Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Scott Olsen faces the Marlins tonight at Nationals Park.
Willingham is in a world-class slump right now. At the All-Star break, he was hitting .281 with 15 homers, 46 RBI, a .411 on-base percentage and a .913 OPS. In 22 games since then, he's batting a paltry .198 with a really paltry .281 on-base percentage and a really, really paltry .244 slugging percentage. He hasn't homered since July 2.
So "The Hammer," who also looked shaky in left field last night, is taking a seat on the bench tonight. He's replaced for this game by Willie Harris, who despite the overall wretched numbers, is batting .281 with a .410 on-base percentage since July 8.
Scott Olsen takes the mound for the Nationals, looking to beat his former team for the second time this season. He shut out the Marlins over six innings April 30 at Sun Life Stadium. Chris Volstad starts for Florida.
Check back for updates before, during and after the game...
MARLINS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 91 degrees, Wind 5 mph in from RF
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam Dunn
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Michael Morse
2B Adam Kennedy
C Ivan Rodriguez
LF Willie Harris
P Scott Olsen
SS Hanley Ramirez
LF Logan Morrison
1B Gaby Sanchez
2B Dan Uggla
CF Cody Ross
RF Mike Stanton
3B Donnie Murphy
C Ronny Paulino
P Chris Volstad
7:07 p.m. -- Scott Olsen starts off Hanley Ramirez with a fastball for strike one, getting this game underway. Really small gathering here.
7:24 p.m. -- Well that was about as ugly as a top of the first is going to get for the Nationals. (Actually, Jason Marquis might beg to differ.) The Marlins raked Olsen for four runs on five hits, including four straight roped grounders through the left side of the infield. Willie Harris didn't help matters by uncorking a throw to the plate that sailed over Pudge's leap (fortunately, Olsen was backing up and caught it on the fly). Olsen wound up facing nine batters before escaping the inning having thrown 32 pitches. Not the way he wanted to start this game against his former team.
7:38 p.m. -- The Nats did manage to get one run back in the bottom of the first, thanks to a leadoff walk and stolen base by Roger Bernadina, followed by a two-out RBI single from Ryan Zimmerman. Zim then stole second to put himself in scoring position, but Michael Morse grounded out to second to end the inning and leave the Nats trailing 4-1.
7:59 p.m. -- And Scott Olsen's night is over already. He faced 15 batters. Ten of them reached (eight hits, two walks, one intentional). His final line: 1 2/3 innings, 8 hits, 7 earned runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout. Combine that with his ragged start in Arizona last week, and over his last two outings, Olsen's ERA has skyrocketed from 3.67 to 5.11. Is his shoulder still a problem? Is he just ineffective? We'll see what he has to say after this one. Oh, the Marlins now lead 7-1.
8:17 p.m. -- The Marlins just made it 8-1 in the third after Ryan Zimmerman uncorked a terrible throw to first that allowed Logan Morrison to score from first (he was running on the pitch). Rather than get into a lot of play-by-play at this point, let's just start throwing some ridiculous stats out there. Like this one: Tonight marks Hanley Ramirez's 81st career game against the Nationals. His totals: .362 average, 24 homers, 63 RBI, .447 OBP, .705 slugging, 1.152 OPS. Yikes.
8:58 p.m. -- It's now 8-3 Marlins in the bottom of the fifth thanks to Adam Dunn's NL-leading 31st homer of the season, a monster shot to straightaway center field. For those keeping track, that was Dunn's seventh homer in 10 games since the (non) trade deadline. Perhaps he's a little more relaxed at the plate? (Or perhaps he realizes he's now playing for a major contract this winter?)
9:03 p.m. -- Michael Morse has now started the Nationals' last eight games ... during which time he's 4-for-28 with five strikeouts and three double plays. For comparison's sake, in his previous 11 games (six of them starts in platoon situations, five of them off the bench) Morse went 12-for-29 with three homers, 10 RBI and a 1.261 OPS. Perhaps this guy is best-suited as a part-time player.
9:20 p.m. -- Yeoman's work once again from Miss Iowa herself: Batista allowed just one run on two hits over 4 1/3 innings of long relief. Pretty impressive. Meanwhile, the Nats are trying to claw their way back into this game. It's now 8-4 after six thanks to Pudge's RBI single in the sixth. They had a chance to make it even closer, but Willie Harris lined right at first baseman Gaby Sanchez for an unassisted double play. Then after Josh Willingham came off the bench to rope a double to left (and immediately had Jason Marquis pinch-run for him), Bernadina sent a long drive to right that was caught at the warning track. So the Nats still trail by four heading to the seventh.
9:27 p.m. -- This Mike Stanton dude is pretty good. After launching a home run off Joel Peralta that ricocheted off the railing at the back of the left-field bleachers right down the line, he's now 4-for-4 with a homer, two doubles and four RBI. Not bad for a washed-up left-handed reliever who once balked in the winning run in his Nats debut. ... What's that? Oh, he's not THAT Mike Stanton? Sorry, my mistake. Marlins up 9-4.
9:33 p.m. -- Er, make it 9-5 after Desmond crushes his second homer of the night. First time he's homered twice in a game.
9:51 p.m. -- And Desmond commits his 27th error of the season. No one else in baseball entered today with more than 17. Yeah. But if you're worried about Desi setting some kind of new record, rest easy. The all-time record for errors in a single season: 122! Set by Herman Long and Billy Shindle, both in the 1890s. Tough official scoring back then, apparently.
10:03 p.m. -- Drew Storen coming on to pitch the top of the ninth on his 23rd birthday. Had a cool conversation with Drew earlier today. When I told him my birthday is tomorrow, he pointed out that August is a great month to have been born. He claims there are more big-leaguers born in August than any other month, attributable to the fact most Little Leagues' cutoff is August 1. Thus, all the kids born in August are older than everyone else in their league. Here's my question: If that's true, how does it explain me never making it to the majors? (I'm sure it has nothing to do with my lack of natural ability.)
10:15 p.m. -- And this ballgame has come to its merciful conclusion at last. Final score: Marlins 9, Nationals 5. Scott Olsen, who pitched about 27 hours ago, takes the loss and falls to 3-4.