Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats have a chance this afternoon to finish their homestand 8-1.
For it to continue today, though, the Nats will need to cobble together some offense against a really tough rookie in Seattle's Michael Pineda. For the first time in two weeks, Jayson Werth won't be hitting leadoff; he's been bumped down to the 2-hole, with Roger Bernadina at the top of Jim Riggleman's lineup. Jason Marquis remains the No. 8 hitter, however, and will be in search today of his team-leading eighth victory.
It's a hot, muggy day in the District, with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms. If you're heading out to the ballpark, be sure to drink plenty of water. If you're stuck in the office, keep yourself tuned right here for updates throughout the game...
MARINERS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV: MASN, MLB Network (outside D.C.)
Radio: WFED (1500 AM), WHFS (1580 AM), XM 186
Weather: Chance of storms, 91 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to CF
STARTING LINEUPS12:11 p.m. -- Regarding the switch atop the Nats' lineup: Jim Riggleman said he's been hoping to get Jayson Werth back into the 2-hole, where team officials he will enjoy the most success. It helps that Roger Bernadina has been performing well lately (.318 average, .375 OBP this month). Sounds like this will be the preferred lineup when the Nats are facing a right-hander moving forward. When they face a lefty, though, Werth is likely to go back into the leadoff spot. The inability of Nationals leadoff hitters to get on base has truly been staggering this season. Overall, they're hitting .205 with a .270 OBP. But in the game's first plate appearance, the OBP plummets to .203. The Nats' first batter in the first inning has reached base only 15 times in 74 games this season. Just staggering.
CF Roger Bernadina
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Michael Morse
2B Danny Espinosa
C Ivan Rodriguez
LF Jerry Hairston
P Jason Marquis
SS Ian Desmond
RF Ichiro Suzuki
2B Dustin Ackley
3B Adam Kennedy
1B Justin Smoak
C Miguel Olivo
LF Mike Carp
CF Franklin Gutierrez
SS Jack Wilson
P Michael Pineda
12:17 p.m. -- Meanwhile, the Oakland A's this morning placed Josh Willingham on the DL with an Achilles' tendon injury. Hate to say it, but that's right about on schedule, huh? The Hammer is as solid a ballplayer as you'll ever meet, but he just has not been able to stay healthy through a full season, which was a major reason (THE major reason) Mike Rizzo was willing to trade him over the winter for Henry Rodriguez and Corey Brown.
1:09 p.m. -- Jason Marquis gets Ichiro Suzuki to bounce out to second on the game's first pitch, and we are underway.
1:11 p.m. -- That didn't take long. What an efficient way for Marquis to start the game, retiring the side on five pitches (all strikes). Three groundball outs, with both Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse making nice throws to retire Dustin Ackley and Adam Kennedy, respectively.
1:18 p.m. -- The good: Jayson Werth doubled off the right-field wall, then took third on a wild pitch. The bad: Bo Porter decided to take a chance and have Werth tag on Ryan Zimmerman's flyball to shallow center field. Franklin Gutierrez gunned him down pretty easily, despite Werth's attempt to elude Miguel Olivo's tag. Jim Riggleman came out to argue briefly, but he wasn't too animated. Replays appear to show Olivo just grazing the back of Werth's jersey.
1:33 p.m. -- Hmm, this Pineda kid looks to be quite legit. Not that I didn't suspect that going into today; I just hadn't ever seen him pitch in person. He completely blew away Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa in the bottom of the second. Marquis, meanwhile, has been effective himself through two. So far, this is a scoreless game.
1:35 p.m. -- In other news: The Nats just announced that both Bryce Harper and Brad Peacock will be playing in the All-Star Futures Game (Sunday, July 10 in Phoenix).
1:46 p.m. -- To the surprise of no one, we've got a pitchers' duel brewing here this afternoon. Scoreless through three innings as both Marquis and Pineda cruise along. Each has allowed only one man to reach safely -- Marquis walked Justin Smoak in the second, Pineda surrendered that double to Werth in the first -- and has otherwise dominated.
2:10 p.m. -- Wow, Pineda's pretty impressive, huh? Though he loaded the bases in the fourth on a Bernadina double, Werth walk and Morse single), he escaped the jam by blowing away Espinosa and Pudge, each on fastballs registering 94 or 95 mph. Still scoreless through four.
2:15 p.m. -- Forget about Pineda, how about Marquis. Five innings in the books, and he's yet to allow a base hit. Only two walks. He's at 55 pitches, 37 strikes, and is swimming along having barely broken a sweat yet.
2:28 p.m. -- Oh, well. So much for that. Marquis' no-hit bid comes to an end with one out in the sixth inning when Pineda bloops a single to center field. Yes, that's his first big-league hit.
2:41 p.m. -- Someone will score before this game is enough. That much I feel confident enough to say. But who it will be or when it will happen is beyond me. The way Marquis and Pineda are dominating, it certainly doesn't look like it's going to happen soon. It's still scoreless through six innings.
2:55 p.m. -- Marquis got into a bit of a jam in the seventh, with runners on first and second and one out. But he calmly got Franklin Gutierrez to ground into a 6-4 fielder's choice and Jack Wilson to line out to center. So this game remains scoreless at the seventh-inning stretch. Something's got to give eventually, right?
3:05 p.m. -- A great chance for the Nats in the bottom of the seventh after Espinosa bunted his way on and Hairston laced a two-out single to center. With the pitcher's spot up, Riggleman could have gone to the bench, but he elected to leave Marquis (on 94 pitches) in to hit for himself. The thinking (I assume): Laynce Nix is still hampered by a sore Achilles' tendon and isn't 100 percent. Marquis might actually have been his best left-handed hitter in that situation. Not that he looked like it in taking four mighty hacks at Pineda and whiffing on three (fouling off another). Still scoreless after seven.
3:14 p.m. -- Marquis may not have driven in the go-ahead run, but he just went back out and retired the side in the eighth. He's been absolutely fantastic today: 8 innings, 3 hits, 3 walks, 108 pitches (70 strikes). We go to the bottom of the eighth, with David Pauley (who served up Wilson Ramos' game-winner the other night) on in relief of Pineda.
3:24 p.m. -- Chance for Zimmerman to be the hero, with Werth on first and two outs in the eighth. Pauley, though, got ahead of him 0-2, then after a ball, got Zim to pop out weakly to first base. Right before that pitch, I was thinking to myself that Zimmerman is standing way off the plate, his feet almost on the outer line of the batter's box. You'd think pitchers would really try to pound the outside corner against that. Sure enough, Pauley got him reaching on an outside pitch for the final out. So we go to the ninth, still scoreless, with Tyler Clippard on in relief of Marquis.
3:35 p.m. -- Man, was Clippard throwing some serious gas in the top of the ninth or what? Gave up a one-out double to Smoak but then blew away Olivo and Carp on fastballs clocked at 95 and 94 mph. He usually dials it up to 93 or so, but it looks like he had an extra gear today. We go to the bottom of the ninth. Morse, Espinosa and Pudge to face Chris Ray.
3:45 p.m. -- Hey, Washington: You've got a winning baseball team. Laynce Nix delivers the game-winning sac fly, sending a line drive to left with the bases loaded and one out, scoring Brian Bixler to give the Nats a 1-0, walk-off victory. That's an 8-1 homestand, 11 of 12 and a 38-37 record overall. Soak it in, everyone!