May 8, 2015, 3:23 PM EDT
After a much-needed off-day, the Nationals are back at it tonight, opening a 3-game weekend series against the Braves, trying to get back to the .500 mark with a victory tonight.
The Nats get Jayson Werth back in the lineup after the veteran left fielder sat out two games (plus the off-day) with his surgically repaired shoulder acting up. There should be plenty of eyes on Werth tonight, both at the plate and in the field, seeing if the rest did him any good.
Gio Gonzalez gets the start against fellow left-hander Eric Stults. Check back for updates throughout please…
ATLANTA BRAVES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 99.1 FM, XM 183
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees, Wind 9 mph RF to LF
CF Denard Span
3B Yunel Escobar
LF Jayson Werth
RF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
C Wilson Ramos
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
LHP Gio Gonzalez
RF Nick Markakis
SS Andrelton Simmons
1B Freddie Freeman
LF Jonny Gomes
C A.J. Pierzynski
3B Alberto Callaspo
2B Phil Gosselin
CF Cameron Maybin
LHP Eric Stults
HP Paul Schrieber
1B Fieldin Culbreth (cc)
2B Jim Reynolds
3B Manny Gonzalez
7:05 p.m. — And we’re underway on a beautiful, 77-degree Friday night in the District. Gio Gonzalez fires strike one to Nick Markakis to get this one going.
7:20 p.m. — And the Braves get a quick run in the top of the first, though not without a bit of controversy. Gonzalez hit Andrelton Simmons on the back foot with a curveball, but Simmons appeared to move that foot out of the batter’s box before getting hit. He wasn’t even originally awarded first base, not until he argued and the umpires conferred. That proved costly, because it put Simmons in position to advance to third base on a double by (who else?) Freddie Freeman and then score on Jonny Gomes’ sac fly. The Nats, meanwhile, went down in order against Eric Stults. So it’s 1-0 Atlanta after one.
7:37 p.m. — The good news: Singles by Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos (now batting .326 with a 12-game hit streak) put runners on the corners with one out in the bottom of the second. The bad news: Neither guy advanced beyond that after Ian Desmond struck out at a 2-2 fastball high and away and Danny Espinosa struck out at an 0-2 fastball. That simply can’t happen like that. Still 1-0 Atlanta after two.
7:53 p.m. — Another inning, another ball roped to the right-center field gap by Freeman. I mean, come on. This one was a double that wound up scoring Simmons from first base, though the Nationals’ relay appeared to have him nailed at the plate … if only Ramos had been able to hold onto the one-hop throw. Yes, that’s a recurring issue. So it’s 2-0 Braves after three, but get a hold of this stat: Over the last two seasons, Freeman is a .295 hitter. But take out his 42-for-89 performance against the Nats, and he’s only a .269 hitter. Yowza!
8:10 p.m. — More good news, bad news in the fourth. Good news: Jayson Werth’s shoulder must be feeling better after three days off ’cause he just clobbered his first homer of the season way into the left-field bleachers. Bad news: Bryce Harper followed with a single to center, then strayed too far off first base and got gunned down by Andrelton Simmons for his first TOOTBLAN of the season. (For the uninitiated, that’s Thrown Out On The Bases Like A Nincompoop.) Nats down 2-1 after four.
8:21 p.m. — Aside from what Freeman has done to him (not to mention every other pitcher wearing a curly W cap) Gonzalez has been pretty good tonight. He has retired seven straight and takes the mound for the top of the sixth having thrown 77 pitches, allowing two runs on four hits with only one walk. The Nats need to get something else going against Stults, though. Still 2-1 Braves.
8:36 p.m. — He’s done it again: Harper has homered. This one was a 2-run moonshot just over the fence in deep left-center, into the Red Porch seats. That’s his fourth homer in seven at-bats, his ninth homer overall this season. And it has given the Nats a 3-2 lead after six innings.
8:56 p.m. — Big insurance run for the Nats in the bottom of the seventh, with Danny Espinosa (who struck out twice right-handed tonight) homering from the left side of the plate. Funny game, this baseball. Gio Gonzalez is done, meanwhile, and this was a fantastic start by the lefty: 7 innings of 2-run ball, with only one walk and eight strikeouts. He retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced. 4-2 Nats as Matt Grace enters for a big top of the eighth against the top of the Atlanta order.
9:12 p.m. — Oh my god, he’s done it again! Bryce Harper with a 3-run homer to right-center in the eighth, his fifth homer in eight at-bats, earning his second curtain call in as many games. He’s now tied for the NL lead with Todd Frazier, with 10 homers overall. Then Espinosa did it again himself, giving the Nat a commanding 9-2 lead.
9:26 p.m. — It’s over. The Nats win 9-2. They’ve won 8 of 10 and are back at .500 for the season.
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.
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