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Nationals 9-2 over Marlins: Jordan Zimmermann bounces back with seven strong

Jordan Zimmermann didn't make it out of the second last time out against the Miami Marlins, but he threw seven strong innings tonight in the Washington Nationals 9-2 win in Marlins Park. With the curly-W, the Nats improved to 18-5 vs Miami in the last year-plus.

Mike Ehrmann

Fish Tank Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: Jayson Werth just missed a home run to left field in Marlins Park when he doubled off the lime green padding atop the out-of-town scoreboard with two down in the top of the first inning of tonight's series opener in Miami, but the Washington Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the next at bat when Bryce Harper tripled to right-center on a 94 mph 1-2 fastball from Fish lefty Brad Hand to put the Nats ahead by a run after a 1/2 inning.

Tyler Moore took a 2-0 fastball to right in the 27-year-old slugger's first at bat of the night, hitting an opposite field blast off the right-center fence to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead early in Marlins Park. Danny Espinosa doubled off Hand in the at bat that followed and took third on a Sandy Leon single. One out later, Anthony Rendon drove both runners in when he took a 3-1 curve to left for a two-run double that gave the Nationals a 4-0 lead.

The Marlins got on the board in the bottom of the second when Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a ground-rule double to right before scoring on a Reed Johnson single to left field. 4-1 Nationals after two.

Danny Espinosa tripled to the right-center gap on a 92 mph 1-1 fastball to drive Ian Desmond in from first for a 5-1 lead in the third inning in Miami.

Bryce Harper doubled to start the seventh, took third on a throwing error on an Ian Desmond groundout, then scored from there when Tyler Moore took an 0-2 slider from Kevin Slowey back up the middle for an RBI single and a 6-2 Nats' lead. Sandy Leon's first major league home run followed one out later, making it 8-2 Nationals and an RBI triple to center by Anthony Rendon made it a 9-2 Nats' lead.

That's how it ended. 9-2 final in the Nationals' favor.

4. What Just Happened???: Jordan Zimmermann made the shortest start of his career when he faced the Miami Marlins last time out in Nationals Park. The Nationals' 27-year-old right-hander started that outing with a (4-3) record, a 3.41 ERA, 12 walks (1.57 BB/9) and 56 Ks (7.34 K/9) in 11 starts and 68 2/3 career innings pitched against the Marlins and a (4-0) record with a 2.06 ERA over an undefeated streak against the Marlins which stretched back five starts to the 2012 All-Star Break. He received no decision in what ended up a 10-7 Nationals' win, but was out of the game after just 1 2/3 IP (7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 57 P, 34 S).

"He just struggled with his command," Nats' skipper Matt Williams told reporters after the game in the nation's capital. "They came out swinging too. So they were really aggressive early in the game, pushed a couple across in the first inning, but [Zimmermann] just wasn't crisp tonight with his command."

Zimmermann entered tonight's game (2-1) career in Marlins Park, with a 3.00 ERA, two walks (0.86 BB/9) and 12 Ks (5.14 K/9) in 21 career innings pitched in the Marlins' lime green walled home, where he'd held opposing hitters to a .231/.256/.346 line thus far in his career. His last start in Miami came back on April 13, 2012 when he threw a complete game against the Fish on 103 pitches.

1st: Zimmermann got a check-swing strike three from Marlins' outfielder Christian Yelich with a 2-2 slider in the first at bat of the Miami first tonight in Florida. Derek Dietrich grounded weakly to second on a 95 mph 2-1 fastball inside for the second out of the first, but Giancarlo Stanton took a first-pitch fastball to left and off the out-of-town scoreboard for a two-out double. Zimmermann got up 0-2 on Marlins' first baseman Garrett Jones, and put the left-handed hitting first baseman away with a 2-2 slider that ended a 17-pitch bottom of the first.

2nd: Given a 4-0 lead to work with, Zimmermann took the mound in the second and struck Casey McGehee out looking with a 94 mph 2-2 fastball for the first out of the inning and his 3rd K of the game. Jarrod Salatalamacchia got an 0-2 fastball up and in that backed him off the plate and bounced a ground-rule double over the right field fence on the next pitch, a change outside that got too much of the plate. Reed Johnson took a 1-0 slider to left via third base to drive in the Marlins' first run, 4-1. Adeiny Hechavarria hit a low liner to second in the next at bat, but Danny Espinosa made the catch and a throw to first for a 4-3 DP. 13-pitch inning, 30 overall for Zimmermann after two.

3rd: The opposing pitcher grounded weakly over the mound to a charging Ian Desmond. Christian Yelich grounded out to first and the covering Zimmermann got over to make the play. Derek Dietrich grounded out to second. Seven pitches, three ground ball outs.

4th: Zimmermann started the fourth at 37 pitches, after a seven-pitch, 1-2-3 third. Zimmermann's 42nd pitch of the night was a 2-2 slider down in the zone to Giancarlo Stanton that was lined toward third and off a diving Anthony Rendon's glove for a single. A 1-2 slider inside to Garrett Jones got the Marlins' first baseman swinging for out no.1 of the fourth and K no.4 on the night by the Nats' right-hander. Stanton took second on a wild pitch to Casey McGehee, but the Marlins' third baseman flew to right for out no.2. Zimmermann missed with a 3-2 fastball outside to walk Jarrod Saltalamacchia with two down. Reed Johnson stepped in with two on and two out and flew out to left to end a 19-pitch inning. 56 overall.

5th: Adeiny Hechavarria grounded out to short on a first-pitch fastball. Kevin Slowey K'd swinging at a 1-2 curve in the dirt for out no.2 and K no. 5 for Jordan Zimmermann, but Christian Yelich extended the inning with a two-out single to left. One pitch later, however, Derek Dietrich flew to right to end an eight-pitch inning. 64 total after five.

6th: An 88 mph full-count curve got Giancarlo Stanton swinging for out no.1 of the sixth and K no.6 on the night by Jordan Zimmermann. Garrett Jones got hold of a 1-2 fastball inside in the next at bat and lined a solo shot to right that made it a 5-2 game. Casey McGehee K'd looking at a full-count slider that ended an eight-pitch at bat, K no.7, and Jarod Saltalamacchia flew out to center to end a 20-pitch frame that left Zimmermann at 84 overall after six.

7th: A 93 mph 0-1 fastball inside got a pop to right out of Reed Johnson for the first out of the seventh. Adeiny Hechavarria flew to right on an 0-2 fastball. Two down. Jeff Baker grounded out to second to end a nine-pitch inning that left Zimmermannn at 93 overall after seven.

Zimmermann's Line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 93 P, 63 S, 6/6 GO/FO.

3. Puh-Puh-Puh-Puh-Puh-Puh Power: "His raw power is -- I don't know if it's matched in the game right now, as far as raw power goes," Matt Williams said last week before the Nationals faced Marlins' slugger Giancarlo Stanton in the nation's capital. "And I think he's becoming a better hitter certainly, the more he plays and the more maturity he gets." Miami's 24-year-old right fielder entered tonight's game with a .291/.339/.564 line, three doubles and four home runs on the year, but last week in D.C., where he has a .320/.403/.736 line, 13 doubles and 13 HRs in 33 games and 144 career plate appearances, the Nationals' pitchers held him to just two hits and a walk in 13 PAs.

Stanton doubled off the top of the out-of-town scoreboard in left in his first at bat tonight, falling a few feet short of a home run and improving to 5 for 20 career vs Zimmermann with a double and three home runs in 23 plate appearances.

The second time up, the right-handed hitting right fielder singled off a diving Anthony Rendon's glove on a 2-2 slider from Zimmermann, leaving him 2 for 2 tonight, but Stanton was stranded on the basepaths three outs later.

Stanton led off the sixth with a swinging K on a full-count slider.

In his fourth at bat of the night, Stanton stepped in with two on and no one out against Nationals' right-hander Blake Treinen. Stanton fell behind, 0-2, and the Marlins' three-hole hitter eventually K'd swinging with a filthy 2-2 slider outside that dove away from his bat.

2. 7-Game Hit Streak: Bryce Harper tripled to the right center gap on a 94 mph 1-2 fastball from Marlins lefty Brad Hand in the Nats' 21-year-old slugger's first at bat of the night in Marlins Park. The three-base hit extended his current hit streak to seven games, over which he was 11 for 22 after his first hit.

"Swing's shorter, seeing the ball better," Matt Williams said Sunday when asked what was different for Harper now as opposed to earlier this season when his timing was off and he struggled at the plate. "He's not pulling off the ball like he was and staying through it and taking his walks too when they're giving them to him."

Harper reached on an error when he smoked a 1-2 change from Kevin Slowey, taking a grounder through short and right by Adeiny Hechavarria. After taking third on an Ian Desmond groundout, however, Harper was stranded at third base.

Kevin Slowey left a 1-0 change up in the zone in the first at bat of the seventh and Harper crushed it, doubling to the right field corner for his third hit of the night and his second double of the game and he scored the Nats' sixth run on an RBI single to center by Tyler Moore. 6-2 Nationals.

1. 4-0 vs the Fish:

The Nationals will eventually have to beat the good teams, but you also have to beat the bad or at least less talented ones too, and with tonight's win, Washington improved to 4-0 against the Marlins this season and 18-5 against the Fish in the last season-plus.

Nationals now 8-5.