Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals try to get back on track tonight against the Orioles.
Hey, at this point, why not try something new? The move of Desmond down to the 5-hole is actually most intriguing to me, because it's the first time he's hit anywhere but the leadoff spot this year. Desmond, though, does bring some pop to the plate. He's second among NL shortstops with a .451 slugging percentage. And he's second among all major-league shortstops with six homers.
Ross Detwiler takes the mound for his eighth start of the season. At the same time in Toledo, Chien-Ming Wang will be making another rehab start for Class AAA Syracuse. Keep an eye on how both pitchers perform.
A friendly reminder that tonight's game is being televised on Fox, with Bob Carpenter and Bill Ripken on the call. Live updates to come here, so please check back...
BALTIMORE ORIOLES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:15 p.m. EDT
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WWXT (92.7 FM), WWXX (94.3 FM), WTEM (980 AM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 89
Weather: Clear, 76 degrees, Wind 7 mph in from RF
2B Steve Lombardozzi
RF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
CF Rick Ankiel
C Carlos Maldonado
LF Roger Bernadina
LHP Ross Detwiler
2B Robert Andino
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Wilson Betemit
3B Steve Tolleson
LF Xavier Avery
RHP Jason Hammel
HP Andy Fletcher, 1B Rob Drake, 2B Joe West (cc), 3B Sam Holbrook
5:50 p.m. -- Because I know everyone's interested, here's what Davey Johnson had to say today about Danny Espinosa, who is out of the lineup for only the second time this season: "I just felt like he was struggling a little bit. Even the bunting, went after some bad pitches. And with two strikes, he bunted on his own [in the seventh inning last night]. So I just sensed a little frustration there." Johnson said Espinosa "more than likely" will be back in the lineup tomorrow.
5:55 p.m. -- Also, be sure to check out my recent posting on Chien-Ming Wang, who it appears will pitch out of the bullpen once he comes off the DL next week.
6:15 p.m. -- By the way, if you're trying to figure out whether your local Fox affiliate is showing this game tonight or one of four others, here's a great website with a map that spells it all out.
7:16 p.m. -- And we are underway with a strike from Ross Detwiler to Robert Andino. Another gorgeous night for baseball, 79 degrees, and another big crowd on hand, still filing in from Half Street.
7:28 p.m. -- Well, that was kind of an interesting top of the first. It began with J.J. Hardy's line drive to left that Roger Bernadina turned into a complete fiasco. Didn't make much of a play on the ball in the air, but still let it get past him and roll to the wall. Then he bobbled it at the fence, allowing Hardy to go all the way to third base with what was generously scored a triple. But how about Ryan Zimmerman bailing the Nats out with a brilliant play on Nick Markakis' smash to his left, then firing to the plate to nail Hardy. Seriously, how many third basemen even attempt to make that throw? Great stuff. Detwiler still got himself in trouble by giving up a two-out single to Adam Jones, but he bounced back to strike out Matt Wieters looking at a 96 mph fastball. After all that, it's still scoreless after one half inning.
7:43 p.m. -- After the Nats went down in order in the bottom of the first, the Orioles started making solid contact off Detwiler again in the top of the second. With two on and two out, Andino laced a base hit to left, scoring both runners. Andino did get caught in a rundown, but the damage was done. It's 2-0 Orioles heading to the bottom of the second.
7:50 p.m. -- So, this new, reconfigured Nats lineup is now 0-for-6 with three strikeouts tonight against Hammel. Not exactly the way Davey Johnson envisioned it.
7:58 p.m. -- This Adam Jones guy appears to be quite the ballplayer. Just destroyed a pitch from Detwiler over the left-field bullpen for his 14th home run of the season. Being a two-run shot, it puts the Orioles up 4-0 in the third. Detwiler really getting hit hard tonight, even many of the outs.
8:40 p.m. -- Well, this hasn't exactly been a good night at the ballpark, has it? Detwiler was hammered by the Orioles, capped by Markakis' two-run homer to right in the fifth. The left-hander is done after five, having allowed six runs on nine hits. That's the first time a Nats starter has given up six or more runs since Sept. 10, 2011. It also makes you wonder if Davey might be regretting what he said earlier today, that Chien-Ming Wang will be in the bullpen when he returns next week. 6-0 Orioles as we go to the bottom of the fifth.
8:48 p.m. -- The Nats did get a run back in the fifth, thanks to back-to-back-to-back singles by Bernadina, Tyler Moore (pinch-hitting for Detwiler) and Lombardozzi. But that only trims the deficit to 6-1 as we go to the sixth and Craig Stammen enters.
9:17 p.m. -- Don't look now, but here come the Nats! Three runs in the bottom of the sixth, highlighted by doubles from Zimmerman and Ankiel, an RBI groundout from Maldonado and an RBI single from Bernadina (who has reached base three times tonight). Just like that, it's 6-4 and we've got a ballgame again.
9:24 p.m. -- Props to Ryan Perry, who was thrown into a tough spot in the seventh but came through in impressive fashion by retiring Hardy, Markakis (on a nasty slider) and Jones in succession. That keeps this as a 6-4 game at the stretch.
9:32 p.m. -- Tonight's official paid attendance: 42,331. The Nats, though, say that is NOT a sellout, even though the listed stadium capacity is 41,546. I'll let someone else try to explain that one.
9:36 p.m. -- LaRoche hasn't exactly been showing the Baltimore media what we've been seeing all year. After whiffing at a Luis Ayala (remember him?) pitch in the seventh, he's now 0-for-8 with three strikeouts in this series. It remains 6-4 Orioles heading to the eighth.
9:59 p.m. -- Great chance for the Nats in the bottom of the eighth, but Bernadina's flyball to center came up just short and Danny Espinosa's sharp liner to left was hit right at Avery. Tough breaks there. Can't fault either guy for bad at-bats. So it's still 6-4 heading to the ninth. Henry Rodriguez will try to keep the deficit at two runs and leave the door open for Lombardozzi, Harper and Zimmerman in the bottom of the ninth.
10:08 p.m. -- Rodriguez did his job. So the Nats will go to the bottom of the ninth trailing 6-4. Jim Johnson going for the save against the top of the order.
10:18 p.m. -- It's over. No dramatic rally tonight, though they certainly tried. Zimmerman crushed a two-out homer to left, but LaRoche struck out on a 3-2 pitch from Johnson. Final score: 6-5 as the Nats fall to 23-17, 9-13 over their last 22 games.