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Game 22: Mets at Nats

Apr 26, 2011, 7:38 PM EDT

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
After a rainy road trip, the Nats are back home tonight to face the Mets.

The Nationals open a seven-game homestand tonight, still reeling somewhat from their disappointing 2-4 trip to St. Louis and Pittsburgh and in need of a bounce-back victory tonight. Under normal circumstances, a home series against the Mets would be exactly what the doctor ordered, but the Nats may be catching their division rivals at the wrong time. New York has won four in a row, and right-hander Chris Young (who one-hit the Nationals April 10 at Citi Field) is back from the DL starting the opener.

Jordan Zimmermann gets the start for the Nats, trying to bounce back himself from his worst start of the season (five runs, eight hits allowed in St. Louis). Zimmermann has already beaten the Mets once this year.

With Ian Desmond officially off the roster while on paternity leave, Alex Cora will be starting at shortstop. Roger Bernadina has been recalled to temporarily take Desmond's roster spot; the outfielder will be available off the bench tonight.

Check back for updates throughout, and catch me on CSN's "SportsNet Central" live from the ballpark at 6 p.m. …

METS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Chance of storms, 75 degrees, Wind 13 mph out to LF

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (10-11)
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche

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  1. Sec314 - Apr 26, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    Cora at Short? Are they just obstinant or do Riggleman and Rizzo fear that if Espinosa plays SS he will vaporize?

  2. TheYellowSlant - Apr 26, 2011 at 7:49 PM

    So Cora at 2nd and Espinosa at SS is magically better? Even though Espinosa hasn't played there this season at all and they're trying to keep him comfortable in one position?

  3. Sec314 - Apr 26, 2011 at 8:12 PM

    I'm firmly in the "Flip Desmond and Espinosa" camp. The only objection I've heard is that management fears messing with Desmond's head if they did that. So why not at least try Espinosa at Short now while Desmond is off?

  4. Ballston Nat - Apr 26, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    I am ready for Espinoza to try out short. This is a business and we must win. But it would be a gutsy move by Riggs and Riz to do the switch at the time of Desmond's first child…Always look at the kid and think I was a shortstop until you came long. If Desmond is meant to lose the job, he will continue to play out of it. Perhaps we can clone Espinoza and have him at both ends of the double play.

  5. JamesFan - Apr 26, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    No,let's not flip players around 20 games into the season. My problem with the Nats in the past is that players move around so much, they never get used to their regular position.There is no miracle with this team. Let them play and make incremental changes.

  6. Anonymous - Apr 26, 2011 at 8:39 PM

    @JamesFan,Desmond is already 1/4 of the way to 40 errors … that's FORTY? And, again, as for the past six years, too many on easy chances. That also means the Nats project to have 110 errors. NO improvement in that category over last year … Its way past time to make those incremental changes … no-arm, no bat Cora at shortstop? That's far and away worst than Guzman! They've gone backwards … waaaaaay backwards requiring more than just an incremental change?

  7. carolync - Apr 26, 2011 at 8:45 PM

    It's too late to put Espinosa at short. They asked him to adapt to a new position and he's done that very well. He does not deserve to be jerked around. I think he has a good chance to go to the All-Star Game at 2B. I don't see much competition there with Utley still out and Uggla not hitting. Would be nice to have him and a couple of our pitchers.Besides, I don't think Desmond could adapt to second and I think Rizzo feels the same if you read between the lines of the statement he made when Danny came up.We're stuck with Desmond at short. The best we can hope for is for him to have some hot streaks like he did last year.We're going to the game tonight after all! Can't pass up a chance to enjoy some Nats baseball without having to hold my breath when a ball goes toward short.

  8. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 26, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    A new night a new opportunity to finally start hitting the ball. Don't be afraid to swing at strikes. I am not of the camp going into a count. That is for teams with a bunch of power. We are 15th in the league in homers, so we need to hit like contact hitters not sluggers. Swing at the first good strike, hit the balls on the outher third to the opposite field, putt the inner third and drive at the pitcher's head the middle third. We bat like we are all power hitters. I blame this approach to Eckstein. (which of course I think is a bigger problem than Desmond's fielding).

  9. Wally - Apr 26, 2011 at 9:13 PM

    I don't think moving Desmond to 2B will help much. I think his issue is basic fielding. He'll get less chances at 2B probably, but not enough to matter.I have been a big Desi fan, but 180 games or so is enough to start drawing some conclusions, and I am losing confidence in him. I guess I am coming around to JayB's idea of trying him in CF, but that has to happen at Syr. He can't try to learn that in DC.

  10. DFL - Apr 26, 2011 at 9:16 PM

    Nats have the wrong Eckstein. Fire Rick Eckstein, drop Cora, and sign David Eckstein.

  11. Anonymous - Apr 26, 2011 at 9:16 PM

    I wonder if the Mets would accept a package of Desmond, Carr and Stammen for Reyes. They get a shortstop with upside (despite the errors) to replace Reyes, a potential starter (they have no pitching)in Stammen and a good relief prospect in Carr.If that deosn't get it done, I'd throw in Brad Peacock as well.

  12. Will - Apr 26, 2011 at 9:49 PM

    But you only get a five month rental of Reyes, then he'll fit the FA market to make big bucks.He's been playing very well this year, and seems to be 100%. There's no reason that he wouldn't expect a contract around 5/$100mil.So why not just wait until October to throw silly money at him and save the prospects?

  13. Unkyd - Apr 26, 2011 at 9:53 PM

    Espy is in a groove at 2nd…please let's not yank him about in his rookie year! Keep My Boy at SS until a full time replacement is available. I don't see the replacement ready to go, right now, without moving Espi, which just shifts your problem one spot to the left, anyway. Sheesh!! Anyone would thing SS is the only thing standing between us and the 2011 World Series Title. Newsflash: not the case! This team is SO much better than it was 2 years ago, and the most optimistic of us will be grinning like chimps, if we win 81 this year. I gonna let Rizzo continue to build this monster, and he definitely gets the benefit of MY doubt. It's a process, and less whining would make it more enjoyable….

  14. Will - Apr 26, 2011 at 9:57 PM

    Also, a switch makes a lot of sense, though I can understand management waiting at least a whole month.Desmond hasn't shown any improvement. If anything, he's regressed. At this rate, he's on pace for 50+ errors, and he doesn't have a scapegoat in Adam Dunn anymore to explain away a third of them.Who knows, maybe something will click for Desmond at 2B, and we'll have a solid defensive infield. But as it stands now, he's a constant liability in the field. I'd be interested to see how many unearned runs have been caused by Desmond over the past two seasons, and how many of those runs produced a Nats loss.

  15. Not Werth It - Apr 26, 2011 at 10:43 PM

    Congrats Desi!Everyone relax. Desmond is 20 games into his second season at shortstop. He'll cut down the errors."You know the best thing about 1st year shortstops? They turn into 2nd year shortstops."-Rizzo? Riggleman? someone important for the Nats said that last year. And I liked it.

  16. Anonymous8 - Apr 26, 2011 at 11:08 PM

    Cora is slow to the ball. Bad break on that 1st single of the game. Not sure he would have gotten to it but the effort was poor.

  17. rainraingoaway - Apr 26, 2011 at 11:12 PM

    Nice catch!

  18. Andrew - Apr 26, 2011 at 11:12 PM

    What a catch by Ankiel. He may not hit but he makes some nice catches and throws from CF!

  19. Doc - Apr 26, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    About 18 straight 4-seamers, at 85-87 mph, from Young to Espi, Ankiel, and Werth–all ending in popups.They must have been overly excited and swung too hard!!!

  20. Edward - Apr 26, 2011 at 11:29 PM

    hey Mark at some point you should post the link to All-Star voting on the blog. Its still early of course, but with all the loyal nats fans that read this site, it could make a big difference

  21. JaneB - Apr 26, 2011 at 11:40 PM

    Congratulations to the Desmond family. I agree that this team is SO much better than we were. Desi will get it. Chris Young is looking great.

  22. Anonymous - Apr 26, 2011 at 11:43 PM

    Zimmermann thinks he is pitching batting practice. Nats will be in the basement of the NL East after this series.

  23. Anonymous - Apr 26, 2011 at 11:58 PM

    Hey, JaneB! Lately, the Nats are making every opposing pitcher look like Cy Young! This team ain't gonna be "so much better than we were" once they return to last place where they feel most comfortable. "Expect it!"

  24. Wally - Apr 27, 2011 at 12:05 AM

    Nice shot by Werth. He has 4 singers now, and I can remember at least 3 shots he has hit off the top of the wall for doubles. A few more feet and he has 7 homers on the season. Wouldn't be too much talk about him starting slow.RAMOS!

  25. Wally - Apr 27, 2011 at 12:07 AM

    'singers' = dingers. Damn auto correct. At least it didn't change hits to doubles.

  26. NatinBeantown - Apr 27, 2011 at 12:13 AM

    Send Wilson to Phoenix!

  27. TimDz - Apr 27, 2011 at 12:14 AM

    At this point, I believe some introductions are in order :Pudge, Bench…Bench, Pudge…

  28. JaneB - Apr 27, 2011 at 12:17 AM

    Auto correct was more polite inits correction than it was to me earlier today. In a business email, no less.How does one go about starting a write in campaign? We want a second campaign, wherein we petition for Wilson to bat every inning. Just 'cause.

  29. Unkyd - Apr 27, 2011 at 12:28 AM

    Averages coming up slowly…..5 batters over .225. Keep it up, fellas!

  30. rainraingoaway - Apr 27, 2011 at 12:34 AM

    Man – Ankiel really swings for the fences , doesn't he?

  31. HHover - Apr 27, 2011 at 12:47 AM

    So Z'mann is out – doesn't the Jim Riggleman Big Book of Managing call for him to do a doubleswitch and remove Werth?

  32. Anonymous - Apr 27, 2011 at 12:50 AM

    So you live by your LH specialist and you die by your LH specialist. This is why I liked the idea of having Detwiler on the team as Slaten has good looking stats if you look at ERA but inherited runners is a big stat that has to be considered.

  33. dj in Fl. - Apr 27, 2011 at 12:51 AM

    JaneBIt is very easy to write in Ramos. Go to the Nats home page and click on the All Star link.The write in option is at the bottom of the list.You can vote up to 25 times in a row for you selections.

  34. Anonymous - Apr 27, 2011 at 1:05 AM

    I think it is time that the Nats stop thinkiing of Zimmermann as a potential top of the rotation starter. He's not down to the Jason Bergmann level yet but he's beginning to remind me of Craig Stammen.

  35. Anonymous - Apr 27, 2011 at 1:09 AM

    Two runs behind, seems like 20 runs behind for these lame hitting Nats. Put this game in the loss column.

  36. Natman - Apr 27, 2011 at 1:10 AM

    Mark,Luckily there are such statistics, but not a simple one like ERA. His WHIP is 1.71 and his H/9 is 11.6. But looking deeper his BABIP is an ungodly .429 way higher than his usual .280-.300 mark. He's either a bit unlucky or his fielders don't get to balls that they should.

  37. Doc - Apr 27, 2011 at 1:14 AM

    Man, these guys are truly the epitome of the proverbial 'hitless wonders'. Both Maholme, last night, and Young tonight should have been chased in the first 2 innings!Ugh!!!!

  38. CBinDC - Apr 27, 2011 at 1:22 AM

    3 HR's and nobody on base ……only the Nationals could make HR's look like liabilities

  39. Anonymous - Apr 27, 2011 at 1:22 AM

    Even Ryan Zimmerman's return can't save the rest of these "hitless wonders." Back to last place, "Expect it!"

  40. JaneB - Apr 27, 2011 at 1:24 AM

    dj I FL, I can't find the AllStars link. But I will keep looking. Thanks.Brian is better than y'all thought he was. Admit it. :-)

  41. FS - Apr 27, 2011 at 1:31 AM

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/all_star/y2011/ballot.jsp?tcid=news-asgballot-2011After selecting all other players (make sure not to select a C), go all the way down on the page and write in Wilson's name after selecting the right club and position.I don't think he deserves it yet. Buster will still get my vote.

  42. CBinDC - Apr 27, 2011 at 1:48 AM

    Well here goes a long losing streak the question is how long You wish that they had enough to come back and take the game in the 9th but you feel nothing coming from this team

  43. Anonymous8 - Apr 27, 2011 at 1:55 AM

    Stairs actually elevated one. Too bad it wasn't 30 feet further in the air.

  44. Waddu eye no - Apr 27, 2011 at 1:58 AM

    Matt stairs. Eggmann. Goo goo ga joob

  45. Anonymous - Apr 27, 2011 at 2:06 AM

    I agree with a previous poster – isn't it time JZimm starts taking it up a notch? I'm starting to wonder if Rizzo knew something when he was so willing to throw him the Grienke trade.

  46. Anonymous - Apr 27, 2011 at 2:14 AM

    Doug Slaten has the worst 0.00 ERA in the history of major league baseball.

  47. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 27, 2011 at 2:53 AM

    Simple stats remains. When the team gets 9 hits or more they are 7-0. 8 or less 3-12.Pretty simple solution to losing to me.

  48. Anonymous - Apr 27, 2011 at 3:22 AM

    Just a desultory, lifeless, losing affair. Irredeemable fecklessness. Bored people watching bored people.Tonight was a trip back to the days of Fick, Bard, and 100 other anonynationals. We used to joke, when the Nats were down a couple of runs, that one word applied to a two-run deficit: "insurmountable."This is where we are now. A journeyman team of re-treads, untesteds, and sure-to-fails. 1/3 of the team in Head Start, another 1/3 on Social Security. And 100 percent of them protected by the Nationals Excuse Factory, Inc.

  49. Andrew - Apr 27, 2011 at 3:22 AM

    Bryce Harper decided to hit a HR tonight to join in with Werth and Wilson Ramos.

  50. Drew8 - Apr 27, 2011 at 4:14 AM

    That's three homers in four games for Harper, in case you're scoring at home.(If so, at least someone's scoring.)

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 57 47 --
ATLANTA 58 49 0.5
MIAMI 53 53 5.0
NEW YORK 51 56 7.5
PHILADELPHIA 47 60 11.5
Through Tuesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 p.m.
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m. TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 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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