Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nationals Park hosts a day-night doubleheader today.
That's right. Last night's debacle of an 11-10 loss is ancient history, because we've got a day-night doubleheader to be played. Edwin Jackson will face Ben Sheets in the 1:05 p.m. opener. John Lannan then makes his 2012 big-league debut against Randall Delgado in the 7:05 p.m. nightcap.
Your morning injury updates: Jesus Flores' stiff back is fine and he'll be behind the plate for the opener. Ian Desmond's oblique is good enough that manager Davey Johnson may let his shortstop play both games. Everyone in the bullpen is officially available, Davey says, though he'd prefer to stay away from Craig Stammen (who threw four innings on Thursday) and Michael Gonzalez (who threw 30 pitches last night).
Plenty of baseball on tap today, which means plenty of updates right here, so please check back often...
ATLANTA BRAVES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS (Game 1)
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 188
Weather: Scattered storms, 74 degrees, Wind 7 mph in from RF
LF Steve Lombardozzi
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Jesus Flores
RHP Edwin Jackson
CF Michael Bourn
LF Martin Prado
RF Jason Heyward
1B Freddie Freeman
C Brian McCann
2B Dan Uggla
3B Juan Francisco
SS Paul Janish
RHP Ben Sheets
HP Brian O'Nora
1B Dave Rackley
2B Alfonso Marquez
3B Tom Hallion (cc)
1:07 p.m. -- It's not quite a beautiful day -- 68 degrees with a light mist falling -- but let's play two! Edwin Jackson gets this long day of baseball started.
1:16 p.m. -- Very good start to the day for Jackson, who struck out both Michael Bourn and Martin Prado on nasty sliders to get this one started. He walked Jason Heyward on four pitches (perhaps purposely pitching around the No. 3 hitter) and then got Freddie Freeman to line out to center. For a guy who has had plenty of first-inning troubles, that's an encouraging sign.
1:29 p.m. -- Bryce Harper tried to bunt a pitch in the bottom of the first and wound up fouling it off the top of his left foot. And he was hobbling for several minutes afterward. He finally convinced assistant trainer Mike McGowan to stay in the game, but he struck out on the next pitch and it's pretty clear the foot is barking. He's back in center field for the top of the second, but it's something to keep an eye on.
1:38 p.m. -- Brian McCann deposits an 0-1 pitch from Jackson into the right-field bleachers to open the second inning, so the Braves jump out to a 1-0 lead. Edwin has pretty good stuff today, though: he's struck out four of eight batters faced so far.
1:48 p.m. -- Another rope of a single for Ian Desmond, who is now hitting .290 for the season. Seriously, did even the most optimistic of Ian Desmond fans predict he would be hitting .290 on July 21? Nats still trail 1-0 after two.
1:52 p.m. -- Well, this is not good (though probably predictable): Bryce Harper is out of the game in the top of the third, with Roger Bernadina taking over in center field. Not what the Nats needed, especially after designating Rick Ankiel and Xavier Nady for assignment in the last two days.
2:07 p.m. -- Pretty killer double play off Michael Morse's bat to quash a potential rally in the bottom of the third after Bernadina beat out a bunt, stole second and took third on an error. So the Nats still trail 1-0 after three, with Harper now out of the game and presumably having an X-ray taken of his left foot.
2:21 p.m. -- The official update on Harper: He was taken out of the game for "precautionary" reasons with a "sore left ankle." No word about any X-rays or other tests. Here's my full story, which I'll update as I get more info.
2:25 p.m. -- Meanwhile, the Nats are doing nothing at the plate against Ben Sheets through four innings. Edwin Jackson, however, is doing exactly what the Nats needed him to do so far: Four innings of one-run ball. We head to the fifth.
2:34 p.m. -- Great defense from the Nats in the top of the fifth. Adam LaRoche made an all-out, Superman dive to catch Ben Sheets' bunt attempt. Roger Bernadina then fired a perfect strike to Ryan Zimmerman to nail Paul Janish trying to advance to third. Jackson continues to pitch well. Now it's just a question of whether the Nats lineup can do anything against Sheets. Still 1-0 Braves heading to the bottom of the fifth.
2:40 p.m. -- Ben Sheets, who last pitched in the majors in 2010, hasn't given up a run in 11 innings with the Braves, including five today. Ben Sheets. Wow.
3:04 p.m. -- Make it six scoreless today and 12 overall for Sheets. The Nats have put guys on base against him, they just haven't driven any of them in. They're now 0-for-7 today with runners in scoring position. And they still trail 1-0 as we head to the seventh.
3:17 p.m. -- Jackson navigates his way through the top of the seventh, and he's still given up only that one early homer to McCann. Fantastic job by the right-hander today. Now, about that offense ... On the bright side, Sheets is done, so the Nats can attempt to push across the tying run against the Braves bullpen, starting with Kris Medlen.
3:23 p.m. -- Yikes, that's an absolute killer. Espinosa leads off the eighth with a single but is immediately erased when Flores pops up a bunt into a double play. Dagger. We go to the eighth, it's still 1-0, and here comes Henry Rodriguez out of the bullpen.
3:47 p.m. -- Well, that went about as you would expect. And that's not a good thing. Henry faced three batters (even though he was on the mound for approximately 5 hours and 27 minutes) and didn't retire any of them. He gave up a single, three stolen bases, a walk and then forced in a run with a wild pitch. And then with a 2-1 count, he was yanked by Davey in favor of Ryan Mattheus. A stellar, 3-2-5 double play between LaRoche, Flores and Zimmerman saved this from getting any worse, but the Nats still find themselves down 2-0 and down to their final six outs.
3:56 p.m. -- Nothing happening in the bottom of the eighth. So the Nats are down to their final three outs, and they're in serious danger of having their lead dwindle to 1 1/2 games.
4:05 p.m. -- Dagger. Chipper Jones clubs a two-run, pinch-hit homer off Ryan Mattheus in the top of the ninth. It's now 4-0, and the Braves don't even have to burn up closer Craig Kimbrel. It'll be Chad Durbin for the bottom of the ninth.
4:14 p.m. -- It's over. The Nats lose 4-0. The lead is down to 1 1/2 games. Welcome back, John Lannan. Now, go win the most important game of your career.