Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Yunesky Maya faces fellow Cuban Raul Valdes today at Citi Field.
Yunesky Maya makes his fifth and final start of the season for the Nats, still seeking his first career win (or quality start, for that matter). Maya's four previous outings have all carried a similar pattern. He pitches OK but is victimized by one big inning. He's also had trouble consistently finding the strike zone, leading to some whopping pitch counts (he's averaging roughly 5 1/3 innings and 90 pitches each time out). We'll see if he can put everything together today and leave everyone with a good taste in their mouths heading into the winter.
Kind of an, uh, interesting lineup for the Nationals today. Adam Dunn, who since clubbing his walk-off homer Tuesday night is 0-for-8 with six strikeouts, is not starting against Mets left-hander Raul Valdes. So that leaves the Nats without any of their Opening Day 3-4-5 hitters. Today's group: Ian Desmond, Michael Morse and Wilson Ramos. And your No. 6 hitter? Alberto Gonzalez, who needs to drive in at least one more run this season to avoid becoming only the third player since 1901 to have more than 175 at-bats and fewer than five RBI.
Updates to come throughout, so be sure to check back along the way...
NATIONALS at METS
Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 1:10 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Sunny, 64 degrees, Wind 9 mph in from LF
STARTING LINEUPS11:50 a.m. -- Dunn's absence from today's lineup has more to do with his lingering hamstring issue than anything else. It was bothering him some last night, so Jim Riggleman decided to give him today off. Dunn is available to pinch-hit if the right situation arises.
2B Danny Espinosa
LF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
RF Michael Morse
C Wilson Ramos
3B Alberto Gonzalez
CF Justin Maxwell
1B Adam Kennedy
P Yunesky Maya
CF Angel Pagan
RF Jesus Feliciano
3B David Wright
1B Ike Davis
LF Lucas Duda
2B Joaquin Arias
C Josh Thole
SS Ruben Tejada
P Raul Valdes
1:00 p.m. -- Always a treat to run into Frank Robinson at the ballpark. Frank, who is now working in the commissioner's office, is here today and was on the field talking to Mike Rizzo and other members of the Nationals during BP. He still follows the Nats pretty closely. First thing he said to me: "So who's going to be the new president?" When I told him I wouldn't be surprised if they don't fill Stan Kasten's soon-to-be-vacated position, he replied: "Makes sense."
1:11 p.m. -- And we're underway. Raul Valdes starts Danny Espinosa off with a fastball for strike one.
1:17 p.m. -- Picking up right where they left off last night, the Nats start today's game with back-to-back strikeouts. Only Ian Desmond put the ball in play in the top of the first, and that was a foul pop-up to the catcher. So, 14 strikeouts last night, two more already today. If you're wondering, no team in baseball this season has struck out 14 times in consecutive games.
1:22 p.m. -- The Mets hit a couple of balls hard in the bottom of the first, but both were hit right at outfielders. Along with a groundball to second, Yunesky Maya got this one off on the right foot. Only nine pitches, seven strikes for the rookie right-hander.
1:31 p.m. -- If Alberto Gonzalez was ever going to drive in his fifth run of the year, this was the opportunity. Runners on second and third, nobody out. Sadly, Gonzo's fly ball to right wasn't deep enough for Michael Morse to tag. So he's still stuck on four RBI. Even worse, the Nats couldn't push across a single run by the end of the inning. Even after Justin Maxwell walked to load the bases with one out, Adam Kennedy swung at Valdes' first pitch and hit another shallow fly ball to center field. Not a good at-bat with Maya in the on-deck circle. Maya, of course, struck out to end the top of the second with nary a run on the board.
1:54 p.m. -- Still scoreless here in the middle of the third. Nats had another chance to put a run on the board just now, with a man on second and one out. But Desmond flied out to center and Morse struck out, giving Valdes four K's on the afternoon.
2:06 p.m. -- The Mets take a 1-0 lead after three, but it could've been a lot worse. With runners on first and third and one out, Feliciano skied a pop-up into no-man's land behind second base. Espinosa and Desmond each went back, but ultimately it was Maxwell who came charging in to make a great diving catch. Tejada tagged from third to score the game's first run, but Maxwell's catch helped prevent the inning from getting worse. Credit also to Maya, who has had a history of letting an inning get out of control, for getting Wright to fly out to end the third without any more damage.
2:14 p.m. -- Oh my, Lucas Duda way up into the second deck in right field. Just killed that pitch from Maya. 2-0 Mets in the fourth.
2:47 p.m. -- Michael Morse delivers again. Just a towering shot to left for his 15th home run of the season. Did you know he has hit only one fewer homer than Josh Willingham, despite more than 100 fewer at-bats? Not bad. 2-1 Mets in the top of the sixth now.
3:00 p.m. -- Sadly, this is what happens when you field a 6-7-8 of Gonzalez, Maxwell and Kennedy and a bench in which Kevin Mench is an actual option: Despite Ramos' double following Morse's homer, they couldn't score him. So now Maya's day is done, his final line; 5 ip, 6 h, 2 er, 1 bb, 4 k. If the Nats don't rally, he'll end up 0-4 with a 5.88 ERA in five starts, having allowed 17 earned runs and 30 hits in 26 innings, striking out 12 and walking 11. Neither all that impressive nor all that unimpressive.
3:06 p.m. -- Yes, Riggleman just pulled Morse and put Willie Harris in right field. It's not even a double switch. I'm honestly not sure what the rationale for such a move would be, unless Morse is hurt.
3:13 p.m. -- Harris now batting against a lefty with two outs a man in scoring position. Morse HAS to be hurt. There can be no other explanation.
3:26 p.m. -- Wow, Ramos just came within inches of notching his third double of the afternoon. Instead, it goes as a game-tying single that ricocheted off third base. 1-1 in the seventh, and now Dunn is pinch-hitting for Gonzalez. Really, Jim. Pinch-hitting the 103-RBI guy for the 4-RBI guy? Come on.
3:29 p.m. -- Dunn draws the walk, so now Justin Maxwell will step to the plate with the bases loaded. Just how he likes it. Remember his career numbers in this situation: 3-for-4 with three grand slams and 12 RBI.
3:34 p.m. -- And Maxwell strikes out swinging at a 3-2 fastball at his eyelids. Inning over. Game tied 1-1.
3:37 p.m. -- OK, this makes sense now. Morse came out of this game with a tight left hamstring. As the Mets PR rep aptly put it, his status is "day."
3:49 p.m. -- Rough weekend for Tyler Clippard. He gave up the game-winning homer last night to Josh Thole. And he just gave up a three-run bomb to David Wright that reached the facade of the second deck in left field. Just crushed that pitch. Barring a rally, Clippard's about to fall to 11-8, a staggering number of decisions for a reliever. The only pitcher on the staff with more is Livan Hernandez at 10-12. Mets lead 5-2 as we go to the eighth.
4:03 p.m. -- Two-run pinch-hit homer for Chris Carter off Collin Balester blows this one wide open. Nats now trail 7-2 in the bottom of the eighth and are three outs from their 93rd loss.
4:22 p.m. -- That's a wrap. Nats lose 7-2 and fall to 68-93 with one game to play. Clippard takes the loss and falls to 11-8. Livan Hernandez vs. Mike Pelfrey in tomorrow's season finale.