Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg takes the mound against the Marlins tonight at Nationals Park.
A large crowd is expected to see the 24-year-old take the mound at Nationals Park for the last time in 2012. And there appear to be plenty of those national media members here to chronicle the event.
Meanwhile, the Nationals' lineup will look to continue its torrid pace. Over the last nine games, that group has produced a .351 average, 1.029 OPS, 24 homers and 70 runs. They'll take their hacks at rookie right-hander Jacob Turner, who enters tonight's game with a 7.75 ERA in eight career starts.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check back...
MIAMI MARLINS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Mostly clear, 85 degrees, Wind 8 mph RF to LF
RF Jayson Werth
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Michael Morse
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
RHP Stephen Strasburg
LF Bryan Petersen
CF Justin Ruggiano
SS Jose Reyes
RF Giancarlo Stanton
1B Carlos Lee
3B Greg Dobbs
2B Donovan Solano
C Rob Brantly
RHP Jacob Turner
HP Brian Gorman
1B Todd Tichenor
2B Tony Randazzo
3B Bob Davidson (cc)
7:08 p.m. -- And we're underway with a 95 mph fastball outside from Stephen Strasburg to Bryan Petersen. Big roar for the right-hander when he took the mound and was introduced. The crowd is still filing in from Half Street, but it looks like it's going to be a big gathering tonight.
7:19 p.m. -- Well, that wasn't quite what Strasburg had in mind: a 24-pitch top of the first in which two runs scored. It started with a leadoff walk -- does anybody ever remember walking the first batter of ANY game he's started? -- and went downhill from there. Jose Reyes singled to right. Giancarlo Stanton roped an RBI double past Ryan Zimmerman's glove. And Carlos Lee brought the second run home on a sacrifice fly to the first baseman. Yes, you read that right. It was a pop-up into shallow right field, with Adam LaRoche, Danny Espinosa and Jayson Werth all going after the ball. LaRoche wound up catching it while colliding with Espinosa and couldn't spin around to make a solid throw to the plate in time to get Reyes tagging. Really, Werth has to make that play. He's got all the momentum going in the right direction. A frustrating start to Strasburg's night. He and the Nats trail 2-0.
7:30 p.m. -- Zimmerman buys Strasburg (and everybody else in attendance) a round of cortisone shots. He also gets Strasburg off the hook for his shaky top of the first, crushing a 2-1 fastball from Jacob Turner deep to left for his 19th homer of the season. It's a 2-run blast, tying this game 2-2 after one. And it's the 15th home run hit by the Nationals over their last 25 offensive innings.
7:39 p.m. -- And Strasburg gives a run right back in the top of the second, serving up a solo homer to rookie Rob Brantly on a first-pitch fastball right down the middle. This crowd is fairly stunned as the Marlins take a 3-2 lead. Strasburg has given up 10 runs (eight earned) over his last seven innings against Miami.
8:02 p.m. -- Wow, it's over. After only three innings, Strasburg is done. He was roughed up for another two runs in the top of the third, including a Stanton home run (is that guy a beast, or what?). Things got so bad, Davey Johnson had Zach Duke warming in the pen before the inning even ended. Strasburg got out of it, but he was due-up to lead off the bottom of the third. Instead, Corey Brown grabbed a bat and stepped into the on-deck circle. So his final line for the night: 3 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 67 pitches, 37 strikes. This crowd is stunned and doesn't really know how to respond. They never got a chance to give Strasburg an ovation as he departed his final home start of the year. It's 5-2 Marlins.
8:20 p.m. -- Well, Zach Duke is getting a chance to pitch in front of a lot more fans than he's used to. The lefty didn't exactly respond well, either. He walked Ruggiano, then served up a triple to Reyes. That makes it 6-2 Marlins in the fourth. By the way, here's your stat of the night, the ERAs for all five members of the Nationals' rotation since the All-Star break: Ross Detwiler 2.79, Gio Gonzalez 3.05, Edwin Jackson 3.47, Jordan Zimmermann 3.67, Stephen Strasburg 3.73. Yep, he's been the least-effective of the entire group.
8:37 p.m. -- So, the Marlins just stole three bases in the fifth inning while leading by four runs. If they led by just one more run and did that, the Nats would be obligated to incite a bench-clearing brawl, right?
8:43 p.m. -- Meanwhile, the Nats have done nothing against Turner since the first inning.
8:59 p.m. -- Well, they threatened in the sixth, with Zimmerman sending a two-out triple to right field and LaRoche drawing a walk to bring Morse to the plate in a big spot. But he flied out to center, so that killed that rally. It remains 6-2 Marlins as we move to the seventh.
9:10 p.m. -- Duke has certainly done what the Nats needed from him tonight. He's churned out four innings of one-run ball, helping save the bullpen. It's weird, the Nats only trail by four runs at the seventh-inning stretch, but it sure feels like more than that. Maybe it's fitting that the official paid attendance was announced as 28,533. I swear, it looks like there are at least 33,000 here. How could there be 13,000 empty seats? Did everyone cash in their Red Carpet Rewards and get freebies tonight?
9:32 p.m. -- Maybe I spoke too soon. I wasn't counting on Ozzie Guillen handing the ball to Carlos Zambrano. We've got a ballgame again, cause Big Z gave up hits to all three batters he faced, with all three eventually scoring. That trimmed the lead to 6-5 and gave Harper and Zimmerman the opportunity to drive in the tying run (or more). Except lefty Mike Dunn buckled down and struck out Harper on a 96 mph fastball -- when's the last time Bryce K'd on a fastball in the zone??? -- and got Zim to ground into a fielder's choice. So the Nats are still trailing, but only by one run as we go to the eighth.
9:43 p.m. -- Ryan Mattheus comes up big and strikes out Stanton with two on and two out in the top of the eighth. That keeps the deficit at one run as we move to the bottom of the inning.
9:55 p.m. -- And Morse ties this game up with a blast into the right-center field bleachers. Nationals Park explodes as he rounds the bases on his 13th homer of the season, his 10th hit to the right of straightaway center field. It's 6-6 as we go to the ninth, Drew Storen now in from the bullpen.
10:04 p.m. -- And just when it looked like Storen was going to blow it, Bryce Harper saves the day with his arm. Gunned down Dobbs at the plate to prevent the go-ahead run from scoring in the top of the ninth. The crowd went nuts again. We go to the bottom of the ninth in a tie ballgame. Chad Gaudin (?!) will pitch for Miami.
10:17 p.m. -- You don't hit a walk-off against Chad Gaudin. You just don't. Harper lines out to center. Zimmerman strikes out. We go to the 10th.
10:36 p.m. -- And the Marlins get to Tyler Clippard (pitching in a non-save situation). Petersen and Ruggiano each delivered one-out singles, then Reyes roped a 2-run triple to left-center, then Lee sent a sacrifice fly into foul territory deep in left field. (Question: Should Morse have just let that ball drop foul? He never had a shot to throw out the runner at the plate.) So now the Nats trail 9-6 and are down to their final three outs.
10:52 p.m. -- Well, they certainly made it interesting, scoring one run in the 10th and loading the bases with one out. But Roger Bernadina struck out on three mighty swings against Steve Cishek, and Werth chased a pitch way out of the zone to end the game. The Nats lose 9-7 in 10, and their lead in the NL East is down to 6 1/2 games.