Aug 29, 2013, 3:39 PM EDT
The Nationals entered this homestand knowing they had an opportunity to feast on the bottom feeders of the NL East, and so far they’ve made the most of the opportunity. They’ve taken back-to-back games from the last-place Marlins and tonight they seek a series sweep, their eighth win in nine games and their 14th in 19 games.
They will, however, need quality innings from Gio Gonzalez after needing seven innings out of their bullpen last night. It’s been an up-and-down few weeks for Gonzalez, who twice in his last five starts has allowed seven-plus runs but on the other three occasions allowed two or fewer.
Davey Johnson sticks with his regular lineup against Miami right-hander Tom Koehler, a 27-year rookie from the Bronx. Updates to come, so please check back…
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: Partly cloudy, 82 degrees, Wind 8 mph in from CF
CF Denard Span
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
2B Anthony Rendon
LHP Gio Gonzalez
2B Donovan Solano
1B Ed Lucas
RF Giancarlo Stanton
LF Justin Ruggiano
3B Placido Polanco
SS Adeiny Hechavarria
CF Jake Marisnick
C Jeff Mathis
RHP Tom Koehler
HP Alfonso Marquez
1B Ted Barrett (cc)
2B Mike DiMuro
3B Scott Barry
7:07 p.m. — And we’re underway with a ball from Gio Gonzalez to Donovan “Little Onion” Solano. A very comfortable 82 degrees with a nice, northeasterly breeze tonight.
7:15 p.m. — Gonzalez put a couple men on with two outs in the first, but no harm , no foul. Despite a walk to Giancarlo Stanton (and there’s never anything wrong with walking Giancarlo Stanton) and an infield single to Justin Ruggiano on a play Ryan Zimmerman couldn’t quite make, Gio got Placido Polanco to line out to right. Twenty-one pitches for Gonzalez in a scoreless top of the first.
7:24 p.m. — Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Nats put their first two men on base in the bottom of the first … and didn’t score. Despite singles by Denard Span and Ryan Zimmerman — Span’s base knock extended his hit streak to 12 games — Bryce Harper struck out and Jayson Werth grounded into a double play. So the Nats are 0-for-2 with RISP early on in this one.
7:42 p.m. — Another laborious inning for Gio, who issued two more walks in the top of the second, plus another hit, but battled to escape the jam. The Nats, meanwhile, went down in order in the bottom of the inning against Koehler. It remains scoreless after two.
7:54 p.m. — Nine straight batters retired by Tom Koehler, and only one of the outs even left the infield. That was a line out to left field by … Gio Gonzalez. Yikes. Still 0-0 after three.
8:05 p.m. — Four scoreless innings now for Gio, but he’s already thrown 75 pitches. On a night when the Nats really need a long outing from their starter, this could be a bit of a concern.
8:13 p.m. — Bryce Harper to the rescue. He goes opposite field for his 19th homer of the year, this one a two-run shot thanks to Zimmerman’s walk right in front of him. That also extends Harper’s hit streak to 11 games. The Nats take a 2-0 lead after four.
8:32 p.m. — Really nice job by Gio to get six quick outs during the fifth and sixth innings. He has managed to keep his pitch count to 98 now, so you’ve got to think he’s got at least one more inning in him. That’s what the Nats needed tonight. They could also use a couple more runs, of course, but let’s not get greedy. Still 2-0 heading to the bottom of the sixth.
8:55 p.m. — Jayson Werth, ladies and gentlemen. He can’t be stopped. Three-run bomb off Koelher blows this game open. That’s Werth’s 21st homer of the season and it continues his remarkable summer. By this time tomorrow night, he may finally qualify for the league leaderboard. And when he does, he’ll rank in the top five in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. Just remarkable. Anthony Rendon, meanwhile, added an RBI single before the sixth inning ended, so it’s now 6-0 Nats.
9:03 p.m. — Make it 16 out of 17 retired by Gio, who walks off the mound to a standing ovation after seven scoreless innings. It’s still 6-0 at the stretch.
9:14 p.m. — Sweet Fancy Moses, the Nats lineup is on fire. Desmond ropes a three-run homer in the seventh, making it 9-0. Zimmerman, Harper, Werth and Desmond tonight are a combined 10-for-14 with two walks, three homers and eight RBI. Like I said: Sweet Fancy Moses.
9:19 p.m. — And that’s a 5-pitch to of the eighth for Tanner Roark. I would’ve said this means he won’t start on Sunday now, but maybe if he stays this efficient, there’s still a chance.
9:33 p.m. — That’s it. Nats win 9-0. They sweep the Marlins. They’ve won eight of nine and 14 of 19. They’re three games over .500 and are now within 6 1/2 games of the Wild Card.
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NL WILD CARD STANDINGS
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