Jul 9, 2014, 3:14 PM EST
BALTIMORE — Hello from the one and only Camden Yards. It’s pretty amazing to think that this place is already 22 years old. It’s also the ninth-oldest ballpark in the majors. Remarkable.
After two days (but only one actual game played) in Washington, the Battle of the Beltways moves up the road to the Inner Harbor, where we’ll see the pitching matchup that would’ve been on display last night if not for the rainout: Doug Fister vs. Bud Norris. Norris, remember, is making his first start after more than two weeks on the DL with a groin strain. He didn’t make a rehab start, only pitching a simulated game, so it’ll be interesting to see how sharp the right-hander is tonight.
If you’ve been wondering who would get the call as designated hitter for the Nats, the answer is … Ryan Zimmerman. Matt Williams will take his throwing-challenged slugger off the field and let him just concentrate on hitting for the night. That means Anthony Rendon shifts back to third base, and it means Danny Espinosa gets his first start at second base in 12 days.
Updates to come, so please check back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Where: Camden Yards
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 869, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 83 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to CF
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
DH Ryan Zimmerman
LF Bryce Harper
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
2B Danny Espinosa
(RHP Doug Fister)
RF Nick Markakis
LF Steve Pearce
CF Adam Jones
DH Nelson Cruz
1B Chris Davis
SS J.J. Hardy
3B Manny Machado
C Caleb Joseph
2B Jonathan Schoop
(RHP Bud Norris)
HP Dan Iassogna
1B C.B. Bucknor
2B Hal Gibson
3B Gary Cederstrom (cc)
7:09 p.m. — And we’re underway. The skies darkened during batting practice, but we have avoided rain so far. Denard Span digs in and takes strike one from Bud Norris.
7:22 p.m. — And the Nats come out hacking. They smoked three consecutive hits off Norris, with Anthony Rendon roping his 22nd double of the season down the left-field line, Jayson Werth drilling his 20th double of the year off the wall in right-center and Adam LaRoche lacing a single to right that brought Werth home. Bob Henley had an aggressive send around third base, and that may have caught Nick Markakis by surprise. Whatever the case, it worked. It’s 2-0 Nats after 1/2-inning.
7:37 p.m. — Well, that didn’t go how Doug Fister would’ve preferred. The guy with the best command on the Nats’ staff was all over the place in the bottom of the first, walking two of the first four batters he faced. This is a guy, remember, who walked only six TOTAL batters in his first 11 starts this season. Now, plate umpire Dan Iassogna certainly wasn’t giving Fister the benefit of the doubt on the edges of the strike zone. But Fister also wasn’t getting the kind of sink he usually gets, leaving several balls up in the zone, including one to Chris Davis that turned into an RBI double. It’s 2-1 Nats after one, and Fister has thrown only 15 of his 31 pitches for strikes.
7:45 p.m. — May god have mercy on the soul of the baseball Wilson Ramos just murdered. I mean, seriously, he destroyed a fastball from Norris deep to left for his third homer of the season. That’s also a 12-game hit streak for the Buffalo, who is now hitting a healthy .302 on the year. Nats up 3-1 now.
7:57 p.m. — Things have settled down considerably here, with both Fister and Norris retiring the sides in their subsequent innings of work. Fister needs to keep that up-tempo pace he had in the bottom of the second moving forward.
8:07 p.m. — Fister got himself into another jam in the bottom of the third, putting runners on second and third with one out. He got out of it, though, getting Cruz to ground out and Davis to pop-out. His command still isn’t entirely there. He’s already walked two and plunked another batter, very uncharacteristic for him. Still 3-1 Nats after three.
8:23 p.m. — Boy, this is not the ballpark (and not the night) to be trying to pitch up in the strike one. Norris and Fister are finding that out the hard way. Desmond crushed his 16th homer of the season in the top of the fourth, a solo shot to right-center. Then Machado went deep to left in the bottom of the fourth, making him a cool 7-for-8 in this series. It’s 4-2 Nats after four, and I don’t think that score is gonna hold up the rest of the night.
8:46 p.m. — Bud Norris’ return from the DL lasted all of 70 pitches and 4-plus innings. Not a real fine effort there from the right-hander. The Nats scored another run off him in the fifth when LaRoche came five feet short of a grand slam, settling instead for a sac fly. Harper had a chance with the bases loaded, as well, but lined out to right, leaving him 4-for-27 since coming off the DL. It’s 5-2 Nats now in the middle of the fifth.
9:08 p.m. — A big-time pick at third base by Rendon to start a 5-4-3 double play that bailed Fister out of a sixth-inning jam. Props, too, to Espinosa for a really strong turn to make it possible. Fister hasn’t been on top of his game, but he’s through six innings of 2-run ball nonetheless. Still 5-2.
9:17 p.m. — Werth took a moment to adjust his contact lens before stepping back to the plate in the top of the seventh. Then he proceeded to crush a pitch to left field for the Nats’ third homer of the night. They now lead 6-2 at the stretch.
9:25 p.m. — I’m not sure we are fully appreciating just how hard it is to bounce back and forth between second and third bases, because Rendon is making it look so easy. He just made another spectacular pick and throw across the diamond, continuing his sensational play at the hot corner. He deserves every bit of praise he receives. Still 6-2 after seven.
9:33 p.m. — Drew Storen enters for the eighth inning with the Nats up four runs. Fister was not himself tonight, but he still managed to go seven innings and allow only two runs. Impressive.
9:40 p.m. — And a 1-2-3 inning from Storen against the meat of the Baltimore lineup. He got Jones to ground out, Cruz to fly out and then struck out Davis, sending many among the crowd of 35,575 headed for the exits.
9:52 p.m. — To the bottom of the ninth we go, and it’ll be Ross Detwiler in from the pen to try to finish this one off. Amazing how managers treat a 4-run lead completely different than a 3-run lead. Instead of Clippard and Soriano tonight, it’s Storen and Detwiler.
9:58 p.m. — Ballgame. Nats win 6-2. And with the Braves’ fourth straight loss, they’re now a full game up in the NL East.
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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