The Nats try to salvage one win at AT&T Park this afternoon.
You know what would help make that red-eye flight home later tonight a whole lot more enjoyable? A win in today's series finale at AT&T Park. It won't cure all that ails the Nats right now, but it certainly would put everyone in a better mood. So Gio Gonzalez will attempt to put his team in position to earn that win and the lineup will attempt to cobble together more than a couple of runs and the bullpen will hope to attempt to close out a late lead.
Since we've got a game that's actually being played at a respectable hour on the East Coast, I'll be able to share some thoughts along the way right here. And I'll also have an Instant Analysis post as soon as the game ends, so please check back for all that...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Where: AT&T Park
Gametime: 3:45 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500), XM 187
Weather: Sunny, 58 degrees, Wind 15 mph LF to RF
CF Denard Span
RF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Tyler Moore
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
LHP Gio Gonzalez
CF Angel Pagan
2B Marco Scutaro
C Buster Posey
RF Hunter Pence
1B Brett Pill
3B Joaquin Arias
LF Andres Torres
SS Brandon Crawford
LHP Madison Bumgarner
HP Gary Darling (cc)
1B Paul Emmel
2B Jerry Meals
3B Bruce Dreckman
3:46 p.m. — And they are underway on what appears to be a chilly and windy Wednesday afternoon by the Bay. Madison Bumgarner starts off Denard Span with a fastball for strike one.
4:07 p.m. — Well, what could have been a really bad bottom of the first turned out just fine for Gio Gonzalez, who after a leadoff single and then a walk buckled down and got the heart of the Giants lineup to escape the inning. He struck out both Hunter Pence and Brett Pill on nasty curveballs, a nice display there by Gio to pitch his way out of a jam.
4:19 p.m. — Nice at-bat from Ian Desmond in the top of the second, fouling off several 3-2 offerings from Bumgarner before drawing a walk. Unfortunately, the Nats could never advance him past first base. Adam LaRoche became Bumgarner's fourth strikeout victim of the afternoon, and Danny Espinosa broke his bat on a grounder to short. Espinosa, if you're wondering, is now 1 for his last 32 with 15 strikeouts. He's hitting .158 for the season. Scoreless heading to the bottom of the second.
4:39 p.m. — The fact the Nats needed Gio to break up Bumgarner's no-hitter in the top of the third tells you where things stand right now. Not good, though it's still scoreless in the middle of the third.
4:55 p.m. — It's kind of tough when you're counting on Tyler Moore to come through with a two-out base hit with a man in scoring position. Such was the case in the top of the fourth after LaRoche blooped a double down the left-field line. That brought Moore to the plate, needing a rare clutch hit. He couldn't come through, grounding out to short to end the inning. Still scoreless, middle of the fourth now.
5:14 p.m. — Might have been a missed opportunity there for the Nats in the top of the fifth. Kurt Suzuki delivered a one-out single, then got a huge break on a pitch to Gio Gonzalez. Suzuki would've stolen second base easily, but Gio bunted and was thrown out on the sacrifice. Looked like one of the two missed a signal there. If Gio pulls the bat back, he's got a chance to drive Suzuki in from second base with one out. Instead, the pressure was on Span to deliver a two-out hit, and though he battled Bumgarner to a full count, he wound up popping up to end the inning. So it's still 0-0 in the middle of the fifth, with Gonzalez and Bumgarner each spinning gems.
5:25 p.m. — Remember how the Nats insisted they'd do a better job stopping opposing teams from stealing bases this season? Well, they've only thrown out 5 of 38 basestealers this year, a 13 percent rate. That ranks 29th in the majors (ahead of only the Brewers) and is actually worse than last year's 17 percent rate. Yikes.
5:35 p.m. — Well, that's one way to change the storyline. Harper takes Bumgarner deep to the opposite field for his 12th homer of the season. Boy did he (and the Nats) need that. They lead 1-0 in the sixth.
5:40 p.m. — And now Harper makes a nice catch on a ball to the warning track in right-center to end the sixth. It's as if he's suddenly got his swagger back. Still 1-0 heading to the seventh, with Gio cruising along.
6:01 p.m. — Great job by Gio to get through the seventh unscathed. At the same time, he gave up several hard-hit balls that inning. His pitch count is at 107, so he could possibly come back for the eighth. But I think you give him a handshake and hand this one over to the bullpen.
6:21 p.m. — Or not. Gio is back out for the eighth. Interesting decision by Davey. Meanwhile, the Nats again failed to add an insurance run in the top of the inning. We'll see if that proves costly once again.
6:36 p.m. — Oof. Gio issues a one-out walk. Drew Storen then enters and issues another walk. That put two on with one out for Posey, who promptly drove an RBI single to left, bringing home the tying run. A couple of nifty plays by Harper and LaRoche got them out of the inning without any more damage, but it's now a 1-1 game after eight. This is just my opinion here, but it seems to me like the Nats aren't playing to win games right now. They're playing not to lose them. And that's an approach that never works.
6:45 p.m. — Nothing happening in the top of the ninth (other than Espinosa finally recording a hit) so it's onto the bottom of the inning, with Tyler Clippard entering and trying to extend this game into extra innings.
6:55 p.m. — And they go to extra innings. On the final day of a 10-game West Coast trip. Man, oh man.
7:12 p.m. — And the Nats re-take the lead. Harper doubles, the Giants intentionally walk Zimmerman and Desmond delivers the RBI single to right, giving the Nats a 2-1 lead and bringing Rafael Soriano into the game in search of the save.
7:18 p.m. — Ballgame. This time, Soriano gets it done. The Nats win 2-1 and at least end a very eventful road trip on a positive note.