Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The playoff-bound Nationals try to move closer to the NL East title tonight.
The march to a division title begins tonight, with the magic number at 8 as the Braves open a three-game series in Philadelphia and the Nationals open a four-game series against Milwaukee. Like the Dodgers before, the Brewers are trying to make a late charge for the NL Wild Card, so they're plenty motivated entering this series. They even went so far as to trade for Yorvit Torrealba this afternoon, acquiring a catcher who will be eligible to play no more than 13 games for his new club.
The Nationals send Edwin Jackson to the mound, and the right-hander will be seeking something significant himself. With a win, Jackson would improve to 10-10 for the season, and that would make him the fifth member of the Nats' rotation to reach double digits in wins this season.
Updates to come, so please check back...
MILWAUKEE BREWERS 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: Clear, 74 degrees, Wind 9 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 Jesus Flores
RHP Edwin Jackson
RF Norichika Aoki
2B Rickie Weeks
LF Ryan Braun
3B Aramis Ramirez
C Jonathan Lucroy
1B Travis Ishikawa
CF Carlos Gomez
SS Jean Segura
RHP Shaun Marcum
HP Tim McClelland (cc)
1B D.J. Reyburn
2B Ted Barrett
3B Marvin Hudson
6:00 p.m. -- If you haven't seen the news yet: Davey Johnson said today Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard will share closer duties moving forward. Read my full story here.
6:02 p.m. -- Also, in other news, Johnson said Jordan Zimmermann will start Monday afternoon's series finale against the Brewers, with John Lannan starting Tuesday night in Philadelphia. He could have gone either way here, because both guys pitched in Wednesday's doubleheader and could've started Monday on normal rest, but he said he preferred a right-hander against Milwaukee and a left-hander against Philadelphia.
6:38 p.m. -- And here's Livan Hernandez's thoughts on the Nationals clinching their first-ever playoff berth. It's clear the big guy still holds a special place in his heart for the Nats and Washington, D.C.
7:07 p.m. -- We are underway on a gorgeous Friday night in the District.
7:14 p.m. -- Pretty good top of the first for Edwin Jackson. He did allow a two-out double to Ryan Braun, but who doesn't these days? He retired everyone else and completed the inning on 14 pitches, 9 strikes.
7:25 p.m. -- Adam LaRoche, ladies and gentlemen. He's not satisfied with a mere 30 homers. He clubs No. 31, a bomb off the back of the bullpen wall in right field. He's now got 96 RBI, and he gives the Nats a 2-0 lead after one inning.
7:32 p.m. -- And Jackson immediately gives one of the runs back as Jonathan Lucroy leads off the second with a solo homer to left. Edwin did rebound nicely, though, striking out the side after that. So it's 2-1 Nats in the middle of the second.
7:52 p.m. -- Aside from that one hanging breaking ball to Lucroy, Jackson has pitched quite well so far. He's through three innings on 43 pitches, 28 of them strikes.
8:14 p.m. -- So, let's see. Jackson faced four batters in the top of the fourth and retired only one. Yet he didn't allow a run to score. How'd that happen? Well, Bryce Harper gunned down Ryan Braun at the plate for the first out, a fantastic throw (and block at the plate by Jesus Flores). Harper also fired another strike to the plate on the fly one batter later, though Brewers third base coach Ed Sedar wised up and didn't wave Aramis Ramirez around. Ramirez would've scored moments later on Travis Ishikawa's slow roller to second, but Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond turned a fantastic 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and draw a huge roar from the crowd. This place is pretty fired up tonight. Still 2-1 Nats in the middle of the fourth.
8:17 p.m. -- Oh, and if you were one of those people who thought the Nats might finally let Teddy win the Presidents Race once they clinched a playoff berth ... you were wrong.
8:39 p.m. -- The Nats haven't really done anything at the plate since the bottom of the first. They've got two hits since then, one of them Jackson's infield single, the other Morse's single in the fourth. Otherwise, they're getting carved up pretty good by Marcum. Still 2-1 after five.
8:53 p.m. -- And it's still 2-1 after six. The Nats can't touch Marcum. And the Brewers can't touch Jackson. This has turned into quite the pitchers' duel.
9:10 p.m. -- Apparently the Nats can't touch reliever Jim Henderson, either. He just tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh. So it still remains 2-1 as we move to the eighth and Jackson retakes the mound sitting on 88 pitches.
9:22 p.m. -- Wow, just when it looked like Jackson might be fading, he and Flores combined for the biggest moment of the night: a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play to end the top of the eighth. That elicited a huge roar from the crowd of 30,382. So it's still 2-1 and now Tyler Clippard is warming in the pen. It appears Davey is serious about this dual closers thing.
9:32 p.m. -- OK, here we go: Top of the ninth, the Nats clinging to a 1-run lead, Clippard on the mound. He'll face the top of the Brewers lineup: Aoki, Weeks, Braun.
9:55 p.m. -- Well, that didn't go well at all. Clippard blew his fourth save in 36 chances, giving up a bunt single, watching as Flores was charged with a passed ball, then surrendering back-to-back, RBI hits to Braun and Ramirez. He added a wild pitch for good measure, leaving many in the crowd booing. Just like that, the Nats trail 3-2 and are down to their final three outs. On the bright side, the Braves just lost in Philly, so the magic number is down to 7 anyway.
10:07 p.m. -- That'll do it. The Nats suffer a supremely disheartening, 4-2 loss, blowing the lead in the ninth. They still lead the NL East by 5 1/2 games, though, so the night wasn't a complete wash, more like a push.