PHILADELPHIA | Welcome to MASN’s discussion space for tonight’s Nationals-Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park. I’ll have updates and analysis throughout the night here, and you can leave your thoughts on the game in the comments section. And from the fourth through the sixth innings, I’ll be chatting live in this space about the game and the team.
7:18: Missed opportunity there in the first for the Nationals. Nyjer Morgan doubled to lead off the game, and was awarded third when Roy Halladay was called for a balk on a pickoff move. But Morgan had to retreat to third after taking a couple steps toward home on Ian Desmond’s flyout to center, and despite drawing a pair of walks off Halladay, the Nationals couldn’t score; Roger Bernadina grounded into a double play to end the first. Chances for big innings against pitchers like Halladay tend not to come around often. The Nationals might have missed the only one they’ll get.
7:36: Jason Marquis got through the first inning without giving up a run, though he walked Placido Polanco and gave up a double to Raul Ibanez. Nothing for the Nationals in the top of the second, and Marquis - whose sinker is still in the high 80s and lacking some bite - will try to keep things scoreless.
7:41: Two innings, two two-out hits for the Phillies against Marquis. This one came from Carlos Ruis, who singled up the middle on a Marquis slider.
7:42: But Marquis renders the hit meaningless, inducing a little dribbler from Roy Halladay, fielding it with his bare hand and throwing to Adam Dunn to end the inning. He’s thrown 32 pitches in two innings. Already, this isn’t far from being his best start of the year.
7:50: Two more stranded runners for the Nationals in the top of the third -- Ian Desmond singles with one out, advances on Adam Dunn’s single and does a nice job taking third on Ryan Zimmerman’s flyout to right. But again, Bernadina misses a chance to put Washington ahead, popping out to short to end the inning.
8:02: Again, Marquis gets two quick outs, and again, he gets himself into trouble. He’s walked Chase Utley and Jayson Werth, putting two runners on for frequent Nats nemesis Raul Ibanez.
8:05: And as usual, Ibanez stings the Nationals. He pinched a ball just inside the first-base line and off the toe of Adam Dunn’s glove, scoring Utley and moving Werth to third as Ibanez got to second. It was scored a double, and it was probably a hit, but a first baseman with range better than Dunn’s would have had it. Put it this way: If it had been a right-handed batter pulling a ball down the third-base line, it doesn’t get through. 1-0 Phillies after three.
8:07: With the start of the middle innings, we’re setting up our live chat. If you’ve got specific Nats topics to discuss in real-time, leave them in the comments section. The chat is also Twitter-friendly -- tag your tweets with #masnnats, and they’ll be included:
8:48: Jason Marquis is through five innings for the first time this year, and he’s allowed just one run, though he’s allowed four hits and four walks tonight and has been teetering on the edge of letting the game get away. He’s thrown 94 pitches, and may be done here. Still, it’s by far the best outing he’s had this year, and represents a step forward when Jordan Zimmermann is stating his own rather strong case that he should be in the majors.
9:21: Here Ian Desmond had done some nice things to start a rally in the seventh inning; he bunted his way on, and would have stole second had Adam Dunn not drawn a walk when Desmond was running. But when Ryan Zimmerman sent a one-out flare to right, Desmond broke from second to third, either thinking there were two outs or believing Zimmerman’s ball would fall in for a hit. Whichever assumption Desmond was working on, neither was correct, and he got doubled off second after nearly diving back into the base. The gaffe killed a rally, and the Nationals still trail 1-0. They’ll get a couple more shots against the Phillies’ suspect bullpen, but they’ve been blowing chances all night - none in as spectacular a fashion as that one.