Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg faces the Braves tonight at Turner Field.
The bad news: Neither Bryce Harper nor Jayson Werth is in the lineup, despite varying degrees of hope for each outfielder. And the only change made my Davey Johnson from last night is a swap of left fielders, with Steve Lombardozzi in and Tyler Moore back on the bench.
The good news: Stephen Strasburg is on the mound, and he's been on a roll, allowing only one earned run in each of his last three starts, averaging 7 2/3 innings and only 4.33 hits per outing.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check back...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Where: Turner Field
Gametime: 7:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500), XM 186
Weather: Partly cloudy, 84 degrees, Wind 8 mph out to LF
CF Denard Span
LF Steve Lombardozzi
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
RF Roger Bernadina
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
RHP Stephen Strasburg
CF Jason Heyward
SS Ramiro Pena
RF Justin Upton
1B Freddie Freeman
LF Evan Gattis
C Brian McCann
2B Dan Uggla
3B Chris Johnson
RHP Julio Teheran
HP Tony Randazzo
1B Larry Vanover
2B Brian Gorman (cc)
3B Manny Gonzalez
7:37 p.m. — We are underway and already the Nats are in business. Denard Span drills Julio Teheran's second pitch into the right-field corner and races around to third with a leadoff triple, his fourth of the season.
7:42 p.m. — And just like that, the Nats give Stephen Strasburg a 1-0 lead. Steve Lombardozzi did his job following the Span triple, lofting a flyball to right, deep enough to bring the run home and put the Nats on top early. Nice job there by the top two guys in the lineup, setting the table and then putting together a productive at-bat. Here comes Strasburg.
7:49 p.m. — Nice job by Strasburg in the bottom of the first. Though he gave up a one-out single up the middle to Ramiro Pena, he kept the ball on the ground to all three batters faced and got Justin Upton to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning on 11 total pitches (7 strikes). Nats up 1-0 after one.
7:59 p.m. — Make it 2-0 thanks to some rare contributions from the bottom of the lineup. Roger Bernadina, who quietly has gone 6 for his last 17, roped a one-out single to right. He then took third on Danny Espinosa's bouncer through the right side hole. Kurt Suzuki rapped a grounder to third, forcing himself to turn on the afterburners and try to get down the line faster than the Braves could turn the inning-ending double play. And he did it, just narrowly beating the throw to allow Bernadina to score. So now Strasburg has a 2-run lead at his disposal heading to the bottom of the second.
8:12 p.m. — Apologies, but I have to toot my own horn here for a second. On last night's Baseball Show, we listed our top five position players under 25. I included Freddie Freeman on my list and said he doesn't get enough credit for how good of an all-around player he is. Well, he just showed it, battling back from an 0-2 count to ultimately crush a 97 mph heater from Strasburg way back into the right-field bleachers. Just a really impressive at-bat there from Freeman, trimming the Nats' lead to 2-1 after two.
8:20 p.m. — Uh-oh, Stephen Strasburg is out of this game and Craig Stammen is in. Not sure what exactly happened, but he was talking to Steve McCatty and Lee Kuntz in the dugout and he was not happy with whatever he was told. Check the homepage for updates when I get them.
8:32 p.m. — No information yet on Strasburg, but here's the quick article I posted, which I'll be updating whenever there's new information. In the meantime, Stammen tossed a scoreless third. It's still 2-1 Nats entering the fourth.
8:48 p.m. — Obviously the Strasburg situation is first and foremost, but there is a game still being played, and Stammen has done a fine job in emergency duty so far. He's retired all six batters faced, preserving the Nationals' 2-1 lead through four.
9:06 p.m. — Make it nine up and nine down for Stammen, who has done it on only 36 pitches. I don't know how far he can go in relief of Strasburg, but I would think he's good for at least one more inning.
9:16 p.m. — Props to the Nats for battling their way through this one so far. Span led off the sixth the exact same way he led off the first, with a triple into the right field corner. And once again, Lombardozzi drove a flyball to right field, bringing Span home. So it's now 3-1 Nats as Stammen returns for the bottom of the sixth, his fourth inning of relief.
9:27 p.m. — Here's your Strasburg update: He left tonight's game with a "muscular issue in his lower back," not any kind of arm injury, according to a source familiar with the situation. Full update here. Meanwhile, Stammen has retired all 12 batters faced. Nats still lead 3-1 after six.
9:39 p.m. — Tyler Clippard in for the bottom of the seventh, so Davey can use his bullpen how he normally would protecting a late, 2-run lead.
10:01 p.m. — Well, that was quite an eventful bottom of the seventh, no? To recap: Clippard gave up an infield single, uncorked a wild pitch, struck out Justin Upton, gave up an RBI single to Freeman, plunked both Gattis and McCann in succession to load the bases with only one out in what was now a tie game ... and then struck out Uggla and Johnson to escape his self-made jam. If Bill Raftery was calling this game, I believe his analysis of Clippard would be: "Onions!" Nats clinging to a 3-2 lead as we move to the eighth.
10:15 p.m. — And Drew Storen pitches a scoreless eighth. He did issue a two-out walk to Pena, bringing Upton to the plate in a huge spot. But he got the slugger to ground out to Desmond, who earlier made a spectacular barehanded play on Heyward's bouncer up the middle. Still 3-2 as Rafael Soriano warms for the ninth.
10:26 p.m. — We go to the ninth. It'll be Soriano vs. Freeman, B.J. Upton and McCann, protecting a 3-2 lead.
10:36 p.m. — That's it. Soriano closes out a tense, stress-filled, satisfying 3-2 victory, though it included a Freeman flyout to the wall in right and Suzuki going down in a heap after taking a foul ball off his right shoulder. ButtThe Nats are back over .500 and draw to within 4 1/2 games of the Braves. Now we find out how serious Strasburg's back issue is.