Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Chien-Ming Wang tries to lead the Nationals over the Brewers today.
Wang will face a potent Brewers lineup, but one that was silenced yesterday by Gio Gonzalez. Johnson feels like a right-hander should have an even better chance of success against the right-handed-heavy Milwaukee club, so Wang was his choice for this start.
Fellow righty Yovani Gallardo gets the nod for the Brewers against a Nationals team looking to lower its magic number for the NL East title to either 5 or 4.
Plenty of updates to come...
MILWAUKEE BREWERS 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 184
Weather: Sunny, 68 degrees, Wind 10 mph LF to RF
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 Chien-Ming Wang
RF Norichika Aoki
2B Rockie Weeks
LF Ryan Braun
3B Aramis Ramirez
1B Corey Hart
C Jonathan Lucroy
CF Logan Schafer
SS Jean Segura
RHP Yovani Gallardo
HP Ted Barrett
1B Marvin Hudson
2B Tim McClelland (cc)
3B D.J. Reyburn
1:37 p.m. -- We are underway with a strike from Chien-Ming Wang to Norichika Aoki. It's another absolutely gorgeous afternoon here in the District, 67 degrees and clear skies.
1:47 p.m. -- Pretty good stuff from Wang in the top of the first. He threw 13 of 15 pitches for strikes, and though he allowed two singles (one never left the infield). He also got three groundball outs, a good sign that his sinker is working. So far, so good.
2:04 p.m. -- Two scoreless innings in the books for Wang. He continues to throw strikes (20 of 27 pitches) and continues to keep the ball down in the zone. He struck out Jean Segura on a sinker to end the top of the second. He even got some help from Kurt Suzuki, who gunned down Logan Schafer trying to steal second base.
2:17 p.m. -- The Nats had a golden opportunity to get on the board in the bottom of the second, thanks to Adam LaRoche's double and Ian Desmond's infield single. With runners on the corners and one out, Danny Espinosa smoked a line drive ... unfortunately right at Corey Hart, who needed only to step on first base to complete the inning-ending double play. Scoreless after two.
2:27 p.m. -- Wow, what a 3-6-1 double play turned by LaRoche, Desmond and Wang to get the speedy Aoki at first base. Looks like old pal Marvin Hudson blew the call -- perhaps a makeup for last weekend's botch job in Atlanta -- but regardless it required a great turn by Desmond and some impressive athleticism from Wang to even make that a close play. Wang then notched his second strikeout of the game, giving him three scoreless innings on 39 pitches so far.
2:36 p.m. -- OK, what was the more stunning development in the bottom of the second: Wang scorching a double to the left-center gap, or Harper grounding into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning and leave Chien-Ming stranded at third base? Talk about a bizarro inning. After all that, it remains scoreless heading to the fourth.
2:56 p.m. -- That was an ugly top of the fourth from the Nats' perspective. It began with Harper losing another flyball in the sun (at least his third this season). This one was especially costly because it turned what would've been a routine and rare out off the bat of Braun into a gift double. And that set the stage for Braun to score on Lucroy's single to right. Moments later, Schafer smoked a double off the wall in right, giving the Brewers a 2-0 lead. Wang was able to get out of the jam without any more damage, thanks to two nice plays at third base by Zimmerman. But Chien-Ming is fading fast, and the Nats now trail by a pair.
3:22 p.m. -- After four innings and 69 pitches from Chien-Ming Wang, Davey Johnson decided it was time to turn to his bullpen. So in came Craig Stammen for the top of the fifth, and though the right-hander put himself in a jam by walking two and giving up a double to Aramis Ramirez, he got out of it unscathed. The Nats have let 11 Brewers reach base already, yet only two have scored. It remains 2-0 in the middle of the fifth.
3:45 p.m. -- And the Nats tie it back up in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a couple of excellent at-bats by a couple of real pros: Chad Tracy and Jayson Werth. With runners on second and third and one out, Davey decided to use his best weapon off the bench, much earlier than usual, but probably sensing this was his best chance to get back in the game. And Tracy delivered, battling back from an 0-2 count, fouling off three pitches and ultimately stroking an RBI single to right. Werth then followed with exactly what the situation called for: a fly ball to deep left, easily scoring the tying run from third. Just like that, this is a 2-2 ballgame heading to the sixth.
4:09 p.m. -- Another great chance for the Nats in the bottom of the sixth after Morse drew a two-out walk and Desmond doubled into the left-field corner. At that moment, Ron Roenicke decided to intentionally walk Espinosa and load the bases for Suzuki. Seemed like a bit of a surprise, considering how Espinosa has struggled from the left side of the plate and how Suzuki has swung a hot bat. But I guess that's why Roenicke is a big-league manager and I'm not. Suzuki struck out on three pitches to leave the bases loaded. So we go to the 7th, the game still tied 2-2. Meanwhile, Atlanta just won 2-1 in Philly, so the Nats will need to win to maintain their 5 1/2-game lead over the Braves.
4:25 p.m. -- Yikes, the Nats just got burned by the sun again. This one was really costly, with Werth losing sight of a routine flyball to right and letting it fall in for an RBI single. That helped prolong the top of the seventh, with the Brewers ultimately scoring three times to take a 5-2 lead. Now the Nationals are in a big hole and down to their final nine outs, with reason to worry about MLB scheduling any late-afternoon home playoff games.
4:27 p.m. -- Today's paid attendance: 33,111. This was the ninth time in eight years the Nationals and Redskins have played simultaneous home games. The Nats' average attendance in those nine games: 29,802. That's probably much higher than you would have expected, isn't it?
4:42 p.m. -- And this one keeps getting uglier. Lombardozzi is charged with an error on a grounder to his left. The next batter smoked a liner off Michael Gonzalez's glove, the ball scooting into center field. Harper tried to pick it up bare-handed, came up short and allowed the runners to take another base on that error. That allowed Braun's flyball to deep left-center to bring home another run. It's now 6-2 in the eighth.
4:54 p.m. -- The Nats have given themselves several opportunities at the plate today, but they haven't taken advantage of them. And they haven't done anything at the plate against the Milwaukee bullpen so far, with Francisco Rodriguez and Jim Henderson combining to retire all six batters they've faced, four via strikeout. They're down to their last three outs now.
5:19 p.m. -- It's over. The Nats lose 6-2. Their lead in the NL East drops to 4 1/2 games, their magic number stays at 6.