Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
J.D. Martin has a chance to pitch the Nationals to a series victory tonight at Turner Field.
It would require a victory tonight, but the Nats have to like their chances with J.D. Martin (who has allowed two earned runs or less in four of his five starts) facing Jair Jurrjens (who just came off the DL and has dealt with injuries to his shoulder, thumb and hamstring already this season).
For everyone wondering about the Alberto Gonzalez/Ian Desmond lineup debate: Gonzo is starting for the fourth straight game. He'll be at shortstop again. Desmond is on the bench for the second straight game. Same lineup from Jim Riggleman that produced seven runs last night, as a matter of fact.
Check back for updates before, during and after the game...
NATIONALS at BRAVES
Where: Turner Field
Gametime: 7:10 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Chance of storms, 83 degrees, Wind 3 mph in from RF
CF Nyjer Morgan
RF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
C Ivan Rodriguez
2B Cristian Guzman
SS Alberto Gonzalez
P J.D. Martin
2B Martin Prado
RF Melky Cabrera
3B Chipper Jones
C Brian McCann
1B Troy Glaus
LF Eric Hinske
SS Yunel Escobar
CF Gregor Blanco
P Jair Jurrjens
7:10 p.m. -- This one is underway with a ball from Jair Jurrjens to Nyjer Morgan.
7:15 p.m. -- Jurrjens sure didn't look rusty in his first inning back from the DL. He just retired the side, getting Nyjer Morgan out on a bunt and then blowing away Roger Bernadina and Ryan Zimmerman with high fastballs. His last one to Zim hit 94 mph.
7:36 p.m. -- Not a good first inning for J.D. Martin, who served up a couple of rocket doubles to give the Braves a 1-0 lead, then loaded the bases. Martin Prado led off with a drive to the wall in right-center. He then advanced to third on Chipper Jones' long flyball to left, with Josh Willingham unable to get the ball back in quickly enough. That didn't matter, though, because Brian McCann's subsequent double off the left field fence would have scored Prado from anywhere. Two two-out walks prolonged the inning, and though Martin escaped without further damage, he's already thrown 37 pitches. Last night, Craig Stammen didn't reach the 37-pitch count until the third inning.
7:51 p.m. -- Much better second inning from Martin. He retired the side on two groundballs and a strikeout and needed only 13 pitches to do it. Nice play by Guzman, too, going to his right and making a strong throw to first on Prado's grounder. Meanwhile, the Nats have done nothing with Jurrjens so far. He's got four strikeouts through two innings and is blowing most guys away with his fastball.
8:04 p.m. -- It's still 1-0 Braves after three. Martin has settled down and has managed to avoid any more trouble. The Nats, though, are having a devil of a time figuring out Jurrjens. They've produced two doubles (Dunn and Martin) but nothing else. Five strikeouts through three, and every other out has been made in the infield.
8:27 p.m. -- Jurrjens is doing it all tonight. He's already thrown four scoreless innings, striking out six. Now he just added an RBI single to left on a fake bunt. Nearly took Zimmerman's head off with that laser. A sac fly by Prado makes it 3-0 Braves after four, and leaves the Nats trying to play come-from-behind baseball the rest of the way.
8:39 p.m. -- Opportunity for the Nats in the fifth, but they couldn't finish it off. Second and third, two out, and Bobby Cox decided to pitch around Nyjer Morgan to face Roger Bernadina with the bases loaded instead. The way things have been going here, that would seem to play right into the Nats' hands. But Bernadina grounded out meekly to second to end the inning. Braves still lead 3-0 in the bottom of the fifth.
9:05 p.m. -- Good news: The Nats finally got to Jurrjens in the sixth and knocked him out of the game with the bases loaded and nobody out. Bad news: Ivan Rodriguez killed the rally by grounding Peter Moylan's first pitch to short to start a 6-4-3 double play. Ryan Zimmerman scored, but that's all the Nats got. So they still trail 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth, and Joel Peralta has come on to replace Martin, who finished with three runs and six hits allowed in five innings.
9:22 p.m. -- Pretty weak offensive showing from the Nats tonight. One run on seven hits through seven. And when they have had chances, they haven't converted. Uh-oh, and now Ian Desmond is in right field. I sense some vitriol coming from NatsTown within seconds...
9:36 p.m. -- Uh, now Desmond and Gonzalez have swapped positions. Gonzo is playing right field for the first time in his career. What is going on here?
9:40 p.m. -- It doesn't really matter who's playing where when Miguel Batista walks in a run on four pitches. This has turned into a farce, even though it's only 4-1 in the seventh. Cue the circus theme.
9:58 p.m. -- Last chance for the Nats. Down three in the ninth. Billy Wagner on to close it out for the Braves.
10:08 p.m. -- That'll do it. Final score: 4-1. Nats struck out 12 times tonight. So much for positive momentum.
10:51 p.m. -- For those interested, here's Jim Riggleman's full explanation of the merry-go-round in right field in the seventh: "When I hit Desmond in the 9-spot, I knew that Billy Wagner was going to come into this game eventually. I didn't have anybody else right-handed who could hit against Billy. So I wanted to leave Desi in that spot. I knew that spot would come up. So I left him in the game. Then, the slot that was coming out of the game was right field, because I pinch-hit for Bernie. So I put him in right field. Then, the more I thought about it and played it in my mind ... Gonzalez has really done a lot of work out there lately, so I decided to put him out there. It just didn't hit me, because I haven't had him out there. But I just felt like he's really looked good out there in pregame stuff. He's taken some work out there with the outfielders. And I just felt like I'd go ahead and put him out there. Because Desi hasn't been out there in a year. And Guzy, it's been a while since he's been out there. So I just changed my mind on it."