Jayson Werth's seventh inning home run off Miami Marlins' lefty Mike Dunn came on a 93 mph 1-1 fastball and it soared out to left field over the visitor's bullpen and into the stands above the 106.7 the FAN in D.C. sign. The sign on the bullpen fence says 377 ft and it cleared that by at least 20-25 ft.* The three-run homer blew the series finale open and all-but ensured the Washington Nationals' season-opening sweep of their NL East rivals from Florida. "He got all of that one, didn't he?" Nats' skipper Davey Johnson asked rhetorically after the game. The hit left the Nats' 33-year-old right fielder 2 for 12 after the first three games of the season. "He wasn't really happy the first couple of games about the way he was swinging," Johnson said, "because he was really swinging good coming out of Spring Training. But he swung really good on that one, so I think he's fine."
* = via the Washington Times' Amanda Comak:
ESPN's hittracker measured Jayson Werth's home run at 434 ft. Someone asked him if he thought he got all of it. "Most of it, yeah," he said.— Amanda Comak (@acomak) April 5, 2013
Werth's admitted that his still working his way back to 100% after breaking his wrist on a sliding play in the outfield early last season, and the Nationals' manager said he's seen signs this Spring and early this season that the outfielder's getting closer to being fully-recovered. "He told me, I guess it was batting practice on the off day, that he said his wrist was feeling stronger, felt like he was feeling good about it and then he got into a little kind of a funk out there, but he had such a great Spring, his stroke was so good all Spring, and a lot of guys are that way now. They're kind of -- cold weather, trying to do a little too much, expanding, but I know he feels good about it. I've liked what I saw all Spring. I would never have noticed that his wrist was bothering him the way he was taking BP and all."
The Nationals got another good outing from Jordan Zimmermann, though maybe not as impressive a start as the first two by Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. Zimmermann gave up the first run allowed by a Nationals' starter when Justin Ruggiano hit the first pitch of the second out to right to cut the Nats' 2-0 lead in half, but the 26-year-old Nationals' 07 2nd Round pick finished strong and ended up allowing just the one run on eight hits in 6.0 IP in which he walked two and struck out just one while inducing 11 ground balls outs from the 27 batters he faced.
"Obviously [Zimmermann] didn't have his greatest stuff," Davey Johnson told reporters after the win, "But [he] pitched a heck of a ballgame. Good six innings. Mixed his pitches up and he threw some pretty good changeups."
The Nationals had a momentary scare in the first when Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth came around to score on Ryan Zimmerman's two-run double to center and Harper collided with Marlins' catcher Rob Brantly. Harper took what appeared to be a knee or shin to the face as he slide over the plate. "It looked like it caught his shin guard or mask, or something," Johnson said, "I thought it cut him, I mean the angle I had it looked like something real hard hit him right in the coconut, and so I was coming out there and of course [Werth] said, 'There's no blood. You can go back.' So, we were all relieved after that."
Werth on Harper's collision via the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore:
Jayson Werth on Harper's collision at home: "The way he reacted, I thought he got shot. I went to make sure the little guy was all right."— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) April 4, 2013
As for Zimmerman, who worked his way back from offseason shoulder surgery and went 5 for 10 in the first three games, the Nats' manager said he likes where Zim's at. "I like -- the way he's swinging the bat right now is better than he swung it all Spring. I like his approach. I like what I'm seeing. I think the last six at bats, he's hit like six bullets."
"He's using everything," Johnson continued, "He's right on time. I mean, that was a good guy for him today, throwing cutters on him, got the bat out front, pulled a couple balls foul... that's him.
The sweep was also satisfying for a Nationals' team that has struggled against the Marlins over the past few seasons. Even last year as the Nats won the division they were just 9-9 against the 5th place team that won just 69 games on the season, so there was some satisfaction on the Nationals' manager's part that they beat the Marlins so soundly. "Every game is a big game," Johnson said, "And we've had problems with the Marlins no matter what. Not just last year, but through the years, no matter what they've put out there we've had trouble with them, so it was good to spank them this series."
The Nationals now head out on the road for a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds, who took two of three from the LA Angels in their own season-opening series. "Hopefully we get a little warmer weather going in there," Johnson said, "But we look at every game as a big game. That's the way we look at it and I know everybody likes to hit in that ballpark, so it should be fun."
In Game 1 of 3 in Great American Ballpark, Dan Haren makes his first start as a National against the Reds' Homer Bailey. Game 2 will see Ross Detwiler taking on right-hander Mike Leake and then Stephen Strasburg and Johnny Cueto will do battle on Sunday before the Nationals return home for a six-game homestand against the Chicago White Sox and Atlanta Braves.