5. Zimmermann vs the Marlinns: Start no.3 of 2015 for Jordan Zimmermann was an improvement on his second outing. Washington's 28-year-old right-hander got lit up in Boston's Fenway Park back on April 13th (2 ⅓ IP, 8 R, 7 ER) after a solid start against the Mets (6 IP, 1 ER) the first time out this season.
The four-walk outing was Zimmermann's first since 2013 and just the fifth of his career in 148 major league starts.
Three starts into what could be his walk year if the Nats and the righty don't agree to an extension, Zimmermann was left (1-2) with a 6.14 ERA, 4.42 FIP, five walks (3.07 BB/9) and seven Ks (4.30 K/9) in 14 ⅔ IP.
More than the results, Nats' skipper Matt Williams said afterwards, it was an important outing because Zimmermann dispelled any notions that there might be a health issue after his velocity was down from career averages in his first two starts.
"Threw strikes," Williams said. "He just wasn't quite as sharp as normal.
"His velo was there. It was strong, felt good. Just couldn't get it done today."
As for the walks?
"Just not as sharp," Williams continued. "But all those questions are answered regarding how he's feeling. I think he's okay. He's good, he just didn't throw it exactly where he wanted to. But he kept us in it. We were in it."
"It was better, but I still had four walks and that's unacceptable," Zimmermann told reporters. "Two of them came around and scored. I have to clean them up and do better next time."
"I was just trying to be too fine," he said when asked about the free passes, "and then I'd end up missing and be falling behind and then I would really make a mistake and miss badly."
Tonight in Miami, Zimmermann was facing the Miami Marlins for the 18th time in his career. Through 17 starts, he was (7-3) with a 3.36 ERA and a .234/.274/.362 line against when facing the Nats' NL East rivals.
It's a party! Fans enjoy a night full of fun, New Orleans-style, for Mardi Gras Night at the park. pic.twitter.com/NxF2P0l7Ul— Marlins Park (@MarlinsPark) April 24, 2015
Last year, Zimmermann was (3-0) against the Fish, (2-0 in Miami) with a 3.28 ERA and a .229/.261/.336 line against in 35 ⅔ IP and a no-hitter of the Marlins in his last start of the regular season in Game 162 of 162 for the Nats.
His last loss to the Marlins came back on May 28, 2012. Over 11 starts since then, he went (7-0) with a 2.67 ERA and the Nationals 9-2 when he's taken the mound against Miami over that stretch.
Zimmermann took the mound tonight in Marlins Park with a slider that was sharp and threw a quick, 17-pitch first, striking out Martin Prado and Giancarlo Stanton after a groundout to short from Dee Gordon.
Michael Morse K'd swinging at a 2-2 slider low and away like Prado and Stanton before him for the first out of Miami's second, but Marcell Ozuna singled to right with one down to break up Zimmermann's no-hit bid. Marlins' catcher J.T. Realmuto grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-2 in the next AB, however, and Zimmermann was through two on 30 pitches after a 13-pitch frame.
Miami's 7-8-and-9 hitters went down in order in a relatively quick, eight-pitch inning. 38 total after three.
Dee Gordon buzzed Zimmermann's tower with a single back up the middle in the first at bat of the Marlins' fourth, but three outs later he was stranded at the end of a 10-pitch frame. 48 total for Zimmermann.
Denard Span was running all around Marlins Park's outfield grass in the first two at bats of the Marlins' fifth, making an over-the-shoulder basket catch on a Marcell Ozuna fly to left-center and a range-y catch of a J.T. Realmuto fly to the right side of center field. Ichiro Suzuki and Adeiny Hechavarria hit back-to-back two-out singles in front of Mat Latos, however, and the opposing pitcher helped his own cause with an RBI single to center that tied things up at 1-1. Dee Gordon drove Hechavarria in with the fourth straight hit, 2-1, but got thrown out at second by Bryce Harper to end a 23-pitch frame that left Zimmermann at 71 total after five.
The Marlins went down in order in an eight-pitch sixth, with Michael Morse striking out on a 93 mph 1-2 fastball to end the inning with Zimmermann's 4th strikeout.
• Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 79 P, 55 S, 3/5 GO/FO.
4. Latos vs D.C.: The Miami Marlins acquired Mat Latos from the Cincinnati Reds this past December. Latos, 27, was coming off a (5-5), +1.7 fWAR campaign which started late after he recovered from surgery on his knee and ended early when he suffered a deep bone bruise on his right elbow.
Latos finished his sixth major league campaign with a 3.25 ERA, a 3.65 FIP, 26 walks (2.29 BB/9) and 74 Ks (6.51 K/9) in 16 starts and 102 ⅓ IP.
He was off to a rough start this season before taking the mound tonight in Miami, however, going (0-3) in his first three starts, with a 10.24 ERA (12 R, 11 ER in 9 ⅔ IP), 4.19 FIP and a .395/.469/.628 line against.
He was facing a Washington Nationals team he'd had success against in previous seasons though.
In seven starts against the Nats before this evening's, he was (3-2) with a 2.66 ERA, though he started off (3-0) with a 1.93 ERA in 18 ⅔, and was (0-2) with a 3.27 ERA in four starts and 22 IP since vs Washington since.
Latos retired the Nationals in order in an 11-pitch first, but Bryce Harper bunted his way on in the first at bat of the Nats' second. Three outs later, Harper was stranded at first and Latos was through two on 20 pitches after a nine-pitch frame.
3⃣⬆️ 3⃣⬇️ for Mat in the 1st! #Whiff— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) April 24, 2015
Dan Uggla and Jordan Zimmermann went down swinging in the first two at bats in the Nats' third, and a groundout to first (second after Michael Morse missed it) ended another quick frame for Latos, who was up to 32 pitches after a 12-pitch inning.
Ian Desmond doubled to start the Nationals' fourth, took third on a fly to right by Jayson Werth and scored on a fly to center by Bryce Harper. 1-0. Latos gave up a two-out double to Ryan Zimmerman, but a groundout to second by Yunel Escobar ended a 14-pitch frame which left him at 46 pitches after four.
A 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth left Latos at 58 pitches.
Given a 2-1 lead to work with, Latos walked Denard Span in the first at bat of the Nats' sixth, and Span stole second one-out later. Bryce Harper stepped in with two down and hit a line drive to right field to bring Span in and tie it up at 2-2. Latos was up to 78 pitches when Harper was thrown out trying to steal second base.
Latos was lifted with one out in the Nats' seventh, after back-to-back singles by Yunel Escobar and Wilson Ramos...
• Mat Latos' Line: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 88 P, 57 S, 6/6 GO/FO.
3. Zimmerman's Foot: Ryan Zimmerman was noticeably uncomfortable while running the bases during Thursday's series finale with the St. Louis Cardinals. He remained in the game, however, going 1 for 4 on the day.
Over the course of the Nationals' seven-game homestand, the 30-year-old first baseman was 9 for 29 (.310/.310/.448) with four doubles.
After Washington's 4-1 loss, Nats' skipper Matt Williams told reporter that Zimmerman was dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
"He's got a little bit of -- I guess you would classify it as a little bit plantar fasciitis," Williams explained.
"He's got a little bit of pain in the bottom of his foot that's bothering him. It's been bothering him for a little while. So, pretty soon here we'd like to give him another day and try to calm it down a little bit."
Zimmerman's discomfort was especially clear on his fourth-inning single to right off Cards' starter Michael Wacha.
"He was gimpy," Williams admitted. "The ball down in the corner, generally he goes for two there, but he went to turn the base and felt it. So, he's been dealing with it for a little while."
"It may calm it down just to stay off of it for a day. So we'll see, we'll see how he feels tomorrow."
Zimmerman was apparently feeling good enough to play in the series opener with Miami in Marlins Park. His name was penciled into the lineup when it was released this afternoon.
The veteran of 10+ major league seasons entered the three-game series with a .295/.337/.603 line, four doubles and six home runs in 19 games and 83 plate appearances in the Marlins' home since it opened in 2012.
Zimmerman went 1 for 2 with a double in his first two at bats and had little trouble legging out the two-base hit in the fourth. He ended the night 1 for 4, but showed no signs of further trouble.
2. Turning Point(s): Mat Latos started the game with three scoreless innings against the Nationals, but Ian Desmond doubled to start the fourth and two fly balls moved him around the bases with Jayson Werth, fly to right, and Bryce Harper, sac fly to center, helping to bring the first run of the game around. 1-0 Nats.
The double was Desmond's 7th of the season and it gave him hits in 10 straight games, over which he was 17 for 40 (.425 AVG) after the hit (1 for 2 at that point tonight).
Miami rallied with two down in the bottom of the fifth, with four straight two-out singles that had Jordan Zimmermann in trouble, but Dee Gordon got greedy after connecting for the fourth hit, and he was thrown out at second base by Bryce Harper for the final out of the frame after he drove in the go-ahead run. 2-1 Marlins, but it could have been worse.
After showing off the arm, Harper helped out with the bat, driving Denard Span in from second with a two-out single to right to tie it up at 2-2 after five and a half in Miami.
1. The Wrap-Up: Marlins' right-hander A.J. Ramos took over with runners on first and second and one out in the Nats' seventh. Dan Uggla K'd swinging and Reed Johnson grounded out to third.
Tanner Roark took over for Zimmermann in the bottom of the seventh and threw a quick, eight-pitch, 1-2-3 frame.
Jayson Werth worked back from being down 0-2 to take a two-out walk from Marlins' right-hander Bryan Morris, and Bryce Harper walked too to put two on in front of Ryan Zimmerman, who grounded into a force at second to end the frame. Still 2-2.
Roark came back out for another inning of work in the bottom of the eighth and gave up a leadoff double to left by Adeiny Hechavarria.
Roark came up and in with a fastball to pinch hitter Donovan Solano, who squared to bunt, but popped out to the catcher.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams went to the pen for Matt Grace vs Dee Gordon, who moved the runner up with an infield single. Aaron Barrett came on to face Martin Prado, (0 for 3 tonight), who lined a 1-1 fastball to right to put the Marlins ahead, 2-1.
Steve Cisek came on for the save opportunity. Prado flashed some leather on a sharp grounder to third off Yunel Escobar's bat for the first out of the ninth. Wilson Ramos popped out. Clint Robinson? Groundout to second. Ballgame.
Nationals now 7-10