5. Zimmermann's up first: The Nationals announced yesterday that Jordan Zimmermann would get the nod in the first game of the second half for Washington. He ended the first half of the 2015 campaign with a less-than-stellar five-inning outing against the Baltimore Orioles which saw him give up nine hits and four earned runs in a 7-4 win.
It came after a stretch of three starts in which he gave up one earned run in 22 ⅔ IP (0.40 ERA) over which he held opposing hitters to a .183/.202/.232 line.
The start against the Orioles was not Zimmermann at his best, but he was good enough to get the win, improving to (8-5) on the year after the 95-pitch outing.
"'He struggled a little bit with command and left some balls middle of the plate,'" Matt Williams told reporters after the start, as quoted by MASNSports.com's Chris Johnson. "'He got to 95 at that point and he's had a pretty strenuous first half, as well, and we're behind at that point, so we got him out.'"
"'I didn't have very good fastball command the whole game and the off-speed was terrible, too,'" Zimmermann said fairly bluntly. "'I guess I'm happy with four runs. It could've been a lot worse.'"
He ended the first half of what might be his last season in the nation's capital, with a 3.22 ERA, a 3.17 FIP, 20 walks (1.61 BB/9) and 81 Ks (6.53 K/9) in 111 ⅔ IP over which he held hitters to a combined .273/.310/.384 line.
Tonight he was facing the Los Angeles Dodgers for the seventh time in his seven-year career after going (2-1) with a 5.06 ERA and a .299/.348/.488 line against in 32 IP in the previous six outings.
Zimmermann's outing began with a scoreless 24-pitch first in which he worked around a leadoff single to left by Joc Pederson and a two-out walk to Adrian Gonzalez, stranding both runners when Yasmani Grandal K'd swinging.
The Dodgers went down in order in a quick, six-pitch second that left Zimmermann at 30 pitches total after two.
Zimmermann threw a 94 mph 0-2 heater by the opposing pitcher, Mike Bolsinger, tied Joc Pederson in knots with a 2-2 slider inside for a swinging third strike and got a line drive to first by Howie Kendrick on an 0-2 slider to end an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 third. 41 total.
Given a 1-0 lead to work with, Zimmermann hit Justin Turner in the first at bat of the fourth, and gave up a two-run home run by Adrian Gonzalez on a 1-1 fastball in the next AB. 2-1 LA. No.19 for Gonzalez. Yasiel Puig singled to center with one down, but was stranded two outs later. 22-pitch frame, 63 total after four.
An extended delay followed the top of the inning, however, when a bank of lights down the third base line went out. Zimmermann did not return from what ended up being a one hour, twenty-two minute delay.
• Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 63 P, 43 S, 2/0 GO/FO.
4. Bolsinger vs D.C.: Purchased from the Arizona Diamondbacks this winter in exchange for an undisclosed amount of cash, Mike Bolsinger, a 2010 15th Round pick who debuted in the majors with the D-Backs in 2014, has made 13 starts with Los Angeles this season, over which the right-hander -- who was (1-6) with a 5.50 ERA, a 4.01 FIP, 17 walks (2.92 BB/9) and 48 Ks (8.25 K/9) in 52 ⅓ innings pitched last season -- is (4-3), with a 3.08 ERA, a 2.79 FIP, 25 walks (3.08 BB/9) and 69 Ks (8.51 K/9) in 73 IP, holding opposing hitters to a combined .243/.310/.314 line so far in his time with L.A.
In his first seven starts with the Dodgers, Bolsinger was (4-1) with a 2.08 ERA, 14 walks (2.91 BB/9), 36 Ks (7.48 K/9) and a .199/.271/.278 line against in 43 ⅓ innings. In his last six starts, however, Bolsinger has gone (0-2) with a 4.55 ERA, 11 walks (3.34 BB/9), 33 Ks (10.01 K/9) and a .300/.359/.358 line against in 29 ⅔ innings.
Last time out on the mound, against the Milwaukee Brewers in Dodger Stadium, Bolsinger received no decision in a 3-2 win for the Dodgers in which the right-hander gave up four hits, a walk and two earned runs in six innings, going six for the first time in his winless streak.
"The more he can throw the fastball where he wants and when he's getting his breaking ball over he's going to be able to keep himself in the game," Dodgers' manager Don Mattingly said after the win.
"I think that's [what we saw] tonight, command of the breaking ball and threw enough strikes with the fastball and was able to stay in the game."
Bolsinger, who throws a cut fastball at around 86-87, a curve at around 79 mph, a four-seamer that averages 87.3 mph and a slider that sits around 79-80, took the mound tonight in the nation's capital and after recording the first out, threw away an easy toss to first on a grounder to the mound by Danny Espinosa, who took second on the E:1. Bryce Harper was walked intentionally with first base open, and the next two Nats went down swinging to end a 20-pitch first for the Dodgers' starter.
The Nationals went down in order in a nine-pitch second that left Bolsinger at 29 pitches overall.
Yunel Escobar doubled to left on a line drive with one down in the Nationals' half of the third and Danny Espinosa reached safely when Bolsinger fielded a weak roller and tumbled over on his way to first.
Escobar took third on the play and scored on a groundout by Bryce Harper in the next at bat, 1-0 Nats. 31 pitch frame by Bolsinger, 58 total after three.
With the Dodgers up 2-1 in the fourth, a bank of lights went out down the third base line, forcing the game into a delay since their absence darkened home plate.
Bolsinger came back out an hour and twenty-two minutes later and recorded the final out of the frame before he was lifted for a pinch hitter.
• Mike Bolsinger's Line: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 66 P, 40 S, 5/2 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: The Nationals' .552 winning percentage in the first half was the fifth-highest in the majors and the fourth highest in the National League.
• After Taylor Swift held two concerts in Nationals Park during the All-Star Break, 2,000 square feet of sod in center field was replaced. [refuses to make Taylor Swift reference.]
• Bryce Harper enters the second-half of his age-22 season leading the majors in OBP (.464) and SLG (.704). He's tied for second in home runs, third in walks and fifth in RBIs and his .339 AVG is MLB's third highest.
• Jordan Zimmermann is pounding the zone this season, to the tune of throwing 50.2% of his pitches for strikes so far in 2015, which is his highest % of pitches in the zone since 2011, when he threw 51.9% for strikes.
• Zimmermann continued the trend tonight, with 29 of his first 41 pitches for strikes. 43 of 63 through four, etc.
• With the signing period for this year's draft picks now passed, the Nationals signed 30 of 40 picks this season, including the top 13 picks and 18 of the top 20. Top pick, Andrew Stevenson is hitting .362 at Class-A Auburn, and he's hit in 12-straight games.
• The Dodgers start their three-game set in D.C. 18-22 on the road so far this season.
• The Nationals were 4-2 in six games against the Dodgers last season, and L.A. is 10-11 in D.C. since Nationals Park opened in 2008.
• LA's playing solid defense this season with a major league leading .990 fld% and just 35 errors on the year... yes, Ian Desmond has 20 himself.
• Dodgers' outfielder Joc Pederson's 20 HRs are the sixth-most in the NL and third-most by MLB players under 23 this season, behind only Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, who have both hit 26.
• The Dodgers hit the most home runs in the NL in the first-half, with 113 so far this season, and they have the best OBP in the NL, .329. Their 114th home run of the season was a two-run blast by Adrian Gonzalez in the fourth.
2. Turning Point(s): A one-out double by Yunel Escobar and a misplay on a grounder toward the mound by Mike Bolsinger, who tripped and tumbled as he fielded the ball, set the Nationals up with runners on first and third in the bottom of the third inning.
A groundout by Bryce Harper in the next at bat brought Escobar in from third for a 1-0 lead, but it didn't last long.
Jordan Zimmermann hit Justin Turner with a pitch in the first AB of the top of the fourth and Adrian Gonzalez followed with a two-run home run to right that made it 2-1 Dodgers. No.19 for Gonzalez.
While we wait, let's enjoy this: pic.twitter.com/MCWAVJWWQI— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) July 18, 2015
• After the second delay of the game, Dodgers' right-hander Chin-hui Tsao took over on the mound at 10:39 PM EDT in D.C. and gave up a double to left-center by Tanner Roark and a two-run home run to left by Yunel Escobar as the Nationals retook the lead.
1. The Wrap-Up: Tanner Roark took the mound in the top of the fifth after the lights came back on and retired the Dodgers in order in a quick, seven-pitch frame.
Chin-hui Tsao took over on the mound for the Dodgers, but after just nine minutes of play, the lights went out again...
After a second delay, Tanner Roark doubled in the first at bat back and Yunel Escobar followed with a two-run home run! 3-2 Nationals. Bryce Harper walked with one down, but he was stranded at the end of the fifth.
When the lights went out again, the game was suspended...
Nationals still 48-39...