The Washington Nationals took two of three games over the weekend against division rival Miami Marlins, but the big news was Ian Desmond sitting out Sunday’s game due to lingering soreness in his left oblique, the injury that kept him from playing in the All-Star game last weekend.
Sunday’s game was the first Desmond has missed since April 19, a string of 71 consecutive games where he did not miss a single inning of play. Danny Espinosa started at shortstop in Desmond’s absence and rookie Steve Lombardozzi played second base.
“I don’t know how long it might be,” manager Davey Johnson said of Desmond’s injury and how long he might be out of the lineup. “Normally, if I was just resting him, I’d probably play Lombo at short.”
“I know he’s been having that for a couple months,” Johnson continued. “It’s been aggravating him. But his performance has been so good, he’s been able to handle it.”
Desmond in hitting .348/.385/.678 since June 8 with nine home runs and seven steals in 122 plate appearances. For the season, the first-time All-Star is hitting .287 and leads the team in homers with 17.
Friday: The Nats came back from the All-Star break looking to get back to winning ways. starter Jordan Zimmermann led them there. The right-hander struck out six in six shutout innings, allowing just four hits and a walk, dominating the Miami Marlins 5-1 at their new ballpark.
Zimmermann upped his record to 6-6, while lowering his team-leading ERA to 2.48.
Ryan Zimmerman hit his ninth home run of the season — a two-run shot – off losing pitcher Josh Johnson (5-6) in the third inning. Zimmerman finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run. Jesus Flores added a two-run single in the sixth, which chased Johnson from the game. Flores’ soft fly ball scored Adam LaRoche and Desmond, who was hot on LaRoche’s heels.
Zimmerman, LaRoche, Desmond and Danny Espinosa all had multi-hit games.
Saturday: The Nats bats were silenced by Mark Buehrle as the big lefty held the Nats to one run on six hits and two walks, outdueling Gio Gonzalez, who was pretty darn good in his own right. Gonzalez allowed two runs on five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out nine.
Buehrle didn’t allow more than one Nats hitter to reach base in any inning until the fifth. Desmond led off with a single, stole second, and scored on a Jesus Flores single to tie the game at one at that point.
But the Marlins came right back in the bottom half. Emilio Bonifacio beat out a bunt single, took second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on a John Buck single, providing the margin of victory. Gonzalez took the hard-luck loss, and his record dropped to 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA.
Sunday: Stephen Strasburg and three relievers shut out the Marlins on seven hits, 4-0. Strasburg (10-4, 2.66) went six innings, allowing six hits and a walk, striking out seven. He stranded two in the second, three in the third, one in the fourth and two more in the fifth without allowing a run. Ryan Mattheus and Sean Burnett were perfect, while Tyler Clippard loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth before retiring three straight to finish off the win.
The Nats did not get an extra-base hit in the game, but pushed across a pair of runs in both the fifth and sixth innings against losing pitcher Ricky Nolasco. Strasburg himself and Steve Lombardozzi had RBI singles in the fifth, while in the sixth inning Michael Morse singled in Ryan Zimmerman and Espinosa plated Adam LaRoche with a sacrifice fly.
Lombardozzi and Morse both had a pair of hits in the winning effort.