May 7, 2014, 11:26 AM EST
It’s another cloudy day in D.C., and the grounds crew is standing at the ready with the tarp at Nationals Park, with a storm system approaching from the northwest. Looks like it’s going to hit the area before today’s scheduled 1:05 p.m. first pitch. The question is whether it will pass through before then. As we found out Monday night: Don’t ever assume anything with the weather.
There is sunny news for the Nationals today, though: Wilson Ramos has been activated off the 15-day DL and is in the lineup for the series finale against the Dodgers, batting fifth and catching. Blake Treinen was optioned back to Syracuse, so for today at least, the Nats are going with an extra man on the bench (a third catcher). They’ll have to decide before Friday night’s game in Oakland (when Doug Fister needs to be activated) whether to keep the extra catcher (Sandy Leon) or drop another position player.
We’ve got a compelling pitching matchup today, with Stephen Strasburg facing former teammate Dan Haren. Strasburg is faced a Dodgers lineup that has Yasiel Puig again after the young star missed the first two games of the series following a collision with the wall in Miami. Haren (who is 4-0 to begin his L.A. career) faces a Nats lineup that is without Nate McLouth, who tried to take BP this morning but apparently is still struggling to grip the bat with a nasty cut on his right hand from his circus catch on Monday night.
Lots of updates to come, so please check back…
LOS ANGELES DODGERS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, Ch. 9, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, 1580 AM, XM 185, MLB.com
Weather: Chance of rain, 66 degrees, Wind 9 mph in from RF
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
LF Kevin Frandsen
RHP Stephen Strasburg
2B Dee Gordon
LF Carl Crawford
SS Hanley Ramirez
1B Adrian Gonzalez
RF Yasiel Puig
CF Andre Ethier
3B Juan Uribe
C Miguel Olivo
RHP Dan Haren
HP James Hoye
1B Mark Wegner (cc)
2B John Tumpane
3B Paul Nauert
11:35 a.m. — And the tarp is now covering the infield. We’ve got 90 minutes til first pitch. Hopefully this thing passes through before then, but we’ll see.
12:05 p.m. — The Nats just announced that the start of today’s game will be delayed.
1:50 p.m. — The tarp is being removed, so that’s a good sign. We haven’t seen the starting pitchers emerge yet, though. Once they do, it’s about 30 minutes to first pitch. So figure this won’t be starting before 2:30 p.m. at the earliest.
2:12 p.m. — First pitch will be at 2:45 p.m.
2:45 p.m. — And we are finally underway after a delay of 1 hour, 40 minutes. Which means we’ve had a total of 4 hours, 57 minutes of rain delays in this series. Good times.
2:59 p.m. — Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Strasburg gave up two runs in the top of the first. They came as a result of four consecutive singles. He now sports an 8.36 ERA in innings 1-2 this season, yet a 1.73 ERA from the third inning on. Nats trail 2-0.
3:23 p.m. — Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Dan Haren is getting rocked at Nationals Park. The Nats got both runs back in the bottom of the first on four hits and a walk. Truth be told, they should’ve scored more, but the combination of Adam LaRoche’s strained quad and a couple of weak at-bats from Danny Espinosa and Kevin Frandsen at the end of the inning cost them a chance to put up a really big inning. Still, they’ll take a 2-2 tie game after one inning that took 39 minutes to play. Who’s up for 5-hour baseball today!
3:29 p.m. — A 1-2-3, 10-pitch top of the second for Strasburg. That’s a bit more like it.
3:44 p.m. — And now Strasburg has retired eight in a row since that string of four straight singles in the top of the first. He’s through three innings on 50 pitches. Still 2-2 here.
3:55 p.m. — Boy have things settled down here. Both Strasburg and Haren have found their groove. Collectively, they’ve retired 14 of the last 15 batters in this game. We’ve reached the middle of the fourth.
4:23 p.m. — The Nats take a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth, thanks to Ramos. He stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out after singles by Span and Werth and a walk by LaRoche (the fourth ball was intentional). With the crowd on its feet, Ramos worked the count full, then sent a screaming liner to right-center field. Puig made the catch and everyone held their breath as Puig fired to the plate. Turns out Span scored easily, giving the Nats the lead as we move to the sixth.
4:41 p.m. — (Chase taking over for Mark) The top of the sixth saw two Dodgers reach base: Crawford on a leadoff single and Puig on a two-out walk. Strasburg, however, got out of the inning on a Ethier groundout to second base, and the Nats still lead 3-2 with the bottom of the inning up next.
4:46 p.m. — Three quick outs for the Nationals in the bottom of the sixth. Espinosa struck out for the second time today, while both Frandsen and Strasburg grounded out. Stras will take the mound in the seventh having thrown 91 pitches.
4:55 p.m. — Strasburg continues to cruise with a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. He is at 106 pitches after seven, likely it for him today.
5:03 p.m. — Chris Withrow took over for Haren and pitched a perfect inning. Now it looks like Strasburg will pitch the eighth. He has retired 19 of the last 22 batters he’s faced.
5:25 p.m. — It took three pitchers for the Nats to record three outs, but they escaped the top of the eighth with their 3-2 lead intact. Gordon led off with a bunt single and stole second a batter later. Ramirez then walked to put two men on. Once that happened, Strasburg was replaced by Jerry Blevins who needed 10 pitches to get Gonzalez out on a pop fly. Tyler Clippard then replaced Blevins and got Puig to fly out to deep center on the first pitch. Bottom of the eighth is up next, Brian Wilson will pitch for L.A.
5:38 p.m. — It’s still 3-2 as we head to the ninth inning, despite the Nats getting two runners on. Ramos walked with one out and Espinosa singled with two outs. Frandsen, however, grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning. The Dodgers will have Ethier, Uribe and Olivo up next. Matt Kemp is on the bench, so we could see him.
5:46 p.m. — Soriano closes it out and the Nats take the game 3-2 and the series against the Dodgers. They are now 19-15 on the year.
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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