Aug 28, 2013, 3:25 PM EDT
The last six times Stephen Strasburg has taken the mound — and not subsequently been ejected — he has pitched at least seven innings for the Nationals. The last two times, he has made it to the ninth, coming within one out last week of his second career complete game.
What does tonight have in store for the right-hander? Well, he’s facing a Marlins team that he has both dominated and struggled against over the years. Strasburg has made 11 career starts against Miami. He has allowed zero or one run in seven of those starts, but he has allowed five or more runs in the other four outings. Kind of strange, when you think about it.
Henderson Alvarez starts for the Marlins, his third career appearance against the Nats, having posted a 3.95 ERA in those two previous head-to-head encounters.
The weather is a bit spotty, but it doesn’t sound like the rain will be heavy for any prolonged stretches. 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 184
Weather: Scattered showers, 79 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to CF
CF Denard Span
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
2B Steve Lombardozzi
RHP Stephen Strasburg
CF Justin Ruggiano
3B Ed Lucas
LF Christian Yelich
RF Giancarlo Stanton
1B Logan Morrison
2B Donovan Solano
SS Adeiny Hechavarria
C Jeff Mathis
RHP Henderson Alvarez
HP Scott Barry
1B Alfonso Marquez
2B Ted Barrett (cc)
3B Mike DiMuro
7:08 p.m. — And we’re underway as Stephen Strasburg’s first pitch … sails over Justin Ruggiano’s head. Whoa, that was weird. Can’t imagine there was any purpose behind that one, it just slipped out of his hand. Strange way to get started, though.
7:16 p.m. — Strasburg certainly settled down after that first wayward pitch. He did issue a two-out walk to Christian Yelich, but he responded by striking out Giancarlo Stanton on a 96 mph fastball. Impressive stuff there to end the inning. Here’s a staggering stat from Miami Herald beat writer Clark Spencer: The last 31 Marlins batters who have drawn walks have failed to score. That’s just unreal.
7:25 p.m. — The good news: Denard Span led off the bottom of the first with a hustle double. The bad news: The Nats couldn’t bring him home, going 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. Not the way you want to get this thing going, though certainly not the first time this lineup has done that. Scoreless after one.
7:39 p.m. — Uh-oh, it’s pouring here now and the grounds crew just pulled out the tarp. We’re officially in a rain delay with two outs in the bottom of the second. The good news, though, is that the Nats just took a 1-0 lead on Steve Lombardozzi’s RBI double, scoring Ian Desmond. You just hope this isn’t a lengthy delay, screwing things up for the starting pitchers.
8:30 p.m. — We’re almost ready for baseball again. The game will resume at 8:45 p.m., with Strasburg presumably still in the batter’s box.
8:50 p.m. — And we’re back after a 1-hour, 12-minute delay. But Strasburg is not back. Scott Hairston is pinch-hitting and Craig Stammen is warming in the pen, so Strasburg is done after only two hitless innings, having thrown 22 pitches. Henderson Alvarez also is done, with righty Ryan Webb now pitching for the Marlins in what remains a 1-0 Nats lead.
9:02 p.m. — A scoreless top of the third for Stammen, who is going to have to churn out some serious innings tonight. Meanwhile, for you scoreboard watchers: The Reds lead the Cardinals 9-0 in the third inning. I wouldn’t count on the Nats gaining any ground in the Wild Card race tonight.
9:09 p.m. — An RBI double for Harper, who extends his hitting streak to 10 games and raises his batting average to .278. This double scored Ryan Zimmerman all the way from first, and believe me, Zim was huffing and puffing by the time he reached the plate. It’s 2-0 Nats after three.
9:35 p.m. — Jeff Mathis pounced on a 1-0 fastball from Stammen to open the fifth and sent it flying into the left-field bullpen. So it’s 2-1 Nats now, Stammen having thrown 42 pitches over three innings. That might be it for him, with Ryan Mattheus warming in the pen now.
9:44 p.m. — That is indeed it for Stammen, with Anthony Rendon pinch-hitting in the bottom of the fifth. Here’s Mattheus in his return from the minors. Still 2-1 going to the sixth.
9:59 p.m. — And Mattheus’ return to the big leagues does not go well. Giancarlo Stanton greeted him with an absolute rocket of a home run to center field. The ball landed some 30-40 feet beyond the fence, one of the longest homers I can remember being hit to that part of the ballpark. Things kept going downhill from there, with Mattheus surrendering hits to four of the first five batters he faced. Mathis’ RBI single brought in the go-ahead run, so now the Nats trail 3-2 in the middle of the sixth.
10:17 p.m. — Wow, Jayson Werth just launched his own home run to exactly the same spot Stanton did. Seriously, it was like Werth was trying to beat Stanton in a closest-to-the-pin contest. His 20th blast of the year ties this game 3-3 as we move to the seventh and Drew Storen enters.
10:31 p.m. — Storen made things as difficult as he could on himself in the seventh, putting the first two men on and bringing Stanton to the plate in a tie game. Giancarlo launched a couple of foul balls, but Storen battled back and struck him out on a nasty slider. He then got a couple of popouts, so the inning ends with nobody crossing the plate. It remains 3-3 as we reach the stretch.
10:54 p.m. — Mike Redmond made the decision to intentionally walk Werth with two outs in the seventh and bring Desmond to the plate with the go-ahead run in scoring position. Big mistake. Desmond laced a single to left, scoring Span and putting the Nats up 4-3 as Tyler Clippard enters for the eighth.
11:01 p.m. — Ho-hum, just another 1-2-3 eighth inning from Clippard, who struck out a pair. It’s truly remarkable how automatic he is. Rafael Soriano warms for the ninth, the Nats still clinging to a 4-3 lead.
11:13 p.m. — Here we go. Soriano protecting a 1-run lead in the ninth. Stanton is due up fourth. Hang on, folks.
11:18 p.m. — Soriano does it. He wraps up a 4-3 victory for his 35th save. The Nats have won 13 of 18 and are 2 games over .500 for the first time since July 11. But with the Reds rolling in St. Louis, they won’t gain any ground in the Wild Card race.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
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