Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Edwin Jackson faces his former Cardinals teammates tonight at Busch Stadium.
There's no chance of a champagne celebration tonight, not with the magic number at 3, though the Nationals can put themselves in position to do it tomorrow if they can win this series opener. (Or, of course, if the Braves lose their series opener to the Mets, on Chipper Jones Night in Atlanta. Probably best not to count on that happening.)
Edwin Jackson, owner of a 2011 Cardinals World Series ring, gets the start for the Nationals, looking to become the fifth member of this year's rotation to win 10 games. He'll be opposed by Adam Wainwright, whose first season back from Tommy John surgery hasn't quite been up to his pre-surgery standards.
Updates to come, so please check back...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Where: Busch Stadium
Gametime: 8:15 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 187
Weather: Partly cloudy, 64 degrees, Wind 6 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 Edwin Jackson
CF Jon Jay
3B Matt Carpenter
LF Matt Holliday
1B Allen Craig
C Yadier Molina
RF Carlos Beltran
2B Daniel Descalso
SS Pete Kozma
RHP Adam Wainwright
HP Bill Welke
1B Cory Blaser
2B Chris Guccione
3B Jeff Nelson (cc)
8:15 p.m. -- We are underway on a beautiful, 65-degree night in the Gateway City.
8:25 p.m. -- For the second straight night, Bryce Harper scores in the top of the first to give the Nats the lead. This time, he roped a double down the right-field line, then scored later on Adam LaRoche's two-out single to center. That's Harper's 95th run of the season and LaRoche's 99th RBI. The Nats lead 1-0.
8:50 p.m. -- Wow, that was ugly. The Cardinals didn't just get one run back in the bottom of the first. They didn't just get two. Or three. Or four. They got five. Edwin Jackson failed to retire any of the first six batters he faced. He issued two walks. He threw only 14 of 30 pitches for strikes. The only outs he recorded were on a flyball to the warning track that was 10 feet shy of being a grand slam and on a 6-4-3 double play by the pitcher. To be fair, Jackson wasn't helped by some sloppy defense (Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman, who was charged with an error) and a couple of the hits weren't well-struck. But he still didn't make big pitches when he needed them, he fell behind just about everyone and he put his team in a huge early hole. This is nothing new, of course. Jackson's ERA in the first inning this season is now 7.20. His ERA in every other inning is 3.09. The Nats better hope that trend continues the rest of this night, because they're down 5-1 and can't afford to give up anything more.
9:20 p.m. -- Well, the season-long trend did not continue for Jackson. The only trend that continued was his night-long trend: an inability to get batters out. He faced 15 batters in this game. He retired three, one on a double play hit by the pitcher, another on a 380-foot bomb to the warning track. He walked three, uncorked two wild pitches, threw only 25 of 56 pitches for strikes, served up a two-run homer in to the bullpen to Yadier Molina and saw his season ERA jump from 3.77 to 4.13 in the span on 1 1/3 innings. It's not easy to raise your ERA 36 points in your 30th start of the year. Jackson just did. Tom Gorzelanny is now in from the bullpen, and the Nats trail 9-1 after two innings.
9:34 p.m. -- Hmm, Gorzelanny has faced four batters and recorded five outs. Jackson faced 15 batters and recorded four outs. Still 9-1 after three.
9:35 p.m. -- In slightly happier news: Lucas Duda just launched a three-run homer to put the Mets up 3-1 on the Braves in the seventh inning.
9:38 p.m. -- In not-as-happy news: Homer Bailey just no-hit the Pirates and pitched the Reds to a 1-0 victory. So, barring a stunning turnaround by the Nats tonight, they and Cincinnati will be tied for the best record in the majors at 95-62. (Though remember they hold the tiebreaker based on head-to-head record, so they'd still be the No. 1 seed.) The Pirates, however, just lost their 81st game, guaranteeing another non-winning season. Hey, if you're going to clinch your 20th straight losing season, might as well get no-hit in the process, right?
9:55 p.m. -- Since there really isn't much detail about this game worth providing right now -- it's still 9-1 in the fifth -- we'll just update the Braves, who down 3-1 in the eighth decided to intentionally walk Daniel Murphy to load the bases for David Wright. And got away with it, inducing a double play. So it remains 3-1 Mets in the bottom of the eighth.
10:02 p.m. -- OK, one update from the Nats game: Down 9-1 in the fifth, Davey has pulled Zimmerman, Werth, Harper and Suzuki. Live to fight another day.
10:10 p.m. -- Middle of the sixth now. Still 9-1. Truthfully, the only drama left here tonight is to see if Sandy Leon makes an appearance. Preferably at shortstop.
10:16 p.m. -- Well, there it is. Tonight will go down as a positive night for the Nationals. The Braves just lost to the Mets 3-1. The magic number is down to 2. The Nats will have a chance to clinch the NL East tomorrow night.
10:25 p.m. -- Roger Bernadina. Bleachers. It's 9-2. All the Nats need to do now is score seven runs before they hit into seven outs.
10:36 p.m. -- More good news for Nats fans: The Phillies were just officially eliminated from postseason contention.
10:51 p.m. -- 10-2 Cardinals in the eighth. Is anyone out there still watching?
10:52 p.m. -- 12-2 Cardinals in the eighth. I would certainly hope nobody out there is still watching now.
11:06 p.m. -- Mercifully, it's over. The Nats lose, 12-2. But you know what? They have a chance to clinch the NL East tomorrow night. So life could be a lot worse.