Jul 18, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
After four long days off, the baseball season resumes tonight, with the Nationals opening a brief, 3-game homestand against the Brewers before heading out on the road.
Given the opportunity to reset his rotation over the All-Star break, Matt Williams decided to give the ball to Stephen Strasburg for the second-half opener. Strasburg will be followed by Gio Gonzalez tomorrow and Doug Fister on Sunday, with the final two spots still TBA based on the status of Jordan Zimmermann’s strained biceps muscle (we should have an update on that soon).
The Brewers, who do still lead the NL Central but have been in a freefall losing 11 of 13, send veteran right-hander Kyle Lohse to the mound. They also have shortstop Jean Segura back with the club, only one week after his 9-month-old son passed away in the Dominican Republic. Segura has decided to play tonight, obviously under horrible circumstances, but certainly his decision to make.
Updates to come — including the news on Zimmermann’s arm and the Nats’ down-to-the-wire negotiations with top draft pick Erick Fedde and two others — so please check back…
MILWAUKEE BREWERS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees, Wind 6 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 Stephen Strasburg
CF Carlos Gomez
2B Scooter Gennett
RF Ryan Braun
3B Aramis Ramirez
C Jonathan Lucroy
LF Khris Davis
1B Mark Reynolds
SS Jean Segura
RHP Kyle Lohse
HP Chad Fairchild
1B Vic Carapazza
2B Angel Campos
3B Bill Miller (cc)
7:07 p.m. — And we’re underway on what has turned into an overcast Friday evening in the District. No threat of rain, though, and it’s a very comfortable 80 degrees as Stephen Strasburg delivers a 96-mph fastball to Carlos Gomez, who sent a flyball to right field for a very quick out.
7:12 p.m. — When you think of the great power hitters of our time, Scooter Gennett’s name doesn’t immediately come to mind. As far as Strasburg is concerned, though, the Brewers second baseman might as well be Barry Bonds. He launched a grand slam off him last month at Miller Park, and just belted a 2-0 changeup to right for a solo shot in the top of the first. Only seven big leaguers have hit multiple homers off Strasburg in their careers: Giancarlo Stanton (three), Dan Uggla, Freddie Freeman, Ike Davis, Tyler Colvin, Justin Ruggiano and now Scooter Gennett. Go figure. It’s 1-0 Milwaukee.
7:28 p.m. — So, we just witnessed perhaps the longest umpire conference delay in MLB histiry. And the end result was a call that nobody in the ballpark understood. The scenario: With Denard Span on first base, Anthony Rendon hit a grounder to short. Span beat the throw to second base, but the Brewers still retired Rendon on a 6-4-3. That’s what the umpires initially called. Except then Angel Campos then decided to call Span out for interference at second base, ruling the whole thing a double play. Which prompted Matt Williams to come out and argue. Which prompted all four umps to gather up to confer. For five minutes. Seriously. And after all that, they decided to call Span out for interference but summon Rendon back to first base. Which makes no sense at all. In the end, it made no real difference, because the Nats went down in the inning. But that’s one that’s going to require some explanation at the end of the night.
7:39 p.m. — Wow, another homer served up by Strasburg, this time on a 3-2 fastball to Khris Davis, who like Gennett sent it flying over the wall in right-center. It’s 2-0 Brewers. In nicer news, props to all of you in the crowd who stood and applauded for Jean Segura as he stepped to the plate for his first at-bat following his 9-month-old son’s death. Very classy gesture there.
7:48 p.m. — The good news: Bryce Harper, sporting a new haircut (a mohawk) and a new batting stance (very upright, a la Ken Griffey Jr.) roped a base hit to right, giving the Nats a golden opportunity. But with runners on the corners and nobody out, they still wound up with a zero on the scoreboard. Ian Desmond popped out to first base. Wilson Ramos then grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
7:58 p.m. — Strasburg’s struggles against the Brewers continue. He isssued a 2-out walk to Gennett in the top of the third, then gave up hits to Ramirez and Braun, bringing home two more runs. It’s now 4-0 Milwaukee, and Strasburg has now surrendered 11 earned runs in 7 2/3 innings vs. the Brewers this season. Not good.
8:20 p.m. — Better stuff from Strasburg in the top of the fourth, though he was facing the bottom of the lineup. He’s at 57 pitches. The Nats lineup, meanwhile, has five hits but zero runs so far.
8:29 p.m. — The Nats finally get a clutch hit, with Desmond sending an RBI base hit to center to score Zimmerman (who led off the fourth with a double). They’ve got seven hits off Lohse in four innings, but so far only one run. It’s 4-1 Milwaukee heading to the fifth.
8:39 p.m. — One thing Strasburg has improved this season is his ability to stop the running game. Ramos just threw out Gomez trying to steal second, so opponents have been successful only 64 percent of the time this season after posting a 79 percent rate previously in his career.
8:50 p.m. — The Nats have had Lohse teetering all night. They’ve put the leadoff man on base in four of five innings. But they haven’t been able to land a big punch, scoring just the one run. They ran themselves out of the fifth just now when Span (who is 3-for-3 and stole second) was thrown out trying to advance to third on a grounder right in front of him. Can’t do that. So it remains 4-1 Brewers heading to the sixth.
9:06 p.m. — Chase here taking over for Mark for the rest of the game. The score remains 4-1 after the sixth inning as neither team got much of anything going. Strasburg struck out two Brewers to give him nine total on the night. He has struck out five of the last eight batters, actually. Harper would single with one out, but a Desmond groundball yielded a 4-6-3 double play. Strasburg is at 85 pitches through six, Lohse has thrown 91.
9:28 p.m. — Another inning with more missed chances for the Nats. This time they saw Ramos lead off with a single to right and then reach third on consecutive groundouts by Nate McLouth and Span. Rendon, however, flew out to right field to end the frame. McLouth, by the way, was pinch-hitting for Strasburg who has now been replaced by Drew Storen who will begin the eighth.
9:47 p.m. — It’s still 4-1 after eight innings. The one highlight was former Nats pitcher Zach Duke coming in to get the second and third outs of the bottom half of the frame. He got LaRoche and Zimmerman both to fly out. Craig Stammen will now pitch for the Nats who are down three with an inning to go.
10:09 p.m. — Harper added a solo home run in the ninth to cut the lead to 4-2, but the Nats lose and fall to 51-43 on the season.
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
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