On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s Jr. “I have a dream” speech, the Washington Nationals, donning the Negro League uniforms of the Homestead Grays, recorded their fifth straight win against the Kansas City Royals, who sported the historic Monarch’s uniform.
By the score of 7-2, the Nats handed Jordan Zimmermann (W, 15-7) his 15th win of the season. Washington also creeped a game above .500 with their fifth straight victory, thanks to the team’s seven runs tallied against starter Wade Davis (L, 6-10).
The Nats struck at the earliest opportunity after Ryan Zimmerman singled in the first. Bryce Harper singled him home to give Zimmermann a one-run advantage.
He ran with it, retiring the side in the bottom of the inning and tallying two strikeouts before the Nationals came to bat again.
In the third, however, Kansas City answered. Alcides Escobar led off with a single and, with one out, Emilio Bonifacio and Eric Hosmer did the same, plating one run to tie the game before the inning ended.
But, in the fourth, the Nats came to life.
Zimmerman led off with a walk before Harper singled. Ramos plated Zimmerman with a sacrifice fly and, with two outs, Davis intentionally walked Adam LaRoche to get to Tyler Moore.
The strategy didn’t work as Moore continued to ride his latest wave, adding an RBI double to his good stretch. Chad Tracy followed up with a two-RBI single and, just like that, Zimmermann and the Nats celebrated a five-run lead.
Unlike several instances as of late, the Nats held firmly to their lead as the Royals struggled to play catch-up to no avail.
In the sixth, the Nats quickly tacked on two more runs as Ramos singled and Ian Desmond hit a two-run shot to left center to make it 7-1 Washington.
In the bottom of the eighth the Royals made a try for it. With one out, Bonifacio walked and advanced to second on a ground out by Eric Hosmer. Billy Butler singled to give the Royals runners at the corners before Davey Johnson called upon Fernando Abad to replace Zimmermann.
Abad quickly gave up an RBI single to Mike Moustakasm, but Abad walked Justin Maxwell before striking out David Lough to end the inning.
Tyler Clippard pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and the Nationals secured their win, pulling within eight games of the Cincinnati Reds for the second NL Wild Card spot.
THE GOOD: After a rough start against the Chicago Cubs, Jordan Zimmermann returned to true form, in command of his arsenal against the Kansas City Royals.
Also worth noting, from an offensive standpoint, nearly every member of the Nationals contributed. All but Steve Lombardozzi and Adam LaRoche tallied a hit Saturday night, including Bryce Harper who went 2-for-4 with one run and no strikeouts.
THE BAD: It’s a shame the Nationals can’t play more interleague games – they have a winning record this season against the American League. Unfortunately, they have no interleague series remaining.
THE STATS: 7 R, 8 H, 3 BB, 7 K, 3-for-6 RISP, 3 LOB
NEXT GAME: Sunday, 2:10 p.m. ET Dan Haren (8-11, 4.64) vs. Ervin Santana (8-7, 3.13)