Apr 18, 2014, 3:17 PM EST
Matt Williams wanted his players to be upset about last night’s debacle, but he also wanted them to leave it behind when they left the ballpark and return today committed to playing better ball. We’ll find out how they respond in a few hours.
Williams is going with the same lineup that managed only two hits off Adam Wainwright, hoping it can have more success against Michael Wacha. Wacha, you’ll remember, nearly no-hit the Nationals last September, losing his bid on Ryan Zimmerman’s infield chopper with two outs in the ninth.
Gio Gonzalez gets the start for D.C., which made a tweak to its bullpen. Blake Treinen, who threw 58 pitches in relief last night, was optioned back to Class AAA, with Xavier Cedeno recalled. Cedeno thus becomes the third left-hander in the Nationals’ bullpen for the moment, with Jerry Blevins and Ross Detwiler. (For those wondering: Aaron Barrett isn’t eligible to be recalled until Tuesday, 10 days after he was sent down in exchange for Treinen.)
Updates to come…
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183, MLB.com
Weather: Cloudy, 56 degrees, Wind 5 mph RF to LF
3B Anthony Rendon
LF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Nate McLouth
C Jose Lobaton
LHP Gio Gonzalez
3B Matt Carpenter
SS Jhonny Peralta
LF Matt Holliday
1B Allen Craig
C Yadier Molina
2B Mark Ellis
RF Shane Robinson
CF Peter Bourjos
RHP Michael Wacha
HP Vic Carapazza
1B Adam Hamari
2B Greg Gibson
3B Bill Miller (cc)
7:07 p.m. — And we’re underway on another unseasonable chilly evening in the District. Fifty degrees as Gio Gonzalez delivers his first pitch to Matt Carpenter.
7:16 p.m. — A little bit of a shaky top of the first for Gio, but he got through it unscathed. A one-out walk to Jhonny Peralta and a two-out single by Allen Craig put the Cardinals in position to take an early lead again. But Gonzalez struck out Matt Holliday on a 94-mph fastball up and away, then managed to barely keep Yadier Molina in the park, with Bryce Harper tracking the ball down at the warning track.
7:22 p.m. — An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the first from Michael Wacha, who blew away Harper with a high 96 mph fastball. Scoreless after one.
7:35 p.m. — OK, there will be no no-hit bid by Wacha tonight. Danny Espinosa beat out a bunt with two outs in the bottom of the second, ending that potential drama. Still, Wacha has now allowed only two hits in 11 career innings against the Nats: Ryan Zimmerman’s infield chopper last September and Espinosa’s bunt just now. Still 0-0 after two.
7:43 p.m. — Gio seems to be finding a groove now. He has retired seven in a row and struck out a pair in the top of the third, getting Carpenter to whiff at a beautifully placed 93 mph heater on the outside corner. Forty-five pitches for Gonzalez through three scoreless.
7:52 p.m. — Well, the Nats finally have a “real” hit off Wacha. And a run. Anthony Rendon pounced on a first-pitch curveball in the bottom of the third, launching his third homer of the season and giving the Nats a 1-0 lead.
8:05 p.m. — Gonzalez gave the run right back in the top of the fourth, but it could’ve been worse. After allowing three straight hits to Allen Craig, Yadier Molina and Mark Ellis, Gio wriggled his way out of the jam by striking out Shane Robinson and Peter Bourjos in succession. That’s five K’s now for him in four innings, most on his fastball. 1-1 game, middle of the fourth.
8:26 p.m. — Still 1-1 after five, with both pitchers in control right now. Wacha hasn’t allowed anything since Harper’s single in the third. Gonzalez has retired five straight since Ellis’ RBI single, four via strikeout.
8:35 p.m. — Meanwhile, Denard Span went 1-for-2 with a walk and played three innings in center field tonight at Hagerstown. Assuming all went well, he will come off the DL tomorrow and return to the lineup.
8:45 p.m. — Gio continues to cruise. He has retired 11 in a row and is through the seventh on 101 pitches. At this point, there’s no movement in the Nats’ bullpen, so it looks like he’ll be back out there for the eighth. Stretch time now, the game still knotted 1-1.
8:58 p.m. — Well, that’s one way to rally to take the lead. The Nats loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the seventh, then saw McLouth strike out and Lobaton tap a little dribbler in front of the plate. That left it up to pinch-hitter Zach Walters to deliver. Except Walters didn’t need to, because two runs scored on Wacha’s wild pitch and Molina’s wild throw to the plate. So that’s three errors for the Cards tonight. Hey, how come they can’t ever handle the pressure playing the Nationals?????!!!!! 3-1 Nats now as Tyler Clippard enters for the eighth.
9:23 p.m. — Wow, high drama in the top of the eighth. Clippard needed 26 pitches(?!) to face only three batters, retiring only one. So Drew Storen had to come in and get out of the jam, which he did on only five pitches. Impressive. It remains 3-1 as we go to the bottom of the eighth.
9:29 p.m. — OK, here we go. It’s Rafael Soriano vs. Molina, Ellis and Robinson in the ninth. You could certainly argue for Storen to have stayed in, considering he only needed five pitches to get out of the eighth. We’ll see.
9:39 p.m. — That’s it. Nats win, 3-1. It’s their first win over the Cardinals since Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS. They had lost eight in a row in between.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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.
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