Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats try to make it three of four tonight at Marlins Park.
Will there by any carryover from yesterday's Ozzie Guillen-Bryce Harper kerfuffle? If there is, it may fall on the shoulders of Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano, who has been know to let his emotions get the best of him once or 27 times before. And if something does happen, I would fully expect Harper to put his head down, trot to first base ... and then try to steal second, third and home.
Edwin Jackson, meanwhile, gets the ball for the Nationals, hoping to avoid his typical first-inning blues and get his first start of the second half off on the right foot.
Updates and analysis to come, so please check back...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at MIAMI MARLINS
Where: Marlins Park
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
2B Steve Lombardozzi
RF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Michael Morse
SS Danny Espinosa
CF Roger Bernadina
C Jesus Flores
RHP Edwin Jackson
SS Jose Reyes
CF Emilio Bonifacio
1B Carlos Lee
LF Logan Morrison
3B Hanley Ramirez
RF Greg Dobbs
2B Omar Infante
C Brett Hayes
RHP Carlos Zambrano
HP D.J. Reyburn, 1B Jeff Kellogg (cc), 2B Eric Cooper, 3B Marty Foster
6:45 p.m. -- Plenty of juicy pregame stuff, nothing juicier than Ozzie Guillen's latest barbs directed at Bryce Harper and Davey Johnson. Read them all here.
7:05 p.m. -- And here's the update on Ian Desmond, who is hoping to be back in the lineup tomorrow.
7:15 p.m. -- And we're underway with no fireworks between the two sides. After Steve Lombardozzi grounded out, Bryce Harper stepped to the plate and drew a five-pitch walk from Carlos Zambrano. Nothing high and tight to the kid.
7:18 p.m. -- Great chance for the Nats to get on a board early after Ryan Zimmerman laced a single up the middle following Harper's walk. But Adam LaRoche's smoked liner was snagged by Omar Infante, who turned and fired to second base to double up Harper. Tough break there as the top of the first ends.
7:34 p.m. -- The Marlins threatened in the bottom of the first, with runners on the corners and two outs. But Zimmerman made a fantastic stop of Hanley Ramirez's smash down the third-base line and then fired one of his trademark throws to second base to get the force out. Zim still makes that play as good as any third baseman in the game. Scoreless after one.
7:40 p.m. -- And here's the final juicy bit of pregame news: John Lannan is likely to be called up from Class AAA Syracuse to start one of Saturday's doubleheader games against the Braves.
7:43 p.m. -- Meanwhile, the Nats have taken a 1-0 lead thanks to Danny Espinosa's one-out triple into the right-field corner in the top of the second and then Jesus Flores' sac fly to right. That gives Flores four RBI over his last three games. And it gives the Nats the lead as we go to the bottom of the second.
7:55 p.m. -- Barkeep: Another round of cortisone shots for me and my friends! Zimmerman destroys a 2-1 pitch from Zambrano and deposits it into the Clevelander bar behind the left-field fence. His 10th homer of the season, his seventh since the cortisone shot. The Nats take a 2-0 lead in the third.
8:12 p.m. -- So much for that. The Marlins just got both runs back, and then added two more for good measure. Carlos Lee tagged a pitch at his shoelaces into center-field for a two-run single. Hanley Ramirez then destroyed a 1-0 fastball from Jackson off the Home Run Thingamajig and won a giant stuffed animal in the process. They served meatballs in press dining here tonight. Guess Jackson pocketed one of them and saved it for that pitch to Hanley. Put it right on a platter. Mercy. The Marlins take a 4-2 lead after three.
8:30 p.m. -- Some thoughts on the Nats' new-look middle infield ... Danny Espinosa looks very comfortable at shortstop, and his arm over there is outstanding. Steve Lombardozzi, on the other hand, does not look comfortable at all at second base. In his defense, Lombo has pretty much been working exclusively in left field for a while now, so that's not the easiest transition to make. And he'd probably improve over time. But at the moment, he's not so smooth in the infield. Still 4-2 after four.
8:39 p.m. -- I don't profess to be a sabermetrics expert, but I believe the Nats are having themselves a bad BABIP night so far. They've hit into three double plays in five innings, two of them line drives that ended the frame. That seems like bad luck to me, no?
8:54 p.m. -- Good news: Zimmerman crushed a leadoff double off the right-field wall in the sixth and is now a triple shy of the cycle. Better news: Morse laced another single up the middle to drive in his teammate. After starting this series 0-for-9 with six strikeouts, Morse now has four hits in his last six at-bats. Bad news: With a chance to tie the game or take the lead -- bases loaded, one out -- Flores grounded into the Nats' fourth double play of the game. Can't blame Jesus, he smoked that one. Really tough luck tonight at the plate. It's now 4-3 Marlins in the middle of the sixth.
9:20 p.m. -- And that's it for Jackson after he walks Hanley to open the sixth inning. Remember when we all were touting him as the best No. 4 starter in baseball a couple weeks ago? Well, in three starts since, he's given up 16 earned runs and 21 hits in 13 2/3 innings. That's a rough slump for the right-hander. Tom Gorzelanny, however, entered and got out of the sixth with no further damage. So we head to the seventh with the Nats still trailing 4-3.
9:46 p.m. -- Well, you can't say they haven't had chances tonight. They just haven't produced enough when they have those chances. Adam LaRoche ends the seventh by striking out on a 3-2 sinker from Randy Choate with two on. He's now 0-for-4 and the Nats are collectively 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position as we reach the seventh-inning stretch.
9:55 p.m. -- The Marlins have done a pretty good job at playing small ball in this series, and they just did it again in a big spot. After Justin Ruggiano led off the seventh with a double down the left-field line off Michael Gonzalez, Reyes dropped a sacrifice bunt and Bonifacio dropped a perfect squeeze. So now the Nats are facing a 5-3 deficit and are down to their last six outs. On the bright side, now pitching for Miami: Heath Bell.
10:04 p.m. -- Then again, Bell has been brilliant against the Nats this season, and he just continued that trend. He's now tossed five scoreless innings against Washington, which is down to its final three outs.
10:13 p.m. -- Last chance for the Nats. It'll be Tyler Moore, Lombardozzi and Harper in the ninth against lefty Mike Dunn, with Zimmerman waiting in case anybody gets on base.
10:24 p.m. -- That'll do it. Harper sent a two-out single to left and Zimmerman drew a walk to put the tying runners on base, but LaRoche strikes out for the third time tonight to end the game. The Nats split the series, fall to 51-36 and head home with their lead over the Braves down to 2 1/2 games.