Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg starts today's series finale at Nationals Park.
And the Nationals better hope the right-hander is a bit more successful today than he was last week in Miami when he was torched for a career-high seven runs in five innings. He'll be facing the Cardinals for the first time, leaving only two NL clubs he's never gone up against (the Reds and Brewers).
Veteran Jake Westbrook gets the nod for St. Louis, which will try to maintain its lead for the final wild-card berth in the NL and salvage a four-game series split.
I'm off today, but never fear: Chase Hughes of CSNwashington.com has the keys to the blog and will be providing updates all afternoon from the park...
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, Ch. 50, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Scattered storms, 84 degrees, Wind 4 mph in from RF
RF Bryce Harper
CF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
1B Chad Tracy
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
RHP Stephen Strasburg
CF Jon Jay
RF Carlos Beltran
LF Matt Holliday
1B Allen Craig
3B David Freese
C Bryan Anderson
SS Pete Kozma
2B Daniel Descalso
RHP Jake Westbrook
HP Mike Winters (cc)
1B Mark Wegner
2B Mike Muchlinski
3B Wally Bell
10:58 a.m. -- Chase here at Nats Park getting ready for Cardinals and Nats. The forecast for today says it should just be cloudy with a 10-20% chance of rain, but we'll see. It is definitely overcast, but nothing too ominous.
11:52 a.m. -- Still waiting for the Nats lineups as noon approaches, it sounds like they are being cautious with Jayson Werth after he left last night's game.
1:12 p.m. -- Werth is indeed in the lineup, LaRoche will sit with Tracy at first. The forecast on Weather.com has changed dramatically in the last few hours. It now looks like rain is headed this way. Could be a delay at some point.
1:20 p.m. -- Light rain coming down at Nats Park as the game is set to start in about 15 minutes. Rain is very light, but if it picks up we could have problems.
1:24 p.m. -- Expected start time has been pushed back to 1:45 p.m. now.
1:45 p.m. -- Werth has been scratched late, Harper to RF and Bernadina to CF. Perhaps the wet fields changed their mind about Werth and his hamstring.
2:01 p.m. -- The Nats escaped the top of the first with the score still tied at 0-0, but it was made interesting by two plays. First, Matt Holliday stretched a single into a double off of Strasburg. Then, Ryan Zimmerman made a throwing error to first after a diving stop, instead of the inning being over Strasburg had to face Freese with two men on. Stras was able to strike him out and prevent any real damage.
2:09 p.m. -- Quick inning for the Nats as they are set down in order. Both Harper and Zimmerman flew out with deep balls. Westbrook took half (13) as many pitches as Strasburg (26) did to get out of the first.
2:16 p.m. -- Strasburg moves quickly through the top of the second with his 189th and 190th strikeouts of the season before Descalso flied out to end the frame. Stras has 40 pitches (27 strikes) through two.
2:30 p.m. -- Nats got something going in the bottom of the inning. Tracy hit a one out single and was moved to second on a single to right by Espinosa. Suzuki went down 0-2 with two outs, but worked a walk to load the bases. Strasburg then struck out on three pitches to end the inning. Still 0-0.
2:35 p.m. -- Strasburg gets them out one-two-three in the third. Westbrook flew out to deep center, Jay struck out watching a low fastball, then Beltran grounded out to Espinosa. Only took eight pitches to set them down, he now has 48 with 33 of them strikes.
2:46 p.m. -- The Nats got two men on with some two-out hitting as Zimmerman and Morse each singled to right. The inning ended quickly though after Tracy grounded to short. Made Westbrook work a little as he now has 53 pitches through three.
2:56 p.m. -- The Cardinals got two guys on in the fourth. First Craig got to second on another throwing error by Zimmerman (his second of the game). Then Freese walked on a wild pitch to set up men on first and third with one out. Bryan Anderson then flew out to right and Craig decided to tag up. Harper caught the ball and gunned him out at home and the crowd went nuts. 6th outfield assist of the year for Harper. Still 0-0.
3:01 p.m. -- Kurt Suzuki takes an 0-1 pitch and knocks a solo homer to left field. 1-0 Nats.
3:15 p.m. -- Strasburg gets out of the fifth by striking out two and getting Descalso to ground out. He has thrown 80 pitches (52 strikes) through five innings of work. 7 Ks, 1 H, 1 BB. That's good right?
3:24 p.m. -- Nats go down in order once again, the inning was capped by a swinging strikeout by Michael Morse. Both Strasburg and Westbrook have thrown exactly 80 pitches (52 strikes) through five. Still 1-0 Nats.
3:32 p.m. -- Strasburg let up a single to Matt Holliday in the sixth, but didn't let him advance. He struck out two batters to bring his total for the day to nine. The last was his 195th of the season. Likely won't see him again today as he finished the 6th with 97 pitches. 1-0 Nats with Tracy, Desmond, and Espinosa due up.
3:50 p.m. -- The Nats plate another run, this one off a Kurt Suzuki single to center field to score Ian Desmond. Pretty good day for him, not only the homer and the RBI single but he made a nice scoop on Harper's throw to home in the fourth. The Nats are up 2-0 as the 7th is set to begin, Sean Burnett in to replace Strasburg.
4:05 p.m. -- Burnett had no problem with the first two batters, but with two outs he allowed a single to Kozma and then a homer to Descalso. Descalso tied the game with a shot to right field that fell into the Nats' bullpen. Mattheus replaced Burnett and threw a wild pitch before hitting Jay with another errant throw. He got out of the mess and it is 2-2 as we head to the bottom of the 7th. Lance Lynn takes the mound for St. Louis.
4:37 p.m. -- The Nats scored two in the bottom of the 7th off RBI singles by Ian Desmonda and Danny Espinosa. The Cards got another run in the top of the 8th with a double by Tony Cruz, but were held in check as we head to the bottom of the eight. Nats 4, Cardinals 3. Nats are up with Clippard warming in the pen.
4:44 p.m. -- Ready or not, here we go to the ninth with Clippard on the mound. He will look for the save in a 4-3 ballgame.
4:50 p.m. -- Clippard and the Nats hang on for win No. 81 which ties their best total since moving to D.C.