Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats go for a three-game sweep and an 8-game lead in the NL East.
Well, take a look at the standings entering tonight. The Mets, Phillies and Marlins all are at least 20 games out. The Braves are seven games back, desperately needing a win in tonight's series finale to avoid falling into an eight-game hole. Pretty remarkable.
Ross Detwiler gets the ball for the Nationals. Kris Medlen starts for the Braves. Chipper Jones makes his final appearance in D.C. (unless these two teams meet again in the postseason) and the Nats will honor the retiring third baseman in a pregame ceremony beginning at 6:40 p.m.
Updates to come...
ATLANTA BRAVES 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: Scattered storms, 83 degrees, Wind 4 mph RF to LF
RF Jayson Werth
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
LHP Ross Detwiler
LF Martin Prado
CF Reed Johnson
RF Jason Heyward
3B Chipper Jones
1B Freddie Freeman
C David Ross
2B Tyler Pastornicky
SS Paul Janish
RHP Kris Medlen
HP Paul Nauert
1B Dana DeMith (cc)
2B Doug Eddings
3B Kerwin Danley
6:30 p.m. -- Hey, you'll never guess what: It's been pouring here for the last 90 minutes! I know, it never rains here! (Well, only the last four days.) The good news is that the tarp is coming off the infield as we speak, so there may be hope of starting this game on time. Stay tuned.
6:39 p.m. -- Or not. They just announced this game will not start on-time. Probably won't be a very long delay, though.
7:00 p.m. -- Game will start at 7:30. Chipper Jones ceremony beginning shortly.
7:15 p.m. -- Very nice ceremony for Chipper. Ryan Zimmerman presented him with third base from Monday night's game, autographed by the entire roster. Mark DeRosa and Adam LaRoche (former Braves) presented him a framed photo of the three of them. And Mike Rizzo presented him a framed photo and the bat Chipper used to hit the first home run in Nationals Park history (March 30, 2008). Good stuff.
7:34 p.m. -- We are underway at last after a 29-minute delay. That makes 282 total minutes of rain delays over the last four days here. It feels like even more.
7:42 p.m. -- Nice job by Detwiler to pitch out of a potential jam in the top of the first. Martin Prado poked a leadoff double down the right-field line to get things started, then took third on Reed Johnson's groundball to the right side. But Detwiler came up big, striking out Jason Heyward on a 96 mph outside fastball. I can't ever remember seeing Detwiler reach 96 on the radar gun before. 95, yes. But I don't remember 96. The lefty then got Chipper to fly out to center to end a 16-pitch inning, with no runs on the board.
7:52 p.m. -- Bryce Harper actually got a couple of inside pitches from Kris Medlen after seeing nothing but offspeed stuff away last night (leading to four strikeouts). He did make contact this time, grounding out to second, but you wonder if he missed a rare opportunity to get solid wood on a hittable pitch there. Scoreless after one.
8:07 p.m. -- Missed opportunity for the Nats to score in the bottom of the second. They had runners on first and third with one out -- thanks to Danny Espinosa getting in the way of David Ross' throw to first on a slow roller, though it did appear Espinosa was in fair territory when the ball struck him -- but Kurt Suzuki immediately grounded into a 4-3 double play to kill that rally and send this game into the third inning with no score.
8:15 p.m. -- Man, Detwiler is just pounding the strike zone with fastballs tonight. He's thrown only one offspeed pitch through three scoreless innings, yet he's put only one man on base. I've heard plenty of managers and coaches over the years insist you can be successful throwing nothing but well-located fastballs. Well, Detwiler is proving that theory correct so far tonight.
8:30 p.m. -- Oof, Kurt Suzuki takes a foul tip on his right hand and is in serious pain. Trainer Mike McGowan took a long look at him, then had the catcher throw some practice tosses back to Detwiler. Suzuki airmailed the first one, then was high on three others. He's staying in the game, but keep an eye on this and see if the Braves try to exploit it.
8:53 p.m. -- Two major infractions by members of the Nats in the top of the fifth. Detwiler, whose command has been great all night, walked the opposing pitcher on four pitches with two outs, prolonging the inning. He then fell behind 2-0 to Prado, got a visit from Steve McCatty, battled back to a 2-2 count and then got Prado to hit a line drive to center. Except Harper got a terrible jump, taking several steps in before reversing course and watching the ball sail over his head for a two-run double. Really costly play there, and it's given the Braves a 2-0 lead in the middle of the fifth.
9:16 p.m. -- Well, Detwiler's night fell apart rather quickly, didn't it? It seemed like as soon as he walked Medlen, he wasn't the same pitcher anymore. Wound up giving up two more singles to open the sixth, then was bailed out by Harper's nice catch of Freeman's drive to deep right-center. So Davey Johnson came out with the hook and summoned Craig Stammen to pitch out of a first-and-third, one-out jam. Which he did, thanks to a fantastic 5-4-3 double play started by Zimmerman. It remains 2-0 as we head to the bottom of the sixth, with the Nats trying to figure out Medlen and having no luck so far.
9:36 p.m. -- Oof, major missed opportunity for the Nats in the bottom of the sixth. They loaded the bases with one out (the only one another Harper strikeout in which he looked like he had no chance to make contact) but watched as LaRoche popped out on the first pitch and as Desmond grounded out to end the inning without a run crossing the plate. Don't know if they'll get another chance as promising at that the rest of the night. Still 2-0 after six.
9:51 p.m. -- Still nothing for the Nats in the seventh, despite another pinch-hit for Steve Lombardozzi. He's now 3-for-3 off the bench in this series, and you've got to wonder if Davey is going to need to find a way to get him in the lineup again. Perhaps start him in left field, shift Morse to right, Werth to center and give the strug-a-ling Harper a night off?
10:10 p.m. -- The good news: With Medlen out of the game, the Nats started taking it to Eric O'Flaherty. Harper, who hasn't made solid contact against a lefty in this series, managed to single to left field and then bolted for second when Prado bobbled the ball. A Morse RBI single made it 2-1 and brought the crowd to life. Then LaRoche walked to bring up Desmond with two on and one out. But then the Nats' most clutch hitter all season grounded into a 6-4-3 double play on the first pitch he saw to end the inning in crushing fashion. Worse, he came up lame at first base, appearing to tweak his ankle perhaps. Davey and trainer Lee Kuntz came out to check on him, but Desmond jogged around and waved them off. He's staying in, but keep an eye on that.
10:19 p.m. -- That was a clown inning for the Nats. Bad throwing error by Zim. Bunch of hits allowed by Gorzelanny. Bad throw by Suzuki. The Braves now lead 5-1 entering the bottom of the ninth.
10:26 p.m. -- It's over. The Nats lose 5-1. The lead over the Braves is down to six games.