Jun 26, 2015, 3:54 PM EDT
PHILADELPHIA — So, let’s see … Anthony Rendon has been placed on the DL with a left quad strain. Bryce Harper is out of the lineup for the second straight day with a tweaked right hamstring. D.C. native Emmanuel Burriss has been called up from Class AAA Syracuse to play for his hometown team. Ryne Sandberg has resigned as Phillies manager. And, oh yeah, Max Scherzer is on the mound tonight seeking to become only the second man in baseball history to throw back-to-back no-hitters. Slow news day, eh?
You can never, ever assume a no-hitter, certainly not a second straight one, but Scherzer is as well-positioned as anyone could possibly be to throw one. At the very least, he’ll look to extend the Nationals’ current streak of 41 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings by starting pitchers.
With Harper and Rendon out, though, the Nationals again have a depleted lineup against Phillies veteran right-hander Aaron Harang. We’ll see if that group can step up and give Scherzer however much run support he needs tonight. [UPDATE AT 6:00 P.M. — Now Denard Span has been scratched with back spasms. That leaves the Nats with only three members of their projected Opening Day lineup starting tonight. Wow.]
Updates to come…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183/869
Weather: Chance of rain, 77 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to LF
Denard Span Michael Taylor
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Yunel Escobar
RF Clint Robinson
C Wilson Ramos
SS Ian Desmond
1B Tyler Moore
Michael Taylor Matt den Dekker
RHP Max Scherzer
CF Odubel Herrera
2B Cesar Hernandez
3B Maikel Franco
1B Ryan Howard
RF Domonic Brown
LF Cody Asche
C Cameron Rupp
SS Freddy Galvis
RHP Aaron Harang
HP Jordan Baker
1B Paul Emmel
2B Jerry Meals (cc)
3B Andy Fletcher
7:05 p.m. — And we’re underway in front of a sparse crowd here in Philly. You definitely heard some Nats fans cheering, though, when Michael Taylor blasting Aaron Harang’s first pitch off the center field wall for a double.
7:25 p.m. — And the Nats take a 1-0 lead thanks to Taylor’s leadoff double, a wild pitch by Harang and then an infield single by Wilson Ramos. Yes, Wilson Ramos. He beat out a chopper over the mound, though umpire Jerry Meals did get in Cesar Hernandez’s way and affected his throw somewhat. So, Max Scherzer took the mound with a 1-0 lead and that’s where it remains after a 1-2-3, 6-pitch, 6-strike bottom of the first for the ace. Mikael Franco did smoke a line drive right at third baseman Danny Espinosa (more on that in a moment) to end the inning. Why was Espinosa at third? Because Yunel Escobar took a pitch off his left hand in the top of the first and went down in a heap of pain. After a long exam by head trainer Lee Kuntz, Escobar remained in the game, trotting down to first base. But when the inning ended, he didn’t re-emerge from the dugout to take his position. So Espinosa shifts to third base, with Dan Uggla now at second base (and batting third). If you’ve lost track, the Nats now have only TWO healthy regulars in their lineup tonight: Ramos and Ian Desmond. Wow.
7:37 p.m. — 6 up, 6 down for Scherzer on a grand total of 15 pitches. Opponents are now 1 for their last 61 against him. ONE for SIXTY-ONE!
7:51 p.m. — 9 up, 9 down for Scherzer on 25 pitches. He hasn’t allowed a hit in his last 14 innings. Opponents are now 1 for their last 64 against him. The Nats’ rotation scoreless streak is now 44 1/3 innings, tied for second-most in the expansion era. It just keeps going on. Nats up 1-0 after three.
8:06 p.m. — 12 up, 12 down for Scherzer on 38 pitches. He hasn’t allowed a hit in his last 15 innings. Opponents are now 1 for their last 67 against him. My lord this is incredible to watch. Still 1-0 after four.
8:14 p.m. — This Scherzer guy does it all. He led off the top of the fifth with a single to right. That’s his sixth straight game with a hit. And he came around to score this time on Espinosa’s sac fly. The Nats added another run when Domonic Brown flat-out dropped Ramos’ line drive right at him. That made it 3-0 as Scherzer took the mound for the bottom of the fifth … to continue what he’s been doing for two weeks now. The Phillies did hit a couple of drives to center field, but nothing found the turf. So it’s 15 up, 15 down. Folks, no matter what ends up happening tonight, this is something really special we’re witnessing. Savor it for all it’s worth. To the sixth we go, the Nats up 3-0.
8:43 p.m. — Well, all good things must come to an end. Freddy Galvis lined a 1-1 pitch from Scherzer down the right-field line with one out in the sixth for a clean double, his first hit allowed in 16 1/3 innings. Oh, well. Which doesn’t mean this still isn’t something incredible. His final line during the no-hit run: 16.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 18 K. And he carried a perfect game into the sixth inning in three consecutive starts. Meanwhile, the Nats lead 5-0 after six thanks to Matt den Dekker’s homer.
9:12 p.m. — Well, there go all the scoreless innings streaks, too, after Hernandez and Brown doubled in the bottom of the seventh. So Scherzer ends up with 24 2/3 consecutive innings, the Nats rotation with 48 consecutive innings without allowing a run. Scherzer legitimately appeared to be laboring in that last inning, not on the same page with Ramos and sweating up a storm. The bullpen was up and warming at one point. Thinking he might be done after seven innings of 1-run, 4-hit ball on 93 pitches. We’ll see. Nats up 5-1.
9:29 p.m. — Nope, Scherzer was back out there for the eighth. And he wound up serving up a home run to … Ben Revere?! Yessir. He completed the inning, but it’s now 5-2 after eight. Gotta think that’s really going to be it for tonight.
9:43 p.m. — Ballgame. Drew Storen finishes off a 5-2 victory for the Nats. They’ve won 7 straight.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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