Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats try to salvage a series split and increase their NL East lead to 3 1/2 games.
The Nationals will attempt to do that without Ian Desmond or Jesus Flores in their lineup. Desmond's oblique strain acted up again during last night's game, so he's getting a rest. For now, the team doesn't believe the injury is getting worse or that a DL stint is going to become a possibility -- "I don't really want to go there," Davey Johnson said this morning. Flores, meanwhile, still is bothered by a stiff back, so Sandy Leon gets another start behind the plate.
Bryce Harper, on the other hand, is back in the lineup, fighting through a bruised left ankle after fouling a bunt off himself during yesterday's opener. He certainly looked fine coming off the bench during last night's win.
The skies appear to actually be clearing up after a long weekend of rain and gray. Plenty of updates to come, so please check back...
ATLANTA BRAVES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS (Game 2)
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, Ch. 50, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 80 degrees, Wind 6 mph RF to LF
2B Steve Lombardozzi
RF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Danny Espinosa
CF Roger Bernadina
C Sandy Leon
LHP Ross Detwiler
CF Michael Bourn
LF Martin Prado
RF Jason Heyward
3B Chipper Jones
1B Freddie Freeman
C Brian McCann
2B Dan Uggla
SS Paul Janish
RHP Jair Jurrjens
HP Alfonso Marquez
1B Tom Hallion (cc)
2B Dave Rackley
3B Chad Fairchild
1:39 p.m. -- And we're underway as Ross Detwiler fires a fastball high and outside to Michael Bourn for ball one. Seventy-nine very comfortable degrees at first pitch.
1:42 p.m. -- An 8-pitch top of the first for Detwiler. Good stuff from the lefty.
2:00 p.m. -- Wow, looks like the Nats brought out the whupping stick today against Jair Jurrjens. They just exploded for four runs in the bottom of the first. Ryan Zimmerman -- cortisone shots for everyone! -- hit another home run, this one an opposite-field shot to right-center. Danny Espinosa added another big hit from the left side of the plate, an RBI double to right-center. And Roger Bernadina did it yet again, roping an RBI single for his sixth hit in 24 hours. This place is rocking as the Nats take a 4-0 lead after one inning.
2:25 p.m. -- It's been a very efficient start to the afternoon for Detwiler. He's thrown only 38 pitches in three innings and allowed only one batter to reach. He's working fast, he's throwing strikes and the only man in the building happier about that than Detwiler, I'm sure, is Steve McCatty. Still 4-0 as we go to the bottom of the third.
2:42 p.m. -- Cortisone shot! Make it a double! Zimmerman goes deep yet again, his second of the day. I'd say just hand him NL Player of the Month honors for July, except Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates has been playing out of his mind, too. A comparison of July stats for the two: Zimmerman is hitting .418 with nine homers, 19 RBI, a .910 slugging percentage (.910?!) and a 1.399 OPS. McCutchen is hitting .483 (.483?!) with seven homers, 14 RBI, an .883 slugging percentage and 1.427 OPS. Can't go wrong with either choice, I guess. Meanwhile, the rest of the Nats keep on hitting as well. Morse doubles. Espinosa strokes another RBI single. Bernadina beats out another infield single. It's 6-0 after three, the Nats have compiled 10 hits and Jurrjens is done.
2:51 p.m. -- I was about to point out that we should remember the Nationals blew a 9-0 lead to these guys less than 48 hours ago, just as Detwiler had loaded the bases with one out in the top of the fourth. But I won't bother, because Ross immediately got McCann to ground into a 1-2-3 double play to snuff out that rally and keep this a 6-0 game as we head to the bottom of the fourth.
2:59 p.m. -- Zim lines out hard to right field for his first out of the day. What a bum.
3:18 p.m. -- Not to be totally overshadowed by Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa is on fire himself at the plate. He's 3-for-3 today with two doubles, and over his last 16-plus games, he's now hitting .365 with six doubles, two homers and eight RBI. During that time, he's raised his batting average to .250. As my colleague Amanda Comak of the Washington Times points out, that's the highest Espinosa's average has been since April 2011. Wow. Oh yeah, Sandy Leon almost hit a grand slam but had to settle for a two-run double off the fence. It's now 8-0 as we go to the sixth.
3:30 p.m. -- So much for the shutout. The Braves plate two runs in the top of the sixth, with one scoring on a Leon passed ball and another coming across on an RBI groundout. So it'a 8-2 as we go to the bottom of the sixth.
3:50 p.m. -- Roger Bernadina can do no wrong. Seriously. He's now 8-for-10 over the last 26 1/2 hours, his infield single in the sixth scoring Zim from third to make it a 9-2 game. Bernadina is now hitting over .290 for the season. Remarkable.
4:01 p.m. -- Job well done by Ross Detwiler: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 98 pitches, 64 strikes. That's exactly what the Nats needed. And most importantly, he attacked hitters, not messing around once he had a lead. Detwiler went to a three-ball count only five times. And his season ERA is now down to 3.01 in 14 starts. Yes, a 3.01 ERA for the Nats' No. 5 starter. Remind me again why this team needs to acquire another arm by the end of the month? Still 9-2 at the stretch.
4:17 p.m. -- Craig Stammen navigates his way through a scoreless eighth. Davey Johnson said this morning he preferred to stay away from both Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard today. Looks like he'll get his wish.
4:29 p.m. -- Ballgame. Stammen finishes off a thoroughly satisfying 9-2 win and the Nats split the series and increase their lead over the Braves to 3 1/2 games. Right back where they started on Friday.