Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Yunesky Maya makes his 2011 debut today against the Padres.
We'll find out today whether that's true. Maya has been recalled from Class AAA Syracuse, where he went 1-4 with a 3.79 ERA in nine starts, to pitch this series finale against the Padres. Of course, the way the Nats' lineup is producing right now, even a brilliant performance from Maya may not be enough.
Couple of lineup changes from yesterday. Roger Bernadina is back in the leadoff spot and in center field. Wilson Ramos is back behind the plate. Alex Cora is at second base, with Danny Espinosa getting a day off. You'll also notice Jerry Hairston is at third base, even though he was suspended one game by MLB for his actions Friday night with umpire Ed Hickox. Hairston (who is celebrating his 35th birthday) has appealed the suspension, so he's allowed to keep playing until his appeal is heard.
Updates to come...
PADRES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
TV: MASN, Ch. 50
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Partly cloudy, 85 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to LF
STARTING LINEUPS1:37 p.m. -- And we're underway with a strike from Yunesky Maya to Blake Tekkote. Another hot and muggy afternoon here.
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
LF Laynce Nix
1B Michael Morse
C Wilson Ramos
3B Jerry Hairston
2B Alex Cora
P Yunesky Maya
CF Blake Tekotte
SS Jason Bartlett
LF Ryan Ludwick
1B Brad Hawpe
3B Chase Headley
RF Chris Denorfia
C Kyle Phillips
2B Logan Forsythe
P Dustin Moseley
1:42 p.m. -- If the first inning is any indication, this is indeed a new-and-improved Maya. Cruised through the frame, allowing only a two-out single to Ryan Ludwick. But he threw 12 of his 15 pitches for strikes, caught Tekkote looking at a 90-mph sinker for a strikeout and worked at a nice, quick pace.
1:55 p.m. -- Some serious "SmartBall" (TM) in the bottom of the first gives the Nationals a 2-0 lead. Roger Bernadina reached on an error by first baseman Brad Hawpe, then stole second. Ian Desmond beat out a perfect bunt down the third-base line. Jayson Werth then perfectly placed a hit-and-run single past the second baseman's position to score the day's first run and advance Desmond to third. And Laynce Nix lofted a sac fly to left to score Desmond (even though it appeared Ian's front foot never touched the plate and catcher Kyle Phillips applied the tag in time). Hey, take whatever breaks you can get, right? Nats lead 2-0 after one.
2:19 p.m. -- Wow, this doesn't appear to be a fluke from Maya. Three innings in, he's allowed only the one baserunner. He's got three strikeouts. And he's thrown 29 of 38 pitches for strikes. Impressive so far.
2:38 p.m. -- Or maybe I spoke too soon. Maya labored through the fourth inning, allowing a run on three hits. Worse, he slowed his pace down significantly. This was an issue last season, seems like Maya struggles once he's put men on base. Now 2-1 heading to the bottom of the fourth.
3:10 p.m. -- I definitely spoke too soon. Maya came to a grinding halt in the fifth, laboring and slogging his way through the inning. He loaded the bases with two outs, then surrendered a two-run single to Brad Hawpe. Just like that, the Padres are up 3-2, and Doug Slaten is in the game. After throwing 38 pitches through three innings, Maya needed 52 to get through the next 1 2/3.
3:16 p.m. -- And Slaten does what he usually does: Enter with men on base and let them score. Chase Headley doubles down the left-field line to bring home a run and put the Padres up 4-2. So the lefty has now allowed 12 of 23 inherited runners to score this season.
3:28 p.m. -- Well, the Nats did one run back in the bottom of a fifth inning that took forever. A double to right-center from Bernadina scored pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel, trimming the lead to 4-3. Bernadina did, however, get thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple. So we go to the sixth, with Cole Kimball now on the mound.
3:55 p.m. -- I suppose the bright side to all this is that the Nats have tied the game 4-4 in the sixth. But it sure wasn't pretty, and they sure had a chance to take the lead. After an inexplicable decision by Padres third baseman Chase Headley to try to throw out Jayson Werth at the plate on Michael Morse's grounder, the Nats had runners on first and second with nobody out and Wilson Ramos at the plate. And Jim Riggleman called for a sacrifice bunt. Yes, the same manager who didn't call for a bunt yesterday down a run with a man on second and nobody out. Well, this time it put runners on second and third with one out and the bottom of the lineup up. Which resulted in Jerry Hairston bouncing into a fielder's choice on the first pitch, then getting picked off first base to end the inning. Just atrocious baseball.
4:14 p.m. -- More ugliness in the seventh. Despite back-to-back singles by Cora and Espinosa (on a bunt) to open the inning, the Nats couldn't score. Bernadina fouled off a bunt attempt, then swung away and lined out to center. And then Desmond grounded into a double play on the first pitch he saw from Luke Gregerson. This has not been an aesthetically pleasing ballgame, to say the least. Still 4-4 heading to the eighth.
4:34 p.m. -- What do you, another squandered scoring opportunity in the bottom of the eighth! Werth led off with an infield single that combined with an error left him on second base with nobody out. And he didn't score. Nix tapped a comebacker. Morse drew a walk. Ramos flied out on the first pitch he saw. And Matt Stairs, to his credit, smoked a line drive .... right at right fielder Chris Denorfia to end the inning. Still 4-4 going to the ninth, Drew Storen entering.
4:43 p.m. -- The way things have gone today, you didn't figure the go-ahead run would score on a well-struck ball. Sure enough, the Padres have taken a 5-4 lead thanks to a bloop double from Jorge Cantu and an infield single from Ryan Ludwick that somehow scored Cantu all the way from second. The ball went up the middle and was knocked down by Ian Desmond. Cantu kept on chugging, and though Desmond made a nice throw to the plate, it was a split-second late (plus, Ramos wasn't able to hold onto it). So Storen, after 21 consecutive scoreless appearances, has now given up runs in three straight.
4:55 p.m. -- It's over. Final score: Padres 5, Nationals 4. They lose the series and fall back to eight games under .500. On the bright side, they now get to face the Phillies, who will send Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt to the mound the next three days. Oy.