Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The suddenly reconfigured Phillies open a series tonight at Nationals Park.
The team they play tonight, on the other hand, looks very different than it did when the day began. The Phillies traded Shane Victorino to the Dodgers and Hunter Pence to the Giants, leaving themselves with a decimated outfield for tonight's series opener at Nationals Park.
That lineup will have to take its chances with Stephen Strasburg, coming off one of his best starts of the season (Thursday in New York). The Nats also have pinch-hitter extraordinaire Chad Tracy back from the disabled list. They sent Corey Brown back to Syracuse to clear roster space.
On the other hand, the Nationals won't have a couple of significant lineup regulars: Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche are each dealing with back spasms. Davey Johnson doesn't believe either issue is serious, and he's hopeful both will be back tomorrow, but he's left with a ridiculously short bench tonight: Tracy, Sandy Leon and the two guys with back injuries.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check back...
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Isolated storms, 85 degrees, Wind 4 mph RF to LF
2B Steve Lombardozzi
RF Bryce Harper
SS Danny Espinosa
LF Michael Morse
1B Tyler Moore
3B Mark DeRosa
C Jesus Flores
CF Roger Bernadina
RHP Stephen Strasburg
SS Jimmy Rollins
LF Juan Pierre
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
C Carlos Ruiz
RF Laynce Nix
CF John Mayberry
3B Kevin Frandsen
LHP Cliff Lee
HP Tim McClelland (cc), 1B Ted Barrett, 2B Marvin Hudson, 3B Jordan Baker
7:07 p.m. -- Stephen Strasburg starts off Jimmy Rollins with a 95-mph fastball for strike one, and we are underway on a muggy, 82-degree evening in the nation's capital. Doesn't appear to be nearly as many Philly fans here as there have been in a past. I wonder why.
7:12 p.m. -- Wow, what a 4-6-3 double play from Steve Lombardozzi and Danny Espinosa to end the top of the first and get Strasburg out of a mini-jam. Lombo dove to his right to snag Ryan Howard's hard grounder, flipped the ball to Espinosa, who then made a fantastic turn to get Howard at first. It's remarkable how little the Nats are missing Ian Desmond right now. Scoreless as we go to the bottom of the first.
7:23 p.m. -- It's apparently "Get Every Out at Second Base Night" here. OK, not every single out, but there have already been four putouts at second base in one inning after the Nats hit into three consecutive fielder's choices in the bottom of the first. Still scoreless.
7:34 p.m. -- Kevin Frandsen tags a first-pitch, 95-mph fastball from Strasburg over the center field fence for a 2-run homer. Wait, who? Kevin Frandsen? The Kevin Frandsen whose last big-league homer came in 2007? Yes, naturally, THAT Kevin Frandsen. Yikes. The Phillies take a 2-0 lead as we go to the bottom of the second.
7:44 p.m. -- Stephen Strasburg has given up 16 home runs in his big-league career. Three of them were hit by Delwyn Young, James Darnell and Kevin Frandsen. Go figure.
7:54 p.m. -- Well, that wasn't good. Juan Pierre sends a one-out single up the middle, then steals second, then steals third, then scores when Jesus Flores' throw sails into left field. You can't really blame Flores for that, because Strasburg let Pierre get a huge jump. Still, the throw to third was a bad idea because Flores didn't have a good shot at retiring him. This has been a major problem all season for the Nats, and this one gives the Phillies a 3-0 lead in the third. Strasburg, meanwhile, has zero command of his changeup tonight. He's bounced just about every one of them short of the plate. Not sharp at all.
8:06 p.m. -- A golden opportunity for the Nats in the bottom of the third, with Strasburg igniting a rally with a leadoff single (he's now hitting .344) and Lombardozzi and Morse adding singles of their own to load the bases for Tyler Moore. Cliff Lee fell behind in the count 3-1, but Moore might have gotten a little over-aggressive there and grounded an inside fastball to third for the final out of the third. The Nats have four hits, but no runs yet and still trail 3-0 as we go to the fourth.
8:20 p.m. -- Wow, this thing turned ugly in a hurry. Just look at what happened in the top of the fourth. Cliff Lee -- yes, Cliff Lee -- roped a two-out, RBI single off Strasburg. Then Cliff Lee -- yes, Cliff Lee -- stole second off Strasburg and Flores. Oh, the humanity. But wait, it gets worse. Jimmy Rollins launched a ball off the right-field wall, with Bryce Harper tumbling to the ground and the ball just sitting there untouched as Rollins raced around the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam. Poor decision by Harper to dive into the wall when he didn't really have a chance. And really poor job by Roger Bernadina not backing up the play. Put it all together, and the Phillies now lead 6-0 in the fourth. Those six earned runs match the most ever allowed by Strasburg (he also gave up six to the Marlins on Aug. 10, 2010).
8:35 p.m. -- And Strasburg is DONE after only four innings as Tom Gorzelanny enters for the fifth. Wow. It's the third-shortest start of his career, and in each of those previous three-inning outings (Sept. 11, 2011 vs. Astros and June 30, 2012 at Braves) Strasburg was pulled early for health reasons. That game last September was still part of his rehab from Tommy John surgery. And the game in Atlanta last month, of course, ended with Strasburg suffering from heat exhaustion.
8:57 p.m. -- Not much to say about this one at this point. We're into the bottom of the sixth, the Phillies still leading 6-0, the Nats not doing much of anything at the plate against Lee. Just one of those nights.
9:01 p.m. -- Mark DeRosa, filling in at third base for Ryan Zimmerman tonight, is now 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Somebody get that man a cortisone shot, stat!
9:20 p.m. -- Chad Tracy, fresh off the DL, makes his first appearance in two months. Tracy gave Lee a good ride, sending a flyball to deep right field, but not deep enough. So we head to the eighth, the Nats down 6-0 and Henry Rodriguez on the mound.
9:30 p.m. -- Hey, how about that? Henry pitched a scoreless inning of relief! (We'll ignore the part where he hit the backstop on the fly to Ryan Howard.)
9:56 p.m. -- Well, Davey tried to press his luck with Henry, and it didn't totally work out. He gave up two runs in the top of the ninth, though both runs were scored after Drew Storen took the mound. So it's now 8-0 as the Nats come to the plate for their final at-bat.
10:03 p.m. -- That'll do it. The Nats lose 8-0 and see their lead over the Phillies dwindle to only 15 1/2 games.