Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats need to win today at Citi Field to avoid a two-game sweep.
Seeking to get some semblance of pop from his lineup, Jim Riggleman has moved Jayson Werth to the cleanup spot, with Laynce Nix in the 3-hole. We'll see what the manager has to say about that switch, but my hunch is that he's trying to find a way to get Werth to the plate with some men in scoring position.
Livan Hernandez, who was very good last time out against the Marlins but still suffered the loss, starts today against Mets right-hander Dillon Gee. Plenty of updates to come, so please check back often...
NATIONALS at METS
Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 1:10 p.m.
Radio: WFED (1500 AM), WHFS (1580 AM), XM 183
Weather: Cloudy, 68 degrees, Wind 8 mph RF to LF
STARTING LINEUPS11:45 a.m. -- Here's Jim Riggleman's explanation of Jayson Werth hitting cleanup today: "The Mets, like a couple other clubs, are carrying three left-handers in the bullpen now. So if you line up your left-handers together, it makes it a little easier for the opposing team to stifle you as you get to the later innings. That's the primary reason. Also, we're just trying to find some little combination there that will produce more runs."
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
LF Laynce Nix
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
2B Danny Espinosa
C Ivan Rodriguez
3B Alex Cora
P Livan Hernandez
SS Jose Reyes
C Josh Thole
RF Carlos Beltran
LF Jason Bay
1B Daniel Murphy
3B Justin Turner
CF Jason Pridie
2B Ruben Tejada
P Dillon Gee
1:12 p.m. -- We are underway on what has actually turned into a nice day here in Queens. Much bigger crowd than last night, due primarily to the fact it was "Weather Education Day" earlier and there are about 8,000 schoolkids here. Listen for the screams every time someone makes contact with a pitch.
1:17 p.m. -- Man, what an at-bat by Roger Bernadina to begin the game. He wound up striking out looking but made Dillon Gee throw 13 pitches to do it. Just kept fouling two-strike pitch after two-strike pitch off.
1:29 p.m. -- Typical stuff from Livan Hernandez in the bottom of the first. He retired the side, striking out Carlos Beltran on a 67-mph curveball that was actually thrown harder than most of his Bugs Bunny curves. Scoreless after one.
1:36 p.m. -- Today's first LaRoche-o-Meter update: He's down to .176 after grounding into a double play in the top of the second. Tapped a grounder right to first baseman Daniel Murphy, squandering Werth's leadoff walk.
1:51 p.m. -- We're through the top of the third, and to this point the Nationals have sent the minimum to the plate and not recorded a hit against Dillon Gee. At this point, is anyone surprised by this development?
1:58 p.m. -- As discussed last night, at least LaRoche continues to make a difference in the field. He just started a 3-6-3 double play to get the speedy Reyes. Not an easy play, by any means. Scoreless here after three.
2:15 p.m. -- The Nationals will need to score two runs to win today's game. Daunting challenge, I know. The Mets have taken a 1-0 lead in the fourth on singles by Thole, Bay and Turner. Could have been worse, but Livo pitched around Pridie and got Tejada to fly out to right to end the inning.
2:25 p.m. -- Five innings in the books, and nary a hit for the Nats against future Hall-of-Famer Dillon Gee.
2:32 p.m. -- This is probably an appropriate time to point out the Mets have NEVER thrown a no-hitter during their 50 years of existence.
2:37 p.m. -- And Gee's no-hit bid is broken up with a sharp single to center by none other than the Nats' best offensive player: Livo.
2:41 p.m. -- By the way, nice gesture from the Mets, who just announced that anyone who held a ticket to last night's water-logged game can redeem it for a free ticket to an upcoming game against the Pirates. How often do you hear of a club doing something like that?
2:45 p.m. -- Not to be lost among all this, Livan Hernandez has been really good once again today. Through six innings, he's allowed just one run, scattering six hits. The big guy has really been hurt by a lack of run support this season, even more than most of his rotation mates. They haven't scored today, didn't score in either of his last two starts and scored only once in the start before that. Might come back to get him again today.
3:05 p.m. -- Well, Livo did his job: Seven innings of one-run ball. Now it's up to his teammates to do something, anything at the plate against Gee and take their undeserving starter off the hook for the loss. It'll be Espinosa, Pudge, Cora and the pitcher's spot due up in the eighth.
3:18 p.m. -- The Nats have an actually rally brewing here in the top of the eighth. Two on, one out, and Matt Stairs stepped to the plate. The 43-year-old pinch-hitter looked overmatched swinging and missing at two of Gee's offerings, but after battling the count full, he sent a line drive to right. Pretty easy play for Beltran, but I suppose there was just enough doubt that Brian Bixler (pinch-running at second base) had to go halfway instead of tagging. So now there are two outs, runners still on first and second. Terry Collins has summoned left Tim Byrdak from the bullpen. Riggleman counters with Michael Morse to hit for Bernadina.
3:20 p.m. -- And Morse grounds the first pitch he sees from Byrdak right at second baseman Tejada, who was positioned perfectly. End of the rally, still no runs across the plate. We go to the bottom of the eighth, still 1-0 Mets.
3:33 p.m. -- Last chance for the Nats. We go to the ninth, with Francisco Rodriguez entering from the Mets bullpen. He's got a 17-inning scoreless streak going, fourth-longest in MLB. (Drew Storen is atop that list with 21 consecutive scoreless frames.) Desmond, Nix and Werth due up.
3:43 p.m. -- It's over, but not without controversy. Forty-eight hours after arriving in New York City, the Nationals depart town without having scored a run. Final score today: 1-0. Seventh time this season they've been shut out, the fourth time in their last 10 games. They almost pulled this one out, though. Nix doubled with one out. Werth then smoked a grounder to third and was called out on a bang-bang play at first base in which replays showed Daniel Murphy's foot came off the bag. Riggleman argued for several minutes. With the tying run at third and two out, LaRoche then grounded out to second to end the game.