Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats, with Bryce Harper hitting third, try to make it two in a row tonight.
Honestly, it makes perfect sense. With Ryan Zimmerman out, Johnson doesn't have any real viable options to bat third. He's been using everyone from Danny Espinosa to Rick Ankiel to Chad Tracy. And not wanting to screw around with his 4-5 combo of Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth, it only makes sense to bump Harper all the way up to the 3-hole.
As for tonight's game in general, Ross Detwiler looks to bounce back from the first semi-ragged start of his season. He and the Nationals face a stiff challenge in Ian Kennedy, a 21-game winner last year and already 3-0 this year.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check back...
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees, Wind 5 mph RF to LF
SS Ian Desmond
3B Steve Lombardozzi
LF Bryce Harper
1B Adam LaRocheRF Jayson Werth
RF Jayson Werth1B Chad Tracy
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
C Wilson Ramos
LHP Ross Detwiler
SS Willie Bloomquist
2B Aaron Hill
RF Justin Upton
LF Jason Kubel
1B Paul Goldschmidt
C Miguel Montero
3B Ryan Roberts
CF A.J. Pollock
RHP Ian Kennedy
HP Tim Tschida (cc), 1B Chris Guccione, 2B Jeff Nelson, 3B Bill Welke
5:27 p.m. -- Lineup change for the Nats, and it's not a good one. Adam LaRoche has been scratched with "right oblique soreness," according to a Nationals spokesman. We'll have to see how that happened and what the prognosis is, but for tonight Jayson Werth will bat cleanup and Chad Tracy will take over at first base.
7:07 p.m. -- And we're underway with a ball outside from Ross Detwiler to Willie Bloomquist. Turned into a beautiful night for baseball, 80 degrees at first pitch with only a few clouds overhead.
7:11 p.m. -- A very nice, 10-pitch, top of the first for Detwiler, capped by a very nice play from Ian Desmond (who went deep into the hole at short on Justin Upton's grounder and fired to first for the out).
7:18 p.m. -- Well that was ... odd. Bryce Harper tapped an easy comebacker in his first at-bat, but Ian Kennedy's throw was way wide of the bag and Harper wound up advancing all the way to second on the error. But then the Diamondbacks appealed to first base, saying Harper never touched the base, and ump Chris Guccione called him out. Based on the replay, it does appear as though the kid just barely missed the bag on the foul side. Wow, what a bizarre way to end the first inning.
7:23 p.m. -- Meanwhile, Detwiler tosses another 10-pitch, 1-2-3 inning. Just cruising along so far. We go to the bottom of the second.
7:34 p.m. -- It's been an odd start to this game, to say the least. The Nats just scored in the bottom of the second when Jayson Werth led off with a double, then was awarded third base on a balk, then scored on Rick Ankiel's grounder to first. The inning also included a Chad Tracy walk, and another Danny Espinosa strikeout (his 31st of the season). As he promised earlier today, Danny did work the count and take a different approach to his at-bat. Unfortunately, the result was all too familiar. Nats lead 1-0 after two.
7:42 p.m. -- Boy, is Detwiler on tonight, or what? He threw 23 of his first 27 pitches for strikes. (Of course, he then walked Kennedy, the opposing pitcher, but who's paying attention to that?) It's worth noting that Chien-Ming Wang is making a rehab start tonight for Class AA Harrisburg, projected to throw 75 pitches. It's no coincidence Wang is lined up to pitch on the same day as Detwiler, since the veteran would presumably take his rotation spot. Still, how do you bump Detwiler to the bullpen at this rate?
8:02 p.m. -- Four innings in the books for Detwiler, who has not yet allowed a hit. He has walked two, but that's it so far. 54 pitches, 39 strikes.
8:13 p.m. -- Well, there won't be a no-hitter here tonight. Each team now has one base hit after Ryan Roberts laces a single to left in the top of the fifth. Not much offense so far tonight. Is anyone surprised at this point?
8:21 p.m. -- Another at-bat for Espinosa, another strikeout. This one was looking. Every pitch from Ian Kennedy in that at-bat was up and away. Danny isn't exactly sticking to the approach he was espousing pregame. He now leads the NL with 32 strikeouts, 24 of them coming in the last 14-plus games. Nats still lead 1-0 after five.
8:35 p.m. -- Detwiler finally shows a crack in his armor. After issuing a one-out walk to Bloomquist in the sixth, he served up an RBI double on a line drive just past a diving Werth in right field. It's 1-1 now.
8:44 p.m. -- Bryce Harper, ladies and gentlemen! He does it again, lacing an RBI double down the left-field line to score Ian Desmond (who also doubled to lead off the sixth). A really nice piece of hitting from Harper, who showed some impressive bat control. And that, by the way, was the first RBI from the Nationals' starting No. 3 hitter since Ryan Zimmerman's homer against the Astros on April 19, 11 games ago. Nats 2, D'backs 1 as we go to the seventh.
9:01 p.m. -- Nice job by Ryan Mattheus to get out of the top of the seventh, picking up Detwiler (who was pulled with a man on second and one out). Mattheus got Roberts to flyout to right, then struck out A.J. Pollack on a nasty, 94 mph sinker with some serious movement. It remains 2-1 at the seventh-inning stretch.
9:15 p.m. -- A 1-2-3 eighth inning for Tyler Clippard, who has really started pitching better his last few times out. So the lead is still 2-1 as Henry Rodriguez begins warming for the ninth.
9:24 p.m. -- Buckle your seatbelts, folks. Here comes Henry.
9:33 p.m. -- That's it. Another curly W is in the books as Rodriguez gets the save and seals a 2-1 victory. The Nats have now won seven of the eight series they've played this season. And at 16-9, they hold a 1 1/2-game lead in the NL East heading into a big weekend series. Bring on the Phillies!