Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats host the Mets on a gorgeous Independence Day in the District.
The Nationals will look to make the day really special by defeating the Mets and taking three of four from their division rivals during this long weekend series. Craig Stammen gets the ball for the Nats, hoping to duplicate his impressive return to the rotation last week in Atlanta. Left-hander Hisanori Takahashi starts for New York.
Jim Riggleman planned to start Roger Bernadina in center field today and give Nyjer Morgan the day off, but Bernadina's back is still bothering him, so he again will be out. Alberto Gonzalez starts at shortstop. Wil Nieves is behind the plate.
Check back for updates throughout...
METS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
TV: Ch. 50, MASN
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 90 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to CF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Michael Morse
SS Alberto Gonzalez
C Wil Nieves
P Craig Stammen
CF Angel Pagan
2B Alex Cora
3B David Wright
1B Ike Davis
LF Jason Bay
RF Jeff Francoeur
C Rod Barajas
SS Ruben Tejeda
P Hisanori Takahashi
1:36 p.m. -- We are underway with a strike from Craig Stammen to Angel Pagan.
1:46 p.m. -- A two-run triple by Jason Bay and a fantastic play by Alberto Gonzalez highlighted the top of the first. Bay's shot off the right-center field wall gave the Mets a 2-0 lead, but it might have been more if not for Gonzalez's full-out diving stop of Jeff Francoeur's smash to the left-side hole. Gonzo hopped to his feet and fired a strike to first base to nail Francoeur with one of the best plays you'll ever see made by a shortstop.
2:02 p.m. -- This isn't exactly going well. The Mets score another run in the second on a walk, sacrifice bunt and an RBI single. Throw in an error on a pickoff attempt, and this hasn't been the finest 30 minutes of Stammen's career. Mets lead 3-0 in the bottom of the second.
2:22 p.m. -- Stammen was sent to Class AAA one month ago for one reason, and we're seeing it again today: He hasn't been able to be consistent. After dominating the Braves last week, Stammen has looked awful against the Mets today. Three innings in, he's already allowed five runs on six hits with two walks. Ike Davis took him deep in the third for a two-run homer, the latest big blast. Not shaping up to be a good Fourth of July in NatsTown as the Mets take a commanding 5-0 lead in the third.
2:45 p.m. -- And that will do it for Stammen, who gets the hook after 3 1/3 ragged innings of work. Five runs have already scored, two more could be charged to Stammen. Eleven of the 21 batters he faced reached base safely. Not a good performance. Everyone's favorite rubber-armed mop-up man, Miguel Batista, now pitching for the Nats.
3:01 p.m. -- Make it 8-0 Mets after Batista adds more fuel to the fire in the fourth. Retired only two of six batters faced. This one has officially turned ugly. And we're not even halfway through it.
3:40 p.m. -- Ryan Zimmerman bolsters his case to be selected as the National League's "Final Man" at the All-Star Game with a three-run homer in the sixth. Of course, it only cuts the Mets' lead to 8-3. Still, that's a lot better than 8-0.
3:59 p.m. -- Ugh. Presented an opportunity to actually make a game of this, the Nats just came up as empty as you possibly could. Bases loaded, nobody out. What happens? Adam Kennedy (pinch-hitting for Alberto Gonzalez) strikes out. Then Wil Nieves (allowed to bat for himself) works the count full but grounds into a 6-4-3 double play to end the sixth. It's still 8-3. Could have been 8-4, 8-5 or even 8-6.
4:40 p.m. -- We are currently going into the eighth inning. The Mets are leading 9-4 after the Nats stranded two more runners in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh. We've already surpassed the 3-hour mark on this game, and there have been eight combined pitchers used. Not exactly a fine display of clean baseball today.
4:58 p.m. -- Now 9-5 Mets after eight innings as this one continues to slog toward the 3 1/2-hour mark.
5:25 p.m. -- That'll do it. Nats lose 9-5 in a game that included 26 combined hits and was completed in a tidy 3 hours and 49 minutes. I'm headed down to the clubhouse to get a couple more quotes for the All-Star selection story, but I'm going to forgo a postgame analysis piece today. Trying to make it to the in-laws' house before all the burgers are gone. Hope everyone has a wonderful (and safe) Fourth of July!