Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats take on the Rockies (and the rain) tonight at Nationals Park.
Lannan will be working with Wilson Ramos as his batterymate, with Ivan Rodriguez still sidelined by a strained oblique muscle. This is Ramos' fourth straight game behind the plate, and though he did start five consecutive games earlier this season, you've got to believe Davey Johnson would like to use someone else tomorrow or Sunday. Pudge is either going to need to prove he's healthy enough to play, or Jesus Flores is going to need to be recalled from Class AAA Syracuse. [UPDATE AT 3:30 P.M. -- The Nats just announced they've placed Pudge on the 15-day DL and recalled Flores. Full story coming.]
The forecast tonight isn't pretty: There's a line of storms fast-approaching as we speak, though it is supposed to be dry around scheduled first pitch. More rain is expected later in the evening, so it could make for a long night.
Updates to come...
ROCKIES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 189
Weather: Chance of storms, 82 degrees, Wind 9 mph out to LF
STARTING LINEUPS5:20 p.m. -- Tonight's first weather update: It's been pouring for the last hour or so, and batting practice was canceled for both teams. That said, club officials have been told there's a proverbial "window" of clearing right around 7 p.m., so they are proceeding as though this game will begin on-time. That, of course, is always subject to change.
LF Roger Bernadina
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Michael Morse
RF Jayson Werth
CF Rick Ankiel
C Wilson Ramos
SS Ian Desmond
P John Lannan
CF Carlos Gonzalez
SS Jonathan Herrera
1B Todd Helton
LF Ty Wigginton
2B Mark Ellis
RF Cole Garner
3B Ian Stewart
C Chris Iannetta
P Jason Hammel
5:30 p.m. -- And, in unfortunate injury news: Cole Kimball has learned he'll need season-ending surgery for a torn rotator cuff.
6:42 p.m. -- The tarp has been rolled up, the infield has been prepared and this game will begin on schedule at 7:05 p.m.
7:07 p.m. -- And, right on cue, we are underway. John Lannan starts Carlos Gonzalez off with a fastball for ball one. And just as Lannan throws that pitch, the sun emerges from the clouds overhead. Good omen for the Nats?
7:11 p.m. -- Very nice top of the first for Lannan. He cruised right through the frame, retiring the side on 11 pitches, getting Gonzalez to ground out, Jonathan Herrera to fly out and Todd Helton to strike out looking at a 3-2 breaking ball.
7:25 p.m. -- The good news: The Nats put their first three men on base in the bottom of the first, with Roger Bernadina doubling, Danny Espinosa drawing a walk and Ryan Zimmerman beating out a chopper to short. That loaded the bases for Michael Morse, who lofted a flyball to center to bring home the night's first run. Now, the bad news: That still left two men on with one out for Jayson Werth. (Does this guy ever come up with the bases empty?) Werth's at-bat ... well, it resembled pretty much all of his at-bats over the last two weeks. He wound up striking out swinging mightily at a 3-2 fastball from Hammel. Both runners were in motion, though, and stole their respective bases without drawing a throw. So, I suppose technically speaking, he did advance the runners, right? Rick Ankiel completed the inning with a pop-up to second. So the Nats take a 1-0 lead, but it easily could have been more than that.
7:33 p.m. -- Wow, Lannan has struck out three of the first six batters he's faced tonight. Not sure he's ever done that before. At any level, professional or otherwise. Looking sharp so far.
7:39 p.m. -- It's a good thing Lannan is pitching well. Because he's absolutely dreadful at the plate. With a check-swing groundout to third just now, he's fallen to 0-for-32 for the season. He's starting to put a serious run together at topping Jason Bergmann's 0-for-40 performance from 2008. Still 1-0 Nats after two.
8:07 p.m. -- Oh man, scary moment here in the top of the fourth. Ty Wigginton smokes a comebacker and it caught Lannan right in the face. He fell to his knees, then got up with his hand to his face and immediately headed toward the dugout, bleeding from either his nose or just under his left eye. Ryan Mattheus has come out of the bullpen to take over in an emergency. Will update you on Lannan's condition as soon as we find out.
8:15 p.m. -- Obviously a tough spot for Mattheus to enter, and he pitched like it. Allowed two more runs to score (one on a balk) and all of a sudden, the Nats trail 3-1 in the middle of the fourth.
8:22 p.m. -- Wilson Ramos gets a run back for the Nats, drilling his eighth homer of the season to make it 3-2 at the end of four. No word yet on Lannan, but in watching the replay, he was bleeding from the left side of his nose. He was up on his feet really fast and was walking pretty quickly off the field and down the dugout tunnel alongside trainer Lee Kuntz.
8:36 p.m. -- Here's the official update on Lannan, and it's encouraging: He's been diagnosed with a "nasal contusion." No fractures. The club is listing him as day-to-day. Bunch of people breathing a sigh of relief right now, I'm sure. Meanwhile, we go to the sixth, Nats still trailing 3-2, and Sean Burnett is in.
8:54 p.m. -- Burnett gets through the sixth, with an assist from Espinosa, who turned a 4-3 double play. Now he's back out for the top of the seventh.
9:03 p.m. -- And another scoreless inning of relief from Burnett, who really needed that. Should be a nice confidence-booster for him. The Nats bullpen has done an admirable job in the wake of Lannan's early and surprising departure. The lineup, however, hasn't done much against Hammel. Still 3-2 at the stretch.
9:14 p.m. -- Big-time chess match in the bottom of the seventh between Davey Johnson and Jim Tracy. With one out and Desmond on first, Davey sent Matt Stairs up to pinch-hit. But then Tracy pulled a double-switch, getting Hammel out and bringing in left-hander Matt Reynolds. So Davey countered with Jesus Flores. Flores nearly came through, coming about a foot wide of an RBI double down the left-field line. Instead, the ball landed foul. Then Desmond was caught taking off for second too soon. And then Flores struck out. So it remains 3-2 going to the eighth, with Tyler Clippard on.
9:30 p.m. -- A 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth, with Ryan Zimmerman lofting a flyball to the right-field warning track to end the inning. Nats down to their final three outs, still trailing 3-2.
9:47 p.m. -- Man, did Clippard walk a tightrope act there or what? He walked two and uncorked a wild pitch in the top of the ninth and was all over the place. Really surprised Davey didn't have anyone warming in the pen. Somehow, Tyler pitched his way out of it. He got Mark Ellis to pop out, then got Jason Giambi to fly out. Wound up throwing 37 pitches over two innings. We go to the bottom of the ninth. Last chance for the Nats, down 3-2.
9:56 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. Nats lose 3-2, though they did have a chance. Morse led off the ninth with a bloop single. Brian Bixler came in to pinch-run as Werth came to the plate. And Werth proceeded to strike out swinging at a slider in the dirt. And when the ball trickled away, Bixler took off for second. And was thrown out. And then Ankiel struck out on three pitches. Ugly way for this one to end. The Nats are back to .500.