November 27, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 8 Review: Zimmermann grounds Sox into submission

Jordan Zimmermann normally pitches in the shadows of more heralded teammates, but if he continues his early pace, he’ll make plenty of headlines for himself as the season progresses. Wednesday night, before a crowd of 24,586 at Nationals Park, Zimmermann held the powerful Chicago White Sox lineup in check, leading the Nats to a 5-2 victory and a 6-2 record after eight games.

The Nats were powered by Bryce Harper, who hit his fourth home run of the season, and Ian Desmond, who went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a triple.

As with Game One of this series, the White Sox got out in front in the top of the first. Jeff Keppinger singled with one out and went to third on Alex Rois’ double into the left field corner. Former Nats Adam Dunn pushed the run home with a ground out to second base to put the Sox up 1-0.

The Nats took the lead in the fourth inning. Bryce Harper crushed the first pitch of the inning from White Sox starter Gavin Floyd into the second deck in right field to loudly tie the game at one. After Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche went down on strikes, Ian Desmond hit his second double of the game, then scored on Danny Espinosa’s RBI single to give the Nats a 2-1 lead.

The Nats were back at it in the fifth. Jayson Werth lined a single to left and took third on Harper’s clean single to right. Zimmerman then took one of Floyd’s cutter’s to right — going with the pitch — and brought home Werth to stretch the Nats lead to 3-1.

Chicago got one back in the sixth off Zimmermann. Alejandro De Aza doubled to the right field corner, took third on Keppinger’s ground out to second and scored on Rios’ ground out to deep short.

But the Nats were undaunted and got that run right back — and more — in the bottom of the inning. Desmond led off with a triple off the wall in left center and scored on Espinosa’s double into the right field corner to make it 4-2. Kurt Suzuki drew his third walk of the game (one intentional) and Zimmermann move dup both runners with a successful sacrifice. White Sox manager Robin Ventura went for his lefty specialist, Donnie Veal, to face Span.

Span hit a sharp grounder to short with a drawn-in infield, but Alexei Ramirez couldn’t handle the scorcher and all hands were safe. Espinosa brought in the Nats fifth run of the night and Veal then got the hook as well. he rally ended when new reliever Nate Jones coaxed a double play grounder to third from Werth to end the frame with the Nats up 5-2.

Zimmermann departed after seven strong innings. The right-hander allowed two earned runs and spaced seven hits in his efficient 90-pitch effort. He walked none and struck out four, generating 10 ground outs.

 Drew Storen pitched an uneventful eighth inning and Rafael Soriano nailed down his fourth save of the young season.

THE GOOD: Jordan Zimmermann. With the win, he’s 7-0 with a 2.91 ERA in his last 13 starts at Nats Park. His last home loss was May 17, 2012 against Pittsburgh.

THE BAD: The Nats struck out 11 times and the only walks were drawn by Suzuki, including an intentional pass.

THE UGLY: Nothing particularly ugly in this one.

THE STATS: 11 hits, 3 BBs, 11 Ks. 4-for-10 with RISP, 7 LOB. No errors, 1 DP (Desmond-Espinosa-LaRoche).

NEXT GAME: Thursday at 7:05 pm against the White Sox. Dan Haren (0-1, 13.50) hosts Dylan Axelrod (0-0, 0.00).

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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