Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Yunesky Maya makes his second career start tonight at Turner Field.
But if there's good news for the visitors, it's their impressive numbers this year against right-hander Derek Lowe, who starts tonight's opener. Lowe has faced the Nats three times in 2010 and has lost three times. His ERA: 6.11.
Yunesky Maya takes the mound for the Nationals in his second career start, hoping to avoid the first-inning troubles he endured last week against the Mets and pick up where he left off in retiring 14 of the last 15 batters he faced.
Still no ruling on the Nyjer Morgan suspension appeal, so he's in the lineup for the 13th straight game overall and 10th straight game since the brawl in Florida. Meanwhile, Roger Bernadina (who has struggled out of the 5-hole) gets bumped up to the third spot, where he'll hit in front of Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn.
Check back for updates throughout the evening...
NATIONALS at BRAVES
Where: Turner Field
Gametime: 7:10 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 82 degrees, Wind 5 mph in from RF
2B Danny Espinosa
SS Ian Desmond
LF Roger Bernadina
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
RF Michael Morse
CF Nyjer Morgan
C Wilson Ramos
P Yunesky Maya
2B Omar Infante
RF Jason Heyward
3B Martin Prado
C Brian McCann
1B Derrek Lee
CF Nate McLouth
SS Alex Gonzalez
LF Matt Diaz
P Derek Lowe
7:10 p.m. -- Derek Lowe starts Danny Espinosa off with a fastball for ball one, and we are underway on a gorgeous Monday night in Atlanta. 81 very comfortable degrees at first pitch.
7:16 p.m. -- Well, the top of the first started off in promising fashion, with Espinosa lining a single to left-center. But the Ian Desmond struck out and Espinosa was tagged out trying to steal second, clearing the bases. And then Roger Bernadina was caught looking at a 2-2 pitch that appeared to be a tad low and outside but was called strike three by Dan Iassogna. So nothing doin' for the Nats in the top of the first. Yunesky Maya taking the mound now.
7:23 p.m. -- Nice first inning for Maya. He retired the side on a pair of flyballs to right and then a groundball to short. Threw only 13 pitches, 10 of them for strikes. He threw a bunch of fastballs, which got him into trouble last time. But in this case, the strategy worked. We're scoreless after one.
7:29 p.m. -- It appears Iassogna is going to be giving that outside corner to Lowe tonight, so the Nats had better adjust. Lowe struck out three straight guys looking (Bernadina, Zimmerman and Dunn) and has K'd four through two innings.
7:50 p.m. -- Things you don't want to see: Your starting pitcher get called for two balks in the same at-bat. Welcome to the majors, Yunesky. Looked like he made a very slight movement while pitching out of the stretch, before coming to a set. Wound up forcing in a run. Worse is that he walked two batters, then allowed an RBI double to Nate McLouth, then an RBI triple to No. 8 hitter Matt Diaz, then an RBI single to Omar Infante. Just like that, the Braves lead 4-0 against a clearly rattled Maya. Oh yeah, then he plunked Jason Heyward. Just looked totally rattled out there in the bottom of the second.
7:58 p.m. -- On the bright side, Maya collected his first big-league hit. On the down side, he nearly ran over Derrek Lee in the process.
8:04 p.m. -- Better job by Maya in the bottom of the third, though he didn't exactly blow away the Braves. McCann reached on Ian Desmond's 33rd error of the season (Desmond was playing the shift and ran well to his right, but he was there in enough time to make the play and still booted it) and then Lee, McLouth and Gonzalez each flied out to center, Lee to the warning track and McLouth on a smoked line drive. Still 4-0 Braves after three. Maya has thrown 59 pitches, 35 strikes.
8:29 p.m. -- Middle of the fifth now, still 4-0. Maya has settled down and kept the Braves from scoring since that second inning, though he still doesn't look totally comfortable out there. The rest of the Nats definitely don't look comfortable at the plate against Lowe, who is just dominating. Eight strikeouts through five innings, five of them looking.
8:35 p.m. -- Maya's fifth inning was by far his best. Retired the side on three groundballs. In and out really quick. He seems to have a tendency to let things fall apart in one inning but then settle down after that. Good trait to have, though it would be nice if he could avoid the big inning, too.
8:41 p.m. -- Ten strikeouts for Lowe through six innings. The Nats look hopeless up there against him tonight.
8:46 p.m. -- Another quick inning for Maya. He allowed a bloop single to open the sixth but got a double-play grounder and then a weak comebacker to end the sixth. He definitely has some guile and ability to battle. Whether that's enough for him to succeed up here remains to be seen. But in each of his two starts to date, there's been a moment where I thought to myself this guy has no shot. Then he proves me wrong. Still 4-0 Braves as we go to the seventh.
8:53 p.m. -- And there's strikeout No. 11 for Lowe, matching his career high. Seeing as how we're only at the seventh-inning stretch and the right-hander is cruising, I have a hunch he's going to establish a new high before the end of the night.
8:56 p.m. -- Time for tonight's double switch, brought to you by Jim Riggleman: Ross Detwiler is in to pitch and bat sixth, while Willie Harris takes over in right field for Michael Morse. He'll bat ninth. Maya's final pitching line: 6 ip, 5 h, 4 er, 3 bb, 2 k, 1 hbp, 2 balks, 90 pitches, 58 strikes.
9:08 p.m. -- Wilson Ramos is strikeout victim No. 12 for Lowe, establishing his new career high. He's at 105 pitches through eight. We'll see if Bobby Cox lets him come back out for the ninth, with the Braves still leading 4-0.
9:16 p.m. -- Couple of strong innings of relief for Detwiler. He walked one but didn't allow anyone else to reach. Struck out Prado looking, kept all but one ball in the infield. We head to the ninth, and Derek Lowe is done. Billy Wagner to close it out with the Braves up 4-0.
9:23 p.m. -- Game over. Nats lose 4-0, striking out 15 times combined against Lowe and Wagner. Another feeble offensive showing. Maya takes his first loss, with all four runs coming during that bizarre second inning. Otherwise, he pitched well.