Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Chien-Ming Wang faces Matt Garza tonight at Wrigley Field.
Wang's biggest mistake his last time out -- a three-run homer by Dan Uggla -- came on a misplaced breaking ball, and Davey Johnson was critical of the pitch selection. Ultimately, Wang's bread and butter pitch is the sinker. He needs to master that pitch; then his offspeed stuff should play better.
Both clubs are sticking with their same starting lineups from last night's postponed game. So Jonny Gomes remains in left field for the Nationals, even though Laynce Nix (who had been battling an illness) should be close to 100 percent again.
Plenty of updates to come...
NATIONALS at CUBS
Where: Wrigley Field
Gametime: 8:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 187
Weather: Partly cloudy, 78 degrees, Wind 15 mph out to RF
STARTING LINEUPS6:20 p.m. -- Lineup change for the Cubs: Aramis Ramirez has been scratched with a back injury. Blake DeWitt will replace him at third base.
CF Rick Ankiel
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Michael Morse
RF Jayson Werth
LF Jonny Gomes
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
P Chien-Ming Wang
SS Starlin Castro
2B Darwin Barney
Aramis RamirezBlake DeWitt
1B Carlos Pena
CF Marlon Byrd
LF Alfonso Soriano
RF Tyler Colvin
C Geovany Soto
P Matt Garza
6:22 p.m. -- And it's now official: Stephen Strasburg will start Friday night at Class A Potomac. Scheduled to throw three innings or 45-50 pitches. Full story coming shortly, so check the homepage for that.
7:35 p.m. -- Here's the full Strasburg story, with some good info and quotes from Mike Rizzo, Davey Johnson and Steve McCatty (who compared Strasburg to Secretariat, seriously).
8:09 p.m. -- We are underway with a foul ball off Rick Ankiel's bat. Gorgeous night for baseball at the corner of Clark and Addison. Tough to top this setting.
8:15 p.m. -- Not much happening for the Nats in the top of the first, but Ryan Zimmerman did single past a diving Starlin Castro to extend his hitting streak to 17 games. Zim is batting a stout .441 over that span, having collected 30 hits in those 16-plus games so far. Unfortunately, this one came with two outs and nobody on after both Ankiel and Danny Espinosa struck out.
8:24 p.m. -- How about that, a 1-2-3 first inning for Chien-Ming Wang. Looked really sharp, getting a pair of groundballs to short and then a flyball to center. Needed only 11 pitches, nine of them strikes. His sinker started out in the 88-89 range but ramped up to 90-91 by the end of the inning.
8:42 p.m. -- Another solid inning for Wang, who did plunk Marlon Byrd on an 0-2 pitch but rebounded to get a big 6-4-3 double play out of Alfonso Soriano to end the second inning. (Credit also to Danny Espinosa for a nice turn on the play). Through two innings, Wang has yet to allow a hit and has thrown 17 of his 25 pitches for strikes. Scoreless here through two.
8:59 p.m. -- Three innings for Wang without surrendering a hit. Only a walk and a hit batter so far. And he topped out at 94 mph on his last pitch of the third, getting another groundball to Desmond. Pretty impressive so far. Speaking of impressive, Garza has struck out five Nats already, though he has allowed three hits.
9:17 p.m. -- Four innings in the books, and Wang has yet to allow a hit. He's recorded nine of 12 outs so far on groundballs, and he's throwing almost entirely sinkers, consistently in the 92 mph range. Now, if his teammates could only score him a run or two...
9:26 p.m. -- Well, the Nats have put men on base against Garza. They just can't put more than one on base per inning. Five scoreless now for the Cubs right-hander, who has scattered three hits and two walks, striking out eight in the process. Still scoreless here as we go to the bottom of the fifth.
9:34 p.m. -- Make it five innings for Wang without allowing a hit. Just finally recorded his first strikeout of the night, getting Geovany Soto to end the inning. He's thrown 65 pitches, this after throwing 86 in his last start. He can probably go up to 100 pitches tonight, so no real danger of that yet. Eventually, someone's got to score, though.
9:40 p.m. -- Michael Morse to the rescue. Say hello to the back of the batter's eye. That's rare territory in this ballpark. Just crushed that ball for his 20th homer of the season. The Nats take a 1-0 lead in the top of the sixth.
9:42 p.m. -- And now Jonny Gomes finds the left-field bleachers to make it 3-0. His second straight game with a home run.
9:50 p.m. -- I asked a couple of longtime Chicago baseball writers how many balls they've seen land where Morse's homer did. They said they couldn't remember very many. Maybe Sammy Sosa. Rare company, indeed.
9:54 p.m. -- Oh, well. Tony Campana breaks up the no-hit bid by beating out a grounder to the right side to lead off the sixth. Espinosa nearly pulled off an incredible play, though, getting the ball off a carom off Morse and then firing to Wang just a split-second too late. Anybody other than Campana coming out of the box there, and Espinosa gets credited with the play of the year.
10:00 p.m. -- Wang gets out of the inning without any more damage, but he won't get to come back out for the seventh. Brian Bixler on to pinch-hit. So his final line: 6 ip, 1 h, 0 r, 2 bb, 1 k, 1 hbp, 81 pitches, 53 strikes. The only hit was Campana's infield single. Not bad. Not bad at all.
10:10 p.m. -- Nice job by Sean Burnett to navigate the seventh inning. Gave up some hard-hit balls, but made a nifty play on Soriano's comebacker and struck out Tyler Colvin to end the inning. Still 3-0 going to the eighth.
10:30 p.m. -- Just when it looked like Tyler Clippard was going to retire the side in the eighth, he served up a two-out, solo homer to Starlin Castro. Rebounded immediately to get Darwin Barney on a comebacker, so it's 3-1 heading to the ninth as Drew Storen begins to warm in the bullpen.
10:35 p.m. -- And we go to the bottom of the ninth. It'll be Storen vs. DeWitt, Pena and Byrd, with Soriano waiting if anybody gets on base.
10:50 p.m. -- Ballgame. Nats win, 3-1. Chien-Ming Wang earns his first major-league win since June 28, 2009 when he pitched for the Yankees. Drew Storen earns his 30th save, becoming only the second Nats closer to reach that mark (joining Chad Cordero, who did it twice).