Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats are back home, and Stephen Strasburg is back on the mound.
Fortunately, the kid's on the mound tonight, looking to stop yet another losing streak. He was originally due to face Mark Buehrle, but then Jake Peavy was dealing with some shoulder problems and was bumped back two days, so Buehrle and Gavin Floyd were bumped up. Thus, Floyd starts tonight, with Peavy (Strasburg's favorite pitcher growing up in San Diego) starts tomorrow.
Jim Riggleman returns to his conventional lineup for this one. Nyjer Morgan is leading off in center field. Cristian Guzman is batting second and playing second. Michael Morse is back on the bench.
Check back for updates throughout...
WHITE SOX at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN-HD, MLB Network (outside of D.C. and Chicago)
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 81 degrees, Wind 5 mph out to LF
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 Stephen Strasburg
WHITE SOX (31-34)
LF Juan Pierre
3B Omar Vizquel
CF Alex Rios
1B Paul Konerko
RF Carlos Quentin
C A.J. Pierzynski
SS Alexei Ramirez
2B Gordon Beckham
P Gavin Floyd
5:41 p.m. -- Not to get everyone too excited, but there's a rumor floating around that noted White Sox fan Barack Obama will be attending tonight's game. No one's saying it officially yet, but I will say that I saw a couple of security guys with earpieces down on the clubhouse level, and there are a few barriers up that aren't normally here. That doesn't necessarily mean anything, but these aren't things I normally see here.
6:05 p.m. -- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, asked this afternoon if he wished he was still playing so he could face Stephen Strasburg: "I faced Clemens, bro!"
6:08 p.m. -- Ivan Rodriguez is catching Strasburg for the third straight time tonight, but that battery won't continue forever. Jim Riggleman said he's planning to have Wil Nieves catch one of Strasburg's next two starts. Considering his next one is a Wednesday late-afternoon game against the Royals, that would seem a logical choice.
6:12 p.m. -- Speaking of that start against Kansas City, it doesn't look like we'll be getting an epic Strasburg vs. Zack Greinke matchup. Greinke is slated to start tomorrow, so he would have to come back on short rest to face the Nationals on Wednesday.
6:15 p.m. -- And, for those who haven't heard already, Fox has picked up the Saturday, July 3 game against the Mets, so that game will now start at 4:10 p.m. If Strasburg's five-day schedule holds to form, he'll pitch that day. Of course, Fox has already gambled once before on Strasburg and missed him. They're televising tomorrow's game, featuring J.D. Martin on the hill. So no guarantees.
7:05 p.m. -- We're underway with a 98 mph strike from Strasburg to Pierre.
7:12 p.m. -- Obama's here. Shook hands with some fans on the club level, many who were not allowed to get to their seats until he arrived.
7:14 p.m. -- The President didn't get to see a fantastic first inning from the kid. Juan Pierre beat out a grounder to first, beating Strasburg to the bag. (He wasn't late, just got beat by a fast runner.) Omar Vizquel then blooped a double just inside the right-field line. Another grounder to first by Alex Rios brought Pierre home. So even though Strasburg rebounded to strike out both Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin on changeups, he's trailing 1-0 after one.
7:23 p.m. -- As the bottom of the first was taking place, the entire third-base side of the stadium was turned around, cheering for the President, who is sitting in the owners' box right behind the club level. Fortunately, no foul balls were hit that direction. Nats went down in order.
7:27 p.m. -- 1-2-3 second for Strasburg. The inning included his first two 100 mph readings of the night.
7:43 p.m. -- He's really clicking now. Retired the side in the third, striking out two. He's now retired nine straight batters, striking out five in the process. Total of 38 pitches, 27 strikes. Nats still trail 1-0.
7:54 p.m. -- Eight pitches for Strasburg in the fourth, all strikes. Two more strikeouts and a lineout to center. He's retired 12 straight, seven on strikeouts. Only 46 pitches (35 strikes) through four innings.
7:59 p.m. -- You know, it would sure be a shame to waste a pitching performance like this. At the moment, the Nats are. They've managed one hit and one walk in four innings against Floyd, and both times grounded into double plays. So Floyd has faced the minimum so far. Still 1-0 Sox after four.
8:05 p.m. -- Man, is this guy on a roll or what? He's retired 15 in a row, nine on strikeouts. He's only thrown 56 pitches (42 strikes!) through five innings. He now has 31 strikeouts in his first three MLB starts, shattering J.R. Richard's previous record of 29.
8:09 p.m. -- Oh yeah, did we mention that the White Sox have struck out fewer times than anyone else in the American League this year?
8:14 p.m. -- Meanwhile, Gavin Floyd has faced the minimum through five. What a pitchers' duel we've got going on here!
8:23 p.m. -- Strasburg finally gave up another hit ... to Floyd of all people. Just squeezed a ball inside the first-base line for a single. No problem, cause Strasburg retired the next three. So through six, he's allowed one run on three hits, no walks, nine strikeouts. Pitch count is 71, 50 of them strikes. Still 1-0 Sox as we go to the bottom of the sixth.
8:28 p.m. -- We've found something he can't do: bunt. Just whiffed on a 2-2 pitch. Even worse, Ian Desmond got caught too far off first base, completing an inning-ending double play. So Floyd still has faced the minimum through six. Still 1-0.
8:39 p.m. -- Through seven: 10 Ks, 0 walks, 85 pitches (59 strikes). Drew Storen has just begun warming in the bullpen, but I wouldn't be surprised if Strasburg is allowed to come back to start the eighth.
8:42 p.m. -- OK, Nyjer Morgan just struck out on a ball that bounced first, then hit him in the leg. He tried to run all the way to second base as though it was a wild pitch, but once it hit him, it's a dead ball. Everyone's booing but sorry, it's the right call. Horrible swing by Morgan, by the way.
8:50 p.m. -- Big, BIG hit from Adam Dunn ties this game 1-1 in the seventh. He tagged a pitch from Floyd to a wide-open left-center (Rios was shaded well over to right-center) for a double. Ryan Zimmerman scored and the crowd went nuts.
8:52 p.m. -- Ooh, Strasburg's done after seven. Tyler Clippard has come on. So no-decision for the kid. His final line; 7 ip, 4 h, 1 er, 0 bb, 10 k. 85 pitches, 59 strikes. In three starts now, he's recorded 32 strikeouts while walking five.
8:53 p.m. -- Tonight's paid attendance: 40,325. That's a sellout, the Nats' third of the year. Strasburg pitched in two of them. Obama also was in attendance for two of them.
8:57 p.m. -- Not to be outdone by his rookie teammate, Clippard just retired the side in the eighth on 11 pitches. All of them strikes. Wow. Still 1-1 heading to the bottom of the eighth. Electric atmosphere here at the park. Barely anyone's left their seats, though it appears Obama is one of the few who ducked out early.
9:05 p.m. -- We go to the ninth, still tied 1-1. Matt Capps coming on to pitch, even though Clippard only threw 11 pitches and is due up first in the bottom of the inning. Interesting call here by Riggleman.
9:12 p.m. -- No debating this. Capps retires the side in the ninth, three groundouts. We go to the bottom of the ninth, still 1-1. Floyd is done. Matt Thornton coming out of the pen for Chicago.
9:22 p.m. -- Adam Dunn strikes out with the winning run on second and two outs in the ninth, which now makes him 1-for-28 with two outs and runners in scoring position this season. But really, the blame for this failed rally goes to Cristian Guzman, who grounded out on the first pitch he saw after Nyjer Morgan singled. Completely ruined any chance of Morgan trying to steal second. That also allowed the Sox to intentionally walk Zimmerman and pitch to Dunn. We go extras.
9:29 p.m. -- The Sox threatened in the 10th, putting the go-ahead run on third with two outs. And when Gordon Beckham smoked a 2-0 pitch from Storen to right-center, there was a moment of panic for everyone in the park. But Nyjer Morgan came to the rescue, covered a lot of ground and made a running catch to end the inning. We go to the bottom of the 10th. By the way, this place is still mostly full. This is by far the most fans I've seen stay in the ballpark this late into the game.
9:35 p.m. -- Nothing doing in the bottom of the 10th. We go to the 11th. Storen coming back out for his second inning of relief.
9:43 p.m. -- What a tough way to give up the go-ahead run. Two outs in the 11th, man on third, Zimmerman makes a fantastic diving stop of Rios' smash down the third-base line. He fired to first and threw just a tad bit too high for Dunn to be able to haul it in. It goes down as a single and an E5 for the throw. White Sox take a 2-1 lead and the life has been sucked out of this ballpark.
9:53 p.m. -- Last chance for the Nats. It'll be Desmond, a pinch-hitter (probably Harris) and Morgan due up. Bobby Jenks coming out to pitch for Chicago.
10:00 p.m. -- Tough, tough loss for the Nationals. They fall 2-1 in 11 after going down in order in the 11th. Strasburg's brilliant start wasted. Obama's probably happy, though.