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Game 40: Marlins at Nats

May 15, 2011, 3:06 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals wrap up their series with the Marlins this afternoon.

The Nationals came home two days ago feeling pretty good about themselves, having just taken road series at both Florida and Atlanta. Two days later, they find themselves needing to beat the Marlins just to avoid a sweep at Nationals Park.

Both losses came by one run — Friday's night's 6-5 loss in 11 innings, yesterday's 1-0 loss to Anibal Sanchez — so it's not like they've been getting overwhelmed by their division rivals. But as we've seen throughout this season to date, the Nats are pretty much built to play low-scoring, tight ballgames. Which means there are going to be a lot of close wins and a lot of close losses. There's little margin for error.

Ian Desmond is out of the lineup for the second straight day, still dealing with a quadriceps strain. Alex Cora again starts in his place at shortstop. Only lineup change from yesterday is a swap behind the plate, with Ivan Rodriguez starting and Wilson Ramos (in a 1-for-21 funk) on the bench.

Updates to come all afternoon…

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
TV: MASN2, Ch. 50
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 186
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 71 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to CF

CF Roger Bernadina
2B Danny Espinosa
RF Jayson Werth
LF Laynce Nix

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  1. HHover - May 15, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    If these guys can't hit Vazquez, things really are desperate.

  2. UNTERP.NAT - May 15, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    The best the Nats can do is win; the worse is lose. Expect the best. Go Nats!!!

  3. natsfan1a - May 15, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    Let's go Na-tion-als (clapclap-clapclapclap).]In other news, vote for Roger (Roger offers you his protection):

  4. Doc - May 15, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    For all the other teams playing The Fish this year, hitting against Vazquez has been like batting practice. This is the Nats' chance to grab some hits–let's see what they can do!This is the clown that Rizzo wanted to sign last winter, and slot in as a #1 SP–I guess the good news is that he didn't sign him.C'mon Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaats!!!!

  5. WilliamTells - May 15, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Anybody ever go on SB Nation DC? I chuckled when I saw an ad for Grand Slam Flex Packs featuring Jayson Werth placed directly over a story about Werth's abysmal start to the 2011 season. Unfortunate coincidences leading to marketing FAIL? Expect it…

  6. Grandstander - May 15, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    Normally, I'd be excited to face Vazquez with the year he's having. But we have an uncanny way of making crappy pitchers look amazing. Not going into this game expecting good things.

  7. SonnyG10 - May 15, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    Looing forward to another good game today. Go Nats!!!!!

  8. JayB - May 15, 2011 at 5:07 PM

    Mark is it odd that Nats have prevented interviews with Eckstien? Why would they do that?

  9. Stranded_in_Philly - May 15, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    With Pittsburgh coming into town for a 2 game set, how about a nice little winning streak to get back to .500?

  10. Anonymous - May 15, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    Maybe Eckstein would prefer to actually do his job and work with the hitters right now instead of wasting time responding to questions from legitimate reporters goaded on by clueless gits like JayB. Eckstein has talked with the press plenty during his time in DC. It's not like he's been holed up in his compound like Osama bin Laden. There's a reason that the manager has to face the inquisition of the press. It's part of his job description. Not part of the coaches' job description, though. It's their choice whether or not they talk to the press. Let the coaches do their jobs, JayB.

  11. Harper is Awesome - May 15, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    Anon: Why are you defending the hitting coach of the team with the worst batting average in the MLB???Harper says, "this clown better be gone by teh time I come up to the big club."

  12. CBinDC - May 15, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    Watching the pregame …again the line of the day the week the year …the Nationals play great losing games …..why the losing games they play are better then the winning games …..which in this universe if you want to see them play great hope they lose ??? I do not really know what to make of this teams line of thinking.

  13. Anonymous - May 15, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    Why isn't Channel 50 showing the game? This is not cool….

  14. yankish2 - May 15, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    Is there any team that could win with Jerry Hairston Jr and Alex Cora in their starting lineup more days than not? And how many of you think Mike Morris will not hit as many homeruns during the regular season as spring training? Maybe not literally but it will be this close.

  15. dj in Fl. - May 15, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    Well hopefully everyone is feeling a better after the first, and we can loose the negativity and just cheer the boys to victorytoday.Everybody bats in the first, life is good.

  16. Nattydread - May 15, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    Here Here DJ!

  17. Unkyd - May 15, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    Anon 1:21: With you (except the name calling). Rizzo and Riggs speak for their subordinates. Thankfully, I have no "interested parties" demanding an explanation for anything that goes wrong with my daily performance at work. A chaIn of command functions best when the subordinates are carrying out the instructions from on high. R&R should answer all questions regarding the performances of everyone down the line, we assume then that their bidding is being carried out, to the best of everyone's ability. It's on the big guys. What would you have Eck say, anyway? Some generic platitudes? Or broadcast just the batting strategies he's trying to instill, and better prepare the opposition to counter them. We're all just venting…I get that. It just seems, too frequently to devolve down to implications that our various Nats are lazy, or don't care, or are far more stupid than we, here in the peanut gallery. The players are more talented than we can imagine being. The staff has forgotten more than most of us will ever know about all aspects of the game. We're getting great pitching, terrific defense, and THE BATS WILL COME AROUND…. It's folly to think that these guys woolBat this poorly all year. AND Riz will have a couple of new faces here before the end of the summer, as well.Patience…….GO NATS!!!!!!!

  18. Doc - May 15, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    Right on dj, let's go with the flow!!Good decision on Vazquez's part to sign with a team near his home!Let's get another 6 runs in the 2nd—we have a lot of season runs to catch up with!!!!

  19. Oldguy - May 15, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    There are about 5,000 guys playing pro baseball just in the US plus thousands more outside the US. About 400 of them are big league position players. They got here because they have been hitting baseballs since they were in short pants. They know how to do it. What the heck is a hitting coach going to change at this stage or teach them what they don't already know? A little tweak here and there, stuff like that. But it's up to the hitters to do what they learned how to do to get them this far.

  20. WilliamTells - May 15, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    Pudge Rodriguez to Emilio Bonifacio:Don't tug on Superman's cape, son.

  21. masnstinks - May 15, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    Thanks for the sanity! If you truly only watch these games to see a win you will be usually disappointed. The great teams win 2/3 of their games, most around half. You need to be able to love the game with all it's nuances and love having a home- team that you can get to know the players and go to games. If you can only sleep at night if your team wins then I suggest you join the evil pin-stripe empire or become a phanatic. I can be ok with losing a great game. Love my Nats!!!! Love the game!!!

  22. Nattydread - May 15, 2011 at 7:00 PM

    Marquis BA: .350Stairs BA: .100With a comparable number of appearances. Hmmm.

  23. dabassguy1 - May 15, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    Marquis is our best hitter. Can he play a position?

  24. Harper is Awesome - May 15, 2011 at 7:04 PM

    Masnstinks: Why can't we become the Phils.. 5 or 6 years ago they were a losing ballclub every year… You can't be satisfied with losing 100 games every year

  25. Smatt1001 - May 15, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    Let's go Pudge!

  26. waddu eye no - May 15, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    ahh. joined the 21st century, got the dvr , hit pause, turned off ray, turned on charlie and dave.

  27. masnstinks - May 15, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    H is A ( although his hitting streak ended today), We CAN become a team that wins and plays good baseball. It didn't happen overnight for anyone and it won't happen overnight for us.It has taken the Red Sox years, the Phillies years to get back to it, the Cubs years. Hopefully it won't take THAT long. Part of the enjoyment is watching young guys grow and learn, get drafted, work their way up – watching trade pieces to see if they work out( or not — see Matt Stairs) – this is an improved team – you can see it – most of the time. Want to go back to Dimitri Young, Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge and Daniel Cabrera?

  28. A DC Wonk - May 15, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    repeating a memo from earlier in the season from Pudge to Nats fans: "I still ain't dead, yet."

  29. CBinDC - May 15, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    Ohhhhhh please do not blow this game ……argh just when you think you can relax bammm a hit directly off of the pitcher….I hope Coffey is OK

  30. A DC Wonk - May 15, 2011 at 8:07 PM

    masnstinks said: "Want to go back to Dimitri Young, Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge and Daniel Cabrera?"masn, you're being too kind! Some of those guys had potential. How about guys like Bascik, Astacia, Day and Simontacchi as regular starters? Or guys like Langerhans in 2007 (appeared in 123 games, batted .170), or 2008 with semi-regulars WM Pena (.205), Kearns (.216), etc.

  31. Harper_ROY_2012 - May 15, 2011 at 8:09 PM

    Sad that Bonifacio would be the leading Nats hitter right now by almost .100 avg points…that is how bad we are right now!

  32. masnstinks - May 15, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    No matter how hard I try to stay on the positive side – it just hurts me to watch LaRoche hit ( or should I say "miss"). I have some serious "don't blow it" jitters going on.

  33. dj in Fl. - May 15, 2011 at 8:24 PM

    But he can play some defense at first.

  34. CBinDC - May 15, 2011 at 8:36 PM

    In my book it is Willie Moe Pena that symbolizes all that was a Bowden era player. A at the end of their career, getting over paid because of a favor and doing nothing while playing and caring nothing about the results. His is the lowest priced signed ball at the Foundation Booth just $5. While complain as I may do I do not find any Willie Moe's on this team.

  35. A DC Wonk - May 15, 2011 at 8:42 PM

    I actually didn't mind "trying him out" to see if Willy Mo had anything. What was ridiculous was that he played so much because the other options were even worse. Same thing with guys like, say, Bascik, etc. I'm not picking on them. I'm saying that when the team is so bad you have to *rely* on guys like them, you're teams in baaaad shape.

  36. Anonymous - May 15, 2011 at 8:45 PM

    A while back there were lots of calls to bring Bixler up. He's a career .170 hitter. And that last play was a DUH. I don't get it.

  37. A DC Wonk - May 15, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    Good for the kid (Cole Kimball) — getting the side out after a leadoff walk.I wonder what kind of stuff he had, as, after the first batter, he seemed to throw almost *all* fastballs. Did he think he didn't have his other pitches with him today? (And, if so, way to get the job done without all your weapons!)

  38. natsfan1a - May 15, 2011 at 8:59 PM

    ahhh, that was nice. Well, maybe a little scary at times, but nice. Bring on those Bucs!Oh, and Carpenter answered that I had on watching Marquis back in Pittsburgh. Evidently he had a 3-hit game at one point. (I still think he wants another Silver Slugger. :-)

  39. natsfan1a - May 15, 2011 at 9:02 PM

    answered "the question"

  40. Cwj - May 15, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    DC Wonk- Yeah I think Kimball was probably told not to use his splitter too often. Don't want to dip into the well too often :)Good win. 19-21. A sweep of the Pirates would be so sweet, but they need to at least take that series.Go Nats!

  41. natsfan1a - May 15, 2011 at 9:25 PM

    I believe that they'd need to sweep to take it, seeing as how it's a two-game series.

  42. Anonymous - May 15, 2011 at 9:29 PM

    This was a great win but … On May 23rd of 2010 found the Nats 1 game over .500 with 24 wins. Have to wonder if they will be even close to matching that this year with this team?I don't see where the improvement is going to be? Starting pitching … sure its better … but it doesn't equate to a better start than last year? Will it equate to a better record over the long haul? I just don't see it. Especially, if Riggleman returns Ankiel to the starting lineup and removes 1 of Bernadina or Ankiel.I still don't see any value added to Stairs. He has to be pinch run for. He doesn't play the field and he has what 2 hits in 17 at bats? Sure there are the walks but c'mon Nick Johnson would be better for that why didn't they just sign him?

  43. masnstinks - May 15, 2011 at 9:33 PM

    Only LaRoche and Espi had 0-fers today – their defense, especially LaRoche today, softens that blow a little bit. How sad is it that Jason Marquis hits better than Matt Stairs? Love what Bernie is bringing to the game!

  44. Cwj - May 15, 2011 at 9:37 PM

    Haha good point Natsfan1a!! :)Thought it was 3 games for some reason.

  45. SonnyG10 - May 15, 2011 at 9:37 PM

    Unkyd, Oldguy, and masnstinks…I like the way you're thinking.

  46. Nattydread - May 15, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    This is a better team. Bernadina and Kimball have passed their auditions. The Shark adds defense, speed and pop, Kimball is the other man they needed in the pen. Nix is pulling his weight on offense. Ankiel will come back as 4th outfielder — which is where he fits. LaRoche, Espinosa and Desmond are playing some fine defense. Even Cora is standing in nicely.Pudge shuts down the steals.Marquis: Silver Slugger. Maybe it rubs off.Zimmerman comes back and this team has wheels.

  47. Cwj - May 15, 2011 at 9:45 PM

    Nattydread- Agree about Kimball and Bernadina. I would add that HRodriguez probably passed his audition in yesterday's close game as well.

  48. dj in Fl. - May 15, 2011 at 9:49 PM

    I agree Nattydread. I also do not think the vets on this team will let them sink into a long losing streak as in the past. The Marlin announcers felt that Riggleman would be a solid canidate for manager of the year for the Nats having this record without Zim, and with this hitting.

  49. josh f - May 15, 2011 at 10:07 PM

    Great win today – is it too early to say Marquis is going to the All-Star game?

  50. Unkyd - May 15, 2011 at 10:11 PM

    Luv U 2, Sonny! I'm just not about to let something I follow fir fun, make me miserable. If I took as little joy in the Nats as some here seem to… Well there's plenty of other diversions…Ankiel has to be the new Stairs, when he bones back…2-3 games a week relieving the starters in the OF, PH, PR… VERY useful in that capacity. I said the other night, if Riggs sends Bernie down, or even SITS him down, the townsfolk will be chasing him, with torches and farm implements, with Frau Blucher(NEIGH!!!!) in the lead!!!

  51. Cwj - May 15, 2011 at 10:14 PM

    Josh f- definitely too early but it'll likely be either him or Storen.

  52. Cwj - May 15, 2011 at 10:16 PM

    Unkyd- hahaha Great Young Frankenstein reference! :)

  53. Richard - May 15, 2011 at 10:33 PM

    Good to see Bernadina filling the sorely needed leadoff spot. Pleasure to watch him today get on base three times. If Espinoza, in his current deep dark funk, hadn't been batting behind him, he may have scored more. Watching Esp and LaRouche at the plate right now is — not fun.

  54. Cwj - May 15, 2011 at 10:50 PM

    As long as Espinosa and LaRoch continue to provide outstanding defense I won't complain too much about their hitting.Obviously the Nats need both of their bats to do something. But I'm not hitting the panic button on either one just yet.

  55. Cwj - May 15, 2011 at 10:51 PM

    *LaRoche I meant

  56. sjm308 - May 15, 2011 at 11:00 PM

    Just a really nice win. Can't imagine Riggs sitting Bernadina since he fills two needs, leadoff and CF. Ankiel will be fine filling in for all 3 outfield positions and PH which will mean Stairs will be released. I have mentioned it before but I hope they keep him as a player/coach at the minor league level but I will also understand if some time actually wants him in the same role. Hard to believe someone would pick him up but you never know.Love that Kimball has hit the ground running and that plus HRod doing well last night means we now have a full bullpen again. Hope Coffey is OK and if not its Balester tiime once again.Two wins against the Pirates and we are back to .500Go Nats

  57. sjm308 - May 15, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    wow, horrible spelling – obviously meant someone and I guess everyone knows how to spell time

  58. Cwj - May 15, 2011 at 11:26 PM

    SJM308- haha I seriously try to spell correctly. With my slow, 2 finger typing it shouldn't be that hard :)

  59. slidell - May 16, 2011 at 12:53 AM

    Nats and O's are in similar situations. Given their respective divisions, they have to get REAL good to get into playoff contention.FWIW, in the NL, the East division has an +18 aggregate W-L record, the Central -11, and the West -7.This club seems to have a lot of fight, just not quite enough weapons to pull out enough "almost" wins. Maybe next year there'll be more ammo.

  60. Neal - May 16, 2011 at 2:46 AM

    Would like to see this batting order for the Nats when Ankiel returns (remains to be seen what Riggs will do):Bernie CFDesi SSLaRoche 1BNix LFWerth RFRamos CEspi 2BHairston 3BPitcherBench: Pudge, Ankiel, Morse, Cora, Stairs (Bixler has options left, he'll be sent down).Rational: Bernie is the best lead off hitter the Nats have on the 25 man roster, Desi hits well in the 2 hole, LaRoche will get better pitches to hit because they will no longer be able to pitch around him with Nix batting right behind him, Werth is hitting in his natural potions (the 5 hole) and Ramos gives him some protection with the threat of his power bat. Espi would be best served by batting 7th (because he's a struggling rookie at the plate) and Hairston's experience makes him better prepared to bat right before the pitcher (the 8th hole batter usually gets junk to hit, not a good place for Espi to bat).When R Zim returns:Bernie CFDesi SSR Zim 3BNix LFWerth RFLaRoche 1BRamos CEspi 2B (hopefully he'll have solved his hitting issues by then)PitcherBench: Pudge, Ankiel, Morse, Hairston, Cora, (Stairs will retire now and will be offered a coaching position in the organization, he was going to retire this year anyway).Note: No one gave up on Carlos Pena last year when he couldn't buy a hit. You don't pull a gold glove caliber 1B out of the lineup because he's struggling at the plate, especially one like LaRoche who's historically a slow starer and has always hit his numbers.

  61. Unkyd - May 16, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    Neal: I like.

  62. Harper is Awesome - May 16, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    Neal very nice job.. can't wait till Zimmerman return. Don't forget that your gonna have to add the Oppo Boppo King in there as well quite soon!

  63. Neal - May 16, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    Harper is Awesome:That will be a very nice problem to have. I think it won't be until the September call-ups that they'll have to face that though.

  64. Grant - May 16, 2011 at 5:56 PM

    The Nats shouldn't forfeit the DH next week when they are in Baltimore, they should use it for one of their position players!

  65. Neal - May 16, 2011 at 6:05 PM

    Grant…..I think the Nats have already said that's what they'll do. Maybe using Morse as DH (just guessing on Morse).





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