Sep 10, 2013, 3:40 PM EST
NEW YORK — Who’s the toughest pitcher the Nationals have faced this season? Clayton Kershaw? Matt Harvey? Tim Hudson? Well, they all did pitch well against the Nats, but an argument can also be made for … Dillon Gee. Yes, Dillon Gee.
In five starts against the Nationals this year, the Mets right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.16 ERA. He has surrendered more than two runs only once in those five starts, and on three occasions gave up zero or one run. As several members of the lineup put it a couple weeks ago when Gee beat them in D.C.: This guy just knows how to mix things up and leave hitters guessing.
Perhaps tonight the Nationals (winners in 20 of their last 29 games) can finally figure out Gee and provide some run support for Jordan Zimmermann, who is seeking to become the NL’s first 17-game winner. Denard Span will be seeking to extend his hitting streak to 21 games.
Updates to come, 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 184
Weather: Partly cloudy, 81 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to CF
CF Denard Span
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
LF Tyler Moore
2B Steve Lombardozzi
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
LF Eric Young Jr.
RF Juan Lagares
2B Daniel Murphy
1B Lucas Duda
3B Justin Turner
CF Matt den Dekker
C Travis d’Arnaud
SS Omar Quintanilla
RHP Dillon Gee
HP John Hirschbeck (cc)
1B James Hoye
2B Jim Reynolds
3B Bob Davidson
7:11 p.m. — And we’re underway as Denard Span and his 20-game hitting streak dig in against Dillon Gee. If the streak is going to continue, it’s going to have to wait for another at-bat, though, because Span tapped a weak comebacker to Gee to get this one started.
7:17 p.m. — Jayson Werth and his league-leading OPS certainly aren’t fazed by the mighty Dillon Gee. Werth destroyed a 1-0 pitch deep to left-center for his 23rd homer, putting the Nats up 1-0 in the first. Good thing he connected, because Span, Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond hit the ball a combined 75 feet off Gee.
7:23 p.m. — And that’s a 7-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the first for Jordan Zimmermann, who struck out Eric Young Jr. and then induced flyballs to right out of Juan Lagares and Daniel Murphy.
7:34 p.m. — Whoa, now Adam LaRoche goes opposite-field off Gee for his 19th homer of the season, his first since Aug. 17. Tyler Moore nearly did the same, but settled for a double off the right-field wall. Regardless, the Nats are actually making some impressive contact off Gee tonight. Because of it, they lead 2-0 in the middle of the second.
7:56 p.m. — Hey, it’s another hit for Denard Span, who leads off the top of the third with a double down the first-base line. That extends his hit streak to 21 games. And then moments later, he scored on just another RBI double by Jayson Werth, whose slugging percentage is up to something like 3.578 at this point. (I could be just a bit off on that.) Nats lead 3-0 now.
8:05 p.m. — There will be no no-hitter drama tonight. Omar Quintanilla led off the bottom of the third with a sharp base hit to left off Zimmermann. Otherwise, the right-hander has dominated and has now completed three scoreless innings.
8:23 p.m. — In the 13th inning of this series, the Mets have finally scored a run. Daniel Murphy led off the fourth with a double, then scored on Justin Turner’s RBI single to left. Zimmermann wound up surrendering three hits in the inning, showing the first signs of any struggles tonight. He got out of it, though, and preserved the Nats’ 3-1 lead as we move to the fifth.
8:30 p.m. — It appears Dillon Gee is turning back into Dillon Gee: Nats Killer. He’s retired eight in a row since Werth’s RBI double in the third.
8:38 p.m. — That was ugly. LaRoche was charged with two errors on one botched pickoff attempt. The first error was for dropping Zimmermann’s pickoff throw and letting Eric Young Jr. take second base. The second error was for then throwing wildly toward second base, allowing Young to advance to third. Not good, but Zimmermann did escape the jam, so it remains 3-1 Nats after five.
9:10 p.m. — Well, that escalated quickly. After the Nats took a 4-1 lead in the top of the sixth thanks to yet another double by Werth and then a Ramos RBI single, Zimmermann got into a heap of trouble in the bottom of the inning. He allowed three straight hits to open the frame and was yanked by Davey Johnson with the score suddenly 4-3. Enter Craig Stammen, who cleaned up the mess nicely, with some defensive help. Stammen struck out Travis d’Arnaud. Ramos then gunned down Matt den Dekker trying to steal second. And then Zimmerman made a spectacular diving grab of Quintanilla’s hard smash to third, ending the inning. It’s now a 1-run game, though, heading to the seventh.
9:21 p.m. — What a start to Zach Walters’ big-league career. He just singled off Gee and is now 2-for-2 since joining the Nationals. Unfortunately, he was wiped out on a Span double play. So it remains a 4-3 game at the stretch as Drew Storen enters.
9:35 p.m. — OK, what odds would you have gotten before the game on the Nats throwing out two basestealers tonight, with Craig Stammen and Drew Storen on the mound at the time? Props to both right-handers for working on getting the ball to the plate quicker, and props to Ramos for a couple of perfect throws to second base, helping preserve the Nats’ 4-3 lead as we move to the eighth.
9:42 p.m. — Meanwhile, the Nats bats have gone silent. We go to the bottom of the eighth, Tyler Clippard in to protect a 1-run lead.
9:52 p.m. — Matt den Dekker just came a couple feet shy of tying this game, but instead it’s just a long flyout to the warning track and a 1-2-3 eighth for Clippard. Still 4-3 as Rafael Soriano begins to warm up.
10:01 p.m. — Interesting decision by Davey Johnson in the top of the ninth. He sacrificed defense (Corey Brown) in an attempt to tack on some late runs (pinch-hitting Scott Hairston against lefty Tim Byrdak). And it worked. Hairston clubbed a 2-run homer on the first pitch he saw, extending the lead to 6-3.
10:13 p.m. — That’s it. Soriano closes out a 6-3 victory, the Nats’ 21st in their last 30 games. They’re 6 games over .500 for the first time this season. And with the Reds getting clobbered by the Cubs, the Nats are about to move to within 6 games of the final Wild Card berth with 18 to play.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
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SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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