Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats look to make it two in a row (and 10 of 11) tonight.
They'll look to make it eight in a row, and attempt to reach the .500 mark, tonight when John Lannan takes the mound against Erik Bedard in a match-up of left-handers. Lannan has been nothing short of brilliant over the last month, posting a 1.08 ERA and a .186 batting average against through his last five starts.
Bedard, the former Orioles first-round pick, has pitched quite well himself after missing all of last season following shoulder surgery. Jim Riggleman will counter with what has become his standard lineup against lefties: Ian Desmond bats second, Danny Espinosa bats fifth, Jerry Hairston bats seventh and start in left field.
Plenty of updates to come...
MARINERS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 188
Weather: Partly cloudy, 85 degrees, Wind 5 mph out to CF
STARTING LINEUPS5:58 p.m. -- Couple of injury updates for you before the game ... Laynce Nix is not in the lineup today, hampered by a lingering Achilles' tendon strain that has prevented him from playing a couple of times this season. With a lefty on the mound for Seattle, Nix wouldn't have started today anyway, but his condition is something the Nats will keep an eye on. ... Fellow outfielder Rick Ankiel, on the DL with a strained ribcage muscle, has gone to Viera to begin rehab. He'll likely head out to play at a minor-league affiliate this weekend when the Nats hit the road themselves. ... Cole Kimball (shoulder inflammation) had begun a throwing program in the last few days but felt a recurrence of discomfort in the shoulder, so he's being shut down for the next two weeks. Doctors don't believe Kimball will need anything more than that rest to get himself healthy.
RF Jayson Werth
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Michael Morse
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
LF Jerry Hairston
P John Lannan
CF Roger Bernadina
RF Ichiro Suzuki
SS Brendan Ryan
1B Justin Smoak
C Miguel Olivo
CF Franklin Gutierrez
LF Greg Halman
3B Chone Figgins
2B Jack Wilson
P Erik Bedard
7:06 p.m. -- OK, we are underway. John Lannan starts off Ichiro Suzuki with a fastball for ball one. Eighty-eight steamy degrees at first pitch, the crowd slowly filing in as usual.
7:10 p.m. -- Nice, easy, 10-pitch top of the first for Lannan, though a bit unconventional by his standards. Usually a groundball pitcher, he got Ichiro to pop up a bunt, then Brendan Ryan to popout to second, then Justin Smoak to lineout to short. Hey, whatever works.
7:21 p.m. -- And the Nats pick up right where they left off last night: Taking advantage of a Mariners error. Chone Figgins couldn't handle Michael Morse's hot shot to third, prolonging the inning, and Danny Espinosa responded with an RBI single to center. It's 1-0 after one.
7:29 p.m. -- Now THAT was the real Ryan Zimmerman. Fantastic 5-4-3 double play started by the Gold Glover, who came charging in and to his left to snag Greg Halman's chopper, then fired sidearm to Espinosa, who fired to first to complete the pretty twin-killing.
7:45 p.m. -- Nice stuff from Lannan through three innings. Only batter to reach is Miguel Olivo on a strikeout-wild pitch in the second. He's actually recorded three strikeouts already. Still 1-0 in the middle of the third.
8:06 p.m. -- Hmm, kind of a shaky top of the fourth there. Lannan, after basically retiring the first 11 batters of the game, allowed a double to Smoak followed by an RBI single to Olivo. More concerning, though, was Zimmerman's wide throw to first on Gutierrez's grounder. I was watching Zim working out at third base early this afternoon, and a lot of his throws were doing the same thing: pulling the first baseman to the right and kind of dieing as they got there. Second throwing error since he's returned from the DL. It's 1-1 heading to the bottom of the fourth.
8:19 p.m. -- Some nice hustle puts the Nats back on top in the bottom of the fourth. Espinosa singled, then took second when a pitch got away from Olivo and then advanced to third when Olivo's throw sailed into center field. Jerry Hairston then rapped a groundball just deep enough in the hole at short to beat it out and pick up an RBI in the process. Nats now up 2-1.
8:38 p.m. -- Five innings in the books now, the Nationals still holding a 2-1 lead. Aside from that two-batter hiccup in the fourth, Lannan has been quite good. He got some help from Zimmerman in the top of the fifth, with the third baseman making a couple of nice sidearm throws. It kind of begs the question why Zim doesn't just stick with the sidearm form all the time. If the team is worried that may contribute to an injury, OK. But if not, why not just let him do what feels most comfortable and has been most successful?
8:55 p.m. -- Hmm, curious move by Jim Riggleman to pull John Lannan with two outs in the sixth, having allowed only one run on three hits (and with only a man on first). But the Mariners had squared up a couple of balls that inning, so Riggleman went with Henry Rodriguez. The flamethrower (eventually) got the job done, after allowing a single to Miguel Olivo (on a 101 mph fastball). He got Franklin Gutierrez to ground out sharply to third, ending the inning with the Nats still on top 2-1.
8:59 p.m. -- Lannan, by the way, now sports a 1.15 ERA over his last six starts. He's allowed only 25 hits over 39 innings. Best prolonged stretch of his career.
9:10 p.m. -- Big spot coming up here for Sean Burnett, summoned to face pinch-hitter Jack Cust with two outs and a man on first.
9:14 p.m. -- Well, Burnett didn't get Cust (who beat out a grounder to second that Espinosa couldn't get a good grip on) but he came up even bigger to strike out Ichiro. Really solid work there for Burnett, who has pitched quite well lately after a ragged first couple of months to the season. Still 2-1 Nats at the seventh-inning stretch.
9:32 p.m. -- And a 1-2-3 eighth inning for Tyler Clippard, doing his usual thing. Quite an impressive performance from the bullpen so far tonight. If only someone had written about those relievers before tonight's game. Oh wait, I did!
9:40 p.m. -- OK, here we go. It's Drew Storen on to pitch the ninth, the Nats having been clinging to a 2-1 lead since the fourth inning. Gutierrez, Carp and Figgins due up for Seattle.
9:47 p.m. -- That'll do it. Yet another curly W is in the books. Nats win 2-1. They now own a .500 record at this point in the season for the first time since 2005. They've now won SIX games this month when scoring only 2 runs. And they amazingly now own the third-best home record in the NL at 21-13. Only the Phillies and Brewers are better. Wow.