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The Nats try to bounce back tonight in Game 2 of 4 at Coors Field.
Make no mistake, though: The Nats need to start hitting. They know this, and they know they've been presented a great opportunity to start clicking offensively this week in the mile-high air of Denver, against a Rockies pitching staff that owns the majors' worst ERA (5.29) by leaps and bounds.
They couldn't make a dent into Jeff Francis or Josh Roenicke last night. They'll attempt to do it tonight against rookie left-hander Christian Friedrich (who has lost his last three starts) and whatever reliever Rockies manager Jim Tracy plucks from his bullpen around the fifth or sixth inning.
Gio Gonzalez, meanwhile, seeks to accomplish what Stephen Strasburg could not last night: Earn his 10th win of the season. As you know, I'm not in Colorado for this series, but please continue the conversation below, and I'll even attempt to chime in with some of my own thoughts during the game...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at COLORADO ROCKIES
Where: Coors Field
Gametime: 8:40 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 189
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 91 degrees, Wind 10 mph LF to RF
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Tyler Moore
C Jesus Flores
LHP Gio Gonzalez
CF Dexter Fowler
3B Jordan Pacheco
LF Carlos Gonzalez
RF Michael Cuddyer
1B Todd Helton
2B Chris Nelson
C Wilin Rosario
SS Jonathan Herrera
LHP Christian Friedrich
HP Chris Conroy, 1B Ed Hickox, 2B Mark Carlson, 3B Angel Hernandez (cc)
9:20 p.m. -- Hey everyone, I'm watching tonight's game on TV like the rest of you. Thought I'd share a thought or two. How about the top of the second and third innings for the Nats? Adam LaRoche smokes an opposite-field homer to left. Ryan Zimmerman smokes a base hit to left-center. Michael Morse smokes an opposite-field double to right-center, nearly clearing the fence. That's three really hard-hit balls by the Nats' 3-4-5 hitters in a span of only two innings. When's the last time you could say that? Talk about encouraging developments, not to mention a 3-0 lead for Gio Gonzalez.
9:39 p.m. -- And Gio gives all three runs back in the bottom of the third. Not that his defense helped, especially his rookie left fielder and center fielder. Tyler Moore didn't look real comfortable trying to track down Carlos Gonzalez's RBI double to deep left. And then Bryce Harper slipped and fell trying to pick up Todd Helton's RBI single to center, then made matters worse by airmailing a throw wide of the plate. He had no reason to throw the ball there in the first place, let alone miss the target so badly it allowed another run to score. That was a big-time costly mistake, turning this into a 3-3 game.
10:23 p.m. -- So, everyone who was calling for Rick Eckstein's head this morning is now calling for the Nationals to give him a long-term extension, right? Good lord, what has gotten into the Nats' bats tonight? They just plated five runs in the top of the fifth (this after getting the lead back in the top of the fourth on Gio's RBI single). Where to begin? How about Ryan Zimmerman's 1,000th career hit, also his fifth in 11 at-bats since getting that cortisone shot on Sunday? And how about Ian Desmond's two-run double to deep left after fouling off several two-strike pitches from Guillermo Moscoso? But really, how about Tyler Moore's complete destruction of a Moscoso pitch way back into the left-center field bleachers for a three-run homer? What a bomb. And what a performance by the Nats' lineup, which in only five innings has produced nine runs on 13 hits and staking Gio to a 9-3 lead.
10:47 p.m. -- Barkeep, a round of cortisone shots for all my friends! Seriously, how good does Zimmerman feel right now after homering to make it 10-4 in the sixth? He's now 6-for-12 with two doubles and a homer since getting that giant needle stuck in his right shoulder. ... Wait, now LaRoche goes deep for the second time tonight. It's 12-4 as the Nats score runs faster than I can type.
11:14 p.m. -- The Nats' record for hits in a game is 21 (set on July 11, 2009 at Houston). They've got 19 hits through seven innings, so they've got two more innings to rack up at least two more hits to tie that mark.
11:40 p.m. -- And there it is: Mark DeRosa doubles down the left-field line for the Nats' record-tying, 21st hit of the night.
11:49 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. The Nats win a rare laugher, 12-5. Thanks for following along, everyone. I'll have an analysis post up first thing in the morning.