Sep 29, 2013, 1:19 PM EDT
PHOENIX — And so we have reached the end of the road. A long, often frustrating, still entertaining season will conclude today here at Chase Field, with the Nationals falling short of their lofty expectations but still finishing with either 86 or 87 wins, hardly a terrible record by any stretch of the imagination.
The story today, though, is Davey Johnson, who manages the 2,443rd — and final — game of his big-league career. It’s been an emotional week for the 70-year-old, beginning with last Sunday’s tribute before the home finale at Nationals Park and continuing throughout this final road trip. Today, Davey will sit back, reflect and enjoy the show before heading off into the sunset.
With nothing at stake in this game, Johnson is fielding a lineup almost entirely of backups. Tanner Roark gets the start instead of Gio Gonzalez, and a host of other young guys will get a chance to play after spending much of the last month on the bench.
No matter who plays, I’ll have updates throughout right here, and plenty of postgame coverage from the final game of a one-of-a-kind skipper…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Where: Chase Field
Gametime: 4:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 188
Weather: Roof closed
LF Jeff Kobernus
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Scott Hairston
1B Tyler Moore
SS Zach Walters
2B Steve Lombardozzi
C Jhonatan Solano
CF Eury Perez
RHP Tanner Roark
SS Willie Bloomquist
LF Adam Eaton
1B Paul Goldschmidt
3B Martin Prado
2B Aaron Hill
CF A.J. Pollack
RF Gerardo Parra
C Tuffy Gosewisch
LHP Wade Miley
HP Tripp Gibson
1B Tim McClelland (cc)
2B Marty Foster
3B Wally Bell
4:10 p.m. — And we’re underway with a strike from Wade Miley to Jeff Kobernus. The D’backs took a moment to recognize Davey Johnson shortly before first pitch. He waved to the crowd and then did a little shimmy back into the dugout.
4:16 p.m. — A couple of base hits for the Nats in the top of the first via Anthony Rendon and Tyler Moore. Zach Walters then gave one a ride to deep right-center but just missed reaching the pool for his first career homer. Gerardo Parra hauled it in at the fence, so the Nats are held scoreless in the inning.
4:24 p.m. — A rough start to the afternoon for Tanner Roark. He allowed a leadoff single, then uncorked a ghastly throw in the general vicinity of first base for a really ugly error. That ultimately allowed Willie Bloomquist to score on Paul Goldschmidt’s sac fly to center. So it’s 1-0 D’backs after one.
4:40 p.m. — Roark settled down in the second, getting three groundballs, including one off the bat off the one and only Tuffy Gosewisch (who just so happens to be a fellow alum of Horizon High School, slightly ahead on the list of yours truly). Still 1-0 Arizona after two.
4:56 p.m. — Make it nine in a row retired by Roark since that ragged start to his afternoon. The Nats, meanwhile, have put five men on base in three innings against Miley but have advanced only one of them past first base. We go to the fourth.
5:12 p.m. — This one continues to progress along, both pitchers in a groove. It remains a 1-0 D’backs lead as we move to the fifth.
5:18 p.m. — Roark may be able to swing the bat (he singled up the middle to lead off the fifth) but he could still use a little work in the baserunning department. He got doubled off second base easily after Adam Eaton snagged Anthony Rendon’s line drive to deep left. The Nats have six hits and eight baserunners so far tonight, but still zero runs.
5:38 p.m. — And the Nats take the lead in the top of the sixth, finally delivering with men on base. They did get some help from the Diamondbacks defense, which was charged with two errors in the inning (though you could certainly make the case either could have been scored a hit). The second error, by right fielder Gerardo Parra, brought home Tyler Moore. Steve Lombardozzi then drilled a single to left to bring home the second run, giving the Nats a 2-1 lead in the middle of the sixth.
5:47 p.m. — Tanner Roark, ladies and gentlemen. He’s now through six innings of 1-run, 2-hit ball, and he’s only thrown 69 pitches. What a pleasantly unexpected rookie season for the right-hander. He has now put only 47 men on base in 52 2/3 big-league innings. That’s pretty remarkable.
6:10 p.m. — Wow, Roark gets into a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the seventh and pitches his way out of it. He struck out my man Tuffy looking at a fastball, then got Wil (Who?) Nieves to ground out to end the inning and preserve the 2-1 lead. That fired up the Nats dugout, which greeted Tanner with high-fives and back slaps as he arrived at the dugout. Nice job.
6:16 p.m. — Ryan Mattheus in for the eighth, so that’s it for Roark. If the Nats can hold this 2-1 lead, he’ll finish 8-1 with a 1.51 ERA. Not bad at all.
6:33 p.m. — Well, so much for that. Mattheus gave up four hits in the bottom of the eighth and that prevents Roark from getting the win and leaves the Nats in a 3-2 hole and down to their last three outs. Davey made one final trip to the mound, one he would have preferred not to make.
6:40 p.m. — That’s a wrap. The Nats lose the finale, 3-2. They finish 86-76, four games behind the Reds for the final spot in the playoffs. And Davey Johnson finishes his career 1,372-1,071, only the 15th manager in MLB history at least 300 games over the .500 mark.
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