Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
John Lannan faces Roy Oswalt tonight if the weather cooperates.
If and when tonight's game is played, John Lannan will be on the mound for the Nationals. And Hunter Wendelstedt will be calling balls and strikes behind the plate. Why is that significant? Because, you may recall, Wendelstedt was the plate umpire right here on July 26, 2007, when Lannan made his big-league debut ... and was ejected after plunking Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in succession. (Lannan was in no way intentionally throwing at either guy. He was a 22-year-old rookie scared out of his mind. Wendelstedt didn't see it that way.)
The best news of the day for the Nationals is that Michael Morse is back in the lineup after missing last night's game, still feeling the effects of getting hit in the left elbow by a pitch Thursday in Chicago.
Plenty of updates (both game-related and weather-related) to come live from the ballpark, so be sure to check back often...
NATIONALS at PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Chance of storms, 82 degrees, Wind 8 mph out to RF
STARTING LINEUPS5:55 p.m. -- First, your weather update: It's raining. There's a pretty large system sweeping through the area, and most of it has yet to reach Philly. That said, the hourly forecast still shows a likely window during most of the evening, so perhaps we'll be OK.
CF Rick Ankiel
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Michael Morse
RF Jayson Werth
LF Laynce Nix
C Wilson Ramos
SS Ian Desmond
P John Lannan
SS Jimmy Rollins
CF Shane Victorino
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
RF Hunter Pence
LF Raul Ibanez
C Carlos Ruiz
3B Wilson Valdez
P Roy Oswalt
6:00 p.m. -- Second, your Stephen Strasburg update: Davey Johnson said he's slated to throw a side session tomorrow at Potomac, weather permitting. (If it's raining, he may go to Nationals Park and pitch in the underground batting tunnel.) No official word on his next rehab start, but Wednesday at Hagerstown is the likeliest option.
6:15 p.m. -- I asked Davey about Tyler Clippard's availability for tonight's game, after he was used to notch four outs last night. "I'll have to check with him, but I probably won't go there," the manager said. It's an interesting dilemma Johnson faces on many nights. On the one hand, Clippard is the guy he wants on the mound to pitch out of a jam. On the other hand, that often means he needs to go more than one inning and isn't available the next night. "The tendency is, anytime you have a lead late, you want to use him," Johnson said. "He's been that good. But I also have a lot of other guys I have confidence in, and we need to develop them, also. He did a little more than one inning last night. We'll see how it goes tonight."
7:07 p.m. -- And we're underway, on-time, with a strike from Roy Oswalt to Rick Ankiel.
7:11 p.m. -- That didn't take long. Oswalt retires the side on 12 pitches, striking out Ankiel on a 3-2 fastball, then getting weak flyballs out of both Danny Espinosa and Ryan Zimmerman. John Lannan taking the mound now for the bottom of the first.
7:20 p.m. -- And that right there, folks, was a classic Citizens Bank Park home run. With two out and one on (via Espinosa's error), Ryan Howard lofted a 2-1 fastball from Lannan to left field. It traveled about 350 feet, but that's just enough to clear the fence here. Just like that, it's 2-0 Phillies, and Lannan has to be feeling snakebit in Philly yet again.
7:33 p.m. -- Wow, Michael Morse couldn't hit a ball any farther than he did to lead of the second and not get a home run out of it. Tagged it 415 feet just to the left of center field, the only spot in this park that it's near-impossible to clear the fence. Settled for a double. No worries, though, because Laynce Nix doubled himself to drive in a run. Then, with two outs and a 1-2 count, Ian Desmond showed off some nice hitting technique to line a single to left. And credit to Bo Porter, who knew that Raul Ibanez has a bad arm and Lannan was on-deck, and thus waved Nix around third to score. It's 2-2 now as we go to the bottom of the second.
8:09 p.m. -- I don't even know where to begin with the bottom of the third. I mean, this was among the strangest innings I've ever seen. Suppose we should start with Lannan's play of the year: With the bases loaded, Wilson Valdez tapped a dribbler down the third-base line. Lannan came charging over, and as he was falling to the ground, managed to flip the ball out of his glove, maneuver it around Ryan Howard and hit Wilson Ramos in the mitt to record an incredible 1-2 forceout. Really, just a remarkable play. If only Lannan didn't follow it by walking Oswalt for the second time tonight, this time with the bases loaded. Adding insult to injury, Jimmy Rollins then grounded a ball to the left-side hole, with Desmond trying to record a forceout at second base but throwing just a bit late. And as Espinosa fell over, Valdez came charging around third and scored himself after Ramos was unable to handle Espinosa's low throw. The end result of all this is that the Philies scored five runs in the inning and now lead 7-2 ... even though Lannan has only been charged with one earned run.
8:18 p.m. -- And now here comes Collin Balester for the fourth inning. Lannan has been pulled, either for ineffectiveness or because he got hurt on that play. Appeared to tweak his knee or his ankle. Another disappointing start for the lefty in Philadelphia.
8:22 p.m. -- Misleading stat of the night: John Lannan lowered his ERA, from 3.56 to 3.55.
8:31 p.m. -- Meanwhile, the Nats' bats have gone silent since the second inning. Oswalt has retired 10 of 11. It's still 7-2 as we go to the bottom of the fifth.
8:45 p.m. -- If the Nats need an offensive strategy for the rest of the night, it should be this: Keep hitting singles at Raul Ibanez, then tell Bo Porter to keep waving his guys around third base. The odds of Ibanez actually reaching the plate with a throw is roughly .000002 percent. Back-to-back singles from Zimmerman and Morse accomplished it in the sixth, so it's now 7-3.
8:59 p.m. -- You know it's been a bad night when even Morse is booting grounders. That led to yet another unearned run for the Phillies, giving them an astounding seven tonight. The only Nats infielder without an error -- so far -- is Zimmerman. It's 8-3 after six and getting uglier by the minute.
9:14 p.m. -- The good news: Oswalt is out of the game. The bad news: The Nats are down to their last six outs and still trail by five runs.
9:27 p.m. -- It's a good thing Davey Johnson let Henry Rodriguez re-take the mound for a second inning of work. Otherwise, he wouldn't have gotten a chance to see a pitch hit the backstop, a four-pitch walk and have to summon Ryan Mattheus to try to get out of a jam.
9:37 p.m. -- And Mattheus can't pitch out of it. Three more runs score, all of them earned. It's 11-3 as we go to the ninth.
9:48 p.m. -- And that, mercifully, is your ballgame. Final score: 11-3. The less said about this one, the better. Except I still have to write a full postgame recap/analysis. So make sure you read that.