Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats go for a two-game sweep of the Mets tonight.
After last night's bizarre 5-3 victory -- one that included an inside-the-park homer and a triple play by the Mets in consecutive innings -- the Nationals will try to go at it a little more conventionally tonight. Luis Atilano is on the mound, trying to continue his surprising run and make a case to remain in the rotation once Stephen Strasburg arrives.
Fredericksburg native John Maine takes the hill for a New York club that is in disarray at the moment. Jerry Manuel will be fielding a slightly more potent lineup tonight, with David Wright and Rod Barajas back in action.
Check back for updates throughout...
METS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Clear, 77 degrees, Wind 4 mph out to CF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
RF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
P Luis Atilano
SS Jose Reyes
2B Alex Cora
LF Jason Bay
1B Ike Davis
3B David Wright
CF Angel Pagan
C Rod Barajas
RF Jeff Francoeur
P John Maine
6:10 p.m. -- Breaking news: Mike Morse is no more. He's now going by the name Michael Morse. He also shaved his head the other day. Guess it's a complete personality makeover.
7:06 p.m. -- We're underway with a strike from Luis Atilano to Jose Reyes. It's Military Appreciation Night at the ballpark, so the Nats are wearing their alternate blue jerseys with the stars-and-stripes DC logo.
7:21 p.m. -- Well, this one didn't exactly get off to a rousing start. The Mets just scored three runs in the top of the first on three hits and a bad error that was charged to Ian Desmond but was really Adam Dunn's fault. With runners on first and second and one out, Ike Davis hit a chopper to the right side of the infield. Dunn scooped and had an easy play at second for the forceout. Except his throw sailed wide. Desmond technically still had his foot on the bag when the ball went off his glove, but he dropped it because it was a bad throw. Whoever you want to blame, that opened the floodgates. David Wright followed with a bases-clearing double to right-center, so just like that Atilano and the Nats face a 3-0 deficit. It might have been worse if not for a nice reaction play by Atilano on Rod Barajas' line drive comebacker. Atilano caught it, then underhand tossed it to first for the double play to end a frustrating inning.
7:26 p.m. -- Wow, here's an unexpected development. John Maine is out of the game after five pitches (four of them balls to Nyjer Morgan). Not sure what happened, but Maine was hunched over on the mound, and that prompted Jerry Manuel, pitching coach Dan Warthen and a trainer to rush out there. Left-hander Raul Valdes now pitching one batter into the game. The Nats, meanwhile, have their standard lineup for a right-handed pitcher (Bernadina, Kennedy). If you're Jim Riggleman, you can't pull those guys now and replace them with Guzman and Morse. But these won't be good matchups the first time through the order for the Nats.
7:34 p.m. -- Sure enough, Valdes got out of the first inning on six pitches. Figures.
7:53 p.m. -- The Nats got one run back in the second, thanks to a leadoff double by Dunn. It's going to take some clawing away over the course of the night to pull this one off, though the Mets bullpen certainly will be suspect. Valdes can probably go 3-4 innings maximum. One thing to consider: R.A. Dickey, last night's starter, could be available to come back tonight at some point.
8:10 p.m. Well, they haven't been able to take much advantage of this bullpen game from the Mets. Valdes has pitched well, allowing the one run on two hits through three innings of relief. He just struck out three in the third, including Ryan Zimmerman on a 3-2 fastball that looked a tad too inside to be called strike three. Nonetheless, Tim Tschida rung up Zim, who flipped his bat and helmet away in disgust. Still 3-1 Mets after three.
8:19 p.m. -- The John Maine Injury Update: The Mets are saying he was removed for precautionary reasons. Pitching coach Dan Warthen noticed during Maine's warmup session in the bullpen that his velocity was down and his mechanics weren't right. They had Valdes warm up right from the start of the game, and when it was clear after one batter something wasn't right, they pulled Maine. He'll see a doctor tomorrow.
8:52 p.m. -- Wow did this one get ugly in a hurry. The Mets scored five times in the fifth, thanks to a combination of poor pitching by Luis Atilano, poor defense by the Nats and a poor job of putting out the fire by Tyler Walker. Perhaps we should have seen something like this coming. This was the first time Atilano had faced a team for the second time, and the Mets (who didn't score off the rookie last time) had his number all night this time around. It's 8-1 in the bottom of the fifth of what has suddenly turned into a laugher.
9:07 p.m. -- It's 10-2 Mets in the sixth after Rod Barajas crushed a two-run homer off Walker, the catcher's 10th of the season. Do I really need to say any more at this point?
9:13 p.m. -- So much for the Nats taking advantage of John Maine's incredibly early departure. Raul Valdes just finally came out of the game, two batters into the sixth. That's five-plus innings of relief for Valdes, having allowed only one run (though he's still responsible for two men on base).
9:45 p.m. -- It's 10-3 Mets after seven. If you're still paying close attention to this game, I sincerely hope you're getting paid to do so.
10:12 p.m. -- Hold the phone ... here come the Nats! It's now 10-5 in the eighth, with the bases loaded and two out for Zimmerman.
10:16 p.m. -- Make it 10-6, with the bases still loaded and Adam Dunn at the plate representing the tying run. You may resume paying attention to this game for free.
10:19 p.m. -- Oh, well. At least that got interesting there for a moment. Dunn flies out to left, ending the eighth. The Nats, despite their spunk, still trail by four runs heading to the ninth.
10:31 p.m. -- Here we go, last chance for the Nats. Down 10-6 in the ninth. K-Rod on the mound. Willingham, Nieves and Harris at the plate. FYI: They are out of bench players, but the pitcher's spot doesn't come up for nine more batters.
10:38 p.m. -- They added one more run in the ninth, but that was it. Nats lose, 10-7, turning what had been a fiasco of a ballgame into an actual competitive exercise. Still goes in the books the same way. Washington falls back to .500 (21-21), with the Orioles coming to town this weekend for the first leg of this season's Battle of the Beltways.