Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Livan Hernandez faces Roy Oswalt tonight at Nationals Park.
Such is the case tonight for the Nationals, who have posted a lineup without Michael Morse listed. Laynce Nix is starting at first base and batting cleanup. Two possible reasons for this: 1) Morse could still be dealing with a bad left elbow after getting drilled there last week in Chicago, and 2) Though Morse has good numbers against Phillies starter Roy Oswalt (3-for-9, 2 doubles), Nix has REALLY good numbers against Oswalt (11-for-25, 4 doubles, 1 triple, 3 homers).
Livan Hernandez starts for the Nats, facing a Philly lineup that has both Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz back after each missed last night's game with injuries. Howard had a sore right hand. Ruiz had -- wait for it -- a bruised left testicle. Yep. Feel free to take a moment and cringe at the sound of that.
It's sunny right now at Nationals Park, but there's again a chance of showers tonight. Check back for updates...
PHILLIES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Chance of storms, 85 degrees, Wind 4 mph RF to LF
STARTING LINEUPS5:45 p.m. -- You official Michael Morse update: He's got inflammation in his left elbow, still lingering from when he got hit by a pitch in Chicago last week. Morse was reluctant to reveal much, aside from admitting the elbow has remained sore since suffering the initial injury, but said: "I feel fine. I wish I could play. I want to be in the lineup." He tried to convince Davey Johnson and trainer Lee Kuntz to let him play tonight, but it's not going to happen. Johnson did say Morse could pinch-hit and will probably be back in the lineup tomorrow. "He was complaining after the game yesterday that it was bothering him," the manager said. "He has inflammation in there from that severe bruise. And they're a little bit worried it could turn into tendinitis. He tried to talk me into the lineup. I said, 'If we were fighting for a pennant, yeah. But I'd rather lean on the cautious side.'"
SS Ian Desmond
CF Rick Ankiel
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Laynce Nix
RF Jayson Werth
2B Danny Espinosa
LF Jonny Gomes
C Wilson Ramos
P Livan Hernandez
SS Jimmy Rollins
CF John Mayberry Jr.
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
RF Hunter Pence
LF Raul Ibanez
C Carlos Ruiz
3B Wilson Valdez
P Roy Oswalt
5:51 p.m. -- Meanwhile, no official word on Bryce Harper yet, but he's being examined by a doctor in Harrisburg right now, and we should get an update soon. All signs, however, point to him being shut down for the final 2 1/2 weeks of the minor-league season. As Davey pointed out, why risk anything else happening at this point?
7:06 p.m. -- We are underway underneath menacing skies. Tons of Phillies fans, as always, in attendance.
7:11 p.m. -- Well, that didn't take long. It's absolutely pouring here, so we're in a delay four batters into the game. Everyone is scurrying for cover, including those of us in the press box, since the Nationals brilliantly left the windows open and refused to even think about closing them until it was far too late. The first row of the box is drenched. Even those seated in the third row are getting wet. Nicely done, guys.
7:55 p.m. -- I didn't think this was possible, but it's raining even harder now than it was earlier. Just a complete downpour. I know it's not supposed to last all night, but it's difficult to believe the field could dry out enough to resume this game anytime soon. For now, we're still in a delay. No word yet.
7:58 p.m. -- I have, however, received confirmation from a reliable source that tonight's rain storm has postponed all of Class A Potomac's games at Pfitzner Stadium until 2013. (Thanks, I'll be here all night. No, seriously, I'm going to be here forever at this rate.)
8:10 p.m. -- Ha, just got the official press release from Potomac announcing tonight's game has been postponed. No word on tomorrow's game. Or next year's.
8:40 p.m. -- Your official Bryce Harper update: He's been placed on the Class AA 7-day DL with a strained hamstring. Though the Nats aren't officially saying he's done for the season, it's highly unlikely he'll return. Full story here.
8:48 p.m. -- We may have baseball tonight after all. They just removed the tarp and are furiously squeegeeing a massive pool of water into the drains in shallow right field. No sign of pitchers returning to the bullpens to warm up yet.
8:52 p.m. -- This game will resume at 9:20 p.m. By the way, have the Redskins won the NFC title yet?
9:00 p.m. -- They've now pushed back the resumption time to 9:35 p.m. Prediction: It will resume raining here at 9:30 p.m.
9:04 p.m. -- Kyle Kendrick (tomorrow's scheduled starter) is walking out to the Phillies' bullpen. Looks like he'll actually pitch this game now, with Roy Oswalt (who fully warmed up before the rain hit) bumped to tomorrow's game.
9:22 p.m. -- Livo's back on the field playing catch with Alex Cora. Unlike Oswalt, he'll be back pitching in this game, even after a 2 1/2 hour delay.
9:33 p.m. -- And we're back after a delay of 2 hours and 22 minutes. Livo's 1-1 pitch to Ryan Howard is a 60-mph curveball. I've never seen so many fans stick it out through a rain delay of this length here. Except they're not Nats fans. They're Phillies fans.
9:38 p.m. -- Kyle Kendrick takes the mound for the bottom of the first, replacing Roy Oswalt. For all you boxscore geeks out there (like me): Oswalt officially gets credit for a game played (in offensive stats) but does not get credited with a game pitched or started. Weird, huh?
9:46 p.m. -- So far, so good for Livo. He retired the side on three groundballs in the second inning. Not throwing with much velocity -- I know, I know, but even less than usual -- but he's getting the job done. It's still scoreless as we go to the bottom of the second.
9:53 p.m. -- Nothing so far for the Nats against Kendrick. Six batters up, six batters down. Two strikeouts (Ankiel and Espinosa).
10:08 p.m. -- The Phillies take a 4-0 lead on two doubles, a triple and four singles off Livo, who looks like he's got nothing left in the tank. The ballpark erupts in cheers. This game really should count against the Nationals' road record.
10:21 p.m. -- And the Nats get one run back in the bottom of the third when Ian Desmond smokes a double off John Mayberry's glove in center field, scoring Wilson Ramos from second. It's now 4-1 heading to the fourth, and Livo is back to the mound, though Tom Gorzelanny is already warming up just in case.
10:27 p.m. -- Livo bounces back with a 1-2-3 fourth inning, getting three straight groundballs. Been quite an odd night for him so far.
10:40 p.m. -- Welcome back, Tom Gorzelanny! Wait, he's been on the roster this whole time? Could've fooled me. He's making his first appearance since August 6. Livan Hernandez's final line: 4 ip, 7 h, 4 er, 2 bb, 0 k, 59 pitches, 36 strikes. Though I'm sure he actually threw at least 150 "pitches" tonight when you consider he had to warm up twice. Still 4-1 in the fifth.
10:51 p.m. -- Whoa, actual cheers for something the home team did! Ramos belts a solo homer to left, his 10th of the season, trimming the lead to 4-2. You know how many catchers in Nationals history have hit 10 homers in a single season? Only two: Ramos and Brian Schneider (who hit 10 in 2005). Wow.
11:03 p.m. -- Great play from Ian Desmond to make a leaping catch of Wilson Valdez's line drive. Wound up completing the unassisted double play, ending the top of the sixth with the Nats still trailing 4-2.
11:17 p.m. -- Golden opportunity for the Nats to score in the sixth, with two on and two out. But Jonny Gomes' smoked line drive was hit directly at Valdez at third base. Tough way to end the inning. It's still 4-2 as we go to the seventh, and Gorzelanny is back out for his third inning of work.
11:25 p.m. -- Props to Gorzelanny, who shook off all that rust and faced the minimum over three innings of relief to keep this game close. Props also to Ryan Zimmerman, whose snag of Ben Francisco's smash and subsequent throw to first represented about as good a play as I can ever remember seeing him make. That's really saying something. Still 4-2 at the stretch.
11:43 p.m. -- Nice job by Sean Burnett during the eighth. Pretty bizarre game from the Nats' pitching perspective. All but one of the Phillies' eight hits tonight came during that disastrous third inning.
11:53 p.m. -- Nothing doing in the bottom of the eighth, though Zimmerman was robbed by Jimmy Rollins. Michael Morse also came in to pinch-hit for Laynce Nix and flied out to end the inning. So we go to the ninth, still 4-2.
12:25 a.m. -- Holy cow! Ryan Zimmerman with the walk-off grand slam on a 3-2 pitch from Ryan Madson! It all started with a great at-bat by Jayson Werth to get the ninth inning started. He battled back from an 0-2 count to work it full, then singled on the 11th pitch he saw from Madson. Espinosa followed with a bloop single to center, then Gomes roped a base hit to left to score Werth and make it 4-3. Ramos got a sac bunt down to advance the runners and bring Jesus Flores up as a pinch-hitter with a chance to win the game, but the Phillies intentionally walked him to load the bases and set the stage for Ian Desmond. And Desmond battled as well, back from an 0-2 count to single to right and drive in the tying run. Rick Ankiel struck out, though, bringing Zimmerman to the plate with the game hanging in the balance. He worked the count full, then crushed a 3-2 pitch into the left-field bleachers. Nats win 8-4. Unbelievable.