Sep 4, 2013, 3:32 PM EST
PHILADELPHIA — The Nationals, at minimum, need to win every series they play over the season’s final month. So they’ve put themselves in position to do that tonight at Citizens Bank Park, if they can take the series finale from the Phillies and take two of three here. Obviously, they’ll need to win more than 66 percent of their games the rest of the way to really have a shot — that would only get them to 86 wins, almost certainly not enough to capture the final Wild Card berth — but first things first.
Jordan Zimmermann gets the ball tonight, seeking his NL-leading 16th win. It’s been an up-and-down summer for the right-hander, but the overall numbers (15-8, 3.33 ERA) remain solid.
Roy Halladay, on the other hand, has suffered through a disastrous, injury-plagued 2013. The former Cy Young Award winner is making only his third start since returning from the DL, only his 10th start in a season in which he has gone 3-4 with a 7.94 ERA.
Bryce Harper is not in the Nationals lineup, given the night off to rest his sore left hip. Corey Brown, who homered last night, gets the start in left field.
Updates to come, so please check back…
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 186
Weather: Clear, 78 degrees, Wind 10 mph LF to RF
CF Denard Span
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
LF Corey Brown
2B Steve Lombardozzi
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
CF Cesar Hernandez
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
C Carlos Ruiz
1B Darin Ruf
3B Cody Asche
LF John Mayberry Jr.
RF Roger Bernadina
RHP Roy Halladay
HP Chris Conroy
1B Gary Darling (cc)
2B Jerry Meals
3B Paul Emmel
7:07 p.m. — We are underway on a gorgeous Wednesday night in Philly, and Denard Span wastes no time extending his career-high hitting streak to 17 games with a solid base hit to left.
7:21 p.m. — Boy, the name on the back of the jersey on the guy on the mound may say “Halladay,” but that ain’t Roy Halladay. At least not the pitcher we’ve known for the last decade. He had nothing in the to of the first, allowing Span’s leadoff single and then three walks. Yet the Nationals only plated one run out of that whole mess, on Adam LaRoche’s sac fly to left. The killer was Wilson Ramos’ 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. It’s 1-0, but it sure feels like the lead should be much greater than that.
7:35 p.m. — A laborious bottom of the first for Jordan Zimmermann, who needed 25 pitches to face five batters. He opened things with a walk and later allowed a base hit to Chase Utley. But he emerged unscathed, if a bit overtaxed. 1-0 Nats after one.
7:45 p.m. — Halladay has either walked or plunked five of the first 11 batters he’s faced tonight. And the Nats still only have one run. That’s not quite what I’d call offensive efficiency.
7:59 p.m. — Zimmermann continues to labor in the bottom of the second. He allowed a couple of hard-hit singles to Cody Asche and John Mayberry Jr., then served up a 2-out, 2-run double to Cesar Hernandez. Just like that, the Nats trail 2-1 and Zimmermann is already up to 49 pitches through only two innings.
8:10 p.m. — Much better stuff from Zimmermann in the third. He retired the side on 10 pitches. But he needs his mates to do a bit more at the plate. They’ve let Halladay off the mat so far, managing just the one run despite six baserunners through three innings.
8:24 p.m. — Things have completely settled down now for both pitchers, who after their shaky starts have found their grooves. Seven in a row retired by Zimmermann. Halladay hasn’t allowed a hit since the first batter of the game. Still 2-1 Phillies after four.
8:37 p.m. — Nice job by Jordan to right the ship. After throwing 49 pitches through his first two innings, he’s needed only 28 to get through the next three frames. Props also to Wilson Ramos for a fine throw to second base to nail Hernandez trying to steal. Still 2-1 after five.
8:47 p.m. — The good news: The Nats got it going offensively again in the top of the sixth, with a two-out single by Ramos, a double by Corey Brown (now 2-for-3 with a double, homer and walk since his promotion) and an intentional walk to Steve Lombardozzi. The bad news: Zimmermann tapped out to the pitcher to end the inning. Was there any thought there to pinch-hitting for Zimmermann? The Nats have a 10-man bench and 10-man bullpen. Davey Johnson decided against it, leaving his starter in. So it remains 2-1 heading to the middle of the sixth.
8:58 p.m. — At least the Nats have reached the Phillies bullpen. Halladay is out after six innings of 1-run, 3-hit, 5-walk, 2-hit-by-pitch ball.
9:10 p.m. — Ryan Zimmerman to the rescue. He homers off Zach Miner in the top of the seventh, his 17th homer of the season. This game is tied 2-2.
9:22 p.m. — Wow, some major defense by the Nats infield in the bottom of the seventh to keep the Phillies from scoring the go-ahead run. They had men on second and third with one out when Zimmerman made a nice, backhand scoop and then on-target throw to get Cody Asche at the plate. But that play paled in comparison to what happened next. Hernandez sent a soft grounder past a lunging LaRoche and seemingly into right field. Except Lombardozzi ranged waaaay to his left to make the grab and then fired an off-balance throw to first. That throw, though, skipped, so Zimmermann had to make a really nifty, short-hop snag on the run to get Hernandez by a half-step. Just a phenomenal play on both ends, keeping this a 2-2 game heading to the eighth.
9:35 p.m. — OK, listen to how the Nats just scored the go-ahead run: With a walk, a sac bunt from a pinch-hitter, a steal of third base and then a fielder’s choice. Yes, this is still a Davey Johnson-managed team, despite evidence to the contrary. Wow. Props to Scott Hairston, who laid down his first sacrifice bunt in four years. Props to Jeff Kobernus, who was pinch-running for Ramos and stole third base without a throw. And props to Lombardozzi, whose chopper over the pitcher’s mound was good enough to score Kobernus. It’s 3-2 Nats as Ian Krol enters for the bottom of the eighth.
9:50 p.m. — Wow, more phenomenal defense from the Nats to prevent the tying run from scoring in the bottom of the eighth. With runners on the corners and one out, Craig Stammen got Darin Ruf to strikeout on a pitch in the dirt. As the ball scooted away, Chase Utley bolted from third base. Jhonatan Solano, though, retrieved the ball and then dove back to the plate, tagging Utley just barely in time. What a play. Still 3-2 Nats as we go to the ninth.
10:01 p.m. — Here we go. Bottom of the 9th, 3-2 lead. Rafael Soriano enters to face Asche, Mayberry and Bernadina.
10:10 p.m. — That’s it. Nats win 3-2. Zimmermann gets his league-leading 16th win. Soriano gets the save. The Nats get a series victory.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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