Aug 6, 2014, 3:21 PM EST
There’s nobody the Nationals would rather have on the mound right now after a loss than Doug Fister, who has developed into something of their stopper over the course of this season. The big right-hander is 6-2 when starting a game following a Nationals loss, so he’s the right man for the job tonight as the Nats try to shake the cobwebs of their 6-1 loss to the Mets.
Fister will be opposed by left-hander Jonathon Niese, which prompts Matt Williams to give Danny Espinosa the start at second base in place of Asdrubal Cabrera. Otherwise, the lineup is standard, with Jose Lobaton still filling in behind the plate while Wilson Ramos takes paternity leave.
The Nationals will have a new arm available in the bullpen tonight with the arrival of Matt Thornton. The veteran, claimed off waivers from the Yankees, will become one of three lefties in the pen, along with Ross Detwiler and Jerry Blevins. To make room for Thornton on the roster, Blake Treinen was optioned back to Class AAA Syracuse.
Updates to come, so please check back…
NEW YORK METS 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 showers, 83 degrees, Wind 8 mph LF to RF
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Bryce Harper
2B Danny Espinosa
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Doug Fister
RF Curtis Granderson
2B Daniel Murphy
3B David Wright
1B Lucas Duda
C Travis d’Arnaud
LF Kirk Nieuwenhuis
CF Juan Lagares
SS Ruben Tejada
LHP Jonathon Niese
HP Larry Vanover (cc)
1B Vic Carapazza
2B Dan Iassogna
3B Paul Nauert
7:06 p.m. — And we’re underway. Not nearly as many fans in the stands tonight as there were for the Orioles game Monday or the Jayson Werth Gnome giveaway last night.
7:10 p.m. — Doug Fister couldn’t have drawn up his top of the first any better. He retired the side on 9 pitches, 7 of them strikes, getting Curtis Granderson to fly out to shallow right field, Daniel Murphy to ground out to second and David Wright looking at strike three. Nicely done.
7:22 p.m. — Speaking of drawing things up perfectly … how about the Nats in the bottom of the first? They scored three quick runs off Jonathon Niese thanks to Anthony Rendon’s 30th double, Jayson Werth’s 63rd RBI (a bloop single, with Rendon getting a great read and taking off from second right on contact) and Adam LaRoche’s 14th home run (only his second off a lefty this season). LaRoche’s 2-run bomb struck the facade of the second deck in right-center, a legitimate poke for a guy who appears to be getting hot again. After a .159/.238/.227 July, LaRoche has now reached base in 11-of-22 plate appearances in August. It’s 3-0 Nats after one.
7:33 p.m. — Nothing happening for either team in the second inning. Fister got a double-play ball, with a nice turn from Rendon and Espinosa. Niese settled down and retired the bottom of the Nats’ lineup in order. Still 3-0 heading to the second.
7:49 p.m. — Once again, Denard Span has no sense of drama. He singled to left in the bottom of the third, extending his streak to 32 games reaching base safely. He keeps getting this done early in games. Still 3-0 after three.
8:06 p.m. — Bryce Harper drills a base hit to center in the bottom of the fourth, the best contact he’s had in several days. So everybody can calm down now. At least until his next at-bat. To the fifth, still 3-0 Nats.
8:13 p.m. — Fister, meanwhile, just continues to roll. He’s through five scoreless innings on 65 pitches. He’s scattered three singles and hasn’t walked a batter.
8:33 p.m. — On the couple of occasions Fister has looked human tonight, Rendon and Espinosa have done their part to keep the shutout intact with a pair of nifty 5-4-3 double plays. They just turned another with two on and David Wright at the plate in the sixth. So we move to the bottom of the inning, the Nats have led 3-0 since the first.
8:44 p.m. — For all the grief he’s getting, Harper does own a .380 on-base percentage since the All-Star break, thanks to a single and a walk tonight. So he’s not completely lost up there. You know who else isn’t completely lost, at least from the right side of the plate? Danny Espinosa. He just belted a 3-run homer to left. For the season, Espinosa is now hitting .310 with a .383 OBP, .524 slugging percentage and .907 OPS against left-handers. That’s pretty, pretty good. It’s 6-0 Nats after six.
9:02 p.m. — Oh man, Steven Souza Jr. (who replaced Jayson Werth in right field for the top of the seventh) just missed his first career homer by a couple of feet. And what a homer it would’ve been. The ball bounced onto the concourse behind the left-field bleachers. That was a bomb, even if just foul. To the eighth, Fister remains on the mound at 91 pitches, and there is no action whatsoever in the bullpen.
9:19 p.m. — Fister won’t go the distance tonight. He was pulled with two on and one out in the eighth, but that gave us our first look at newcomer Matt Thornton. And there was plenty to like about him. The veteran lefty retired 2 of 3 batters faced, giving up a dribbler of an RBI single to Murphy. He fired several 97 mph fastballs in there. I’m trying to remember other Nats left-handers who have done that over the last decade. I’m not coming up with many, if any. It’s 6-1 Nats heading to the bottom of the eighth.
9:28 p.m. — LaRoche with another homer, his second of the night. It’s 7-1 as Ross Detwiler enters for the ninth.
9:37 p.m. — Ballgame. Nats win 7-1. Fister improves to 11-3 with a 2.49 ERA. And the Nats open up a 4-game lead in the NL East. Which means they are assured of leaving Turner Field on Sunday night in first place, no matter the result of that series.
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)...
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