Monday’s Nationals-Cubs discussion space

Welcome to MASN’s discussion space for tonight’s Nationals-Cubs game at Nationals Park. I’ll have updates and analysis throughout the game, and if you’d like to weigh in with your thoughts, leave them in the comments section. I’ll respond to you there.

7:11: We’re underway here, on what might be the most pleasant night we’ve had for baseball all summer. Livan Hernandez cruised through the first inning, dropping a 62-mph curveball through the strike zone to fan Cubs rookie Starlin Castro. He needed just 12 pitches, seven of them strikes, to get through the first.

7:24: An error by Blake Dewitt on an Adam Kennedy grounder, followed by a Ryan Zimmerman single, wasn’t enough to get the Nationals going in the first. Adam Dunn struck out, continuing his long slump, and Roger Bernadina flew out to center.

7:35: Two Ks for Hernandez here in the second, as a light rain starts to fall at Nationals Park. He got the outside corner of the plate on his called strike three against Alfonso Soriano, and just got another one for his second strike against Geovany Soto before walking him. If home plate umpire Tim Timmons is going to be giving Hernandez the outside corner all night, it’s bad news for the Cubs. Hernandez will live there as long as he can.

7:55: It’s 1-0 Cubs in the third; Blake Dewitt, their new leadoff hitter, took Hernandez deep to right. Hernandez also just hit Marlon Byrd with a pitch that nicked his left arm and right foot, and walked Aramis Ramirez.

8:03: Hernandez’s wildness has come back to bite him. He hit Xavier Nady with a pitch, then Tyler Colvin lined a single to right that brought in two runs. It’s 3-0 Cubs, Miguel Batista is warming in the Nationals’ bullpen and Hernandez has thrown 73 pitches. He might not have much left.

8:05: Now it’s 5-0 -- Willie Harris missed a diving attempt at a sinking Soriano liner, and was down on the ground so long that Adam Kennedy had to come out from second base and retrieve the ball. It was a two-run triple for Soriano, who’s on third with still only two outs in the third.

8:10: Mercifully, the third inning is over, after 44 pitches from Hernandez, nine Cubs batters, five runs, four hits, two hit batters and a walk.

8:34: Hernandez gave up two more hits in the fourth, but got out of the inning with the help of a double play. But the Nationals, who have been shut out twice in the last three days, have just one hit on Cubs starter Casey Coleman. This is looking like their fifth loss in the last seven games.

8:46: Just a brutal night for Hernandez, and it’s finally over. He gave up 10 hits, the final one of which was a single from Coleman to score the Cubs’ sixth run of the night. It was Coleman’s first hit and first RBI, and Miguel Batista comes in with the bases loaded full of runners that could still affect Hernandez’s final line.

9:41:

10:08: Mercifully, we’re headed to the bottom of the ninth here. It’s 9-1 Cubs, and the relief work of Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard - who each chipped in a scoreless inning - is one of the few bright spots for the Nationals tonight. If this holds up, the Nationals will have one run on eight hits in their last two games.