Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg makes his fourth start of the season today, facing the Marlins.
Wait, what? Chad Tracy hitting cleanup? Yes, believe it. Davey Johnson has been wanting to give the veteran a start at some point, but he really only plays first or third base. So the manager is giving Adam LaRoche a breather this afternoon and using Tracy in his place. (FYI: Ryan Zimmerman is expected to get tomorrow's series finale off, and Tracy could get another start in his place, unless Davey decides to go with Steve Lombardozzi.)
The Nationals certainly hope they don't need a ton of offense today, not with Stephen Strasburg on the mound. This actually will be Strasburg's fifth career start against the Marlins. He hasn't faced any other club more than twice.
It's a beautiful Saturday afternoon for baseball ... for now. There's a big storm approaching from the south, but it's not expected to hit us until late in the afternoon. So we should be good today. Tomorrow will be another story. Plenty of updates to come...
MIAMI MARLINS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WNEW (1580 AM), XM 183
Weather: Storms late, 75 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to LF
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
Ryan ZimmermanMark DeRosa
1B Chad Tracy
RF Jayson Werth
CF Rick Ankiel
LF Xavier Nady
C Wilson Ramos
RHP Stephen Strasburg
SS Jose Reyes
2B Emilio Bonifacio
3B Hanley Ramirez
LF Logan Morrison
1B Gaby Sanchez
RF Greg Dobbs
C John Buck
CF Chris Coghlan
RHP Anibal Sanchez
HP Greg Gibson, 1B Phil Cuzzi, 2B Vic Carapazza, 3B Gerry Davis (cc)
1:05 p.m. -- Uh, Ryan Zimmerman did not take the field with the rest of the lineup. Mark DeRosa is at third base. Stay tuned.
1:07 p.m. -- Stephen Strasburg starts off Jose Reyes with a 94 mph fastball for ball one.
1:14 p.m. -- Strasburg needed 18 pitches to get through the top of the first, as Emilio Bonifacio battled his way through his at-bat and Hanley Ramirez ran the count full. But Strasburg still retired the side, getting Ramirez looking at a 3-2 curveball that may have been a bit high to end the inning. Hanley was not pleased.
1:19 p.m. -- Well, looks like Greg Gibson is going to have a large strike zone today. Ramirez didn't like his strike three call in the top of the first, and DeRosa didn't like his strike three call to end the bottom of the first. Nothin' doin' for either team so far. It's scoreless after one.
1:30 p.m. -- We are off to a strange start to this one. The latest: Gibson just took a Strasburg fastball flush in the last part of a man's body you'd ever want to take a direct hit. Not sure how Wilson Ramos didn't catch that pitch, and I'm not sure Gibson realizes how it happened, either, because he and his crew members made Logan Morrison go back to first base when it appeared he had every right to advance to second on a wild pitch. Guess they thought it was a foul ball. It wasn't. Anyways, Ozzie Guillen had some strong words for the umps on that one. In the end, it's still a scoreless game heading to the bottom of the second.
1:34 p.m. -- By the way, here's my quick story on Ryan Zimmerman. Don't know much at this point, but I'll update it as soon as I do.
1:41 p.m. -- Favorable umpiring or not, Strasburg is dealing so far today. He's through three scoreless, having recorded four strikeouts already. Only two balls have left the infield: Logan Morrison's single to center and John Buck's weak flyball to right.
1:48 p.m. -- Here's the official Zimmerman update: He was scratched from today's lineup with "mild right shoulder inflammation," according to a Nats spokesman. Full story here.
1:58 p.m. -- Strasburg got into a jam in the fourth, giving up a leadoff double to Reyes and then seeing him take third on a sac bunt. But the right-hander came up big getting Ramirez to hit a sharp grounder right at a drawn-in Danny Espinosa, holding Reyes at third. Morrison then flied out to left to end the inning. It's still scoreless.
2:17 p.m. -- The good news: Strasburg continues to deal. He's scattered three hits over five innings striking out five on 71 pitches (43 strikes). The Nats pitching staff is now riding a 16-inning scoreless streak. The bad news: Their lineup can't do anything Anibal Sanchez, again. Two hits through four innings, one of them an Espinosa bunt that was originally called a throwing error on Sanchez but has since been changed to a single.
2:37 p.m. -- That'll do it for Strasburg. Another strong outing for him, though his high pitch count (94) will only allow him to complete six innings. His final line: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 94 pitches, 60 strikes. His updated totals through nine post-Tommy John surgery starts: 1.29 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 49 K, 8 BB in 49 innings. Not bad. Not bad at all.
2:41 p.m. -- And now Strasburg is in line for his third win of the season as Ian Desmond crushes a pitch deep to left for his second homer of the year. The Nats lead 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth.
2:52 p.m. -- A nice, 1-2-3 inning of relief for Ryan Mattheus, who has been hit-or-miss so far this season. The 1-0 lead remains intact as we reach the seventh-inning stretch. Keep an eye on the bullpen the rest of the way. Davey Johnson said this morning he may start leaning more toward Henry Rodriguez over Brad Lidge to close against teams that have a lot of left-handed hitters in their lineup, which the Marlins definitely do today.
2:55 p.m. -- Jayson Werth delivers his first home run of the season, a line drive just over the left-field fence. It's 2-0 as the Nats score an all-important insurance run in the bottom of the seventh.
2:58 p.m. -- Today's paid attendance: 26,745.
3:07 p.m. -- Nice job by Mattheus and Sean Burnett (not to mention Desmond, who went deep into the hole to make a fantastic play) in the top of the eighth. It remains 2-0, and Brad Lidge is now warming in the pen to ostensibly pitch the ninth.
3:15 p.m. -- Nothing happening in the bottom of the eighth, so we go to the ninth. It'll be Lidge looking to protect a 2-0 lead against the heart of the Miami order: Ramirez, Morrison and Sanchez.
3:20 p.m. -- Oh, dear. Logan Morrison into the second deck on a 91-mph fastball up from Lidge. After a leadoff walk. This game is tied 2-2, and there were a good number of boos coming down from the stands after that blast.
3:32 p.m. -- Well, at least Lidge got out of the inning with the game tied. It'll be up to the heart of the Nats lineup to win this in the bottom of the ninth. Due up: Zimmerman, LaRoche ... oh wait, it's DeRosa and Tracy. Oh, well.
3:40 p.m. -- They had a chance to do it in the bottom of the ninth when Werth's little blooper fell right on the right-field line for a two-out double. The Marlins then intentionally walked Ankiel to bring up Nady, but the veteran swung at Edward Mujica's first pitch and bounced it right back to the mound. We go to the 10th, and Tom Gorzelanny is now in to pitch.
3:47 p.m. -- Gorzelanny retires the side. Onto the bottom of the 10th. It'll be Ramos, LaRoche (who has entered on a double switch) and Desmond for the Nats. For those wondering about Zimmerman's availability, I have no idea. Seems doubtful he could pinch-hit, though, and I haven't seen him in the dugout at all today.
3:54 p.m. -- Ian Desmond delivers the game-winner, with a big assist from Gaby Sanchez. After Sanchez made a boneheaded decision to try to turn a 3-6-3 double play without stepping on first base first, he fired high to second and allowed Wilson Ramos to advance all the way to third. Desmond then lofted a fly ball deep enough to center field to score Ramos. The Nats win 3-2 in 10 innings. They're 12-4.