Saturday's Top 5:
5. Matt Chico's BACK!! Regardless of the outcome, Nats' left-hander Matt Chico's first start in the majors since May 21, 2008 is number five on the list as it completes a hard-fought comeback after elbow reconstruction surgery. Nearly two years after his last major league pitch, Chico starts the game by hitting Cameron Maybin, but he settles in and strands the HBP in the first, strands a leadoff double in the second, a leadoff single in the third, a two-out single in the fourth, and throws a 1-2-3 fifth...5.0 scoreless from Chico before the Marlins get to him in the sixth. Fish first baseman Gaby Sanchez and shortstop Hanley Ramirez hit back-to-back singles to start the frame, and after a visit (see no. 3), Jorge Cantu doubles in a run and ends Chico's day: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K's. Welcome back, Chico!!!
4. Hammer and Harris Give Chico The Lead!! Chico pitches in the majors for the first time since 2008, and Josh Willingham scores the Nats' first run with a two-out triple in the fourth, his first since August 22, 2008. Willie Harris lets Willingham walk home, taking Marlins' starter Josh Johnson deeeep to right and out of the yard over the out-of-town scoreboard for a two-run blast and a 3-0 lead after four. And then the Hammer ties it with a solo HR off Marlins' reliever Burke Badenhop in the seventh to knot the game back up after Tyler Clippard gave up a two-run HR and the lead in the top of the frame.
3. McChatty's Cost Runs, Batista Preserves Lead? Gaby Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez start the sixth with singles to center, one each, and even though Chico had been rolling he gets a visit from Nats' Pitching Coach Steve McCatty and then gives up a run-scoring double to Jorge Cantu in the next AB to finally get Florida on the board in the sixth. Chico's done. Miguel Batista, who's allowed 7 hits and 3 ER in the last 5.1 IP allows Hanley Ramirez to score (Chico's run), before getting three straight outs to end the sixth with the Nationals still ahead, 3-2...
2. Not Clippard!!!...Tyler Clippard And His Invisi-ball Disappear In 7th Reappear In 8th...
2. The Nationals' right-handed reliever Tyler Clippard hadn't allowed a run to score with him on the mound since April 14th against Philadelphia, a string of 14.0 scoreless innings that was snapped today by a two-out, two-run HR by Gaby Sanchez in the seventh that temporarily put Florida ahead 4-3. The Nats tied it in the bottom of the frame on Willingham's solo shot to left off Marlins' right-hander Burke Badenhop. Then Washington sent Clippard back onto the mound for the eighth and the goggle-wearing reliever responded to Riggleman's faith by throwing a quick 1-2-3 inning...
(ed. note - "In the postgame press conference I planned on asking Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman if he had any reservations about bringing Clippard back out for the eighth after he'd surrendered the HR and what the manager thought of Clippard's comeback...but Nats Insider.com's Mark Zuckerman beat me to it, here's Mr. Riggleman's response...")
Jim Riggleman on Clippard: "That's huge, and that's exactly what I just told him inside, that you know, that's the way to keep it together and regroup, because you know, he gave up the HR and instead of losing it he just came back and threw a lot of real quality pitches, didn't try to overthrow, mixed in his changeup still and really held the fort there for a while."
1. HBP POWER!!! Desmond and DUNN!!! Ian Desmond takes the second pitch he sees from Burke Badenhop for a HBP and the leadoff runner on in the Nats' eighth. Cristian Guzman tries to bunt Desmond into scoring position, but Marlins' first baseman Gaby Sanchez throws by first allowing Desmond to take third while Guzman takes second. Second and third, no outs. Ryan Zimmerman gets the intentionals to load the bases after a weak groundout by Nyjer Morgan and the Fish bring on Renyel Pinto to face Adam Dunn. LEFTY VS LEFTY!!! Dunn's down 0-2 early on a called strike and foul, and he takes a fastball, fouls off a slider and then gets hit in the shoulder to force in a run!!! 5-4 Nats.
• Miss The Game? The DC Faithful Were Watching.
Nationals now 16-14.
FULL GAME REPORT:
1 - Matt Chico takes the mound for the Nats and hits Cameron Maybin with the first pitch he throw. One on, no outs for Gaby Sanchez. Wild pitch in a 2-2 count and Maybin takes second, no throw. Maybin takes third on Sanchez's groundout. Hanley Ramirez lines out to Adam Kennedy at second, two down. Jorge Cantu chases a 1-2 curve out of the zone for a swinging strike three...Cristian Guzman takes strike three on a 94mph fastball from Josh Johnson. Adam Kennedy grounds out to second in front of Ryan Zimmerman. Zim lines to right, but Cody Ross cuts it off holding Zim to a single. Wild pitch from Johnson moves Zim to second. Adam Dunn tries to crush a 3-1 fastball, but fouls it off and two pitches later K's to end the first. 0-0.
2 - Dan Uggla starts the second with a double to left on a 2-1 fastball from Chico. Ronny Paulino grounds to short, and Guzman cuts Uggla down at third on an ill-advised attempt to advance by Uggla. Cody Ross K's swinging over a full-count slider, and Chico gets the third out with Cristian Guzman's help. The Guz slides to his left and makes the play on Brett Carroll's grounder, force at second, 0-0 in the second...Josh Willingham K's looking at a 97mph fastball. Willie Harris K's swinging at one, and Roger Bernadina flies out to center.
3 - Josh Johnson starts the third with a single to center. Cameron Maybin flies out unproductively to center, Gaby Sanchez flies to right to right. Hanley Ramirez grounds to Guzman, the toss to Kennedy, 0-0 after the Marlins' third...Wil Nieves lays a swinging bunt down the line toward third that dies in the grass. Matt Chico gets too much of a bunt attempt, Jorge Cantu fields and throws to second, to first, double play. Cristian Guzman lines to third to end the third.
4 - Roger Bernadina shades his eyes and closes his glove on a fly ball from Jorge Cantu, one down. Dan Uggla tests Cristian Guzman's arm with a sharp grounder to short, two down. Ronny Paulino lines to right, not even Willie Harris can get there. Two-out single. Cody Ross grounds to short, Guzman tosses to second. Four scoreless for Chico....Adam Kennedy singles through second to start the Nats' fourth. Ryan Zimmerman flies to deep right, one down. Adam Dunn flies out to center. Josh Willingham flies to right, and deep, off the wall for a standup triple and the game's first run. 1-0 Nats. Make that 3-0, Willie Harris hammers a 1-1 fastball to right and GONE!!! Over the out-of-town scoreboard for a two-run blast and the three-run lead. TAWH!! Roger Bernadina lines to right, but Brett Carroll robs him with a great diving play in the gap. 3-0 Nats after four.
5 - Ryan Zimmerman scoops up Brett Carroll's grounder and throws to first, one down. Josh Johnson grounds out to short, two down in the fifth. Cameron Maybin K's swinging, Matt Chico through five...Wil Nieves lines to short, but Hanley Ramirez makes a leaping grab. One down. Matt Chico battles but grounds out. Two down. Cristian Guzman keeps the fifth alive with a line drive single to left. Adam Kennedy up, and Guzman gets nailed stealing second. 3-0 Nats after five.
6 - Gaby Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez hit back to back singles to center to start the sixth. RBI single down the third base line by Cantu. 3-1 Nats. Chico's done. Miguel Batista on in relief. Dan Uggla grounds out to short, Sanchez scores, 3-2 Nats. Ronny Paulino grounds to third, Zimmerman looks Cantu back and fires to first. Two down. Cody Ross lines to short, Guzman's got it. Three down. 3-2 Nats...Adam Kennedy flies to right, Brett Carroll misjudges it but recovers. Ryan Zimmerman takes strike three. Adam Dunn grounds to first, 3-2 Nats after six.
7 - Miguel Batista gets a fly to right from Brett Carroll that Willie Harris catches. One down. Sean Burnett takes over for Batista. Pinch hitter Bryan Petersen on to hit for Florida. Fly ball to center, two down. Burnett walks Cameron Maybin and it's Clippard Time. Tyler Clippard vs Gaby Sanchez. 1-2 fastball from Clippard, deep to left and up in the wind, GONE!! No! 4-3 Marlins on the two-run blast. Clippard gets Hanley Ramirez swinging to end the Marlins' eighth...HAMMER TIME!!! Josh Willingham ties it with one swing! HR to left and it's quickly 4-4. Willie Harris grounds out to first. Roger Bernadina grounds back to the mound. Wil Nieves pops out to second. 4-4 after seven.
8 - Jorge Cantu flies out to Roger Bernadina in right for the first out of the eighth. Clippard throws a two-strike change inside to get Uggla swinging Uggla-y. Ronny Paulino K's looking, Clippard's back...Ian Desmond takes one for the team and takes first. Cristian Guzman gets a bunt down and forces a quick throw with his speed, and it gets by Gaby Sanchez, Desmond takes third, Guzman to second. Nyjer Morgan grounds out unproductively. Ryan Zimmerman gets the intentionals. Adam Dunn fights off a few 1-2 pitches and takes a fastball in the shoulder. Pinto's HBP forces in a run!! 5-4 NATS!!! Willingham pops out to the catcher. Two down. Willie Harris K's looking at a high fastball. 5-4 Nats after eight.
9 - Matt Capps vs Cody Ross. Ross lines out to second. ONE!! Chris Coghlan on to hit. Grounder to third, ZImmerman fields and throws short, Dunn scoops and then drops it, E3. One on, one out for Bryan Petersen. Petersen grounds to first, Dunn throws to second for the force, but the return throw is late. Two out, one on. Wes Helms K's swinging! Ballgame!!! Nats win, 5-4 final.