Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
It's the rubber game of the Battle of the Beltways today at Camden Yards.
Ivan Rodriguez will be behind the plate, but Wilson Ramos will serve as DH. Can't fault the logic behind this move, because both guys have been among the Nationals' better hitters of late. And even if something were to happen to Pudge, Ramos could take over as catcher and the Nats would simply lose the DH and play by NL rules the rest of the way.
Adam LaRoche also gets today off, with Michael Morse starting at first base. Obviously, Riggleman sacrifices some defense by doing that, but LaRoche has shown no signs of snapping out of his season-long funk at the plate, and Morse has been swinging a bit of a hot bat himself (5 for his last 12).
Check back all afternoon for updates...
NATIONALS at ORIOLES
Where: Camden Yards
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
TV: MASN, MASN2, Ch. 50
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 181
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 80 degrees, Wind 11 mph in from RF
STARTING LINEUPS12:18 p.m. -- As you know, Adam LaRoche is not in the Nationals' lineup today. He's going to get his left shoulder, which has been bothering him all season, re-examined to see if his condition (a partially torn labrum) has gotten worse. LaRoche has maintained all along the injury was not affecting his swing, but clearly he's not producing at the plate, especially in the power department. We'll see what comes out of this latest exam.
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
LF Laynce Nix
RF Jayson Werth
DH Wilson Ramos
1B Michael Morse
2B Danny Espinosa
C Ivan Rodriguez
3B Alex Cora
(P Jordan Zimmermann)
LF Felix Pie
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
DH Vladimir Guerrero
C Matt Wieters
1B Luke Scott
3B Mark Reynolds
SS J.J. Hardy
2B Robert Andino
(P Chris Tillman)
1:39 p.m. -- And this game is off to a bizarre start. Roger Bernadina appeared to beat out a bunt to get things started, but all of a sudden Jim Riggleman came out to argue with plate umpire Todd Tichenor, who ruled that Bernadina bunted the ball after he had left the batter's box. Riggleman was right in Tichenor's face, got into the box at one point to demonstrate and then was ejected. Wow.
1:45 p.m. -- That call came back to hurt the Nats, because Ian Desmond followed with a double to deep right-center that might have scored Bernadina from first. Instead, Desmond wound up stranded on second after Laynce Nix struck out and Jayson Werth grounded out to end the inning.
2:03 p.m. -- Another potential rally quashed in the second when Danny Espinosa is called out looking at a third strike and Michael Morse is thrown out trying to steal.
2:15 p.m. -- The Nats catch a break in the bottom of the second, when Mark Reynolds smokes a double to right-center that probably would have scored Luke Scott from first. But the ball bounced high off the spongy warning track and over the fence, so Scott was held up at third. And when J.J. Hardy lined out to end the inning, both runners remained on base. So we're still scoreless here through two.
2:23 p.m. -- Another missed opportunity in the third. Bernadina came about a foot short of a two-run homer to right (he even managed not to step on the plate as he hit the ball). That left runners on second and third with one out. But both Desmond and Nix struck out swinging, neither of them particularly good at-bats against Tillman. Nats are 0-for-4 today with runners in scoring position.
2:52 p.m. -- Just when you thought the Nats might never get a hit with a runner in scoring position (they were 0-for-6), Alex Cora came to the rescue. Smoked a comebacker that ricocheted off the mound and then was bobbled by third baseman Mark Reynolds. That allowed Jayson Werth to score and put the Nats up 1-0 in the fourth. Might have been a much bigger lead, but Roger Bernadina (who is absolutely snakebitten today) came up a foot short of yet another home run, this one would have been a grand slam. They'll have to settle for the one-run lead.
2:57 p.m. -- Zimmermann settling into a nice groove here. He just retired the side in the fourth in the blink of an eye and has retired seven straight.
3:12 p.m. -- I think it's "Hit It To The Warning Track Day" here at Camden Yards. J.J. Hardy just missed a homer by a few feet himself, with Bernadina matching the catch up against the wall. Nats still lead 1-0 through five, and Tillman is out. Jeremy Accardo in to pitch for Baltimore.
3:27 p.m. -- Quite the outing for Zimmermann. He's allowed one hit through six innings and has retired 13 in a row. Really beginning to establish himself as a front-line big-league pitcher. Still 1-0 after six.
3:41 p.m. -- And just like that, Zimmermann and the Nats are trailing 2-1. Markakis led off the seventh with a single to right. Guerrero then tattooed an 0-2 pitch from Zimmermann over the left-field fence. Another fine outing by the kid spoiled.
4:00 p.m. -- The seventh inning, at long last, is over. Somehow, Tyler Clippard managed to not allow another run, even though he walked two and loaded the bases. Big strikeout of Felix Pie to end the inning, the Nats still trailing 2-1.
4:06 p.m. -- And they go down 1-2-3 in the eighth. They're down to their final three outs.
4:15 p.m. -- Here comes Kevin Gregg for the ninth. It'll be Pudge, Cora and Bernadina for the Nats in the ninth.
4:26 p.m. -- It's over, as Bernadina strikes out and Brian Bixler is thrown out trying to steal second. Nats lose a really tough one, 2-1, with Zimmermann (2-5) taking a hard-luck loss.