Aug 18, 2014, 3:31 PM EST
Their season-opening Nos. 1 and 2 starters have struggled. Their young phenom outfielder hasn’t quite put it all together yet. Their face-of-the-franchise third baseman has missed most of the season due to injury. And their closer inspires confidence in few right now. … Yet the Nationals, owners of the best record in the NL, tonight will try to extend their winning streak to seven games. Suffice it to say, it’s been a strange season here.
After back-to-back sweeps of the Mets and Pirates, the Nationals now open a 4-game set with the Diamondbacks, who are slogging their way through a miserable season that has included plenty of injuries, including MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt. Jordan Zimmermann will be facing a lineup not exactly teeming with household names.
The Nationals’ lineup, on the other hand, welcomes back Jayson Werth (who is starting for the first time in eight days on the heels of his dramatic performance off the bench last night). One minor surprise: Despite left-hander Vidal Nuno pitching for Arizona, it’s Asdrubal Cabrera at second base, not Danny Espinosa.
Updates to come…
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS 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: Chance of storms, 82 degrees, Wind 8 mph RF to LF
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
2B Asdrubal Cabrera
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
CF Ender Inciarte
2B Aaron Hill
RF David Peralta
LF Mark Trumbo
C Miguel Montero
1B Jordan Pacheco
3B Jake Lamb
SS Didi Gregorius
LHP Vidal Nuno
HP Bob Davidson (cc)
1B John Tumpane
2B Bill Welke
3B James Hoye
7:07 p.m. — We’re underway, though you wouldn’t know it much from the buzz (or lack thereof) in the ballpark tonight. It’s a paltry crowd. Not that Monday nights against the Diamondbacks usually bring them out in droves, but this is the smallest gathering we’ve seen here in a really long time.
7:23 p.m. — A scoreless first inning here. Both pitchers issued leadoff walks but both wiped out those runners. Zimmermann got a 3-6-3 double play grounder out of David Peralta. Vidal Nuno picked off Denard Span, though it sure looked like the D’backs lefty stepped toward the plate as he threw to first. No balk call, though, even with the one and only Bob Davidson behind the plate tonight.
7:32 p.m. — Nothing happening in the second inning for either team. Adam LaRoche did drive a ball to deep center, coming within a few feet of his sixth homer in 12 games, but he didn’t quite get enough of it to the deepest part of the park.
7:38 p.m. — Another nice double play turned by the Nats in the top of the third, with Rendon, Desmond and Cabrera combining on a nifty, 5-6-4 twin-killing on a bunt attempt. Three scoreless innings in the books for Zimmermann.
7:46 p.m. — Scary moment in the bottom of the third as Asdrubal Cabrera took Didi Gregorius’ knee to the side of his head while sliding into second base. He went down in a heap, and Gregorius immediately motioned to the Nationals’ dugout, with Matt Williams and Lee Kuntz racing out to check on their injured player. Cabrera eventually walked off the field very slowly, then said whatever he needed to say to convince Williams and Kuntz he could stay in the game. He’s back out there at second base for the top of the fourth of what remains a 0-0 game.
7:54 p.m. — Make it four scoreless innings for Zimmermann on a scant 39 pitches. Yes, 39 pitches. For comparison’s sake, at this same point two nights ago, Gio Gonzalez had thrown 79 pitches. Slight difference.
8:12 p.m. — The D’backs didn’t do much against Zimmermann in the top of the fifth, but they did just enough to plate the first run of the night. After Mark Trumbo drew a leadoff walk and Miguel Montero singled to right, Kirk Gibson made the slightly unconventional decision to have his No. 6 hitter (Jordan Pacheco) sacrifice bunt with two on and nobody out. It worked, though, because it put Trumbo in position to score on Jake Lamb’s sac fly to center. So the Nats trail 1-0 heading to the bottom of the fifth, having been unable to get anything going so far against the crafty Nuno.
8:23 p.m. — Ugh, we just had a major TOOTBLAN by Bryce Harper. (If you don’t know what that means, check out this excellent website.) He lined a sharp single to right field, then made a wide turn around first base, froze and was dead meat. There simply was no chance of him trying to turn that into a double. None. What makes that all the more inexcusable is the fact that Harper is the guy who is always trying to throw behind the runner at first base, catching him too far off the base. That’s HIS move! Nats still down 1-0 after five.
8:35 p.m. — Nuno is just having his way with the Nats lineup. He’s through six scoreless innings, having allowed four singles and a walk while striking out six. Cabrera is the only guy on the roster who has ever seen him before, and it shows. They can’t seem to figure this lefty out at all. Still 1-0 heading to the seventh.
8:51 p.m. — Well, Wilson Ramos just figured out Nuno, and the Nats couldn’t be happier about that. The Buffalo destroyed a 1-2 breaking ball from Nuno to center field for a 2-run homer that suddenly puts this team up 2-1 heading to the eighth. Bout time.
9:08 p.m. — Uh-oh, Zimmermann just gave both runs right back. He was burned by a leadoff walk for the second time tonight, serving up a 2-run homer to Gregorius on a 3-2 fastball down and in. Thus ends an otherwise dominant night for the right-hander, who suddenly finds himself in line to take the loss unless the Nats can rally again. They now trail 3-2 heading to the bottom of the eighth.
9:19 p.m. — But back come the Nats. Span doubled, Rendon tripled and Werth drove in the go-ahead run with a sac fly. So it’s 4-3 Nats heading to the ninth, and here’s Tyler Clippard for the save after Rafael Soriano was used four of the last five days.
9:30 p.m. — Oh, no. Clippard served up a towering homer to David Peralta, off the facing of the second deck in right field, blowing the save. We’re going to the bottom of the ninth in what is now a 4-4 game. Crazy.
9:37 p.m. — And we’re going to extra innings again, folks, after Oliver Perez (yes, THAT Oliver Perez) retired the side in the bottom of the ninth. It’s Drew Storen to pitch the top of the 10th for the Nats.
9:48 p.m. — Peralta came within a couple inches of giving the D’backs the lead again, but his liner over first base was just foul, and Storen then got him to ground out, stranding the go-ahead runner on third. So we move to the bottom of the 10th.
9:58 p.m. — To the 11th, for the second straight day! Here’s Craig Stammen. I would imagine he’ll be going more than one inning if needed.
10:15 p.m. — Wow, what an escape act by Stammen. He loaded the bases with nobody out, then battled back to get out of it. He struck out Lamb and Gregorius, then got pinch-hitter Cliff Pennington to ground out to second. So we move to the bottom of the 11th, and it’s still 4-4.
10:23 p.m. — Adam LaRoche. First career walk-off homer. Nats have won 7 in a row, 3 in a row on walk-offs.
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.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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