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Game 157: Nats at Cardinals

Sep 23, 2013, 4:28 PM EST

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

ST. LOUIS — Check out the accompanying photo. No, this isn’t the Oakland Coliseum the day after a Raiders game. It’s Busch Stadium, which 48 hours ago hosted its first-ever football game, a titanic FCS clash between Southern Illinois and Southeast Missouri. That game, inexplicably scheduled for late-September, two days before the Cardinals opened their final homestand of the regular season, drew a crowd of 14,618 and left behind a mess. The grounds crew here re-sodded most of the outfield, but you can tell it’s soft and hasn’t taken root yet. And there are still several areas where the football lines remain. It’s not pretty.

Into this slop pit come the Nationals, who open the final week of their season with zero margin for error. They trail the Reds and Pirates by 5 games with 6 to play, and it’s possible they could be eliminated by night’s end (it would require a Nats loss and wins by both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh).

Fortunately, the Nationals have their ace on the mound. No, not Stephen Strasburg. Not Jordan Zimmermann. Not Gio Gonzalez. It’s Tanner Roark, of course, seeking to improve to 8-0 in his career and possibly even reduce his ERA below its current 1.08 mark. He’ll face the always-tough Adam Wainwright.

Updates to come live from the shadow of the Gateway Arch, so please check back…

Where: Busch Stadium
Gametime: 8:15 p.m. EDT
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 89
Weather: Clear, 69 degrees, Wind 8 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 Tanner Roark

2B Matt Carpenter
CF Jon Jay
RF Carlos Beltran
1B Matt Adams
C Yadier Molina
3B David Freese
SS Daniel Descalso
LF Shane Robinson
RHP Adam Wainwright

HP Chad Fairchild
1B Paul Schreiber
2B Jeff Kellogg (cc)
3B Eric Cooper

8:10 p.m. — Late lineup change for the Cardinals. Matt Holliday has been scratched with a bad back.

8:17 p.m. — And we’re underway with a ball from Adam Wainwright to Denard Span. Bad news for the Nats: Both the Pirates and Reds already lead their respective games.

8:29 p.m. — Look out, Big Mac Land. Jayson Werth almost just reached you with a towering, two-run blast estimated at 439 feet to left field. Werth’s 24th homer of the year puts the Nats up 2-0 early, thanks also to Denard Span’s leadoff single. Wainwright has struggled to get through the first inning this season, and that only continues the trend. Tanner Roark now takes the mound with a lead.

8:40 p.m. — But the Cardinals get a quick run back. A leadoff walk to Matt Carpenter came back to haunt Roark, who later allowed two-out singles to both Matt Adams and Yadier Molina. So it’s 2-1 Nats after one.

8:58 p.m. — Better stuff from Roark in the bottom of the second. He retired the side in order, getting a nice play from Adam LaRoche at first base. Still 2-1 Nats.

9:12 p.m. — A couple of close calls for Bryce Harper in left field in the bottom of the third. He appeared to be having trouble with the lights on line drives hit by Carpenter and Adams. No worries, he caught both of them, getting Roark through another scoreless inning. It remains 2-1 Nats. Elsewhere, the Mets have tied the Reds 2-2 in the sixth. The Pirates lead the Cubs 1-0 in the fourth.

9:23 p.m. — The Nats just completed an 0-for-9 stretch against Wainwright since the Werth homer. Which isn’t all that surprising. Wainwright’s first-inning ERA this year is 5.91, but 2.49 in every other inning. The Nats did get a pair of one-out singles from Harper and Desmond in the fourth, putting runners on the corners. But that rally fizzled when LaRoche grounded into a double play, just another frustrating moment in a season full of them for the veteran first baseman. Still 2-1 Nats heading to the bottom of the fourth.

9:38 p.m. — Yes, Roark has been successful at this level because of guile and deception. But don’t discount the fact he’s got legit stuff, too. Facing a tough spot in the bottom of the fourth, with two runners in scoring position and Carpenter at the plate in a 2-2 count, Roark fired a pair of 94 mph fastballs in on the hands. Carpenter fouled off the first one. He took the second for strike three, a big-time out from Roark. The Cards did plate the tying run earlier on three singles to right field, but the end of the inning was quite impressive. 2-2 as we go to the fifth.

10:00 p.m. — The Cards finally got to Roark for a big hit in the bottom of the fifth. Carlos Beltran tagged a high, 3-1 fastball into the bullpen, putting the Nats in a 4-2 hole. Here’s Roark’s numbers in his first three MLB starts: 19 IP, 12 H, 2 ER. Tonight: 5 IP, 9 H, 4 ER. Obviously he’s facing a tough lineup tonight.

10:19 p.m. — A scoreless sixth for Fernando Abad to keep this a 4-2 deficit. The Nats still haven’t scored off Wainwright since Werth’s first-inning homer.

10:25 p.m. — The Nats have produced three baserunners off Wainwright since Werth’s homer way back in the first. They still trail 4-2 at the stretch.

10:34 p.m. — Abad gets through a scoreless bottom of the seventh, but the Nats may have to rally here to keep their season alive. Starling Marte just homered in the top of the ninth to put the Pirates up 2-1 in Chicago. The Reds are going to extra innings against the Mets.

10:47 p.m. — The Nats got a run home in the eighth and finally knocked Wainwright out. But it’s only 4-3 as we go to the bottom of the eighth. Meanwhile, the Pirates just pulled off a 2-1 win in Chicago, so their magic number is down to 1.

11:00 p.m. — It’s over. Officially. The Nats lose 4-3, and combined with the Pirates and Reds’ wins, they are eliminated.

  1. adcwonk - Sep 23, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    That would be the Adam Waintright who’s 17-9, 2.98 ERA, 1.081 WHIP, and leads the NL in complete games and shutouts.

    In other words: gulp — our boys have their work cut out for them!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 23, 2013 at 4:49 PM

      The way to beat an Ace is jump on them early and then pitch tow to toe with them and hope for the best.

      Good luck Tanner Roark!

      • adcwonk - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:10 PM

        Indeed. Despite the 2.98 ERA, his ERA for the 1st inning is 5.91

    • pchuck69 - Sep 23, 2013 at 8:04 PM

      No. It’s the Adam Wainwright who has been abused by the Reds in his last two starts against them.

      Wainwright is absolutely beatable.

  2. natsfan1a - Sep 23, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    That is some ugly field there.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      If I didn’t know better, I’d think that was photoshopped. Gracious.

  3. natsfan1a - Sep 23, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    Oh, yeah. Go, Ro-ark! Go, NATS!!

  4. David Proctor - Sep 23, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    I hate this matchup for Roark. This will be by far the best opponent he’s faced. Interested to see how he fares though.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 23, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      “This will be by far the best opponent he’s faced.”

      All the more reason to have him pitching, perhaps?

  5. sportfandc - Sep 23, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    I think elimination can’t happen tonight. If we lose, and the others win, we’d be mathematically alive for a tie-breaker game.

    • snerdblurter - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:25 PM

      Wish that were the case.

      Nats loss + PIT win + CIN win = 6 games back with 5 to play = book your october tee times.

    • Section 222 - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      If we lose tonight and win all our remaining games we’ll have 89 wins. The Reds and Pirates already have 89 wins. If they win and we lose, we’ll be, officially, done.

  6. Section 222 - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    As we await the game, I thought folks might enjoy Joe Posnanski’s rant about the pointlessness of the error stat. It includes a long, humorous (though painful) recount of that terrible Sunday afternoon game in Kansas City:

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:19 PM

      Great writer on many topics; thanks.

  7. David Proctor - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    Manny Machado just destroyed his knee. It looked BAD. He had to be taken off on a stretcher. I don’t see any way he didn’t tear several ligaments.

  8. Baseballswami - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    You guys see what happened to Manny Machado?? Horrible probably knee injury. Knee just collapsed. Sickening. My heart goes out to him and his team.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 23, 2013 at 6:05 PM

      Just saw the replay; that hurt to watch.

  9. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 23, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    Rays just walked off the O’s on a James Loney PH HR in the bottom of the 9th.

    • nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 7:17 PM

      Faraz will tell us that the Orioles are better than the Nats because they play in the AL East. Nats are 3.0 ahead of the Orioles right now in the standings.

  10. letswin3 - Sep 23, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    Just wanted to take a minute to compliment both the team and the fans for how they showed their class last night. I’m sure that virtually all of them understand just how long the odds are relative to getting into the playoffs, but they celebrated that 9th inning walkoff like it was still April. It was the last home game of the season, and all responded with respect and pride……Werth tipping his cap to the crowd was something that I will remember as this team grows and provides even more memories. Thanks, guys. And thanks to that smallish crowd that sounded much bigger and indeed prideful.

  11. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 23, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    So let me see if I’ve got this right: We should be rooting for the Cubs to beat the Pirates in three straight games in Chicago? And for the Mets to sweep the Reds in Cincinnati? Then, when the Pirates and Reds meet for the last three games of the season, we root for whomever wins the first game to then sweep the series? All this while the Nats are winning six straight against the Cardinals and the Diamondbacks? Piece of cake.

    • nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 7:31 PM

      Yes, thats it.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 23, 2013 at 7:58 PM

      Problem: Someone forgot to tell the Mets about their role in this scenario.

  12. nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    Halladay just pulled after 3 batters. HUH?

    • nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 7:48 PM

      They are saying arm fatigue.

  13. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 23, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    Just saw Machado’s injury. Tough luck for the kid and the team. Hope he recovers quickly.

    Let’s remind Waino of first 3 innings of NLDS game 5.

  14. David Proctor - Sep 23, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    Matt Holliday scratched.

  15. nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    “Ghost of Steve M. – Sep 23, 2013 at 4:49 PM
    The way to beat an Ace is jump on them early and then pitch tow to toe with them and hope for the best.

    Good luck Tanner Roark!”

    Good idea!

  16. nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 8:30 PM


  17. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 23, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    Tough nugget for Manny… Here is to a speedy recovery…

    Beat the Cards, Nats!!!!

  18. nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    Big strike zone for Wainwright. Just be consistent.

  19. nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    Bryce rarely gets the chance to catch anything in the gap. He just got a chance and made it look easy. Nice!

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:14 PM

      Off the bat I thought it was going to be a double.

  20. nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    Laroche fails again in a big spot. Tough to watch.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:25 PM

      Would have been better to K.

  21. paul brandt - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    ALR is a joke!!!

    sit him!

    he’s awful with the bat…i just told my buddy, here comes a DP…he’s so predictable its sickening.

    Eugene is right, just miss on purpose for the K…would have been more productive.

  22. nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    Last mulitple RBI game for Laroche was August 13th where he knocked in 2.

  23. nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    Laroche fails to produce and now Nats in trouble.

  24. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    Mr. Roark showed some moxie that inning, esp. after that bloop single.

    • Manassas Nats Fan - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:42 PM

      Both RBI were bloop hits.

      Added together maybe 2/3 the length of the Nats RBI hitter.

  25. Manassas Nats Fan - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    I believe the biggest negative for the Nats team this year is how weak ALR is this year compared to last.

    Not sure why he is been much weaker, but he has been..

    • nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:45 PM

      It is certainly the mystery. It has been a season of several long slumps and a couple of long hot streaks. When you add up the whole season its just one big disappointment.

      • Manassas Nats Fan - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:59 PM

        I remember 1 semi long hitting streak. Certainly not 2 long ones.

      • Section 222 - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:02 PM

        I think it’s fair to say that Werth had a long hot streak. Zim too. Not technically hitting streaks, but still.

    • Hiram Hover - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      Not really that much of a mystery. Last year was a career year for him, and expecting him to repeat it was a mistake.

  26. nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    I hope Davey gets the bullpen up sooner than later.

    • nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:54 PM

      Yep, I had a bad feeling.

  27. nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    Yah, and thats why the people that were calling Roark better than Taylor Jordan were relying on small sample sizes. ERA jumps 70 points.

  28. Section 222 - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:56 PM

    That’s what we get for Johnny and Ray’s graphic before the game: Who’s Hot? – Span. Who’s Not? Beltran. I knew he’d hurt us when I saw that.

    • Manassas Nats Fan - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:01 PM

      Roark hurt us worse than Beltran.

      He was given a 2 run lead, which he couldnt keep and in fact he reversed it.

      The fact the hitters have done only a little since Werth’s homer, but he has done even less.

      Get on the ball.

      • Section 222 - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:03 PM

        Beltran hit a 2-run homer. I’d say he hurt us. As to whether the pitcher who gave up the homer hurt us more, I’ll pass on that philosophical discussion.

  29. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    I’ll let others do the comparisons, but I still give Mr. Roark a lot of credit for his contributions to the Nats’ stretch run. He came out of nowhere (to me, at least) and gave them good innings in some important games.

    • nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:27 PM

      Yes he did however he wasnt a Ace like some were calling him. One person said he was better than Strasburg.

  30. Section 222 - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    Silver lining of Roark potentially losing this game — we won’t have a whole off season of people pointing to his 7-0 or 8-0 record as evidence that he did well this year. Look at ERA, WHIP, or any other advance stat, but not W-L record, especially when four of the wins came as a reliever.

  31. paul brandt - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:27 PM

    why is ALR still allowed to flail away like that, he is just awful!!!

    thanks Davey!

    • nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:33 PM

      Wow, Mets work around a leadoff double by Choo and then he stole 3rd with no outs.

    • Manassas Nats Fan - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:04 PM

      Because he is not disciplined enough.

  32. Theo - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:32 PM

    For the second time in a week, we are going to lose because Davey was too patient with a long reliever turned starter (79 pitches entering the 5th and he gives up a single=take him out). There’s your difference between 5 and 3 GB.

    • paul brandt - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:36 PM

      theo, well said, so true!

      Davey’s too busy booking his Bora Bora trip…so frustrating.

  33. NatsLady - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:54 PM

    Pirates and Reds both won. We lose this game we are done.

    • breakbad1 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:02 PM

      St Louis puts us out for second year in a row.

      4 words describe the 2012 Nats: Too little, too late.

  34. nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    Laroche can either extend the season or not here. Ironic to be in his hands.

    • nats128 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:01 PM

      The answer is NOT.

  35. Manassas Nats Fan - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:02 PM

    For being a fastball hitter Desmond sure strikes out against fast balls a lot. 142.

    For first pitch hitter that is a whole a lot.

    He needs to work in the off season on swinging and missing less.

  36. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    Well, that was anti-climatic.

  37. breakbad1 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    I watched the Werth homer on replay. FP was saying how gassed Wainwright was, in the first inning, based on his last start in sky-high Colorado.

    Then Wainwright throws like 110 pitches and dominates us!

    Beware our own TV crew. They are 95 percent BS.

  38. breakbad1 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:07 PM

    Ray Knight just said he’s going to go out on a limb and say the Nats will win the division next year. Talk about empty airtime! What the hell does that comment mean on 23 Sep 2013? NOTHING. What reason does he give that we would beat Atlanta in 2013? NONE.

    Like I said, beware of our own TV crew. They are 95 percent pure BS.

  39. depotmaster - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    Thank you, Washington Nationals, for a great season, filled with special memories and proud moments. Glad to have quality baseball in Washington, and looking forward to next year with a new manager (Cal Ripken, anyone?) and a fresh start!

    Thank you, Davey Johnson, for teaching young guys how to win.

    Thank you, Dan Haren, for having a year where your arm may have let up but your heart never did.

    Thank you, Ian Desmond, for always being the gracious, fan friendly person you are, and showing people that consistent hard work, humility and effort pay off.

    I could go on and on, and may at a later date, but it’s not like last year was for me where I wandered around aimlessly when they lost Game 5. Now it’s time to see if we can help return the favor to St Louis and start their winter vacation early.





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)...

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