May 11, 2015, 6:22 PM EDT
PHOENIX — Hello from Chase Field, where the roof is currently open and is scheduled to remain open for tonight’s series opener between the Nationals and Diamondbacks. As I type this, it’s 93 degrees here in the Valley of the Sun, but the wind chill is only 89! (This is what they mean when they talk about the “dry heat”.)
Max Scherzer returns to Phoenix to face his old team for the first time, pitching on normal rest while Stephen Strasburg is pushed back one day after his little bout of shoulder blade discomfort. The right-hander is coming off a start that didn’t look great statistically (five earned runs, 10 hits) but actually was quite an impressive outing (10 strikeouts, zero walks).
Josh Collmenter gets the ball for the D’backs, trying to contain a Nationals lineup that has been tearing it up over the last week, with a certain 22-year-old slugger playing a significant role in that upswing. This is a great hitter’s park, especially with the roof open. Might be worth staying up late tonight to see what Bryce Harper might have in store.
Updates to come…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Where: Chase Field, Phoenix
Gametime: 9:40 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, XM 869
Weather: Sunny, 91 degrees, Wind 4 mph out to RF
CF Denard Span
3B Yunel Escobar
LF Jayson Werth
RF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
C Wilson Ramos
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
RHP Max Scherzer
RF Ender Inciarte
CF A.J. Pollack
1B Paul Goldschmidt
LF David Peralta
3B Yasmani Tomas
2B Aaron Hill
SS Chris Owings
C Tuffy Gosewisch
RHP Josh Collmenter
HP Joe West (cc)
1B Kerwin Danley
2B Rob Drake
3B D.J. Reyburn
9:40 p.m. — And we’re underway, and so is Denard Span. He launched the second pitch of the game into the right-field stands for a leadoff homer, his third of the season. It’s 94 degrees and dry here tonight. Ball’s gonna fly.
9:56 p.m. — Like I said … Man, what a top of the first for the Nats. After Span’s leadoff homer, Yunel Escobar singled and Jayson Werth walked. That brought up Bryce Harper with two on and nobody out, and he juuuuust missed connecting for another homer. He got under it just a tad and flied out to the warning track under the right-field foul pole. No matter, though, because Ryan Zimmerman followed with a towering, 3-run homer to left-center. It’s 4-0 Nats after one inning, and they looked poised for a big night at the plate against Josh Collmenter.
10:21 p.m. — Wow, this is nuts. The Nats just completed the top of the second. They now lead 10-0. Yes, that’s 10. They scored 10 runs before making five outs. The big hits in the 6-run second came from Span (RBI single), Harper (battled back from an 0-2 count to work it full, fouled off a couple and then singled to right-center) and Ramos (bases-clearing double to extend his hitting streak to 14 games). Collmenter lasted only 1 1/3 innings, giving up nine of the runs. His ERA when he took the mound 40 minutes ago was 3.40. Now it’s 5.21. Again, it’s 10-0 Nats in the middle of the second. 10-0.
10:37 p.m. — Whoa, a scoreless top of the third for the Nats. What a letdown. Meanwhile, Max Scherzer has retired all six batters he’s faced so far tonight, needing only 21 pitches to do it. He has looked really sharp.
10:46 p.m. — But not quite sharp enough to do something really special tonight. Chris Owings led off the bottom of the third by beating out a grounder to the hole at short, giving the D’backs their first hit (and baserunner) of the night against Scherzer. They also got a sharp single to right-center by Ender Inciarte, but Scherzer otherwise got through the inning clean. We’re through three here, and it’s still 10-0 Nats.
10:54 p.m. — Guys are starting to swing at everything, perhaps a concession on both sides that this one is out of reach. The Diamondbacks also pulled Paul Goldschmidt after only three innings. Scherzer is through four scoreless on 40 pitches.
11:14 p.m. — So, Yunel Escobar is 4-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored so far tonight. And it’s only the fifth inning. That tells you what kind of game it’s been. 11-0 Nats after five.
11:31 p.m. — There will be no shutout tonight. Jordan Pacheco homered off Scherzer in the bottom of the sixth. So it’s 11-1 now. Meanwhile, both Zimmerman and Werth have been pulled.
11:53 p.m. — Man, oh man, how good is Escobar right now? He’s gone 5-for-5 for the second time in a week! He’s now batting .342 for the season. And he’ll probably get another at-bat tonight. Stay tuned. Scherzer, meanwhile, is through seven innings, with an 11-1 lead comfortably in hand.
12:07 a.m. — To the ninth we go. Scherzer was taken out after his seven strong innings, replaced by Blake Treinen, who pitched a scoreless eighth. Escobar’s chances of another at-bat don’t look so good, though.
12:23 a.m. — That’s it. The Nats win 11-1. Escobar didn’t get to bat again, sadly. But the team has won five in a row and 11 of 13. They’ve also climbed to within 2 1/2 games of the Mets in the NL East.
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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