Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
It's going to be a chilly, windy night at historic Wrigley Field.
It may look like a gorgeous day from that above photo, but look closely at the flags flying high above the center field scoreboard. The wind is whipping furiously, straight in from left field with gusts up to 30 mph, and it's only going to get colder when the sun goes down. By the time tonight's game gets underway, the wind chill could be in the upper 30s.
For that reason, Ryan Zimmerman is once again not in the Nationals' starting lineup. Had they been playing in Florida tonight, perhaps he would be cleared to go. But not with these conditions. I wouldn't be surprised if he's held out tomorrow night as well.
Check back for updates throughout the game...
NATIONALS AT CUBS
Where: Wrigley Field
Gametime: 8:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 49 degrees, Wind 20 mph in from LF
(UPDATED AT 6:41 P.M.)
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
2B Cristian Guzman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
3B Adam Kennedy
C Wil Nieves
RF Willy Taveras
P John Lannan
SS Ryan Theriot
2B Jeff Baker
1B Derrek Lee
CF Marlon Byrd
3B Aramis Ramirez
LF Alfonso Soriano
C Geovany Soto
RF Tyler Colvin
P Carlos Silva
6:41 p.m. -- Lineup change: Ivan Rodriguez has been scratched. Not sure for what. I assume it's his back acting up again. I'll let you know once I find out.
6:54 p.m. -- Yes, it is lower back tightness. He is available to pinch-hit if needed tonight.
7:04 p.m. -- Your daily Ryan Zimmerman update: He's not playing. Obviously. He's close to being able to play. If this game was in Miami, not Chicago, there's a good chance he would play. But they're not going to take that chance in the cold weather. "I think they're just being cautious more than anything," Zimmerman said. "It sucks, but it's the right thing."
7:06 p.m. -- Willie Harris, meanwhile, is still nursing a sore right knee and is out of the lineup for the second straight day. The Nats don't believe it's anything serious, though. He had an MRI taken over the weekend, and GM Mike Rizzo said it revealed only a bone bruise, no other damage. But the combination of nagging injuries to Zimmerman, Pudge and Harris leaves Jim Riggleman's bench dangerously thin. The club is giving some consideration to calling up another position player from Syracuse to give them another warm body. They'd drop a reliever in that scenario, and you've got to believe Jesse English would be the logical choice because he's got options.
7:13 p.m. -- And while we're on a roll with injury updates, here's what going on with several rehabbing guys on the 60-day DL ... Chien-Ming Wang continues to throw off a bullpen mound in Viera, though he has yet to begin throwing to live hitters. But the right-hander spoke to Rizzo recently and "told me he felt the best he's felt since the surgery," the GM said. ... Ross Detwiler is doing full throwing workouts and has been doing weight-lifting exercises with his legs, an important step in his return from hip surgery. ... Jesus Flores has resumed swinging and throwing and has experienced no setbacks. ... Jordan Zimmermann, meanwhile, has made some serious progress in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. He's already thrown live BP, which actually puts him ahead of Wang. But before you get too excited, Rizzo said Zimmermann is going to be reined in and not allowed to push things too far too fast. "Jordan is ahead of schedule, but we're going to put him back on schedule," Rizzo said. "With his personality, we need to hold him back."
8:01 p.m. -- A group called the "Million Dollar Quartet" just sung the national anthem. Except there were seven people singing. What's wrong with this picture?
8:06 p.m. -- First pitch from Silva to Morgan is a strike. Temperature: 49 degrees. Wind: 19 mph.
8:08 p.m. -- That didn't take long. Silva retires the side, striking out Morgan swinging and Desmond looking, then getting a groundout from Guzman on the first pitch. 1-2-3, nothing across. Lannan now taking the mound for the Nationals.
8:13 p.m. -- An equally easy inning for Lannan. He retired the side, getting three groundballs and needing only eight pitches (five strikes) to do it. Considering the frigid conditions, it's got to be difficult to hit tonight.
8:20 p.m. -- Sounds like the MASN video feed is down, so I'll try to provide a little more play-by-play detail here for those who obviously aren't able to watch the game. ... The Nats went down in order again in the second. Adam Dunn struck out. Josh Willingham then hit what looked like a routine pop-up behind shortstop. Except the wind got a hold of it, forcing Ryan Theriot to make a mad dash back toward the infield dirt in order to make a basket catch. Could be a sign of more things to come tonight. So it remains scoreless heading to the bottom of the second.
8:39 p.m. -- What could have been a disastrous second inning for Lannan was saved by a fantastic throw from Willy Taveras. Lannan couldn't find the strike zone to save his life, walking the Cubs' 7-8-9 hitters in succession, including the opposing pitcher on four pitches to force in a run. Having already allowed two runs to score and now with the bases still loaded and only one out, Lannan got Theriot to hit a routine fly ball to right. Taveras gunned a one-hop throw to the plate, and Nieves applied the tag to nail Soto and complete the much-needed double play. It's 2-0 Cubs heading to the bottom of the second, and Lannan has got to hope he just got bailed out and must now take advantage of that gift.
8:45 p.m. -- The Nats haven't shown much of anything against Silva the first time around the order. Nine up, nine down. Only one ball has reached the outfield: Adam Kennedy's routine fly to center. This one's not off to a rousing start.
8:52 p.m. -- Good defense again helps Lannan. Ian Desmond started a fine double play to end the inning, though the Cubs had already scored another run. Jeff Baker led off with a triple to right on a pitch up in the zone from Lannan. Marlon Byrd then hit a chopper up the middle. Guzman picked it up and probably had a routine play at first. But he paused for a second and pump-faked a throw to the plate, thinking he might get Baker. But he had no chance at that. And by the time he threw to first, it was too late. So a really shaky start to this game for the Nats, who now trail 3-0 going to the fourth.
9:04 p.m. -- A bunt single by Nyjer Morgan finally gets the Nats offense going. After that well-placed bunt to open the fourth, Ian Desmond singled to left and Adam Dunn singled to right. Josh Willingham coaxed a bases-loaded walk out of Silva, and then Adam Kennedy lined a sac fly to center field to bring home another run. Give credit to Nyjer for getting things started. The Nats now trail 3-2.
9:26 p.m. -- Things have settled down here at the Chilly Confines. It's still 3-2 in the sixth. Lannan finally had a smooth inning in the fifth, retiring the side on a strikeout and two groundouts. He's not at his best by any means, but he's only allowed three runs so far and still has a shot at a quality start. The Nats, meanwhile, have started to make a dent in Silva the second and third time around the order.
9:31 p.m. -- And the Nats rally to tie in the sixth. Willingham singles and takes second on a wild pitch. (Or as the longtime scorekeeper here at Wrigley says it in his thick midwestern accent: "Weyeld pitch.") Then Wil Nieves -- who? -- sends another base hit up the middle to score Willingham. It's 3-3 heading to the bottom of the sixth.
9:42 p.m. -- Alberto Gonzalez pinch-hitting for Lannan to open the seventh. Give Lannan credit for churning out a quality start despite not having his best stuff all night. His final line: 6 ip, 5 h, 3 er, 5 bb, 1 k. 93 pitches, 53 strikes.
9:48 p.m. -- Beloved Cubs radio analyst and third baseman Ron Santo leading the crowd in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." The place goes nuts for him.
9:53 p.m. -- Good job by Sean Burnett to retire Tyler Colvin and Xavier Nady. Tyler Walker now coming in. Don't be surprised if Brian Bruney closes tonight. Riggleman really wants to stay away from Matt Capps and Tyler Clippard after all the work they've churned out in the last few days.
10:03 p.m. -- Here comes $17 million reliever Carlos Zambrano to a rousing ovation from the crowd. I guess at that price, you have to root for him to record at least one out. Still 3-3 in the top of the eighth, Adam Dunn on first, one out and Josh Willingham at the plate to face Big Z.
10:12 p.m. -- If he wasn't dealing with such a thin bench tonight, Jim Riggleman might have pinch-hit for Wil Nieves with two on and two out in the eighth. But the manager basically had no choice but to let Nieves hit, and the backup catcher responded by striking out on a 3-2 fastball from Zambrano. So we remain knotted at 3 going to the bottom of the eighth. Walker still on the mound for the Nats. Bruney warming up.
10:17 p.m. -- Tyler Walker just served up two of the longest fly balls you'll see hit at Wrigley Field that don't clear the fence. Derrek Lee blasted one to right, but down the line where the wall juts back a ways, so Willy Taveras was able to catch it. And Aramis Ramirez drove one deep to center, but again only reaching the warning track, where Nyjer Morgan was there to haul it in. Two important scoreless innings of relief from Burnett and Walker, a couple of guys who need to come up big. We're still tied 3-3 heading to the ninth. Willie Harris will lead off, and Ryan Zimmerman is on deck.
10:24 p.m. -- Harris and Zimmerman each hit fly balls, but neither was able to push it through the wind. The Nats go down in the top of the ninth. Brian Bruney will pitch the bottom of the ninth, with Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto and Tyler Colvin due up for the Cubs.
10:32 p.m. -- Free baseball in Wrigleyville! It's 3-3 after nine thanks to some effective relief work from Bruney. He escaped a leadoff walk to Soriano, fielding a sac bunt attempt by pinch-hitter Koyie Hill and firing a throw to second that beat Soriano by a hair (whether Ian Desmond's foot was on the bag remains up for debate). What's not up for debate was the 94 mph fastball Bruney blew past Colvin to strike him out. A lineout to center by Kosuke Fukudome ended the inning and sent this one to the 10th.
10:41 p.m. -- A two-out double by Dunn isn't enough for the Nats. Willingham follows that with a groundout to short, so we go to the bottom of the 10th, Bruney back on the mound for his second inning of work, still tied 3-3.
10:51 p.m. -- Another tough extra inning loss for the Nats. Brian Bruney issues his third four-pitch walk in 1 2/3 innings, this one with the bases loaded in the 10th, bringing home Ryan Theriot to give the Cubs a 4-3 win. The Nats fall to 10-10.