Aug 9, 2014, 3:53 PM EDT
ATLANTA — It’s another day here at Turner Field, and as far as the Nationals are concerned, that’s a good. They’d just as soon forget last night’s 7-6 loss (though, truth be told, there was plenty about the manner in which they nearly came all the way back from a 7-0 deficit to leave everybody feeling a bit better about themselves).
The Nationals have Tanner Roark on the mound tonight, and that’s usually been a good thing for them. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA in five career appearances (three starts) against the Braves. Veteran Aaron Harang, however, has been quite good for Atlanta, going 4-0 with a 2.72 ERA over his last 10 starts.
Jayson Werth is back in the lineup after getting last night off to rest his ailing shoulder and ankle. Steven Souza Jr., who jammed his shoulder on that collision with the fence, remains in the active roster. [UPDATE AT 6:00 P.M. — Werth has just been scratched, so apparently he’s not good to go just yet. Bryce Harper will shift to right field, with Kevin Frandsen now in left field.]
Updates to come…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ATLANTA BRAVES
Where: Turner Field
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB Network (outside D.C. market), MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 869, MLB.com
Weather: Thunderstorms, 84 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to CF
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon 2B Asdrubal Cabrera
RF Jayson Werth 3B Anthony Rendon
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
RF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
2B Asdrubal Cabrera LF Kevin Frandsen
RHP Tanner Roark
CF B.J. Upton
2B Tommy La Stella
1B Freddie Freeman
LF Justin Upton
RF Jason Heyward
C Evan Gattis
3B Chris Johnson
SS Emilio Bonifacio
RHP Aaron Harang
HP Greg Gibson
1B Phil Cuzzi
2B Will Little
3B Gerry Davis (cc)
7:03 p.m. — Well, this isn’t good. We’re seven minutes to first pitch, and they just pulled the tarp out and covered the infield. It’s not raining at the moment, but apparently it’s going to soon. So we’re going to be delayed again. Fantastic.
7:45 p.m. — It’s absolutely pouring right now. It’s not supposed to last all night, but it could be awhile before this game gets started. In the meantime, here’s some news for you: The Nats are expected to promote top outfield prospect Michael Taylor from Class AAA. Taylor was a late scratch from Syracuse’s lineup tonight, and he is likely to join the Nats for tomorrow night’s game. Not sure yet whether Jayson Werth or Steven Souza Jr. will be placed on the DL, but it looks like one of them will.
8:45 p.m. — Wish I had a weather update for you, but unfortunately I don’t. The rain has eased up, but it hasn’t stopped yet. There remains no word on a start time.
9:45 p.m. — Still nothing to report. It continues to rain lightly. I would imagine we’re getting close to a make-or-break point. Even if it stops raining right now, it’ll be 10:30 p.m. before the game starts. That’s pushing it.
10:20 p.m. — There WILL be baseball tonight, folks. First pitch at 10:50 p.m. Start brewing some coffee.
10:51 p.m. — And, at long last, we are underway! Only a 3-hour, 41-minute rain delay to get this one started. I do have to say, I’m quite impressed with how many fans waited this out and are still here.
11:00 p.m. — Some pretty good at-bats from the top of the Nats lineup in the top of the first, but it didn’t result in much. Denard Span battled to a full count before flying out to center. Asdrubal Cabrera singled to left and was ready to go first-to-third (at least) on Anthony Rendon’s liner to right-center. But Jason Heyward made a nice, diving catch to rob Rendon of the hit. After Adam LaRoche flied out to left, the Nats were left with nothing to show for the inning.
11:10 p.m. — This just in: Freddie Freeman is very good at baseball. And he has killed the Nats this season. With a 2-out double in t the bottom of the first, he’s now a staggering 22-for-45 with six doubles and four homers this season against Washington. Sweet. Fancy. Moses. Tanner Roark pitched his way out of a two-on, two-out jam, though, getting Heyward to ground out to end a scoreless first.
11:25 p.m. — You know why they spend hours in mid-February practicing 3-6-1 double plays on the back fields in Viera? Because you might just need to turn one at 11:23 p.m. on August 9 in Atlanta. LaRoche, Desmond and Roark just did it to perfection in the bottom of the second, helping Roark post another scoreless inning. 0-0 after two.
11:38 p.m. — In his quest to improve his season batting average against the Nats to an even .500, Freeman drove a ball to the warning track in center field … but no farther. Span hauled it in for the final out of the third inning. Still scoreless. The Nats have hit the ball hard off Harang. The Braves have four baserunners vs. Roark. But nobody has crossed the plate yet.
11:49 p.m. — The Nats had something cooking in the top of the fourth after a leadoff walk by Rendon and a single by LaRoche. But they couldn’t capitalize. Desmond grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Tommy LaStella making a nice play at second base. Then Harper, who has been pitched away, away and more away for weeks, finally got a 91 mph fastball on the inside corner … and took it for strike three. A Ramos groundball ended the inning and kept this a 0-0 game in the middle of the fourth.
12:08 a.m. — The good news: Span tripled to left-center in the top of the fifth, so his streak of games reaching base is now 35 and his hit streak is 13. The bad news: The Nats couldn’t get him home. To the bottom of the fifth we go, still scoreless.
12:14 a.m. — Roark gets another double play to get himself out of a jam in the bottom of the fifth. This time he fielded a Harang bunt and fired to third base, with Rendon then throwing across the diamond to Cabrera covering first. So that’s the old 1-5-4 double play. To the sixth…
12:26 a.m. — More good news: Adam LaRoche launched a 2-0 fastball into the bleachers for his 16th homer of the season, continuing his torrid August and giving the Nats a 1-0 lead. But then bad news: Harper got jammed and appeared to hurt his surgically repaired left thumb. Lee Kuntz and Matt Williams came out to talk to him. He stayed in the game and lined a single to left. But then he appeared to lose track of how many outs there were and kept running the bases on Ramos’ deep flyout to center, getting doubled up to end the inning in quite embarrassing fashion. Not good.
12:40 a.m. — The Braves got a run in the bottom of the sixth, but all things considered, Roark did a heck of job to prevent anything else. He faced a bases-loaded, no-out jam. He actually shattered Heyward’s bat, leading to a flyball to medium center field. Span tried to make the throw home, but it skipped off the pitcher’s mound, so LaStella slid in safely. Roark, though, buckled down after that and struck out Gattis and got Johnson to hit a comebacker. So it’s 1-1 now as we move to the seventh.
12:55 a.m. — That’s seven innings of 1-run ball for Roark on 110 pitches. He retired the side in the bottom of the seventh to presumably conclude his impressive night of work. Harang also is out, it’s Jordan Walden taking the mound for the eighth in what remains a 1-1 game.
1:02 a.m. — Big spot here for Matt Thornton. He enters the bottom of the eighth inning of a 1-1 game, set to face LaStella and Freeman. This is why Mike Rizzo acquired him. Let’s see how he performs.
1:12 a.m. — Good theater in the bottom of the eighth. Thornton gave up a 1-out single to Freeman (now hitting an even .500 for the season against the Nats) but then got Justin Upton to ground into a fielder’s choice and got Heyward to hit a sinking liner to left … where Kevin Frandsen came charging in to make a diving, backhand catch that sends this game to the ninth still tied 1-1. Here comes Craig Kimbrel to face Harper, Ramos and Frandsen.
1:21 a.m. — 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth. Jayson Werth was in the on-deck circle to pinch-hit if anybody got on, so it looks like he won’t be going on the DL tomorrow. Now we go to the bottom of the ninth, and it’s Drew Storen to face Gattis, Johnson and Bonifacio in a 1-1 game.
1:34 a.m. — We are going to extra innings, folks. Storen had two on with two out in the bottom of the ninth, but got B.J. Upton to ground out. So we go to the 10th!
1:42 a.m. — Nine straight Nats hitters have been retired by the Braves bullpen, including three more in the top of the 10th by David Carpenter. It’s now Tyler Clippard in to face the heart of the Atlanta lineup in the bottom of the 10th.
1:56 a.m. — To the 11th! We’ve been in this ballpark so long, Sid Bream was playing first base when we walked in. No, seriously. He was part of the Braves’ alumni game this afternoon.
2:21 a.m. — The Nats take the lead. It only required three singles, a walk, two pitching changes and then an insurance double from Frandsen to make this a 4-1 game. It was 5-1 for a moment, but Fredi Gonzalez successfully challenged that Ramos (who delivered the go-ahead single) was out on a play at the plate at the end of the Frandsen hit. So we go to the bottom of the 11th, and here’s Rafael Soriano to try to close it out.
2:29 a.m. — It’s over. It’s all over. Nats win 4-1 in 11 innings. They’re back up 4 1/2 games in the NL East. Go to sleep, everyone.
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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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