Even though the Washington Nationals got some good news about their leadoff and No. 3 hitters before the game, they’ll still be without them for a little longer and will have difficulty scoring an excess of runs. For now, the Nats will have to rely on strong pitching and timely run production.
They got both Wednesday, as Jordan Zimmermann pitched six strong innings, Ryan Zimmerman homered in the first inning, and the Nats beat the New York Mets 2-1 at soggy Nats Park.
Before the game, manager Matt Williams said Jayson Werth will report to High-A Potomac to start a rehab assignment and might be ready to return to the lineup soon after he’s eligible on Saturday. Denard Span will go back to extended spring training in Viera to play in a few more simulated games before beginning his rehab assignment, but he’s well ahead of schedule.
As for the game, after an hour rain delay in which no rain actually fell, Zimmermann made short work of the Mets in the first. Then in the bottom half, Yunel Escobar singled with one out ahead of Ryan Zimmerman’s first home run of the season, a no-doubt shot to left on an 1-1 count off Jacob de Grom, last season’s N.L. Rookie of the Year for a 2-0 lead.
New York got one back in second, as three consecutive ground ball singles, the last by Travis d’Arnaud, cut the lead in half. But with the bases loaded, Zimmermann struck out Curtis Granderson looking on a high slider, one that Granderson thought was too high.
The Nats got a leadoff double by Wilson Ramos in the sixth looking to add to a tenuous lead, but Ian Demsond whiffed at a slider, Dan Uggla popped up and Tyler Moore grounded to third.
Zimmermann didn’t return for the seventh. He threw 91 pitches in six full innings, allowing the one earned run on five hits and no walks, striking out four.
A one-out double in the seventh by Michael Taylor was wasted, as he ran into an out at third on a grounder, and Zimmerman struck out to end the inning.
Blake Treinen pitched a scoreless eighth, including nabbing a line drive by Lucas Duda, then doubling up David Wright at first. Drew Storen had an uneventful ninth inning for his first save of the season, including a punch-out on a nasty slider following a 94-MPH fastball on the black.
HERO: Ryan Zimmerman. He provided all the scoring the Nats needed, and turned in several sparkling plays on defense.
GOAT: Ian Desmond. No errors unlike opening day, but 0 for 4 with two Ks. He’s lost at the plate right now, swinging at everything with very little contact.
- Feeling it at first: Zimmerman seems to be settling in fine at first base. In the second, he made a full out dive toward home plate to catch de Grom’s popped up bunt. The Face of the Franchise made another diving stop in the eighth, robbing Curtis Granderson of potential extra bases.
- Second time’s a charm: In the fourth, d’Arnaud hit a high pop to second base and Dan Uggla camped underneath of it, similar to the play that Ian Desmond committed an error on opening day. This time, Uggla emphatically called for it, waving his arms, and Desmond demurred.
- Holding ‘em to one: In the sixth, Lucas Duda’s line drive one-hopped the wall in right. Harper made a clean pick-up of the carom and fired a laser to second, holding Duda to a single. Duda was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder on the next at bat.
UP NEXT: Thursday at 1:05 pm. Stephen Strasburg (14-11, 3.14 in 2014) hosts RHP Matt Harvey (9-5, 2.27 in 2013).