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The Nationals open a weekend series at Dodger Stadium.
There is, however, a tangible effect those cool temps in La-La Land should have on tonight's series opener between the Nationals and Dodgers: The ball probably won't be carrying very well through the cool, dense air. Dodger Stadium is notoriously a tough hitter's park at night, only more so when the temperature is down.
Of course, neither the Nats nor the Dodgers boast especially potent lineups, so that could have more to do with the result tonight than anything. John Lannan and Hiroki Kuroda should be poised to put forth a couple of quality starts.
Like I said, I'm not covering this series in person, but I'll be staying up late to watch the game on TV and will probably share a few thoughts along the way. I'll try to answer some of your questions, too, if you want to ask them in the comments section. Just do me a favor and wait until the game starts to post them, because I'm not going to be in front of my computer until then...
NATIONALS at DODGERS
Where: Dodger Stadium
Gametime: 10:10 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 189
Weather: Sunny, 68 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to RF
STARTING LINEUPS10:11 p.m. -- Hiroki Kuroda starts Roger Bernadina off with a fastball for ball one, and they are underway. Looks like a beautiful Friday night in the City of Angels.
CF Roger Bernadina
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Michael Morse
RF Jayson Werth
LF Laynce Nix
C Wilson Ramos
SS Ian Desmond
P John Lannan
LF Tony Gwynn Jr.
SS Rafael Furcal
RF Andre Ethier
CF Matt Kemp
1B Juan Rivera
3B Juan Uribe
C Rod Barajas
2B Jamey Carroll
P Hiroki Kuroda
10:23 p.m. -- Interesting top of the first there. The Nats' first four batters all smoked the ball, though Bernadina and Danny Espinosa were victimized by the cool air and deep fences at Dodger Stadium (just like a certain beat writer predicted earlier today). But with two outs, Ryan Zimmerman singled, then surprisingly picked up his second stolen base of the season (after Kuroda had thrown over to first base a bunch of times, perhaps ticking Zim off and convincing him to just take off). That set the stage for Michael Morse, who crushed a sharp double down the third-base line. Jayson Werth had a chance to extend the rally, but he struck out on a high-and-outside fastball. So much for him picking up where he left off in Houston on Wednesday. Still, it's 1-0 Nats as John Lannan takes the mound.
10:29 p.m. -- Wow, a pair of strikeouts for Lannan in the bottom of the first. He's actually been making batters swing and miss a bit more lately, with 11 K's now in his last 10 innings.
10:31 p.m. -- By the way, if you're staying up late watching the game and have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section and I'll try to answer as many as I can.
10:35 p.m. -- Holy cow. I don't believe what I just saw.
10:40 p.m. -- I mean, seriously. John Lannan with a 2-run homer? The same John Lannan who six days was 0-for-32 for the season? What a swing. 3-0 Nats in the second.
11:12 p.m. -- Little bit of control trouble for Lannan, leading to three walks. But he's navigated his way through the first three innings well. Nats still lead 3-0.
11:29 p.m. -- Big RBI opportunity for Lannan in the fourth, with two on and two out ... and he strikes out looking at a pitch right down the middle. Oh, well. Actually, the bigger mistake that inning was Laynce Nix taking off for second base on a 3-1 pitch to Ian Desmond. Desmond couldn't catch up with the high fastball from Kuorda, and Nix was thrown out. Not sure what Davey Johnson's thinking was there. If you're trying to stay out of the double play, tough to do that with a batter who swings and misses a lot. Whatever the case, it's still 3-0 heading to the bottom of the fourth.
11:42 p.m. -- Desmond has been really good this season at not trying to do too much in the field, just making the plays he's supposed to make. Except for just now in the bottom of the fourth. With runners on second and third and nobody out, Desmond tried to make a charging play on Juan Uribe's bouncer to his left. He couldn't pull it off, and that error allowed two runs to score. Should have played it safe and gotten directly in front of the ball. Then to make matters worse, he booted a tailor-made double-play grounder moments later for his second error of the inning. Lannan, though, manages to get out of the jam. So the Nats maintain a 3-2 lead after four.
11:50 p.m. -- For all those who were all atwitter over the news that B.J. Upton had been pulled early from the Rays' game tonight (and that Desmond Jennings had been pulled from his game at Class AAA Durham) ... no, there's been no trade, certainly not one involving the Nats. According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, Upton insisted he has not been traded. Jennings was merely called up, with Reid Brignac sent down to AAA.
12:12 a.m. -- So not only has Lannan turned into a fearsome hitter, he's also transformed into a power pitcher. Now has a season-high seven strikeouts in six innings tonight. That gives him 16 strikeouts over his last 15 innings. Who is this guy and what did he do with the real John Lannan? Still 3-2 Nats after six.
12:35 a.m. -- Another opportunity to add to the lead squandered, even though Lannan came through again with his second hit tonight and fourth in the last week. Davey Johnson decided to play matchups and send up Jerry Hairston to face lefty Scott Elbert, but Hairston popped out. Don Mattingly then brought in right-hander Kenley Jensen to turn Danny Espinosa around, and got the strikeout. So it remains 3-2 at the seventh-inning stretch, and Lannan is back out for the bottom of the seventh.
12:48 a.m. -- Credit to Sean Burnett on a job well done. The lefty has obviously struggled plenty this season, especially of late. But he just came through big-time to strand the tying runner in scoring position. Still 3-2 after seven.
1:01 a.m. -- And a 1-2-3 eighth inning for Tyler Clippard, preserving the one-run lead. They head to the ninth...
1:18 a.m. -- Geez, for a 3-2 ballgame, this sure is taking forever. Don't they know some of us are watching this game from the East Coast and are falling asleep at our laptops?...
1:24 a.m. -- OK, that woke me up. Grand slam, Jerry Hairston. Nats lead 7-2. I'll tell you what, Jerry has been crushing the ball since returning from the DL earlier this week.
1:34 a.m. -- That's your ballgame. Nats win, 7-2. It was nip-and-tuck all night, but Davey Johnson did get to relax for the bottom of the ninth as Drew Storen finished it off. Good night, everybody!