The Nationals began the night celebrating Ivan Rodriguez's 20th anniversary in the major leagues with a video offering congratulations from Nolan Ryan, Harold Reynolds and MASN broadcasters like Johnny Holliday, FP Santangelo, Rick Dempsey, Jim Palmer and Mike Flanagan.
They've also apparently decided to commemorate the occasion by offering Internet service at the park tonight not unlike what you would have found in the early 1990s. So the game updates could be tough tonight. But we'll soldier on...
We're in the fourth inning, and Livan Hernandez has brought nothing resembling the stuff he had in his last start (a three-hit shutout of the Cardinals). The Mariners have eight hits off him in the first four innings, and they've built a 4-0 lead with only one extra-base hit. Hernandez hasn't been able to get the ball down in the strike zone at all, and the Nationals have only one hit off Doug Fister.
The Nationals' pitchers have benefitted all year from extraordinary luck on batted balls - their batting average on balls in play before tonight was .283, well below the normal .300 threshold even after allowing 48 hits the last four games. That number is up to 56 in five games now. It'll be interesting to see how this pitching staff, which has the third-lowest strikeout-per-nine-innings rate in the game, does with less luck.
As it is, Hernandez has put the Nationals in a hole, and their offense will have to get going to get them back within a game of .500.