Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Ross Detwiler faces the Braves today in the Nationals' 2011 home finale.
At the same time, this game means everything to the Braves, who are clinging to a two-game lead over the Cardinals for the NL wild-card. So Davey Johnson still has to treat this as a competitive exercise, and thus he's got all regulars in the lineup against Atlanta left-hander Mike Minor.
Ross Detwiler is on the mound for the Nats, looking to finish his season on a strong note. The young lefty has definitely turned some heads over the last six weeks or so, perhaps to the point where he'll enter 2012 as a favorite to win a rotation spot (he'll be out of minor-league options).
Of course, there will be plenty of time to discuss that and more all winter. For today, just enjoy the home finale. Plenty of updates to come...
BRAVES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 184
Weather: Cloudy, 75 degrees, Wind 6 mph in from RF
STARTING LINEUPS1:36 p.m. -- We're underway with a nice crowd on hand to see Ross Detwiler start off Michael Bourn with a fastball for strike one. Meanwhile, Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson address several offseason topics today, including the plan for the upcoming formal managerial search.
SS Ian Desmond
CF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
1B Chris Marrero
2B Danny Espinosa
RF Jonny Gomes
C Wilson Ramos
P Ross Detwiler
CF Michael Bourn
LF Martin Prado
3B Chipper Jones
2B Dan Uggla
1B Freddie Freeman
RF Matt Diaz
C David Ross
SS Jack Wilson
P Mike Minor
1:41 p.m. -- Nice top of the first for Detwiler. He retired the side on 14 pitches (nine strikes) and struck out Bourn to get things started. This guy certainly has had a different look to him late this season than we'd seen from him in the past.
1:57 p.m. -- A chance for the Nats in the bottom of the first, but they left runners stranded at the corners, Ian Desmond's leadoff double having gone for naught.
2:05 p.m. -- A couple more strikeouts for Detwiler in the top of the second, getting both Dan Uggla and Matt Diaz swinging. That last pitch to Diaz was 95 mph.
2:14 p.m. -- Hmm, the Nats have gotten a double in each of the first two innings, each with less than two outs, and haven't scored yet. Already 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
2:31 p.m. -- Just when it looks like Detwiler is cruising, he walks Mike Minor on four pitches to load the bases, then falls behind 2-0 to Bourn and draws boos from the crowd. And just when it looks like Detwiler's about to crumble, he pitches his way out of the bases-loaded, no-out jam. Got Bourn and Prado to hit shallow fly balls, then got Chipper Jones to bounce out to third. Impressive stuff. It's still scoreless in the middle of the third.
2:47 p.m. -- OK, here we go: Middle of the fourth. Presidents Race time. Will Jayson "Bull Moose" Werth get involved again? Let's see...
2:50 p.m. -- Well, that was lame. Werth jogged straight to the dugout and didn't participate at all. George, Abe and Teddy came running out in the usual path, but Tom went the other way (around left field). Turns out that was the "correct" path for the day. Not that it mattered, because "That Cat" tackled George, Abe and Teddy as Tom crossed the other finish line to end the season tied with Abe for the title with 30 wins apiece. L-A-M-E.
2:57 p.m. -- Meanwhile, in actual baseball action, Wilson Ramos hammers a drive down the left-field line and just over the fence for his 15th homer of the season. The Nats take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth.
3:07 p.m. -- Um, somebody might need to inform Jonny Gomes we're playing with the standard three-outs-per-inning rule today, not four. Already twice today, he's lost track of how many outs there were. He was on second base with two outs in the second when Detwiler lined out to end the inning ... and he raced back to the bag thinking he might get doubled up. And just now, he caught a fly ball in right for the final out of the top of the fifth and immediately fired a laser to third base. Except nobody was there because they were all jogging off the field. Seriously, Jonny, get your head in the game.
3:23 p.m. -- Hmm, Chris Marrero might not be ready to bat fifth in a big-league lineup quite yet. He just struck out to end the bottom of the fifth after the Braves intentionally walked Morse in front of him. The Nats as a team are already 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, and Marrero himself is 0-for-3 having stranded six guys on base. Still 1-0 after five.
3:40 p.m. -- The good news: Detwiler completed six scoreless innings to end his season. He wraps up 2011 with an even 3.00 ERA in 15 games, a 3.21 ERA in 10 starts. And he shut out both the Phillies and Braves over his last two outings. Pretty impressive. The bad news: The Nats still can't drive a runner in. They're now 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position through six innings. Still 1-0 as Henry Rodriguez enters.
3:49 p.m. -- Wow, Henry strikes out the side and hits 101 mph twice. We've reached the seventh-inning stretch, still 1-0. Meanwhile, today's attendance is 37,638. The season total is 1,940,478, which works out to an average of 24,256 per game.
3:57 p.m. -- Michael Morse with a two-run, opposite-field blast, his 29th homer of the season. The Nats take a 3-0 lead and Morse gets a curtain call from the crowd. Really cool moment for a guy who no one could have imagined having a season like this back on Opening Day.
4:02 p.m. -- And now Tyler Clippard does his part, retiring the side in the eighth and striking out a pair himself. It's still 3-0 in the middle of the eighth.
4:08 p.m. -- We go to the ninth. It'll be Drew Storen in search of his 42nd save of the season, with a three-run lead to protect. Meanwhile, the Cardinals now trail the Cubs 2-1 in the seventh, so the Braves could actually escape this and still hold a two-game lead in the wild-card race.
4:19 p.m. -- Ballgame. Nats win 3-0. Detwiler gets his fourth win. Storen gets his 42nd save. The entire team gets a standing ovation from the crowd. And for what this is worth, the Nats just went 6-1 against the Phillies and Braves down the stretch.