Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats and Mets play the rubber game of the series ... if the weather cooperates.
The forecast, though, looks pretty decent. There's only a 10 percent chance of showers through much of the afternoon, picking up to 30 percent later on.
Assuming this one gets going without a hitch, the Nationals will be fielding an unusual lineup. Josh Willingham gets the day off, as do Ian Desmond and Ivan Rodriguez. That leaves Cristian Guzman starting at shortstop and batting fifth, with Willie Harris in left batting sixth.
Craig Stammen gets the start against Mike Pelfrey, hoping to make last night's meltdown a distant memory.
Check back for updates throughout...
NATIONALS AT METS
Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 1:10 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Chance of rain, 50 degrees, Wind 11 mph in from RF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
SS Cristian Guzman
LF Willie Harris
RF Roger Bernadina
C Wil Nieves
P Craig Stammen
CF Angel Pagan
2B Alex Cora
SS Jose Reyes
LF Jason Bay
3B David Wright
1B Ike Davis
RF Jeff Francoeur
C Rod Barajas
P Mike Pelfrey
12:46 p.m. -- The conditions are pretty nasty (cold, windy, drizzling) but the tarp is off the field and the grounds crew is preparing things to get this game started on time.
1:10 p.m. -- We are underway, with a strike from Mike Pelfrey to Nyjer Morgan. Sparse gathering here on this unpleasant Wednesday afternoon. Gametime temperature: 48 degrees.
1:15 p.m. -- Not exactly a rousing start for the Nats in the top of the first. Pelfrey struck out Morgan, Adam Kennedy and Ryan Zimmerman in succession. Twelve pitches, nine strikes. Yikes.
1:20 p.m. -- For those who haven't seen it yet: Jason Marquis says he'll likely need surgery to remove the bone chips in his elbow. Here's my full story on CSNwashington.com.
1:45 p.m. -- Just when you thought the Nats were going to squander a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation in the second, Craig Stammen of all people comes through. After Roger Bernadina and Wil Nieves both struck out, Stammen battled Pelfrey to a 2-2 count and then laced a sharp single past a diving David Wright. Adam Dunn (who should have scored earlier on Cristian Guzman's single) and Guzman both scored easily this time, and the Nats take a 2-0 lead despite their overall struggles against Pelfrey. The right-hander has allowed three hits and a walk, but he's already recorded five of his six outs via strikeout.
2:03 p.m. -- And the Mets' pitching strikes right back with his own bat. After intentionally walking Rod Barajas to load the bases, Stammen serves up an RBI single to Pelfrey. A sac fly by Angel Pagan brings another run home, so we're tied 2-2 after two. Stammen throwing a lot of pitches (41) and not finding the strike zone (only 20 strikes so far).
2:18 p.m. -- As promised, I just posted an item on the homepage about Jim Riggleman's decision to remove Scott Olsen from last night's game. You can read Riggleman's explanation for the move, Olsen's admitted frustration over it and the positive conversation the two had today about it all.
2:19 p.m. -- Also, this just in off the transaction wire: Matt Chico has officially been optioned to Class AAA Syracuse, completing the unusual DFA move from earlier this week.
2:25 p.m. -- Well, Roger Bernadina and Wil Nieves just made up for their earlier strikeouts with the bases loaded. Bernadina crushed a 1-2 pitch from Pelfrey down the right-field line for his first career home run. Seconds later, Nieves belted a double down the same right-field line. Nats now lead 3-2, still batting in the top of the fourth.
2:27 p.m. -- Whoa, make it 4-2 after Stammen laces his second hit of the day, this one an RBI single up the middle. Stammen is now batting a healthy .357 (5-for-14) for the season with four RBI. Not bad.
2:34 p.m. -- Stammen's cruising now on the mound. He's retired eight in a row, and has needed only 17 pitches to get through the last two innings.
2:59 p.m. -- Really ill-advised throw to the plate there from Nyjer Morgan. Angel Pagan was going to score easily on Alex Cora's single to center. By firing a pointless (and offline) throw home, Morgan allowed Cora to take an extra base. For all the good plays Nyjer makes out there, he still has a penchant for messing up on some fundamental stuff. Nats now lead 4-3 in the fifth.
3:02 p.m. -- And lo and behold, the Morgan play comes back to haunt him. Jose Reyes doubles down the right-field line to score Cora without a throw to the plate. We're tied 4-4 and Stammen is suddenly on the ropes.
3:15 p.m. -- Oh my, did Bernadina just make an incredible catch in right field to save Stammen. He initially looked fooled on Francoeur's tailing liner. But he rebounded quickly and made a diving, backhanded grab of the ball. If you're not able to watch this game live, be sure to check the highlight later. I assure it will be shown repeatedly. That Web Gem keeps the game tied 4-4 after five and saves Stammen's hide.
3:30 p.m. -- Tough day at the plate for Ryan Zimmerman. After striking out with two on and two out in the sixth, he's now 0-for-4 with a pair of punchouts. Sean Burnett coming on to pitch the bottom of the inning for the Nats. Once again, Washington's bullpen will determine the outcome of this game.
3:49 p.m. -- Tyler Walker now on from the bullpen to dace Jose Reyes with a man on first and no one out in the seventh. Willy Taveras also in left field as part of a double-switch.
3:56 p.m. -- Nice job by Walker, getting a double-play grounder and later striking out Wright. The big right-hander has looked better and better each time out and making a case to become Riggleman's third most-trusted reliever behind Capps and Clippard. Also, kudos to Burnett, who retired three of four batters faced, two by strikeout. Still tied 4-4 going to the eighth. As much as we've focused on the bullpen, eventually this lineup needs to score another run and take the lead.
4:00 p.m. -- It's the matchup you've been waiting all day for: Fernando Nieve vs. Wil Nieves!
4:04 p.m. -- Today's head-scratcher from Jim Riggleman: Why did he double-switch and put Taveras in left in the seventh if he was just going to pinch-hit with Willingham in the eighth?
4:15 p.m. -- Still nothing doing for the Nats lineup, as Zimmerman grounds into a fielder's choice with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth. Still 4-4, with Tyler Clippard on to pitch the bottom of the eighth, shooting for league-leading win No. 7.
4:28 p.m. -- Nice job by Clip. We go to the ninth, still tied 4-4. K-Rod will pitch for the Mets. Dunn, Guzman and the pitcher's spot due up for the Nats.
4:34 p.m. -- Ladies and gentlemen: Roger Bernadina. Two homers, including a two-run blast off K-Rod to give the Nats a 6-4 lead in the ninth, plus a fabulous catch in right field earlier. Get the silver Elvis wig ready.
4:41 p.m. -- Ballgame. Nats win, 6-4. Berndina's the hero. Tyler Clippard earns his MLB-leading seventh win. And no "vulture" this time. He earned it. Matt Capps 14-for-14 in save opportunities. And amazingly, the Nats' last eight games have all been decided by two runs or less. They're 5-3 over that span.