Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
With some rain and no Strasburg, tonight's game probably won't draw a full house.
Apparently, everyone isn't as interested in seeing the big-league debuts of both Brad Lincoln and Jose Tabata as they were in seeing Stephen Strasburg.
Don't overlook those two Pirates rookies, though, because they deserve attention. Lincoln is the organization's top pitching prospect, a first-round pick in the 2006 draft who missed all of 2007 after Tommy John surgery but has bounced back since to dominate the minor leagues. The 25-year-old right-hander isn't overpowering, but he's got a good fastball, locates well and didn't allow a run in either of his last two starts at Class AAA. Tabata, meanwhile, is one of the top position players in Pittsburgh's system, a speedy outfielder who was picked up from the Yankees a couple of years ago in one of the Bucs' many deadline-day trades.
John Lannan takes the mound for the Nationals, looking to continue his recent resurgence since dealing with those elbow issues. Ivan Rodriguez is not behind the plate. Jim Riggleman said he will be more cautious about using the veteran catcher too much. He played Monday in Potomac and last night here, so he gets tonight off, then will probably come back and catch three in a row.
Check back for updates throughout...
PIRATES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2-HD, MLB Network (outside D.C./Pittsburgh)
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Chance of storms, 74 degrees, Wind 8 mph RF to LF
2B Cristian Guzman
CF Nyjer Morgan
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
C Wil Nieves
P John Lannan
LF Jose Tabata
2B Neil Walker
CF Andrew McCutchen
1B Garrett Jones
3B Andy LaRoche
RF Lastings Milledge
SS Ronny Cedeno
C Jason Jaramillo
P Brad Lincoln
6:45 p.m. -- There's a guy in the upper deck here wearing a Nationals jersey with "Harper" on the back. Strasburg is SO yesterday.
7:00 p.m. -- Apparently Strasburg will be presenting the Top 10 List on Letterman tomorrow night. This is getting out of control.
7:06 p.m. -- John Lannan throws a first-pitch fastball to Jose Tabata for ball one. There are maybe 5,000 people actually in their seats. Suffice it to say, the atmosphere is a bit different than it was 24 hours ago.
7:08 p.m. -- Forgot to mention this earlier, Scott Olsen update: The left-hander's arm didn't feel well after a bullpen session the other day, so he's been shut down again and will have to start up a throwing program once again. There's no timetable for his return. Needless to say, it's going to be a while.
7:16 p.m. -- Lannan put himself in a big jam in the top of the first, allowing back-to-back infield singles to Tabata and Walker. But he battled to strike out McCutchen and after issuing a two-out walk to LaRoche that loaded the bases, he got our old friend Milledge to foul out. So it's scoreless heading to the bottom of the first.
7:24 p.m. -- Welcome to the majors, Brad Lincoln. My name is Adam Dunn. I hit towering home runs to right-center, putting my team up 2-0 after one inning. Please don't take it personally.
7:31 p.m. -- Lannan can't be too happy about surrendering Lincoln's first career hit, a two-out single to left. But he was otherwise solid in the top of the second, retiring the other three batters he faced with some help from Roger Bernadina, who made a nifty catch on Jason Jaramillo's pop-foul near the first-base stands. 31 pitches for Lannan through two, 19 of them strikes.
7:36 p.m. -- Commenter "Mac" requested a Jesus Flores update, so here you go: He's made progress in his throwing program and is now throwing from 90 feet. He continues to bat in simulated games in Viera. He still hasn't been totally cleared to go on a rehab assignment. Once he does, he'll still take the full 20 days down there. So there's still no reason to think we're going to see him anytime soon.
7:55 p.m. -- The Pirates finally got to Lannan in the third, stringing together three singles and two walks (one intentional) to plate three runs. Lannan wasn't helped by Nyjer Morgan, who made an unnecessary and wild throw to the plate on Milledge's RBI single that allowed Milledge to take an extra base and ultimately score himself. So one of the three runs is unearned. Pirates now lead 3-2 in the bottom of the third. Lannan has already allowed six hits and three walks.
8:22 p.m. -- Not exactly a pitchers' duel tonight. The Pirates got another run off Lannan in the top of the fourth, thanks to two more singles (one by Tabata, who then stole second, one by Walker). Everything the Bucs are hitting off Lannan is right back up the middle, not a good sign. However, the Nats are starting to figure out Lincoln. Bernadina and Desmond both doubled in the bottom of the fourth, and Lannan beat out a grounder to short that took a funny hop, allowing another run to score. So it's now 5-4 Nats, and we're only through four innings here.
8:33 p.m. -- A very shaky outing by Lannan is now over after only 4 2/3 innings. The lefty wasn't sharp, and as I said earlier, the Pirates were all over his stuff, sending a bunch of rockets back up the middle. The final straw was Lincoln's second hit in three career at-bats, a shot off Lannan's leg that careened into shallow left field. Lastings Milledge, who tried his best not to score with his atrocious baserunning earlier in the inning, had no trouble coming around on that base hit. So we're now tied 5-5, still in the fifth. Lannan wound up giving up 10 hits while walking three. Definitely a step backwards for him.
9:10 p.m. -- Solid job by Tyler Walker recording four outs in relief without allowing a run. But the Nats' bats have cooled off against Lincoln, who hasn't allowed a run since the fourth. It's still 5-5 in the bottom of the sixth, with Drew Storen coming out of the bullpen.
9:17 p.m. -- Tonight's paid attendance: 18,876.
9:23 p.m. -- The Nats take the lead with some small ball. Guzman singles to lead off the seventh against reliever D.J. Carrasco, then takes second on Morgan's sac bunt. Zim screams a comebacker off Carrasco's leg, which then rolls into shallow right field for an RBI single. Washington now leads 6-5 in the seventh. "Clip" is warming. Storen would be in line for the win.
9:52 p.m. -- The Nats haven't exactly played a great ballgame, but they're three outs from a 7-5 win. If they pull this off, the credit will go to the bullpen, which so far has churned out 3 1/3 scoreless innings, with Matt Capps looking to finish it off in the ninth.
10:01 p.m. -- It didn't quite have the same energy as last night, but it counts the same in the standings. Nats win, 7-5. One night after Strasburg gets his first career win, Storen gets his second career win. Capps notches save No. 20. Nats improve to 29-31, with a shot at a series sweep tomorrow. Livan Hernandez vs. Zach Duke.