Sep 23, 2015, 3:22 PM EDT
Time hasn’t completely run out on the Nationals, but those triple zeroes are fast approaching. After missing an opportunity last night to gain ground on the Mets (who took a rare loss to Atlanta), the Nats remain 6 1/2 games back with 12 to play. They can afford to lose maybe one or two more the rest of the way. And even that might not be enough.
So facing essentially a must-win scenario tonight, Max Scherzer takes the mound against the Orioles, hoping to rediscover what he did at Camden Yards way back on the final day before the All-Star break (8 2/3 innings of 2-run ball). Chris Tillman starts for Baltimore; the right-hander held the Nationals to 2 run in 6 innings when they met in that same July series.
Updates to come…
BALTIMORE ORIOLES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 92.7 FM, 94.3 FM, 106.7 FM, 980 AM, 1500 AM, XM 183/869
Weather: Clear, 72 degrees, Wind 7 mph in from RF
2B Anthony Rendon
3B Yunel Escobar
RF Bryce Harper
LF Jayson Werth
1B Clint Robinson
SS Ian Desmond
CF Michael Taylor
C Wilson Ramos
RHP Max Scherzer
CF Gerardo Parra
3B Manny Machado
1B Chris Davis
LF Steve Pearce
C Matt Wieters
2B Jonathan Schoop
RF Ryan Flaherty
SS J.J. Hardy
RHP Chris Tillman
HP Mark Ripperger
1B Ed Hickox
2B Alan Porter
3B Brian O’Nora (cc)
7:06 p.m. — And we’re underway. Not a particularly large gathering here. Looks like people didn’t just avoid the city/the Pope during daytime hours today.
7:30 p.m. — Very eventful first inning in the books. It included yet another home run served up by Max Scherzer, this one a 2-run shot to left by Steve Pearce on a 2-0 fastball up over the plate. That’s the 16th homer Scherzer has allowed in his last 74 innings. In 132 innings prior to that, he allowed only 10. Facing a 2-0 hole when they came up to bat, the Nats tried to get a big rally going. They wound up scoring a run thanks to Anthony Rendon’s leadoff double and Yunel Escobar’s RBI single. But following Bryce Harper’s 120th walk of the season, Jayson Werth smoked a line drive right at J.J. Hardy, who started a double play. And when Clint Robinson struck out looking, the first inning was over with the Nats down 2-1.
7:44 p.m. — Much quieter second inning. Scherzer allowed a 1-out infield single but struck out the side. Tillman also posted a zero, keeping this a 2-1 Orioles lead after two.
8:17 p.m. — Scherzer has allowed four hits through four innings, but he also has seven strikeouts. Which means he has set a new Nats club single-season record, surpassing Stephen Strasburg’s total of 242 from last year. Pretty impressive considering Max still has two more scheduled starts after this one. Meanwhile, Chris Tillman has retired 11 in a row, keeping this a 2-1 game after four.
8:56 p.m. — Tillman ran the streak to 12 in a row retired before the Nats finally broke through in a big way in the bottom of the fifth. Wilson Ramos’ RBI double tied the game. Anthony Rendon’s sac fly gave the Nats the lead. They had a chance at more after Harper drew his fifth walk of the series, loading the bases for Werth. But Machado made a nice play on a sharp grounder to third, so the Nats’ lead is 3-2 as Scherzer returns to the mound for the top of the sixth, his pitch count at 94.
9:12 p.m. — Really quick, 10-pitch sixth for Scherzer, who now has 11 strikeouts on the evening. He’s at 104 pitches and will take the mound again for the seventh with the Nats clinging to a 3-2 lead.
9:34 p.m. — Oh, man. We’ve seen this one before, haven’t we? Scherzer’s pitch count was up to 117, with two outs, a man on third and Machado at the plate. Casey Janssen was warm in the bullpen. Matt Williams stuck with Scherzer, who threw pitch No. 122 98 mph … and then watched as Machado launched it into the Red Porch. Orioles lead 4-3. The seventh inning comes back to haunt the Nats yet again.
9:50 p.m. — Nothing doing in the eighth for either team. We go to the ninth, the Nats still down 4-3 but Jonathan Papelbon entering to pitch.
10:10 p.m. — Game over. Nats lose 4-3. Papelbon was ejected after plunking Machado in the top of the ninth. The Mets lost again to the Braves, but the Nats again didn’t take advantage. They still trail by 6 1/2 games with 11 to play.
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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