Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The postseason comes to Washington at last this afternoon.
About three hours from now, the postseason returns to Washington, with Edwin Jackson delivering the first pitch of Game 3 of the National League Division Series to Jon Jay as a sellout crowd on South Capitol Street roars with approval. It's an event so many people in this town have looked forward to experiencing for so long, but the mood will be dampened significantly if the Nationals don't emerge victorious.
How important is the outcome of this game? Well, there have been 39 five-game series in baseball history that were tied 1-1. The team that won Game 3 proceeded to win the series 30 times, losing only nine times. So, there you go.
Be sure to get here early for the pregame festivities, which include the full introductions of both teams, plus Frank Robinson throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. And for those not fortunate enough to be able to attend in person, you of course can get plenty of updates and analysis right here...
NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES - GAME 3
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:07 p.m. EDT
TV: MLB Network
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), WTEM (980 AM), XM 183
Weather: Sunny, 66 degrees, Wind 9 mph out to CF
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
RF Carlos Beltran
LF Matt Holliday
1B Allen Craig
C Yadier Molina
3B David Freese
2B Daniel Descalso
SS Pete Kozma
RHP Chris Carpenter
HP Joe West (cc)
1B Jim Joyce
2B Alfonso Marquez
3B Ed Hickox
LF Paul Emmel
RF Marvin Hudson
1:00 p.m. -- Just about ready to get this one started after a rousing pregame ceremony. Seriously, the Nats entertainment folks have been known to go overboard with some of their schtick over the years, but they did this one right. Great ovations for players, Davey Johnson and especially Frank Robinson, who strolled to the mound wearing a No. 20 Nats jersey and threw a ceremonial strike to Ian Desmond (also wearing No. 20). After a military national anthem, four F-16s buzzed over the stadium. Great stuff all around. Now, all that's left to do is ... play ball.
1:10 p.m. -- We are officially underway on a spectacular, 64-degree Wednesday afternoon in the nation's capital. Edwin Jackson starts of Jon Jay with a fastball outside for ball one.
1:16 p.m. -- And Jackson's first-inning troubles strike again. He looked sharp in getting two quick outs to start the game, but then served up a base hit to Matt Holliday and then a double down the left-field line to Allen Craig. With Michael Morse slow to retrieve the ball in the corner, Holliday scored easily, not even drawing a throw. Just like that, the Nats trail 1-0 as they come to the plate.
1:34 p.m. -- I think it's safe to say we've got a playoff atmosphere here today. Wow. Fans are into every single pitch like I've never seen in this town before. They really wanted to explode in the bottom of the first, but the Nats couldn't quite give them reason to do it. Jayson Werth led off with a single, and then Bryce Harper (sans batting gloves but wearing red-tinted contact lenses to combat the Sun Monster) drove one to the warning track in right for a very loud out. After Ryan Zimmerman reached on an error, the table was set. But neither Adam LaRoche (fielder's choice) or Michael Morse (strikeout) could complete the rally. One positive, though: The Nats made Chris Carpenter throw 25 pitches in the inning, which is significant for a guy who only made three starts at the end of the season.
1:46 p.m. -- Uh-oh. The second inning comes back to bite the Nats again. Just as Jordan Zimmermann did in Game 2, Jackson gives up hits to the first four batters he faced in the inning, the biggest blow Pete Kozma's three-run homer to left on a first-pitch fastball that tailed back over the lower, inside corner of the plate. It's 4-0 already, and now all that playoff energy in the stands through the first part of this game has been replaced by some major nerves.
1:59 p.m. -- Carpenter gets out of the bottom of the second inning after allowing a single to Desmond. Espinosa bunted him over to second and was called out at first on a close call by Jim Joyce (remember him?). Replay showed Espinosa was probably safe and the crowd let Joyce hear all about it. Carpenter retired Suzuki and Jackson to end the inning having thrown 15 pitches. He is at 40 through two.
2:09 p.m. -- Matt Holliday got on in the top of the third with his second hit of the day to lead off. Jackson was then able to strike out Craig and get Molina to ground into a double play. Jackson has only thrown 39 pitches through three, but has allowed seven total hits. Top of the order up next for the Nats.
2:23 p.m. -- Jackson retired the Cardinals in order in the top of the fourth. He began by striking out Freese, then got Descalso to fly out to deep right, then walked away after striking out Kozma. 53 pitches through four for Jackson. Oh, and the Presidents Race featured a "Gangnam Style" dance in the middle of it.
2:34 p.m. -- Desmond hit a one out double to right-center field, but the Nats again stranded a runner after Espinosa and Suzuki flew out. The Nats are now 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position today and 3-for-22 in the series. Still 4-0 Cardinals as we move to the top of the fifth inning.
2:46 p.m. -- (Chase here taking over for Mark) Jackson got out of the fifth after allowing a leadoff double to Carpenter. The Cardinals pitcher crushed a double off the left field wall and missed the home run by inches. Carpenter was then moved to third on a bunt by Jay. Beltran got on with a walk, but Jackson was able to work his way out of it with a fielder's choice to get Beltran out and a strikeout of Craig.
3:01 p.m. -- The Nationals loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth, but once again left with nothing to show for it. Werth walked with one out and was joined by Zimmerman who hit a two-out single. LaRoche then walked to load the bases for Michael Morse. Morse got behind in the count and then popped out to right field. 4-0 Cardinals as Craig Stammen comes in for Jackson to start the sixth.
3:15 p.m. -- The Cardinals got another one across after an eventful inning for Stammen. The Nats' reliever began the inning by plunking Molina. Freese then doubled off the scoreboard in right-center and Molina was knocked in on a sacrifice fly by Descalso. Now 5-0 Cardinals as Desmond leads off for Washington.
3:31 p.m. -- At this point I should just copy and paste. Once again the Nationals get runners on and leave them stranded. This time Desmond led off with a single and was joined on base by Lombardozzi who pinch-hit for Stammen. Werth came up with two outs and worked the count before popping out to Craig the first baseman. 5-0 Cardinals with Christian Garcia in to pitch the top of the seventh.
3:48 p.m. -- Now 6-0 Nats as Garcia walked a batter home in the top of the seventh. The inning started with back-to-back singles by Jay and Beltran. Craig was intentionally with runners on second and third before Molina was walked to score Jay. Harper gets things started for Washington.
4:17 p.m. -- After a three up, three down inning by the Nats offense, the Cardinals bats once again got going. Jay singled off Garcia before Beltran hit a ground-rule double to put two men in scoring position. A Holliday single in the next at-bat scored both base runners and St. Louis now goes into the eight up 8-0. A Nats Park record crowd of 45,017 hasn't had much to cheer for this afternoon.
4:25 p.m. -- Nats are once again retired in order as Morse flew out at the wall, Desmond flew out to shallow right field, and Espinosa struck out once again. Drew Storen will come in for the ninth.
4:33 p.m. -- Storen sets them down with no action from the Cardinals' lineup. Suzuki starts the bottom of the eighth as the Nats face an eight-run deficit.
4:42 p.m. -- Score stays at 8-0 as the Nats go down in the ninth. Werth walked with two outs, but Harper flew out right to Jay in center field to put this one in the books. Nats now face an elimination Game 4 tomorrow.