Davey Johnson said he had planned on changing things up after the All-Star Break, but last night's loss in Miami inspired the 70-year-old skipper to make the moves he had in mind now. Washington's lineup for the Nationals' final game of the so-called "first half" of the 2013 campaign had Bryce Harper leading off with Anthony Rendon batting second. Ryan Zimmerman was back in the three-hole, with Ian Desmond, who had been hitting second, back in the six-spot where he'd enjoyed success over the last two seasons. Denard Span, acquired to be the Nats' leadoff man, was dropped to eighth by the Nats' manager after struggling to hit left-handed pitching and failing to provide the OBP overall that the team was looking for from the outfielder when they acquired him this winter from the Minnesota Twins for RHP Alex Meyer.
Marlins' starter Henderson Alvarez set the new-look Nats' lineup down in order in a 12-pitch top of the first this afternoon, after which Nationals' right-hander Taylor Jordan threw a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 opening frame. Adam LaRoche singled to left to start the top of the second, but two outs later he was still standing on first. Denard Span stepped in for the first time as the team's seven-hole hitter and doubled to right on a 95 mph full-count fastball to bring LaRoche around for a 1-0 Nats' lead after one and a half in Marlins Park. Alvarez's 22-pitch second had him at 34 overall after two innings of work.
Marcell Ozuna took a first-pitch fastball to center for the Marlins' first hit off Taylor Jordan. Ozuna stopped at third on a double to right by Derek Dietrich that got by a diving Adam LaRoche at first. But after it played out, the home plate umpire Alan Porter reversed first base ump Mike Estabrook's call and said Dietrich's double had been foul. Dietrich returned to the plate and struck out, but Ozuna aggressively took third anyway when Adeiny Hechavarria singled to left with one down. Gregg Dobbs stepped in with runners on the corners, but hit a 1-0 fastball to short to start a 6-4-3 inning ending DP. Odd, 11-pitch second for Taylor Jordan. 20 pitches in two scoreless. 1-0 Nats after two.
Bryce Harper smoked a 2-0 fastball from Henderson Alvarez and doubled for the ninth time this season, sending a screaming liner out to center that bounced on one hop off the bright yellow STANLEY tools sign on the lime green center field wall. Harper took third on Anthony Rendon's line drive to Marcell Ozuna in center, but after Ryan Zimmerman walked with two down, Adam LaRoche flew to center to end a 17-pitch third by the Marlins' starter.
Jeff Mathis singled to start the bottom of the third, and took second when Henderson Alvarez bunted his catcher over/gave up an out. Juan Pierre's fly to left failed to advance the runner, but a two-out HBP on Placido Polanco put two runners on. Giancarlo Stanton singled to left on a sharp grounder with two down, but Bryce Harper's strong throw forced Mathis to slam on the brakes, and Polanco didn't see Mathis stop around third, so he got caught between second and third and got his teammate thrown out after a rundown. Three outs. Still 1-0 Nats. 16-pitch third for Taylor Jordan. 36 total after three.
Jayson Werth lined to right to start the fourth. Giancarlo Stanton made a diving/lunging play, but couldn't come up with it. Stanton recovered the ball though, and threw from his knees in right field to get Werth out at second. +Arm. One out. Ian Desmond singled to center in the next at bat, but Wilson Ramos lined to right for out no.2. Taylor Jordan singled to right for a two-out single... but Desmond got thrown out at home by Stanton, who collected his second outfield assist of the inning. Still 1-0 Nats in the fourth.
Marcell Ozuna singled to left on a first-pitch slider from Taylor Jordan in the home half of the fourth, and Derek Dietrich followed with just the second home run of the year Jordan's surrendered at the three levels (A-AA-MLB) he's pitched at on his way up this season. Dietrich sent an 0-1 fastball from Taylor to right for a two-run blast and the Fish took a 2-1 lead over the Nats. Jordan got a visit from Steve McCatty after a single by Adeiny Hechavarria in the next at bat, but three pitches, a 4-6-3 DP and groundout to third later, he had a 12-pitch fourth in the books. 48 overall, but 2-1 Fish.
Bryce Harper dropped an audible f-bomb after he K'd swinging at a 1-2 slider from Henderson Alvarez for the first out of the fifth. Anthony Rendon lined a 93 mph heater to the right-center gap in the next at bat for his 13th double of 2013, but Ryan Zimmerman K'd swinging at a 1-2 slider and Adam LaRoche grounded to first to end the top of the inning after 12 pitches inning from Alvarez.
Taylor Jordan got the opposing pitcher looking with an 0-2 slider. A 1-1 change to Juan Pierre popped the light-hitting outfielder up for out no.2, but Placido Polanco snuck a two-out single into center under Ian Desmond's glove. Giancarlo Stanton stepped in with a runner on but went down swinging at a 2-2 slider to end the fifth. Still 2-1 Fish after five. 16-pitch inning for Taylor Jordan. 64 total after five.
Jayson Werth fouled a ball off his foot, but in spite of the obvious pain stayed in and lined weakly to third for the first out of the inning when Henderson Alvarez sawed him off. Groundouts from Ian Desmond and Denard Span followed in an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 inning by the Marlins' starter, who was up to 83 pitches overall after six. 2-1 Marlins. A pop to first by Marcell Ozuna, groundout to short by Derek Dietrich and grounder to third by Adeiny Hechevarria ended a quick, nine-pitch inning by Taylor Jordan that had the Nats' right-hander up to 73 pitches after six.
Jordan's Line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 73 P, 47 S, 8/1 GO/FO.
• Wilson Ramos grounded out to short on the first pitch from Henderson Alvarez in the seventh. Pinch hitter Steve Lombardozzi flew out to center after taking over for Taylor Jordan. Bryce Harper walked with two down after a six-pitch at bat and he was running and scored from first to tie it when Anthony Rendon lined to left on a 92-mph fastball from the Marlins' starter for an RBI double. Rendon's second double of the game, and his 14th this season, made it 2-2 and knocked Henderson Alvarez out after 6 2/3, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 98 P, 64 S. A.J. Ramos came on to face Ryan Zimmerman and walked him to bring Adam LaRoche to the plate. LaRoche walked to load the bases with two down, but Jayson Werth flew to deep center in the Marlins' cavernous park to leave it tied after six and a half.
Ian Krol took over for the Nationals in the bottom of the seventh. Adam LaRoche snatched a souvenir away from the fans down the first base line on a foul pop off Greg Dobbs' bat. Jeff Mathis battled for six pitches before singling to left on a 94 mph full-count fastball. Drew Storen took over vs pinch hitter Donovan Solano, and gave up a bloop single to right that fell in in front of Jayson Werth. Juan Pierre stepped in with runners on first and second and flew unproductively to left. Placido Polanco K'd swinging to end the seventh when Storen threw a low 1-2 sinker by the Marlins' infielder. 2-2 after seven in Miami.
Ian Desmond pushed a bunt out toward first the Marlins' left-hander Mike Dunn got too, but his glove flip arrived a step late according to first base ump Mike Estabrook. Denard Span tried to bunt the runner over, but popped one up hard enough it allowed the Marlins to take out the lead runner at second. Wilson Ramos popped up behind first for out no.2 and pinch hitter Scott Hairston K'd swinging to end the Nats' half of the eighth. Tyler Clippard came on in the bottom of the eighth. Giancarlo Stanton (after a massive foul ball to left) K'd swinging at a 2-2 cutter up high. Marcell Ozuna K'd swinging through an 0-2 change. Derek Dietrich? He got the change too. 2-2 after eight.
Mike Dunn came back out to face Bryce Harper in the top of the ninth and got a fly to left for the first out of the frame. With Anthony Rendon due up, the Fish turned to sidewinding reliever Steve Cisek. Rendon K'd looking at a 2-2 sinker and Ryan Zimmerman flew out to right to end the inning. Craig Stammen got a pop to second by Adeiny Hechavarria for out no.1. Greg Dobbs K'd swinging at a 1-2 two-seamer low outside. Jeff Mathis rolled one out to short. Grounder. Desmond. Out. Extra innings.
Adam LaRoche grounded out to second on the first pitch of the tenth. Steve Cisek gave up a one-out opposite field single by Jayson Werth on a full-count sinker outside, but Ian Desmond grounded into a force at second for out no.2. With a runner on first, Denard Span stepped in, and doubled for the second time today, taking a 2-1 slider to right-center to bring Desmond around. 3-2 Nationals. Wilson Ramos singled to left in the next at bat to score Span and it was 4-2 Nats all of a sudden in the tenth. Chad Tracy's RBI double to right brought Ramos around to make it 5-2. Cue his music...
"Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano!" Rafael Soriano came out looking for his 25th save of 2013. Ed Lucas grounded out to second. Juan Pierre flew to left, but Bryce Harper couldn't make the catch. One-out double for Pierre in spite of a nice throw in by Harper. Placido Polanco grounded to short, moving Pierre to third. Giancarlo Stanton stepped in against Soriano and grounded out to first to end it. Ballgame.
Work's done! Untuck that jersey, son!!!
Nationals now 48-47