May 5, 2014, 3:26 PM EST
After a bit of a frustrating weekend in Philadelphia, the Nationals are back home ever so briefly this week for a three-game series with the Dodgers, who are sending their best to the mound each day.
It begins tonight with Zack Greinke, who has opened the season 5-0 with a 2.04 ERA. The right-hander has never been beaten by the Nationals, going 3-0 with a 1.78 ERA in four career head-to-head starts. He’ll face a club that has a familiar face back on the bench tonight: Scott Hairston, as expected, was activated off the 15-day DL, with Steven Souza Jr. optioned to Class AAA Syracuse.
The Nats send their own dominant right-hander to the mound in Jordan Zimmermann, though he has less of a track record of success against L.A. (2-1, 6.65 ERA in four career starts). He’ll face a Dodgers lineup without one of its biggest stars: Yasiel Puig, who crashed into the fence in Miami yesterday and apparently is still banged-up.
Updates to come, so please check back…
LOS ANGELES DODGERS at 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: Cloudy, 62 degrees, Wind 5 mph LF to RF
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
LF Nate McLouth
C Sandy Leon
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
2B Dee Gordon
LF Carl Crawford
SS Hanley Ramirez
1B Adrian Gonzalez
CF Matt Kemp
RF Andre Ethier
3B Juan Uribe
C Miguel Olivo
RHP Zack Greinke
HP John Tumpane
1B Paul Nauert
2B James Hoye
3B Mark Wegner (cc)
7:05 p.m. — We are underway, just as a light rain begins to fall. The sky looks pretty menacing, but it doesn’t appear the rain will be heavy enough to force a delay. We’ll see.
7:11 p.m. — Twelve of Jordan Zimmermann’s 13 pitches were strikes in the top of the first. Tough to be better than that. He did allow a two-out double to Hanley Ramirez, who lofted a ball just over Jayson Werth’s reach in deep right field. Otherwise, Zimmermann was completely in control during an all-important scoreless inning to get this one started.
7:26 p.m. — Wow, what a bottom of the first for the Nats. The first five batters they sent to the plate against Zack Greinke all hit the ball hard. Really hard. None harder than Anthony Rendon, who launched a 1-2 breaking ball into the Red Porch for his fifth homer, this one a two-run shot. Even the outs were well-struck, including Werth’s flyball to left and Ian Desmond’s liner to left. The Nats lead 2-0 after one, and there’s something we haven’t said too often this season.
7:36 p.m. — A little bit of trouble for Zimmermann in the top of the second, with a pair of one-out singles. But he avoided any real problem, striking out Miguel Olivo and getting Greinke to ground out to end the inning. The rain has intensified a little, but they’re still playing. You know the Nats REALLY don’t want a rain delay tonight, not on a night when they desperately don’t want to use Ross Detwiler (because they need him to start tomorrow).
7:58 p.m. — Still 2-0 Nats in the middle of the third. Zimmermann has scattered four hits so far while also dealing with a wet pitchers’ mound. The grounds crew is trying to stay ahead of the rain, pouring sawdust on the mound and the batters’ box, but they’re having a tough time of it. For now, it looks like they’ll keep playing through this.
8:08 p.m. — Here’s when you know things aren’t going your way: Desmond couldn’t have hit the ball any harder in either of his two at-bats so far tonight, yet he has nothing to show for it. He’s got a smoked lineout to left and a rocket of a comebacker that turned into a 1-4-3 double play to end the third with the Nats still leading 2-0. Been that kind of season so far for Ian.
8:17 p.m. — They’re now spreading sawdust over the infield after each half-inning. I don’t think anyone expected the rain to last this long, but it hasn’t gotten to the point where the umpires believe it’s impeding play. Still 2-0, middle of the fourth.
8:27 p.m. — And now we’re in an actual rain delay.
10:20 p.m. — OK, so here’s the update: It’s still raining. They’ve shown the entire second half of the Wizards game and several innings of the Braves-Cardinals game on the scoreboard. The grounds crew just came out and squeegeed the tarp, but it’s still raining and it doesn’t look it’s going to stop anytime soon. But for now, they’re still trying to wait this out. Obviously, Jordan Zimermann isn’t coming back to pitch. The question is whether Ross Detwiler will take over, or whether they’ll just try to cobble together the rest of the game with other relievers.
10:30 p.m. — Breaking news: The Braves just lost their seventh straight. Which means for this moment, the Nats are tied for first place.
10:56 p.m. — The tarp is being removed. I repeat: The tarp is being removed. We will have baseball sometime in the near future, news which will thrill the 27 people still here.
11:10 p.m. — This game will resume at 11:40 p.m., at which point we’ll just be starting the bottom of the fourth. Anybody got any coffee they can bring up to the press box?
11:43 p.m. — And we’re back after an ever-so-brief, 3-hour, 17-minute rain delay. It’s right-hander Brandon League on the mound for the Dodgers. Aaron Barrett is warming in the Nats’ pen, presumably to take over in the top of the fifth. Oh, and it’s raining again.
11:48 p.m. — And the Nats go down in order in the bottom of the fourth, which was quite pleasing to the 50 fans behind the Dodgers dugout. The 100 fans behind the Nats dugout weren’t nearly as happy about that. So here’s Barrett to pitch the top of the fifth after Zimmermann goes four scoreless.
12:05 a.m. — A 1-2-3 top of the fifth from Barrett. Then I missed seeing my first-ever triple play in person by about a step-and-a-half in the bottom of the inning. Rendon barely beat out a 5-4-3 attempt by the Dodgers. We go to the sixth, still 2-0 Nats.
12:33 a.m. — (Chase taking over) Both the Dodgers and Nats got one man on base in the sixth inning, but so no runs come across. It’s still 2-0 with the seventh inning up next.
12:54 a.m. — Both the Dodgers and Nats saw leadoff hits in the seventh. Kemp doubled before Drew Storen retired the next three batters. For the Nats it was Leon who singled to lead off. They actually got the bases loaded after Span doubled and Werth walked. No runs for either side, however, as Tyler Clippard will take over in the top of the eighth.
1:05 a.m. — Clippard allowed a two-out double to Crawford, but that was it. McLouth, however, did leave the game after making a spectacular catch for the second out. Gordon hit a line drive into foul territory in left field and McLouth snagged it at full speed just inches before slamming into the wall at full speed. It looked like he hurt his right hand, possibly suffering a cut around his thumb area. We’ll find out more afterwards.
1:18 a.m. — The Nats added two more runs in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a homer by Espinosa. That’s his fourth of the season in this his 30th game.
1:23 p.m. — 4-0 is your final score. 2:59 time of game, 3:17 time of rain delay.
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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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