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Game 143: Nats at Phillies

Sep 14, 2015, 3:32 PM EDT

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

PHILADELPHIA — Hello from Citizens Bank Park, where we may witness history over the next three nights: This might well be the first series between the Nationals and Phillies with so little at stake since one of these franchises played in Montreal. (Hey, I didn’t say this was positive history!)

It’s kind of odd to think the Nationals are essentially playing out the string right now, but that’s the case. Yes, they’re mathematically still alive. But if last week’s sweep at the hands of the Mets didn’t do them in, this weekend’s events in both Miami and Atlanta probably did.

There are, however, 20 games still showing up on the schedule, and so they’ll continue to play them, beginning with tonight’s series opener against the Phillies, who aren’t featuring a whole lot of familiar names in their lineup right now. They are sending a promising young right-hander, Aaron Nola, to the mound tonight, the first time the Nats will get a look at the 22-year-old.

Jordan Zimmermann, meanwhile, starts for the Nationals. Bryce Harper returns after departing yesterday’s game with dizziness following his collision with Marlins second baseman Derek Dietrich. Clint Robinson also returns after missing all three games over the weekend while his wife gave birth to the couple’s first child.

Plenty of updates to come live from the ballpark, so please check back…

Where: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183/869
Weather: Clear, 71 degrees, Wind 8 mph LF to RF

B Anthony Rendon
3B Yunel Escobar
RF Bryce Harper
LF Jayson Werth
1B Clint Robinson
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
CF Michael Taylor
RHP Jordan Zimmermann

PHILLIES (56-88)
CF Odubel Herrera
SS Freddy Galvis
RF Brian Bogusevic
LF Aaron Altherr
1B Ryan Howard
2B Darnell Sweeney
3B Cody Asche
C Cameron Rupp
RHP Aaron Nola

HP Tim Welke
1B Todd Tichenor
2B Chris Segal
3B Mike Everritt

7:05 p.m. — We are underway, and the 2,000 or so people in attendance just saw Anthony Rendon hit the first pitch of the game over the left-field wall. It’s 1-0 Nats, just like that.

7:19 p.m. — The first inning is in the books, and it was a good one for Jordan Zimmermann. He retired the side on 11 pitches, nine of them strikes, and finished it off with a strikeout of Brian Bogusevic. Yes, Brian Bogusevic is the Phillies’ No. 3 hitter tonight. 1-0 Nats after one.

7:34 p.m. — Whoops, Zimmermann left a 2-1 fastball up to Ryan Howard and paid the price for it. Howard smoked the ball down the right-field line, just over the fence for his 23rd homer of the season. That solo shot makes it a 1-1 game after two innings.

7:55 p.m. —Looks like Bryce Harper is just fine. If not, how did he launch a 2-1 fastball from Nola way over the right-field fence for his 37th homer of the season? That shot put the Nats up 2-1, but then came a tough play in the bottom of the third that might have cost the Nats a run. With a man on second and two out, Freddy Galvis sent a sharp grounder up the middle. Ian Desmond made a strong, diving attempt but could only get a piece of the ball, knocking it down. Which, in a weird way, may have cost Michael Taylor a shot at a play at the plate (if the center fielder got the ball cleanly while charging in). It’s not Desmond’s fault; he’s trying to make a play. It’s just funny how his extra effort may ultimately have made the Nats less likely to make a play. 2-2 after three.

8:12 p.m. — The Nats have put together some good swings so far against Nola, but only Rendon and Harper’s solo homers have produced any actual runs. Zimmermann, meanwhile, has been fairly effective, though his pitch count is 64 through four innings, a tad high. Still 2-2 heading to the fifth.

8:33 p.m. — The one man who has been able to elicit a strong reaction from the crowd tonight has been Jayson Werth, who always elicits a strong reaction here. And he certainly did in the top of the fifth after launching an 0-2 fastball way over the left-field wall for his fifth career grand slam. That was a bomb. It also was the third time the Nats have scored four runs on one swing in their last seven games. Yep, take the grand slams by Ramos and Werth and add Taylor’s single+E8 that cleared the bases, and you’ve got three 4-run hits in a week. Pretty amazing. It’s 6-2 Nats after five.

8:55 p.m. — Oh, my. This game is tied. Zimmermann gave all four runs back in the bottom of the sixth, three of them on Cody Asche’s homer to deep right-center. So, to amend that previous note above: The Nats now have scored four runs on one swing three times in the last seven days … and then proceeded to give all the runs back shortly thereafter. Unreal. 6-6 after six.

9:24 p.m. — The Nats had a chance in the top of the seventh, but Werth and Robinson stranded two men in scoring position. The Phillies had a chance in the bottom of the seventh, but Rafael Martin struck out Aaron Altherr to strand the go-ahead run on third. So it remains 6-6 after seven.

9:43 p.m. — Clean eighth inning for Blake Treinen. We go to the ninth, still tied 6-6.

10:06 p.m. — And we’re going extra innings!

10:20 p.m. — Whoa, Werthquake 2.0. Jayson Werth launches his second homer of the night, this one a solo shot off somebody named Dalier Hinojosa wearing No. 94. Whatever the case, it’s 7-6 Nats as Jonathan Papelbon gets ready to be warmly welcomed back to Philadelphia.

10:35 p.m. — Ugh. Papelbon blew the save. Galvis homered. It’s his first blown save in seven tries with the Nats, his first blown save anywhere since Sept. 14, 2014, exactly one year ago. To the 11th we go…

10:50 p.m. — The Nats storm back and take an 8-7 lead thanks to Escobar’s fielder’s choice. And now it’s Doug Fister coming in for the first save opportunity of his career.

11:00 p.m. — Ballgame. Nats win 8-7 and Fister notches his first career save. You never know what you might see at the ballpark.

  1. robertrobert104 - Sep 14, 2015 at 3:40 PM

    So, what to expect for tonight’s game? After the horrible series against the Mets and the Marlins, I expect a game with no pressure at all, so the Nats will win! They will be relax at the plate and on the mound. And when, in the seventh inning, Matt Williams will bring Casey Janssen, the Phillies will score probably 2-3 runs, but still be a win for the Nats…Now seriously, since it is clear that this will not be the year of Nats winning, please put on the field Turner, Cole, Davis, Difo and the rest. We kwow that Desmond, Span, Fister won’t be back, it is time to give our younger players some quality time on the field.

    • djbinfl - Sep 14, 2015 at 3:52 PM


    • npb99 - Sep 14, 2015 at 4:42 PM

      Maybe we can omit the 7th inning the way hotels omit the 13th floor. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Go straight from 6th inning to 8th and end with the 10th.

  2. langleyclub - Sep 14, 2015 at 4:13 PM

    So, is Ryan Zimmerman done for the year?

    Also, Ian Desmond is hitting .227 in September (10 for 44) with no home runs. With the race over and Desi gone in less than 3 weeks, it might make sense to give Danny and/or Trea Turner some looks at SS.

    Something tells me MW will keep Desi in the lineup until the bitter end. Annoying.

    • nats106 - Sep 14, 2015 at 4:29 PM

      The “by the numbers” strategy calls to play your players with “your best opportunity to win” until you are mathematically eliminated, so look for Desmond to be robotically inserted into the lineup until that happens. Good lord, you didn’t see him benched when he had more errors than base hits. What would make you think he’d be benched now with only 3 weeks left in a Nats uniform.

      It would be appropriate to fire MW in the 7th inning of the last home game.

      • corkybb - Sep 14, 2015 at 5:56 PM

        “It would be appropriate to fire MW in the 7th inning of the last home game.”


        Not just for his bullpen issues, but also for his pinch-hitting and bunting issues.

      • Nats Fan Zee - Sep 14, 2015 at 7:31 PM

        7th inning of the last home game, make him do the Babe Ruth impression. Put Rizzo in an umps uniform behind home plate and as he crosses, punch him out!

        That would be a fitting end.

      • Guapo - Sep 15, 2015 at 7:44 AM

        Except that math shows that Desmond is far from this teams best option if the goal is winning.

        Another horrible outing at the plate last night and another error. He’s awful.

        The Nats are a better team with some combination of Espinosa/Escobar/Rendon in the infield.

        If I’m Desmond, I ask to be benched at this point. And I make up a story about a season long injury that I’ve battled through. Every time he takes the field, he costs himself more free agent money.

  3. jfmii - Sep 14, 2015 at 4:32 PM

    Doesn’t Matt Williams have a guaranteed contract for 2016?

    For my amateur baseball brain, I HATE his in-game management. But really, can anyone really define what makes a great manager or head coach? For all the reasons stated numerous times, this team had tons of things go wrong, most of which were not his fault, nor caused by him.

    He will be here in 2016. I won’t like it. Many will scream. But he will be here, and I can’t really say it will be wrong if he is.

    • nats106 - Sep 14, 2015 at 4:52 PM

      Maybe, maybe not, I guess to an extent you need a scapegoat, but along with in game management miscues, explaining his actions in game poorly, etc I could almost say retaining him next year would indicate a good thing.
      I know it sounds stupid, but most of the things I say on this board are anyway, so hear me out for a second.

      The biggest beef against Danny boy Snyder (besides his fascination with big, washed up names) is his total lack of continuity in terms of coaching and team management. Successful franchises are built on sustainability, continuity, whatever you want to call it.

      Maybe the long term health of the club is better if last year’s MOTY gets to complete his contract, that is, as you pointed out, is guaranteed through 2016. That being said, my gut reaction to what I said is Ugh…..

    • bc4314 - Sep 14, 2015 at 5:04 PM

      My understanding is that Matt is under contract for 2016 and that ownership has an option on him for 2017. My guess is that he’ll be back next year and that ownership will chalk up this year’s disappointing performance to the players and to a lesser degree Rizzo.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 14, 2015 at 5:10 PM

      Managers’ contracts may be guaranteed, but their jobs never are.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 14, 2015 at 6:59 PM


    • Nats Fan Zee - Sep 14, 2015 at 7:38 PM

      Walt Alston has 23 one year contracts … And a trip to the HOF

      • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 14, 2015 at 8:35 PM

        Different world. Players, as I’m sure you know, also used to work on one-year contracts (albeit with the reserve clause preventing them from moving from team to team).

  4. natsfan1a - Sep 14, 2015 at 5:06 PM

    I don’t know what to expect tonight, but then again, I never do. I’ll be watching, at least until I fall asleep. Wait, I can’t fall asleep until after I pick up my husband from the airport. Okay, I’ll be watching until I pick up my husband from the airport. Go, Jordan! Go, Nats!

    • ArVAFan - Sep 14, 2015 at 5:16 PM

      Well, don’t listen to any of MW’s press conferences while waiting for the game to start. You might fall asleep and forget to pick up your husband. On the other hand, you might get so mad that you’ll stay awake yelling at the computer. YMMV.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 14, 2015 at 5:27 PM

        lol, will try to keep my options open!

  5. Candide - Sep 14, 2015 at 5:26 PM

    Well, Mark…?

    • natsfan1a - Sep 14, 2015 at 5:28 PM

      Strongly worded letter to follow.

    • Steady Eddie - Sep 14, 2015 at 5:58 PM

      Considering the Phillies FINALLY canned Amaro last Thursday, they’ve implicitly admitted a lot of the faults of organizational management themselves.

      • npb99 - Sep 14, 2015 at 9:26 PM

        They rose, then they fell, like a pyramid. But the peak was a WS win, and they had lots of other playoff victories too. Their decline may have been steep of late, but they did take advantage of their window.

  6. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 14, 2015 at 7:03 PM

    By my count, it’s been five years since a mid-September Nats game was this meaningless.

    • veejh - Sep 14, 2015 at 7:31 PM

      I much enjoyed watching those 2011 September games against the 100 win Phils. We pounded them and they got bounced in the NLDS.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 14, 2015 at 7:36 PM


  7. Drew - Sep 14, 2015 at 7:45 PM

    8 to reach 100 at 22.

    663 from Henry Aaron.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 14, 2015 at 8:36 PM

      At one point I thought he might get to 100 by the end of the season. That would have been impressive.

      • Joe Seamhead - Sep 14, 2015 at 8:43 PM

        Still possible, Eugene.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 14, 2015 at 9:00 PM

        Not impossible, I accept, but much less likely than a month or so ago.

  8. Joe Seamhead - Sep 14, 2015 at 8:29 PM

    Well, I’m happy for Anthony, Bryce, and especially Jayson for their respective home runs!

  9. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 14, 2015 at 9:02 PM

    In the past week, the Nats have cleared the bases three times and given the four runs back three times. Wow.

    • npb99 - Sep 14, 2015 at 9:27 PM

      Just bizarre. And very frustrating. And lots of other adjectives….

  10. lesatcsc - Sep 14, 2015 at 9:02 PM

    Bye Bye Jordan. Way to blow a 4 run lead. This team has no intestinal fortitude, no fight at all. Loser. You’ll look good in a Yankee uniform next year with your 5.64 ERA.

    • Karl Kolchak - Sep 14, 2015 at 10:14 PM

      More likely the Cubs since he said he wants to play in the Midwest.

  11. Joe Seamhead - Sep 14, 2015 at 10:28 PM

    Really? You can’t make this stuff up.Papelbon trashes the Phillies before the game and karma catches up with him.

  12. TimDz - Sep 14, 2015 at 10:32 PM

    Apparently….hitting a grand slam is bad luck for the Nats….

  13. Section 222 - Sep 14, 2015 at 10:42 PM

    MW still bunting with Rendon. He must have a death wish.

    • Guapo - Sep 15, 2015 at 7:49 AM

      I turned off the game once Rendon squared around.

      He was three for five at that point and with the Nats bullpen, playing for 1 run is simply stupid.

      I can’t watch MW manage another game. He’s just not cut out for this job.

      Did you see the look of disgust on Rendon’s face? MW has chosen to alienate the better players on the squad (Rendon, Harper), while coddling the bottom feeders like Storen and Desmond. Insanity.

      He’s gotta go for this team to move forward.

  14. Drew - Sep 14, 2015 at 10:56 PM

    I don’t know why I still let this upset me.

    But for the love of God, don’t walk the leadoff hitter!

  15. Joe Seamhead - Sep 14, 2015 at 11:12 PM

    I was wondering why MW didn’t bring Doug Fister in a couple of times over the past couple of weeks. Other than the leadoff walk he did fine tonight.

  16. Guapo - Sep 15, 2015 at 7:50 AM

    Fire Matt Williams





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 Click here for past audio clips.

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