Jun 9, 2015, 3:39 PM EDT
NEW YORK — Hello from the Bronx, at the venerable corner of 161st Street and River Avenue. The big sign out in left-center field says we’re at “Yankee Stadium” but of course anyone who came here to watch a ballgame pre-2009 knows the real Yankee Stadium was across the street. This place is called Yankee Stadium. It was designed to look like Yankee Stadium. But it’s not really Yankee Stadium.
Anyway, the Nationals will be facing the real New York Yankees tonight in the opener of a brief, 2-game interleague series. It’s a rematch of the series at Nationals Park last month, swept by the Nats, who will try to make it three in a row over the Bronx Bombers tonight. They’ve got their best pitcher on the mound, with Max Scherzer seeking his seventh win and possibly to reduce his 1.85 ERA. This is Scherzer’s fifth career start in this ballpark; he’s 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA and an unusually high 14 walks in the previous four.
Masahiro Tanaka takes the mound for the Yankees in only his sixth start of the season (second since coming off the DL). Nobody on the Nationals’ current roster has ever faced the Japanese right-hander before, so that should make for an interesting encounter.
UPDATE AT 6:03 P.M. — Lineup change for the Nats: Denard Span was scratched. He wanted to test out his back (which suffered from spasms on Sunday) during BP today, and apparently something didn’t feel right. So Michael Taylor will now start in center field and bat ninth, with Yunel Escobar taking over leadoff duties.
Updates to come…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at NEW YORK YANKEES
Where: Yankee Stadium, New York
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, Ch. 9, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 176/869
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 78 degrees, Wind 11 mph out to LF
CF Denard Span DH Yunel Escobar
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Clint Robinson
C Wilson Ramos
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Michael Taylor
(RHP Max Scherzer)
CF Brett Gardner
3B Chase Headley
DH Alex Rodriguez
1B Mark Teixeira
C Brian McCann
RF Carlos Beltran
SS Didi Gregorius
2B Stephen Drew
LF Ramon Flores
(RHP Masahiro Tanaka)
HP Gary Cederstrom (cc)
1B Eric Cooper
2B Lance Barksdale
3B Quinn Wolcott
7:09 p.m. — And we’re underway on what turned out to be a gorgeous evening here in the Bronx. It’s 83 degrees under clear skies as Yunel Escobar takes ball one from Masahiro Tanaka.
7:26 p.m. — The first inning featured six total batters and none of them reaching base, but it was still mighty compelling stuff. The Nats really made Tanaka work, forcing him to throw 21 pitches to only three batters, including 10 to Bryce Harper alone during a real battle to end the top of the first. Max Scherzer was far more efficient, needing only 13 pitches during his 1-2-3 inning, only three to strike out Alex Rodriguez.
7:44 p.m. — Kind of the opposite happened in the second inning. Tanaka cruised through a 10-pitch inning that included a strikeout of Clint Robinson on a pitch at the ankles, while Scherzer needed 19 pitches to face four batters, giving up a double to Brian McCann along the way. He did strike out Carlos Beltran on a 96-mph fastball, again showing the ability to dial that pitch up when he needs a punch-out. Scoreless after two.
8:02 p.m. — What is it about opposing No. 8 hitters and Max Scherzer? He just gave up his third homer to them in his last two starts, leaving a 2-2 fastball down and in to Stephen Drew, who sent it flying over the right-field wall to put the Yankees up 1-0 in the third. Weird stuff. The Nats, meanwhile, have yet to put someone on base against Tanaka in three innings, with three strikeouts, all on pitches well below the knees. They’ve got to be more disciplined than that against this guy.
8:17 p.m. — Welcome to Yankee Stadium, Bryce! He just crushed a low fastball from Tanaka over the wall, just to the left of Monument Park. In this stadium, that’s a poke. It’s Harper’s 20th homer of the season, and we’re only in Game No. 58. And it ties this one up, 1-1 after four.
8:52 p.m. — Wow, wacky stuff in the bottom of the sixth. After Mark Teixeira doubled with one out, Brian McCann singled into shallow center field. Teixeira probably should’ve scored, but he held up around second base to make sure the ball wasn’t caught. So that put runners on the corners with one out. At which point Carlos Beltran hit a sinking liner to center that Michael Taylor either caught or trapped. I’m still not entirely sure. Regardless, the runners both held, so Taylor threw in to second base and the Nats got a force out from the play. Why Teixeira held up at third, I have no idea. He could’ve easily tagged up and scored and given the Yankees the lead. That proved huge because Scherzer followed all this by striking out Didi Gregorius on his 100th pitch of the night. So somehow this remains a 1-1 game after six, after a crucial sequence there.
9:20 p.m. — Well, things took a decided turn for the worse for the Nats in the bottom of the seventh. Scherzer began the inning at 100 pitches but gave up 1-out singles to Flores and Gardner. With his pitch count now at 113, Scherzer got a visit from Steve McCatty but stayed in the game. He got a quick out of Headley, setting up a huge encounter with A-Rod, who smashed the first pitch to the hole at shortstop. Desmond made a fantastic diving stop but then tried to throw the lead runner out at third and wound up hitting him in the leg, the ball skipping into the dugout for an error. On replay, it looked like Desmond had enough time to hop to his feet and throw to first to get the slow-running A-Rod. He didn’t, though, and that changed the entire inning. Matt Thornton entered but gave up RBI hits to McCann and Beltran. And so now it’s a 5-1 Yankees lead all of a sudden, with the Nats needing to rally against the really tough back end of the New York bullpen.
9:30 p.m. — Nothing happening in the top of the eighth, so now the Nats are really up a creek. Still down 5-1 with 3 outs to go.
9:42 p.m. — Stephen Drew’s second homer of the night makes it 6-1 and makes the challenge all the more daunting for the Nats.
10:00 p.m. — That’ll do it. Nats lose 6-1, their ninth loss in 11 games.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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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)...
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SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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