|Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER|
If they do get started, all eyes will be on Stephen Strasburg as he takes the mound in the wake of Bryce Harper's three plunkings by Braves pitchers over the last 11 days. Will Strasburg retaliate, and if so, who gets to wear one of his fastballs? The safest bet would probably be Justin Upton, batting second tonight for Atlanta. But much could depend on how the umpires handle this, whether they issue warnings to both dugouts before the game even begins, which would lead to automatic ejections and future suspensions.
In other news, the Nationals just announced they've placed Taylor Jordan on the 15-day DL with a lower back strain and recalled Tyler Moore from Class AAA. Reading between the lines, this would suggest the Nats have decided to shut down Jordan after 142 innings. Ross Ohlendorf will be ready to return in four days and take his rotation spot. Until then, they'll have an extra position player in Moore, who had been raking at Syracuse. (Over his last 28 games, he was hitting .371 with seven homers and 31 RBI.)
Stay tuned for updates...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ATLANTA BRAVES
Where: Turner Field
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, Ch. 9, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500), XM 183
Weather: Showers, 68 degrees, Wind 10 mph in from RF
Bryce HarperDenard Span
2B Anthony Rendon
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
1B Tyler Moore
LF Scott Hairston
RHP Stephen Strasburg
RF Jason Heyward
LF Justin Upton
1B Freddie Freeman
C Brian McCann
3B Chris Johnson
CF Jordan Schafer
SS Andrelton Simmons
2B Paul Janish
LHP Mike Minor
HP Marvin Hudson
1B Wally Bell (cc)
2B Jordan Baker
3B Marty Foster
4:30 p.m. — Bryce Harper has been scratched from the lineup. He was initially going to lead off and play center field, but he met with Davey Johnson and head trainer Lee Kuntz for a few minutes earlier and has now been scratched. Denard Span will start in Harper's place.
5:25 p.m. — Harper was scratched with a bruised upper left arm, in the triceps area, which is where he was plunked by Luis Avilan last night. He tried to take batting practice in the cage this afternoon but told Davey he couldn't do it. The Nats don't believe it's anything serious, but it is enough to keep him out of the lineup, and that's particularly frustrating to a Nationals clubhouse that sounds like it plans to exact some revenge tonight.
6:42 p.m. — The tarp is off the field and the grounds crew is working on things, but it looks like the start of this game might be delayed just a couple of minutes.
7:20 p.m. — And we're underway after a delay of 10 minutes. Mike Minor delivers strike one to Denard Span. Didn't appear umpires issued preemptive warnings to the benches before this one.
7:39 p.m. — Man, the Nats made Minor work in the top of the first. He needed 28 pitches to the first four batters alone. It looked like they might not get anything out of the inning, but Wilson Ramos delivered a clutch, 2-out, 2-run single, giving the Nats a 2-0 lead as Stephen Strasburg takes the mound. I wouldn't turn away right now, probably worth watching this half-inning.
7:50 p.m. — Well, we got our fireworks in the bottom of the first, though perhaps not everything you wanted. Jason Heyward led off the game by crushing a 3-2 fastball from Strasburg over the right-center field fence for a leadoff home run. But then Justin Upton dug in and Strasburg immediately plunked him in the left hip with a 97 mph fastball. The crowd got all riled up, but Upton took his base without saying anything and plate ump Marvin Hudson issued warnings to everyone. Strasburg induced a double play to get out of the inning, then got fist bumps from everyone in the dugout. So that should be the end of that ... unless the Braves want to continue it. It's 2-1 Nats after one.
8:19 p.m. — Jayson Werth: Sweet Fancy Moses! He just delivered yet another big hit: a two-out, two-run single that knocked Minor out of the game and gave the Nats a 4-1 lead in the second. Werth is now hitting .522 (24-for-46) in August, this after winning NL Player of the Month honors in July. For the season, he's now batting .334, which is only .001 behind Chris Johnson for the NL batting lead. Werth still needs another week or so of plate appearances to qualify for the leaderboard, but he's going to challenge for the batting title by season's end. Pretty remarkable.
8:30 p.m. — Sweet Fancy Moses again, but not in a good way. Stephen Strasburg just threw three consecutive wild pitches to Andrelton Simmons, the last two of which sailed way behind Simmons' back and allowed a run to score. Marvin Hudson had no choice but to eject Strasburg (and, by rule, Davey too) even though I honestly don't believe there was any intent there. Strasburg just completely lost his command. He threw seven pitches in the inning, all of them balls. But he's gone, as is Davey. Tanner Roark in to pitch what is now a 4-2 Nats lead, with a whole lotta baseball still left.
8:56 p.m. — Meanwhile, we've completed three innings here. It's still 4-2 as Roark and Varvaro try to settle things down.
9:09 p.m. — The Nats still are struggling to produce in clutch situations. They put two on in the fourth against Varvaro and watched as Zimmerman and Werth struck out and Desmond grounded out. They're now 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position tonight, though they still lead 4-2.
9:16 p.m. — Tanner Roark, ladies and gentlemen. He's got three scoreless innings under his belt now tonight, giving him this total pitching line since he made his debut: 9 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. Not bad. Not bad at all. Still 4-2 Nats through four.
9:23 p.m. — Oh man, Roark just missed earning his first career Sweet Fancy Moses. But he missed hitting a home run by a couple of feet, so it's just a run-of-the-mill, RBI double for the rookie pitcher. Not that he needs to be ashamed of that. Wow, what a strange game tonight. Nats now lead 5-2 in the middle of the fifth.
9:35 p.m. — Another scoreless inning of relief for Roark, who has six strikeouts in four innings here. Still 5-2 Nats after five.
9:44 p.m. — Ho-hum, just another double for Werth (now hitting .335 for the season) followed by an RBI single for Desmond. It's 6-2 as we go to the bottom of the sixth. Fernando Abad in from the bullpen, as Roark's fantastic night comes to an end.
9:50 p.m. — And Abad immediately gives up two runs, allowing a leadoff single to Freeman and then a towering, two-run homer to McCann. All of a sudden, the Nats' lead is down to 6-4.
10:15 p.m. — Welcome back, Drew Storen. Mercy. He just struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh, getting Joey Terdoslavich on a fastball, Heyward on a devastating slider and Upton on a fastball. Storen has now faced seven batters since returning from Syracuse, and he has struck out five of them. Impressive. Still 6-4 as we go to the eighth.
10:30 p.m. — Ryan Zimmerman destroys a 2-1 pitch from Jordan Walden and sends it over the fence in right-center for his 14th homer. Jayson Werth, meanwhile, draws another walk, the fourth time he's reached base tonight. His season OBP is now .409, which would rank third in the NL if he qualified. We go to the bottom of the eighth, the Nats now up 7-4. Tyler Clippard on the mound, Roger Bernadina replaces Werth in right field and Adam LaRoche replaces Moore at first base.
10:37 p.m. — Yikes, Freeman clobbers a 2-1 pitch from Clippard over the center-field fence to lead off the bottom of the eighth. But Clippard settled down after that. So it's 7-5 Nats as we go to the ninth and Rafael Soriano begins to loosen in the pen.
10:45 p.m. — Now Hairston gets ejected arguing a called third strike in the top of the ninth. Which means Bryce Harper is going to have to play left field the rest of this game. The only other players on the Nats bench right now are Chad Tracy and Kurt Suzuki, and I seriously doubt either of them would be taking over left field in the ninth inning of a 7-5 game.
11:01 p.m. — Oh, my. Jason Heyward ties this game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, taking Soriano deep. It's Soriano's second straight blown save. It would've been his third if not for Denard Span's catch against the Giants the other night. Extra innings ahead. Oh, my.
11:07 p.m. — The Nats go down in order in the top of the 10th against Craig Kimbrel. So now it'll be Ian Krol in the bottom of the inning against Freeman, McCann and Johnson.
11:14 p.m. — Krol made them sweat a bit, but he gets through the bottom of the 10th unscathed. So we go to the 11th, and now Bryce Harper (who wasn't even supposed to play tonight) will lead off against Luis Avilan. Wow.
11:20 p.m. — No drama in the top of the 11th. Harper grounded out to second. Desmond flied out to right. Ramos struck out. Since Zimmerman's homer in the eighth, the Nats are 0-for-11. So we move to the bottom of the 11th, Krol still on the mound. Craig Stammen is the only one left in the bullpen.
11:30 p.m. — Another scoreless inning for Krol. Onto the 12th. Avilan is back on the mound, the final man in the Braves pen. Craig Stammen still remains for the Nats.
11:39 p.m. — And the Nats go down in order again in the 12th. They're 0-for-14 since Zimmerman's homer. Stammen in for the bottom of the 12th.
11:45 p.m. — Onto the 13th! And now the Braves are going with Kris Medlen, who was scheduled to start Tuesday but has been forced into emergency relief in what is still a 7-7 game.
11:55 p.m. — The good news: the Nats got a hit in the 13th. Zimmerman singled with two outs, giving him the Nats' only two hits since the sixth. The bad news: Harper struck out to end the inning. So Stammen is back out for the bottom of the 13th.
12:09 a.m. — To the 14th. Hey, remember when Stephen Strasburg and Davey Johnson were ejected from this game? Yeah, that happened FOUR hours ago.
12:17 a.m. — Stammen had a chance to be the hero in the bottom of the 14th, stepping to the plate with two on and one out. But Simmons made a fantastic play on a grounder up the middle, turning a 6-3 double play. So we go to the bottom of the 14th. Oh yeah, and it's starting to rain now. Of course.
12:29 a.m. — Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnessing history tonight: Only the second 15-inning game in Nats history. They also did it on the final day of the 2009 season, right here in Atlanta. I should remember: I covered it.
12:40 a.m. — Adam LaRoche to the rescue! Solo homer off Medlen to lead off the top of the 15th. So the Nats have taken an 8-7 lead, and now Dan Haren will seek the first save of his career. Wow.
12:49 a.m. — And Haren does it. Nats win 8-7 in a mere 5 hours and 29 minutes.