Apr 21, 2014, 3:30 PM EST
As you may have heard, there are a couple of high-profile young stars here in town tonight meeting for the first time as big leaguers. But there are some storylines beyond Mike Trout vs. Bryce Harper as the Nationals host the Angels in the opener of a three-game series.
There is, for example, a guy named Albert Pujols, who is two homers shy of joining the exclusive 500 Club, one that to date includes only 25 members. Tanner Roark will face the challenge tonight of staring down Pujols, Trout and the rest of the Angels lineup.
Harper is back in the 2-spot in Matt Williams’ lineup, with the same alignment from yesterday’s 3-2 win over the Cardinals. They’ll be taking their hacks against right-hander Garrett Richards, already 2-0 with a 2.76 ERA in three starts.
Updates to come, so please check back…
LOS ANGELES ANGELS VS. WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183, MLB.com
Weather: Sunny, 65 degrees, Wind 6 mph in from LF
CF Denard Span
LF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
3B Anthony Rendon
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Tanner Roark
LF J.B. Shuck
CF Mike Trout
1B Albert Pujols
3B Ian Stewart
2B Howie Kendrick
RF Brennan Boesch
SS Erick Aybar
C Chris Iannetta
RHP Garrett Richards
HP Jordan Baker
1B Jerry Meals (cc)
2B Paul Emmel
3B Toby Basner
7:06 p.m. — We are underway on a gorgeous Monday night in April. Tanner Roark starts off J.B. Shuck with a fastball for strike one.
7:12 p.m. — Can’t ask for much more out of Roark than what he just did in the top of the first. He struck out Shuck looking at a fastball. He struck out Mike Trout looking at a 93 mph sinker on the outside corner. He froze Albert Pujols with a beautful curveball, then got him to ground out weakly to third to cap a 1-2-3 inning. Impressive start to the evening for Tanner.
7:20 p.m. — And a 1-2-3 bottom of the first from Garrett Richards, who struck out Bryce Harper on a 97 mph on the inside corner. Good stuff from both starters to get this one going.
7:34 p.m. — Little bit of a hiccup from Roark in the top of the second, but he battled through it. With two on and two out, he walked No. 8 hitter Chris Iannetta, then fell behind in the count to Richards. But he wound up striking out the Angels pitcher, giving him four K’s through two scoreless innings. The downside: Roark has already thrown 40 total pitches.
7:43 p.m. — Six up, six down for Richards, who has looked really sharp so far. To the third, still scoreless.
8:00 p.m. — We’ve got an overturned challenge. Mike Scioscia gets Shuck’s grounder to second changed to an infield single, which upon replay was clearly the right call. Trout followed with a base hit to right, putting Roark in a jam again. But the right-hander came up big, breaking Pujols’ bat on a 6-4-3 double play. Richards, meanwhile, continues to cruise. He surrendered a base hit to the left-center gap to Jose Lobaton, who unfortunately decided to try to stretch it into a double and was thrown out. Still 0-0 after three.
8:29 p.m. — Wow, crazy bottom of the fourth just now, with Richards losing all semblance of command for a stretch there. Seriously, he threw three really wild pitches over a span of four pitches, two of them hitting the backstop, the other hitting Werth, who didn’t seem to appreciate it. Jayson wound up breaking up a double play with a hard slide into second, helping bring the night’s first run home. Looks like there’s a little bad blood brewing here. We’ll see if anything else transpires. Nats up 1-0 after four.
8:41 p.m. — Still 1-0 Nats after five. The top of the fifth featured a dazzling play from Rendon, who made a really nice scoop of Pujols’ laser beam down the line, then hopped to his feet and fired to first for the out. Rendon really has impressed over there since Ryan Zimmerman went down, much better defensively at third base than I had seen from him in the past.
8:56 p.m. — (Chase taking over while Mark writes Instant Analysis) The top of the sixth was another clean frame for Roark who set Stewart, Kendrick and Boesch down 1-2-3, all on balls put in play. Roark is now through six scoreless with six hits and two walks allowed. He’s thrown 92 pitches, but no one is up in the bullpen.
9:05 p.m. — The Nationals got a runner on base with a one-out walk by Werth, but no more runs came across. LaRoche popped one up with a full count, and Rendon struck out looking. Rendon took a high and inside fastball for strike three, a close one that had him initially flip his bat as if it were a walk. It’s still 1-0 Nats.
9:20 p.m. — Roark got Iannetta to ground out and a pinch-hitting David Freese to strike out looking before allowing a single to Shuck. With Trout up next, the Nats decided to pull Roark for Drew Storen. Storen, a fellow first round pick in 2009, got Trout to fly out to deep right-center field to end the top half of the inning.
9:33 p.m. — No runs off one baserunner for the Nationals as Lobaton walked with two outs. Zach Walters pinch-hit for Storen, but struck out for the third out. On to the eighth.
9:52 p.m. — Tyler Clippard’s unfortunate start to the 2014 season continued in the top of the eighth, and it wasn’t helped by the continued struggles of Ian Desmond on defense. Pujols reached first to lead off the inning on a fielding error by Desmond, then stole second on a Stewart strikeout. Kendrick then joined Pujols on base with an infield single, a ball that sent Pujols to third. After a Boesch flyout, Aybar singled to right field to score Pujols and tie the game at one. But then Iannetta walked to load the bases for a pinch-hitting Raul Ibanez. As Mark noted on Twitter, Ibanez was 3-for-9 with two homers and six RBI against Clippard before the at-bat. Of course, Ibanez promptly doubled to left-center field to clear the bases. Cedeno came in to get the third out, but it’s now 4-1 L.A.
10:03 p.m. — The Nationals had their chances in the bottom of the eighth as both Werth and LaRoche got on with two outs. Werth walked and LaRoche poked a single to left field to beat a heavy infield shift. Rendon, however, then grounded out to first to end the inning. On to the ninth, still 4-1.
10:12 p.m. — No runs for the Angels in the top of the ninth despite two baserunners. Trout led off with a single off Cedeno, but was out at second on a Pujols groundball to Rendon. Stewart then joined Pujols on base with a single before Kendrick grounded into a double play. Up next is Ernesto Frieri to face Desmond, Espinosa and Lobaton in a 4-1 game.
10:25 p.m. — Desmond hit a solo home run to lead off, but the Nationals lost 4-2 after Span struck out to end the game.
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.
*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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