Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Davey Johnson makes his return to managing tonight at Angel Stadium.
Johnson's first lineup looks a lot like those John McLaren wrote out over the weekend in Chicago. Roger Bernadina leads off. Jayson Werth bats second. Laynce Nix is batting cleanup, though he's in left field. Matt Stairs does make his first appearance in a long time, serving as DH.
One thing to remember: Drew Storen is not with the club tonight. He was in Indiana for his grandmother's funeral. He's expected to rejoin the team in time for tomorrow's game. We'll have to see who would get the call in the ninth inning if the Nats hold a tight lead.
Plenty of updates to come, including highlights from Davey's first press conference. Also, catch me live from the ballpark on CSN at 6 p.m...
NATIONALS at ANGELS
Where: Angel Stadium of Anaheim
Gametime: 10:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 182
Weather: Sunny, 75 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to RF
STARTING LINEUPS8:09 p.m. -- Davey Johnson concluded his first press conference at Nationals manager about 30 minutes ago. I'll have a full article on what he said shortly. The highlights: He hadn't given serious thought to managing this team until Jim Riggleman resigned, though he had never lost his love of managing (evidenced by the amateur teams he skippered in recent years). He's not thinking beyond 2011 yet: "The challenge that I'm finishing right now is not one where I'm looking ahead." He's asked Pat Corrales to take over as bench coach, though Corrales probably won't join the club until this weekend. Trent Jewett is serving as interim bench coach. Johnson insists his 11-year layoff between big-league jobs won't be an issue: "The game hasn't changed." Plenty more detail to come...
CF Roger Bernadina
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Laynce Nix
1B Michael Morse
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
DH Matt Stairs
SS Ian Desmond
(P John Lannan)
SS Maicer Izturis
SS Erick Aybar
DH Bobby Abreu
RF Vernon Wells
LF Howie Kendrick
1B Mark Trumbo
3B Alberto Callaspo
CF Peter Bourjos
C Bobby Wilson
(P Ervin Santana)
8:15 p.m. -- Oh, and in the biggest Nats news of the night: Chien-Ming Wang pitched three innings in a rehab start for Hagerstown. He allowed two runs on four hits, striking out three without issuing a walk. Got six groundball outs (perhaps a sign his sinker was working well).
8:33 p.m. -- And in the most-bizarre news of the night: Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that MLB has suspended John McLaren one game and fined him for his altercation with the umps Friday night in Chicago. Uh, how exactly do you enforce that punishment? Sorry, Mac: You can't watch tonight's game on TV from your living room sofa, only from a skybox above your house?
9:30 p.m. -- Read my full story from Davey Johnson's first press conference, and watch video of my earlier live shot from the ballpark on CSN.
10:08 p.m. -- And the Davey Johnson Era is officially underway with a ball from Ervin Santana to Roger Bernadina.
10:15 p.m. -- Not much happening in the top of the first, aside from a two-out single by Ryan Zimmerman, who certainly needed that. He was hitting only .167 since coming off the DL.
10:33 p.m. -- Michael Morse goes Beast Mode on Anaheim. Just crushed a ball to right-center for his 15th homer of the season, putting the Nats up 1-0. Morse's updated numbers for June: eight homers, 22 RBI, .305 average, .389 OBP, .642 slugging, 1.031 OPS. NL Player of the Month?
10:49 p.m. -- Jayson Werth strikes out for the ninth time in 17 plate appearances on this road trip. He's now hitting .159 in June. Not a candidate for NL Player of the Month. John Lannan, meanwhile, is off to a strong start. He gave up back-to-back singles in the first but got out of it. Gave up a leadoff single in the second but got a double play. Then retired the side in the third. Nats lead 1-0 after three.
10:58 p.m. -- Hmm, maybe that first-inning single got Zimmerman going. He just homered himself down the left-field line, only his third in 21 games this season. Nats take a 2-0 lead. And now Morse goes Beast Mode again, drilling a double off the center-field wall. I think he may have left a permanent dent in that fence.
11:10 p.m. -- The Angels have been hitting Lannan pretty hard all night, and though he had avoided damage through the first three innings, it finally caught up to him in the fourth. Four singles produced two Angels runs, though they might have not scored at all had Laynce Nix not thrown a worm-burner to the plate in a failed attempt to get Bobby Abreu. On the bright side, Werth did fire a laser to third to get Alberto Callaspo to end the inning. It's now 2-2 after four.
11:21 p.m. -- For some reason, the Racing Presidents are here. I have no idea why. And the best gag they could come up with was Teddy riding around the warning track on a bicycle. So this act is officially lame on two coasts of the country now.
11:38 p.m. -- Middle of the sixth now, still 2-2. The way this is going, Davey may have some interesting decisions to make before it's over. How long does he stick with Lannan, who has allowed seven hits but has escaped without suffering major damage? And how does he use his bullpen with Drew Storen not here? Davey said before the game Tyler Clippard would probably be his closer tonight. That could come into play before night's end.
11:45 p.m. -- Wow, that was as impressive a 5-4-3 double play as you'll ever see. Zimmerman dives to his left to snag Trumbo's hot shot, throws a bullet sidearm to Espinosa, who fires his own bullet to Morse. That right there is why you don't move Espinosa to shortstop. Having a second baseman with that kind of arm is a great thing to have.
11:50 p.m. -- All the hits finally caught up to Lannan, who surrenders an RBI single to Bobby Wilson with two outs in the sixth. That's 11 hits allowed, and Davey Johnson is out of the dugout to make his first pitching change. He motions to the right-field corner for Ryan Mattheus. Only problem: Both bullpens here are in left field. Angels up 3-2 in the sixth.
12:15 a.m. -- Crisis averted in the bottom of the seventh. Mattheus put two on, so Davey came out and signaled for Henry Rodriguez to face Callaspo. He induced a routine grounder to short, ending the inning. Angels still up 3-2 heading to the eighth.
12:26 a.m. -- Pretty feeble showing from the top of the lineup in the eighth. Bernadina grounds out to second. Werth strikes out again. Zimmerman taps a check-swing grounder to first. Nats are down to their last three outs.
12:31 a.m. -- By the way, Scott Boras (as he always does) has been watching this game from his suite directly behind the plate. How do you think he's enjoying Werth's struggles?
12:35 a.m. -- OK, last chance for the Nats. It'll be Nix, Morse and Espinosa to face Angels closer Jordan Walden. Still trailing 3-2.
12:40 a.m. -- Welcome home, Danny Espinosa. Two-out, ninth-inning bomb off Walden. This game is tied 3-3, and Nats Magic is back. That's Espinosa's 15th homer of the season, his 48th RBI. And remember, we're only in Game No. 79, not quite to the halfway point yet. Do the math.
12:50 a.m. -- Extra innings again? Why not? Let's go to the 10th! Props to Henry Rodriguez who recorded seven outs to extend this game. This would be an appropriate time to point out the Nats have outscored opponents 26-6 in extra innings this season. Their record is 8-4.
1:00 a.m. -- Big chance for Werth to be the hero. Two outs, Brian Bixler on second. Lefty Scott Downs on the mound. ... And he takes strike three. That's his 11th strikeout in four days, five of them looking.
1:03 a.m. -- On the bright side: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Danny Espinosa's 15 homers before the All-Star break are the most ever by a rookie second baseman. So he's got that going for him. Which is nice.
1:10 a.m. -- Oh well. Sean Burnett gives up the game-winner in the bottom of the 10th. After intentionally walking Wilson to load the bases with one out, Burnett gave up a sharp single up the middle to Maicer Izturis. Angels win in walk-off fashion, 4-3. And Davey Johnson becomes the losingest manager in Nats history, with a .000 winning percentage.