See you for Game 3 Wednesday in D.C.

(Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

Game 2 is in the books, and it leaves a far less pleasant taste in the mouths of the Nats and their faithful. Probably something akin to slightly off milk. But Washington wanted at least a split in St. Louis, and that’s what the Nationals got.

They head home looking to shake off tonight’s clunker when playoff baseball returns to D.C. on Wednesday afternoon. It’s a 1 p.m. start, meaning you have about 40 to come up with a believable excuse for why you can’t be in the office/classroom.

Edwin Jackson, one of the few Nationals with playoff experience, will take the ball for the home team against Chris Carpenter. Jackson was 1-1 last year during the Cardinals’ World Series run last fall with a 5.60 ERA, 12 strikeouts and nine walks.

“We got E-Jax going,” Bryce Harper told reporters after the game. “He’s one of the strongest pitchers in the postseason.”

Take a few deep breaths. Eat your vegetables. Rest up. Get your buckets of eye black ready (or don’t). Game 3 is coming to the District. We’ll see you then.

Jordan Zimmermann discusses his outing

Jordan Zimmermann always seems somber after games, win or lose, dominate or be dominated, but he seemed particularly somber when discussing his Game 2 loss with MASN’s Bob Carpenter Monday evening.

“I just didn’t make my pitches,” he said. “The first inning, I was pretty spot on with everything. I just threw the fastball, spun it in and out in the first. And then I got to the second, I just left some balls over the middle, they got a few hits in a row. And before I looked up it was [four runs]….Hopefully I get another chance.”

Carpenter then asked Zimmermann about what his first playoff experience was like.

“I knew it was gonna be tough and the fans were gonna be pretty crazy,” he said. “I didn’t have any nerves, that’s for sure. You would have saw that in the first. I just went out there and they just battled me today and put some balls in play. But the fans are definitely loud. It’s pretty fun to be out there.”

MLB Network’s Al Leiter noted that 78 percent of Zimmermann’s pitches were fastballs. Fellow analyst Harold Reynolds said with the early-game shadows, “as a hitter, the only thing I can hit is a fastball.”

Had Zimmermann mixed in more off-speed pitches, “mentally, he had them beat,” Leiter said.

But Zimmermann stuck with the fastball, and the Cardinals beat him.

Carlos Beltran hits in the playoffs

Carlos Beltran hit his 12th and 13th career playoff home runs in Game 2. (Jeff Roberson / AP)

Coming into Monday’s Game 2, Carlos Beltran has pretty great postseason numbers. Now they are even better.

In 25 career postseason games, Beltran has a .362 average with 13 home runs and 22 RBIs.

His two long home runs padded the lead and reminded everyone watching why the Cardinals signed an aging, injury-prone outfielder before the season.

“Today, for us, was a must-win game,” Beltran told David Aldridge in a post-game on-field interview on TBS. “We wanted to leave with a win. We’ve got to go there and win this.”

Should the Nationals bother to pitch to this guy in Game 3?

Davey Johnson says Bryce Harper was ‘wrong’

Bryce Harper’s aggressive base-running has thrilled fans and teammates all season. Wednesday he went over the edge, getting thrown out while trying to tag up from second to third on a flyball to left field.

This was the top of the seventh, and the Nats trailed by just 8-4 at the time. You can see above that the ball was heading into the infield while Harper was just feet off second. And even though Harper’s speed made the play closer than it should have been, Davey Johnson still wasn’t pleased.

“That’s also inexperience too,” Johnson said. “Got a little rally going there, and he was in scoring position. And he tried to get to third and that kind of killed the rally we had going. Again, that’s just a little inexperience. He’s overly aggressive there. He didn’t tag up, he had to go back to tag up, and that was right. But it was wrong to try to go to third.”

(Image via @DCSportsNexus)

Momentum swings

Bryce Harper’s aggressive base-running cost the Nats an out this time. (Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

The Nationals displayed some of the resiliency that fueled their historic season in tonight’s loss, but each time, the Cardinals answered with a big hit or a defensive play.

Harold Reynolds named two key momentum swings during MLB Network’s post-game broadcast – one was a St. Louis home run, the other a Bryce Harper miscue.

1) Carlos Beltran’s sixth-inning home run.

Back-to-back home runs from Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche cut the deficit to 7-3 and Mike Gonzalez was one out away from maintaining that score with the top of Washington’s order coming to the plate in the seventh. Instead, Beltran crushed a 414-foot bomb to left field to push the lead to 8-4.

2) Bryce Harper thrown out at third in the seventh.

Zimmerman’s sacrifice fly pulled the Nationals within 8-4 and Washington would have had Harper at second with one out and Michael Morse coming to the plate. Instead, Harper made the third out to end the threat.

“Momentum swings,” Reynolds said. “The score doesn’t indicate how close this game was.”

“Their offense answered every time they needed it to.”

Davey Johnson on Jordan Zimmermann’s struggles

During his post-game press conference on Monday evening, Davey Johnson attributed some of Jordan Zimmermann’s struggles in St. Louis to inexperience.

“That’s some of the youth in the pitching staff,” the manager said. “I mean, [Zimmermann] didn’t really make a lot of adjustments out there. He kind of stayed, one way, hard, away. Against a good fastball-hitting club, you’ve got to use both sides of the plate. He didn’t really use his slider much early on. He started going to it a little later, but that’s just a little inexperience. He’s got a really live fastball, but his gameplan basically was stay away and pound the zone, and they’re a good fastball-hitting club.”

Later, in talking about Edwin Jackson’s spot on Wednesday, Johnson returned to those thoughts.

“You have to pitch; you can’t go out there and just throw against this ballclub,” Johnson said. “This is a good fastball-hitting club. You have to mix in your pitches.”

Ray Knight calls on Nats fans to make a difference

The first playoff baseball game in D.C. in 79 years will get going around 1 on Wednesday, and Ray Knight is already trying to rally the traditionally late-arriving Washington fans to make themselves heard.

“It doesn’t make any difference if they scored 12 runs or 100 (on Monday); it’s just one win,” Knight said during MASN’s post-game show. “And if you would have given me 1-1 coming back to our ballpark, before this series started, I’d take it….

“It’s gonna be great to get back home, no doubt,” he later said. “The fans are gonna play a big role in this series. And everybody, get out there. It won’t hold but so many people, and a lot of folks here are really proud of this ballclub. You see how rabid the Cardinals fanbase is — and they’ve had 130 years to build that fanbase — but they went crazy there, into every pitch, waving those towels and everything. And it can be a distraction.”

Will 40,000 fans be in their seats by 1 on Wednesday.

Cardinals top Nationals, 12-4

The series is tied 1-1 with the Cardinals toppling of the Nationals. The Nationals pitching struggled and the offense was inconsistent.

Bryce Harper strikes out again

Bryce Harper has 10 plate appearances in the series and six strikeouts, including four tonight. Rough start for the 19-year-old who also got gunned down trying to take third on Ryan Zimmerman’s seventh-inning sacrifice fly.

He would never admit it, but could his strep throat be a factor in the struggles?

Cardinals reach double digits again

The Cardinals teed off for four runs against the Nats bullpen in the bottom of the eighth, giving them a 12-4 lead. While it felt like a weird outlier in a season of strong pitching, it was actually the third time the Cardinals touched the Nats for double-digit runs in the past two weeks.

Over those five games, the Cardinals have now scored 40 runs, or 8.0 per. They have eight home runs, with Carlos Beltran accounting for four by himself.



And now, the glass is half full post

There will be, and rightfully so, much angst headed into Game 3 about the state of Washington’s rotation, because if the Nationals are to win this series, they will have to win a game started by either Edwin Jackson or Ross Detwiler, and both were crushed by the Cardinals within the last two weeks.

But even in what felt like a blowout all day, there may be some things to grasp hold of as the Nationals prepare to face playoff veteran Chris Carpenter on Wednesday.

1. Bryce Harper has a hit. After going 0 for 5 with two strikeouts in Game 1, Harper struck out swinging in his first three plate appearances today. But in the seventh, he hit a classic hard grounder past second and into right-center, which he turned into a double. Yes, he got himself thrown out on the basepaths, but the flight home will feel a lot better knowing he’s not 0-for-the postseason.

2. Danny Espinosa can still hit the ball hard. No National looked more lost Monday than the second baseman, who struck out in his first three plate appearances. Today, he somehow drew a walk in his first time up — an indication of how much Cardinals’ starter Jaime Garcia struggled with his control. But in the sixth, Espinosa hit a rocket to center that looked gone off the bat. St. Louis center fielder Jon Jay reeled it in with a spectacular catch at the wall, but Espinosa followed that ball with a hard-hit single in the eighth. He, too, may feel better on the flight home.

3. The back end of the bullpen will be rested and confident. OK, this might be reaching, because any Nationals fan would prefer that Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen were in position to be used Monday. But keep in mind how much Clippard was struggling late in the year, when Storen essentially took the closer’s job away from him. Monday, Clippard not only looked good in the eighth, he had to get four outs because of Ryan Zimmerman’s throwing error. Storen followed with a dominant ninth against the top of the Cardinals’ order — Jay, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday — to make a tough save look easy.

4. They don’t have to see St. Louis again. Whatever happens in D.C., the red-clad, towel-waving crowd that grew very loud in the eighth inning tonight is a group the Nats can kiss goodbye. They will either win the series in Washington to advance and host the first two games of the NLCS, or they will lose in front of the home crowd.

Either way, get ready for at least two games — and let’s bet on three — at Nationals Park.

Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran killing Nats, take 12-4 lead

Not only did he make a stellar catch in center field to rob an extra-base hit but Jon Jay has hurt the Nationals at the plate with two hits and three RBI, one coming on his eighth inning triple. 

Carlos Beltran smashed his second home run of the game, both right-handed. He mashed a ball to left field 439 feet and gave the Cardinals a commanding 11-4 lead. Sean Burnett is out and Tom Gorzelanny is in. Allen Craig doubled off of him to make the lead 12-4.

Michael Morse loses the ball in left field

The Nats have several defensive players who are well above average at fielding their position. Michael Morse is probably not among them.

Thus, this image in the eighth inning, when Morse charged a line drive by Pete Kozma, smothered it, and then couldn’t find the ball as Kozma chugged into second base. Kozma later scored on a Jon Jay triple, which pushed the score to 9-4. Kozma would have scored regardless.


Michael Morse is 2 for 4

With an eighth inning single off Mitchell Boggs, the left fielder is the only Nationals player with two hits. Others have come close, like Danny Espinosa hitting two hard balls in his last two at-bats but having only one hit to show for it. 

Bryce Harper notches first postseason hit, Nationals trail 8-4

Bryce Harper got on, but got thrown out trying to take the extra base on Ryan Zimmerman’s single. (Jeff Roberson / AP)

After going 0 for 8 with five strikeouts, the rookie smacks a double to right-center. Jayson Werth, who had singled, advanced to third base. Ryan Zimmerman then smashed a line drive to left fielder Matt Holliday to score Werth but Holliday made a strange short, nine-hop throw into the infield that Harper tried to take advantage of it. But second baseman Daniel Descalso scooped it up and threw him out at third base. The Nationals still trail, 8-4.

John Jay’s catch, photo by photo

Just as Jayson Werth did for the Nationals on Sunday, Cardinals center fielder John Jay made a stellar catch against the wall to kill Washington’s 6th inning rally.

Here it is again, in photos.

(Photos by Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

Carlos Beltran’s tape measure shot puts Cardinals up 8-3

(Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

Facing left-handed reliever Michael Gonzalez, switch-hitter Carlos Beltran fouled off a handful of pitches before he destroyed a ball that slammed into the facade of the second deck in left field. The Cardinals now lead 8-3.

Jon Jay makes the defensive play of the series

John Jay making his former skipper proud. (Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images)

Danny Espinosa smashed a ball to deep center field, that sounded like a home run off the bat. Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay raced back to the wall and it seemed like he didn’t think he reach the ball in time. He caught the ball in full stride, instantly slamming into the wall. The fans rose to their feet and applauded through the next at-bat.

Christian Garcia works out of jam

The hard-throwing right-hander walked leadoff hitter Yadier Molina and David Freese. But after a visit from pitching coach Steve McCatty, Garcia threw a two-seam fastball to Daniel Descalso to get a double play, a close call at first base helped. Then, Garcia struck out Pete Kozma to end the inning. The Cardinals still lead 7-3.

Nats fans and optimism

Moments ago the Nats trailed the Cardinals 7-1 and their fans were down in the dumps. After back-to-back home runs from Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche, they’ve cut the deficit to 7-3.




Tension. Strategy. Nervous implosions. Unexpected clutch heroes. As the Post’s Thomas Boswell wrote yesterday, this postseason baseball, folks. Get used to it.

Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche homer, Nationals trail 7-3

Adam LaRoche’s homer cut the deficit to 4. (Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

Ryan Zimmerman homered to left field off Lance Lynne and Adam LaRoche followed with a 3-1 home run to right field. Michael Morse and Ian Desmond both hit balls deep into the outfield but were caught for outs. Cardinals still lead, 7-3.

Cardinals take 7-1 lead, Christian Garcia in

Craig Stammen did not last long. (Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images)

After Daniel Descalso’s home run, Pete Kozma worked a walk and alertly took third base on a sacrifice bunt by pitcher Lance Lynn. Craig Stammen fielded the bunt, didn’t look at the runner and slowly threw to first base. Danny Espinosa botched a ground ball hit to him by Jon Jay and the Cardinals took a 7-1. After a walk to Carlos Beltran, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson pulled Stammen for rookie Christian Garcia.

Nats fans and defeatism

The Nats are down 7-1 in the 4th, and their fans are officially panicking all over the Twittersphere.

The Cardinals have significantly increased their odds for a 1-1 split in St. Louis. Of course it’s not like these Nationals have ever come from way behind to win a game before.

Daniel Descalso gives Cardinals 6-1 lead with homer off Craig Stammen

Descalso’s homer tacks on another run for the hosts. (Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

The right-hander is in relief for Jordan Zimmermann, who matched the shortest outing of his career. Stammen tossed one inning-plus on Sunday. He pitched a scoreless inning but unraveled in eighth, allowing three batters to reach.

Daniel Descalso, who hit.227/.324/.324 on the season with four home runs, smashed the third pitch he saw to right field for a home run and a 6-1 Cardinals lead.

Not to be alarmist about the rotation, but …

Jordan Zimmermann wasn’t fooling anyone today. (Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images)

Most baseball people, if asked how the Nationals posted the best record in baseball this season, would point to their starting rotation. Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez were both all-stars, Jordan Zimmermann was at times their best starter, and Ross Detwiler and Edwin Jackson each reached double digits in wins.

But as this N.L. Division Series advances, what is the state of the Washington rotation — particularly against the Cardinals?

Consider: Gonzalez looked nervous and jumpy in his five-inning, two-run outing in Game 1, when he walked seven men. Zimmermann, with a reputation of being calm in any situation, made a mess of his start today, allowing five runs in three innings in which he was hit hard. Strasburg is on the shelf.

Then go back to last weekend, when the Cards thumped the Nats twice in three games. Jackson had his worst start of the year — a 1-1/3 inning outing in which he allowed eight earned runs — in a 12-2 shellacking on Sept. 28. Then Detwiler followed on Sept. 30 by going only 2-1/3 innings and allowing seven runs (though just three were earned) in a 10-4 loss.

Thus, the collective ERA, at this moment, of the Nationals’ rotation in their last turn around against the Cardinals: 15.19. In 10-2/3 innings, they have walked 16 and struck out 10.

Jackson, who righted himself with a season-ending start against Philadelphia, is due to start Game 3 on Wednesday in Washington. Detwiler will follow in Game 4, if it’s necessary.

Jordan Zimmermann out after three innings

Nationals Manager Davey Johnson pinch hit Roger Bernadina for Jordan Zimmermann in the fourth inning. His final line: seven hits, five earned runs, two strikeouts and no walks. His command wasn’t terrible but the Cardinals were all over his pitches from the second inning on. This ties the shortest inning outing of the 26-year-old’s career.

Allen Craig homers, Cardinals take 5-1 lead

(Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

Craig, one of the National League’s top emerging hitters, crushed an inside fastball from Jordan Zimmermann and kept it just inside the left field foul pole for a 5-1 Cardinals lead. Zimmermann has allowed five runs on six hits.

Blowouts don’t always spell disaster

If the Cardinals go on to win today’s game, they will square the series at 1-1. Whether its a close game or a blowout, the best St. Louis can do is head to D.C. tied.

Here’s your third-inning history lesson courtesy of the Post’s Thomas Boswell:

Lance Lynn gives up single but strikes out two

Lynn, in for starter Jaime Garcia, struck out Ryan Zimmerman looking on a flithy hard curveball. Adam LaRoche grounded out to the left side of the infield, a rarity for him. Michael Morse singled to left but Lynn blew a 96 mph fastball past Ian Desmond. Nationals trail 4-1.

Lance Lynn, Drew Storen are buddies

The TBS crew has done its homework.

When Cardinals manager Mike Matheny pinch-hit for starter Jamie Garcia in the bottom of the second, that meant an early entrance for relieve Lance Lynn.

As David Alridge explained to viewers, Lynn was a Brownsburg High School (Indiana) teammate of Nats closer Drew Storen in 2005. “One would pitch, the other would play first base and then the next day they’d switch.”

Their team went 35-0 that year.

Cardinals take 4-1 lead on Jordan Zimmerman in second

Daniel Descalso’s single scored Yadier Molina and gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead. (Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images)

Pinch hitter Skip Schumaker’s ground out (on a terrific diving play by Ian Desmond) scored a run and a single to left field by Jon Jay gave the Cardinals a 4-1 lead. Jordan Zimmermann is hitting 96 mph but the Cardinals are hitting him. He is at 42 pitches.

Jaime Garcia pulled after two innings

Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny didn’t like what he was seeing from Jaime Garcia and pinch hit for him in the third inning with Skip Schumaker. Garcia threw 51 pitches, only 29 strikes. Garcia was struggling with some command, but keep in mind he landed on the DL this season with a shoulder injury. Lance Lynn, a starter placed in the bullpen, is warming.

Cardinals taking advantage with runners in scoring position

Jordan Zimmermann has been able to wriggle his way out of jams all season, but so far today, the Cardinals – who went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position Sunday – are taking advantage of their opportunities.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark notes:


Garcia, Gonzalez and the second inning

Did Jaime Garcia’s second inning of Game 2 feel like Gio Gonzalez’s second inning of Game 1. Maybe a little, and that could be bad for the Nationals.

Sunday afternoon, Washington lefty Gonzalez walked four of the first five hitters he faced in the second, threw a wild pitch with the opposing pitcher up (an opposing pitcher who he ended up walking) and gave up two runs. The thinking, then: How’s that all the Cardinals got? Gonzalez had 55 pitches after two innings, but the Cardinals never reached him again. He ended up, somehow, getting through five innings, allowing just one hit and those two runs.

That brings us to Garcia’s second inning today. The Cardinals’ lefty — not the caliber of Gonzalez — gave up a single to Ian Desmond to lead off the frame, then did the unforgivable: he walked the struggling Danny Espinosa, who struck out three times Sunday. For all the world, in finishing the frame with 51 pitches, it seemed like Garcia should have allowed more runs.

Monday, the Cardinals regretted not getting more out of their base runners in the second. With the Nationals’ Jordan Zimmermann now struggling in the bottom of the second today, will Washington have the same regrets?

Cardinals take 2-1 lead on David Freese double, Daniel Descalso single

Jordan Zimmermann is in trouble in the third inning, giving up four straight hits. Allen Craig singled, Yadier Molina also singled and then David Freese tied the score at 1-1 with a RBI double to deep right field. Zimmermann fired another fastball that caught a lot of the plate and Freese pounced on it. Daniel Descalso followed with an RBI single to take the lead, and he clapped his hands as he reached base. Zimmermann is at 27 pitches.

Jaime Garcia’s crazy splits

(Jeff Roberson / AP)

The Cardinals left-hander has been stellar at home: 2.82 ERA. On the road, he has a 5.02 ERA. So far, he is struggling at Busch Stadium and the Nationals are working him into deeper counts.

How valuable is Ian Desmond?

(Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

Ian Desmond just ran through Bo Porter’s stop sign to get his team on the board on Jordan Zimmermann’s bloop single, prompting Adam Kilgore to float this idea:


Do you agree?

Nationals take 1-0 lead on Zimmermann RBI

(Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

The Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Ian Desmond ran through a stop sign from third base coach Bo Porter on a single by pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. The Nationals are making left-hander Jaime Garcia work and Zimmermann squared to bunt but pulled back and flared a single to right field. Desmond had reached on a single; now 4 for 5 in two games. Danny Espinosa drew a walk with no outs. 

The Cardinals bullpen is up and warming.

Harper playing through strep throat

(Jeff Roberson / AP)

Bryce Harper has been battling strep throat and a fever for the last few days, but he isn’t making excuses.

Before the game, Harper told the Post’s James Wagner, “I’m feeling better. Fever’s down.”

Harper was feeling good enough to slather on the war paint before today’s game. More from James Wagner here.

Efficient start for Jordan Zimmermann

(Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

The right-hander attacked the Cardinals lineup, heavy on right-hander, with strikes from the first pitch. He threw five fastballs to leadoff hitter Jon Jay and he struck out looking. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday both pounced on fastballs and grounded out to second baseman. Three outs, 10 pitches.

The sun, the shade and what it means

(Barry Svrluga)

This should give you a good idea of what the hitters in the early innings are looking at. It goes from light at the pitcher’s mound (for only the next few minutes) to shade between the mound and the plate to a little window of light again at the plate.

The consensus among the Nationals in pregame discussions (and left-over chatter from last night) is that this makes it almost impossible to see the spin on breaking balls. It’s not that you can’t see the ball; it’s that you can’t see how the ball’s going to break.

Also, to see clearly, hitters say they need the shadow to extend all the way beyond the infield, because that means it covers the pitcher’s entire body — including his release point.

It is, the Nationals said, what made Adam Wainwright’s already exceptional curve ball nearly unhittable yesterday. And it could make Jordan Zimmermann’s slider devastating today. Last year at Anaheim, he threw an eight-inning complete game, in which he lost 1-0 but gave up no earned runs. It was perhaps his most dominant start, and it came in extreme shadows.

Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia walked two of the five men he faced in the first. Zimmermann needs to throw strikes, because it’s likely the Cardinals will have a tough time with them in the early inning.

Nationals work Jaime Garcia in first inning

(Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche, both the best at drawing walks on the team, reached by doing so to Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia. Werth drew a leadoff walk and LaRoche reached after holding up on a 3-2 pitch with two outs. But Michael Morse grounded out to second baseman Daniel Descalso to end the inning. Garcia threw 23 pitches. 

Bryce Harper’s eye black

Lots of talk about the sun and shadows on Monday. Here’s how Bryce Harper responded.


A ‘must-win’ game for Cardinals?

By rallying to win Game 1, the Nationals turned the 2-3 format of the series on its head.

St. Louis can ill afford to head to Washington down 0-2, which makes today’s contest “kind of a must-win,” Adam LaRoche says.

“Going back to yesterday, that game is huge,” LaRoche said. “Game 1 in a short series like this is huge. I think more anything for the Cardinals now, this is kind of a must-win. You don’t want to get down two games in any series, but definitely not in a five-game.”

Read more in Adam Kilgore’s latest Nationals Journal post here.

Nationals-Cardinals lineups

Here are the lineups and here, too.


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. Jordan Zimmermann, SP


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. Jaime Garcia, SP

Ray Knight says Ian Desmond is the Nats captain

MASN studio analyst Ray Knight had a few positive things to say about Ian Desmond during Monday’s pre-game show. Like, lots and lots of positive things.

“You know, last year in May, there was a lot of talk, blogs, everything, about Ian Desmond not being a Major League shortstop,” Knight said.

“Baloney,” Johnny Holliday chimed in.

“I know it,” Knight said. “He was struggling on defense, we were talking about moving Espinosa to shortstop, getting somebody else to play second base. Offense, he wasn’t quite doing it. Then all of a sudden, he caught fire in July and he has not cooled off since. He’s swung the bat so exceptionally well all year long….To play hard, to play consistently. He IS the captain of this ballclub. We talk about [Ryan] Zimmerman and all these other people. Well, they are major contributors, but this kid, he goes and talks to the pitcher. He gives so much of himself.”


Werth says sun will be ‘awful’

The conversations about Busch Stadium’s shadows and the St. Louis sun will end soon, but in the meantime, here’s Jayson Werth talking to MASN’s F.P. Santangelo about Monday’s late-afternoon start.

“It’s going to be awful,” Werth said. “It’ll be better later in the game, where yesterday it was better earlier in the game. You know, it’s just part of it. In the division series it seems like you’re always playing in shadows, just because of the times of games. You get through this series, and you get to play at night the rest of the way.”

Meanwhile, Ian Desmond was asked about the sun during a post-game press conference.

“The sun is the sun,” he said, which is true.

Game 3 will start at 1 p.m. Wednesday

If you have tickets for postseason baseball’s return to D.C., it’s time to tell your boss you’ll be taking the afternoon off.

The current Wednesday forecast indicates the sun monster could come into play for the matinee. Will it be a friend or foe for the Nationals?

Chad Tracy admits to hitting Fox reporter with errant throw

Washington’s quirky and productive bench loves its “Goon Squad” moniker. But even the goons will fess up to a mistake – or, in this case, an errant throw during warmups that hit a reporter during a live spot.

Before Sunday’s Game 1, Fox on-field reporter Ken Rosenthal tweeted that he had been hit in the back during a live stand-up on the MLB Network pre-game broadcast.

Today, the culprit came forward.

No lineup changes for Game 2

(Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

The Nationals and Cardinals are sticking with their lineups for Game 2.

Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (12-8, 2.94) takes the ball for Washington while the Cardinals turn to lefty Jaime Garcia (7-7, 3.92) as they look to pull even in the series.


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. Jordan Zimmermann, SP


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. Jaime Garcia, SP

Game 2 and the new discussion thread

For those of you that were not able to join us yesterday, welcome to our new platform for the discussion thread.

The comment thread is right below this for you to discuss the game. And now, in addition to that, you can follow Game 2 through the eyes of our reporters (in today’s case Dan Steinberg, Barry Svrluga, James Wagner and Matt Brooks.) 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 2: 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.)

Thanks for your feedback yesterday. We’re working on adding back the comment count. Hopefully that will be ready for Game 3.

Please let us know in the comments what you might like us to improve as we continue to improve upon this new platform.