Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Ross Detwiler makes his first big-league appearance of the season tonight.
If Davey Johnson has his way, though, this may be more than a one-time appearance. The Nationals manager suggested Detwiler could remain with the club, shifting to the bullpen and serving as the long reliever/emergency starter he's been seeking. It's also possible Detwiler could make another start before the All-Star break, because the Nats are thinking about shelving Jordan Zimmermann for a week or two in an attempt to stretch his season out before he hits his 160-inning limit.
First things first, though: Detwiler tonight faces the Cubs, who send a familiar face to the mound themselves. Ramon Ortiz, who nearly threw a no-hitter at RFK Stadium in 2006, is back in the big leagues and starts tonight for Chicago. He'll face a Nationals lineup still missing Michael Morse (who is available to pinch-hit).
One final reminder: First Lady Michelle Obama will be attending tonight's game as part of a promotion honoring military families. Fans are encouraged to arrive at the ballpark early, because there will be extra security.
Updates to come...
CUBS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 187
Weather: Partly cloudy, 88 degrees, Wind 5 mph out to CF
STARTING LINEUPS6:55 p.m. -- An update on the NL Final Man All-Star vote: Michael Morse currently ranks fourth among the five candidates. Shane Victorino leads, followed by Andre Ethier, Todd Helton, Morse and Ian Kennedy.
LF Roger Bernadina
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Laynce Nix
RF Jayson Werth
CF Rick Ankiel
C Wilson Ramos
SS Ian Desmond
P Ross Detwiler
RF Reed Johnson
2B Jeff Baker
3B Aramis Ramirez
C Geovany Soto
LF Alfonso Soriano
CF Marlon Byrd
1B Carlos Pena
SS Darwin Barney
P Ramon Ortiz
7:02 p.m. -- Nice moment as Michelle Obama takes the field with children of military personnel. The First Lady gave Danny Espinosa (who caught the first pitch) a hug. She appears to be taller than him.
7:07 p.m. -- And we're underway. Ross Detwiler starts Reed Johnson off with a fastball for ball one.
7:11 p.m. -- Another nice double play turned by Espinosa to end the top of the first. Ian Desmond did his part, ranging to his left to get Aramis Ramirez's chopper, then making a backhand flip to Espinosa to get the 6-4-3 going.
7:28 p.m. -- Nice first-inning rally for the Nationals, who have stormed out to take a 3-0 lead. Bernadina, Espinosa and Zimmerman all singled to right to get things started. Nix then caught a huge break when he tapped a tailor-made double-play grounder to second, only to watch as the Cubs' Jeff Baker threw the ball into left field. Never came close to shortstop Darwin Barney. Costly error allowed two runs to score, and brought Werth to the plate with runners in scoring position. And Werth promptly struck out. You know, it's one thing to swing defensively when you've got two strikes on you. But Werth seems to do it no matter the count. Just doesn't look confident up there at all. Speaking of confident, apparently Mike Quade had no confidence in Ramon Ortiz getting Rick Ankiel out, because he called for an intentional walk of the .227-hitting center fielder to load the bases for Wilson Ramos. Who reached on an infield single, scoring another run. It's 3-0 Nats after one.
7:44 p.m. -- The Nats are crushing Ramon Ortiz right now, though they've only got the three first-inning runs to show for it. Tough break in the bottom of the second when Espinosa drilled a liner to first, only to have Carlos Pena snag it and tag Bernadina out to complete the double play. Nothing Roger could've done there. It's still 3-0 after two.
8:00 p.m. -- Another ugly AB for Werth, who strikes out for the second time in as many at-bats tonight. Detwiler, meanwhile, is off to a strong start. He's allowed one hit over three innings, though he did hit a batter and was charged with a tough error on a bunt. Still 3-0 after three.
8:11 p.m. -- Four scoreless innings for Detwiler, who has looked pretty sharp. Of course, we've seen this before from him. The key is how he handles the next time through the Cubs lineup.
8:33 p.m. -- Jayson Werth has come to the plate three times in five innings against Ramon Ortiz. He's 0-for-3, with two strikeouts and a 6-4-3 double play. He's stranded four runners.
8:41 p.m. -- Hmm, the first three batters Detwiler faced the third time around ... Reed Johnson: double to left. Blake DeWitt: flyout to center. Aramis Ramirez: Homer to left. Just like that, the Nats' lead is down to 3-2, and Davey Johnson is giving Detwiler the hook. Winds up going only 5 1/3 innings, allowing only those two runs. Unfortunately, that's pretty much the same guy we've seen here in the past. Todd Coffey sprints in from the pen to finish out the top of the sixth.
8:56 p.m. -- Michael Morse with his first plate appearance in three days. And he grounds out weakly to second base. On the bright side, Rick Ankiel has now reached base safely in nine of 16 plate appearances since coming off the DL. Yeah, I can't explain that one. Still 3-2 Nats heading to the seventh, with Sean Burnett entering from the bullpen.
9:11 p.m. -- And that right there is why Tyler Clippard is worthy of his All-Star selection. Just blew away Reed Johnson with the tying run in scoring position to end the top of the seventh. He's now stranded 26 of 32 baserunners this season. And he'll come back out for the eighth as well. Nats still lead 3-2.
9:23 p.m. -- And with two on and two out in the seventh, Werth grounds out weakly to short. He's now 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and two groundouts. He's stranded six runners, four of them in scoring position.
9:30 p.m. -- Another scoreless, perfect inning for Clippard. So we go to the bottom of the eighth, the Nats still up 3-2. If they don't add to the lead here, it'll be Drew Storen against Soriano, Byrd and Pena in the ninth.
9:40 p.m. -- No insurance for the Nats. Matt Stairs strikes out on three pitches against tough lefty James Russell, then Bernadina grounds out to second. We go to the ninth, still 3-2, and here comes Storen.
9:53 p.m. -- Ballgame. Nats win yet another tight one. They're now 12-3 in 1-run games since June 1. Simply astounding. Detwiler gets the win. Storen gets the save.