Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Battle of the Beltways shifts to Camden Yards tonight.
The series, of course, is knotted at one game apiece after the Nationals thumped the Orioles last night. Tonight, they'll give the ball to Jordan Zimmermann, seeking to become the majors' first 9-game winner. He'll be going up against a tough Orioles lineup, though, one that we've already seen do some damage the last two nights.
Chris Tillman starts for Baltimore, facing a Nationals lineup that is again without Bryce Harper but does have Danny Espinosa back after five straight days off to let his fractured right wrist try to heal. Chad Tracy, meanwhile, has the honor of serving as DH for this game in the AL park.
Lots of updates to come, so 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 177
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 88 degrees, Wind 9 mph out to CF
CF Denard Span
RF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Tyler Moore
DH Chad Tracy
C Kurt Suzuki
2B Danny Espinosa
(RHP Jordan Zimmermann)
LF Nate McLouth
3B Manny Machado
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
1B Chris Davis
C Matt Wieters
SS J.J. Hardy
2B Ryan Flaherty
DH Steve Pearce
(RHP Chris Tillman)
HP Ron Kulpa
1B Mike Estabrook
2B Phil Cuzzi
3B Tom Hallion (cc)
7:05 p.m. — And we're underway on an 86-degree evening in Baltimore. Chris Tillman starts off Denard Span with a fastball for strike one.
7:14 p.m. — Mercy, did Ryan Zimmerman just crush a 2-2 pitch from Tillman. He nearly took out of his teammates in the back bullpen in deep left-center, an absolute rocket of a solo homer that puts the Nats up 1-0 early.
7:21 p.m. — And a quick, 1-2-3 bottom of the first for Jordan Zimmermann. The best sign for him: He got three groundball outs. That's been his forte all season.
7:41 p.m. — A not-so-quick bottom of the second for Zimmermann, who was roughed up quite a bit by the Orioles lineup. He did break three straight bats (two of those resulting in cheap hits) but then with two outs, Ryan Flaherty (hitting .133 and just recalled from Class AAA) smoked an RBI double down the right-field line. Zimmermann then walked No. 9 hitter Steve Pearce to load the bases. Nate McLouth also smoked a pitch from Zimmermann to right field, though this one hung up long enough for Roger Bernadina to make the catch and end the inning. It's 1-1 and Zimmermann is fortunate he didn't give up anymore there.
7:49 p.m. — Danny Espinosa's first at-bat after a five-day break to rest his fractured wrist produces a result all too familiar this season: a swinging strikeout on a high fastball. Still 1-1 as we go to the bottom of the third.
7:54 p.m. — Back to business for Zimmermann in the bottom of the third. He got three straight groundouts, all to second base. That's more like it. Still 1-1.
8:04 p.m. — Holy Roger Bernadina! He did it again. Two homers in two days for the previously ice-cold outfielder. And this one was crushed, landing on Eutaw Street (only the 68th ever to do that in Camden Yards history, only the second ever by a Nats player — Adam Dunn did it). And then to add icing on the cake, Zimmerman crushed his second homer of the night, a bomb to straight center field. Back-to-back jacks put the Nats up 3-1 in the middle of the fourth.
8:12 p.m. — And Chris Davis strikes yet again. His 18th homer of the season, a remarkable pace for the Orioles first baseman. This just in: The ball is kind of flying out of the yard tonight. Sheesh. It's 3-2 Nats after four.
8:30 p.m. — Make it 4-2 Nats as Espinosa reaches on an infield single (and takes second on an error) and then scores on Span's RBI double to right. That's a 10-game hitting streak for Denard. And then up stepped Ryan Zimmerman, who proceeded to make history. Yes, he just hit his third homer in as many at-bats tonight, this one an opposite-field, two-run blast. That's the first three-homer game of Zimmerman's career. And we're still only in the fifth inning, the Nats now leading 6-2 and Tillman headed for the showers. Sweet Fancy Moses!
8:50 p.m. — Steve Johnson has stopped the bleeding so far. But Zimmermann has found a groove as well, keeping this a 6-2 game in the middle of the sixth.
8:58 p.m. — This game is a long ways from over, folks. Especially the way the ball is flying tonight. Markakis just took Zimmermann deep to open the bottom of the sixth, the sixth combined homer of this game. These Orioles have put some serious bat to ball tonight. It's now 6-3 heading to the seventh.
9:03 p.m. — Zimmerman strikes out looking to end the top of the seventh. What a bum.
9:24 p.m. — As my late grandmother would have said: "Oy gevalt!" I don't even know what to say about what just transpired in the bottom of the seventh, and overall what is transpiring here tonight. Let's just say this: The Orioles now lead this game 9-6. They did so by scoring six runners in the bottom of the seventh, getting a two-run homer from Pearce, an RBI double from Machado that knocked Zimmermann out of the game, an RBI single from Markakis off Tyler Clippard and then a two-run bomb from (who else?) Chris Davis, also off Clippard. That's eight combined home runs in this game in only seven innings. I'm going to throw one question out there: Not saying this would have made a difference, but why exactly is Fernando Abad on this roster if not to face Markakis in that situation? Just seems odd to me. You've got a lefty specialist at last. Might as well use him to face one tough left-handed batter in a big spot.
9:34 p.m. — And the Nats go down in order in the eighth against Tommy Hunter. They've got three outs left to play with, still trailing by three runs.
9:47 p.m. — OK, here we go. It's Tracy, Suzuki and Espinosa due up against Jim Johnson, who has blown four of his last five save chances.
9:52 p.m. — It's over. Johnson closes it out and the Nats suffer an absolute crushing defeat, 9-6. This is gonna be a tough one to swallow.