Jul 20, 2014, 11:30 AM EST
The Nationals have been playing pretty good baseball for awhile now, having lost only one of their last eight series (and that one’s a bit misleading because one of their four games with the Orioles was rained out, so technically they could still salvage a split after they play the makeup game). Today, they have an opportunity to win yet another series, this time against a very good Brewers club that (like the Nats) enters play today tied for first place.
It’s Gio Gonzalez on the mound for the Nationals, looking to continue his recent run of success (3-1, 0.98 ERA over his last four starts). He’ll face Yovani Gallardo, who held the Nats to one run over six innings last month at Miller Park.
Only one lineup change for Matt Williams: Red-hot Wilson Ramos gets a day off after catching the night game, so it’ll be Jose Lobaton behind the plate for the series finale.
Updates to come…
MILWAUKEE BREWERS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, Ch. 9, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 184, MLB.com
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 82 degrees, Wind 4 mph in from RF
CF Denard Span
2B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Bryce Harper
SS Ian Desmond
C Jose Lobaton
LHP Gio Gonzalez
CF Carlos Gomez
2B Rickie Weeks
RF Ryan Braun
3B Aramis Ramirez
C Jonathan Lucroy
LF Khris Davis
1B Mark Reynolds
SS Jean Segura
RHP Yovani Gallardo
HP Angel Camps
1B Bill Miller (cc)
2B Chad Fairchild
3B Vic Carapazza
1:37 p.m. — We are underway on a cloudy, 80-degree afternoon in the District. Gio Gonzalez starts off Carlos Gomez with a ball.
1:45 p.m. — That was an eventful top of the first inning, even if no runs crossed the plate. Gio fell behind Gomez 3-0, then was bailed out when Gomex grounded the next pitch to short. He fell behind 2-0 to Rickie Weeks and then struck him out. Ryan Braun sneaked a grounder past a lunging Ian Desmond at short, then stole second. And just when it looked like Braun would score on Aramis Ramirez’s hard grounder up the middle, Anthony Rendon came out of nowhere to make the play and throw Ramirez out at first base. I know Ramirez is the slowest baserunner this side of Wilson Ramos, but that was a heck of a play by Rendon nonetheless.
1:57 p.m. — Good news: The Nats’ first three hitters in the bottom of the first worked Yovani Gallardo to a full count. Bad news: None of them reached base. Denard Span and Anthony Rendon each grounded out, while Jayson Werth failed at a 3-2 pitch in the dirt. Scoreless after one.
2:12 p.m. — Well, it was bound to happen eventually. Ryan Zimmerman committed his first error since returning to third base. It wasn’t exactly a routine play, requiring a nice scoop on a hopper to his left and then a short throw to second base. But Zim looked like he couldn’t decide how he wanted to throw the ball, overhand or sidearm, and wound up lollipopping it and pulling Rendon off the bag. Props to Gonzalez, though, for pitching out of the bases-loaded jam. He struck out Gallardo, then struck out Gomez on a 3-2 changeup. Nicely done to keep this a scoreless game.
2:25 p.m. — Some very good signs from the Nats lineup in the bottom of the second. Adam LaRoche beat the shift with a single through the left side of the infield. Bryce Harper singled to right, making him 5-for-8 with a walk since the All-Star break. And Ian Desmond went to the opposite field for his team-leading 60th RBI of the season. With runners on second and third and only one out, the Nats had a chance to pile on. But Jose Lobaton’s well-struck liner somehow found Gallardo’s glove, and Harper was caught in no-man’s land off third base for an inning-ending double play. 1-0 Nats after two.
2:45 p.m. — Well, that was not a very pretty top of the third. It started off nicely, with Gio recording his 1,000th career strikeout. Then it saw the lefty walk consecutive batters. Then it saw Braun score all the way from second base on a tapper to the mound, without drawing so much as a throw. Then it saw the Brewers score another run on Khris Davis’ RBI single to left. After all that, the Nats trail 2-1 and Gio’s pitch count is at a whopping 78.
3:10 p.m. — Another not-so-pretty inning in the fourth. After giving up a leadoff double to Jean Segura and then a sac bunt, Gio was surprised to see Matt Williams come to the mound and ask for the ball. Gio was not happy as he handed it over and trudged off the mound. Craig Stammen entered, and though he got Gomez to hit a sharp grounder to a drawn-in Desmond at short, Segura still was able to score after Desmond threw to first and LaRoche’s throw back to the plate was late. It’s 3-1 Brewers in the middle of the fourth.
3:25 p.m. — And the Nats storm right back to tie and then take the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Zimmerman launched a 2-run homer to right-center, continuing his recent trend of driving the ball the other way. Lobaton then doubled off the same wall, took third when Stammen beat out a dribbler and then scored on a wild pitch. Just like that, the Nats lead 4-3 after four very long innings.
3:48 p.m. — Craig Stammen is doing what Craig Stammen does. He has faced eight batters so far in relief and has retired all eight, bringing sanity back to this game. Still 4-3 Nats in the middle of the sixth.
3:56 p.m. — Well, that’s a new one. Bryce Harper was picked off first base after, it appeared, his oven mitt thingie got stuck in the dirt and left him about 18 inches short of first base on a diving attempt back to the bag. Weird. It’s still 4-3 heading to the seventh as Drew Storen enters.
4:14 p.m. — Storen got himself into a jam in the top of the seventh, giving up a 2-out single to Weeks and then walking Braun. But he got out of it, getting Ramirez to ground to third, with Zimmerman making the sidearm throw across the diamond for the third out. Still 4-3 Nats at the stretch.
4:35 p.m. — All-Star Tyler Clippard didn’t need his defense in the eighth. He struck out the side, getting Lucroy, Davis and Reynolds. So the Nats bullpen now has tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit and one walk. It remains a 4-3 lead as Rafael Soriano starts to limber up.
4:48 p.m. — We go to the ninth. Soriano will be facing Segura, a pinch-hitter and Gomez with the Nats clinging to a 1-run lead. And now Matt Williams will go with defense, pulling Zimmerman, moving Rendon to third base and sending Danny Espinosa in to play second.
4:59 p.m. — Uh-oh. Soriano got himself into a jam and couldn’t get out of it. Rickie Weeks’ RBI single up the middle brought home the tying run. He avoided any further damage, but it’s now a 4-4 game heading to the bottom of the ninth. It’ll be Nate McLouth leading off, followed by the top of the lineup.
5:13 p.m. — Nats win. Werth doubles into the left field corner and Bob Henley with a great send, bringing Rendon all the way around from first with the winning run. Final: 5-4.
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.
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