Thursday’s Nationals-Padres discussion space

Welcome to MASN’s discussion space for tonight’s Nationals-Padres game at Nationals Park. I’ll provide updates and analysis here, and if you’d like to weigh in on the game, you can do so in the comments section. I’ll respond to you there -- and you have my word on minimal LeBron talk.

7:27: Luis Atilano’s ability to escape jams might not be Houdini-like, but it’s at least Livo-like. He gave up three hits in the first inning and (already) walked Adrian Gonzalez intentionally, but only gave up one run when he turned a 1-6-3 double play on Aaron Cunningham to end the first. Atilano is actually holding runners to a lower batting average (.259) with men on base this year than he is with the bases empty (.290). And with men in scoring position? Hitters are batting just .203 off Atilano. It’s not a good way to live, but he’s making it work. The Nationals trail 1-0 in the second.

8:00: The Nationals’ offense, which has been sizzling the last few days, has been cooled off early tonight by Mat Latos. He’s struck out four batters in three innings, allowing a pair of singles and two walks. Latos has thrown 49 pitches in three innings, and is giving the Nationals trouble with his nasty slider.

8:12: Might it be time to end the Luis Atilano experiment? He gave up homers to the seventh and ninth hitters in the Padres’ lineup - Chris Denorfia and Latos - who entered the series with no major-league homers between them. But Denorfia, who hit his first homer last night, launched one to left, and Latos followed him two batters later. Both balls left in a hurry, and the Padres lead 3-0. Atilano is pitching for the final time in the first half, and if the Nationals wanted to make a switch, they could give Ross Detwiler a couple more starts at Harrisburg and make him the fifth starter after the break. Interestingly enough, it was Detwiler who lost his spot in the rotation after his final start before the break last year. We’ll see how things play out.

8:37: Atilano is done after 5 1/3 innings, having given up four runs to the Padres, and though Miguel Batista got a double play to end the inning, the Nationals might be in too big of a hole to overcome against Latos. They’re trailing 4-0, though they’ve got a chance to get something going here in the sixth with Roger Bernadina, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn due up.

9:09: The Padres have a 6-0 lead, having blasted another homer (this one off Miguel Batista). The Nationas have just five hits on Latos, who’s giving way to Luke Gregerson after seven shutout innings, and they’re running out of chances with the game now in the eighth inning. Can’t win ‘em all.