Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Ross Detwiler faces Mike Leake today at Great American Ball Park.
Davey Johnson will, however, be without one of his big guys. Adam LaRoche has been dealing with a stiff back for a couple of days and had to come out of last night's game when the condition got worse. He's sitting today, and it sounds like there's a good chance he'll sit again tomorrow. (More details coming in a full post.) So Chad Tracy gets the start today at first base, slotting right into LaRoche's No. 5 hole. Davey did say he could use Tyler Moore later in the game if the Reds bring in a left-handed reliever.
Ross Detwiler, meanwhile, becomes the final member of the Nationals' rotation to debut this season, hoping to shut down this potent Cincinnati lineup that caused so much damage last night. The lefty does seem like a better matchup from Washington's standpoint, but we'll see if that actually holds true.
Updates to come, so please check back...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at CINCINNATI REDS
Where: Great American Ball Park
Gametime: 1:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, Ch. 9
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 184
Weather: Partly cloudy, 58 degrees, Wind 12 mph in from CF
CF Denard Span
RF Jayson Werth
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Chad Tracy
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
LHP Ross Detwiler
CF Shin-Soo Choo
LF Chris Heisey
1B Joey Votto
2B Brandon Phillips
RF Jay Bruce
3B Todd Frazier
SS Zack Cozart
C Devin Mesoraco
RHP Mike Leake
HP Tim McClelland (cc)
1B Jerry Meals
2B Marvin Hudson
3B Jordan Baker
1:10 p.m. -- We are underway with a strike from Mike Leake to Denard Span. Turned out to be a chillier afternoon than anticipated, only 57 degrees at first pitch.
1:13 p.m. -- That didn't take long. Leake retires the side, though he nearly had his head taken off by Bryce Harper's comebacker. Leake somehow got his glove up in time to snag the liner and end the top of the first.
1:23 p.m. -- Wow, some serious chin music from Ross Detwiler to Joey Votto in the bottom of the first, 92 mph up and in, sending Votto to the ground. Tim McClelland awarded him first base. Just one problem: The ball never touched Votto. Didn't even appear to be close. Fortunately it didn't come back to haunt Detwiler, who retired Brandon Phillips to end a scoreless first inning on 14 pitches (9 strikes).
1:34 p.m. -- Good news: The Nats finally got a hit from a first baseman ... Chad Tracy, who blooped a broken-bat single to center in the top of the second. More good news: Beard-less Danny Espinosa is now 3-for-5 with two doubles after roping another extra-base hit to right-center. Bad news: The Nats couldn't turn that into a run. Trent Jewett couldn't wave the slow-footed Tracy around third, so that allowed the Reds to intentionally walk Wilson Ramos and load the bases with two outs for Detwiler, who struck out to end the inning. Tough break there. Still scoreless here.
1:55 p.m. -- There's no question Bryce Harper is going to hit his share of home runs this season. The only question is how many guys will be on base in front of him. His two bombs on Opening Day were both solo shots, but he just notched his first two-run homer of the season thanks to Werth's double right in front of him. Harper destroyed a first-pitch fastball from Leake, sending a laser over the right field wall. It's his third homer of the season, and it gives the Nats a 2-0 lead in the third.
2:03 p.m. -- Big-time pitch from Detwiler to coax a 4-6-3 double play out of Votto to escape a first-and-third jam in the bottom of the third. Yeah, Tracy's foot was never on first base, so Votto should've been safe. But that wasn't Detwiler's fault. He made a big pitch when he needed it against one of the game's best hitters. And because of it, he preserved the Nats' 2-0 lead after three.
2:21 p.m. -- Ian Desmond isn't exactly off to a fantastic start defensively this season. He just committed his third error in 4 1/2 games, and this one was a doozy: his throw sailed into the stands, allowing Brandon Phillips to take two bases. It also led to an unearned run when Frazier roped an RBI double to left. So that trims the Nats' lead to 2-1 as we move to the fifth.
2:40 p.m. -- We had another possibly phantom hit-by-pitch call in the fifth when Detwiler came up and in to Choo. This time, according to the Reds' slo-mo replay, it did appear Choo's jersey was grazed. Barely. Once again, though, Detwiler came up huge with a double-play grounder from one of Cincy's best hitters. This time he got Phillips to go 4-6-3, ending the fifth and preserving the Nats' 2-1 lead.
2:55 p.m. -- The last time Wilson Ramos appeared in a game here in Cincinnati, he tore his ACL trying to corral an errant pitch. Now, just steps away from that fateful moment, he launched his first home run since that night, a two-run bomb to left-center to cap a brilliant at-bat. Can only imagine how good that felt for Ramos. Nats lead 4-1 in the sixth.
3:08 p.m. -- That'll probably be it for Detwiler, who made some big pitches when he needed them. Final line: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 HBP, 82 pitches. All in all, a strong effort from the No. 5 starter in his season debut.
3:11 p.m. -- What was that about Werth's wrist sapping him of all his power? Didn't look like on there as he destroyed a pitch from Sam LeCure into the right-center bleachers, a 419-foot bomb for his second homer of the season. Even more amazing, the guy who made the barehanded catch of the homer was holding a baby in his other hand. Kind of an all-or-nothing play there, huh? So make it 5-1 Nats at the stretch. And here's Tyler Clippard to face the top of the Reds' lineup, featuring two left-handed hitters. There's some tangible insight into how Davey plans to use his bullpen this season.
3:20 p.m. -- A dominant inning of relief there from Clippard, with some help from Espinosa, who showed some serious hops to snag Derrick Robinson's liner to second for the first out. Clippard took care of the rest, striking out both Choo and Heisey to preserve the 5-1 lead as we move to the eighth.
3:26 p.m. -- So now here's Drew Storen to pitch the eighth, even though the left-handed Votto will lead off. Helps the Nats hold a four-run lead, so it's not like Votto can turn the entire game around himself here.
3:44 p.m. -- Well, that was nearly a complete and utter disaster. The Reds scored twice in the eighth to cut the lead to 5-3, getting three hits off Storen. But the real fiasco was Mesoraco's grounder through Desmond's legs (his second error of the day and fourth in five games) followed by Harper needlessly firing a throw to the backstop. No reason whatsoever for Harper to even attempt that throw, and all it did was allow the tying run to advance into scoring position. He was bailed out when Storen struck out Xavier Paul to end the inning, but that kind of mistake isn't excusable for Harper anymore. He knows better than to try that. 5-3 now heading to the ninth.
3:51 p.m. -- And here's Rafael Soriano, in search of his third save. He'll face the top of the order, so the key obviously is retiring the first two batters and not letting Votto step to the plate with anybody on base.
3:53 p.m. -- Leadoff homer by Choo. Not at all what Soriano had in mind. It's 5-4.
4:02 p.m. -- Disaster. Votto nearly tied the game with an opposite-field homer, settling instead for a triple off the wall. No matter, because seconds later Soriano's pitch found its way to the backstop, bringing Votto home with the tying run. Just like that, this game is tied 5-5 and we're heading to extra innings.
4:10 p.m. -- Aroldis Chapman. Mercy. Struck out the side in the 10th: Harper on a slider, Zimmerman on a fastball at the eyelids, Tracy on a slider. So we go to the bottom of the 10th, with Cincinnati's own Craig Stammen entering for the Nats.
4:19 p.m. -- We go to the 11th. The Reds nearly won it off Stammen, with Frazier singling and Mesoraco sending a flyball to the wall in center, not quite far enough to clear the fence. Stammen then struck out Jack Hannahan, prolonging this game. Onto the 11th...
4:25 p.m. -- Well, that's one way to make up for a 2-error day. Ian Desmond takes J.J. Hoover 439 feet to left field, into the upper deck. So the Nats re-take a 6-5 lead in the 11th. Looks like Stammen will get a chance to come back out in a "save" situation.
4:28 p.m. -- Sweet. Fancy. Moses. Wilson Ramos goes deep again. And he enjoyed the heck out of this one. Stood there and admired it. It's 7-5, still in the 11th.
4:40 p.m. -- Ballgame. The Nats win, 7-6, and improve to 4-1 on the season. What a wild one that turned into, with Stammen giving up a run in the 11th on Phillips' RBI double before getting Bruce to end the game.