Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nationals Park hosts its first ballgame of 2012 today.
Sandwiched between their Grapefruit League finale in Fort Myers and their season opener in Chicago, the Nationals make a brief cameo appearance in the District this afternoon, taking on the Boston Red Sox in one last exhibition game. Davey Johnson is playing all his regulars, though there's a twist: Xavier Nady is serving as designated hitter. Yes, a DH in a National League park. There's something you won't see again.
A couple more interesting lineup tidbits: Adam LaRoche, not Jayson Werth, is hitting cleanup against Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz. I've got a hunch you'll see that arrangement on Thursday against the Cubs as well. Also, Roger Bernadina is back in the lineup after coming out of yesterday's game with a knee injury. Appears he's OK.
Plenty of updates to come all afternoon, so please check back often...
BOSTON RED SOX vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 3:05 p.m.
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 177
Weather: Sunny, 65 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to RF
STARTING LINEUPS3:05 p.m. -- With a fastball outside from Edwin Jackson to Jacoby Ellsbury, we are underway. It's an absolutely spectacular afternoon in the nation's capital. Good crowd on hand, but there are some seats available if you feel like skipping out of work early and heading on over.
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Jayson Werth
LF Mark DeRosa
DH Xavier Nady
C Wilson Ramos
CF Roger Bernadina
(P Edwin Jackson)
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
2B Dustin Pedroia
1B Adrian Gonzalez
DH David Ortiz
3B Kevin Youkilis
RF Ryan Sweeney
LF Cody Ross
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
SS Mike Aviles
(P Clay Buchholz)
3:09 p.m. -- Jackson immediately fell into a 2-0 hole to Ellsbury, but it didn't take long for him to figure things out. He battled back to get Ellsbury to fly out to left, then got Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez to ground out. A nice, tidy, 12-pitch top of the first.
3:16 p.m. -- Clay Buchholz sees Edwin Jackson's efficient first inning and raises him. It took Buchholz only eight pitches (seven strikes) to retire the side. Actually, it only took him three pitches to retire Ian Desmond (who flied out to left on the first one he saw) and Danny Espinosa (who grounded out on an 0-1 offering). At least Ryan Zimmerman worked the count a bit before striking out. Scoreless after one.
3:22 p.m. -- Another clean inning for Jackson, though all three Red Sox batters hit fly balls off him in the second, including a drive to the base of the wall in center field by Ryan Sweeney. No problem as Roger Bernadina tracked it down. 24 pitches through two innings for Jackson, 15 strikes.
3:28 p.m. -- Hmm, there have been a total of 12 batters so far in this game, none of them reaching safely. The two starters have combined to throw 39 pitches (24 by Jackson, only 15 by Buchholz). Think these guys might just be ready to get to Opening Day already?
3:40 p.m. -- Six more batters stepped to the plate in the third inning ... and six more batters retreated to the dugout. Seriously, we could be headed for a double perfect game today.
3:44 p.m. -- Yep, that'll do the trick every time. Ellsbury leads off the top of the fourth with a solid single to left. Now, if the Nats could just produce at least one hit before the afternoon is complete...
3:52 p.m. -- Pedroia follows up with an RBI double down the left-field line, scoring Ellsbury, then takes third on a deep fly ball to left and scores on a groundball to second. So the Red Sox take a 2-0 lead as we head to the bottom of the fourth. Oh, and Teddy lost the Presidents Race. He had a big lead, then was distracted by two jugglers(?!) as George zoomed past him to win. Sigh, it's gonna be another long season of this tired act.
4:04 p.m. -- Don't know about all of you, but I'd really prefer not to have to write about a perfect game today. Which is what Buchholz has going through four innings.
4:22 p.m. -- Well, the wheels kind of fell off for Jackson in the top of the fifth. He allowed four of five batters to reach, the last of them Pedroia on a double over Werth's head in right field, so Davey Johnson came out of the dugout with the hook. Sean Burnett entered and immediately gave up an RBI single to Gonzalez, making it 6-0 Boston. Jackson's final line: 4 2/3 ip, 5 h, 6 er, 1 bb, 2 k, 1 wp, 73 pitches, 46 strikes.
4:24 p.m. -- Hey, Adam LaRoche breaks up the perfect game with a leadoff single down the right-field line! He even got in a nice inversion turn around first base to test that foot.
4:34 p.m. -- The home crowd finally has reason to come to life, thanks to Wilson Ramos. Belted a three-run homer into the Red Porch. Just crushed it. That cuts the lead to 6-3 after five. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves just announced they signed Chad Durbin to a major-league contract. Interesting when you consider Durbin was in a Nats uniform here this morning, and the team hasn't announced that he was released.
4:42 p.m. -- A quick, 1-2-3 sixth for Ross Detwiler. Both Craig Stammen and Ryan Mattheus are also scheduled to pitch today. One of those two has won the final spot in the Opening Day bullpen.
4:44 p.m. -- Desmond sends a line drive just over the left-field fence for his third homer of the spring. That cuts the deficit to 6-4 in the bottom of the sixth.
5:06 p.m. -- A scoreless inning of relief from Stammen keeps this a 6-4 game at the seventh-inning stretch. Looks like Mattheus is warming up in the pen and will pitch the eighth.
5:28 p.m. -- Wow, the Nats have come all the way back from a 6-0 deficit and have taken a 7-6 lead. Another RBI from Ramos on a single to left. Boston reliever Michael Bowden then walked Desmond to load the bases and Espinosa to force in a run. And a sac fly by Steve Lombardozzi brings the go-ahead run home in the bottom of the seventh.
5:35 p.m. -- And Mattheus gives the run right back as Daniel Nava puts one over the center-field fence. It's 7-7 as we go to the bottom of the eighth.
5:46 p.m. -- Hmm, we're going to the ninth inning and it's still tied 7-7. Extra innings in the exhibition finale? Maybe they'll play the 10th, but that would probably be it, per the usual spring training protocols.
6:02 p.m. -- Well, so much for Henry Rodriguez's perfect spring ERA. He finally gave up a run in the ninth inning of his final tune-up. Pretty shaky frame there for H-Rod. He allowed a single, an RBI double, hit a batter and generally did not look comfortable on the mound at all. Very reminiscent of his not-so-good appearances last year. It's 8-7 Boston as the Nats come up to bat in the bottom of the ninth.
6:14 p.m. -- Wow. Espinosa delivers a two-out single up the middle, and Desmond comes racing home, appearing to beat the throw home. But ump Chris Segal calls him out, ending the game. Looks like Segal had a flight to catch. Nats lose 8-7. Final roster moves to be announced shortly, so stay tuned...