Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats look to make it two in a row over the Reds tonight.
As you undoubtedly saw in the previous post, the Nationals have placed Carlos Maldonado on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right thumb, an injury he suffered Thursday in Houston when he was struck by a foul tip off Carlos Lee's bat. To replace him, the club has called up Jamie Burke from Class AAA Syracuse. Burke, you'll recall, spent the season's first two months on the DL following knee surgery and only returned to playing a couple weeks ago. The veteran wasn't, however, on the 40-man roster, so he had to have his contract purchased, which meant someone else had to be dropped. That someone was Chris Coste, another veteran catcher who two weeks ago had Tommy John surgery but today was given his unconditional release.
All the while, Ivan Rodriguez is still trying to return from his own lower back injury. Pudge was doing some running on the field earlier this afternoon, under the watchful eye of Jim Riggleman and also played catch and hit in the cage. He's slated to take a full round of BP and run the bases tomorrow, and if all goes well, he'll go on a quick rehab assignment to Class A Potomac on Monday. If that goes well, he can come off the DL in time for Stephen Strasburg's debut Tuesday night.
Check back here for game updates throughout...
REDS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Chance of storms, 74 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to RF
2B Cristian Guzman
CF Nyjer Morgan
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
C Wil Nieves
P Luis Atilano
SS Orlando Cabrera
2B Brandon Phillips
1B Joey Votto
3B Scott Rolen
LF Jonny Gomes
RF Jay Bruce
CF Drew Stubbs
C Ramon Hernandez
P Mike Leake
7:00 p.m. -- Just about ready for first pitch here at Nationals Park. Much, MUCH smaller crowd than last night. I would think we're going to be looking more at the low-20,000s than the low-30,000s for this one.
7:07 p.m. -- And we're underway with a strike from Atilano to Cabrera. Everyone's favorite ump, Joe West, is behind the plate tonight. He was showered with boos when his name was announced a few minutes ago.
7:17 p.m. -- For all Ryan Zimmerman has done at the plate this season -- did you know he's now leading the NL with a 1.005 OPS? -- he's been dealing with some throwing issues for several weeks now. Zim had another misfire on the game's first batter tonight, botching a routine throw to first for an error that wound up leading to a Reds run. Zim has been using this sidearm throwing motion since last summer, when coaches told him to treat every play like it was a difficult one after he had the yips on some routine plays. Well, he's now starting to have trouble with those throws. You've got to wonder if someone's going to tell Ryan to start throwing overhand on the routine plays from now on. Nats trail 1-0 heading to the bottom of the first.
7:22 p.m. -- I was about to say that Nyjer Morgan may be the worst bunter I've ever seen for a player who should be a good bunter. But that's not true. Damian Jackson was the worst bunter I've ever seen for a player who should have been a good bunter. Nyjer is the second-worst.
7:27 p.m. -- And Morgan's botched bunt costs the Nats a run in the bottom of the first. Guzman stranded at third when Willingham lines out to center to end the inning, with the Nats still trailing 1-0.
7:43 p.m. -- Two innings, four hits for the Nats ... and no runs yet. Bernadina killed the second-inning rally by getting gunned down trying to steal second. This is turning into a recurring theme here. The Nats have no trouble getting runners on base. They just can't seem to bring them home. Reds up 1-0 after two.
8:00 p.m. -- That's five hits in three innings for the Nationals, and still no runs. Dunn strikes out looking with Morgan on second and two outs. So the big guy is now 0-for-23 this season with two outs and runners in scoring position.
8:33 p.m. -- It's now 2-0 Reds after five thanks to a double down the left-field line by Orlando Cabrera that scored pitcher Mike Leake all the way from first. Atilano hasn't pitched poorly, but he hasn't made a couple of pitches when he's needed to. The Nats' lineup, meanwhile, still can't get a clutch hit off Leake. Six hits through five.
8:55 p.m. -- The Nationals are on the board at last. It took a single, a hit batter and an error on first baseman Joey Votto (though personally I thought Roger Bernadina should have been credited with a hit for his line drive off Votto's glove) but it's now 2-1 after six. Could have been tied if only Ian Desmond had lived up to the "Mr. Clutch" moniker I gave him last night. Come on, Ian: You're making me look bad!
9:02 p.m. -- How about that. Luis Atilano has gone seven innings, allowing only two runs. More impressively, Jim Riggleman let the rookie stay out there that long and throw 114 pitches. Something tells that won't happen Tuesday with you-know-who, or else John McLaren will be managing this team on Wednesday. Still 2-1 Reds at the stretch.
9:07 p.m. -- Tonight's paid attendance: 22,896.
9:23 p.m. -- Another night, another ejection. This time, Riggleman gets the heave-ho from Dan Bellino after Desmond was called for interfering with Brandon Phillips rounding second. Desmond did get in Phillips' way, inadvertently, though I suppose you could argue Phillips barely lost his stride and might have been thrown out at third base regardless. Either way, it's now 3-1 Reds in the eighth.
9:29 p.m. -- Make it 4-1 after Wil Nieves couldn't hold onto the ball when Phillips crashed into him at the plate. Tough to blame Nieves for that. Despite a great throw from Desmond, Nieves had no time to secure the ball before Phillips hammered him. Still goes down as an E2, the second strange error of the inning and the third error of the game for a Nats club that now has an NL-leading 54 errors on the season. The next-closest team? The Dodgers, with 45.
9:34 p.m. -- I'm just going to throw this out there and let you all debate ... The Nationals are now on pace to commit 153 errors this season. Last year, when they were ridiculed by every corner of the baseball-watching universe for their shoddy defense, they committed 143 errors. Where's the outrage this time around? Where are all the calls for more emphasis on fundamentals? Where are all the calls for more infield practice?
9:40 p.m. -- Don't be surprised if Brandon Phillips gets one in the ribs when he comes up to bat in the ninth. The Nats didn't like that he pounded his chest in a taunting manner after bowling over Nieves. Ivan Rodriguez, who is in the dugout, appeared to say some things toward the Reds dugout. Phillips is due up third in the ninth. Stay tuned.
9:54 p.m. -- What do you know? Batista plunks Phillips and gets tossed by Joe West. Looks like Phillips expected it, cause he just trotted to first without saying a word. No incident here ... so far.
10:11 p.m. -- What began as a somewhat-tight pitchers' duel has now ended as a lopsided 5-1 Reds victory. Not too much good stuff from the home club tonight, aside from the unity displayed on that intentional plunking of Phillips. We'll see if there's any carryover tomorrow, though I would suspect warnings will be issued to both dugouts before the game.