Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats look to make it three in a row tonight against the Cubs.
With everybody healthy and available, Johnson has dropped Werth to the 6-hole (behind Nix and Morse). We'll have to see if that helps get the right fielder going. You've certainly got to assume he's going to get plenty of opportunities with men on base.
Tom Gorzelanny, acquired from the Cubs over the winter, makes the start against his former team. If you're wondering about the guys the Nats dealt to Chicago to get Gorzelanny ... Michael Burgess is currently hitting .202 with 10 homers and 43 RBI at Class A Daytona, Graham Hicks is 1-3 with a 4.01 ERA at low-Class A Peoria and A.J. Morris has yet to pitch this season due to a shoulder injury.
Updates to come, so please check back...
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 9 mph out to CF
STARTING LINEUPS5:45 p.m. -- If you haven't seen the recently posted article at the top of the homepage, the Nats plan to have Jordan Zimmermann make his regularly scheduled start Sunday. That means Ross Detwiler will pitch out of the bullpen as a long reliever. In other news: Cole Kimball is headed to New York to have his ailing shoulder examined by a specialist. Click on the above link for more details.
CF Roger Bernadina
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Laynce Nix
1B Michael Morse
RF Jayson Werth
C Wilson Ramos
SS Ian Desmond
P Tom Gorzelanny
RF Reed Johnson
SS Starlin Castro
3B Aramis Ramirez
C Geovany Soto
1B Carlos Pena
CF Marlon Byrd
LF Alfonso Soriano
2B Darwin Barney
P Randy Wells
7:06 p.m. -- Tom Gorzelanny fires a fastball over the outside corner to Reed Johnson, getting this game underway.
7:09 p.m. -- A very nice start to the evening for Gorzelanny. He retired the side on 10 pitches (six strikes) and opened things up by striking out Johnson on a 79-mph offspeed pitch.
7:24 p.m. -- Roger Bernadina and Danny Espinosa put the Nats on the board early. After Bernadina beat out a bouncer to short and then stole second, Espinosa crushed a 2-1 pitch from Randy Wells into the right field bullpen for his 16th homer of the season. Nats take a 2-0 lead after one.
7:33 p.m. -- And Gorzelanny gives both runs right back in the top of the second. Carlos Pena belts a two-run homer over the out-of-town scoreboard. Gorzelanny also allowed long flyball to Alfonso Soriano that took Bernadina all the way back tot he 402-foot sign before catching it. Kind of a shaky inning there for the lefty, leaving the game tied 2-2.
7:56 p.m. -- Geez, Bernadina is getting a workout tonight. The Cubs have already hit five flyballs his way in three innings, three of those reaching the warning track. Roger had to crash into the fence to snag Geovany Soto's shot to end the top of the third. Cubs are hitting Gorzelanny pretty hard so far. It's still 2-2.
8:30 p.m. -- I really don't want to sound like I'm harping on the guy, but here was a perfect example of what's wrong with Werth right now. Leading off the bottom of the fourth, he took two straight balls, putting him in an advantageous 2-0 count. So what did he do next? Swung feebly at a 2-0 slider way out of the zone. Then he fouled off a fastball into the first-base stands (way late). Then he struck out swinging at another breaking ball. Just a terrible approach to that at-bat, especially for a player who has always prided himself on putting together professional at-bats. Still 2-2 going to the fifth.
8:41 p.m. -- On the bright side, it looks like Ryan Zimmerman is finally getting his swing together. He had two hits last night, doubled to right-center in his first at-bat tonight and just crushed a two-run homer to left in the bottom of the fifth. Zim appears to be getting locked in, a major positive development for the Nats. It's now 4-2 in the fifth, and after back-to-back singles by Nix and Morse, Mike Quade has yanked Randy Wells. It'll be Chris Carpenter (no, not the Cy Young winner from the Cardinals) to face Werth with two on and nobody out.
8:56 p.m. -- And Werth pops out to short, stranding two more runners in scoring position. Ramos didn't look much better, striking out for out No. 2. The Cubs then intentionally walked Desmond to bring Gorzelanny to the plate with the bases loaded. And you know what? He put forth the best effort of any of those position players, fouling off four tough pitches from Carpenter before finally striking out while falling down. Still, the crowd was on its feet applauding the pitcher for the way he battled through that at-bat. 4-2 Nats after five.
9:02 p.m. -- Oof. Werth takes a bad route on Starlin Castro's line drive to right and it bounces off his glove. Scored a double, but Werth is to blame for that. And guess what happened next? Aramis Ramirez tattoos a first-pitch fastball from Gorzelanny and sends it onto the batter's eye in center field. Two-run homer. Game tied again.
9:12 p.m. -- Again, at least Zimmerman is getting his swing together. Another double, this time down the right-field line. He's got eight total bases so far tonight. Still 4-4 after six.
9:28 p.m. -- Holy moly. With one out, Morse on third and Ramos at the plate, Davey Johnson put the suicide squeeze on. Except Ramos missed the sign, swung away and nearly decapitated Morse as he barreled down the third-base line. So, you figure they just wasted that opportunity. No way you can put the squeeze on again. Except two pitches later, Davey did just that! And Ramos got it down! Perfectly executed, and now the Nats retake a 5-4 lead in the seventh. Crazy stuff.
9:44 p.m. -- Somehow, Henry Rodriguez manages to be both exhilarating and exasperating to watch pitch. He works slow, uncorks a wild pitch per inning and always appears on the brink of disaster. And then he strikes out the side the way he just did in the eighth, protecting the Nats' 5-4 lead.
9:52 p.m. -- And in a shocking development, the Nats will take a 1-run lead into the ninth inning. Haven't seen this scenario too much recently, huh? Drew Storen coming out of the bullpen for the fifth time in six days.
10:00 p.m. -- Well, the Nationals are nothing if not consistent. Ballgame over, another 1-run win in the books. Final score: 5-4. Mattheus gets the win. Storen gets his 22nd save. This is the Nats' 10th straight win by 1 run or in extra innings. And they're now 13-3 in 1-run games since June 1. Just remarkable.