Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Livan Hernandez faces Chris Volstad tonight at Sun Life Stadium.
Livan Hernandez, meanwhile, makes his second start of the season, hoping to pick up where he left off on Opening Day (two runs, four hits in 6 1/3 innings). He'll have one of his biggest supporters in attendance: Half-brother Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, who was in the stands last night and actually caught two foul balls! (Of course, your odds of doing that increase by a huge factor when you're one of only 2,000 or fans in attendance.)
One final note: Several of you have been asking about the Nats' radio situation, noting last night's game couldn't be found on either 106.7 FM or 1500 AM. Here's the deal: The Nats get bumped off 106.7 when the Wizards are playing, and they get bumped off 1500 when the Caps are playing. (106.7 also announced it's picking up select Caps playoff games, but not those that conflict with the Nats.) Any games not on the flagship station, though, can be found on 1580 AM, as is the case tonight. The team's official website doesn't reflect this (it shows every game being on 106.7, which is wrong). I've got a hard copy of the actual schedule, though, and I'll be sure to include the correct station here before every game...
NATIONALS at MARLINS
Where: Sun Life Stadium
Gametime: 7:10 p.m.
Radio: WHFS (1580 AM)
Weather: Partly cloudy, 76 degrees, Wind 13 mph in from RF
STARTING LINEUPS5:31 p.m. -- Guess who popped into the Nats' clubhouse this afternoon: Dmitri Young, who lives down here and looks fantastic. He said doctors managed to find a different combination of medication for him that has gotten his diabetes under much better control. He's lost a bunch of weight, said he's down to 265 pounds (what he weighed when he played in Detroit) and hopes to get down to 250 (what he weighed years ago in Cincinnati). No talk of a comeback, though he is playing softball for a team called the Meathooks.
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Michael Morse
CF Rick Ankiel
2B Danny Espinosa
C Ivan Rodriguez
P Livan Hernandez
CF Chris Coghlan
2B Omar Infante
SS Hanley Ramirez
1B Gaby Sanchez
LF Logan Morrison
C John Buck
3B Donnie Murphy
RF Emilio Bonifacio
P Chris Volstad
5:33 p.m. -- As for the decision to keep Ian Desmond in the leadoff spot, Jim Riggleman said: "I just changed my mind, basically, is what it comes down to. I could give you a lot of explanation. Unless I just felt really strong about changing them, I decided not to make a change. We come in a little interchangeable 1 and 7, and it's something we may tinker with as we go along. I'm sure we will. But for right now, I'm just going to leave Desi where he is." More to come.
7:10 p.m. -- Well, good thing Desmond was hitting leadoff again. He just smoked the game's first pitch past a diving Hanley Ramirez, then stretched it into a double. So Desmond is off the schneid after an 0-for-13 start. And as an added bonus, Jayson Werth gets a rare AB with a man in scoring position!
7:18 p.m. -- Ugh, that wasn't pretty. After Werth sent a fly ball to center, Desmond got hung up between second and third on Ryan Zimmerman's grounder to short. After a rundown, he was tagged out 4-6-5. And even though Adam LaRoche drew a two-out walk, Michael Morse grounded to third on the first pitch he saw. So for those keeping track, the Nats are already 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position after one inning tonight, 4-for-36 for the season.
7:22 p.m. -- Oh, if you didn't see it on the homepage, here's a link to my CSNwashington.com story on the leadoff spot and the lack of production from the guys in the middle of the order.
7:33 p.m. -- Remember what I wrote this morning about how great the Nats' rotation has been at keeping the ball in the strike zone? You know, with only four combined walks between them through four games? Well, Livan Hernandez just issued three straight walks with two outs in the first, nearly doubling the rotation's season total in the process. He managed to wriggle his way out of it unscathed, but that was not a good first inning for the big guy. Threw 24 pitches, only eight of them strikes.
7:56 p.m. -- Wow, three-run rally from the Nats in the top of the second. And they did it with two walks, a hit-and-run, a fielder's choice and a sac fly. As Riggleman would say in one of those MASN ads: "Smart ball!" Some nice execution in that inning by several guys. Espinosa delivered a perfect hit-and-run single through the right-side hole. Ankiel had a nice head-first slide into the plate to elude Buck's tag. Desmond dropped a perfect squeeze bunt to score Espinosa. The amazing thing is, even after all that, the Nats went 1-for-3 with RISP that inning and are 1-for-6 for the night. Doesn't matter, they lead 3-0.
8:02 p.m. -- Much better stuff from Livo in the second. He allowed a one-out single to Bonifacio but got Coghlan to ground out with two outs and the man on second. He's at only 35 pitches through two, while Volstad has already thrown 50 for the Marlins.
8:13 p.m. -- And a 1-2-3 third inning for Livan, who has begun to settle in. Nats still lead 3-0.
8:26 p.m. -- Looks like Riggleman knew what he was doing leaving Desmond in the leadoff spot tonight. He roped a shot off the left-field wall for his second double of the game, this one scoring Pudge. That makes Desmond 3-for-3 and raises his average from .000 to .188. Amazingly, the Nats have squandered plenty of chances in this game. Despite scoring four runs in four innings, they've also stranded six men on base and are just 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Still, can't be too upset about carrying a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth.
8:33 p.m. -- Wow, an incredibly harsh error called on Desmond, who didn't appear to have much of a chance to scoop John Buck's smash to his left. We'll see if it holds up or if the official scorer reverses the call after taking another look, but that's a tough way for Desmond to be charged with his first E of the year. Not that it hurt the Nats after LaRoche made a nifty catch at his shoelaces of Bonifacio's liner to end the fourth.
8:41 p.m. -- That'll do it for Volstad, who is done after five innings and 95 pitches. So Nats starters have outlasted their counterparts in four of five games so far.
8:48 p.m. -- This Hanley Ramirez guy is pretty good. He might have a chance of making it in this league. Geez, do the Nats ever get him out? Not in the fifth inning tonight. Ramirez's two-out double to left scores Coghlan and trims the lead to 4-1.
8:51 p.m. -- And the official scorer has (correctly) changed Desmond's error to a hit.
9:02 p.m. -- I may have spoken too soon about the Nats starter outlasting the opposing starter. Livo just got out of the fifth, but only after serving up a three-run triple to Buck that came within inches of being a grand slam. The umpiring crew reviewed it to see if the ball cleared the fence, but replays showed the ball striking the yellow line atop the fence. So the triple stands. But the game is now tied 4-4 after five, and Livo is laboring.
9:08 p.m. -- And Laynce Nix is pinch-hitting for Hernandez, whose night ends on a disappointing note. His line: 5 ip, 6 h, 4 er, 5 bb, 1 k, 97 pitches, 49 strikes.
9:18 p.m. -- And the Marlins have come all the way back to take the lead. Three straight hits off Chad Gaudin in the sixth, and it's now 5-4 Florida.
9:25 p.m. -- No need to reconsider that play by Desmond. That one was an error all the way. And it allowed another run to score. Marlins lead 6-4. Why do I feel like I've seen this movie before?
9:41 p.m. -- Six outs to go. It'll be Morse, Ankiel and Espinosa against right-hander Clay Hensley. If someone gets on, will Riggleman pinch-hit for Pudge? (He's now 0-for-9 with eight groundballs on the season.)
9:49 p.m. -- Someone did get on -- Ankiel, who blooped a single to left -- but Riggleman never got a chance to make the decision on Pudge because Espinosa grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. Still 6-4 heading to the bottom of the eighth.
9:52 p.m. -- Odd move here by Riggleman. He double-switched with Todd Coffey now pitching and batting seventh, and Alex Cora at second base batting ninth. The problem is that Cora is now due up second in the ninth. If the leadoff man gets on, he'll be the potential tying run. Wouldn't you rather send Matt Stairs to plate in that situation? The only reason to make the double-switch now is if you think Coffey's going to have to pitch two innings. But the only way that happens is if the Nats tie the game in the top of the ninth. Which is going to be tougher to do with Cora batting instead of Stairs. I don't get this one.
10:06 p.m. -- Yeah, that didn't work. Coffey allowed a one-out double to Coghlan, then walked both Infante and Ramirez in succession. After Sanchez hit a sac fly to make it 7-4, Coffey was pulled in favor of Doug Slaten. And as he walked off the mound, Coffey started barking at plate umpire Tim Tschida, who ejected the big right-hander. The Nats haven't been happy with Tschida's strike zone all night, starting with Livo. They've issued a total of eight walks, so you can imagine their frustration.
10:21 p.m. -- That's a wrap. Up 4-0 after four innings, the Nats allow seven unanswered runs and lost 7-4. They did manage to bring Zimmerman to the plate with two on representing the tying run in the ninth. But Leo Nunez struck him out on a high 2-2 fastball. So the Nationals have now lost an astounding 41 of their last 55 games against the Marlins.