Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Kyle Kendrick delivers tonight's first pitch to Nyjer Morgan.
For the Nationals, Ryan Zimmerman is out for the third straight game, apparently still hampered by a tight hamstring. The Nats had hoped Zim would be well enough to play after resting Sunday, Monday and Tuesday's off day, but this hasn't healed as quickly as everyone believed.
So Alberto Gonzalez gets his first start at third base. Cristian Guzman, meanwhile, is at shortstop, with Ian Desmond getting the night off. Strangely enough, both of Desmond's days off so far have come against the Phillies and Kyle Kendrick.
Meanwhile, both Jimmy Rollins (calf) and Jayson Werth (hip) are out for Philadelphia, and there's speculation Rollins will end up on the DL. [UPDATE: Rollins was indeed placed on the 15-day DL and replaced by Wilson Valdez. Werth, though, hopes to be back in the lineup tomorrow.] The Phillies' lineup is still imposing, but doesn't look nearly as scary with Greg Dobbs batting fifth.
Check back throughout the game for updates, and check the homepage for other news...
NATIONALS AT PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Clear, 63 degrees, Wind 6 mph LF to RF
CF Nyjer Morgan
RF Willie Harris
SS Cristian Guzman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
2B Adam Kennedy
C Ivan Rodriguez
3B Alberto Gonzalez
P Craig Stammen
CF Shane Victorino
3B Placido Polanco
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
RF Greg Dobbs
LF Raul Ibanez
SS Juan Castro
C Carlos Ruiz
P Kyle Kendrick
5:25 p.m. -- An update on Zimmerman: He said his hamstring is "getting better" and he was able to take some hacks in the batting tunnel with no problems. Jim Riggleman said it's possible Zimmerman could be available to pinch-hit tonight, though the club will still be cautious with him and not rush him back, fearing the tweak could get worse. Watching three straight games from the bench, though, hasn't been Zimmerman's idea of a good time. "It's frustrating, but like I said, it's better to miss three or four games than to miss three or four weeks," he said. "That's kind of the mindset. It makes sense, even though it's hard to deal with this early in the season."
5:34 p.m. -- Don't forget the Nats will be making a roster move after the game tonight, with Scott Olsen recalled from Class AAA Syracuse so he can start tomorrow's series finale. The club basically has three choices of relievers to remove from the roster to make room for Olsen (Jesse English, Jason Bergmann or Tyler Walker). Just a hunch here, but I think English will be the choice. Not that the rookie lefty hasn't looked fine so far, but he really could use some more seasoning in the minors (he's never pitched at Class AAA) and Riggleman feels comfortable using Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard against left-handed hitters, so English's presence in the big-league bullpen may not be all that important at this stage.
7:03 p.m. -- Pat Listach and Pete Mackanin just exchanged lineup cards. The Philly Phanatic watched from a distance, and Listach had an eye on the mascot as he walked back to the dugout. No Lady Ga-Ga act between the two tonight, and I have a hunch the Phanatic will be steering clear of Listach after the Nats' third-base coach made it clear he doesn't enjoy being part of the between-innings entertainment.
7:17 p.m. -- For the seventh time in eight games this season, the Nationals have scored first. Adam Kennedy's bases-loaded double brings three runs home and gives Craig Stammen a 3-0 lead to work with. Kyle Kendrick was all over the place in the inning, plunking Nyjer Morgan on the knee and walking Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham. The right-hander nearly got out of the jam but he left a 1-2 breaking ball out over the plate and Kennedy crushed it to right-center. That quieted the crowd quite a bit.
7:39 p.m. -- And for the sixth time in eight games, the Nationals take an early lead and then give it all back to the opponent.
Right on cue, Craig Stammen allowed the first five men to reach safely (including a walk to Chase Utley after getting ahead 0-2) and served up a bases-loaded single to Ryan Howard to get the scoring started. Greg Dobbs then roped a double just inside the first-base line (with Dunn not exactly making a fine attempt at it) to make it 3-3 before an out was even recorded. A sac fly by Raul Ibanez brought another run home and put the Phillies on top, 4-3, after one wild inning. Stammen wasn't hitting his spots at all, missing Pudge Rodriguez's glove by six-plus inches several times. Thirty-seven pitches for Stammen in the inning.
7:47 p.m. -- At this rate, it's going to take five hours to play nine innings tonight. Joe West, who happens to be umpiring first base, can't be happy with this.
7:57 p.m. -- And that's it for Kyle Kendrick. Phillies starter goes 1 2/3 innings, allowing six runs (so far) on six hits, with three walks and a HBP. He got a hero's serenade from the home crowd. Nelson "Softball Girl" Figueroa coming on to clean up the mess. Nat lead 6-4 and we're still in the top of the second.
8:09 p.m. -- If you were wondering, Placido Polanco is now 11-for-20 with three doubles, a homer and eight RBI against the Nats this season. This year's Raul Ibanez.
8:11 p.m. -- It takes a special ability to be able to consistently give away leads like this. Craig Stammen, then, is quite special. After allowing a three-run homer to Chase Utley, the Phillies now have re-taken a 7-6 lead and Stammen is done. Jesse English on. Stammen's final line (and hide the women and children before reading this): 1.1 ip, 7 h, 7 er, 1 bb, 0 k.
8:17 p.m. -- Hide the women and children again: The combined pitching lines for Stammen and Kendrick tonight: 3 ip, 13 h, 13 er, 4 bb, 1 k, 1 hbp, 1 hr. 105 pitches.
8:18 p.m. -- And the one strikeout came when Stammen fouled off a bunt attempt for strike three.
8:33 p.m. -- Nelson Figueroa -- I repeat, NELSON FIGUEROA -- is 2-for-2 with a single and a double. This game has officially become a farce, and we're still only in the bottom of the third.
8:39 p.m. -- Stop the presses! A scoreless half-inning! Still 7-7 after three.
8:51 p.m. -- OK, credit Jesse English for putting the fire out and tossing 2 2/3 innings of scoreless ball. It's a bit misleading because he allowed four hits, but the rookie got it done when it counted and brought some decorum to this travesty of a ballgame. Is that enough to spare him a demotion to Syracuse?
9:07 p.m. -- So it's going to come down to a battle of bullpens. Good thing the Nats still have an eight-man pen tonight. They'll be down to seven tomorrow. Oh, and Jason Marquis is no longer available to pitch if needed because Riggleman sent him to the plate as a pinch-hitter in the fifth. Hit a sharp liner, but right to the shortstop.
9:14 p.m. -- If Jason Bergmann wanted to quash any possibility of getting DFA'd, he's not helping his cause. After issuing a one-out walk to No. 8 hitter Carlos Ruiz, he then serves up a two-run homer to Shane Victorino on a 3-1 fastball right down the middle of the plate. Phillies lead 9-7 after five.
9:27 p.m. -- Chase Utley goes deep for the second time tonight, a laser of a solo homer into the second deck down the right-field line on a 3-2 pitch from Sean Burnett. That makes it 10-7 in the sixth. And seeing how the Nats' lineup has predictably gone silent after the early onslaught, this is looking more and more like another wasted opportunity at Citizens Bank Park.
9:52 p.m. -- Brian Bruney, showing exactly how not to pitch when trailing by three runs in the seventh. The right-hander just walked the Phillies' 7-8-9 hitters in succession, leaving the bases loaded with nobody out for the top of the lineup. It's up to Tyler Clippard to clean this up and keep the game within striking distance.
9:59 p.m. -- Well, you had to see that coming. Clippard serves up a bases-clearing triple to Shane Victorino, giving the Phillies a 13-7 lead and blowing this game wide open. The runs are all charged to Bruney, but you had to figure Clippard's magical start to the season was going to end eventually.
10:01 p.m. -- And the extra point makes it 14-7.
10:25 p.m. -- Thus concludes the ugliest game of the young season. The Nats score seven runs in the first three innings and lose 14-7. They've scored a grand total of two runs after the fourth inning in eight games this year. TWO! There will be at least one roster change tonight (Olsen up, reliever down). Could there be more changes after this travesty?