Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Ryan Zimmerman and the Nats hope to fare better against the Marlins this weekend.
As for tonight's opener of a three-game series with the Marlins, the Nationals will hope they play more like they did against the Braves earlier this week than they did in Florida last weekend. With Chris Volstad and Josh Johnson on the mound the next two days, that could be a tough challenge.
No announcement yet about tomorrow's starter for the Nats. All signs would point to it either being J.D. Martin or Matt Chico. As soon as I have something concrete, I'll let you know, so check the homepage for that.
And as always, check back here for updates throughout the game...
MARLINS AT NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 74 degrees, Wind 12 mph out to LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
RF Willie Harris
SS Ian Desmond
P Craig Stammen
LF Chris Coghlan
1B Gaby Sanchez
SS Hanley Ramirez
3B Jorge Cantu
2B Dan Uggla
C John Baker
CF Cody Ross
RF Brett Carroll
P Chris Volstad
7:01 p.m. -- Before we get started tonight, one minor-league roster move to report: Mike MacDougal has been added to Class AA Harrisburg's bullpen. The right-hander had been at extended spring training the last month. He's now ready to pitch in actual games. He'll presumably take the spot at Harrisburg vacated by Matt Chico's promotion to Washington.
7:05 p.m. -- First pitch from Craig Stammen to Chris Coghlan is a ball.
7:08 p.m. -- Ryan Zimmerman had no trouble starting a nifty 5-4-3 double play tonight. After committing two errors last night on similar plays, Zim made a nice play and quick throw to second to nail Coghlan, even though Coghlan was running on the pitch. Ten-pitch inning for Stammen as we head to the bottom of the first.
7:22 p.m. -- First Stephen Strasburg update of the night: In his first inning at Class AAA Syracuse, the right-hander retired the Gwinnett Braves in order. Struck out two and got a groundball.
7:24 p.m. -- Only one National hit the ball out of the infield in the bottom of the first, but they still managed to score the evening's first run. After Cristian Guzman lined a single up the middle, Ryan Zimmerman hit a grounder to the hole at short -- Hanley Ramirez tried to get the force at second was a tad late (replays showed the throw might have actually nailed Guzman). Adam Dunn walked on four pitches to load the bases, and Josh Willingham brought Guzman home with a fielder's choice to put the Nats up 1-0 after one.
7:32 p.m. -- Another 1-2-3 inning from Strasburg in Syracuse, this time three groundballs. So through two innings, he has a no ... whoops, I mean he has not allowed a base hit. And for those who don't know, MASN will be televising Syracuse's game on tape delay tonight at 10:30 p.m.
7:36 p.m. -- Back here in D.C., the Marlins have tied the game 1-1 thanks in part to an error on Ian Desmond. It was a bit of a tough play to his left, but Desmond was there in plenty of time and just let the ball bounce off his glove, so I think it's a fair call. Cody Ross followed with a double down the left-field line, but Stammen rebounded to strike out Brett Carroll looking at a 92 mph fastball. Stammen looks fine so far, allowing only the unearned run and two hits.
7:44 p.m. -- Another 1-2-3 inning for Strasburg against Gwinnett, featuring two groundouts and a strikeout. Through three innings, he's retired all nine batters faced, striking out three while recording six groundouts. He also drove in a run with a single up the middle off Braves starter Ryne Reynoso. Syracuse leads Gwinnett, 1-0.
7:49 p.m. -- The Marlins must HATE Willie Harris. Made another spectacular catch in right field, getting a big ovation from the crowd. Stammen also caught Gaby Sanchez looking at a 92 mph inside fastball for his third strikeout in three innings. Still 1-1 here.
8:24 p.m. -- Stammen is having a very good night on the mound: five innings so far, only one unearned run allowed on two hits, and he's recorded six strikeouts, four of them looking. But he's killing the Nats at the plate, twice popping up sac bunt attempts. So it's still 1-1 after five here.
8:26 p.m. -- Even more impressive on the mound is Strasburg, who has completed five innings of work, allowing only one single and a walk to the Gwinnett Braves. He's struck out five and only thrown 53 pitches, so perhaps he'll get his first crack at the seventh inning or even beyond tonight. Syracuse now leads 3-0.
8:36 p.m. -- I'm not sure what pitch exactly Chris Volstad threw Ryan Zimmerman on a 2-1 count in the sixth, but it was something good. It was 86 mph and it was sinking, down and away in the zone. Yet Zim crushed it over the center-field fence for a solo homer. Lest we forget, this guy's pretty good. Nats lead 2-1 heading to the seventh.
8:40 p.m. -- Tonight's paid attendance: 20,161. Largest of the homestand so far.
8:43 p.m. -- Craig Stammen wants that 1-2 curveball to Jorge Cantu back. Hung it right over the plate, and Cantu sent it into the Marlins bullpen. Game tied 2-2 in the seventh. Strasburg, meanwhile, has completed six scoreless innings, still having allowed only one hit and one walk. Only 65 pitches, so he might stay in.
8:48 p.m. -- Nope, Strasburg is done. Jason Bergmann is on to protect a 3-0 lead.
8:57 p.m. -- Give Brian Bruney credit. He may have walked Cody Ross, the first batter he faced in relief of Stammen. But he then blew away Brett Carroll with a 94 mph heater to end the inning and strand the go-ahead run at third base. Still 2-2 here at the seventh-inning stretch.
9:18 p.m. -- Take that back. Bruney deserves no credit, other than for giving up the lead in the eighth. He allowed a single, then bobbled a bunt attempt and threw late to first, then allowed an RBI single. Then after issuing an intentional walk to Hanley Ramirez, he allowed a sac fly to Jorge Cantu. That puts the Marlins up 4-2 in the eighth. Why was Bruney pitching? Because Tyler Clippard's not available from all the overuse. The Nats DESPERATELY need another quality reliever. Drew Storen, anyone?
9:27 p.m. -- I've commended Jim Riggleman several times this season for his astute managing. Well, Riggleman botched this one tonight. He made an unnecessary double-switch in the seventh when he brought Bruney in and put Roger Bernadina in right field, moving Willie Harris to left. That move pulled Josh Willingham from the game. The idea was to ensure Bruney could pitch two innings without his spot in the order coming up. Well, Bruney didn't make it through his two innings. And his spot didn't even come up. So now, Riggleman had to pull Bernadina in favor of Willy Taveras when left-hander Renyel Pinto came out to pitch the eighth. And Willingham's spot will come up again, with the Nats needing that bat trailing this game. But Willingham's out of the game, so it'll have to be Justin Maxwell, Alberto Gonzalez, Adam Kennedy or Wil Nieves in that spot.
9:51 p.m. -- Last chance for the Nats. They trail 4-2 going to the bottom of the ninth. Dunn, a pinch-hitter and Pudge due up against Leo Nunez.
10:03 p.m. -- That'll do it. The Nats go down in the ninth and fall to the Marlins, 4-2. They're now 15-14 overall but 3-7 against the Phillies and Marlins. They're 12-7 against everyone else.