Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
It's cold and gray at Citi Field for the Mets' home opener against the Nats.
Jordan Zimmermann gets the nod for the Nats. I asked him after last night's game if he had given any consideration to flying in early on his own so he could get a full night's sleep. He said he much preferred to stay with his teammates, watch the game in person and get some rest on the late-night charter flight.
Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, a revelation for the Mets last season, starts the home opener. Our old friend Willie Harris is in the lineup, batting sixth and playing left field with Jason Bay still on the disabled list.
Updates to come throughout...
NATIONALS at METS
Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 4:10 p.m.
Radio: WFED (1500 AM), WHFS (1580 AM)
Weather: Light rain, 51 degrees, Wind 8 mph in from RF
STARTING LINEUPS3:13 p.m. -- Two pregame items of note: Though Sean Burnett has been used in both of the Nationals' save situations this season, Jim Riggleman reiterated that he would still use Drew Storen in the ninth if the situation called for it. I've got a full story on that up on CSNwashington.com. Meanwhile, Riggleman said Wilson Ramos will likely start to get more playing time in the next week or two, with slumping Ivan Rodriguez (0-for-10, eight groundballs) transitioning into more of a No. 2 role. Pudge is starting today and is scheduled to start Sunday against the Mets and either Tuesday or Wednesday against the Phillies. But Ramos will get most starts against left-handers (including tomorrow against Chris Capuano and Thursday against Cliff Lee). At this point, Riggleman said he's more concerned about Rodriguez playing solid defense behind the plate than producing at the plate. "It's not an easy adjustment for Pudge to get his stroke going, for Pudge to play every other day or have two days off and play," Riggleman said. "That's a tough adjustment. What we want from Pudge is for him just to continue to catch and throw well and block balls and work with our pitching staff. We'll take the hits as they come."
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 Jordan Zimmermann
SS Jose Reyes
CF Angel Pagan
3B David Wright
RF Carlos Beltran
1B Ike Davis
LF Willie Harris
2B Brad Emaus
C Josh Thole
P R.A. Dickey
4:11 p.m. -- Ian Desmond swung mightily at R.A. Dickey's first pitch and sent it to the warning track in left field, just not deep enough. Willie Harris made the catch at the base of the wall to get this game underway. Forty-two degrees here, no precipitation yet, but we could get some later.
4:15 p.m. -- Nothin' doin' for the Nats against Dickey in the first. After Desmond's flyout, Jayson Werth worked the count full and then popped out to second. Ryan Zimmerman then whiffed at a high knuckleball to end the inning. Jordan Zimmermann taking the mound now to face the top of the Mets lineup.
4:27 p.m. -- OK, the bottom of the first was interesting for a couple of reasons. One of which was the fact Zimmermann is very lucky he didn't twist his left knee up when his cleat got caught on the mound, leading to an awkward wild pitch. The right-hander battled through it, though, and got out of the inning without suffering any damage. Threw 12 of his 16 pitches for strikes. Meanwhile, elsewhere in baseball, Manny Ramirez has just retired. Seriously. According to a press release from MLB, Ramirez had some issue with the league's drug abuse and prevention program. Rather than do whatever would have been required of him (ie. serve a 100-game suspension as a two-time offender), Ramirez informed the league he's retiring instead. Wow, talk about your bombshells.
4:37 p.m. -- The Nats have taken a 2-0 lead, and they did it just as they likely drew it up: with a two-out, two-run, bases-loaded double from Jordan Zimmermann. Yeah, that's right. Even more amazing: Zimmermann's big hit came moments after Ivan Rodriguez drew a walk to load the bases. Yeah, that's right.
4:39 p.m. -- Actually, Zimmermann only got credited with a single, because he didn't attempt to advance past first as Pudge was being thrown out at third. Still...
4:45 p.m. -- Zimmermann hits, and Zimmermann pitches. What a two-way player. Just struck out the side in the second catching Brad Emaus looking at an 87 mph slider to end the inning. That's six in a row retired by Zimmermann, four of them via strikeout. Off to an impressive start here.
4:56 p.m. -- Since we're in Flushing, across the street from where the Jets used to play many years ago, I'll channel my inner Joe Namath here and say that Michael Morse is strugg-a-ling. Big-time. Just came up with two on and two out in the third and hit a weak grounder to third. Morse is now 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position this season, and overall he's 2-for-19. Not a good start to the season for the guy who couldn't make an out during spring training. Nats still lead 2-0 heading to the bottom of the third.
5:16 p.m. -- Golden opportunity for the Nats in the top of the fourth, with Ankiel on third and nobody out. And they can't get the runner home. Espinosa grounded out to second on the first pitch he saw. Pudge then rapped another grounder at second baseman Brad Emaus, who was drawn in and fired to the plate to nail Ankiel. Zimmermann did smoke a liner, but right at Willie Harris in left field. Inning over. Still 2-0.
5:27 p.m. -- The Mets are on the board. David Wright led off the fourth with a double to deep right-center, then took third on Carlos Beltran's groundout. Ike Davis sent a liner to left, deep enough to bring Wright home without a throw. Nats lead 2-1 after four.
5:40 p.m. -- Hey, Morse picked up an RBI! It took a four-pitch, bases-loaded walk to happen, but hey, he'll take it. Jose Reyes, though, saved an even bigger rally when he went far to his left to scoop up Rick Ankiel's grounder up the middle and turned a nifty 6-3 double play. Nats now lead 3-1 in the fifth.
5:53 p.m. -- Zimmermann is starting to show a few cracks in the armor. He gave up a one-out single to Josh Thole, then an RBI double to pinch-hitter Lucas Duda that just barely stayed fair down the right-field line. So the Mets have trimmed the lead back down to 3-2. On the bright side, the Nats have knocked another starting pitcher out after five innings. Dickey's pitch count was at 97, so D.J. Carrasco has come out of the bullpen to pitch the top of the sixth.
5:59 p.m. -- The march towards history continues. Pudge grounds into a 4-6-3 double play, putting him 17 shy of Cal Ripken's all-time record. He's also now 0-for-12 (with a walk) for the season. Meanwhile, Jordan Zimmermann is returning for the bottom of the sixth, his pitch count at 91. Might only face one batter (Wright) and then hand it over to Doug Slaten to turn around Carlos Beltran and face Ike Davis and Willie Harris.
6:04 p.m. -- Well, Zimmermann got Wright quickly on a 6-3, so Riggleman left him in to face Beltran, who promptly doubled to deep center. So now here comes Slaten to face Davis and Harris, with one out in the sixth and the tying run on second.
6:15 p.m. -- A couple of huge called strikeouts from Slaten and then Chad Gaudin gets the Nats out of the jam and preserves the 3-2 lead. Slaten wasn't exactly sharp against Davis, throwing his first two pitches well out of the strike zone and another off target enough that Pudge couldn't handle it, allowing Beltran to take third. But Slaten managed to slip a slider over the outside corner (at least, according to plate umpire Tony Randazzo) to get Davis. Gaudin then caught Scott Hairston looking to end the sixth.
6:33 p.m. -- Riggleman tried to avoid using Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen today after both guys threw two innings last night. But when Gaudin walked the first two batters in the seventh and then gave up a sac bunt, Riggleman had to turn to Clippard. So the rally-killer is on the mound to face Jose Reyes with runners on second and third and one out. Here we go...
6:40 p.m. -- ... and Clippard does it again. Struck out Reyes. Got Pagan to hit a weak comebacker. Stranded two more runners in scoring position. The Nats still cling to a 3-2 lead as we head to the eighth.
6:57 p.m. -- Stop the presses! Pudge got a hit! And drove in two runs in the process! With the bases loaded and one out in the eighth, Rodriguez delivered a two-run single through the right side hole. It's now 5-2.
7:01 p.m. -- Make it 6-2 after Desmond brings home another run on a groundball to short. No save situation at the moment, but Drew Storen is entering to pitch the eighth.
7:09 p.m. -- Another 1-2-3 inning from Storen, who really has pitched well the last few days. Pounding the strike zone. We go to the ninth.
7:16 p.m. -- And with a four-run lead in the ninth, your closer today is ... Todd Coffey. I imagine Sean Burnett has a ball and glove in hand and will start warming up at the first sign of trouble.
7:24 p.m. -- No need for help. Coffey gets the job done, and the Nats win 6-2. Zimmermann gets the win, improves to 1-1. Dickey takes the loss, falls to 1-1. Clutch hits from Ivan Rodriguez and ... Jordan Zimmermann. And another rally snuffed out by Tyler Clippard. Nice victory all-around for the Nationals, who are suddenly 3-4 and feeling much better about themselves than they were 24 hours ago.