Jul 1, 2014, 3:24 PM EDT
Matt Williams could have made changes to his starting lineup tonight, choosing to move guys around the diamond as the Nationals manager has suggested he’ll do now that he has a fully healthy roster again. Or Williams could look at last night’s 7-3 thumping of the Rockies and conclude: Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
So, tonight’s lineup card looks exactly like last night’s lineup card. Denard Span is leading off in center field. Anthony Rendon is batting second and playing second. Ryan Zimmerman is back at third base batting fifth. Bryce Harper is in left field batting sixth. Any potential shifting around will have to wait for another day.
Stephen Strasburg, meanwhile, hopes to shift his fortunes from his last start in Milwaukee, where he was roughed up for seven runs. The right-hander talked about mechanical glitches in his delivery, leading to poor fastball command. We’ll see if he was able to address that over the last week.
If you get to the ballpark early today, you’ll be able to watch USA-Belgium on the big screen. Center field gates open at 4:30 p.m., as always, with the full stadium opening at 5:30 p.m. Updates to come…
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: Chance of storms, 92 degrees, Wind 12 mph out 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 Stephen Strasburg
LF Corey Dickerson
SS Josh Rutledge
1B Justin Morneau
CF Drew Stubbs
C Wilin Rosario
3B Ryan Wheeler
RF Brandon Barnes
2B D.J. LeMahieu
LHP Christian Friedrich
HP Marty Foster
1B Rob Drake
2B Alan Porter
3B Joe West (cc)
7:08 p.m. — OK, we are underway on a sweltering Tuesday night in the District. The heat index is 97 degrees as Stephen Strasburg starts off Corey Dickerson with a 92-mph fastball for ball one.
7:18 p.m. — The good news: Strasburg’s fastball command was pretty sharp in the top of the first, evidence that he was able to work out his mechanical issues this week. The bad news: The Rockies made him work a ton, especially Justin Morneau, who kept fouling off 2-strike pitches before singling to right. It took Strasburg 21 pitches to face the game’s first three batters. He ends the inning having thrown 24 pitches to four batters in a scoreless inning.
7:41 p.m. — Here come the Nats again. Denard Span and Anthony Rendon each drew walks off Christian Friedrich to start the bottom of the first and set the stage for a rally. Jayson Werth then delivered one of his biggest hits in weeks, smoking a hard chopper past third baseman Ryan Wheeler and down into the left-field corner for a 2-run double. Ryan Zimmerman then drove home Werth with a sac fly. So it’s 3-0 Nats after one (very long) inning.
8:06 p.m. — Strasburg has been much more efficient since the first inning. He has retired six straight on 23 pitches and is now through three scoreless innings, having struck out four. Still 3-0 Nats.
8:26 p.m. — And after 1 hour, 18 minutes, we have completed three innings. Moving a bit slow here tonight.
8:34 p.m. — Sixty-one pitches for Strasburg now through four scoreless. He’s got five strikeouts, including Drew Stubbs twice on curveballs.
9:00 p.m. — Hey, we’ve completed four innings in a scant 1 hour, 52 minutes! The Nats, I would imagine, aren’t too upset by the slow pace of this game, certainly when they’ve opened up a commanding 7-0 lead. They took down Friedrich in the bottom of the fourth, knocking out the Rockies lefty three batters in. Then they continued the beating on reliever Chad Bettis. Strasburg doubled (and could’ve tripled if he had any baserunning sense). Rendon doubled home two runs. Werth doubled home another run, then scored on a wild pitch. So, the healthy Nats lineup has now scored 14 runs in 12 innings. Yeah, yeah, yeah, small sample size, I know. They’re also facing a truly wretched Colorado pitching staff.
9:18 p.m. — To the sixth, Strasburg cruising along at 72 pitches, having scattered three hits so far over five scoreless innings.
9:25 p.m. — Nice job by Strasburg on the tail end of a 3-6-1 double play to end the sixth. He has needed only 61 pitches to complete his last five innings, keeping this a 7-0 Nats lead.
9:45 p.m. — Make it seven scoreless for Strasburg now. Zimmerman has had two throwing chances at third base so far tonight, and though they haven’t had a whole lot of mustard on them, they’ve been right on target. Still 7-0 at the stretch.
9:58 p.m. — We go to the eighth, and Zim is now playing first base, with LaRoche getting the rest of the night off. I wouldn’t be shocked if he started over there tomorrow, with yet another lefty on the mound for Colorado.
10:12 p.m. — Well, Strasburg couldn’t quite finish the eighth. He served up a towering home run to D.J. LeMahieu, then issued his first walk of the night and got the hook from Matt Williams. Still got a well-deserved standing O as he walked off the field. 7-1 Nats now, heading to the bottom of the eighth.
10:26 p.m. — Ballgame. Nats win 7-1. They’re 7 games over .500 for the first time this season, and they’ll go for the series sweep tomorrow night.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
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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