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Game 80: Nats at Cubs

Jun 28, 2014, 11:12 AM EDT

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

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

NATIONALS (41-38)
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

CUBS (34-44)
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

UMPIRES
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.

  1. Eugene in Oregon - Jun 28, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    Today also marks the end of the first half of the season. Whatever happens, the Nats will be just a game or two (maybe three) above .500 after 81 games. Not what most Nats fans expected, but better than what some of us feared a month or so ago. Luckily, the Braves are in the same fix. I won’t pretend I know what to expect over the second half of the season — lots of variables — but I certainly hope that Bryce Harper’s return puts a spark into an offense that is again below league average in runs/game (3.97 vs. 4.01). Even with some blow-ups recently, the pitching remains strong — giving up not quite half-a-run less per game than league average. GYFNG — and score some runs, please.

  2. sjberke - Jun 28, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    It should be said, in all the disappointment with the hitting, pitching, and base running the last three games, the fielding has held up. There have been only three Nats errors since June 15, and only one on this road trip (in the 16-inning game.)

    • Another Tyler - Jun 28, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      I was thinking about this yesterday with Roark. If the defense doesn’t get errors, that means that the ERA of the pitchers might rise (like with Roark, who has given up some unearned runs this season if I recall). Any NI experts care to comment on how much the rotation’s ERA correlates to errors/has been skewed by lots in the early season?

  3. micksback1 - Jun 28, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    Not sure one can assume the Nats will stay healthy the second half of the season, since they are more injury prone, due to a lack of rest. But let’s say they do stay healthy, what will be clear is that the sample size to fairly evaluate the team and MW will be more than adequate. If they fail to win at least 86 games and
    /or do not make post season, then MW and several players will have to be replaced. what evidence would there be to refute that assertion?

  4. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 28, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    Yankees have beaten Boston 6 of 8 games this year.

    Every fanbase has concerns about their teams. My concerns are the same as I had on March 1st.

    The clear bright spot to me is Adam LaRoche. Nats MVP for the 1st half.

  5. natsfan1a - Jun 28, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Busy day but may see some of the day game in real time and will likely see some of the night game in real time as well (at least until I fall asleep on the couch). Go, NATS!!

  6. philipd763 - Jun 28, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    The bottom four in the lineup are automatic out so we are facing another day of no offense. When was the last time Rizzo signed a decent bench player?

  7. Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    Ray Knight on the pre-game show: Everybody is running on Zimmerman in LF. He can’t make the throws. He must go back to 3rd and Harper goes to LF.
    I’m on the same page as Ray. Your OF is Werth, Span, and Harper. Zim goes back to 3rd until he shows he can’t play there, Rendon goes back to 2nd and Espy goes to the bench.
    Zimm’s arm is a travesty in the outfield.

    • veejh - Jun 28, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      It’s a travesty in the infield. I’m telling you, Zim is destined to DH, so he better get that stick rolling.

  8. Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    WOW! Great catch by our FanGraphs Below Average Centerfielder

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      Two great plays in a row by Span!!!

  9. Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    Shove that UZR up to where the sun don’t shine.

  10. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    FP joining the UZR convo on the late side. Woe Span. I thank Ken Rosenthal.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      Steve, two fantastic plays by the guy many want to make our fourth outfielder, eh?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 28, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        If MW could play good 3B there would be no question that Span starts.

  11. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    Would Harper have made that play… Who knows, but an OF of Zimm, Harp and Werth doesn’t make me get all bubbly….

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:15 PM

      Maybe, he would have made the 2nd one. First one? Without hurting himself?

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:20 PM

        And that will forever be the fear with Bryce in CF… Hopefully he becomes more disciplined and aware….

  12. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    Just a bad throw Lobo… Ouch…

  13. Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    That last curve of Gio’s was vintage, nasty Gio. Loved it.

  14. Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    Another Bozo baserunning mistake by Denard. Argh!

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      Probably cost a run.Damn…

  15. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    Argh Denard…. I love ya man… But damn that was dumb…

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:28 PM

      Shaking my head. Right-hander and the move wasn’t even great.

  16. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    “@ZuckermanCSN: Span’s pickoff looks even worse now as Rendon doubles down the LF line.”

    You think?

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:28 PM

      Seems to always happen like that….

    • Danny - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:29 PM

      Wouldn’t have been pitched the same way, but yea meh.

  17. Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    Thank The Lord, and pass the ammunition!

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:32 PM

      We will take a score by any means necessary… *pumps fist*

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:34 PM

        Tru dat

  18. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    A break… Score should be at least 3-0 right now…

    • Danny - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:33 PM

      1-0 seems like a massive lead in this one.

  19. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    Hum, that K was off the plate…

    This pitcher is getting a nice K zone…

  20. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    Glad to see a much more effective and efficient Gio… Also a faster Gio…

  21. Faraz Shaikh - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    Wait who is pitching for nationals? I know for a fact, that is not gio.

  22. Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    Phillies 1-0 over Braves early. Gattis not playing. He came out after his 1st AB last night with back spasms. Anybody heard any more? The Braves are a worse team with Laird vs, Gattis.

  23. Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    He looked safe.

  24. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    If it’s that close, doesn’t it go toward the runner????

    Either way, helluva effort by Desi…

  25. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Wwwwwwwwwwwwwpooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwww….. I thought since that was a fast call, he would be safe….

    Helluva effort by Desi and Adam…

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:45 PM

      + 1 MrsB

  26. Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Out! Again, Praise The Lord and Pass the Ammunition!

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:47 PM

      And don’t forget to tip your waiters/waitresses…

      Lord, forgive me… I will have to put more in the tithe plate tomorrow morning… :-)

  27. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    It will be ashame if LaRoche doesn’t make the all star game… I know he isn’t as flashy as some other names but what this guy has I done this year has been fantastic…

  28. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    This may be Gio’s best outting of the year…. Fantastic job Gio…

  29. David Proctor - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    Gio has been fantastic today.

  30. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    Alright now!!!! Whoop, whoop…

  31. Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    Well, nice hit by Rendon, but gotta give Denard kudos too.

  32. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    Productive out…

  33. Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    Oh, shoot. I thought Adam had that. Clippard has looked good.

  34. coop202 - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:36 PM

    Take it xedeno get sent back down when Bryce is back? Or do we lighten the bench? Imagine Hairston is the odd man out there…

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:40 PM

      I thought he got sent down before… But I think Dobbs goes bye-bye…

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:44 PM

        Dobbs was cut earlier this week.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:45 PM

        So didnt know that… Or maybe I forgot… That’s terrible…

        Well, Trienan will go back down…

      • Steady Eddie - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:49 PM

        Dobbs was already DFA’d to bring up Taylor Hill for Wednesday’s game.

      • Steady Eddie - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:51 PM

        No, Treinan isn’t on the 25 man. He was brought up under the rule that you can have an extra player for a doubleheader. So unless one of the bench guys goes when Harper gets back, it’s Cedeno who leaves again.

  35. davecydell - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    Why didn’t Mcl run?
    Even better, when Espi up why not Espi squares, mcl goes, espi bunts, possible runners on 2&1,
    If any thing live practice.

  36. Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    Espy is just in knots at the plate.

    Ok, it’s Soriano time. Let’s do this.

    (I was feeling guilty about watching this game on such a nice day, but I was at my grandson’s 9U All-Star game at 9:00 this morning. He’s the only 8 year old on a 9U team, playing CF. They won,and they have another one at 5:00 this evening. Cutting into my Sat night beer time, but, hey, that’s ok.)

  37. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    I was with FP… There never was a doubt in my mind that Span would not have caught that…

  38. Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    Great game by Gio! Welcome back!

  39. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    Great job Gio… Great job….

  40. Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    Got home just in time to tuck, and untuck. GYFNG.

  41. natsfan1a - Jun 28, 2014 at 4:22 PM

    I’m not great at it either, but at the time I thought he said “UZR this, [mammerjammer]!”

    ===

    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!”

  42. Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 30, 2014 at 11:36 AM
    just
       testing   testing       testing

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 54 43 --
ATLANTA 54 45 1.0
MIAMI 46 52 8.5
NEW YORK 46 53 9.0
PHILADELPHIA 43 56 12.0
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Rockies, 8:40 p.m.
WED: Nats at Rockies, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

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.

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