Apr 25, 2014, 3:24 PM EDT
One night after stranding 14 men on base and setting a franchise record by going 0-for-16 with runners in scoring position, the Nationals have to hope they’ll be more productive at the plate in the second of their four-game series with the Padres. Matt Williams, showing confidence in a lineup that did rack up 16 hits last night (albeit none of them with a man in scoring position), is sticking with the exact same group tonight against left-hander Robbie Erlin.
The 23-year-old Erlin faced the Nats once last year (July 7 in D.C.) and was battered around for nine runs in only four innings. So perhaps this is the favorable matchup that leads to a big night at the plate.
Stephen Strasburg, meanwhile, faces his hometown club for the fourth time in his career, the third time at Nationals Park. He beat the Padres in both head-to-head matchups last season, allowing five earned runs in 14 total innings.
There’s rain headed this way from the west and could throw a wrench into batting practice and possibly the start of the game. It does appear more than likely they’ll be able to play before the night’s over, though, but be sure to bring your umbrellas and ponchos if you’re coming to the park. Updates to come…
SAN DIEGO PADRES VS. 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: Showers, 60 degrees, Wind 14 mph RF to LF
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Bryce Harper
2B Danny Espinosa
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Stephen Strasburg
SS Everth Cabrera
RF Chris Denorfia
1B Yonder Alonso
2B Jedd Gyorko
CF Will Venable
C Nick Hundley
LF Xavier Nady
3B Alexi Amarista
LHP Robbie Erlin
HP Jim Joyce (cc)
1B Doug Eddings
2B Marvin Hudson
3B Cory Blaser
5:20 p.m. — Your first weather update of the night: It’s raining here. The tarp’s on the field and both teams are taking BP underground in cages. No word on any postponement or delay, but obviously rain is going to be an issue for at least awhile.
6:20 p.m. — New weather update: The Nats say the start of tonight’s game will be delayed. It’s not postponed, at least not yet. But it won’t start on time.
7:10 p.m. — Good news: It has stopped raining, the tarp is off the field and the Nationals say first pitch is scheduled for approximately 8 p.m.
8:02 p.m. — And we are finally underway after a 57-minute rain delay. Stephen Strasburg fires strike one to Everth Cabrera.
8:07 p.m. — Despite a leadoff single by Cabrera, Strasburg still managed to complete the inning on only nine pitches (eight strikes). He was aided by a double-play grounder off Chris Denorfia’s bat. Good start to this start for Strasburg.
8:26 p.m. — Stop the presses! The Nats got a hit with a runner in scoring position! Then they got another! No, you’re not dreaming. Ian Desmond roped a 2-out double to right-center to score Anthony Rendon. Bryce Harper then beat out a grounder up the middle to bring Adam LaRoche home. Danny Espinosa did pop-up to leave the Nats a mere 2-for-3 with RISP tonight, but they’ll happily take an early 2-0 lead.
8:33 p.m. — It’s only two innings, but Strasburg is locked in so far. He just struck out the side in the top of the second, getting Jedd Gyorko on a curveball, Will Venable on a changeup and Nick Hundley on a curveball. He’s thrown 17-of-21 pitches for strikes and looks really sharp.
8:54 p.m. — Strasburg continued to cruise through the top of the third, getting two quick outs. And then … he walked the opposing pitcher, and the inning suddenly became a chore. Singles by Cabrera and Denorfia left the bases loaded for No. 3 hitter Alonso, who Strasburg fell behind in the count 3-1. He got out of the jam unscathed, but he needed 31 pitches to complete the inning and now sits at 52 overall through three scoreless. Nats still lead 2-0.
9:10 p.m. — Hey, remember when the Nats couldn’t drive in a run to save their lives? Ha, that was soooo yesterday. They’re now 5-for-7 with RISP tonight after a big bottom of the third. The highlight: Harper’s bases-clearing triple off the wall in right-center. That’s as hard as Bryce has hit a ball since his third deck homer several weeks ago. The Nats now lead 6-0 and have completely reversed the script from last night.
9:31 p.m. — Well, this will put a damper on the evening: Harper is out of the game, replaced in left field by Nate McLouth. Watching the replay of his triple, it looked like he jammed his left hand/wrist into the bag while sliding into third base. He immediately grabbed his hand and shook it. Harper played another inning, but he didn’t come out for the top of the fifth. Updates if I get them.
9:57 p.m. — Here’s the full Harper story, which I’ll update as soon as I get any more info. Meanwhile, Strasburg continues to cruise. He’s now through six scoreless innings, scattering six hits on 101 pitches. He’s got 10 strikeouts tonight, his 14th career double-digit strikeout game. The Nats still lead 6-0 heading to the bottom of the sixth.
10:10 p.m. — The Padres now have Gyorko and Quackenbush batting back-to-back in their lineup. I swear I didn’t just type random letters there. Those are their actual names. Oh, the Nats now lead 8-0 after RBI by LaRoche and Desmond. We go to the seventh.
10:19 p.m. — Strasburg went to the mound for the seventh, sitting on 101 pitches. He departed at 109 pitches. Nice job by him to make quick work of the inning to finish off his night. 11 Ks for the big guy tonight, who lowered his ERA to 4.24. Still 8-0 Nats at the stretch.
10:34 p.m. — Make it 10-0 Nats after Rendon delivers his fourth hit of the night, driving in two more. The Nats are now 7-for-14 with runners in scoring position. A slight improvement from last night’s 0-for-16 performance.
10:51 p.m. — So much for the shutout. Jerry Blevins gave up a run in the eighth. So it’s now 10-1.
11:02 p.m. — It’s 11-1. The Nats have 17 hits tonight. It’s the first time since the club arrived in D.C. with back-to-back games of at least 16 hits.
11:09 p.m. — Ballgame. Nats win 11-1. Harper update to come.
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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