Welcome to MASN's discussion space for tonight's Nationals-Cardinals game at Nationals Park. I'll have updates and analysis throughout the night, and if you'd like to chime in, leave your thoughts in the comments section. I'll respond to you there.
7:25: We're in the middle of the second, and Jordan Zimmermann has already found some trouble. He walked Felipe Lopez on four straight fastballs to start the game, though he promptly got a double play. But in the second, he gave up a two-out ground-rule double to Yadier Molina, and Skip Schumaker brought Molina home on a single to center - going to second when Nyjer Morgan bypassed a cutoff man and tried to throw Molina out at home. Two of the Cardinals' outs in the second were long flyouts. Zimmermann's fastball is touching 94 mph, but he'll certainly have better stuff this year than he does tonight.
7:40: Zimmermann settled down in the third inning, getting two strikeouts and a flyout to complete the inning in order. He threw just 12 pitches, and has 39 through three innings.
7:52: The Nationals broke out for three runs in the third, a rally facilitated by a truly ridiculous throwing error from Felipe Lopez, who fired a throw well over Albert Pujols' head after fielding Adam Kennedy's grounder. Had Lopez made an accurate throw, the inning would have been over before Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn and Ian Desmond got hits, scoring three unearned runs. It's 3-1 Nationals after three. Desmond, hitting in the fifth spot, is 2-for-2, and Dunn has a double after telling manager Jim Riggleman he'd have a big night to bust out of his slump tonight.
7:58: Well, it's 3-2 now. Albert Pujols just became the fifth-fastest player ever to get to 400 home runs by destroying a Zimmermann fastball on an 0-1 pitch. It was the kind of shot you knew was gone as soon as it left the bat. And Zimmermann is scuffling here in the fourth, having given up singles to to Matt Holliday and Randy Winn before hitting Molina in the back. One note on the Holliday play: Ian Desmond retrieved it at deep short, and again ate a throw that could have only turned out poorly. Another sign of maturity for the young shortstop.
8:13: Zimmermann gave up five runs in the fourth, allowing two more hits to Skip Schumaker and Pedro Feliz. Jason Marquis is pinch-hitting for the Nationals, which means Zimmermann is done after four innings, allowing five runs on seven hits while striking out four. He threw 70 pitches, 42 for strikes. Not a great return for Zimmermann, but he wasn't going to be completely sharp tonight yet, anyway. Craig Stammen is in for the Nationals, who wouldn't have a run if not for Lopez's sky ball.
8:44: The Nationals are continuing to peck away at Carpenter; they've got 10 hits after a couple singles to start the bottom of the sixth, and trail the Cardinals 5-4. This ties the most hits Carpenter has given up this year, and the Nationals have an excellent chance to tie the game or take the lead here; Willie Harris just walked to load the bases.
8:49: A pair of sacrifice flies from Michael Morse and Adam Kennedy, and the Nationals lead 6-5. An impressive job all around building a rally, from Bernadina and Rodriguez's singles to Harris' walk and the two sac flies. The Nationals have three sac flies tonight. You don't see this kind of station-to-station baseball from them very often.
9:15: The seventh inning has been another solid one for the Nationals - Zimmerman walked, Desmond got his third hit of the night, Rodriguez walked and Harris drove two runs in with a single to right. Another good example of station-to-station ball, and the Nationals lead 8-5 now. It's been a long time since we've seen this team take a game by dint of its offense and overcome a lackluster pitching performance.
9:28: Tyler Clippard, again, struggled in the eighth inning, and Drew Storen, again, had to clean up for him. Clippard allowed a run on two hits, but Storen needed just three pitches to get the last two outs of the inning. The Nationals lead 8-6 headed into the bottom of the eighth, and I'd assume Storen will pitch the ninth.
9:48: Now the Cardinals are reallying on Storen in the ninth inning. He gave up three straight hits to start the inning, with Pedro Feliz scoring on Felipe Lopez's single. The Nationals lead 8-7, and with first base open, they're walking Albert Pujols. That will load the bases for Matt Holliday, the first strikeout victim of Storen's career back in May. We'll see what he does now.
9:52: Wow. Storen drills Holliday with a fastball on his left wrist, bringing in the tying run. Holliday came out of the game, and it wouldn't shock me if he had a broken bone. Storen is also done, being pulled for Sean Burnett. Even if they get out of this with the game tied, they have Alberto Gonzalez leading off the ninth inning after a series of defensive replacements in the top of the ninth.
10:01: Things have come apart for the Nationals completely here in the ninth. Randy Winn stung a grounder past a diving Ian Desmond, who couldn't reach it to his left, and the Cardinals have taken a 10-8 lead.
10:03: Back at normal depth, Desmond turns a double play to finish the top of the ninth. Gonzalez singled to start the ninth.
10:11: And we're tied again. Ryan Franklin, wild for the first part of the at-bat and forced to come over the plate, just served up a game-tying homer to Roger Bernadina, who barely cleared the right-field wall on a 3-1 fastball. It's 10-10, and it looks like we're headed to the 10th.
10:55: We're in the 12th inning, still tied, and we've had some drama here. Albert Pujols climbed the tarp down the first base line, trying to catch a foul ball in the 11th, and rolled his left ankle. He was down for a couple minutes before electing to stay in the game, but he's been limping. The Nationals have just one pitcher left in their bullpen - left-hander Doug Slaten. They'll probably ride Miguel Batista as long as they can, hoping they can break the tie. Bernadina, who tied the game in the ninth, is due to lead off the 12th.
11:19: And we're still tied, though Adam Kennedy almost one it by fisting one to center field. Yeah, I've been here long enough that I'm using everyone's least-favorite baseball term, just for the sadistic value. Anyway, Kennedy's ball almost got through, but Brendan Ryan made a diving sno-cone catch to keep the game tied. Curse him. Doug Slaten, the final man in the Nationals' bullpen, is starting the 13th for the Nationals.
11:40: Finally, it's over. Ian Desmond singles up the middle, off Ryan's glove (fittingly), and the Nationals win 11-10 in 13 innings, in the longest game they've played this year. I'll have more in a little bit - but not tons more, because who's still up?