A three-run fourth in which Boston Red Sox' sluggers David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez and outfielders Darnell McDonald and Ryan Sweeney had hits off Washington Nationals' right-hander Jordan Zimmermann provided all the offense the AL East's storied franchise needed to win the final Grapefruit League game for each team 4-2. Zimmermann, then 25, took the loss that day, giving up six hits, a walk and three runs, two earned in 5.0 IP in which he struck out two batters. A day after playing in front of 10,002 fans in Ft. Myers, Florida's Jet Blue Park, the Nats and Sox played an exhibition game in Washington, D.C.
30,568 fans turned out in the nation's capital to watch Edwin Jackson face off against Sox' right-hander Clay Buchholz. E-Jax allowed five hits and six runs in 4.2 IP but the Nationals rallied to take the lead in the seventh with Wilson Ramos singling in a run, Danny Espinosa walking with the bases loaded and Steve Lombardozzi hitting a sac fly, all off left-handed reliever Justin Thomas. Ryan Mattheus gave up the lead in the eighth, however, and Henry Rodriguez gave up the eventual winning run in the top of the ninth. The Nationals' 2012 season started two days later in Chicago with a 2-1 win over the Cubs.
It was the first win of 98 regular season wins the NL East Champions would collect.
This year it's another AL East team visiting Nationals Park for the final exhibition game before the regular season begins Monday afternoon. A now-26-year-old Jordan Zimmermann's on the mound against the New York Yankees and 40-year-old veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte in today's game. The last time the 17-year-veteran pitched against the Nats, Pettitte went 7.0 innings, giving up five hits, three walks and two runs, while striking out six. Bryce Harper was responsible for five of those six Ks. The rookie outfielder went 0 for 7 that day, chasing cutters down and away again and again.
"I thought [Bryce Harper] was probably really amped up," Davey Johnson told reporters afterwards, "and he came in there against [Andy] Pettitte, I've never seen him chase balls out of the zone. I mean he was chasing balls. He got in that mode and tried to make something happen and that's part of the youth."
"'He seemed extremely aggressive,'" Pettitte told reporters, including the Washington Times' Amanda Comak, after the game, "'When you see him swinging the way he was, for me, it was like: Why go anywhere else right now? I just stayed with those cutters.'"
Harper declined to comment after that game.
The Nationals lost all three games to the Yankees that weekend. Asked for any positives he could take out of the series, the Nats' skipper said it proved to him what he already knew, that his team could play with anyone. I think it was a great experience for the ballclub," the then-69-year-old Johnson said, "A full house, playing the Yankees, I mean that's a good way to get a quick education, and I think we did alright."
"I didn't see a whole lot of difference," between the Yankees and Nationals Johnson continued, "I think we match up good with anybody. And I said all along, we just have to do the things we're capable of doing, nothing more, nothing less."
The 2013 Nationals play their final exhibition game today. Jordan Zimmermann vs Andy Pettitte. Nationals Park. 2:05 pm EST.
• Nationals' Lineup:
Today's #Nationals lineup vs. NYY: Span 8, Werth 9, Harper , Zimmerman 5, LaRoche 3, Desmond 6, Espinosa 4, Ramos 2, Lombo DH. Zimmermann P.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) March 29, 2013
• Yankees' Lineup:
Here's the pitching matchup:
#27 / Pitcher / Washington Nationals
May 23, 1986
2012 Stats - (12-8), 32 G, 32 GS, 195.2 IP, 2.94 ERA, ERA+ = 134, 3.51 FIP, 43 BB (1.98 BB/9), 153 Ks (7.04 K/9), 1.17 WHIP.
#46 / Pitcher / New York Yankees
Jun 15, 1972
2012 Stats - (5-4), 12 G, 12 GS, 75.1 IP, 2.87 ERA, ERA+ = 146, 3.48 FIP, 21 BB (2.51 BB/9), 69 Ks (8.24 K/9), 1.14 WHIP.
• Zimmermann vs the Yankees:
• Pettitte vs the Nationals:
• Mr. Wilbon? Way To Go Nats!!!
• Mr. Kornheiser? "Don't Hate on the Nats, Baby!"
• Who's Watching The Nationals?