Return of the Zim Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: Washington Nationals' right-hander Jordan Zimmermann gave up three singles in the first inning tonight with a two-out line drive to right by Miami Marlins' first baseman Justin Bour driving in a run for a 1-0 lead early in the third game of four between the NL East rivals in Marlins Park.
Reed Johnson doubled to deep center field with two down in the fourth and took third on an error on the throw in from center. Zimmermann tried to throw Johnson out at third on the play, but bounced one by Anthony Rendon, allowing Johnson to score. Two E's by the Nats. 2-0 Fish.
Reed Johnson comes all the way home on a double and two throwing errors! 2-0 #Marlins!— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) September 21, 2014
Ian Desmond singled to center to start the seventh and scored on a triple to right by Ryan Zimmerman, who lined one by a diving Reed Johnson to make it a 2-1 game. Zimmerman was thrown out at home on a grounder to third by Wilson Ramos, but the Nats' catcher came around from first when Asdrubal Cabrera tripled to right in the at bat that followed, tying things up at 2-2. A two-out RBI single to right by Denard Span brought Cabrera in and the Nationals went ahead, 3-2.
The Nationals' bullpen shut the Marlins down and the Nats won their third straight with one more to go in Miami tomorrow. 3-2 final.
4. Tonight's Other Zimmermann: The last time the Washington Nationals lost a game that Jordan Zimmermann started it was against the Miami Marlins the 28-year-old right-hander was facing tonight in Marlins Park.
The July 28th outing was in Miami as well.
Zimmermann gave up just four hits and two runs that night, walking one and strike out six in seven innings, but Rafael Soriano faltered in the ninth and gave up four runs in what ended up a 7-6 win for the Marlins.
It was Zimmermann's second start following the All-Star Break after he's started the so-called "second half" with a five-inning outing against the Colorado Rockies in Coors Field in which he gave up eight hits and four earned runs.
Williams said the outing against the Marlins was a big step up for the Nats' '07 2nd Round pick, who suffered a bicep strain in his final first-half outing which kept him from attending the All-Star Game and throwing during the time off.
"He was really good tonight," Williams said. "He was down in the zone. Great slider tonight. So, he pitched really well. Much better than his last one. The last one was just rust. So tonight he proved that he's back on it."
Since the last start against the Marlins, Zimmermann is (6-0) in nine starts with the Nationals 9-0 when he's taken the mound. Over that stretch, the Auburndale, Wisconsin-born starter has put up a 2.11 ERA with seven walks (1.06 BB/9) and 55 Ks (8.30 K/9) and a .229/.261/.327 line against in 59 ⅔ IP.
Last time out, on the mound in Citi Field in New York, Zimmermann held the Mets scoreless over 6 ⅔ IP of a 3-0 win, walking one and striking out six on the way to his 12th win of the 2014 campaign (W, 12-5).
"He pitched out of some jams today," Wililams told reporters afterwards.
"It's a question of just making pitches when you need to. Pitched around a couple of guys when he needed to and got the matchups he wanted and got out of the innings. So, that's just the sign of a veteran pitcher who knows what he's doing out there. He pitched well."
Zimmermann's start tonight was his fifth vs the Marlins this season, after he went (1-0) with a 5.23 ERA, five walks, 17 Ks and a .309/.345/.369 line against over 20 ⅔ IP in the first four.
In 15 career outings against Miami before tonight's, he was (5-3) with a 3.83 ERA and a .254/.296/.398 line against in 89 ⅓ IP.
The 16th start of his career against the Marlins began with a single to center field...
1st: Christian Yelich took a 1-2 curve back up the middle of the diamond for a leadoff single in the bottom of the first. Donovan Solano stepped in with a runner on and grounded into a force at second while avoiding a double play by hustling down the line. Casey McGehee singled on a first-pitch fastball in the next at bat, lining to right on a slider low and away. Marcell Ozuna stepped in with two on and lined out to center. Justin Bour's line drive single to right brought Solano around for a 1-0 lead. Reed Johnson's grounder to the mound ended a 26-pitch first.
2nd: Adeiny Hechavarria grounded back to the mound. Jeff Mathis K'd chasing a 2-2 fastball up high. Jarred Cosart's grounder to first ended a quick, eight-pitch, 1-2-3 second. 34 total after two.
3rd: Christian Yelich grounded out to second to start the Marlins' third. Donovan Solano grounded out to short. Casey McGehee's pop to right ended a second straight 1-2-3 frame. Seven-pitch inning, 41 total after three.
4th: Marcell Ozuna sent a fly ball to the track in right-center, where Denard Span tracked it down. Justin Bour K'd swinging at an 0-2 fastball up high. Reed Johnson stepped in with two out and doubled to the base of the center field wall. The ball got away from Adam LaRoche on the throw in, and Zimmermann tried to cut Johnson down at third, but threw it away. 2-0 Marlins when Johnson scored. A pop to second by Adeiny Hechavarria ended the fourth. 10-pitch frame, 51 overall for Zimmermann.
5th: Jeff Mathis battled for seven pitches before taking a knee-high fastball inside for a called strike three. Jarred Cosart lined to right, off a diving Adam LaRoche's glove. Christian Yelich lined to right where Jayson Werth fought the lights to make the grab. Donovan Solano's line drive to third ended up in Anthony Rendon's glove. 23-pitch frame, 74 total after five.
6th: Casey McGehee lined one back to the mound and off Jordan Zimmermann's right shoulder, but it bounced to second where Asdrubal Cabrera made the play. Marcell Ozuna K'd swinging for out no.2, and Justin Bour's fly to center ended a quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth. 84 total.
The line on Jordan Zimmermann tonight: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 4 K -- 85 pitches, 63 strikes. pic.twitter.com/d8XTU3qvYI— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 21, 2014
• Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 84 P, 63 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
3. Something to prove to Astros: In eight starts and 52 ⅔ IP since he was traded from the Houston Astros to the Miami Marlins on July 31st along with infielder Enrique Hernandez in exchange for minor leaguers Francis Martes (RHP) and Colin Moran (3B) and outfielder Jake Marisnick, 24-year-old right-hander Jarred Cosart has gone (4-2) with the Marlins 6-2 in his outings, over which he's put up a 2.05 ERA and a .214/.257/.260 line against.
After his final start in August, during which he shut the Atlanta Braves out over seven innings in a 4-0 win, Cosart told reporters including the Florida Sun-Sentinel's Craig Davis that he took the mound these days looking to show the Astros that they made a mistake:
"'Chip on the shoulder, obviously,' [Cosart] said. 'I didn't have a contract. I wasn't a high-paid guy, and it's kind of a slap in the face when you get traded from an organization that's one of the worst organizations in baseball over the last three years. So I just play with that extra chip on my shoulder, come here and it would be the icing on the cake if we could somehow get in the playoffs.'"
The Marlins aren't going to the postseason, but Cosart has continued to impress.
In three September starts, the right-hander was (1-1) with a 2.75 ERA, a 2.72 FIP and a .192/.244/.296 line against in 19 ⅔ IP before taking the mound against the Nationals tonight.
In one start against Washington in his career, earlier this season, back on April 29th, Cosart gave up five hits, two walks and two earned runs in six innings of work on the mound in Nationals Park.
His second outing vs the Nats and ninth start with the Marlins began with a 20-pitch first in which he gave up singles by Denard Span and Jayson Werth but stranded both runners when Adam LaRoche grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3.
Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos hit back-to-back one-out singles off Cosart in the top of the second, but Asdrubal Cabrera too grounded into another inning-ending 4-6-3 DP. 11-pitch frame. 31 total after two.
Denard Span walked with one down in the third, but Anthony Rendon grounded into the third straight inning-ending DP on a first-pitch fastball. 1-4-3 this time. 10-pitch frame, 41 total after three.
Jayson Werth singled to start the Nats' fourth and one out later Ian Desmond walked to put two on in front of Ryan Zimmerman. Werth was thrown out at third on an attempted double steal for the second out of the frame and a grounder to second of the end of Zimmerman's bat ended a 20-pitch inning for Cosart, who was up to 61 total.
The Nationals went down in order in a quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth that left Cosart at 71 pitches.
Jayson Werth buzzed Cosart's tower with a two-out liner to center for a single, but a groundout by Adam LaRoche ended Cosart's sixth scoreless frame after 12 pitches. 83 total after six.
Ian Desmond singled to center to start the top of the seventh and came all the way around on a line drive to right off Ryan Zimmerman's bat when Reed Johnson went for an all-or-nothing diving attempt and came up empty. 2-1 game. Wilson Ramos hit a chopper to third in the next at bat and Casey McGehee came home, beating Zimmerman to the plate with the throw. One out. Ramos reached on the grounder and scored on an RBI double to right by Asdrubal Cabrera. 2-2 in Miami. That was it for Cosart... [ed. note - "Action picks up in no.1 below."]
• Jarred Cosart's Line: 6.1 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 97 P, 63 S, 9/2 GO/FO.
2. The Zimmerman Report: For the first time since July 22nd, Ryan Zimmerman was penciled into the Nationals' lineup tonight, taking the field after missing 55 games while he recovered from a Grade 3 strain of his right hamstring suffered during a matchup against the Colorado Rockies in Coors Field.
With nine games remaining on the regular season schedule, the 29-year-old '05 1st Round pick returned tonight, hoping to get in enough at bats over the next week-plus to get ready for a postseason run.
Zimmerman first at bat in the majors in two months came in the top of the second, when the right-handed hitting left fielder sent an 0-1 fastball to right for a one-out single. 1 for 1.
At bat no.2 came in the fourth with two on and one out, but he grounded out to second to end the frame after Jayson Werth was caught stealing while he was at the plate. 1 for 2.
With Ian Desmond on after a leadoff single in the seventh, Ryan Zimmerman "tripled" to right on a line drive that Marlins' right fielder Reed Johnson dove for and missed. 2 for 3, triple, RBI.
That was it for Zimmerman.
• 1. The Wrap-Up: Mike Dunn took over on the mound for Cosart with a runner on third and one out in the seventh and got a grounder up the middle by pinch hitter Bryce Harper that he missed but Donovan Solano handled. Denard Span stepped in with the go-ahead run on third and two down, worked the count full, and lined to right for an RBI single that made it 3-2 Nationals.
Chris Hatcher took over on the mound and gave up a single to left by Anthony Rendon that put two on for Jayson Werth, but a broken-bat grounder to short ended the frame.
Aaron Barrett took over for the Nationals in the bottom of the seventh inning and retired the Marlins in order in a 13-pitch frame.
Hatcher came back out for the eighth and gave p a one-out double by Ian Desmond, but completed a scoreless frame.
Tyler Clippard retired the Marlins in order in a quick, 13-pitch eighth.
Marlins' right-hander Carter Capps completed a quick, scoreless top of the ninth.
STOREN WARNING!!!: Nats' closer Denard Span came on looking for save no.9 of 2014. Casey McGehee grounded out to short. Marcell Ozuna singled to center with one down. Justin Bour singled through the right side sending Ozuna around to third. Garrett Jones grounds to second to start a game-ending 4-6-3. Ballgame.
Nationals now 90-64