Sep 14, 2015, 3:32 PM EDT
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…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183/869
Weather: Clear, 71 degrees, Wind 8 mph LF to RF
2B 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
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.
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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