April 2011

Nats-Brewers will play two tomorrow

Today’s Nationals-Brewers game scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m. at Nationals Park has been postponed due to rain. The team will play a single-admission doubleheader tomorrow beginning at 1:35 p.m., with the second game taking place approximately 30 minutes following the completion of Sunday’s first game.

The pitching probables for Sunday’s doubleheader will be RHP Jason Marquis (0-0, 3.65) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 2.70) in game one, and RHP Livan Hernandez (1-1, 3.50) vs. RHP Marco Estrada (1-0, 5.14) in game two.

Season tickets and individual game tickets for today’s game do not allow admission to Sunday’s contest, but may be exchanged at the box office for seats of equal value for Sunday’s doubleheader or any remaining home game during the 2011 regular season, subject to availability. Tickets for Sunday’s game will be valid for both games of the doubleheader. Parking passes for Saturday’s game will be honored for any home game for the balance of the season.

Individual-game ticket holders can exchange their tickets at any Nationals Park box office. For exchanges for tickets purchased through nationals.com, Tickets.com or the Nationals telephone charge line, please call 888.632.NATS(6287). Keep in mind all rain check exchanges are subject to availability.

Desmond moved to 7th in the lineup

The Nationals felt Ian Desmond could be their leadoff hitter when they traded Nyjer Morgan to the Brewers. It is only coincidence that the first day he is dropped in the lineup is the same day Morgan is back at Nationals Park—but he isn’t in the starting lineup. Desmond may still be the Nats leadoff hitter but he will bat seventh tonight after hitting .180 (9-for-50) with a .212 on-base percentage with 12 strikeouts and two walks.

Espinosa will slide into the top spot for the night and his performance will likely dictate the length of time he stays there. Espinosa is batting .281 (9-for-32) with a .405 OBP. So far this season, he has worked the count slightly more than Desmond: 3.86 pitches per PA to 3.62.

Brewers

2B Rickie Weeks

CF Carlos Gomez

LF Ryan Braun

1B Prince Fielder

3B Casey McGehee

SS Yuniesky Betancourt

RF Erick Almonte

C Wil Nieves

LHP Chris Narveson

 Nationals

2B Danny Espinosa

CF Rick Ankiel

RF Jayson Werth

1B Adam LaRoche

C Wilson Ramos

LF Michael Morse

SS Ian Desmond

3B Jerry Hairston Jr.

LHP Tom Gorzelanny

*This is the first time former Nationals Wil Nieves and Nyjer Morgan will be stepping foot inside Nationals Park since they joined the Brewers. Nieves will be behind the plate to start, though Morgan is not in the starting lineup.

 *Though no one in the Nationals starting lineup has seen much of Chris Narveson, Rick Ankiel, Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche all have hits off of the lefty. LaRoche also has a RBI off of Narveson.

 *As a former Cub, Tom Gorzelanny has seen a lot of the Brewers. In his career, he’s 4-3 against the Brew Crew in 10 starts with 47 strikeouts.

Greater Washington Board of Trade Welcomes back the Nationals

With the baseball season in full swing, the Greater Washington Board of Trade celebrated the return of the National Pastime to the Nation’s Capital on Thursday at the Welcome Back Washington Nationals Team Luncheon. This unique event featured the entire Nationals team, all of whom dined among more than 300 business leaders from across the Washington region. 

“The Nationals are grateful for the support of the entire DC business community,” Nationals Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner said. “The Welcome Back Team Luncheon gives us the opportunity to thank some of our biggest fans.”

Open to all members of the local business community, attendees were treated to a panel discussion featuring Lerner, Executive VP of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo, and Manager Jim Riggleman. The three special guests spoke at length about the state of the Nationals and the Club’s goals for the upcoming season, while Nationals players and coaches met local fans and signed autographs for those in attendance. The two-hour affair was held at the Capital Hilton in downtown DC.

 “The Nationals are bringing real energy to town—a competitive team with a strong future—very much like the Greater Washington Region itself,” said Jim Dinegar, President and CEO of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

Nats vs. Phillies rubber game lineups

Lineups

Phillies:

CF Shane Victorino

3B Placido Polanco

SS Jimmy Rollins

1B Ryan Howard

RF Ben Francisco

LF Raul Ibanez

C Carlos Ruiz

2B Wilson Valdez

P Cliff Lee

 Nationals:

SS Ian Desmond

CF Rick Ankiel

RF Jayson Werth

1B Adam LaRoche

C Wilson Ramos

LF Michael Morse

2B Danny Espinosa

3B Jerry Hairston

P Jordan Zimmermann

 *Cliff Lee is currently 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA against the Nationals. However, he has allowed 16 hits in his two starts against Washington.

 *Jordan Zimmermann has only faced the Phillies twice, but has issued nine strikeouts against them.

John Lannan vs. Roy Halladay Lineups

The Nats can secure their second straight series victory with a win tonight and increase their winning streak to three games. It is a rematch of last year’s Opening Day but the Nats are hoping for a different outcome. Roy Halladay hasn’t allowed a Nationals run since he gave up a RBI double to Ryan Zimmerman in the first inning of the opener. He has a scoreless streak of 22.0 innings against the Nats. Halladay’s numbers against the Nats are usually reserved for video games like MLB 2K11 (quality commercial): 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA (23 IP/ 1 ER) with 20 strikeouts and a .198 BAA. On the other hand, Lannan is seeking his first win in 12 starts against the Phillies. Don’t they say… the 13th time is a charm? Adam LaRoche is back in the lineup after having Tuesday off.

Phillies (7-3):

Shane Victorino – CF

Placido Polanco – 3B

Jimmy Rollins – SS

Ryan Howard – 1B

Ben Francisco – RF

Raul Ibanez – LF

Carlos Ruiz – C

Wilson Valdez – 2B

Roy Halladay – P

 Nationals (5-5):

Ian Desmond – SS

Rick Ankiel – CF

Jayson Werth – RF

Adam LaRoche – 1B

Laynce Nix – LF

Danny Espinosa – 2B

Jerry Hairston Jr. – 3B

Ivan Rodriguez – C

John Lannan – P

Jayson Werth and Co. take game one vs. Phillies

Right before the game started on Tuesday, Jayson Werth gave himself just a few seconds to notice the Phillies fans. When he finished completing his warm up throws with Bullpen Coach Jim Lett in the outfield, Werth turned around and looked up at the fans that had lined the first few rows of the right field seats. He simply nodded his head and turned around. He didn’t care what their signs read or what they shouted.

Werth knew what he was getting into on Tuesday night. He has been to Nationals Park before and witnessed how the Phillies faithful had infiltrated the park on Opening Day last year—something he plans on changing. The same Phillies fans that praised him last year and heckled Nyjer Morgan with vernacular that HBO might even edit, are now giving standing ovations to Phillies right fielder Ben Francisco and booing Werth. It is the life of a Phillies fan. They say hello by booing and goodbye the same way.

“They’re Philly fans,” Jerry Hairston Jr. said. “Obviously, Philly is known to be hard on their own players. I knew Jayson kind of expected it. It’s to be expected. I can’t wait until we go back to Philly.”

The Phillies fan booed every time the ball was hit to right field. They showered Werth with boos every time he walked to the plate but they weren’t quite loud enough to drown out his at-bat song “November Rain.” In the bottom of the fifth, Werth silenced his critics by hitting a home run, clearing the left field fence by a few inches.

“Was it extra special against those guys?” Werth said. “Probably a little bit.”

That is also probably an understatement. How could it not be special? He was playing his former team and was booed by Phillies fans. There isn’t anything better than silencing your critics. The Nats bullpen sat in right field and listened to the Phillies fans for a few innings and they had heard enough.

“I haven’t pulled so hard for a guy to hit a home run in my life,” Sean Burnett said, who picked up his third save of the season. “It was something the bullpen really wanted, because we had to listen to those fans out there.”

Werth doesn’t plan on those fans being out there for long. He remembers how Citizens Bank Park was full of Mets fans four years ago, now it’s only Phillies fans. He expects Nationals Park to undergo the same transformation.

“The only way to change the culture here with this team in Washington, DC… is to win,” Werth said. “It was a big win tonight, but we’ve got to continue to do it. Essentially, we’re going to have to win a lot—not just play .500 ball or not finish in last place. You’re going to have to win a division, you’re going to have to win a Wild Card, and that takes work.”

It does take work but the Nats are planning on changing it one pitch, one at-bat, one inning and one game at a time. It won’t happen overnight but you don’t eat an entire pig in one sitting either—one bite at a time is the only way to think of it. The win moved them to .500 for the first time this season but the Nats showed the Phillies—with a makeshift lineup and Livan Hernandez throwing 61 mph curveballs—this is a different Nats team. Werth still has 125 games against the Phillies over the course of the next seven years but right now the score is 1-0, advantage Werth.

One day Werth will turn around to see the fans when the Nats play the Phillies and it will just be Nationals fans. Today it’s a dream but one day it could be a reality.

Nats place Ryan Zimmerman on the DL

The storyline tonight will certainly center around Jayson Werth. How could it not? He is playing his former team for the first time and for some reason when a star player faces their former team for the first time, it always seems to grab headlines. It will be interesting to see how he is greeted by the Phillies’ faithful who make the trip down the I-95 corridor to Nationals Park, but the reaction will only be part of the story and only last about 10 seconds. Whether he is cheered or booed is all but irrelevant at the end of the day. The Nats play the Phillies 18 times a year—so Werth and the Phillies will have several encounters. This is the first of many—126 to be exact—games that Werth will face his former team as a member of the Nats. By game 10, people will probably have forgotten he was ever a member of the Phillies, with our current information highway, today’s story is tomorrow’s long forgotten history.

The more pressing and pertinent matter is how the Nationals will play the next few weeks without their prodigious third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He was placed on the DL today with a strained abdominal muscle, a nagging injury he dealt with in Spring Training and aggravated when sliding into second base on Saturday at Citi Field.

Since Zimmerman appeared in his first game on Sept. 1, 2005, the Nats are 347-500 (.410). The Nats are 306-446 (.407) in games that he has appeared in and 41-54 (.432) in games he didn’t appear in, either from an injury or just a day off. In 2008, Zim missed 55 games and the Nats posted a nearly identical winning percentage with him in the lineup and on the DL. In 2010, the Nats went 60-82 (.423) in games that he appeared in and 9-11 (.450) in games he didn’t appear in. This isn’t to prove that the Nats are a better team without Zimmerman—that would be nonsensical and akin to saying the Washington Mall would be better off without the Washington Monument. Zimmerman has been a member of the Nationals for about as long as the Nationals have been a part of DC. There is no question Zimmerman is a key component to the team and will be a vital piece to the building process—he is one of the top players in the League. They won nine games without him last season but the key questions is how many additional games would they have won if he played in those 20 games?

The team performance in Zimmerman’s absence just shows that a) when he goes down, someone usually steps up—Jerry Hairston Jr. and Alex Cora will get the majority of the starts at third base b) the Nationals have been able to fill the void left by Zimmerman for a short time and c) quality pitching when a player is injured is probably more important than who the replacement is for the injured player. The starting staff will need to continue pitching well in Zimmerman’s absence.

The Nats recalled Jesus Flores to replace Zimmerman on the 25-man roster. It was a surprising move in the sense that conventional wisdom predicted outfielder Roger Bernadina or utility infielder Brian Bixler to be recalled. This will allow Pudge or Wilson Ramos to be used off the bench as a pinch hitter without the Nats using their last catcher. The 26-year-old Flores was the Nats’ everyday catcher in 2009 before a foul tip struck him in the shoulder on May 9 in Arizona. He returned at the end of the season to pinch hit three times but never fully recovered until this season.

Below is a Nats lineup that you haven’t seen before tonight.

Phillies:

Shane Victorino – CF

Placido Polanco – 3B

Jimmy Rollins – SS

Ryan Howard – 1B

Ben Francisco – RF

Raul Ibanez – LF

Carlos Ruiz – C

Wilson Valdez – 2B

Joe Blanton – P

 Nationals:

Ian Desmond – SS

Rick Ankiel – CF

Jayson Werth – RF

Matt Stairs – 1B

Wilson Ramos – C

Laynce Nix – LF

Danny Espinosa – 2B

Jerry Hairston Jr. – 3B

Livan Hernandez – P

Rubber Game Lineups

Braves:

 LF Martin Prado

CF Nate McLouth

3B Chipper Jones

C Brian McCann

2B Dan Uggla

RF Jason Heyward

SS Alex Gonzalez

1B Freddie Freeman

P Tim Hudson

 Nationals:

 SS Ian Desmond

RF Jayson Werth

3B Ryan Zimmerman

1B Adam LaRoche

LF Michael Morse

CF Rick Ankiel

2B Danny Espinosa

C Ivan Rodriguez

P Jordan Zimmermann

 *In his one career outing against Atlanta, Jordan Zimmermann won, going five innings, allowing only one earned run with five strikeouts.

*Against the Nationals, Tim Hudson is 10-2 with an ERA of 1.91. However, Jayson Werth has proved to be a thorn in Hudson’s side—he’s got a batting average of .350 with a pair of doubles and a home run against the Braves’ hurler.

*Rick Ankiel, who was yesterday’s Nationals Player of the Game, has also fared well against Hudson, going three-for-six with an RBI in six plate appearances.

*Today is your last day to vote for the Fans’ Choice Bobblehead. As of this posting, Danny Espinosa is in the lead with 5616 votes, and Drew Storen in second with 4400 votes.

Game No. 2 Lineups

Lineups

Braves:

 LF Martin Prado

CF Nate McLouth

3B Chipper Jones

C Brian McCann

2B Dan Uggla

RF Jason Heyward

SS Alex Gonzalez

1B Freddie Freeman

P Tommy Hanson

 Nationals:

 SS Ian Desmond

RF Jayson Werth

3B Ryan Zimmerman

1B Adam LaRoche

LF Michael Morse

CF Rick Ankiel

2B Danny Espinosa

C Wilson Ramos

P John Lannan

 *The Nationals are looking to not only secure their first win of the season, but get closer to evening their franchise record against the Braves since baseball returned to DC in 2005. At home, the Nats are 31-24 against Atlanta over the last seven seasons, but 54-56 overall.

 *In his career against the Braves, Ryan Zimmerman has hit for a .278 average, mashing 25 doubles and 11 home runs with 53 RBI. Jayson Werth also doesn’t mind facing Atlanta—he’s maintained a .290 batting average with a .395 on-base percentage against the division rival.

 *Meanwhile, the Nationals will have a tough opponent on the mound in Tommy Hanson. He’s 2-1 against Washington with a 2.72 ERA. That being said, the Nats’ new bats will prove trouble for the Braves’ starter. Werth has maintained an OPS of .956 against Hanson, and Jerry Hairston Jr. has an on-base percentage of .571 against him.

 *Against the Braves, John Lannan is 5-4 with 36 strikeouts.

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