Jun 30, 2014, 3:17 PM EST
Well, here it is. The moment you’ve all been waiting for. Has there ever been a more-anticipated starting lineup reveal in Nationals history?
And the answer is … Ryan Zimmerman is back at third base for the first time since he fractured his thumb way back on April 11. Bryce Harper is back in left field for the first time since he tore his thumb ligament April 26. Anthony Rendon is back at second base. Denard Span is leading off and in center field. Danny Espinosa is on the bench.
Zimmerman did some early work at third base a few minutes ago, making about 15-20 overhand throws across the diamond. I saw him bounce one and pull the first baseman off the bag once. Otherwise, everything was on target. Zim also looked really good making sidearm throws from third base to second base. How all this translates in actual game action, we will just have to wait and see.
Updates to come, so please check back…
COLORADO ROCKIES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 87 degrees, Wind 10 mph RF to LF
CF Denard Span
2B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Bryce Harper
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
LF Charlie Blackmon
CF Drew Stubbs
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Justin Morneau
C Wilin Rosario
3B Ryan Wheeler
RF Brandon Barnes
2B D.J. LeMahieu
LHP Yohan Flande
HP Joe West (cc)
1B Marty Foster
2B Rob Drake
3B Alan Porter
7:06 p.m. — And we are underway, with a huge crowd (by typical Monday night standards) on hand and letting out a big roar when Bryce Harper’s name was announced as the starting left fielder. Should be a good scene here tonight.
7:18 p.m. — Wow, how to describe what just happened in the top of the first? OK, let’s give it a shot. With two outs and a man on first, Justin Morneau sent a single to left field. The lead runner went to third with ease. Morneau took a big turn around first. At which point Harper fired a throw behind him, hitting Adam LaRoche on the fly and catching Morneau dead to rights. The problem: Morneau was able to get himself into a rundown. And since you don’t really practice the “rundown after the left field fires the ball all the way to first base, with another runner on third” play in spring training, the Nats defense didn’t know where to go. Specifically, Jordan Zimmermann (who backed up the plate) and Jayson Werth (who eventually jogged toward first, but too late). Anyways, everybody was safe, and thankfully no harm was done because Zimmermann struck out Wilin Rosario to end the inning. But if ever there was a Bryce Harper Comeback Moment, that was it. I think it’s also probably safe to say Ryan Zimmerman doesn’t even think about trying that throw, let alone actually doing it.
7:31 p.m. — OK, things have settled down a bit here. The Nats went down in order in the bottom of the first. Zimmermann then retired the side in the top of the second, striking out Brandon Barnes on a slider. He’s at 33 pitches (25 strikes) through two. LaRoche, Zimmerman and Harper coming up to bat for the Nats.
7:37 p.m. — A standing ovation for Harper as he stepped to the plate for the first time since April 26. But he didn’t bring them all back to his feet when he grounded into a 6-3 double play to end the inning and wipe out Zimmerman’s base hit to right. Scoreless here through two.
7:56 p.m. — Evidence of how potent the bottom of a healthy Nats lineup can be: Desmond led off the third with a double to right-center, then took third on Ramos’ infield single (don’t worry, Wilson’s hamstring is fine). The problem: They couldn’t scratch a run out of that. Zimmermann put down a sac bunt to move Ramos up to second. (I’m not a real big fan of that. If you let Zimmermann swing away, worst case is he grounds into a run-scoring double play.) Span then popped up to short and Rendon grounded out, ending the third with the game still scoreless.
8:15 p.m. — There you go: That’s what you were waiting to see. After a 2-out double by Zimmerman down the left-field line, Harper sent a hard grounder up the middle for an RBI single, then took second base (with obligatory helmet cast to the ground) when Drew Stubbs bobbled the ball for a split-second in center field. It’s 1-0 Nats after four.
8:46 p.m. — Not the finest defensive inning for the Nats in the top of the sixth. The Rockies scored a pair of runs, one on Tulowitzki’s RBI double off the wall in left, with Harper firing a throw towards second base. Unfortunately, nobody was there. Then Span made a great, one-hop throw to the plate on a potential sac fly and would’ve had Tulowitzki DOA … except Ramos couldn’t hold onto the ball. That’s been a problem for him in the past, and it just cropped up again in a big spot. Just like that, it’s 2-1 Rockies in the middle of the sixth.
9:24 p.m. — Chase here taking over for Mark as he gets started on his Instant Analysis. The game took a turn in the Nationals favor in the bottom of the sixth as the home team put up five runs to take a 6-2 lead. They batted around the order with RBI doubles by both Zimmerman and Desmond. Desmond’s cleared the bases after reliever Rob Scahill intentionally walked Harper to load them. Desmond then stole third and came home on a Ramos groundout to score the fifth run. Zimmermann is now out of the game with Drew Storen taking over to begin the seventh.
9:41 p.m. — The Nationals added another run in the seventh off a LaRoche solo shot to right field, a rocket that landed in the upper deck. The inning also saw a very nice play by Zimmerman at third to end the top half of the frame. With Corey Dickerson on first base, Zim snagged a Blackmon line drive lunging to his right before throwing across the diamond to first for the double play.
10:00 p.m. — The Rockies added a run to make it a 7-3 game in the top of the eighth. Tulowitzki walked with one out and made it to second on a balk by Aaron Barrett. He then moved to third on a Morneau single, and then scored on a wild pitch by Barrett. The Nats got nothing going in the bottom half of the inning, leaving it up to Jerry Blevins to get the final three outs with a four-run lead.
10:07 p.m. — Ballgame. Nats win 7-3 to begin the second half of the season with a victory. Washington is now 44-38 on the year.
PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT IN
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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)...
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TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
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SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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