5. Zimmermann vs the Marlins: Jordan Zimmermann earned the win in his last start in spite of the fact that he gave up eight hits and four runs in 5 ⅔ innings pitched of what ended up a 9-5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Washington's 29-year-old right-hander gave up two home runs, one by Jonathan Lucroy, who hit a two-run home run in the first, and one by Scooter Gennett, who hit a solo shot in fifth for the seventh and eighth homers Zimmermann has allowed in his last 31 ⅓ innings pitched after the Nationals' 2007 2nd Round pick allowed nine total in 128 ⅔ innings over his first twenty-one starts this season.
"Obviously I'm leaving the ball up a little bit and they're putting the bat on the ball," Zimmermann said when asked about the increased number of home runs he's surrendered.
"If I stay down a little more, they'll probably ground out and just one of those things that's happening."
Zimmermann admitted that he wasn't necessarily sharp against the Brewers.
"Definitely not my best," Zimmermann told reporters. "Didn't have my best stuff. They punched me in the mouth in the first. Kind of woke up after that. I was doing okay for a few innings and we started scoring some runs."
"They made me battle," he said. "I threw a lot of pitches, and obviously the pitch count was way higher than I wanted it to be."
Zimmermann threw 116 pitches total in five-plus innings pitched, his highest pitch count of the season.
The outing left him (10-8) after 26 starts, with a 3.54 ERA, a 3.55 FIP, 28 walks (1.58 BB/9) and 127 Ks (7.14 K/9) in 160 innings, over which he's held opposing hitters to a combined .266/.305/.387 line.
Tonight he was facing Miami for the fourth time this season after going (0-1) with a 2.84 ERA, two walks and 10 Ks in 19 IP over which Marlins' hitters have put up a .282/.297/.352 line against him.
Zimmermann's fifth start vs the Fish began with a single to center by Dee Gordon, who was thrown out trying to steal second in the next at bat. Two quick outs later, the right-hander was through a scoreless 16-pitch first.
Derek Dietrich walked to start the Marlins' second, but was doubled up on a grounder to second base off of Justin Bour's bat. Marcell Ozuna K'd looking at a 3-2 fastball to end a 17-pitch frame at 33 total after two.
Tom Koehler hit a two-out single to right field off Zimmermann in the top of the third and took third base on a double to the wall in right by Dee Gordon, but the Marlins' pitcher tried to score on a wild pitch to Ichiro Suzuki in the next at bat and got tagged out at home for out no.3 of a 16-pitch inning that left Zimmermann at 49 pitches.
Suzuki and Martin Prado hit back-to-back singles to start the Marlins' fourth, and both runners moved up one out later on a groundout to first by Justin Bour. Marcell Ozuna stepped in with two on and two out and popped out to center to end a 14-pitch frame. 63 total.
Tom Koehler was 2 for 2 tonight after he hit a two-out single to center, but he was stranded when Dee Gordon lined out to left to end a 16-pitch inning that pushed Zimmerman up to 79 pitches.
A nine-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth left Zimmerman at 88 pitches.
Zimmermann's shutout bid ended when Justin Bour hit a solo shot to left to lead off the seventh, parking one in the second deck above the out-of-town scoreboard in right field to make it 5-1 Nationals.
Three outs later, Zimmermann was through seven on 106 pitches after an 18-pitch frame.
• Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 106 P, 72 S, 9/2 GO/FO.
4. Koehler fears Harper: In 23 career plate appearances against Tom Koehler before tonight, Bryce Harper was 7 for 21 with five home runs, two walks and four Ks, with four of the home runs and one of the two walks this season.
Harper hit three home runs off Koehler in three consecutive at bats when he faced the Marlins right-hander during Miami's visit to the nation's capital in early May, then connected for one more in a two-home run game against the Fish in Marlins Park on July 29th.
In eight career starts against the Nationals, the 29-year-old right-hander is (3-5) with a 4.28 ERA, 19 walks and 28 Ks in 48 ⅓ innings pitched, over which Washington's hitters have put up a combined .233/.308/.443 line against him.
He took the mound in the nation's capital tonight (8-12) on the year with a 3.98 ERA, a 4.42 FIP, 54 walks (3.36 BB/9) and 103 Ks (6.41 K/9) in 144 ⅔ innings pitched, coming off a solid start in a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in which he gave up seven hits, four walks and two earned runs in six innings of work in a 5-2 loss.
Could he afford giving up another home run by Harper? Could he avoid losing his seventh straight start and his ninth in his last ten?
Over the six-start losing streak, which started with a loss to the Nationals in that late July outing, Koehler had a 6.68 ERA and a .295/.363/.482 line against in 33 ⅔ IP.
Tonight in Nationals Park, his outing began with a quick, 12-pitch, 1-2-3 first that ended with Bryce Harper swinging over a 2-2 curve.
Two pitches into the second, however, Koehler was down 1-0 after Ryan Zimmerman hit a 1-0 fastball out to left field. Three outs later, Koehler was through two on 26 pitches after a 14-pitch frame.
Danny Espinosa and Jordan Zimmermann bunted for hits in the first two at bats of the Nationals' half of the third, but Jayson Werth hit a one-hop liner to third to start a 5-4-3 DP. Espinosa took third on the double play, and scored on a two-out single to right by Anthony Rendon, who lined a 1-2 fastball outside the other way. 20-pitch frame for Koehler, 46 total after three.
Ian Desmond singled with two out in the second, but was cut down trying to steal second base for out no.3 of a 12-pitch frame that left Koehler at 58 pitches.
Wilson Ramos singled to start the Nationals' fifth, but was stranded at third three outs later at the end of an 11-pitch frame by Koehler. 69 total.
Anthony Rendon singled to start the sixth and scored two outs later on an opposite field homer by Clint Robinson, who hit a first-pitch change into the left field bullpen. Ian Desmond followed with a solo shot to center on the next pitch. 5-0 Nationals. 15-pitch frame for Koehler, 84 total after six.
• Tom Koehler's Line: 6.0 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 3 HRs, 84 P, 52 S, 6/3 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: Miami's win last night gave them a 6-4 advantage in the season series with the Nationals, the only NL East team they have a winning record against this season.
• Tom Koehler leads the Marlins' rotation with 15 quality starts and he also is tied for in the majors with six losses in those starts. He's tied with Max Scherzer.
• Dee Gordon's .332 AVG in the second-highest in the majors, behind only Bryce Harper (.334).
• Martin Prado singled in his first at bat last night and homered in his second, and he's reached base safely in 23 of his last 24 games, with a .352 OBP over that stretch.
• Bryce Harper started the night with a nine-game hitting streak, with five multi-hit games in his last nine, over which he's 14 for 33 (.424 AVG).
• Wilson Ramos has three home runs in his last five games and he's collected hits in his last six games, over which he has a .364/.417/.818 line.
• For today's "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" update: Ian Desmond is 40 for 133 (.301/.359/.556) with five doubles, a triple, nine home runs and 12 walks in his last 36 games going back to July 20th.
2. Turning Point(s): Tom Koehler struck out his arch nemesis, Bryce Harper, to end the bottom of the first, but two pitches into the second, the right-hander and the Marlins were down 1-0 after Ryan Zimmerman smoked a 1-0 fastball and hit a solo home run to left field for his 12th home run of the 2015 campaign.
Longest homer for Zim since 9/10/2012... https://t.co/oIkGz2DUlS— Chase Hughes (@chasehughesCSN) August 30, 2015
• The Nationals took a 2-0 lead on a good piece of hitting by Anthony Rendon, who went out for a 1-2 fastball from Koehler and pushed it out to right for an opposite field, RBI single that brought Danny Espinosa in from third.
• After Clint Robinson and Ian Desmond hit back-to-back blasts in the sixth, 5-0, Justin Bour took Nationals' starter Jordan Zimmermann deep on a 1-0 fastball, hitting a solo shot to right that landed in the second deck. 5-1.
1. The Wrap-Up: Brian Ellington took over for the Marlins in the bottom of the seventh, giving up a two-out walk by Jayson Werth, but nothing else.
Matt Thornton worked around a two-out error for a scoreless eighth. Still 5-1.
Andre Rienzo completed a scoreless 10-pitch eighth... [ed. note - "Michael Taylor got a pinch hit appearance!"]
Jonathan Papelbon came out for the ninth in a non-save situation and retired the Marlins in order. Ballgame. 5-1 Nationals.
Nationals now 65-63