Jul 11, 2015, 3:29 PM EDT
BALTIMORE — Hello again from Camden Yards, where again the humidity is down and we’re in for what appears to be a beautiful night for baseball. It’s Game 2 of this weekend’s Battle of the Beltways, and after losing last night in walk-off fashion, the Nationals need to get back on track and avoid dropping their fourth straight.
It’s Jordan Zimmermann on the mound, just about 36 hours after the birth of he and wife Mandy’s second child, Ava. The birth took place in the area, so Zimmermann didn’t have to fly anywhere, and so he says he’s good to go. Sammy Solis was optioned to Class AA Harrisburg to clear a roster spot for Zimmermann. (As for Sunday’s starter, it officially remains TBA but all signs point to Max Scherzer. Hopefully we’ll have final confirmation of that shortly.)
Matt Williams is going with a similar lineup from last night, with a couple of tweaks. Clint Robinson is DHing tonight and batting fourth, with Wilson Ramos behind the plate batting fifth. Matt den Dekker gets the start in left field, batting ninth, with Michael Taylor bumped up to the leadoff spot.
A friendly reminder that tonight’s game is on Fox, though it’s Gary Thorne and F.P. Santangelo joining forces to call the game. Check back for updates throughout…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Where: Camden Yards
Gametime: 7:15 p.m. EDT
TV: Fox regional (coverage map), MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 180/869
Weather: Partly cloudy, 83 degrees, Wind 3 mph in from RF
CF Michael Tayor
3B Yunel Escobar
RF Bryce Harper
DH Clint Robinson
C Wilson Ramos
2B Danny Espinosa
1B Tyler Moore
SS Ian Desmond
LF Matt den Dekker
(RHP Jordan Zimmermann)
3B Manny Machado
1B Chris Parmalee
CF Adam Jones
DH Jimmy Paredes
LF Travis Snider
RF Steve Pearce
SS J.J. Hardy
2B Ryan Flaherty
C Caleb Joseph
(RHP Miguel Gonzalez)
HP Paul Nauert
1B Ed Hickox
2B Tim Welke (cc)
3B Mike Estabrook
6:22 p.m. — Lineup change for the Orioles: Chris Davis was scratched with gastroenteritis. Sounds pleasant.
7:16 p.m. — This game is underway on an absolutely gorgeous Saturday night at Camden Yards. Not a cloud in the sky as Michael Taylor takes strike one from Miguel Gonzalez.
7:37 p.m. — An eventful first inning is in the books. Both teams produced two hits and had a chance to score a run. Only the Orioles actually did, though. With two outs and Yunel Escobar on first, Clint Robinson laced a double to right field. Bobby Henley waved Escobar (who has been dealing with a bad hamstring) around third but the relay throw beat him by a couple of steps. The Orioles, meanwhile, had two men in scoring position with nobody out to open the bottom of the first. Jordan Zimmermann managed to get out of that jam allowing only one run, on a Jimmy Paredes groundout. So it’s 1-0 Baltimore after one.
8:07 p.m. — This may be one of those nights where the ball flies and a lot of pitchers are used. Both teams scored a pair in the second inning, and there could’ve been more, especially for the Nats. They loaded the bases with nobody out, but then Ian Desmond (a .433 career hitter with the bases loaded prior to 2015 but now 1-for-7 this season) grounded into a double play on the first pitch he saw. Michael Taylor did add a 2-out RBI single after that, putting the Nats up 2-1 for the moment. But Zimmermann couldn’t hold that lead. He grooved a 2-1 fastball to Caleb Joseph, and the Baltimore No. 9 hitter hammered it into the left-field bullpen. So it’s 3-2 Orioles after two, with a whole lotta baseball still to be played.
8:21 p.m. — Sweet Fancy Moses what a double play the Nats just turned in the bottom of the third. Adam Jones sent a rocket up the middle, 102 mph off the bat, and Danny Espinosa somehow made a backhanded stab of it, flipped to Desmond, who made a tough turn to throw to first, where Tyler Moore had a nice stretch. Serious highlight-reel stuff there. Still 3-2 Baltimore after three.
8:37 p.m. — Make it 4-2 Orioles after Steve Pearce led off the bottom of the fourth by launching a hanging 1-2 breaking ball from Zimmermann to left. Baltimore is hitting rockets off Jordan, and he’s been fortunate not to suffer more damage than this. He’s at 82 pitches through four ragged innings.
8:52 p.m. — So, after seven of their first 10 batters reached base safely, 10 consecutive Nats have been retired by Gonzalez. So that’s not very good. Still 4-2 after five.
9:14 p.m. — Oh my has the worm turned here. The Nats exploded for four runs in the top of the sixth and suddenly have taken a 6-4 lead. For that they can thank Bryce Harper, who after six really unimpressive at-bats so far in the series made up for it with a laser to right-center for his 26th homer of the season. Three batters later, Danny Espinosa launched one onto the flag court in right field, a 3-run homer and his 10th of the season (most among all NL second basemen, how about that?). What a turn of events. Zimmermann departed after five, replaced by Blake Treinen in the bottom of the sixth. Treinen issued a 1-out walk but immediately got a double-play grounder, and so it’s a 6-4 Nats lead after six. Still a long way to go here.
9:41 p.m. — Some tense moments in the seventh inning, especially the bottom half after Treinen issued two straight walks to open the inning. Ramos made a dangerous, almost-late throw to third on a bunt but got the lead runner. Treinen then got Jones to ground out. That brought Felipe Rivero in from the bullpen to face Jimmy Paredes with two out and runners at second and third. And Rivero got the job done, getting ahead 0-2 and then getting Paredes to fly out to center. So it’s still a 6-4 Nats lead after seven. Still six tough outs to get.
9:57 p.m. — Big inning from Casey Janssen, who retired the side in the eighth. He struck out both pinch-hitter Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce, then got J.J. Hardy to ground out. So we go to the ninth, the Nats still holding a 6-4 lead as Drew Storen begins to warm.
10:07 p.m. — A big insurance run thanks to an Ian Desmond walk and stolen base, Matt den Dekker sac bunt and Michael Taylor RBI single makes it 7-4 as Storen enters for the bottom of the ninth.
10:21 p.m. — Ballgame. Nats win 7-4, a big win thanks to big home runs from Harper and Espinosa and some lockdown work by the bullpen. Back for the rubber game of the series (and the first-half finale) at 1:35 p.m. Sunday, with Max Scherzer on the mound.
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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