October 31, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 104 Review: Zimmerman ends pitcher’s duel with walk-off homer

No one would have thought All-Star starter Matt Harvey against journeyman spot starter Ross Ohlendorf would have ended up a pitcher’s duel. The Harvey part, sure, especially the way the Washington Nationals offense has been inept since the All-Star break. But Ohlendorf was just as good as Harvey, dominating the New York Mets for his seven innings of work.

Neither figured in the decision though, as a 1-1 ninth inning tie turned into a dramatic walk-off win, as Ryan Zimmerman’s solo home run in the ninth inning off LaTroy Hawkins gave the Nats a 2-1 win before 33,689 jubilant patrons at Nationals Park.

The blast was Zimmerman’s first extra-base hit in 56 plate appearances over 13 games and his first walk-off homer since 2011.

The starters traded zeroes until the fourth, when the Mets broke the ice against Ohlendorf. Josh Satin doubled to right with one out and scored one out later on John Buck’s RBI double that carried over Steve Lombardozzi’s head in left.

The Nats tied it up in the fifth, courtesy of an unearned run. Jayson Werth led off with a single to center, his second hit of the game and the Nats’ third. Ian Desmond drew a walk, moving Werth up 90 feet. After Steve Lombardozzi failed to get a bunt down with one strike, then struck out, Wilson Ramos hit a chopper up the middle.

Shortstop Justin Turner made a nice play and flip to Daniel Murphy to cut down Desmond, but Murphy’s relay throw was way up the line and actually hit Ramos, allowing Werth to come all the way around to score, tying the game.

New York threatened again in the seventh, but were rebuffed. Andrew Brown reached leading off the inning courtesy of Ryan Zimmerman’s second fielding error of the game. Harvey sacrificed successfully and Brown moved up a base. Ohlendorf got Juan Lagares to fly to center on a nice running catch by Denard Span. He then carefully pitched around Daniel Murphy — who was red hot all day — before getting David Wright to foul out to end the threat, on his 114th pitch of the day.

Ohlendorf was the story of the game for the Nats. Recalled as an insurance policy and emergency starter, then transferred into the bullpen, Ohlendorf got the call for the double-header start and was excellent. The right-hander gave up just the one run on six hits and two walks, striking out eight in the process.

The journeyman put up ERAs of 7.77 and 8.15 the past two seasons for San Diego and Pittsburgh, but he’s been a godsend for the Nats this season and could very well find himself in the rotation once Taylor Jordan is shut down in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery.

For the Mets, Harvey was just as good. He went eight innings, allowing just an unearned run on five hits and one walk, striking out seven in the process.

THE GOOD: Ohlendorf. Stellar performance.

THE BAD: Rafael Soriano. Not a good performance with a hit and a walk in the ninth inning, but he escaped without giving up a run.

THE UGLY: Denard Span and Anthony Rendon combined to go 0-for-8 at the top of the order.

THE STATS: 6 hits, 1 BB, 7 Ks. 0-for-4 with RISP, 3 LOB. E: Zimmerman (16, fielding); one DP.

NEXT GAME: Saturday at 3:05 pm ET against the Mets. Dan Haren (4-11, 5.79) hosts Dillon Gee (7-7, 4.07).

NATS NOTES: Bryce Harper did not start the second game after aggravating his knee making a sliding catch in the day game but did pinch-hit in the eighth inning off Harvey, grounding out to short.

Following the game, the Nats optioned Drew Storen to AAA-Syracuse to make room for Ryan Mattheus on the roster.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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