Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jordan Zimmermann faces Andy Pettitte in today's game at Nationals Park.
We didn't get a chance to ask Johnson about LaRoche during our pregame briefing, but the hunch is that Johnson simply wanted to give Tyler Moore a chance to start three days after he clubbed the first two home runs of his career in Toronto. And with left-hander Andy Pettitte on the mound for the Yankees, why not give Moore that opportunity today?
Jordan Zimmermann, meanwhile, will face a New York lineup that is without Alex Rodriguez, with manager Joe Girardi giving his star third baseman a day off. All of the other Yankee regulars are in there.
Lots of updates to come throughout the game, so please check back often...
NEW YORK YANKEES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv, MLB Network (outside D.C. market)
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 176
Weather: Sunny, 79 degrees, Wind 7 mph in from CF
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Michael Morse
SS Ian Desmond
1B Tyler Moore
LF Xavier Nady
C Jesus Flores
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Robinson Cano
RF Nick Swisher
LF Raul Ibanez
C Russell Martin
3B Eric Chavez
LHP Andy Pettitte
HP Tim Timmons, 1B Jeff Kellogg (cc), 2B Eric Cooper, 3B Marty Foster
1:06 p.m. -- It's an absolutely perfect day for baseball, 77 degrees with a light breeze as Jordan Zimmermann gets this game underway.
1:08 p.m. -- Well, that was as good a top of the first as you'll ever see. Zimmermann sets them down 1-2-3, getting a grounder to third from Derek Jeter (though Ryan Zimmerman's awkward-looking throw short-hopped Tyler Moore), a lineout to right from Curtis Granderson and then striking out Mark Teixeira on three pitches, the last a slider. Solid start to the afternoon for Zimmermann and the Nats.
1:14 p.m. -- Speaking of dominant first innings ... Andy Pettitte retires the side on eight pitches and makes Bryce Harper (who is less than half his age) look silly on a strikeout. I'll be curious to see how Harper adjusts the next time he comes up, given his track record here for performing much better the second time he gets to face a pitcher. Scoreless after one.
1:36 p.m. -- The Nats take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second on Jesus Flores' broken-bat double off the left-center field fence. Yes, a broken-bat double off the left-center field fence. Talk about power. Big hit for Flores and for the Nats, who needed someone to come through in a clutch spot like that.
1:51 p.m. -- Big spot in the top of the third for Zimmermann, who had to face Teixeira with two on and two out. And the right-hander came up big, striking out Teixeira looking at a 3-2 breaking ball. That's four strikeouts in three innings for Zimmermann, whose slider has been impeccable so far today. Still 2-0 Nats in the middle of the third.
2:18 p.m. -- That was, well, that was not a good top of the fourth for the Nationals, who made three -- count 'em, three -- defensive miscues. It began with Xavier Nady and Ian Desmond letting a popup to shallow left fall to the ground (though Nady did manage to force out Cano at third base, so no real harm done). It continued with Moore unable to scoop a potential inning-ending double play through from Espinosa. And then it was capped by Desmond's second error in as many days, a complete booting of Eric Chavez's grounder. That brought home an unearned run. Worse, all of the miscues made life miserable for Zimmermann, who has now thrown 79 pitches through four innings (despite allowing only two hits). It's now 2-1 Nats.
2:24 p.m. -- The Nats lineup isn't exactly helping the cause here, either, swinging at everything Pettitte throws up there. Even though each starter has given up two hits through four innings, Zimmermann has thrown 79 pitches while Pettitte has thrown only 49. That's going to come back to haunt the Nats before this day is done.
2:41 p.m. -- Wow, is Harper helpless up there against Pettitte or what? Three at-bats, three strikeouts, all swinging at sliders. Bryce hasn't come close to making contact yet on that pitch today. And after this latest one, he let out quite a bit of frustration as he walked back to the plate. Rough afternoon for the kid against the vet. Nats still lead 2-1 as we go to the sixth.
2:54 p.m. -- There's something about the sixth inning that just doesn't agree with Jordan Zimmermann. Perhaps he just gets tired. Perhaps it's something else. Whatever the case, he just turned a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 deficit after giving up three hits in the top of the sixth, including doubles to Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez (the latter with Pettitte on deck and two outs). Here's your stat of the day. In his career, Zimmermann holds a 3.13 ERA in innings 1-5. That ERA jumps to 6.08 in innings 6-7.
3:17 p.m. -- Ross Detwiler navigates his way through a dicey top of the seventh without giving up a run (thanks in part to a line-drive double play). So we go to the bottom of the seventh, the Nats still trailing 3-2 and desperately trying to get something going against Pettitte, who enters the inning at only 84 pitches.
3:25 p.m. -- It took 14 pitches but Bryce Harper finally made contact against Andy Pettitte. He even smoked the ball to deep left-center. Unfortunately, Curtis Granderson was there to track it down and end the seventh. But at least Harper doesn't end up wearing the dreaded golden sombrero today. Still 3-2 Yankees as we move to the eighth.
3:38 p.m. -- Ian Desmond to the rescue! With Pettitte out of the game and Cory Wade in for the eighth, Desmond crushed his 10th homer of the season, this one about 15 rows up the left-field bleachers. Just a bomb. And this game is tied 3-3.
3:50 p.m. -- Wow, just when it looked like Adam LaRoche had come through with his biggest clutch hit in weeks, Dewayne Wise guns down Tyler Moore at the plate to end the eighth. Close play. Really close play. Regardless, it's now a tie game heading to the ninth.
4:07 p.m. -- It took 29 pitches, but Tyler Clippard got through the top of the ninth. So we go to the bottom of the ninth in a 3-3 game. Due up for the Nats: Flores, Lombardozzi and Espinosa. If anyone gets on ... Harper will bat.
4:15 p.m. -- Who wants some free baseball? We go to the 10th. Harper will lead off the bottom of the inning. But first, Sean Burnett will pitch the top of the inning.
4:23 p.m. -- Another 1-2-3 inning from Burnett, who has just been fantastic all season. So we go to the bottom of the 10th, as lefty Clay Rapada enters to face Bryce Harper.
4:33 p.m. -- No drama from the heart of the Nats lineup as Harper strikes out looking at an outside pitch (and lets Tim Timmons hear it) and Zimmerman and Morse each ground out to short. So we go to the 11th, Craig Stammen now in.
4:38 p.m. -- Two spectacular plays at third base from Zimmerman in the top of the 11th, robbing both Martin and Nix of base hits. Bottom of the 11th coming up, with Desmond, Bernadina and and LaRoche due up to face Cody Eppley.
4:48 p.m. -- Let's play 12!
5:01 p.m. -- Nice job by Stammen to pitch around an ugly Zimmerman throwing error in the top of the 12th. The Nats bullpen has now thrown six hitless innings today, setting the stage for a possible game-winning rally in the bottom of the 12th. It'll be Lombardozzi, Espinosa and Harper against Freddy Garcia.
5:08 p.m. -- Harper's terrible day continues. He's now 0-for-6 with five strikeouts after whiffing at Garcia's offerings. This is the first time the rookie has really looked flustered in the big leagues. He's upset at the umpire. He's upset at himself. Just not a good day for the kid. We go to the 13th.
5:15 p.m. -- Seven hitless innings from the bullpen. Against the Yankees. Just remarkable.
5:24 p.m. -- Let's play 14! (Good thing the Nationals' annual Dream Foundation Gala doesn't start in an hour. Oh wait, it does.)
5:44 p.m. -- Rough 24 hours for Brad Lidge. He gave up a couple of runs in the seventh inning last night, and he just gave up two more in the 14th today on three hits. The first two were seeing-eye singles by Nix and Jeter through the left-side hole. The third was a double roped into the right-field corner by Teixeira, bringing both runners home. It's 5-3 Yankees, and the Nats are three outs from losing this series.
5:56 p.m. -- It's over. A thoroughly frustrating, 5-3, 14-inning loss for the Nationals is in the books as Bryce Harper grounds out to second to finish his day 0-for-7 with five strikeouts.