Sep 9, 2013, 3:27 PM EST
NEW YORK — Hello from Flushing Meadows, where the biggest sporting event tonight is taking place across the parking lot from Citi Field (the U.S. Open Men’s Final). The Nationals and Mets, meanwhile, open a four-game series with not very much at stake at this point (unless you’re still clinging to the Nats’ hopes of making up an 8-game deficit in three weeks).
The more significance news here will involve Bryce Harper, who was due to have his left hip examined this morning in Washington. Hopefully we’ll have some clarity on his status later this afternoon. In the meantime, Tyler Moore gets another start in left field, even though the Mets are starting right-hander Carlos Torres.
Gio Gonzalez gets the ball for the Nationals, seeking his 10th win. That would make four consecutive seasons of double-digit victories for the lefty, no small accomplishment.
Plenty of updates and analysis to come from the ballpark, so please check back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at NEW YORK METS
Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Partly cloudy, 68 degrees, Wind out to LF
CF Denard Span
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
LF Tyler Moore
2B Anthony Rendon
LHP Gio Gonzalez
LF Eric Young, Jr.
2B Daniel Murphy
RF Andrew Brown
1B Lucas Duda
SS Justin Turner
CF Juan Lagares
3B Wilmer Flores
C Travis d’Arnaud
RHP Carlos Torres
HP Bob Davidson
1B John Hirschbeck
2B James Hoye
3B Jim Reynolds
7:12 p.m. — We are underway as Carlos Torres fires a strike to Denard Span in front of … well, almost nobody. This place is dead.
7:20 p.m. — Wow, what a start for the Nats. Span launched a 2-2 pitch from Torres over the right-field wall for his fourth homer of the season, in the process extending his hitting streak to an even 20 games. Moments later, Ryan Zimmerman hammered a pitch deep to left-center, his 21st of the year. Just like that, the Nats lead 2-0.
7:31 p.m. — A solid bottom of the first for Gio Gonzalez, through he did need 21 pitches to record three outs. His one mistake was a one-out walk to Daniel Murphy. But really, the Mets were just fouling off a bunch of pitches. Gio threw 15 of his 21 pitches for strikes, four of those balls obviously coming during the Murphy at-bat. He struck out Lucas Duda on a curveball to end the inning, the Nats still up 2-0.
7:46 p.m. — A more efficient Gonzalez in the bottom of the second. He retired the side on 11 pitches, striking out Juan Lagares on a fastball. It’s 2-0 after two.
7:59 p.m. — The power barrage continues for the Nats, but only after the hit parade continued for Denard Span. With a base hit to left, Span improved to 2-for-2 tonight and raised his season batting average to .281 (it sat at .258 when his 20-game streak began). Zimmerman then walked, and that brought Jayson Werth to the plate with two on, one out and a laboring young pitcher on the mound. So you had to know what was coming next: Werth tattooed Torres’ first-pitch fastball to left-center for a three-run homer, his 22nd of the year. The Nats now lead 5-0 as we go to the bottom of the third.
8:05 p.m. — Meanwhile, Gio Gonzalez has yet to surrender a hit through three innings. He worked quickly to retire the side in the bottom of the third and, with a 5-run lead, is going right after the Mets lineup.
8:12 p.m. — Man, are the Nats hitter squaring up balls against Torres. Tyler Moore led off the fourth with a shot just to the left of the big apple in center, field the Nationals’ fourth homer in as many innings against Torres tonight. And none of them have been cheapies, either. These have been rockets. It’s 6-0 as Gonzalez takes the mound for the bottom of the fourth.
8:19 p.m. — Make it four hitless innings for Gio, whose pitch count is at 51. He has only let two balls leave the infield so far, each of them flyouts to center. It’s still 6-0 as we go to the fifth and Greg Burke enters from the Mets’ bullpen to replace Torres.
8:42 p.m. — Sweet. Fancy. Moses. Now Wilson Ramos crushes a 3-run homer. That’s five home runs by five different players in five innings tonight. Man, if you’re Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche or Anthony Rendon, you’re feeling rather inadequate at the moment. It’s 9-0 in the fifth. Oh, and if you were wondering: The Nats have 250 percent more home runs so far tonight than the Redskins have offensive first downs.
8:48 p.m. — And now Gio is just cruising, pounding the strike zone and working quickly and efficiently. He’s through five hitless innings on 61 pitches.
9:06 p.m. — Six hitless innings in the books for Gonzalez, who has now retired 17 in a row. The only Met batter to reach base so far: Daniel Murphy, who drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the first. Gio has seven strikeouts, only the one walk and is sitting on 72 pitches as we move to the seventh. It’s still 9-0 Nats.
9:23 p.m. — Well, so much for that. Pinch-hitter Zach Lutz led off the bottom of the seventh with a line drive over Adam LaRoche’s head that just barely grazed the chalk for the Mets’ first hit of the night. It was close, really close. But it’s a hit. Gio, however, finished out the inning, so it’s still a 9-0 rout for the Nats as we move to the eighth.
9:44 p.m. — Make it eight innings of 1-hit ball for Gio, who is on 93 pitches. He should get the chance to finish this one.
9:53 p.m. — Here we go. Gio takes the mound for the ninth.
9:59 p.m. — That’s it. Gio does it. Nats win 9-0. They’re 5 games over .500, matching their season high point. And the Reds just lost to the Cubs, so the deficit is 7 games again.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
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)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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