GAME IN A NUTSHELL: As bad as things have looked after the many disappointing losses the Nats have endured recently, including Friday’s, much can change on a given night. Saturday’s 5-1 win didn’t solve all of their problems, but coupled with a Mets’ loss to the Red Sox, and the fortunes of both teams look a little different heading into each team’s respective series finales.
The Nationals can now win their fourth consecutive series if they take care of business on Sunday with Stephen Strasburg, their best pitcher of late, on the mound. The Mets, on the other hand, are staring at a potential sweep against the last-place Red Sox. Saturday left the Nats 5 1/2 games back and Sunday could be another small opportunity to gain some ground.
This particular win was guided by one of Jordan Zimmermann’s best outings of the season. He threw six scoreless innings before finally giving up a run in the seventh. That came on a monster home run by George Mason alum Justin Bour.
The Nationals, however, also brought their big bats. Three different Nats playeres homered, including Clint Robinson and Ian Desmond who hit back-to-back jacks in the bottom of the sixth. Ryan Zimmerman hit the first homer, his 12th of the season, in the second.
With the victory the Nats moved to 65-63 on the season. They have now won five of their last seven games and seven of their last 11. It’s moderate progress, but it’s progress nonetheless.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The homers by Robinson and Desmond gave the Nats a comfortable lead in the sixth inning and back-to-back bombs for just the second time this season. Robinson’s was a two-run shot off the back wall of the visitors bullpen in left-center. That scored Anthony Rendon, who reached on a leadoff bloop single.
Desmond’s was to straightaway center and gave him two homers in as many nights. He now has 17 on the season as he continues to march towards his fourth consecutive 20-homer campaign.
Zimmerman’s homer in the second inning also continued a hot streak for him. He now has home runs in three of his last five games. It was also the longest (434 ft.) he has hit since Sept. 10, 2012.
PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Zimmermann was coming off two forgettable outings where he allowed multiple homers and four earned runs in each start. He wasn’t incredibly sharp on Saturday night, but he was much better and ended up with one of his best outings of the 2015 season.
Zimmermann allowed seven hits, but managed to keep the Marlins off the scoreboard until the seventh. He finished with seven innings of one-run ball with four strikeouts and one walk on 106 total pitches.
The closest Miami came to scoring on the Nats’ right-hander was in the third inning when they got two men in scoring position. Both Koehler – who had two hits on the day – and Dee Gordon got hits with two outs. Gordon’s was a double and Koehler got to third on the play. The pitcher was then thrown out at home, however, after Zimmermann let a wild pitch get away from him. Wilson Ramos fielded the ball and fired it back to Zimmermann, who was able to tag Koehler at home easily for the third out.
KEY STAT: Zimmerman’s second-inning homer was the 196th of his career and passed former teammate Josh Willingham – among others – on the all-time list.
UP NEXT: The Nats will aim to win their fourth consecutive series on Sunday. Stephen Strasburg (8-6, 4.14) will start for the Nationals, while lefty Brad Hand (4-3, 4.23) will take the mound for Miami.