Sep 3, 2013, 3:37 PM EDT
PHILADELPHIA — Despite all the hubbub last night and this morning over Bryce Harper and whether he’s fit to play or not, Davey Johnson was pretty clear all along he planned to keep Harper in his lineup. And sure enough, Bryce is batting third and starting in left field tonight against the Phillies. Obviously, there will be plenty of eyes on the 20-year-old, who it’s now known is dealing with a hip injury in addition to his other nagging ailments.
Johnson has the entire regular lineup out there, and that includes Wilson Ramos. This will be Ramos’ 12th consecutive start behind the plate, every game since the Nationals traded Kurt Suzuki to the A’s. For what it’s worth, Ramos was hitting .299 at the time of the trade. Since then, he’s hitting .171 (7-for-41).
Gio Gonzalez gets the ball for the Nats, facing a Phillies lineup that boasts Kevin Frandsen hitting third. Yep.
Updates to come…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Clear, 77 degrees, Wind 10 mph in from LF
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 Cesar Hernandez
SS Freddy Galvis
1B Kevin Frandsen
C Carlos Ruiz
LF Darin Ruf
3B Cody Asche
RF John Mayberry Jr.
CF Michael Martinez
RHP Ethan Martin
HP Paul Emmel
1B Chris Conroy
2B Gary Darling (cc)
3B Jerry Meals
7:06 p.m. — We are underway on a gorgeous night here in Philly. 79 degrees and blue skies as Ethan Martin delivers his first pitch to Denard Span.
7:12 p.m. — And a 1-2-3 top of the first for Martin, who struck out both Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper. For those wondering, here’s the latest injury update on Harper: Davey Johnson and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz did confirm Bryce is dealing with a sore left hip, though Kuntz insisted it’s nothing more than that and doesn’t require any additional tests. It doesn’t prevent Harper from playing, and there’s no fear of it getting worse, so he’s cleared to play.
7:25 p.m. — If you were one of the seven guys playing behind Gio Gonzalez in the bottom of the first, there wasn’t much for you to do. None of the first four batters Gio faced so much as put the ball in play. He struck out Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis, then walked both Kevin Frandsen and Carlos Ruiz. Darin Ruf finally made contact, lining out to center to end the inning, but Gonzalez needed 28 pitches to get through the frame, and only 12 of those were strikes. A rocky start to the night for the lefty. Scoreless after one.
7:38 p.m. — Wow, I guess Wilson Ramos isn’t too beat up in his 12th straight start behind the plate. He just crushed a three-run, opposite-field homer to one of the deepest points in the park, above the 398-foot sign in deep right-center. That’s quite a poke for Ramos, his 10th homer of the season. The Nats take a 3-0 lead in the second.
7:55 p.m. — Denard Span extends his career-best hitting streak to 16 games with a line-drive single to center to lead off the third. Span has really come on strong the last few weeks. He bottomed out on July 26, his batting average down to .258. But in 34 games since, he’s hitting .333 (42-for-126) and has raised his season average to .276.
8:08 p.m. — Speaking of heating up … Adam LaRoche just smoked a double inside the first-base line. After a wretched, 0-for-18 slump, he has now reached base in his last three plate appearances, singling last night, walking and now doubling tonight. Still 3-0 Nats in the middle of the fourth.
8:22 p.m. — A bit of a ragged bottom of the fourth for Gio, though it wasn’t entirely his fault. He got into a jam when Ryan Zimmerman got eaten up by Carlos Ruiz’s hard chopper to his right. Zim was charged with his 20th error of the season, this a rare fielding gaffe, not a throwing one. Gonzalez followed that up with a wild pitch, putting runners on second and third with nobody out. He did strike out Darin Ruf on a nice 3-2 changeup, but then Cody Asche lined a 2-run single up the middle. So the Nats’ lead has been trimmed to 3-2 after four.
8:42 p.m. — And the Nats get two runs back in the top of the fifth, though they didn’t really need to do much to make it happen, other than stand at the plate and not take the bat off their shoulders. Phillies pitchers walked four batters in the inning, including three straight, two of them with the bases loaded, both on four pitches. Yikes. It’s 5-2 Nats now, even though they only have four hits.
8:53 p.m. — Wow, what a play by Ian Desmond in the bottom of the fifth. With a man on first and one out, he ranged way to his right to make a backhanded stab of Freddy Galvis’ grounder. He then fired a bounce-pass to Anthony Rendon, getting Pete Orr by a step. The debate here in the press box is whether Desmond was doing that on purpose. I say yes. I think his momentum was taking him so hard the opposite direction that he knew he couldn’t get enough on the throw to get it there on the fly, so he went for the skip-pass. Whatever the case, it worked. Still 5-2 Nats after five.
9:15 p.m. — Make it 7-2 as the Nats add two more in the top of the sixth. RBI singles by Werth and Desmond, giving Gio a nice cushion as he takes the mound for the bottom of the inning, his pitch count piling up, though.
9:37 p.m. — Oy, that was an ugly inning just now. The Phillies have clawed right back into the game and now trail 7-5. The Nats’ defense didn’t help matters, with Desmond and Harper charged with errors. But Gio didn’t do his part, either, letting things get out of control. Davey Johnson wound up turning to Ryan Mattheus, who couldn’t stop the bleeding. He immediately served up an RBI single to Chase Utley. So now we’ve got ourselves a ballgame heading to the seventh. Not a well-played, pretty ballgame, mind you. But a close ballgame. Stay tuned.
9:46 p.m. — Welcome back to the big leagues, Corey Brown. In his first MLB at-bat of the season, the just-recalled outfielder crushed a homer into the second deck in right field. That makes it an 8-5 lead for the Nats as Drew Storen enters for the bottom of the seventh.
9:54 p.m. — And Storen gets things back under control with a 1-2-3 inning. Meanwhile, the Reds just beat the Cardinals 1-0 in Cincy, so the Nats have to win tonight to remain 7 1/2 games back.
10:06 p.m. — Sheesh, Phillies pitchers have issued seven walks to the last 22 batters they’ve faced. Gotta love September baseball, huh?
10:15 p.m. — Uh-oh, Tyler Clippard gives up a homer in the eighth, the second straight night he’s given up a run. That’s a rarity. Then Harper lost track of how many outs there were, jogging in after catching a flyball that was only the second out of the inning. The Philly fans really let him have it for that, but Harper responded by taking a bow and then laughing the rest of the inning. When it did finally end, Desmond gave Harper an emphatic, 2-out signal, then a high-five. It’s 8-6 heading to the ninth.
10:33 p.m. — And the Nats just scored a run on a Bryce Harper strikeouts. Yeah, that about sums tonight’s game up. It’s 9-6 as Rafael Soriano enters to wrap this one up.
10:44 p.m. — That’ll do it. Nats win 9-6. They remain 7 1/2 games back of the Reds with only 24 to play.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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