5. Zimmermann slays Giants: Washington Nationals' right-hander Jordan Zimmermann took the mound tonight in Nationals Park with a streak of 16 ⅔ scoreless innings going, which went back to his final inning of work against the Tampa Bay Rays. Zimmermann followed that outing up with eight scoreless against the Braves in the nation's capital and 7 ⅔ scoreless on the road in Atlanta, Georgia's Turner Field.
"I just had a good curveball the last two starts," Zimmermann said after his second straight start against the Braves.
"Felt like I could throw when I wanted to, where I wanted to, any count, keep them off-balance and just pound the zone and let those guys behind me play defense."
"Fastballs to both corners, slider, curveball, elevated fastball late or breaking ball down out of the zone late," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said.
"I thought he was aggressive and throwing it where he wanted to throw it. That's a good formula for him."
The back-to-back starts against the Braves left the Nationals' 29-year-old starter (6-5) on the year with a 3.16 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 19 walks (1.72 BB/9), 69 Ks (6.23 K/9) and a .275/.315/.351 line against in 16 starts and 99 ⅔ IP.
Tonight he was back home in D.C., where he was (3-3) in nine starts, with a 2.39 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 12 walks (1.79 BB/9), 37 Ks (5.2 K/9) and a .251/.287/.302 line against in 40 ⅓ IP.
His tenth start in Nats Park this season began with a bloop single to left by Angel Pagan, who stole second and took third on a two-out single to left by Buster Posey, before he was stranded there after Denard Span tracked down a fly to center by Brandon Crawford. 19-pitch first.
A 12-pitch, 1-2-3 second left Zimmermann at 31 total after two. Given a 1-0 lead to work with, Zimmermann came back out and retired the Giants in order in a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 third. 43 total.
Zimmermann retired the first two batters in the fourth, but a 3-0 fastball to Brandon Crawford ended up in the right field bullpen for a game-tying blast. 1-1. 15-pitch frame, 58 total after four.
Three straight Ks, one swinging and two looking got Zimmermann through a quick, 18-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth that left him at 76 pitches overall and seven Ks.
Brandon Belt took a two-out walk in the Giants' sixth, but Buster Posey grounded out on the next pitch to end a 15-pitch frame. 91 total.
With the Nationals up 2-1 after Wilson Ramos' solo blast in the sixth, Zimmermann came back out for the seventh and retired the side in order in a nine-pitch frame that left him at 100 pitches even.
• Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 Ks, 1 HR, 100 P, 66 S, 6/2 GO/FO.
4. Same old Vogelsong: After scoreless outings in back-to-back starts against the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres, 37-year-old San Francisco Giants' starter Ryan Vogelsong lost his fourth start in six June outings overall to Miami last time out on the mound in Marlins Park, giving up seven hits, three walks and four runs in six innings.
In six starts last month, the 11-year-veteran was (2-4) with a 4.11 ERA, 16 walks (4.11 BB/9) and 25 Ks (6.43 K/9) in 35 IP, over which he had a .248/.329/.368 line against.
Vogelsong was (4-4) in nine starts away from AT&T before tonight's with a 5.40 ERA, 5.53 FIP and .264/.336/.503 line on the road in 48 ⅓ IP as opposed to his 2.63 ERA, 3.78 FIP and .215/.302/.324 line against in seven starts and 37 ⅔ IP in San Francisco.
Tonight in the nation's capital, the veteran starter was facing the Nationals for the ninth time in his career, after going (1-2) in five starts regular season and four relief appearances, over which he had a 6.16 ERA and a .280/.366/.456 line against in 30 ⅔ IP.
He last faced Washington in Game 4 of the NLDS last October in San Francisco, going 5 ⅔ innings in which he gave up two hits, two walks and one earned run in what ended up a decisive 3-2 win in which he received no decision.
Tonight in D.C., Vogelsong had Yunel Escobar reach on a one-out error by Joe Panik at second that put a runner on in front of Bryce Harper, whose single to right gave the Nationals a first-and-third one-out opportunity early.
Clint Robinson stepped in next as the Nats' cleanup hitter and grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3. 16-pitch first.
Wilson Ramos and Danny Espinosa took back-to-back walks in the first two at bats of the Nationals' second, and both moved up on a wild pitch/K by Ian Desmond.
Michael Taylor came up with two runners in scoring position and lined a single to lef field to bring Ramos in for a 1-0 lead. Espinosa was tagged out between third and home on a grounder to third by Jordan Zimmermann and Denard Span lined to center to end the second. 24-pitch frame. 40 total for Vogelsong after two.
Bryce Harper walked with one down in the third and stole second one out later with Wilson Ramos at the plate, but he was stranded there at the end of an 11-pitch second that left Vogelsong at 51 pitches after three.
Danny Espinosa bunted his way on in the first at bat of the Nats' fourth, but three outs later he was stranded at first. 16-pitch frame, 67 total for Vogelsong.
Four pitches into the fifth, Vogelsong got into it with home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi, who was awful tonight, and got himself tossed.
• Ryan Vogelsong's Line: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 Ks, 71 P, 44 S, 5/3 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: The Nationals were looking for their fifth sweep of the season going into tonight's game after sweeping the Braves twice, the Yankees (in a two-game set) and the Pittsburgh Pirates in three-straight in the last homestand. The Giants were trying to avoid being swept for the fifth time this season.
• The Giants were looking to snap a five-game losing streak, and avoid going 0-6 on their current road trip which began with three straight losses to the Marlins in Miami.
• The Giants had also dropped six straight overall on the road and eight of their last ten away from San Francisco.
• The Nationals were 11-2 in the last 13 regular season games with the Giants in Nats Park before tonight's game.
• Gregor Blanco and Buster Posey kept their respective hitting streaks going with hits in Saturday's game. Blanco was up to 11-straight over which he was 18 for 29 (.462 AVG) and Posey was up to ten games over which he was 15 for 36 (.417) with four doubles and four home runs over that stretch.
• Denard Span, who sat out on Saturday, was back in the lineup tonight and looking to extend his 23-game on-base streak in the series finale with the Giants. Over the course of his streak, the Nats' leadoff man was 29 for 91 (.319 AVG) with four doubles, eight stolen bases and a .415 OBP.
• Bryce Harper's one-out walk in the third was his 61st walk of the season, tying his previous season-high in his 321st plate appearances. His previous high was in 497 PAs.
• Max Scherzer's in-game interview was hilarious:
2. Turning Point(s): Back-to-back walks are no way to start an inning, and a wild pitch/strike three moved both Wilson Ramos and Danny Espinosa into scoring position in the second. Michael Taylor stepped in next and lined a first-pitch curve to left for an RBI single that made it 1-0 Nationals.
• Jordan Zimmermann was rolling, with two outs in the fourth and nine straight batters set down when he fell behind Giants' shortstop Brandon Crawford, 3-0. Crawford got the green light and unloaded on a fastball that ended up in the right field bullpen for a game-tying home run. 1-1 after three and a half in D.C.
• With Ryan Vogelsong tossed, the Giants were forced to go to the pen in the fifth. Josh Osich finished the fifth and got the first out of the Nationals' sixth before George Kontos came on and gave up a solo home run to the first batter he faced, Wilson Ramos, who hit his eighth home run of the year out to right, over the out-of-town scoreboard to put the Nationals ahead, 2-1 after six.
1. The Wrap-Up: Left-handed reliever Josh Osich took over for Ryan Vogelsong in the fifth after the Giants' starter and manager Bruce Bochy got tossed by home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi and set the Nationals down in order.
Osich popped Clint Robinson up to start the bottom of the sixth.
George Kontos came out next and gave up an opposite field blast by Wilson Ramos, who took an 0-1 fastball out to right and over the out-of-town scoreboard for a solo home and a 2-1 lead.
Kontos came back out and retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the seventh.
David Carpenter came out to work the top of the eighth for the Nats and gave up a one-out single by Matt Duffy before he was replaced on the mound by Matt Thornton.
Angel Pagan turned around to the right side and lined one to left that Michael Taylor dove for and caught for out no.2. Joe Panik's groundout to short ended the frame. Still 2-1 Nationals.
Bryce Harper doubled to left off Giants' lefty Javier Lopez to start the Nationals' half of the eighth, collecting his 20th two-base hit of the season.
A fly to right by Tyler Moore allowed Harper to take third, and he scored on an RBI single to center by Wilson Ramos. 3-1 Nationals.
Drew Storen came out looking for save no.25 of 2015 and gave up a one-out walk to Buster Posey to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Brandon Crawford, who grounded back toward the mound for out no.2. Gregor Blanco stepped in with two out and grounded back to Storen to end it. Ballgame. Sweep!!!!
Nationals now 46-36