Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jordan Zimmermann faces Aaron Harang in the opener of today's doubleheader.
We've got an old-fashioned, single-admission doubleheader on tap between the Nationals and Dodgers. One ticket gets you into both games. (If you have a ticket for tonight's originally scheduled game, you get into both. If you had a ticket to last night's rainout, you'll have to exchange it for seats of equal or lesser value.)
Jordan Zimmermann faces Aaron Harang in the 4:05 p.m. opener. We're still waiting on lineups, but I wouldn't be surprised if both Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa are in there for the Nationals. I'll post those as soon as we get them.
[UPDATE: Both Espinosa and Morse are in the lineup for Game 1, though Davey Johnson made it sound like neither will play in the nightcap. Also, Ryan Zimmerman is unlikely to play the second game after receiving another cortisone shot in his right shoulder today. Full story on that development coming soon.]
Plenty of updates to come...
LOS ANGELES DODGERS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS (Game 1)
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 4:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv, MLB Network (outside D.C. market)
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Sunny, 71 degrees, Wind 8 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
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
2B Mark Ellis
RF Andre Ethier
CF Matt Kemp
1B Adrian Gonzalez
SS Hanley Ramirez
LF Shane Victorino
3B Luis Cruz
C A.J. Ellis
RHP Aaron Harang
HP Brian Knight
1B Clint Fagan
2B Mike Winters (cc)
3B Mark Wegner
4:06 p.m. -- And we're underway on a gorgeous, 71-degree afternoon. If you're reading this, you're probably not inside the ballpark. Barely anyone is. There are perhaps 1,500-2,000 fans here for the start of Game 1. I would imagine it will progressively pick up as the game plays out and will be filled up around the seventh inning or so.
4:13 p.m. -- Jordan Zimmermann issued a leadoff walk to Mark Ellis, but he rebounded nicely to induce a 4-6-3 double play from Andre Ethier and then struck out Matt Kemp. Considering the stark shadows between the mound and the plate right now, both pitchers would be wise simply to throw strikes and force guys to hit the ball. It's not going to be easy to make solid contact for the next couple hours.
4:35 p.m. -- He's been a bit ragged to start this game -- two walks, a hit batter and a double allowed -- but Zimmermann is through two scoreless innings. He's needed 37 pitches, though, a rate that won't allow him to remain in this game too long if he keeps it up.
4:44 p.m. -- Well, all three of the Nats' injured/recovering players have hits in their first at-bats today: Ryan Zimmerman singled in the first and Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa each singled in the second. That put runners on the corners for Kurt Suzuki, who lofted a fly ball to right field, plenty deep enough to score Morse with the game's first run. The Nats take a 1-0 lead after two.
4:57 p.m. -- Zimmermann's struggles continue in the top of the third. He's now allowed seven of the first 14 batters he's faced to reach, including three singles just now to produce the Dodgers' first run of the game. He's also up to 61 pitches (44 strikes) as this game is tied 1-1.
5:08 p.m. -- Another hit for Zim, a double to deep right field -- cortisone shots for everyone! -- which prompted the Dodgers to intentionally walk LaRoche and bring Morse to the plate with two outs and two on. But thanks to a healthy strike zone from plate umpire Brian Knight, Harang got out of the jam with a pair of borderline strikes on the outside corner. So it remains 1-1 as we move to the fourth.
5:29 p.m. -- The Nats (and the Dodgers, for that matter) are certainly giving themselves plenty of scoring opportunities. They've put a combined 15 men on base through four innings. But they've combined to score only two runs so far. Nobody can deliver a clutch hit. Still 1-1.
5:51 p.m. -- You know, at this point it's more shocking when Bryce Harper DOESN'T try to stretch a hit into a triple. He just did it again to lead off the bottom of the fifth, and in the process recorded his eighth three-bagger of the season. That's a new Nationals record, besting the previous mark of seven set by Nyjer Morgan (2010), Cristian Guzman (2009) and Brad Wilkerson (2005). It was also Harper's 49th extra-base hit of the season, most ever by a teenager in the major leagues. Most importantly, it set the stage for Zimmerman's RBI groundout to second, giving the Nats a 2-1 lead after five.
6:00 p.m. -- His stuff was by no means in peak form, but Jordan Zimmermann just completed six innings of one-run ball on 106 pitches. That will probably be it for the right-hander, but props to him for getting big outs when he needed them. If the Nats bullpen can preserve a 2-1 lead, Zimmermann will be rewarded with his 11th win of the year.
6:17 p.m. -- Who says you need big hits to drive in runs? The Nats are disproving that theory today. They've driven in three runs, all on outs. Suzuki had a sac fly in the second. Zimmerman had an RBI groundout in the fifth. And Tyler Moore just had his own RBI groundout in the sixth to bring home Desmond (who led off with a double) and give the Nats a 3-1 lead after six. Harper had a chance to add an insurance run later, but Paco Rodriguez got him to ground out to end the inning. I was SO hoping Bryce would homer to left field so I could proclaim he had gone "oppo taco off Paco." Sigh.
6:31 p.m. -- Wow, Sean Burnett delivers his best appearance in weeks, and he picked a huge spot to do it. After Morse lost Nick Punto's leadoff flyball to left and turned it into a double, Burnett entered to face the meat of the Dodgers lineup with a man on third and one out. He wound up striking out Andre Ethier, then after walking Matt Kemp, struck out Adrian Gonzalez to kill the rally. A big-time appearance for Burnett, who certainly needed one of those. It's still 3-1 at the stretch.
6:54 p.m. -- And Drew Storen records a couple of big strikeouts in the top of the eighth, stranding another runner in scoring position and preserving the 3-1 lead. So now the Nationals are three outs from recording their 90th win of the season and lowering their magic number for clinching a playoff berth to 1.
7:03 p.m. -- Here we go, Tyler Clippard is on for the ninth, the Nats still leading 3-1. He'll face Bobby Abreu, Mark Ellis and Andre Ethier.
7:13 p.m. -- That's it. It's all over. The Nats win 3-1. That's their 90th win of the year. And with their magic number for a playoff berth down to 1, they've guaranteed that they will play at least 163 games this year.