Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Edwin Jackson faces Wei-Yin Chen tonight at Camden Yards.
Which means they'll need to get their lineup going tonight against Wei-Yin Chen. They've already beaten Chen this year, scoring six runs in 4 1/3 innings off him on May 20, so that's an encouraging sign. No surprises in Davey Johnson's lineup. As he indicated after last night's game, he's sticking with slumping Ryan Zimmerman in the No. 3 spot. Michael Morse again serves as DH, with Tyler Moore in left field and Xavier Nady in right field.
Edwin Jackson, meanwhile, gets the ball for the Nats, looking to duplicate his eight innings of one-run ball against Baltimore on May 18 (albeit in a game the Nationals eventually lost).
I'm back at the park tonight, so look for plenty of updates throughout the evening...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Where: Camden Yards
Gametime: 7:15 p.m. EDT
TV: Fox (Regional)
Radio: WWXT (92.7 FM), WWXX (94.3 FM), WJFK (106.7 FM), WTEM (980 AM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 186
Weather: Clear, 88 degrees, Wind 9 mph LF to RF
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
DH Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Tyler Moore
RF Xavier Nady
C Jesus Flores
(RHP Edwin Jackson)
2B Brian Roberts
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Chris Davis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
3B Wilson Betemit
1B Mark Reynolds
DH Nick Johnson
LF Steve Pearce
(LHP Wei-Yin Chen)
HP Tom Hallion (cc), 1B David Rackley, 2B Alfonso Marquez, 3B Brian O'Nora
6:35 p.m. -- A friendly reminder that tonight's game will be televised regionally on Fox (it appears you'll get that game throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Bob Carpenter will call the game, with Tom Verducci as analyst.
7:17 p.m. -- We are underway on an 87 degree night. Big crowd on hand, could be another full house.
7:22 p.m. -- And we've got our first blown call of the night as David Rackley calls Bryce Harper out on a bang-bang play at first base. Then again, Harper didn't help his case when he dove headfirst into the bag, making it more difficult for Rackley to see and hear the play. Ryan Zimmerman, meanwhile, fell into an 0-2 count for seemingly the 23rd time in the last week, though he did rap a hard grounder to first that was snared by Mark Reynolds for the final out of the top of the first.
7:45 p.m. -- A question for the masses: What does it take for Xavier Nady to beat out a slow roller to third AND for two runners to score on the play (including Adam LaRoche from second base)? It takes the dynamic infield tandem of Wilson Betemit and Mark Reynolds. Yikes. The Nats, of course, will gladly take that defensive miscue and the 2-0 lead they now hold because of it.
7:54 p.m. -- Six up, six down for Edwin Jackson, who did get some help from Harper in the bottom of the second. The rookie had to cover about 120 feet of ground to track down Matt Wieters' drive to deep right-center. Nady was far closer upon impact, but Harper simply got there much faster.
8:12 p.m. -- Nine up, nine down for Jackson, who has done it on only 34 pitches. It's pretty remarkable that on this pitching staff, he's been far and away the most efficient starter all season. Meanwhile, LaRoche just tagged his 13th homer of the season, a solo shot to right-center to lead off the fourth. And a sizable contingent of red-clad fans stood to applaud as the Nats took a 3-0 lead.
8:28 p.m. -- Twelve up, twelve down for Jackson. The Orioles have hit a couple of balls hard, but they've all been right at someone. And he's otherwise pitched exceptionally well so far, sitting on only 49 pitches through four.
8:37 p.m. -- A couple of hits already for Michael Morse, perhaps a sign he's starting to put things together. Zim, meanwhile, smoked a line drive to center as hard as you can hit a ball ... right at Adam Jones. Guy can't buy a break right now. Still 3-0 heading to the bottom of the fifth.
8:50 p.m. -- Well, the perfect game is history as Jones smokes a ball past Zimmerman, who is charged with a tough error on the play. That would've made for some potential controversy had the no-hitter remained intact, but two batters later Betemit sent a no-doubt single to right for the Orioles' first hit of the night. Jackson got into trouble for the first time, walking Nick Johnson with two outs to load the bases. But he came through to get Steve Pearce to pop out and end the fifth with the Nats still ahead 3-0.
9:07 p.m. -- Another 1-2-3 inning for Jackson, whose only blip the entire night came in the fifth. He's been fantastic, and he's headed for another long outing the way he's going.
9:17 p.m. -- A weak popup to second for Zimmerman to end the top of the seventh. He's 0-for-4 tonight and is now hitting .218 for the season. Yikes.
9:34 p.m. -- Wow, what a couple of dramatic turn of events in the bottom of the seventh. Jackson served up a leadoff homer to Jones, then gave up a couple of one-out singles to Betemit and Reynolds. And just like that, Davey Johnson came out of the dugout with the hook. So in came Michael Gonzalez to face Nick Johnson ... except Buck Showalter countered with the right-handed Ronny Paulino. Gonzalez fell behind 2-0 and looked to be in real trouble, but then Paulino lined a ball just to Desmond's left at shortstop. He caught the ball at his shoetips and then kept moving toward second base to double up Betemit and end the inning in stunning fashion. The Nats maintain a 3-1 lead heading to the eighth.
9:55 p.m. -- Another inning-ending double play from a Nats reliever. This time it was Sean Burnett getting J.J. Hardy to ground into a 6-4-3 twin-killing to end the eighth. The lead is still 3-1, and Tyler Clippard is warming for the ninth.
10:04 p.m. -- OK, here we go. Bottom of the ninth. Two-run lead for the Nats. Clippard on in search of his 12th save. In his previous 11, he's given up a total of one hit.
10:11 p.m. -- It's all over. Clippard closes the door for his 12th save and the Nationals pull off a 3-1 victory behind some early offense and some fantastic pitching from Edwin Jackson and Co. They'll go for the series win tomorrow and a possible split of the season-long Battle of the Beltways.