The 45° weather today in Nationals Park probably brought Auburndale, Wisconsin-born, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point-educated right-hander Jordan Zimmermann back to the days of pitching in his home state, where it was actually a tick colder at 44° this afternoon. The 26-year-old, '07 2nd Round pick retired the first two batters he faced this afternoon before walking Miami Marlins' slugger Giancarlo Stanton when he missed with a 95 mph 3-2 fastball inside. Stanton was stranded at first, however, when Greg Dobbs hit the third ground ball out of the inning to Danny Espinosa at second, ending an 18-pitch opening frame and extending the Marlins' scoreless innings streak to 19.0 innings to start the season.
Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper hit back-to-back one-out singles off Marlins' lefty Wade LeBlanc in the bottom of the first and Ryan Zimmerman followed with a two-run double off the center field wall to make it 2-0 early in the series finale in the nation's capital.
The Marlins finally got on the board in 2013 when center fielder Justin Ruggiano took a first-pitch fastball to right and over the out-of-town scoreboard for a solo home run in the top of the second, breaking the streak of scoreless innings to start the season at 19.0. Miami backstop Rob Brantly took a 94 mph 3-1 fastball to center for a single in the next at bat, and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria did the same one out later, singling to center on a 1-2 curve to put two on with one out. Wade LeBlanc K'd trying to give up an out/bunt the runners over, and Juan Pierre flew to center to end a 22-pitch frame with Zimmermann at 40 overall, and up 2-1.
Ian Desmond fired a one-hopper to first from deep in the hole at short that Adam LaRoche scooped adroitly for the first out of the Marlins' third. Jordan Zimmermann walked Giancarlo Stanton for the second time today in the next at bat, but a fly to left from Gregg Dobbs and a groundout to short by Ruggiano ended a relatively quick, 13-pitch 3rd by the Nats' right-handed starter. 53 pitches overall for Zimmermann after three.
Denard Span bunted his way on to start the Nationals' third, and Wade LeBlanc made an ill-advised attempt to shovel the ball to Marlins' first baseman Greg Dobbs. The ball scooted by first and Span took second to put a runner in scoring position with no one out. A 2-2 change had Jayson Werth guessing, as LeBlanc got the first out without Span advancing, but Bryce Harper singled through the right side of the infield for the second time today in the at bat that followed and Span scored from second to make it 3-1 Nats.
Donovan Solano and Adeiny Hechavarria hit back-to-back one-out singles off Jordan Zimmermann in the top of the fourth, but Wade LeBlanc bunted back to the mound hard enough for the Nats' starter to take a force at third to cut down the lead runner and a groundout to second by Juan Pierre ended a 14-pitch frame with Zimmermann at 67 pitches overall with the two-run lead in tact. Wade LeBlanc struck out the side in the Nationals' fourth around a two-out walk to Wilson Ramos, sending Zimmermann quickly back out to the mound. Greg Dobbs hit a 1-0 change to center for a two-out single off the Nats' right-hander, but a Justin Ruggiano groundout to second ended the top of the fifth after 12 pitches with Zimmermann at 79 total after 5.0 innings.
Denard Span, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper went down in order in a quick, 9-pitch, 1-2-3 5th by the Marlins' Wade LeBlanc.
Rob Brantly lined to short left for a leadoff single in the sixth that fell in front of a diving Bryce Harper. Donovan Solano took a 1-1 pitch to left as well, putting two on for 23-year-old Fish infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, but the former Blue Jays' prospect rolled one out to second where Ian Desmond started a 6-3 DP and pinch hitter Austin Kearns grounded out to first to end Jordan Zimmermann's sixth inning of work after 10 pitches with the right-hander at 89 pitches overall. Still 3-1 Nationals after five and a half. Ryan Zimmerman reached on a swinging bunt to start the home-half of the frame. Two groundouts later, the Nats' third baseman was standing on third base when Danny Espinosa flew out to right to end the sixth.
Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 89 P, 60 S, 11/5 GO/FO.
Henry Rodriguez took on the top of the Marlins' order in the top of the seventh inning and retired Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco and Giancarlo Stanton in order, getting the Marlins' slugger looking with a filthy slider on the 12th pitch of the frame. Wilson Ramos started the Nationals' seventh with a single to center off former Nats' reliever Jon Rauch. Ramos took second on sac bunt by pinch hitter Steve Lombardozzi and third on a wild pitch by new Marlins' reliever Mike Dunn. Denard Span walked to put two on for Jayson Werth and the Nats' bearded slugger's first home run of 2013 soared out to left field, over the bullpen wall, over the 106.7 the FAN in D.C. sign and into the stands about 400 ft from home for a three-run blast and a 6-1 lead over the Marlins after seven.
Tyler Clippard needed just nine pitches to retire the Marlins in order in the top of the eighth. Craig Stammen took the mound in the top of the ninth and issued a leadoff walk to Donovan Solano, but Adeiny Hechavarria rolled one out to short for Ian Desmond to start a 6-3 DP. Chris Coghlan flew to left to end it. SWEEEEP!!
Nationals win, 6-1 final and they sweep the season-opening series with the Fish.
Nationals now 3-0.