|Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER|
The Nationals are getting a nice boost today, with Wilson Ramos returning from the DL. The catcher went 0-for-10 on his rehab assignment with Class A Potomac, but those numbers are less significant than the fact his hamstring is healthy and he's good to go for the first time since May 15. Which means, for the first time since mid-April, Davey Johnson will be fielding his complete starting lineup (with Anthony Rendon having replaced Danny Espinosa, of course).
Taylor Jordan makes his second career start, hoping to earn his first career win. All indications are that either way, Jordan will be sent back to the minors after this one, with Dan Haren on track to return from the DL and take Taylor's spot in five days. You'd certainly like to see the kid pitch well and be rewarded for his efforts today.
Updates to come, so please check back...
MILWAUKEE BREWERS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 11:05 a.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB Network (outside D.C. market), MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500), XM 183
Weather: Partly cloudy, 82 degrees, Wind 12 mph out to LF
CF Denard Span
SS Ian Desmond
LF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Jayson Werth
2B Anthony Rendon
C Wilson Ramos
RH Taylor Jordan
RF Norichika Aoki
SS Jean Segura
CF Carlos Gomez
C Jonathan Lucroy
3B Juan Francisco
1B Sean Halton
LF Logan Schafer
2B Jeff Bianchi
RHP Donovan Hand
HP Gerry Davis (cc)
1B Mark Carlson
2B Brian Knight
3B Dan Iassogna
11:06 a.m. — It's not even noon yet, but we are underway on the 4th of July in Washington, D.C. Not a bad place to be. Taylor Jordan starts off Norichika Aoki with a fastball for ball one.
11:18 a.m. — Earlier this morning, Davey Johnson (perhaps a bit sleep-deprived) said: "I hope the fireworks start around 11:15." He was referring, of course, to the possibility of the Nats scoring in the bottom of the first. I don't think he considered the possibility that Jordan might still be on the mound in the top of the first at that point. Unfortunately, that was the case. Jordan gave up a couple of singles and plunked Jean Segura in the left hand during a laborious inning, with Jonathan Lucroy's RBI single bringing home the first run of the day. Nats trail 1-0 early.
11:38 a.m. — See, what Davey really meant to say was that the fireworks would begin at 11:35. How about that, a 2-run rally for the Nats in the bottom of the first, thanks to a base hit by Ian Desmond, a walk by Bryce Harper — whose walk-up song today, by the way, is Ray Charles' version of "America the Beautiful," a brilliant choice — and then two-out RBI singles from Adam LaRoche and new No. 6 hitter Jayson Werth. That Davey, what a mad scientist/genius. It's 2-1 Nats after one.
12:06 p.m. — It's been a bit of a battle for Jordan so far. He's needed 52 pitches to get through three innings, but he's allowed only the one early run. We'll see how much rope Davey gives him today in his second start. Still 2-1 Nats, moving to the bottom of the third.
12:22 p.m. — When Davey told Desmond last night he was going to hit second today, his advice to the young shortstop was: "Don't change anything. Just keep hacking." So, naturally, Desmond bunted his way on to lead off the bottom of the third, taking second on an error. Hey, whatever works. Such as, a botched double-steal attempt in which Harper got caught in a rundown between first and second yet still ended up safe after the Brewers decided to try to throw behind Desmond at third base ... and were late doing so. That set the stage for Zimmerman's sac fly. After all that, it's 3-1 Nats, and ladies and gentlemen, it's time for Neil Diamond!
12:28 p.m. — Well, that was ... uh, something, I guess. Everybody stood up and watched and listened as Neil Diamond spent three minutes singing about eagles and freedom and other patriotic words. And I'm not even entirely convinced he was actually singing. Especially after hearing how he sounded yesterday during a rehearsal vs. today's live performance. Hmm...
12:45 p.m. — Solid work from Jordan here. He's now through the fifth, allowing only the one early run. He looks much more comfortable today than he did in his debut. Still 3-1 Nats.
1:14 p.m. — Jordan did start to fade in the top of the sixth, and Davey probably sensed that just in time. The rookie gave up a pair of singles, the latter by Juan Francisco to bring a run home. Francisco bailed the Nats out by rounding too far around first base and getting tagged out, but even after that, Capt. Hook made his appearance. Jordan departed to a nice ovation, having allowed two runs and six hits over 5 2/3 innings. He's in line for the win, with the Nats now leading 3-2 heading to the bottom of the sixth.
1:34 p.m. — And now Jordan has more cushion to earn that win as the Nats score two insurance runs during a crazy bottom of the sixth. It included base hits by LaRoche and Werth, a sac bunt attempt by Rendon that he still reached on thanks to an error, a two-run single by Ramos for his first RBI since coming off the DL, Ron Roenicke intentionally walking Desmond to get to Harper ... and then Harper grounding out on the first pitch. Some out-of-the-box managing today on both sides. Seriously, I think Davey just decided to take the George Costanza approach today: Ignore every instinct he has and just do the opposite. Next thing you know, he'll be ordering chicken salad. (Apologies to any non-Seinfeld fans who have no idea what I'm talking about there.) It's 5-2 Nats after six.
1:51 p.m. — Oh, dear. This game is now tied, courtesy Drew Storen, who served up a pair of home runs in the top of the seventh. Right before the second of the two bombs, Steve McCatty came out to have an animated conversation with the reliever. Storen never looked his pitching coach in the eye. Gomez then crushed his 0-2 slider to left for the game-tying homer. It's 5-5 at the stretch, and Storen (sporting a 5.45 ERA) is serenaded with boos as he walks off the field.
2:12 p.m. — Have a day, Wilson Ramos. Three-run bomb in the bottom of the seventh gives the Nats an 8-5 lead. He's now 3-for-4 with five RBI in his first game back from the DL. And he gets a well-deserved curtain call from the crowd of 38,221. I'd like to also personally thank Wilson for providing me the easiest game storyline I'll write all year.
2:24 p.m. — A scoreless eighth for Tyler Clippard, maintaining an 8-5 lead. By the way, you know who's in line for the win now? Yes, Drew Storen. Funny game, this baseball.
2:30 p.m. — We go to the ninth. It's Rafael Soriano in protecting a three-run lead.
2:41 p.m. — That's it. Soriano closes out an 8-5 victory, though he did bring the tying run to the plate. Storen incredibly gets the win. Ramos gets the accolades. And the Nats salvage a four-game split with the Brewers and get back over the .500 hump heading into this weekend's series with the Padres.