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Washington Nationals vs Florida Marlins: Game Report..."Exp-...Washington Nationals' Rookie Collin Balester Wins His MLB Debut."


DC leadoff batter Roger Bernadina battles Marlins’ lefty Mark Hendrickson to a full count and then strikes out swinging for the first out of tonight's second of three in Dolphin Stadium. Cristian Guzman lays one down the line in right for a soft fly ball single. Elijah Dukes archs a line drive out to Robert Andino at second. DY grounds back to the mound...

The first pitch of Collin Balester’s MLB career is a strike, high and inside to Hanley Ramirez. Two balls, one low, then high and tight, and the fourth pitch shatters Ramirez’s bat, resulting in a pop out to second. 95 mph fastball starts Jeremy Hermida off, and after showing the Marlins his 76 mph curve, and missing a few fastballs, a low 93 mph heater from Balester makes it a full count...Hermida grounds to short, but Guzman can’t come up with the ball, Hermida’s safe at first. Jorge Cantu at bat, Hermida steals second easily off Balester and DC catcher Paul Lo Duca. Cantu works the count full, and then pops up Balester's nasty 77 mph curve. Balester hits Josh Willlingham with a slow curve, but gets Mike Jacobs to pop up a fastball to end a scoreless first. 

Ronnie Belliard lines out to center for the first out of the second. Lo Duca flies out to center. Wily Mo Pena goes down chasing off-speed junk from Hendrickson, who completes his second scoreless...Balester gets strike two from Cody Ross with a low in the zone, mid-70’s curve, and then goes upstairs with 95 mph heat for a swinging K. Balester throws another fastball by Robert Andino, and gets a grounder to short from Matt Treanor to end the second. 


Robert Andino steps back onto the grass to catch Felipe Lopez’s pop out. Collin Balester’s first AB? K’s like a pitcher. Roger Bernadina grounds out to second to end the DC third...Balester strikes out the opposing pitcher to start the home half of the third. Full count to Hanley Ramirez, and Balester gets a groundout to short. Hermida chops one to third, Belliard's throw to first ends Balester’s third scoreless. 


Mark Hendrickson’s first mistake of the night comes with one down in the fourth, and it’s a hanging curve that Elijah Dukes sends soaring into the upper deck in left. DUKES!!! 1-0 DC. DY flies out to right. Belliard grounds out to short. 1-0 Nationals, middle of the fourth...Roger Bernadina retreats to left-center to catch Jorge Cantu’s fly ball. Josh Willingham grounds out to second. Jacobs chases an 86 mph change from Collin Balester for strike two, and then chops a grounder to second, where Lopez fields and throws to first. 1-0 DC after four.


Paul Lo Duca doubles off the wall in left to leadoff the fifth. WMP pops up over home for an unproductive out. Felipe Lopez slices a line-drive to Jeremy Hermida in left, Lo Duca 'rounds third, and Mike Jacobs deflects the throw back in to hold Lopez at first, as Lo Duca scores. 2-0 Nationals. Balester’s first MLB sac bunt moves Lopez to second. Bernadina goes the other way with a single to left, Lopez turns around third, Josh Willingham comes up throwing, and Treanor stops Lopez three feet up the line from home so there’s no doubt he’s out. 2-0 DC after four and a half...Cody Ross smacks a one-hop single to right for the first hit off Balester. Robert Andino beats out the backend of his own DP grounder, Ross is out at second. Matt Treanor takes Balester’s first walk, and Mark Hendrickson takes Balester’s first inexcusable walk to load the bases for Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez pops to short left, where Lopez catches it going back, and Robert Andino tags and beats the throw home. 2-1 Nationals on the first run off Balester. Balester’s first wild pitch comes on a curve to go to a full count, two outs against Jeremy Hermida, and Balester reloads the bases with another walk. Jorge Cantu pops out foul of first, Balester escapes his first tough spot...

Cristian Guzman blasts a grounder under a diving Hanley Ramirez’s glove. Elijah Dukes rips a low liner through short. DY smokes a single to right. Bases loaded for Ronnie Belliard. Make that Belli-YARD!! GRAND SLAM!! GRAND SLAM!! 6-1 DC. Felipe Lopez hits a two-out single off the wall in left, but gets nailed trying to stretch it...6-1 Nationals middle of six...Steven Shell replaces Collin Balester (5.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K's, 1.80 ERA). Shell strikes out Willingham, gets a fly ball out to center from Mike Jacobs, and after walking Cody Ross, Shell blows Andino away. 6-1 after six. 

Eulogio De La Cruz pitches to DC reliever Steven Shell to start the seventh. Shell grounds out to first. Bernadina pops up to third. Cristian Guzman grounds sharply to short, Hanley Ramirez has it, 6-1 after six and a half...Stand up and stretch...Matt Treanor singles to start the Marlins’ seventh. Shell hits Alfredo “The Amazing” Amezaga. Full count fastball to Hanley Ramirez...GONE!! Second deck in left for a three-run blast. 6-4 DC. “Wild” Joel Hanrahan’s up next. Jorge Cantu flies to Dukes in short right. Josh Willingham doesn’t get much farther into right than Cantu, Felipe Lopez has this one. 6-4 DC after seven. 


Elijah Dukes lines a broken bat single to center to start the eighth. Dukes steals second, just avoiding Hanley Ramirez’s tag on a good throw from Treanor. DY strikes out chasing a low fastball. Ronnie Belliard walks, and Eulogio De La Cruz is done. Joe Nelson takes over for Florida. Lo Duca pops off his fists, and into center for a single. Bases loaded. Kory Casto on to hit for WMP. Casto grounds hard to first, Jacobs fields and throws...wide of home, Dukes scores. 7-4 DC. Felipe Lopez drops a single one hop in front of Cody Ross. Belliard crosses. 8-4 DC. Willie Harris rips a line drive to right. Lo Duca scores. 9-4 Nationals...Mike Jacobs strikes out swinging through a fastball from Charlie Manning. Cody Ross doesn’t come close, for another swinging K. Wes Helms takes a two-out walk. Manning suddenly loses control and walks Treanor too...Manning’s out in favor of Luis Ayala. Alfredo “The Amazing” Amezaga lines by Guzman’s glove for an RBI single to center. 9-5 Nationals. Hanley Ramirez singles to right, Dukes throws over home as Treanor scores, Amezaga to third, Ramirez to second. 9-6 Nationals. Jeremy Hermida chases strike three out of the zone!! 9-6 after a long eighth.


Logan Kensing pops up Elijah Dukes on the first pitch. Aaron Boone flies out to center. Ronnie Belliard strokes a two-out double to center. Paul Lo Duca takes a pitch to the arm. WWJD? Jesus Flores strikes out swinging...Wait for it...The Tallest Pitcher in MLB History...Jon Rauch is on to end it for DC...Cantu grounds to short. Willingham strikes out swinging through a high fastball. Mike Jacobs lines off Rauch’s leg, and reaches safely when it bounces into foul territory. Cody Ross singles to right. Rauch goes 3-0 on Luis Gonzalez, then throws two fastballs for strikes. Full count. Gonzalez flies to center, Roger Bernadina closes his glove on Collin Balester’s first Major League win. Balester (W, 1-0, 1.80 ERA).


Nationals now 34-51.