May 16, 2014, 3:19 PM EDT
The Nationals are back home at last, refreshed after a West Coast swing and ready to enjoy a week-long homestand against the Mets and Reds.
It begins tonight with Tanner Roark on the mound against left-hander Jonathan Niese. Roark is coming off a fantastic start in Oakland — it ended in no-decision after Rafael Soriano blew the save in the ninth — and he’ll be facing a Mets lineup he’s had success against before. This is Roark’s fourth career appearance against New York; he’s 2-0 with a 2.93 ERA, including a gutsy win at Citi Field during the season’s first week after Jordan Zimmermann was scratched with the flu.
The Nationals have a new face on their bench — veteran Greg Dobbs, who was officially added to the big-league roster today in place of third catcher Sandy Leon — but against the left-handed Niese, Matt Willams is going with a bunch of right-handed hitters tonight. That includes Scott Hairston in left field and Tyler Moore at first base.
After all that torrential rain last night and this morning, it has turned into a beautiful day here in D.C. If you’re not going to be here in the park, be sure to check back here for updates along the way…
NEW YORK METS 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: Partly cloudy, 68 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to RF
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
C Wilson Ramos
SS Ian Desmond
LF Scott Hairston
1B Tyler Moore
2B Danny Espinosa
RHP Tanner Roark
LF Eric Young Jr.
2B Daniel Murphy
3B David Wright
RF Curtis Granderson
RF Bobby Abreu
1B Lucas Duda
C Anthony Recker
SS Ruben Tejada
LHP Jonathan Niese
HP Dana DeMuth (cc)
1B Ed Hickox
2B Jon Byrne
3B Lance Barksdale
7:05 p.m. — And we’re underway on what has turned into a perfect night for baseball. Tanner Roark fires strike one to Eric Young Jr. A cool little note to share: Second base umpire Jon Byrne is making his major-league debut tonight. He’s the first Australian-born umpire in MLB history.
7:15 p.m. — Roark was all set for a nice, 1-2-3 top of the first, but then Tyler Moore dropped David Wright’s foul-pop and was charged with an error that prolonged the inning. Sure enough, Wright wound up singling to right. Props to Roark, though, because he struck out Curtis Granderson to end the inning and quash any possibility of things spiraling out of control. I’m pretty sure he also managed not to go after Moore in the dugout at the end of the inning. Tanner just doesn’t seem like the type to do that.
7:35 p.m. — Let’s see, the Nats entered tonight being outscored 39-18 in the first inning this season. So, of course, they lead 3-0 after one. And they could’ve scored even more if not for some shaky baserunning to end the inning. Denard Span Span, Jayson Werth and Scott Hairston all singled. Anthony Rendon reached on Wright’s error. Ian Desmond drew a walk. Add a sac fly by Wilson Ramos and an RBI fielder’s choice by Moore, and you’ve got yourselves a 3-0 lead after one inning. Quite the script flip there.
7:46 p.m. — Two scoreless innings so far for Roark, which is good. The only negative: He has already thrown 43 pitches. Not exactly a recipe for a deep outing tonight.
8:00 p.m. — An 8-pitch inning for Roark in the third. That’s exactly what he needed and leaves him at a more manageable 51 through three innings. Nats still lead 3-0.
8:12 p.m. — And the onslaught continues. Ramos singles, then scores all the way from first on Hairston’s RBI double. (Hairston is now a cool 7-for-13 vs. lefties this season.) Moore’s run-scoring single made it 5-0. The Nats are now hitting a collective .285 against left-handers this year, the second-best mark in the majors.
8:29 p.m. — Speaking of guys killing left-handed pitching … how about Werth? He’s now 2-for-3 tonight and is hitting .457 against southpaws this season (tops in the NL). Still 5-0 Nats after four.
8:48 p.m. — Uh-oh, trouble for Roark in the fifth. He gave up a pair of runs on three hits, then walked Murphy to bring Wright to the plate representing the tying run. Steve McCatty stalled while Ross Detwiler started warming in a hurry. Roark got out of the jam, inducing a popout from Wright, but he’s at 87 pitches through five innings, and that may be it for him tonight. Detwiler is still warming in the pen as we move to the bottom of the fifth. It’s 5-2 Nats.
8:56 p.m. — Detwiler indeed is taking over for Roark in the top of the sixth, protecting a 5-2 lead. It’s only the third time this season he’s pitched with a lead, and the first time he’s pitched with a lead of fewer than five runs! Nate McLouth also takes over for Hairston in left as part of a double-switch.
9:05 p.m. — And Detwiler gets the job done, inducing a nifty 4-3-6 double play to end the top of the sixth. Looks like it’ll be Drew Storen in the seventh, with Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano waiting in the wings.
9:25 p.m. — And a scoreless seventh for Storen, who protects the 5-2 lead. Things have set up well for the Nats bullpen so far tonight. Stretch time.
9:38 p.m. — Greg Dobbs just made his Nats debut as a pinch-hitter (what else?) in the bottom of the seventh and immediately lined the first pitch he saw to center for a base hit. Obviously, he brought his veteran bat to D.C. with him. He did not, however, bring legs with him, as evidenced by him getting thrown out trying to score from second on Moore’s single to left. That would’ve been a nice insurance run. Instead it remains 5-2 as Clippard enters for the eighth.
9:54 p.m. — Clippard put himself in a jam, with Duda stepping to the plate representing the tying run. And Duda tagged Clippard’s 2-2 changeup on the nose … but right at Span in center field. Crisis averted. 5-2 lead intact as Soriano begins to warm for the ninth.
10:01 p.m. — Here we go. It’s Soriano vs. the bottom of the Mets lineup in the ninth.
10:15 p.m. — Sweet. Fancy. Moses. Soriano issued back-to-back walks with two outs in the ninth, then Murphy launched a ball to deep right field … with Werth robbing a potential game-tying homer at the fence. So the Nats win 5-2 to notch their ninth consecutive victory over the Mets, a streak that dates back to last September. They’re 22-19 for the season and 1 game back in the NL East for the moment (pending the outcome of the Braves’ game in St. Louis).
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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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