Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals for The Washington Times.
Rick Ankiel is out of the starting lineup today and the center fielder, who made two diving plays on Monday night -- one that was a catch and another that was not -- and was seen in the clubhouse postgame icing his hand, may be getting a day because of injury. Here are the full lineups.
Wilson Ramos hitting cleanup on Monday night was more a product of first baseman Adam LaRoche getting the day off. But while that particular instance may have been a product of circumstance, it may not be long before the rookie is considered for the role on a regular basis -- and another example of how fortunate the Nationals were to have acquired Ramos to add to their arsenal with Ivan Rodriguez.
The Nationals have played 28 games this season but as they open a nine-game, 10-day road trip through three National League East foes tonight in Philadelphia, they've essentially got a clean slate. A .500 team through the season's first month-plus, the Nationals will put the assets that got them to this point -- mainly solid pitching -- to the test against Philadelpha, Florida and Atlanta. Plus, a look at how they've done in the past against LHP Cole Hamels.
After Michael Morse and Jerry Hairston Jr. each struck out in the fifth inning Monday night to strand Wilson Ramos, Hairston took the opportunity -- as a veteran -- to offer some advice to Morse. In the seventh, Morse drove in the game-winning run and Hairston followed with an RBI-double to give the Nationals their only runs of the night. To hear them tell it, it was an important one.
There's clearly bigger news going on in the world today than the Nationals and Giants' series finale tonight at Nationals Park but the Nationals -- with credit to some fortuitous timing -- will be able to highlight the news of Osama Bin Laden's death with a pre-planned military appreciation night that could not have come at a better time.
An interesting thing happened as the Nationals were en route to a 5-2 win over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday afternoon. They got closer to defining roles in their previously-undefined bullpen.
The Nationals are running out a very different lineup for Sunday's game against the San Francisco Giants.
With John Lannan working in a 1-1 game with runners on second and third, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman made a decision that, ultimately cost his team the game. Instead of bringing in reliever Tyler Clippard, who'd been warming, to face Giants' backup catcher Eli Whiteside, who'd homered once off Lannan already, Riggleman called for the intentional walk. Loading the bases for the pitchers spot, pinch hitter Aubrey Huff then walked on a 3-2 changeup to force home the game-winning run. It was a decision that haunted Riggleman and he took full responsibility for it after the game.
Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will have surgery Tuesday morning in Philadelphia to repair a torn rectus muscle in his abdomen, the team announced Saturday. Zimmerman will then go through a six-week rehabilitation process before he could be back on the field for Washington.
The Nationals have gone back to their more traditional lineup against a left-handed pitcher after Laynce Nix subbed in for Michael Morse on Friday night. Wilson Ramos also gets the start for the second day in a row, something that will become more and more common. Here are the full lineups:
The Nationals were able to make Tim Lincecum look human Friday night, continuing a trend where the San Francisco Giants right-hander struggles against Washington. The Nationals are hoping to keep that going against left-hander Jonathan Sanchez in a lefty-lefty matchup with Sanchez facing John Lannan. Here's how they've done against Sanchez in the past.
Laynce Nix was 2-for-3 on Friday night and struck the decisive blow to Tim Lincecum as Jason Marquis spun a shutout on the other side of things for the Nationals. The start, which was just Nix's sixth of the season, may be something we see a lot more of here in the coming days and weeks.
Tim Lincecum is a good pitcher. That shouldn't come as a surprise to baseball fans anywhere, but take Tim Lincecum and put him on the road -- in 2011 at least -- and he's even better. In 21 2/3 innings as the visiting starting pitcher this season, Lincecum has allowed just two earned runs total -- good for the lowest road ERA in the major leagues at 0.83.
The Nationals have struck out 169 times this season. Only 11 teams in the major leagues have struck out less often than the Nationals, an admirable mark for an offense that has struggled to find its rhythm early this season. Facing strikeout master Tim Lincecum tonight at Nationals Park, though, they could end up closer to the bottom of the list by night's end. Also, Morse sits as Nix gets the start in left.
There was a lot to dissect after the Nationals 4-3 victory over the Mets. The main storyline of the night was new father Ian Desmond returning from paternity leave and hitting a triple and a solo home run to lead the way for Washington. But Drew Storen's ninth, Livan Hernandez's outing both on the mound and at the plate, and Ivan Rodriguez's throw to catch Jose Reyes stealing shouldn't be overlooked.
By John McAfee