Apr 22, 2014, 3:29 PM EST
For those who were wondering if Matt Williams might give the struggling Ian Desmond a mental night off, the answer is no. At least not on this night. Desmond, who last night committed his MLB-leading eighth and ninth errors of the young season, is right back in there at shortstop against Angels lefty Tyler Skaggs. (Desmond’s 462-foot homer in the bottom of the ninth last night, of course, shouldn’t be discounted either.)
There are some tweaks to the lineup, though. The reinvigorated Danny Espinosa gets bumped up to the No. 2 spot, not a bad place for him to be against a left-hander. Anthony Rendon, meanwhile, gets to his cleanup for the first time in his career, with Adam LaRoche getting a rare night off and Tyler Moore starting at first base instead.
Taylor Jordan gets the start, hoping to bounce back from a ragged outing Thursday night against the Cardinals. He’ll have to take down the Angels’ fearsome combo of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols as well as Tanner Roark did last night.
Updates to come…
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: Rain ending, 70 degrees, Wind 10 mph LF to RF
CF Denard Span
2B Danny Espinosa
RF Jayson Werth
3B Anthony Rendon
SS Ian Desmond
LF Bryce Harper
1B Tyler Moore
C Sandy Leon
RHP Taylor Jordan
RF J.B. Shuck
CF Mike Trout
1B Albert Pujols
LF Raul Ibanez
2B Howie Kendrick
SS Erick Aybar
3B David Freese
C Chris Iannetta
LHP Tyler Skaggs
HP Jerry Meals (cc)
1B Paul Emmel
2B Toby Basner
3B Jordan Baker
7:07 p.m. — Despite a few passing showers, we are underway on time with a nice rainbow off behind the right-field stands. Taylor Jordan fires strike one to J.B. Shuck to get this one started.
7:22 p.m. — Well, here we go again. The Nats already find themselves in a 4-0 hole after a trainwreck of a top of the first. Anthony Rendon rushed a throw to first base and threw wide for the club’s 22nd error of the season. Albert Pujols destroyed a 1-1 sinker from Jordan deep to left for a 3-run homer, giving him 499 for his career. And it just kept getting worse, with the Angels sending all nine batters to the plate before Jordan finally recorded the third out on his 32nd pitch. Incredibly, this is the FIFTH time already the Nats have given up at least three runs in the first inning this season, the NINTH time they’ve given up at least two runs. That’s beyond ridiculous.
7:34 p.m. — A two-out double down the left-field line for Jayson Werth, who needed one of those. But Rendon’s subsequent line drive to deep right-center was caught at the warning track by Shuck. So nothing doing for the Nats in the bottom of the first.
7:40 p.m. — That’s a little more like it. Jordan just retired the side in the top of the second, getting Shuck to ground out and then striking out Trout and Pujols in succession. When Pujols stepped to the plate, umpires put a special, MLB authenticated ball into play in case it winds up being his 500th homer. But there was nothing historic about his at-bat after Jordan got the big guy to whiff at a breaking ball in the dirt. Still 4-0 heading to the bottom of the second.
8:13 p.m. — The good news: The Nats got two runs back in the bottom of the third. The bad news: They easily could’ve had more, having loaded the bases with nobody out against a collapsing Skaggs, who in the span of a few minutes misplayed a bunt, walked Span, plunked Espinosa and uncorked a wild pitch. But Werth’s double play grounder killed the momentum and leaves the Nats still trailing 4-2 after three.
8:25 p.m. — Another throwing error from Rendon, his second of the night. Credit to Jordan, though, for pitching around it. He actually has settled down nicely since that disastrous first inning, retiring 10 of the last 11 he’s faced (the lone exception the Rendon error). Still 4-2 Angels as we move to the fifth.
8:36 p.m. — And there it is: Albert Pujols becomes the 26th member of the 500 Homer Club. He launched another pitch from Jordan into the Red Porch area in deep left-center. The Angels all greeted Pujols at the plate, and the Nats Park crowd gave him a standing ovation, then a curtain call. Nice gesture from the fans. Meanwhile, it’s 6-2 Angels in the fifth.
8:59 p.m. — So anyways, we’re through six innings now, and it remains a 6-2 game. Craig Stammen replaced Jordan on the mound. The Nats haven’t been able to get anything going against Skaggs since that third-inning rally.
9:15 p.m. — To the eighth we go, still 6-2 as Jerry Blevins enters. Been pretty uneventful here since Pujols’ 500th.
9:24 p.m. — It looked like Matt Williams was about to get his first overturned call as a manager, but the umps in New York decided there wasn’t conclusive evidence that Erick Aybar was out trying to steal third base. So Williams falls to 0-for-4 in replay challenges. And it helps the Angels score another run, making it 7-2 in the eighth.
9:34 p.m. — The Nats have shut it down at the plate. They don’t have a hit since Jordan’s bunt single in the third. We just completed the eighth, still 7-2.
9:50 p.m. — That’s your ballgame. Angels win 7-2. Nats need to win tomorrow night to avoid getting swept.
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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