May 4, 2014, 1:24 PM EST
PHILADELPHIA — It’s a cool, windy, cloudy Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, which hosts a rare, 3:05 p.m. Sunday game today. The reason: There was a massive 10-mile race in the area this morning, the traffic from which is only just now starting to dissipate.
Once they get going today, it’ll be Gio Gonzalez on the mound for the Nationals, trying to earn a series victory and potentially lift his team into first place in the NL East (pending the result of the Braves’ game against the Giants). Gonzalez has enjoyed considerable success in this hitter-friendly ballpark over the years, entering today with a 4-1 record and 2.39 ERA in six career starts at Citizens Bank Park.
Cole Hamels was originally scheduled to pitch for the Phillies, but he was scratched with flu-like symptoms. So it’s right-hander Roberto Hernandez, who you may remember from when he was known as Fausto Carmona, getting the start. He’ll face a Nats lineup that has Kevin Frandsen at third base, Anthony Rendon at second base and the slumping Danny Espinosa (4 for his last 25 with 10 strikeouts) on the bench.
Updates to come, so please check back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 3:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 869, MLB.com
Weather: Cloudy, 64 degrees, Wind 22 mph out to RF
CF Denard Span
3B Kevin Frandsen
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
2B Anthony Rendon
SS Ian Desmond
LF Nate McLouth
C Sandy Leon
LHP Gio Gonzalez
CF Ben Revere
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
RF Marlon Byrd
1B Ryan Howard
C Carlos Ruiz
LF John Mayberry Jr.
3B Jayson Nix
RHP Roberto Hernandez
HP Sean Barber
1B Fieldin Culbreth (cc)
2B Jim Reynolds
3B Manny Gonzalez
3:08 p.m. — We are underway on a chilly, 58-degree afternoon. Roberto Hernandez fires strike one to Denard Span.
3:17 p.m. — The Nats managed to put three men on base in the top of the first on a pair of walks and a single, yet never even advanced anybody to third. That’s because Kevin Frandsen was thrown out trying to go first-to-third on a hard grounder that skipped past Jayson Nix and into left field. It was a gamble, but not a terrible one, with John Mayberry Jr. needing to make a perfect throw to get Frandsen at third. Still, a frustrating start to the afternoon for the Nats.
3:27 p.m. — Hey, guess what just happened? The Nats gave up a first-inning run! We haven’t seen that in, oh 18 hours or so. Though actually, by only giving up one run today, they lowered their season average of first-inning runs allowed from 1.033 to 1.032.
3:48 p.m. — Gio Gonalez settled down in the bottom of the second. He struck out a pair of batters, Carlos Ruiz on a changup and Nix on a curveball. Still 1-0 Phillies heading to the third.
4:01 p.m. — Hmm, really late slide from Span to break up a double play in the top of the third. It worked, but you wonder if that was payback for Carlos Ruiz’s similar play the other night. The Nats, though, still can’t take advantage. They’re now 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position through three innings.
4:09 p.m. — Gio got himself in a jam in the bottom of the third when Ben Revere tripled to the right-field corner. With one out and his team trailing 1-0, Matt Williams made the somewhat unconventional decision to bring his infield in. It didn’t matter where they were positioned, though, after Gio struck out Rollins on a high fastball and then got Utley to pop out. So we go to the fourth, still 1-0 Philly.
4:32 p.m. — Five scoreless innings later, the Nats are making this guy on the mound look an awful lot like the 2007 version of Fausto Carmona. Unfortunately, he’s the 2014 version of Roberto Hernandez. Still 1-0.
4:41 p.m. — Gio Gonzalez is certainly doing his job today. Since that first-inning run, he has put up four straight zeroes. He’s at 79 pitches through five but needs some run support.
4:54 p.m. — The pitchers’ duel continues here, with Gonzalez and Hernandez trading blows. It’s still 1-0 after six. Meanwhile, the Braves just lost their sixth straight. The Nats would take over first place in the NL East with a win today, but they’ll need to score at least two runs to do that.
5:07 p.m. — One hit allowed by Gio since the top of the first. He just completed the seventh with his seventh strikeout of the day. He’s at 100 pitches on the nose. Still 1-0 heading to the eighth, with Hernandez still on the mound.
5:25 p.m. — Well, the Nats had a chance in the eighth. They got a leadoff single from Span, who then took second on Frandsen’s sac bunt. Ryne Sandberg decided to turn to his beleaguered bullpen, with Mike Adams entering and getting Werth to ground out to the right side of the infield, advancing Span to third with two outs. In came left-hander Antonio Bastardo to face LaRoche, who drew a walk. So that set up a seemingly favorable matchup with Rendon, but he took a 2-2 fastball on the low, outside corner for strike three and was not pleased with the cal by Sean Barber. So the Nats are now 0-for-7 with RISP today and they trail 1-0 heading to the bottom of the eighth.
5:41 p.m. — Last chance for the Nats. It’s Desmond, McLouth, Leon and possibly a pinch-hitter against Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th. They still trail 1-0.
5:53 p.m. — Ballgame. Nats lose a frustrating one, 1-0. They lose the series and another chance to take over first place in the NL East.
PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT IN
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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)...
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