Nationals Park Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: San Diego Padres' starter Eric Stults guessed right and should have picked Denard Span off first, but realizing he was caught, Span broke for second and slid in safely, not realizing Stults throw to first baseman Yonder Alonso went right by first base and all the way to the wall n foul territory. Span popped up in time to take third on the throwing error, then scored when Anthony Rendon flew out to left field for a sac fly. 1-0 Washington Nationals' lead after three in D.C.
Padres' right fielder Chris Denorfia singled with one down in the top of the fourth, sending a grounder out to short that Ian Desmond couldn't reach and he scored in the next at bat when Seth Smith sent a 2-2 slider from Jordan Zimmermann into the right field corner for an RBI double that tied things up at 1-1.
Jordan Zimmermann's sixth inning of work started with the opposing pitcher lining a 2-2 fastball to left field for a leadoff double on which Bryce Harper took an interesting route. Two outs later, Eric Stults and Padres' outfielder Seth Smith were standing on the corners when catcher Yasmani Grandal hit a full-count curve to center for a two-run double that gave San Diego a 3-1 lead.
Danny Espinosa cut the Padres' lead in half with one swing when he took a 3-1 slider from Stults out to left field in Nats Park to make it a 3-2 game after six.
It wasn't a one-run game for long. Adam LaRoche stepped in with one out on the Nationals' seventh, and took a 90 mph 1-2 fastball for a ride to right for a solo blast that tied things up at 3-3.
It was still tied up nine, so they went to extras...
Craig Stammen was in his third inning of work in the twelfth when he gave up a one-out single to right by Jedd Gyorko. One out later, Gyorko stole second, then scored on an RBI single to center by Xavier Nady. 4-3 Padres.
Final score, 4-3 Padres.
4. Comeback Wins: It took a ninth inning rally for the Nationals to salvage the finale of the three-game set with the Los Angeles Angels last night. It was the seventh comeback win of the season for the 12-11 Nats.
Jose Lobaton homered to start the inning, making it a 4-2 Angels' lead. Jayson Werth came up against LA closer Ernesto Frieri with two runners on after a single by Denard Span and a walk by Anthony Rendon and hit a 3-0 pitch by third base to bring in the game-tying runs before scoring himself on a walk-off single to left by Adam LaRoche.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams broke down the inning this afternoon when a reporter asked about the team's ability to keep fighting when down.
"You're down three in the ninth and it never looks real good," Williams said. "You're not going, 'Oh boy, we're right where we want to be.' So, it's a question of our offensive guys doing what they do. You look at it last night, [Lobaton] hits a homer, gives us a little bit of a spark. Denard gets on doing what Denard does. Anthony draws a walk, which he's capable of doing at any point during the game, he's got a good idea of the strike zone. Jayson is a veteran, who, even though 3-0, he feels like [Frieri] is going to give him something to hit and he did what he was supposed to do with it. And then Adam, of course, not getting too big and just hitting a ball to left-center and taking what they give him."
"That's how you come back," Williams continued. "Very seldom are you going to hit two homers in an inning to win a game. That's not going to happen very often, but bunching things and creating opportunities gives you that opportunity to come back. We don't want to be in that spot, ever. We want to have the lead going into the ninth, of course, but sometimes you have to do stuff like that. Sometimes it has to happen. It's happened to us pretty regularly this year where we've come back from deficits to tie the game and some we've won and some we've lost, but the fact that they're coming back is a good sign. It's a really good sign, but it's not where we want to be."
Tonight in the series opener with San Diego, the Nationals fell behind 3-1 when Padres' catcher Yasmani Grandal doubled in two runs in the sixth. The latest attempt at a comeback started with Danny Espinosa hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning...
An Adam LaRoche home run to right in the seventh evened things up at 7-7...
How would this one end?
[See no.1 or no.5 on the list]...
3. Zimmermann vs San Diego: Jordan Zimmermann went seven innings in each of his last two outings following the shortest start of his career against the Miami Marlins on April 9th in the nation's capital. Last time out, the 27-year-old Nationals' right-hander gave up seven hits and four runs (three earned) in a 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Zimmermann told reporters, including The Washington Post's James Wagner, that he was happy with his stuff, if not the outcome of the game. "'My curveball was good,'" Zimmermann said. "'I felt like I could flip it in there anytime for a strike. The fastball command was there all day. I thought I pitched pretty well. You’d like to get a win on days like this. It’s baseball.'"
Tonight in the nation's capital, the Nationals' 07 2nd Round pick took on the San Diego Padres and 34-year-old lefty Eric Stults, who was the starter Zimmermann lined up against when he faced the AL West franchise in Petco Park last May. Zimmermann went eight innings in that game, giving up seven hits and two runs, one earned in what ended up a 2-1 loss.
Stults, in his only career start against Washington before tonight, held the Nationals to four hits and one run in eight innings that day.
Zimmermann made his fourth career start against San Diego in that outing and faced them once more after that last season. In his five career starts against the Padres, he was (1-2) before tonight, with a 1.95 ERA, three walks (0.84 BB/9) and 30 Ks (8.35 K/9) in 32 1/3 IP, over which he held San Diego's hitters to a combined .212/.244/.322 line...
1st: Padres' leadoff man Everth Cabrera singled to left-center on a 1-2 curve for the first hit of the game, but he was quickly doubled up on a grounder to short from Chris Denorfia that started a 6-4-3 DP. Seth Smith grounded back to the mound on the first pitch he saw and Jordan Zimmermann was through the first with a six-pitch frame.
2nd: Yasmani Grandal went down chasing a 94 mph 1-2 fastball up in the zone. Chase Headley hit a 94 mph 1-1 fastball to center for out no.2. Yonder Alonso ripped into a first-pitch fastball, but lined out to right to end an eight-pitch second which left Zimmermann at 14 overall after two.
3rd: Jedd Gyorko K'd swinging through a high 94 mph fastball. Will Venable sent a 95 mph 2-0 fastball out to Danny Espinosa for out no.2. Eric Stults managed to work the count full before striking out swinging through a 93 mph heater. 14-pitch 3rd, 28 overall after three.
4th: Everth Cabrera grounded out to second on an 86 mph 1-1 change. Ian Desmond got his glove on a sharp grounder to short off Chris Denorfia's bat that got through the infield for a single that broke up Jordan Zimmermann's streak of retired batters at nine. Seth Smith took a 2-2 fastball to right in the next at bat and in spite of a strong relay from Jayson Werth to Danny Espinosa and on to Jose Lobaton at home, Denorfia scored just ahead of the tag. 1-1 game. Smith took third on the throw home, but got caught too far down the line on a grounder to first by Yasmani Grandal in the next at and was tagged out in a 3-5-2-5 rundown. A grounder to second by Alexi Amarista ended the Padres' fourth after 17 pitches, with the right-hander up to 45 overall.
5th: Yonder Alonso pushed Bryce Harper back a few steps with a flyout to left on a 2-2 changeup. Jedd Gyorko took a 94 mph heater for a called strike three. Will Venable fell behind 0-2 quickly, worked the count full, but lined out to left field to end an 18-pitch inning. 63 overall for Jordan Zimmermann after five.
6th: Jordan Zimmermann gave up a leadoff double to left field on a 93 mph 2-2 fastball to the opposing pitcher, Eric Stults. Everth Cabrera almost bunted into a double play when he popped an attempt up to Anthony Rendon at third. Chris Denorfia moved the pitcher over to third with a groundout to second and Seth Smith took a two-out walk. Both runners then scored when Yasmani Grandal lined a full-count curve to right-center field to make it 3-1 Padres. Alexi Amarista K'd swinging to end the frame but not until after the damage was done. 28-pitch inning, 91 overall for Zimmermann after the sixth.
• Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 91 P, 60 S, 7/1 GO/FO.
2. Williams on Harper Bunting: Bryce Harper popped out to the catcher trying to bunt with a runner on first base in a 2-2 count on Wednesday night in the finale of the Nationals' three-game set with the Angels, but after the game, Nats' skipper Matt Williams told reporters he was okay with what he saw as the 21-year-old slugger just trying to get on base.
"Bryce is trying to get on base," Williams said. "He fouled the ball off, but they gave him that opportunity and I'm not opposed to him laying a bunt down with two strikes. We've seen guys do it before and if he gets that bunt down it's a base hit. So, I'm not concerned about that. He's trying. He's trying to do things to help us win.
"He could easily hit a homer too, but he's trying, he's thinking about ways to get on base to help us win."
Harper squared to bunt in a fourth inning at bat against Padres' lefty Eric Stults tonight in Nationals Park, but though he offered, he didn't make contact with the 64 mph curve the San Diego starter threw him. Two pitches later, Harper took an 0-2 changeup to left field for an opposite field single...
1. The Wrap-up: Danny Espinosa was 2 for 3 on the night after he took a 3-1 slider from Padres' lefty Eric Stults out to left field in Nationals Park to make it a 3-2 lead for San Diego in the sixth.
The Nationals stranded two runners in a one-run game when Anthony Rendon grounded out to end the bottom of the sixth. Nats' lefty Jerry Blevins let a runner on, but completed a scoreless top of the seventh on 19 pitches.
Adam LaRoche got hold of a 1-2 fastball from Padres' right-hander Nick Vincent in the Nationals' half of the seventh inning and hit a solo home run to the mounds in the right field bullpen. 3-3 game on LaRoche's 4th of 2014.
Tyler Clippard put two runners on in the top of the eighth when Chris Denorfia singled and Seth Smith walked. Yasmani Grandal flew out to deep center field for out no.2 and another fly to Denard Span off of Alexi Amarista's bat ended the inning.
Danny Espinosa was 3 for 4 tonight after he lined a single to right in the bottom of the eighth from the left side of the plate. Padres' right-hander Joaquin Benoit uncorked a wild pitch in the next at bat, allowing Espinosa to take second. Three outs later, Espinosa was stranded after swinging Ks from Jose Lobaton and pinch hitter Nate McLouth and a pop to right by Denard Span. 0 for 10 w/ RISP.
Rafael Soriano walked the first batter he faced in the top of the ninth, putting Yonder Alonso on in a tie game. Alonso stole second with Jedd Gyorko up, but Nats' skipper Matt Williams asked for a review and the replay showed his leg sliding over second base while Danny Espinosa tagged him. Yonder Alonso, "You're out." Two fly ball outs later it was still tied at 3-3.
Jayson Werth singled off Padres' right-hander Tim Stauffer with one down in the Nationals' ninth... one out later, Ian Desmond walked. Bryce Harper stepped in with two on and two out and was walked intentionally when Stauffer fell behind 3-0. Danny Espinosa popped out to short in the next at bat, however, and it went to extras.
Jose Lobaton hit an opposite field double to left off Stauffer to start the frame... but was stranded three outs later after Zach Walters K'd looking and Span and Rendon K'd swinging.
Craig Stammen completed his second scoreless frame in the top of the eleventh and came back out for the twelfth. Jedd Gyorko singled with one down, stole second with two outs and scored on a singled to center by Xavier Nady.
4-3 Padres final.
Nationals now 12-11