Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
It was pouring inside Marlins Park this afternoon.
Then Wang suffered a scary-looking hamstring injury during spring training, and those plans had to be revised. He finally returned from the disabled list last week in Philadelphia, made a long relief appearance Friday in Atlanta and tonight will make his much anticipated first start of the season in Miami.
Wang will be opposed by Josh Johnson, the designated ace of the Marlins staff who has pitched like anything but an ace so far this year (2-3, 4.87 ERA). On the other hand, Johnson has never lost to the Nationals in 14 career starts (7-0, 3.14 ERA).
Meanwhile, one night after doubling in his first career at-bat, Jhonatan Solano makes his debut behind the plate. Sadly, brother Donovan is not in Miami's lineup. Updates and analysis to come from Marlins Park (where it's currently pouring, with the roof wide open)...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at MIAMI MARLINS
Where: Marlins Park
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 186
LF Steve Lombardozzi
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
RF Roger Bernadina
C Jhonatan Solano
RHP Chien-Ming Wang
SS Jose Reyes
2B Omar Infante
3B Hanley Ramirez
RF Giancarlo Stanton
1B Logan Morrison
CF Bryan Petersen
C John Buck
LF Chris Coghlan
RHP Josh Johnson
HP James Hoye, 1B Jim Joyce (cc), 2B Jim Reynolds, 3B Dan Iassogna
6:15 p.m. -- The latest on Michael Morse: He's been able to make throws from the outfield at Potomac, he's scheduled to start in the outfield tomorrow night and he could come off the DL on Friday. Also, there's a good chance he'll end up in right field for the Nats, with Bryce Harper in center and Steve Lombardozzi in left. Full story (and CSN video from last night's rehab appearance) here.
7:10 p.m. -- We are underway with a strike from Josh Johnson to Steve Lombardozzi. You'll be relieved to know the field is nice and dry now after the earlier deluge.
7:20 p.m. -- Well, the Nats gave themselves a chance in the top of the first when Lombardozzi and Ryan Zimmerman each singled. But they squandered it when Adam LaRoche (now 4 for his last 39) and Ian Desmond each struck out. Not a good way to get this one started.
7:33 p.m. -- Like everyone else on the Nats' pitching staff, Chien-Ming Wang can't get Giancarlo Stanton out in a big spot. With two outs in the bottom of the first, Stanton roped a base hit to left, scoring Omar Infante (who reached on a double that fell in past a diving Roger Bernadina). Aside from that, Wang looked pretty sharp. He threw 11 of his 14 pitches for strikes, and he made two nifty plays on comebackers. That said, the Nats trail 1-0 after one.
7:39 p.m. -- And the Nats get the run right back, courtesy a leadoff triple from Danny Espinosa, who crushed a ball 415 feet to the base of the center-field fence and then hustled his way around the bases. First three-bagger of the year from Espinosa. And it was made even better when Bernadina followed with a sharp liner to center, deep enough to bring the runner home and tie this game 1-1 in the second.
7:51 p.m. -- Jhonatan Solano certainly found himself right in the middle of things in the bottom of the second. He fired an impressive throw to third base on a sac bunt attempt, though it wasn't the wisest decision because of how late it was. That left the bases loaded for Reyes. But Bernadina saved the day with a perfect strike to the plate on what would have been a sacrifice fly. Props, too, to Solano for a nice tag. It remains 1-1 after two.
8:01 p.m. -- Momentary panic in the top of the third as Bryce Harper fouls a ball off his right foot and writhes in pain. Trainer Lee Kuntz came out to check on him as everyone in the Nats dugout held his breath. Looks like Harper's fine, though, because he then smoked a line drive to deep left field, snagged by Coghlan on the run.
8:25 p.m. -- Well, that had to be a cathartic top of the fourth for several Nationals. Start with LaRoche, who appeared to break his bat but happily took his leadoff double to right. And then happily scored on Espinosa's single to right. That's actually Espinosa's fourth multi-hit game in his last nine starts. Then Bernadina delivered a double to deep center for his second RBI of the night (though he did get thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple). Regardless, the Nats have taken a 3-1 lead on Johnson and the Marlins.
8:42 p.m. -- What's the last thing you want to do right after being handed a 2-run lead? Why yes, walking the first two batters you face in the next inning! And what's the second-to-last thing you want to do in that situation? Why yes, letting the opponent's No. 8 and No. 9 hitters drive in the runs that tie the game! Not a good bottom of the fourth for Wang, and because of it, Ross Detwiler is warming in the pen and this game is now tied 3-3 heading to the fifth.
9:08 p.m. -- And Wang continues to struggle in the fifth. He gives up a leadoff double to Ramirez, then plunks Stanton in the elbow. So in comes Ross Detwiler to try to pitch out of the jam. He nearly did it, striking out Morrison on a 95 mph fastball at the knees. But he walked Petersen to load the bases, then watched as Zimmerman made a great diving stop of Buck's hard smash but threw wide of second, allowing a run to score. A double play prevented any more damage, but it does leave the Marlins with a 4-3 lead.
9:23 p.m. -- Pretty nifty pickoff move from Detwiler to nab Reyes in the bottom of the sixth. It remains 4-3 as the Marlins bullpen takes over for Johnson.
9:38 p.m. -- The good news: Solano gunned down Hanley trying to steal again. Methinks the kid may stick around here for a little while. The bad news: Stanton just homered off Ryan Perry. Seriously, who saw that coming? It's 5-3 as Tom Gorzelanny enters.
9:55 p.m. -- Is it over yet? No, it's only the middle of the eighth. The Nats haven't had a hit, though, since Bernadina's double in the fourth.
9:58 p.m. -- Well, we did just get to experience a nice little moment as Donovan Solano stepped to the plate to pinch-hit. Donovan tapped his bat on brother Jhonatan's shin guard. Jhonatan responded by tapping Donovan on the arm.
10:15 p.m. -- That'll do it. The Nats lose 5-3 and get swept by the Marlins, who now sit a mere 1/2-game behind them in the NL East. Tough way to end what was shaping up to be a fantastic road trip, though the Nats do still end up going 5-4.