Apr 17, 2014, 3:06 PM EST
Coming off a series win over the Miami Marlins, the Nationals now return home for an 11-game homestand beginning with four against the defending NL champion St. Louis Cardinals. Adam Wainwright (2-1, 2.25) will pitch the first game with Michael Wacha set for Game 2. Needless to say, the Nationals’ makeshift lineup will have its work cut out for them over the next two nights.
Wainwright enters today with 12 career starts against the Nationals. He is 6-3 all time against Washington with a 3.17 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings. He faced the Nats twice in 2013, allowing three earned runs across 15 1/3 innings.
Taylor Jordan (0-1, 4.76) will pitch for the Nationals as he tries to bounce back from an ugly outing down in Atlanta on April 12. Jordan gave up five earned runs in five innings, including four in the first inning alone. He has never faced the Cardinals before.
Stay tuned for updates throughout the game…
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS VS. WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB Network, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, XM 869, MLB.com
3B Anthony Rendon
LF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Nate McLouth
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Taylor Jordan
3B Matt Carpenter
2B Kolten Wong
LF Matt Holliday
1B Matt Adams
C Yadier Molina
RF Allen Craig
SS Jhonny Peralta
CF Jon Jay
RHP Adam Wainwright
HP Bill Miller (cc)
1B Vic Carapazza
2B Adam Hamari
3B Greg Gibson
7:06 p.m. — Mark here, just in time for Taylor Jordan’s first pitch of the night to Matt Carpenter. It’s an October-like 49 degrees right now, with the wind blowing in from right field.
7:21 p.m. — Not the way the Nats wanted this one to start. Though it’s been the way too many games have started this season. The Cardinals scored three runs in the top of the first, one of them unearned because of Ian Desmond’s sixth error in 16 games. Jordan also misplayed a bunt, though it was scored a hit. Matt Holliday’s double and Yadier Molina’s RBI single brought the runs home. This is, incredibly, already the seventh time this season the Nats have given up at least three runs in the game’s first three innings. That’s just not something that can continue to happen on a regular basis. 3-0 St. Louis as we go to the bottom of the first.
7:36 p.m. — Jordan settled himself down in the second, pitching around a leadoff single by Jon Jay to otherwise keep the Cards off the bases. He has retired five of the last six batters he has faced. But obviously he has almost zero margin for mistake now, unless his teammates suddenly put a pounding on Adam Wainwright, who mowed down the top of the Nats’ order in the bottom of the first.
7:50 p.m. — The good news: The Nats loaded the bases in the bottom of the second. The bad news: That brought Jordan to the plate with two outs. Tough to ask him to deliver in that spot. So it remains 3-0 after two.
8:19 p.m. — And the “transfer” rule strikes again. Espinosa appeared to cleanly catch Desmond’s feed on a double-play attempt, pulled the ball out of his glove and raised his right arm up to throw to first base … when the ball fell out. For the last 100 years, that was an out and nobody would have questioned the call for even a fraction of a second. But MLB this season decided to enforce that rule, insisting the catch is not complete until the fielder has gone through the entire act of throwing the ball. MLB has made plenty of bad decisions over the years, but this one ranks right near the top. There isn’t anybody in the game who is happy about this right now. Certainly not the Nats, who now trail 4-0 because of it.
8:41 p.m. — Wainwright, meanwhile, is looking like a man on a mission tonight. He has allowed only one of the last 13 batters he has faced reach base safely. And that came on an intentional walk. So, yeah, he’s dialed in right now. Still 4-0 after five.
9:05 p.m. — And the wheels have officially fallen off. It’s 7-0 Cards after a disastrous top of the sixth that saw Jordan hit Jay, allow an infield single to Wainwright when Desmond couldn’t pull the trigger on a fairly routine throw from deep shortstop and then a sequence involving Blake Treinen and Jose Lobaton that could only be described as a “goat rodeo.” Good lord, this one has been ugly.
9:23 p.m. — Make it 8-0 after another run allowed by Treinen in the seventh. Truth be told, it could be more, but Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo is doing his best not to run up the score right now, holding every runner at third base for fear of looking like he’s trying to rub it in. Yeah, that’s the way this one is going.
9:29 p.m. — It it fairly remarkable how Wainwright seizes complete control of a ballgame. It’s like the moment his teammates gave him a comfortable lead, he said: “OK, boys. I’ll take it from here.” He has been lights-out since, allowing only one hit (Desmond’s infield chopper) through seven scoreless innings.
9:40 p.m. — Hey, it’s another Nats error! This time Werth completely missed a lopping liner to his right. He might have lost it in the lights. Even so, it was just another ugly moment in a game full of them. Get this: The Nats have now committed 20 errors in 16 games this season. I’m pretty sure even the 2008-09 Nats never did that.
10:10 p.m. — Wainwright just doubled to deep left to open the top of the ninth. He arguably has had five productive plate appearances tonight. Which is about three more than the entire Nats lineup has against him. Still 8-0 as we go to the bottom of the ninth and Wainwright goes for the 1-hit shutout.
10:16 p.m. — And that will wrap up the ugliest game of the year. Possibly the ugliest game in Nats history. Which is really saying something. Final: 8-0 as Wainwright throws a 2-hitter. Will be curious what Matt Williams has to say after this one.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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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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