Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Ross Detwiler tries to pitch the Nats to a series victory at Camden Yards.
Yes, Zimmerman is back in Davey Johnson's lineup for today's series finale against the Orioles, back at third base and in the No. 3 spot in the batting order. This despite a .218 average, .590 OPS and last night's admission that he may need a cortisone shot and another DL stint at some point.
Ross Detwiler, meanwhile, makes his return to the rotation today after spending the last three weeks in the bullpen. The left-hander believes he's built his arm strength up enough to approach 100 pitches if needed, but we'll see how far Johnson lets him go.
It's another beautiful day for baseball. Plenty of updates to come...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Where: Camden Yards
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MASN2, CH. 50, MLB.tv
Radio: WWXT (92.7 FM), WWXX (94.3 FM), WJFK (106.7 FM), WTEM (980 AM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 178
Weather: Partly cloudy, 91 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to LF
LF Steve Lombardozzi
RF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
DH Michael Morse
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
C Jhonatan Solano
(LHP Ross Detwiler)
2B Brian Roberts
SS J.J. Hardy
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Mark Reynolds
RF Steve Pearce
DH Ronny Paulino
LF Steve Tolleson
3B Robert Andino
(RHP Jake Arrieta)
HP David Rackley, 1B Alfonso Marquez, 2B Brian O'Nora, 3B Tom Hallion (cc)
1:36 p.m. -- This ballgame is underway with a ball outside from Jake Arrieta to Steve Lombardozzi. It's 88 degrees with some cloud cover starting to develop.
1:45 p.m. -- I think we just saw distinct evidence of Ryan Zimmerman's shoulder injury. He actually drove a pitch from Arrieta to deep right-center, a ball that off the bat sounded like it might carry all the way to the fence. Instead, it died short of the warning track, with Adam Jones making the catch. If Zim's shoulder feels right, that ball is struck with a lot more oomph.
1:52 p.m. -- Good stuff from Ross Detwiler in his first inning back in the rotation. He struck out Brian Roberts on a 1-2 curveball, then got both J.J. Hardy and Jones to fly out to right. Only 11 pitches (nine strikes) from the lefty. For the record, Detwiler would need to throw seven scoreless innings today to lower his ERA to 3.00 and join the rest of the Nats rotation statistically speaking. Probably a long shot to happen.
2:09 p.m. -- Another strong inning for Detwiler, who retired the side in the bottom of the second on 16 pitches, striking out Steve Pearce on a 3-2 breaking ball to end the frame. He's not messing around out there on the mound. Exactly how the Nats want him to approach things. Still scoreless through two.
2:23 p.m. -- Three surprising moments from the top of the third ... 1) Jhonatan Solano sent a leadoff double down the right-field line. He's now hitting -- get this -- .429 in the big leagues. Who knew? ... 2) Bryce Harper grounded into his first major-league double play. In his 213th plate appearance up here. Pretty amazing ... 3) Ryan Zimmerman smoked an RBI single over the shortstop's head, connecting on a 95 mph fastball for his hardest-hit ball in weeks. Yes, his shoulder is hurting. But how bad can it hurt for him to still be able to do that? The Nats take a 1-0 lead.
2:51 p.m. -- Detwiler's first big test of the day came in the bottom of the fourth after he served up a couple of singles and then issued a two-out, four-pitch walk to Pearce to load the bases. Steve McCatty came out for a spirited chat with the lefty, who responded well. Detwiler got Ronny Paulino to fly out to deep right field to end the inning without a run crossing the plate. So it remains 1-0 heading to the fifth.
3:09 p.m. -- Detwiler's afternoon is progressively devolving into something less-than-spectacular. He again labored in the fifth, issuing a one-out single and then a four-pitch walk to Brian Roberts. Clearly miffed at plate umpire David Rackley's strike zone, Detwiler was starting to show that lack of composure on the mound that has gotten him into trouble in the past. McCatty came out for another visit, but Detwiler was lucky to get out of that fifth inning in one piece. He needed a great play from Zimmerman for the second out and then caught a break as Jones just missed his hanging breaking ball, flying out to the warning track in left. It's still 1-0 after five, but Detwiler's day could well be over.
3:28 p.m. -- Wasted opportunity for the Nats in the top of the sixth as Bryce Harper turns a routine single to center into a hustle double, then gets stranded in scoring position as Zimmerman and Morse strike out and Desmond pops out. Detwiler is indeed done after five scoreless innings and 82 pitches, so it's Craig Stammen to pitch the top of the sixth, protecting a 1-0 lead.
3:39 p.m. -- Can the Nats really make that one early run hold up today? They're certainly trying to, because the lineup isn't doing much of anything. Stammen retired the side in the sixth, and he's back out for the seventh. If this goes well, things are set up nicely for Sean Burnett in the eighth and Tyler Clippard in the ninth.
3:52 p.m. -- Now, I'm no baseball expert, but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest Stammen wanted to walk Robert Andino on four pitches and put the tying run in scoring position for Brian Roberts in the bottom of the seventh. Then again, this is why I'm no baseball expert, because Stammen managed to pitch his way out of that jam. He got Roberts to ground out weakly to first, then got J.J. Hardy to ground out to third, ending the inning. It's still 1-0 Nats as we head to the eighth.
4:02 p.m. -- I suppose it's only fitting that Zimmerman has collected two hits today, barely 12 hours removed from acknowledging his shoulder has been bothering him. Not that anyone else in the lineup is producing. We go to the bottom of the eighth, it's still 1-0 and Sean Burnett is now on the mound.
4:07 p.m. -- Hate to say it, but you just had a sense something like this was bound to happen eventually. Burnett serves up a leadoff single to Adam Jones, then a towering, two-run homer to Matt Wieters into the Orioles bullpen. Just like that, the Nats trail 2-1 and are three outs from losing this game.
4:16 p.m. -- OK, last chance for the Nats. It'll be Morse, Desmond and Espinosa vs. Jim Johnson in the ninth.
4:25 p.m. -- It's over. The Nats lose a heartbreaker, 2-1, as Espinosa strikes out and Desmond is thrown out trying to steal second. That's as crushing a loss as they've experienced in a while, and this one clinched the season series for the Orioles, who take the 2012 Battle of the Beltways 4 games to 2.