I don’t know what kind of crowd tonight’s Nationals-Giants game is going to draw, but if the media contingent gathering here at Nationals Park is an indication, there could be a decent number in the park by gametime.
Randy Johnson, of course, is going for win No. 300, so many national media outlets are in the house, including several from ESPN, MLB Network, Yahoo! Sports, the Chicago Tribune and Newsday, to name a few. Those folks are all going to be mighty disappointed if the Big Unit doesn’t beat the Nationals and stays stuck on 299, though history suggests that he’s got a good chance of getting it done tonight.
The Nationals have been on the wrong end of history before, particularly against the Giants. You’ll recall that on Aug. 7, 2007, a certain slugger named Barry Bonds came up to bat in the fifth inning at AT&T Park against a Washington left-hander named Mike Bacsik. Career home run No. 756 ensued, and the Nats found themselves smack dab in the middle of a major baseball event.
Those who were with the Nats at the time weren’t disappointed to give up Bonds’ record-breaking homer because they went on to win the game 8-6. They’ve got the same goal in mind tonight. Of course, if they win, Johnson can’t. So someone’s going to go home tonight disappointed.
For those curious, Johnson has good (but not great) numbers against the Nationals franchise over the years. Actually, he made his big league debut with this franchise, as a Montreal Expo in 1988. He didn’t last long in Montreal before he was traded to Seattle, and in 10 career starts against this organization since, he’s gone 4-3 with a 2.99 ERA. Three complete games, one shutout, an astounding 101-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Johnson faced the Nats four weeks ago, with Johnson allowing four runs and eight hits in five-plus innings and serving up homers to Josh Willingham, Ronnie Belliard and Ryan Zimmerman. He did, however, earn the win over Daniel Cabrera and struck out nine without walking a batter.
Here, then, is the lineup Manny Acta will send out there tonight trying to deny the Big Unit win No. 300…
2B Anderson Hernandez
1B Nick Johnson
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Adam Dunn
CF Elijah Dukes
RF Austin Kearns
SS Alberto Gonzalez
C Wil Nieves
P Jordan Zimmermann