Sep 25, 2013, 12:24 PM EDT
ST. LOUIS — Let’s see … the Nationals arrived in St. Louis on Monday having not beaten the Cardinals since Jayson Werth’s walk-off homer in Game 4 of last fall’s NLDS. Then they lost their series opener to officially be eliminated from the pennant race. Then they came within a couple of inches of being no-hit by Michael Wacha. It hasn’t been a particularly pleasant 48 hours here for the Nats, has it?
No, but perhaps they can get out of town on a high note this afternoon. If they do, they may just secure Jordan Zimmermann’s 20th win in the process. The right-hander, who already knows he’ll finish as the league leader in victories regardless, has tried to downplay the significance of this potential milestone. Make no mistake, though, he wants it.
Of course, the Nationals also will need to score some runs against rookie Shelby Miller, no slouch himself. The 22-year-old comes into this start with a 14-9 record and 3.12 ERA over 30 starts.
Updates to come, please check back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Where: Busch Stadium
Gametime: 1:45 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 184
Weather: Partly cloudy, 77 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 Steve Lombardozzi
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
2B Matt Carpenter
RF Carlos Beltran
LF Matt Holliday
1B Matt Adams
C Yadier Molina
CF Jon Jay
3B David Freese
SS Daniel Descalso
RHP Shelby Miller
HP Jeff Kellogg (cc)
1B Eric Cooper
2B Chad Fairchild
3B Paul Schreiber
1:46 p.m. — We are underway on a Wednesday afternoon in St. Louis. Shelby Miller starts off Denard Span with a fastball for ball one.
2:04 p.m. — And the Nats give Jordan Zimmermann an early 1-0 lead, though it could’ve been more. Span drew a leadoff walk and stole second base (his 20th of the season), then took third on Ryan Zimmerman’s squibber in front of the plate. Jayson Werth also drew a walk, setting the stage for Bryce Harper to loft a bloop single to shallow left field, just in front of Matt Holliday’s diving attempt. Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche nearly dropped base hits in, too, but those were hauled in by Jon Jay. So it’s 1-0 Nats as Zimmermann takes the mound.
2:10 p.m. — And a 1-2-3 bottom of the first for Zimmermann, who needed only 13 pitches to dispose of Matt Carpenter, Carlos Beltran and Holliday. Nice catch by Span, who jumped at the base of the wall in center to snag Beltran’s drive for the second out. 1-0 Nats after one.
2:25 p.m. — Desmond just committed a highly irregular throwing error in the bottom of the second, airmailing the most routine throw he’ll ever get into the Cardinals dugout. That, along with a broken-bat single, left Zimmermann facing his first jam of the day, with two on and one out. But the righty got David Freese to ground into a 6-4-3 double play, so that bailed out Desmond and ended the second inning with the Nats still leading 1-0.
2:42 p.m. — Daniel Descalso, one of those pesky Cardinals who caused so much damage last October, led off the bottom of the third with a double to right-center, and ultimately came around to score. So it’s a 1-1 game after three.
3:03 p.m. — And the Cardinals keep pecking away at Zimmermann. Holliday led off the fourth getting hit by a pitch. Adams then doubled down the left-field line and Molina drove both in with a groundball single up the middle. It’s 3-1 St. Louis after four, with the Nats lineup now needing to get something going against Miller.
3:15 p.m. — Zimmermann rebounded with a 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth, but the Nats still haven’t gotten much going against Miller, who has scattered three hits and two walks over his five innings. Heart of the order due up in the top of the sixth, trying to get the Nats going, still down 3-1.
3:20 p.m. — Not happening for the Nats in the sixth. They’ve scored only one run over the last 23 innings against Cardinals pitching.
3:31 p.m. — And Zimmermann’s struggles against the Cards continue. Adams launched a homer in the bottom of the sixth, the fourth St. Louis run to cross the plate so far today. There’s just something about this lineup that gets to Jordan. Nats trail 4-1 after six.
3:41 p.m. — The good news: The Nats got Miller out of the game. The bad news: Seth Maness entered and immediately induced a double play out of Ramos. We’ve reached the seventh-inning stretch and the Nats still trail 4-1.
3:49 p.m. — Zimmermann’s season is over. Unless the Nats rally late, he’ll finish the year 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA.
4:02 p.m. — And now the Nats are down to their last three outs. They just can’t do anything offensively against the St. Louis pitching staff.
4:08 p.m. — Last chance. Harper, Desmond, LaRoche vs. Trevor Rosenthal in the ninth.
4:13 p.m. — That’s it. The Nats lose 4-1, they get swept in this series and swept for the season against the Cardinals.
NL EAST STANDINGS
x-Clinched division title
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule
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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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WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
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SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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