October 22, 2020

Washington Nationals Game 48 Review: Zimmermann shuts down Phillies in Nats’ 5-2 win

Jordan Zimmermann (W, 8-2) proved a dominant force once more as the Washington Nationals (25-23) shut down the Philadelphia Phillies (23-25), 5-2, Friday night in their return to Nationals Park.

After dropping six of 10 games out west, the Nats needed Zimmermann to deliver on a night where the wind blew hard from center, erasing all hope for the long-ball.

While Mother Nature opted to keep the ball in the infield, the Phillies made due with grounders and slow rollers in the second to step in front with a 1-0 lead by way of a Ryan Howard double and a Domonic Brown single.

The Nats failed to answer in the bottom of the inning, despite Kyle Kendrick’s (L, 4-3) 10-pitch walk to Kurt Suzuki and Steve Lombardozzi’s single.

Kendrick did, however, gift-wrap an opportunity for the Nats in the bottom of the third. After Denard Span flied out to right, Kendrick dealt three walks in a row – to Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche. Ian Desmond brought home Harper with a sacrifice fly – on which Young opted to throw to third rather than the more desirable play at home.

Much to the dismay of the seemingly outnumbered Nationals fans, Suzuki stepped to the plate with two runners remaining but managed to fly out to center to end the run with the game tied 1-1.

It was shortstop Jimmy Rollins who handed the Nats their next opportunity in the bottom of the fourth via a throwing error that allowed Tyler Moore to reach.

Lombardozzi singled up the middle, which should have kept the Nats sitting pretty, but third base coach Trent Jewett emphatically waved on Moore. To little surprise, Ben Revere threw home from shallow center, allowing Erik Kratz time to spare on tagging out Moore. Moore made the potentially dangerous decision to run through Kratz – who still nabbed the out – but both players emerged from the play unharmed.

The Nats, nevertheless, failed to plate Lombardozzi and, in the fifth, the Phillies looked to take a commanding lead.

In an inning that featured four singles and a wild pitch, the Nats could call themselves lucky that Zimmermann pitched out of the jam having given up just one additional run by way of a Kratz sacrifice fly. Lombardozzi stood at the heart of a big-time 4-6-3 double play to prevent any further bleeding beyond a 2-1 deficit.

Then, the Nats’ bats answered at last.

Harper led off with a single to left before Zimmerman grounded into a fielder’s choice for the first out. Adam LaRoche tripled off the outfield wall on a play that plated Zimmerman and might have sent LaRoche rounding the bases had it not been for the wind. The triple marked the 11th of LaRoche’s career and his first since May 17 of last year.

Desmond went down looking for out number two, but – at last – Suzuki singled to left to put the Nats in front 3-2. Tyler Moore followed up with a bizarre roller just past the mound for a single to set up Lombardozzi for some much-needed insurance.

Lombo delivered with a double up the middle to bring home Moore and Suzuki and hand the Nats a would-be final score of 5-2. Washington’s five runs scored tied their most runs tallied in a single game since last Friday.

Zimmermann remained dominant through seven innings and maintained a fastball that topped around 94 MPH even in the late innings. But, the ace had woken up Friday with neck stiffness and, as such, Davey Johnson opted to send Tyler Moore to the mound in the eighth.

Even with any discomfort, Zimmermann achieved a final line of 7.0 IP, 6 H 2 ER, 1K. He tossed 66 of 92 pitches for strikes. His ERA now stands at just 1.71.

“He’s going right after good hitters, he’s using both sides of the plate,” Johnson said of Zimmermann after the game. “He’s got good plate movement and an exploding fastball. He mixes in his breaking ball and throws it in a good spot.”

Both Clippard and Rafael Soriano provided an inning each of hit-less relief to seal the Nats’ win.

About Alyssa Wolice

Alyssa Wolice is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Nationals and Wizards. As a former production assistant, she covered the Nationals, Redskins, Capitals, Wizards, D.C. United and local collegiate teams. You can follow Alyssa on Twitter @awolice.

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