The main event this afternoon is most likely going to be Nyjer Morgan’s triumphant return to Washington D.C., coming to town with the Milwaukee Brewers with a .476 average (10-for-21) with two doubles, two triples, two walks and two RBI.
Morgan has become the darling of the Milwaukee media, taking any chance he can to emphasize how happy he is not to be in Washington anymore and emphasizing his entertaining alter ego Tony Plush who became popular here in Washington when Morgan got off to a similarly torrid start after he was traded to D.C. from Pittsburgh.
To his credit, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman took the high road on Thursday when asked about the center fielder’s return. Saying that the “only reason” Nyjer’s not here anymore is because the team had decided Rick Ankiel was going to get most of the playing time in center field and the team didn’t feel Morgan fit the role of a fourth outfielder. He went on to say that it’s a trade that seems to have worked out for both sides, or at least could if Cutter Dykstra becomes a part of the Nationals’ future.
There was a lot of talk this week about Jayson Werth and whether he’d put more pressure on himself to do well against his former team. While we can take Werth at his word when he admits that, sure, it’s special to do well against the Phillies, there’s a good chance Morgan wont shrug it off that simply if he torches his former team this weekend.
The Nationals will send Tom Gorzelanny, Jason Marquis and Livan Hernandez to the mound in the series, starting with Gorzelanny tonight.
But for the Nationals, they’ll have to worry about left-hander Chris Narveson, who has yet to give up an earned run in two starts this season and has allowed just nine hits. He’s walked only four and struck out 14 batters in 13 innings.
Riggleman said yesterday that he doesn’t expect to make wholesale changes to his lineup after they were baffled by Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee on consecutive nights. The main thing we could see today is Wilson Ramos playing back-to-back games for the first time this season as the Nationals face two left-handed pitchers in a row in Lee and Narveson.
Here are the Nationals career numbers against Narveson, limited as they may be: (spoiler alert, take a look at Michael Morse’s career numbers against him)
Ian Desmond: 1-for-3 (.333), .333 OBP, 2 K
Rick Ankiel: 1-for-2 (.500), .500 OBP, 1 K
Jayson Werth: 0-for-2, 1 K
Adam LaRoche: 1-for-3 (.333), 1 RBI, .333 OBP
Michael Morse: 2-for-4 (.500), 2 HR, 4 RBI, .500 OBP, 1 K
Wilson Ramos: Never faced
Danny Espinosa: Never faced
Jerry Hairston Jr.: Never faced
Tom Gorzelanny: Never faced
Ivan Rodriguez: 1-for-4 (.250), .250 OBP
Laynce Nix: 0-for-1