Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Losers in five of their last six games, the Nats try to get back on track tonight.
The next two evenings against the Mets, then, start looking really important. After dropping last night's game 6-4, the Nats can ill afford another loss that would drop them to three games under .500.
Tom Gorzelanny, still in search of his first win with the Nationals, gets the ball against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Jim Riggleman is sticking with his same lineup from last night, including rookie catcher Wilson Ramos (who is starting his third straight game for the first time).
Updates to come...
METS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Chance of storms, 76 degrees, Wind 16 mph out to LF
STARTING LINEUPS6:50 p.m. -- It hasn't been announced officially, but the start of this game is going to be delayed. There's a major storm sweeping through town from the southwest, with tornado warnings posted in a few areas. No rain here at the ballpark yet, but the tarp is over the infield and pitchers haven't begun warming up.
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
LF Michael Morse
3B Jerry Hairston
SS Alex Cora
P Tom Gorzelanny
SS Jose Reyes
2B Justin Turner
3B David Wright
RF Carlos Beltran
LF Jason Bay
1B Ike Davis
CF Scott Hairston
C Mike Nickeas
P R.A. Dickey
7:18 p.m. -- While we wait for this game to start, a couple of notes: 1) Ian Desmond is scheduled to rejoin the Nats in time for tomorrow's game after missing the last two for the birth of his son. The club will need to take someone off the roster to open space for Desmond. No actual knowledge here, but just a hunch that Brian Bixler will be sent down. That would keep Roger Bernadina around for a little while, at least until Ryan Zimmerman comes off the DL. ... 2) Wilson Ramos, as you know, is making his third straight start behind the plate. Jim Riggleman said this could become more of a regular occurrence. "I was looking for some times to start playing him three days in a row, and even more," Riggleman said. "The only reason we don't play him a lot more than that is because Pudge is such a good player himself. Pudge has been contributing a lot. Pudge has gotten some big hits for us. He's doing his thing behind the plate, he's playing very well. So we certainly can't ignore what Pudge is doing for us. But everybody knows that Ramos is our future, and we don't want Ramos to be a two-days-in-a-row or every-other-day guy. We've got to get him taking the load on that catchers take, which is sometimes a week. We won't do that because of the quality of Pudge's play. But we will see him more often than we have been."
7:37 p.m. -- The tarp has been removed, the pitchers are warming up and we should have baseball soon.
7:50 p.m. -- And we are underway following a 45-minute delay. Tom Gorzelanny starts Jose Reyes off with a fastball for strike one.
7:54 p.m. -- Very nice top of the first for Gorzelanny. He struck out Reyes looking at a 91-mph fastball on the inside corner, then retired Justin Turner and David Wright. Needed only nine pitches (eight strikes) to retire the side.
8:00 p.m. -- Two-out double from Jayson Werth, but that was the extent of the Nats' offensive attack in the bottom of the first. R.A. Dickey got Danny Espinosa to pop out, Rick Ankiel to ground out and Adam LaRoche to whiff at an 0-2 knuckleball.
8:19 p.m. -- The Nats aren't having a whole lot of success against Dickey's knuckleball so far. Michael Morse did send a deep fly ball to right, and Jerry Hairston singled to left in the bottom of the second, but Alex Cora struck out to end the inning. Still scoreless here.
8:28 p.m. -- The Mets break out some small ball to take a 1-0 lead in the third. Mike Nickeas beat out an infield single when Espinosa couldn't quite get to his sinking liner. Nickeas then took second on a sac bunt, took third on a groundball to the right side and scored on Turner's single to right. So it's 1-0 as we go to the bottom of the third.
8:49 p.m. -- Morse has hit two deep fly balls to right field in two at-bats tonight. His latest was deep enough to score Werth from third and tie the game up at 1-1 in the fourth. Either Dickey is pounding the strike zone with his knuckleball, or the Nats' hitting approach is to go up there hacking. Just about every batter has swung at the first pitch he's seen.
9:05 p.m. -- The early hacking approach worked again in the fifth. Ankiel lined Dickey's first pitch to left for a two-out RBI double, scoring Cora. Nats take a 2-1 lead, with Gorzelanny heading back out for the top of the sixth having allowed only three hits so far.
9:13 p.m. -- Six strong innings so far for Gorzelanny, who has done a nice job holding the Mets' hot lineup in check. One run and four hits allowed so far, and he's at only 79 pitches.
9:25 p.m. -- With two on, two out and the No. 8 hitter up, Riggleman had Matt Stairs in the on-deck circle to pinch-hit for Gorzelanny and Tyler Clippard warming in the bullpen. But after Cora ended the inning, Gorzelanny is back to the mound for the top of the seventh, still up 2-1.
9:30 p.m. -- Jayson Werth has very quietly committed four errors already this season, including a drop of Ike Davis' sinking liner to right just now. That's it for Gorzelanny, who is pulled in favor of Clippard to face pinch-hitter Willie Harris. Roger Bernadina also takes over for Morse in left field as part of a double-switch.
9:35 p.m. -- Clippard does what he does best: Inherit a jam and pitch his way out of it. He got Harris to foul out on his first pitch, then struck out Nickeas to end the seventh with the 2-1 lead preserved. Clippard has now successfully stranded 14 of 18 inherited runners this season.
9:48 p.m. -- Well, Werth's error total just dropped by one. The official scorer has changed his call from earlier, taking away the error and making it a single.
9:52 p.m. -- Holy cow, Jose Reyes just went on an all-time tirade after getting called out by third-base ump Marvin Hudson. Reyes was trying to stretch a double into a triple, and though he beat Rick Ankiel's one-hop throw from the warning track, his foot came off the base. Jerry Hairston tagged him, and Hudson called Reyes out. It's possible Reyes kept his hand on the bag as this was happening, and so he should have been safe. Either way, it was an incredible throw by Ankiel. And an incredible tirade by Reyes, who somehow avoided getting ejected.
9:54 p.m. -- So much for that. Daniel Murphy just followed the Reyes play with a homer to right off Clippard. Fastball up over the plate. All of a sudden, we're tied 2-2, and the Nats have to feel fortunate Reyes wasn't standing on third base at the time. Otherwise they'd be trailing right now.
10:13 p.m. -- The Nats have re-taken the lead, thanks to Jason Bay's drop of Adam LaRoche's blooper down the left-field line, a passed ball by catcher Josh Thole and then a sac fly by Wilson Ramos. But in a very curious move, Riggleman sent in Brian Bixler to pinch-run for LaRoche after the latter reached third. With nobody out in a tie game in the eighth. Was that necessary? I'm not sure. LaRoche certainly would have scored on the sac fly, which was hit to medium-deep center field. The problem is that now Alex Cora is going to play first base in the ninth inning with the Nats ahead one run. Sean Burnett is out of the pen in search of the save.
10:23 p.m. -- And the Mets have incredible tied and then re-taken the lead. Burnett allowed three straight singles to open the ninth: two that never left the infield, one a sinking liner that Bernadina nearly caught. A sac fly to right brought the tying run home. Then with the infield in, Thole sent a chopper up the middle. Bixler made the play and looked to the plate but couldn't pull the trigger and settled for the out at first. That brought the go-ahead run home. And then Murphy brought two more home with a double to right. It's 6-3, and this one has officially turned into a disaster.
10:38 p.m. -- It's over. Nats lose 6-3 after allowing five runs in the eighth and ninth innings. That, my friends, was an ugly finish to a ballgame. Oh, and now the Nats are in last place in the NL East at 10-13.