Jun 27, 2014, 12:45 PM EST
CHICAGO — Hey, we can actually see the rooftops here today! There’s still some fog lingering way off in the distance, closer to Lake Michigan, but the skies are mostly clear directly over Wrigley Field, a pleasant change from last night’s surreal scene.
It’s Tanner Roark on the mound today for the Nationals, and just as was the case last summer, the Illinois native will have a sizable rooting section on hand. Sounds like the entire town of Wilmington (about an hour south of Chicago) will be here cheering on the right-hander, who is seeking his team-leading eighth win.
No changes for the Nationals’ lineup, aside from Wilson Ramos and Ian Desmond flip-flopping the 6 and 7 spots. They’ll be going up against Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at CHICAGO CUBS
Where: Wrigley Field
Gametime: 4:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 869, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 81 degrees, Wind 11 mph RF to LF
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Ryan Zimmerman
C Wilson Ramos
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
RHP Tanner Roark
RF Ryan Sweeney
CF Justin Ruggiano
1B Anthony Rizzo
SS Starlin Castro
3B Luis Valbuena
LF Chris Coghlan
C John Baker
2B Darwin Barney
RHP Jason Hammel
HP Mike Estabrook
1B Jerry Layne (cc)
2B Hunter Wendelstedt
3B Mike DiMuro
4:07 p.m. — We are underway as Denard Span takes strike one from Jason Hammel. It’s 83 degrees under mostly sunny skies, quite the change from last night’s conditions.
4:12 p.m. — That didn’t take long. Hammel retired the side on 10 pitches, getting Span to ground out and Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth to fly out. So here’s Tanner Roark taking the mound for the bottom of the first.
4:21 p.m. — A scoreless bottom of the first for Roark, who did allow a soft, 2-out single to left to Anthony Rizzo but otherwise was unscathed in the 17-pitch inning.
4:33 p.m. — The good news: The Nats scored in the top of the second, thanks to Adam LaRoche’s single and then Ryan Zimmerman’s RBI double. The bad news: Despite that, followed by Wilson Ramos walk and a wild pitch later that advanced two runners, the Nats only scored the one run. Zimmerman was easily thrown out at the plate when he ran on contact on a grounder to third. Danny Espinosa struck out on three pitches. And Roark tapped one back to the mound. Sorry, but you’ve got to score more than one run when given that kind of opportunity to bust out. 1-0 Nats, middle of the second.
4:52 p.m. — That was not a good bottom of the second for Roark. He allowed four straight hits to open the inning, leading to a pair of runs crossing the plate for the Cubs. Worse, Roark is throwing a ton of pitches, 51 of them to only 11 batters through two innings. Not what the Nats are looking for. They now trail 2-1 heading to the third.
5:04 p.m. — And the Nats run themselves into yet another out on the bases. That’s four in 12 innings so far this series after Rendon was caught trying to steal second with two outs in the third.
5:19 p.m. — LaRoche ties this game back up, roping a 2-0 pitch into the basket beyond the right-field wall. That’s LaRoche’s 10th homer of the season and makes this a 2-2 game in the fourth.
5:31 p.m. — Twice today the Nats have scored a run. And in each instance, Roark has responded by giving two runs right back. Sweeney’s 2-out single up the middle just made it 4-2 Cubs after four. Roark is at 75 pitches and has been scorched for nine hits already. Not a good afternoon so far.
5:55 p.m. — Bottom of the sixth now, still 4-2 as the Nats have been unable to mount anything against Hammel.
6:11 p.m. — Ramos’ single up the middle in the seventh snapped a stretch of 10 straight batters retired by Hammel and knocked the Cubs starter from the game. But after working the count to 2-0 against reliever Brian Schlitter, Desmond grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. So it remains a 4-2 game at the stretch. Jerry Blevins now pitching in relief of Roark.
6:30 p.m. — And this game has now gotten out of hand. Blevins entered and poured a tank of gasoline on the fire. He gave up a leadoff double, then uncorked a wild pitch, then intentionally walked one batter only to unintentionally walk the next. Then he fell behind the next hitter 2-0 and 3-1 before battling back to strike him out, only to serve up a 3-run double to John Baker. Blevins’ ERA now sits at a whopping 5.34, and the Nats now trail 7-2.
6:45 p.m. — Here’s Taylor Hill pitching in a mop-up role in what will probably be his final big-league appearance for at least a little while. The Nats are likely to call up lefty Xavier Cedeno in time for tomorrow’s doubleheader, sending Hill back to Syracuse, where he can continue to develop as a starter.
6:56 p.m. — Ballgame. Nats lose 7-2. They’ve dropped three straight and now must sweep tomorrow’s doubleheader just to salvage a 4-game split with the Cubs.
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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