Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nationals Park is all set for its first regular-season game of the season.
After opening the season 4-2 in Chicago and New York, the Nationals finally enjoy their home opener today, hosting the Reds at Nationals Park. There will be plenty of pomp and circumstance, and plenty of rousing ovations for Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos (among others). But there's also some not-so-happy news to report on the injury front...
Michael Morse has re-aggravated the lat strain that first cropped up more than a month ago. According to Mike Rizzo, the Nats' cleanup hitter will be in "total shutdown mode" for six weeks, at which point he'll be re-evaluated and resume baseball activities. Plenty more on Morse coming shortly in a separate article.
In the meantime, enjoy today's game and please check back of lots of updates throughout...
CINCINNATI REDS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB Network (outside D.C. area), MLB.tv
Radio: WFED (1500 AM), WHFS (1580 AM), XM 184
Weather: Partly cloudy, 56 degrees, Wind 14 mph out to RF
NATIONALS (4-2)12:55 p.m. -- OK, they've introduced all the players. They've unfurled a giant American flag over the outfield. The Quantico Marine Corps Band has performed "The Star-Spangled Banner." It's just about time to play ball...
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Jayson Werth
LF Xavier Nady
CF Roger Bernadina
C Wilson Ramos
P Gio Gonzalez
CF Drew Stubbs
SS Zack Cozart
1B Joey Votto
3B Scott Rolen
RF Jay Bruce
LF Ryan Ludwick
2B Wilson Valdez
C Devin Mesoraco
P Mat Latos
HP Mike Everitt, 1B Paul Schrieber, 2B Tim Welke (cc), 3B Lax Diaz
1:09 p.m. -- And with a strike from Gio Gonzalez to Drew Stubbs, we are officially underway.
1:14 p.m. -- Well that was considerably better than Gonzalez's first inning at Wrigley Field on Saturday. Retired the side on 15 pitches, striking out both Stubbs and Joey Votto. Nice way to get the afternoon started.
1:26 p.m. -- Impressive plate appearance from Danny Espinosa, battling his way through an 11-pitch at-bat to draw a one-out walk off Latos. But the wind held up Ryan Zimmerman's drive to left field, and Adam LaRoche's weaker flyball ended the first inning without a run crossing the plate.
1:34 p.m. -- More good stuff from Gonzalez in the top of the second. Though he allowed a one-out double to Jay Bruce, the left-hander shattered Ryan Ludwick's bat and then got Wilson Valdez to ground out to end the inning. Thirty-two pitches through two scoreless for Gio.
1:48 p.m. -- Three scoreless innings in the books for Gonzalez. He's been much better, and much more efficient, today than he was at Wrigley. He's thrown 42 pitches and has three strikeouts already. Would've gotten through that inning at only 39 pitches had Zimmerman not booted Stubbs' grounder and then thrown the ball away for a two-base error.
2:00 p.m. -- Ian Desmond with a two-out single up the middle for the Nats' first hit of the afternoon, but Espinosa surprisingly grounds out on the first pitch he sees to end the third. It's still scoreless.
2:15 p.m. -- A chance for the Nats to get on the board in the bottom of the fourth after LaRoche singled and Nady drew a two-out walk. But Bernadina's hard line drive was unfortunately aimed directly at left fielder Ludwick, so that's the end of that. It's still 0-0 through four.
2:23 p.m. -- Beautiful curveball from Gio to catch Latos looking to end the top of the fifth. He also got some help from Zimmerman, who made a brilliant, all-out diving catch of Ludwick's line drive to his left. Definite "Web Gem" there from Zim. This game is halfway complete now, and there has yet to be a run scored.
2:45 p.m. -- The Nats are on the board, and the man responsible once again is Adam LaRoche. Big two-out, two-run single to right-center for the man who leads the team with eight RBI in six-plus games. Oh, and we can't forget about Gio Gonzalez's first career hit to ignite the rally. Got a huge ovation for it. It's 2-0 Nationals through five.
2:55 p.m. -- Make it six scoreless innings for Gonzalez now, as he records strikeouts No. 5 and 6 to end that inning. Combined with Stephen Strasburg, Ross Detwiler and a little bit of Edwin Jackson, Nationals starters now haven't given up a run over their last 18 innings. Impressive.
3:05 p.m. -- What a home debut for Gio. Seven scoreless innings. Two hits. Seven strikeouts. (And a single to boot.) He's at 97 pitches, so he's done for the day. It's 2-0 at the seventh-inning stretch. And if you were wondering whatever happened to John "Blues Traveler" Popper, he just played "God Bless America" on the harmonica here.
3:15 p.m. -- Tyler Clippard on to pitch the top of the eighth. A nice ovation for the All-Star setup man, who has been entrusted with a 2-0 lead.
3:28 p.m. -- And Clippard does what he does best: Pitch out of a jam. After Wilson Valdez led off with a double just past Zimmerman, Clip never let him advance past second base. Got Devin Mesoraco to popout, then struck out both Chris Heisey and Drew Stubbs. We go to the bottom of the eighth.
3:37 p.m. -- OK, here we go. Brad Lidge protecting a 2-0 lead in the ninth. It'll be Cozart, Votto and Rolen for the Reds.
3:52 p.m. -- Oh dear. We've got our first blown save of the year. Lidge walks Votto with one out, gives up a double to Rolen, then intentionally walks Bruce to load the bases. And then Ryan Ludwick slipped a base hit past Zimmerman at third base, bringing home two runs. It's 2-2 and the Nats will have to attempt to win this one in walk-off fashion now.
4:02 p.m. -- Great chance to win it: Bases loaded, one out, infield and outfield drawn in. And Danny Espinosa ... grounds into a 1-2-3 double play. Absolute killer. We go to extra innings.
4:07 p.m. -- Craig Stammen strikes out the side. Wow. We go to the bottom of the 10th, and look who's leading off. It's Ryan Zimmerman, Mr. Walk-off himself, set to face Alfredo Simon.
4:21 p.m. -- Walk-off wild pitch! Zimmerman scores from third as Simon's pitch gets away from the catcher. Nats win 3-2, and yes folks, they're now 5-2 and all alone in first place in the NL East.