Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jordan Zimmermann faces Tim Stauffer today at Nationals Park.
OK, so maybe there are more significant things going on than that. Like Rick Ankiel (on-base percentage: .294) leading off for the first time in his career. Or Jordan Zimmermann trying to duplicate John Lannan's pitching exploits from last night. Or wondering if Blake Tekotte and Logan Forsythe are actual players in the Padres' starting lineup today or if they're just totally made-up names.
One bit of news to share: Collin Balester has been recalled from Class AAA Syracuse, taking Tom Gorzelanny's roster spot for now. It would appear Balester is here only for one day and will be sent back after the game, with the Nationals promoting someone else (most likely Yunesky Maya) to start tomorrow's series finale.
Plenty of updates to come...
PADRES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 189
Weather: Chance of storms, 78 degrees, Wind 12 mph out to LF
STARTING LINEUPS12:24 p.m. -- For those curious, here's Jim Riggleman's explanation for Rick Ankiel leading off today: "Instead of moving a lot of people around. I think the closest thing we have to a classic leadoff hitter, the closest thing to that would be Bernadina. The other guys would gladly fill in there, but I think they're all better in some other spots. So rather than move a bunch of people around and figure out where Ank's gonna hit, we're just going to hit him leadoff and just make it a clean exchange there for Bernie for a day."
CF Rick Ankiel
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
LF Laynce Nix
1B Michael Morse
2B Danny Espinosa
C Ivan Rodriguez
3B Jerry Hairston
P Jordan Zimmermann
RF Eric Patterson
SS Jason Bartlett
LF Ryan Ludwick
1B Brad Hawpe
3B Chase Headley
CF Blake Tekotte
C Kyle Phillips
2B Logan Forsythe
P Tim Stauffer
1:05 p.m. -- This game is underway with a strike from Jordan Zimmermann to Eric Patterson. It's 81 degrees at gametime, with clouds starting to take over the sky. Chance of rain later.
1:24 p.m. -- Can't ask for a better situation than this: Tim Stauffer loads the bases with three walks, bringing Michael Morse to the plate. And the hottest hitter on the roster promptly grounds into a 4-6-3 double play on the first pitch. First inning over, no runs across the plate.
1:46 p.m. -- Zimmermann hasn't exactly been in premier form through three innings, but he's managed to make pitches when he needs to (and even pick off Patterson at second base to end the third). He's also gotten some sterling defense behind him, from both Rick Ankiel in center field and Jerry Hairston at third base. Still scoreless heading to the bottom of the third.
2:02 p.m. -- And the Padres have taken their first lead of the series with three straight hits in the top of the fourth. The big blow was a drive to deep right by Tekotte (who earlier roped a double for his first career hit). Werth got twisted around and by the time he recovered, the ball went off his glove. It was scored a triple, and Tekotte scored moments later on a single to left by Kyle Phillips. Padres lead 2-0 in the middle of the fourth ... and here come the Presidents!
2:05 p.m. -- President's Race update: Abe wins handily, with Teddy way back of the back. And Jayson Werth actually watched from the top dugout step. Once he realized Teddy would lose again, he made a dismissive wave gesture, turned around and stormed back into the dugout. I wish I could make this stuff up.
2:20 p.m. -- Hmm, not much offense from the Nats so far against Stauffer. Through five innings, they've managed two hits, both of them singles from the bottom of the order (Pudge and Hairston). They've grounded into two double play and had a base stealer thrown out. Thus, they still trail 2-0 after five.
2:36 p.m. -- Zimmermann is done after six effective (though hardly spectacular) innings. Allowed two runs on five hits, walking one and striking out four. Needed 100 pitches to get this far, so he's done. Sean Burnett has entered for the seventh.
2:46 p.m. -- Laynce Nix with a homer into the right-field bullpen to lead off the bottom of the seventh. That's the third solo homer by the Nats in this series, all of them leading off an inning. Those are the only runs they've scored against the Padres so far. So they now trail 2-1.
3:03 p.m. -- Another solid appearance by Todd Coffey, who retired the side in the eighth. The big guy has now allowed one earned run over his last 16 games. Nats down to their final six outs, trailing 2-1. Mike Adams (who gave up the game-winner last night) has emerged from the bullpen to take over for Stauffer.
3:14 p.m. -- Leadoff double for Hairston in the bottom of the eighth, just what the Nats needed. And he never got a chance to advance beyond that because Matt Stairs hit a shallow fly ball on an 0-2 pitch, Rick Ankiel struck out on a 1-2 pitch and Ian Desmond was called out on a borderline 0-2 pitch. It's entirely possible that an inanimate white flag would have had a better chance driving in that run than those three guys. Still 2-1 after eight.
3:28 p.m. -- Wow, Laynce Nix with a fantastic throw to nail Chase Headley at the plate to end the eighth. The ball could not have been placed any better, with Ivan Rodriguez catching it right at the point Headley slid into his glove. Pudge reacted like it was the final out of Game 5 of the 2003 NLDS! Last chance for the Nats now against Heath Bell.
3:37 p.m. -- And that's all she wrote. Nats lose 2-1. They did put a man on in the ninth, with Nix reaching after swinging at an 0-2 pitch in the dirt. This is what qualifies as "offense" for the Nats these days. Unfortunately, Morse grounded into his second inning-ending double play of the afternoon, this one ending the game.