LA in D.C. Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: After all the early deficits and comebacks, it was the Washington Nationals who struck first tonight in the series opener with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Denard Span doubled to left in the first at bat of the home-half of the first inning and Anthony Rendon followed with a two-run home run to left-center field that reached the Red Porch seats. 2-0 early on Rendon's 5th of 2014.
WATCH: Anthony Rendon. Boom. http://t.co/WaQZ4dfwLV— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 5, 2014
The Nationals led 2-0 after three and a half when the rain grew strong after for the game to be delayed... for three hours and 17 minutes.
Aaron Barrett and Jerry Blevins threw scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, to preserve the Nationals' 2-0 lead.
Drew Storen gave up a leadoff double by Matt Kemp, but retired the next three Dodgers in order in a nine-pitch frame. Tyler Clippard threw a scoreless eighth.
Danny Espinosa took an 0-1 fastball to right and just fair for a two-run home run off LA right-hander Pedro Baez, who was making his MLB debut at 1:00 am EDT in the nation's capital. 4-0 Nationals.
Rafael Soriano entered the game at 1:16 pm EDT and finished a quick, 1-2-3 inning to end it.
Ballgame. 4-0 Nationals final.
4. Zimmermann vs the Dodgers: Before he was knocked out after just 1 2/3 IP in his April 9th start against the Miami Marlins in Nationals Park, the shortest outing of Jordan Zimmermann's career was a two-inning turn against the Los Angeles Dodgers last July 21st in the nation's capital.
The visiting Dodgers knocked the Washington Nationals' 2007 2nd Round pick around that afternoon, scoring seven runs on eight hits before Davey Johnson went to the mound and took the ball.
After that game, Zimmermann, who was coming off a long break, having skipped an All-Star appearance to rest a sore neck and prepare for the season's so-called second half, told reporters he actually felt better on the mound than he had in weeks in spite of the results.
"After my last start I took a few days off from throwing to give this neck a little break," Zimmermann told reporters, "and that might have something to do with it, but overall today, I felt the best I've felt in a long time. And the command wasn't quite there and all my misses that I left over the plate got hit hard today."
"I hung a few sliders," Zimmermann continued. "Two home runs were hanging sliders. When I did make some quality pitches, they had good swings on them. They're hot right now and it was just one of those days."
Zimmermann hasn't experienced too many of "those days" in his six major league seasons.
He didn't fare particularly well in either of his two outings against LA in 2013, however, giving up a total of 17 hits and nine earned runs in 9 2/3 IP against the Dodgers last season, over which opposing hitters put up a .378/.404/.622 line.
In four career starts against LA before tonight's, the Nats' right-hander was (2-1) with a 6.65 ERA in 21 2/3 IP over which he'd walked seven (2.91 BB/9) and struck out 14 (5.82 K/9) while opposing hitters have put up a combined .322/.374/.522 line.
Zimmermann took the mound tonight coming off a strong outing in Houston, in which he threw 6 1/3 scoreless against the Astros, striking out seven and walking just one in a 7-0 Nats' win.
Tonight against LA in D.C....
1st: Dodgers' second baseman Dee Gordon grounded out to his counterpart at second for the first out of tonight's game. Jordan Zimmermann got ground ball no.2 and out no.2 from Carl Crawford, who rolled one out to Anthony Rendon at third. Hanley Ramirez started tonight's game 9 for 20 (.450/.522/.650) career vs Zimmermann with a double and a home run in 23 PAs, and improved to 10 for 21 after he doubled to right field on an 0-1 slider outside from the Nats' right-hander, but Ramirez was stranded at second when Adrian Gonzalez popped out to the left side of the infield to end a 13-pitch first by Zimmermann.
2nd: Given a 2-0 lead to work with, Jordan Zimmermann started the second with a strikeout of Matt Kemp, who went down swinging at a 93 mph 1-2 fastball. Andre Ethier dumped a 95 mph 1-2 fastball into short-center for a one-out single. Ethier moved up on a broken-bat single through the right side by Juan Uribe. Miguel Olivo went down chasing a 1-2 slider outside for out and K no.2. A groundout to first by Zack Greinke ended Zimmermann's second scoreless inning after 18 pitches. 31 overall after two.
FBB's Recommended Reading:
3rd: Danny Espinosa went with a glove flip to first on a weak grounder to second by Dee Gordon. Got him. Carl Crawford shot a sharp grounder by Ian Desmond's backhand and into left for a one-out single on a 3-1 fastball. Hanley Ramirez battled for nine pitches before grounding into an inning-ending 4-6-3. 46 pitches after three scoreless innings pitched by Zimmermann.
4th: Adrian Gonzalez sent Denard Span back to the Kaiser Permante® wall in left-center, where the Nats' center fielder caught the first out of the fourth. Matt Kemp took a first-pitch curve to left for a one-out single, but he was caught trying to steal second by Sandy Leon on a fastball to Andre Ethier and Ethier K'd looking at the next pitch to end a nine-pitch frame that left Zimmermann at 55 total after four scoreless.
• Zimmermann's Line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 Ks, 55 P, 61 S
3. Greinke in D.C.... with LA: The Washington Nationals courted Zack Greinke in the winter of 2010-11, trying to add an impact pitcher that would make as big a splash as their signing of Jayson Werth did. Nats' GM Mike Rizzo said the discussions didn't get too far when he was asked about the Nationals' interest during an MLB Network Radio interview at the time, but they did have a nice conversation with the right-hander who was still with the Kansas City Royals then.
"It was mostly about waiving his no-trade clause," Rizzo explained. "That was what the conversation was about. And in the conversation we mapped out the plan that we had with Washington. We had a great conversation with him. We brought in not only myself, but ownership... That's about where things ended with Zack because he didn't waive the no-trade to allow us to make a deal for him. But he's a great young man. We would love to have him anchoring the top of our rotation and we wish him well until we play him."
Greinke told The Washington Post's Dave Sheinin several months later that the idea of joining the Nationals did appeal to him, so that's why he agreed to meet with the Nats' brass.
"'It wouldn’t have gotten as far as it did [with the Nationals] if it wasn’t appealing,'" Greinke explained to the WaPost reporter, but he didn't see the point in joining the team if the Nats were going to have to trade away important parts of their young core to get him.
Greinke would have made a great addition to Washington's rotation, and spared the Nats from having to face him.
In just four starts against the Nationals in his career before tonight, Greinke's dominated the Nats, going (3-0) with a 1.78 ERA, four walks (1.42 BB/9) and 22 Ks (7.82 K/9) in 25 1/3 IP over which he's held Nationals' hitters to a .215/.247/.312 line.
He entered tonight's game (5-0) after six 2014 starts with a 2.04 ERA, six walks (1.53 BB/9) and 46 Ks (11/72 K/9) in 35 1/3 IP.
Greinke gave up two runs early, with Denard Span doubling and Anthony Rendon driving the Nats' leadoff man in with a two-run home run to left-center that cleared the fence and landed in the Red Porch seats.
Those were the only runs Greinke allowed through three innings as the 30-year-old right-hander tried to keep his streak of 18 consecutive starts with two runs or less going...
• Greinke's Line: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 HR, 54 P, 33 S, 4/0 GO/FO.
2. Apres le deluge: The rain, which was falling from moments before the first pitch tonight finally became too much for the umpires to ignore in the break between the top and bottom of the fourth. Try as they did to keep the field playable, the tarp was finally rolled out and both starters saw their night's end when the delay stretched for... 3 hours and 17 minutes? Just about. But they did finally restart the game at 11:43 pm EDT.
Brandon League took the mound for the bottom of the fourth and retired the side in order.
Aaron Barrett came on for the Nationals in the top of the fifth and retired the Dodgers in order in a quick, 11-pitch inning.
After Scott Hairston and Denard Span singled off League in the Nationals' fifth, Anthony Rendon hit a grounder to third to start a 5-4 DP, and he hustled down the line to avoid the late-night triple play. League got a groundout from Jayson Werth to end the fifth.
Jerry Blevins took the mound in the sixth at 12:08 am EDT. Carl Crawford connected for his second hit in three at bats, sending a 1-1 slider from Blevins back up the middle to the delight of the crowd of mostly Dodgers fans who remained at the game. Hanley Ramirez took an 0-2 sinker outside for a called strike three and out no.2. Adrian Gonzalez K'd too, ending a 15-pitch frame. Still 2-0 Nats.
Righty Chris Withrow took over for LA in the bottom of the sixth, relieving Brandon League after two scoreless by the Dodgers' right-hander. Ian Desmond walked and stole second with two down, but Nate McLouth K'd swinging to end the inning. Still 2-0 Nationals.
Drew Storen gave up a leadoff double to left by Matt Kemp in the top of the seventh inning, but retired the next three Dodgers in order in a nine-pitch frame.
Brian Wilson gave up a leadoff single to right by Sandy Leon in the Nationals' seventh. Zach Walters took an 0-2 slider outside for a called strike three. Denard Span doubled, moving Leon around to third with his third hit of the game, 3 for 4. Anthony Rendon stepped in with runners on second and third, started up 3-0 and went to a full count before striking out. Jayson Werth went up 3-0 too, and walked to load the bases on a 3-1 pitch. Adam LaRoche came up with the bases loaded and struck out on a 3-2 fastball to end the threat.
Tyler Clippard took over on the mound in the eighth and gave up a two-out single by Carl Crawford after Nate McLouth made ridiculous catch for the second of of the inning. A fly to right by Hanley Ramirez ended the top of the frame. Still 2-0 Nats.
Dodgers' reliever Pedro Baez, in his MLB debut, gave up a leadoff single to left by Ian Desmond and a two-run home run by Danny Espinosa in first two at bats in the majors for the right-hander. 4-0 after eight.
Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano! Nats' closer Rafael Soriano took the mound at 1:18 am EDT. Adrian Gonzalez flew out to deep center. ONE! Matt Kemp went down swinging. TWO!! Andre Ethier's groundout to first ended the game at 1:21 am EDT.
2 hrs and 59 minutes + 3 hrs and 17 minutes.
Work's done. Untuck that jersey, son!!!
1. The Wrap-Up: It's late, it's over. Wrapped up.
Nationals now 18-14