Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats are looking for their third straight sweep and ninth straight win today.
In their quest for consecutive victory No. 9 and a 36-36 record, the Nationals will send Tom Gorzelanny to the mound for the first time in three weeks. The left-hander says he's feeling great after a brief DL stint for elbow inflammation. We'll see if he can continue the remarkable performance his rotation mates have provided during this streak.
If you missed the news earlier, Rick Ankiel has been placed on the 15-day DL to clear roster space for Gorzelanny. Roger Bernadina has capably taken over everyday duties in center field and is in the lineup today batting second behind Jayson Werth.
With right-hander Chris Jakubauskas starting for the Orioles -- has a pitching matchup ever featured more combined letters than the 21 it takes to spell both Jakubauskas and Gorzelanny? -- Laynce Nix is back in the cleanup spot and in left field. Ian Desmond, meanwhile, gets a day off to rest his nagging thigh injury. Alex Cora starts at shortstop.
Happy Father's Day to everyone out there! Plenty of updates to come...
ORIOLES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
TV: MASN, MASN2, Ch. 50
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), WTEM (980 AM), XM 187
Weather: Cloudy, 79 degrees, Wind 7 mph LF to RF
STARTING LINEUPS1:36 p.m. -- We are underway with a ball from Tom Gorzelanny to J.J. Hardy. Another big crowd on hand today. They're going to end up drawing well over 100,000 fans for this three-game series.
RF Jayson Werth
CF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Laynce Nix
1B Michael Morse
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
P Tom Gorzelanny
SS Alex Cora
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
1B Derrek Lee
LF Nolan Reimold
3B Mark Reynolds
C Craig Tatum
2B Robert Andino
P Chris Jakubauskas
1:38 p.m. -- Well, that was about as efficient a first inning as you'll ever see. Gorzelanny retires the side on seven pitches. A pop-up to first, a fly ball to left and a comebacker (on a two-out bunt attempt by No. 3 hitter Adam Jones).
1:44 p.m. -- Ryan Zimmerman continues to smoke the ball to center and right fields, though he was perhaps a bit too aggressive there in trying to stretch a first-inning single into a double. Jones bobbled the ball for a moment, so Zim chugged around first base. But he was out by a couple of steps (though you'll be glad to know he slid feet-first and not head-first after injuring himself that way back in April).
1:50 p.m. -- Oh, my. Zimmerman tries to start what should have been a routine 5-4-3 double play and throws the ball into right field. That's his first actual error since coming off the DL, though he came close to a few the last few days. Then he can't pull the trigger on a slow roller up the line, a play he makes all the time. As we've talked about, Zim worked on a new throwing motion while on the DL. Clearly, he hasn't mastered it. The bigger issue is if this gets in his head, which it appears it may already be. You just really hope this can get resolved and not linger, because god knows what the long-term ramifications could be. For now, it only cost the Nats one run.
2:03 p.m. -- J.J. Hardy puts the Orioles up 2-0 in the third inning by crushing a 90 mph pitch down the middle from Gorzelanny into the batter's eye in center field. Not a good pitch there from Gorzelanny.
2:12 p.m. -- Another error, this time by Jayson Werth (who bobbled a ball in right field to allow Nick Markakis to take an extra base). This one didn't come back to haunt the Nats, thanks to a brilliant double play from Espinosa and Desmond. Still 2-0 heading to the bottom of the third.
2:22 p.m. -- Three innings in the books, and the Nats have done next-to-nothing against Jakubauskas. Alex Cora managed a two-out single in the third (and Zimmerman had that single in the first in which he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double) but otherwise nothing. Jakubauskas has struck out five of 10 batters so far (including Werth twice). Still 2-0 after three.
3:06 p.m. -- Sorry for the lack of updates there. Was down in the stands visiting family. They're not seeing a particularly crisp ballgame today. It's 5-2 Orioles in the bottom of the fifth after a string of hits by both teams. The Nats rallied to get themselves back within a run in the bottom of the fourth, thanks to back-to-back doubles from Morse and Espinosa. But Gorzelanny gave both runs right back in the top of the fifth, an ugly inning if ever there was one. He gave up a leadoff single to the opposing pitcher, then a double to Hardy that would have scored Jakubauskas if not for a fantastic relay throw to the plate by Espinosa. Another RBI single by Jones made it 4-2, and with Derrek Lee at the plate and Todd Coffey warm in the bullpen, you figured Jim Riggleman might pull the trigger. Instead, Gorzelanny got to face one more batter, and paid the price. Lee doubled in another run, making it 5-2 before Riggleman finally made the pitching change.
3:11 p.m. -- Bernadina gets it to 5-3 thanks to a solo homer. He's really started to hit the ball in the last week, a nice development.
3:20 p.m. -- The ball's flying out of Nationals Park today. Mark Reynolds connects for the afternoon's third home run, a solo shot off Coffey that puts the Orioles back up 6-3 in the sixth. Definitely feels like the ball has been traveling better here the last couple homestands as the weather warmed up.
3:26 p.m. -- If you're wondering why Buck Showalter let Jakubauskas hit for himself in the top of the sixth and then just brought it Jim Johnson to pitch the bottom of the inning ... he's dealing with a short bench today. Luke Scott isn't available. Also, apparently Jakubauskas (2-for-3 with a double) can rake.
3:55 p.m. -- Today's official paid attendance: 35,439. That's much smaller than I thought it would be. This place looks full. Can't see 6,000 empty seats anywhere. Still, they wound up drawing 107,615 for the series, which is impressive. It's not, however, a Nationals Park record. That was 125,032 for the series against the Red Sox in 2009.
4:02 p.m. -- Another insurance run for the Orioles in the eighth, a direct result of Wilson Ramos' throwing error on a stolen-base attempt. That's three errors today by the Nats, a stunning reversal of fortunes. They now trail 7-3 with six outs to go.
4:08 p.m. -- Now three outs from the winning streak coming to an end. Not looking too good here.
4:17 p.m. -- It may not mean much in the eventual outcome of this game, but Zimmerman just started a very nice, 5-4-3 double play to end the top of the ninth. If nothing else, he'll head home tonight feeling better about his final throw of the day after those earlier shaky ones. Last chance for the Nats, down four. It'll be Espinosa, Ramos and the pitcher's spot against Koji Uehara.
4:19 p.m. -- Hold the phone, folks. It ain't over yet. Espinosa puts one in the bullpen for his 13th homer of the season. It's 7-4.
4:23 p.m. -- Oh, well. All good things must come to an end. Nats lose 7-4, and the streak ends at eight games. They're back to two games below the .500 mark, with a chance to get back on track Tuesday night against the Mariners.