Aug 15, 2014, 3:42 PM EST
The Nationals showed this week they could have their way with a struggling team like the Mets. Now we’ll find out how they fare against a Pirates club that despite injuries to Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole currently holds one of the NL’s two wild card positions.
Jayson Werth is not in the Nats’ lineup for the sixth time in seven games. Hopefully we’ll get an update on his ailing right shoulder in a little while. Michael Taylor gets another chance to start in right field in Werth’s place.
Tanner Roark takes the mound for the Nationals, seeking his 12th win. He’s opposed by Pirates sinkerballer Charlie Morton. Updates to come on a gorgeous evening in the District…
PITTSBURGH PIRATES 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, 76 degrees, Wind 4 mph out to LF
CF Denard Span
2B Asdrubal Cabrera
3B Anthony Rendon
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
RF Michael Taylor
RHP Tanner Roark
SS Josh Harrison
RF Gregory Polanco
C Russell Martin
2B Neil Walker
CF Starling Marte
LF Travis Snider
1B Ike Davis
3B Pedro Alvarez
RHP Charlie Morton
HP Tom Woodring
1B Mark Wegner (cc)
2B Andy Fletcher
3B Mike Muchlinski
7:06 p.m. — We are underway here on a spectacular August night in the District. Tanner Roark delivers strike one to Josh Harrison.
7:16 p.m. — The top of the Pirates lineup really made Roark work — he needed 21 pitches just to face the night’s first three batters — but the right-hander emerged unscathed. Gregory Polanco drew a walk, stole second and took third on Russell Martin’s flyball to right, but Roark got Neil Walker to also fly out to end the inning. Bottom of the first coming up.
7:38 p.m. — Charlie Morton looks very hittable tonight, and the Nats took advantage of that in the bottom of the first. Their first six batters all reached base against the right-hander, the only out coming when Denard Span was thrown out trying (foolishly, I might add) to steal third base. No matter, because Adam LaRoche delivered an RBI single and Bryce Harper added his own 2-run single on a 3-2 pitch. Wilson Ramos did kill the possibility of a huge inning when he grounded the first pitch he saw into a double play, but it’s tough to complain about a 3-0 lead after one inning.
7:48 p.m. — Roark is through two scoreless innings. The only knock so far: His pitch count is already at 45 despite having faced only eight batters.
8:00 p.m. — Better stuff from Roark in the top of the third, during which he retired the side on 12 pitches. So he’s at a more manageable 57 for the night, with the Nats still leading 3-0.
8:15 p.m. — And the Nats keep piling on Morton. Four more batters reached base in the bottom of the third, two of them scoring (on RBI singles by LaRoche and Ramos). It’s 5-0 and things are looking quite good so far.
8:31 p.m. — But not as good as they looked 16 minutes ago. The Pirates just got three runs back against Roark in the top of the fourth. Neil Walker doubled, then Starling Marte hammered a hanging slider for a 2-run homer. Travis Snider walked and then scored from first on Pedro Alvarez’s double to right-center, though he would’ve been out had Ramos been able to hang onto a short-hop throw to the plate. So just like that, it’s a 5-3 game, with a whole lotta baseball left to be played.
8:52 p.m. — Roark gets back on track in the fifth, retiring the side. Really, aside from that awful fourth inning, he’s been quite good tonight. Still 5-3, middle of the fifth.
9:04 p.m. — Yes, the Nats have scored five runs in five innings tonight. They’ve also put 14 men on base already, so they really could (and probably should) have scored more than this. They had another great chance in the bottom of the fifth after Desmond and Harper singled off Jeanmar Gomez. But Ramos grounded into a double play on the first pitch he saw, killing that rally. So Ramos now has seen a total of three pitches in three at-bats tonight, making four outs while driving in one run. Not a whole lot of wasted energy from the Buffalo. It’s still 5-3 heading to the sixth.
9:15 p.m. — 107 pitches over 5 2/3 innings was as far as Matt Williams was willing to let Roark go tonight, so the right-hander was pulled with a man on in the sixth. In came Jerry Blevins to face Ike Davis, but Clint Hurdle countered with Gaby Sanchez, a favorable matchup for the Pirates. Props to Blevins, then, for getting Sanchez to hit a groundball that ended he inning. That’s a big out for him against a right-handed hitter. Still 5-3 going to the bottom of the sixth.
9:35 p.m. — A 1-2-3 seventh inning from Drew Storen, helping bridge the gap. The Nats pitching staff has been quite good tonight aside from that weird fourth inning from Roark. Stretch time, still 5-3 Nats.
9:51 p.m. — And now a 1-2-3 eighth inning from Tyler Clippard. That’s seven batters faced, seven batters retired tonight by the Nats bullpen. They have protected a 5-3 lead as Rafael Soriano begins to loosen up in the pen for the ninth.
9:59 p.m. — OK, here’s Soriano. He’ll face Marte, Snider and Sanchez in the ninth inning of a 5-3 game.
10:11 p.m. — Ballgame. Nats win 5-4 after Soriano gave up back-to-back 2-out hits that brought home one run and left the tying runner at third. They’ve won 4 straight and are a season-best 14 games over .500.
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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