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Game 99: Nats at Dodgers

Jul 22, 2011, 10:17 PM EDT

US Presswire file photo
The Nationals open a weekend series at Dodger Stadium.

If you're like me, currently sweating it out in D.C. and wondering what exactly the formula is for determining the heat index, you may not want to look closely below at tonight's forecast in Los Angeles. Suffice it to say, those of us not on this road trip are mighty jealous of those who are.

There is, however, a tangible effect those cool temps in La-La Land should have on tonight's series opener between the Nationals and Dodgers: The ball probably won't be carrying very well through the cool, dense air. Dodger Stadium is notoriously a tough hitter's park at night, only more so when the temperature is down.

Of course, neither the Nats nor the Dodgers boast especially potent lineups, so that could have more to do with the result tonight than anything. John Lannan and Hiroki Kuroda should be poised to put forth a couple of quality starts.

Like I said, I'm not covering this series in person, but I'll be staying up late to watch the game on TV and will probably share a few thoughts along the way. I'll try to answer some of your questions, too, if you want to ask them in the comments section. Just do me a favor and wait until the game starts to post them, because I'm not going to be in front of my computer until then…

Where: Dodger Stadium
Gametime: 10:10 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 189
Weather: Sunny, 68 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to RF

CF Roger Bernadina
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Michael Morse

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242 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. natsfan1a - Jul 23, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    Me, too, Anon and Jim. No way I can stay up until 1 a.m. Heck, sometimes I can't even make it to 10 p.m. I receive the postgame email updates, so I had the happy results in my in-box this a.m. and came here to read the details. Did record the game and will watch it later. Wish I could have stayed up late enough to see the surprise LannEn HR in real time. Thanks for doing the in-game commentary despite not being on road duty, Mark. Always fun to read after the game, even if I've watched it in real time. Also nice to see Flynnie stop in.(And the captcha is "ungrate," which I am never. ;-))

  2. natsfan1a - Jul 23, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    Also, FIRST (on the new page)!!! (Aren't people who do that really annoying? Oh, wait.)

  3. sjm308 - Jul 23, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Not you! Never!Went through all that last night and exited after I saw Hairston go deep and saw Storen on the mound. I never realized that Mark was not only answering our questions but keeping a game summery running as well. That had to be difficult and Thanks again Mark. I loved all the various moves made last night but could the Dodgers starter have been any slower when someone got on base? Great relief pitching to match LannEn and except for Espinosa everyone contributed at the plate. Not sure it will be mentioned but Ramos got runners to 3rd twice in this game with productive outs.Also want to thank GoNat for his clairvoyance.Sweep starts with the first winGo Nats!!

  4. Nats Outsider - Jul 23, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    Wow! Over 200 comments on a game that was basically routine. (Okay, Lannan got a home run. I suppose that takes it out of the routine, but still.) Mark, I hope you realize what a tribute that is to what you have created here. Since you first set up this blog a year and a half ago, it has grown into a must-read. That is completely due to your ability to write so well and to do it from the fans' perspective. I've emailed your column to baseball fans who are not in the DC area, just to let them read a particularly insightful column. They are very appreciative.There are not many reporters who would stay up and stay online to chat with fans while covering a game. That's the kind of commitment that generates community; reader comments at 2:00 am attest to that. I hope it serves you as well, by giving you some practice in staying up late. You might need that this fall. Kudos as well to CSNWashington, for providing you the financial stability that makes this blog possible and for recognizing its value. Thanks, Mark.

  5. Gonat - Jul 23, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Game 100 tonight and the Nats need the 50/50!!!! Fun staying up past 1:30 last night with all of you and unfortunately up way too early this morning!

  6. Gonat - Jul 23, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    12:48 a.m. — Credit to Sean Burnett on a job well done. The lefty has obviously struggled plenty this season, especially of late. But he just came through big-time to strand the tying runner in scoring position. Still 3-2 after seven.______________________This was how the Nats stayed in the game for anyone that didn't see it. Burnett came in with a man on 2nd and 1 out and got out the next 2 batters.When was the last time that Burnett came in with an inherited runner that he didn't allow to score? June 24th in the marathon game in Chicago White Sox.

  7. Gonat - Jul 23, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    Remember in the off-season when Brandon Webb chose the Texas Rangers over the Washington Nationals? He still hasn't thrown a pitch for the Rangers and won't as he will need additional shoulder surgery and his season is over.

  8. gonatsgo - Jul 23, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    Wish I could have stayed up – went to bed right after LannEn hit his big HR. I thought it was a good idea to go to sleep happy. Even happier when I woke up to the good news and JerHair's grannie! Just finished browsing through the comments – thanks, Mark – now I kind of feel like I watched it. Sounds like Desi had a little bit of a lapse last night….

  9. flynnie - Jul 23, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    What stat or memory produced Davey's hunch to pinch hit Hairston, Jr.? Loved Debbi's moniker: "Long Ball Lannan." Baseball rewards you with the most improbable happenings. It made for a good night's sleep and happy dreams. Good morning and have a great Saturday, everybody! Especially Sec. 3, who made following this blog extra-entertaining during last night's game.

  10. Gonat - Jul 23, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    flynnie, Hairston went in earlier to PH for Bernadina so he was already in the game when he hit the Grand Slam. Funny thing was he tinkered about countering with Cora when Mattingly brought in the rightie and he probably would have if he had another outfielder.

  11. flynnie - Jul 23, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    sjm308 said… I loved all the various moves made last night but could the Dodgers starter have been any slower when someone got on base? I think Kuroda's own infield wanted him to lose. That guy's pace had Carpy saying, "He has to throw it sometime tonight."

  12. sunderland - Jul 23, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    Morning lads and ladies. Missed the whole game last night, prefer to catch up by reading this blog more than any other way. Dig this cyber-clan.Mark – really appreciate your comments about Matt Stairs. I'm in the "why is he here?" club, but very glad you threw some perspective on this issue.

  13. Gonat - Jul 23, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    Question: Another Burnett stat since he faced 2 batters and got them both out (Gwynn and Furcal). While he wasn't facing Murderers Row, the last time Sean Burnett came in as a reliever and didn't allow at least 1 base hit?Answer: June 26th in ChicagoComment: This guy is lucky to still be employed

  14. flynnie - Jul 23, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    Thanks, Gonat. I must've drifted off in the bottom of the 8th. I was so proud of Flores and Desi for "not chasing" to quote Davey. And with the bases loaded, and Donnie Baseball making the pitching change, and Jerry Jr coming tugging on his batting gloves, striding up to the plate, I once again thought, "How could anyone say baseball is boring?"

  15. flynnie - Jul 23, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    NatsFan1A said: Also nice to see Flynnie stop in.(And the captcha is "ungrate," which I am never. ;-))Thanks, 1A! I just saw this, and what a nice way to start the weekend! "Gratitude is the mother of all virtues." Chesterton

  16. flynnie - Jul 23, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    Davey's post game comments are always worth a visit to MASN. Lannan tired of Livo et. al. ride him on his hitting, and began taking a lot of time in the cage. "Now Livo says we have three good hitters – himself (of course), Lannan and Marquis." Love Livo. Love Davey.

  17. Gonat - Jul 23, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    flynnie said… Davey's post game comments are always worth a visit to MASN. Lannan tired of Livo et. al. ride him on his hitting, and began taking a lot of time in the cage. "Now Livo says we have three good hitters – himself (of course), Lannan and Marquis." Love Livo. Love Davey. July 23, 2011 9:40 AM____________________________Well, Jordan Zimmermann has a .172 BA and leads all Nats starting pitchers in OBP with .226The real shame is all starting pitchers except Gorzo now have more RBIs than pinch hitting extraodinaire Matt Stairs.DID DAVEY MENTION THAT? Yah, I didn't think so.

  18. Mark'd - Jul 23, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    Gonat, after Lannen got that HR he passed Stairs in clutch hits, RBIs and Home Runs.

  19. flynnie - Jul 23, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    Didn't the sight of Stairs in the on-deck circle induce a pitching change? Other managers still fear him. He did win the one game here with a walk-off against the wall. Maybe he's waking up. It would be nice to have some more pop off the bench.

  20. Gonat - Jul 23, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    flynnie, you are joking, right? Mattingly forced Davey's hand bringing in the lefty and Flores PH for Stairs and walked.The only person who fears Matt Stairs is Mike Rizzo because he didn't have the balls to dump his sorry you-know-what 3 months ago.As said before, they are going by the law of averages that even the lucky squirrel finds a nut and hits the elusive big one.The problem is REPLACEMENT. Rizzo has lost out as this guy does nothing other than pinch hit. Doesn't run the bases, doesn't play defense, doesn't pitch. A waste of a roster spot. Think of all the other Free Agent bench players to choose from and Rizzo chose Stairs.

  21. UNTERP.NAT - Jul 23, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    Just watched the longest game in MLB history. I went to bed just after Davey relieved Lannan. Woke up and fast forwarded the game to the point when Lannan was taken out. And watched the rest of the game to 9:30AM when the game ended. That's 11:20 hours minutes. Why did the game take so long? Was there a rain delay?

  22. NatsLady - Jul 23, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    Unterp.nat –Nope, no rain delay. Just the world's slowest starting pitcher and 93 pitching changes by the Dodger's manager in the top of the 9th.

  23. nats guy - Jul 23, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    Eugene in Oregon,I live in Corvallis. Its not often that you run in to Nats fans out here. I too miss DC but not for the heat. Go Nats.

  24. FS - Jul 23, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    Fell asleep while following the game here and gameday. Woke up at 3:45 to see us win by 7-2. Good job guys and thanks Mark.

  25. baseballswami - Jul 23, 2011 at 5:10 PM

    Our starting pitchers have 24 hits this year – is that a lot or normal? Seems like a lot to me. Oh — and Sean Burnett is batting 1000. 3 Starting pitchers above Stairs, 2 just under him. That's pretty pathetic. I understand what Mark said last night in his comments – it was well put, but still extremely frustrating. One of the funnier pitcher at-bats was MPHRod being taught how to bunt in the dugout right before he had to try it in the game.( I think the game Gorzo had to come out of) He failed, but at least didn't hit in to the double play. Hopefully he has been tutored since then.

  26. Scooter - Jul 23, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    Sunderland (and a few others), Matt Stairs illustrates one of my favorite fan fallacies. Zuckerman's reply last night touched on this:Although Matt Stairs has hit .100 (or whatever), that does not mean that Matt Stairs is a .100 (or whatever) hitter. Too often, we assume that what a guy did is what he is.(Disclaimer: at his age, of course, Stairs could just be washed up. I suspect he is. The Nats apparently do not think so — as evidenced by the fact that he is still around. Fin.)

  27. Scooter - Jul 23, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    Swami, here's the best I got for you:Nats' hitting by position (you already found this)NL hitting by positionSo you can see that overall, Nats pitchers are about league average. How they compare to each individual team, I don't know. I don't know of a page that lists just that information all together.

  28. flynnie - Jul 23, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    GoNats – Not joking. Can't get worked up over Stairs. Too delirious that this team is @500 and that the Lerners budget don't have them starting Matt Chico, Mike Bascik, Jason Bergmann, Shawn Hill, Tim Redding and Jason Simontacchi like they did to open the new ballpark with 100+ loss season after season. I don't know who else Rizzo had available and whether he was given the money. The Lerners could afford to bring Adam Dunn in with present contract. I'd love that. But Stairs is who we got and I'm grateful for the one walk-off win, looking for more.

  29. Drew8 - Jul 23, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    Good to see Brad Peacock revert to form last night. He gave up one earned over 5 in Syracuse.Sammy Solis didn't fare as well for Potomac, getting knocked around and giving up 4 earned in four innings. Solis is now 3-1 with a 3.91 ERA since his promotion.Tommy Milone goes for Syracuse tonight. We haven't seen Taylor Jordan of Hagerstown for awhile. I guess the ASB and rainouts have messed up his routine.A buddy and I are headed out to the ballpark to see the nightcap of the Richmond-Harrisburg Bake Off. I hope Harper will play, but won't be surprised if they sit him after the 1:05 p.m. scorcher.If he does play, it will be a really good test. Richmond, a Giants affiliate, is throwing ace Eric Surkamp, a lefty who is 7-3 with a 2.05 ERA, 118 strikeouts and only 32 walks. A lot of teams missed on Surkamp, a 6th round pick in 2008 out of N.C. State.

  30. Gonat - Jul 23, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    flynnie, if I had to choose between Willie Harris, Justin Maxwell or Matt Stairs, I go with Willie Harris.The problem was when final cuts were made it was down to Bernadina, Ankiel, Nix, and Stairs (pick 3). How do you pick Stairs before Bernadina?One day I think we find the truth from Riggleman as the rumor was he didn't want Stairs and Rizzo made the decision.Stairs comments at times are mind boggling on how he prepares for a game and how he approaches pitchers. Not a guy I want on my team.

  31. Anonymous8 - Jul 23, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    BJ Upton back in the news. His stats vs. RH pitchers are sub-par and vs LH Starters this season he is .231/.305.Rizzo is not going to get him for next to nothing and he won't help this team any more than Bernadina. Why is this rumor still persisting?

  32. Sorta like this, gonat? - Jul 23, 2011 at 6:36 PM

    ‘PROFESSIONAL HITTER’ MATT STAIRS, 43, STICKS WITH GAMEBy Courtney Lofgren, USA TODAYWASHINGTON — With today’s technological advances, hitters can pour over material to prepare for every at-bat. Scouting reports, video and computers allow hitters to prepare for all pitchers they could see.So how does the man known as “the professional hitter” prepare?“(It’s) very easy, I don’t do nothing,” Matt Stairs says, a smile creeping across his face. “I take batting practice. I don’t watch video. I try not to watch my swing, because the majority of the time I’m getting out. I just try to stay happy.”

  33. Unkyd - Jul 23, 2011 at 7:13 PM

    (slaps own forehead…) WOW… I just realized… Life is WAY too short for me to pay any more attention to pointless pissing over Matt Stairs! Mark stated the obvious, last night, as to why nobody has "the cojones" (puhleese!) to hold someone's feet to the fire over Stairs' presence: any reporter wishing to have further questions treated with respect, would do well to avoid seeming to insist on management throwing current players under the bus. No dugout or FO personell is gonna give you anything other than vague platitudes and cliches, concerning unproductive players. Venting here is one thing, denigrating Mark, and his colleagues, for not risking their livelihood on questions they know won't be answered, is just silly.Stairs is who he is… I don't like it either, but I'll be the one with my hands over my ears, going "LALALALA…!!!", during any future capitalized rants….Don't let that stop you, though…. It's a free country ;-)

  34. Unkyd - Jul 23, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    That was, basically a cumulative rant, rather than aimed at any specific recent post…. The ones preceding it were actually mild, and rather amusing…. Never can oredict when a gasket will blow…..Hot as Heck, ain't it…?

  35. Drew8 - Jul 23, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    Harper goes 0 for 3 in the early game at Richmond. In his first 15 games with Harrisburg, he's 10 for 49, .204, with 0 extra base hits.Davey and F.P. are right about Harper getting challenged in double A. This is from a Harper-comes-to-town report by John O'Connor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch:"He fits in the clubhouse. He's going about his business and handling himself real well," said Harrisburg outfielder Chris Rahl, 27 and a former William and Mary standout. "He's kept a level head about everything."At Class A Hagerstown, where Harper began his professional career this season, he batted .318 with 14 homers, 46 RBIs and 19 stolen bases in 72 games. The Nationals bumped him up to Harrisburg on July 4, and Harper immediately recognized the difference in pitching."It's not like you see one guy that's good, one guy that's OK, one guy that's good, one guy that's mediocre," Harper said. "You're seeing guys all day that are coming out of the pen that are throwing 95, 94 (mph), and spotting up."It's the biggest jump in baseball, Class A to Double-A. Richmond hitting coach Ken Joyce says most Double-A pitchers have two or three "secondary pitches" they throw for strikes, and regularly change speeds. Not so in Class A, where the fastball is king."In Double-A, just because it's a fastball count doesn't mean you're going to see a fastball," Rahl said. "That's the biggest adjustment."But he's definitely got all of the baseball tools, for sure. He's got a ton of power and a really good arm. It's just a matter of him making the adjustments he's got to make, which he'll do."

  36. Mark'd - Jul 23, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    If I were a Phillies fan I would laugh about that Matt Stairs article except I'm a Nats fan so I am crying though I am glad that Matt "try to stay happy" on his $900,000 salary while we watch in misery.

  37. m20832 - Jul 23, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    Get 'em tonight Boys!! Watched the whole game last night and just woke up! :-) JerHar has been hitting the cover off that ball, hasn't he! So many positives from that game! C'mon, it's got to be infectious and carry over to tonight's game!GYFNG!!!

  38. sjm308 - Jul 23, 2011 at 8:24 PM

    I have to agree that there really is no more need to bash Matt Stairs. I am in the camp of letting him go but Mark made excellent points and I respect both he and the FO a lot more than the fandom that inhabits planet NI. That is not to say I don't respect the comments here, its just that the point has been made, remade and made again. Unlike Mark'd, I don't watch Stairs in misery because this is the best team we have fielded since we got here. Stairs is the 25th man on the roster. He has won one game for us. How many games does the 25th man win in a season? We are at 100 games and we have won 49. Last year we won a total of 69. This is so much more fun. Rather than worry about who is not doing well I will chose to look at who is doing well.Will have the best of both worlds today. Emmy Lou Harris at Wolf Trap followed by Charlie and Dave on the radio as I battle the wonderful roads of Virginia back into Maryland. Should be home in time to hit the dvr and watch the beginning of another great win.Go Nats!!

  39. BinM - Jul 23, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    Somebody has to have called Mr.Z. on this already, but at the risk of being redundant, "the ball won't be carrying very well…". Oh, really? I saw 6RBI's worth of balls that won't carry last night; Hah! I kid because it's fun – Keep up the good work, Mark.

  40. flynnie - Jul 23, 2011 at 8:42 PM

    Drew8 – I really do enjoy the Bryce Harper updates. I'm pulling for him, especially after reading Sheinen's Sunday Magazine feature on him. But . . .he wasn't bored at Hagerstown – he was in a slump which has continued. I don't see him prowling the outfield of NatsPark anytime soon.On the Nats, Espi seems to be struggling of late.

  41. embittered former proofreaders - Jul 23, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    So how does the writer known as Courtney Lofgren prepare an article? "It's very easy, I don't do nothing. I don't use dictionaries or waste time pouring over the copy because the spellchecker will catch everything. I just try to stay happy."

  42. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jul 23, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    Aww, cut her some slack, efp. She poured a hole pot of coffee to right that.




As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

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