Jul 22, 2015, 10:17 AM EDT
It’s the rubber game of this big division showdown, the Nationals and Mets having split the first two games by identical 7-2 scores. With a win today, the Nats would head out of town with a 3-game lead in the NL East. With a loss, that lead would be down to 1 game. So, kind of a big game, no?
Jordan Zimmermann gets the ball for this one, and while it’s been a bit of an inconsistent season for the right-hander he has been on a very good sustained roll for awhile now. Over his last 14 starts, Zimmermann is 6-3 with a 2.76 ERA.
Noah Syndergaard, aka Thor, starts for the Mets, and this is the first time the rookie right-hander will be facing the Nationals. Always interesting to see how those matchups turn out. No surprises with Matt Williams’ lineup; Yunel Escobar remains in the cleanup spot behind Bryce Harper.
It’s a gorgeous, blue-sky day here on South Capitol Street. If you can’t join us in person, please be sure to check back here throughout for plenty of updates…
NEW YORK METS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 12:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 184
Weather: Sunny, 81 degrees, Wind 6 mph LF to RF
CF Michael Taylor
2B Danny Espinosa
RF Bryce Harper
3B Yunel Escobar
1B Clint Robinson
C Wilson Ramos
SS Ian Desmond
LF Matt den Dekker
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
RF Curtis Granderson
SS Ruben Tejada
3B Daniel Murphy
1B Lucas Duda
2B Wilmer Flores
LF Kirk Nieuwenhuis
C Kevin Plawecki
RHP Noah Syndergaard
CF Juan Lagares
HP Mark Wegner
1B Marty Foster
2B Mike Winters (cc)
3B Mike Muchlinski
12:36 p.m. — And we’re underway on a spectacular afternoon for baseball. Blue skies above, bright neon T-shirts throughout the ballpark on Camp Day as Curtis Granderson lines Jordan Zimmermann’s first pitch to right-center for a single.
12:46 p.m. — Zimmermann managed to escape that little mini-jam he was in there to start the game, though it probably helped that Terry Collins had his No. 2 hitter sac bunt to advance Granderson to second. The stats tell you that’s a bad idea: You’re more likely to score a run with a man on first and nobody out than with a man on second and one out. Speaking of outs, Noah Syndergaard retired the side in the bottom of the first. That included Bryce Harper, who despite reaching base three times is now 0-for-6 in the series. He has yet to go hitless in any 3-game series this season, so that’s on the line the rest of the afternoon.
1:09 p.m. — Oh, man, talk about the last thing the Nats need right now. Yunel Escobar took an awkward check-swing on an inside pitch to lead off the bottom of the second and went down in a heap, holding his left wrist. Trainer Lee Kuntz came out to look at him, and after a few practice swings, Escobar stayed in to complete his at-bat. Except after fouling off the next pitch, he immediately dropped his bat and walked toward the dugout and down the stairs, taking himself out of the game. We won’t know anything official til postgame, but if that turns out to be something series … oh, man, this lineup is in bad shape. Still 0-0 here after two, with Dan Uggla now at second base batting cleanup and Danny Espinosa shifting to third base.
1:29 p.m. — Zimmermann is cruising so far today, with only 33 pitches through three scoreless innings. Harper, meanwhile, got his hit at last, with a sharp liner eating up Wilmer Flores at second base. So Bryce still hasn’t gone three straight games all season without at least one hit. The Nats have put five men on base in three innings against Syndergaard. The problem is, all reached with two outs. So they haven’t given themselves many real opportunities to drive them in. Still 0-0 after three.
Chase here taking over for Mark while he writes his game story
2:04 p.m. — The Nationals finally got on the board in the fourth inning thanks to an RBI single by Taylor. It all started with a one-out single up the middle by Desmond. Desmond then stole second and was joined on base by den Dekker, who walked. Zimmermann tried to bunt them over, but couldn’t. That pushed the inning to two outs as Taylor drove in Desmond on a groundball to left field. It could have been two runs with a successful bunt, but the Nats were still able to cut the Mets’ lead to 3-1. On to the fifth.
2:29 p.m. — No runs in the fifth, but there was plenty of action for both teams’ lineups. The Mets got Lagares all the way to third after he singled, but Duda grounded out to end the frame. The Nats saw Harper lead off with a single before Uggla grounded into a double play. Robinson also walked before Ramos grounded out to close the innings. It is still 3-1.
2:50 p.m. — The game remains at 3-1, though the Nats did get two runners into scoring position in the sixth. Desmond led off with a single and den Dekker followed with a walk, his third of the game. Zimmermann then moved both runners over on a sac bunt. But Taylor struck out and Espinosa grounded out to end the frame. Desmond, by the way, has reached base in six of his last nine at-bats.
3:07 p.m. — The Nats are still down 3-1 as no runs were scored in the seventh. One thing of note happened, however, as Harper was seen clinching his right hand during and after his at-bat to lead off the inning. He is back out there playing right field, though.
3:28 p.m. — The Mets went down 1-2-3 against Thornton before the Nats scored three runs in the bottom half to take the lead. It all started with Desmond’s second walk of the day. den Dekker followed with a single and both moved into scoring position on a wild pitch from Bobby Parnell. Taylor singled to left field to score both runners. He then stole second and later scored on a double to left field by Espinosa. It’s now 4-3 as Storen will come in looking for his 29th save of the season.
3:38 p.m. — Nats beat Mets as Storen strikes out the side for his 29th save of the season. Nationals are now 51-42.
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.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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