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Zimmermann leads bullpen in Game 4


Zimmermann leads bullpen in Game 4

In an airtight, 1-1 NLDS Game 4 heading into the seventh inning, Nationals manager Davey Johnson called on unlikely arm to relieve starter Ross Detwiler.

After starting Game 2 just three days before, Jordan Zimmermann came in to make the first relief appearance of his career. Zimmermann had taken the loss on Monday after giving up five earned runs in just three innings of work.

Zimmermann had seen his fastball feasted on by the same Cardinals lineup in Monday’s game, but showed no hesitation in Game 4. He struck out the side on a total of 12 pitches with seven of them 97 mile per hour fastballs.

Zimmermann ranked third in the National League during the regular season with an average fastball velocity of 93.9, but not even Johnson had seen him throw that fast.

“He came in, and I mean, he was hyped. That's the hardest I've seen him throw all year,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Zimmermann walked up to pitching coach Steve McCatty after the seventh and told him, “I just tried to throw it as hard as I could throw it." The jump in velocity was not only seen on his fastball, but also his slider.

Zimmermann hit 91 three times with the breaking ball which some were even more impressed with.

“It was unbelievable, just a 91 mile per hour nasty slider?” Detwiler said. “That was a huge shot in the arm, the crowd went crazy after the third out.”

Johnson could only laugh.

“I mean, 91 mile an hour slider? You've got to be kidding me. That's pretty good, wasn't it?”

“Some guys in our club said, ‘That's our next closer.’  I said, ‘no way.’”

Zimmermann finished off the seventh inning, but there was more work for the Natioanls’ bullpen to do. Tyler Clippard spelled Zimmermann in the eighth and picked up right where he left off.

Clippard also got out of his inning on three strikeouts. He started with Carlos Beltran going down swinging then caught Matt Holliday looking. After a five-pitch walk to Allen Craig, he got Yadier Molina swinging on a 94 mile per hour fastball.

Clippard walked off the mound with a scream and several fist pumps, another boost of energy to the Nationals and their crowd.

Drew Storen pitched the ninth and began with two strikeouts before getting Matt Carpenter to pop up to Ian Desmond. His second strikeout was the eighth consecutive out by strikeout in total by the Nationals’ bullpen, only the 2005 Angels have matched that number in a postseason game.

Johnson said each player’s inning gave a jolt to the team.

“It was electric. It's been that way most of the year. But in both cases, the job they did was they rose to the occasion. All of them were throwing harder than I've seen them throw.”

Ryan Zimmerman acknowledged their effect on the offense and the team as a whole.

“With the way Ross threw and the way those guys threw out of the bullpen, we were like, ‘come one, we can’t afford to lose this game with the way they’ve pitched against that lineup.’ That was pretty impressive.”

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.