Apr 8, 2014, 3:23 PM EST
Some four hours before tonight’s scheduled first pitch, Ryan Zimmerman was out on the field, making sidearm throws across the diamond from third base to first base. He then huddled up with Matt Williams, Nationals coaches and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz for several minutes before heading back down the dugout tunnel. The verdict: Zimmerman, who was pulled from Saturday night’s game after an abysmal throw and complaints of a sore shoulder, is not in the lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Marlins.
It’ll be Anthony Rendon again at third base, with Danny Espinosa at second base. Bryce Harper, who also got Sunday off to ease his mind after a 3-for-21 start to the season, is back in left field and batting second against Miami right-hander Henderson Alvarez.
Gio Gonzalez makes his second start of the season, looking to continue what he did in New York on Wednesday. He has enjoyed plenty of success against his hometown Miami club throughout his career, boasting a 4-2 record and 1.76 ERA in six starts.
Updates to come, so please check back…
MIAMI MARLINS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, XM 184, MLB.com
Weather: Clear, 61 degrees, Wind 11 mph LF to RF
CF Denard Span
LF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
3B Anthony Rendon
2B Danny Espinosa
C Jose Lobaton
LHP Gio Gonzalez
SS Adeiny Hechavarria
2B Jeff Baker
RF Giancarlo Stanton
3B Casey McGehee
1B Garrett Jones
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
CF Marcell Ozuna
LF Reed Johnson
RHP Henderson Alvarez
HP Jeff Kellogg (cc)
1B Dan Bellino
2B D.J. Reyburn
3B Toby Basner
7:08 p.m. — And we underway on a chilly night on South Capitol. Combine a Tuesday night in April with the Marlins, and you’re going to get a good idea tonight what the Nats’ season ticket base is. This will probably be the smallest crowd of the year, I’d guess.
7:14 p.m. — A 1-out walk from Gio Gonzalez to Jeff Baker, but otherwise a solid top of the first for the lefty. Hey, he retired Giancarlo Stanton. That’s a major win in my book. Bottom of the first upcoming.
7:22 p.m. — Some 2-out thunder from the Nats in the bottom of the first. After Denard Span and Bryce Harper each grounded out to second (Harper is now 3-for-22 on the young season), Jayson Werth drilled a double to the gap in left-center and Adam LaRoche followed with an RBI, opposite-field single to left. Just like that, the Nats take a 1-0 lead after one.
7:34 p.m. — The Nats are employing a lot of shifts under Matt Williams and new defensive guru Mark Weidemaier, but they don’t always work. Like when Garrett Jones, seeing a completely open left side of the infield, simply drops a bunt down the third base line and gives himself the easiest single in the world. Add another walk, and Gio found himself in a jam in the top of the second. But he battled through it, getting Reed Johnson to line out to center and Henderson Alvarez to fly out to right. So, no harm done. Still 1-0 Nats heading to the bottom of the second.
7:56 p.m. — The good news: Gio has completed three scoreless innings. The bad news: He’s already thrown a whopping 59 pitches, thanks to three singles, two walks and a bunch of deep counts. He’s going to have to get that under control ASAP if he wants to make it through at least six innings tonight. Still 1-0 Nats.
8:20 p.m. — Alvarez, meanwhile, has settled into a nice groove since that first inning. He has allowed only Danny Espinosa’s bunt single since then and just struck out Anthony Rendon to end the fourth, with the Nats still leading 1-0.
8:42 p.m. — Make it six scoreless innings for Gio, who has retired 10 in a row. His pitch count is up to 101, but there’s no stirring in the Nats bullpen just yet. So he may be back out for more. Still 1-0.
9:05 p.m. — Now THERE’S the kind of aggressive baserunning Matt Williams is looking for. With two outs and runners on the corners, Alvarez threw a pitch in the dirt that scooted just a ways out of Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s reach. LaRoche took off from first base, drawing a throw, which prompted Harper (who finally singled after an 0-for-8 drought) to bolt for home. The Marlins would’ve had LaRoche at second, but Jeff Baker couldn’t hang onto the ball and make the tag, so that allowed Harper to score and make this is a 2-0 game. Moments later, Rendon poked a 2-out RBI single to center, knocking Alvarez from the game and extending the lead to 3-0 after six. Here’s Jerry Blevins out of the pen in relief of Gonzalez.
9:23 p.m. — Whoa, Anthony Rendon with a positively Zimmermanesque play to help keep the Marlins from scoring in the top of the seventh. With runners on first and second, Rendon came charging in to scoop Reed Johnson’s bunt barehanded, then fired a perfect strike to LaRoche at first. If he throws that ball away, at least one run scores. Instead, he gave Drew Storen a chance to pitch out of the jam, which he did. So it remains 3-0 at the stretch.
9:39 p.m. — A 1-2-3 eighth from Tyler Clippard, who struck out both Baker and Stanton. The Nats have held Giancarlo to 1-for-4 with a two-out, bases-empty single tonight. That’s a huge win from their perspective. Still 3-0 heading to the bottom of the eighth as Rafael Soriano limbers up.
9:56 p.m. — Have a night, Anthony Rendon. Another clutch hit for the kid, this time a 2-run double. It’s 5-0, and now Soriano has taken a seat, with Aaron Barrett set to pitch the ninth. Soriano has a 62-games-finished clause in his contract that automatically vests his 2015 option. Not looking too good at the moment for him.
10:06 p.m. — That’s your ballgame. Barrett locks down a 5-0 Nats victory to open this series. They’re 5-2 on the season now.
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.
*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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