Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nate Karns and Kevin Gausman face off tonight at Nationals Park.
So it should be a good matchup between these two young fireballers. One thing to watch in particular: How do they fare against the opposing lineups the second time around? Gausman struggled in that department last Thursday in Toronto. We'll see if he's made an adjustment, and we'll see if Karns is able to overcome that issue against a very tough Baltimore lineup.
Bryce Harper once again is out of the Nationals' lineup. Davey Johnson is going with the same group that yesterday produced only two runs, hoping to get a little more thunder against Gausman.
Updates to come, please check back...
BALTIMORE ORIOLES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500), WTEM (980 AM), XM 184
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 78 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to LF
CF Denard Span
2B Steve Lombardozzi
3B Ryan Zimmmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Tyler Moore
RF Roger Bernadina
C Kurt Suzuki
RHP Nate Karns
LF Nate McLouth
3B Manny Machado
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
1B Chris Davis
C Matt Wieters
SS J.J. Hardy
2B Yamaico Navarro
RHP Kevin Gausman
HP Tom Hallion (cc)
1B Ron Kulpa
2B Mike Estabrook
3B Phil Cuzzi
6:45 p.m. — Well, this is not good: It's pouring here and the start of tonight's game will be delayed. They're hoping this won't take long, but it's some intense rain at the moment. Stay tuned for updates.
7:50 p.m. — OK, the tarp is finally coming off and the pitchers are about to warm up. First pitch will be at approximately 8:25 p.m.
8:26 p.m. — This game is underway, and so is Nate Karns' big-league career. The right-hander fires a 94 mph fastball low to Nate McLouth for ball one.
8:31 p.m. — Wow, a 1-2-3, 10-pitch, top of the first for Karns, who dialed his fastball up to 97 mph against Manny Machado. Good stuff there. He got two grounders to second and then combined with Adam LaRoche on a nifty 3-1 groundout to get Nick Markakis and end the inning. Really nice start for the kid, who I'm sure had a few butterflies when he went out there.
8:41 p.m. — Double wow in the bottom of the first. Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Zimmerman each connected off Gausman for one-out singles. Adam LaRoche then stepped to the plate and destroyed a 96 mph fastball into the right-center field bleachers for a three-run homer that left this ballpark rocking. Just like that, the Nats lead 3-0 thanks to LaRoche's ninth homer and 24th, 25th and 26 RBI of the season.
8:55 p.m. — And the Orioles get one run back in the top of the second on a Chris Davis sinle and Matt Wieters double just inside the first-base line. Karns got himself into more of a jam, with runners on the corners and one out, but he reached back and struck out Yamaico Navarro and Gausman to end the inning and keep the Nats' lead at 3-1.
9:04 p.m. — Hmm, Karns needs to learn a couple of things about bunting: 1) You can't bunt a ball that hard, and 2) When you do, you've got to hustle down the line. Because of it, he just ended the second inning on a 5-6-4 double play.
9:12 p.m. — And Karns bounces back with a 1-2-3 top of the third, again retiring the top of the Orioles lineup. He's at 49 pitches through three. Davey Johnson said before the game he'll probably limit him to 80 percent of his usual pitch count, knowing he'd be extra amped-up for this. So figure he might be limited to maybe 80 total pitches, thus maybe five innings. Still 3-1 Nats as we go to the bottom of the third.
9:30 p.m. — Good lord, is Chris Davis on fire or what? He absolutely murdered a 1-2, 95 mph fastball from Karns into the right-field bullpen just now. The ball never lifted more than 20 feet off the ground. That's his 17th homer in 52 games. Do the math, that's remarkable. That trimmed the Nats' lead to 3-2, but it didn't stay that way for long. Two batters later, Karns left a 2-0 fastball way up in the zone to J.J. Hardy and the Baltimore shortstop crushed it to left-center for his 10th homer. So now it's a tie game, 3-3, as we move to the bottom of the fourth.
9:43 p.m. — Two thoughts to share about the bottom of the fourth: 1) Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina, who entered tonight with a COMBINED .273 batting average and .420 slugging percentage, crushed back-to-back homers of Gausman. 2) Sweet Fancy Moses! I mean, seriously, who saw THAT coming? Throw in Span's RBI double and the Nats have opened up a 7-3 lead and knocked Gausman out of the game. His final line: 4 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 3 HR. His ERA after two big-league starts now stands at 11.00.
10:17 p.m. — As much as Davey wanted to put Karns in line for the win, he just couldn't do it. Karns walked a pair of batters with one out in the fifth, and with Markakis stepping to the plate, Captain Hook had no choice but to stroll to the mound. Karns got a really nice ovation from the crowd as he departed. He won't qualify for the win, but he certainly acquitted himself well tonight. Duke, meanwhile, came up big, inducing a double play out of Markakis and then retiring the side in the sixth. That bridges the gap to the back of the bullpen and allows Davey to use those relievers the way he'd like. Still 7-3 Nats heading to the bottom of the sixth.
10:28 p.m. — And a scoreless seventh inning for Drew Storen, who needed one of those. We've reached the stretch, with the Nats still ahead 7-3.
10:51 p.m. — It took 22 pitches (18 of them strikes) but Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless eighth, getting Chris Davis to fly out to right with two on and two out to escape a jam and preserve the 7-3 lead.
11:00 p.m. — LaRoche with his second bomb of the night, his 10th of the season. It's 8-3. Wait, make that 9-3 as Bernadina drives in another run.
11:09 p.m. -- Ballgame. Nats win 9-3. Duke gets credit with the win, but Karns deserves plenty of praise.