Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
It'll be another cold, windy night at Wrigley Field when the Nats and Cubs meet.
That wind certainly wreaked havoc with players on both sides during last night's game. We saw some pop-ups move 40-to-50 feet back toward the infield, and we also saw some line drives carry over outfielders' heads. Just requires a lot of concentration on the part of everyone in the field.
Ryan Zimmerman is out of the Nationals' lineup for the sixth straight day. I don't think that's a huge surprise, and I don't think it would be a huge surprise if he comes off the bench to pinch-hit again tonight. The real question is whether he'll be cleared to play in tomorrow afternoon's series finale, with the weather a little warmer, or whether they'll just hold him out til Friday in Miami.
Ivan Rodriguez, however, is back in the lineup after getting scratched last night with lower back tightness.
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: Clear, 49 degrees, Wind 15 mph in from LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
2B Cristian Guzman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
RF Justin Maxwell
3B Alberto Gonzalez
P Livan Hernandez
SS Ryan Theriot
RF Kosuke Fukudome
1B Derrek Lee
CF Marlon Byrd
3B Aramis Ramirez
LF Alfonso Soriano
2B Mike Fontenot
C Geovany Soto
P Tom Gorzelanny
6:58 p.m. -- If you haven't seen my new post on the homepage, the Nats will be promoting Roger Bernadina from Syracuse following tonight's game. Bernadina was hitting .377 in 14 games and today was named International League offensive player of the week. The club will need to demote someone after the game, possibly a reliever.
7:01 p.m. -- Your daily Zimmerman injury update: He's not starting tonight and he almost certainly will not start tomorrow either. The Nats are hoping a couple more days of rest and the warm weather in Florida will allow him to return to the lineup Friday night.
7:08 p.m. -- Oh yeah, Stephen Strasburg is pitching tonight for Harrisburg in Reading. Strasburg has thrown two innings so far, retiring all six batters he's faced. He's recorded two strikeouts and four groundouts, thrown 16 of his 24 pitches for strikes.
7:33 p.m. -- Strasburg remains perfect through four innings. Five strikeouts. Only one ball has left the infield. And he just ripped an RBI single up the middle in the top of the fifth to put Harrisburg up 1-0 on Reading.
8:02 p.m. -- As the umps here at Wrigley Field convene for the exchanging of lineup cards, Strasburg's near-perfect night is done in Reading. The only man to reach base against him in five innings came on a passed ball by catcher Sean Rooney on a strikeout. That's it. Strasburg's final line: 5 ip, 0 h, 0 er, 0 bb, 6 k. His updated total numbers for the season: 0.52 ERA, 17.1 ip, 7 h, 1 er, 3 bb, 23k.
8:06 p.m. -- And we're underway here in Chicago. Gametime temperature: 43 degrees. Brr.
8:18 p.m. -- The temperature may be cold, but the Nats' bats are red-hot so far. Nyjer Morgan leads the game off with a drive to deep left and stretches it into a triple. Ian Desmond follows with a sharp single to right to score Morgan, then steals second. And Cristian Guzman ropes another triple to deep center to make it 2-0. Who says Guzie's not a No. 3 hitter?
8:26 p.m. -- I wrote about the admirable job Alberto Gonzalez has done filling in for Ryan Zimmerman at third base the other day, and wouldn't you know it, he continues to sparkle in the field. Gonzo just made a very Zimmerman-esque play to snag a line drive from Derrek Lee in the bottom of the first. Full-extension dive to his left to catch the ball. Web Gem-worthy. Nats lead 2-0 after one.
8:36 p.m. -- Give Strasburg the win, by the way. The Senators hung on to beat Reading, 1-0, behind Strasburg's fifth-inning RBI single and Drew Storen's fourth save of the year. The phenom now has a 3-0 record to go along with all those other impressive pitching stats.
8:43 p.m. -- I've been raving about Gonzalez's defense. Well, I've got to criticize him here for helping allow the Cubs to score their first run of the night. With runners on the corners and one out, Gonzalez came charging in to field Geovany Soto's bouncer. He would have had an easy throw to the plate to get Alfonso Soriano, but instead tried to start a difficult 5-4-3 double play. They got the first leg, but Guzman threw way wide of first and into the Nats' dugout for an error. I understand the idea of trying to get the inning-ending double play, but the pitcher's spot was due up next, so no real worry of a big inning. Gonzalez had a chance to record an easy out at the plate. He should have made that throw. Nats now up 2-1 after two.
9:13 p.m. -- Another spectacular play in the field, this time from Ian Desmond, who dove to snag Derrek Lee's third-inning smash and then fed Guzman the ball to get the force out. Livan Hernandez has looked sharp so far, allowing three hits over four innings and only the one run (which wasn't entirely Livo's fault). Nats lead 2-1 after four.
9:41 p.m. -- For the fourth straight day, the Nats are locked into a pitchers' duel. It's still 2-1 after six innings as Livan Hernandez and Tom Gorzelanny go back and forth. Truthfully, Livo has pitched better than his counterpart. The Nats have let Gorzelanny off the hook a few times when it looked like they might get to him. Buckle up, though, cause it looks like this one will be nip-and-tuck the rest of the night.
9:56 p.m. -- That's seven innings of one-run ball for Livan Hernandez. His updated season ERA: 0.87. Did someone turn the clock back to 2005?
10:03 p.m. -- You may have noticed Nyjer Morgan just slid headfirst into second base on that stolen base. He's been given approval by the coaching staff to do it because he's worried he's slower going feet-first, leading to four caught stealings already this year. The Nats, though, would prefer Morgan only go headfirst if he thinks it's going to be a close play. If he's got the base easily, they still want him to go feet-first. Wrigley Field, of course, is where Nyjer broke his hand sliding into third base last August.
10:05 p.m. -- No need for Morgan to slide at all on Ian Desmond's RBI single to left. Nats now lead 3-1 in the eighth, with Livo staying in and no action in the bullpen.
10:28 p.m. -- The Tyler Clippard All-Star campaign rolls along. Despite walking Fukudome to put runners on first and second with nobody out in the eighth, Clippard got Lee to fly out and Byrd and Ramirez to ground out to kill the rally. Send Tyler to Anaheim!
10:30 p.m. -- Matt Capps warming up in the bullpen for the bottom of the ninth. Due up for the Cubs: Soriano, Fontenot and Soto. For what it's worth, the wind has died down considerably and is now barely a factor at all. Much easier to hit one out to left now than it was when the game began.
10:50 p.m. -- That'll do it. Nats win, 3-1. Fabulous pitching once again from Livan Hernandez (now 3-1), Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps (9-for-9 in save opportunities). Washington gets back over .500 and will look to win the series tomorrow afternoon at 2:20 p.m. EDT.