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Nationals sweep Giants behind Zimmermann, Ramos


Nationals sweep Giants behind Zimmermann, Ramos

By Rich Dubroff

Jordan Zimmermann’s last three starts have been special, and on Sunday, his excellent outing gave the Nationals a three-game sweep over the defending world champions.

Zimmerman pitched seven solid innings, and Wilson Ramos slammed a tie-breaking homer as the Nationals beat the San Francisco Giants 3-1 before 33,157 at Nationals Park on Sunday night.

Zimmermann (7-5) won his third straight, and so did the Nationals (45-37).

He allowed just three hits, walked one and struck out eight, equaling his season high. In his last four starts, Zimmermann has struck out 25 and walked only two.

“The last three starts, he’s been amazing. All the pitches were good,” Ramos said.

Zimmermann gave up first-inning singles to Angel Pagan and Buster Posey, and other than a fourth-inning home run to Brandon Crawford on a 3-0 pitch, he gave the reeling Giants nothing.

“First couple of innings, I was up in the zone. The first inning, they had a couple of hits, and I had to settle down and make some pitches, and I was able to do that,” Zimmermann said.

“Tonight was one of those were I didn’t have very many first pitch strikes, and fell behind. I was battling for the most part. I was able to get some big outs when I needed to.”

Washington’s pitching has been outstanding. In the last 15 games, they’ve allowed just 29 runs.

“Our pitchers have done well, especially at home, and that’s where it starts,” manager Matt Williams said. “Starters go out there and give up one run, we have a really good chance of winning the ballgame.”

The Nationals were fortunate to catch San Francisco (42-41) going south. The Giants have lost six straight.

San Francisco’s highlight was challenged home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi ejecting both starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong and manager Bruce Bochy in the fifth inning for arguing balls and strikes.

The Nationals, despite losing Stephen Strasburg to the disabled list, had lots to celebrate. Bryce Harper was named to the National League All-Star team for the second time as a starter and set a league record for most votes.

In the bottom of the second, Vogelsong walked Ramos and Danny Espinosa. Both advanced a base on Vogelsong’s wild pitch as Ian Desmond struck out. Michael A. Taylor’s single to left scored Ramos.

Crawford’s 12th home run of the season tied the score at 1 in the fourth.

In the bottom of the fifth, Cuzzi, who had been hearing it from Bochy all night, decided he had enough. After a 1-2 pitch to Denard Span was called a ball, Vogelsong approached the plate and was ejected, and moments later, Bochy was, too.

Bochy and Cuzzi tangled in the first inning when the home plate umpire refused to allow the third base umpire, Will Little to rule on a check swing. In the third, Pagan was called out on strikes, and both he and Bochy argued with Cuzzi again.

It was the third ejection of the year for Bochy, and the first time in his career Vogelsong had been tossed.

Josh Osich relieved Vogelsong with the game tied at 1. Osich retired all four batters he faced.

George Kontos (2-1) came on, and on his second pitch, .Ramos hit a home run to right for a 2-1 lead, It was Ramos’ eighth of the season.

‘’I thought on my bat, ‘that ball is gone,’ but I see the replay, and it was just behind the wall. Next time I have to hit it harder,” Ramos said.

Desmond, stuck in an 0-for-19 slump, could have had two hits, but Pagan made a brilliant play on his drive to right-center in the fourth and second baseman Joe Panik a leaping stab of his line drive in the sixth.

David Carpenter recorded the first out of the eighth and gave up a single to Matt Duffy. Pagan was Matt Thornton first batter and he hit a line drive to left that Taylor dove for and snared.

The Nationals added a run in the eighth. Harper doubled against Javier Lopez. Tyler Moore flied to right against Hunter Strickland with Harper taking third, and Ramos’ single scored Harper.

Drew Storen saved all three games this weekend. His scoreless ninth gave him 25 for the season.

Since June 13, the Nationals have won 15 of 21.

“We’re fortunate enough to do the things we needed to do to get the win today and sweep that series,” Harper said. “We’ve been playing some good baseball the past month or so.”

For Ramos, there was satisfaction to beat the team that sent them home last October.

“We come into this series to try and beat those guys,” Ramos said. “We have to keep playing like that. A lot of the season left, and a lot of work to do.”

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Nationals extend protective foul ball netting

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Nationals extend protective foul ball netting

The Washington Nationals will become the latest MLB team to extend their protective netting down the first and third base lines, team owner Mark Lerner announced on Thursday. A new netting will be installed at Nationals Park during the MLB All-Star break. 

The new netting will extend from the end of the dugout, where they currently end, and go to the left and right field corners. It will be designed with certain sections that can be raised to allow for fan interaction before the games. 

In his announcement, Lerner stated "I could not help but become emotional last month watching the Astros-Cubs game when a four-year-old little girl was hit by a line drive. I can’t imagine what her parents must have felt in that moment. And to see the raw emotion and concern from Albert Almora Jr. was heartbreaking. Further extending the netting at Nationals Park will provide additional protection for our fans."

This announcement comes fresh off the heels of a national conversation about the importance of netting in ballparks and more that needs to be done to protect the fans. As Lerner referenced, a young fan was hit by a foul ball during an Astros-Cubs matchup in May. The girl was rushed to the hospital and left those in attendance paralyzed in shock, especially Cub Albert Almora Jr. 

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he did not expect the league to step in this season for a league-wide change. However, he did mention that it would continue to be discussed and stressed the importance of fan safety. 

As a result, some teams are taking matters into their own hands. The Chicago White Sox became the first team to announce an extension of their current protective netting to the foul poles. 

Preceding the White Sox announcement, both Chicago and the Nationals experienced a traumatic foul ball situation. Chicago's Eloy Jimenez ripped a foul ball down the line and hit an unsuspecting fan.  

The first game with the new netting with be on Monday, July 22 against the Colorado Rockies. 


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How to celebrate the ultimate D.C. sports day of the summer

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How to celebrate the ultimate D.C. sports day of the summer

Summertime; the time of year when you only look at your calendar to make sure you haven’t double-booked yourself for your ritual weekend brunches, or the time of year you exhaust every vacation day you’ve stored up over the course of the year to get the kids somewhere near their grandparents so you can continue to work on that ever-elusive summer dad-bod. Either one is a win in my book.

Summer also gives birth to one of the rare occasions when there can be three to four different DC-sports related activities all occurring within the same 24-hour timeframe. Thursday, June 20, is THAT day!

Who’s playing? Is there a chance I can attend the game? If not, how do you watch them all? These burning questions are about to be answered faster than you can ride down the escalator at the Pentagon City Metro Station…I think. So, let’s hurry and get started.

We’ll run through these one at a time, in chronological order!

Event 1: Soccer: 3 p.m. EST

1.       Who’s playing?

The US Women’s National Team takes the pitch against Sweden as they look to continue their international dominance in the Women’s World Cup. And yes, it’s DC team because we’re the nation’s Capital.

2.       Reason to watch/attend?

These women are the best Soccer players on the planet; having showcased their proficiency for many years on the world stage. Remember they put up 13 against Thailand in their first match! Don’t miss an opportunity to witness history in the making.  

3.       How to watch/attend?

You can either pull up to Dulles and jump on the next flight to France, or you can be like the rest of us Super-geniuses and tune in at 3 p.m. to watch it from the comfort of your favorite Soccer bar. Make sure to buy a round for anyone rocking a USWNT jersey; #OneNationOneTeam. USA, USA, USA!!!

Event 2: Baseball: 7 p.m. EST

1.       Who’s playing?

 The Washington Nationals are wrapping up a 4-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

2.       Why should I watch/attend?

This is the last day of Bryce Harper in THIS city until September. HALLELUJAH! 

3.       How to watch/attend?

First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. so you can either slide by the park and enjoy the smorgasbord of delicacies offered at Nats park, or you can tune in on the tube. I suggest hitting the park and booing Harper until you lose your voice! Tell your boss it’s my fault you’re hoarse. It won’t be the first time someone did that.

Event 3:  Football: 7 p.m. EST

1.       Who’s playing?

The Washington Valor are back home in Capital One Arena for another chapter in their I-95 battle with their rivals the Baltimore Brigade.

2.       Why should I watch/attend?

 The Valor won the AFL XXXI crown against the Brigade, on their home field. Baltimore hasn’t forgotten that sting in the least bit. Plus, COA has a wicked Bud Light Party Zone where you can catch unlimited beer and perhaps a football from the field. If you haven't seen and AFL game in person, then you're missing out on some really fun action. They even let you down on the field after the game for autographs and pics with the players.

3.       How to watch/attend?

 Kickoff is at 7 p.m. whether you’re at the Arena or not. Since the Nats game is at the same time, you may have to decide which game to see in person and which one to stream on your phone. Hint: the Valor game is on NBC Sports Washington so there’s that. And, if the Nats game gets rained out, then problem solved and see you in the party zone! 

Event 4: Basketball(NBA): 8 p.m. EST

1.       Who’s playing?

 NOBODY, derp! But, it’s the NBA draft and frankly put, I couldn’t be more excited it’s finally here.

2.       Why should I watch/attend?

 This is the first official activation in the post-Grunfeld era for the Wizards. More importantly, this will be the first chance for Wiz fans to wrap their minds around the new direction the team will be taking. Optimism starts here!

3.       How to watch/attend?

Unless you feel like traveling to see the Draft in person, I highly suggest you tune in to NBC Sports Washington for full draft coverage on ‘Wizards on the Clock’ starting at 6:30 p.m.  In my humble opinion, you won’t find better comprehensive coverage. You can watch on TV or via the MyTeams App while you’re at the Nats game booing Bryce if you’re slick with multi-tasking.

Event 4: Basketball(WNBA): 10 p.m. EST

1.       Who’s playing?

 Your Washington Mystics are out in Sin City to take on the Las Vegas Aces. Note: Bill Laimbeer sighting!

2.       Reason to watch/attend?

 The Aces sit atop the Western Conference with Australian native Liz Cambage (she can BALL) holding down the paint. It’s going to be a good test for the Mystics and you’ll get a chance to see how unrelentingly talented Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, and crew really are. Buckets, the Mystics get buckets!

3.       How to watch/attend?

I know the temptation to hit Vegas is rising by the moment but fret not. You can save a ton of money and possibly help your best bud save his fragile relationship by staying in DC and catching the game at 10 p.m. on Monumental Sports Network/NBC Sports Washington.

Now you know how to do it while maintaining some semblance of sanity, and you can even keep a running tab on who’s been the most DC among your friends. I’m certain we’ll have another opportunity for this phenomenon when Fall comes back around, but for now, let’s all enjoy the summer and all the games therein!