Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jason Marquis faces Roy Oswalt tonight at Nationals Park.
So there will be nothing at stake tonight other than a ballgame, not to mention the pride of all those involved. First and foremost on that list will be Jason Marquis, who makes the final start of what has been far and away the worst season of his career. If I had said back in February that Marquis, on September 28, would be shooting for win No. 3, what would you have thought? That, of course, is the predicament the veteran right-hander finds himself in tonight, hoping to "improve" to 3-9 and "lower" his ERA into the 6.00s.
Little tweak to the Nationals' lineup tonight: Danny Espinosa will bat sixth, with Nyjer Morgan leading off and Roger Bernadina behind him. They'll be facing Roy Oswalt, trying to beat him for the third time in five tries this season. Considering that this start means nothing for Oswalt other than as a means to get some work in and tune up for the playoffs, I'd be surprised if he goes more than five innings, six tops.
Check back for updates throughout...
PHILLIES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 77 degrees, Wind 9 mph out to RF
STARTING LINEUPS7:11 p.m. -- We're underway, and Jason Marquis wasted no time retiring the side in the top of the first. Couple of groundballs to second and a long flyball to center field. Much better crowd tonight. Still plenty of Phillies fans, but lots more Nationals fans than were here last night.
CF Nyjer Morgan
LF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam Dunn
RF Michael Morse
2B Danny Espinosa
C Ivan Rodriguez
3B Alberto Gonzalez
P Jason Marquis
SS Jimmy Rollins
LF Raul Ibanez
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
CF Ben Francisco
RF Domonic Brown
3B Greg Dobbs
C Brian Schneider
P Roy Oswalt
7:19 p.m. -- Nats take a 1-0 lead, thanks in large part to a big-time defensive gaffe from the Phillies. With one out and Nyjer Morgan on second base, Ian Desmond hit a comebacker to Roy Oswalt, who turned and had Morgan caught in a rundown. But Jimmy Rollins threw wildly toward third, leaving everyone safe. That set up Adam Dunn's RBI groundout, which was greeted by more "Sign Adam Dunn!" chants from the upper deck.
7:31 p.m. -- Eleven days ago, Jason Marquis retired only one of nine Phillies batters he faced. Tonight, he's already retired six of the first seven he's faced, including the last three via strikeout. Quite impressive. Then again, the Phillies' lineup doesn't include Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Placido Polanco or Carlos Ruiz tonight. I'm sure that's not a factor.
7:52 p.m. -- Still 1-0 Nats through three innings, though here's an encouraging development: Nyjer Morgan has drawn walks in each of his first two at-bats. Jim Riggleman was talking earlier today about the need for Nyjer to get his OBP back up to where it was prior to this season (he had a career .362 OBP entering 2010 but is down to .319 this year).
7:57 p.m. -- Raul Ibanez terrorizes the Nats again. He just clubbed a solo shot to right to tie the game 1-1 in the fourth. I believe that's Ibanez's 756th home run against the Nationals in the last two seasons alone. ... Actually, some quick research reveals he's *only* hit 12.
8:08 p.m. -- Things could have really gotten hairy there for Marquis, who loaded the bases with one out in the fourth. But he got Greg Dobbs to tap a roller back to the mound, leading to a forceout at the plate. Then he caught Brian Schneider looking at a sinker on the inside corner to end the inning in impressive fashion. Still 1-1 as we go to the bottom of the fourth.
8:35 p.m. -- Top of the sixth now, still 1-1 thanks in part to a spectacular play by Danny Espinosa. The rookie second baseman ranged way to his right to field Ryan Howard's grounder and then leaped to throw across his body and nail Howard by a half-step at first, bringing the crowd to its feet. Really impressed with what Espinosa has done at second base despite his lack of experience there.
8:41 p.m. -- That'll do it for Oswalt. You don't often see a starter pulled after five innings of two-hit ball, but there's really no reason for Charlie Manuel to leave him in any longer. Danys Baez now pitching for Philly.
8:52 p.m. -- A forgettable season for Jason Marquis ends on a positive note (one run in six innings). He'll finish with a 2-9 record and 6.60 ERA. Amazingly, that's the lowest his ERA was all season. Tyler Clippard now on to pitch the seventh.
8:59 p.m. -- Tonight's paid attendance: 19,117. Unlike last night, I think close to that many people are actually here. And unlike last night, Phillies fans aren't drowning out Nats fans.
9:15 p.m. -- Gary Cederstrom just ejected Jim Riggleman for arguing a called strike from the dugout.
9:26 p.m. -- Two scoreless innings from Clippard, who is really finishing the season strong. If the Nats can rally to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth (and then hang on in the ninth), Clippard would clinch the staff title in wins with 12.
9:34 p.m. -- Anthony Bastardo strikes out the side in the eighth. Still tied 1-1. No win for Clippard tonight. Drew Storen will pitch the ninth inning of a tie game.
9:44 p.m. -- Nice job by Storen, who struck out two. So we go to the bottom of the ninth of a 1-1 game. Adam Dunn will lead off against Jose Contreras.
9:47 p.m. -- Adam Dunn: Walkoff homer. Nats win 2-1. You can't make this up.