The Washington Nationals equaled their number of wins in the Grapefruit League with their number of ties on Friday, beating the Atlanta Braves 6-5 at Champion Stadium on the Disney Complex in Lake Buena Vista, FL. The Nats spring record now stands at 2-3-2.
Jordan Zimmermann made his second start of spring training and though he allowed two runs on five hits, was solid. He struck out four in three innings and did not walk a batter. He looked to be working on his changeup, a pitch he rarely uses, in particular. After the game, Zimmermann said he was very happy with his changeup and the pitch could find its way into his repertoire more often.
The Nats No. 3 starter — in name only — threw 39 of his 49 pitches for strikes, including six of the aforementioned changeups.
Zimmermann gave up a solo home run to Braves slugger Jason Heyward in the first inning. In the second, Juan Francisco reached on a one-out base hit, went to second on Christian Bethancourt’s infield single and scored on a Reed Johnson single to center. He retired Braves regulars Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman and B.J. Upton in succession in the third, his final inning of work.
Ross Ohlendorf followed and gave up another two runs on three hits. As Zimmermann, he did not walk a batter and struck out two. Tyler Clippard struck out one in his inning of work. Fernando Abad gave up a hit and stuck out two in a scoreless inning while Cole Kimball walked one and struck out two in a scoreless frame. Jeremy Accardo gave up a run in the ninth but finished things up for the save.
The Nats offense started with Bryce Harper, who homered in the first inning off Braves top prospect Julio Teheran. He finished 1-for-2 on the day.
The Nats busted out in the eighth inning off Braves farmhand Cory Rasmus. Jhonatan Solano and Eury Perez started the innings with back-to-back singles and Anthony Rendon walked to load the bases. Will Rhymes singled to center to plate Solano and Steven Souza walked to force in Perez. Zach Walters popped out without advancing the runners, but Carlos Rivero followed with a double to clear the bases.
The Nats face the St. Louis Cardinals, in a rematch of last season’s NLDS, Saturday at 1:05 pm Eastern at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.