Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nationals Park will be sold out tonight with the Yankees in town.
Gio Gonzalez gets the ball for Game 1 of this weekend showdown, seeking his ninth victory in 13 starts. The left-hander faced the Yankees five times over the last three years ... and he did not fare well (1-4, 7.27 ERA, 47 baserunners in 26 innings). That, of course, was a different Gio Gonzalez wearing an Oakland A's uniform, so we'll see how he responds in his first appearance against the Yanks in a Nats uniform.
Right-hander Phil Hughes (3-0 over his last four starts) takes the mound for New York, facing a Nationals lineup that will look a bit more familiar now without the DH in play.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check back early and often. And if you're coming to the park, be prepared for traffic, construction, Metro delays and crowded lines. In other words, give yourselves plenty of time...
NEW YORK YANKEES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv, MLB Network (outside D.C. market)
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 89
Weather: Sunny, 78 degrees, Wind 8 mph in from RF
LF Steve Lombardozzi
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Michael Morse
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Jesus Flores
LHP Gio Gonzalez
SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
RF Nick Swisher
LF Andruw Jones
C Russell Martin
2B Jayson Nix
RHP Phil Hughes
HP Marty Foster, 1B Tim Timmons, 2B Jeff Kellogg (cc), Eric Cooper
5:57 p.m. -- For those wondering why Robinson Cano isn't in the Yankees lineup, manager Joe Girardi said he's just giving his second baseman a rare day off. For what it's worth, Cano in his career against Gio Gonzalez is 0-for-9 with two walks and four strikeouts.
7:05 p.m. -- And we are underway on an absolutely gorgeous Friday night in the nation's capital. Gio Gonzalez takes the mound to a huge ovation from the overflow crowd and starts off Derek Jeter with a fastball for ball one.
7:11 p.m. -- Wow, I'm not sure the Nats could've drawn up a better top of the first than we just saw. Gio struck out Jeter on a 3-2, 95-mph fastball. Then he struck out Curtis Granderson on a 3-2, 96-mph fastball. Then Bryce Harper robbed Mark Teixeira of a base hit with a diving catch in shallow center. What a start to this game from the home team's perspective.
7:22 p.m. -- Davey Johnson, earlier this afternoon: "I need the middle of my lineup to perform." Bottom of the first. Two on, one out. Adam LaRoche strikes out swinging. Michael Morse strikes out swinging. Not what Davey was looking for. On the bright side, Ryan Zimmerman did send a solid base hit to right, an encouraging sign considering how much he's been pulling the ball lately (and usually grounding out to short). Scoreless through one.
7:35 p.m. -- He's thrown a whopping 41 pitches already through two innings, but it's tough to complain about the results Gio Gonzalez is getting so far: Five strikeouts, four of them swinging. Three of them came on fastballs of at least 95 mph. The other two came on curveballs. He's a bit wild, but the results speak for themselves.
7:59 p.m. -- And those excess pitches come back to haunt Gio in the third. Jeter doubled off the right-field wall (a classic Jeter double if ever there was one). A two-out walk to Teixeira was a real killer and set the stage for A-Rod to deliver a weak groundball through the right-side hole for an RBI single. Nick Swisher's solid base hit to left made it 2-0 and put the Nats in a hole. Gio has already thrown 63 pitches through three innings. And tonight's crazy stat: The Yankees are 17-0 this season when A-Rod drives in a run.
8:08 p.m. -- The good news: Morse delivered a big hit in a big spot, drilling an 0-2 curveball with the bases loaded back up the middle to drive in the Nats' first run of the night. The bad news: Desmond then grounded into a 6-4-3 double play on the very next pitch, killing the Nats' rally in the bottom of the third. So they now trail 2-1 through three.
8:22 p.m. -- A couple of 1-2-3 fourth innings from each pitcher, a much-needed one for Gio Gonzalez. He's sitting at 79 pitches now through four, ready to take the mound for the top of the fifth still trailing 2-1.
8:38 p.m. -- Seven in a row retired by Hughes since Morse's RBI single in the third. And not one of those batters has hit the ball out of the infield. So it remains 2-1 through five.
9:01 p.m. -- Ian Desmond finally snapped Hughes' streak of consecutive batters retired at nine with a two-out single to left in the sixth. But the rally fizzled as Espinosa struck out looking. That's nine Ks by Hughes through six, and the Nats still trail 2-1.
9:10 p.m. -- Tonight's official paid attendance: 41,685. That's a sellout, folks.
9:25 p.m. -- Well that turned ugly in a hurry. Davey Johnson let Gio take the mound for the seventh, sitting on 107 pitches, then gave him the hook after a leadoff single by Andruw Jones. Curious. Brad Lidge entered and immediately put himself in a bigger hole, walking Russell Martin. A sac bunt put runners on second and third and brought Robinson Cano out of the Yankees dugout to pinch-hit for Hughes to a thunderous roar. That roar turned into boos as the Nats intentionally walked him, loading the bases for Jeter. Lidge got what he wanted: a groundball to the left side. But it was placed just well enough to get past a lunging Zimmerman and forcing Desmond into the hole. And when Desmond's throw bounced past LaRoche, two runs came around to score. Rough play all around. Lefty Michael Gonzalez entered to face Granderson and immediately served up a 2-run double. So just like that, the Nats trail 6-1.
9:42 p.m. -- The Nats are down to their last six outs, so if they plan on getting anything going at the plate, they're about out of time. They've put just one man on base since Morse's RBI single in the third (Desmond's two-out single in the sixth). Just haven't been able to get anything going offensively tonight.
9:50 p.m. -- Nothing happening in the bottom of the eighth as Yankee pitching has now retired 16 of the last 17 Nats batters. This has turned into one of the more feeble showing from the Nationals lineups in some time. Still 6-1 as we go to the ninth.
9:55 p.m. -- Curtis Granderson destroys a pitch from Tom Gorzelanny for his 20th homer. It's 7-1 as we go to the bottom of the ninth, and Yankee fans now outnumber Nats fans still in the park.
10:06 p.m. -- That'll do it. The most anticipating series in Nationals history gets off to a ragged start as the Yankees dominate during a 7-2 victory (they scored a run in the bottom of the ninth). They'll be back out here tomorrow at 1:05 p.m.