Sep 27, 2013, 6:12 PM EST
PHOENIX — Hello from the not-so-hot Valley of the Sun, where tonight it’s only going to be 82 degrees for first pitch of the Nationals’ final series of the year against the Diamondbacks. They’re planning to keep the roof open here at Chase Field, a rare event around here this time of the year.
Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for his final start of the season. At 7-9, he can’t finish with a .500 record, but he can get his ERA down to 3.00 or lower if he pitches at least seven innings and allows two or fewer earned runs. He also has an extremely outside shot at reaching the 200-strikeout plateau if he can notch 13 punchouts tonight.
Left-hander Patrick Corbin starts for Arizona, which has maintained a winning record the entire season but now must sweep this series to finish at least 82-80. So that’s the D’backs’ motivation for this weekend.
Updates to come, so please check back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Where: Chase Field
Gametime: 9:40 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 188
Weather: Clear, 82 degrees, Wind 4 mph LF to RF
LF Jeff Kobernus
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
CF Bryce Harper
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
1B Tyler Moore
2B Anthony Rendon
RHP Stephen Strasburg
LF Adam Eaton
RF Gerardo Parra
1B Paul Goldschmidt
3B Martin Prado
2B Aaron Hill
C Miguel Montero
CF A.J. Pollack
SS Didi Gregorius
LHP Patrick Corbin
HP Marty Foster
1B Wally Bell
2B Tripp Gibson
3B Tim McClelland (cc)
9:40 p.m. — We are underway. Gorgeous night here, with the roof and the outfield panels open.
9:46 p.m. — Not much happening in the top of the first. Jayson Werth sent a two-out single to right, but Patrick Corbin retired the other three, including Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper on strikes. Here’s Stephen Strasburg taking the mound for his final start of the year.
9:53 p.m. — Wow, what a bottom of the first for Zim. He made probably his best play of the season to rob Adam Eaton of extra bases, including a perfect, laser throw across the diamond. Then he made another nifty play and pinpoint throw on Paul Goldschmidt’s chopper to end the inning. Further evidence that Zimmerman has overcome his early season throwing woes and giving less reason to believe he will be playing anything other than third base in 2014.
10:06 p.m. — Man, it doesn’t matter what uniform Martin Prado wears, he just wears out Nats pitching. The former Brave led off the bottom of the second with a drive to right-center for a double, putting Strasburg in a jam. The right-hander, though, battled and prevented Prado from advancing beyond second base with a groundball and a pair of flyballs. So it remains scoreless after two.
10:32 p.m. — Not a good bottom of the third for Strasburg, mostly of his doing. It’s never good when you walk the No. 8 hitter to begin an inning. It’s even worse when you then plunk the opposing pitcher with a 1-2 curveball when he’s trying to bunt. That put Strasburg in a jam, and he couldn’t entirely get out of it unscathed. Gerardo Parra’s bases-loaded single brought one run home. Paul Goldschmidt’s double-play grounder brought home another. It’s 2-0 D’backs after three.
10:43 p.m. — The good news: Bryce Harper roped a 413-foot laser of an opposite-field double to score Jayson Werth in the top of the fourth. The bad news: Both Harper and Ian Desmod inexplicably ran themselves into outs on the bases. Harper got thrown out trying to take third base on Desmond’s strikeout/wild pitch. Moments later, Desmond broke too soon for second base on a steal attempt and was picked off. That cost the Nats a shot at a big inning. Instead, they trail 2-1 as we go to the bottom of the fourth.
11:09 p.m. — Nothing but positive developments in the top of the fifth for the Nats. Tyler Moore led off with a double, making him 20-for-55 (.364) since he returned to the big leagues in mid-August. Anthony Rendon then followed with his own double, scoring Moore and tying this game up. Kobernus then drew a walk and Jayson Werth launched a towering, three-run homer to left that nearly reached the TGI Friday’s way up there. Just an absolute bomb for Werth’s 25th homer of the season. It’s 5-2 Nats and Corbin has been knocked out of the game after five innings.
11:25 p.m. — Serious question: If Matt Williams becomes the Nats’ next manager, will the Diamondbacks still keep the giant racing version of him? Or would they be willing to trade giant Matty to the Nationals in exchange for a president to be named later?
11:32 p.m. — It hasn’t always been pretty, but Strasburg is through six innings of two-run ball. Interesting call for Davey here in the top of the seventh, with his pitcher due up second. Still 5-2 Nats.
11:40 p.m. — There’s your answer: Strasburg got to hit for himself, so he’ll take the mound for the bottom of the seventh. If he can complete this inning without allowing a run, his ERA will sit exactly at 3.00.
11:47 p.m. — And another 1-2-3 inning for Strasburg, who has completed seven innings of two-run ball and lowered his ERA to 3.00. He’s cruising, but he’s at 101 pitches, and Tyler Clippard is warming, so that appears to be it for his season. He’s in line for his eighth win, the Nats still leading 5-2.
12:04 a.m. — Wow, 3-run bomb for Wilson Ramos, turning this one into a rout. That’s Ramos’ 16th homer of the season. If he avoided the DL, the Nats would’ve wound up with six 20-homer hitters in their lineup. They now lead 8-2 in the eighth as Clippard enters.
12:24 a.m. — To the bottom of the ninth we go, with Fernado Abad entering and hoping to preserve an 8-2 Nats lead.
12:37 a.m. — And that will do it. Abad made it far too interesting in the ninth, giving up two runs and forcing Davey to summon Xavier Cedeno to close out an 8-4 victory, the Nats’ 85th of the season. Strasburg finishes 8-9 with a 3.00 ERA in 30 starts. He’s only the seventh pitcher in MLB history to make 30 starts, post a 3.00 ERA and win 8 or fewer games. There are a couple of interesting other names on that list: Clayton Kershaw and Nolan Ryan.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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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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