Jul 7, 2014, 3:18 PM EST
Hello and welcome to the opener of the Battle of the Beltways, the annual showdown between Washington and Baltimore that means very much to the fan bases of both clubs and, quite honestly, means very little to players on both sides. Much as we’d like to believe this is a real rivalry, the players just don’t see it that way.
That doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t enjoy the next four days, though, with two games at Nationals Park and then two games at Camden Yards later this week. If nothing else, both teams are playing quite well with the Nats 1/2-game back in the NL East and the O’s leading the AL East. It all gets started tonight on South Capitol Street, with Stephen Strasburg taking the mound against fellow right-hander Chris Tillman.
No changes to the Nationals’ lineup. And really, considering that this particular group has gone 5-0 in the last week, why would Matt Williams change anything?
Updates to come, so please check back…
BALTIMORE ORIOLES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 92.7 FM, 94.3 FM, 106.7 FM, 980 AM, 1500 AM, XM 188, MLB.com
Weather: Mostly clear, 91 degrees, Wind 13 mph out to CF
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
RF Nick Markakis
3B Manny Machado
CF Adam Jones
LF Nelson Cruz
1B Chris Davis
SS J.J. Hardy
C Nick Hundley
2B Jonathan Schoop
RHP Chris Tillman
HP Gary Cederstrom (cc)
1B Dan Iassogna
2B C.B. Bucknor
3B Tripp Gibson
7:08 p.m. — And we’re underway. A big crowd on hand as Stephen Strasburg delivers ball one to Nick Markakis.
7:14 p.m. — A couple of hard-hit balls to get this game started, though Bryce Harper made a nice sliding catch of Markakis’ sinking liner before Manny Machado doubled down the left-field liner. Strasburg battled back and struck out Adam Jones with a changeup, then got Nelson Cruz to ground out to end a 14-pitch first inning.
7:24 p.m. — A leadoff walk for Denard Span, the third straight game he was reached safely in the first inning. But that’s all the Nats could muster against Chris Tillman. Anthony Rendon hit a ball hard but right at Markakis in right field. Jayson Werth then struck out on a breaking ball in the dirt. And Adam LaRoche grounded out to end the inning. Scoreless here after one.
7:30 p.m. — Ryan Zimmerman had yet another nifty pick at third base in the top of the second, snagging Nick Hundley’s hard grounder to his left. And he made yet another throw across the diamond that … well, it got the job done. I think everybody knows at this point it’s not going to be pretty. A 1-2-3 second for Strasburg.
7:43 p.m. — Eight in a row retired now by Strasburg, who has looked sharp. The only guy to get the ball out of the infield against him since Machado’s double was Chris Davis, who flied out to left. He’s got three strikeouts and is at 41 pitches (26 strikes) so far through three scoreless innings.
7:53 p.m. — The Nats’ first hit of the night goes to … Strasburg! Yep, he lined an opposite-field single with one out in the bottom of the third. That’s as far as he went, though. Span flied out to right and Rendon, after a long battle with Tillman, struck out on a 3-2 breaking ball. So we’ve got ourselves a pitchers’ duel here, scoreless through three.
8:05 p.m. — Strasburg grooved a 1-0 fastball to Nelson Cruz, and Nelson Cruz did what he’s been doing all year to grooved pitches. He blasted it over the scoreboard in right-center, his 28th homer of the season. And since Machado was on base at the time, the Orioles take a 2-0 lead in the fourth.
8:28 p.m. — Wilson Ramos has quietly put together an 11-game hitting streak. That’s a career-high for him and a season-high for the Nats. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to do anything else against Tillman. Strasburg did bounce back from the Cruz home run, striking out four in a row. But it remains a 2-0 game after five.
8:40 p.m. — Manny Machado is 3-for-3 against Strasburg tonight. Everybody else is 1-for-17. That one, of course, was kind of a big hit (Cruz’s homer). But the right-hander has been really good, especially his changeup, which he just used to strike out Adam Jones for the second time tonight. That’s eight K’s for Strasburg through six innings. He’s at 94 pitches, the Nats still trailing 2-0.
8:52 p.m. — As has been the case so many times this season, Span and Rendon teamed up to do something big for the Nats. Span led off the sixth with a base hit up the middle. Rendon then smashed the very next pitch over the wall in right-center, his 13th homer of the season. This game is tied 2-2, and it should be noted that the Nationals are 25-0 this season when both Span and Rendon score a run. Well, they both just scored, so ….
8:58 p.m. — That was a pretty big shutdown inning right there for Strasburg. Moments after his teammates had tied the game, he went out and retired the side in the top of the seventh, thanks in part to Rendon, who took a shot off Strasburg’s glove and fired a laser to first base to retire J.J. Hardy. So Strasburg is now at 104 pitches through seven innings, and the Nats bullpen is stirring. Still 2-2 game.
9:10 p.m. — A 2-out single by Ramos in the bottom of the seventh, but pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen couldn’t keep the rally going. So we go to the eighth with Tyler Clippard on the mound. Strasburg’s final line: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 104 pitches, 68 strikes. All in all, a very good start against a very good lineup.
9:23 p.m. — Hoo-boy, you’ve been waiting for Zimmerman to need to make a throw in a big spot, and it just happened. With a chance to get Clippard out of a 2-on, 1-out jam, he took Machado’s grounder, stepped on third and threw to first with a shot at the inning-ending double play. Except the throw sailed wide, extending the inning. Props to Clippard, though, for picking his teammate up. He got Jones to fly out to left, so this remains a 2-2 game heading to the bottom of the eighth.
9:33 p.m. — Nothing happening for the Nats against Darren O’Day in the bottom of the eighth. Span smoked a liner up the middle, but Hardy was shaded that way and made the play. So we go to the ninth, and it’ll be Rafael Soriano facing the heart of the Orioles lineup in a tie game.
9:39 p.m. — Soriano gave up a leadoff single to Cruz, but then clamped down and retired the rest of the heart of the lineup. So we’re on to the bottom of the ninth, still 2-2. O’Day still on the mound facing LaRoche, Zimmerman and Harper. Hang on, folks.
9:55 p.m. — The Nats couldn’t ask for a better opportunity in the bottom of the ninth. Zimmerman smoked a 1-out double to right-center, forcing Buck Showalter to intentionally walk Harper and bring up Desmond, who LOVES those situations. He entered 11-for-17 in his career after the man in front of him was intentionally walked. Make it 11-for-18. Desmond whiffed at an O’Day slider. Ramos did the same, stranding the winning runner in scoring position. So we go to the 10th, and this is not a situation the Nats enjoy. They’re 2-7 in extra innings this season.
10:07 p.m. — The “no doubles” defense nearly cost the Nats just now. With a man on first and two outs, Machado looped a single to shallow left field. Harper was playing nearly at the warning track, so he had no shot at it. Drew Storen, though, pitched his way out of the jam, getting Jones to pop up. So we head to the bottom of the 10th, with left-hander T.J. McFarland on the mound for the O’s against pinch-hitter Scott Hairston, Span and Rendon.
10:15 p.m. — To the 11th…
10:39 p.m. — Uh-oh, Chris Davis destroyed a 3-2 fastball from Craig Stammen to right-center for a 2-run homer. And Hardy followed with a solo blast. And the onslaught continued, with four runs crossing the plate before Stammen was pulled in favor of Aaron Barrett. Who then served up a 2-run homer to Machado. Just like that, the Nats trail 8-2 and need a big-time rally in the bottom of the 11th.
10:47 p.m. — And that’s your ballgame. Nats lose 8-2 in 11 and fall to 2-8 in extra innings this season. An ugly end to an otherwise splendid ballgame.
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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