Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg will pitch tonight ... if the game is played.
I kid, I kid. Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to make his 2011 debut against the Dodgers. But as you know, the weather here is awful. Been raining all day, and it's not supposed to stop until the end of the week. The above photo was taken when the tarp had just been removed, but it's since been re-placed over the infield.
I wish I could tell you right now whether the game will be played, when it will be played and what the Strasburg plan is for each various scenario. But I know nothing right now. None of us do. We're just going to have to wait and see.
I'll be sure to post any updates I can on here, so please check back. For more immediate updates, you can access my Twitter page...
DODGERS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 189
Weather: Rain, 67 degrees, Wind 12 mph in from CF
STARTING LINEUPS5:00 p.m. -- OK, here's the deal: Nothing's been decided yet, but it certainly does look promising for baseball to be played tonight. It looks even less promising for Stephen Strasburg to pitch tonight, because Davey Johnson said he won't send Strasburg out there if there's a reasonable chance at a delay that would prevent him from being able to pitch multiple innings in succession. "I don't care if it's sold out, whatever," Johnson said. "I'm concerned about what's best for the player." If Strasburg doesn't start tonight but there is a game, Brad Peacock will make his big-league debut in his place. (Actually, Peacock will pitch in relief of Strasburg in the other scenario.) If tonight's game is postponed, Johnson said the hope is to play a day-night doubleheader tomorrow, with Strasburg starting the 1 p.m. game and Chien-Ming Wang starting the 7 p.m. game. And what would the manager say to those people who bought tickets for tonight's game and would have to come back out here on a Wednesday afternoon to see Strasburg? "I suggest they all take off work."
SS Ian Desmond
CF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
RF Jonny Gomes
2B Danny Espinosa
1B Chris Marrero
C Wilson Ramos
P Stephen Strasburg
SS Dee Gordon
1B James Loney
CF Matt Kemp
LF Juan Rivera
RF Andre Ethier
3B Aaron Miles
C Rod Barajas
2B Justin Sellers
P Ted Lilly
5:03 p.m. -- Speaking of Peacock, he was one of a bunch of players called up today from Class AAA Syracuse, along with Yunesky Maya, Craig Stammen, Atahualpa Severino, Steve Lombardozzi and Corey Brown. If you add guys previously called up (or activated off the DL) since Sept. 1 -- Strasburg, Tom Milone, Doug Slaten, Roger Bernadina, Ivan Rodriguez -- the Nats will have 36 active and available players tonight and for the rest of the season. (That includes Livan Hernandez and Jordan Zimmermann, who have been shut down.) Two players still need to be removed from the 40-man roster to clear space for the call-ups, and there are only three candidates: Cole Kimball (who will be transferred from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL) and either Garrett Mock or Adam Carr. We should know soon. Full story on the call-ups coming in a little while.
5:50 p.m. -- So I was a little confused on that roster thing. Turns out they needed to clear three spots on the 40-man. So Kimball has been transferred to the 60-day DL, Carr has been unconditionally released and Mock has been designated for assignment.
6:05 p.m. -- So, the tarp is off the infield right now and it's not raining. But it's going to rain again at some point. My gut feeling: They may somehow play, but it'll be Peacock on the mound, not Strasburg.
6:38 p.m. -- Or maybe not. They just rolled up the tarp, and Strasburg just emerged from the dugout to begin stretching. Barring the rain returning in the next 20 minutes or so, it appears this game is going to begin on-time and he's going to pitch.
6:45 p.m. -- He's playing catch now. Sure looks like he's starting this game.
6:53 p.m. -- Strasburg is in the bullpen and he's beginning to warm up. This thing's happening, and it's happening on-time. The only question now is how much he can go before the rain hits.
7:05 p.m. -- Here he comes, walking out of the bullpen to a big ovation. At least, as big an ovation as you can get from a crowd of maybe 12,000.
7:10 p.m. -- And we are underway with a 96-mph foul ball from Stephen Strasburg to Dee Gordon.
7:15 p.m. -- The top of the first is in the books, and so far, so good. Strasburg surrendered a leadoff double to Gordon (a soft liner to left-center) but then got James Loney to fly out to center, Matt Kemp to ground out to short and Juan Rivera to fly out to right on a 79-mph curveball. I can't remember ever seeing him throw anything in the 70s last year. Eleven total pitches, seven strikes. Fastball at 96-97.
7:34 p.m. -- The good news: The Nats loaded the bases in the bottom of the first, with Jayson Werth drawing a walk, Ryan Zimmerman beating out a slow roller to the hole at short and Jonny Gomes drawing another walk. The bad news: A really long inning, compounded by Ted Lilly's deliberate pace on the mound, could leave Strasburg with less time to pitch before the rain hits. It took Lilly 19 minutes to throw 32 pitches to six batters. Where's Joe West when you need him?
7:40 p.m. -- THAT's the Strasburg we all remember. A 1-2-3 top of the second, featuring a strikeout of Andre Ethier on a 90-mph changeup (the first he's thrown in the majors since his final pitch in Philly last August), a strikeout of Aaron Miles on a 99-mph heater and a flyout to center from Rod Barajas to end the inning. He's at 23 total pitches, 15 strikes through two.
8:00 p.m. -- Chris Marrero and Wilson Ramos gives the Nats and Strasburg an early lead. Back-to-back doubles to right-center to open the bottom of the second, the latter giving Ramos a 10-game hitting streak. Then Strasburg drops a perfect sac bunt down the third-base line and winds up on second base when Lilly throws the ball away. I would imagine a few Nats coaches were holding their breath watching him chug around the bases, but he appears fine. He even managed to score two batters later on Werth's RBI groundout to short. It's now 3-0, and I believe my wife may give birth to our second child before Lilly completes this inning.
8:08 p.m. -- Strasburg still looking sharp as ever. Another 1-2-3 third inning, getting a flyball and two grounders. He's thrown only 35 pitches (24 strikes) and has retired nine in a row since the game-opening double. Changeup hit 91 mph in the third inning.
8:26 p.m. -- The consecutive batters retired streak is over, but that's only because Desmond couldn't quite haul in Juan Rivera's grounder to his left. No matter, because Strasburg blew away MVP candidate Matt Kemp with a 90 mph changeup and Andre Ethier with a 97 mph fastball. Through four innings, he's allowed two hits, no runs, no walks and struck out four. He's thrown only 48 pitches (33 strikes) and there's nobody warming in the bullpen. Looks like he'll be back out for a fifth inning, with a chance to qualify for the win.
8:36 p.m. -- And Strasburg is back out to the mound for the fifth as a light rain begins to fall. There's some stirring in the bullpen, too. Imagine a reliever would finish this inning if he can't, then Brad Peacock will start the sixth. Meanwhile, it's still 3-0 Nats.
8:43 p.m. -- Well that was as quick as it gets. Eight pitches to retire the side in the fifth. The crowd gives him a standing ovation as he walks off the mound, with a final line that should read: 5 ip, 2 h, 0 r, 0 bb, 4 k, 56 pitches (40 strikes). That's an average of only 11.2 pitches per inning, fewer than he needed in any of his 12 starts last season!
8:50 p.m. -- And it'll actually be Doug Slaten to pitch the sixth as Brad Peacock continues to warm up in the bullpen.
9:01 p.m. -- Davey Johnson said this afternoon he wouldn't bring in Peacock in the middle of an inning. So naturally he's now bringing the rookie in with two out, one out and MVP candidate Kemp at the plate representing the tying run. Yikes.
9:12 p.m. -- This game is tied, and Strasburg cannot get the win as Peacock blows the save. Hard to blame the kid. He's a highly touted starting prospect. Why was he making his major-league debut in a situation like this?
9:18 p.m. -- Well, Peacock got out of it with the game still tied, 3-3, thanks to a 6-4-3 double play. Still, that was not the situation anyone wanted to see.
9:38 p.m. -- Uh-oh, here comes the rain and here comes the tarp. This is not good. It's a tie game in the top of the seventh. Either we resume later after a delay, or this is a suspended game that must be finished from this point tomorrow.
9:45 p.m. -- By the way: Ten bucks says Rob Dibble goes on the radio tomorrow and raves about how great it was to see Stephen Strasburg back on the mound.
9:50 p.m. -- Ooh, the tarp is being pulled back. We should have baseball again soon. Not that there will be anyone in the park to see it.
10:08 p.m. -- And we're back with Atahualpa Severino making his major-league debut in front of a crowd that would be considered small in the South Atlantic League.
10:17 p.m. -- Tonight's official paid attendance: 29,092. I doubt there were more than 15,000 actually here at any singular point. There really aren't anywhere close that many here now.
10:37 p.m. -- Hey, what do you know? Henry Rodriguez has given up two runs in the top of the eighth. The Nats now trail 5-3 and the few people still here are not happy.
10:44 p.m. -- Steve Lombardozzi makes his big-league debut and draws a 5-pitch walk. Nicely done. For those keeping track, he's the third different Nationals player to make his MLB debut in this game. And Corey Brown is still waiting on the bench for his chance!
10:51 p.m. -- Oh good, Yunesky Maya is in the game.
11:00 p.m. -- Maya surrenders a bases-loaded double to make it 7-3 as we go to the bottom of the ninth.
11:16 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. Corey Brown (the fourth Nat to make his MLB debut tonight) flies out to left with the bases loaded to end the game. Nats lose 7-3. Once upon a time, Stephen Strasburg dominated on the mound.