Oh, by the way, there's a game today, though it's been rendered somewhat secondary by this morning's news that the Nationals are shutting down Stephen Strasburg, effective immediately instead of after what was supposed to be his final start Wednesday at Citi Field against the Mets.
Lefty Ross Detwiler is struggling early. He's getting squeezed by home plate umpire Todd Tichenor, has yielded home runs to Gorkys Hernandez and Giancarlo Stanton in the first inning, and trails 3-0 after three frames.
Hernandez led off the game with a homer to center off a 3-2 pitch and Stanton crushed a solo shot to left with two outs in the first off a fat 3-1 offering. In the second, Donnie Murphy's one out double was followed by a walk to Hernandez and an RBI single by Donovan Solano.
In the first, there was a significant amount of chirping from the home dugout, and Tichenor ejected Nats lefty Gio Gonzalez, presumably for arguing balls and strikes. Despite the ejection, it was a nice move by Tichenor to toss someone who didn't have any involvement in the game instead of a manager, coach or significant player.
The Nationals are finally on the board in the third, one a leadoff solo homer by Jesus Flores, a late addition to the starting lineup in place of Kurt Suzuki. Flores swatted a shot to left off Mark Buehrle.
Update: A two-out rally in the fourth has cut Miami's lead to 3-2. Ryan Zimmerman led off with a single and went to second on Ian Desmond's two-out bleeder through the infield to right. Danny Espinosa followed with a run-scoring single to left, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. The Marlins got out of the jam by intentionally walking Flores and getting Detwiler to bounce into a fielder's choice forceout at third.
Update: Some spotty defense by the Nats allowed the Marlins to increase their lead to 5-2 in the sixth. With two down and runners on first and second via walks, first baseman Adam LaRoche misplayed Justin Ruggiano's cue shot, allowing a run to score. John Buck followed with a single to left past an ill-advised dive by Michael Morse to score another run. But the Nationals caught a break when Buck was caught in a rundown between first and second, with second baseman Espinosa's relay home catching Ruggiano as he tried to score.
Update: Bryce Harper reached the second deck in right-center in the fifth, cutting the deficit to 5-3. It's the rookie's 18th homer of the season.
Detwiler is done for the day after allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits through five innings. He walked three, struck out three and threw 52 of his 89 pitches for strikes. Craig Stammen is on in relief in the sixth.
Update: The Marlins took advantage of another Nationals error to extend their lead to 6-3 in the seventh. With two down and runners on second and third, Ruggiano grounded to third, but Zimmerman's peg to first was low and LaRoche couldn't control the ball on the scoop. Luckily, Flores threw Ruggiano out trying to steal for the third out.
Today's attendance of 28,860 pushes the Nationals over the 2,000,000 mark for the season, the first time since Natioanls Park's inaugural season of 2008 they've eclipsed that milestone.
Update: Zimmerman atoned for his error by crushing his 20th homer to left field, a two-run shot that makes the score 6-5 in the eighth. Reliever A.J. Ramos hit Harper with a pitch to lead off the inning and then went 2-0 on Zimmerman. That brought Marlins skipper Ozzie Guillen to the mound for a visit that was quite supportive, Guilling resting his arms on the pitcher's shoulder's and giving him an encouraging tap on the chest as he left the mound. On the very next pitch, Zimmerman went deep.
Ramos yielded a single to Michael Morse and was replaced by lefty Michael Dunn, who gave up LaRoche's single to second. That brought right-hander Ryan Webb out of the Miami bullpen to face Desmond, who bounced into a fielder's choice that left Desmond on first and pinch runner Eury Perez on third. Webb got Espinosa in a 1-2 hole before he fouled off three pitches and eventually went down on an inside sinker for a called third strike, and pinch hitter Chad Tracy was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Webb then fanned pinch hitter Roger Bernadina swinging.
Update: Before Heath Bell could take the mound for the bottom of the ninth, a thunderstorm blew in from the left field side of the ballpark. With windswept rains, the members of the grounds crew are being lifted into the air while attempting to secure the tarp. Gusty winds and sideways rains are drenching fans lining up to exit the lower seating bowl. The winds are strong enough to be howling past the press box.
The delay officially began at 3:56 p.m. It'll be a while before we can re-start this game.
Give the hearty members of the grounds crew some major props. Because they were unable to stake down the tarp, several of them have taken up residence on it as human weights. One guy shimmied on his backside to the middle of the tarp. There are 11 grounds crew members totally soaked to the bone so the tarp won't blow away.
Update: The grounds crew members have thankfully exited the tarp, hopefully to somewhere drier.
Update: We're aiming to resume play at 6:30 p.m., going to the bottom of the ninth with Jayson Werth, Harper and Zimmerman due for the Nationals against Bell.
Update: After a rain delay of 2 hours, 33 minutes, Werth led off the bottom of the inning with a home run to center field, connecting on a 3-2 pitch from Bell for a 6-6 tie.
Harper, Zimmerman and pinch hitter Tyler Moore struck out, so we head to the 10th inning.
Update: Drew Storen struck out the side in the Marlins' 10th, and we head to the home half of the inning under a light drizzle.
LaRoche led off with a single off ex-Nat Chad Gaudin and just made it to third when Desmond followed with a line drive single to right. Espinosa was intentionally walked to load the bases.
With Suzuki hiting, the Marlins are going with a five-man infield, as left fielder Ruggiano moves to the middle of the diamond, just to the left of second base. Two outfielders are patrolling the gaps.
Suzuki grounded into a fielder's choice, Ruggiano throwing home to force out LaRoche. Pinch hitter Corey Brown lofted a ball to right field that Stanton reached and then dropped, allowing the winning run to score for a 7-6 Nats victory.