May 30, 2014, 3:27 PM EST
It’s not their first-ever visit to D.C. — they were here in 2008 — but it’s always notable when the Texas Rangers come to town, given that franchise’s history. For 11 seasons from 1961-71, they were the expansion Washington Senators, the team of Frank Howard and Ted Williams and the original curly W logo. How great would it be if they wore throwback uniforms this weekend? Both teams could wear the same cap!
Anyways, this game is important to the Nationals for non-nostalgic reasons. They need a win. Bad. They’ll have Stephen Strasburg on the mound, and he has been very good at Nationals Park this season (3-1, 2.35 ERA in six starts). On the mound for Texas is Colby Lewis, who you may or may not remember posting a 16.62 ERA in two spring training appearances for the Nats in 2007. His career path improved significantly after that.
Matt Williams has one lineup change: surging Nate McLouth is batting seventh, with Danny Espinosa dropped to eighth.
Updates to come, so please check back…
TEXAS RANGERS 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, 74 degrees, Wind 5 mph in from LF
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
SS Ian Desmond
LF Nate McLouth
2B Danny Espinosa
RHP Stephen Strasburg
LF Shin-Soo Choo
SS Elvis Andrus
1B Mitch Moreland
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Alex Rios
C Chris Gimenez
CF Leonys Martin
2B Rougned Odor
RHP Colby Lewis
HP Scott Barry
1B Laz Diaz
2B Clint Fagan
3B Jeff Nelson (cc)
7:07 p.m. — We are underway on a beautiful Friday night in the District. Stephen Strasburg starts off Shin-Soo Choo with a fastball, and Choo grounds out to first base right on the first pitch.
7:11 p.m. — And that’s a 10-pitch top of the first for Strasburg, who retired the side and struck out both Elvis Andrus (curveball) and Mitch Moreland (changeup) to cruise through the frame. There are only three players on the Rangers roster who have ever faced Strasburg before (Choo, Donnie Murphy, Alex Rios) so you’ve got to think he’s got the advantage against guys who have never had the pleasure of digging in against him.
7:20 p.m. — The bottom of the first started off well, with Denard Span blooping an opposite-field single off Colby Lewis. But he was quickly wiped out by Anthony Rendon, who grounded into a 6-4-3 double play and is now 10 for his last 69. Not good. Jayson Werth struck out looking to end the inning. No score here after one.
7:34 p.m. — Just when it looked like Strasburg was in absolute top form — he struck out four of the first six batters he faced tonight — things fell apart in the top of the second. It began when Strasburg couldn’t handle a comebacker by Leonys Martin, a two-out error that proved costly. Rougned Odor followed with an RBI single to right, after which trainer Lee Kuntz, manager Matt Williams and pitching coach Steve McCatty all came to the mound to look at the pitcher. Whatever concerned them, Strasburg was able to convince them he was fine in less than 10 seconds. But then Colby Lewis (?!) smoked another RBI single to left, putting the Nats in a 2-0 hole. Both runs are unearned, giving Strasburg 8 unearned runs allowed in 12 starts this season. But he can only blame himself for these two, since they came as a result of his own error.
7:50 p.m. — Things appear to be back to normal. Strasburg did issue a leadoff walk to Andrus in the top of the third, but he retired three straight after that and so through three innings has looked quite good … aside from that bizarre, three-batter sequence in the second. Still 2-0 Rangers.
7:56 p.m. — Lewis, meanwhile, has completed three scoreless innings on 36 pitches. His only mistakes: Span’s first-inning single and Wilson Ramos’ second-inning single off the right-field wall.
8:22 p.m. — Oh my god, was that really just a 3-run homer by a member of the Nats’ lineup? Indeed it was. Desmond took Lewis deep to center field and then exchanged some emphatic high-fives with teammates after circling the bases. For good reason. That was, incredibly, the Nats’ first 3-run homer since Werth took Jose Fernandez deep on April 16! 27 of their last 36 homers have been solo shots. Wow. Nats now lead 3-2 after four.
8:30 p.m. — Given the lead back, Strasburg responded exactly how you’d want him to: He mowed down the top of the Rangers order in the top of the fifth, striking out Choo and Moreland. He now has seven strikeouts in five innings, sitting on 70 pitches. Nats still lead 3-2.
8:40 p.m. — Wow, a brilliant display of hustle in the bottom of the fifth by Span. After singling up the middle to start the inning, he then went first-to-third on Rendon’s groundout to third. And by doing that, he forced Moreland to make a bad throw across the diamond. The ball scooted to the warning track and Span waltzed home with a completely self-made run. It’s 4-2 Nats after five.
8:53 p.m. — Strasburg got himself into a jam in the top of the sixth, putting two on with one out, and that prompted Aaron Barrett and Ross Detwiler to spring into action in the Nationals bullpen. But Strasburg pitched himself out of the situation, striking out Martin and getting Odor to pop-up. So he’s through six innings having allowed the two unearned runs, striking out nine with only one walk. He’s at 88 pitches. Nats still lead 4-2.
9:07 p.m. — With two on and two out in the bottom of the sixth, Matt Williams decided to pull Strasburg and try to get some insurance. And it worked. Tyler Moore stroked a pinch-hit double into the left-field corner, scoring two. So Strasburg’s final line is: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 88 pitches. He’s in line for the win, if the Nats bullpen can protect a 6-2 lead heading to the seventh.
9:17 p.m. — A 1-2-3 top of the seventh from Drew Storen, who just lowered his ERA to 0.95. He joins Barrett (0.95) and Rafael Soriano (0.86) as members of the Nats bullpen with sub-1.00 ERAs. Impressive. Really impressive.
9:25 p.m. — If ever there was a shot at a Wilson Ramos inside-the-park homer, that was it just now in the bottom of the seventh: a line drive hit to right that scooted past Rios and rolled to the wall. Sadly, the Buffalo couldn’t chug out more than three bases. Still, it’s an 8-2 lead for the Nats now as Blake Treinen enters for the top of the eighth.
9:32 p.m. — Blake Treinen, in need of some work after having his turn in the rotation skipped thanks to this week’s rainout, just tossed a scoreless eighth. So it remains 8-2 Nats heading to the bottom of the eighth.
9:46 p.m. — The hits keep on coming. Span has three tonight. Rendon has two. Werth has three, including a bloop RBI single in the eighth, making this a 9-2 game as Treinen comes back out for the ninth to finish this one off.
9:52 p.m. — Ballgame. Nats win 9-2, a cathartic victory if ever there was one.
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)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
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