Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Phillies are in town this weekend at Nationa... er, Natitude Park.
Stephen Strasburg faces the Phillies tonight for only the second time. The previous outing, of course, represented the low point in his big-league career. Not because of how he pitched -- on Aug. 21, 2010, the rookie right-hander allowed one run on two hits, striking out six over 4 1/3 innings -- but because of what happened on his final pitch: a 91-mph change-up that snapped his ulnar collateral ligament.
Strasburg has certainly come a long way since that night at Citizens Bank Park. He'll enter this game with a 1.13 ERA (second-lowest in baseball). And he'll be charged tonight with leading the first-place Nationals to victory over the five-time NL East champs.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check back often...
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB Network (outside D.C. area), MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 89
Weather: Scattered storms, 80 degrees, Wind 5 mph LF to RF
SS Ian Desmond
3B Steve Lombardozzi
LF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
1B Chad Tracy
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
C Jesus Flores
RHP Stephen Strasburg
SS Jimmy Rollins
LF Juan Pierre
3B Placido Polanco
RF Hunter Pence
CF Shane Victorino
1B Laynce Nix
C Carlos Ruiz
2B Pete Orr
RHP Kyle Kendrick
HP Rob Drake, 1B Sam Holbrook, 3B Andy Fletcher
6:20 p.m. -- Time for some pregame news ... First up, the updates on Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche. Click on the link for the full article which I just posted.
6:27 p.m. -- Many of you are wondering why Tyler Moore is not seeing any time at first base, especially with LaRoche now out for at least several days. I asked Davey Johnson that question, and here was his full response: "No, the guy over there [Chad Tracy] is the guy I'm playing. I like the heck out of Tyler Moore. He can flat out hit. But he's a rookie, and the other guy's going to be out a few days. This is not the time to be trying to break a young phenom in to a position that the owner's going to come back real soon. ... I mean, [LaRoche] is not going to be out long, and I'm going to get the guys that are going to be here and need the at-bats. I mean, I would think long and hard about [Xavier] Nady after Tracy. I mean, as much as I love young talent and I think he's a good one, to be start, giving, and also it's not something he'd be used to. It's not really fair to him. He hasn't played in five or six days or something. He did get an at-bat 2-3 days ago. I mean, that's not, he's not used to that role."
6:30 p.m. -- Finally, you may have noticed there are only three umpires listed for this game. That's because "Cowboy" Joe West had to be scratched due to an illness. So they'll go with a three-man crew for this game.
7:08 p.m. -- We are underway with a 97 mph fastball from Stephen Strasburg to Jimmy Rollins for strike one. Good crowd on hand. Not a full house, but plenty raucous.
7:11 p.m. -- Know how you shut up Phillies fans? Send Strasburg to the mound and watch as he retires the side on eight pitches (seven strikes). Couldn't have drawn up the top of the first any better than that.
7:25 p.m. -- Well that was quite an interesting bottom of the first. After Steve Lombardozzi singled, Bryce Harper tried to check his swing on a 3-1 pitch from Kyle Kendrick. The Phillies appealed to the third base umpire. Except there was no third base umpire, not with Andy Fletcher over by second base in that situation. So Charlie Manuel was ejected. Now with a chance to get on the board early, Jayson Werth grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, killing the rally. It's still scoreless after a very entertaining first inning.
7:34 p.m. -- A throwing error by Lombardozzi turned the top of the second into more of an adventure than Strasburg would have liked, but the right-hander handled the situation just fine. He struck out both Shane Victorino (on an 89 mph changeup) and Laynce Nix (on an 80 mph curveball) and then got Carlos Ruiz to hit a looooong flyball to the warning track in right-center that was caught by Rick Ankiel. Through two scoreless, Strasburg has thrown 20 of 28 pitches for strikes.
7:49 p.m. -- Another 8-pitch inning for Strasburg in the third. He's now thrown 36 pitches (25 strikes) over three innings, and the lone Phillie to reach base came via Lombardozzi's error.
8:02 p.m. -- Another golden scoring opportunity in the bottom of the third, with Strasburg doubling (for the second straight start!), Lombardozzi singling and Harper drawing a walk to load the bases for ... Werth. Who proceeded to strike out swinging at a 2-2 fastball. He's stranded five runners in three innings, and we're still scoreless here as we go to the fourth.
8:11 p.m. -- Uh-oh, Strasburg just did something he hadn't done in a reeaaaalllly long time: He gave up a home run. Hunter Pence drills a curveball into the Red Porch, a two-run shot. That's the first homer served up by Strasburg in 66 innings, going all the way back to Aug. 15, 2010. Who hit that one? Adam LaRoche, then with the Diamondbacks.
8:26 p.m. -- Wow, how about that? Chad Tracy deposits a ball into the right-field bullpen to lead off the bottom of the fourth. That's hit first major-league home run since Sept. 6, 2010, in Philly, off Vance Worley. The Nats had a chance for more there, but they again stranded men in scoring position as Flores flew out to center, Strasburg struck out and Desmond lined out to right. They've got seven hits through four innings, but only one run. It's 2-1 as we head to the fifth.
8:33 p.m. -- Well this isn't what anyone thought they'd see tonight. Strasburg gave up another home run, this one a laser to center field by Carlos Ruiz off an 0-1 fastball to lead off the fifth. The Phillies take a 3-1 lead.
8:50 p.m. -- Strasburg has given up a lot of long flyballs tonight. Most of them have been caught at the warning track, but the Phillies have hit the ball fairly hard off the right-hander. We go to the bottom of the sixth, the Nats still trailing 3-1 as Kendrick departs and left-hander Joe Savery takes over.
9:05 p.m. -- They got a run back in the sixth on Flores' sac fly, but then came disaster. After Roger Bernadina (pinch-hitting for Strasburg) was drilled on the left knee by Jose Contreras, Desmond roped a hard grounder to the hole at short. Jimmy Rollins had no play at first, but he smartly threw behind Ankiel (who had rounded third) and nailed him for the third out. Killer play there. Strasburg's final line, meanwhile: 6 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 HR. It's only the fourth time in 23 career starts he's allowed three or more earned runs.
9:18 p.m. -- The lack of a fourth umpire has really played a role in tonight's game, especially on plays at third base. Ty Wigginton was denied a double down the line when it was called foul by the plate ump. And then Victorino was called out trying to steal even though it appeared his foot beat Lombardozzi's tag. So it remains 3-2 at the stretch.
9:27 p.m. -- Harper is called out on a check swing in the seventh. Conveniently, there was a third-base ump at that moment, Andy Fletcher, who got a nasty glare from the kid. We go to the eighth in what is still a 3-2 game.
9:51 p.m. -- Wow, this is getting wild now. The short version: The Nats tied the game in the bottom of the eighth on Flores' RBI double to left past a diving John Mayberry. With a golden opportunity to score the go-ahead run, they came up short ... with an assist from plate umpire Rob Drake. With the bases loaded, one out and the infield drawn in, Ian Desmond grounded the first pitch he saw to short, and Jimmy Rollins fired home to get Ankiel. Except it appears Ruiz's foot wasn't on the plate and Ankiel should've been safe. Seconds later, Lombardozzi grounded out on the first pitch he saw, killing the rally. It's 3-3 as we go to the ninth of a wild ballgame.
10:03 p.m. -- Henry Rodriguez enters for the top of the ninth and walks Victorino on four pitches. And somehow gets out of the inning unscathed. We go to the bottom of the ninth, and look who will lead off... the kid.
10:12 p.m. -- Harper takes a mighty cut at a 3-2 pitch ... and strikes out. Werth pops out to short. And Tracy drills a ball to deep right-center, only to be robbed by Victorino. We go extra innings.
10:28 p.m. -- Espinosa leads off the 10th with a single up the middle. And I'm thinking to myself: "How long until he tries to steal second?" Turns out he waited until there were two outs. And then got thrown out with Tyler Moore at the plate. So we go to the 11th.
10:35 p.m. -- A 1-2-3 11th for Ryan Perry. We go to the bottom of the 11th, with Moore up again, followed by Desmond, Lombardozzi and ... Harper.
10:50 p.m. -- Wilson Ramos is your hero. After Lombardozzi singles and Harper and Werth each walk, the last man off Davey's bench lines a single over the shortstop's head. Nats win 4-3 in 11!