Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jayson Werth and the Nationals open a three-game series tonight in Philadelphia.
But there are other connections, such as the guys hitting seventh and eighth for the Phillies: Pete Orr at Brian Schneider. Yeah, Orr and Schneider are starting tonight for the four-time NL East champs. Schneider, of course, caught the first game in Nationals history, from Livan Hernandez, right here in this park. And, to complete today's edition of "Six Degrees of Nats and Phillies," this is the 1,000th game in Nationals history, right back where it all started. (If only Terrmel Sledge was here to really commemorate the occasion.)
Some lineup changes for the Nats against lefty Cole Hamels. Rick Ankiel is out, so Jerry Hairston starts in center field, with Brian Bixler at third base. Ian Desmond gets bumped up to the 2-hole. Ivan Rodriguez is catching.
Plenty of updates to come, and be sure to check me out on Comcast SportsNet at 5:15 p.m. live from the ballpark...
NATIONALS at PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), XM 185
Weather: Chance of showers, 77 degrees, Wind 13 mph out to CF
STARTING LINEUPS6:00 p.m. -- Couple of quick injury updates: Ryan Zimmerman had successful surgery today to repair his torn abdominal muscle. According to Mike Rizzo, the procedure was not as complicated as Philadelphia doctor Bill Meyers thought it might be in advance. Zimmerman will remain in Philly and begin rehabbing tomorrow, then return to D.C. while the club heads to Florida. The expectation, Rizzo said, is that Zimmerman will be ready to return to the lineup in six weeks. ... Meanwhile, Rick Ankiel is not in the lineup tonight, in part because he's got a sore wrist after diving for a couple line drives last night. Ankiel, who may not have started against a lefty anyways, is available to pinch-hit and play defense late if needed.
2B Danny Espinosa
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Michael Morse
CF Jerry Hairston
C Ivan Rodriguez
3B Brian Bixler
P Livan Hernandez
SS Jimmy Rollins
CF Shane Victorino
3B Placido Polanco
1B Ryan Howard
RF Ben Francisco
LF Raul Ibanez
2B Pete Orr
C Brian Schneider
P Cole Hamels
7:00 p.m. -- First mention of Jayson Werth over the P.A. system here. Plenty of boos, though a good amount of cheers as well from the assembled masses. Werth, by the way, spoke to reporters for about 15 minutes this afternoon from the Nats' dugout. He was swarmed by dozens of Philly area newspapers, TV networks and radio stations.
7:06 p.m. -- We are underway with a strike from Cole Hamels to Danny Espinosa.
7:14 p.m. -- So Jayson Werth stepped to the plate for the first time here as a National and was greeted with a mixture of boos and cheers. He stopped to tip his cap, and the cheers then outweighed the boos, with many fans giving him a standing ovation. Then he drew a two-out walk from Hamels and the boos returned. At the end of the inning, he trotted out to right field, where most fans stood and applauded (with some still booing). Werth again tipped his cap and got more cheers. Hey, it's Philly. What did you expect?
7:19 p.m. -- 1-2-3 bottom of the first from Livan Hernandez. So we're pretty much settled in here now. At least until Werth comes up to bat again.
7:34 p.m. -- How many other pitchers in baseball can strike out Ryan Howard looking at an 84-mph fastball? Not sure I know of one other than Livo, who tossed a 1-2-3 second and has now retired all six batters he's faced so far tonight. Scoreless through two.
7:37 p.m. -- Raul Ibanez, by the way, is now 0 for his last 35. That ties Hall of Famer Joe Morgan for the longest hitless streak by a Phillies player since 1973. Wow.
7:46 p.m. -- OK, who predicted the Phillies' first baserunner tonight would be Hamels? And that he would do it with the first triple of his career? Liars. The left-hander somehow tagged a pitch from Livo to deep right-center, past a lunging attempt from Werth up against the fence, and wound up at third base. The stadium went nuts, and continued it a few minutes later when Rollins singled him home to put the Phillies up 1-0.
7:54 p.m. -- In his second at-bat of the night, Werth was robbed of a possible double down the third-base line by Polanco, who made a nice, diving stop to his right and then gunned down his old teammate. Werth did smoke that ball pretty good, perhaps a sign he's poised for a breakout at the plate. Still 1-0 Phillies as we go to the bottom of the fourth.
8:16 p.m. -- Well, you just knew Ibanez's slump would end against the Nats, and in dramatic fashion. Sure enough, he got his first hit in 36 at-bats with a blast to deep center, off the warning track. Fortunately for the Nats, the ball bounced over the fence, forcing Howard to hold at third. After a mound conference, Livo decided to intentionally walk Pete Orr and load the bases for Brian Schneider. Worked to perfection, because Schneider bounced back to the mound for a 1-2-3 double play. They needed that, because they're not doing squat at the plate against Hamels. Still 1-0 as we go to the bottom of the fifth.
8:22 p.m. -- Ivan Rodriguez, by the way, doubled to right-center in the top of the fifth, continuing his recent hot streak at the plate. Pudge has started only four of the Nats' last 10 games, but he's 6-for-14 over that span and has looked great behind the plate. Looks to me like he plays better the less he plays.
8:30 p.m. -- Boy, Livo put himself in a real jam there in the bottom of the fifth, though he wasn't helped by Werth, who bobbled Rollins' ball into the corner (it was scored a triple) and misfired to the plate on Polanco's sac fly. The Phillies wound up with the bases loaded, two out and Ibanez at the plate, and for just a moment, it looked like the Nats' streak of five-inning starts was about to end at 28. But Riggleman stuck with the veteran, and he got Ibanez to fly out on his first pitch, ending the fifth with the Nats trailing just 2-0. They're still not doing anything at the plate, though, after another 1-2-3 inning from Hamels in the top of the sixth.
8:48 p.m. -- Livan Hernandez has amazingly put 11 men on base over his last four innings, yet allowed only two runs. That bit of escape artistry has kept the Nats in the game. And Michael Morse just cut the deficit to 2-1 with a solo homer to right, only his second of the year. It's the seventh-inning stretch, and we've got a ballgame here in Philly.
9:02 p.m. -- Well, try as he might to escape all these jams, Livo just couldn't do it one more time. He allowed an RBI single to Howard with one out in the seventh, and he's now done for the night. It's 3-1 Phillies in the seventh, and Todd Coffey is sprinting in from the bullpen ... and even receiving cheers from the Philly crowd! How about that?
9:11 p.m. -- And the wheels are falling off. It's now 4-1 after neither Morse nor Hairston was able to track down Ibanez's deep fly ball to left-center. It's a double, but somebody has to catch that ball. The Morse-Hairston pairing just does not work out there.
9:37 p.m. -- The Phillies have amazingly put 19 men on base over the last six innings. Even more amazingly, they've *only* scored four runs during that span. Not suggesting the Nats are about to stage a ninth-inning rally down 4-1. Just saying this game could easily be a lot more lopsided right now. Last chance coming up.
9:41 p.m. -- That's it. Cole Hamels (4-1) goes the distance and beats the Nationals, 4-1. Livan Hernandez (3-3) takes the loss. Jayson Werth goes 0-for-3 with a walk, a ninth-inning strikeout and some shaky defense in his first game back in Philly.