Apr 29, 2015, 3:48 PM EDT
ATLANTA — And so we’re back at Turner Field for the finale of this series, wondering whether the Nationals will use last night’s dramatic victory as a catapult to bigger and better things, or whether it was a mere blip in an otherwise frustrating month of baseball.
Not wanting to mess around with perfection, Matt Williams has the same lineup going for Game 3. That’s not only superstitions at play, but some baseball logic given that lefty Alex Wood is starting for the Braves and Yunel Escobar likely isn’t ready to return yet from his left hand injury.
Jordan Zimmermann gets the ball for the Nationals, who certainly could use a long, quality start tonight from their All-Star right-hander. Updates to come, so please check back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ATLANTA BRAVES
Where: Turner Field, Atlanta
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, XM 869
Weather: Slight chance of rain, 61 degrees, Wind 4 mph in from CF
CF Denard Span
SS Ian Desmond
LF Jayson Werth
RF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
C Wilson Ramos
3B Danny Espinosa
2B Dan Uggla
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
RF Nick Markakis
SS Andrelton Simmons
1B Freddie Freeman
C A.J. Pierzynski
3B Chris Johnson
LF Kelly Johnson
2B Jace Peterson
CF Eric Young Jr.
LHP Alex Wood
HP John Tumpane
1B John Hirschbeck (cc)
2B Bill Welke
3B James Hoye
7:10 p.m. — And we’re underway. Some blue skies have emerged here, but it’s a bit chilly as Alex Wood throws his first pitch of the night to Denard Span.
7:25 p.m. — Well, the Nats are going to have to play catch-up again tonight because the Braves scored twice off Jordan Zimmermann in the bottom of the first. After Nick Markakis singled to lead off, Freddie Freeman doubled to right field (shocking, I know) to improve to 8-for-12 in the series. Both runners then scored on A.J. Pierzynksi’s bloop single to center. A.J. Pierzynski is now hitting .452 for the season. A.J. Pierzynski. On the bright side, he did later forget how many outs there were and got doubled off first base to end the inning. But the Nats trail 2-0 after one.
7:42 p.m. — The Nats struck back to get a run in the top of the second, with Bryce Harper singling to right, aggressively taking second base on Ryan Zimmerman’s drive to the wall in center field, then scoring on Wilson Ramos’ single up the middle. And Zimmermann looked much better in the bottom of the inning, striking out both Kelly Johnson and Eric Young Jr. So it’s 2-1 Atlanta after two.
8:03 p.m. — Ho-hum, just another Freddie Freeman RBI single off the Nats. This one was made possible by Uggla’s throwing error on a possible 6-4-3 double play, so that made it an unearned run off Zimmermann. It’s 3-1 Atlanta after three.
8:25 p.m. — Guess who just delivered a 2-out, bases-clearing double to give the Nationals a 5-3 lead? Why none other than Zimmermann. That’s the Zimmermann with two n’s, not the guy with only one. Jordan came up with the bases loaded, took three balls, then two strikes, then laced a liner to left-center. Everybody came around to score, and the Nats right-hander had himself three RBI on one swing (only one fewer than his career high for an entire season). 5-3 Nats after four.
8:41 p.m. — The Braves get one run back in the fifth, a rally that began with a leadoff walk by Eric Young Jr. That’s a no-no. So it’s 5-4 Nats now, but Alex Wood is out of the game, replaced on the mound by Trevor Cahill.
8:57 p.m. — The Nats respond by taking that run right back in the sixth, thanks to singles by Ramos and Espinosa and a high-chopper RBI groundout by Uggla (who stepped to the plate to the strains of “It’s a Small World After All” on the ballpark organ). So make it 6-4 Nats after six.
9:19 p.m. — Make it 9-4 after another rally off Cahill in the seventh. Werth snapped an 0-for-14 slump with an RBI single to left, and Espinosa sent a broken-bat single to center to bring two more runs home. The bats have come back here in Atlanta this week. And with a diving catch down the right-field line, Harper ended the seventh for Zimmermann, who has pitched quite well since his shaky first inning.
9:39 p.m. — Whoa, Matt Grace struck out Freeman looking at a fastball to end the eighth. That fired up Ramos, who had a fist-pump as he jogged off the field following Grace’s 1-2-3 inning. It remains 9-4 after eight.
9:57 p.m. — It’s over, but not before the Nats pounded out four more runs in the top of the ninth, capped by Denard Span’s second homer in as many nights. Which means the Nats scored 13 runs for the second time in as many nights, the first time that has happened in franchise history. They win 13-4 and head to New York feeling a whole lot better about themselves than they did, oh, 26 hours ago.
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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