Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Great American Ball Park hosts the Nationals this weekend.
Tonight we'll get our first official look at Haren, and he'll face a tough task in the Reds' potent, powerful, left-handed-laden lineup, not to mention the cozy dimensions of Great American Ball Park. Haren had a bit of an erratic spring, but he finished strong and, above all else, proclaims himself 100 percent healthy as the season begins.
No changes to Davey Johnson's lineup; it's the same top seven, with Kurt Suzuki back behind the plate for his second start of the young season. I'll be curious to see if Johnson gives anyone tomorrow off, with a day game following a night game. Though as Davey pointed out yesterday, pretty much every one of his regulars insists on playing every day.
Updates to come...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at CINCINNATI REDS
Where: Great American Ball Park
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 186
Weather: Clear, 55 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to RF
CF Denard Span
RF Jayson Werth
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
RHP Dan Haren
CF Shin-Soo Choo
LF Chris Heisey
1B Joey Votto
2B Brandon Phillips
RF Jay Bruce
3B Todd Frazier
SS Zack Cozart
C Ryan Hanigan
RHP Homer Bailey
HP Jordan Baker
1B Tim McClelland (cc)
2B Jerry Meals
3B Marvin Hudson
7:10 p.m. -- We are underway on what turned out to be a beautiful Friday night here on the banks of the Ohio River. Homer Bailey starts off Denard Span with ball one.
7:16 p.m. -- Bailey sat down the Nats in order in the top of the first, but props to Span for battling his way through an eight-pitch at-bat. As a leadoff man, if you're not going to get on base, at least make the pitcher work. Dan Haren takes the mound now for his Nats debut.
7:24 p.m. -- Haren's first inning as a National is complete. He recorded a couple of outs on well-struck flyballs, then allowed a two-out single up the middle to Joey Votto. But he blew a 91 mph fastball past Brandon Phillips to end the inning, so all in all, not a bad start to his night. Scoreless after one.
7:33 p.m. -- Hoo-boy, Bailey looks mighty sharp so far tonight. He's retired all six batters he's faced and struck out both Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond on fastballs right on the black in the top of the second. Impressive stuff from the right-hander through two scoreless.
7:43 p.m. -- Hmm, that was not good. Just when it looked like Haren was settling into a groove, he grooved back-to-back pitches to Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart. Each wound up clearing the left-field fence, Frazier's by a healthy margin (it landed in the second deck), Cozart's by much less. In fact, a fan may have reached over to snag Cozart's blast. Davey did come out to talk to plate umpire Jordan Baker about a review but didn't get one. (Wonder what new Nats first base coach Tony Tarasco, the guy in right field for the Orioles on the infamous Jeffrey Maeier play in 1996, thought about that?) The Reds continued to get to Haren after that, with Bailey sending a double off Jayson Werth's glove and Choo getting hit by a pitch. Haren escaped without any more damage, but that was an ugly stretch. And now the Nats trail for the first time this season, down 2-0 after two.
7:59 p.m. -- Nothing happening for the Nats so far, but they are making Bailey work. He's up over 50 pitches through three innings. The biggest infraction in the top of the third was Haren failing to get a bunt attempt down and advance Espinosa, who notched his first hit in 12 tries this season (this after shaving his beard this morning). Span drew a two-out walk to give Werth a chance, and he nearly beat out a grounder down the first-base line, but Votto did a nice job recovering from a bobble to feed the ball to Bailey just in time to nab Werth. So the Nats still trail 2-0, middle of the third.
8:14 p.m. -- I wrote this morning that something about this matchup just felt ominous for Dan Haren. Well, three innings in, it's turned ugly. Cozart just launched his second homer in as many innings, this one a three-run laser to left field. Haren has let seven of the last 10 batters he's faced reach safely, three of them home runs. And thus, the Nationals trail 5-0 after three.
8:23 p.m. -- Now the Nats are starting to look frustrated at the plate. LaRoche took a called third strike to fall to 0-for-12 on the season. Desmond then tried to launch a 5-run homer with a couple of way-too-hard swings before taking a called third strike himself to end the top of the fourth. It's still 5-0 Reds.
8:37 p.m. -- And it keeps getting worse for Haren, who served up his fourth homer of the night, this one to Choo, who sneaked one just over the fence in deep right-center. Davey again came out to ask the umpires to review for fan interference, and this time they obliged. After a lengthy, 3-minute, 39-second delay, they emerged and announced the call stood. Too bad they didn't review the first one, because I think that had a better chance of being overturned. Anyways, it's now 6-0 after four, and with Haren at 78 pitches and due up third, I think we've seen the last of him for tonight. Zach Duke about to make his season debut.
8:45 p.m. -- That is indeed it for Haren. His final line: 4 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HBP, 4 HR, 78 pitches, 52 strikes. So here's Zach Duke for mop-up duty.
9:08 p.m. -- 7-0 now after the Reds scored another run in the fifth off Duke. Now Desmond booted a grounder to lead off the sixth. Nothing's going right tonight.
9:18 p.m. -- Man, oh man, is Brandon Phillips spectacular at second base or what? He just stone-cold robbed Suzuki of a base hit to end the seventh. You know, Danny Espinosa could have 10 brilliant seasons at second base and still never win a Gold Glove as long as Phillips remains in the NL. Mercy.
9:29 p.m. -- Is it over yet? Nope. Frazier just clobbered his second homer of the night, the Reds' fifth of the night. Going back to last season, the Nationals pitching staff has now surrendered eight home runs in their last 16 innings in this ballpark. It's 10-0 here, still in the seventh.
9:36 p.m. -- So let's see. It's 10-0. A fan just ran onto the field, slid into second base, high-fived Devin Mesoraco and was pile-driven by cops into the ground. And now we've got a distinct possibility of seeing Henry Rodriguez bat in the top of the eighth inning. Stay tuned for this one, folks.
9:43 p.m. -- Then again, in order for Rodriguez to bat, he'd have to actually, you know, record an out and end the bottom of the seventh. Which he has yet to do. Say hello to Xavier Paul, who destroyed a pitch from H-Rod to right field for a grand slam. With the extra point, the Reds now lead 14-0. Sweet. Fancy. Moses.
10:02 p.m. -- Make it 15-0. If the Nats can't score in the top of the ninth, this will be the most-lopsided loss in club history (2005-present).
10:18 p.m. -- And mercifully, that's your ballgame. The Nats lose 15-0, the most-lopsided loss in team history. You know what, though? They still have the best record in baseball, so I wouldn't make plans to jump off the American Legion bridge quite yet.