Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The roof at Chase Field was open this morning but will be closed for the game.
Not that the Nats have hit any kind of pitcher this season, but they've particularly struggled against lefties (.214 average, .295 OBP). They're even worse against lefty starters (.208 average, .286 OBP). So with Kennedy on the hill for Arizona, Jim Riggleman is able to use left-handed hitters Roger Bernadina, Laynce Nix and Alex Cora.
Jason Marquis starts for the Nats, seeking his team-leading seventh win. There's only one other pitcher on the staff with four wins, and that's Drew Storen.
Plenty of updates to come...
NATIONALS at DIAMONDBACKS
Where: Chase Field
Gametime: 4:10 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 187
Weather: Sunny, 100 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to RF (Roof closed)
STARTING LINEUPS4:10 p.m. -- We are underway with a strike from Ian Kennedy to Roger Bernadina. It's 95 degrees outside, 75 inside Chase Field.
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
LF Laynce Nix
1B Michael Morse
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
3B Alex Cora
P Jason Marquis
LF Willie Bloomquist
2B Kelly Johnson
RF Justin Upton
SS Stephen Drew
CF Chris Young
C Miguel Montero
1B Juan Miranda
3B Melvin Mora
P Ian Kennedy
4:16 p.m. -- Very quick top of the first for Kennedy. He got three groundballs out of Roger Bernadina, Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth. Sixteen pitches, 13 strikes.
4:23 p.m. -- In Hagerstown today, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper were all set to hit back-to-back in the Suns' lineup. And they did ... for one inning. Zim drew a walk in the bottom of the first, but Harper then was hit with a pitch in the foot or ankle and had to be removed from the game. CSN has a crew there shooting the game; I'll be sure to pass along whatever info/footage they've got.
4:29 p.m. -- Back here in Phoenix, Jason Marquis labored through the bottom of the first, but he escaped unscathed after allowing an infield single to Kelly Johnson and then walking both Stephen Drew and Chris Young. Came up big with a two-seamer on the inside corner to Miguel Montero to end the inning, still scoreless.
4:47 p.m. -- Really strange top of the second. Six Nats came to the plate and only one put the ball in play (Danny Espinosa, who singled). Michael Morse and Alex Cora walked. Laynce Nix and Wilson Ramos struck out. That left the bases loaded for Marquis, obviously a good hitter. But with the count 2-2, he check-swung at a pitch way inside that actually hit him. Third base ump Vic Carapazza said he went around for the strikeout, then Marquis (and later Riggleman) argued the ball hit his bat first. Tough to tell from replays whether the pitch hit the bat or Marquis' wrist. Either way, it's a strange end to a strange inning, with the game still scoreless after all that.
5:01 p.m. -- Stop the presses! The Nationals have scored! Werth lofts a sacrifice fly to right to score Bernadina in the top of the third, ending a 20-inning scoreless streak. The inning quickly deteriorated from there, though, with Desmond getting picked off first base on a snap throw by Miguel Montero, then Nix flying out to right. So the Nats lead 1-0 heading to the bottom of the third.
5:42 p.m. -- Middle of the sixth now, still 1-0 Nationals. There was some potential controversy in the fifth when Werth was plunked by Kennedy and plate umpire Rob Drake issued warnings to both benches. Riggleman wasn't happy, believing his team had done nothing wrong in this series (despite Justin Upton being hit three times in two games). Shortly after, Kennedy grazed Morse with an inside pitch, and Riggleman threw out his arms toward Drake, asking why the pitcher wasn't ejected. Clearly, Kennedy wasn't throwing at him on purpose. But what's the point of a warning?
5:55 p.m. -- Payback. Marquis drills Upton in the back with one out and one on in the bottom of the sixth, and he's immediately ejected. So is Riggleman, who had to be by rule because of the previous warning. Marquis threw his hands out as if to ask why on earth he would be ejected, pointing at the scoreboard to show this is a tight game. Well, that argument's not going to work. The bigger issue is why Kennedy and Kirk Gibson weren't ejected after Morse was hit following the warning (even if it was a grazing). Meanwhile, Tyler Clippard has entered from the bullpen and now faces a big spot: two on, one out, heart of the D'backs lineup up.
6:03 p.m. -- And Clippard does what he does best: Struck out both Drew and Young to escape the jam without allowing a run to score. He's allowed only six of 30 inherited runners to score this season. Nats hanging onto the 1-0 lead after six.
6:10 p.m. -- And now Kennedy throws one way high and a bit inside to Werth, who stared him down. Wound up getting robbed by Kelly Johnson on a liner to second. We've reached the seventh-inning stretch, still 1-0. Clippard back out to pitch another inning.
6:20 p.m. -- Wow, has Clippard been good or what? Two more strikeouts in the seventh, giving him four in a span of five batters, all of them swinging. That's impressive. Still 1-0 heading to the eighth.
6:28 p.m. -- Now Espinosa is drilled in the back by reliever Esmerling Vasquez, who is immediately ejected (along with Kirk Gibson). Espinosa had to be held back by plate umpire Rob Drake. If you're keeping track, that's nine combined batters hit by pitch in this four-game series ... so far.
6:33 p.m. -- You know, Aaron Heilman may have started this whole thing back on Thursday night when he plunked Werth. Well, payback's a you-know-what. Mr. Heilman: Meet Mr. Ramos. Three-run bomb to left. Nats take a 4-0 lead.
6:37 p.m. -- Wow, Clippard gets to hit for himself and is now back out for the eighth. He's already faced five batters, striking out four. Has thrown 19 pitches, 18(!) of them strikes.
6:46 p.m. -- Couple more strikeouts for Clippard in the eighth, giving him six in a span of seven batters. But then Kelly Johnson launched one off the left-field foul pole. So it's now 4-1 with two outs in the eighth, and Drew Storen has entered to face Upton. Don't think there will be a beaning here.
7:11 p.m. -- Oh, my. Complete meltdown by Storen in the ninth. He allowed two singles and then walked both Montero (who came within a couple feet of a game-tying homer) and Miranda (on four pitches). That forced in a run, making it 4-2, with the bases still loaded. And now John McLaren has yanked Storen and summoned Todd Coffey, who makes perhaps the biggest sprint in from the bullpen in his life to face Melvin Mora with the bases still loaded.
7:15 p.m. -- Sac fly from Mora, making it 4-3 and putting the tying run on third. McLaren comes out again and pulls Coffey, bringing in Sean Burnett to face pinch-hitter Sean Burroughs. Except the D'backs are countering with Xavier Nady.
7:22 p.m. -- Burnett got what he needed: a groundball to short. Unfortunately, it was hit just a tad too softly, and Desmond and Espinosa weren't quite able to turn what would have been a game-ending double play. So it's now tied 4-4 and we're going to play extra innings.
7:32 p.m. -- Double for Danny Espinosa in the 10th, and he even stole third with two outs (not sure whether that was worth the risk). Didn't matter, though, because J.J. Putz struck out Ankiel, Morse and Ramos. We go to the bottom of the 10th, Burnett still in for the Nationals.
7:44 p.m. -- Let's go to the 11th! Burnett nearly got another double-play grounder that would have ended the 10th, but Upton came up with a big-time takeout of Espinosa to break up the turn. Clean play, though he might have been a bit high and late with his slide. No matter, Burnett got Chris Young to fly out to end the inning.
7:50 p.m. -- You know what's been missing from this game? A fan running on the field. Oh wait, it just happened.
7:58 p.m. -- You know what else this game was missing? A bases-loaded walk by Rick Ankiel against a left-handed reliever in the top of the 11th. Oh wait, it just happened. Nats lead 5-4.
8:00 p.m. -- You know what else this game was missing? A grand slam by Michael Morse off the batter's eye. Oh wait, it just happened. Nats lead 9-4.
8:04 p.m. -- You know what else this game has been missing? Henry Rodriguez being given the ball for the bottom of the 11th, up five runs. Oh wait, it's happening right now. Hang tight, folks. This ain't over yet.
8:08 p.m. -- In easily the craziest game of the year, perhaps the craziest thing of all was that Henry Rodriguez retired the side in the 11th. Nats win, 9-4. My game story may be 5,000 words long.