Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg takes the mound tonight at Nationals Park.
The good news is, the sun is mostly shining and there doesn't appear to be any serious threat of rain tonight. So that should remove one possibility for a long night, not to mention one deterrent for fans to come to the park.
Also, Stephen Strasburg is making what will almost certainly be one of his final starts of the season in the District, so there's that. (His innings count entering tonight is ... drumroll please ... 139 1/3! So we're probably talking about at least three more starts, probably no more than five.)
Left-hander Paul Maholm, one of the Braves' trade deadline acquisitions, gets the start for an Atlanta club that desperately needs to win tonight or else fall seven games back in the division.
Updates to come...
ATLANTA BRAVES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv, MLB Network
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Partly cloudy, 78 degrees, Wind 3 mph in from RF
RF Jayson Werth
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Jesus Flores
RHP Stephen Strasburg
CF Michael Bourn
LF Martin Prado
RF Jason Heyward
1B Freddie Freeman
2B Dan Uggla
C Brian McCann
3B Juan Francisco
SS Paul Janish
LHP Paul Maholm
HP Kerwin Danley
1B Paul Nauert
2B Dana DeMith (cc)
3B Doug Eddings
7:07 p.m. -- We are underway with a 96 mph strike from Stephen Strasburg to Michael Bourn. Looks like a much larger crowd here tonight than last night, which is nice to see.
7:14 p.m. -- Good stuff from Strasburg in the top of the first. He struck out Bourn on a filthy, 91 mph changeup and finished off the inning by snagging Freddie Freeman's comebacker. Threw 19 total pitches, 11 strikes.
7:21 p.m. -- Nothing happening from the Nats in the bottom of the first against Paul Maholm. Bryce Harper struck out looking at an 89 mph fastball right down broadway, an absolute creampuff. Not sure what he was thinking.
7:31 p.m. -- Two innings in the books for Strasburg, with two hits allowed and three strikeouts recorded, two on changeups, one on a curveball. He's got good movement of his offspeed stuff, though he has thrown 39 pitches already.
7:40 p.m. -- So it's raining pretty hard right now, much harder than it did at any point during last night's delay. But they're playing through it. Then Ian Desmond launched a ball to left field that may have brought more rain from the sky. For the second time in as many nights, Desmond homered into the stands beyond the bullpen. Impressive power. The Nats take a 1-0 lead after two.
7:46 p.m. -- Oh goody, we're in a rain delay! Seriously, where did this come from? If you look at the radar map, everything in the area is clear except for like a 1-mile radius around Nationals Park. ow the question becomes whether the Nats will bring Strasburg back after the delay. If this lasts for any length of time, I've got to think they won't.
8:25 p.m. -- OK, the tarp is being rolled up, Strasburg is playing catch and apparently will return to the mound. The game is scheduled to resume at 8:35 p.m.
8:34 p.m. -- And we're back after a 51-minute delay, with Strasburg back on the mound. My guess is Strasburg threw a couple of simulated "innings" during the delay to stay warm. And he sure looked fine coming back out, striking out Prado on a nasty curveball to end the third.
8:55 p.m. -- Yeah, I don't think that rain delay affected Strasburg one bit. He's struck out three of five batters faced since the resumption. And he's got seven strikeouts overall through four scoreless innings. Just froze McCann on a 97 mph inside fastball to end the fourth. He's at 68 pitches. Nats still lead 1-0.
9:00 p.m. -- Not sure what Zimmerman was thinking trying to stretch his rocket off the left-field wall into a double. He never had a chance, and Prado's throw beat him by so much, Uggla almost did a double-take trying to make the tag. Trent Jewett should've had a good view of the whole play developing. Wonder if he tried to hold Zim up at first.
9:07 p.m. -- Sweet Fancy Moses, is Strasburg locked in tonight or what? That's 10 strikeouts in five innings, including six of the eight batters he's faced since the rain delay. He's painted the corners with a 97 mph fastball. His curveball is falling off the table. And his changeup is absolutely devastating. Maybe the best I've seen his full arsenal all season. He's at 81 pitches through five, the Nats still leading 1-0.
9:19 p.m. -- Jesus Flores gets Nationals Park rocking. Sends a three-run homer into the flower bed atop the left-field fence to give the Nats a 4-0 lead. That's Flores' first homer since June 29 (off the Braves' Randall Delgado). His previous one before that came on June 2 off the Braves' Brandon Beachy. So his last three homers have all been on Atlanta pitchers.
9:30 p.m. -- Everything's coming up Flores tonight! Just threw out Heyward trying to advance to second on a ball in the dirt to end the top of the sixth. Strasburg reacted with two fist pumps and a point in the direction of his catcher. Good stuff. That will do it for the right-hander. His final line: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 94 pitches. It's 4-1 as Drew Storen enters for the seventh.
9:40 p.m. -- And Storen needs only four pitches in a 1-2-3 seventh. Tonight's paid attendance, by the way, is 33,888. Very lively crowd here.
9:50 p.m. -- Another pinch-hit for Steve Lombardozzi, who come off the bench cold twice in as many nights now and delivered a single. Onto the eighth, with Sean Burnett entering to protect a 4-1 lead.
10:03 p.m. -- And Burnett gets out of a jam with a 1-6-3 double play and walks off the mound with a huge fist pump of his own. Crowd goes nuts. They're three outs away from another win over Atlanta.
10:07 p.m. -- The one negative to this game tonight: Bryce Harper is wearing a red curly W golden sombrero on his head after striking out four times. Yikes.
10:11 p.m. -- Here comes Tyler Clippard. Up three runs. Heyward, Freeman and Uggla due up in the ninth.
10:23 p.m. -- Ballgame. Clippard finishes off a 4-1 victory and records his 28th save (though he brought the tying run to the plate after committing an egregious fielding error). Strasburg improves to 15-5 (4-0 in August with a 1.50 ERA). The Nats are 77-46, seven games up on the Braves and going for the sweep tomorrow.