Sep 17, 2013, 10:33 AM EDT
After the tragedy at the Navy Yard on Monday caused a postponement of their game, the Nationals and Braves will play a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday with the first starting at 1:05 p.m. The same pitchers who were set to go on Monday will take the ball today as lefty Mike Minor and Dan Haren are set to face off.
With a magic number of four in the NL East division, the stakes are quite high on Tuesday. If the Braves sweep the doubleheader, they clinch the division crown and will have the opportunity to celebrate at Nationals Park. The Nats are determined to avoid that, not that they need any more motivation. The Reds beat the Astros on Monday night and now hold a 5-game lead in the NL Wild Card race.
Washington will need a good start from Haren, who seemed to snap out of his recent funk his last time out. He pitched six scoreless innings with just a hit and a walk against the Mets on Wednesday after three straight disastrous outings. Today Haren faces the Braves, whom he’s had success against this season in two appearances. He threw eight innings of 1-run ball against Atlanta on May 2, then took the save with one perfect frame in the wild, 15-inning game on August 17.
The Nationals are wearing special Navy caps pregame today, handed to them personally by Admiral James A. Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A very nice touch, and I’m sure there will be other tributes throughout the day. Stay tuned for updates throughout the game from both Mark and Chase…
ATLANTA BRAVES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 184
Weather: Sunny, 65 degrees, Wind 10 mph in from RF
CF Denard Span
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
LF Bryce Harper
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
2B Anthony Rendon
RHP Dan Haren
2B Elliot Johnson
RF Justin Upton
1B Freddie Freeman
LF Evan Gattis
C Brian McCann
3B Chris Johnson
SS Andrelton Simmons
CF B.J. Upton
LHP Mike Minor
HP Todd Tichenor
1B Dana DeMuth (cc)
2B CB Bucknor
3B Dale Scott
1:15 p.m. — The first inning was close to being a rocky start for Haren, although he managed to escape with a scoreless frame. After Johnson flew out to start the inning, Justin Upton blasted a ball off the wall in left-center field. It missed being a solo home run by no more than four or five inches. Freeman then walked to put two men on before a Gattis’ grounder to Desmond started a double play. Haren threw 14 pitches.
1:38 p.m. — The Nats are off to a great start offensively as Minor’s first time out was a major struggle. He started by walking both Span and Zimmerman, then gave up a double off the wall to Werth to score the first run. Harper knocked home Zimmerman on a slow groundout to second base, and LaRoche then drove in Werth with a hard hit single to right field. It’s 3-0 Nats through one and there is already action in the Atlanta bullpen. Minor has thrown 39 pitches.
1:48 p.m. — The Braves saw two runners get on once again in the second, but Haren kept them scoreless with a pair of swinging strikeouts to end the frame. McCann singled and Simmons walked before B.J. Upton and Minor whiffed. Haren has thrown 37 through two.
1:58 p.m. — The streak lives. A line drive single to center for Denard Span in the bottom of the second, extending his hitting streak to 27 games, which ties Michael Cuddyer for the longest in the majors this season. The Nats threatened to tack on some more runs, too, but B.J. Upton made a phenomenal play on Bryce Harper’s line drive to left-center to end the inning, the Nats still leading 3-0.
2:15 p.m. — Four scoreless innings in the books for Haren, who has been sharp. He’s got three strikeouts, has allowed two hits and is at 63 pitches.
2:29 p.m. — Make it five scoreless innings for Haren, who has retired 11 in a row. He struck out B.J. Upton with a wicked curveball to highlight the top of the fifth. Still 3-0 Nats.
2:33 p.m. — Not to be outdone, Minor has now retired 10 in row, a streak that began with Upton’s catch to end the second. He’s keeping the Braves in this game, which easily could be more lopsided.
2:43 p.m. — The Braves finally got to Haren in the sixth, thanks to a leadoff double by Elliot Johnson. Johnson took third on a flyball to right and then scored on Freeman’s sac fly to left, though Harper tried his best to throw Johnson out from 325 feet away (and actually came kind of close to doing it). 3-1 as we go to the bottom of the sixth.
2:51 p.m. — Another 1-2-3 inning for Minor, who is just cruising along and has retired 13 in a row. Haren, meanwhile, is done after six innings of 1-run, 3-hit ball. Drew Storen enters for the top of the seventh, trying to protect a 3-1 lead.
3:04 p.m. — Trouble for Storen in the top of the seventh. He allowed three hits, including a two-out, RBI single to Dan Uggla that trimmed the lead to 3-2 and left the tying runner on third. Storen got out of it, inducing a flyball out of Elliot Johnson, but the Nats are hanging on for dear life at this point, desperate for an insurance run or two.
3:13 p.m. — No insurance in the bottom of the seventh. Old pal Luis Ayala retired the side. So that’s 16 Nats hitters in a row retired by Atlanta pitching. It remains a tenuous, 3-2 lead as Tyler Clippard enters for the eighth.
3:27 p.m. — The Nats had been hanging on by a thread all afternoon. And the thread just snapped. Clippard issued a one-out walk to Freeman, then served up a 2-run homer to Gattis. All of a sudden, it’s a 4-3 Braves lead. That’s why you can’t score three runs in the first inning and then go hitless after the second.
3:43 p.m. — David Carpenter took care of Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, striking each out (with Zim having some strong words for plate umpire Todd Tichenor after his K). Fredi Gonzalez then summoned Luis Avilan to face Bryce Harper, and Harper battled his way to a walk. Bryce may not be recording many hits off lefties, but he’s drawn a bunch of walks off them in the last couple months and is showing much more patience. Problem is, Ian Desmond didn’t show any of that patience. After getting ahead 3-0 in the count to Avilan, he swung and missed three straight offerings, so that ends the eighth with the Nats still trailing 4-3.
3:55 p.m. — That was ugly. The Braves just scored a huge insurance run as a direct result of two ghastly errors by the Nats. Harper inexplicably tried to throw behind Elliot Johnson at first base. From left field. In a 1-run game in the 9th. The throw got away and allowed Johnson to take second base. A few minutes later, with Johnson on third base, Desmond booted a routine grounder, giving Atlanta a 5-3 lead as Craig Kimbrel enters.
4:12 p.m. — Whoa, Nats win! They scored three off Kimbrel in the bottom of the ninth, capped by Span’s two-run grounder up the middle that went through Simmons’ legs. Final: 6-5. They get back to 4 1/2 games of the Reds with 12 to play.
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