Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Chien-Ming Wang faces Roy Halladay today at Nationals Park.
Despite last night's ugliness, the Nats do have an opportunity to take this series and earn their fifth win in their last seven games against Philadelphia ... if they can somehow beat Roy Halladay. For that to happen, they're going to need a quality performance from Chien-Ming Wang, who wasn't as good last time out as he was the time before that in Chicago, but has overall made significant progress since coming off the DL.
Both of today's pitchers would be wise to work at a brisk pace. The forecast calls for only a 10 percent chance of rain until 4 p.m., at which point it goes up to 30 percent, then 60 percent by 5 p.m. A nice, 2 1/2-hour affair would be much appreciated.
Check back for updates...
PHILLIES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
TV: MASN, Ch. 50
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Late-afternoon storms, 88 degrees, Wind 11 mph out to CF
STARTING LINEUPS1:37 p.m. -- We are underway with a ball from Chien-Ming Wang to Jimmy Rollins. But we may not be playing for long. The skies have grayed and there is a big system heading this way from the west. It's up to the umpires now when or if to stop play.
SS Ian Desmond
CF Rick Ankiel
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Michael Morse
RF Jayson Werth
2B Danny Espinosa
LF Jonny Gomes
C Jesus Flores
P Chien-Ming Wang
SS Jimmy Rollins
CF Shane Victorino
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
RF Hunter Pence
LF Raul Ibanez
C Carlos Ruiz
3B Michael Martinez
P Roy Halladay
1:47 p.m. -- A scoreless top of the first for Wang, who had to come up big to get Hunter Pence on a comebacker with runners on the corners and two out. This was after Ryan Howard hit what I suppose still qualifies as an "infield" single, even though Danny Espinosa was positioned about 175 feet from the plate. Skies getting darker, by the way, as Roy Halladay takes the mound for the bottom of the first.
2:03 p.m. -- Wow, that was quite an interesting inning. Start with Ian Desmond, who fell behind 0-2 and then laced a double to right. He's really begun cutting down on his swing with two strikes, an important development. Rick Ankiel then also fell behind 0-2 and beat out a swinging bunt. A sac fly from Ryan Zimmerman brought home the day's first run, then Michael Morse singled to right for the Nats' fourth consecutive productive at-bat of the inning. The streak, however, ended with Jayson Werth, who fouled off a 3-2 pitch from Halladay that was well out of the zone, only to watch a called third strike on the black. Werth slammed his bat to the ground and had some words with plate umpire Jerry Meals, but the pitch was a strike. No worries, though, because Danny Espinosa -- yes, Espinosa -- immediately singled to left to record his first RBI since ... wait for it ... July 17! Nats lead 2-0 after one, though at the end of the day, they might regret not having taken advantage of the situation and scored more.
2:09 p.m. -- Or they might regret it immediately since Carlos Ruiz just clubbed a two-run homer off Wang in the top of the second. It's 2-2.
2:20 p.m. -- Forget what I said about Desmond cutting down his swing with two strikes. I could feel the breeze from him flailing at a 2-2 slider in the dirt just now all the way up in the press box. A 1-2-3 top of the second from Halladay, leaving the game tied 2-2 heading to the bottom of the inning.
2:32 p.m. -- Another home run allowed by Wang on a sinker that was up in the zone. This time, Utley hammers it into the right-field bleachers, putting the Phillies up 3-2 in the third. On the bright side, Wang did strike out both Victorino and Howard. In his previous 23 1/3 innings this season, he had only three strikeouts.
2:47 p.m. -- Wow, another K for Wang in the fourth, his third of the day. Meanwhile, just as Halladay is settling into a groove, a major line of storms is fast approaching from the west. The grounds crew is at their post, ready to spring into action. The folks who close the press box windows, however, are nowhere to be found.
2:57 p.m. -- Jimmy Rollins, by the way, left this game with a right groin strain. Replaced at shortstop by Wilson Valdez.
3:03 p.m. -- Give credit to Wang, who has aside from those two home runs has pitched quite well. We're in the middle of the fifth now, the Nats still trailing 3-2. Lightning bolts are striking all around the ballpark, but the game continues. And the press box remains open.
3:05 p.m. -- Oh my goodness gracious! They're actually closing the press box windows! Before the rain has begun falling! Upset of the century!
3:11 p.m. -- Another squandered opportunity for the Nats in the bottom of the fifth. Two on, one out, but Morse flied out to right and Werth struck out on three pitches, looking at an 0-2 2-seamer from Halladay that was probably off the plate but the kind of pitch you just can't take in that situation against a pitcher like that. Still 3-2 Phillies, and this game is now official.
3:18 p.m. -- And here comes the tarp. We are in a rain delay with two outs in the top of the sixth. Moments earlier, Wang recorded his fourth strikeout in four innings. Pretty amazing. He's getting a lot of movement on his pitches today. Stay tuned for weather updates...
3:47 p.m. -- The skies are starting to clear up, and the grounds crew has re-emerged on the field. This line of storms has just about passed through, and it appears clear behind it. So this game will resume at some point. Once it does, I can't imagine either Halladay or Wang will return to pitch, though.
4:11 p.m. -- This game will resume at approximately 4:30 p.m. Looks like Tom Gorzelanny will come in to face Raul Ibanez with two outs in the sixth. He's currently warming in the pen. Oh, what I would give to see Livan Hernandez out there right now...
4:25 p.m. -- And it looks like it'll be right-hander Michael Schwimer, a Fairfax native, coming in to replace Halladay in the bottom of the sixth to make his MLB debut.
4:28 p.m. -- And we're back after a delay of 1 hour and 11 minutes, with Gorzelanny facing Ibanez. Wang's final line is: 5.2 ip, 5 h, 3 er, 1 bb, 4 k, 2 hr, 89 pitches, 55 strikes.
4:33 p.m. -- Welcome to the big leagues, local kid. Espinosa crushes Schwimer's second career pitch to center field for a solo homer, his first since July 17. Espinosa's got two RBI today, and the Nats have tied this game 3-3 in the sixth.
4:38 p.m. -- We go to the seventh, and it'll be Todd Coffey to face the bottom of the Phillies' lineup.
4:48 p.m. -- A 1-2-3 inning of relief from Coffey, who was helped by the fact Charlie Manuel let Schwimer hit for himself. In a 3-3 game in the seventh inning? When he'd never had an at-bat as a professional, not even in the minors? Strange.
4:55 p.m. -- Maybe not so strange after all. Schwimer strikes out the side in the bottom of the seventh, getting Desmond, Ankiel and Zimmerman in succession. We go to the eighth, Tyler Clippard entering for the Nats.
4:58 p.m. -- Today's paid attendance: 41,727. Third-largest crowd in Nationals Park history, behind only last night's game and the finale of the 2009 interleague series against the Red Sox.
5:07 p.m. -- Ryan Howard juuuusssst missed connecting on a fastball from Clippard, but he got under it enough for the final out of the top of the eighth. Still 3-3, and Schwimer is back on the mound for his third inning of relief, with Morse, Werth and Espinosa due up.
5:15 p.m. -- And Schwimer completes another scoreless inning, striking out Werth on an 0-2 pitch. (By the way, Werth has now faced an 0-2 count 100 times this season.) We go to the ninth of a scoreless game, with Drew Storen in to face Pence, Ibanez and Ruiz.
5:26 p.m. -- The bottom of the Phillies lineup gets to Storen in the ninth. Ibanez draws a one-out walk, Ruiz singles to right and Michael Martinez (taken by the Phillies in the Rule 5 draft away from the Nationals) singles up the middle to put them ahead 4-3.
5:32 p.m. -- We go to the bottom of the ninth of a 4-3 game. No Ryan Madson today, so it'll be left-hander Antonio Bastardo to close for the Phillies, facing Flores, a pinch-hitter (probably Brian Bixler or Wilson Ramos) and Desmond.
5:41 p.m. -- Wow. Down to the final strike of the game, Desmond crushes a 1-2 breaking ball from Bastardo into the left-field bleachers. This game is tied 4-4, and we are going extra innings.
5:51 p.m. -- Burnett retires the side in the top of the 10th, so now Ryan Zimmerman will lead off against Brad Lidge. These two have met before, you may remember, with Zim crushing a walk-off against him July 31, 2010.
6:02 p.m. -- No walk-off for Zimmerman, but a leadoff double will suffice. Morse draws an intentional walk. Werth then laces a single to left, loading the bases with nobody out for Espinosa. No heroics for Danny, though, because he struck out on an 0-2 slider in the dirt. So it was up to Gomes, who didn't even need to swing the bat. Took a fastball off the left elbow for the walk-off hit-by-pitch. Nats win 5-4 and win the series!