Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Bryce Harper-less Nats will try to sweep the Red Sox today at Fenway Park.
With Harper sidelined, left-hander Jon Lester on the mound for Boston and the DH needed, Johnson has a very different lineup today. Xavier Nady is in right field and batting in Harper's usual No. 2 spot. Tyler Moore will be in left field, with Roger Bernadina taking over in center. Jesus Flores, meanwhile, catches for the third straight game (even in a day game after a twilight game yesterday).
Jordan Zimmermann makes the start for the Nationals, looking to beat the Red Sox for the second time in his career. He did it to them as a rookie in 2009, impressing then Boston manager Terry Francona and others.
Updates to come, so please check back...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at BOSTON RED SOX
Where: Fenway Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, Ch. 50, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 177
Weather: Sunny, 75 degrees, Wind 11 mph in from RF
2B Danny Espinosa
RF Xavier Nady
3B Ryan Zimmerman
DH Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Tyler Moore
C Jesus Flores
CF Roger Bernadina
(RHP Jordan Zimmermann)
RED SOX (29-30)
CF Scott Podsednik
2B Dustin Pedroia
1B Adrian Gonzalez
DH David Ortiz
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
3B Will Middlebrooks
RF Ryan Sweeney
SS Nick Punto
LF Darnell McDonald
(LHP Jon Lester)
HP Al Porter, 1B Paul Nauert, 2B Doug Eddings, 3B Dana DeMuth (cc)
1:34 p.m. -- We are underway with a ball from Jon Lester to Danny Espinosa, who then clubs the very next pitch off the Green Monster in deep left-center for a double. Espinosa, of course, is batting right-handed today.
1:41 p.m. -- And just like that, the Nats take a 1-0 lead as Espinosa takes third on Xavier Nady's flyball to right and scores on Ryan Zimmerman's groundball to third. Smartball!
1:50 p.m. -- Pretty good command from Jordan Zimmermann in the bottom of the first. He threw 11 of 16 pitches for strikes, getting a double-play grounder out of Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning with the Nats still ahead 1-0.
2:05 p.m. -- Nice job by Zimmermann to get out of a potential jam in the bottom of the second. David Ortiz struck his first pitch of the inning off the wall for a double, but Zimmermann responded by striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Will Middlebrooks, both on sliders. A groundout from Ryan Sweeney ended the threat as the right-hander showed his mettle to get out of the inning.
2:21 p.m. -- Big-time missed opportunity for the Nats in the top of the third. With runners on second and third and two outs, the Red Sox elected to intentionally walk Zimmerman, loading the bases for Michael Morse. A curious strategy, but it paid off because Lester struck out Morse looking at a 3-2 inside fastball. Never got to see a replay of that pitch to see how close it was, but Lester's two-strike pitch to Morse was clearly outside. Tough break for the Nats, who strand the bases loaded but still lead 1-0 in the middle of the third.
2:30 p.m. -- Zimmermann nearly got out of another jam in the third. With runners on the corners and one out, he got Dustin Pedroia to hit what looked like a routine double-play grounder to second. Desmond, though, took just a split second too long to make the turn, and Pedroia beat it out. Nick Punto (who led off the inning with a walk) scored to make this a tie game, 1-1 after three.
2:39 p.m. -- A rare baserunning gaffe by Desmond, who got caught off second base on a hard grounder right in front of him. Desmod froze, then tried to go back to second and was easily thrown out. At that point, his best move would probably have been to just break for third and force Punto to make the longer throw.
2:44 p.m. -- Zimmermann having all kinds of trouble with Ortiz today. He gave up that double off the left-field wall to lead off the second. Now he gave up a homer to right to lead off the fourth. The pitch (a 1-2 high fastball) didn't look too bad, though Zimmermann probably wanted it inside a bit more. Nevertheless, Big Papi's big strike puts the Red Sox up 2-1.
3:05 p.m. -- It feels like Zimmermann has been pitching out of the stretch all day. Seven men have reached base through five innings, the leadoff man three times. But he's made it to this point having allowed only two runs, keeping the Nats in the game. Now it's up to the lineup to get something going against Lester, who hasn't given up a run since the top of the first.
3:13 p.m. -- Not happening in the top of the sixth. Zimmerman crushed a ball down the right-field line, but Sweeney made a fantastic catch sliding feet-first into the wall right at the Pesky Pole to deny Zim extra bases. Lester then struck out both Morse and LaRoche swinging. Not a good day for the Nats' Nos. 4 and 5 hitters. Morse and LaRoche are a combined 0-for-6 with five strikeouts. Still 2-1 Red Sox heading to the bottom of the sixth.
3:35 p.m. -- Crazy top of the seventh. It featured an Ian Desmond double that was changed to a single after the umpires decided that fan interference wasn't enough to merit two bases (it is their discretion to determine how far the batter would have advanced if not for the interference). It included a double steal from Desmond and Tyler Moore with nobody covering third base. It then saw Roger Bernadina fail miserably to execute a squeeze bunt ... twice, the second time a pop-up that nearly turned into an inning-ending double play. And then, just when it appeared all hope was lost, Espinosa lofted a 310-foot double off the big Wall in left field. Anywhere else, that's a routine out. Here, it scores two runs and puts the Nats up 3-2 at the seventh-inning stretch.
3:47 p.m. -- And Zimmermann gives the run right back in disheartening fashion. Sweeney and Punto each roped singles to left to lead off the bottom of the seventh, putting the right-hander in yet another jam. Darnell McDonald showed Bernadina the proper way to get a bunt down, advancing the runners to second and third. And Podsednik's grounder to short brought home the tying run. Zimmermann did avoid letting the go-ahead run score from third, but that's an inning he'll want to forget. It's now 3-3 as we go to the eighth.
4:10 p.m. -- We remain tied heading to the ninth as Scott Atchison retires the side in the top of the eighth and Tom Gorzelanny pitches out of a jam in the bottom of the eighth. This is setting up for a dramatic finish. And don't forget who is technically available off the Nats bench: Bryce Harper.
4:23 p.m. -- And what do you know? Harper pinch-hits for Tyler Moore in the top of the ninth, draws a five-pitch walk, takes off for second on a 2-2 pitch to Bernadina and then scores on Bernadina's double down the right-field line. Great stuff from both guys. The Nats lead 4-3 and here comes Tyler Clippard in search of his third save in as many days.
4:41 p.m. -- It's over. It's all over. Clippard finishes off a 4-3 victory and gives the Nationals a sweep at Fenway Park. They're 12 games over .500 for the first time since July 23, 2005.