Aug 20, 2014, 3:27 PM EDT
Only once in their nearly 10 seasons of existence have the Nationals rattled off at least nine straight wins (they did it in June 2005, then added one more for the even 10, establishing the club record). Tonight, they’ll try to make it nine in a row, riding the high of last night’s 8-1 thumping of the Diamondbacks.
Winning streak aside, Matt Williams does have to think about the long-term health of his players. With that in mind, he’s giving Anthony Rendon a rare night off. How rare? Well, he had started 62 straight games, dating back to June 10. Cal Ripken Jr. might not be all that impressed, but in today’s world, it’s not an insignificant feat.
Tanner Roark gets the ball for the Nationals, in search of his 13th win. (And, yes, it’s still remarkable to consider that possibility.) Right-hander Trevor Cahill starts for Arizona. 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, 85 degrees, Wind 9 mph RF to LF
CF Denard Span
2B Asdrubal Cabrera
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
3B Kevin Frandsen
RHP Tanner Roark
CF Ender Inciarte
3B Cliff Pennington
RF David Peralta
1B Mark Trumbo
C Miguel Montero
2B Aaron Hill
LF Alfredo Marte
SS Didi Gregorius
RHP Trevor Cahill
HP Bill Welke
1B James Hoye
2B Bob Davidson (cc)
3B John Tumpane
5:10 p.m. — Weather update: It has started to rain here, and they just covered the infield with the tarp. (Thankfully, this unfurling bore no resemblance to last night’s fiasco at Wrigley Field.) We’ll have to hope this thing blows through quickly and allowed them start on time, but be prepared for a late first pitch.
6:30 p.m. — The rain has passed and they say the game will start at 7:15 p.m. Not too bad, all things considered.
7:17 p.m. — And we’re underway after a brief delay of only 12 minutes. Tanner Roark fires strike one to Ender Inciarte.
7:25 p.m. — A scoreless top of the first for Roark, who allowed a 2-out single to David Peralta, but that’s all. Eighteen pitches for Tanner in the inning.
7:32 p.m. — Denard Span tagged a drive to deep center to lead off the bottom of the first, and it looked like he might have himself yet another double. But Inciarte made a nice play to track it down at the warning track. Looks like Ender’s got some game, huh? (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.) Scoreless after one.
7:48 p.m. — Well, that was kind of interesting. The Nats had runners on the corners with one out and Wilson Ramos at the plate. Ramos hit what looked like the easiest 6-4-3 double play in the world, which should have ended the inning. But Bryce Harper’s hard slide prevented Aaron Hill from even attempting the turn at second base, and so that allowed Ian Desmond to score and give the Nats a 1-0 lead after two.
8:04 p.m. — Roark hasn’t been particularly sharp tonight, but he has managed to get through three scoreless innings. The D’backs have three singles and a walk off him, not to mention several hard-hit balls. But they haven’t been able to string together enough to get a run across the plate.
8:23 p.m. — Another tailor-made, 6-4-3 double play grounder from Ramos with two on and one out in the fourth. This time, Harper could only peel off well before reaching second base, no chance to break it up. Nats still lead 1-0 after four.
8:37 p.m. — Both pitchers have put men on base tonight, but so far the lone run for either team came when Harper broke up that double play in the second. We move to the sixth, still 1-0 Nats.
8:47 p.m. — You know, it’s been an under-appreciated part of his game, but Roark is very good with the glove. He just showed that in snagging a comebacker and starting a 1-6-3 double play to escape a jam in the top of the sixth, preserving this 1-0 lead.
9:11 p.m. — Back-to-back doubles from Cabrera and Werth open up the bottom of the sixth and give the Nats a 2-0 lead. They might’ve tacked on another run, but Ramos couldn’t beat out a very high chopper to third with two out and runners on the corners yet again. Honestly, the only way Ramos is going to beat out a Baltimore Chop is if he can get the ball to bounce all the way up to the International Space Station. 2-0 Nats heading to the seventh.
9:18 p.m. — A really quick top of the seventh for Roark. He has completed seven scoreless on 99 pitches, and that figures to be it for him tonight. His ERA is down to 2.80. Still 2-0 at the stretch.
9:31 p.m. — Tyler Clippard enters for the top of the eighth trying to protect this 2-run lead. And, yes, Matt Williams intends to use Rafael Soriano in the ninth.
9:52 p.m. — Hoo-boy, here we go again. Clippard walked the leadoff man, then served up a 2-run homer to Inciarte, tying this game 2-2. It’s the Nats’ third blown save in four days (two by Clippard, one by Soriano). Drew Storen had to come in and clean up the mess. So now it’s a tie game heading to the bottom of the eighth.
10:04 p.m. — Nothing for the Nats in the bottom of the eighth. So we go tot he ninth, and here’s Rafael Soriano in a tie game. He’ll face the bottom of the D’backs lineup.
10:06 p.m. — A 1-2-3 inning from Soriano, who seemed to have a little more oomph on his fastball tonight after two days off. He hit 93 mph a couple of times. Bottom of the ninth coming up and a chance for another Nats walk-off win.
10:22 p.m. — Nats win! Harper singled, then took third on Frandsen’s single. Anthony Rendon then came off the bench and delivered the game-winning single. That’s 9 in a row, 4 of the last 5 on walk-offs. And the lead in the NL East is up to 7 games.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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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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