Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
To avoid a sweep at Citizens Bank Park, the Nats will need to beat Roy Halladay.
Well, tonight's match-up at Citizens Bank Park is so lopsided, it appears to even defy the reverse lock theory. Roy Halladay (4-0, 0.84 ERA in four starts vs. Nats last two years) vs. John Lannan (0-9, 5.80 ERA in 12 career starts vs. Phillies). In Philadelphia, where the Nationals have lost six straight and 29 of 38. With a lineup missing Ryan Zimmerman and perhaps others due to injury. (Neither Michael Morse nor Rick Ankiel is starting, we'll find out soon why.)
But they do play these games for a reason, and stranger things have happened. Probably. OK, maybe not.
Updates to come...
NATIONALS at PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Clear, 62 degrees, Wind 12 mph LF to RF
STARTING LINEUPS5:43 p.m. -- Pregame news: Both Rick Ankiel (wrist) and Michael Morse (knee) are still nursing injuries. Ankiel's appears to be more serious. He had an X-ray today, which came back negative, according to Jim Riggleman. The manager said Ankiel is likely to need another day or two off. Morse is not in the lineup tonight, but Riggleman did say he should be available to pinch-hit if needed. ... Meanwhile, Riggleman and Rick Eckstein held an afternoon meeting with all of the Nats' position players. "We really just wanted to get all of our hitters together with Rick and myself and let them know the the confidence level we have in them," Riggleman said. "Just keep pushing, doing all the little things we do: defensively, running the bases and all that kind of stuff. Let's get it going offensively, but in the meantime, let's go win a ballgame, regardless whether it's 2-1 or 10-9. We've just got to try to keep doing the little things that help us win ballgames. I'm very proud of the way our players have done that through some struggles offensively. They've really played hard and played efficient baseball. We've just got to continue to do that."
2B Danny Epsinosa
3B Alex Cora
RF Jayson Werth
LF Laynce Nix
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
CF Jerry Hairston
SS Ian Desmond
P John Lannan
SS Jimmy Rollins
CF Shane Victorino
3B Placido Polanco
1B Ryan Howard
RF John Mayberry Jr.
LF Raul Ibanez
2B Wilson Valdez
C Dane Sardinha
P Roy Halladay
6:08 p.m. -- And in other pregame news: Jim Riggleman has been selected as a coach for this summer's All-Star Game by NL manager Bruce Bochy, according to two sources familiar with the decision.
7:07 p.m. -- We are underway with a strike from Roy Halladay to Danny Espinosa.
7:15 p.m. -- The good news: The Nationals won't be no-hit tonight. Alex Cora singled sharply to center with one out in the top of the first. And he stole second, giving the heart of a lineup a golden opportunity wit a man in scoring position. The bad news: Jayson Werth and Laynce Nix each struck out, Werth looking at a 2-2 fastball right over the plate. You just can't take that pitch, no way. Nix swung at a 2-2 breaking ball to end the inning.
7:26 p.m. -- Breaking news: John Lannan plunked a Phillies batter. Shocking, I know. He tagged Shane Victorino in the elbow/ribs in the bottom of the first, the ninth Philly batter he's hit in 13 career starts against them. In 89 other big-league starts, Lannan has hit only 13 batters. Fortunately, he got out of this one with no damage, getting Placido Polanco to fly out and then Ryan Howard to strike out to end the first, still scoreless.
7:35 p.m. -- The good news: Adam LaRoche led off the second with a double to deep left-center, so for the second time in two innings the Nats had a man in scoring position against Halladay. And for the second time in two innings, they failed to advance him. Wilson Ramos struck out looking. Jerry Hairston struck out swinging. Ian Desmond grounded out to second. So already tonight the Nats are 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, with four of those batters striking out.
7:45 p.m. -- Near-disaster for Lannan in the bottom of the second. With two on and two on, Halladay smoked a line drive right back up the middle. Lannan, though, stuck out his glove and made the catch, quashing a possible rally. He's thrown 24 of his 35 pitches for strikes so far. Game is still scoreless after two.
8:04 p.m. -- It's not scoreless anymore. Lannan got beat around in the third, allowing a two-run homer to Victorino that just slipped inside the left-field foul pole. The hits kept on coming, with RBI doubles from John Mayberry and (who else?) Raul Ibanez. All told, six straight batters reached to open the third, and that's it for Lannan. The streak of five-inning starts is officially over at 30. Nats trail 5-0, with Brian Broderick on to pitch.
8:10 p.m. -- Here you go: Tonight's bang-your-head-against-the-wall stat. In his career against the Phillies, John Lannan is now 0-9 (soon-to-be 0-10) with a 6.44 ERA. In his career against everyone else, he's 30-32 with a 3.88 ERA. Drastic as this sounds, maybe it's time to align the rotation so he never faces these guys again. Phillies now lead 6-0 after three.
8:29 p.m. -- Well, the Nats have scored twice off Halladay. Unfortunately, they put themselves in a 6-0 hole before doing it. Still, there's something positive that can be taken out of the top of the fourth just now, especially the incredible at-bat put forth by Hairston. He kept fouling off pitch after pitch from Halladay, finally singling to right on the right-hander's 13th offering. Desmond drove in a run moments later with a sac fly, and sensing this might be his best chance of the night, Riggleman sent up Matt Stairs to pinch-hit in the fourth inning. Made solid contact but grounded out to first to end the inning. It's 6-2, but Halladay has thrown a bunch of pitches (70) through four innings.
8:38 p.m. -- Todd Coffey just had to call for the trainer because he had a nosebleed while on the pitcher's mound. How does that even happen?
8:45 p.m. -- And Coffey proceeds to strike out Howard and Mayberry after the incident. Umps may need to check to make he was doctoring the ball with blood.
9:05 p.m. -- Hey, what do you know? Raul Ibanez has homered again! And not just a run-of-the-mill homer. An absolute bomb. Yes, the guy who was 0 for his last 35 two days ago is now 7 for his last 10 with two homers and three doubles. Ibanez's updated stats vs. the Nationals over the last three seasons: .358 average, .436 OBP, .709 slugging, 1.145 OPS. Insane. It's 7-2 Phillies in the sixth.
9:25 p.m. -- You know how a couple of innings ago it looked like the Nats might be inflicting a little damage on Halladay. Yeah, not any more. He's mowed down the last 11 batters faced and now has 10 strikeouts through seven innings. Still 7-2.
9:30 p.m. -- Hey, Ibanez just singled, making him 8 for his last 10. Actually, though, that will lower his OPS vs. the Nats. Progress!
9:46 p.m. -- Nats got a run back in the eighth on a sac fly by Werth, only his eighth RBI of the season. It's 7-3 as we go to the bottom of the eighth.
10:03 p.m. -- It's over. Final score: 7-3. Nats get swept. They never led once in this series. They've lost seven in a row, and 30 of 39 in Philly.