The Washington Nationals couldn't figure out the Philadelphia Phillies Kyle Kendrick, but out in Pittsburgh, the Pirates beat the Atlanta Braves 2-1 and the Nats clinched the NL East Pennant for the first time since 1933.
• Cool Hand: After spending the better part of five seasons in Washington, D.C., John Lannan failed to make the Washington Nationals' Opening Day rotation this past March and he was demoted to Triple-A Syracuse at the end of Spring Training. The lefty spent most of the summer with the Nats' top affiliate, but he made five starts for the Nats before he took the mound in D.C. tonight with Washington one win away from clinching the NL East. Could the 28-year-old, two-time opening day starter help the Nationals lock down the division? "I think it would be perfect if that happened," the 69-year-old manager Davey Johnson said, "With the year he's been through, for him to get a win, clinch the pennant... I think it would be only fitting." Could Lannan get it done? Or could the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Atlanta Braves to help the Nats back into the division crown? The Nats' magic number was 1 as play started tonight...
• Ole Ground Ball Lannan: John Lannan got behind Philadelphia Phillies' leadoff man Kevin Frandsen and gave up a line drive single to left in the first at bat of tonight's game in Nats Park, but the Nats' left-hander got a weak grounder back to the mound from John Mayberry, Jr. in the next AB and started a 1-6-3 DP to record the first two outs of the game. A fly to left by Chase Utley ended a 12-pitch opening frame for the Nationals' starter.The crowd in the nation's capital loved it. They were still filing into the park down Half St., of the Metro, but after the first pitch was thrown the stands began filling up quickly. By the time Phillies' right-hander Kyle Kendrick completed an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the inning the crowd had settled in for a night of baseball in the nation's capital. Important games in October. Just like Nats fans were promised...
• Update: Braves 0, Pirates 0 after 2.0
• Ruf Start: Lannan issued a walk to Phillies' catcher Carlos Ruiz in the first at bat of the second. One out later, Domonic Brown had the Nats lefty contorting his body awkwardly to avoid a line drive back up the middle that was good for a single to center. Rookie Phillies' outfielder Darin Ruf worked the count full in the next at bat, and tripled to left-center and off the outfield wall to bring two runs in and make it 2-0 Phillies early in the series opener in D.C. A 22-pitch inning had Lannan at 34 total after two. Michael Morse connected for the Nationals' first hit off Kendrick when he lined to right with one down in the Nationals' half of the frame. The Nats' second hit followed quickly when Ian Desmond sent a bloop single to short center to put two on for Danny Espinosa. Espinosa's groundout moved both runners into scoring position, but allowed the Phillies to walk hot-hitting catcher Kurt Suzuki to get to Lannan, whose grounder to second ended the frame. 2-0 Philadelphia after two.
• MOAR GROUNDERZ!: Ryan Zimmerman got a glove on a sharp grounder to third by Kevin Frandsen, but the Nats' third baseman couldn't come up with it, so the Phillies had their leadoff man on for the third straight inning. Two pitches later, however, a one-hopper to third allowed Zim to start a slick 5-4-3 DP. Mayberry's second GiDP in two ABs. A foul pop in front of the Phillies' dugout ended a quick, six-pitch inning for Lannan. Jayson Werth tested Philly shortstop Michael Martinez's backhand, but the former Nats' farmhand threw the Nationals' right fielder out at first to start the Nats' third. Bryce Harper grounded to first for out no.2, Ryan Zimmerman went to short to end the third. 3.0 scoreless by Kendrick. 2-0 Nats.
• Update: Braves 1, Pirates 1 after 3.0.
• LaRoche. Can. Pick. It.: Ty Wiggington singled to left on a 3-1 fastball from Lannan with one down in the fourth. Domonic Brown ripped into a first-pitch fastball from the Nats' left-hander, but fouled it off. The 0-1 curve Lannan threw Brown was lined to right and stayed fair for double that moved Wiggington around to third. Lannan walked Darin Ruf to load the bases for Michael Martinez, who grounded to first where Adam LaRoche snapped up the grounder and stepped on first before throwing home to complete an inning-ending 3-2 DP that got Lannan out of trouble. 2-0 Phillies in the fourth. Three ground balls, one to first, one to third and one back to the mound for Kyle Kendrick in the bottom of the inning ended his fourth scoreless after 14 pitches with the right-hander at 65 pitches overall.
• Still 2-0...: John Lannan issued a two-out walk to John Mayberry in the top of the fifth, prompting a visit to the mound by Nats' pitching coach Steve McCatty. Chase Utley took a 1-2 pitch that home plate ump Gerry Davis said was outside, then Kd swinging at a 2-2 change to end the top of the fifth. The 15-pitch inning had Lannan at 79 pitches overall, down 2-0 to Philadelphia after four and a half. Danny Espinosa grounded out to second to start the Nats' fifth with the eighth straight ground ball out recorded by Kyle Kendrick. Kurt Suzuki's one-out single to center ended that streak. Roger Bernadina hit for Lannan in the next at bat, but flew to center for the second out of the frame. Suzuki advanced himself to third on a blown pick attempt by Kendrick that got by Ty Wiggington at first, but with a runner on third, Jayson Werth took a 2-2 cutter from Kendrick the Nats' outfielder thought was inside. Gerry Davis disagreed and punched Werth out to end the bottom of the fifth. Still 2-0 Phillies in D.C.
• Stammen Starts Striking Folks Out: Craig Stammen needed 13 pitches to strike out the side in the top of the sixth and two pitches into the bottom of the frame, Bryce Harper hit his 26th double of 2012 off the W.B. Mason sign in center field on one hop for the Nats' first extra base hit of the night off the Phillies' right-hander. Harper tagged and took third aggressively as Chase Utley caught a pop off Zim's bat in short right for the first out of the inning. Adam LaRoche popped to the infield for out no.2. Michael Morse battled the Phillies starter for eight pitches, working the count full, and took another called strike three to end Kendrick's sixth scoreless.
• Update: Braves 1, Pirates 2 after 7.0
• Kendrick Can't Be Stopped: Craig Stammen's second inning of work in relief saw the right-hander strike out the side again, throwing 17 pitches this time around as he recorded his fourth, fifth and sixth-straight strikeouts in 2.0 IP. Kyle Kendrick came back out for the bottom of the seventh retired Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa in order before got a check-swing strike three from Kurt Suzuki to end his seventh scoreless frame. Still 2-0 Phillies. Ryan Mattheus took over for Stammen in the top of the eighth and retired the Phillies in order in a nine-pitch frame, setting the eighth, ninth and tenth straight Phillies down going back to the intentional walk to Darin Ruf in the fourth...
• Update: Braves 1, Pirates 2 after 7 and a 1/2...
• De Fratus: Kyle Kendrick left the game after seven scoreless innings, handing a 2-0 lead to right-hander Justin De Fratus. Pinch hitter Steve Lombardozzi lined to left for out no.1. Jayson Werth connected with a a 93 mph two-seamer from De Fratus and sent a one-out single through short that got the D.C. Faithful on their feet in Nats Park... Bryce Harper stepped in with a runner on and got ahead 3-1 on the Phillies' reliever and walked to put two on for Ryan Zimmerman, but Zim flew to short center for out no.2. De Fratus was replaced on the mound by Phillies' lefty Jeremy Horst. Adam LaRoche? K'd looking to end the eighth.
• DRUU!!!!: Nats' right-hander Drew Storen retired the Phillies in order on eight pitches... but the outcome of this game would only matter for the official record....
• Pirates win! Nats Clinch on Braves' loss!! THE WASHINGTON NATIONALS WIN THE NL EAST!! THE WASHINGTON NATIONALS WIN THE NL EAST!!!
• Nats' 9th: After the Nats were officially crowned NL East champs, the Nationals went back out to try to come back against the Phillies in the bottom of the ninth but came up short against Phillies' reliever Phillipe Aumont. Phillies win, 2-0. Who cares... THE NATS WIN THE NL EAST!!
• Miss The Game? The D.C. Faithful Were Watching...
• Doghouse's Post Game WPA Graph: COMING SOON!! W00T!!
Nationals now 96-64 97-63