Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nationals Park plays host to the White Sox starting tonight.
Adam Dunn, on the other hand, is here, his first trip to D.C. since his final game with the Nationals in 2010. Remember all those "Sign Adam Dunn!" chants? Feels like a long time ago, huh? The big guy won't be in Chicago's lineup for the opener, since there's no DH in the NL park and the Nats are sending left-hander Gio Gonzalez to the mound. Sounds like Dunn will start at least one of the next two games, though, at which point I expect him to get a nice ovation from the crowd.
The guy who replaced Dunn at first base here in Washington, Adam LaRoche, is back in the lineup after missing two games with a stiff back. LaRoche is still looking for his first hit of the season, having gone 0-for-13 before the back injury started acting up.
Updates to come...
CHICAGO WHITE SOX at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), XM 185
Weather: Partly cloudy, 79 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to CF
CF Denard Span
RF Jayson Werth
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
LHP Gio Gonzalez
WHITE SOX (4-2)
CF Alejandro De Aza
3B Jeff Keppinger
RF Alex Rios
1B Paul Konerko
LF Dayan Viciedo
SS Alexei Ramirez
C Tyler Flowers
2B Gordon Beckham
RHP Jake Peavy
HP Phil Cuzzi
1B Chris Guccione
2B Tom Hallion (cc)
3B Ron Kulpa
7:08 p.m. -- And we're underway on an absolutely gorgeous, 81-degree night in the District. Gio Gonzalez fires strike one to Alejandro De Aza. No sign of the First Fan here tonight.
7:24 p.m. -- Well, that was ... uh, interesting. Gio labored through the top of the first, loading the bases with one out on two singles and a walk. Then he very nearly pitched his way out of the jam, striking out Dayan Viciedo and then running the count full to Alexei Ramirez. And then ... total brain cramp. Gio stepped off the rubber with the wrong foot, essentially beginning his windup but never completing it, and was immediately called for a balk. That brought a run home. Fortunately, he got Ramirez to line out to center to end the inning and prevent any further damage. Still, that was a 33-pitch first inning for the lefty, featuring a run that scored because of nothing but a brain cramp on Gio.
7:36 p.m. -- The good news: The Nats made Jake Peavy work in the bottom of the first, with Denard Span, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper all running the count full. The bad news: They had nothing to show for it. Harper lined a base hit to right, but then unwisely tried to stretch it into a double and was thrown out. Werth appeared to have some words for the kid after that. Not a smart play at all by Harper. Nats trail 1-0 after one.
7:45 p.m. -- Strange night so far for Gio. He's got four strikeouts through two innings, but is already up to 51 pitches (31 strikes). He's not going to make it long tonight at that rate. We'll see if he can become a bit more efficient moving forward.
8:04 p.m. -- Gio's strange odyssey continues. He's got six strikeouts now through three innings, but his pitch count is all the way up to 74. Basically, he's been unhittable ... when he locates his pitches. Unfortunately, he hasn't done that quite consistently enough. Gonna be interesting to see how long Davey lets him go in this one. Still 1-0 Sox in the middle of the third.
8:10 p.m. -- Who does Gio think he is, Bryce Harper? He just produced his second hit of the season, but spoiled it by trying to stretch it into a double. He was, not surprisingly, DOA. So Peavy has faced the minimum and not had to pitch out of the stretch through three scoreless, even though he's allowed two hits.
8:27 p.m. -- Well, the Nats are on the board at last. Span battled his way through another at-bat and then singled to center (thankfully not attempting to stretch it into a double). He did show some nice baserunning skills going first-to-third on Harper's single to right. That put him in position to score on Zimmerman's sac fly to right. The inning ended on a sour note, though, with LaRoche striking out for the second time tonight, leaving him 0-for-15 on the season. This game is now 1-1 after four.
8:35 p.m. -- Here's one you don't see everyday: a 6-4 double play ... on a pop-up. Yep, De Aza broke from second on the pitch, then couldn't get back in time after Desmond caught Keppinger's pop-up. Weird night at the ballpark so far. Still 1-1 in the middle of the fifth.
8:46 p.m. -- Desmond puts the Nats up 2-1 with a bomb into the left-field bullpen. That's his second of the season and it puts Gio in line for the win ... because he's now out of the game after five innings and 99 pitches. Craig Stammen in for the sixth, trying to protect this slim lead.
8:54 p.m. -- Well, Gio won't get the win tonight. Or the loss. No-decision for the starter after Stammen gives up the tying run in the sixth. It wasn't totally his fault, because Ramos was charged with a tough error when his throw trying to catch Rios stealing second ricocheted off his helmet and into right field. Moments later, Rios scored on Konerko's sac fly. So it's now 2-2.
9:13 p.m. -- And the Nats get the lead right back, thanks to none other than Werth, who destroyed a first-pitch fastball from Peavy into the left-field stands for a two-run shot (Span had doubled right in front of him). That was Werth's third homer of the season -- that wrist doesn't appear to be bothering him at all, does it? -- and it put the Nats up 4-2. ... For a couple of seconds. Before you could write that homer into your scorecard, LaRoche ended his 0-fer-the-season with his own two-run bomb to center. Just crushed it. The Nats now lead 6-2 and Peavy gets an unceremonious exit to this ballgame.
9:31 p.m. -- Man, the ball is flying out of Great American Ball Park tonight. Oh wait, we're not in Cincinnati anymore, we're back in D.C. Could've fooled me. Konerko takes Tyler Clippard deep in the seventh, a three-run shot, and all of a sudden the Nats' lead is down to 6-5. Must be the warm weather.
9:51 p.m. -- There's a very big insurance run, via Werth. Laced an RBI single to left to score Steve Lombardozzi, who drew a walk while pinch-hitting for Clippard and then took two bases when reliever Donnie Veal's pickoff attempt sailed into right field. That Veal kid looked a little raw out there, huh? It's 7-5 Nats as Drew Storen enters for the eighth.
9:59 p.m. -- A nice, 1-2-3 eighth inning from Storen, who struck out a pair. No nonsense there from the right-hander. Still 7-5 as we go to the bottom of the eighth and Rafael Soriano begins to loosen in the pen.
10:06 p.m. -- Wow, I guess LaRoche has broken out of the slump, huh? Just launched another homer, his second in three innings. This one off a lefty, too. It's 8-5 now.
10:21 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. Soriano closes out an 8-7 victory. Wait, 8-7? Yep, he served upa 2-run homer to Rios with two outs in the ninth before recovering to get the save. The Nats improve to 5-2 on the young season.