Sep 5, 2015, 3:33 PM EDT
It’s a nice, warm Saturday here at Nationals Park, where everybody seems to have a little extra giddy-up in their step today. Must be carryover from last night’s dramatic win over the Braves. (Or perhaps Northwestern’s upset of Stanford earlier today. OK, that’s only why I have a lot of extra giddy-up in my step.)
The Nats look to make it three in a row, and extend Atlanta’s losing streak to 11 games, when Gio Gonzalez takes the mound this evening against Shelby Miller, possibly the hardest-luck pitcher in baseball history. Despite a 2.56 ERA overall, the young right-hander owns a stunning 5-12 record. He hasn’t won any of his last 19 starts even though he has a 3.13 ERA during that time. Amazing.
Michael Taylor, last night’s hero, remains on the bench today, letting that sore knee continue to rest. Obviously he’ll be available again if needed to hit late. Wilson Ramos is back behind the plate, but that means he’ll be catching Gonzalez (a pairing that hasn’t worked out great this season).
Updates to come…
ATLANTA BRAVES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183/869
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees, Wind 7 mph in from RF
RF Jayson Werth
2B Anthony Rendon
CF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Clint Robinson
3B Yunel Escobar
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
LHP Gio Gonzalez
RF Nick Markakis
2B Pedro Ciriaco
1B Freddie Freeman
LF Nick Swisher
CF Cameron Maybin
SS Andrelton Simmons
3B Hector Olivera
C Christian Bethancourt
RHP Shelby Miller
HP Jerry Meals (cc)
1B Andy Fletcher
2B Clint Fagan
3B Paul Emmel
7:05 p.m. — We are underway and we already have an out recorded. Nick Markakis sent a lazy foul ball to left field on Gio Gonzalez’s first pitch, and Clint Robinson caught it right next to the railing down the line.
7:20 p.m. — Gonzalez got himself into some trouble in the top of the first, issuing back-to-back walks to Pedro Ciriaco and Freddie Freeman. He appeared to get out of it when Nick Swisher grounded to third, but Yunel Escobar (after stepping on the bag) threw wide of first base. No matter, because Gonzalez then got Cameron Maybin to ground to the hole at short, with Ian Desmond throwing a bullet across the diamond to get him by a step. The Nats, meanwhile, went down in order in the bottom of the first, with Shelby Miller striking out Bryce Harper on three pitches, capped by a 97-mph high fastball. Scoreless after one.
7:32 p.m. — Nothing doing for the Nats through two innings against Miller. Escobar did scorch a ball the other way, but Freeman made a nice play on it for the final out of that inning. Gonzalez also tossed a 1-2-3 second, so we move to the third.
7:59 p.m. — Wow, what a bottom of the third for the Nats. The Braves threw them a couple of bones, most notably when Maybin lost Desmond’s routine flyball to medium center field in the dusk for a gift double. Desmond later scored on a wild pitch from Miller, though catcher Christian Bethancourt didn’t make a great stab at it, either. That kept the inning alive and set the stage for Werth’s ground-rule double, Rendon’s RBI single and then a phenomenal at-bat from Harper, who fouled off four 2-strike pitches from Miller before launching a 3-2 cutter at the knees into the Red Porch for his 33rd homer of the season. Just like that, the Nats lead 4-0 after three.
8:20 p.m. — Oh my lord, the 2015 Atlanta Braves are a mess. The Nats just scored two more runs in the bottom of the fourth on a ball that traveled about 5 feet from the plate. Somehow, both Robinson and Desmond scored on that play, with Bethancourt mostly responsible for the goat rodeo that ensued after he picked up the ball. It’s 6-0 Nats as we go to the fifth, with Gonzalez having yet to surrender a hit.
8:42 p.m. — Make it 7-0 after Harper doubled to right-center — he has now reached base in 16 of his last 21 plate appearances — and scored on another RBI single by Zimmerman. Harper now has scored 100 runs for the first time in his career. Gio, meanwhile, is through five hitless innings, having struck out eight. His pitch count is a bit high, though, at 76.
Chase here taking over while Mark works on his game story
9:12 p.m. — It is still 7-0 after six as Gio worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam to keep the Braves off the board. He gave up a leadoff single to Markakis and a two-out single to Swisher before walking Bourn to put three men on. Simmons, however, then grounded into a forceout at second to end the frame. Gio was replaced in the bottom half of the inning by Dan Uggla, who pinch-hit and flew out to left field. On to the seventh now where Casey Janssen will come in to pitch.
9:34 p.m. — Another run for the Nationals made it 8-0 as once again Ross Detwiler struggled in mop-up duty. He gave up a single to Rendon, a double to Harper and then a run on a groundout by Zim. Ryan Kelly was brought in to get the third out. On to the eighth.
10:04 p.m. — The Braves got two runs in the eighth inning off Matt Grace, though both went down as unearned. That was because Markakis scored the first one after reaching on an error by Trea Turner at second base. He came home on a double by Swisher. Swisher then scored on a sac fly by Michael Bourn. It’s 8-2 Nats with the ninth up next.
10:13 p.m. — Nats beat the Braves 8-2, move to 70-65 on the season. They are 5 games over .500 for the first time since Aug. 10.
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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