Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The first installment of the Battle of the Beltways begins tonight at Camden Yards.
They'll attempt to snap out of this funk tonight against their geographic, interleague rivals from the Inner Harbor. Because we're in an American League ballpark, both teams are using a DH. No, Jason Marquis is not going to hit for himself. Jim Riggleman was asked about that possibility last week when Marquis got two hits. The manager smiled but said no way would he sacrifice his DH for a pitcher.
So Matt Stairs gets a rare opportunity to get more than one at-bat in a game. Yes, he's 2-for-22 for the season. Yes, he's 43 years old. But if you're not going to use this guy as your DH in interleague games, why bother having him on the roster in the first place?
Plenty of updates to come all evening...
NATIONALS at ORIOLES
Where: Camden Yards
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN, MASN2
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 181
Weather: Chance of rain, 73 degrees, Wind 6 mph LF to RF
STARTING LINEUPS7:08 p.m. -- We are underway here on what has turned into a very pleasant evening. If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out Mike Rizzo's comments on yesterday's incident with umpires.
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
LF Laynce Nix
RF Jayson Werth
DH Matt Stairs
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Jerry Hairston
(P Jason Marquis)
LF Felix Pie
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markaki
DH Vladimir Guerrero
C Matt Wieters
1B Luke Scott
SS J.J. Hardy
3B Mark Reynolds
2B Ryan Adams
(P Jake Arrieta)
7:16 p.m. -- Wow, back-to-back hits from the Nationals in the top of the first. Maybe this apocalypse thing really is about to happen.
7:17 p.m. -- Nope, scrap that. Matt Stairs just flew out to kill the rally. All is right with the world again.
7:29 p.m. -- Couple of hits off Jason Marquis in the bottom of the second, but the right-hander battled back to strike out Matt Wieters and snuff out that potential rally. Scoreless after one.
7:44 p.m. -- Ladies and gentlemen: The Nationals have scored. Three runs. All on one swing. Great at-bat from Danny Espinosa, who fouled off six pitches (five in a row), then finally crushed Arrieta's 2-2 offering over the right-field fence for his sixth homer of the season (tied with Jayson Werth for the team lead). The Nats take a 3-0 lead in the second.
8:02 p.m. -- We're only three innings in, but Matt Stairs hasn't done much to take advantage of this rare playing opportunity. He flew out to left to end the first, then grounded out to end the third. Still plenty of time left in this game, but not a great start to the night for the veteran DH.
8:15 p.m. -- You know that play of the year Roger Bernadina made last week? Well, he just put in his candidacy for worst play of the year. Completely dropped Matt Wieters' fly ball to the base of the center-field fence. Somehow, it was scored a double, but the ball was in Bernadina's glove and he had no business dropping it. Luke Scott added a single moments later, scoring Wieters. All of a sudden, this game is tied 3-3.
8:35 p.m. -- And the Nats come storming back, thanks again to Espinosa, who came within inches of his second homer of the night but had to settle for an RBI triple. Hairston then drove him in with a base hit to right. Two more baserunners have loaded the bases for Werth, and caused Buck Showalter to storm out of the dugout and signal for a pitching change faster than any manager I've ever seen. Jason Berken (not to be confused with Jason Bergmann) will have to face Werth with the bases loaded and two outs, the Nats now leading 5-3.
8:37 p.m. -- And Berken promptly drills Werth on his first pitch, forcing in a run.
8:39 p.m. -- And Stairs strikes out looking with the bases loaded. Not a good at-bat for Stairs, now 0-for-3 tonight and 2-for-25 for the season. Nats lead 6-3 in the middle of the fourth, and this game is just SPEEDING along. Have I mentioned before how much I hate the American League?
8:50 p.m. -- It only figures that on a night the Nats score six runs in four innings, their starting pitcher gives up five himself. Two more for the Orioles in the bottom of the fourth, headlined by Felix Pie's double to deep left-center. It might have been worse if Pie hadn't strayed too far around second and been caught in a rundown by Marquis, who has not been sharp at all tonight. 6-5 Nats.
9:01 p.m. -- Jeff Zrebiec, my counterpart from the Baltimore Sun, points out that through four innings, these two teams have combined to throw 186 pitches. Is that good?
9:15 p.m. -- Can we just officially say the apocalypse is upon us? I don't care what happens tomorrow. Tonight is all the proof I need. The Nationals -- yes, the Nationals -- have scored 12 runs in five innings. That's as many runs as they scored in their last five games combined! They now lead 12-5, yet Jason Marquis isn't even going to be eligible for the win because he's been pulled after only four innings (and he doesn't appear to be too happy about that, either). Henry Rodriguez in for the bottom of the fifth of what has turned into a crazy game.
9:31 p.m. -- Espinosa cycle watch: He came up to bat in the sixth needing a double. Didn't get it, but he did draw a walk. What do you call it when a guy singles, doubles, triples, homers and draws a walk? A full-rinse cycle?
9:35 p.m. -- 13-5 after Hairston singles in Ramos in the sixth. The Nats' 7-8 hitters tonight have reached base in all eight plate appearances. And scored seven runs!
9:51 p.m. -- It's been a happy 32nd birthday indeed for Jayson Werth. Just clubbed his second homer of the night, putting the Nats up 14-5 in the seventh. This is beginning to border on the ridiculous.
10:05 p.m. -- It hasn't exactly been a work of art, but Henry Rodriguez has tossed three scoreless innings of relief. And because of Marquis' early hook, that makes him the likely winner of tonight's game.
10:09 p.m. -- Wilson Ramos homers to make it 15-5! That ties the record for most runs scored by the Nationals since they arrived in town. Also makes Ramos 3-for-3 with a walk, a hit-by-pitch and FIVE runs scored. Sadly, Espinosa grounded out moments later, so it looks like he won't get the cycle tonight.
10:25 p.m. -- There it is: Laynce Nix homers to make it 17-5 in the ninth. That's the new Nationals club record for runs scored in a game.
10:40 p.m. -- It's over, though the Nats probably wish it wasn't. They'd rather just keep playing. Final score: 17-5. Henry Rodriguez gets credit for the win. Offensive stars aplenty. They hit six home runs, another new Nats record. They raised their team batting average a staggering six points (from .223 to .229).