Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Phillies will try to clinch the NL East tonight, if weather permits.
If and when they do play, Roy Halladay will be looking to pitch the Phillies to their fourth consecutive NL East title. This is what they acquired the right-hander for, so it's only appropriate he's starting this game. John Lannan starts for the Nationals, hoping his late-season surge helps put an end to his long-time struggles against the Phillies (he's 0-7 with a 6.06 ERA in 10 career head-to-head starts).
For the fifth straight game, the Nats will be without Ryan Zimmerman, whose strained ribcage muscle has not healed yet to the point he can play without risking serious injury. With each passing day, it looks more likely that Zim won't be returning to play this season.
Check back for both weather and game updates throughout...
PHILLIES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Thunderstorms, 75 degrees, Wind 14 mph RF to LF
STARTING LINEUPS5:25 p.m. -- Your weather update: It hasn't been raining the last few hours, and the tarp has been off the infield throughout. Still, the Nats are taking BP indoors, and the rain is supposed to resume around 7 p.m. They're certainly going to proceed as though they're playing. If, however, this game has to be postponed, there has been discussion of playing the makeup on Thursday afternoon (a common off-day for both teams) instead of playing a doubleheader one of the next two days.
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam Dunn
RF Michael Morse
LF Roger Bernadina
C Wilson Ramos
3B Alberto Gonzalez
P John Lannan
CF Shane Victorino
3B Placido Polanco
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
RF Jayson Werth
LF Raul Ibanez
C Carlos Ruiz
SS Wilson Valdez
P Roy Halladay
5:29 p.m. -- Your Ryan Zimmerman update: It's unlikely he'll return to play before the end of the season, Jim Riggleman said, though Zim isn't totally ruling it out yet. He said he'd need to feel no pain at all in his ribcage before he could try swinging again. If that all went fine with no problems, he could maybe try to come back and play this weekend. But don't count on it happening. I'll have a full story on Zim on CSNwashington.com in a little while.
5:34 p.m. -- One more update to pass along: Ross Detwiler will start Wednesday night's game against the Phillies, but he won't be replacing anyone in the rotation. Riggleman said they'll be sticking with a six-man staff the rest of the way. Which means tonight will be John Lannan's final start of the season. Which means at best he'll match his career high with nine wins. He won't be able to get to 10. The rotation the rest of the way will be: Lannan (tonight), Marquis (tomorrow), Detwiler (Wednesday), Zimmermann (Friday), Maya (Saturday), Hernandez (Sunday).
6:20 p.m. -- It's not currently raining, but the grounds crew just pulled the tarp back over the infield. Skies are darkening and it looks like some heavy stuff is on its way. If that's the case, seems pretty unlikely this game starts on time.
6:24 p.m. -- I guess I spoke too soon, because now they're folding the tarp all the way up and rolling it up completely. I don't get it. Whatever the case, it's still not raining, but the skies are pretty dark.
7:00 p.m. -- Lineup cards are being exchanged, Roy Halladay is walking in from the bullpen to lots of cheers from the Philly fans here, and we're getting ready for baseball.
7:04 p.m. -- Before we get started, some news hot off the wire: The Nats have named Tyler Moore their minor league player of the year and Tom Milone their minor league pitcher of the year. I'll have some more details in a full posting in a little while.
7:05 p.m. -- And, amazingly, we're underway on time. John Lannan starts Shane Victorino off with a fastball for ball one. LOTS of Phillies fans here. There are maybe only 7,000 people in the park, but I'd guess at least 4,000 or 5,000 of them are from Philly.
7:14 p.m. -- A one-out single for Placido Polanco, followed by a wild pitch, put the Phillies in position to take an early lead. But Lannan came up big in striking out Chase Utley looking and then getting Ryan Howard to line out to center.
7:22 p.m. -- Roy Halladay certainly didn't have to break a sweat in the bottom of the first. Retired the side with two weak grounders and a strikeout of Ian Desmond.
7:25 p.m. -- Nationals Park erupts as Jayson Werth takes Lannan deep to put the Phillies up 1-0 in the second. I amend my previous estimation: At least 90 percent of the fans here are rooting for Philadelphia.
7:42 p.m. -- Six up, six down for Halladay. He's yet to allow a ball to leave the infield and has recorded three strikeouts.
7:52 p.m. -- Well, there won't be a no-hitter here tonight. Wilson Ramos just led off the bottom of the third with a sharp single to right.
8:16 p.m. -- These two pitchers are just cruising along. Halladay has needed only 58 pitches to make it through five innings, having faced the minimum in the process (Ramos was retired on a double play in the third). Lannan, meanwhile, has retired eight of the last nine batters he faced, having thrown only 72 pitches through five. To this point, Werth's solo homer in the second holds up as the lone run. Phillies lead 1-0 as we go to the sixth.
8:35 p.m. -- Well, Lannan's night and season just came to an abrupt conclusion. He served up three runs in the sixth, the big blow a two-run double from Werth, and got pulled after only 5 2/3 innings. So Lannan's season ends on a sour note. He finishes with a 4.65 ERA in 25 starts; his record will either be 8-7 or 8-8 pending the outcome of this game. Phillies now lead 4-0 heading to the bottom of the sixth.
8:41 p.m. -- I should note that in 11 starts after returning from Class AA Harrisburg, Lannan wound up going 6-2 (or 6-3) with a 3.42 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 47-to-14. Certainly pitched much better after his midseason demotion.
8:50 p.m. -- Tonight's paid attendance: 14,309. So with a season ticket base of about 10,000, figure there are about 4,309 Phillies fans here. If there's one non-season-ticket-holding Nats fan here, I'd be stunned.
8:55 p.m. -- Halladay is getting more efficient by the inning. He just finished off the bottom of the seventh on only nine pitches and has thrown only 78 for the game. One Nat has reached base (Ramos in the third). Only five batters have gotten the ball out of the infield. They just have no chance here tonight.
8:59 p.m. -- This has gotten out of control. Plate umpire Todd Tichenor just issued warnings to Collin Balester and both benches after Balester threw a 76 mph CURVEBALL over Jayson Werth's head. Yes, a CURVEBALL. Give me a break.
9:09 p.m. -- Eighty-seven pitches for Halladay through eight. Dunn did connect for a single in the eighth, giving the Nats two hits tonight. Still, it appears "Doc" will be on the mound when the Phillies clinch the NL East title in a few minutes.
9:36 p.m. -- We go to the bottom of the ninth, the Nats now trailing 8-0 after a wretched top of the ninth that featured four runs, four hits, two walks, two strikeouts and several butchered attempts at defense. Halladay now returning to the mound for the division-clinching shutout. All that's standing in his way are Alberto Gonzalez, a pinch-hitter and Danny Espinosa. Nats have him right where they want him.
9:42 p.m. -- That's it. Phillies win 8-0 and clinch their fourth straight NL East title, three of the clinchers having come against the Nationals. They mob at the center of the diamond to celebrate, with thousands of their fans cheering. Not one of the more glorious moments in Nats history.