Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg makes his second start of the season today at Nationals Park.
So while today is a national day of remembrance for those who lost their lives 10 years ago, it's also a day to bring us all together, and I can't think of a better forum for that than a ballgame in Washington, D.C.
Stephen Strasburg, of course, will be on the mound for the Nationals, taking the ball for his second start back from Tommy John surgery. After cruising through his five-inning return on Tuesday, the right-hander could be allowed to go a bit deeper this afternoon. Davey Johnson said he'll play it by ear but certainly sounded comfortable with the idea of Strasburg going six innings as long as his pitch count doesn't get too high.
Plenty of updates to come...
ASTROS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
TV: MASN, Ch. 50
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees, Wind 5 mph in from RF
STARTING LINEUPS1:37 p.m. -- And we are underway with a 94-mph fastball from Stephen Strasburg to Jordan Schafer for strike one. On another note, Jayson Werth is starting in center field and Rick Ankiel is in right field, the opposite of what had been announced this morning.
SS Ian Desmond
CF Rick Ankiel
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
RF Jayson Werth
2B Danny Espinosa
1B Chris Marrero
C Wilson Ramos
P Stephen Strasburg
CF Jordan Schafer
3B Jimmy Paredes
LF J.D. Martinez
1B Carlos Lee
RF Brian Bogusevic
2B Matt Downs
SS Clint Barmes
C Carlos Corporan
P Henry Sosa
1:50 p.m. -- Kind of a rocky top of the first for Strasburg. He was all over the place, needing 31 pitches (19 strikes) to face five batters. His fastball topped out at 97 but was more consistently in the 95-96 range. He did record a pair of strikeouts on changeups but allowed two singles (one a grounder up the middle and off second base, then Carlos Lee's line drive RBI single to center). It's 1-0 Astros as we go to the bottom of the first.
1:55 p.m. -- And then Henry Sosa only needs seven pitches to retire the side in the bottom of the first.
2:06 p.m. -- Strasburg really didn't look so comfortable out there during the second inning. His fastball was consistently in the 92-93 range. (That could be because he's throwing sinkers, not four-seamers, we'll have to see after the game what he was doing.) But Wilson Ramos felt the need to check on him, as did Danny Espinosa and eventually Steve McCatty. Tom Gorzelanny began warming in the pen at one point. Still, Strasburg battled out of it, striking out Carlos Corporan and getting Sosa to fly out. Through two innings, he's allowed one run on three singles (only one of them sharply hit) and struck out three (all on changeups). Already at 46 pitches, 30 strikes. Nats still trail 1-0.
2:16 p.m. -- Chris Marrero continues to produce with men on base. He sent a sac fly to right for his fourth RBI in seven plate appearances, scoring Werth from third to make this a 1-1 game. Danny Espinosa also snapped out of his 0-for-15 funk with a sharp double down the left-field line. So this is now a tie game after two.
2:24 p.m. -- That's more like it. Strasburg starting to find his grove now. He retired the side in the third and has set down six Astros in a row. His fastball was up to 96-97 mph in the third inning and he's become more efficient. Through three, he's got four strikeouts, no walks and has thrown 39 of 57 pitches for strikes.
2:31 p.m. -- Ian Desmond, Rick Ankiel and Ryan Zimmerman to the rescue! Back-to-back-to-back homers to open the bottom of the third. Desmond sent a line drive to left for his eighth of the season. Ankiel impressive took a ball to the bullpen in left-center, an opposite-field shot for his ninth of the year. And then Zimmerman found his favorite landing spot in the Red Porch. That's the first time the Nats have hit three straight homers since July 11, 2009, when Nick Johnson, Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn did it in Houston against this same Astros team. That also happened to be Manny Acta's last win as manager. It's now 4-1 Nats.
2:39 p.m. -- Wow, Davey Johnson is sending up Corey Brown to pinch-hit for Strasburg. He's done after only three innings and 57 pitches (only one more than last time). His final line: 3 ip, 3 h, 1 r, 1 er, 0 bb, 4 k, 57 pitches, 39 strikes.
3:05 p.m. -- Nice job so far by Tom Gorzelanny in relief of Strasburg. He's tossed two scoreless innings, striking out three. The Nats are still up 5-1 heading to the bottom of the fifth.
3:14 p.m. -- Nice day for Chris Marrero, who is starting to produce at the plate with some consistency. He's 2-for-2 with a single, an RBI double and a sac fly. And in 14 big-league games, he's now hitting .306 with seven RBI.
3:21 p.m. -- Credit to Gorzelanny, who really did an admirable job in relief of Strasburg. Threw three scoreless innings, and needed only 39 pitches to do it. Because Strasburg didn't go the minimum five innings, he can't qualify for the win. So if the Nats hang on -- they still lead 5-1 -- Gorzelanny will get the W.
3:25 p.m. -- Steve Lombardozzi is not looking real comfortable hitting at this level yet. He just grounded out weakly to short while pinch-hitting for Gorzelanny. That makes him 0-for-12 since his promotion from Syracuse. Not the way he wanted to start his career.
3:30 p.m. -- A tough end to the season for Class AA Harrisburg, which was just swept by Richmond in the Eastern League playoffs. Really difficult to blame the Senators, who were forced to play the entire series on the road after their ballpark was flooded earlier this week. ... Meanwhile, Ryan Zimmerman drives in another run, putting the Nats up 6-1 after six. Sean Burnett now in from the bullpen.
3:42 p.m. -- Official paid attendance: 24,238. That's by far the smallest crowd to see Strasburg pitch at Nationals Park since he debuted last season.
3:48 p.m. -- Actually, I stand corrected. Strasburg's final home start last season (Aug. 15 against the Diamondbacks) drew only 21,695.
3:55 p.m. -- Wow are the Nats on fire at the plate today or what? It's now 8-1 after RBI singles from Laynce Nix and Ian Desmond in the bottom of the seventh. That came after a scary moment in which Wilson Ramos was hit by a pitch in the brim of his helmet. Ramos, thankfully, appears to be OK.
4:23 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. Nats win 8-2. Strasburg gets his work in, but Gorzelanny gets the win with three scoreless innings of relief.