We’ll get to some early-game analysis here in a moment, but first a couple of pregame items…
— Nyjer Morgan had his broken hand examined in Baltimore today, and though the club doesn’t know exactly what he’ll need done (a pin inserted or some other kind of immobilization) the fact is he’ll need at least six weeks to recover. So his season’s over. It’s interesting to note that Jim Riggleman talked to Morgan a couple weeks ago about sliding feet-first instead of headfirst to avoid injuries like the one he sustained yesterday in Chicago. Morgan was receptive to the idea, but he didn’t want to change in midseason and figured he’d give it a shot next spring. Well, you know what wound up happening. “I think that most guys who are stealing bases in the last 10 years, that’s the only way they’ve done it. They’ve all gone in headfirst,” Riggleman said. “Then you get to the point where you’re tentative about going in feet-first, because you can hurt your ankle and your knee. We’ve just got to really impress it upon him and others in the system. I think we need to mandate that you’re just going to have to learn how to go feet-first.”
— The surprising decision to call up Pete Orr from Syracuse, according to both Riggleman and Mike Rizzo, was based in the fact the Nats wanted a left-handed bat off the bench, especially now with Willie Harris playing every day in center field. But for all you Justin Maxwell fans out there: Rizzo said the Nats will likely call the young outfielder up after rosters expand (around Sept. 7 once the Class AAA season is over) and Maxwell will get some time in center field down the stretch.
— Cristian Guzman was scratched from tonight’s lineup with a recurring case of bunions. Yes, those bunions can be pretty nasty.
As for the game…
It’s tied 1-1 after three innings, with John Lannan and John Smoltz dueling just as you’d expect. Lannan, who really needs a solid start after three straight poor outings, has looked sharp. He did load the bases to open the second, but in classic Lannan form battled his way out of it allowing only one run to score, thanks to a big double play grounder off the bat of Yadier Molina.
Smoltz, meanwhile, looks equally sharp in his home debut as a Cardinal. (Quick aside: I know we sometimes make a big deal out of how great a baseball town this is, but the Busch Stadium crowd gave Smoltz a standing ovation both when he walked in from the bullpen AND when he came up to bat in the third inning. How many other towns do you see that in?) Anyways, Smoltz had to battle out of a jam in the first, and the Nats did get him for a run in the third, with singles by Alberto Gonzalez and Willie Harris and a Pete Orr sac fly. Otherwise, the 42-year-old looks just fine.