Join me as I live blog today’s first game between the Nationals and the Dodgers… weather permitting. Leave your comments and questions in the comments section below. You can also contact me today on Twitter @NatsGMdotcom, on Facebook search NatsGM, and by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
12:40pm -> We are LIVE!!!! from the NatsGM headquarters for today’s rain-soaked game between the Nationals and the Dodgers. Chien-Ming Wang is on the hill and it looks like the game is going to start on time. Lets Go Nats!
Craig from Washington D.C. via email -> “What were your thoughts of Tom Milone’s first start Saturday night?”
Guess Craig read my column last week…. I went back and re-watched his start the other day and it was a strange outing. He was really locating his fastball and frankly all of his pitches as he cruised through three innings and looked fantastic. Then in the fourth inning he began struggling with his fastball command and threw a few bad pitches and the next thing you knew his night was complete with one out in the fifth. The only big thing I learned was he can get some swings and misses with his fastball, which I was skeptical about before, but otherwise, I think I need to wait a bit longer and reserve judgement. Thanks for the question Craig!
12:52pm -> I think Ben Goessling deserves recognition and some “props”… he is fantastic on the pre-game show and I think he deserves a permanent gig somewhere before, during or after the games. Just my humble opinion.
12:55pm -> Interesting fact, Brad Peacock was the last Draft and Follow in the history of the Nationals. What a meteoric rise from a 41st round pick to a top 100 prospect in baseball. He is a real testament to the Nationals scouting staff.
1:02pm -> Not sure where you are located, but it is a monsoon right now outside the NatsGM headquarters… I am worried the sacred butterfly chair could be washed away at any moment.
Multiple People via Email -> “NatsGM, who wins tonight’s game between New Orleans and Green Bay and do the Redskins win Sunday?”
While I am the “NatsGM” and not the “RedskinsGM” (trademark pending), I have had more than one person email me with this question: I think both games should be great and high scoring but I will take the home Green Bay Packers tonight 31-27 and I think the Redskins pull out a complete surprise Sunday and win 24-21. Thanks for the questions everyone, keep them coming!
1:07pm -> Wang starts the game facing Dee Gordon, who quickly smacks a ground ball up the middle for a single and then James Loney smacks a double into the left field gap. Two batters, a single and a double, now men on 2nd and 3rd, with no outs.
1:11pm -> Outstanding play by Ryan Zimmerman on a rocket to third base, he speared it then threw out Gordon at home. Fantastic defensive play. One out, now men on 1st and 3rd. Wang might just get out of this inning unscathed with a double play right here.
1:12pm -> Spoke too soon, Juan Rivera just crushed a double into the left field gap… Wang has nothing on his sinker right now, and this looks like trouble. 2-0 Dodgers with one out.
1:16pm -> Wang rallies and gets the next two batters to weakly ground out. Dodgers 2-0 heading to the bottom of the 1st.
1:21pm -> Lombardozzi just ripped a line drive unfortunately right at the first baseman. Flashed some impressive bat speed on an inside fastball. I really like this kid (nice left-handed swing) and think he makes himself into a solid major league second baseman.
1:24pm -> 3 up and 3 down for the Nationals, with nothing leaving the infield. 2-0 LA, top of the 2nd.
1:30pm -> Wang settles down and finds his good sinker to retire the Dodgers 1-2-3… off to the bottom of the 2nd inning, Dodgers 2-0
1:36pm -> Truly amazing, the sun is beginning to shine through a bit at Nationals Park, and I think I am going to lose my power here at the headquarters not 15 miles away. Weather is downright scary here.
1:40pm -> I love Espinosa as a player, but he REALLY needs to learn to lay off the high fastball from the left side of the plate. The book is around the league and he hasn’t adjusted since May.
1:44pm -> Another good at-bat from Chris Marrero to battle back from 1-2 to earn a walk with two outs. He has impressed me with his batting eye since coming to Washington. He has a good command of the strike zone and does not look overmatched at the plate.
Juan from Taiwan via Email -> “What do you think happens with Wang next season?”
I have no idea if this man is from Taiwan but there was no chance I was not going to answer a question from someone in Taiwan. I think Wang has shown enough in his eight starts he has made since returning that he will pitch in the major leagues next year, which is a rather large accomplishment considering the tremendous damage done to his shoulder and the difficult rehab he had to endure. I would expect the Nationals would want to work out another 1-year deal with him for next season, as they have invested $3+ million dollars and two years of time in getting Wang healthy, and I think they would feel incredibly foolish if he went somewhere else and was effective. I would put the odds at 60-70% that he is a National in 2012. Thanks for the question, and thanks for reading!
1:56pm -> Another fantastic play by Ryan Zimmerman on a sharp ground ball from Matt Kemp, Ryan threw home and caught Dee Gordon trying to score from third. Another example why Zimmerman is the best third baseman in the National League.
1:59pm -> Not good… Morse just Peter Pan’d a line drive from Juan Rivera, allowing two runs to score and giving Rivera an undeserved double (should have been an error). Now it is 4-0 Dodgers with 1 out in the 3rd. The first real bad play I can remember Morse making in left field this season.
2:03pm -> Perhaps it is only me, but it makes me smile to no end when the announcers subtlely complain about how high the broadcast booths are at Nationals Park, with the underlying tone being that they should be closer to the action than the paying customers in the park.
2:14pm -> After a nice leadoff single from Ian Desmond (nice work of going the other day), Lombardozzi has a great at-bat, forcing the pitchers to throw 12 pitches, before finally grounding out to second base. Then Zimmerman came up and ripped a double into the right field gap. 4-1 Dodgers with Zimmerman at 2nd and Morse up.
2:17pm -> Now Morse rips a double into the left field gap to score Zimmerman from 2nd base. 4-2 Dodgers, one out and Werth to the plate.
2:19pm -> BOOM! Werth crushes a Home Run to left field for his 19th of the season. 4-4 game now, bottom of the 3rd. Werth has been much better since the All-Star break and will bounce back nicely in 2012, remember where you heard it.
2:23pm -> With a bloop double from Rick Ankiel, Chad Billingsley’s day is complete after only getting one out in the 3rd inning.
2:25pm -> I am but a simple internet writer but please, if any of my readers have ANY pull and power with GEICO, can you please tell them it is time to change up their advertising and likely the AD agency…. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, the Gecko and especially the Caveman campaigns have been beaten to death. I cannot believe these ads don’t irritate more people. Sorry, rant over, now back to baseball.
2:31pm -> The rally quickly ends with a ground out by Marrero and a fly out from Ramos to end the 3rd inning. Tie game at 4, heading to the top of the 4th.
2:37pm -> Great top of the 4th inning from Wang, retired the side 1-2-3 and quickly. Nice job of shutting the Dodgers down and getting the Nationals back up to bat.
2:39pm -> Another GEICO commercial, this time the “got to give me what I want” commercial…
2:41pm -> Watched a lot of Josh Lindblom a few summers ago in Cape Cod, as he was a Cotuit Kettleer. Nice power arm in the bullpen and a good person – good to see him in the big leagues.
2:44pm -> Quick three up and three down inning for the Nationals. Top of the fifth, tied at 4.
2:46pm -> We have reached the point where Teddy needs to win a President’s Race.
2:49pm -> Great throw by Wilson Ramos to Lombardozzi to throw out Dee Gordon trying to steal second base. One of the best throws you will see a catcher make all season on a lightning fast runner. Ramos is so impressive defensively and has such a strong arm. This is a nice time to give some credit to GM Mike Rizzo for that fantastic trade to acquire Ramos.
Joe via Email -> “What do the Nationals do with Tom Gorzelanny next season?”
Good question Joe, and my first reaction is, I don’t know. I do not believe that the Nationals will offer him arbitration and pay him the kind of money he would command in the arbitration process. That being said, he has a live left-handed arm and can miss bats, so the Nationals will be hesitant just to “get rid of” that type of talented but inconsistent arm. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him included in a trade this off-season or re-signed to a cheaper contract, but I would be surprised if they went to arbitration with him. Good, intriguing question, thanks for asking!
3:03pm -> Another good at-bat by Jayson Werth, who sees a bunch of pitches before crushing the ball off the right field wall… unfortunately the umpire thought the right fielder caught the ball and called Werth out, though instant replay clearly showed it hit 2-3 feet above the fielder’s glove. Terrible break for the Nationals, but another sign that Werth is coming around with the bat.
3:14pm -> Chris Marrero strikes out on a filthy curveball from reliever Matt Guerrier to end the fifth inning. Still tied at 4.
Alex from the Comments Section -> “What do you see as the Nationals top priority this off-season?”
Great question Alex, thanks for reading and participating. This is likely a question better answered as a feature column but I think clearly the top two needs for the Nationals going into 2012 is resolving the situation in center field/leadoff hitter and finding another top-of-the-rotation starter to go along with Strasburg and Zimmermann and to slot ahead of John Lannan in the starting rotation. I will expound upon this in the upcoming days…. but I would like to turn this question around to you, the readers and fans – what do you think is the Nationals top off-season priority? Thanks Alex, and I will answer this more thoroughly in the upcoming days.
3:25pm -> And in a blink of an eye both sides are retired in the 6th inning. That reminded me of a warp zone from the old Super Mario Brothers games, as we just skipped over (or thru) the 6th. Onto the 7th inning, still tied 4-4.
3:27pm -> I take far too much enjoyment in Todd Coffey entering games to the old introduction music of The Ultimate Warrior. I instantly become eight years old again and have flashbacks of watching Wrestlemania VI.
3:32pm -> Off-topic but I just saw on Twitter that Peyton Manning had another neck surgery this morning…. Didn’t he sign a $90 million dollar contract earlier this year? Yikes! That sound you hear is fists pounding in offices all over the country from guys and gals who drafted Peyton in the fifth round of their fantasy drafts thinking he was going to be a steal…. (insert laugh track from Nelson of The Simpsons here!)
3:41pm -> The Nationals again go quickly and quietly in the 7th. After 7 innings, game is still tied at 4.
3:46pm -> I sincerely wish the Nationals had found a way to keep Jamey Carroll around the past few seasons, he is so solid fundamentally and such a positive player off the bench. I did not like that move by the Nationals at the time.
3:52pm -> Another impressive, scoreless inning from Tyler Clippard to shut down the Dodgers in the top of the 8th inning. I find myself guilty of taking Clippard for granted because he has been so good the past two seasons, but he is just outstanding. Remember Jon Albaladejo (oh you don’t?) well that was the player we traded the Yankees for Clippard. Great trade Nats and another great job from Clippard!
3:55pm -> Jayson Werth leads off the bottom of the 8th with a walk, as the rain begins to pour at Nationals Park.
3:58pm -> Jonny Gomes flew out to center field on a 1-0 count. One out and Chris Marrero at the plate in a big situation here.
4:03pm -> Power and internet just flickered as Marrero hit a ground ball to second base. Two outs and Werth at second base.
4:05pm -> Ramos strikes out to end the 8th inning. End of 8 innings, STILL 4-4.
4:12pm -> Drew Storen enters the game and quickly gets the first out, then precedes to hit the next batter and give up a single. Men on 1st and 2nd with one out, top of the ninth.
4:15pm -> Storen, pitching for only the 3rd time since August 23rd, looks rusty. He has been missing wildly and up in the zone.
4:17pm -> Big strikeout by Storen to get the second out of the inning. Tony Gwynn Jr. to the plate.
4:18pm -> Gwynn immediately rips a double over the head of Werth in right-center field to score two runs. 6-4 Dodgers
4:20pm -> Another hit by Dee Gordon makes it a 7-4 Dodger lead. Bad outing for Storen who has looked shaky and wild the entire inning.
4:24pm -> Storen walks the next hitter on 4 pitches and his day is done. Balester is coming in to relieve him. Terrible outing from Storen, one of the very few all season.
4:28pm -> Balester comes in and gets Matt Kemp to fly out to deep right field for the final out of the inning. Put on the rally caps, bottom of the ninth, Nats down 7-4.
4:33pm -> Dodger closer Javy Guerra in to pitch and quickly strikes out Alex Cora on a good fastball. One out and Desmond up.
4:38pm -> Desmond grounds out weakly to second base and Lombardozzi weakly flied out to second base. Game over, Nationals lose the first game of this doubleheader 7-4 to the Dodgers.
I want to thank everyone who joined me today for this Live Blog, especially those that emailed and sent in their comments and questions. Thanks for reading!
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