There was a red brick wall behind home plate tonight instead of the gray stone one they have in D.C.'s Nationals Park. The setting for the four-game, home-and-home Interleague series between the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals changed after the first two games. The two teams split Monday and Tuesday's games in the nation's capital then traveled north to Baltimore for two more in Camden Yards between the "regional rivals."
Different park, the same red-hot Ryan Zimmerman, however, who hit three home runs in his first three at bats tonight in the Orioles' home in what ended up a 9-6 Orioles' win...
• Here's How It Happened:
With two down in the top of the first, the Nats' 28-year-old third baseman Ryan Zimmerman went down for a 2-2 fastball from O's starter Chris Tillman and connected, sending his fourth home run of the season out to left and into the visitor's bullpen some 370-80 ft from home for a 1-0 lead after a half inning in Baltimore, Maryland's Orioles Park at Camden Yards. Jordan Zimmermann took the mound in the bottom of the inning and retired the O's side in order on 11 pitches which he used to induce three ground balls outs. 1-0 Nationals after one.
Ian Desmond arrived at first base a few steps before J.J. Hardy's throw from deep in the hole at short for a leadoff single to the left side of the infield in the top of the third. A groundout to Orioles' third baseman Manny Machado by Tyler Moore started a 5-4-3 DP that took Desmond off the basepaths. Four pitches to Chad Tracy later, with help from sliding Nick Markakis in left, Chris Tillman had an 11-pitch second vs the Nats after which he and the O's trailed by one. 1-0 Nats.
Chris Davis singled to start the Orioles' second on a broken bat blooper to short center, then went first-to-third one out later on a sharp grounder to second by Matt Wieters that Nats' second baseman Danny Espinosa misplayed. Jordan Zimmermann popped J.J. Hardy up over the infield for a harmless out no.2, but Orioles' second baseman Ryan Flaherty tied the game when he ripped an 0-1 fastball by first and into right for an RBI double that brought Davis in. 1-1 in Camden Yards. Zimmermann was up to 19 pitches in the second when he walked Steve Pearce to load the bases with O's with two down, but a line drive toward the right-center gap by Nate McLouth was cut off by the Shark, aka Roger Bernadina. [CHOMP!] 20-pitch inning, 31 total.
1-1 after two in Baltimore.
After an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the third by Chris Tillman, Jordan Zimmermann got his fifth, sixth and seventh ground ball outs from the three Orioles he faced in a 10-pitch bottom of the inning. The Nats' starter had a two-run lead the next time he took the mound courtesy of Roger Bernadina's second home run in two games and Ryan Zimmerman's second tonight. The Nationals' suddenly-hot right fielder hit a 1-0 change from the O's starter onto Eutaw Street for just the 68th home run in the park's history to leave the yard(s). Ryan Zimmerman's home run to center was estimated to have traveled 430 ft out over the wall and high off the batter's eye. The second of the back-to-back blasts made it 3-1 Nationals after three and a half in Camden Yards. Jordan Zimmermann left a full-count slider up for Chris Davis to crush for a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth. The fourth home run of the year was Davis' 18th and just the fourth Zimmermann's surrendered in 11 starts in 2013. Three quick outs later, the Nats' starter was through a 14-pitch inning at 55 overall after four. 3-2 Nationals.
Danny Espinosa hit a sharp grounder back up the middle with one down in the fifth that J.J. Hardy got to, but an ill-advised and high throw soared over first to gift Espinosa second with an E. A Denard Span double in the next at bat brought Espinosa around to make it 4-2 Nats. Denard Span took third on a groundout to short by Roger Bernadina, and walked home when Ryan Zimmerm-- THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! 3 for 3, 3 HRs! Nats' third baseman Ryan Zimmerman had the first three home run game of his career after he took Chris Tillman deep again on a 1-2 four-seam fastball that sailed out to right field as Zimmerman spread them around and made it a 6-2 game after five and a half.
Jordan Zimmermann threw a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 5th vs the Orioles, collecting two Ks for three total to go with seven ground ball outs and 65 pitches after 5.0 innings in Baltimore. 6-2 Washington.
The Nationals went down in order in the top of the sixth against O's right-hander Steve Johnson. Two pitches into the Orioles' sixth it was a three-run Nats' lead after Nick Markakis hit the second home run of the game and the fourth of the year off Jordan Zimmermann out to right on a 94 mph 0-1 fastball. 6-3 Nationals. Chris Davis singled with one down, but two outs later he was stranded when Zimmermann completed a 10-pitch inning at 75 overall.
Ryan Zimmerman stepped in for the fourth time tonight with two down in the top of the seventh and K'd swinging at a 1-2 fastball from Steve Johnson, leaving Zim 3 for 4 with three home runs tonight in Baltimore. C'mon, Zim. 6-3 after six and a half. 6-5 two at bats into the Orioles' seventh. Jordan Zimmermann gave up a leadoff single by Ryan Flaherty to start the bottom of the inning and Steve Pearce's two-run home run in the next AB was the third hit off Zimmermann tonight after he'd surrendered three total in 73.2 IP before entering the launching pad known as Camden Yards. Back-to-back hits in the next two at bats made it four straight to start the inning vs the Nats' right-hander and the second of the two hits, a double by Manny Machado, brought Nate McLouth around to tie it at 6-6 in the seventh after McLouth singled off the Nationals' starter.
Tyler Clippard took over for Jordan Zimmermann with no one out and Machado at second. The fifth-straight hit of the inning was an RBI single to center by Nick Markakis that drove Machado in for the go-ahead run. 7-6 Orioles. And Markakis tagged and took second on fly to left by Adam Jones, before trotting home when Chris Davis hit his second home run of the game and his 19th this season out to right field to make it a 9-6 Orioles' lead. O's up by three after seven in Baltimore, MD.
Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond and Tyler Moore went down in order against right-hander Tommy Hunter in the top of the eighth. Henry Rodriguez was late getting over to cover first on a Nate McLouth grounder to Adam LaRoche that was good for a two-out single. With Rodriguez slow to the plate, McLouth easily stole second in the next at bat, but a Manny Machado grounder ended the eighth.
O's closer Jim Johnson took over in the top of the ninth. Chad Tracy lined out to first. Kurt Suzuki K'd looking at a 2-2 curve. Danny Espinosa? Swinging K. Ballgame.
Orioles win, 9-6 final.
Nationals now 27-26