Jordan Zimmermann pounded the zone in a quick, nine-pitch, seven strike top of the first against the San Francisco Giants, inducing two ground balls outs from the first two batters he faced before Brandon Belt flew out to left to end the opening frame of the second game of this week's three-game set with the NL West's fifth place team. Ryan Zimmerman (no relation, one less "n") doubled off the top of the right field wall with one down in the Washington Nationals' half of the first and took third on a Bryce Harper groundout to first, but Zimmerman was stranded there when Jayson Werth flew out to center to end a 15-pitch inning by Giants' starter Tim Lincecum.
Zimmermann rubbed up a new ball after missing outside with a 1-2 heater to Buster Posey that got by Kurt Suzuki and then fired an 88 mph change that the Giants' catcher fouled off. After a second foul ball, another 1-2 heater, which came in at 96 mph, got a groundout to short for the fourth straight out to start the game and the third ground ball out from the first four batters. Hunter Pence took a full-count fastball outside for ball four, the first walk and the first baserunner for the visiting team tonight. Pence stole second on a 1-2 curve to Pablo Sandoval that fell in for strike two, but Sandoval K'd looking at a 2-2 change away home plate ump Mike Estabrook thought caught the low outside corner. Giants' left fielder Roger Kieschnick stepped in with two down and singled to center on an 0-1 fastball for an RBI hit that brought Pence in and made it 1-0 Giants after one and a half. 30-pitch inning for Zimmermann, 39 overall after two.
Ian Desmond entered tonight's game 9 for 11 with two doubles and a home run off Tim Lincecum in their respective careers, and after the Nats' shortstop crushed a 2-2 change from the Giants' starter, he was 10 for 12 with two and two, the second home run, Desmond's 17th of 2013, a solo blast to left that cleared the visitor's bullpen by at least five rows. 1-1 after two in the nation's capital...
Desmond's home run traveled 448 ft to left apparently:
Ian Desmond's second-inning home run off Tim Lincecum was calculated at 448 feet, the longest home run hit at Nationals Park this season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 15, 2013
With two down in the top of the third inning, Brandon Crawford popped up to short left. Bryce Harper charged in and called Ian Desmond off, but Harper then slid in and missed the pop when it got caught on the wind and came back toward the infield for a two-out double by the Giants' shortstop. Brandon Belt hit the third groundout of the inning to second in the next at bat, however, and Anthony Rendon made a backhand stab and a strong throw to first to end a 13-pitch inning that had Jordan Zimmermann up to 52 pitches overall. Six groundouts. Tim Lincecum's 10-pitch 1-2-3 bottom of the inning had him up to 43 pitches total. 1-1 in D.C. after three.
Buster Posey flew to center on the second pitch Jordan Zimmermann threw in the fourth. Hunter Pence lined a 94 mph 1-1 fastball back up the middle for a one-out single off the Nationals' starter. Pablo Sandoval hit a 2-1 change to center for the second consecutive one-out hit. Roger Kieschnick worked the count full, but took a backdoor bender for a called strike three and out no.2 of the Giants' fourth. Gregor Blanco too worked the count full before walking when Zimmermann missed with a fastball outside. Tim Lincecum stepped up with the bases loaded and grounded into a force at second to end another 30-pitch inning that had Zimmermann at 82 after three and a half.
Bryce Harper buzzed Tim Lincecum's tower with a line drive leadoff single to center in the Nationals' half of the fourth. Jayson Werth's single in the next at bat dribbled away from home and died on the infield grass not even halfway to third for an infield hit. Ian Desmond grounded sharply to third to advance both runners and leave first open, so the Giants decided to walk Adam LaRoche in front of Anthony Rendon, who took it personally and doubled to center on a 94 mph 2-2 fastball to drive two runs in and make it 3-1 Nationals. Kurt Suzuki's bloop single to left fell in for an RBI hit that brought LaRoche in and made it 4-1, and both runners moved up on a sac bunt by Jordan Zimmermann so a wild pitch/ball four to Denard Span allowed Rendon to score and make it 5-1 Nationals. Pablo Sandoval made a tough play on a sharp grounder to third by Ryan Zimmerman, but threw the ball away allowing Suzuki to score as well, 6-1 Nationals after four in D.C.
San Francisco second baseman Marco Scutaro started the fifth with a single, but the 4-6-3 DP that followed gave Nationals' starter Jordan Zimmermann eight ground ball outs in 3 2/3 IP. Zimmermann's 10-pitch fifth inning ended on ground ball no.9, a weak roller to first by Brandon Belt. 92 pitches total after five. 6-1 Nats over the Giants. Tim Lincecum needed eight pitches to retire the Nationals in order in the bottom of the inning, after which San Francisco's starter was up to 88 pitches.
Pablo Sandoval hit a bloop single to short right for a two-out hit in the sixth that fell in between Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth and Denard Span as they converged on the ball, but Roger Kieschnick grounded weakly to second to end an 11-pitch sixth that had Zimmermann up to 103 pitches. Tim Lincecum was up to 97 pitches total after a nine-pitch bottom of the inning. Still 6-1 Nationals.
Gregor Blanco said ground ball no.12 in 6 1/3 IP out to second for the first out of the seventh. Brad Pill lined out to center on Zimmermann's fifth pitch of the inning and his 108th of the night. Four pitches later, Marco Scutaro lined sharply back to the mound to end a nine-itch inning that had the Nats' starter up to 112. 6-1 Nationals. Barry Zito needed seven pitches to retire the Nationals in order in the bottom of the frame. Still 6-1.
• Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 112 P, 75 S, 12/4 GO/FO.
Make that 6-2. Nats' lefty Ian Krol took over for Jordan Zimmermann in the eighth and retired the first two batters he faced before surrendering a moon shot to right by Brandon Belt that landed in the second deck for a no-doubter that cut the Nats' lead to four runs. Ryan Mattheus came out of the pen and struggled again, giving up back-to-back two-out singles in the next two at bats. With Buster Posey and Hunter Pence on first and second, respectively, Pablo Sandoval doubled to right to drive in two runs and make it a 6-4 game. Tyler Clippard came on in relief of the relievers with Sandoval on second and threw a 3-2 fastball by Roger Kieschnick for out no.2 then threw a 2-2 fastball by Gregor Blanco up high to end the eighth with the Nationals still ahead by two.
Jayson Werth singled to start the Nationals' eighth. Ian Desmond took a 2-2 curve for a called strike three in the next AB. Adam LaRoche lined out to right. Anthony Rendon popped up to short to send it to the ninth. Cue his music up...
"Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano!" Rafael Soriano came on in the ninth looking for save no.31 of 2013. Hector Sanchez hit a broken bat single to right in the first at bat of the Giants' ninth. Andres Torres came on to run for the backup catcher at first. Marco Scutaro flew to the track in left for out no.1 on a 2-1 fastball. With Brandon Crawford up, Torres stole second, and took third on a groundout to second by Brandon Crawford. TWO!! Brandon Belt stepped in an lined an RBI single to center to make it 6-5 Nationals. Buster Posey stepped in as the go-ahead run, fell behind 0-2, but singled to center to put two on. First and second, 2 outs, 6-5 Nationals. Hunter Pence took an 0-1 pitch to left-center for a ... Denard Span catch! Span catches up to it and ends the game. 6-5 Nationals.
"Are You Kidding Me?" - FP:
Work's done. Untuck that jersey, son.
Nationals now 59-60