Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
For the first time in 16 days, the Nats are home.
They return at last tonight, still stinging from a 3-7 swing through Florida, Cincinnati and Milwaukee, but with Stephen Strasburg and Livan Hernandez starting the next two games against the Braves. If you missed this stat I calculated yesterday, the Nats are 18-11 this season when Strasburg or Hernandez starts. When anyone else pitches, they're 24-46. (So, you're saying they've got a chance!)
The Nationals also come home to a less-than-perfect playing surface. Dave Matthews Band played here Friday night, and the damage remains. Almost the entire outfield grass is discolored from the stage and seating area. It's probably just a case where the field needs to be watered and get sunlight for a couple of days and everything will be fine again. But it certainly doesn't look very pretty at the moment.
Check back throughout the afternoon and evening for updates...
BRAVES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 86 degrees, Wind 7 mph RF to LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Roger Bernadina
C Ivan Rodriguez
SS Ian Desmond
P Stephen Strasburg
2B Martin Prado
RF Jason Heyward
3B Chipper Jones
C Brian McCann
LF Eric Hinske
1B Troy Glaus
SS Alex Gonzalez
CF Melky Cabrera
P Tommy Hanson
5:00 p.m. -- Uecker-gate is apparently over. Jim Riggleman met with Adam Dunn and scolded the first baseman for venturing into the press box in Milwaukee during Saturday's game to talk to Brewers announcer Bob Uecker. Dunn wasn't in the lineup that night and made his visit (in full uniform) during the second inning. Riggleman wasn't pleased when he found out the following day. "We've addressed it," the manager said, not revealing whether Dunn was fined or not. "Internally, we've addressed that issue, and that's about all I'm going to say about it. It's unfortunate, but we've dealt with it. After the conversation, it's over."
5:06 p.m. -- The Nationals have decided who will get called up from the minors to fill J.D. Martin's rotation spot, though Riggleman wouldn't reveal any names today. It sounds like the call-up will pitch Saturday against the Phillies, with Ross Detwiler pitching on normal rest Friday. The most likely candidates are John Lannan (who last pitched for Harrisburg on Thursday) and Matt Chico (who last pitched for Syracuse on Friday).
7:01 p.m. -- We are just about ready to get started here. Looks like it's going to be close to another sellout, perhaps a full house by the time everyone makes it in. The Strasburg Effect appears to be alive and well.
7:03 p.m. -- MAJOR NEWS: Miguel Batista just warmed up in the pen and is currently walking toward the dugout. No sign of Stephen Strasburg.
7:04 p.m. -- Strasburg has been officially scratched. Batista will start.
7:08 p.m. -- The game has begun with Batista facing Martin Prado. Huge round of boos from the crowd when he was announced as the starter. Still no official word on Strasburg's condition. He did warm up earlier but apparently left the bullpen around 6:50 p.m. or so with a trainer. I've added a new posting on Strasburg on the homepage and will be updating that as I learn more, so please check that out.
7:58 p.m. -- OK, if you haven't seen it, there's much more on Strasburg on the other posting, with a complete transcript from Mike Rizzo's impromptu press conference during the first inning. The gist: Strasburg was unable to get his arm loose in the bullpen, so Rizzo pulled the plug as a precaution. He'll receive X-rays and an MRI, and his status for now is day-to-day.
8:00 p.m. -- Meanwhile, in this game, the Nats have taken a 3-0 lead after two innings thanks in part to a pair of errors on the Braves. Honestly, I've been scrambling to interview Rizzo, update this site and write a story for CSNwashington.com, so I really haven't been paying attention to what's happening on the field. But now that I've caught up, I'll start posting some more regular game updates.
8:25 p.m. -- Who needs this Strasburg guy? Miguel Batista is doing just fine. Actually, he's doing better than fine. He's tossed four scoreless innings so far, striking out six in the process. This after learning he would be starting about 15 minutes before gametime. I know people have complained about Batista off and on this season, but this right here is why he's vital to this team. There are few relievers in baseball who could do this. Nats still lead 3-0 heading to the fifth, and Batista is heading back to the mound for more.
8:34 p.m. -- Make it five scoreless innings for Batista. He's thrown 83 pitches.
8:36 p.m. -- Meanwhile, I just took a quick poll around the press box: When will Strasburg make his next start? Everyone said either this weekend or not until 2011. Makes sense. You've got think either he's fine and makes his next start or else is shut down for the season. At this point, they're not going to put him on the 15-day DL and have him go through a throwing program to get himself back into shape and return to finish out the year.
8:39 p.m. -- That'll do it for Batista, who gets a world of credit for what he did tonight: Five scoreless innings, three hits, one walk, six strikeouts. He threw 83 pitches. You know how many pitches he threw over his last four relief appearances combined? Seventy-nine! Sean Burnett now on for the sixth, with the Nats still leading 3-0.
8:58 p.m. -- It appears Strasburg left the ballpark at some point, presumably to go somewhere to get the MRI done. Which means we almost certainly won't see or talk to him postgame.
9:13 p.m. -- We go to the eighth. After two scoreless innings from Burnett, it'll be Drew Storen to protect this 3-0 lead.
9:21 p.m. -- The Nats are three outs away from an improbable victory. Storen retired the side in the eighth, getting a couple of strikeouts on wicked breaking balls. Matt Capps is warming and it appears he'll pitch the ninth in search of the save.
9:32 p.m. -- That's it. It's all over. Nats win, 3-0. Just like you all expected way back at 7 p.m. Though I suppose the storyline was slightly different than anticipated. Impressive performance tonight from a lot of people, led by Miguel Batista.