End, 3:40:The Nats beat the Astros, 10-0, clinching their 15th victory and ensuring they will finish with at least a .500 record for the first time. Hernandez, Collin Balester, Tyler Clippard, Todd Coffey and Sean Burnett – who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth – combined on a two-hit shutout.
Top 8, 3:18: The Nats are turning this one into a boatrace. After Tyler Moore, the Nats’ reigning minor league player of the year, doubled high off the center field fence, Jonathan Van Every crushed a three-run homer. 10-0, Nats. They’ve allowed two hits all day.
End 7, 3:11: Everything is coming up Nats today. Tyler Clippard continued his recent dominance, blowing away one batter with a fastball and inducing a weak chopper and a grounder to second to get a 1-2-3 inning. Nats up, 7-0.
End 6, 2:54: Just got done chatting with Livan Hernandez. He had a stiff neck, which he first felt in the bullpen, and that limited him to 52 pitches today. He is not concerned in the least about opening day. “No, no, no, no," he said. Hernandez realizes that, with Stephen Strasburg coming back in 2012, 2011 could be his last opening day start, no matter how well he pitches this year. “Sometimes you play golf,” Hernandez said, “and biride doesn’t win the hole.”
Meantime, the Nats have gone up 6-0, with two more runs in the sixth. Not sure how the first scored, but Ryan Zimmerman drove in the second with an RBI single up the middle. Collin Balester pitced two more scoreless inning, allowing only a groundball single.
Mid 5, 2:29: The Nats tacked on a run with a sloppy inning by Houston. Laynce Nix and Michael Morse drew walks, Matt Stairs reached on an infield single, and Rick Ankiel scored a run by reaching on an erro. Livan Hernandez is already out, with Collin Balester on. I didn’t see anything that would suggest Livo got hurt, and I assume Riggleman just wants to get the bullpen some work.
Livo’s line: 4 IP, 1 H, 1 B 0 R, 1 K
End 3, 2:00: Livo being Livo in the third. Three weak fly balls to the outfield. He walked off the mound and didn’t bother to watch while the final out landed in Rick Ankiel’s glove.
Top 3, 1:48: Ryan Zimmerman broke his third bat in five at-bats since returning, but he showed he’s all the way back from that groin strain. He beat out a weak groundball to the right side, taking advantage of a bobble by Brett Wallace. Matt Stairs followed with a sac fly to score Nix. It’s 4-0, Nats.
Top 3, 1:44: The Nats are pounding Brandon Lyon. After Hernandez led off with a groundout, Ian Desmond sent a double to the warning track in right-center. Laynce Nix followed by yanking a missile into the right-field corner. They lead, 3-0, as Ryan Zimmerman bats.
End 2, 1:37: Livan Hernandez issued a lead off walk, but Ivan Rodriguez, lest we forget he still has a bazooka attached to his right shoulder, threw out Brett Wallace trying to steal. Livo got Oswaldo Navarro to pop up to end the inning.
Top 2, 1:26: Michael Morse is crushing the ball again, and he just roped a two-run homer over the fence in right-center, a no-doubter off the bat. Matt Stairs had walked. It’s 2-0, Nats.
Oh, in the first, Livo allowed a single and a few hard outs, but had no trouble.
Mid 1, 1:14: Welcome to Osceola County Stadium, hard by the Reptile World Serpantarium. The Nats went in
order in the first against right-hander Henry Villar, but Ian Desmond smoked a line drive to left. He also had an impressive batting practice, today. Looks like maybe he’s finding his swing in time for the season. Or I just happened to watch him hit a few liners today.