Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals' first-ever postseason runs begins today at Busch Stadium.
No surprises from Davey Johnson with his Game 1 lineup. It's the same one he fielded throughout the final two weeks of the pennant race. He doesn't have any surprises planned for his use of the pitching staff and said all of his relievers are capable of going back-to-back-to-back days if necessary. And he didn't feel any need to speak to his entire roster as a group in advance of this series.
"If I had a meeting," the 69-year-old skipper said, "they'd think I was panicking or something."
So there's nothing really left to say except: Enjoy the game, and please check back here for updates and analysis throughout...
NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES - GAME 1
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Where: Busch Stadium
Gametime: 3:07 p.m. EDT
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), WSPZ (570 AM), XM 184
Weather: Sunny, 53 degrees, Wind 9 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
LHP Gio Gonzalez
CF Jon Jay
RF Carlos Beltran
LF Matt Holliday
1B Allen Craig
C Yadier Molina
3B David Freese
2B Daniel Descalso
SS Pete Kozma
RHP Adam Wainwright
HP Paul Emmel
1B Marvin Hudson
2B Joe West (cc)
3B Jim Joyce
LF Alfonso Marquez
RF Ed Hickox
3:08 p.m. -- Seventy-nine years to the day since the final game of the 1933 World Series, Washington is back in the postseason. We are underway with a ball low from Adam Wainwright to Jayson Werth.
3:12 p.m. -- And Wainwright proceeds to set the Nats down in order on 10 pitches. He struck out Werth on a curveball in the dirt. He got Bryce Harper to ground out on the very first pitch he saw. And he struck out Ryan Zimmerman on a curveball in the dirt. Guys a little overanxious in the top of the first? Could be. Here comes Gio Gonzalez.
3:23 p.m. -- Gio Gonzalez might have been battling a few nerves there in the bottom of the first. He was kind of flying open and firing a bunch of fastballs up and way outside to right-handed hitters, leading to a two-out walk of Matt Holliday. But he escaped unscathed, finishing with 18 pitches (nine strikes) and moving this scoreless game into the second inning.
3:39 p.m. -- And the Nationals take the lead, with one of their most clutch hitters from September delivering again in October: Kurt Suzuki. The catcher and No. 8 hitter smacked a two-out single to left, scoring Adam LaRoche from third and giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead. They had a chance to really do some damage after Wainwright incredibly walked Gio on four pitches to load the bases for Werth, but the veteran right fielder grounded out to end the inning. All things considered, though, the Nats can't complain about holding an early 1-0 lead.
4:02 p.m. -- Well, I suppose there are two ways you could look at this. 1) Through two innings, Gio Gonzalez has a no-hitter going. 2) His mechanics are a complete mess. Five walks in two innings, a wild pitch, only 27 of 55 pitches for strikes. Somehow, he managed to limit the Cardinals to two runs, a minor miracle. But Gio is as off so far today as we've seen him at any point this year. Nats trail 2-1 after two.
4:18 p.m. -- And of course Gonzalez comes out for the third inning with the weight of the world on his left shoulder and proceeds to retire the side on 16 pitches (11 strikes). Davey Johnson talked this morning about how anytime he gets into trouble early, Gio calms his manager down by telling him he'll be OK. He just proved it there. Still 2-1 Cards after three. Gio hasn't allowed a hit but he's already thrown 71 pitches.
4:30 p.m. -- On the surface, it didn't look like the Nats much of anything at the plate in the top of the fourth. Here's one big thing they did, though: Ian Desmond (after singling for his second hit of the day) took out Daniel Descalso with a great slide to break up a potential inning-ending double play. That allowed Gio Gonzalez to come to the plate and allowed the Nats to turn over their lineup heading into the fifth. Honestly, that's a big deal. If Gio can get through the bottom of the fourth in one piece, the Nats will have the top of their lineup in place for the fifth with a chance to get things going again.
4:39 p.m. -- Danny Espinosa has had an awful day at the plate so far, striking out in both of his at-bats with men on base. But even when he's struggling at the plate, he still brings a lot to the table. Witness the 6-4-3 double play he just helped turn to close out the fourth inning. Superb job. So it remains 2-1 Cards, and Gio's pitch count is at a still-manageable 83. He can go at least one more inning, maybe two if he's efficient.
4:53 p.m. -- Make it nine strikeouts for Wainwright through five innings, eight of them on curveballs. The Nats actually have put seven men on base but haven't been able to string much of anything together. They're 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position so far. Still 2-1 Cardinals as we move to the bottom of the fifth.
5:10 p.m. -- Well, that's going to wind up as one of the craziest-looking pitching lines in postseason history. Gio Gonzalez, ladies and gentlemen: 5 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 7 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 110 pitches, 59 strikes. And after all that, the Nats trail 2-1 through five. Have to consider themselves incredibly fortunate to be in this position.
5:31 p.m. -- The good news: The Nats knocked Wainwright out of the game, after he struck out 10 in 5 2/3 innings. The bad news: Jayson Werth has stranded the bases loaded twice in six innings today. He did it in the top of the second, grounding out to short. And he just did it in the sixth, striking out with reliever Lance Lynn on the mound. So much of postseason success is predicated on clutch hitting. Well, the Nats are 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position so far today. And because of it, they still trail 2-1. Craig Stammen in for the bottom of the sixth.
5:41 p.m. -- Wow, what a catch from Werth to atone for his strikeout moments earlier. He went back to the wall in right field, battled the sun and robbed Daniel Descalso of a two-run homer. Fantastic play to keep this a 2-1 game, with credit also to Stammen for striking out Skip Schumaker to end the sixth with two men on. Harper, Zimmerman and LaRoche coming up for the Nats against Edward Mujica.
5:50 p.m. -- Nothing doin' in the seventh as Mujica retires the side on six pitches. The Nats are down to their last six outs.
6:01 p.m. -- Holy moly, what a performance from Ryan Mattheus! Thrust into the worst kind of jam -- bases loaded, nobody out, heart of the lineup up -- he managed to record three outs on two pitches and keep this a 2-1 game. Remarkable. As poorly as the Nats have played today, they're still one swing from tying this game. Crazy stuff.
6:19 p.m. -- Sweet Fancy Moses! Tyler Moore, ladies and gentlemen! Two-out, two-strke, two-run single to right. The Nats lead 3-2 on the biggest hit of the rookie's life. Now Tyler Clippard has to get through the bottom of the eighth. How's everyone holding up out there?
6:31 p.m. -- Paul Emmel just gave Clippard the outside corner. And then he gave him four more inches on top of that. Whatever, Clippard will take his inning-ending strikeout of Matt Carpenter with the tying run on second. Eighth inning over. The Nats are three Drew Storen outs from winning Game 1.
6:39 p.m. -- We go to the bottom of the ninth. Drew Storen vs. the top of the order, up 3-2.
6:47 p.m. -- It's over. It's all over. The Nats win 3-2, a remarkable ballgame to open this postseason.