|Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER|
The big question was who would hit second in front of Harper. The answer: Jayson Werth, who was supposed to bat there all along but was pressed into middle-of-the-order duties with Harper out. That means Anthony Rendon gets bumped all the way down to the 7-hole, though that's not necessarily the worst place for a rookie who after a fantastic debut has cooled off considerably in recent days, carrying a 1-for-18 slump into tonight's game.
It also helps to have Jordan Zimmermann on the mound in search of his NL-leading 12th win. He'll be facing a Brewers club that currently sits in last place in the NL Central, losers of five straight including a 14-inning, rain-delayed game yesterday in Pittsburgh.
Updates to come, so please check back...
MILWAUKEE BREWERS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 184
Weather: Scattered storms, 79 degrees, Wind 13 mph RF to LF
CF Denard Span
RF Jayson Werth
LF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Anthony Rendon
C Kurt Suzuki
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
RF Norichika Aoki
SS Juan Segura
CF Carlos Gomez
3B Aramis Ramirez
C Jonathan Lucroy
2B Rickie Weeks
1B Juan Francisco
LF Sean Halton
RHP Yovani Gallardo
HP Mark Carlson
1B Brian Knight
2B Dan Iassogna
3B Gerry Davis (cc)
7:06 p.m. — We are underway on a sticky, 80-degree night in the District as Jordan Zimmermann fires a fastball to Norichika Aoki for ball one.
7:10 p.m. — And Zimmermann slices through the top of the Brewers lineup like a hot knife through butter. It took him only 10 pitches (7 strikes) to retire the side on a couple of groundballs to the right side and a strikeout. Nice play by Anthony Rendon, who charged way to his left to field Aoki's drag bunt and then flipped it straight from his glove to Adam LaRoche. I'm guessing that's not a play Rendon has practiced much, but he certainly looked comfortable doing it.
7:22 p.m. — Well, I guess this Harper kid might be kind of decent. First at-bat off the DL: Opposite-field homer. Nationals Park erupted and didn't let up until Bryce took a curtain call. Just like on Opening Day. The Nats lead 1-0 as Harper makes his presence known immediately and with authority.
7:36 p.m. — Zimmermann did surrender a base hit in the second, but otherwise cruised again, striking out Juan Francisco to end the frame. He's thrown 17 of 21 pitches for strikes. The Nats lineup, meanwhile, hasn't done much of anything against Yovani Gallardo aside from Harper's homer. Still 1-0 after two.
8:09 p.m. — Sweet. Fancy. Moses. The Nationals suddenly have the most productive lineup in baseball! (Either that, or Yovani Gallardo, Brandon Lyon and Anthony Recker just really stink.) Whatever the case, they're on fire, having just scored five runs in the bottom of the third off Gallardo. And amazingly, Harper had nothing to do with it. He struck out in his second at-bat of the night. No worries, because Zimmermann, Werth, LaRoche and Desmond all doubled, Span walked and Zimmerman singled. Put it all together and you've got five runs, a 6-0 lead after three innings and 14 runs scored by the Nats over their last five innings played. Unreal.
8:29 p.m. — And the hits keep coming. Two more runs in the fourth, ignited by Zimmermann's second hit of the night, a double by Span and a two-run single by Werth, giving him four RBI tonight (his most since May 2011). That did it for Gallardo, who was yanked without recording an out in the fourth, and that might do it for his trade value as well. It's 8-0 Nats after four innings of complete dominance.
8:37 p.m. — Well, there goes the shutout. The Brewers score a pair off Zimmermann in the top of the fifth, proving he's human after all. It's 8-2 now.
8:48 p.m. — Just what the Nats needed, a big injection of life to their lineup tonight. ... From Jordan Zimmermann, who is now 3-for-3. What, who did you think I meant?
9:07 p.m. — What is it about Zimmermann and big leads? He couldn't hold one in Baltimore in May. He couldn't hold one in Cleveland in June. And he looks like he doesn't want to hold this one tonight. Weeks and Francisco just went back-to-back in the sixth, each homering to cut the Nats' lead to 8-4 and now Fernando Abad is warming in the bullpen. No idea what Zimmermann's aversion to large leads is, but something about this situation just doesn't sit well with him.
9:17 p.m. — Can't say I thought Zimmermann would only last six innings tonight, but he's done after allowing four runs on nine hits. Jordan is in line for his league-leading 12th win, but he won't be satisfied with this performance. Craig Stammen in for the seventh, the Nats still up 8-4.
9:27 p.m. — And the Brewers keep chipping away. They score a run off Stammen in the top of the seventh, trimming the lead to 8-5 and forcing Davey Johnson to summon Drew Storen to get out of the jam. It's now 8-5, and the fact Rafael Soriano even has to consider pitching tonight is beyond ridiculous.
9:36 p.m. — Meanwhile, that unstoppable Nats lineup has put up four straight zeroes against a Milwaukee bullpen that threw 11 1/3 innings yesterday in Pittsburgh. Still 8-5 as Tyler Clippard enters for the eighth.
9:43 p.m. — Credit to Storen and Clippard for getting things back under control. They've combined to retire all four batters faced, so it remains 8-5 as we go to the bottom of the eighth.
10:00 p.m. — Insurance runs! Two of them! Werth delivered his fifth RBI of the night, his most since July 6, 2009 while he played for the Phillies. Zimmerman added another RBI single, so it's 10-5 as Soriano takes a seat in the bullpen and Fernando Abad enters for the ninth.
10:08 p.m. — That'll do it. Abad closes out an impressive, 10-5 victory for the Nationals, who have now scored 23 runs the last two days and improve to two games over .500.