Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats try to extend their winning streak to six tonight against the Marlins.
The Nationals are down to their final four series of the year, beginning tonight against the Marlins. They'll travel to Philadelphia next week, host the Braves next weekend, then travel to Florida for the final three games of the year.
John Lannan will be on the mound tonight, looking once again to secure his career-best 10th win. He'll be opposed by veteran Javier Vazquez, who is 3-0 with an 0.45 ERA over his last three starts.
I'm back at the ballpark all weekend, so please check back for updates throughout...
MARLINS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 186
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 63 degrees, Wind 4 mph in from RF
STARTING LINEUPS4:45 p.m. -- You'll surely notice the absence of both Michael Morse and Jayson Werth from tonight's lineup. No injuries for either player, but Davey Johnson has been wanting to give each guy a day off for a while now. He finally felt comfortable doing that tonight since both Roger Bernadina (hand) and Laynce Nix (groin) are able to play the field again after battling nagging injuries the last couple of weeks. Both Morse and Werth should be back in the lineup tomorrow night.
SS Ian Desmond
LF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Laynce Nix
CF Rick Ankiel
2B Danny Espinosa
1B Chris Marrero
C Wilson Ramos
P John Lannan
SS Emilio Bonifacio
2B Omar Infante
RF Mike Stanton
3B Jose Lopez
LF Logan Morrison
1B Gaby Sanchez
CF Bryan Petersen
C John Buck
P Javier Vazquez
7:07 p.m. -- And we're underway with a strike from John Lannan to Emilio Bonifacio. It's a cool 62 degrees at gametime. Yep, fall has arrived.
7:15 p.m. -- What could've been a ragged first inning for Lannan turned out fine, thanks to a sliding catch in left field by Roger Bernadina and a nice 5-3 double play started by Ryan Zimmerman. Lannan had gotten himself in trouble after allowing a single to Emilio Bonifacio and then walking Omar Infante. His defense bailed him out, big-time.
7:34 p.m. -- Eventually, walks are going to come back to haunt you. Sure enough, when Lannan issued two free passes in the top of the second, one of them wound up scoring thanks to a wild pitch and then John Buck's RBI single to center. That's not going to get it done. Lannan had better figure this out quickly, or he's not going to be on the mound much longer tonight. Nats trail 1-0 in the middle of the second.
7:41 p.m. -- Wasted opportunity for the Nats in the bottom of the second. They got back-to-back singles from Ankiel and Espinosa, but Espinosa got greedy and tried to stretch his hit into a double. He was promptly gunned down at second base. Which meant there were already two outs when Marrero flied out to right, and thus Ankiel couldn't tag up to score. So it remains 1-0 after two.
7:50 p.m. -- This is not going well for Lannan, is it? Back-to-back doubles to open the third, then a two-out single by Gaby Sanchez, then another single by Bryan Petersen that thankfully as wiped out on a great relay throw by Ian Desmond to catch Petersen straying too far off first base. Still, it's 3-0 Marlins in the middle of the third, and Lannan has been all over the place. Surprised the bullpen has remained quiet to this point.
8:27 p.m. -- We're through five innings now, and it's still 3-0 Marlins. Lannan has settled down some, but his teammates have done little against Vazquez through five. It didn't help matters when Ankiel didn't hustle out of the box on a grounder to second to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Infante booted the ball but still through Ankiel out by a half-step. If Ankiel is busting it down the line right from the get-go, he's easily safe.
8:34 p.m. -- Alex Cora will pinch-hit for Lannan to open the bottom of the sixth, ending Lanna's night. Amazingly, he still gets credit for a quality start: three runs allowed in six innings. If you've watched this game, you know there was very little about this start that deserves to be classified as "quality."
8:58 p.m. -- Another nice inning of relief from Craig Stammen, who recorded a pair of strikeouts and then got an assist from Espinosa, who made a nifty play to get Logan Morrison to end the inning. Still 3-0 at the seventh-inning stretch.
9:13 p.m. -- Uh, Brian Bixler: What are you doing? Getting picked off first base to end the bottom of the seventh? With a runner in front of you? And the tying run at the plate, down three runs? Come on, you're better than that.
9:30 p.m. -- Eight innings in the books, and Javier Vazquez has still not allowed a run. Just a feeble showing from the Nats lineup tonight. They've got three outs to turn it around.
9:39 p.m. -- Well, at least something happened to get the crowd excited in the top of the ninth. Nice double play to end the inning, with Ryan Zimmerman going home to get Bonifacio, then Ramos making a great throw to second base to nail Stanton. We go to the bottom of the ninth, Nats still down 3-0.
9:45 p.m. -- That'll do it. Behind a complete-game performance from Javier Vazquez, the Nats lose 3-0. It's the 14th time they've been shut out this season. So much for the momentum of that four-game sweep in New York. That was the least interesting game of the year right there. Sheesh.