5. Zimmermann vs the Fish: Washington Nationals' right-hander Jordan Zimmermann was winless (0-0) in two outings against the Miami Marlins this season before tonight's, with a 2.08 ERA and eight Ks in 13 innings in which he avoided issuing any walks and held Fish hitters to a combined .250/.250/.313 line.
Zimmermann took the mound in the series opener of the Nationals' three-game set in Marlins Park tonight with a six-start unbeaten streak on the mound, over which he'd put up a 2.33 ERA in 38 ⅔ innings pitched, with the 29-year-old right-hander allowing two walks (0.47 BB/9) and collecting 30 Ks (6.98 K/9) while holding opposing hitters to a paltry .231/.252/.333 line during that stretch.
His last start was a seven-inning, 102-pitch outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers last week in the nation's capital which saw him give up three runs on seven hits in a 4-3 win in which he received no decision.
Four of the seven hits he allowed and all three runs came in a 26-pitch fourth inning.
"I gave up a couple base hits and hung a backdoor curveball to [Kirk] Nieuwenhuis and [he] hit it for a double and then a broken-bat hit and next thing know there's three runs on the board," Zimmermann explained, but he added that his slider was sharper than it was in previous outings.
"It was good. Like I said, it hasn't been as of late, but today it was much better and a lot better control."
Last time he faced Miami, Zimmermann said everything was working for him in the seven-inning outing in which he allowed six hits and two runs, one earned.
"The first inning I was right over the middle with the fastball," he told reporters after the Nats' 6-4 win, "and I figured it was going to be a long day if I kept doing that, so I had to start working on the corners a little bit and the curveball and slider were both there today, so it was one of those days where I had all three pitches working and it was fun to be out there."
Tonight in Miami, his third start of the year against the Marlins began with a scoreless, 14-pitch first in which he worked around a leadoff single by Dee Gordon (who was caught stealing) and a one-out single Martin Prado, who was stranded.
Given a 1-0 lead to work with, Zimmermann retired the Marlins in order on a quick, nine-pitch, 1-2-3 second. 23 pitches total after two. A five-pitch, 1-2-3 third left Zimmermann at 28 pitches.
Martin Prado was 2 for 2 tonight after a leadoff single to center in the bottom of the fourth, but one out later, Casey McGehee grounded back to the mound, off Zimmermann's glove and into an inning-ending 1-4-6-3 DP. 11-pitch frame, 39 total after four.
Fish catcher J.T. Realmuto lined a one-out single to center field in the Marlins' fifth, and Ichiro Suzuki followed with a single into the right-center gap that sent Realmuto around to third. He scored on an RBI sac fly to right field by Adeiny Hechavarria to make 1-1 after five. 17-pitch frame, 56 total.
Dee Gordon tripled to right-center to start the sixth and scored on the second straight hit, a single to left by Martin Prado. Another single followed with Christian Yelich lining a first-pitch fastball to right to send Prado around to third. Yelich took second on Harper's throw in to third. After Casey McGehee grounded weakly to second, the Nats walked Derek Dietrich to load them up with one out in front of J.T. Realmuto, whose weak grounder to short brought in a run, 3-1. 20-pitch frame, 76 total.
• Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 76 P, 50 S, 9/2 GO/FO.
4. Fernandez vs the Nationals: In four starts back, since returning from a year off following Tommy John surgery, 22-year-old Marlins' ace Jose Fernandez was (3-0) with a 2.77 ERA, a 1.57 FIP, three walks (1.04 BB/9), 32 Ks (11.08 K/9) and a .225/.255/.330 line against heading into tonight's series opener with the Washington Nationals.
Fernandez returned to the mound on July 2nd, threw seven innings of shutout ball in his second start of the season, and in his last outing before tonight's struck out 11 batters in seven innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks in earning his third win in four starts.
Tonight in Marlins Park, the 2011 1st Round pick was taking on Miami's NL East rivals from D.C. for the first time since Aprill 16th of last season, when he struck out ten in seven innings of work in which he gave up four hits and three unearned runs in a 6-3 loss in which he received no decision.
Before the injury, the right-hander was (1-0) in three career starts against the Nationals, with a 0.45 ERA, five walks and 23 Ks in 20 IP over which he held Nats' hitters to a combined .138/.197/.215 line.
His fourth career start vs Washington tonight, began with an impressive, 12-pitch, 1-2-3 first which ended with Jayson Werth chasing a wicked slider out of the zone.
Bryce Harper walked in the first at bat of the second and took third base on a double to left field by the returning Ryan Zimmerman. Ian Desmond stepped in with runners on second and third and no one out, and went down swinging at a 1-2 curve. Wilson Ramos sent a fly deep enough to right to bring Bryce Harper in, 1-0 after one and a half. 24-pitch second for Fernandez, 36 total after two.
Yunel Escobar took the second walk of the game from Fernandez with two down in the top of the third, but Jayson Werth rolled over a two-strike curve and grounded out to short to end the frame. 15-pitch inning, 51 total.
Ryan Zimmerman walked with one down in the top of the fourth, but he was stranded one batter later when Wilson Ramos lined out to a leaping Christian Yelich in center to end an 18-pitch frame by Fernandez. 69 total after four.
Michael Taylor singled to start the fifth and Anthony Rendon lined a single to left one out later. Yunel Escobar walked to load the bases with one down, but Jayson Werth grounded into an inning-ending 5-4-3 DP. 14-pitch frame, 83 total.
Bryce Harper singled to left to start the sixth, but three outs later he was stranded at the end of a 16-pitch sixth by Fernandez. 99 total.
• Jose Fernandez's Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 Ks, 99 P, 62 S, 4/4 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: The Marlins entered the three-game set with the NL East-leading Nationals 4-2 after six games with their divisional rivals this season, having dropped two of three in the season-opening set in D.C. and swept the last series in Miami.
• The Marlins reinstated Dee Gordon from the 15-Day DL before the start of this series. The Nationals reinstated both Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman.
He's baaa-aack. pic.twitter.com/FaACKqNy4R— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) July 28, 2015
• Jose Fernandez took the mound tonight looking to continue a "historic" streak of 22 career home starts without a loss, over which he's (14-0) with a 1.17 ERA in 146 ⅔ innings pitched. He passed Montreal Expos' starter David Palmer for the longest unbeaten streak to start a career.
• For today's "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Fernandez also has a .188 BAA in 40 starts since 2013, which is the lowest BAA of any pitcher in the majors since then.
• Ian Desmond entered tonight's game with a seven-game hit streak, over which the 29-year-old infielder was 11 for 23 (.478/.556/.1.000) with four home runs, four walks and seven Ks. He entered the game 0 for 9 with seven Ks and struck out in each of his first three at bats.
• Bryce Harper started the series with the Marlins with a 23-game on-base sterak and a 42-game game road on-base streak. He extended it to 24-straight and 43 on the road with a walk in his first at bat.
• Jordan Zimmermann took the mound tonight with a streak of 110 starts and 692 innings pitched in which he hasn't walked two straight batters. He did not walk two in a row tonight.
2. Turning Point(s): Since returning from the DL and Tommy John surgery, Marlins' right-hander Jose Fernandez had walked just three batters in 26 innings, but he gave up a nine-pitch walk in the first at bat of the Nats' second, putting Bryce Harper on with no one out. Ryan Zimmerman, in his first at bat back from the DL (plantar fasciitis) doubled in the next at bat, sending a low liner to left, and one out later Wilson Ramos hit a sac fly to right that was deep enough to score Harper from third. 1-0 Nationals early.
• Jordan Zimmermann completed four scoreless frames on a super-efficient 39 pitches, but the Marlins got to him in the fifth with back-to-back singles by J.T. Realmuto and Ichiro Suzuki and sac fly to right by Adeiny Hechavarria that tied things up at 1-1 after five.
• Three pitches, and a triple and two singles, into the fifth, the Marlins were up 2-1 after Dee Gordon lined to right-center for the three-base hit and Martin Prado (RBI single) and Christian Yelich (line drive to right) followed with the second and third of the back-to-back-to-back hits, all on three pitches. A bases-loaded groundout by J.T. Realmuto drove in the Marlins' third run. 3-1.
1. The Wrap-Up: Bryan Morris took over for the Marlins in the top of the seventh with a 3-1 lead and completed a quick scoreless frame.
Sammy Solis took over for the Nationals in the bottom of the seventh and gave up a leadoff single to center by Cole Gillespie. Dee Gordon appeared to bunt for a single, but was ruled out upon review, so it was a sac bunt.
Solis walked Martin Prado intentionally to set up a potential double play, but an RBI single by Christian Yelich made it a 4-1 game. Aaron Barrett finished out the inning.
Carter Capps worked around a leadoff single by Jayson Werth and a two-out single by Ryan Zimmerman for a scoreless 12-pitch eighth.
Felipe Rivero threw a scoreless eighth for the Nationals.
A.J. Ramos took the mound in the ninth. Michael Taylor walked with one down and took third on an opposite field double to left by Clint Robinson. Anthony Rendon stepped in as the potential tying run, worked the count full and walked to load the bases for Yunel Escobar, who grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3.
Nationals now 52-46