Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Kurt Suzuki is expected to make his Nationals debut tonight against the Marlins.
Suzuki will be catching the Nationals' most-consistent pitcher, Jordan Zimmermann, who is shooting for his 20th quality start in 22 tries and his 22nd consecutive start of at least six innings. Zimmermann's outing was pushed back a day because of right shoulder inflammation, but he threw his regular bullpen session on Thursday and said his arm felt great.
Mark Buehrle gets the nod for the Marlins, trying to duplicate his dominant start over the Nationals last month in Miami.
Check back for updates...
MIAMI MARLINS 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 183
Weather: Partly cloudy, 89 degrees, Wind 12 mph RF to LF
SS Danny Espinosa
RF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
CF Jayson Werth
C Kurt Suzuki
2B Steve Lombardozzi
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
LF Bryan Petersen
RF Scott Cousins
SS Jose Reyes
1B Carlos Lee
3B Greg Dobbs
2B Donovan Solano
CF Gorkys Hernandez
C John Buck
LHP Mark Buehrle
HP Mike Muchlinski
1B Fieldin Culbreth (cc)
2B Lance Barksdale
3B Adrian Johnson
7:06 p.m. -- We're underway as Kurt Suzuki calls for a first-pitch fastball from Jordan Zimmermann, and the right-hander responds by pumping it for a strike. Brilliant game-calling there from the new catcher! I mean, seriously, how many other catchers would call for a first-pitch fastball??? OK, I'm joking, of course. The Nats do believe Suzuki will have a positive impact on the Nats' pitching staff, and I'm looking forward to watching him get to know these guys and start to learn their tendencies.
7:10 p.m. -- That's certainly a good way for Suzuki's first inning behind the plate to go. Zimmermann retired the side on 10 pitches (seven strikes). And big props to Steve Lombardozzi for a nifty, backhand stab of Jose Reyes' grounder up the middle and then a strong throw to first to get the speedy Reyes. Tough play, and Lombo played it brilliantly.
7:16 p.m. -- And Buehrle one-ups Zimmermann by needing only eight pitches to get through the bottom of the first. Danny Espinosa struck out for the fourth straight at-bat, giving him an NL-high 125 for the season. Bryce Harper grounded out to first. And Ryan Zimmerman absolutely smoked a line drive ... unfortunately right at Greg Dobbs at third base.
7:28 p.m. -- Just when it looked like the Nats were going to get out of the top of the second on a sweet, 4-6-3 double play, it all fell apart. Espinosa's throw sailed way over Adam LaRoche's head and into the Nats dugout. That allowed one run to score. Then Harper got a bit of a bad break on John Buck's double to deep right field. That brought another run home, and now the Marlins lead 2-0.
7:36 p.m. -- Adam LaRoche, ladies and gentlemen. Third homer in three days. His 22nd of the season. And remarkably, that was his eighth homer off a left-hander this season. In his career, LaRoche owns a .749 OPS against lefties. This season, that number has skyrocketed to .908. Staggering. The Nats now trail 2-1 after two.
7:45 p.m. -- And the Marlins get the run right back in the top of the third after Reyes doubles to left-center and scores on Lee's bad-hop single past Lombardozzi. So, who predicted this Miami lineup that boasts five guys with sub-.200 batting averages would score three runs in the first three innings off Zimmermann? Not me. It's 3-1 now.
7:59 p.m. -- And the Nats strike right back to plate two runs and tie the game yet again in the bottom of the third. Of course it was the big boys in the heart of the lineup that produced: Zimmerman and Morse each stroked RBI singles. Babe LaRoche had a chance to really inflict some damage, but he grounded out to end the inning. What a bum, never comes through in the clutch. 3-3 now heading to the fourth of what has already been a highly entertaining ballgame.
8:16 p.m. -- It's hard not to be impressed with how sharp Jayson Werth has looked at the plate after missing nearly three months. He's gotten a hit in all three games he's played so far, and he's shown a good eye as well. Seems to have picked up right where he left off when he got hurt. Still 3-3 after four.
8:38 p.m. -- Has Zimmermann's streak of six-inning starts come to an end? It sure looks that way after he gave up two more runs in the fifth (only one of them earned after Espinosa was charged with his second error of the night, though you could argue LaRoche should've caught the high throw). Regardless, it's now 5-3 Marlins and Zimmermann's at 96 pitches through five innings, with Tom Gorzelanny warming in the pen.
8:41 p.m. -- The streak is officially over. Gorzelanny enters for the sixth. Zimmermann's final line: 5 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 96 pitches. He had been the only starter in baseball to go at least six innings in all 21 of his starts this season. For those wondering about his shoulder, his velocity certainly appeared to be fine tonight, with his fastball regularly hitting 94-95 mph. Not that velocity is the only sign of arm trouble, but it's usually the first.
9:03 p.m. -- Adam LaRoche. Is there anything the man can't do? Second homer of the night, fourth in three days. Unreal. It's now 5-4 Marlins as we move to the seventh.
9:20 p.m. -- Another error by the Nats middle infield (their third of the night) leads to another run in the seventh. This time, Lombardozzi booted a grounder, putting runners on the corners with one out. Donovan Solano (Jhonatan's brother) then dropped a perfect safety squeeze bunt to put the Marlins up 6-4 at the seventh-inning stretch. Really sloppy game from the Nationals tonight.
9:28 p.m. -- Heath Bell -- who is looking really big tonight, like Todd Coffey big -- just made the bottom of the seventh look much easier than it should've been. Retired the side, striking out both Espinosa and Zimmerman. The Nats are down to their final six outs, still trailing 6-4.
9:59 p.m. -- And the Nats come storming back in the bottom of the eighth. With two on and two out, Suzuki had a chance to be the hero but he took three healthy cuts and missed on all three. No worries, because Lombardozzi delivered a base hit to center to score LaRoche (who I'm not entirely convinced touched home plate) and then Tyler Moore delivered a pinch-hit, opposite-field single to score Werth and tie this game at 6. And then, Espinosa -- yes, Espinosa -- delivered the biggest hit of them all: a three-run bomb to left off lefty Mike Dunn. This ballpark just went bananas and gave Danny a curtain call. And then the place went bananas again as Harper nearly reached the third deck down the right-field line. It's 10-6 as the Nats score six times in the bottom of the eight, and Tyler Clippard (who had been warming in the pen for a save opportunity) may not be needed anymore.
10:03 p.m. -- Nope, it'll be Clippard even with a four-run lead.
10:14 p.m. -- Ballgame. Clippard gives up a run in the ninth, but hangs on as the Nats win a thriller, 10-7, scoring six runs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. And since the Braves lost to Houston, they now lead the NL East by three games.