Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Chase Field, the sometimes-indoor, sometimes-outdoor home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
As you can tell from the above photo, the roof is currently closed. Sometimes, they open the thing right before gametime, but according to the Chase Field Roof Hotline -- yes, they actually have a hotline -- it's going to stay closed tonight.
Livan Hernandez takes the mound for the Nationals, facing a Diamondbacks lineup that produces a ton of home runs but strikes out even more. Five players have already struck out more than 90 times this season, led by Mark Reynolds, who is on pace to shatter his own MLB record of 223 whiffs in a season.
Rodrigo Lopez starts for Arizona, which can only hope to get a quality start out of the journeyman right-hander and avoid having to ask too much of a bullpen that owns an atrocious 6.51 ERA. Yes, the Nats have to like their chances at the plate tonight and throughout the series.
Check back throughout the evening for updates...
NATIONALS at DIAMONDBACKS
Where: Chase Field
Gametime: 9:40 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 95 degrees, Wind 4 mph in from LF
CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
RF Roger Bernadina
C Ivan Rodriguez
SS Ian Desmond
P Livan Hernandez
CF Chris Young
2B Kelly Johnson
RF Justin Upton
1B Adam LaRoche
C Miguel Montero
3B Mark Reynolds
SS Stephen Drew
LF Gerardo Parra
P Rodrigo Lopez
9:03 p.m. -- For news on Stephen Strasburg's latest throwing exercise and an update on Jordan Zimmermann's timetable to return to the majors, please check out my article for CSNwashington.com.
9:40 p.m. -- And we're underway here at Chase Field with a strike from Rodrigo Lopez to Nyjer Morgan. Really small crowd for the first pitch. It's too bad. This place used to be packed with 40,000-plus every night during the franchise's early years (1998-2002). Interest has obviously waned considerably since those days.
9:52 p.m. -- The good news: Four of the Nats' first five batters reached base, and Josh Willingham (who has been slumping for a while now) delivered a two-out, RBI single to center. The bad news: The Nats only scored one run out of the whole thing because Nyjer Morgan got picked off for the 10th time this season (and this might have been the ugliest of them yet) and because Adam Dunn took an 82 mph pitch from Lopez that could not have been a bigger creampuff. I mean, it was right down the heart of the plate, and Dunn took it for strike three. So what could have been a big first-inning rally instead is only a 1-0 lead.
10:02 p.m. -- Nice first inning for Livo. He allowed a broken-bat single to Kelly Johnson but struck out Justin Upton and got Adam LaRoche to ground out to end the inning and preserve the Nats' 1-0 lead.
10:08 p.m. -- Wow, when's the last time Ivan Rodriguez crushed a ball like he just did? I mean, he launched it into the left-field bleachers for his first home run since May 16. This was a milestone shot, though: Pudge's 300th career homer as a catcher. The only other catchers in the 300-homer club? Mike Piazza (396), Carlton Fisk (351), Johnny Bench (351) and Yogi Berra (306). Nats lead 2-0 in the second.
10:20 p.m. -- The D'backs get one back in the second. Pair of singles, then a run-scoring groundout to second (with Adam Kennedy making a nice, diving stop of the roller to his left). Nats now lead 2-1 after two.
10:26 p.m. -- The ball is flying out of here tonight. Either that, or Rodrigo Lopez has nothing on his fastball. Probably a combination of the two. Anyways, Adam Dunn just killed a high fastball from Lopez and sent it screaming to right-center field. It landed 10 rows behind the infamous swimming pool. Just a bomb for Dunn's 26th homer of the season. That makes it 3-1 Nats in the third.
10:39 p.m. -- Looked like the Nats were going to score for the fourth straight inning when Ian Desmond (who is really starting to make solid contact on a regular basis) doubled and Livo hit a hard bouncer back up the middle. Looked like it would be an RBI single to center, but Lopez managed to get a piece of the ball with his bare hand and slow it down. Kelly Johnson corralled it and threw to first to end the inning. So it remains 3-1 as we go to the bottom of the fourth.
11:07 p.m. -- Just got back from the stands, where I was taking some photos. I think I got a decent one of that butchered rundown play at second base, though I still need to look at my shots. I will, however, say three things with certainty: 1) Josh Willingham was safe at first on that slow roller to short in the top of the sixth. I could see that plain as day at full speed. I assume the replay confirmed it. 2) Livo is cruising. Has allowed only one run and four hits through six. 3) The Diamondbacks' racing ex-players (Randy Johnson, Mark Grace, Luis Gonzalez and someone else I don't remember at the moment, maybe Matt Williams) couldn't be any more of a rip-off of the Nationals' racing presidents. I mean, they looked exactly like the presidents in body type, ran the same kind of race and then wandered through the stands taking photos with fans. Somebody in Arizona has been to Nationals Park recently... But anyways, the Nats still lead 3-1 as we go to the seventh.
11:33 p.m. -- Here comes Livo for the bottom of the eighth. His pitch count is only 81, so he's got plenty of bullets left and certainly could go the distance tonight if the situation presents itself. He's allowed only one batter to reach since the second: Stephen Drew, who beat out an infield single in the fifth.
11:37 p.m. -- OK, seriously, look at these guys and tell me they didn't just take the head molds for George, Tom, Abe and Teddy to create these. Also, apparently Mark Grace has never won a race, making him the Arizona version of Teddy.
11:41 p.m. -- And of course after I suggested Livo might go the distance, he puts two guys on in the eighth and gets pulled by Riggleman as part of a double switch. Sean Burnett comes on to face Kelly Johnson, while Willie Harris takes over for Josh Willingham in left.
11:48 p.m. -- Well, that was a bit unconventional -- after Burnett struck out Johnson, Riggleman left him in to face the right-handed Upton -- but it worked. Upton hit a grounder to short to end the inning and preserve the 3-1 lead. We go to the ninth. Wouldn't be surprised if Burnett stays in just to face LaRoche before giving way to Drew Storen for the final two outs.
11:54 p.m. -- Yep, Burnett's back out to start the bottom of the ninth. He'll face LaRoche, then Storen will enter to face Montero and Reynolds, looking for his first career save. Hang on.
11:59 p.m. -- Yeah, maybe not. Burnett just stayed in to finish the whole thing off. One reason is that Montero bats lefty (I should've known that). Another is that he was cruising. So there you have it. Ballgame over. Nats win 3-1. Game even ended before midnight on the east coast!