Washington, DC - Greetings from our nation’s capital where there are big green blobs on the radar map, and I’m having a bad hair day. (Here’s your clue No. 1 to double-check that byline at the top.)
We’ve got an 80 percent chance of rain forecast for tonight in Washington and this little nugget: “a few storms may be severe” from our friends at weather.com. It says storms may produce large hail and strong winds. Let’s hope the walk over to the ballpark happens before or after the hail.
Of course, the worst of it looks like it’ll be coming between 8 and 9 p.m., when the hourly breakdown says there’s a 60-70 percent chance of rain, and there are little lightning bolts pictured. That’s terrible timing, when it comes right down to it. I think I’d rather get hailed on.
As for the prospects of a doubleheader tomorrow, it looks like tomorrow afternoon is OK but there’s more rain coming tomorrow night. And I do wonder, if it comes down to a doubleheader, what the Braves might have to do about catching. You’d rather not ask your catcher to catch two games of a doubleheader, and with Brian McCann having his vision problems, it could be an issue.
McCann was scheduled to visit an eye doctor here in DC today, so I should have an update later this afternoon once I get over to the clubhouse.
If the Braves do play tonight, Yunel Escobar is supposed to be back in the lineup. That’ll help. And obviously it gave the Braves a big lift to get Chipper Jones back yesterday in Pittsburgh.
That made the Braves 6-1 this season when Chipper is in the lineup, 0-5 when he’s not. When he’s in, the Braves are averaging 5.6 runs per game. When he’s not, they’re averaging 3.4 runs per game. Now, is one guy that important?
If anyone would be, I’m thinking Chipper is the guy, but I’m just wondering what you guys think. Has it gotten to be a mental thing, where if he’s out of the lineup, hopes are down, or when he’s in, guys are waiting for him to carry the load?
I’m doubting any of that is conscious with other players, but statistics do really bear out how valuable Chipper is, right there at home, in his usual No. 3 spot in the order.
The Marlins’ pitching had plenty to do with two of those Chipper-less losses, no doubt, and Chipper played the first of that series sweep and the Braves were still shut down 5-1. But still. (Yes, that’s the phrase I’m using to make my big point. I blame an early wake-up call – and here I am now with only a free candy bar for my Marriott patronage to keep me energetic.)
Outside of the weather, the Braves have to be happy to be here in DC to play the ole Nats, who took one on the chin yesterday from the Marlins, who rallied from 4-3 down in a ninth inning to win 7-4. The Nats are now 1-10 on the season.
The Braves swept three from the Nationals at Turner Field the weekend of their home-opener. There was the 6-5 win in 10 innings on April 10, featuring the two-hour rain delay. There was Kawakami’s first win as a Brave in a 5-3 game on April 11 and Jurrjens out-pitching Scot Olsen for the 8-5 win on April 12.
Tonight we see Jordan Zimmermann – no relationship to Ryan, apparently – who will make his major league debut on the mound. The Nationals’ top-rated prospect was projected as the Nats’ No. 5 starter this year but was not needed until now. He was called up from AAA Syracuse. The 22-year-old right-hander is 15-5 with a 2.81 ERA in 39 starts in the minors. He was a combined 10-3 last year with a 2.89 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 134 innings in Class A Potomac and Class AA Harrisburg.
Zimmermann was drafted in the second round out of the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point (that’s a new one to me), a pick that came as compensation when the Cubs signed free agent Alfonso Soriano.
As for the other Zimmerman – it’s a pretty big day for him too. Nats third baseman Ryan Zimmerman just inked a five-year $45 million contract extension. The press conference announcing it is scheduled for 4 p.m. today.
Meanwhile the Braves will run Derek Lowe out there who had his last start against the Nats (three innings) shortened by rain. He’d like a chance to get back on the mound and rebound from his career-high five walks in five innings of a 10-4 loss to Florida.
Let’s hope we get this one in.