Lineup vs Mariners
Bernadina CF, Werth RF, Zimmerman 3B, Morse 1B, Espinosa 2B, Pudge C, Hairston LF, Marquis P, Desmond SS
Final: WSH 2, SEA 1
The Washington Nationals finally managed to climb back up to .500 with a narrow victory against Seattle last night in a game as close as had been predicted. Ultimately hinging on errors, the Nationals’ winning runs both came off poor throws from Bedard, first a walk then a wild throw that missed the baseman. What will reassure fans in the nations capital is the ever increasing reliability of John Lannan who, since getting the Phillies monkey of his back has been terrific; he is one of those players who lets you know within his first few pitches whether or not he is going to have a good game, and last night, crucially, he started solidly.
“I knew today was a big game, you kind of felt it” stated Lannan and he couldn’t be more right; the Nationals have now achieved objective A, B is surely to sweep the series tonight with a red hot Jason Marquis on the mound, then all being well C will be to hold onto third spot in the division. That would culminate in a good season for the Nationals who have been more accustomed to the divisions basement until now, and with rumours of Prince Fielder making a move east at the end of the season, Nationals Park is fast becoming an exciting place to watch baseball.
Lineup V Mariners
Werth RF, Desmond SS, Zimmerman 3B, Morse 1B, Espinosa 2B, Ramos C, Hairston LF, Lannan P, Bernadina CF
Seattle Mariners (37-36) @ Washington Nationals (36-37)
The Washington Nationals will be hoping for more of the same tonight (minus the shaky start) as they enter game two of their series against the Seattle Mariners. A pitching line-up of Bedard (4-4) vs Lannan (4-5) sets the stage for a close affair with both guys possessing solid ERA’s of late. The tide appears to be going in favour of Seattle despite their defeat in the series opener yesterday; Lance Nix may miss out meaning Espinosa could be set to rise up the order, weakening the tail of a Nationals side up against one of the leanest pitchers in Interleague play. Lannan has been fairly unpredictable of late and much will depend on if he can get a solid start, suspicions are that while the Nationals had just enough to squeeze a victory yesterday, game two will require them to be at their very best and without a reliable hitter in Nix, they may struggle in the hits column.
Prediction - Mariners Win
Final: WSH 6, SEA 5
They say that good things come to those who wait and against the Mariners last night Nationals fans saw their patience rewarded. This game was always going to hinge on Wilson Ramos, numerous at-bats this season Ramos has swung wildly and struck out with men on bases but with worldly wisdom from hitting coach Rick Eckstein he read the pitch and wrote the script. A stunning bottom of the ninth home run with two on and two out ensured the Nationals stole victory from the jaws of defeat, ultimately winning 6-5. It was an important win too, with the Mets losing at Oakland and the Marlins still picking themselves up after a terrible run of form, the Nationals consolidated third place and took another step closer to reaching the .500 mark. It is never easy to know how a team will bounce back and after ending a run of eight consecutive victories with defeat to Baltimore on Sunday, one could be forgiven for fearing the worst had the Nationals faltered last night but after a nervy start they responded well.
Their next challenge comes tonight as they try again to level out for the season; they have fallen short a few times already this year when faced with the possibility so game two of the series could well be the most defining of their season to come. John Lannan takes to the mound after good outings against the Cardinals and the Padres and he’ll be hoping to have enough to keep the momentum going as the Washington Nationals begin to build towards their next target – closing in on the Atlanta Braves.
Seattle Mariners (37-35) @ Washington Nationals (35-37)
Tonight sees the Mariners come to town as the Nationals bid to kick start another hot streak and build towards the .500 mark as Livan Hernandez takes to the mound for the first time since his superb shutout against the Cardinals last week. Ian Desmond returns after missing out in Sunday’s 7-4 defeat to Baltimore and the Nats will be hoping that tips the scales in what is sure to be a close encounter. Predictions are tricky on this one but with a good home crowd and a strong focus on getting back up to third in the National League East (knowing the Mets will have to be at their best to see off an in form Oakland), the Nationals should have enough providing that Wilson Ramos has a stronger than average at-bat.
Prediction - Nationals Win