The Washington Nationals were informed that the umpires were going to be late to the game, so they didn't warm Jordan Zimmermann up until the crew arrived at Nationals Park. The 26-year-old right-hander went out to the mound fifteen minutes later than planned and tossed seven innings against the Chicago White Sox in which he gave up seven hits and two earned runs. Zimmermann was at 90 pitches when he was lifted after a 16-pitch seventh in which he'd given up a single, but stranded the runner one at bat later when he popped Tyler Flowers up for the final out of the frame. "[Zimmermann is] usually -- very rarely last year did I take him over a 100," Davey Johnson told reporters in the post game press conference following the Nationals' 5-2 win, "He's usually very pitch efficient, and I'll go further with him, but he had a long delay going into the seventh and I'm just not going to push him at that point."
The reason for the long delay in the seventh had nothing to do with the umps. The Nationals knocked the White Sox' pitchers around, with Ian Desmond tripling, Danny Espinosa doubling, Kurt Suzuki walking and Denard Span driving in a run with a single in an inning which saw Chicago skipper Robin Ventura make two pitching changes. Starter Gavin Floyd was replaced by Donnie Veal after the triple, double and walk and the left-handed Veal gave up Span's RBI hit. After that it was Nate Jones' turn, and he got a double play out of Jayson Werth to end the long frame.
Zimmermann finished out the seventh, then Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano came on for the eighth and ninth, respectively, holding and closing out the Nationals' fifth win in five games in the nation's capital early this season. "I've got the people I want coming in," Davey Johnson said, explaining the decision to lift Zimmermann after seven, "And I mean, [Zimmermann's] made a lot of strides since . I mean, he's gone further, it seems like every year. Seven innings this time of year, with his low pitch count -- what was it, 88?"
"It was 90," reporters informed Johnson. 90 pitches, 60 of them strikes, 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 10/1 GO/FO. Zimmermann gave up a run in the first, but Bryce Harper's solo blast to start the fourth and Danny Espinosa's RBI single later that inning put Washington ahead 2-1. Harper hit the second of three straight singles in the fifth, following one by Werth and scoring on one by Ryan Zimmerman to make it a 3-1 game. White Sox' outfielder Alejandro De Aza doubled and two groundouts later scored to make it 3-2 in the sixth, before the long, two-run home-half of the inning which saw the Nats pull ahead of the Sox by three.
Harper's home run, the 20-year-old, 2010 no.1 overall pick's fourth this season, traveled 420 ft to right, landing in the last few rows of the second deck:
Bryce Harper HR: calculated at 420 feet. Check out Harper's HR distances here hittrackeronline.com/detail.php?id=…— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 11, 2013
• Watch Harper's 4th HR of 2013:
Nats' skipper Davey Johnson was clearly impressed, though he declined to offer a suggestion on just how far it had traveled. "That was pretty good," Johnson said. Asked if it was one of the longest the Nats' left fielder's hit, Johnson joked, "I don't know, I'm not measuring them. But that was fun to watch, that one. [Floyd] threw a cutter that didn't cut that much and [Harper] got all of it."
"He's up there," Johnson continued in praise of Harper's approach, "He's not going to get cheated." Neither was Ian Desmond, who was 3 for 4 with two doubles and a triple tonight. Espinosa and Harper were both 2 for 4, Span, Werth, Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche were all 1 for 4. Kurt Suzuki was 0 for 1 with three walks. The Nats' skipper was particularly impressed with his shortstop. "I think [Desmond] is calming down," Johnson said, "I mean, tonight he was outstanding, he hit the ball hard, three times on the button. But that's Desmond."
"The whole lineup is loaded with good hitters," the Nationals' 70-year-old manager said. So far in the series with Chicago, they have 24 hits, 13 runs, four doubles, a triple and five home runs in back-to-back wins and now they have a chance to win a third straight game against the White Sox in the series finale.