Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals try to avoid a sweep today at Citizens Bank Park.
So the pressure's on Jordan Zimmermann today to come up big as he has so many times already this season. The right-hander is coming off perhaps his worst start of the year (lasting only five innings against the Braves) so perhaps he'll have a little extra incentive when he takes the mound this afternoon.
Cliff Lee, always a challenge, starts for the Phillies, and he'll once again be facing a lineup without Michael Morse or Ian Desmond. Morse tested out his bruised right hand this morning, playing some light catch for the first time since getting hit by a pitch Friday night. He looked awfully tentative doing it. Desmond continues to rest a mild hamstring strain.
Lots of updates to come live from the ballpark, so please check back...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, Ch. 50, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 189
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 81 degrees, Wind 9 mph out to LF
SS Danny Espinosa
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Tyler Moore
C Jesus Flores
2B Steve Lombardozzi
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
SS Jimmy Rollins
LF Juan Pierre
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
CF John Mayberry Jr.
RF Laynce Nix
3B Kevin Frandsen
C Erik Kratz
LHP Cliff Lee
HP Lance Barksdale
1B Gerry Davis (cc)
2B Phil Cuzzi
3B Manny Gonzalez
1:38 p.m. -- And we're underway with a strike from Cliff Lee to Danny Espinosa. 81 degrees and mostly clear skies here this afternoon.
1:45 p.m. -- Pretty quick top of the first from Lee. He struck out Espinosa on three pitches and got Bryce Harper to ground out to short on two pitches. Ryan Zimmerman did manage a base hit to center, but Jayson Werth (hitting cleanup today with Michael Morse sidelined) popped out to end the inning on 14 pitches (11 strikes).
1:55 p.m. -- Good stuff from Jordan Zimmermann in the bottom of the first. He struck out both Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard on nasty curveballs down in the zone. He did walk Chase Utley with two outs, but there was a borderline pitch or two during that at-bat that could've altered the outcome. Scoreless after one.
2:17 p.m. -- Lee is shattering bats today like it's his life mission. Destroyed Zimmermann's hardware, then did the same to Espinosa to end the third. He's thrown 31 of 39 pitches for strikes and has held the Nats scoreless through three.
2:27 p.m. -- Well, that was a strange bottom of the third. First, Flores was practically knocked over by Zimmermann's pitch to Utley, which he obviously wasn't ready for. Think they must've gotten crossed up there. Then moments later, Utley sends a routine fly ball to shallow right, which glanced off Werth's glove and landed directly in his bare hand. Wow, giving new meaning to the age-old reminder: "Always use two hands when catching the ball!" Scoreless through three.
2:39 p.m. -- We've got ourselves an old-fashioned pitchers' duel here today, folks. Both Lee and Zimmermann cruising along through four scoreless innings. Lee has thrown 40 of 49 pitches for strikes. Combined with Roy Halladay last night, Phillies starters have thrown a total of 28 balls in their last 11 innings. That's like one inning for Henry Rodriguez! Not to be outdone, Zimmermann has allowed only one hit so far and has thrown a respectable 40 of 60 pitches for strikes. Onto the fifth.
2:47 p.m. -- Whoa, double for Tyler Moore. First man from either team to reach second base today. Maybe the Nats have a rally in th... or not. Lee strikes out Flores and gets Lombardozzi to ground out to end the top of the fifth, still zeroes on the scoreboard for both teams.
3:09 p.m. -- That turned ugly in a hurry, huh? In a game in which nobody on either side had been making solid contact, of course Cliff Lee ropes an RBI double to deep center, scoring the afternoon's first run. Then Zimmermann melted down. Served up a two-run homer to Rollins on a 3-1 fastball down the heart of the plate. Walked Pierre. Gave up a stolen base without a throw. And now he's being pinch-hit for to open the sixth. Jordan's final line: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 94 pitches, 57 strikes. What looked like a fantastic outing won't even be a quality start. Nats trail 3-0.
3:29 p.m. -- And Tom Gorzelanny is immediately greeted by old pal Laynce Nix with a leadoff homer in the sixth on an 0-2 pitches. That's Nix's first home run off a left-hander since ... wait for it ... 2004. It's 4-0 heading to the seventh. Oh, and Bryce Harper was pulled as part of a double-switch. He slipped crossing first base in the top of the inning. Not sure if it's related to that or merely Davey Johnson's strategic decision, but Harper is done for the day.
3:49 p.m. -- Wow, what a fiasco for the Nats in the top of the seventh. With Werth standing on second and nobody out, LaRoche launched what everyone in a Nats uniform assumed was a two-run homer to right. Except first-base ump Gerry Davis ruled the ball in play. Except Werth and LaRoche coasted around the bases assuming it was a homer. Which led to LaRoche getting caught in a rundown between second and third and Werth stranded at third base, advancing only 90 feet on a double. The umps convened and went to watch replay, which clearly showed the ball striking the top of a metal rail beyond the fence and then bouncing back into play. According to locals, the ground rule here is that the ball must clear that rail to be a homer. And that's what the umps ruled after watching the replay. Making matters worse, Tyler Moore followed with a double to left, scoring Werth (and would have scored LaRoche had he been on second base). So at the end of all that, the Nats trail 4-1 in the seventh, but if LaRoche and Werth were paying attention, would only be trailing 4-2 (or perhaps even less). Not good.
3:55 p.m. -- Meanwhile, the gal who sang God Bless America clearly had crib notes on her left hand ... yet still got a word wrong. Nicely done.
4:05 p.m. -- The Nats had a chance in the eighth, and Davey sent up Ian Desmond to pinch-hit for Gorzelanny, a surprise. Except it was probably just a bluff to get Charlie Manuel to bring in right-hander Josh Lindblom, which he did. Except the move backfired, because Chad Tracy (hitting for Desmond) grounded out on the first pitch he saw and Zimmerman struck out on three pitches. The Nats are down to their last three outs, still trailing 4-1.
4:20 p.m. -- Ballgame. Nats lose 4-1. They get swept, have lost four in a row and have seen their lead over the Braves drop to 5 games, with Atlanta playing later tonight in San Francisco.