Nationals Park Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: The St. Louis Cardinals took all six games they played against the Washington Nationals in 2013, giving the defending NL Central Division winners seven straight over the Nats going back to Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS, when they battled back from a 6-0 hole to beat the Nationals and knock them out of the first postseason run by a D.C.-based team in 79 years.
The first two St. Louis Cardinals' batters of the game reached base on an error by Ian Desmond and a misplay by Nats' starter Taylor Jordan in the first two at bats of tonight's series opener and both scored in a three-run first inning in Nationals Park which saw Matt Holliday double in a run, Matt Adams bring another in with a groundout and Yadier Molina connect for an RBI single of his own. 3-0.
Ian Desmond's second error of the game put runners on the corners with one down in the Cardinals' fourth, and St. Louis scored their fourth run of the game on a grounder to short by Adam Wainwright in the next at bat, 4-0.
The Cardinals added three runs in the sixth with Matt Holliday singling in one with a bases-loaded line drive to left and Matt Adams driving in two with a single to center field off Nats' right-hander Blake Treinen. 7-0 St. Louis.
Kolten Wong singled to center to drive in run no.8 for the Cardinals tonight and there was no comeback in the cards (sorry) for the Nationals tonight.
Adam Wainwright went the distance and even doubled in his final at bat for good measure...
Wainwright's line: 9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 Ks, 110 P, 75 S, 9/7 GO/FO.
Final score, 8-0 St. Louis.
4. Ground Ball Machine: Taylor Jordan wasn't himself last time out in Atlanta. Washington's 25-year-old starter was up in the zone all night against the Braves, and he got hit hard, surrendering 10 hits and five earned runs in just five innings of work in which he induced just five ground ball outs.
"Just balls left out over," Matt Williams said after the loss that night in Turner Field.
"They hit some balls to the alley and to the wall and it happens. They're a good fastball hitting club, and if you don't put the ball where you want to then that can happen."
The Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick took the mound in the nation's capital tonight, facing the Cardinals for the first time in his nascent major league career.
1st: Jordan induced what should have been ground ball no.1 of the game off the bat of Cardinals' leadoff man and third baseman Matt Carpenter, but tonight's game started with an error by Ian Desmond at short, who popped up too early without the ball in his glove. E:6. Jordan fielded a swinging bunt off Kolten Wong's bat in the next AB, but couldn't get it out of his glove. Safe at first. With two on and no one out, Matt Holliday lined an RBI double to left that made it 1-0 Cards early and two more scored on an RBI groundout by Matt Adams and a run-scoring single by Cardinals' catcher Yadier Molina as St. Louis jumped out to an early 3-0 lead at the end of a 26-pitch first inning.
The Nationals lead the majors in pitching strikeouts http://t.co/OGO7JvVOX8 and defensive errors. That's a hard combo to pull off.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) April 17, 2014
2nd: Cards' center fielder Jon Jay took an 87 mph 0-1 fastball to left for a line drive single in the first at bat of the second. Adam Wainwright bunted Jay over/gave up an out. Matt Carpenter popped to right for out no.2 of the Cardinals' half of the inning and Kolten Wong went down swinging at a 2-2 change to end a 12-pitch frame that left Jordan at 38 pitches total after two.
3rd: Matt Holliday walked in a five-pitch at bat in the top of the third, but Matt Adams lined out to center on an 89 mph 2-2 fastball from Taylor Jordan and Yadier Molina hit a 90 mph 3-2 fastball to third where Anthony Rendon started an inning-ending 5-4-3 DP that ended a 16-pitch third inning by Jordan, who was up to 54 pitches after three.
4th: Taylor Jordan threw an 81 mph 1-1 curve to Allen Craig to get a groundout to third base in the first at bat of the fourth inning. Groundout no.5. Jhonny Peralta worked the count full and hit a fly to left that dropped in fair for a one-out double. Jon Jay sent a grounder out to Ian Desmond at short, but Desmond spiked a throw to first that Adam LaRoche couldn't handle. E:6. No.2 tonight for Desmond, no.7 of 2014. Runners on the corners. Jordan got a grounder to short out of the opposing pitcher, but Danny Espinosa dropped the ball on the exchange with Jay bearing down and second base ump Adam Hamari said the runner was safe. 4-0 Cards when Peralta scored on the play. Matt Carpenter's single to center loaded the bases with one down. Jordan threw home for a force on Kolten Wong's grounder back to the mound. Matt Holliday stepped in with two down and three on, but grounded into a force at second to end the inning. 72 pitches total after a 18-pitch frame.
5th: Matt Adams sent groundout no.10 of the night for Taylor Jordan out to Adam LaRoche at first. Yadier Molina sent no.11 out to Danny Espinosa at second. Allen Craig lined to center on a first-pitch slider, where Nate McLouth made a sliding catch to end a quick, eight-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth that left Jordan at 80 pitches total after five.
6th: Jhonny Peralta K'd swinging to start the Cards' sixth. Jon Jay reached on a HBP when Taylor Jordan hit him with an 89 mph 2-1 fastball. An infield single by Adam Wainwright put two runners on with one out. Jordan fell behind 3-1 to Matt Carpenter and walked the Cardinals' third baseman to load the bases and end his own night 16 pitches into the sixth...
Taylor Jordan's Line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 96 P, 61 S, 11/0 GO/FO.
3. Key Matchup - Werth vs Wainwright: Jayson Werth hit home runs in each of the last two games on the Nationals' last homestand, taking Miami Marlins' reliever Carlos Marmol and starter Tom Koehler deep for a grand slam and a two-run blast, respsectively, in each of the last two games of the three-game series with the Fish last week in D.C.
Werth's third home run of the 2014 campaign came against 21-year-old Marlins' starter Jose Fernandez in last night's 6-3 win in Miami. The opposite field blast Werth hit in the sixth inning of the series finale tied things up at 3-3 after Fernandez dominated the Nats' batters through the first five innings.
Werth's third home run of the 2014 campaign traveled 409 ft to right-center field and just cleared high, lime green outfield wall in Marlins Park. He told Nats' Manager Matt Williams afterwards that he hit that one, a literal top-of-the-wall-scraper, as hard as he possibly could and still just managed to get it out.
"He told me when he came back to the bench he hit that ball just about good as he could hit a ball," Williams told reporters after the game. "It's a big yard, and especially the other way, it's difficult to do."
Werth, 34, entered tonight's game in Nationals Park, the first in a four-game set with St. Louis, 7 for 28 (.250/.267/.536) with two doubles, two home runs, one walk and eight Ks in 30 PAs vs Cards' starter Adam Wainwright thus far in each of their major league careers.
Wainwright, pitching in the nation's capital for the first time this season, was coming off a 2013 campaign in which he dominated the Nationals, going (2-0) with a 1.76 ERA, one walk (0.59 BB/9) and 14 Ks (8.22 K/9) in two starts and 15 1/3 IP against the Nationals, who put up a .214/.228/.286 line against veteran Cards' starter. In D.C., however, the 32-year-old righty was just (2-2) in four career starts, in which he posted a 4.50 ERA, with eight walks (3.27 BB/9) and 26 (10.64 K/9) in 22 IP, over which Nats' hitters put up a combined .304/.360/.413 line.
The first Wainwright vs Werth matchup of the night came in the bottom of the first, and it ended quickly with the Nats' right fielder taking an 0-2 sinker outside for a called strike three that ended a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 inning for the Cards' starter.
Werth's second at bat against Wainwright tonight came in the third, with no one on after the Cardinals' right-hander retired Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper on four pitches. Werth sent a sharp grounder to third on a 75 mph 1-1 curve, but Matt Carpenter handled it and fired to first to end the inning. Werth 0 for 2 vs Wainwright tonight, 7 for 30 career.
At bat no.3 for Werth vs Wainwright came with two out in the bottom of the sixth. Werth was 0 for 3 on the night and 7 for 31 vs Wainwright overall after he popped out to foul territory off first on an 0-1 curve that ended a seven-pitch inning...
Werth got one more shot at Wainwright in the ninth, but lined out to right, leaving him 0 for 4 tonight and 7 for 32 career vs Wainwright.
2. Early Deficits: Matt Williams talked this week about the trouble his starters have experienced early in their outings so far this season. He didn't however, have an explanation for what was causing the slow starts, after which the Nats' starter have usually managed to settle in.
"I don't know," Williams said. "It's a concentrated effort to be able to go out there and get through the first inning as quickly as you can. It doesn't happen every time, but it's a concentrated effort to get that done so we can get -- if we're on the road -- get our second at bat, if we're at home get our first at bat and go from there. But it's been difficult early on, not in every game, but in some games where the starters have given up early runs and we're behind. We've come back in some of them, but it's tough to come back in all of them."
The Nationals started in a 3-0 hole tonight in the first game of four with the Cardinals when their suspect early-season defense cost them in the first inning and they were down 8-0 after seven as St. Louis cruised to a win.
1. It Gets Ugly: Blake Treinen entered the game in the sixth in a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth and started by striking Kolten Wong out with a 96 mph 2-2 two-seamer. Matt Holliday hit an single to left in the next at bat, however, and the Cardinals took a 5-0 lead. Two more scored on a bases-loaded single by Matt Adams and the Cardinals went up 7-0 on the Nationals in the sixth.
The Cardinals added a run in the top of the seventh to go up 8-0 and that's how it ended.
Nationals now 9-7