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Game 43: Phillies at Nats

May 23, 2015, 12:40 PM EDT

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

It is an absolutely spectacular Saturday afternoon in the District of Columbia. I mean, somebody needs to hit a pause button on the atmosphere right now and keep this intact for the next three months. Is that doable?

The Nationals and Phillies resume their weekend series later this afternoon, with a 4:05 p.m. first pitch from Stephen Strasburg. Not to put too much stock in it, but this feels like a really important start for Strasburg. After a terrible outing in Arizona, he took a step forward in San Diego last weekend, but he’s still not all the way back to who he has been (or should be). He’ll get an opportunity to do that today.

Cole Hamels gets the start for Philadelphia, facing his old nemesis Bryce Harper. Dan Uggla gets the start at second base, though his numbers vs. Hamels (9-for-62, 3 HR, 7 BB, 22 K) aren’t much to get excited about.

Check back for updates throughout…

Nationals Park
Gametime: 4:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183
Weather: Sunny, 74 degrees, Wind 4 mph LF to RF

CF Denard Span
SS Ian Desmond
3B Yunel Escobar
RF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
C Wilson Ramos
2B Dan Uggla
LF Michael Taylor
RHP Stephen Strasburg

PHILLIES (18-26)
LF Ben Revere
SS Cesar Hernandez
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
3B Maikel Franco
RF Grady Sizemore
CF Odubel Herrera
C Carlos Ruiz
LHP Cole Hamels

HP Dan Bellino
1B Ben May
2B Bruce Dreckman
3B Alfonso Marquez (cc)

4:07 p.m. — And we’re underway on a perfect afternoon for baseball. It’s 69 degrees without a cloud in the sky as Stephen Strasburg delivers his first pitch to Ben Revere.

4:20 p.m. — Strong first inning for Strasburg, who retired the side on 17 pitches (11 strikes). He got a pair of groundballs and then struck out Chase Utley on a curveball. His fastball command was good, hitting 97 mph. All in all, a good start to this afternoon for Stephen. The Nats also went down in order against Hamels. To the second we go…

4:35 p.m. — The top of the second featured a rare sight (for this season, at least): a Ryan Zimmerman throwing error. Really, it was more of a decision error than anything. He tried to make a near-impossible throw to second base after charging in on a chopper. The throw came nowhere close to the bag, and he probably should’ve taken the easy out at first. No harm, though, because Strasburg picked him up. He struck out Odubel Herrera on a fastball, then got Carlos Ruiz to ground out. So that’s two scoreless for Strasburg, who has three strikeouts and has looked pretty good so far. Also looking good: Hamels, who has retired all six batters faced, including Bryce Harper (who struck out on three pitches to begin the bottom of the second).

4:50 p.m. — So much for the good vibes about Strasburg. He just gave up four runs in the top of the third, an inning that got worse as it progressed. It started with a walk to Ben Revere, continued with a cue-ball double to left by Cesar Hernandez. Strasburg nearly got out of it allowing just one run, but that’s when things got ugly. Ryan Howard turned on a fastball and roped it down the right-field line for a 2-out RBI double. Maikel Franco then crushed a high, 0-2 fastball to right-center for a 2-run homer. The Nats wanted Strasburg to be more aggressive with his fastball today. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t mean much if he can’t locate it. And he certainly didn’t on that pitch to Franco. It was shoulder-high and right over the plate. So just like that, the Nats are down 4-0 and Strasburg is struggling again.

5:18 p.m. — And it keeps getting worse. The Nats just played the top of the fourth like they did an early-April game. There were three errors (Harper, Desmond and Taylor), along with three more well-struck base hits off Strasburg, who was yanked by Williams mid-inning. He departs having allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. His season ERA is now 6.50, his WHIP is 1.69. The Nats are down 6-0, and there continue to be major questions about Strasburg.

5:43 p.m. — A.J. Cole took over for Strasburg, and promptly served up a homer to center to Ryan Howard, leaving Howard a triple shy of the cycle. The Nats lineup, meanwhile, has managed two infield singles and a walk against Hamels so far today. It’s 7-0 after five.

5:55 p.m. — Oh my lord, we just witnessed the ugliest play in MLB this season. By both teams. I mean, seriously, I can barely explain what happened. With a man on first base in the top of the sixth, Hernandez lined a ball to right-center. It scooted in between Span and Harper. Harper eventually got the ball back in, but there was nobody covering third base, so Hernandez advanced all the way there while Revere scored. But then the Nats appealed to first base, and ump Ben May ruled that Hernandez never touched the bag, so he’s out. The official scoring on that one: Hernandez is out 3-unassisted but still gets credit for an RBI because Revere scored on the “hit.” Whatever the case, it’s 8-0 Phillies and this one can’t end soon enough for Matt Williams and Co.

6:12 p.m. — Nothing happening in the seventh, aside from a lovely rendition of “God Bless America” during the stretch. It remains 8-0.

6:28 p.m. — On the bright side, A.J. Cole did save the bullpen today. He went 4 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits, striking out seven without walking a batter. That will help tomorrow and beyond, with a fresh pen available to Matt Williams. Meanwhile, we go to the ninth. It’s now 8-1 Phillies after Ian Desmond’s RBI double scored Michael Taylor in the bottom of the eighth.

6:34 p.m. — Casey Janssen just made his long-awaited Nats debut, pitching the top of the ninth. He retired the side, throwing 7-of-8 pitches for strikes. His fastball started out at 86 mph but ticked up to 88 mph by the end of the inning. That still seems a bit low for him, but the fact he’s healthy and pitching a scoreless inning in the big leagues is encouraging enough for today.

6:40 p.m. — That’ll do it. The Nats lose 8-1. It’s one loss after 18 wins in 22 games. But it sure wasn’t pretty. And it did nothing to ease concerns about Strasburg.

  1. Eugene in Oregon - May 23, 2015 at 1:06 PM


    • ArVAFan - May 23, 2015 at 3:13 PM

      To Eugene: my brother was actually that brewery’s first paying customer. Small world. And yes, that’s a good beer.

  2. Steady Eddie - May 23, 2015 at 1:08 PM

    Uggla’s starting at second because however unexciting his numbers are against Hamels, Espi’s are worse. Forget the exact numbers but they’re something like .145 in 23 ABs with no power. So at least Uggla gives the possibility of some XBHs and maybe an RBI or two.

  3. masterfishkeeper - May 23, 2015 at 1:12 PM

    I’m really curious why Rendon seems to be focusing on 2B. I suppose he’s even more valuable as a 2B than a 3B, but I think the injury risk is worse at 2B, plus Espinosa and Escobar (and Uggla) have 2B covered.

    • sec105rowwseat28 - May 23, 2015 at 1:25 PM

      Escobar was just beginning to learn how to play second base in spring training when he got hurt. When he came back, he had to play third because Rendon was hurt. Third base was a new position for him but he’s adapted to it well. It makes sense to leave him there for the rest of this season and not force him back to learning another new position mid-season. Rendon has played a lot of second base in his career, so it also makes sense to put him there when he returns. If he’s going to get hurt again, it could happen wherever he’s playing.

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 23, 2015 at 1:26 PM

      I think the issue is that Yunel Escobar does NOT have 2B covered. Although he got some reps there in Spring Training, he still hasn’t played a regular season game at 2B since 2007.

    • Steady Eddie - May 23, 2015 at 1:28 PM

      I read something somewhere (a quote from MW?) about the side to side motion for hitting not being a problem for Tony, which suggests that maybe the throwing motion could be. So maybe they think that the throw from second will put less stress on the problem muscles. Just a guess, but it would make some sense.

      • Doc - May 23, 2015 at 2:28 PM

        A bunch of considerations for 2B/3B for ARen and Esco, but I think that you might have something there.

  4. natsfan1a - May 23, 2015 at 1:19 PM

    Let’s go, NATS!!

  5. unterp - May 23, 2015 at 1:33 PM

    late, but let’s go Nats…

  6. Sonny G 10 - May 23, 2015 at 2:04 PM

    Let’s go Nats! Keep on a winning roll!

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 2:31 PM

    The Marlins will have Jose Fernandez, Mat Latos and Henderson Alvarez all on the DL.

    Your new Marlins #1: DAN HAREN

  8. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 2:41 PM

    As I mentioned in the victory wrap up last night.

    I am going with 3 friends from high school and our spouses are going to the series in Chicago and Cincinnati next week.

    Wearing Roark jersey to Monday’s game. My alternate red to Tuesday’JZim game, and Desmond to Wednesday’s game.

  9. Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 3:45 PM

    Hanley in #RedSox lineup along with Victorino. Sandoval still out. Castillo in center for Betts.

    Betts on the bench again as he’s batting .232. Again, caution to the wind, Betts could be a superstar and if you take out his September 2014 stats, he’s nothing special.

  10. TimDz - May 23, 2015 at 4:11 PM

    Weather is very “San Diego” like…..hopefully, SS will respond….

    • Eric - May 23, 2015 at 4:16 PM

      Certainly looks like he has his good stuff today… Just a little tighter on his command and we could be in for a treat.

  11. Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 4:16 PM

    Strasburg sitting 97 to 98 on the fastball and while that sounds great and his 1st inning was good he still hasn’t learned what made Verlander great as he would throw the fastball without max effort and then throw the reachback fastball when he wanted to blow someone away. It gives you the look of another pitch.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 4:22 PM

      I will also add to that max effort pitching early is like sprinting in the first leg of a mile race. Much of Strasburg’s issues are pacing himself and stamina.

  12. Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 4:25 PM

    Come on RZim. Lousy throw. E3

    • DaveB - May 23, 2015 at 4:27 PM

      Definitely rushed it … Had plenty of time

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 4:30 PM

        I agree with Mark Z as an error of decisions.

  13. nats1924 - May 23, 2015 at 4:27 PM

    i dunno FP. RZims throw looked more like the yips

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 4:28 PM

      A bad decision. Take the easy out. You’re not getting a doubleplay.

      • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 4:33 PM

        Inexperience shows occasionally.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 4:34 PM

        I know Ryan made that same play earlier this year and almost hit the runner. It was a matter of time.

  14. Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 4:27 PM

    David Wright has spinal stenosis which is the narrowing of the spine which causes pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Same medical condition that ended Lenny Dykstra’s career.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 4:35 PM

      Hopefully technology has improved the past 10 years

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 4:38 PM

        We will see. He’s had the early symptoms for a long time.

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 23, 2015 at 4:46 PM

      You hate to see that kind of thing.

  15. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 4:30 PM

    Strasburg pitching much better after the error than usual.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 4:32 PM

      Bottom of the order. I’d hope so.

      • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 4:36 PM

        Still have to produce .

  16. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 4:41 PM

    Carp just beat me was about type Mets down 3-0

  17. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 4:43 PM

    Speed up the guy’s bat by slowing the ball down. fast ball would have blown right by the batter.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 4:47 PM

      Worse part it followed walking Revere . no free runners please.

  18. Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 4:46 PM

    “Chelsea Janes: Taylor had trouble reading the ricochet off the jutted-out part of the wall there. Double for Hernandez. Two on for Utley.”

  19. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 4:48 PM

    Strasburg first inning great location, this inning the location is awful.

    How does he lose it so fast.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 4:51 PM

      The 4-seam went to junk. They’d seen it. Like I said, exerted full effort in the 1st inning.

      • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 5:01 PM

        Mix it up after that.

  20. Eugene in Oregon - May 23, 2015 at 4:48 PM


  21. Ghost of Steve M. - May 23, 2015 at 4:49 PM

    And there you go. No matter what Strasburg does the rest of the game, no Bueno. Had 2 outs and gave up 3 runs with 2 outs. Should’ve been in the dugout at 1-0.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 4:51 PM

      He is so inconsistent I quit depending on him long ago.

      He just teased us with the first two innings.

  22. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 4:49 PM

    There is a positive to that inning though. not all bad.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 4:53 PM

      The positive is I used Franco as my 3b and Howard my 1b in Draft Kings .

      Didn’ use Strasburg or Harvey.

      • dc27dan - May 23, 2015 at 5:02 PM

        You should pick more Nats as you always seem to win! We need your help! Haha

      • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 5:10 PM

        I pick Nats often had two last night Scherzer and Harper.

        But not against Hamals.

        MW finally comes out way late again.

        Strasburg has an issue that needs fixing. Maybe when Fister cones back a stint in Syracuse to fix the problem is in order.

  23. Danny - May 23, 2015 at 4:50 PM

    Saw this coming. Thanks Steve for making my trip to Nats park extra special!

  24. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 4:59 PM

    Strike 3 to Span looked inside. About where Harper swung at his strike 3.

  25. AlexandriaNatFan - May 23, 2015 at 5:06 PM

    THAT’S the kind of thing that pi**es me off about Stras. Back up the throw and don’t be lazy! Grrrr.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 5:14 PM

      Three times not backing up. That takes no effort.

    • NatsLady - May 23, 2015 at 5:16 PM

      I think he’s hurt. Suspect the ankle. He is just frozen on the mound. Also, that might explain why the first couple of innings are good, then blouwup. Painkillers wear off.

  26. dc27dan - May 23, 2015 at 5:06 PM

    Strasburg ERA sits at 6.34, the problem is that non quality starts are becoming the norm, and this is unacceptable for a supposed ace.

    • Danny - May 23, 2015 at 5:07 PM

      Supposed ace!? Maybe 3 years ago..

      • dc27dan - May 23, 2015 at 5:10 PM

        For as much as i don’t consider him one, he was our first starter of the rotation both in the regular and post season last year.

      • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 5:16 PM

        He is pitching like he is the number 5starter.

        Maybe Billy Bean will take him for Clippard.

      • tcostant - May 23, 2015 at 5:43 PM

        I love that, lol

  27. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 5:07 PM

    Harper a great play followed by a throw off target and Strasburg snoozing

    Then a hit that would have been an out if Desmond was back.

    I wish Strasburg would love up to his hype like Bryce is living up to his or Scherzer is living up to his.

  28. TimDz - May 23, 2015 at 5:09 PM

    Am I the only one that wanted Ramos to stick Colbert a bit harder with the tag?

    • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 5:17 PM

      A good snaking would be fine with me.

  29. Joe Seamhead - May 23, 2015 at 5:09 PM

    Harper’s throw was just all wrong in every way.

    • dc27dan - May 23, 2015 at 5:12 PM

      It really was, but Strasburg has to cover home there. He also forgot to do it in the third inning, that’s pitching 101 and unacceptable out of a big league starter.

  30. Eric - May 23, 2015 at 5:09 PM

    Oy vey Stras.

  31. AlexandriaNatFan - May 23, 2015 at 5:12 PM

    They should bench Stras for a game just like they did Harper last year (?) for not running out a ground ball. Bloop hits will happen. Errors are frustrating. But not backing up your catcher is just plain lazy.

  32. Joe Seamhead - May 23, 2015 at 5:14 PM

    Four errors and Stras was bad, but the bad defense was a big part of this.

  33. Joe Seamhead - May 23, 2015 at 5:14 PM

    Four errors and Stras was bad, but the bad defense was a big part of this.

  34. scmargenau - May 23, 2015 at 5:15 PM

    Ok, anyone else done with Strasbourg?? Keep zim, trade stras after a good outing

    • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 5:19 PM

      See my suggestion above trade to Oakland get Clippard

  35. Just. Dave - May 23, 2015 at 5:19 PM

    Time to move Strasburg to the pen. swap him with Roark. Strasburg could be an awesome set up guy.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 5:52 PM

      Seems to get 1 inning in. I wouldn’have a problem with trying that. One quality start in 9 attempts is not working for me.

  36. conatsguy - May 23, 2015 at 5:20 PM

    Dang, did the Nats even look at a pitch that inning?

  37. Eugene in Oregon - May 23, 2015 at 5:22 PM

    Didn’t they put a graphic earlier to the effect that the Phillies hadn’t scored 7 runs all season? Wow.

  38. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 5:28 PM

    Howard and Franco hits again up to 12th of 3400

    Playing 3 Phil’s as I figured Stras would lay an egg and he did Harrere the other one.

    McCutchen and Choo my other outfielders also homered.

  39. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 5:30 PM

    We were down nine to the Braves and came back. Let’s get serious and start hitting it like they have.

  40. scnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 5:35 PM

    Either SS is hurt or he has just lost movement. I’m hoping he’s hurt.

  41. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 5:45 PM

    Taylor 50% of his outs are K. He needs more seasoning for sure.

    I say look at what it might take to keep Span.

  42. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 5:46 PM

    MW threw in the white flag appears.

  43. Eugene in Oregon - May 23, 2015 at 5:48 PM


  44. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 5:54 PM

    Let’s chip away, not quitters.

  45. kirbs3256 - May 23, 2015 at 6:00 PM

    Looks like we might get an inning from our shut down lefty, Clint Robinson!

    • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 6:15 PM

      With no days off, I am all for him hitting for Cole in the 8th and pitch the 9th.

  46. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 6:17 PM

    The 7th inningthe batters look totally already out of the game.

  47. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 6:18 PM

    The Mets aren’ gaining a game today we will be up 1.5 still.

  48. kirbs3256 - May 23, 2015 at 6:18 PM

    Man, Cole has done a great job.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 6:20 PM

      He has been solid.

  49. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 6:19 PM

    Nice play by Uggla and Moore

  50. senators69 - May 23, 2015 at 6:21 PM

    I said it in a post during AJ Cole’s first (disastrous) start — all past pitchers who had as awful a debut as Cole never amounted to anything in the bigs. This data from one of the big analytical sites. Will Cole be the first to go against past history? I wouldn’t bet on it. Nats have to try have Cole right the ship for a short time (“lipstick on the pig”) to hope he has any value in a future trade. Don’t think the As would have him back!

  51. senators69 - May 23, 2015 at 6:25 PM

    Regards Stras, something is clearly wrong. He’s never been this bad for this long. Nats need to work with him to help him get it together. Once Fister is back (hopefully soon), then maybe they should send Stras to AAA to “rehab”. Worked to Storen.

    • hitmeimopen - May 23, 2015 at 6:30 PM

      It’s his head. He can’t handle it when things don’t go the way he planned. No poise. No killer approach. IMO he’s done.

      • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 6:41 PM

        The way to solve that is then do what you plkan!, then you wouldn’t have to worry.

  52. manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 6:39 PM

    Get ready for tomorrow boys.

    1 game at a time. Need to win the series.

  53. Eugene in Oregon - May 23, 2015 at 6:39 PM

    That’s the way you hurt yourself — and, if so, the team.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 23, 2015 at 6:45 PM

      Correct. To me that is worse getting tossed.

      Tomorrow is another day, go get 3 hits tomorrow.

      I don’t like swing two is tonight swinging at balls. That is the not as good Harper.

      Hadn’t struck out on bad pitches in 3 weeks. I was afraid he might have trouble with Hamel’s.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
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