September 18, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 28 Review: Zimmermann, Rendon lead Nats to sweep in Houston

The Houston Astros came up on the Washington Nationals schedule right at the exact time.

Reeling from Bryce Harper’s thumb injury and resulting surgery, the Nats went down to Houston needing a couple of wins in the worst way. Tuesday, they took care of business with a 4-3 win. On Wednesday, they made a laugher out of it, knocking off the Astros for the second consecutive evening, 7-0, behind the right arm of Jordan Zimmermann and the hot hitting of hometown boy Anthony Rendon.

Zimmermann became the Nationals all-time wins leader since the relocation with 45.

Zimmermann gave the Nats 6 1/3 scoreless innings, while Rendon had four hits — including a homer and two doubles — to lead the Nats to a two-game sweep.

It was all Nats, and it started early. Denard Span led off the third inning for the Nats with a triple to right field. George Springer couldn’t field it cleanly, and Span trotted home with the game’s first run.

The Nats busted things open in the fourth. Kevin Frandsen singled up the middle and went to third on Sandy Leon’s single to center. The Astros tried to throw behind Leon at first, but first baseman Jesus Guzman couldn’t handle the throw and Frandsen walked the run in. Denard Span followed with a single and Leon went to third.

Anthony Rendon laced a double into the left field corner, scoring Leon, and when left fielder Alex Presley fumbled the bare-handed pick-up, Span raced home from first. Rendon then scored on Jayson Werth’s broken bat single up the middle to make it 5-0.

The Nats tacked on another one in the fifth, chasing Astros starter Brett Oberholtzer. With two outs, Danny Espinosa crushed a belt-high fastball deep into the Crawford boxes in straightaway left field.

Rendon made it 7-0 with a line drive homer to right field in the sixth off Paul Clemens. It was Rendon’s third extra base hit of the night, his fourth homer and 20th RBI of the season.

Meanwhile, Jordan Zimmermann cruised. Through 6 1/3 innings, the stoic right-hander allowed just seven hits and one walk, striking out seven, including Astros catcher Jason Castro three times. Just thrice did Houston put more than one runner on in an inning, including the seventh when he was lifted in favor of rookie Aaron Barrett.

Barrett came on to strike out Jose Altuve on a nasty slider and get L.J. Hoes to bounce out to end the threat.

Ross Detwiler gave up two hits in a scoreless frame and Ryan Mattheus hit a batter before closing things out with a double play.

The Nats travel to Philly for a weekend set with the Phillies starting Friday night. Stephen Strasburg will face LHP Cliff Lee (3-2, 3.29).

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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