Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg makes his third start of the season tonight.
Interestingly enough, Strasburg has already enjoyed both significant success (six scoreless innings) and endured a significant beating (six runs in 4 1/3 innings) against Florida. Not that the current incarnation of the Marlins looks like the one that faced him in 2010; only Mike Stanton, Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison have batted against him before tonight.
We'll have to see if Davey Johnson lets his prize right-hander go a bit deeper in this game than he has his first two starts of the season. I suspect Strasburg's pitch limit will be roughly 70, so if he can be a bit more efficient than his last time out, he should be able to get into the fifth inning.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check back...
MARLINS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 186
Weather: Partly cloudy, 66 degrees, Wind 7 mph in from RF
STARTING LINEUPS7:08 p.m. -- We are underway with a 97 mph fastball from Stephen Strasburg to Emilio Bonifacio. It's a chilly, overcast night (61 degrees) and Strasburg is wearing long sleeves for what I believe is the first time in the big leagues.
SS Ian Desmond
RF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
CF Jayson Werth
2B Danny Espinosa
1B Chris Marrero
C Wilson Ramos
P Stephen Strasburg
SS Emilio Bonifacio
2B Omar Infante
RF Mike Stanton
LF Logan Morrison
1B Gaby Sanchez
CF Bryan Petersen
C John Buck
3B Matt Dominguez
P Chris Volstad
7:13 p.m. -- OK, can we please dispense with the "Is Strasburg still injured" talk finally? He just mowed down the Marlins in the top of the first on 13 pitches, 12 of them fastballs, all of them at least 97 mph, the last a 99 mph heater past a flailing Mike Stanton. That should put to rest any doubt about the state of his right arm.
7:17 p.m. -- Tough way for the bottom of the first to begin. Ian Desmond swings at Chris Volstad's first pitch and sends a grounder up the middle. He beats Bonifacio's wild throw to first but then takes one step toward second base before turning back and then getting tagged by catcher John Buck (who really hustled down the line to retrieve the ball under just such a scenario). You don't see that happen too often, but it was absolutely the right call. Tough break for Desmond. Scoreless after one.
7:28 p.m. -- Strasburg served up a couple of singles in the top of the second, but nothing to worry about. He got Matt Dominguez to ground into a fielder's choice to end the inning. Through two scoreless innings, he's at 29 pitches (19 strikes). He's only thrown four offspeed pitches so far: three curveballs and one changeup.
7:35 p.m. -- A big chance for Strasburg to help his own cause in the bottom of the second after the Marlins intentionally walked Wilson Ramos to load the bases for the big guy ... who then struck out hacking at three pitches. Not so good. It remains scoreless here through two.
7:43 p.m. -- Chris Volstad owns Stephen Strasburg (doubled off the center-field wall and scored later on Omar Infante's sac fly). Mike Stanton, on the other hand, can't touch the big guy. He's seen six pitches tonight, all of them strikes. Fouled off one, took two, swung and missed at three. Impressive. Marlins lead 1-0. Strasburg at 37 pitches, 27 strikes.
7:50 p.m. -- Another baserunning blunder, this time from Roger Bernadina, who gets picked off first after nearly grounding into a double play. Five of the Nats' first 12 batters have reached safely tonight. None have scored. Still 1-0 after three.
7:58 p.m. -- Boy, is Strasburg pounding the strike zone tonight, or what? He just retired the side in the fourth on 11 pitches. Through four innings, he's at 48 pitches. And over the last two innings, he's thrown 17 of 19 pitches for strikes. That, my friends, is efficiency. If only the Nats could score him a run. Still 1-0 in the middle of the fourth.
8:10 p.m. -- I'd like to say I'm confident the Nationals will score a run before this series is over. But I'm really not confident enough to say that. Thirteen scoreless innings and counting.
8:15 p.m. -- That right there, everyone, was a five-pitch inning from Mr. Strasburg. He's at a mere 53 pitches through five innings. Twenty-one of his last 24 pitches have been strikes. Suffice it to say, he'll be back out for the sixth tonight.
8:17 p.m. -- Like I said, I was totally confident the Nats would score in this series. Wilson Ramos takes the first pitch of the bottom of the fifth into the Red Porch. It's 1-1 on Ramos' 13th homer of the season.
8:26 p.m. -- Another quick inning for Strasburg, who cruises through the top of the sixth on only eight pitches. He's completed six innings now on only 61 pitches (45 strikes). Davey Johnson said this afternoon he can go over 70 pitches tonight. Is there another inning in the works? Perhaps not as Henry Rodriguez begins to warm up and Strasburg gets handshakes in the dugout. His final line: 6 ip, 3 h, 1 r, 0 bb, 3 k. He has yet to walk a batter in three starts.
8:31 p.m. -- Strasburg's total pitching line through three games: 14 ip, 9 h, 2 r, 0 bb, 11 k. Does an 0.64 WHIP work for you?
8:46 p.m. -- A scoreless inning of relief from Henry Rodriguez. And tonight's paid attendance: 33,247. Largest of the year to see Strasburg. Still 1-1 as we go to the eighth.
8:56 p.m. -- A scoreless inning of relief from Todd Coffey, so it remains 1-1 heading to the bottom of the eighth, as the Marlins finally turn to their bullpen. One more staggering Strasburg fact: Dating back to last season, he has not issued a walk to any of the last 96 major-league batters he's faced. (And yes, members of the Astros lineup do count as major-leaguers.)
9:02 p.m. -- Hmm, someone is going to need to score again before this game can end. We can only hope that happens without this game going to extra innings. Drew Storen entering from the pen to pitch the top of the ninth of a 1-1 game.
9:11 p.m. -- Big 1-2-3 top of the ninth from Storen, punctuated by strikeouts of Stanton and Morrison. Strasburg and Storen have just pitched brilliantly to Stanton tonight: He's 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a groundout, and he's swung and missed five times. that's impressive. We go to the bottom of the ninth. It'll be Morse, Werth and Espinosa against Edward Mujica.
9:20 p.m. -- Wow, fantastic catch from Logan Morrison down the left-field line, slamming into the wall, to send this game to extra innings. He appeared to be injured at first, but he walked off under his own power. We go to the 10th, Sean Burnett now pitching in a 1-1 game.
9:28 p.m. -- Burnett escapes a self-made jam -- he inexplicably didn't get Sanchez in a rundown when he had a chance -- so we go to the bottom of the 10th. Hmm, this would be a nice time for Chris Marrero's first career homer, wouldn't it?
9:35 p.m. -- Let's go to the 11th. Collin Balester in from the bullpen.
9:41 p.m. -- Add Balester to the list of Nats pitchers who have blown away Mike Stanton tonight. Wow, 0-for-5 with 4 K's.
9:50 p.m. -- Oh, man, was that disappointing or what? With Desmond on third and one out, the Marlins intentionally walked Zimmerman to get to Morse. Golden opportunity. Except Morse bounced into a 4-6-3 double play on the first pitch he saw, stunning the crowd. We go to the 12th.
9:58 p.m. -- What a job by the Nationals bullpen, which has now tossed 24 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.
10:06 p.m. -- Clay Hensley strikes out the side. We go to the 13th. Woo-hoo.
10:14 p.m. -- So ends the bullpen scoreless streak. Donnie Murphy with a 2-run homer off Balester. It's 3-1 Marlins. On the bright side, the Phillies just clinched the NL East title again. So at least the Nats won't have to watch them celebrate in person for the fourth time in five years.
10:20 p.m. -- Make it 4-1 as Balester is getting crushed in his third inning of relief. By the way, there are still six available pitchers in the bullpen who have not been used tonight: Gorzelanny, Severino, Slaten, Clippard, Maya and Stammen. Plus, in an emergency, Livo.
10:29 p.m. -- That'll do it. The Nationals lose another one against the Marlins, this time by a score of 4-1. They're now 18-49 vs. Florida since 2008.