Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
After an eventful road trip, the Nats return home to face the Mets.
When last you saw your home team, it was 17-14, about to embark on a difficult road trip. John Lannan's elbow was a major question mark. Brian Bruney was still pitching in meaningful situations. Willy Taveras was on the roster. Tyler Clippard was winning games more than he was losing them. Drew Storen was in Syracuse.
All of that, of course, has changed. The 20-20 club that takes the field tonight against the Mets is on a five-game losing streak (three of them by one run). Lannan's elbow appears fine. Bruney and Taveras are gone. Clippard is struggling, but Storen is here to stay.
Adam Dunn is back in the lineup, as well, after missing the last three games. We'll see if he sheds any light into the "minor procedure" that required him to return home yesterday. Cristian Guzman's also in the lineup at second base, a bit of a surprise move considering he is a career 0-for-5 against Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey while Adam Kennedy is 4-for-15 with a homer and a double. Perhaps Jim Riggleman didn't want to sit Guzman after his 3-for-5 showing last night in St. Louis.
Check back for updates throughout...
METS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 67 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to RF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
RF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
P Livan Hernandez
SS Jose Reyes
2B Luis Castillo
LF Jason Bay
1B Ike Davis
CF Angel Pagan
RF Jeff Francoeur
3B Fernando Tatis
C Henry Blanco
P R.A. Dickey
7:15 p.m. -- Sorry for the delay, had some wireless issues there for a few minutes. But we're underway, and Livan Hernandez escaped the top of the first with no trouble. He got a couple of nice defensive plays (from Ryan Zimmerman on a foul pop and Ivan Rodriguez on a bunt in front of the plate). Zimmerman, though, turned what should have been the inning's best defensive play (a nice backhand snag of Jason Bay's hot smash) into a gaffe. Zim's throw was wide of first, and Adam Dunn couldn't keep his foot on the bag while stretching for the throw. So Zim was charged with an error despite making a fantastic play. No harm done, though.
7:21 p.m. -- The top of the Nats' lineup didn't exactly pounce on R.A. Dickey's knuckleball in the bottom of the first. Dickey retired the side on 12 pitches (10 strikes). Nyjer Morgan tried to get things going with a bunt attempt, but he popped it up and Dickey made a diving catch. Nyjer's definitely fighting it right now, seems like he's trying anything he can to get on.
7:24 p.m. -- Oh yeah, Stephen Strasburg's pitching tonight in Rochester. In a wholly unsurprising development, he retired the side in the first with a strikeout and two groundballs.
7:36 p.m. -- Nothing doing again for the Nats in the second. Josh Willingham hit the ball hard but right at third baseman Fernando Tatis. Six batters, and no one has gotten the ball out of the infield yet.
7:40 p.m. -- Livan Hernandez has been brilliant as ever. Three innings, two batters reached (one on on the Zimmerman error, one via walk). Otherwise, nothing across for the Mets. Thirty-five pitches, 21 strikes through three. Oh and did we mention that Livo is pitching on three days' rest? We take this guy for granted way too much.
7:45 p.m. -- Two scoreless (and hitless) innings for Strasburg. He walked a man and there was an error, but he got a double play and then struck out Jacque Jones on a curveball to end the second. For those keeping track, Strasburg has now allowed one hit in 14 innings at Class AAA.
8:16 p.m. -- As usual, I head down to the stands and things start happening. To recap: Angel Pagan hit an inside-the-park home run in the top of the fourth, with a drive off the center field wall. Nyjer Morgan slammed into the fence trying to make the catch, but in the process the ball went ricocheting back toward the infield, and by the time Josh Willingham corralled it, it was too late to have a realistic shot at Pagan at the plate. First inside-the-parker hit at Nationals Park. ... The Nats, though, came right back in the bottom of the fourth and scored twice to take the lead. Willingham had an RBI single with the bases loaded, and Roger Bernadina added a sac fly two batters later. It could have been more, though, had Pudge Rodriguez not struck out with the bases loaded and one out. Poor AB there by the veteran. So it's now 2-1 Nats in the fifth.
8:23 p.m. -- Triple play by the Mets. 8-2-6-3. Pagan caught a sinking liner by Cristian Guzman, and both Livo and Nyjer ran as though it was a hit. Pagan threw the ball toward the mound, where catcher Henry Blanco fired it back to second, where Jose Reyes stepped on the base and then threw to first to complete the play. Really poor baserunning there. I'm not sure why those two were so convinced it was going to fall for a hit.
8:30 p.m. -- So when's the last time one player hit an inside-the-park homer one inning and then started a triple play the next inning? Welcome to the record books, Angel Pagan.
8:41 p.m. -- We're tied 2-2 in the middle of the sixth, but it could have been worse. Livo loaded the bases with one out (two of the runners coming on walks) but got a nice running catch from Willingham on Francoeur's drive to left. One run scored on the sac fly, but Livo then got Tatis to line the ball right at Dunn for the third out. So it's now tied in what has turned into a wacky game at Nationals Park.
8:52 p.m. -- Strasburg update: He's allowed two hits (but still no runs) through five innings. That's now 17 scoreless innings at Class AAA.
8:55 p.m. -- Tonight's paid attendance: 19,384. And that includes plenty of Mets fans.
8:56 p.m. -- Livo's out, Storen's in. Nice ovation for both players during the pitching change.
9:01 p.m. -- Storen wasn't exactly sharp, but he got the job done. Reyes hit a liner to short. Castillo hit a hard grounder to short. Only four of eight pitches for strikes for the rookie, but we're still tied 2-2 at the seventh-inning stretch.
9:06 p.m. -- If you were wondering (and I know you were) the last time a team both hit an inside-the-park homer AND turned a triple play in the same game was ... Sept. 25, 1955. The Phillies did it against the Giants. The New York Giants.
9:07 p.m. -- Strasburg will take the mound for the seventh inning for the first time as a professional. He's sitting on 86 pitches.
9:14 p.m. -- And with a sac fly from Adam Kennedy, the Nats lead 3-2 and Drew Storen is in line for his first major-league win. If Tyler Clippard can hold the lead in the eighth and not take the decision for himself.
9:16 p.m. -- Strasburg faced only one batter in the seventh. Struck him out. His final line: 6.1 ip, 3 h, 0 r, 2 bb, 9 k. His total line in three starts at Syracuse: 18.1 ip, 4 h, 0 r, 4 bb, 22 k. His total line in eight minor-league starts: 40.1 ip, 17 h, 4 er, 10 bb, 49 k. That's an 0.89 ERA.
9:22 p.m. -- A Guzman triple and a Zimmerman RBI single add to the lead. It's now 5-2. Some actual breathing room for Clip 'n Save for a change!
9:36 p.m. -- It would appear Tyler Clippard is just fine. Mowed down the Mets in the eighth, striking out two. Alas, this will be the first time he pitches without receiving the decision in EIGHT appearances. He's 4-3 over the last 13 DAYS!
9:42 p.m. -- It's the Final Countdown, starring Matt Capps.
9:46 p.m. -- Uh-oh. Solo homer by Tatis on a belt-high fastball from Capps. It's 5-3.
9:49 p.m. -- No worries. Ballgame over. Losing streak over. Clippard's decisions streak over. Nats win, 5-3. Drew Storen is your winner. (Congrats, kid.) Capps is 15-for-15 in save situations. Nats are back over .500.