Jun 28, 2014, 11:12 AM EST
CHICAGO — Ernie Banks, as far as I know, isn’t here today. So I’ll just go ahead and say it: Let’s play two!
Yes, the Nationals and Cubs have a day-night doubleheader on the docket, beginning with a 1:05 p.m. EDT opener and concluding with a 7:15 p.m. EDT nightcap (on Fox, FYI). If you still don’t understand why they’re doing this and not playing tomorrow, here’s one final explanation: The annual Chicago Pride Parade takes place tomorrow in the area, and the city asked MLB to move the game up to avoid a traffic nightmare.
It’s Gio Gonzalez in Game 1 for the Nationals, who are giving Jayson Werth, Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos this one off. I suspect we’ll see some other guys get the second game off, particularly Ian Desmond. This lineup will be facing right-hander Dallas Beeler, making his MLB debut for the Cubs. The Nats have some pitching reinforcements here today: Xavier Cedeno was called up from Class AAA and is available out of the bullpen for both games. Blake Treinen is the designated 26th man for the doubleheader and will pitch the nightcap. Taylor Hill, meanwhile, was sent back to Syracuse after making two relief appearances this week.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at CHICAGO CUBS
Where: Wrigley Field
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 869, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees, Wind 12 mph out to CF
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
LF Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Kevin Frandsen
RF Nate McLouth
C Jose Lobaton
LHP Gio Gonzalez
CF Junior Lake
RF Justin Ruggiano
1B Anthony Rizzo
SS Starlin Castro
3B Mike Olt
LF Chris Coghlan
2B Darwin Barney
C John Baker
RHP Dallas Beeler
HP Jerry Layne (cc)
1B Tom Wooding
2B Mike DiMuro
3B Mike Estabrook
1:07 p.m. — We’re underway, and the Nats are already down in order, having failed to reach base in the top of the first against rookie Dallas Beeler. So here’s Gio Gonzalez taking the mound very quickly for the bottom of the first.
1:13 p.m. — And now a 1-2-3 first inning for Gonzalez, who needed only nine pitches (seven strikes) to do it. That’s good. His fastball velocity, though, was 88-91 mph, which is still down from where it normally is. It’s something the Nats are watching.
1:19 p.m. — So, Dallas Beeler arrived today with a 4.03 ERA at Class AAA Iowa and a career rate of only 5.8 strikeouts per 9 innings in the minors. And he has now retired all nine Nats batters he has faced, striking out three of them (Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond). Not really much else to say about that. Still 0-0, heading to the bottom of the second.
1:27 p.m. — Gonzalez is showing some excellent command (by his standards) so far today. He has thrown 15-of-21 pitches for strikes through two innings and just struck out Chris Coghlan on a 92-mph fastball to end the bottom of the second. No men on base for either team through two innings here.
1:42 p.m. — Both teams now have a baserunner. Nate McLouth singled in the top of the third (but was erased on Jose Lobaton’s double-play grounder). Beeler, meanwhile, smoked a line drive single up the middle in his first career at-bat to break up Gio’s abbreviated no-hit bid. Gonzalez still looks strong. His fastball is up to 93 mph and he has thrown 28-of-39 pitches for strikes through three scoreless innings.
1:55 p.m. — The Nats finally got something brewing in the top of the fourth, putting two on with nobody out. But they got nothing out of it after Zimmerman grounded into a fielder’s choice, LaRoche broke his bat on a lineout to second and Desmond flied out to center.
2:02 p.m. — Sweet Fancy Moses, what an inning in center field by Span. He was responsible for all three outs, each one more impressive than the previous one. It began with a twisting, leaping catch up against the ivy of Ruggiano’s deep drive. Then after Rizzo drew a walk, he came charging in to snag Castro’s sinking liner at his shoetops, and then in one motion fired off-balance to first base to nail Rizzo and complete the inning-ending double play. I’m not great at reading lips, but I’m pretty sure as he reached the dugout, Denard yelled out: “What’s my UZR now, Fangraphs!” Still scoreless here through four.
2:20 p.m. — Another scoreless inning in the books. Gio continues to impress, having allowed two hits and a walk while throwing only 67 pitches. This is just about as efficient as I can remember ever seeing him, certainly a vast improvement over his last start.
2:33 p.m. — The good news: The Nats scored a run in the top of the sixth, thanks in no small part to a Cubs battery that was charged with a passed ball and then a wild pitch. The bad news: They once again had an opportunity to do even more damage but were done in by bad baserunning and the inability to put the ball in play. Span was picked off first base (the fifth out this team has made on the bases in 24 innings this series) and that really proved costly when Rendon followed with a double to left. Then with two on and two out, Desmond took strike three right down the middle, slamming his helmet and bat to the field in disgust. Ian is not in a real good place right now. But it’s 1-0 Nats in the middle of the sixth.
2:44 p.m. — Wow, a huge call overturned on a Nats challenge in the bottom of the sixth. Rizzo was initially ruled safe on a bang-bang play at first base, with LaRoche having to leave his feet to catch a high Desmond throw. But upon review, umps in New York ruled LaRoche’s foot came back down on the bag before Rizzo got there. So instead of two on and two out, the inning is over and the Nats’ 1-0 lead is preserved.
3:00 p.m. — Just a fantastic outing today by Gio, who has tossed seven scoreless innings on only 99 pitches. That’s the same result he got earlier in the week in Milwaukee, but a far better process, displaying that kind of efficiency. So that’s now 13 consecutive scoreless innings for the lefty, who has lowered his ERA from
3:15 p.m. — A couple of really big insurance runs from the Nats in the top of the eighth. Rendon delivered another extra-base hit, this one a triple to right-center and this time with Span on base. LaRoche then lofted a sac fly to left to make it 3-0 Nats as Tyler Clippard enters for the bottom of the eighth.
3:29 p.m. — A scoreless — if a tad long — top of the eighth for Clippard. So it’s still 3-0 as Rafael Soriano begins to warm up in the pen for the ninth.
3:40 p.m. — Here we go. It’s Soriano vs. Ruggiano, Rizzo and Castro in the bottom of the ninth, the Nats still up 3 runs.
3:46 p.m. — Ballgame, Nats win 3-0. It’s the first time they have shut out the Cubs in 31 games at Wrigley Field since 2005. Game 2 coming up at 7:15 p.m. Eastern on Fox.
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)...
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