Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
John Lannan faces Wandy Rodriguez tonight at Nationals Park.
John Lannan takes the mound for the Nats, in search of his career-high 10th win. If he does it, Lannan would become only the sixth pitcher in Nationals history to reach that modest milestone. The others: Livan Hernandez (15 in 2005, 10 in 2010), Esteban Loaiza (12 in 2005), Ramon Ortiz (11 in 2006), Tyler Clippard (11 in 2010) and Tim Redding (10 in 2008). Quite an illustrious list there.
Lannan will be opposed by Wandy Rodriguez, a tough left-hander in his own right in search of his 11th win.
Updates to come, so please check back...
ASTROS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Partly cloudy, 78 degrees, Wind 6 mph LF to RF
STARTING LINEUPS7:07 p.m. -- We are underway on a gorgeous Saturday night in the nation's capital. John Lannan starts off Jordan Schafer with a fastball outside for ball one.
SS Ian Desmond
CF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
RF Jonny Gomes
2B Danny Espinosa
1B Chris Marrero
C Jesus Flores
P John Lannan
CF Jordan Schafer
RF Jason Bourgeois
LF J.D. Martinez
1B Carlos Lee
3B Chris Johnson
SS Angel Sanchez
2B Jose Altuve
C Carlos Corporan
P Wandy Rodriguez
7:13 p.m. -- A nice, clean top of the first for Lannan. Retired the side on 17 pitches (11 strikes), striking out Schafer on a 2-2 slider and inducing a pair of weak groundballs.
7:28 p.m. -- You know, if I was John Lannan tonight facing this Astros lineup, I really might just walk Carlos Lee four times and take my chances with everyone else. Lannan, of course, didn't do that and wound up serving a leadoff double to Lee in the top of the second. It didn't come back to haunt him, thanks in part to a nice play by Ryan Zimmerman on Angel Sanchez's chopper to third. But really, Lee is the only guy in this lineup that would scare me. Don't even give him a chance to do anything. Still scoreless heading to the bottom of the second.
7:37 p.m. -- Kind of an ugly at-bat from Chris Marrero to end the second. With Jonny Gomes in scoring position and two outs, Marrero swung at a pitch in the dirt, missed badly and was thrown out at first after catcher Carlos Corporan couldn't handle the pitch. Still scoreless through two.
7:54 p.m. -- Wow, did this game just implode on itself, or what? Eight straight Astros have reached base against Lannan with one out in the top of the third. Michael Morse was charged with an error after booting a double in the left field corner. Lannan later threw horribly wide of the plate on a little dribbler, allowing two runs to score. Nobody fielded a suicide squeeze that let another run cross the plate. Finally, Davey Johnson decided he'd seen enough and yanked Lannan after only 2 1/3 innings. It's 6-0 and Yunesky Maya is in out of the bullpen for mop-up duties.
7:59 p.m. -- Lannan's final line: 2.1 ip, 8 h, 6 r, 4 er, 1 bb, 1 k. 55 pitches, 36 strikes. His ERA went up from 3.48 to 3.65.
8:13 p.m. -- At least Maya has settled things down somewhat. He gave up a leadoff single in the fourth but erased it with a 6-4-3 double play. It's still 6-0 in the middle of the fourth, as the Nats lineup tries to do something against Wandy Rodriguez. Two hits through three innings. That's all.
8:29 p.m. -- Chris Marrero to the rescue. Clutch, two-run, two-out single on a 1-2 pitch from Rodriguez. Marrero needed that, and the Nats really needed it after Gomes and Espinosa looked terrible striking out with runners in scoring position. It's now 6-2 after four.
8:40 p.m. -- And Maya gives both runs right back in the fifth on two singles and then a two-out RBI double to the opposing pitcher. Yeah. But don't worry, everyone. There are only two more years left on Maya's guaranteed contract with the Nats. Yikes. It's now 8-2.
8:58 p.m. -- Michael Morse with his 27th homer of the season, yet another opposite-field blast. That was incredibly his 11th homer hit to the right of straightaway center field, according to ESPN's Hit Tracker. That's impressive. Now 8-3 Astros in the sixth.
9:07 p.m. -- Great play by Ryan Zimmerman to snag Angel Sanchez's hard grounder to his left. Remember when everyone was worried about Zim's throwing motion? I can't remember the last time he actually looked bad throwing across the diamond.
9:11 p.m. -- I just realized the Astros have THREE Rodriguezes on their pitching staff. There's Wandy, who is now out of the game after six strong innings. There's Aneury, who has come in to pitch the seventh. And there's still Fernando in the bullpen. Really hoping we see him before this game is over.
9:41 p.m. -- Atahualpa Severino with a scoreless inning of relief. That's all I've got for you. It's still 8-3 as we head to the bottom of the eighth.
9:52 p.m. -- Danny Espinosa over his last four games: 0-for-15, 11 strikeouts. Is that good?
10:06 p.m. -- Hey, how 'bout that Doug Slaten, stranding an inherited runner on third base to end the top of the ninth. Then again, the Nats are trailing 9-3, so not exactly a pressure-packed situation.
10:16 p.m. -- Mercifully, this one is over. Final score: Astros 9, Nats 3. At 66-77, the Nats would need to go 15-3 to finish with their first winning record. In the immortal words of Lloyd Christmas: So you're telling me there's a chance?