Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Livan Hernandez faces Mike Pelfrey in today's season finale at Citi Field.
The Nationals limp into their season finale on a three-game losing streak, having scored a total of six runs in their last five games. Not much good has happened since Adam Dunn clubbed that walk-off homer against the Phillies Tuesday night. If they can't pull out a victory today against the Mets, they'll finish the year at 68-94. (I should probably point out here that way back on Opening Day, I predicted 68 wins for this team. Dumb luck, I know.)
Livan Hernandez makes his team-leading 33rd start of the season for the Nationals today, attempting to earn his 11th win and keep his ERA under 3.75. He'll be pitching in front of a depleted lineup that is without Ryan Zimmerman (who will have missed the season's final 10 games with a ribcage strain) and Michael Morse (who had to come out of yesterday's game with a hamstring strain).
Adam Dunn, however, is back in the lineup after missing yesterday's game with a minor hamstring issue. In what could be his final game as a National, Dunn needs to club two homers to reach 40 for the sixth time in his career. Three RBI would give him 106 and match his career high. Two more strikeouts would give him 200 for the first time in his career.
Plenty of updates to come throughout the afternoon...
NATIONALS at METS
Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 1:10 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 62 degrees, Wind 15 mph in from CF
STARTING LINEUPS1:11 p.m. -- Mike Pelfrey throws a fastball to Danny Espinosa for strike one, and the final day of the season is underway.
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam Dunn
LF Roger Bernadina
C Ivan Rodriguez
RF Willie Harris
3B Alberto Gonzalez
P Livan Hernandez
SS Jose Reyes
RF Jesus Feliciano
3B David Wright
1B Ike Davis
CF Angel Pagan
LF Lucas Duda
C Josh Thole
2B Ruben Tejada
P Mike Pelfrey
1:13 p.m. -- If you haven't seen it already, check out the homepage for Adam Dunn's thoughts before today's game. Dunn didn't get into hypotheticals about whether this is his last game with the Nats or not, but he did have some interesting things to say about his desire to play for a winning team for the first time in his career. The article also includes an interesting quote from Jim Riggleman, in which he compares Dunn to another big Washington slugger from his youth, both in importance on and off the field.
1:21 p.m. -- 1-2-3 first inning from both pitchers. Not much happening on either side. Willie Harris did make a nice catch leaning over the wall down the right-field line to grab David Wright's foul pop to end the first. You know, it would be fitting if today's game ended with Willie making a spectacular catch to rob the Mets of victory.
1:30 p.m. -- Livan Hernandez and Mike Pelfrey have put up amazingly similar numbers this season. Starts: 32 a piece. Innings: 205 for Livo, 197 for Pelfrey. Hits: 210 for Livo, 209 for Pelfrey. Walks: 66 for Livo, 63 for Pelfrey. Strikeouts: 113 for Livo, 109 for Pelfrey. Opponent's batting average: .270 for Livo, .279 for Pelfrey. Yet Livo's record is 10-12 while Pelfrey's is 15-9 entering today's game. Just shows you once again how you can't judge a pitcher on his won-loss record. I hope my colleagues voting for AL Cy Young remember that when comparing Felix Hernandez to CC Sabathia.
1:42 p.m. -- At the very least, we know there won't be a double no-hitter today. Alberto Gonzalez took care of that by doubling in the top of the third. Of course, he then got caught in a rundown after Pelfrey snagged Livo's comebacker, killing any chance of a scoring rally. Still 0-0 here as we go to the bottom of the third.
2:25 p.m. -- I don't believe what I just saw! Alberto Gonzalez recorded his fifth RBI of the season! Base hit to right scored Roger Bernadina with the game's first run in the top of the fifth. I even got photographic evidence of this incredible feat from the stands. Congrats to Gonzo on NOT becoming the third player in modern history with at least 175 at-bats and less than five RBI. (Of course, he's still one of only nine players in modern history with at least 175 at-bats and less than six RBI. But today is a day of celebration, not negativity.) Tie game 1-1 after five since the Mets scored off Livo as I was typing this.
2:44 p.m. -- Still 1-1 after six as both Livo and Pelfrey pitch their way out of jams. Nice play by Nyjer Morgan, too, racing in to make a sliding catch of David Wright's sinking liner. So we go to the seventh of yet another low-scoring, tight ballgame.
3:02 p.m. -- So it's 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh, with two outs, two on and left-handed pinch-hitter Chris Carter stepping up to bat for Pelfrey. Livo's at 85 pitches, showing no signs of tiring. But Riggleman just pulled him as part of what should be his final double switch of the season. Livo and Pudge out, Burnett and Ramos in. Livo can't get the win.
3:07 p.m. -- Well, Burnett got the job done, so you can't really question the move now. Livan Hernandez's final season numbers: 10-12, 3.66 ERA, 33 starts, 211 2/3 innings, 216 hits, 64 walks, 114 strikeouts. Job. Well. Done. It's still 1-1 as we go to the eighth.
3:21 p.m. -- Ian Desmond charged with his 34th error of the season after he tried to barehand a bouncer off Jose Reyes' bat. This day is complete now.
3:30 p.m. -- Ah but Desmond also left his feet to make a nice catch of Ike Davis' soft liner, setting the stage for Burnett to pitch his way out of the jam. Still 1-1 as we go to the ninth, with Adam Dunn set to lead off in what could be his final at-bat as a National.
3:34 p.m. -- Jerry Manuel now pulling David Wright and Jose Reyes after each guy took the field for the top of the ninth so they could get standing ovations from the crowd.
3:45 p.m. -- Adam Dunn leads off the ninth by singling to right, only his fourth hit in 34 at-bats against left-handed relievers this season. Then he gets pinch-run for with Adam Kennedy. So Dunn's season is over. His final numbers: a .260 average, 38 homers, 103 RBI, 77 walks, 199 strikeouts. And since the bottom of the lineup couldn't drive the go-ahead run in, we head to the bottom of the ninth, still tied 1-1. Doug Slaten coming in to pitch.
3:51 p.m. -- Slaten gets two quick outs, and now Drew Storen enters. I'll say this: Jim Riggleman manages right down to the final out of the 162nd game.
3:54 p.m. -- For the second straight year, the Nats go to extra innings in Game 162. Last year, they went 15 innings before beating the Braves 2-1. Please tell me we're not headed for another one of those.
4:01 p.m. -- It occurs to me I may have caught a fortuitous break in being forced to drive up here from D.C. after Friday morning's flight got canceled. No need to race out of here to catch a flight home now.
4:11 p.m. -- On to the 11th.
4:18 p.m. -- Wow, Drew Storen staying in the game after already throwing 1 1/3 innings. This is actually his third inning of work.
4:19 p.m. -- The Nats still have six relievers available in the bullpen: Balester, Batista, Bisenius, Clippard, Peralta and Stammen.
4:24 p.m. -- And Storen strikes out Pagan and Duda to complete 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. We go to the 12th.
4:26 p.m. -- Nats PR man John Dever points out they've lost 18 consecutive 1-run games on the road. So they've got that going for them.
4:30 p.m. -- And the Nats go down in order in the top of the 12th. Ten straight batters retired by Mets pitching.
4:43 p.m. -- Let's go to the 13th!
4:51 p.m. -- Thirteen consecutive batters retired by Mets pitching. And as the bottom of the 13th begins with Peralta still on the mound, it appears John Lannan is warming up in the bullpen. They've still got five actual relievers available, but perhaps Riggleman wants a lefty to face Ike Davis.
4:55 p.m. -- We go to the 14th, and coming in to pitch for the Mets is Oliver Perez, who is making only his third appearance since August 1. He's been active the entire time, they just haven't used him. Fans are booing as he's announced.
5:06 p.m. -- Two on, one out. The stage is set for, who else, Wil Nieves.
5:08 p.m. -- Even better. Nieves draws the walk and loads the bases for Justin Maxwell. Career with bases loaded: 3-for-5 with three grand slams.
5:13 p.m. -- Wow, is Oliver Perez bad or what? He just walked Maxwell to force in the go-ahead run, drawing a big round of boos from the crowd. He just allowed the Nats to take the lead via a hit batter and three straight walks. Nats lead 2-1 in the 14th, and now Pat Misch (who struck out 10 over eight innings two nights ago) is coming in to face Alberto Gonzalez with the bases loaded. Gonzo has a chance to end the day with five RBI, which would surpass his total from the season's first 161 games.
5:17 p.m. -- And Gonzo grounds into a double play. So we go to the bottom of the 14th, the Nats leading 2-1 and Miguel Batista entering in search of his second save of the season. He also saved one right here at Citi Field early in the year.
5:25 p.m. -- That's it! It's all over! Nats win! Nats win! Final score: 2-1 in 14 innings. They didn't manage to record a base hit in extra innings, yet they won. Peralta gets the win. Batista gets the save. The Nats finish at 69-93.