WASHINGTON - JULY 30: Nyjer Morgan #1 of the Washington Nationals slides into third base with a triple in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park on July 30 2010 in Washington DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Nationals Lose To Marlins, 1-0, In Game Featuring Another Nyjer Morgan Controversy

The Nationals wasted a one-hit performance from Jordan Zimmermann in a 1-0 loss to the Marlins, but the story after the game was Nyjer Morgan's decision to run over Marlins catcher Brett Hayes on a play at the plate.

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Jim Riggleman Defends Nyjer Morgan's Decision

Last night was another night of controversy for Nyjer Morgan, the Nationals' much beleaguered center fielder. On Tuesday night, Morgan decided to instigate a collision with Marlins' catcher Brett Hayes rather than slide under the throw.

The end result? Morgan was out and Hayes was injured. Both Hayes and Marlins third base coach Chad Tracy were none to pleased with Morgan's decision. Tracy did not go as far as to call Morgan a dirty player, but suggested that Morgan's style of play constituted a pattern

Via Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post: 

"I would say it was clean if I hadn't seen what he had done earlier in the week. I think he would have had a better chance to be safe if he was sliding. It fires you up when you see the way he's been playing the last week or so." 

Surprisingly, Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman defended Morgan's decision, or at least his decision making ability:

Via Mark Zuckerman:

"When I saw it live, I don't know. And even as I watch it there, I don't know. Hindsight's 20-20. I don't know if he should've slid or not. As it happened live, I didn't know how much the catcher's blocking the plate. As Nyjer's going in there and as he's making his decision, he doesn't know that maybe the ball's going to be up a little bit. He doesn't know that. He's got to make his decision before that. So I don't have any problem with his decision.

I don't want to jump on the bandwagon that wants to drive Morgan out of town. He is a passionate player, and players with just as much passion (coughOvenchkincough) get a lot more leeway in this town for rough stuff, probably because they are better at their profession. However, Morgan has obviously reached the point where both his play and decision making is about to become seriously unglued, and it might be best for the front office if they decide to take a break with the Tony Plush experiment.


Nationals Fall 1-0 In Extra Innings In Game Marred By Another Nyjer Morgan Controversy

It was another difficult night for the Nationals, as they fell 1-0 in extra innings, spoiling a spectacular one-hit start by Jordan Zimmermann in his second game back from Tommy John surgery. It was the kind of game that should be a positive, because even though they lost, Zimmermann pitched well.

Instead, the game was marred by another controversial play by Nyjer Morgan.

With the score tied at 0 in the top of the tenth inning, Morgan tried to score from second base on a fielder's choice ground ball from Adam Kennedy. He came rounding third, and the throw to catcher Brett Hayes beat him by several feet. But it was also high, so Morgan had a chance to beat the throw if he slid underneath Hayes.

Except, he didn't. Just like he did on Saturday, when he slammed into Cardinals catcher Brian Anderson, Morgan instead barreled into Hayes and tried to run through him. It didn't work, and the Marlins scored in the bottom of the inning to win the game. 

Manager Jim Riggleman benched Morgan after the episode on Saturday, which Morgan took issue with. Yesterday, Morgan also told Mark Zuckerman that "next time, I'll slide." Next time happened, and Morgan did not slide. It remains to be seen what Riggleman decides to do with Morgan now. 


Nationals Take On Marlins In Jordan Zimmermann Second Start This Season

(Sports Network) - The Nationals have high hopes that Stephen Strasburg will be able to have a successful return from Tommy John surgery down the road. They have similar feelings for former second-round pick Jordan Zimmermann.

The 24-year-old will make his second start since having the procedure and hopes to help Washington to a season-high fourth victory in a row this evening in the middle contest of a three-game set versus the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium.

Zimmermann went 3-5 with a 4.63 earned run average in 16 starts last year before right elbow pain forced him to the disabled list and eventual Tommy John surgery. He made his return on Thursday, but it was a rough one as the righty gave up five runs over four innings of a no-decision versus the Cardinals.

"I felt good the whole time," Zimmermann told Washington's website after making his first start since July 18 of last year. "The first three innings were good. The fourth inning, I wish I could have over."

Zimmermann faced the Marlins for the first and only time on July 1 of last year, getting a no-decision while allowing two runs over six frames.

The Wisconsin-born hurler will try to extend Washington's three-game winning streak, its first since July 29-31, after the club took last night's opener, 9-3, thanks in part to three-run homers by Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn.

Dunn added an RBI double and Jason Marquis picked up his first victory in eight decisions this year and first since Sept. 8, 2009. Washington did not seem fazed after the start of the game was delayed by two hours and 49 minutes due to rain.

"The conditions were sloppy for the outfielders, but everything else was fine," said Washington manager Jim Riggleman.

The victory halted Washington's five-game losing streak to Florida and was just its seventh in its last 27 trips to Miami.

Hanley Ramirez, who left Sunday's game early after feeling lightheaded, hit a solo homer in the bottom of the first inning, while Brett Hayes added a two- run homer for the Marlins, who have lost three in a row.

Alex Sanabia allowed four runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings to take the loss.

"It was an overall bad game. We lacked clutch hitting. We played bad defense," said Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez after his club was charged with a pair of errors and four wild pitches.

While Ramirez returned to action last night, Dan Uggla did not play because of a right groin strain that has him day-to-day.

Anibal Sanchez seeks a third straight winning start tonight. He bested the Mets on Thursday for his third victory in four outings even though he gave up four runs on nine hits and five walks over five innings of an 11-4 triumph.

"Sanchez didn't have his best game, but, still, he battled and kept us in the game," said Rodriguez. "He didn't have the command of his fastball -- that's why he was struggling."

The 26-year-old righty is 11-8 with a 3.29 ERA in 25 starts and has a 2.69 ERA in 12 outings at home this year. He has also never lost to the Nationals, going 4-0 with a 2.66 ERA in 11 starts. He beat them in Washington on Aug. 10, yielding just two unearned runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings.

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