Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats try to earn a series victory over the Braves tonight.
They've also managed to lose only three series so far (two against the Phillies, plus last weekend's set in Florida).
So tonight's finale against the Braves could be seen as a bit of a big game in that regard. A win would give the Nats another series victory and get them back to two games over .500. A loss would give them a second straight series loss and four losses in their last five games.
Scott Olsen: The spotlight is on you.
Check back for updates throughout...
BRAVES AT NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 77 degrees, Wind 12 mph in from LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
SS Ian Desmond
RF Roger Bernadina
P Scott Olsen
SS Omar Infante
2B Martin Prado
3B Chipper Jones
1B Troy Glaus
LF Matt Diaz
C David Ross
RF Melky Cabrera
CF Nate McLouth
P Tim Hudson
7:04 p.m. -- Bruce Boudreau with the "Play ball!" call from atop the dugout. That will be the only Caps reference I make tonight, I promise.
7:10 p.m. -- Nice, clean top of the first for Scott Olsen. He retired the side, with an assist from Ryan Zimmerman, who made a nifty scoop of Martin Prado's hard hopper to third. Fourteen pitches for Olsen, nine of them strikes.
7:16 p.m. -- And an even cleaner, more-efficient bottom of the first for Tim Hudson. He retired the side on only eight pitches, seven of them strikes. He also shattered Adam Kennedy's bat and had to jump out of the way as it came careening toward him.
7:24 p.m. -- It would appear Olsen's recent renaissance is not a fluke. He is absolutely dealing so far tonight. Retired the side again in the second, and this time struck out both Matt Diaz and David Ross. The Diaz strikeout came on a 91 mph fastball on the black, a very encouraging pitch for the lefty who fought all spring to get his velocity back. The Ross strikeout came on a slider in the dirt, the pitch that Olsen used so effectively two starts ago against the Dodgers.
7:40 p.m. -- Where did THIS Scott Olsen come from? Seriously, we never saw this last season or this spring. I know the fact he's healthy is the biggest difference, but it's more than that. He's pounding the strike zone. He's painting the corners with his fastball. And his slider has some serious bite. Through three innings tonight, Olsen has allowed only one Brave to reach safely (Melky Cabrera on a walk) and has struck out four. Boy, Mike Rizzo's decision not to release Scott at the end of spring training sure looks good now.
7:45 p.m. -- Looks like we've got another tight pitchers' duel brewing. Hudson is on top of his game as well, allowing only Adam Dunn's second-inning single so far. We're still scoreless through three.
7:51 p.m. -- Make it four hitless innings for Scott Olsen. That's all I'm going to say for now.
8:12 p.m. -- Figures that during the inning I spend in the stands shooting photos, I don't get much. Then moments after retaking my seat in the press box, Ivan Rodriguez crushes a homer to left to put the Nats up 1-0. Would've made a great photo. You'll just have to trust me that it actually happened. Oh, Olsen still hasn't allowed a hit through five. Just sayin'.
8:19 p.m. -- Sorry to all of you who believe in jinxes, but my job is to report what's happening. And what's happening is this: Scott Olsen has not allowed a hit through six innings. Nats lead 1-0.
8:35 p.m. -- And Olsen has made it through the seventh, with nary a hit allowed. The crowd is starting to get into each out now. Nats still lead 1-0.
8:43 p.m. -- A towering shot to right by Adam Dunn makes it 2-0 and gives Olsen some breathing room. And for those wondering: Yes, I have covered one before. Hideo Nomo vs. the Orioles in April 2001. It was only my second game on the beat at The Washington Times, my first night game on deadline.
8:53 p.m. -- Oh, well. David Ross lines a sharp single to left with one out in the eighth. The crowd of 17,131 rises and gives Olsen a sustained ovation for his fabulous effort here tonight.
9:06 p.m. -- Well, that just fell apart. After loading the bases on two singles and a fielder's choice that also included a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman, Olsen came out of the game to another thundering ovation. Tyler Clippard entered to face pinch-hitter Jason Heyward, and that's when it completely collapsed. Base hit to left. Two runs scored, another advanced when Bernadina's throw sailed wide of the plate. Fortunately, Clippard got Infante to ground into a double play, so the game's still tied 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth. Olsen, however, has nothing to show for his efforts. No win. No shutout. No no-hitter.
9:29 p.m. -- Ian Desmond is saving the Nats' behinds tonight. He's been equally as brilliant in the field as Scott Olsen was on the mound. (Unlike Ryan Zimmerman, who has attempted to make two ill-advised throws to second in the last two innings and was charged with errors on both plays.) Desmond, meanwhile, just started his second inning-ending double play in a row. So we head to the bottom of the ninth, still tied 2-2. Kennedy, Zimmerman and ... Gonzalez due up for the Nats. (Adam Dunn was removed two innings ago for defense. Oops.)
9:41 p.m. -- All's well in NatsTown. Willie Harris' bases-loaded single brings home Adam Kennedy with the winning run and the Nats walk off with a 3-2 victory.