Sep 28, 2013, 4:43 PM EDT
PHOENIX — By no stretch of the imagination was Dan Haren’s first season with the Nationals a success. Which is why there’s virtually no chance Haren will have a second season with the Nationals. Give the veteran right-hander credit, though. He never made any excuses for his poor performance. And he battled his way back to pitch very respectably after the All-Star break.
Tonight, Haren will get one final chance to leave a positive impression on the Nationals and their fans, getting the start in Game 161 against one of his former clubs: the Diamondbacks. Haren has had plenty of success inside this ballpark, owning a 23-14 record and 3.39 ERA in 44 career starts at Chase Field. Arizona counters with Brandon McCarthy, who in his first season with the D’backs struggled to an 5-10 record and 4.64 ERA.
And, of course, the real story tonight is whether the Nats can win and ensure Davey Johnson finishes his managerial career at least 300 games over the .500 mark. If it happens, I fully expect Davey to jump into the pool behind the right-field fence. With champagne bottles in both hands.
Updates to come, so please come back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Where: Chase Field
Gametime: 8:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Sunny, 90 degrees, Wind 2 mph in from LF
CF Denard Span
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
LF Bryce Harper
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
1B Chad Tracy
2B Steve Lombardozzi
RHP Dan Haren
CF Adam Eaton
RF Gerardo Parra
1B Paul Goldschmidt
LF Martin Prado
C Miguel Montero
3B Matt Davidson
2B Chris Owings
SS Didi Gregorius
RHP Brandon McCarthy
HP Wally Bell
1B Tripp Gibson
2B Tim McClelland (cc)
3B Marty Foster
8:11 p.m. — We are underway on another gorgeous night in the Valley of Sun. It’s 85 degrees and the roof and panels here are open.
8:23 p.m. — A 1-2-3 top of the first for Brandon McCarthy. Dan Haren wasn’t quite as fortunate, allowing a bloop single to Paul Goldschmidt in the bottom of the inning. But Haren otherwise was strong, striking out Adam Eaten during a scoreless first frame.
8:41 p.m. — A little bit of trouble for Haren in the bottom of the second, which included a two-out double by Chris Owings and a subsequent walk to Didi Gregorius. But Haren took care of business and struck out McCarthy to end that inning with no damage done. The Nats, meanwhile, are still looking for their first baserunner of the night as we move to the third inning.
9:25 p.m. — Sorry for the lack of updates. I was down in the stands the last couple innings with family. But this remains a scoreless game through five, with both McCarthy and Haren cruising along with minimal resistance from either lineup. Nice little pitcher’s duel going on here as we move to the sixth.
9:36 p.m. — But just like that, the Nats take a 1-0 lead. Denard Span led off the top of the sixth with a triple, his 11th of the season. And moments later, he scored on Ryan Zimmerman’s grounder, putting the Nats on top. Span currently leads the majors in triples, and if he can finish it off he’d become the first D.C.-based player ever to do that. Pretty cool.
9:49 p.m. — Make it 2-0 as Chad Tracy continues to take advantage of his rare opportunity to start. Tracy launched a deep flyball in the third, singled in the fifth and just now crushed a homer into the pool. So now Haren has a 2-run lead to work with as he takes the mound for the bottom of the seventh, sitting on 87 pitches.
9:57 p.m. — What a finish for Haren: Seven scoreless innings. This season may not have gone as hoped — if the Nats hold this lead, he’ll finish 10-14 with a 4.67 ERA in 30 starts — but props to Dan for finishing strong. He went 6-3 with a 3.14 ERA over his last 12 starts and capped it off with a stellar performance tonight.
10:11 p.m. — A 1-2-3 eighth for Drew Storen, who continues to pitch well down the stretch. So it remains 2-0 as we go to the ninth, and the Nats are now three outs from ensuring Davey Johnson finishes his career 300 games over the .500 mark. You can literally cut the tension with a knife here at Chase Field.
10:35 p.m. — There it is! The Nats win 2-0 as Rafael Soriano puts two on in scoring position but wriggles out of the jam to ensure Davey will finish his career at least 300 games over .500! Remember where you are, so you’ll remember where you were!
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
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)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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