NL Division Series Game 1: Nationals at Cardinals

October 7, 2012
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We’ll see you Monday afternoon


By Jonathan Newton – TWP

Your first live-blog in-game Nats playoff experience is now over. We will attempt to take a few lessons from this and make Monday’s Game 2 live-blog in-game Nats experience even more awesome. Or maybe just do the exact same thing.

Now you can all go attempt to replicate Drew Storen’s game-over face in the mirror and calm your nerves. Remember, health comes first. Go take a jog or something.

Tyler Moore, returning to the dugout


By Jonathan Newton – TWP.

Here’s Tyler Moore, returning to the dugout after knocking in two runs in the top of the eighth, pushing Washington ahead in its first playoff game.

Later, Moore was asked by the press if that was his biggest hit of the year.

“Uh, yeah,” he said, with a laugh. Ian Desmond, meanwhile, called Moore “a young stud” on the MLB Network, and predicted that he would be next season’s Allen Craig.

Ian Desmond on Game 1

After the Game 1 comeback, a whole bunch of Nats fans said this 3-2 win felt emblematic of a season that was full of comebacks and strange wins and struggles that turned into triumphs. Players evidently felt the same way.

“It’s great,” Ian Desmond told Ken Rosenthal on the MLB Network. “I think it kind of signifies the way we’ve played ally year long. We’ve grinded and battled through injuries, a lot of one-run games. To come from behind today just kind of shows the team we are.”

Later, Rosenthal asked Desmond about his team’s magical seventh-inning escape, which began with the Cardinals loading the bases without any outs.

“I thought we were gonna walk away,” Desmond said. “Failure doesn’t really ever come into our picture. We’ve been battling all year long, we’ve come back in a lot of games, and this is just another example of that.”

Davey Johnson on Tyler Moore

Davey Johnson had extremely kind words for Tyler Moore, who drove in the tying and go-ahead run, after the Nats’ win on Sunday.

“He’s been fabulous,” the manager said. “Him, Harper, Lombardozzi. Moore was always a first baseman, and when Morse went down I had to play him in the outfield….Moore did a heck of a job. He won some ballgames with his bat and played good defense. Both of them did. And that was the strength that held us in with the injuries to Morse and Werth. Those guys are Harper were great, and that’s been our strength.”

Another view of the Jayson Werth catch


Sarah Conard – Reuters.

With the late-game heroics from Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Moore, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, it’s easy to forget that Jayson Werth — despite a horrid game at the plate — helped keep things from getting out of hand with his fabulous leaping catch in the sixth inning.

Here’s another nice look at it, from Reuters.

Mike Matheny on Ryan Mattheus

After losing to the Nats in Game 1, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny talked about the crucial bottom of the seventh, when Ryan Mattheus wiggled out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam with just two pitches.

“They brought in a very good ground-ball pitcher, a guy we knew has a record of getting the ground ball, and they made a couple nice plays,” Matheny said. “We needed a couple runs then, but they pitched their way out of it….

“We did have our opportunities,” he later said. “Certainly there with the bases loaded and nobody out, they don’t get much better than that. It just didn’t work out.”

The radio call of the final pitch

Assuming you were watching on TV, here is approximately how Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler called the final pitch of Washington’s 3-2 win on Sunday.

“Cardinals fans waving the rally towels, trying to rally Matt Holliday,” Slowes said. “Slider. They appeal. He swung! He swung! Strike 3! The game is over, and Storen’s done it!”

“If this is what playoff baseball’s like, hold on,” Jageler joked. “This is gonna be a bumpy ride.”

Nats fans react to the final out

Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post

Duffy’s Irish Pub erupts after Drew Storen seals the Nationals’ 3-2 win.

Nationals beat Cardinals, 3-2, Drew Storen earns the save

Drew Storen notched a 1-2-3 inning to earn his first-ever postseason save and more importantly give the Nationals a 3-2 win over the Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLDS. Storen got two flyouts and a strikeout from the heart of the Cardinals order to end the game.

Early take on a hero, rookie Tyler Moore, whose pinch-hit two-run eighth inning single in the difference in the game.

 

Tyler Clippard with a big eighth inning

Tyler Clippard was already in a jam one batter into the inning. Ryan Zimmerman’s throwing error put David Freese on with no outs. Daniel Descalso’s sacrifice bunt moved pinch runner Adron Chambers to second base. Pete Kozman popped up to first baseman Adam LaRoche. And then Clippard got pinch hitter Matt Carpenter to strike out looking thanks to a generous call on a pitch outside by home plate umpire Paul Emmel. 

Nationals lead 3-2 heading to the ninth inning with Drew Storen as the closer.

Ryan Mattheus, Ian Desmond make history

A couple of Nats playoff newcomers made a couple of historic appearances on Sunday.

Relief pitcher Ryan Mattheus, the first D.C. playoff hero in 79 years, recorded three outs with just two pitches in the seventh inning, getting out of a bases-loaded no-out jam without any damage. Kilgore called it the greatest relief appearance in baseball history, and it was something like that. Baseball Prospectus’s Sam Miller reported that Mattheus became the first pitcher in postseason history to finish an inning in just two pitches.

Meanwhile, Ian Desmond was perhaps Washington’s best hitter on Sunday, getting hits in three of his first career playoff at-bats. CSN Washington reported that Desmond became the first shortstop with at least three hits in his postseason debut since Alan Trammell in 1984.

Davey Johnson wins the eighth

The Cardinals have just one lefty in their bullpen — Marc Rzepcynski. And because of that, Davey Johnson was able to get the matchup he wanted in the eighth.

When the Nats opened the frame against Cardinals’ setup man Mitchell Boggs by having Michael Morse reach on a (tough) error on Cards shortstop Pete Kozma and then having Ian Desmond rip his third hit of the day, they were in business.

Danny Espinosa, who looks lost, almost did the Cards a favor by bunting — handing them an out. That moved Desmond to second but didn’t score Morse. When Boggs struck out Kurt Suzuki, Johnson sent out left-handed hitting Chad Tracy to pinch hit. That sent St. Louis Manager Mike Matheny to his bullpen — essentially disrupting the way the end of Cards’ games have flowed lately — to get Rzepcynski.

And then Johnson played his card: He pulled back Tracy for Tyler Moore, a right-handed hitter. And on a 2-2 count, Moore dropped the single — off the lefty — into right field that drove in both Morse and Desmond and gave the Nats their first lead of the playoffs, 3-2.

Tyler Moore gives the Nationals a 3-2 lead with single in eighth

Pinch hitter Tyler Moore, a rookie in his first-ever postseason at-bat, flared a pitch from left-hander Marc Rzepczysnki to right field for a two-run single in the eighth inning that gave the Nationals a 3-2 lead. 

Chad Tracy was the announced pinch hitter but once Rzepczysnki was announced, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson pulled him back and sent in Moore. Moore lifted a fastball to right field and pumped his right fist in the air as he reached second, celebrating the biggest hit of his career.

Earlier in the inning, Danny Espinosa, already 0 for 3 with three strikeouts, bunted with one out and two runners on base, one on third base. It was a curious decision, potentially Espinosa’s call, since a fly ball deep in the outfield could have tied the game at 2-2. The sacrifice bunt moved Desmond to second back. Michael Morse, who was on third base, didn’t break and stayed. Moore’s hit scored both runners, which saved the inning and possibly the game.

Turner explains TBS broadcast problems

Earlier Sunday, many viewers in the D.C. market and elsewhere were having trouble with the TBS HD broadcast, the standard-def broadcast, or both. While the problems didn’t last long, it was long enough for fans to get angry and wonder what was happening and write some outraged comments on web sites between eating potato chips and drinking pumpkin beers.

Anyhow, SportsBusiness Journal’s John Ourand got some information from Turner Broadcasting.

“Turner says the periodic video problems are due to the Fall Equinox,” he reported. “Turner says the problems are affecting other networks, too.

“Turner: The satellite sun outages have the potential to occur between Oct 4-12…[affecting] picture quality and sound” for minutes/day…Solar radiation can interfere with satellite signals when the sun is in direct line with a communication satellite.”

So blame it on the Sun Monster, is the basic story.

Ryan Mattheus with a huge three outs

Craig Stammen, in his second inning of work, loaded the bases by grazing Matt Holliday in the seventh inning. Leadoff batter Jon Jay reached on a fielding error by Adam LaRoche; a hard grounder hit to him that he misplayed. Carlos Beltran singled to center field.

Manager Davey Johnson pulled Stammen after he hit Holliday and called for Ryan Mattheus. The right-handed sinker-baller threw two fastballs and netted three huge outs with the bases loaded. Allen Craig hit a ball to Ian Desmond, who thew home to nab Jay. Then, the Nationals turned a nifty double play started by Ryan Zimmerman and turned by Danny Espinosa that ended the inning.

Mattheus pumped his fist and ran off the mound fired up, high-fiving teammates as he entered the dugout and pumped his fist again.

Edward Mujica’s 1-2-3 inning

The heart of the Nationals order could muster little against Cardinals reliever Edward Mujica. On six pitches, he got three groundouts. His split-finger pitch is effective against both right and left-handers. He got Bryce Harper to roll over a two-seam fastball, Ryan Zimmerman on another one and Adam LaRoche on the split-finger. The Nationals are now down to their final six outs.

Fans react to Jayson Werth’s catch

Jayson Werth went above the right-field fence to save a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, and fans went wild.

 And so on. Of course, there was a brief debate about whether this actually would have been a home run had Werth not leaped and caught the ball and carried it above the wall. Either way, great, great catch. Watch the video here.

Now, it’s the battle of the bullpens

With Adam Wainwright removed in the top of the sixth, right as Davey Johnson was sending up Roger Bernadina to pinch hit for Gio Gonzalez, this 2-1 ballgame belonged to the bullpens. The Cardinals were asking theirs to get 10 outs and preserve the lead. The Nats needed theirs to get 12 outs and somehow allow for a comeback.

This brings up an interesting situation. Nationals’ relievers posted the third-best ERA in the National League at 3.23 ERA. Only Cincinnati and Atlanta were better.

The Cardinals — who got a huge strikeout of Jayson Werth from Lance Lynn to close the sixth — were a bit more of a mess in the bullpen, untill late in the year. St. Louis’s bullpen ERA of 3.90 was just ninth in the NL. Jason Motte led the league with 42 saves. But the bridge to get to Motte was a bit shaky for most of the summer. Until the Cards traded with Florida for Edward Mujica.

Since coming over, Mujica has posted a 1.03 ERA in 29 appearances, pretty much owning the seventh inning for St. Louis.

“It didn’t catch a lot of national attention, as it wasn’t a blockbuster move,” Cards Manager Mike Matheny said before Game 1. “But for our team, it was a blockbuster move because it helped solidify one of the biggest voids we had. He’s been a great addition to our club.”

Mujica now gets the Cards to the eighth, where Mitchell Boggs is a stalwart, having allowed one run in his last 12 appearances. Can the Nats get to Mujica, Boggs and Motte to overcome this deficit?

Jayson Werth saves a home run

Craig Stammen came in to pitch the sixth inning, relieving Gio Gonzalez. With David Freese on first base following a single, light-hitting Daniel Descalso lifted a flyball deep right field. It was carrying out, and Jayson Werth backed up to the right field wall. He leaped, snatched the ball with the palm of his glove in front of the State Farm sign and held on to it. The tremendous play by Werth saved a home run and prevented the Cardinals from taking a commanding 4-1 lead.

Stammen allowed a second base runner, hitting Pete Kozman, but ended the inning with a strikeout of pinch hitter Skip Schumaker. The Nationals trail 2-1.

Jayson Werth strikes out with the bases loaded in sixth

After starter Adam Wainwright was pulled in sixth inning, reliever Lance Lynn walked pinch hitter Roger Bernadina to load the bases. Lynn started Jayson Werth with a fastball that he took. He then fouled off two more fastballs, took a ball, fouled off another before Lynn fired a curveball that Werth swung through and missed, falling on one knee in his follow-through.

With the bases loaded twice now, Werth has missed on both chances. He is 0 for 3. The Nationals still trail 2-1. By the way, Lynn vs. Nats in 7 1/3 innings this season: 9.82 ERA.

Adam Wainwright out, Lance Lynn in

After Kurt Suzuki drew a walk with Michael Morse on first and one out, Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny pulled starter Adam Wainwright after 100 pitches. Lance Lynn, a starter in the bullpen, came in to face pinch hitter Roger Bernadina who walked on four pitches. 

Wainwright fanned 10 batters, nine on his curveball, and allowed only on run on six hits over 5 2/3 innings.

Gio Gonzalez works magic: seven walks, one hit, down only 2-1

Amazingly, Gio Gonzalez has allowed only one hit out of 109 pitches. He could not consistently find the strike zone, walking a season-high seven batters, but has allowed only two runs.

Christian Garcia was warming in the Nationals bullpen with one out in the fifth inning. With Gonzalez at 109 pitches and his command still off, it’s hard to see him coming back out. The Nationals still trail 2-1. 

From colleague Barry Svrluga: “[Adam] Wainwright allows a 1.002 OPS and has a 6.93 ERA in the sixth inning — by far his worst.”

Trouble with TBS’s HD feed

Many viewers, both in the D.C. area and in far-flung East-Coast markets, reported issues with TBS’s high-def feed during the fifth inning on Sunday. Screens froze — as above — or turned blank. Blood pressures rose. Some viewers found success by switching to the standard-def TBS broadcast, although others said that didn’t work either.

We’ll try to figure out what happened and how many viewers were affected.

(Image via @kevin_reiss)

Gio Gonzalez walks season-high seventh batter

After issuing consecutive walks to Jon Jay and Carlos Beltran in the fifth inning, Gio Gonzalez hit a season-high seven walks. The most he walked during the regular season was five. The last time he walked this many was June 11, 2011 with the Oakland Athletics.

Adam Wainwright has nine strikeouts through five

Adam Wainwright is plowing through the Nationals order. He has nine strikeouts through five innings, eight of them on curveballs. Jayson Werth led off the inning with a single, the third time the Nationals have the leadoff hitter on. Bryce Harper had a good at-bat, fouling off two pitches, before missing on a curveball. Ryan Zimmerman couldn’t connect on a curveball either. Wainwright fell behind 0-2 on Adam LaRoche and couldn’t throw him a curveball, so he tossed a sinker, which he hit to first base for a ground out. 

Wainwright stands at 82 pitches and with a 2-1 lead. No one in the bullpen is stirring.

Adam LaRoche scoring a run

Here’s Adam LaRoche scoring the Nats’ first run of the playoffs, and Washington’s first postseason MLB run in 79 years.

The run came in the second inning on a Kurt Suzuki single; the Nats, though, stranded the bases loaded, which might be one of Game 1′s defining moments.

Can the Nats come back on Wainwright?

Gio Gonzalez may have settled down over the past two innings. So the Nationals’ chances in Game 1 will have something to do with whether they can get to Adam Wainwright, whose curveball has been outstanding thus far.

These Nationals are in an interesting spot when it comes to facing Wainwright: They simply haven’t done it that much. Only three players — Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman — have more than 10 plate appearances against him coming into this game.

LaRoche, Werth and Michael Morse have the only homers in the Nats’ lineup off Wainwright. LaRoche’s .807 OPS coming into the game was the best on the Nats, and he’s 1 for 2.

Watch the sixth inning, too. It is Wainwright’s worst frame this year. In the fifth, he allows opposing hitters a .758 OPS. In the sixth, that sky-rockets to 1.002.

Steve McCatty on Gio Gonzalez’s wildness

Nats pitching coach Steve McCatty chatted briefly with the TBS broadcast crew not long after Gio Gonzalez’s rocky second inning on Sunday.

“That’s one of the things with Gio, he has a quick motor, gets rushing,” McCatty said. “He got a little wild there. Got him to calm down a little, so hopefully he’s better from here on out.”

McCatty then talked about how there are two approaches with coaching up Gonzalez, the relaxed one and the intense one.

“Sometimes with Gio you’ve just got to get in his face and say, hey, throw the ball over the plate!!” McCatty said. “That didn’t work at first, but he had a better inning after that.”

Gio Gonzalez with second 1-2-3 inning

Despite trailing 2-1 and issuing five walks, Gio Gonzalez amazingly hadn’t allowed a hit through three innings. David Freese, the leadoff hitter in the fourth, ripped a single to left field. But Gonzalez got Daniel Descalso to strike out looking, attacking him with fastballs. And then Pete Kozma rolled over a first-pitch curveball for an inning-ending double play. Ian Desmond started it, grabbing the ball in the hole at short, and with the help of a quick turn by Danny Espinosa at second.

Ian Desmond 2 for 2 off Adam Wainwright but Nationals still trail 2-1

Ian Desmond has two of the Nationals’ four hits off of Adam Wainwright. He has seen four of his pitches and smacked two of them to the outfield for singles. He led off the inning with a single, but Danny Espinosa struck out on another curveball by Wainwright. He has struck out seven Nationals batter, six of them on his big biting curveball. 

If the Nationals want to tack on more hits and runs on Wainwright, they will need to avoid pitcher’s counts so they don’t see that curveball. Cardinals still lead 2-1. The shadows are still in between the mound and batter’s box, and it could be another inning or so until the mound is in the shadows, too.

Gio Gonzalez bounces back in the third inning

Gio Gonzalez with an encouraging bounce-back inning. He got ahead 0-2 on leadoff hitter Matt Holliday and got him to groundout to third inning. Allen Craig fouled off three pitches before striking out on a change-up. It took only four pitches for Yadier Molina to groundout to second base. A 1-2-3 inning for Gonzalez. And, the Cardinals still lead 2-1.

Bryce Harper, in the top of the inning, was the first batter to deal with the shadows of Busch Stadium cast on the field by the sun. By the bottom of the inning, with Gonzalez  on the mound, it was completely covering the batter’s box. Gonzalez was throwing to batters from the sunlight.

 

TBS crew on Strasburg Shutdown

Somewhat surprisingly, the TBS broadcast crew did not conduct an in-depth discussion of the Stephen Strasburg Shutdown situation until the top of the third inning on Sunday.

“The Stephen Strasburg story was like a daily story throughout the Major League season,” Dick Stockton said, as the cameras showed Strasburg in the dugout.

“It got to his point where they were asking his teammates, what do you think about him being shut down during a pennant race,” Bob Brenly added. “It could have very easily been a major distraction.”

Fortunately, the inning then ended, and by the bottom of the third the subject had changed. Many Nats fans were fearing a much larger and more repetitive dose of Strasburg talk once the postseason began.

Ryan Zimmerman singles but Adam Wainwright cruises again

Ryan Zimmerman singled off Adam Wainwright with one out, a knock to center field. But Adam LaRoche flew out to center field and Michael Morse rolled over a cutter to groundout to short. The Nationals have three hits off Wainwright, four base runners total, but only one run. Wainwright sits at 47 pitches through three innings.

Nats radio team on Gio Gonzalez’s wildness

Gio Gonzalez’s erratic second inning, which included four walks, a wild pitch and two runs, led to some strong remarks from the Nats’ longtime radio broadcasters.

“I can’t remember a start we’ve seen this,” Dave Jageler said at one point. “Nine hitters, nine first pitch balls.”

“The Cardinals haven’t had to swing the bat,” Charlie Slowes added.

Both men then wondered if the Nats would get their bullpen active early in this game.

“This is the postseason, you can’t wait for him to figure it out,” Jageler said. “Right now he’s a one-pitch pitcher, and he can’t throw that pitch for a strike. His curveball has been a non-factor, and his fastball hasn’t been much better.”

“You have to think there are jitters in your first postseason game, and all that’s at stake, but you figure that’s in the first inning,” Slowes said.

Gonzalez needed 37 pitches to get out of the inning, giving him 55 for the game.

Gio Gonzalez’s line so far

55 pitches, 27 strikes. Two runs. Five walks. Only one strikeout through two innings. For that Nationals, that’s untenable.

Gio Gonzalez loads the bases in second, Cardinals take 2-1 lead

Gio Gonzalez is laboring, his command wild. He is leaving balls up. The only batter he attacked from first pitch was the game’s leadoff batter Jon Jay. Gonzalez has fallen behind on everyone else. He walked Yadier Molina on eight pitches. David Freese hammered a ball to deep center field for a flyout that felt, at first, like a home run. The Cardinals eighth hitter, Daniel Descalso, walked on seven pitches. And Pete Kozma walked on six pitches.

The bases were loaded with one out and facing pitcher Adam Wainwright, Gonzalez uncorked a wild pitch low and inside to Jon Jay that scored Molina from third base. Jay lifted a ball to left field for a sacrifice fly that scored Descalso from third for a Cardinals 2-1 lead.

Gio, the pitch count, and the postseason

One reason Gio Gonzalez had a breakout season this year, his first in the National League and first with the Nationals, is he cut down his walk rate. When you do that, your pitch counts usually go down — fewer balls, fewer base runners, fewer pitches.

But in walking four of the first eight batters he has faced — loading the bases with one out in the second — Gonzalez is already putting to test Davey Johnson’s pregame assessment of whether he would have a quick hook with struggling pitchers in the postseason. Johnson’s response: No.

“A couple times out, I think he’s about 50 pitches after two innings, and Gio will usually come by me and say, ‘Relax, Skip, I got it, I got it,’” Johnson said. “And he probably would have had a heart attack if I had taken him out. Both those instances, I think there were a couple of times that he struggled early and ended up still pitching six or seven innings and giving up one or two runs. So I’m not going to change the way I look at it.”

One other thought: Gonzalez has no control over his curve ball right now. And after two innings, he’s thrown 54 pitches and has five walks. And only trails 2-1.

Nationals take 1-0 lead on Kurt Suzuki RBI single

Adam LaRoche, perhaps the calmest of all the Nationals player, drew a leadoff walk by laying off Adam Wainwright’s sinkers and changeups. Michael Morse struck out on three pitches; Wainwright’s curveball the culprit again. Ian Desmond smacked a single to center field on the second pitch, moving LaRoche to third base. Danny Espinosa struck out looking. Wainwright’s curveball didn’t faze Kurt Suzuki, who waited on it and drove it to left field for an RBI single.

If you remember, Espinosa was intentionally walked by Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny a week ago because he wanted his reliever to face Suzuki. The catcher then hit a two-run double in the tenth inning in the 6-4 win. Gio Gonzalez drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases but Jayson Werth grounded out to short to end the inning.

Any sign of nerves?

Adam Wainwright has pitched in 10 postseason games before. Yeah, nine of them were in his days as a reliever back when the Cardinals were winning the World Series in 2006. But one might have expected what he gave St. Louis in the first frame: a clean, 10-pitch inning in which he made Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman look silly in strikeouts.

Gio Gonzalez has never appeared on this stage, and the Nationals’ Cy Young candidate is an excitable sort. A big question today: How would he handle the situation, particularly early?

Gonzalez easily retired the first two hitters, but immediately fell behind Matt Holiday, working him away, away, away. The walk helped drive Gonzalez’s pitch count up to 18 by inning’s end, when he might have escaped the first with just a dozen or so.

One thing to watch: The shadows that are currently over the Cardinals’ dugout are creeping closer to the field. They could end up between home plate and the mound in a couple of innings, making any runs scored in the early lead extremely important. It’s going to be awfully hard to hit in the middle innings.

The view after introductions


By James Wagner.

This is what it looked like after introductions at Busch Stadium. Pretty striking.

Also, I’m not one to rip on Nationals Park, but golly that’s a nice view.

Gio Gonzalez issues a walk, get through the first

Gio Gonzalez’s control, which has been good this season but can occasionally waiver, will be the biggest thing to keep an eye on. He threw all fastballs, four- and two-seamers, to leadoff hitter Jon Jay, who struck out looking on one on the outside edge of the strike zone. Carlos Beltran grounded out to second base on a fastball. Gonzalez wanted to give powerful slugger Matt Holliday nothing inside, tossing fastballs away until the final inside pitch that issued the walk. Allen Craig saw only one breaking pitch, a 1-1 curveball in the dirt. He flew out to Bryce Harper to end the inning.

Adam Wainwright breezes through the first inning

The right-hander’s curveball is looking sharp already early. Jayson Werth struck out on five pitches, the last two curveballs. Bryce Harper pounced on the first pitcher he saw, a sinker  that he rolled over to second baseman Daniel Descalso for an easy out. Ryan Zimmerman tried to hold up on Wainwright’s curveball with 1-2 count, but came around and struck out. 1-2-3 inning.

First pitch in Nationals playoff history

Adam Wainwright to Jayson Werth. A low 92 mph sinker. Ball. 2:08 p.m. local time. 51 degrees.

Early scene at Busch Stadium

By 2 p.m. local time here in St. Louis, the ballpark is already filled with red. Clearly, those are the colors of both teams, but most all of them appear to be Cardinals fans. They’re waving white rally towels. It’s a chilly 52 degrees but sunny. A slight shadow, cast by the sun on the stadium, in near first baseman Allen Craig, and growing. Other than that, it’s a nice, crisp October afternoon for playoff baseball.

Nats bump Redskins from sports bar TVs

duffys irish pub;
Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post

On a Sunday afternoon in Washington, it seems inconceivable that a bar would post signs on its front door alerting customers that they’ll have to go elsewhere to watch the Redskins. But at Duffy’s Irish Pub, it’s all about the Nats today. A few token TVs are tuned to the Green Bay Packers game — a Packers fan group meets here every Sunday — but most screens are on the Nationals pre-game show, which is playing with full sound. Not surprising: There are more people wearing Bryce Harper jerseys than burgundy and gold.

Nationals-Cardinals lineups

Here are the lineups for today’s game. (Also here on Nationals Journal.)

Nationals

1. Jayson Werth, RF; 2. Bryce Harper, CF; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B; 4. Adam LaRoche, 1B; 5. Michael Morse, LF; 6. Ian Desmond, SS; 7. Danny Espinosa, 2B; 8. Kurt Suzuki, C; 9. Gio Gonzalez, SP

Cardinals 

1. Jon Jay, CF; 2. Carlos Beltran, RF; 3. Matt Holliday, LF; 4. Allen Craig, 1B; 5. Yadier Molina, C; 6. David Freese, 3B; 7. Daniel Descalso, 2B; 8. Pete Kozma, SS; 9. Adam Wainwright, SP

Cards might be Nats’ toughest opponent

The Cardinals might be the toughest match-up for the Nationals in the entire field, American League or National League. They have a deep, powerful lineup, an experienced rotation and just enough bullpen arms. The best two teams in baseball – the 98-win Nationals and defending champs – could be facing off in St. Louis right now.  

Welcome to the new discussion thread

For 162 games the Nationals Journal provided a place for you to discuss the game. Now, in addition to that, you can follow the game through the eyes of our reporters (in today’s case Dan Steinberg, Barry Svrluga and James Wagner, with an assist from our friends Fritz Hahn and Alex Baldinger of the Going Out Guide). You’ll also be able to stay on top of each play through the stats above. Selecting the box score tab on the left will get you the live box, and by selecting the summary tab on the left you can see the games’ full play-by-play and scoring summary.

Each time a reporter files an update, the list just below the “NL Division Series Game 1: Nationals at Cardinals” headline will flash yellow and the latest headline will appear at the top of the list. You can read that new entry by selecting that headline.
(Note: In some older browsers you might not get the yellow flash, so you might want to refresh here and there to see if anything new has been posted.)

And if you don’t care about any of this, that’s perfectly fine — you can still discuss, as you always have, right below this entry.

We hope you enjoy it. Let us know what you think in the comments.

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James Wagner · October 7, 2012

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