Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jordan Zimmermann faces the red-hot Mets this evening at Nationals Park.
New York will send Chris Young to the mound for his first start in 13 months. The 6-foot-10 right-hander had surgery on his shoulder capsule, the same procedure Chien-Ming Wang and Johan Santana needed.
Jordan Zimmermann, meanwhile, starts for the Nationals, looking to bounce back from a less-than-spectacular outing last week in Miami.
Updates to come...
NEW YORK METS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 184
Weather: Partly cloudy, 70 degrees, Wind 5 mph in from RF
LF Steve Lombardozzi
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Michael Morse
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Jesus Flores
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
LF Kirk Nieuwenhuis
CF Andres Torres
3B David Wright
RF Lucas Duda
3B Daniel Murphy
1B Ike Davis
C Josh Thole
SS Omar Quintanilla
RHP Chris Young
HP Mark Wegner, 1B Wally Bell, 2B Brian Knight, 3B Mike Winters (cc)
7:05 p.m. -- And we're underway with a ball from Jordan Zimmermann to Kirk Nieuwenhuis. An unseasonably cool 69 degrees at gametime. And with all these clouds, doesn't look like we're going to get a chance to see the thrilling transit of Venus across the Sun. Dang.
7:11 p.m. -- Solid top of the first from Zimmermann, who struck out both Andres Torres and Lucas Duda on sliders. David Wright, of course, sent a two-out single to left. But it's not like any pitcher in the NL has been able to get Wright out so far this season. He entered the night hitting .361.
7:18 p.m. -- Not much happening for the Nats in the bottom of the first against Chris Young. A couple of flyballs to center from Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper and then (shockingly) a groundball to short from Ryan Zimmerman, who has been doing a lot of that lately. Scoreless after one.
7:31 p.m. -- Hmm, the Nats have sent six batters to the plate so far against Young, who is firing up 85 mph fastballs in his first start in 13 months ... and they've all made outs. Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse even made outs on the first pitch they saw in the bottom of the second. At least Ian Desmond worked the count before flying out to right. Scoreless after two.
7:37 p.m. -- Zimmermann looks really sharp so far tonight. He's retired nine of 10 batters so far, four of them on strikeouts (two fastballs, two sliders). And the other five outs all came on groundballs. The only Met to get the ball out of infield was Wright on his first-inning single. Forty-one pitches, 27 strikes for Jordan.
7:49 p.m. -- Bryce Harper's .922 OPS just went up another few points, thanks to an RBI single to left in the bottom of the third. What a nice piece of hitting by the kid, fouling off a couple of pitches and them calmly sticking his bat out and poking a smooth single to left with two strikes and two outs. Impressive. The Nats take a 1-0 lead.
7:51 p.m. -- I failed to give some well-deserved props to Danny Espinosa for jump-starting that rally with a drag bunt and then a stolen base. That's the second straight game Espinosa has reached on a well-executed bunt. I'll tell you what: If he can make that a regular part of his game, he could add another key element to his whole package.
8:04 p.m. -- And there is Michael Morse's first hit of the season: a rope of a double to right-center. We saw a few of those last year, huh? Good sign for Morse, who had been 0-for-9 since coming off the DL. Nats still lead 1-0 after four.
8:12 p.m. -- Five scoreless innings in the books for Zimmermann, who has thrown an economic 64 pitches. He's only reached the eighth inning once in his career. Might he do it tonight?
8:33 p.m. -- The good news: Ryan Zimmerman finally came through with a clutch hit. With two outs and two strikes, he laced a single up the middle to bring home Zimmermann (who doubled). And then thanks to some defensive comedy from the Mets, Lombardozzi scored as well to make it 3-0. The bad news: Zimmermann gave two of the runs back in the top of the sixth on solo homers by Jordany Valdespin and David Wright. The Nats still lead 3-2, but that's not what Davey Johnson was looking for after his team took what looked like a comfortable, three-run lead.
8:44 p.m. -- And ... so much for Zimmermann reaching the eighth. He's pulled after six and only 81 pitches. Final line: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 2 HR. Tom Gorzelanny is in for the top of the seventh, protecting a 3-2 lead.
8:48 p.m. -- Nice job by Gorzelanny, retiring the side and striking out two. The guy doesn't get a whole lot of attention, but he's performed quite well in this role and served as an important bridge from the starters to the back of the bullpen. Still 3-2 as we reach the seventh-inning stretch.
8:55 p.m. -- Curious move to send up Rick Ankiel to pinch-hit and then have him bunt. Suffice it to say, it did not end well. Why not use Roger Bernadina (or even Edwin Jackson) for that task? Anyways, we go to the bottom of the eighth. Sean Burnett now in.
9:10 p.m. -- A rare implosion from Burnett and Craig Stammen, and it costs the Nats the lead (and perhaps the game). Burnett gave up a one-out double to Valdespin (where'd this guy come from?) so Davey Johnson brought in Stammen to face Scott Hairston. With the count 3-2, Stammen tried to sneak a curveball past Hairston, but it was a tad inside. So that left two on with one out for Andres Torress, with David Wright on deck. If ever Stammen had a double-play pitch in his bag of tricks, now was the time. Instead, Torres ripped a double to center, scoring two and putting the Mets ahead 4-3.
9:31 p.m. -- Big chance for Morse to show he's ready to face a big-time, big-league hurler as Terry Collins summons closer Frank Francisco with one out and Zimmerman on second base in the bottom of the eighth. Morse, though, tapped a weak grounder to third. Never fear, because Ian Desmond came to the rescue and delivered the game-tying, two-out, RBI single to right. It's 4-4 as we go to the ninth and Tyler Clippard enters.
9:40 p.m. -- Harper goes a loooong way to track down Valdespin's looper to right and quash a rally for the Mets, so we go to the bottom of the ninth in a tie game. It'll be Flores, Ankiel and a pinch-hitter (Nady?) due up.
9:42 p.m. -- Well, Harper had a chance to be the hero in the bottom of the ninth after Roger Bernadina sent a two-out single to left. And the kid smoked the ball to left field ... right at Vinny Rottino. So we go to the 10th, and coming in to pitch for the Nats ... Henry Rodriguez. First appearance in eight days. Gulp.
9:58 p.m. -- Well, that was kind of predictable, no? Rodriguez gives up a leadoff single to Hairston, lets him steal second and then watches him take third on a grounder. And then with Wright at the plate, a man on third and first base open ... he threw a pitch in the dirt that let the go-ahead run score. It's officially a wild pitch, but Jesus Flores needed to do a much better job to keep that ball in front of him. He tried to catch it without turning his glove over or using his body. Poor form there, and because of it, the Mets now lead 5-4.
10:22 p.m. -- What a wacky ballgame. Thanks in no small part to two Valdespin errors at shortstop, the Nats stormed back to tie this one in stunning fashion. Yet they couldn't win it because with the bases loaded and two outs, Ankiel turned a 3-0 count into an inning-ending strikeout. So we go to the 11th of what is now a 5-5 game, and Ross Detwiler is on the mound. He's the last man out of the pen, so he'll go until this one ends.
10:34 p.m. -- Detwiler does his job in the top of the 11th, recording three strikeouts (despite a two-out single and a walk). On to the bottom of the 11th, and here comes Elvin Ramirez to pitch for the Mets. You may remember him as the Nats' failed Rule 5 pick last year. Or maybe you don't.
10:47 p.m. -- Who wants to play 12 tonight? Evidently these two teams do after Ramirez struck out Harper, Zimmerman and LaRoche in succession to end the 11th. The final pitch to Zim, of course, was about 10 inches outside ... and Zim let umpire Mark Wegner know it. Livan Hernandez might be the only pitcher who's ever gotten a strike three call on a pitch further outside than that. Nevertheless, this game continues.
11:00 p.m. -- Uh-oh. Scott Hairston takes Detwiler deep on a 3-2 breaking ball to lead off the top of the 12th. This after Detwiler got ahead in the count 0-2. The Mets take a 6-5 lead and are once again three outs from winning this game and taking over first place in the division.
11:20 p.m. -- How about that? Morse and Desmond each double in the bottom of the 12th, as Desmond ties this game for the third time in five innings. Then Flores and Detwiler (?!) walk to load the bases for Xavier Nady. Who grounds into a fielder's choice. Setting the stage for Bryce Harper to win it on a base hit to left. Unbelievable. Final: 7-6 in 12. And the Nats are all alone in first place.