Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nationals need to win today to keep their season alive.
"You can't take it for granted at any time, whether you're up or down or whatever, that it's over," Davey Johnson said this morning. "That room over there, the guys I've got, they have that mindset. You take nothing for granted. We don't feel like we are out of this by a long shot, believe me."
Johnson didn't believe it was appropriate to make any changes to his lineup for this do-or-die game, but he admitted he will have a different managing strategy than he's had all year. Ross Detwiler will have a very short leash, and if the left-hander gets into any trouble early, Johnson will turn to a surprising face out of the bullpen: Jordan Zimmermann, who is available four days after throwing 63 pitches at Busch Stadium.
Johnson doesn't plan to hold any team meeting before the game, but veteran Mark DeRosa suggested last night he might have a few words for his teammates, underscoring the need to play with some urgency today. Whether any of that makes a difference on the field remains to be seen.
Either way, it's going to be an eventful late afternoon and early evening at the ballpark. If you can't attend in person, we've got you covered right here with live updates and analysis throughout...
NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES - GAME 4
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 4:07 p.m. EDT
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), WSPZ (570 AM), XM 186
Weather: Sunny, 61 degrees, Wind 6 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
LHP Ross Detwiler
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 Kyle Lohse
HP Jim Joyce
1B Alfonso Marquez
2B Ed Hickox
3B Paul Emmel
LF Marvin Hudson
RF Joe West (cc)
4:08 p.m. -- And Game 4 is underway with a ball outside from Ross Detwiler to Jon Jay. It's a bit chillier today, 62 degrees at gametime. The energy in the park isn't nearly what it was yesterday, a lot of nervous anticipation I suppose.
4:13 p.m. -- Nothing like a 1-2-3, 11-pitch top of the first to get the crowd going. Solid work from Detwiler there, getting a grounder to short, a popup to short and then a comebacker to end the inning.
4:32 p.m. -- Hey, how about that! A scoreless second inning by a Nats pitcher! Detwiler did surrender a two-out single to David Freese but battled through a long at-bat with Daniel Descalso to induce a groundout to second. He's thrown 30 pitches through two scoreless, the Nats now trying to give him a lead in the bottom of the inning.
4:44 p.m. -- There's reason for the crowd to explode at long last. Adam LaRoche, moments after tattooing a 3-2 pitch from Kyle Lohse just foul down the right-field line, tattoos another 3-2 pitch over the center-field fence. The Nats take a 1-0 lead and this ballpark has come alive.
4:57 p.m. -- And the Cards get the run right back without benefit of a hit. After Pete Kozma drew a leadoff walk and took second on a sac bunt, Ian Desmond booted a slow roller to short, putting runners on the corners with one out. Carlos Beltran then lofted a flyball to right-center, deep enough to score Kozma from third. Bryce Harper, though, airmailed a throw way wide of the plate, never coming close to the cutoff man. That allowed the trailing runner to advance to second and put Detwiler in a real spot. He responded by striking out Holliday looking at a 3-2 fastball on the outside corner, but it's now 1-1 in the middle of the third.
5:05 p.m. -- Let's see, the Nats have LaRoche's solo homer and ... nothing else so far against Lohse through three innings. That's probably not going to cut it. Meanwhile, the Giants just completed a remarkable comeback from down 2 games to 0 in their NLDS to win three straight in Cincinnati and beat the Reds. They'll advance to the NLCS and await the winner of this series.
5:23 p.m. -- Another scoreless inning for Detwiler and another scoreless inning for Lohse, who pitched around Ryan Zimmerman's one-out single in the fourth. Both pitchers have settled into a groove. Looks like this is going to be a nip-and-tuck ballgame today.
5:35 p.m. -- Five innings of one (unearned) run, two-hit ball from Detwiler so far today. The Nats couldn't have hoped for much better than that out of their young lefty. He's due up fourth in the bottom of the fifth, and Craig Stammen is warming in the pen in case his spot comes up.
5:39 p.m. -- Well, the spot never came up because the Nats went down in order. So Detwiler will retake the mound for the sixth, this game still tied 1-1. Meanwhile, I've got to start writing my instant game story, so Chase Hughes is going to take over with updates the rest of the way.
5:53 p.m. -- Chase pinch-hitting for Mark here. Detwiler got out of the top of the sixth after letting two men on. Craig singled with one out and then reached second on a double play attempt where Espinosa left the bag before making the turn to first. Espinosa did get Molina out at first. Freese was then intentionally walked to first to put two men on with two outs. Descalso then grounded out to Espinosa to end the frame. Still 1-1 Nats with Lombardozzi in to pinch-hit for Detwiler. Det went six innings with 0 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 2 SO. 104 pitches (59 strikes).
6:01 p.m. -- Quick turn for the Nats offense as Lombardozzi flies out to center, Werth strikes out, and Harper pops up to end the inning. Jordan Zimmermann will come in for the first relief appearance of his career. 1-1 still as we begin the 7th here at Nationals Park.
6:07 p.m. -- Wow what an inning by Zimmermann, absolutely dominant. The usual starter came out and struck out the side with fastballs touching 97 miles per hour several times and sliders just as sharp. After getting Jay out to end the inning, the crowd rose to their feet and went crazy. Would think it will pump up the Nats on offense with Zimmerman, LaRoche, and Morse due up.
6:17 p.m. -- LaRoche drew a walk on Lohse with one out, but Michael Morse hit the next pitch right to Kozma at short for the double play. Still 1-1 as Clippard replaces Zimmermann to begin the 8th.
6:26 p.m. -- Clippard struck out Beltran and Holliday on ten total pitches to begin the inning. The Holliday at-bat featured some favorable calls by umpire Jim Joyce. Craig then walked on five pitches before Clippard struck out Molina swinging to end the inning. Clippard let out some screams and at least four fist pumps by my count as he walked off the mound. This is a great baseball game so far. 1-1 heading into the bottom of the 8th.
6:39 p.m. -- Another inning goes by with the game tied at 1-1 here at Nationals Park. Suzuki got on with two outs by drawing a walk, but pinch-hitter Chad Tracy struck out to end the frame. Strike three came on a pitch so inside it almost hit him. Drew Storen in for the ninth inning to keep this thing knotted up and give the top of the Nats' lineup a chance to take the win.
6:55 p.m. -- Whew, Storen got out of the top of the ninth safely, but it was sure made interesting. After striking out the first two batters, Pete Kozma (who else?) drew a walk. Pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter came in and worked a full count. He hit a floating fly ball to shallow left and Ian Desmond made a leaping catch over his shoulder to save the inning and keep it scoreless. Just an unbelievable play by the shortstop. 1-1 now with the Nats' top of the order up next. Lance Lynn in to pitch for the Cards.
7:03 p.m. -- Jayson Werth hits a walkoff homer! Nats win 2-1, there will be a Game 5 in the NLDS!