Zimmermann vs Hernandez Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: Apparently nobody told 24-year-old Washington Nationals' third baseman Anthony Rendon that Seattle Mariners' starter Felix Hernandez is well-nigh unhittable. The Nats' 2011 1st Round pick took the Mariners' 28-year-old ace deep on a first-pitch fastball for a one-out solo home run to left in the second at bat of tonight's game, hitting the fourth home run off Hernandez in his last four starts for a 1-0 lead early in the series opener in Safeco Field.
WATCH: King Felix, meet Anthony Rendon: http://t.co/YLoIYOI5VR— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 30, 2014
The Mariners tied it right back up in the bottom of the inning, however, with Dustin Ackley tripling to center with one down and scoring on a single to left by Kendrys Morales, who smoked an 0-2 curve from Nats' starter Jordan Zimmermann by first, off Adam LaRoche's glove. 1-1.
Kyle Seager hit a sharp grounder to third in the next at bat, and Anthony Rendon bounced a throw by second trying for the double play. Robinson Cano, who walked and took third on Morales' hit, scored on the errant throw, (it was ruled a hit), to make it 2-1 Mariners.
Kendrys singles into right field, plating Dustin and moving Cano around to 3rd. #Mariners tie it up at 1-1.— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) August 30, 2014
#Mariners take a 2-1 lead in the 1st as Robbie comes home on an infield single off the bat of Seager.— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) August 30, 2014
Anthony Rendon walked with two down in the Nationals' third, and Jayson Werth followed with the second home run of the game off Hernandez, taking the Mariners' right-hander deep to left on an 0-1 slider for HR no.14 of 2014 and a 3-2 lead after two and a half. Werth's blast gave the Nats the lead, and the first two-HR game against Hernandez this season.
Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos made it three and then four home runs off Hernandez with solo blasts to left field in the top of the fourth. Desmond battled for 10 pitches before sending one out to left. Ramos crushed an 0-1 change. 5-2 Nationals after three and a half. The four-home run game was the first in Hernandez's 297 career starts.
Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos hit the fifth and sixth home runs of the night in the top of the eighth inning, taking Joe Beimel to center in back-to-back at bats. 7-2 Nats.
The Nationals loaded the bases with one out against Fernando Rodney and a sac fly by Adam LaRoche made it an 8-2 game.
The Mariners added a run in the ninth on an RBI single by Endy Chavez, but that was as close as they got. 8-3 final in Seattle.
4. Zimmermann vs Seattle: Jordan Zimmermann improved to (3-0) in seven second-half starts, in which the Nationals are 6-1, with seven strong innings on the mound last time out against the San Francisco Giants in Washington, D.C.'s Nationals Park.
Zimmermann, 28, held the Giants to two runs on seven hits in eight innings of work in the Nats' 6-2 win.
So far in the second half, the Nationals' '07 2nd Round pick has a 2.70 ERA, a 2.90 FIP, four walks (0.77 BB/9) and 39 Ks (7.52 K/9) in 46 ⅔ IP, over which he's held opposing hitters to a .227/.253/.360 line.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams was impressed with Zimmermann's 107-pitch effort against the Giants last Tuesday, which saw the right-hander continuing to hit 95-96 mph with his fastball even in his last inning of work.
"He maintained velocity all day," Williams said. "Early on it was a lot of fastballs. Then he worked in breaking balls early in counts to get ahead as we went through the middle innings and that kind of kept his pitch count down too and allowed him to get through the eighth."
"I had a good fastball and I was locating in and out and the slider was there and I mixed a curveball in second or third time through the lineup," Zimmermann told reporters.
"I started throwing more curveballs. And the last two innings I mixed in a few changeups and got some ground balls. And overall, [Wilson Ramos] and I were on the same page and our defense played great."
Tonight in Seattle, the Auburndale, Wisconsin-born starter was pitching in Safeco Field and facing the Mariners for the first time in his six-year major league career.
In 11 starts on the road this season, Zimmermann was (4-3) heading into the outing, with a 3.10 ERA, a 2.89 FIP, eight walks (1.03 BB/9) and 69 Ks (8.91 K/9) in 69 ⅔ IP, over which he's held opposing hitters to a .238/.267/.393 line.
Zimmermann's 12th start away from Washington, D.C. this season began with a swinging K...
1st: Austin Jackson K'd swinging on an 0-2 fastball up and in for the first out of the Mariners' first. Dustin Ackley tripled to center with one down, taking a 1-2 fastball for a ride and off the base of the wall over Denard Span's head. With the tying run 90 ft from home, Robinson Cano drew a one-out walk to put runners on the corners in front of Kendrys Morales, who took an 0-2 curve through the right side, off Adam LaRoche's glove for an RBI single that made it a 1-1 game and moved Cano around to third. Kyle Seager worked the count full and sent a grounder to third, but Anthony Rendon's throw to second bounced and got by Ian Desmond, allowing another run to score. Mike Zunino lined out to center for the second out of the frame, and Logan Morrison K'd swinging at a high heater to end a 33-pitch frame.
2nd: Chris Taylor popped out to first to start the Mariners' second. Endy Chavez K'd swinging through a 3-2 fastball. Austin Jackson took a 3-2 slider for a called strike three to end an 18-pitch frame that left Zimmermann at 51 total after two.
3rd: Dustin Ackley popped out to Anthony Rendon in foul territory off third for the first out of the Mariners' third. Robinson Cano singled through short with one down. Kendry Morales singled to center, sending Cano around to third. Kyle Seager stepped in with runners on the corners, and K'd looking at a 2-2 fastball, knee-high and sorta outside. Mike Zunino fell behind 0-2 and chased a 1-2 slider outside to end a 16-pitch third. 67 total after three.
4th: Logan Morrison K'd swinging through a 95 mph 1-2 heater. Chris Taylor grounded back to the mound. A fly to left from Endy Chavez ended a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 frame by Zimmermann, 79 total after four.
5th: Austin Jackson sent a fly ball to center for out no.1 of Seattle's fifth. Dustin Ackley reached on an infield single in spite of Asdrubal Cabrera's effort on a leaping, spinning throw from behind second base. Robinson Cano poked a single through the left side on a 2-1 fastball. Kendry Morales stepped in with two on and one out and popped out to Anthony Rendon in foul territory off third on an 0-2 change. Kyle Seager's pop to short left ended a 17-pitch frame that left Zimmermann at 96 pitches overall.
6th: Mike Zunino K'd swinging at a 1-2 slider on Zimmermann's 100th pitch. Logan Morrison popped up to foul territory off third on a 2-1 fastball for out no.2. Chris Taylor popped to short on a first pitch fastball for out no.3 of a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth. 105 total.
The line on Jordan Zimmermann: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K -- 105 pitches, 73 strikes. All zeroes after the 1st. pic.twitter.com/qHPsXFequc— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 30, 2014
• Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 Ks, 105 P, 73 S, 1/2 GO/FO.
3. King Felix vs the Nationals: Seattle right-hander Felix Hernandez's 2.07 ERA was the third-lowest amongst qualified starters in the majors heading into tonight's start against the Washington Nationals, behind only the Chicago White Sox' Chris Sale (2.03) and the LA Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (1.73).
Hernandez's 2.22 FIP was the second-lowest in the majors, behind only Kershaw's 1.82. xFIP? Second-lowest again, at 2.43, behind only Kershaw (2.03) again, and ahead of Nats' right-hander Stephen Strasburg's 2.62.
Hernandez, 28, was also fourth in the majors in innings pitched at 191, behind the Indians' Corey Kluber (192 ⅔), the Reds' Johnny Cueto (199) and David Price (203 ⅓), with the fourth-highest K total (204), behind the Detroit Tigers' Max Scherzer (209), Kluber (213) and Price (224), the 9th highest K/9 (9.61), 9th lowest BB/9 (1.60, behind Jordan Zimmermann at 6th with 1.35 BB/9) and third-lowest batting average against, at .195, behind only Kershaw (.193) and Cueto (.189).
At home in Safeco Field this season, Hernandez was (9-2) in 13 starts before tonight's, with a 1.96 ERA, 2.23 FIP, 15 walks (1.40 BB/9) and 100 Ks (9.31 K/9) in 96 ⅔ IP, over which he held visiting hitters to a combined .181/.218/.268 line.
Hernandez was facing the Washington Nationals for the first time in his career tonight.
With one down in the top of the first, Nationals' third baseman Anthony Rendon hit a first-pitch sinker out to left field for a solo home run and a 1-0 lead. Hernandez got the next two outs and completed a 10-pitch first.
Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper hit back-to-back singles to start the second, but Harper appeared to get doubled up at first on a line drive out to third off Wilson Ramos' bat. The call was reversed, however, giving the Nats runners on first and second with one down, but Asdrubal Cabrera hit a one-hop liner to Chris Taylor at short to start an inning-ending 6-4-3. 11-pitch frame for Hernandez, 21 total after two.
The view from the top of the King's Court. Fans decked out in yellow, holding up K signs when Felix gets two strikes pic.twitter.com/7NL6tIxaQF— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) August 30, 2014
Hernandez gave up a two-out walk to Anthony Rendon in the top of the third. Jayson Werth stepped in with a runner on and two down and hit the second home run of the game out to left field for a 3-2 Nats' lead. A 20-pitch frame for Hernandez left him at 42 total after three.
Ian Desmond battled Hernandez for 10 pitches in the first at bat of the fourth, fouling off five two-strike pitches before launching the third home run of the game out to left field for a 4-2 Nats' lead. One out later, Wilson Ramos hit home run no.4 of the game off Hernandez, crushing an 0-1 change. Out to left again, 5-2 on Ramos' eighth. 21-pitch frame for Hernandez, 63 total after four.
Denard Span and Anthony Rendon hit back-to-back singles off Hernandez in the top of the fifth, but three outs later both runners were stranded. 16-pitch frame, 78 total.
Bryce Harper singled to center to start the sixth, but Wilson Ramos popped out and Asdrubal Cabrera hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3. 12-pitch frame. 90 pitches total.
Anthony Rendon doubled to left-center with two down in the top of the seventh, connecting for his third hit of the night off Hernandez and his 33rd two-base hit of the year, but he was stranded when Jayson Werth grounded out to short to end a 13-pitch frame that left Hernandez at 103 pitches overall.
• Felix Hernandez's Line: 7.0 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 4 HRs, 103 P, 69 S, 11/4 GO/FO.
2. Nationals 9-0 vs Mariners: The Washington Nationals swept the first series with the AL West's Seattle Mariners after baseball returned to the nation's capital in 2005, taking all three games between the teams that season in RFK Stadium.
Three years later, the Nats swept a three-game set in Safeco Field in June of 2008.
In 2011, the Nationals and Mariners played in Nationals Park for the first time, and the Nats once again swept all three games to improve to 9-0 overall against Seattle.
The two teams haven't played one another since that series, which saw then-manager Jim Riggleman resign after leading the Nationals through one of the best stretches since their inaugural campaign in D.C.
The Mariners entered this weekend's three-game set in Safeco Field looking to finally beat the Nationals.
Not tonight, with a 7-2 win the Nats improved to 10-0 vs the Mariners.
1. The Wrap-Up: Drew Storen took over on the mound for the Nationals in the bottom of the seventh and struck out two on the way to a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 frame.
One-time National Joe Beimel recorded the first two outs of the top of the eighth, but Bryce Harper got hold of a first-pitch fastball and hit the fifth home run of the night out to center over a leaping Austin Jackson. Wilson Ramos battled for six pitches in the next at bat and hit the sixth home run of the night to the same spot Harper hit his. 7-2 Nationals. Second blast of the night for Ramos. Brandon Maurer took over for Beimel and retired Asdrubal Cabrera to end the top of the eighth.
Tyler Clippard needed ten pitches to retire the Mariners in order in the eighth.
Fernando Rodney gave up a one-out single by Denard Span in the top of the ninth. Anthony Rendon's fourth hit of the night was a blooper to left. Jayson Werth walked to load'em up, and a sac fly by Adam LaRoche made it an 8-2 game.
Rafael Soriano came on in a non-save situation and gave up a two-out single by Mariners' shortstop Chris Taylor and an RBI double to left by Endy Chavez that made it 8-3. Austin Jackson singled with two down to put two on with two out.
Nationals now 76-57