You have to go back to July 1, 2012 to find the Washington Nationals' last win in Turner Field, where they've dropped five in a row. And you have to go back to August 21, 2012 to find the last game period that the Nationals were able to win against their NL East rivals from Atlanta. Since then the Braves have won nine straight over the Nats including the first five games between the teams so far in 2013. The good news? They beat Paul Maholm back then on 8/21/12. Some more potentially good news? Maholm has given up 14 hits, six walks and 11 runs, all earned, in his last 19.2 IP in losses to the Pirates and Tigers. The Nationals also have Jordan Zimmermann on the mound tonight, who's won four of his first five starts this season including his last outing, a 91-pitch, one hit, complete game shutout of the Cincinnati Reds.
Zimmermann somehow faced the Braves only once in 2012, in a 5.0 inning outing in D.C. in which he allowed eight hits and four runs in a 5-4 Nats' win in which he received no decision. Though the Braves have beaten the Nationals when he's started, they haven't beaten Zimmermann since his first start of the year in 2011. In his career, the 26-year-old, '07 2nd Round pick is (2-1) against Atlanta with a 3.81 ERA, 4 HRs (1.27 HR/9), 9 BBs (2.86 BB/9), 23 Ks (7.31 K/9) and a 1.24 WHIP in five starts and 28.1 IP vs the Braves. Can Zimmermann stop the losing streak against the Upton brothers, Evan Gattis and Los Bravos?
• He'll have this lineup behind him when he tries to tonight at 7:10 pm EST from Turner Field:
Davey's Lineup, Wed at ATL/G28: Span cf, Lombardozzi 2b, Harper rf, Desmond ss, LaRoche 1b, Moore lf, Rendon 3b, Suzuki c, Zimmermann rhp— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) May 1, 2013
Davey Johnson talked about switching things up a bit last night and decided to sit Danny Espinosa down and go with Steve Lombardozzi at second. In case you missed it in this morning's link post, here's what D.C. GM Mike Rizzo had to say about the decision on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Mike Rizzo Show with Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier:
Rizzo: "[Espinosa] is in a little bit of a slump right now and kind of in-between pitches. You know, looking for a fastball, getting a curve. Sitting on a curve and taking a fastball. So it's a good move by Davey just to mix things up and give guys a rest in Danny's case and allow some consistent at bats for [Lombardozzi]."
The Nationals provided the following note on one of the other changes in the lineup:
Ian Desmond will start/bat cleanup for the first time in his MLB career today (Game #487). Ian's OPS vs LHP since beginning of '12 is .876.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) May 1, 2013
The Nationals' line as a team against left-handers this season? .212./.279/.377. Can they get to Maholm? We'll find out in an hour...