Welcome to MASN’s discussion space for tonight’s Nationals-Brewers game at Miller Park. I’ll be posting some thoughts throughout the game, and if you’d like to chime into the discussion, you can do so by leaving comments at the bottom of this post. I’ll respond to you there.
Here is my previous post on tonight’s lineups.
7:17: The Nationals’ right-leaning lineup against Manny Parra might not be completely necessary; Parra’s numbers against lefties are almost identical to his numbers against righties. It’s a good chance to get Adam Dunn and Nyjer Morgan a night off, though, especially against a pitcher who’s only going to feed them breaking balls.
7:25 I stepped away from the TV for a second, came back to the living room, saw the score was 1-0 Brewers and immediately thought, “I bet Ryan Braun had something to do with it.” The guy, aside from being an MVP-caliber player, has absolutely killed the Nats; he entered the game with a career .957 OPS against them, and is 15-for-45 with three homers in his last 11 games against them. Make it four in 12 games. He blasted a belt-high outside fastball from JD Martin to right field, giving the Brewers a 1-0 lead. Can’t make that pitch to that hitter, especially one who’s tormented the Nats like Braun has.
7:33: Another hit for Michael Morse, who singles up the middle in the top of the second. And another double play for Ivan Rodriguez, who’s now grounded into 19 this season.
7:46: JD Martin got a visit from the Nationals’ training staff after a pitch he threw early in the second inning. He stayed in the game, but a more immediate concern is his pitch count; Martin has thrown 46 pitches in two innings, walking two batters in the second. The Nationals were warming up Collin Balester, who’s with the team for one night, at the end of the inning. He’d likely get the call if Martin’s headed for an early exit. With Ross Detwiler slated to pitch only five innings tomorrow, the Nationals can’t afford to get into their bullpen too early tonight.
8:00: After a brief conversation with trainer Lee Kuntz, manager Jim Riggleman decided to pull Martin, whose velocity was dipping into the mid 80s. He’s done after 2 1/3, and the Nationals will ask Balester to eat some innings before likely heading back to Syracuse. Not what the Nationals needed tonight, and they’ll have to check on Martin’s health a few days after losing Luis Atilano.
8:05: A bit of a break there for Balester, who got an inning-ending double play despite throwing a curveball that wasn’t particularly tight. Nonetheless, Casey McGehee hit it to Ryan Zimmerman, who started a double play to end the third.
8:14: Some things don’t change. Balester serves Jim Edmonds a 93-mph fastball up in the zone, and Edmonds blasts it to left field for a homer. The Brewers are now up 2-0, and Balester makes a mistake we’ve seen him commit dozens of times in the big leagues.
8:21: Parra has faced the minimum through four innings, getting the Nationals to chase his forkball in the dirt. But the Nationals have a baserunner to start the fifth, with Josh Willingham drawing a leadoff walk.
8:25: And another hit from Morse, who fights off an inside fastball and puts it through the middle of the infield for a base hit. Josh Willingham goes to third on Ivan Rodriguez’s deep flyout, and the Nationals have a chance to tie the game.
8:29: Morse set up the Nationals’ inning, but now he’s killed it. He took off around second base when Ian Desmond hit a deep fly ball to center field, and never saw Jim Edmonds make a diving catch. Had Morse not been thrown out, Josh Willingham’s run would’ve counted, and the game would be tied, though it looked like Willingham might have crossed home plate before Morse was thrown out anyway. As it is, the Nationals missed a chance and the Brewers still lead 2-0.
8:55: The game is now 2-1. The official scorer changed the Morse play from the fifth inning, ruling that Willingham did, in fact, score before Morse was called out. The umpire must have ruled that the run scored, and the official scorer missed it at the time. It’s corrected now, and the Nationals trail by one.
9:12: The Nationals have tied the game, scoring their second run on Roger Bernadina’s sacrifice fly to left. But Morse struck out on a slider to end the inning, unable to turn on the inside pitch with the bases loaded. So we’re tied at two heading into the Brewers’ half of the sixth. And...there’s my commercial. That’s weird.
9:27: The Brewers have the lead back, after Jonathan Lucroy doubled to center off Miguel Batista, putting Milwaukee up 3-2. Batista almost gave the Brewers the lead earlier in the at-bat, hard-hopping a cutter in the dirt outside the plate that Ivan Rodriguez had to backhand. But Lucroy got Batista anyway, and the Nationals head to the seventh needing a comeback against Carlos Villanueva.
9:50: We’re headed into the eighth, and the Nationals are still down 3-2. Give Tyler Clippard some credit for a strong inning, a night after blowing up against the Brewers. He struck out three batters, giving up a single to Prince Fielder, but got some swings and misses on his changeup. It was a good inning for Clippard as he tries to get his game back on track.
10:15: The Nationals have runners on first and second with none out in the ninth inning, and they’re on the road, where insurance runs are important. And manager Jim Riggleman pinch hit for Michael Morse with Nyjer Morgan. It seemed insane -- until it worked. Morgan dropped a perfect bunt down the third-base line, beating it out and loading the bases for Adam Dunn.
10:18: And the move worked -- at least to tie the game. Ryan Zimmerman scored on Dunn’s sacrifice fly, barely beating a laser throw from Carlos Gomez and sliding around Lucroy’s tag. Gomez has a strong arm, so it was questionable whether the fly would be deep enough to score Zimmerman. But the Nationals got the tying run, with a close call going their way despite Brewers manager Ken Macha’s protestations, and we’re tied with one out in the ninth.
10:22: Wil Nieves flied out to right for the second out, with Josh Willingham heading halfway home and retreating. Willingham made his move back as an instantaneous reaction to Joe Inglett’s throw. When the ball sailed way up the line, he had no time to head back toward home. And Alberto Gonzalez ends the inning, so we’re still tied heading to the bottom of the ninth.
10:36: Drew Storen walks Inglett, moving Weeks to second with Braun at the plate. Odds this game goes past the next batter?
10:38: Not very good. Braun bashes a double off the left-field wall, and the Brewers win 4-3. Again, a walk hurt the Nationals dearly; Craig Stammen walked Weeks in the middle of the fifth inning last night, helping the Brewers get back into the game. And Braun is 16-for-49 in his last 12 against the Nationals. He just kills them. And the Nationals have lost two straight when they could’ve had both of these games.