Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
John Lannan faces Brad Hand in the opener of tonight's doubleheader.
Lannan pitched a gem against the Braves two weeks ago to get the teetering Nationals back on track. He went back to Syracuse and made one start earlier this week, getting roughed up for six runs and 13 hits in 3 1/3 innings. Given the manner in which he went from pitching the most significant game of his career to pitching one of the least significant games of his life, nobody with the Nationals sounds the least bit concerned. Provided, of course, he pitches well today.
The Marlins, who have been completely blown up by GM Larry Beinfest in the last couple of weeks, have their own Class AAA call-up lefty starting this game: Brad Hand. They also have a lineup that boasts old pal Austin Kearns in the 5-hole.
A reminder for those of you planning to attend: One ticket gets you into both games. The nightcap will begin at 7:05 p.m., or 25 minutes after the conclusion of Game 1 (whichever is later).
Twice the updates to come, so please check back early and often...
MIAMI MARLINS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS (Game 1)
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 4:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Partly cloudy, 93 degrees, Wind 10 mph RF to LF
SS Danny Espinosa
2B Steve Lombardozzi
3B Ryan Zimmerman
CF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Tyler Moore
RF Mark DeRosa
C Jesus Flores
LHP John Lannan
2B Emilio Bonifacio
LF Donovan Solano
SS Jose Reyes
1B Carlos Lee
RF Austin Kearns
3B Donnie Murphy
CF Gorkys Hernandez
C Brett Hayes
LHP Brad Hand
HP Lance Barksdale
1B Tony Basner
2B Mike Muchlinski
3B Fieldin Culbreth (cc)
3:53 p.m. -- If you haven't heard yet, the Nationals acquired catcher Kurt Suzuki from the A's in a waiver deal, sending Class A catcher David Freitas to Oakland. More details in that full story.
4:06 p.m. -- We are underway in Game 1, with a sparse crowd on hand as John Lannan fires his first pitch. I'd imagine the crowd will progressively grow as the afternoon wears on.
4:15 p.m. -- Lannan had trouble in his first inning last time before settling down, and he had trouble in the first inning again today. We'll have to wait and see if he responds the same way. A leadoff walk to Emilio Bonifacio got things started, followed by a Donovan Solano single and a bunt base hit by Jose Reyes. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Lannan happily traded one run for a 6-4-3 double play. He then struck out old buddy Austin Kearns to end the inning with the Nats trailing 1-0.
4:36 p.m. -- Well, the Nats got that run back. And then added two more in the bottom of the first. All of it came with two outs, beginning with Ryan Zimmerman's double over Kearns' head. (By the way: John Lannan. Austin Kearns. Emilio Bonifacio. A small crowd in D.C. Did somebody set the Wayback Machine to 2008?) Jayson Werth drew a walk to bring Adam LaRoche to the plate, and the veteran first baseman did what he's been doing all year: Deliver a clutch hit. A base hit up the middle extended LaRoche's hitting streak to 11 games, gave him 65 RBI for the season and gave the Nats a 1-0 lead. But they weren't done. After Tyler Moore drew a walk, Mark DeRosa battled his way through an impressive at-bat to send a two-run single to left, increasing his season RBI total by 167 percent in the process (from three to five). Just like that, the Nats have given Lannan a 3-1 lead after one very long inning.
4:46 p.m. -- When LaRoche let Hand's popped-up bunt fall harmlessly to the ground just now, the crowd let out a groan. Don't worry, everyone: LaRoche knew exactly what he was doing. By letting the ball fall to the ground, he was able to pick it up and start a 3-5-6 double play to end the top of the second. Brilliant deke from the veteran first baseman.
5:01 p.m. -- A quick, 1-2-3 top of the third for Lannan, who like last time is getting better inning by inning. Still to early to call this a trend, but it's at least encouraging. Nats still lead 3-1.
5:07 p.m. -- Adam LaRoche, ladies and gentlemen! Home run No. 21, this one to straightaway center field. He's now driven in runs in four of his last six at-bats. And the Nats lead 4-1 after three.
5:42 p.m. -- Let's see, you could say the Marlins pitcher decided to Hand this game to the Nats. Or you could say the Fish have completely flopped. Whatever pun is your preference, this game is going entirely the Nats' way right now. They just added three more runs in the bottom of the fourth, with the following rally: intentional walk, walk, bases-loaded walk, infield single, bases-loaded walk. It's 7-1 after four.
5:54 p.m. -- And Lannan continues to look sharp. He's given up only one hit since the first inning and now takes the mound for the sixth holding a 7-1 lead.
6:00 p.m. -- Make it 13 of the last 14 batters retired by Lannan, who keeps getting better and more efficient as the game progresses. This is looking eerily similar to his last start here.
6:10 p.m. -- Is there anything Adam LaRoche can't do? He just added a bloop double in the sixth, making him 3-for-3 today with a single, a double, a homer and a walk. I wouldn't bank on him pulling off a triple before this game is over, though.
6:30 p.m. -- Well, Lannan put the first two batters on in the seventh, then fell behind 2-0 to Bryan Petersen, so Captain Hook decided to emerge from the dugout. Ryan Mattheus entered and allowed one inherited runner to score, so Lannan's final line is: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 4 K. Combined with his 7-inning start two weeks ago, the Nats couldn't have asked for much more for these two fill-in outings. It's now 7-3 at the stretch.
7:05 p.m. -- And for the second straight inning, Captain Hook takes the ball from a pitcher in the middle of an at-bat. This time, he removed Drew Storen with the bases loaded, two outs and a 1-0 count on Bryan Petersen. In came Michael Gonzalez, who did his job by striking out Petersen and letting out a primal scream as the inning came to an end. The lefty has quietly done a really nice job since coming here. He could wind up recording some really big outs come September ... and perhaps beyond. Still 7-3 as we go to the bottom of the eighth.
7:21 p.m. -- Yep, Davey is using his closer in a game the Nats have controlled from the very beginning. But the tying run is now on-deck, so ... here comes Tyler Clippard.
7:33 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. Clippard lets an inherited runner score, but he still closes it out for his 22nd save and preserves a 7-4 victory. Lannan improves to 2-0. The Nationals are 21 games over .500 again, and they'll have a chance to get to 22 games over before the end of the night. First pitch for Game 2 is in approximately 25 minutes.