Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The first-place Nationals host the Reds in the first night home game of the year.
Since that day nearly seven years ago, the Nationals have spent a total of four days in sole possession of first place. All came during the first week of the 2008 season, when Manny Acta's club stormed out of the gates to a 3-0 start ... before ultimately losing 102 games. All four of those days in first place came on the road.
So that makes for quite a backdrop to tonight's contest at Nationals Park, where the first-place Nats look to make it four in a row. Jordan Zimmermann takes the mound, hoping to duplicate his stellar effort from his season debut (with perhaps a little run support thrown in for a change). Veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo starts for Cincinnati.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check back...
CINCINNATI REDS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WFED (1500 AM), WHFS (1580 AM), XM 188
Weather: Clear, 65 degrees, Wind 4 mph LF to RF
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Jayson Werth
LF Mark DeRosa
CF Roger Bernadina
C Wilson Ramos
P Jordan Zimmermann
CF Drew Stubbs
SS Wilson Valdez
1B Joey Votto
3B Scott Rolen
RF Jay Bruce
LF Ryan Ludwick
2B Willie Harris
C Ryan Hanigan
P Bronson Arroyo
HP Paul Schrieber, 1B Tim Welke (cc), 2B Laz Diaz, 3B Mike Everitt
5:30 p.m. -- As you wait for the start of tonight's game, be sure to read my update on Rick Ankiel, who has been cleared to come off the DL before tomorrow's game.
7:06 p.m. -- And we're underway on a gorgeous, 65-degree night in the nation's capital. The crowd's still filing in; looks like it'll be a nice-sized group tonight.
7:10 p.m. -- It looked like Jordan Zimmermann was going to have a really quick top of the first, but then he issued a two-out walk to Joey Votto. No harm, because he got Scott Rolen to line out to center, ending a 14-pitch (10-strike) inning.
7:17 p.m. -- Nothin' doin' in the bottom of the first. Ian Desmond once again puts the first pitch he sees into play and flies out to left. Danny Espinosa grounds out weakly to first. Ryan Zimmerman sent a flyball to deep right, but not nearly deep enough to do any damage. We go to the top of the second.
7:28 p.m. -- What do you know, we've got another pitchers' duel brewing here. Only one baserunner for the Nats through two innings (Mark DeRosa, who drew a walk). Only one baserunner for the Reds (Votto, who drew a walk). Good stuff from both starters so far.
7:40 p.m. -- The answer is: "Bronson Arroyo." The question: "Who will record the first base hit of this game?" Who figured that would be the case? Arroyo's one-out single to center, though, caused no real trouble for Zimmermann, who has now extended the scoreless innings streak by Nationals starters to 22.
7:45 p.m. -- Another 1-2-3 inning for Arroyo, so it's still scoreless through three.
8:23 p.m. -- We're through five innings now, and the Nats' rotation scoreless streak has come to an end at 23. Old pal Willie Harris led off the fourth with a double to left-center, moved to third on a groundball and then scored on a sac fly by ... Arroyo. Man, that guy has turned into an offensive force. The Nats' offense, meanwhile, has done next-to-nothing against Arroyo. They've got two hits through five. On the bright side, the defense has been spectacular, from Desmond and Zimmerman and LaRoche. So it's 1-0 Reds as we go to the sixth.
8:38 p.m. -- One of these days, the Nationals are going to score a run for Jordan Zimmermann. I mean, the law of averages says it's got to happen eventually, right? Through six innings tonight, it hasn't happened. Despite a leadoff single from Desmond, they couldn't get him home. Kind of a questionable move for Danny Espinosa to sacrifice bunt Desmond over to second. That backfired. We go to the seventh, still a 1-0 Reds lead.
8:49 p.m. -- The Nats' infield defense had been absolutely spectacular through the first six innings of this game, with all four guys making highlight-reel plays. So of course LaRoche and Desmond just committed back-to-back errors with two outs in the seventh. Credit to Zimmermann for getting out of that jam. We're at the stretch, and it's still 1-0 as Arroyo returns to the mound.
8:55 p.m. -- Arroyo is just carving up the Nats lineup tonight. Made Werth and DeRosa look ridiculous in striking out both in the bottom of the seventh. We go to the eighth, and Jordan Zimmermann's night is complete. His final line: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 100 pitches, 71 strikes. The right-hander also allowed one earned run over seven innings in his season debut. And he will not have a win yet. Unreal.
9:05 p.m. -- Ryan Mattheus completes a scoreless top of the eighth. Arroyo is back out for the bottom of the inning, now six outs from a shutout. It'll be Ramos, a pinch-hitter and Desmond due up for the Nationals, who still trail 1-0.
9:14 p.m. -- Wow, what was Dusty Baker doing? Arroyo was absolutely cruising, sitting on 94 pitches, and the Reds manager yanked him in favor of left-hander (and former Nats first-rounder) Bill Bray to face pinch-hitter Chad Tracy. So Davey Johnson countered with Xavier Nady, and guess what happened? Solo home run into the left-field bullpen, Nady's first with the Nats. We're tied 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth, folks.
9:25 p.m. -- A 1-2-3 top of the ninth for Henry Rodriguez. We go to the bottom of the ninth, and Ryan Zimmerman will lead off for the Nats.
9:36 p.m. -- Big chance for Bernadina to be the hero after Werth and DeRosa deliver two-out singles. But after working the count full against Logan Ondrusek, Bernadina struck out with a mighty swing. So for the second straight day, we're going to extra innings on South Capitol Street.
9:45 p.m. -- Nice to see Brad Lidge rebound from his blown save yesterday. Just mowed through the Reds in the top of the 10th, retiring the side and striking out Drew Stubbs to give the Nats another chance to win on a walk-off. But they'll have to do it against flamethrower Aroldis Chapman.
9:52 p.m. -- Nothin' doin' against Chapman, who pretty much overwhelmed Ramos, Brett Carroll and Desmond. We go to the 11th, and it'll be Tom Gorzelanny on the mound.
10:03 p.m. -- Five Nationals pitchers have held the Reds to three hits in 11 innings tonight. I mean, seriously, if this lineup can't scratch out just one more run and reward them for their effort...
10:18 p.m. -- Who's up for 12 innings on a Friday night!
10:30 p.m. -- A couple of big-time strikeouts from Tom Gorzelanny with men in scoring position in the top of the 12th. He got both Chris Heisey and Drew Stubbs swinging. So now it's DeRosa, Bernadina and Ramos due up as Alfredo Simon returns to the mound for his second inning of relief.
10:46 p.m. -- Good lord, what just happened there in the bottom of the 12th? Bernadina was thrown out on a 6-2-5-6 fielder's choice, yet he kept the rundown alive long enough for Ramos to go all the way to third base. No matter, because Steve Lombardozzi struck out looking to end the inning. We go to the 13th inning of a ballgame neither team has any intention of winning.
10:56 p.m. -- What has gotten into Craig Stammen? He just struck out three more batters in the top of the 13th. That means the last six outs he's recorded over the last two days have all come via strikeout.
11:10 p.m. -- Jayson Werth wins it! Bases-loaded single up the middle in the bottom of the 13th. The Nats win 3-2 and remain in first place in the NL East.