May 3, 2014, 3:31 PM EST
PHILADELPHIA — Though there weren’t any actual fireworks here last night, there were two incidents that clearly didn’t sit well with the Nationals: Cliff Lee’s quick-pitch up-and-in to Denard Span in the fifth, and Carlos Ruiz’s high-and-hard non-slide into Ian Desmond in the ninth. How upset were the Nats with those two events? I guess we’ll find out tonight. Perhaps nothing will happen and everyone will just move on. But I wouldn’t go to the kitchen when Ruiz comes up to bat for the first time, either. Just in case.
Tanner Roark is on the mound for the Nationals, looking to keep the magic alive after his first career shutout. Roark did face the Phillies out of the bullpen last season, tossing two scoreless innings, but this is his first start against them, and his first career appearance at Citizens Bank Park, where the wind is again blowing out to right.
Veteran A.J. Burnett, off to an impressive start with the Phillies, gets the nod for Ryne Sandberg. He’ll face a Nats lineup that includes Adam LaRoche, who had to come out of last night’s game when his nagging quad strain acted up again. LaRoche, though, insisted he’d be playing tonight.
Updates to come, please check back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 869, MLB.com
Weather: Clear, 65 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to RF
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
LF Nate McLouth
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Tanner Roark
CF Tony Gwynn Jr.
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
RF Marlon Byrd
LF Domonic Brown
C Carlos Ruiz
3B Cody Asche
RHP A.J. Burnett
HP Manny Gonzalez
1B Sean Barber
2B Fieldin Culbreth (cc)
3B Jim Reynolds
7:07 p.m. — We are underway with a fastball from A.J. Burnett to Denard Span for strike one. Some mild boos from the crowd for Span as he stepped to the plate.
7:13 p.m. — Three flyball outs from the Nats in a 1-2-3 top of the first, with Anthony Rendon sending a ball all the way to the base of the wall in center field. Looks like the ball is going to carry again tonight here.
7:28 p.m. — Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Nats trail 3-0 after one inning. Yep, it happened again. Tanner Roark got himself in a jam with a one-out single by Jimmy Rollins and a walk to Chase Utley. That set the stage for Ryan Howard, who took a pitch to the opposite field for a 3-run homer. Welcome to Citizens Bank Park, Tanner. So this is, incredibly, the eighth time already in 30 games this season the Nats have given up at least three runs in the first inning. Amazing.
7:41 p.m. — The good news: Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond drew walks to lead off the top of the second. The bad news: Neither Danny Espinosa nor Nate McLouth nor Jose Lobaton was able to so much as put a ball in play. Burnett struck all three out, catching Espinosa and McLouth looking at two-seamers on the inside corner and getting Lobaton to whiff at a curveball. It’s worth noting that as good as Espinosa has been overall, he’s only 2-for-28 with runners in scoring position this season. Most of his damage has come in low-leverage situations. Still 3-0 in the middle of the second.
7:52 p.m. — Hmm, make it 4-0 Phillies after Cody Asche hammers a 3-2 fastball from Roark over the right-field wall in the bottom of the second. Roark is getting a rude welcome to this ballpark.
8:04 p.m. — Roark has settled down and retired five straight since the Asche homer. The Nats, though, have no hits in three innings against Burnett.
8:18 p.m. — Well, the Nats have a hit now. Actually, they have two, thanks to LaRoche and Desmond, the only guys to reach base so far against Burnett. But they’re now 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, four of those strikeouts, two by Espinosa. Tough to bring runners home when you don’t even make contact. Still 4-0 in the middle of the fourth.
8:28 p.m. — Doesn’t look like this is going to be Roark’s night. He gave up another run in the fourth on a pair of smoked hits by Domonic Brown and Carlos Ruiz. So that’s five runs allowed by Roark, matching his career high. The Nats trail 5-0 after four.
8:37 p.m. — As the always-wise Dave Jageler pointed out, I forgot to count Desmond’s infield single that didn’t advance LaRoche from second base in the top of the fourth. So the Nats actually were 1-for-6 with RISP. Well, make it 1-for-8 now after Span struck out and Rendon grounded out with Lobaton on second base in the top of the fifth. This is turning into one of those nights. Still 5-0.
8:57 p.m. — Yeah, it’s definitely one of those nights. Roark ends up charged with a career-high seven earned runs in a career-low four-plus innings. Ryan Mattheus couldn’t stop the bleeding when brought in to bail out Roark, throwing four straight balls to load the bases and then allowing a 2-run single to Byrd. It’s 7-0 after five. The Nats have come from behind nine times this season, but another one tonight would be truly epic.
9:08 p.m. — Adam LaRoche just hit a ball so high, he made it rain. Seriously. LaRoche homered with a moonshot down the right-field line, then seconds later it began to pour here. They’re still playing through it for now. It’s 7-1 Phillies in the sixth.
9:15 p.m. — And we’re now in a rain delay, with the Phillies leading 7-1 after six innings. It’s supposedly a small system that will blow through quickly. We’ll see. Stay tuned.
9:37 p.m. — And we’re back underway here in the top of the seventh after a 24-minute delay. Mario Hollands now pitching for the Phillies.
9:45 p.m. — Zach Walters with a home run to cut the lead to 7-2. Walters has got quite an odd hitting line this season. He’s now 3-for-14 with three homers.
10:17 p.m. — Last chance for the Nats. They trail 7-2 heading to the ninth.
10:27 p.m. — It’s over. Nats lose 7-2. They miss an opportunity to take over first place in the NL East after the Braves lose their fifth straight.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
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