Nationals 7-0 over Phillies: Ryan Zimmerman returns, Jordan Zimmermann returns to form

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Zimmerman returned from the DL and Jordan Zimmermann returned to form as the Washington Nationals knocked Philadelphia Phillies' right-hander David Buchanan around and took the series opener 7-0 in Nationals Park.

Zimmerman Day in D.C. Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: The first series of the season between the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies in the nation's capital, after the Phillies took two of three in Citizens Bank Park in April, was scoreless through two and a half innings before the Nats loaded the bases with one out in the home-half of the frame. Jayson Werth went up 3-0 on Philly right-hander David Buchanan and lined the 92 mph 3-0 fastball he got out to left and into the bullpen on a hop for a two-run, ground-rule double that made it 2-0 Nats. Adam LaRoche grounded out to second to bring in run no.3 and make it 3-0 after three innings.

Ryan Zimmerman was 1 for 2 with a double when he stepped in against Buchanan with two on and two out in the Nats' fifth. Zimmerman fell behind 0-2, but went the other way with an 0-2 slider outside and doubled to right to drive in run no.4 for the Nationals, who led 4-0 after five in the nation's capital. 2 for 3, two doubles for Zimmerman.

Ian Desmond got hold of a 1-1 change from Buchanan in the sixth and hit it onto the left field concourse on a bounce for HR no.11 of 2014 and a 5-0 lead.

Denard Span was 3 for 4 tonight after a two-out single to center later in the sixth and he scored the easy way when Anthony Rendon hit a 90 mph 0-1 fastball out to right field for an opposite field blast the cleared the out-of-town scoreboard and made it 7-0 Nationals after six.

That's how it ended. 7-0 Nationals in the series opener in D.C.

4. Zimmermann-ish: Jordan Zimmermann threw back-to-back scoreless outings against the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers on April 30th and May 5th, though the start against LA only lasted four innings.

Since then, however, Washington's 28-year-old, '07 2nd Round pick has struggled.

Over his last four starts, the Auburndale, Wisconsin-born right-hander was (1-1) with a 5.96 ERA, five walks (1.99 BB/9) and 12 Ks (4.76 K/9) in 22 2/3 IP, over which opposing hitters put up a .344/.382/.490 line.

Zimmermann gave up eight hits and four runs in five innings last time out against the Miami Marlins in the nation's capital.

After Nats' skipper Matt Williams made the decision to lift Zimmermann after just 80 pitches with the Nationals behind 4-0, he was asked to diagnose what was wrong with the 2013 19-game winner over the last few weeks.

"The ball is up in the strike zone a little bit," Williams told reporters. "That's what I can see."

"He's aggressive. He's throwing strikes. He's not walking a bunch of people. They put together some nice at bats. If anything it's just a little bit elevated and it varies from inning to inning sometimes, but I'm not worried about him. His velocity is good, his bullpens have been great. So I don't see any trend, other than tonight he left a couple balls up and they took advantage of it."

As the Nationals mentioned in their pregame notes before tonight's start, Zimmermann was also "burdened," as they put it, by some bad luck. His Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) after 11 starts sat at .369, 94 points higher than his 2013 BABIP (.275).

That was up significantly over his .295 career BABIP as well, and good for the highest BABIP amongst major league starters league-wide.

Tonight in Nationals Park, where Zimmermann was (1-1) with a 4.15 ERA so far this season, he was taking on the Philadelphia Phillies, against whom he was (4-5) in his career, with a 3.94 ERA, 16 walks (2.42 BB/9) and 38 Ks (5.76 K/9) in 10 starts and 59 1/3 IP, over which Phillies' hitter put up a combined .293/.346/.444 line.

After losing four of his first five career outings against Philadelphia, however, Zimmermann was (3-1) in his last four starts against the Nats' NL East rivals, with a 2.63 ERA in his last 27 1/3 IP against the Phillies.

The first inning of Zimmermann's 12th start of the season began with a weak popout to second...

1st: Jimmy Rollins popped the first pitch he saw out to second base where Danny Espinosa caught the first out of the game. Chase Utley worked the count full and sent a low liner to first that Adam LaRoche picked up on one hop. Marlon Byrd stepped in with two out and went down swinging at an 0-2 fastball to end an 11-pitch frame by Zimmermann.

2nd: Phillies' first baseman Ryan Howard rolled over a 95 mph 3-2 fastball and sent a two-hopper to his counterpart at first for out no.1 in the top of the second. Carlos Ruiz went to a full count as well before flying out to Jayson Werth in right. Domonic Brown stepped up with two down and sent a single back up the middle that Ian Desmond dove for but missed. Reid Brignac sent a one-hop liner to second that Danny Espinosa snagged, throwing to first to end an 18-pitch frame that left Zimmermann at 29 total after two.

3rd: Ben Revere grounded out to second to start the Phillies' third. Jordan Zimmermann arrived at first a step late to get David Buchanan on a grounder to first baseman Adam LaRoche. Matt Williams challenged the call, and it was reversed, taking away the first hit of Buchanan's career. Two outs. Jimmy Rollins flew to center to end a quick, eight-pitch, 1-2-3 third. 37 pitches total for Zimmermann after three scoreless. 0-0 in D.C.

4th: Chase Utley lined out to Ryan Zimmerman in left. Marlon Byrd popped out to Jayson Werth in short right. Ryan Howard went down swinging and Zimmermann was through four scoreless on 46 pitches after a nine-pitch frame with 12 of 13 batters retired to start the game.

5th: Carlos Ruiz fell behind 0-2 quickly and went down swinging at a 78 mph 1-2 curve. Domonic Brown grounded out to Ian Desmond, who was waiting behind second for the ball that came to him. Reid Brignac doubled to the right-center gap for the Phillies' second hit, but he was stranded there when Ben Revere grounded out to third to end a 15-pitch fifth that left Zimmermann at 61 total after five scoreless.

6th: David Buchanan lined out to center on a 93 mph 0-1 fastball. Zimmermann missed inside with a 95 mph 3-2 fastball to Jimmy Rollins, walking the Phillies' shortstop with one down. Chase Utley started up 3-0 but lined out to right on a 94 mph 3-1 fastball for out no.2. Marlon Byrd was first-pitch swinging and he flew out to Ryan Zimmerman in left. 14-pitch frame, 75 total after six scoreless.

7th: Given a 7-0 lead to work with, Jordan Zimmermann went right after Ryan Howard, striking the Phillies' slugger out with a cruel 0-2 slider inside. K no.4. Carlos Ruiz lined out to right-center on a 1-2 heater. Domonic Brown grounded to second on a 90 mph 2-2 fastball to end another 14-pitch inning for Zimmermann, who was up to 89 pitches total after seven scoreless in which he allowed just two hits.

8th: Reid Brignac lined out to left. Ben Revere grounded to short. John Mayberry singled to center with two down, and Jimmy Rollins singled to left to put two on. Chase Utley fell behind 0-2 to Zimmermann, but singled through the right side to load the bases. Marlon Byrd grounded into a force to end the inning however, with Zimmermann up to 102 pitches after a 13-pitch frame.

Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 8.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 102 P, 71 S, 10/4 GO/FO.

3. Buchanan, David Buchanan: You're forgiven if you weren't familiar with Phillies' starter David Buchanan before he took the mound tonight in Nationals Park in the first game of the three-game set in the nation's capital.

The 25-year-old, 2010 Phillies' 7th Round pick made his major league debut on May 24th after five seasons and 88 starts in Philadelphia's system, over which he was (35-27) with a 3.98 ERA, 159 walks (2.85 BB/9) and 319 Ks (5.72 K/9) in 502 IP.

The Atlanta, GA-born, 6'3'' righty earned the win in his first MLB outing, giving up five hits and two runs in five innings in a 5-3 win over the LA Dodgers. The second time out, he allowed seven hits and four runs, three earned in 6 2/3 IP in a 4-1 loss to the Mets.

Buchanan took the mound in the nation's capital for the first time tonight and retired the side in order in an eight-pitch bottom of the first.

Ryan Zimmerman doubled with one down in the second, but was stranded at the end of a 13-pitch frame by Buchanan that left the Philly starter at 21 pitches total after two.

Danny Espinosa singled to start the third, reaching on a grounder deep in the hole at short, but after he was bunted over by Jordan Zimmermann, he got a bad read on a Denard Span line drive to right and was forced to stop at third instead of attempting to score. Anthony Rendon stepped up with runners on the corners and battled for eight pitches before walking to load the bases for Jayson Werth, who went up 3-0 and hit a ground-rule double into the left field bullpen. 2-0 Nats. An RBI groundout by Adam LaRoche made it 3-0 and pushed Buchanan up to 46 pitches after three innings in D.C.

Buchanan was up to 51 pitches when Ryan Zimmerman flew to right to end the third.

With the score still 3-0 Nats after four and a half, Denard Span hustled down the line on a bunt toward third that Buchanan fielded, but he fired a throw by the bag to give the Nats' leadoff man an extra base.

Two outs and an intentional walk to Adam LaRoche later, Ryan Zimmerman stepped in with two on and two out and lined an 0-2 slider to right for an RBI double that made it 4-0 Nationals. 90 pitches for Buchanan in five innings.

Buchanan gave up a solo home run on a 1-1 change to Ian Desmond in the sixth and a two-run blast by Anthony Rendon later in the inning that made it 7-0 Nationals after six in D.C.

• Buchanan's Line: 6.0 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 2 HR, 112 P, 74 S, 8/3 GO/FO.

• That's totally my iPhone in front of Zuckerman on the right:

2. Zimmerman in Left: You know what "they" say, whoever "they" are... if you're in a new position the ball is bound to find you. Ryan Zimmerman made his first major league start in left field tonight after returning from a DL stint for a fractured right thumb which he broke diving back into second base on a pickoff play in an April 12th game against the Atlanta Braves in Turner Field. Zimmerman got some work in as the Potomac Nationals' left fielder during his rehab stint, but he was playing the outfield for the first time in 1,147 career games in the series opener with the Phillies tonight...

Nothing was hit Zimmerman's way in the first two innings of work in the outfield.

The Face of the Nats franchise received a round of applause before he stepped up to the plate for the first time since returning from the DL with one down in the home-half of the second and promptly lined a double to left field that landed right inside the line and bounced into the corner.

#ZIMISBACK!! #MOREAPPLAUSE

The first ball hit Zimmerman's way came in the fourth when Chase Utley hit an opposite field liner out there that Zim charged and caught.

At bat no.3 for the Nationals' left fielder came with two on and two out in the fifth. He fell behind 2-0 then went the other way for an opposite field RBI double that made it 4-0 Nationals.

1. The Wrap-Up: Ethan Martin threw a scoreless seventh in relief of Buchanan.

Nate McLouth took over for Ryan Zimmerman, who ended his first outing off the DL 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI.

Jordan Zimmermann left the game after giving up just five hits in eight scoreless innings.

After Martin completed his second scoreless, Tyler Clippard gave up a single by Ryan Howard and a walk to Carlos Ruiz to put the first two runners of the inning on. Clippard dropped a 2-2 change on pinch hitter Cesar Hernandez for a swinging K and out no.1. Reid Brignac grounded to first for out no.2. Ben Revere's groundout to short ended it.

Nationals 7-0 over the Phillies.

Nationals now 28-28

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