Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The series concludes on a beautiful Mother's Day at Nationals Park.
Gio Gonzalez is on the mound for the Nationals, trying to build off his outing from one week ago when he served up a leadoff home run and then loaded the bases, only to escape the jam and subsequently shut down the Pirates the rest of the afternoon. He's opposed by right-hander Scott Feldman, formerly of the Rangers.
Bryce Harper is back in the Nationals' lineup after missin g two days while recovering from the procedure to remove an ingrown toenail. He'll be in right field, with a new face in left field: Steve Lombardozzi. Lombo has yet to appear in the outfield this season, but he was out there yesterday morning and again this morning, working with Tony Tarasco on several things.
Updates to come, please check back...
CHICAGO CUBS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, Ch. 9, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Partly cloudy, 65 degrees, Wind 16 mph LF to RF
CF Denard Span
LF Steve Lombardozzi
RF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
LHP Gio Gonzalez
SS Starlin Castro
3B Cody Ransom
1B Anthony Rizzo
LF Alfonso Soriano
RF Scott Hairston
CF Ryan Sweeney
C Dioner Navarro
2B Darwin Barney
RHP Scott Feldman
HP John Tumpane
1B Paul Nauert
2B Angel Hernandez (cc)
3B Doug Eddings
1:37 p.m. — We are underway on a surprisingly chilly and very windy Mother's Day. Gio Gonzalez starts off Starlin Castro with a fastball for strike one.
1:41 p.m. — And a 1-2-3 top of the first for Gio Gonzalez, who retired the side on eight pitches. The last out was a comebacker that required Gio to make an awkward play, possibly tweaking his ankle in the process. He walked kind of gingerly off the mound, but didn't look seriously hurt.
1:59 p.m. — The good news: The Nats jumped on Scott Feldman for a quick run, thanks to Denard Span's double, Bryce Harper's walk and Ryan Zimmerman's RBI double off the wall in right-center. The bad news: They missed a golden opportunity to really take it to Feldman early, stranding two men in scoring position after Adam LaRoche struck out and Danny Espinosa flied out to left. Gotta wonder if that will come back to haunt them later. 1-0 after one.
2:05 p.m. — Nice start to the afternoon for Gio. He's retired all six batters faced and is going right after the Cubs' hitters. Sixteen of 22 pitches for strikes so far. Good stuff.
2:15 p.m. — Hmm, generous strike zone today from plate umpire John Tumpane. Lombardozzi found that out the hard way in the bottom of the second, having strikes called on both edges of the plate and thus stranding Suzuki on third. It's early, but the Nats have already stranded three men in scoring position in two innings. They still lead 1-0.
2:21 p.m. — Make it nine up, nine down for Gio, who is going right after the Cubs hitters. Twenty-three of his 32 pitches for strikes. Impressive.
2:33 p.m. — Yikes, John Tumpane making a name for himself today. And not in a good way. The fill-in ump just rung up Desmond on a pitch over the left-handed batter's box. Desmond was furious, and rightfully so. The Nats are 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position through three innings, but Tumpane has contributed as much to that as anyone. Still 1-0 after three.
2:38 p.m. — Make it 12 up, 12 down for Gio. Absolutely dealing.
2:53 p.m. — Make it 15 up, 15 down for Gio. He's at 56 pitches through five innings, has struck out five. Cruising along with no signs of letting up. Still 1-0 Nats.
2:59 p.m. — Gio may be dealing, but the Nats are barely supporting him at the plate. They've managed only the one run on three hits against Feldman through five innings.
3:12 p.m. — And there goes the perfect game and the no-hitter. Dioner Navarro breaks it up with a perfectly placed grounder to the hole between third and short, and though Desmond got there, he had no chance to make the throw. Gio suffered a hiccup after that, loading the bases with two outs for Anthony Rizzo. But he got the Cubs No. 3 hitter to ground out to first and then skipped off the mound with a loud exclamation, pretty fired up to have preserved the Nats' 1-0 lead.
3:25 p.m. — The Nats aren't exactly giving Gio any room for error today. They're now 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position after Espinosa and Suzuki stranded guys in the bottom of the sixth. It remains a 1-0 game as Gio takes the mound for the seventh.
3:32 p.m. — Gio is now through the seventh, having yet to allow a run. He's really been in complete control all afternoon. Seventh-inning stretch time.
3:40 p.m. — Interesting, Davey decided to have Chad Tracy pinch-hit for Gio in the bottom of the seventh. He was only at 86 pitches and obviously was dealing and certainly looked like he could've kept going. But Davey was looking for offensive insurance. Unfortunately, Tracy struck out and the Nats did nothing else in the inning. So it's still 1-0 heading to the eighth, and now Drew Storen is in to face the bottom of the Cubs' lineup.
3:55 p.m. — And there goes Gio's win. Storen gave up a leadoff single to Navarro, who then was replaced by pinch-runner Travis Wood (a pitcher). That proved important, because Wood advanced to second on Barney's sac bunt, then took third on David DeJesus' foul pop-up down the first-base line. That allowed him to score on Castro's single up the middle. Just like that, it's a 1-1 game and Gio's effort is wasted. Davey's going to have to explain his quick hook of the lefty today.
4:06 p.m. — Wow, a crazy catch by Ryan Sweeney to end the eighth and rob Desmond of a go-ahead double. He crashed into the wall and avoided crashing into Davd DeJesus to make the play, a real dagger. So we go to the ninth and now Rafael Soriano has entered a tie game.
4:20 p.m. — Yikes, disaster in the top of the ninth. Soriano gave up two quick base hits, setting the stage for a double steal. Suzuki's throw, though, was spiked into the ground and bounced way down the left field line. That let Alfonso Soriano score the go-ahead run. The Nats now trail 2-1 and are three outs from a rough loss.
4:26 p.m. — That's it. The Nats lose 2-1, a truly disheartening loss. They also wind up losing the series to the last-place Cubs. Not good.