Sep 2, 2013, 3:35 PM EST
PHILADELPHIA — Hello from Citizens Bank Park, where it was raining a short while ago (hence the tarp covering the infield in the accompanying photo) but has since cleared up. There is a slight chance of more rain later tonight, which at this point should come as no surprise because Stephen Strasburg is on the mound for the Nationals.
It seems like every one of Strasburg’s starts this year has involved bad weather or other unforeseen hurdles. If nothing else, he’s probably learning well how to deal with all this stuff. Assuming no major delays tonight, Strasburg is poised to establish a new career high in innings pitched. He enters at 158, just 1 1/3 innings behind his much-discussed total from one year ago.
Strasburg goes up against Cole Hamels, who like many here in Philly has been battling through a difficult season. Check out the rest of the Phillies’ lineup tonight, which includes a pair of ex-Nats in Pete Orr (batting sixth!) and Roger Bernadina (6-for-43 with two homers since his acquisition a couple weeks ago).
Updates to come, so please check back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Chance of rain, 81 degrees, Wind 5 mph out to CF
CF Bryce Harper
LF Scott Hairston
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
2B Anthony Rendon
RHP Stephen Strasburg
CF Cesar Hernandez
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
C Carlos Ruiz
1B Kevin Frandsen
3B Pete Orr
LF John Mayberry
RF Roger Bernadina
LHP Cole Hamels
HP Jerry Meals
1B Paul Emmel
2B Chris Conroy
3B Gary Darling (cc)
6:30 p.m. — Because I know many of you have been asking about it, here’s Davey Johnson’s explanation for Adam LaRoche starting tonight at first base instead of Tyler Moore, even though Cole Hamels (a lefty) is starting for Philly: “I didn’t want him to feel like I didn’t like him, not letting him play two days in a row. And he’s swung the bat pretty good. Hamels is pretty even against right and left. … As much as I want to get Tyler Moore some experience against left-handed pitching, we need to win this ballgame.” FYI: LaRoche is 10-for-31 with four homers in his career vs. Hamels.
7:08 p.m. — We are underway as Bryce Harper fouls off Cole Hamels’ first pitch. This has got to be as empty as I’ve seen this ballpark in a looooong time.
7:14 p.m. — Hamels was one pitch away from striking out the side in the top of the first, but then Ryan Zimmerman destroyed an 0-2 fastball. The ball sailed over the high fence in deep left-center, a true bomb of a homer for Zim, his 16th of the season. Nats take a quick 1-0 lead for Stephen Strasburg.
7:25 p.m. — A very good bottom of the first for Strasburg, whose curveball was electric. He struck out Cesar Hernandez, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz, all on the No. 2. Chase Utley did work hard to draw a full-count walk with two outs. Otherwise, Strasburg looked very sharp in his first inning of the night.
7:42 p.m. — A 1-2-3 bottom of the second for Strasburg, who recorded his fourth K of the night when he got Pete Orr flailing at a changeup. Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche also teamed up on a nice play on Kevin Frandsen’s grounder to the hole at short. Still 1-0 Nats after two.
7:53 p.m. — Something to keep an eye on: Harper wasn’t running real well down the first base line on his grounder to end the top of the third. Werth actually withheld his glove and hat until Bryce convinced him he was OK to take the field for the bottom of the inning. Davey did mention this afternoon Harper has been coming in early for treatment, though he never specified on which part of the body. Like I said, something to keep an eye on.
7:59 p.m. — Strasburg’s line through 3 innings: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K. He hasn’t let a ball out of the infield yet. And he has now officially established a new career-high in innings pitched with 161. I asked Davey this afternoon about Strasburg and the manager responded: “He looks real fresh to me.” Still 1-0 Nats through three.
8:15 p.m. — There goes Strasburg’s no-hitter. Plus his shutout. It wasn’t a conventional rally by the Phillies, but it got the job done. Rollins drew a leadoff walk, then advanced to second when Ramos’ attempt to throw behind him at first base struck Utley’s bat and fell straight to the ground. Rollins then got a huge jump on Strasburg’s pitch to Ruiz, who fisted a broken-bat single up the middle and brought home the run. It’s 1-1 after four.
8:23 p.m. — Hamels, meanwhile, has cruised since Zimmerman’s first-inning homer. The only other National to reach base since was Ramos, who got on via a tough error on Orr with two outs in the fifth. Otherwise, nothing happening at the plate for the Nats. Still 1-1 in the middle of the fifth.
8:32 p.m. — The Phillies have two hits in five innings off Strasburg, and both of them are broken-bat singles. Old pal Roger Bernadina did the honors in the bottom of the fifth. Strasburg, though, has nine strikeouts, eight of them on the curveball, which remains his best pitch tonight. He is at 86 pitches, though, not his most efficient effort.
8:41 p.m. — Harper is definitely not 100 percent out there. He looked really uncomfortable on a couple of swings in the top of the sixth, though he still managed to line a base hit to center. Scott Hairston, meanwhile, entered tonight hitting .412 (14-for-34) with five homers in his career against Hamels … but is now 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. It remains a 1-1 game here.
8:48 p.m. — Make it 10 strikeouts for Strasburg through six innings, his pitch count now at 99 despite the fact only one run has crossed the plate and only four Phillies have reached base.
9:07 p.m. — Strasburg and Hamels put up dueling 1-run, 2-hit pitching lines, but neither will figure into the decision tonight. Each starter is done, Strasburg at 100 pitches, Hamels at 87 pitches. Drew Storen tossed a scoreless bottom of the seventh. Now Justin DeFratus is in for the Phillies in the eighth inning of what remains a 1-1 game.
9:28 p.m. — And the Nats push across the go-ahead run with some solid at-bats off the Philly bullpen. Rendon singled and Chad Tracy drew a walk against right-hander Justin DeFratus. That brought Harper to the plate with two on and one out against lefty Cesar Jimenez. Unlike last night, Harper didn’t try to bunt. But he did draw a walk, loading the bases for Hairston. You figured Ryne Sandberg was going to bring in righty B.J. Rosenberg there, which probably would have prompted Davey Johnson to send up Denard Span. But Sandberg stuck with the lefty, so Hairston stayed in to hit. And he delivered, lofting a flyball to medium left-center, scoring Rendon. Cesar Hernandez’s throw wasn’t exactly powerful, but the Nats will take it. They lead 2-1 as Tyler Clippard enters for the bottom of the eighth.
9:53 p.m. — Uh-oh, Clippard gives up the tying run, and then the go-ahead run. He walked Hernandez with two outs, a big no-no that brought Rollins to the plate. Clippard battled him, but Rollins fouled off five pitches before hammering a 2-2 fastball off the wall in right-center, scoring Hernandez with the tying run. Ruiz then sent a base hit to left, and Harper’s throw to the plate was just slightly off-line, with Rollins making a nice slide to avoid Ramos’ tag. Just like that, the Nats trail 3-2 and are down to their last three outs.
10:11 p.m. — That’ll do it. Papelbon closes out a 3-2 victory for Philly, even though the Nats got the tying runner to third. That’s a crushing loss for the Nats, who needed to win to keep pace with the Reds. They now trail in the Wild Card race by 7 1/2 games with only 25 to play.
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2013 schedule (subject to change)...
TUE: 12:45 p.m., 4:30 p.m.
WED: 2:30 p.m.
THU: 4:30 p.m.
FRI: 12:45 p.m., 2:30 p.m.
SAT: 9:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com.
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