Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
After a wild road trip, the Nats are back in town for a long homestand.
Davey Johnson makes his home managerial debut tonight. More significantly, the Nats will attempt to win for the first time under their new manager. They'll face another surging team in the Pirates, who are two games over .500 and send a tough right-hander to the mound tonight in Charlie Morton (though he posted a 12.27 ERA over his last three starts and had his most-recent turn in the rotation skipped due to a "tired arm").
Tom Gorzelanny, a former Pirate, starts for the Nationals. The lefty was very good last time out, holding the White Sox to one run over seven innings, albeit in a losing effort.
Check back for updates...
PIRATES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 188
Weather: Clear, 84 degrees, Wind 7 mph in from CF
STARTING LINEUPS5:18 p.m. -- You'll notice we still don't have the Nats starting lineup. Davey Johnson has been in meetings and getting interviewed by us media types all afternoon, so he hasn't had a chance to talk to the team's medical staff to check on some guys (such as Laynce Nix). We should have the lineup soon, though. And for what it's worth, Davey said during his pregame session with us that he intends for Roger Bernadina to continue as his regular center fielder and leadoff man, with Rick Ankiel serving as the fourth outfielder. Meanwhile, there's been another change to the coaching staff: Dan Radison was fired as first base coach. Radison is one of Jim Riggleman's closest friends, so it's no surprise this happened, though it's another unfortunate domino effect of Riggleman's resignation. Trent Jewett, who had been serving as bench coach the last four games, will now take over at first base. Pat Corrales, brought back by Johnson, takes over as bench coach beginning tonight.
CF Roger Bernadina
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Laynce Nix
1B Michael Morse
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
SS Ian Desmond
P Tom Gorzelanny
LF Alex Presley
3B Chase d'Arnaud
CF Andrew McCutchen
RF Matt Diaz
1B Lyle Overbay
SS Ronny Cedeno
2B Josh Harrison
C Michael McKenry
P Charlie Morton
5:43 p.m. -- Lineup posted. No real surprises. The pitcher is batting ninth, something Davey made clear would be the case as long as he's managing here.
6:52 p.m. -- For a complete recap of Davey's pregame comments about the changes he'd like to be made to the Nats' roster, click here.
7:06 p.m. -- And we're underway with a strike from Tom Gorzelanny to Alex Presley. Crowd still filing in, but there's lots of near-empty sections throughout the upper deck and down the lines.
7:14 p.m. -- Gorzelanny got himself into trouble in the top of the first, putting two on with one out. But as has so often been the case for members of the Nationals rotation lately, he got out of it thanks to the double play. Tailor-made 6-4-3 off Matt Diaz's bat to get out of the jam. Nats coming up to bat.
7:27 p.m. -- And the Nats squander their own golden opportunity in the bottom of the first. Roger Bernadina and Jayson Werth each singled off Charlie Morton to get things started, but Ryan Zimmerman (still searching for his swing since returning from the DL) grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. A Laynce Nix walk put runners on the corners with two outs, but Michael Morse had his bat shattered by Morton and grounded out weakly to short to end the first inning scoreless.
7:39 p.m. -- Still scoreless after two, as both starters retired the side. Can't fault Danny Espinosa, though, because he smoked a line drive to third to lead off the bottom of the second, only to be denied by a diving Chase d'Arnaud.
7:55 p.m. -- Yikes, the Nats' sloppy defense has returned. Two errors in the top of the third, one charged to Gorzelanny (who had trouble fielding a bunt and then threw wild to first), the other charged to Morse (who threw wide to Gorzelanny covering first). Amazingly, that was Morse's first error in six years. He hadn't been charged with one since August 15, 2005, while playing shortstop for the Mariners. In between, he went 214 consecutive games without committing an error, cleanly fielding 764 defensive chances. This one didn't directly allow the Pirates to score (they did that on a groundout) but it capped an ugly inning in the field for the Nats, who now trail 1-0 in the third.
8:06 p.m. -- You know, for all of his struggles making routine throws, Ryan Zimmerman still starts a 5-4-3 double play better than any third baseman in the game.
8:23 p.m. -- Gorzelanny has settled down since that shaky third inning, though he still surrendered hits in both the fourth and fifth. The Nats, meanwhile, haven't done anything against Morton since the bottom of the first. Don't know if those of you watching on TV will pick up on this, but Morton's delivery is almost identical to Roy Halladay's. That's not by coincidence. After a terrible 2010, Morton (who has a similar repertoire of pitches as Halladay) made a point to try to mimic his delivery. The results have been very positive so far. His sinker is sharp, as is his slider. 1-0 Pirates heading to the bottom of the fifth.
8:38 p.m. -- Nice job by Gorzelanny getting out of a sixth-inning spot. With McCutchen on third and only one out, he got Overbay swinging at an 82 mph slider, then got Cedeno swinging at a 92 mph fastball. The guy has got good stuff, and he's shown he can make batters swing and miss. And through his last 13 innings, he's only allowed one earned run. His season ERA is down to 3.82.
8:41 p.m. -- Roger Bernadina to the rescue! Connects off Morton's first pitch of the sixth and puts it over the out-of-town scoreboard. That's Bernadina's fifth homer of the season, and it snaps the Nationals' 17-inning scoreless streak. It's now 1-1 in the sixth.
8:45 p.m. -- Wow, Clint Hurdle with a quick hook. Morton is done after 5 2/3 innings and only 88 pitches. Like I mentioned earlier, he was skipped over the last time around the rotation due to a tired arm. Perhaps Hurdle is being over-protective with the right-hander. Pretty big break for the Nats, who now get 3 1/3 innings against the Pirates bullpen.
8:53 p.m. -- Definitely a missed opportunity there for the Nats. Left-hander Tony Watson came in to face Laynce Nix, then issued four straight balls. That brought Michael Morse to the plate in what should have been an advantageous matchup for the slugger. Except Watson struck him out, ending the sixth with the game still tied 1-1.
9:05 p.m. -- Gorzelanny again comes up big to get out of a jam. With one out and the go-ahead run in scoring position, he struck out my fellow Horizon High School alum Brandon Wood -- shoot, I could've done that! -- and then got Alex Presley as well. That's eight K's for Gorzelanny through seven strong innings. Still 1-1 at the stretch.
9:15 p.m. -- Seven innings in the books, and the Nats have managed only one run on three hits. Go back over their previous five games, and they've now totaled 28 hits in their last 53 innings at the plate. Is that good? No. Gorzelanny, meanwhile, is done after seven solid innings. Tyler Clippard in to pitch the eighth inning of a 1-1 game.
9:43 p.m. -- Wow, could that have been a more pathetic display of hitting from the Nats' Nos. 2, 3 and 4 hitters? With two on and nobody out in the eighth, the table was set for Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Laynce Nix to come through and drive in the go-ahead run. Werth and Zim never even picked up their silverware. Both struck out looking at fastballs, Werth on an 0-2 pitch from Chris Resop. Nix at least swung and missed for his K. Ugh. Still 1-1 going to the ninth.
9:47 p.m. -- 1-2-3 top of the ninth for Drew Storen. Chance for the Nats to walk off here. It'll be Morse, Espinosa and Ramos against Tim Wood. Interesting that Hurdle isn't sticking with Resop here.
10:04 p.m. -- Matt Stairs: Tonight's hero. Yes, seriously. Davey decided to send the 43-year-old up to pinch-hit for Ian Desmond with the winning run on third and one out in the ninth. And he came through. Crushed an 0-1 pitch from Wood off the right-field wall. Nats win 2-1, and Davey gets his first win as manager.