Saturday, May 29, 2010

Nats Take Game 1 from NL-leading Padres

Well, after a weird start to Game 1 against San Diego, John Lannan had a great outing for a 5-3 win. When Padres Manager Bud Black submitted his lineup card on Friday evening, he listed Adam Russell as the starting pitcher. The problem with that? Well Adam Russell had just been sent down to AAA Portland earlier in the day. It was Clayton Richard who was supposed to get the start. The Nats officially protested the game; the umpires accepted, which meant if the Nats had lost, the league would have reviewed the game.

It wasn't a problem though, largely because of a 7 inning outing for the Nats starter Lannan, now 2-2. It was the first time any Nats starter had gone 7 or more innings since May 9th. On Friday, Lannan got 12 ground ball outs on only 88 pitches and 1 earned run. Good old fashioned Lannan ball. The Nats are surely thrilled to have the old-school New Yorker back. The Nats are now 23-0 when leading after 8 innings. That's a stat that you like to see from your team. Here's the breakdown:

The offense was almost non-existent for either team until the top of the 4th when Josh Willingham crushed a 3-run homer to deep center field off Clayton Richard (the actual starter). In the top of the 7th, with Richard still pitching, Ian Desmond went deep to left for his 4th HR on the year. This put the Nats up 4-1, and the Nats never looked back... almost.

In the bottom of the 7th, the first base ump missed a call on what almost became a crucial play in the game. Adam Dunn clearly tagged out Oscar Salazar in a not-so-close play at first. The Nats should have had their first out there. That play translated into a run for San Diego, making the game 4-2.

In the 8th, Clippard came in and looked great. His fastball was dancing all over. The kid needed some time off, which he's gotten lately. Unfortunately, it's because the Nats haven't been winning as many games, but Clippard looks like he's gotten enough rest to be effective here for a bit.

The Nats got a 5th run in the 9th after Adam Dunn laced a double to right center that would have been a home run in basically any other ball park. Adam Kennedy came in to pinch run, got moved over to 3rd, and Ian Desmond laid down a beautiful bunt for hit on a squeeze to score Kennedy, making the lead 5-2. Here's where the game got stressful.

Good ol' Matty Capps came in to attempt a save and looked a bit rattled to start once again, like he did in his first blown save of the game. He let a guy on first to start, and then Desmond, after a great game offensively, had 1 official error early in the game, and a costly non-error error in the 9th going for a spectacular play that got no outs with 2 men on base. Capps then continuously pitched away to Jerry Hairston, Jr. and allowed a slow rolling single, and the bases were loaded with no outs.

After he was put in this situation, Capps started to get squeezed. No strikes anywhere. So then Capps was forced to throw it over the plate for an RBI single, making the game 5-3 with the bases still loaded. Then Capps had to face the very dangerous (and significantly thinner) Matt Stairs. After leaving pitch after pitch up in the zone, Capps throws a breaking ball down the middle of the plate that Stairs just looked at, probably in awe that he had the audacity to throw it, for the 1st out. Then Capps struck out Venable for the 2nd out. To end the game, David Eckstein grounded out to Zimm. A good old fashioned Capps style save. Which he apologized for at the end of the game saying, "I'm sorry to make it interesting." Class act.

One bad note for the game, Maxwell looked terrible once more. He was swinging at bad pitches and never really made solid contact. He was (one more time) sent down to AAA Syracuse to make room for a pitcher, J.D. Martin, who will start today against the Padres in place of the injured Scott Olsen.

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