Apr 27, 2015, 3:39 PM EDT
ATLANTA — Hello from Turner Field, where the Nationals arrive reeling from a 5-game losing streak and weekend sweep in Miami, hoping tonight is the night things take a turn for the better. They’ll of course need a better offensive showing against Braves left-hander Eric Stults than they had over the last few days against the Marlins.
Matt Williams is trying a bit of a new luck with his lineup: Ryan Zimmerman will bat second tonight. He did it once last year (on Opening Day, actually) and did it 42 times in 2013 when Davey Johnson was manager. We’ll see if it makes a difference tonight.
Doug Fister gets the ball against a Braves lineup that looks much different than the last time we saw it. To wit: A.J. Pierzynski is batting cleanup.
Updates to come…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ATLANTA BRAVES
Where: Turner Field, Atlanta
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, ESPN (outside D.C. market), MLB.tv
Radio: 99.1 FM, XM 869
Weather: Partly cloudy, 68 degrees, Wind 9 mph LF to RF
CF Denard Span
1B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Jayson Werth
CF Bryce Harper
3B Yunel Escobar
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
2B Danny Espinosa
RHP Doug Fister
RF Nick Markakis
SS Andrelton Simmons
1B Freddie Freeman
C A.J. Pierzynski
3B Alberto Callaspo
LF Kelly Johnson
2B Jace Peterson
CF Eric Young Jr.
LHP Eric Stults
HP Bill Welke
1B James Hoye
2B John Tumpane
3B John Hirschbeck (cc)
7:10 p.m. — And we’re underway on a 64-degree night here at Turner Field. Small gathering on a Monday night.
7:27 p.m. — Doug Fister’s command hasn’t been quite what we’ve come to expect so far this season, and it certainly wasn’t in the bottom of the first tonight. He walked the first batter he faced, Nick Markakis, on five pitches, then issued another walk later in the inning. In between, Freddie Freeman doubled down the right-field line and A.J. Pierzynski sent a flyball to medium left field that was deep enough to bring Markakis home. So the Nats already are staring up at a 1-0 deficit, something they certainly didn’t want to face tonight.
7:41 p.m. — Better stuff from Fister in the bottom of the second, despite a leadoff single by Jace Peterson. Fister made up for it by picking off Peterson at second base to end the inning. The Nats, on the other hand, have hit several balls hard (including drives to the warning track by both Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond) but have nothing to show for it so far. Still 1-0 Atlanta after two.
7:59 p.m. — The Nats are on the board, thanks to doubles from Espinosa (his first hit in six at-bats against lefties this season) and Zimmerman (who roped one down the left-field line for a 2-out RBI). Zim also made a pair of impressive plays at first base in the bottom of the inning, including one in which he somehow kept his right foot (the injured one) on the bag despite a way-off-target throw from Escobar. So it’s 1-1 after three now.
8:18 p.m. — The Braves get one back in the bottom of the fourth, thanks to back-to back singles from Callaspo and Johnson to open the inning. Callaspo wound up scoring on Peterson’s sac fly to center, though Span did double up Johnson trying to take second on the play, so the Nats traded one run for two outs. It’s 2-1 Atlanta after four.
8:41 p.m. — Oh boy, another injury for the Nats as Escobar got spiked in the left hand by Simmons on a play at third base. Simmons knocked Escobar’s glove completely off. After a brief visit with a trainer, Escobar was led off the field, with Espinosa moving to third base and Dan Uggla taking over at second. Stay tuned for updates. It’s still 2-1 Atlanta after five.
9:02 p.m. — Make it 5-1 Atlanta after a disastrous sixth inning for Fister. He served up a 2-run homer to Kelly Johnson. Then he committed his second error in as many innings on a wayward pickoff attempt. That set up a perfectly executed suicide squeeze and essentially ended Fister’s night. The Nats, who have one run on three hits through six innings for the second straight day, now need a late rally.
9:39 p.m. — This one has turned ugly, for multiple reasons. The Nats got a run in the top of the seventh to trim the lead to 5-2, but then reliever Rafael Martin entered for the bottom of the inning and on his first pitch hit Simmons in the back. The Braves dugout was incensed, believing Martin did it on purpose in retaliation for Simmons’ spiking of Escobar. Jonny Gomes, who you may remember is a bit of an emotional guy, was ejected from the Braves dugout. Umps issued warnings. And the Braves got their payback by scoring two more runs off Martin. It’s 7-2 after seven.
10:09 p.m. — Some life from the Nats in the top of the eighth, thanks to Dan Uggla’s Little League home run (triple plus error). That trimmed the deficit to 7-4, but boy it sure made those two runs surrendered by Martin after the plunking look mighty big. And then Aaron Barrett gave up another insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, making it 8-4. So they’re down to their last three outs now, needing four runs in the ninth.
10:18 p.m. — And that’s the ballgame. Nats lose 8-4. They’ve lost 6 in a row. They’re 7-13. They’re 8 games back in the NL East. Max Scherzer won’t be starting tomorrow night. And we don’t know what Yunel Escobar’s status is at the moment. Other than that…
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
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)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 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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