Nats are back at home vs. Reds and lineups

Back at Home

The Nats are happy to be back at home after two long road trips–they played 19 of their last 24 games on the road and went 9-15 in that stretch. It is easy to look back on the last 24 games and change a play here and a play there–by doing so, the Nats could easily have gone 14-10. But that isn’t possible. The stretch from now until the All-Star break could be a defining time for the 2010 season: Stephen Strasburg joins the rotation on Tuesday and 22 of the next 34 games are at home.

Odds are it will be a close game

The offense has struggled to score runs and that has led to a number of close games. Since May 5, 22 of the Nationals’ 29 games have been decided by two runs or less (9-13 record), including 13 contests decided by one run (6-7 record). Washington has played an MLB-leading 33 games decided by two runs or less. At the same time, the Reds have played in 31 games decided by two runs or less.

Where is the (glove) love?

On the ten game road trip the Nationals pitchers posted a 2.90 ERA (87.0 IP/ 28 ER) but they were hampered by 14 errors that led to 17 unearned runs.

“A week ago I would say we’re playing good defense,” said Riggleman. “The errors were misleading. I think the errors are misleading, but we haven’t played good defense the last week. I don’t know if we’re not concentrating as much pitch to pitch. I don’t know what’s going on. Our error total has been more reflective in the last week, so we have to cut back on that. No question.”

Hammer Time

Josh Willingham is having one of the best first two months of his career. The key to his success is staying laid-back and low key and that’s not hard for a person who embodies those words–Riggleman considers him the “ultimate professional” and “the guy you want your daughter to marry.” Willingham is batting .277 with 10 home runs, 30 runs, 37 RBI and a .428 OBP.

They are quite the numbers. There are only four players in the Majors with at least 30 runs scored, 10 home runs, 35 RBI, 25 walks and a .400 OBP in the Majors. Willingham is the only outfielder. The other three are all first basemen: Albert Pujols, Justin Morneau and Miguel Cabrera.

Lineups:

Reds (31-23):

1.    Orlando Cabrera – SS

2.    Brandon Phillips – 2B

3.    Joey Votto – 1B

4.    Scott Rolen – 3B

5.    Jay Bruce – RF

6.    Jonny Gomes – LF

7.    Drew Stubbs – CF

8.    Ramon Hernandez – C

9.    Aaron Harang – SP (4-5, 5.48 ERA)

 Nationals (26-29):

1.      Cristian Guzman – 2B

2.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

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.      Livan Hernandez – SP (4-3, 2.15 ERA)

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