Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
AT&T Park, home of the Giants, sopping wet today.
Today, however, is not the day to venture out. As you can see from the above photo, it's raining. It started around noon, has intensified since and is expected to continue all evening. The locals say this is incredibly rare, certainly for this time of the year. That's also what they said when we were in Denver two weeks ago. I thought the black cloud that followed the Nationals the last two years had moved north to Baltimore. Guess I was wrong.
Anyways, if they do get tonight's game in, we should be looking at a low-scoring affair. This whole series should be low-scoring, if for no reason other than the Giants possess a great pitching staff and a horrible offense (they've scored five total runs in their last seven games). The Nats, meanwhile, send "ace" Livan Hernandez to the mound and are dealing with a depleted lineup now with Ivan Rodriguez on the DL. (I know Pudge had been slumping some at the plate, but he's still more productive than Wil Nieves and Carlos Maldonado).
I'll keep you posted on the weather up until gametime, and then I'll keep you posted on the game itself...
NATIONALS at GIANTS
Where: AT&T Park
Gametime: 10:15 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Showers, 50 degrees, Wind 8 mph out to LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
C Wil Nieves
P Livan Hernandez
RF Andres Torres
SS Edgar Renteria
2B Freddy Sanchez
1B Pablo Sandoval
LF Aubrey Huff
3B Juan Uribe
C Bengie Molina
CF Aaron Rowand
P Todd Wellemeyer
6:27 p.m. -- Oh, for those interested in watching a 30-second snippet of me talking about Stephen Strasburg on ESPN's SportsCenter, that will be airing around 6:45 p.m. on the east coast.
8:40 p.m. -- Weather update: The rain has let up, though the tarp is still on the field. Sound like they're at least going to make a good-faith effort to get this one in.
8:43 p.m. -- Draft update: Mike Rizzo says he has decided who to take with the No. 1 overall pick. But he's not going to reveal the player's name. "We're not going to announce who it is right now, but we feel we've narrowed it down to one specific person," Rizzo said. The club's scouts and crosscheckers will all convene in D.C. this weekend to start putting the big board together. I would be very surprised if Bryce Harper's name does not sit at the top of that list.
8:49 p.m. -- Saturday starter update: The Nats will call up either J.D. Martin or Matt Chico to make the spot start in San Diego. Rizzo said they won't use a reliever.
9:08 p.m. -- Catcher's update: Jim Riggleman said Wil Nieves will get the bulk of the time behind the plate in Ivan Rodriguez's absence, with Carlos Maldonado in a true backup role. The club expects Pudge will be ready to return after his minimum 15 days on the DL, though given the fact he's been dealing with back issues since Opening Day, you've got to wonder whether this is going to linger all season. Meanwhile, for all of you wondering about Jesus Flores' status, he has been catching and hitting in simulated games in Viera with no problems. He has not, however, been cleared to throw the ball around the infield, only back to the pitcher. Not until he's ramped up his throwing program enough to be allowed to do that will he then be cleared to go on a minor-league rehab assignment.
9:36 p.m. -- For what it's worth, Matt Chico threw 92 pitches tonight for Syracuse over five innings. For Chico to start Saturday for the Nats, he'd have to come back on short rest. That doesn't seem too likely now, does it? J.D. Martin: Come on down!
10:15 p.m. -- And we are underway, under cloudy but dry skies (for now). Todd Wellemeyer starts San Jose native Nyjer Morgan off with a strike.
10:18 p.m. -- That sure didn't take long. Wellemeyer sets down the side on seven pitches. Livan Hernandez takes the mound against his former team. Fans had some boos for him when his name was announced earlier.
10:20 p.m. -- NatsTown is alive and well in San Francisco. Guy sitting a few rows in front of the press box wearing a No. 26 blue Nats jersey with "Roosevelt" on the back.
10:34 p.m. -- Uh-oh. Roger Bernadina took a fastball off his right knee and crumpled to the ground. Didn't look good, though Roger's now up on his feet and jogging to first base. Big sigh of a relief. After all he's been through, you'd really feel for the guy to suffer another injury now that things have begun to go well for him.
10:42 p.m. -- Livo is on tonight. His sinker has great movement and his curveball is bending some knees. He got a pair of strikeouts on that Bugs Bunny pitch in the second. We're scoreless through two.
10:56 p.m. -- Wasted opportunity for the Nats there. They had runners on second and third with one out and the top of the lineup up and failed to score. Nyjer Morgan was the big culprit, popping out and failing to bring either runner home. Cristian Guzman then grounded out to end the third and keep this game scoreless.
11:20 p.m. -- Man, is Livo fun to watch sometimes. The guy just knows how to pitch. Facing a possibly dangerous situation in the fourth, he pitched around Aubrey Huff to put runners on the corners with two outs. Then facing a full count against Juan Uribe, he refused to give in and fired up a 65 mph curveball that left Uribe baffled. Just some fabulous pitching from the master, keeping this game scoreless heading to the fifth.
11:46 p.m. -- So much for Livan's dominant performance. He completely fell apart in the fifth inning, allowing four runs on five hits in the process, all of them with two outs. Riggleman sent up Alberto Gonzalez to hit for him in the top of the sixth, and Tyler Walker (a San Francisco native) is now on to pitch the bottom of the sixth, with the Nats suddenly trailing 4-0 and showing no signs of life against Wellemeyer.
11:56 p.m. -- And just as the Nats finally get to Wellemeyer, with three straight singles producing their first run of the night, the skies have opened and fans are scurrying for cover.
12:06 a.m. -- They managed to add one more run after reliever Sergio Romo entered, with Ian Desmond crushing a ball to the warning track in center field but having to settle for a sacrifice fly. So it's now 4-2 Giants at the seventh-inning stretch. Tyler Walker back out for his second inning of work.
12:28 a.m. -- Nice relief work from Walker and Sean Burnett to navigate their way through the seventh without allowing a run. It may be too much to ask for a late rally -- the Giants' bullpen has a 1.99 ERA at home this season -- but really the Nats have gotten outstanding pitching all night except for that five-batter stretch in the fifth inning when Livo crumbled.
12:36 a.m. -- Last chance for the Nats. They trail 4-2 heading to the ninth, with Giants closer Brian Wilson coming out of bed to try to close this one out. (Bad Beach Boys joke there.) Zimmerman, Dunn and Willingham due up.
12:44 a.m. -- That'll do it. The Nats go down quietly in the ninth, striking out three times against Wilson and ending a very quiet night at the plate overall. They lose 4-2, amassing only four hits (three of them in succession in the seventh). That wasn't enough to overcome Livan Hernandez's one bad inning. Washington falls back to .500, with Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito waiting the next two days. Yikes.