Welcome to MASN's discussion space for tonight's game between the Nationals and Padres. I'll provide updates and analysis below, and you can discuss the game in the comments section:
7:35: We've played an inning at Nationals Park, and the Nationals are already beating up on Jon Garland, who's been mostly stellar this season for the Padres after rejecting an offer to come here. The Nationals scored four runs, collected five hits and drew two more walks on Garland, and lead 4-1.
Garland threw just 30 pitches, but the Nationals were finding offerings to their liking early in at-bats in the first. Adam Dunn's three-run homer came on a 1-0 pitch - a high mistake of a changeup - and Josh Willingham jumped on a 1-0 fastball for a double to the wall.
And of course, Ryan Zimmerman was right in the middle of all this. After nearly blasting his fourth homer in three games - hooking one just foul to right - he singled to right to drive in the Nationals' first run, scoring on Dunn's homer. As I wrote last night, Zimmerman's telltale sign of a hot streak is when he's taking the ball to right field, and he's doing that with regularity right now.
4-1 Nationals in the second inning. We'll see if J.D. Martin can work with that.
8:03: The Padres scored another run in the top of the third, but the Nationals answered once again, with Dunn blasting his second homer of the game to center field. He's up to 19 for the year, which ties him for third in the National League. If Mike Rizzo has said it will be "painful" for any team to trade for Adam Dunn, this isn't helping to ease the pain.
8:44: J.D. Martin, who's allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings, is done for the night. He's leaving the game with two runners on base for Joel Peralta, including one (Chase Headley) that reached when Martin couldn't field a bunt, giving the Nationals their 75th error of the season. Still, a decent night overall for Martin - if a little short of a quality start.
8:58: It's true what they say about the ball flying further in the summer. It's definitely carrying out of here tonight, in the second-hottest home game in Nationals history. There have been a total of five homers now, three of them from the Nationals. The latest Nationals blast came in the sixth inning, when Ian Desmond hit one on a line to center field. Chris Denorfia countered with a pinch homer in the seventh, and it's 6-3 Nationals. They've replaced Joel Peralta (who looked absolutely ridiculous while striking out in his sixth-inning at-bat) with Sean Burnett, and it stands to reason Jim Riggleman will empty two or three more relievers out of his bullpen to finish the game.
9:28: Drew Storen's first go-round as the Nationals' sometimes setup man didn't go so well. He allowed two runs on three hits, though he got squeezed by home-plate umpire Andy Fletcher on a slider that could have been strike three against Nick Hundley, who stayed alive to double in a run. The Padres almost tied the game with Oscar Salazar at the plate, but Josh Willingham caught his screamer for the third out. Nonetheless, it's 6-5 Nationals now, and Matt Capps' save opportunity looks like a hairier one than before.
9:34: Or maybe not. Adam Dunn answers the Padres one more time, with his third homer of the game, on a 2-2 pitch to center field off Joe Thatcher. The Nationals' lead is back to two runs, and every homer Dunn has hit tonight has come in an inning where the Padres scored. If there's a better baseball definition of a counterpunch, I don't have one.