game is filled with miscues and missed opportunities and no one person lost this game.You should be ASHAMED of yourself for even making young Desmond's miscues part of the discussion.Desmond for his part smoked a ball to 3rd base that ended up fielded, drew a walk, helped turn 2 Double Plays and unfortunately was called for an obstruction which resulted in an error but Rollins would have been at 3rd regardless.The fielding error was costly for a run but so were Lannan's walks, Hairston's 3 Strikeouts going 0-3, Pudge's 0-4 with 2 strikeouts, and others.

  76. Gonats - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    Desmond was the ONLY right handed batter that Halladay didn't strike out.I thought he played a decent game. Errors happen. We didn't even see the obstruction. Goes down as 2 errors on the night for him.Many of us have anger, just direct it in the right place and Ramos pinch-hitting as a RH batter probably wouldn't have done better and of course we will never know.

  77. Unkyd - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    I couldnt watch this one, but if the strike zone was as wide as described here, in the ninth, would whiffs at pitches that far off the plate have garnered similar cries of rage, here? sounds like Cy Halliday was simply gifted by the ump. maybe, if Zimm has 15 wins in August, he'll get props, as well.?

  78. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    Can anybody explain to me why Desmond got an error for obstruction last night but Chipper Jones didn't the 2nd game of the season when he obstructed Jayson Werth? There is absolutely no difference in the plays yet they were scored differently.

  79. Mark'd - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    Typical umpiring in a Phil-Nats encounter. Still doesn't excuse StAirs. If ever I imagined a batter taking a boxers dive, that is what it looked like.

  80. Big Cat - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    We lost 3-2 to the best pitcher in baseball. I will take that. Desmond will be fine. He is young and athletic. Him and Espi are gonna be here for 10 years. Let the weather warm up a little. All those Latin guys hate the cold weather. Thought the pitch to Pudge was WAY outside. Another play at first where the guy was out and was called safe. No respect for our Nats. The umps know that its Sad Man in our dugout.Zim gonna shut em down today, with Clip and Storen closing it out. We take 2 of 3 from the Phils. Life is good!!

  81. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    Unkyd, I watched about half the game in total. Missed the 6th, 7th and 8th. I will say the pitches that were called strikes to Stairs and Pudge in the bottom of the 9th (and several other pitches during the game) were definitely not given to John Lannan at all. Lannan made a handful of solid pitches that were called balls that Halladay would have gotten. I don't understand how an umpire gives a pitcher strikes based on his reputation but it happens all the time throughout baseball and it should be a serious issue. A strike is a strike, a ball is a ball yet the umpires are an inconsistent group with their strike zones. How can someone interpret the zone in so many different ways. It should be the same game in and game out but it isn't. Some have high zones, some of them have low zones, some give the inside, some the out. Joe Torre needs to get them all on the same page.The umpiring thus far this season (not just in Nats games mind you) makes it harder for me to enjoy the game. If they can consistently blow calls across the game they need to do what the NFL did and institute a challenge system for replay. Each manager gets 1 challenge a game. That wouldn't slow the games down but so much. It still allows the human element to the game but if a crucial mistake is made there is a chance to correct it. Just have someone in the press box to view the replay and make the correct call.

  82. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    I was wondering why Desmond got an error and Chipper Jones didn't too. Maybe Mark can ask the official scorer for us.

  83. fpcsteve - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    I didn't get to folow the game last night,so this is just an observation. But from the boxscore it looks like the pitching was solid, maybe even good enough to win. Nice game from Lannan. Only two earned runs. I hope that trend continues.

  84. Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    Or do what the NHL does, and have a central office to review replays.If you're going that way.

  85. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    I'd be fine with that too Sec 3. I just remember watching the Angels and Yankees in the playoffs a few years back and being disgusted back then by the umpiring and it hasn't gotten any better. Something needs to happen because it is creating a bit of an unlevel playing field. Just again last night Laynce Nix was safe on his grounder but was called out. That would have put 2 men on base with no outs which is a big deal against Halladay. Same old story though, I'm beating a dead horse.

  86. Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    M.Natsfan, on an Interference call, the fielder involved is charged with an error, by rule; it is not up to the scorer.

  87. Sec 3, My Sofa - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    Nix was out. Replay wouldn't have helped.

  88. Jim Webster - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    My seat, directly below the press box, is precisely above and behind the plate so I can see outside and inside pitches clearly (less certain about high and low). Not to take anything away from a very good pitcher, but Halladay was given the widest strike zone I can ever recall.

  89. Stranded_in_Philly - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    Last night made me wonder if Stairs forgot, just for a night, which team he plays for this year.

  90. Steve M. - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    I am changing Stairs to Stares….are you freaking kidding me!He looked like a kid in Little League who doesn't take his bat off of his shoulder. We called them statues at the plate.Not only did he make himself look bad but Rizzo too. Veteran leadership, veteran, veteran, veteran. Isn't this the perfect situation he was brought here for?I said it in Spring Training, you keep Nix as Stares is too one dimensional as you don't have the luxury to keep them both.

  91. JD - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    No sense complaining about the umpires. It's been that way for 100 years. Maddox and Glavine spent their entire career 6 – 8 inches outside and always got the calls.

  92. Big Cat - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    Loved how Lannan busted Howard in on his hands. Even though he hit him and it cost us a run, it sends a message. That guy has been killing us for years. he dives in across the plate and hits the outside pitch into the seats. I hope Zim goes in on him too……way in! If you get a little flesh…..or bone……so what.

  93. Steve M. - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    Anonymous8 said… Congrats to Ankiel, Werth, Nix and Espinosa for one of the most exciting 9th innings in Nationals history. Sooooo close…..April 14, 2011 7:54 AM When it counted the most, those guys stepped up. Like many, I am thinking PH Ramos but he is a Rookie and Pudge actually has a decent record against Halladay. I would have left Pudge in as Riggleman did unless I had another LH bat on the bench. Pudge hit the furthest ball on his previous at-bat almost to the warning track.It was a great game actually and felt like a Playoff game. Both pitchers did well and helped themselves get out of jams. The hope was to get Halladay out early and into the bullpen which of course didn't happen.Zim had that walk-off winner last year off of Lidge which was amazing but this would have eclipsed it if the Nats found a way to come back against Halladay.To see how pumped up Werth was in the 9th after scoring and then to get "Stares" in there to pinch hit was set up perfectly for a story book ending….It wasn't meant to be, but oh so close!

  94. PAY TO PLAY - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    JD said… No sense complaining about the umpires. It's been that way for 100 years. Maddox and Glavine spent their entire career 6 – 8 inches outside and always got the calls. April 14, 2011 10:01 AM ___________________________________Yes, but we can still complain and it still won't matter. Until the Nats start getting the calls in their favor, our fans will still complain and have every right to just like Pudge did on his strike 3 call.Between Halladay quick(er) pitching Stairs and Pudge to the ump acting like he had to a hot date he was late for, I don't blame anyone for being pissed but with that said, Stairs and Pudge should have stepped out after Strike 1 to slow things down. Both are veterans and looked like they were unprepared Rookies so maybe Ramos would have done better!

  95. Anonymous - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    Time to send Stairs packing, how anyone could just stand there and take 3 strikes with the tying run on 2nd doesn't belong on the team. Bring up someone with heart that wants to play the game

  96. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    Steve M. …. my earlier post on "being ashamed" was directed at the Riggleman bashers for using the tools he was given. Just yesterday, he was lauded for his manuevers because they worked and today is was labeled by several as an idiot because they didn't.And I'm pretty sure Stairs is being reconsidered by Rizzo as an "asset" by now.

  97. JD - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    I am in complete agreement with NatsJack; this was a real good game for us. The pitching matchup and our current wounded lineup looked like a sure loss but Lannan was great and the team battled all the way to within 1 hit; I have no complaints.

  98. Steve M. - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    NatsJack, I didn't mention you in my posts but I think your thoughts back in Spring Training was with mine on Stairs from the start and I agree with your comments above. You can only deal the hand you have been dealt and last night I would have done the same except for bring in Broderick which oddly worked.I can't remember my exact configuration now at the end of ST, but I had Bernadina and Nix "in" and AGonzalez "in" and Cora and Stairs "out".I wouldn't be surprised if we hear Stairs is injured so he can go on the DL and never be heard from again. I don't agree with Anon @10:22am as I know Stairs has heart but can't explain what happened. It was the Perfect Storm for Stairs to be in that situation and "shut me up". Man, did I want to be proved wrong. I was praying as he stepped in.

  99. Unkyd - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    Thanks, Peyton! And, I feel ya, re: consistant calls. The Jordan Rules exist in all sports, and to me, its indefensible. I get that the zone will look a little different to different umps, on different days, but the pitchers should know what it looks like, after the first inning. Anf if Halliday or Lee or Lincicum, or any other studs are sportsmen, they'll want to dominate on a level playing field, as opposed to these kinds of gifts…. And Torre absolutely needs to stand up about this. On another note, however, I was struck, over the weekend, at a close safe call at first, at the quality of super slo-mo we grt on TV! We take for granted the well defined view we get, perhaps forgetting how fast things are moving down there. So, I'm cutting Blue some slack on those, from now on….

  100. JD - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    I don't agree with NatsJack about Stairs. Rizzo wanted someone coming off the bench who has the potential to go deep every time. I have no doubt that during the year he will get a big hit 4 or 5 times which will justify his presence. Pinch hitters fail more often than not; this is reality and better hitters than Stairs have struck out looking in game situations; I'm sure he came up looking for something specific to drive, never got his pitch and couldn't pull the trigger; this happens all the time and it's not a tragedy. Rizzo made a strong point last night that he purposely filled the roster with veterans who teach, lead and run the club house and he specifically complimented Cora, Hairston and Stairs for their leadership.

  101. Sec3MySofa - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    JD, the fact that Texas sent Cora a ring after he almost literally was there for just a cup of coffee (a week? less?) speaks to that leadership, I think. I liked keeping Stairs, if they had a spot, but man, that was one ugly AB.

  102. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    The game was excellent, and was there for the taking. That is improvement for sure.As for the widest strike Zone ever I thought Lavan's rookie year when he recorded 15 K's for the Marlins and Eric Gregg's strike zone was at least 10-12 inches to the outside was the widest I ever saw.It seems to me that calling a strike should be the easiest call for an umpire, but in reality it is by far what is the least consistent for them. If the Kinetic Strike Zone (or whatever MASN calls it is correct, then the average ball and strike umpire is right about 90-95% accurate, but on close ones about 60% accurate. Seems like it should be easy enough to get that number closer to 100% Stars do seem to get the calls much more than rookies, (that is true in all sports) and it makes for bad officiating.)I would love for the umpires to have to stand the scrutiny of the press like players do every night. Interview them just like players. Ask them why did the strike zone widen in the 9th inning after 1 out. Show them the video tape to back the question. Have them explain themselves. They are never held accountable. IF they were they would probably do a better job. If I was commissioner that would probably be the part of the sport I would try to fix first. Consistently good umpiring would make the game better and more popular.

  103. Steve M. - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    JD, I respectfully disagree with you. Stairs has made little contact so far and all of his walks have been meaningless in the outcome. His 3 strikeouts of his 6 official ABs is what really hurts. Nix has done the job so far better than these other so called veterans and I will say what I said last week about the grouping of Coffey, Stairs, Hairston and Cora in this veteran group, they all combined as a bad signing.Werth is your veteran leadership, Ankiel is your veteran leadership, Pudge is your veteran leadership, Nix is your veteran leadership.You can't clog up the system with an abundance of over-the-hill players. Sure, every once in a while Hairston will come through or maybe even Stairs, but you can't all of a sudden try to change the culture here with an "overkill" of veterans.

  104. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Sec 3, My Sofa said… M.Natsfan, on an Interference call, the fielder involved is charged with an error, by rule; it is not up to the scorer._______________________________________Apparently the interference rule is similar to the strike zone rule.I went back to check on the interference on Chipper Jones, to see if he was given an error. HE WAS NOT. Thus my question is again valid, why was Desmond given and error and Jones not. Same play.

  105. PAY TO PLAY - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    JD said… Pinch hitters fail more often than not; this is reality and better hitters than Stairs have struck out looking in game situations; I'm sure he came up looking for something specific to drive, never got his pitch and couldn't pull the trigger; this happens all the time and it's not a tragedy.There is nobody in the game with over 100 ABs that has hit safely more times than not so anyone less than .500 by definition fails more than not but making up excuses for Stairs is not going to make me feel better.That was the precise situation he was brought here for and even a walk in that situation would have been ok. I wasn't expecting a HR, just some contact or even a walk. Anything but a strikeout or a double play. Has to make contact and if he can move up the runners with a walk to give Pudge bases loaded with 1 out where a Sac Fly scores the lead runner then it would be great.None of it happened and outside of a double play, a 3 pitch K was tough to watch from the man in the situation with the pitcher on the ropes.

  106. Steve M. - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    In the off-season, Rizzo self-proclaimed a #1 starter as priority #1.I said after he failed to accomplish that priority that fixing the bench had to be priority #2.Rizzo makes trading Willingham and Alberto Gonzalez and Nyjer for unproven talent a success. I guess we have to see what the trade yields but in the short run as I called it before it is a Rizzo FAIL.Overpaying for Werth and being the last man standing on LaRoche (with shoulder problems no less) are not VICTORIES. The Yankees built half their empire on being the highest bidder and nobody thinks Cashman is a genius.Rizzo couldn't even build a bench this off-season with an open wallet. While Ankiel is a decent stop-gap, he didn't get Nyjer's replacement in place in the off-season and along with everything else I mentioned is a huge FAIL then add what I have called the Ryan Zimmerman injury debacle, this is terrible.The good news is that Rizzo has been rewarded by a better than expected starting rotation that has saved him from disaster so far and the irony is that he was purportedly trying to trade away JZim, Espi, and Storen for Greinke who would have been on the Nats DL if that trade was done.Oh and by the way, all of those that wanted Francisco Liriano, he is 0-3 with a 9.65 ERA and Garza is 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA!Like I said before, some times the best trades you make are the ones you don't make…

  107. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Pay to play…A K didn't bother me as much as a 3 pitch K where the bat wasn't even moved. Great players have struck out, but in the situation to K without bothering to swing, I believe was the point that made most people mad.However I am a very forgiving guy. If he comes up tonight I will cheer for him to do well. I would hate to see him come up and take 3 strikes again, I believe the crowd would go nuts for sure.

  108. Steve M. - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    Nats' best vs. Halladay — Ivan Rodriguez (14-for-35, 3 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 6 K), Matt Stairs (10-for-26, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K).Nats' worst vs. Halladay — Michael Morse (0-for-6, K), Jerry Hairston (2-for-22, 2 BB, 4 K), Alex Cora (3-for-25, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 3 K), Adam LaRoche (1-for-7, 2 K).Why was Jerry Hairston in there, because Cora is even worse. LaRoche now is 3 for 11 against Halladay but look who "was" the best. Stairs and Pudge. Pudge was batting .400 (before the game) which was the best of any RH hitter against Halladay with more than 25 ABs so Riggleman had the right guys in there with Stairs then Pudge in that crucial 9th inning.The Stairs situation to step into the game like I said was the perfect situation. Halladay just gave up 2 runs and 4 hits in the 9th. The perfect leftie/rightie matchup too.Couldn't be scripted better. Stairs had a .384 BA and a .429 OBP which rank among the best of any hitter against Halladay since Pudge's BA dropped to .368 with his previous 0-3. This will make all the naysayers like me shut my mouth and buy into why the 25th spot on the roster went to Stares….NOT

  109. Anonymous - Apr 14, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    it's just one game…

  110. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 14, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    Sec 3, Interference and Obstruction are two separate calls. But like Manasas said, Chipper was NOT given an error but Desmond was. Seems strange to me when they were pretty much the exact same play. Both players were called for obstruction. So somewhere there is a break down in the scoring.I thoguht MASNs replay showed that Nix and the throw arrived at the same time, which as far as I know the tie goes to the runner. Oh well, like I said earlier, it is beating a dead horse because nothing is ever going to change while Bud Selig is the commissioner.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 78 58 -- 18
ATLANTA 72 67 7.5
MIAMI 67 70 11.5
NEW YORK 65 74 14.5
PHILADELPHIA 64 74 15.0
Through Tuesday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
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.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

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TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
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