Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Phillies host the Nats this afternoon in the home opener at Citizens Bank Park.
No matter how many visiting fans are in attendance, perhaps the Nats will return the favor and spoil Philadelphia's opener. They certainly arrived here in town feeling good about themselves after taking two of three from the Mets over the weekend.
Obviously, the Phillies are a very different team than the Mets. But the Nats will miss Roy Halladay during this series. They get Cole Hamels today, Kyle Kendrick (who they hit around a little last week) Wednesday and J.A. Happ in Thursday's finale.
Washington will, however, be without Ryan Zimmerman again today. The All-Star third baseman is still battling a tight hamstring and hopes to return Wednesday.
Check back throughout the game for updates, and check the homepage for other news...
NATIONALS AT PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 3:05 p.m.
TV: MASN HD
Radio: WFED-1500 AM
Weather: Mostly sunny, 68 degrees, Wind 8 mph LF to RF
CF Nyjer Morgan
RF Willy Taveras
2B Cristian Guzman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
SS Ian Desmond
C Ivan Rodriguez
3B Adam Kennedy
P Jason Marquis
SS Jimmy Rollins
3B Placido Polanco
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
RF Jayson Werth
LF Raul Ibanez
CF Shane Victorino
C Carlos Ruiz
P Cole Hamels
2:40 p.m. -- The pregame ceremony is underway. Nice moment when the Phillies players and coaches all came marching into the ballpark through the center field stands. Charlie Manuel raised the 2009 NL championship banner. Nats players and staff are now being introduced. They're getting far less of a negative reaction here today than they did from all those Philly fans in D.C. last week. Seriously.
3:00 p.m. -- Members of the U.S. Navy just parachuted into shallow center field with the game ball.
3:12 p.m. -- And we are finally underway with a strike from Cole Hamels to Nyjer Morgan. The wind has picked up pretty good and is now blowing from left to right fields at a nice clip. As small as this ballpark is, watch out for long drives to right today.
3:13 p.m. -- Breaking news: Jimmy Rollins did not take the field with the rest of the Phillies. Juan Castro is at shortstop.
3:17 p.m. -- A two-out double from Cristian Guzman (on the first pitch he saw, naturally) isn't enough for the Nats in the top of the first. Adam Dunn strikes out swinging to end the inning and sends Jason Marquis out to the mound for the bottom of the first, with Castro the surprise leadoff man for the Phillies.
3:25 p.m. -- Very nice first inning for Marquis, who retired the side on 14 pitches. Meanwhile, here's an update on CSNwashington.com about Jesus Flores and Chien-Ming Wang. (Tease: Both guys are making progress in their return from shoulder injuries.)
3:28 p.m. -- The Hammer strikes. Josh Willingham crushes a 2-0 fastball from Hamels into the left-field bleachers and puts the Nats up 1-0. Washington has now scored first in six of its seven games this season.
3:39 p.m. -- He's only been out there for 10 innings over the last two days, but so far Adam Kennedy has looked pretty smooth at third base. He just made a nifty backhanded stab of Jayson Werth's hard grounder, then fired a one-hop throw to first that Adam Dunn nicely scooped to complete the play. Marquis has retired all six batters he's faced so far and has thrown only 27 pitches. Nats lead 1-0 after two.
3:43 p.m. -- Jiummy Rollins update: He's got a strained right calf. Weird. He appeared in pregame ceremonies. Did he jog too fast while coming out of the dugout? No, actually he hurt himself while stretching in the outfield just before the start of the game.
3:55 p.m. -- Speaking of impressive defense, how about Dunn? In addition to that nice scoop of Kennedy's one-hopper, he just made a nifty play to snatch Cole Hamels' sharp grounder, then stepped on first and fired a strike to Ian Desmond to complete the double play. After three innings, the Nats lead 1-0 and Marquis has faced the minimum, allowing only a third-inning walk to Carlos Ruiz (after getting ahead in the count 0-2, by the way). Forty-one pitches, 21 strikes for Marquis.
4:12 p.m. -- There are times when walking the No. 8 hitter to get to the pitcher is a sound strategy. But when Jason Marquis is the No. 9 hitter, that changes everything. So with the bases loaded and two outs (following a walk to Adam Kennedy), Marquis just sent a two-run double to left. All of a sudden, the Nats lead 4-0 in the fourth and the boo-birds are out at Citizens Bank Park.
4:21 p.m. -- Just to clear something up about Stephen Strasburg and a report out there yesterday that claimed he's being limited to 100 innings this season ... that's not at all accurate. Strasburg threw about 130 total innings last year between San Diego State, the Florida instructional league and the Arizona Fall League. The Nats will let him throw more than that this year, probably somewhere in the vicinity of 150 innings combined minors and majors. The report might have been trying to say Strasburg will be limited to 100 pitches per start, but the innings thing definitely isn't correct.
4:26 p.m. -- Jim Riggleman just got ejected by plate umpire Paul Schrieber. During a visit to the mound, the manager was complaining about Schrieber's strike zone and quickly got the boot. Looks like Marquis has been squeezed several times, but as you know, you can't argue balls and strikes. Bench coach John McLaren now in charge for the Nats.
4:36 p.m. -- Meanwhile, the Phillies scored two runs off Marquis during that eventful fourth inning. An RBI single by Howard on a 3-2 pitch (moments after a close pitch was called a ball by Schrieber, perhaps setting off Riggleman) was among the key blows. Nats now lead 4-2 in the fifth.
4:49 p.m. -- There are times when a manager's ejection gets a team fired up. This hasn't been one of those. The Nats have squandered their entire four-run lead and the Phillies now lead 7-4 in the fifth. Nightmare fifth for Jason Marquis and Co. The key mistake actually came from Ivan Rodriguez, who made an ill-advised throw to second on a Cole Hamels sac bunt attempt. The throw was in the dirt (and it might not have made it in time anyway) and that allowed the inning to devolve. Juan Castro roped a double off the wall. New Nat-killer Placido Polanco drove home two with a single and Chase Utley just ended Marquis' day with a towering, two-run homer off the foul pole in right. So after retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced, Marquis retired only three of the next 11.
5:09 p.m. -- Some minor-league news: Danny Espinosa, the Nats' top shortstop prospect, has been placed on the 7-day DL at Class AA Harrisburg with a sore hamstring. The move, though, is retroactive to Saturday and Espinosa is expected to return this weekend when he becomes eligible.
5:24 p.m. -- The Nationals have had some moments in the last week in which they've pounced on an opposing pitcher and strung together some runs. But they haven't shown an ability to keep their foot on the gas pedal, and today has been another example of that. After scoring four runs on Cole Hamels in four innings, they've been silenced in three innings since, with Chad Durbin and Jose Contreras taking over for Hamels. This offense needs to learn how to sustain production over an entire game and not just be content with a couple of early runs, especially the way the majority of this pitching staff has performed.
5:40 p.m. -- Time's running out for the Nats. They haven't come close to touched the Philly bullpen, only one hit over the last four innings. It's still 7-4 heading to the bottom of the eighth.
5:57 p.m. -- An eminently winnable game for the Nationals instead goes down as a 7-4 loss. They took a 4-0 lead in the top of the fourth, then saw it all come crashing down amid Jim Riggleman's ejection and Jason Marquis' disastrous fifth inning. Washington is now 3-4 and hoping to get back to the .500 mark Wednesday night, with Craig Stammen facing Kyle Kendrick.