Apr 4, 2014, 11:56 AM EDT
After sweeping the New York Mets to begin the 2014 season, things are about to heat up here in Washington for the Nationals. The Atlanta Braves are in town for the first installment of what should be a season-long battle for the National League East division title.
Last season the Braves took 13 of the teams’ 19 meetings and won the division with a 96-66 record. Atlanta was 12-1 in their first 13 games overall and never looked back after their hot start. The Nationals have won each of their first three games and can build an early lead in this year’s division race.
Today Jordan Zimmermann will be back on the mound after missing Thursday’s start with flu-like symptoms. Here is our pregame story for more on that.
Zimmermann has a good history against the Braves. He’s 3-1 with a 3.12 ERA in seven starts against them, and last year gave up just two earned runs in two starts (1.50 ERA).
The forecast is looking a little cloudy, but no rain is expected. Should be a great day for baseball in the Nation’s Capital.
Updates to come, so please check back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. ATLANTA BRAVES
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, Ch. 9, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, 1580 AM, XM 183, MLB.com
Weather: Cloudy, 57 degrees, Wind 8 mph in from LF
CF Denard Span
2B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Bryce Harper
SS Ian Desmond
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
RF Jason Heyward
CF B.J. Upton
1B Freddie Freeman
3B Chris Johnson
LF Justin Upton
2B Dan Uggla
C Evan Gattis
SS Andrelton Simmons
RHP David Hale
1:15 p.m. — Well, that was quick. Zimmermann retired the Braves 1-2-3 in the first, showing no signs of the flu-like symptoms that kept him out of yesterday’s game. Heyward flew out to left field, Upton struck out swinging (surprise), and Freeman popped out to Desmond. Zimmermann needed only 10 pitches, seven of them strikes.
1:24 p.m. — The Nats got one man on thanks to a Werth single to right-center with two outs, but LaRoche struck out swinging to end the inning. We’re still scoreless with the second inning up next. Hale threw 10 pitches with nine of them strikes.
1:32 p.m. — Uggla got a single off Zimmermann who is otherwise off to a very good start. He’s thrown 23 pitches (17 strikes) through two and has three strikeouts. In the top of the seventh he got Justin Upton out swinging on a 95 mph heater right down the middle.
1:42 p.m. — Two more hits for the Nationals, but no runs in the bottom of the second. Harper reached base on a one-out single and Desmond later singled after Harper was caught stealing second. Hale is looking good so far with 25 pitches, 19 of them strikes.
1:55 p.m. — The Braves got one man on as Zimmermann plunked Heyward in the ankle with a pitch. That was it, though, as Jordan is cruising through three innings at 39 pitches.
2:02 p.m. — Nothing going for the Nationals in the bottom of the third who went down in order. It’s only three innings, but Hale is looking strong. He’s thrown 44 pitches and is dealing a lot of strikes.
2:16 p.m. — Freeman led off with a single to right field, but that was it for the Braves. Zimmermann has thrown 60 pitches, 43 strikes as we’re on to the bottom of the fourth knotted at 0-0.
2:27 p.m. — The Nats got their first really good chance at scoring in the bottom of the fourth. LaRoche walked with one out and Zimmerman doubled off the left field wall right after. LaRoche was sent home all the way from third, however, and a relay from Upton to Simmons easily set up a tag at home. Bob Henley, the Nats’ third base coach, would probably want that back if given the choice. Hale is at 64 (43).
2:40 p.m. — The Braves finally broke the scoreless tie on a crushed homer by Gattis on the second pitch of the inning. He blasted a 92 mph fastball over the bullpen in left field. Zimmermann also gave up a single to Simmons and walked Heyward, but was able to escape with just one run allowed. All in all, it could have been worse. Zimmermann’s at 81 pitches and Craig Stammen is warming up in the bullpen.
2:55 p.m. — The bottom of the fifth was an interesting one. Desmond led off with what appeared to be an inside the park home run, as Justin Upton couldn’t find the ball in the left field corner. He threw his arms up to lobby for a ground rule double as Desmond rounded the bases and reached home. Fredi Gonzalez challenged the play and had it overturned. Desmond went back to second and was caught trying to steal third. Hale got of the inning and it’s still 1-0 Braves. Hale has thrown 73 pitches (48 strikes).
3:04 p.m. — Stammen allowed a double to Johnson, but no runs. It’s still 1-0 Braves as Gus Schlosser has replaced Hale on the mound.
3:16 p.m. — The Nats got back on the board thanks to a Zimmerman sac fly to bring Rendon home from third. Rendon led off with a single, reached second on a wild pitch, and then went to third on a LaRoche infield groundball. 1-1 is the score now.
3:19 p.m. — Stammen set the Braves down 1-2-3 and we’re on to the bottom of the seventh inning.
3:32 p.m. — The Nationals couldn’t cash in on a Lobaton double to right field and now Tyler Clippard will jog out to start the eighth.
3:49 p.m. — The Braves are back on top after Heyward led off with a walk and later scored on a Johnson sac fly to right. It’s Rendon, Werth and LaRoche up next in the bottom of the eighth.
4:02 p.m. — The Nats had a good chance to tie the game against reliever David Carpenter, but couldn’t seal the deal. Rendon singled to lead off and Werth joined him on base with a walk. LaRoche, Zim and Harper all then struck out to end the inning. The Nats will have Aaron Barrett pitch the ninth before they trot Desmond, Lobaton and a pinch-hitter out to face Craig Kimbrel.
4:06 p.m. — Barrett came in and pitched a clean inning, striking out Uggla and Gattis, and getting Simmons to fly out to deep center. Kimbrel running out for the bottom of the ninth.
4:15 p.m. — Frandsen pops out and this one’s over. Kimbrel gets another save against the Nats. Braves win 2-1, Desmond replay looms large.
NL EAST STANDINGS
x-Clinched division title
WED: Nats at Braves, 7:10 p.m.
THU: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
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.
Full season schedule
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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