Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals open a three-game series tonight at Citi Field.
On the heels of a disappointing weekend against the Marlins, the Nats look to get themselves back on track against a New York club that's also playing out the string and using a good number of young guys down the stretch. That includes 25-year-old rookie right-hander Collin McHugh, who tonight makes his third career start. (McHugh shut out the Rockies in his debut, then got roughed up by the Cardinals his next time out.)
After giving Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond yesterday off, Davey Johnson has both regulars back in the lineup. He's got all the regulars starting tonight, as a matter of fact, and he's also got Gio Gonzalez on the mound trying to become the majors' first 19-game winner. (R.A. Dickey has a chance to do it tomorrow against the Nats.)
Plenty of updates to come live from Queens, so please check back...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at NEW YORK METS
Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Clear, 69 degrees, Wind 13 mph in from 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
LHP Gio Gonzalez
SS Ruben Tejada
2B Ronny Cedeno
3B David Wright
RF Scott Hairston
1B Ike Davis
C Kelly Shoppach
LF Jason Bay
CF Andres Torres
RHP Collin McHugh
HP Sam Holbrook
1B Rob Drake
2B Joe West (cc)
3B Mike Muchlinski
7:18 p.m. -- We're underway, and Collin McHugh faces the minimum in the top of the first. He didn't, however, retire the side. Bryce Harper drew a one-out walk, setting the stage for a potential rally. But McHugh struck out Ryan Zimmerman and Kelly Shoppach gunned down Harper trying to steal second on the pitch. Kind of a buzzkill there.
7:29 p.m. -- Discouraging development in the bottom of the first: Gio Gonzalez issued two walks, including to Ruben Tejada to open his night. Encouraging development for Gonzalez: he induced a pair of groundballs out of Ronny Cedeno and Scott Hairston, the first of which turned into a 4-6-3 double play. Scoreless after one.
7:39 p.m. -- Great chance for the Nats in the top of the second, with Adam LaRoche roping a double into the right-field corner to lead things off. But the trio of Michael Morse, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa couldn't drive him in, with Desmond catching a bit of a bad break when he smoked a hard grounder to the left side that was snagged by Tejada (who was playing halfway in with LaRoche on third). If the Mets infield stays back, Desmond gets an RBI and the Nats get a 1-0 lead. Instead, it's still scoreless.
8:00 p.m. -- And the Nationals jump out to a 3-0 lead, and for that they can thank Kelly Shoppach, who dropped the easiest foul-pop in MLB history to prolong Kurt Suzuki's at-bat. Sure enough, Suzuki responded by crushing a ball to left for a solo homer, his fourth in less than two weeks (he's 13-for-36 with those four homers and 10 RBI). Then later, when the inning should've been over but instead was continued because there were only two outs instead of three, Harper drew a walk in advance of Zimmerman, who destroyed a ball to straightaway center field, nearly hitting the giant NY apple. Zim's 21st of the year -- cortisone shots for everyone! -- puts the Nats up 3-0, but nobody at Citi Field was more excited about it than the yahoo who ran onto the batter's eye, grabbed the ball and then did a happy dance for all to see.
8:12 p.m. -- Man, Gio is tempting fate tonight, huh? He's already issued four walks in three innings, including back-to-back, two-out free passes to Tejada and Cedeno to bring up the only truly dangerous hitter in the Mets' lineup: Wright. Except Gio spits in fate's eye. He struck out Wright on a fantastic 3-2 curveball to escape the jam and preserve the Nats' 3-0 lead after three.
8:24 p.m. -- The Nats home run barrage is back on after taking the weekend off. Desmond sends a two-run shot into the right-field bullpen, putting them up 5-0 in the fourth. Third homer in two innings.
8:40 p.m. -- Uh-oh, noted Nat-killer Scott Hairston does it again. Blasted one way over the fence in left-center for the Mets' first run and hit of the night. Gio nearly let things get worse when he issued his fifth walk of the game and then a two-out sinking liner to center by Andres Torres. Harper made a questionable decision to make a diving attempt at the liner; if it skipped past him, it would've been an inside-the-park homer. But he managed to somehow keep the ball in front of him (though he did break his belt and have to get someone else's from the Nats bullpen). No worries, because Gio got pinch-hitter Justin Turner to fly out to end the inning. So it's now 5-1 after four.
9:00 p.m. -- We're through five innings here, and though Gio isn't in complete control -- he's put eight men on base -- he's getting the job done when he needs to. Only Hairston's homer has produced a run so far. It remains 5-1.
9:21 p.m. -- Gio's night is done after six innings. His final line: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 6 K, 104 pitches, 58 strikes. The results were strong, but his command was off all night. But he's in line to become the majors' first 19-game winner.
9:35 p.m. -- A scoreless seventh for Ryan Mattheus, keeping this a 5-1 lead for the Nats.
9:38 p.m. -- Somebody named Jeurys Familia now pitching for the Mets. Seriously, this is made up, right?
9:54 p.m. -- Boy, some nerves of steel from Drew Storen in the bottom of the eighth. He put himself in a jam, allowing singles to Daniel Murphy and David Wright to open the inning. Then he fell behind Scott Hairston 3-1. But he battled back and struck out Hairston on a 3-2 slider down and away, then got Ike Davis to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play to kill the threat. Impressive job by Storen to preserve a 5-1 lead after eight.
10:04 p.m. -- Onto the bottom of the ninth. The Nats don't have a hit since Desmond's homer in the fourth, but they still lead 5-1 as Tyler Clippard enters in a non-save situation.
10:09 p.m. -- Ballgame. Nats win 5-1. Gio gets his 19th win.