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Game 23: Diamondbacks at Nats

May 1, 2012, 7:31 PM EDT

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Bryce Harper makes his debut at Nationals Park this evening.

The scene at Nationals Park tonight won't rival Stephen Strasburg's debut on June 8, 2010. In all likelihood, nothing ever will. But the scene for Bryce Harper's first home game — especially the crowd reaction to his first plate appearance — should be something special nonetheless.

This is only the third time Harper has ever been to Washington. He came here after signing in Aug. 2010. He came here for the team's FanFest in March 2011. Now he's here for a bit longer, maybe for the long-term. "It's awesome," he said of his first impressions of D.C. "I don't think you could play in a better city. Everything happens here every single day. It's just going to be a great place to play."

There is, of course, an important game to be played tonight. The Nationals are mired in their first four-game losing streak of the season, and they're about to open a tough homestand against the Diamondbacks and Phillies. They can only hope their bats show up tonight against Arizona right-hander Trevor Cahill, and that Jordan Zimmermann is rewarded with some run support.

Plenty of updates to come, so please check back…

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Partly cloudy, 81 degrees, Wind 8 mph out to RF

NATIONALS (14-8)
SS Ian Desmond
3B Steve Lombardozzi
CF Rick Ankiel
1B Adam LaRoche

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  1. natsfan1a - May 1, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    Let's go, bats, er, NATS!! :-)

  2. MicheleS - May 1, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    you know it is a good day when the only thing you are worried about is what to wear to the Park!Go Bryce! Go Tyler! Go Jordan! Go Bats!GYFNG

  3. Tcostant - May 1, 2012 at 7:40 PM

    Let move Harper up to 6th in the batting order.

  4. Frediemac - May 1, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Go Bryce get those D Backs

  5. Section 222 - May 1, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    Darn, I was hoping to see the lineup in this post. Eager to see what Davey decides on Ankiel vs. Moore against a tough RHP. So this is from Kilgore's post earlier today:"Harper was driving by the Mall, spotted the game and asked to jump out and play." Anyone seen a definitive story on whether this was actually spontaneous? And if so, maybe one of the intrepid beat reporters can ask Davey/Rizzo/Boras how they feel about that….

  6. Exposremains - May 1, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    ankiel batting 3rd, really? he's the big run producer. I don't get these lineups.

  7. LoveDaNats - May 1, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    Just now bought a ticket on a whim and am heading to the park. Beautiful night and I can't miss it. Wearing my Harper shirt!!!! Any one in sec 123? Hubby is out of town and I'm going stag!

  8. Tcostant - May 1, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    To bad I have to pick up the kids tonight or I might have meet you in 123.

  9. Another_Sam - May 1, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    Tcostant – I'm with you on Harper hitting 6th. That was my thought as I scanned the lineup.

  10. Marty - May 1, 2012 at 8:09 PM

    I like the lineup order for this evening. At least it moves things around a bit.

  11. Section 222 - May 1, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    Glad to see Werth back in the lineup. If ankiel goes 0-fer and Moore gets a hit tomorrow night, I wonder who starts Thursday.

  12. peric - May 1, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. peric - May 1, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    OR … righty, lefty, lefty, lefty, righty, lefty, lefty, righty, righty (Zimmermann can hit).

  14. Section 222 - May 1, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    I think this lineup (if we go by what Davey has said) is Morse's position in the lineup.Huh? You think Morse will hit 3rd when he returns? And where does Zim hit?

  15. A DC Wonk - May 1, 2012 at 8:32 PM

    From Kigore:"Ryan Zimmerman went on to shallow right field to play catch with trainer Lee Kuntz, his first baseball activity since landing on the disabled list with an inflamed joint in his right shoulder."

  16. Mickey Vernon - May 1, 2012 at 8:32 PM

    I say let the Kid bat 3rd.

  17. Theophilus T. S. - May 1, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    Missed my guess on Moore. Cahill seems like a guy who ought to be hittable. Not as good as his A's nos. suggest, because of the freaky ballpark.Then, of course, our guys can't hit their way out of a paper bag. If they lose this one, it definitely falls under the heading, "Missed Opportunity."

  18. Les_in_NC - May 1, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    I agree with you Mickey.

  19. MicheleS - May 1, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    LoveDaStag as well! In section 130 wearing my Werth jersey

  20. Steady Eddie - May 1, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    Hmmm, Jeff Nelson as HP ump. Didn't he tend to have a rather, ummm, varied strike zone in one of the Nats' games earlier this year? Or am I confusing him with one of the other devotees of creative umpiring we've seen lately?

  21. peric - May 1, 2012 at 8:58 PM

    Huh? You think Morse will hit 3rd when he returns? And where does Zim hit?Good catch. Morse looks like he is going to bat behind LaRoche at this point pushing Werth down … but we'll see when Morse gets back …

  22. peric - May 1, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    I think this lineup (if we go by what Davey has said) is Zim's position in the lineup. Ankiel is in for Zimmerman offensively. That changes when Zimmerman comes back and Bryce likely moves to CF at that point.

  23. SonnyG10 - May 1, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    Let's get a new winning streak started tonight!GYFNG!!!

  24. Unknown - May 1, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    Bad subway problems this weekend for fans planning on using Metro to get to the ballpark. This not only impacts the Nats but the Caps too. Nats and Caps play at approximately the same time on Saturday. I believe a segment of the Green Line is shutting down this weekend and delays are projected for the yellow and red lines due to repair work.

  25. Unknown - May 1, 2012 at 9:16 PM

    Espinosa should bat ninth!

  26. baseballswami - May 1, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    I don't care who hits in whatever order – they are major league baseball players and every opposing pitcher should not look like cy young. HIT HIT HIT HIT HIT HIT HIT HIT HIT!!! GYFNG!!!!

  27. peric - May 1, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    Looks like Boz agrees … let's just drop the "We have to something today!" silliness and continue to develop the young hitters now the pitching is settled for the most part … IMO Ankiel steals at bats from younger hitters. As does Werth … his advanced stats are actually worse than last year's right now but of course everyone uses batting average a stat that was invented before the veritable science was invented. So, of course its flawed!Boz said:DON'T DO A DAMN THING.Patience, patience. Everything that MATTERS __multi-year__ is going great or at least OK. The problems are temporary, a matter of a couple of months at most w Storen and Morse.People, this team's ceiling is VERY high and they know it. Doesn't mean they get there. Two or three awful injuries, career collapses to the wrong players and that changes. But, for now, you have to keep lookoing for answers to long-term issues. Can Tyler Moore be a surprise semi-late bloomer? With Morse out, maybe he gets enough ABs, for awhile, to give good data. You NEVER klnow about hitters until you see MLB pitchers work them over.Get used to 3-2. And even 1-0. The Giants won the World Series in '10 with a season full of them. You have to learn how to play those type games.But, in time, you hope some 7-2 wins get thrown in. YES people get with the program its all about player development not trading for decrepit bats.

  28. sm13 - May 1, 2012 at 9:53 PM

    I noticed a reference to last year's fanfest. Gee, I remember those….

  29. Tim White - May 1, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    Harper (and Strasburg!) put on a good show in BP. Happy to be here.

  30. JD - May 1, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    Peric, I agree almost 100%. Unfortunately it's hard to bench a player you signed a year ago (foolishly) for $125 mil. but playing Ankiel over Morse makes no sense to me. Coincidentally; in an earlier post you classified Desmond and Espinosa as still being in a developmental stage which isn't unreasonable except you would expect to see some progress (especially with Desmond who has been a pro for 7 or 8 years) in his basic approach to hitting. At what point do you say: 'they are who we thought they were'?

  31. JD - May 1, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    I meant playing Ankiel over Moore.

  32. Section 222 - May 1, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    Morse looks like he is going to bat behind LaRoche at this point pushing Werth down … but we'll see when Morse gets back …You're right, we'll see. My guess is that Morse gets his old cleanup spot back and LaRoche pushes Werth down in the lineup, which is a good thing. Or maybe Davey gives up the idea of Espi hitting second and Werth goes there, with Espi batting 7th, behind Harper. But then again, Davey could go Zim, LaRoche, Morse, Harper. If LaRoche is still hitting and Harper is doing well, that's a pretty imposing R, L, R, L combo in the middle of the order.

  33. Candide - May 1, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    Got here too late for Nats BP. Waiting for nephew to show up – he owes me lots of beer.

  34. MicheleS - May 1, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    Got my Gio shirt! Has anyone heard when the main team store is going to open?

  35. LoveDaNats - May 1, 2012 at 11:06 PM

    Just wandered over to sec 130 and had the pleasure of meeting MicheleS. It's nice to put a face to a name. Ok, Bryce. Do something amazing tonight .

  36. NatsJack in Florida - May 1, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    Wonder if Ramos gets thrown at for last years slow trot on that homerun in Arizona last year?

  37. Will - May 1, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    Heads up to everyone from out of town, the game is free to watch for non-subscribers on MLB.tv

  38. Eugene in Oregon - May 1, 2012 at 11:30 PM

    NatsJack,I think everyone in the DC area must be at the game.

  39. FS=Faraz Shaikh - May 1, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    I think it had more to do with the fact that Kubel was the runner.

  40. mick - May 1, 2012 at 11:38 PM

    oh well, Bryce is one of the boys now, lol

  41. LoveDaNats - May 1, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    Wandered over to sec 130 and had the pleasure of meeting MicheleS. It's nice to put a face to a name. Ok, Bryce. Do something amazing tonight.

  42. Theophilus T. S. - May 1, 2012 at 11:43 PM

    Actually, Eugene, it's a really crummy crowd.

  43. mick - May 1, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    nice catch big boy

  44. Eugene in Oregon - May 1, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    Theo – Yeah, I see that now.Anyone – I keep hearing that Mr. Zimmermann was chosen with one of the two picks we got for Mr. Soriano. Who did the Nats get with the other?

  45. FS=Faraz Shaikh - May 1, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    josh smoker

  46. TimDz - May 2, 2012 at 12:10 AM

    I think the folks that manufacture Viagra are missing a great marketing opportunity here…They could sponsor the Nats offense …

  47. Eugene in Oregon - May 2, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    FS – Thanks.Thought the fourth inning 'rally caps' from the bullpen was a pointed, telling statement.

  48. NatsJack in Florida - May 2, 2012 at 12:17 AM

    I tweeted just before the game that it was 61 years ago today that Mickey Mantle hit his firsy home run.

  49. Natman - May 2, 2012 at 12:18 AM

    Thanks to Will for the heads up. Nice to be able to watch the game in Toronto.

  50. nwells2 - May 2, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    I know Davey Johnson doesn't like to bunt, but if you're down by two runs in the bottom of the sixth with runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs, you bunt them over even if it is the three hole hitter (rick ankiel)

  51. Natman - May 2, 2012 at 12:47 AM

    No small ball for Davey.

  52. Drew - May 2, 2012 at 12:47 AM

    This offense is pathetic.Let Tyler Moore hit third till Zim returns. He couldn't do any worse.

  53. nwells2 - May 2, 2012 at 12:49 AM

    Let Tyler Moore hit third and play third with Lombo at second. I've absolutely had enough of danny espinosa's PATHETIC at bats.

  54. blovy8 - May 2, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    a three run lead qualifies as a blow out against this lineup

  55. Will - May 2, 2012 at 12:57 AM

    Been looking forward to coming to DC for Sunday's game all year. This game makes me want to sell the tickets.

  56. Joe Seamhead - May 2, 2012 at 12:58 AM

    Damn the ump.he was out. Great throw Kid!

  57. sm13 - May 2, 2012 at 12:59 AM

    The umpires are gonna owe us a lot of calls in August and September. Great throw by Bryce, nice play by Wilson, just bad umpiring.

  58. mick - May 2, 2012 at 1:01 AM

    I guess its better to have a team meltdown in May than it is in July. I won;t get nasty, but let me just ask this… are you all OK with what your seeing? Other than Harper who is fun to watch, this is depressing and the lack of effort hitting is beyond frustrating. I don't get why LaRouche has swung so weakly at the first pitch his last 2 times up? Eckstein has to go, if anything for PR purposes. His employment with the Nats has no logic to it at all

  59. mick - May 2, 2012 at 1:02 AM

    actually, tie goes to ten runner and I thought it was a tie

  60. mick - May 2, 2012 at 1:02 AM

    the runner

  61. Eugene in Oregon - May 2, 2012 at 1:03 AM

    Carpenter: "And what a night [INSERT OPPOSING PITCHER'S NAME} is having, shutting down the Nats…"

  62. mick - May 2, 2012 at 1:03 AM

    btw, game is over at 4-0

  63. MicheleS - May 2, 2012 at 1:04 AM

    The crowd is desperate to cheer ANYTHING! They aren't even making Cahill work. Sigh. No offense

  64. Section 3, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 2, 2012 at 1:04 AM

    There is no such thing as a tie.

  65. peric - May 2, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    Let Tyler Moore hit third till Zim returns. He couldn't do any worse.Nine year olds have invaded the blog … Tyler Moore at third base? Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha that's rich. Damned fool of a nine year old!

  66. mick - May 2, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    Eugene in OR, that is exactly what all these defenders of this lack of hitting keeps posting in here. I guess EVERY team we play has 3 CY winners. Based on that, this must mean our pitching staff is not as good, lol

  67. mick - May 2, 2012 at 1:06 AM

    Sect 3, a tie is in the eye of the umpire, lol

  68. Scott from Burke - May 2, 2012 at 1:08 AM

    beast mode? panic mode

  69. jeeves - May 2, 2012 at 1:09 AM

    It is really ridiculous to believe that the pathetic offense will not affect the starting pitching. When the starters go out there game after game knowing they can't give up more than a run, the pressure has to mount.

  70. peric - May 2, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    (especially with Desmond who has been a pro for 7 or 8 years) in his basic approach to hitting. At what point do you say: 'they are who we thought they were'?Both players are extremely athletic especially Espinosa. How many times di did they trot out JMax the CF of the future? In this case instead of the YoYo philosophy of Bowden between the majors and any part of the minors you have a real plan doing real player development. The rule of thumb is about 1000 at bats for these athletes. You let 'em play until they play themselves out of the job (that hasn't happened yet. [ITS barely May?!!! THE NATS ARE developing new prospects!!! ] Or someone (see Rendon, Anthony) totally beats them out of the job. And Werth has to be considered a potential bench player if he doesn't improve his bRAA which is not on par with what he was doing at the end of last year. Right now he looks like a Nady not an 18 million Werth.

  71. mick - May 2, 2012 at 1:12 AM

    overall, I did say a montha go that if you are 500 on road and play 600 at home that will get you in post season. The Nats were 3-4 on the road trip, not quite 500. Hopefully, they get this ugly game over and 2 out of 3 against AZ

  72. Exposremains - May 2, 2012 at 1:13 AM

    i was afraid that when they start playing good teams their weaknesses would show. Its difficult to watch. Harper is the only thing interesting.

  73. NatsNut - May 2, 2012 at 1:14 AM

    Mick: LaRoche's name doesn't have a "U". You talk about him alot so I thought I'd mention it.

  74. Will - May 2, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    I said when HRod blew the save in LA we were in for a ten game losing streak. Now I wonder if that was charitable.

  75. blovy8 - May 2, 2012 at 1:20 AM

    I'd almost forgotten what the Nats scoring a run looked like…

  76. Exposremains - May 2, 2012 at 1:27 AM

    I'm really excited that I could see Ankiel bat 4 times and I might get to only see Harper 3 times

  77. D'Gourds - May 2, 2012 at 1:30 AM

    I am so sick of hearing what a great game the other team's pitcher is having. It's getting to the point that the Nats are so bad offensively that even mediocre pitchers look like Cy Young. Espinosa has been just awful. My goodness, everybody but LaRoache has been awful. It's just so painful and frustrsating to watch. What a waste of great pitching. Even the Mets of the early 70's scored enough to get their pitchers enough to win. This is getting ridiculous. Okay, that's my rant. Sorry.

  78. LoveDaNats - May 2, 2012 at 1:37 AM

    What's wrong with my Nats? :(

  79. Eugene in Oregon - May 2, 2012 at 1:41 AM

    Going into the season, we all knew — or should have known — that the Nats would be a low-scoring team. And that was even assuming that Mr. Morse and Mr. Zimmerman would be playing every day. At the beginning of the season, the hitters seemed to have a good, smart approach, taking a lot of pitches, running up the opposing starters' pitch counts, and not really forcing it (even when they weren't scoring much). But the hitters seem to be pressing now and have abandoned their early season approach. And, as someone above noted, the pitchers have got to be frustrated (hence the 'rally caps' in the bullpen early in the game).All of that said, this isn't supposed to be a year to challenge for the division title. I'd love to see the Nats playing meaningful games in September — perhaps contending for the second wild card spot — but mainly this is about the continued player development that peric notes. But it is a shame to waste some of these superb pitching performances.

  80. baseballswami - May 2, 2012 at 1:41 AM

    I don't usually rag on Eckstein, but there he stands with his notebook – how about some practical advise for , I don't know – maybe how to actually get the bat on the ball? His " approach" just seems very academic when they may need practical. But then I would blame my own grandmother at this point for the Nats hitting woes. Five game losing streak. – Now I appreciate those wins in the bank even more because they keep us afloat for a good while. I hate to see us continually chipping away though.Sinking, sinking…..Oh, Nats – I hope you get a hot streak really soon. How is Zim feeling? Morse?

  81. Fear and Ignorance - May 2, 2012 at 1:50 AM

    Is it football season yet? Thanks Rizzo for adding to what was already an anemic offense last year. This is not a slump, folks…this is a horrible, horrible offensive team. The worst in the major leagues. Even Ray Knight, who is always positive, doesn't see this turning around. Anybody interested in buying my season tickets???

  82. mick - May 2, 2012 at 1:52 AM

    Just from a PR standpoint Eckstein should go. How can Davey be happy with him? If Nats lose tomorrow it is panic time. If they win 2 or 3 against AZ heading into the weekend series with Philly, all is well. If not, then this thing could spiral down hill quickly

  83. mick - May 2, 2012 at 1:53 AM

    This was not a fun game to watch and i question the passion of each hitter with the exception of Harper and Lombo

  84. mick - May 2, 2012 at 1:57 AM

    Fear and Ignor…. A fair evaluation will be after Zim and Morse come back HEALTHY. If this is happening after they return, then it is clear there are major problems that are fixable in 2013, unfortunately not in 2012

  85. baseballswami - May 2, 2012 at 2:01 AM

    I just cannot wrap my head around the fact that if Atlanta loses we could still be in first place in the NL East tonight. That is just insane. That first few weeks of the season was so much fun – this is not. Maybe they have hit bottom? We did score a run tonight – oh, forget it.

  86. mick - May 2, 2012 at 2:04 AM

    hey gang Detroit entered tonight 11-11. Tigers picked to win it all, talk about disappointing

  87. UnkyD - May 2, 2012 at 2:06 AM

    Well…… I just wish I knew enough to offer an opinion on this teams batting… Too many folks having too much trouble getting on base. I got nothing…

  88. mick - May 2, 2012 at 2:08 AM

    well, I'm out, time to grab a few more cold ones, watch Daily Show and then hit the rack! night all

  89. baseballswami - May 2, 2012 at 2:37 AM

    Mick – you have a point about the Tigers. Teams that are supposed to be power houses with worse starts than ours and lots of teams with offensive woes plus dl issues. Longoria down today for 6 – 8 wks. Hopefully it's just a bad week and we pick it up tomorrow. Not unrealistic about the missing hitters, just hopeful.

  90. Manassas Nats' Fan - May 2, 2012 at 2:42 AM

    Lets see another game without hitting. 5 in a row. We scatter some hits, but there is little energy it seems to me in the box, ecept a few, and now laRoche is cooling off, so it is not getting better.Pitchers just aren't good enough to overcome the pathetic hitting.Eck might not be the problem, nut I am all for cleaning house, I know if the people who worked for me were allowed to do such a poor job I would get canned.

  91. Unknown - May 2, 2012 at 2:55 AM

    14-9 still best record since team came to DC after 23 games. '05 team was .500 till the white hot June. They need to stay in the hunt – don't think they'll lead with 6 guys on DL – until the big boys — Storen, Zim, Morse get back.And, Cards DFA's Komatsu, so, we may have our CF in case BH sent back to AAA!

  92. Section 3, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 2, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    OK, I'll have to go back to my "Soul Possession" handle. They are 0-5 without it.

  93. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - May 2, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    If this doesn't work, I'll go to the Rally Possum.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 73 54 --
ATLANTA 68 61 6.0
MIAMI 64 63 9.0
NEW YORK 60 69 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 57 71 17.5
Through Friday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
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
FRI: Nats at Mariners, 10:10 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.

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