Sep 18, 2015, 3:31 PM EDT
We’ve got a humdinger of a pitching matchup here tonight, with Max Scherzer taking the mound for the Nationals and Jose Fernandez for the Marlins. Each right-hander’s most-recent start came against the same opponent, with Scherzer shutting out Miami over eight innings and Fernandez shutting out the Nats over five innings.
The Nationals are just about in must-win territory now. After dropping last night’s series opener, they really need to win the next three to close out the weekend, while also hoping the Mets lose at least two of three to the Yankees. Might be too much to hope for at this point.
No Michael Taylor in the Nationals’ lineup tonight. Perhaps his knee is acting up again. So it’s Bryce Harper in center field, with Jayson Werth in right and Matt den Dekker in left. Jose Lobaton also gets the start behind the plate.
Updates to come, please check back…
MIAMI MARLINS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 184
Weather: Clear, 79 degrees, Wind 8 mph RF to LF
2B Anthony Rendon
3B Yunel Escobar
CF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
1B Clint Robinson
SS Ian Desmond
LF Matt den Dekker
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Max Scherzer
2B Dee Gordon
RF Ichiro Suzuki
LF Christian Yelich
1B Justin Bour
CF Marcell Ozuna
3B Derek Dietrich
C J.T. Realmuto
SS Miguel Rojas
RHP Jose Fernandez
HP Chris Conroy
1B Ted Barrett (cc)
2B Adam Hamari
3B Angel Hernandez
7:05 p.m. — We’re underway on a beautiful, 79-degree night here.
7:20 p.m. — Uh-oh, the home run ball has come back to get Max Scherzer again. Christian Yelich took him deep to right-center for a 2-run shot in the top of the first, just the latest ball to leave the yard against Scherzer. He has now surrendered 17 homers in his last 75 innings. For comparison’s sake, he surrendered only 18 total in 220 innings last season. 2-0 Miami after one.
7:35 p.m. — Matt Williams wanted to stack his lineup with as many left-handed hitters as he could tonight vs. Jose Fernandez, whose slider is just devastating on righties. Well, they got three hits from lefties in the bottom of the second, including Clint Robinson’s second-deck homer to right-center. Matt den Dekker and Jose Lobaton also chimed in singles in the inning, though a popped-up bunt by Scherzer ruined a chance of more damage. So it’s 2-1 Miami after two.
7:46 p.m. — There have been some hard-hit balls, but Scherzer has retired eight in a row since the Yelich homer, finding a groove to some extent. He has thrown only 31 pitches through three innings. Fernandez, on the other hand, has thrown 45 pitches through his first three innings. Still 2-1 Marlins after three.
8:07 p.m. — Scherzer got into a little trouble in the fourth, with runners on second and third and only one out. But the Nats chose to play their infield halfway in, and it paid off when Derek Dietrich grounded to second and Justin Bour was forced to hold at third base. Scherzer then got J.T. Realmuto to send a flyball to the warning track in right, caught by Jayson Werth, to end the inning. Still 2-1 Marlins after four.
8:27 p.m. — Another inning, another opposing runner held to third base thanks to a groundball to a drawn-in infield. Desmond made a nifty play on Gordon’s chopper up the middle, holding Rojas at third and helping Scherzer get through the fifth with no more damage. Meanwhile, the lefty-righty split against Fernandez is growing even more dramatic. Nats left-handed batters are now 4-for-6 with two walks tonight, while right-handed batters are 0-for-12 with six strikeouts. Still 2-1 Miami after five.
8:49 p.m. — Well, things have definitely gotten a bit livelier here in the sixth. Scherzer posted another shutout frame, but not without a little help. He got that in the form of Harper throwing out Derek Dietrich at second base as he tried to extend a single into a double, marking the 22-year-old’s ninth outfield assist of the season. The Nats then rallied thanks to Fernandez throwing two wild pitches after allowing the first two men to get on, chasing him from the game. It’s 2-2 as we head to the seventh.
9:10 p.m. — Scherzer looked like he was done for the night with two outs and a man on in the seventh as Williams came out to seemingly call on his bullpen. But after a brief (and intense) conversation, the skipper kept his starter in to pitch against Gordon. It paid off; Scherzer got a ground ball out to end the frame. Scherzer’s final line: 7 innings, 5 hits, 2 earned runs, 3 walks and 6 strikeouts on 104 pitches. The offense couldn’t score on the other side of the stretch, so we’re still tied 2-2 going into the eighth.
9:45 p.m. — Some late-game magic here for the home team. After the the Marlins took a 3-2 lead on a throwing error by Rendon, the Nats answered with two runs — one on a Desmond sac fly and another on an RBI single by Michael A. Taylor to give Washington its first lead of the night. It’s 4-3 going to the ninth and here comes Jonathan Papelbon.
10:04 p.m. — To extra innings we go. Papelbon blew the save when Gordon tied the game on a sac fly. To be fair to the Nats’ closer, the leadoff man reached third base because of a throwing error by Harper. Either way, the Marlins scored and the Nats were unable to answer in the bottom half of the inning. It’s 4-4 heading to the 10th.
10:27 p.m. — And that’ll do it. The Nats walk off after Jose Lobaton drives in Werth on a sacrifice fly. 5-4 the final.
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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