Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Citizens Bank Park hosts the Nationals for three games this weekend.
Anyways, here at Citizens Bank Park, the Nationals arrive for a three-game weekend series that boasts plenty of storylines. Tonight, Jason Marquis tries once again to win his first game of the season ... actually, to produce his first quality start of the season ... actually, to make it through the fifth inning for the first time all season. It's not exactly the prime scenario to snap out of a funk like this, facing the Phillies' vaunted lineup in a home run haven.
It also doesn't help that the Phillies send Roy Halladay to the mound tonight to face a depleted Nats lineup that is trying to survive without Josh Willingham for the rest of the season. Jim Riggleman will attempt to overcome that loss with a lineup tonight that features a 3-4-5 of Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman and Roger Bernadina.
There's a much more favorable matchup tomorrow with Stephen Strasburg against Kyle Kendrick, then a toss-up Sunday with Scott Olsen against Roy Oswalt (who has been lit up by the Nats twice this year). But before we get to that, there's obviously a game to be played tonight.
Check back throughout for updates...
NATIONALS at PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 86 degrees, Wind 7 mph in from LF.
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam Dunn
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Roger Bernadina
RF Michael Morse
C Ivan Rodriguez
2B Adam Kennedy
P Jason Marquis
SS Jimmy Rollins
3B Placido Polanco
2B Chase Utley
RF Jayson Werth
LF Raul Ibanez
CF Shane Victorino
1B Mike Sweeney
C Carlos Ruiz
P Roy Halladay
7:05 p.m. -- This game is underway with a strike from Roy Halladay to Nyjer Morgan. The crowd's still filing in, but barring something unforeseen, this will be the 101st consecutive sellout at Citizens Bank Park.
7:17 p.m. -- The Nats couldn't have put themselves in better position to jump on Halladay in the top of the first ... and then they couldn't have squandered that opportunity any worse. Nyjer led off with a bloop double to left, then took third when Halladay was called for a balk. Ian Desmond lofted a fly ball to center field that wasn't quite deep enough for Nyjer to take a chance tagging up. Still, when Halladay walked both Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman to load the bases with one out, the Nats were in good position. But Roger Bernadina, getting a chance to bat fifth, grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Worst possible outcome. Three baserunners, a man on third with nobody out, the bases loaded with one out, and nothing to show for it. That's going to come back to haunt them tonight.
7:30 p.m. -- BREAKING NEWS: Jason Marquis did not give up a run in the bottom of the first. I repeat: He did NOT give up a run in the bottom of the first. We'll have live team coverage of this developing story at 11. ... But seriously, just when it looked like Marquis was going to put the Nats in another early hole after Jayson Werth's two-out double put runners on second and third, he responded by striking out Raul Ibanez to end the inning unscathed. For Marquis, this represents progress.
7:43 p.m. -- Make it two scoreless innings for Marquis. At this rate, The Washington Post may need to put out a special section in tomorrow's paper to cover this historic event. Only Phillie to reach in the second was Carlos Ruis, who sent a two-out single to center. Still scoreless as we head to the third.
7:50 p.m. -- The Roger Bernadina-as-fifth-hitter isn't exactly working out so far tonight. Bernadina has come up twice in three innings with a man on third, and he's yet to get the job done. Grounded into that double play in the first, just popped out to short on the first pitch he saw in the third.
8:06 p.m. -- And the Bizarro Marquis streak comes to an end. A pair of two-out walks, followed by an RBI double from Ibanez (who sneaked the ball just past a reaching Dunn at first base) puts the Phillies up 1-0 after three. You knew that was good good to last.
8:16 p.m. -- This has quickly turned into a game of missed opportunities for the Nats. They've managed to put eight guys on base in four innings against Halladay ... and haven't been able to score any of them. After back-to-back, one-out singles from Pudge and Kennedy in the fourth, Marquis wasn't able to get a bunt down and proceeded to fly out to left. Nyjer then rapped a grounder to short for a fielder's choice. So we head to the bottom of the fourth, the Phillies still leading 1-0.
8:30 p.m. -- Marquis has been far from sharp. Like Halladay, he's put a bunch of guys on base through four innings (eight, to be precise). He's also thrown a whopping 78 pitches. But there's no question this has been far and away his best outing of the season, which says plenty about his previous five starts. Still 1-0 as we head to the fifth.
8:42 p.m. -- Your Jordan Zimmermann update of the night: Five more scoreless innings for the rehabbing right-hander at Syracuse. He allowed one hit, struck out five and walked one. Zimmermann's totals over 10 minor-league starts: a 1.59 ERA, 31 strikeouts, 6 walks. Mike Rizzo said earlier today: "If there's no need for another minor-league start, developmental-wise or to get him ready to pitch up here, then we would bring him up here." Sounds to me like Zimmermann will be pitching in D.C. sometime next week.
8:47 p.m. -- For the first time this season, Marquis has completed five innings. Progress, people, progress. Of course, you'd like to see him rewarded for his efforts with some run support, which has been nonexistent against Halladay despite a ton of baserunners. It's still 1-0 as we head to the sixth.
8:57 p.m. -- Marquis is done for the night. His final line; 5 ip, 4 h, 1 er, 4 bb, 1 k, 94 pitches. Lowered his ERA from 14.33 to 11.39. But, he still can't get the win, because pinch-hitter Kevin Mench struck out on a 3-2 slider low and away from Halladay to end the top of the sixth with Adam Kennedy stranded on second. The Nats are now 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position tonight. Not good. Joel Peralta on to pitch the bottom of the sixth.
9:19 p.m. -- I'm not really sure what to say about what just happened. The situation: Runners on first and second, one out, Zimmerman at the plate, with Halladay on the ropes. Suddenly, Desmond broke from second. Zimmerman scorched a line drive to left. But right at Ibanez. Desmond, who had gone so far as to slide into third, hopped to his feet and raced back to second. And he made it back in time because Ibanez's throw was off-line. Except he overslid the base and thus was tagged out by Rollins to kill the inning. Stunning. Absolutely stunning. It's still 1-0 as we go to the bottom of the seventh.
9:27 p.m. -- Excellent job by Peralta in relief. Faced six batters, retired six batters. Thus, we head to the eighth inning of what is still a 1-0 ballgame, and Halladay is no longer around. Ryan Madson is coming on to pitch the eighth, followed by Brad Lidge. You'd hate to see the Nats squander a game like this, but time's running out.
9:39 p.m. -- The scoreless streak continues. So does the streak of missed opportunities. For the eighth time in eight innings tonight, the Nats put a man on base. Bernadina led off with a single, then narrowly made it to second on Morse's grounder up the middle. Never advanced farther. Pudge struck out on a 2-2 changeup from Madson, then Kennedy grounded out to short. So that makes the Nats 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position tonight.
9:48 p.m. -- We go to the ninth, still 1-0. Brad Lidge coming out of the bullpen. A pinch-hitter (Willie Harris), Morgan and Desmond due up. If anyone gets on, Dunn and Zimmerman to follow.
9:57 p.m. -- Game over. Nats lose 1-0 despite outhitting the Phillies 10-4 and putting a man on base in every inning. Went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Really frustrating loss, right up there with any other this season. Marquis falls to 0-6, though you can't blame him at all for this one.