Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats and Tigers give it another shot tonight, with much better weather.
Jordan Zimmermann once again gets a chance to face this potent Detroit lineup. He'll be doing so on six full days of rest, which isn't necessarily a good things for him. Over his career, Zimmermann is 16-8 with a 2.61 ERA when pitching on normal four days' rest but 13-19 with a 4.00 ERA when pitching on extra rest.
The extra day off probably did some good for Bryce Harper, who has now essentially had three days to rest his bruised left side. Jayson Werth, on the other hand, still hasn't been given the green light to return from a tight hamstring, despite the fact the field should be dry tonight.
Updates to come, so please check back...
DETROIT TIGERS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WNEW (99.1 FM), XM 184
Weather: Chance of showers, 66 degrees, Wind 5 mph out to LF
CF Denard Span
SS Ian Desmond
RF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Tyler Moore
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
CF Austin Jackson
RF Torii Hunter
3B Miguel Cabrera
1B Prince Fielder
LF Andy Dirks
SS Jhonny Peralta
C Alex Avila
2B Omar Infante
RHP Anibal Sanchez
HP Hunter Wendelstedt
1B Jerry Layne (cc)
2B Alan Porter
3B Greg Gibson
6:45 p.m. — Here's your weather update: It's been raining on and off all afternoon, and the tarp remains on the infield. There's been no sign of either starting pitcher yet, so obviously this game isn't going to start on time. It basically takes 30 minutes or so once the tarp is removed before the first pitch can be thrown, so keep that in mind as you wait this out.
7:22 p.m. — The tarp is beginning to be rolled up, though there's still no sign of the starting pitchers. My guess would be that we're looking at first pitch around 8 p.m.
7:23 p.m. — Sure enough, the Nats just announced first pitch will be at ... 8 p.m.!
8:02 p.m. — And we're finally underway after a 57-minute rain delay. Jordan Zimmermann fires a fastball to Austin Jackson for strike one.
8:06 p.m. — Wow, what a play by Ian Desmond to end the top of the first. After Adam LaRoche couldn't handle Torii Hunter's bouncer to first (resulting in LaRoche's second error of the season), Desmond lunged well to his right to snag Miguel Cabrera's line drive, then fired back to first base to double up Hunter. Stellar play there by the shortstop in a scoreless top of the first.
8:13 p.m. — Leadoff single for Denard Span in the bottom of the first, but he's quickly erased on Anibal Sanchez's pickoff move. That seems to have happened a few too many times to Nats baserunners so far this season. Scoreless after one.
8:23 p.m. — Zimmermann had to battle a bit in the top of the second, allowing a leadoff double to Prince Fielder on a hanging 0-2 curveball and then issuing a two-out walk to Alex Avila after getting ahead in the count 0-2. But the right-hander battled his way through it, and so his scoreless streak remains intact, now at 20.
8:38 p.m. — It's tough to notch three hits in an inning and still not score a run, but that's what the Nats just did in the bottom of the second. Of course, when those three hits are an opposite-field single by LaRoche (now 6 for his last 11, having reached safely in 10 of his last 14 plate appearances), a bunt single by Danny Espinosa and a lob-wedge infield hit by Kurt Suzuki, you understand how they didn't score. Oh well, at least they're making Sanchez work a bit. Scoreless after two.
8:53 p.m. — And Zimmermann proves mortal after all. He finally gave up a run, allowing a two-out double to Hunter past a diving Zimmerman at third base, then an RBI single to Cabrera. There's certainly no shame in giving up hits to those two All-Stars, but thus ends the scoreless streak at 20 innings. The Tigers are the best lineup Zimmermann has faced this season, and it's showing. They may only have the one run so far, but they've made him throw 51 pitches through three innings. Nats trail 1-0.
8:59 p.m. — And the Nats get the run right back, thanks to Span, who led off the bottom of the third with a triple into the right-field corner. He even stumbled coming around second and still made it safely. Harper then lofted a sacrifice fly to left, bringing Span home and evening this game at 1-1 after three.
9:13 p.m. — A big break for the Nats, and because of it they take the lead. With two on and one out, Suzuki lofted a flyball to right field. LaRoche (who recorded yet another opposite-field single) took off from second, tagging up. A good throw by Hunter would've had him easily, but the throw skipped past Cabrera and struck a photographer out of play. Thus, LaRoche was automatically awarded the plate on the throwing error, so the Nats have taken a 2-1 lead after four.
9:21 p.m. — Zimmermann finally completes his first clean inning of the night, retiring the side in the top of the fifth on a pair of strikeouts and a flyout. He's retired five in a row and seems to be starting to find his groove. He's at 73 pitches through five.
9:31 p.m. — Man oh man, you think Harper was sitting on that first-pitch curveball from Sanchez? He sat back and then demolished it, sending the ball flying well up the right-field bleachers for his 10th homer of the season. So the Nats have taken a 3-1 lead after five and provided Zimmermann a bit of a cushion.
9:47 p.m. — Sanchez certainly hasn't seemed affected by the home run. He's struck out all four batters faced since Harper's blast. It remains 3-1 as we move to the seventh, with Zimmermann back on the mound on 87 pitches.
9:57 p.m. — Zimmermann finishes his night on a high note. He completes seven innings of 1-run ball on 101 pitches, striking out seven while walking two. He's due up second in the bottom of the seventh, and Tyler Clippard is warming in the Nats pen, so that'll do it for him. Still 3-1 at the stretch.
10:04 p.m. — Here comes the biggest inning of the game, the top of the eighth. It'll be Clippard against Cabrera, Fielder and Dirks, with the Nats up by two runs.
10:24 p.m. — It took 34 pitches (an astounding 10 of them with two outs and two strikes), but Clippard completed a scoreless eighth. Talk about your high leverage situations, whew. Still 3-1 heading to the bottom of the eighth.
10:42 p.m. — OK, here we go. Rafael Soriano in for the ninth. He'll face Infante, the pitcher's spot and Jackson. It would take two Tigers reaching base for Cabrera to come up again. Obviously, Soriano would prefer to avoid that scenario.
10:48 p.m. — That's it. Soriano wraps up his 11th save in 12 tries and gives the Nats a 3-1 victory. Zimmermann earns his NL-leading sixth win. And the Nats beat Sanchez for the first time in ... get this ... 20 career encounters.