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Game 144: Astros at Nats

Sep 11, 2011, 3:10 PM EDT

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg makes his second start of the season today at Nationals Park.

It's Sept. 11 in the nation's capital, and while this date surely brings back awful memories from 10 years ago, I believe it also brings back some incredibly inspiring memories of watching baseball in the days and weeks following the tragedy. Baseball helped bring Americans back together in a way I'm not sure any other sport (or maybe any other social institution) could have done.

So while today is a national day of remembrance for those who lost their lives 10 years ago, it's also a day to bring us all together, and I can't think of a better forum for that than a ballgame in Washington, D.C.

Stephen Strasburg, of course, will be on the mound for the Nationals, taking the ball for his second start back from Tommy John surgery. After cruising through his five-inning return on Tuesday, the right-hander could be allowed to go a bit deeper this afternoon. Davey Johnson said he'll play it by ear but certainly sounded comfortable with the idea of Strasburg going six innings as long as his pitch count doesn't get too high.

Plenty of updates to come…

ASTROS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
TV: MASN, Ch. 50
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees, Wind 5 mph in from RF

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS (66-77)
SS Ian Desmond
CF Rick Ankiel
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse

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  1. lesatcsc - Sep 11, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    Although I like Werth/Espinosa in the 5/6 holes better than Gomes/Espinosa, it is still a combination likely to result in 4-6 strikeouts. That's a lot of key ABs where the ball will not be put in play. The Nats really need to find a bat for one of these spots in the order that hits with some authority and doesn't strikeout 140+ times.Here's hoping Stras' rehab continues to progress! Go Nats go!

  2. Anonymous - Sep 11, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    Espinosa needs to take a seat on the bench and sit there for a week or so. Otherwise, he's going to fall below the Mendoza Line by the end of the season.

  3. Anonymous - Sep 11, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    I don't see how danny is going to improve his hitting by watching from the bench. The more ML pitchers he sees, the better

  4. Mark'd - Sep 11, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    Anon, a mental rest may be what Espi needs

  5. Mark'd - Sep 11, 2011 at 4:55 PM

    At least flip flop Marrero and Espinosa . Your highest OBP batters are Morse, Zim and Werth. Need someone to drive them in.

  6. LoveDaNats - Sep 11, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    Come on, Nats! We need a win! Don't let me say I attended the last Nats win last Friday night. I know you're tired, physically and mentally, but reach down and find that spark that you and I both know is there!GYFNG!

  7. Doc - Sep 11, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    It's time for Espi to take seat. He will come back successfully again, and again next year. But right now he's playing tired. Nothing to be gained from pushing something that can't be pushed any more.He's just not making contact with the ball.

  8. Mark'd - Sep 11, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    Nice 7 pitch inning by that hack Does. Unreal.

  9. Anonymous8 - Sep 11, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    Mark'd, you must have auto-correct on. I think the Hack you refer to is SOSA not DOES but then again maybe you do mean DOES.Werth with a crazy bloop over the pitchers head for a single. That is nice!Espinosa needed to start BTW, LOL

  10. baseballswami - Sep 11, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    So – another strike- out festival for the Nats today? (And I don't mean that in a good way.) Earth to Nats – we are playing the ASTROS!

  11. baseballswami - Sep 11, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    Ha! I no sooner posted my highly negative comments and they hit the ball. Better start planning some really ugly comments if it's going to create some hitterish-ness!

  12. Anonymous - Sep 11, 2011 at 6:21 PM

    Danny nice 2b i rest my case.

  13. gonatsgo - Sep 11, 2011 at 6:26 PM

    Marrero might not have the best defensive tools that I have ever seen, not bad mind you – but the kid appears to be a very smart hitter. He seems to have learned a good approach coming up from somewhere. I hope he doesn't lose it now that he is here.

  14. Anonymous - Sep 11, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    Desi!!!!!!

  15. baseballswami - Sep 11, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    Back to Back Jacks!!!!!

  16. LoveDaNats - Sep 11, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    I don't believe what I just saw!

  17. baseballswami - Sep 11, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    I do not believe what I just saw!!

  18. waddu eye no - Sep 11, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    threefer!

  19. LoveDaNats - Sep 11, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    @baseballswamiGreat minds think alike!

  20. David Moore - Sep 11, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    Marrero is a big leaguer. Proving it this fall.

  21. waddu eye no - Sep 11, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    the third inning giveth, the the third inning taketh away. but too bad ss is leaving.

  22. Anonymous - Sep 11, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    2b by danny inches from a homer. U were saying?

  23. baseballswami - Sep 11, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    Anon 2b – 2 hard hit by Danny. Marrero showing some power how. The big boys hearing footsteps behind them yet?

  24. gonatsgo - Sep 11, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    I really like the way Marrero takes pitches and uses his head at the plate.

  25. Gonat - Sep 11, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    David Moore said… Marrero is a big leaguer. Proving it this fall. September 11, 2011 2:38 PM _________________________________There have been some good discussions on him. Interestingly the teams have tried to make adjustments for him with more breaking pitches and change of speeds and coming inside and he has made good adjustments so far. Still need to see more and so far so good as he has had 3 good games in a row with nice RBIsGorzo with a nice 3 inning appearance.

  26. A DC Wonk - Sep 11, 2011 at 7:34 PM

    Blast from the recent past:Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said… I hate to judge this guy after just three innings, but Chris Marrero seems to be a guy who was born to be a Nat. Just what we need: another free-swinging, big strikeout guy who commits two errors in three innings. Haven't we done the Adam Dunn thing before? What, exactly, does this guy bring to the party? I'm listening…Among other things — we should learn to not judge so quickly.Marrero's been smart at the plate for pretty much all of his games so far (he seems to almost always been able to "go the other way" when there's a guy on second) — and, note, he's the youngest Nat up there (still not 23).As I posted last week: I really like his quiet consistency (reached base 13 games out of 14 that he's played) — although, if he keeps hitting like that, it won't be so quiet anymore.

  27. baseballswami - Sep 11, 2011 at 8:37 PM

    Nice non-stressful win. Hope Ramos is ok – that could have been a disaster.

  28. Mark'd - Sep 11, 2011 at 8:52 PM

    I think most comments on Marrero are cautiously optimistic. Not sure if he has Freddie Freeman star quality or how he will fit in next year. I like the idea of Marrero being platooned with LaRoche and learning in the Majors.

  29. Anonymous - Sep 11, 2011 at 10:05 PM

    I didn't watch Strasburg (got home late). Sounds like he struggled big-time and didn't feel good physically. Is there any follow up to this? How is he? Sounded like Davey wanted to be extra-careful with him today.Gorzo's outing was lights out. Sometimes he is just overpowering.I'm still not a believer in Marrero. No punch AT ALL, and not a good fielder.Morse has not looked good back in left field. He is a liabiliy out there… MUCH better fielder at first base. He'll be 30 soon and I'll bet he is traded during the winter, although I'd really like to keep him. He flat-out can hit.

  30. NatsLady - Sep 11, 2011 at 10:35 PM

    Pictures of the Nats as Smurfs are on Twitter. Really fun. (I know, not baseball.)

  31. baseballswami - Sep 11, 2011 at 11:33 PM

    Anon6:05 – I don't know which Marrero you are watching but the one I was watching had plenty of pop today when he crushed one to the outfield and sac flied on another one. Also – he is a very smart hitter with a mature approach. One of the most consistent performances I have seen by a call up.Not a brilliant defender yet, but a real ball player.

  32. Drew8 - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:45 AM

    Update on two swingin' 37-year-olds:Johnny Damon has passed Doc Cramer for 62nd place at 2,706 hits. With his next 50 hits he'll pass about 10 more fine hitters and a few greats — including Lou Gehrig.Derek Jeter, who is hitting .297, is now in serious company. He's 20th on the all-time list with 3,071 hits.Jeter has two more years on his contract and an additional player option for the year he turns 40.That means Jeter will pass some of the very tallest trees in the forest.Of course, decline accelerates as a clean player approaches 40, but with 443 more hits Jeter would reach Tris Speaker, who ranks 5th all time with 3,514 hits.I'm not a Yankees fan, but the numbers put the lie to the canard that Jeter is merely a good player hyped by NY media. He has great career value, as well as great peak value in October.

  33. sjm308 - Sep 12, 2011 at 4:12 AM

    I am confused. Where are the rants with capital letters? Where are the snide negative comments with no solutions just hate from the anons?It wasn't a great game but we now have 67 win. Just 8 more and I will consider it a good (not great) season with improvement from 59 wins to 75 in two years.I am thinking we need to keep Marrero up next year and he certainly can learn more playing at this level two or three times a week and working with LaRoche then going back to Syracuse. Not sure he is the answer but he certainly has had a nice start. I am too lazy to go to the minor league numbers but how many HR's did he have this year. That is the only thing I have not seen yet. Also feeling for Lombardozzi although I was not sure he was the answer. I along with a couple others have been supporting Desmond and while he is not an All-Star, he has shown improvement for two straight years and he has also had a nice couple of weeks back at lead-off. Did not like him swinging at the first pitch of the game today but he kinda made up for that later. In my plans for next year I keep Lombardozzi & dump Cora and Keep Marrera and let Gomes go. There certainly will be lots of moves and decisions as we continue to get closer to a playoff caliber team.8 more wins guys – Please!!!!

  34. Drew8 - Sep 12, 2011 at 5:16 AM

    SJM — I agree with you that eight more wins would put a positive gloss on the season. That will be tough, though, with the beasts of the East the rest of the way.Chris Marrero hit 14 homers at Syracuse this year. The year before he hit 18 at Harrisburg. His career high is 23 in 2007, a year he split between Hagerstown and Potomac.As for Desmond, I don't see how you can conclude that "he' has shown improvement for two straight years."2010 avg. .269; 2011 avg. 2442010 OBP .308; 2011 OBP .2902010 slugging .392; 2011 .3542010 OPS .700; 2011 .643If you want to consider his errors, OK, he's down from 34 in 2010 to 22 in 2011. Now he's only second to last among National League shortstops. Ian Desmond hardly ever walks, which means he rarely gets on base. His career on base percentage is .289! That is worse than Rob Deer or Dave Kingman.Ian Desmond is a nice kid — but an atrocious choice as a leadoff hitter.A leadoff hitter's job is to get on base. Chris Marrero would be a better choice than Ian.

  35. sjm308 - Sep 12, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    Drew8 – thanks for the stats and I should have been more clear on Desmond, I was clearly just talking about errors but I did not realize he was still so low in the NL. My eyes tell me he has great range but you can't argue with the numbers either. I guess I am just stubborn about him and I can't explain why. I do like his leadership or what I hear about that in others writing. Hard to argue with what you have presented, I am guessing they have to try Danny at SS and Lombardozzi at 2nd at sometime in these last few weeks. It still will be a small sample so I guess spring training will be where a final decision is made (unless someone is traded). Didn't we get a SS for Marquis this season? and how did he end up?8 more wins!!!

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 73 53 --
ATLANTA 67 61 7.0
MIAMI 63 63 10.0
NEW YORK 60 68 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 56 71 17.5
Through Thursday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
FRI: Giants at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Giants at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Giants at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
THU: OFF
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.

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