Jun 23, 2015, 3:57 PM EDT
The Nationals enter Tuesday coming off arguably their best series of the 2015 season, a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates highlighted by Max Scherzer’s no-hitter and two homers by Bryce Harper.
Now they welcome the Atlanta Braves, who have surprised many by beginning the season 35-35 despite trading away most of their best players over the winter. They battle the Nats, however, without Freddie Freeman, who is not only their best hitter but a guy who has had ridiculous luck against the Nats over the years with a .344 average, nine homers and 44 RBI in 79 games. Freeman is on the disabled list with a right wrist contusion.
Stephen Strasburg (3-5, 6.55) makes his return from the disabled list after recovering from a strained left trapezius muscle. He will go up against lefty Alex Wood (4-4, 3.40).
For more on Strasburg’s activation from the disabled list, click here.
Updates to come, so please check back…
ATLANTA BRAVES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183
Weather: Scattered T-storms, 88 degrees, Wind 5 mph out to CF
CF Denard Span
2B Anthony Rendon
3B Yunel Escobar
RF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
SS Danny Espinosa
1B Tyler Moore
LF Michael Taylor
RHP Stephen Strasburg
2B Jace Peterson
CF Cameron Maybin
RF Nick Markakis
C A.J. Pierzynski
3B Juan Uribe
1B Chris Johnson
SS Andrelton Simmons
LF Eury Perez
LHP Alex Wood
HP Sam Holbrook
1B Ed Hickox
2B Mike Estabrook
3B Dana DeMuth (cc)
6:25 p.m. — Weather update: The start of tonight’s game will be delayed. It hasn’t started raining yet, but it’s on the way, and it’s going to be heavy. Stay tuned for updates…
7:45 p.m. — It’s been pouring — and I mean POURING — for a good hour now, but it does look like there’s some clearing to the north and west. It’ll still take awhile to get the field ready and the pitchers warmed up, but there probably will be baseball tonight at some point.
8:30 p.m. — The rain stopped awhile ago, and they started to get the field ready … only to watch as it began raining again, so the field has been covered up again. Don’t think this one is going to last long, though.
8:38 p.m. — First pitch at 9:15 p.m.!
9:17 p.m. — And we’re underway at last after a 2-hour, 12-minute rain delay. Stephen Strasburg fires a 96-mph ball to Jace Peterson to get this one started.
9:33 p.m. — A solid top of the first for Strasburg. He threw 20 pitches, 15 of them strikes (eight of those foul balls) with a fastball that consistently sat at 97 mph and topped out at 98 mph. He did give up a couple of hard-hit balls (Jace Peterson’s leadoff flyout to the warning track in center, Nick Markakis’ 2-out single to center) but overall was pretty good. The top of the Nats lineup, delivered against Alex Wood. Denard Span led off with a double off the wall in right-center, then scored moments later on Anthony Rendon’s RBI single. How many times did those two do that last season? It’s starting to happen this season. Nats up 1-0 after one.
9:47 p.m. — Another scoreless inning for Strasburg, this one requiring only 12 pitches, 9 strikes. He’s definitely pounding the strike zone. His command within the strike zone probably could use a little work, but overall he’s been solid so far. Still 1-0 Nats after two.
10:15 p.m. — The Nats make it 2-0 in the third thanks to a base hit by Michael Taylor, an error by Cameron Maybin, some aggressive baserunning by Taylor (who stole third with nobody out and Strasburg at the plate) and then an RBI single by Span. Denard, man, he makes this lineup work.
10:40 p.m. — Make it 3-0 after an RBI single by Taylor in the bottom of the fourth. Seven hits for the Nats so far. Strasburg, meanwhile, has five strikeouts (all on high fastballs) through four scoreless. The only downside: He’s at 68 pitches.
11:00 p.m. — That’ll do it for Strasburg, and it was a big step forward for him tonight. He went five scoreless innings, allowing four hits and one walk, striking out six and allowing only one Brave to reach second base. Yes, his pitch count (94 total, 64 strikes) was too high for only five innings, but that’s a small quibble on this night. His fastball command was sharp, and though his off-speed stuff didn’t crackle, that’ll come around. This was nothing but a positive performance for Strasburg, who departs with the Nats up 3-0 after five. Tanner Roark takes over now.
Chase taking over while Mark writes his postgame story
11:16 p.m. — No runs to report on in the sixth inning. Roark set the Braves down 1-2-3 before the Nats couldn’t take advantage of a leadoff single by Ramos. It’s still 3-0 with the seventh inning up next. Roark will go back out there.
11:31 p.m. — Nothing much for either team in the seventh inning. The Braves went down in order and the Nats saw only Rendon get on base. Rendon notched his fourth hit of the night and has now raised his season batting average from .230 to .277 all in one game.
11:57 p.m. — The Braves finally got a run of their own in the eighth inning on a solo homer by Cameron Maybin. He smacked a ball to the lawn in center field off Matt Thornton. Atlanta, however, should have had a few more as they left two runners on base with Uribe flied out against David Carpenter. Ramos doubled and Espinosa followed with a single, but the Nats did not score in the eighth. Here comes Drew Storen for the ninth.
12:11 p.m. — Ramos catches a pop fly by Maybin with the bases loaded and this one’s over. Nats beat the Braves 3-1, move to 38-33 on 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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