May 2010

On the Road with the NatMobile


2010 Little League Pictures 030 c.jpgThe NatMobile has been on the move in 2010. It has been all over the DC metro area from Ashburn, Va., to Bethesda, Md., and of course Washington, DC. It has even made a few trips to Richmond. Along the way, we have been fortunate to meet so many fans and interact with them face to face about our team.

The NatMobile has been part of many events such as little league baseball festivals. The kids get so excited when they see the NatMobile. We open up the vehicle for them and they stream inside to check out highlights on the flat screen and listen to music. They love the giveaways we have like license plate holders and Nationals T-shirts. We see how their eyes open up in a daze as they day dream of themselves one day being able to play as professional baseball players. Their smiles stretch from cheek to cheek as they receive a Nationals Inside Pitch magazine, which has baseball cards inside. We hope that we are instilling a future fan base with the little ones. In 10 years, these same kids will be true diehard Nats Fans, as they were able to get the excitement of NatsTown through the NatMobile.


Shamrock Fest 2010 009 c.jpgThe NatMobile was a huge hit during St. Patrick’s Day festivities in March. We were able to entertain more than 100,000 in attendance at Shamrock Fest at RFK Stadium. Our giveaways for that day were green Curly ‘W’ hats, which promoted the St. Patrick’s Day feeling. The hat was in high demand as the truck got swamped by the audience. The audience kept pouring in and signing up to become Nats Insiders and to receive the green hat. Before we knew it, it seemed like everyone in the audience was wearing a green Curly ‘W’ hat. It got so crowded in the truck that we needed security to help escort fans away from it in order to let more in. The NatMobile had a perfect spot right in front of the main stage where Train and The Roots performed. A day later, the NatMobile participated in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Washington, DC. The parade route was on Constitution Ave and we went by a couple of museums and the Washington Monument. We were accompanied by a couple of the Racing Presidents as well as Screech. We passed out the green Curly ‘W’ hats to the waving fans. Just like Shamrock Fest, everyone in the crowd seemed to be wearing the green Curly ‘W’ hat by the end of the day. We heard the cheers and saw the joy as we went through the parade as a float.


St. Patricks Day Festival 2010-DC 019 c.jpgThe NatMobile has been to marathons and triathlons. In Washington, DC the NatMobile went to the Finish Line Marathon Festival at RFK Stadium. Bright and early at 5 a.m., the NatMobile was set up, playing music, running highlights and greeting the participants as they prepared for the race. Many were shocked to see us open that early, but, that’s what we are all about.

Although we have gone to more than 50 locations already, the NatMobile, is still hungry for more events. We eagerly look forward to expanding our fan base.

-NatMobile Staff

Inside Pitch Live with Manager Jim Riggleman


Riggleman inside pitch 3.JPGJim Riggleman spent 20 minutes on Saturday in the PNC Diamond Club fielding questions from MASN Commentator Rob Dibble as well as fans for the third installment of Inside Pitch Live.

Are you surprised at how well the Nationals are playing?

“Two things. I can’t say I’m totally surprised, but I guess I’m pleased with the play of our three middle infielders–Guzman, Kennedy, and Desmond. The unselfishness of Kennedy and Guzman to accept their roles on the ballclub–they’re playing a lot, but they’re not playing every day because Desi is at shortstop. Their attitude has been a real key for our ballclub.

The other thing, and I kind of knock on wood as I say it, is our pitching. Coming out of Spring Training, I was very concerned with Olsen, we signed Hernandez very late in the spring, we had a couple of young starters that we weren’t sure about–but we’ve pitched pretty good. We’ve pitched good enough to win more ballgames than we’ve won. That’s been something I’ve been very happy about. We hope that it continues and we know that it can. But it was a little bit of a concern coming out of spring.”

Are you surprised to see [Matt] Capps pitching so well ?

“Yeah. Matt in Spring Training, really was throwing okay. He was just okay. He threw the ball 90 mph, he threw strikes, he got hit around a little bit, but it’s not that often that you see a guy really turn it on when the lights come on. I know yourself and Randy Myers were much better pitchers once the bell rang, but I didn’t have any history with Matt Capps, so I didn’t know. So when the bell rang, he turned it up a few miles per hour, great strikes, great impressiveness. 15-for-15–that doesn’t happen very often.”

Is coming back to this area like coming full circle for you?

“It really is. I grew up here, you know, the TV’s got Frank Robinson running around the bases. I grew up watching Frank Howard and Frank Robinson and went away to play ball for years. I was disappointed that baseball got away from Washington. When it came back, by then, I had been pretty deep in the ballgame in several different locations, and I thought in the back of my mind, that would be a nice place to work and hopefully my last job in baseball.”


 
Riggleman inside pitch 2.JPGHow did you make the decision to transition from being a player and having aspirations of being a Major Leaguer to then go into coaching?

“When you play in the Minor Leagues for a long time, you get to the point where they make the decision for you. They say, ‘Look. If you want to keep playing, you can keep playing, but we don’t see a future for you in the Big Leagues as a player. Would you like to stay in the organization as a coach, a potential manager in the Minor Leagues?’ So for me it was just the opportunity to have a career in baseball, rather than getting a job doing something else. I loved the game, I thought I could continue playing, but I had played seven years. It got a little stagnant. It didn’t look like I was going to move up any higher so I took the opportunity to stay in the organization and had no aspirations, at that point, to manage. I just wanted a career in the game and once you get in it, you don’t put limits on yourself and I ended up, as you said, coming full cycle.”

As far as mentors, besides Tony La Russa, any other mentors in the game?

“Two guys. The late George Kissell. I always speak about George. Most people are probably not familiar with who he is. In a nutshell, he never played in the Big Leagues, but out of Tony La Russa’s mouth, Tony said ‘he’s probably the greatest Cardinal ever’–which can kind of go in one ear and out the other, but you figure there’s been Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, and all this, but George Kissell had an impact on everybody who came through there. He taught everybody. He taught players. He taught coaches and managers. He taught you how to manage players. He was just a tremendous influence over there.

The other person is Whitey Herzog. Whitey is probably the best pure baseball man I’ve ever been around. To be able to sit around and watch him work was a great treat for me.”

How has the running game helped the Nationals?

“Well, the running game has really slowed down lately, but earlier in the year, as we went around our division the first time, I think we created some opportunities for ourselves with Kennedy and Willingham and a couple other guys who the other clubs were not, maybe, in tune with them running as much. So we created some action that way. But with scouting now, everybody knows what you’re going to do. Willingham and Kennedy and Desmond, people that there was no history of running there, that’s [now] gone. Everyone’s got the information. They’re going to try to stop you from running. Nyjer is a guy who is trying to run all the time, but the other clubs are so in tune to him, the pitchers aren’t letting him go anywhere. But the running game helped us early and we’ve got to get back to that. But we’re going to have to keep pushing the envelope a little bit to get that going again.”

How has Pudge Rodriguez helped the ballclub?

“He’s just such a good player. When the pitchers are throwing to catchers, you know, you catch it and you throw it back, and you just take that for granted. But last year, due to some injuries to our catchers, we were chasing that ball back to the screen a lot. A lot of balls were getting by. That just hasn’t happened this year. If a guy goes to second on it, it’s because he earned it. He stole the base or whatever. But last year too often I think our pitchers were concerned about pitches they could throw because they were going to get by the catcher. Last year, Josh Bard gave us everything he had, but he played hurt for us and Nieves’ leg was hurt. So just having a healthy Pudge back there, blocking the ball–he has been huge. He’s worked great with our pitching staff and he’s a good hitter.”

How do you come to decisions during the game about who to use and when to use pinch hitters?

“In today’s world, we carry so many pitchers. We carry 12 pitchers. That’s a lot. It used to be ten, it went to 11, now it’s up to 12. So you have less bench players. So early in the game, unless you have men on base, you hate to waste one of your pinch hitters in a situation with a couple outs or basically with nobody on base period, you hate to use a guy and not have him available later. It was very early in the game, so we decided to do that [put Livan in as a pinch hitter]. We actually did it again later with Batista, let him hit for himself and continue pitching, with no intention that he would get a hit. He was hitting for himself so he could continue pitching, although he did get a hit.”


Riggleman inside pitch 4.JPGAre you a fan of Interleague Play or does it disrupt the flow of the season, trying to catch the Phillies, trying to catch the Marlins and worry about the NL East?

“I’m not a real big fan of it, but I’m okay with it. I like the Baltimore series. I like it–you’re the Mets you play the Yankees, Cubs play the White Sox. I think those are important. I like that. I’m not crazy about Oakland playing Washington or Oakland playing the Mets or something. If it draws interest, if fans want to see it, then it is great. If there are some indications, and I think there are some indications that fans do want to see those other players, so that’s always a good thing for the fans.”

What goes into the process of picking lineup?

“A lot goes into it. A lot of times, you’re thinking two or three days ahead of time–who you are going to be facing, what pitchers you’re going to be facing. Maybe some guys have some history against particular pitchers. Maybe your pitcher that day is a groundball pitcher so you want to make sure you’ve got a particular infielder in the game to cover ground for you because you think he’s going to get a lot of action. I knew that I was going to give Desmond a day off here in the next day or two, but with Scott Olsen pitching yesterday, I wanted Desmond at short, thinking right-handed hitters will be hitting some groundballs. As it turned it, he was tender, the ball was up, and it was a nonfactor. But those things go into it. You want to play guys while they’re hot, but also day game after night game, that goes into it. Left- or right-handed pitcher. We’re like everybody else. You want to get to the point where you’re the Phillies. You just play them all every day. You play Utley every day, you play Ibanez every day, you play Howard every day, it doesn’t matter who the other pitcher is, you just play them all every day. But those players have earned that. Those players are in there every day because they hit everybody. That’s where we want to get to, but we’re not quite there yet.”

Rubber match vs. the O’s

Orioles (14-30):

1.    Corey Patterson – LF

2.    Nick Markakis – RF

3.    Miguel Tejada – 3B

4.    Ty Wigginton – 2B

5.    Luke Scott – 1B

6.    Adam Jones – CF

7.    Matt Wieters – C

8.    Julio Lugo – SS

9.    Kevin Millwood – SP (0-4, 3.65 ERA)

* Adam Jones’ inside-the-park home run yesterday was the second in Nationals Park history and the second in four days in the stadium. The Nationals took both games in which opponents hit an inside-the-park home run, however.

 Nationals (22-22):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Cristian Guzman – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Josh Willingham – LF

6.      Roger Bernadina – RF

7.      Ian Desmond – SS

8.      Wil Nieves – C

9.      John Lannan – SP (1-2, 6.02 ERA)

* Trailing 6-3 in the sixth inning, the Nationals plated four runs in the sixth frame to defeat the Orioles, 7-6, yesterday. Washington is 20-0 when leading after eight innings this season.

* Matt Capps tossed a perfect ninth inning to earn his MLB-leading 16th save in as many opportunities.

Nats look to even up “Battle of the Beltways” series

Orioles (14-29):

1.    Corey Patterson – LF

2.    Nick Markakis – RF

3.    Miguel Tejada – 3B

4.    Luke Scott – 1B

5.    Ty Wigginton – 2B

6.    Matt Wieters – C

7.    Adam Jones – CF

8.    Cesar Izturis – SS

9.    Brad Bergesen – SP (3-3, 5.45 ERA)

* Last night, catcher Craig Tatum went 2-for-3 and drove in two runs. Tatum started the season 1-17, but has tallied five hits in his last seven at bats.

 Nationals (21-22):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Cristian Guzman – SS

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Josh Willingham – LF

6.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

7.      Adam Kennedy – 2B

8.      Roger Bernadina – RF

9.      Craig Stammen – SP (1-2, 5.86 ERA)

* With last night’s loss, the Nationals fell to under .500 for the first time since April 15 at Philadelphia when they owned a 4-5 record.

* Miguel Bautista tossed 4.0 scoreless innings after relieving Scott Olsen in the fourth inning last night. He also collected his first hit since August 9, 2006 vs. San Francisco.

 

The best of the Battle of the Beltways

Following the Expos move to the Nation’s Capital in 2005, the Battle of the Beltway became an annual six-game series in 2006. Tonight will be the decisive game 25–comparable to game seven of the World Series–all tied up at 12 apiece. The Nats are 21-21 on the season and are 12-12 against the O’s.

 

The Battle of the Beltway has provided a handful of suspenseful and magical games in the past four seasons. There have been nine one-run games, two walk-off wins and four extra-inning games.

 

Top-Five Games:

5. 6/13/07: Nats 9 – O’s 6–Former O’s outfielder Jay Payton drove in the tying RBI in the bottom of the ninth but the Nats loaded the bases with two-outs in the top of the 11th. Felipe Lopez was the hero when he tripled to right. The O’s were retired in order to end the game.

 

4. 5/20/07: Nats 4 – O’s 3–Former O’s pitcher Erik Bedard kept the Nats bats at bay for seven innings allowing just one run and striking out 12. But when Baltimore turned the game over to the bullpen in the bottom of the 8th, the Nats bats heated up and scored three runs in the bottom of the frame to win 4-3.

 

3. 5/18/08: Nats 2 – O’s 1–It was a pitching battle between John Lannan and Jeremy Guthrie. Lannan picked up the win going 7.1 innings allowing one run on four hits. Not to be outdone, Guthrie went 7.0 innings allowing one run on five hits. The difference was Ryan Zimmerman’s RBI double in the top of the 8th.

 

2. 6/24/06: Nats 2 – O’s 3–The game was tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth at Camden Yards and former Nats Closer Chad Cordero was one strike away from sending the game into extra-innings. The Birds had different plans. With runners on first and second, Catcher Ramon Hernandez hit the 3-2 pitch to left and the O’s celebrated at home plate.

 


062908-331 ronnie belliard c.JPG1. 6/29/08: Nats 3 – O’s 2–
There wasn’t much offense in the first 11 innings. The O’s and Nats entered the 12th tied 1-1. Adam Jones drove in Nick Markakis to give the O’s a 2-1 lead but the fireworks belonged to the Nats. In the bottom of the 12th, O’s closer George Sherrill walked Dmitri Young and Ronnie Belliard hit a 1-2 pitch with two outs into the left field seats for the comeback victory.

062908-359 ronnie belliard c.JPG

Nats-O’s game 1

Tonight’s game marks the start of Interleague Play for the Nationals. Since its 2005 move, the team is considerably better against AL opponents, owning a .478 winning percentage, than against their own league mates, to which the percentage drops to .422. However, Washington still has not won an Interleague season since 2006, when the team went 12-6.

 

Ryan Zimmerman is one home run shy of 100 career home runs. He will be just the second player from the 2005 draft class, behind only Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, to reach the century plateau.

 

Orioles (13-29):

1.    Corey Patterson – LF

2.    Ty Wigginton – 2B

3.    Nick Markakis – RF

4.    Miguel Tejada – 3B

5.    Luke Scott – 1B

6.    Adam Jones – CF

7.    Craig Tatum – C

8.    Cesar Izturis – SS

9.    David Hernandez – SP (0-5, 5.84 ERA)

* The O’s fell to Texas, 13-7, last night, and were out-hit 15-20 in a slugfest. That goes down as the most combined hits by two teams in a Major League game this season.

 Nationals (21-21):

1.      Willie Harris – RF

2.      Cristian Guzman – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Josh Willingham – LF

6.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

7.      Roger Bernadina – RF

8.      Ian Desmond – SS

9.      Scott Olsen – SP (2-1, 3.15 ERA)

* The Nationals are slated to face a trio of O’s right-handers this weekend in David Hernandez, Brad Bergesen, and Kevin Millwood. The good news is that the Nationals own a .533 winning percentage (16-14) this season when facing right-handed starters, up significantly from last season’s .380 winning percentage (49-80).

* Despite the Mets’ three-run opening inning last night, the Nationals have scored the game’s first run an NL-best 28 times in 42 games this season.

Trivia Time:

Which Nationals outfielder got his start in the Baltimore Orioles organization?

A.    Nyjer Morgan

B.     Mike Morse

C.     Josh Willingham

D.    Willie Harris

 

What goes up…

They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words so here is 6,000 words by Ian Desmond.

desmond 1 c.JPG
desmond 2 c.JPG
desmond 3 c.JPG
desmond 4 c.JPG
desmond 5 c.JPG
desmond 6 c.JPG

 

Shaving Cream never tasted so good

John Lannan is the Nationals pie guy and he didn’t disappoint last night. Drew Storen got pied twice for earning his first Major League victory–first by Scott Olsen and then by John Lannan.

You have to watch MASN reporter Debbie Taylor interview Storen. It is great.


Storen gets pied.JPGAfter the game Storen tweeted, “For the record, my eyes are still watering from the shaving cream pie. Well worth it though. Glad we got the losing streak turned around.

Nats look for two game sweep

It is a beautiful day at the ballpark–the temperature is in the low 80′s and the sun is shining brightly. With a win tonight, the Nationals would secure their fourth straight series win at home. A win would also give the Nationals their third series win over the Mets this season alone. The Nationals have never claimed three series from the Mets in a single season before.

 

Here are a few more things to keep in perspective:

If you were at last night’s game, it could be the only game you ever attend where three semi-unique events all occur in one game: a pitcher recording his first Major League victory, an inside-the-park home run and a triple play. Each one by itself is semi-memorable but all three of them in the same game is magical.

Drew Storen picked up his first Major League victory and Stephen Strasburg earned the victory in his third Triple-A start. It may be a while before both pitchers earn a victory on the same night again in their careers.

Matt Capps converted his Major League leading 15th save last night, improving to 15-for-15 in save opportunities. The Nationals now have 16 saves on the season. The Nats didn’t record their 16th save last season until August 2.

Mets (19-22):

1.    Jose Reyes – SS

2.    Alex Cora – 2B

3.    Jason Bay – LF

4.    Ike Davis – 1B

5.    David Wright – 3B

6.    Angel Pagan – CF

7.    Rod Barajas – C

8.    Jeff Francoeur – RF

9.    John Maine – SP (1-3, 6.13 ERA)

* Angel Pagan’s inside-the-park homer in the fourth inning last night marked the first ever at Nationals Park. One inning later on defense, Pagan started an 8-2-6-3 triple play–the first triple play turned at Nationals Park.

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, a team has not posted an inside-the-park homer and a triple play in the same game since September 25, 1955. Philadelphia’s Ted Kazanski hit the homer and started the triple play against the New York Giants.

 Nationals (21-20):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Adam Kennedy – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Josh Willingham – LF

6.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

7.      Roger Bernadina – RF

8.      Ian Desmond – SS

9.      Luis Atilano – SP (3-0, 3.90 ERA)

* Drew Storen earned his first Major League win last night, tossing 0.2 scoreless innings and stranding his lone inherited runner. It was his second Big League contest. He did not earn a decision in his debut.

* In 12 of the Nationals’ last 15 games, including last night’s win, Washington’s bullpen has received the decision.

Capture the Caption… and win FREE tickets to game 1 of Battle of the Beltways

Capture the Caption: Submit your caption to natstown@nationals.com or in the comments section for one or both of the photos below. The winning caption will receive TWO FREE TICKETS to tomorrow’s game against the Baltimore Orioles. 


Livan Hernandez triple vision 1.JPGThird-eyed blind.


Morgan and the guys jumping.JPGGuys…. Guys… wait for me.

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