Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Livan Hernandez faces James McDonald in Game 1 of today's doubleheader.
A couple of reminders: One ticket gets you into both games. If you hold a rain check from that May 17 game, you'll need to exchange it for a comparable seat today. If you hold a ticket for tonight's originally scheduled game, you're good to go and can show up anytime.
Also, be aware that the first game will not be televised anywhere because Fox has exclusive rights to the 4-7 p.m. window. MASN2 will come on the air at 7 p.m. and show the second game in its entirety (or the conclusion of the first game if it hasn't ended yet).
I, of course, will be covering both games in their entirety, so be sure to check back for plenty of updates here...
PIRATES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 3:35 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 188
Weather: Partly cloudy, 90 degrees, Wind 4 mph out to LF
STARTING LINEUPS1:45 p.m. -- As you see, the lineups have been posted, and the Nats are going with essentially the regular starting eight (with Ivan Rodriguez catching). Davey Johnson did say he might sit a couple of guys with nagging injuries for the nightcap, including Jayson Werth and/or Laynce Nix.
CF Roger Bernadina
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Laynce Nix
1B Michael Morse
2B Danny Espinosa
C Ivan Rodriguez
SS Ian Desmond
P Livan Hernandez
LF Alex Presley
SS Chase d'Arnaud
RF Garrett Jones
CF Andrew McCutchen
2B Neil Walker
1B Lyle Overbay
3B Brandon Wood
C Mike McKenry
P James McDonald
1:50 p.m. -- Meanwhile, the Nats will be a man short in the bullpen today and tonight. Henry Rodriguez came down with strep throat and was sent home by doctors so as not to infect the rest of the clubhouse.
1:54 p.m. -- And in the other pregame news item of significance, Davey acknowledged the club will promote someone from the minors to make a spot start Tuesday against the Cubs (and thus prevent Tom Gorzelanny and others in the rotation from having to start on short rest). He said Ross Detwiler is "most definitely" a candidate to make that start. Tom Milone, however, is not. "I like him, too," Johnson said of the lefty with a 95-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio at Class AAA Syracuse. "But I think Det's a little ahead of him. I also think he's on the [40-man] roster and the other guy isn't."
3:01 p.m. -- For a longer posting on Detwiler and Tuesday's start, click here.
3:38 p.m. -- We're underway with an 83 mph fastball(?) from Livan Hernandez to Alex Presley. Ninety-one degrees at first pitch.
3:49 p.m. -- It took only three batters for the Pirates to seize an early 1-0 lead, then only two more than make it 2-0. After Chase d'Arnaud barely beat out a potential 5-4-3 double play, he stole second, putting him in position to score on Garrett Jones single to right. Andrew McCutchen followed with a double to deep right-center, then Neil Walker added a sac fly to right for the second run. All told, six batters came to the plate in the inning, and pretty much all of them smoked the ball. Livo's got to make an adjustment, and quick, before this gets out of hand.
3:54 p.m. -- Real quick bottom of the first for James McDonald. Not great contact out of any of the guys, especially Jayson Werth, who barely made contact on a real defensive swing with two strikes and tapped the ball about 45 feet down the first-base line. Nats trail 2-0 after one.
4:02 p.m. -- Much better stuff from Livo in the top of the second. He retired the side, getting a weak comebacker from Brandon Wood and then striking out both Mike McKenry and McDonald.
4:11 p.m. -- The Nats get a run back in the bottom of the second, thanks to back-to-back-to-back singles from Morse, Espinosa and Rodriguez. Might have scored more, but Espinosa got caught leaning too far off second base and was picked off by McDonald. It's 2-1 Pirates after two.
4:21 p.m. -- Couple more hits for the Bucs in the top of the third, including a double by Jones to deep right field. Fortunately, Pudge gunned down Presley trying to steal second, preventing a runner from ultimately scoring on the Jones hit. Another fantastic throw by a Nats catcher, right on the money. Still 2-1 Pirates heading to the bottom of the third.
4:27 p.m. -- Another called third strike with Jayson Werth at the plate to end the third. He's now been caught looking 32 times this season, which equates to 42 percent of his strikeouts. For comparison's sake, the Nats as a team have a 28 percent strikeout-looking rate, while the major-league average is 24 percent. Still 2-1 after three.
4:42 p.m. -- Another chance for the Nats in the fourth, thanks to a perfectly placed hit-and-run single by Espinosa. That put runners on the corners with two outs for Pudge ... who then struck out to end the inning. Pirates still lead 2-1.
5:10 p.m. -- Yet another chance for the Nats in the fifth after McDonald walked Bernadina (perhaps pitching around him?) to put runners on first and second with one out for Werth. Werth then grounded to the left side hole, and d'Arnaud was late trying to get the forceout at second. So now the bases were loaded with one out for Zimmerman and Nix. Golden opportunity. And it was squandered. Zim popped out to first. Nix (who is really struggling right now) struck out for the fourth time in 11 innings. Inning over, no runs on the board. Still 2-1 after five.
5:21 p.m. -- Credit to Livan Hernandez, who has bounced back from a couple of shaky innings early to put together another patented quality start. He's retired 10 of the last 12 batters faced, keeping this a 2-1 game heading to the seventh. Nats running out of time to push the tying run across.
5:32 p.m. -- Seven innings in the books for Livo, who has gotten better as the afternoon wears on. So the Nats are down to their final nine outs. They've been in this position plenty in the last few weeks and have shown a knack for rallying. But as F.P. Santangelo (who is sitting here in the press box for Game 1) points out, it's not going to be easy for anyone to get a rally going as the late-afternoon shadows start creeping over the plate. Obviously, this is an odd time of day to be playing the late innings.
5:38 p.m. -- Rick Ankiel to the rescue! Pinch-hitting for Livo, he took a 3-2 breaking ball from McDonald over the right-center field fence. Only his second homer of the year, and only the Nats' second pinch-hit homer of the year. It's 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh, and we've got a whole new ballgame.
5:47 p.m. -- Ugh, Roger Bernadina with his best Ruben Rivera impersonation. Just terrible baserunning. He took off from first, never realizing Jayson Werth's line drive to left was going to be caught by Alex Presley. By the time Bernie realized it, he had already rounded third base. He tried to turn around and run back, but he never re-touched third. Not that it mattered. He was out by five miles. So it remains tied 2-2 heading to the eighth, with Sean Burnett now on the mound.
5:52 p.m. -- Oy, Sean Burnett gives up another one. Garret Jones -- a left-handed hitter -- takes a 2-2 fastball from Burnett and puts it into the Red Porch. The Pirates are back on top 3-2 in the eighth.
5:54 p.m. -- And now McCutchen takes Burnett deep to left. Back-to-back jacks for the Pirates off a stunned Burnett, whose ERA is suddenly 5.86.
5:59 p.m. -- Over/under on when J.C. Romero gets promoted from Syracuse? Gotta think it'll happen within days.
6:09 p.m. -- Another chance in the bottom of the eighth. With two on and one out, Espinosa got a fastball down and in from Jose Veras. That's right where he likes 'em, and he just missed it. Drove the ball to the warning track in right-center, with McCutchen making a leaping catch just in front of the fence. Veras then snagged a comebacker off Pudge's bat to end the inning. Nats still trail 4-2 and are down to their final three outs.
6:28 p.m. -- Todd Coffey gives up an insurance run in the top of the ninth. So this is it. Last chance for the Nats. Down 5-2. It'll be Desmond, Ankiel and Bernadina against the one and only Joel Hanrahan, who is a perfect 23-for-23 in save opportunities this season.
6:35 p.m. -- That'll do it. Werth did come up with a two-out RBI in the ninth, but Hanrahan got Zimmerman to ground out for his 24th save. Burnett (3-5) takes the loss. Nats fall back under .500 heading into the nightcap. First pitch should be right around 7:05 p.m. Check out the new thread on the homepage for Game 2.