Series Finale in D.C. Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: The series finale and rubber match in the nation's capital between the Washington Nationals and New York Mets was tied up at 1-1 after two. The Mets' 24-year-old catcher, Juan Centeno, came through with a two-out RBI single off Jordan Zimmermann in the top of the second inning, but 28-year-old Nats' shortstop Ian Desmond hit a massive blast to left field in the home-half of the frame, taking a 94 mph fastball from Zack Wheeler for ride for his seventh home run of the season to tie things up.
"He's not quite there yet, Wilson, but it's close," Williams said. "He's starting to line some balls the other way. He's close."
Getting hanging curves to hit helps. After Anthony Rendon singled and Jayson Werth reached on an error by Ruben Tejada at short in the bottom of the third, Ramos lined a two-run double to left field to bring both runners in and make it 3-1 Nationals after three.
The Nationals loaded the bases in the fifth with Jordan Zimmermann singling, Denard Span doubling and Anthony Rendon taking a walk. After Jayson Werth popped up to short center, Wilson Ramos came through with a line drive single to left field that brought two more runs in to make it 5-1 Nationals.
The Mets added two runs in the sixth on RBI singles by Juan Lagares and Juan Centeno, but the Mets' catcher was thrown out at second trying to take an extra base to end the rally there. 5-3 Nationals.
The Nationals added a run in the bottom of the eighth when Wilson Ramos walked, took second on a passed ball, and third on an Ian Desmond single before scoring on a groundout by Kevin Frandsen. 6-3.
Nationals win, 6-3 final.
4. Zimmermann vs NY: Jordan Zimmermann needed 92 pitches just to get through 5 2/3 IP against the Arizona Diamondbacks last time out. He gave up 10 hits, five of them doubles, a home run and five earned runs overall before he was lifted.
"He was just flying open a little bit tonight and the ball flattens out on him and he gets up in the strike zone," Matt Williams told reporters after the Nationals rallied in the ninth inning for a 6-5 win in Chase Field.
"Just up in the zone," Williams said. "He got a little rotational tonight instead of going downhill plane to those guys."
Zimmermann agreed with his manager's assessement, telling the Washington Post's James Wagner that he struggled with his command.
"'My fastball was up,'" Zimmermann said. "'And I was trying to go down and away or down and in and it was coming back over the middle. I need my misses to be off the plate not over the the plate.'"
The rough outing in Arizona left the Nationals' 27-year-old starter with a 3.59 ERA, a 3.06 FIP, eight walks (1.69 BB/9) and 42 Ks (8.86 K/9) through 42 2/3 IP this season.
This afternoon in the nation's capital, Zimmermann took on the New York Mets.
The Nationals' '07 2nd Round pick entered the start with a (4-5) record and a 3.22 ERA in 16 career outings against the Nats' NL East rivals, over which he walked 21 and K'd 76, while holding NY's hitters to a combined .249/.293/.394 line. Zimmermann missed his first start of the year (flu-like symptoms), which was scheduled to take place in the finale of the season-opening series in Citi Field, so he was facing the Mets for the first time this season today in Nationals Park.
1st: Tyler Moore dove for a popped bunt attempt off Eric Young, Jr.'s bat and made a catch in foul territory off first to start this afternoon's game. Daniel Murphy battled Jordan Zimmermann for seven pitches before lining a one-out single to right field. Zimmermann "missed" with a 2-2 fastball to David Wright and "missed" with a front door slider to walk the Mets' slugging third baseman and put two on for Curtis Granderson, who grounded to first to start an inning-ending double play. Moore got the force at second and Ian Desmond faked to first then threw to third to catch Murphy too far off the base. 3-6-5 double play. 16-pitch frame.
2nd: Lucas Duda doubled off the top of the out-of-town scoreboard in right field in Nationals Park on a 95 mph 1-2 fastball from Zimmermann. Juan Lagares' groundout to second moved Duda over to third, but after a passed ball on which the Mets' slugger stayed put, Ruben Tejada grounded out to first for out no.2. Backup backstop Juan Centeno came through with a two-out hit, however, and it was 1-0 Mets early. Zack Wheeler's groundout to first ended a 15-pitch frame. 31 total after two for Zimmermann.
3rd: Eric Young, Jr. popped out to Tyler Moore to start the third. Daniel Murphy grounded out to first. David Wright took a 94 mph 0-2 fastball back up the middle though, and Curtis Granderson connected for the second two-out single of the inning on a 1-2 change. Lucas Duda stepped in with two on and two out and grounded out to second to end a 16-pitch frame. 47 overall after three.
4th: Given a 3-1 lead to work with, Jordan Zimmermann retired the side in order in the top of the fourth, getting a line drive to center from Juan Lagares, a fly to deep left from Ruben Tejada and a groundout to short by Juan Centeno in a quick, 14-pitch, 1-2-3 frame. 61 pitches overall after four.
5th: Zack Wheeler K'd swinging through an 0-2 fastball. Eric Young, Jr. grounded weakly to second. Daniel Murphy flew out to right to end a 13-pitch inning that left Zimmermann at 74 pitches total.
6th: David Wright singled to right field on a 1-1 slider outside for a leadoff hit in the sixth. Zimmermann "missed" with a 2-2 curve to Curtis Granderson and actually missed with a fastball up in the zone to put two on with a walk. Lucas Duda popped out to center unproductively for out no.1. Juan Lagares took a 1-1 slider to center, just over a leaping Kevin Frandsen for an RBI single that made it 5-2 Nats. Ruben Tejada popped out for out no.2, but Juan Centeno came through with a two-out single to center to make it a two-run game, 5-3. Centeno got thrown out at second on the play, however, while he made an ill-advised attempt to take an extra base. 18-pitch inning. Zimmermann up 92 overall over after six.
• Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 92 P, 59 S, 8/2 GO/FO.
3. Wheeler Dealer: The Nationals scored three runs on seven hits in six innings against 23-year-old New York Mets' right-hander Zack Wheeler in the finale of both teams' three-game, season-opening series in Citi Field last month.
In his rookie campaign in 2013, the San Francisco Giants' '09 1st Round pick, acquired by the Mets in the July 2011 trade that sent Carlos Beltran the other way, put up a 3.42 ERA and a 4.17 FIP with 46 walks (4.14 BB/9) and 84 Ks (7.56 K/9) in 17 starts and 100 IP.
Through eight starts this season, Wheeler was (1-3) with a 4.95 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 24 walks (4.95 BB/9) and 41 Ks (8.45 K/9) in 43 2/3 IP before taking the mound today in Nationals Park.
In his season-plus in the majors, the 6'4'' Mets' starter was (1-3) with a 4.07 ERA over four starts and 24 1/3 IP against the Nationals before today, walking six (2.22 BB/9) and striking out 20 (7.40 K/9) while holding Washington's hitters to a combined .274/.320/.453 line.
Wheeler was coming off a rough outing against the New York Yankees in which he gave up seven hits, six walks and five earned runs in 4 1/3 IP.
Today in D.C., Wheeler started with a scoreless frame, but got tagged on a 95 mph 1-1 fastball to Ian Desmond in the second that ended up clearing the left field bullpen for a solo home run that tied things up at 1-1.
Wheeler gave up back-to-back, two-out singles by Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth (ruled an E, actually) in the bottom of the third inning this afternoon, then hung a curve up for Wilson Ramos, who drove both runners in with a line drive double to left that made it 3-1 Nationals.
Jordan Zimmermann singled off Wheeler to start the bottom of the fifth and took third on a double to right by Denard Span. Anthony Rendon's walk loaded the bases for Jayson Werth. Werth popped out to short center, but Wilson Ramos came up with another two-run hit, lining to left to score two more. 5-1 Nationals.
"He's not quite there yet, Wilson, but it's close. He's starting to line some balls the other way. He's close." - MW on Wilson Ramos on Sat.— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) May 18, 2014
• Wheeler's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 89 P, 63 S, 7/1 GO/FO.
2. 9 of 10: The Washington Nationals' loss on Saturday snapped a nine-game winning streak against the Mets, but entering today's series finale, the Nats were still 4-1 against New York early this season and, obviously, 9-1 in their last ten against their NL East rivals since last season in their head-to-head battles. Over the last season-plus the Nationals were 16-8 against the rebuilding Mets, a team they need to beat if they're going to compete for the division. Entering play today, however, they were just 2.0 games ahead of the Mets in the NL East... but after today's win, they had a chance, if the Braves lost, to join Atlanta atop the division.
1. The Wrap-Up: Drew Storen took over for Jordan Zimmermann in the seventh and threw a quick, 11-pitch, 1-2-3 frame. Tyler Clippard got a check-swing strike three with a high fastball to David Wright on the way to a scoreless, 20-pitch top of the eighth inning.
Wilson Ramos scored a run in the bottom of the eighth to make it a 6-3 game.
Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano!! Rafael Soriano took the mound in the ninth looking for save no.10 in 11 opportunities. Soriano's 1-2-3 frame ended it. Nationals win, 6-3.
Work's done! Untuck that jersey, son!!
Nationals now 23-20