5. Zimmermann vs the Rockies: Things got ugly in a hurry for Jordan Zimmermann in his last start before tonight's, when the New York Mets hit three homers in a span of five pitches and jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the third inning of this past Sunday night's series finale in Citi Field.
Zimmermann gave up six hits and five runs in six innings of what ended up 5-2 loss that gave the Mets a sweep of the three-game series.
"'Tonight was one of those nights when I made two mistakes and it looks a lot worse than it was,'" Zimmermann told reporters after the loss.
The third of the three home runs, in particular, bothered the Nationals' starter, since, as he explained, he wasn't sure how Mets' slugger Lucas Duda managed to hit it out to right.
"It was up and in for a ball and somehow he kept it fair," Zimmermann said, as quoted by New York Post writer Fred Kerber. "I’m not really sure how it’s physically possible to hit that ball where I put it. I put it right where I wanted to … he’s probably the hottest guy in baseball right now. For him to hit the ball where he did, where it was located, just got to tip your cap."
The loss in the outing against New York left the right-hander winless in his last four starts, over which the 29-year-old starter was (0-2) with a 5.09 ERA and a .273/.316/.443 line against in 23 innings pitched.
Tonight, however, Zimmermann was facing the Colorado Rockies, against whom, he was (5-0) with a 2.20 ERA, 13 walks (2.39 BB/9) and 40 Ks (7.35 K/9) in 49 IP, over which he's held Rockies' hitters to a combined .258/.303/.352 line.
Zimmermann's outing in the series opener with Colorado began with two quick outs before Rockies' third baseman Nolan Arenado hit a low liner through short on a 94 mph 1-1 fastball. Carlos Gonzalez stepped in with a runner on and two out, and went down swinging at a 94 mph full-count fastball on Zimmermann's 21st pitch.
Given a 1-0 lead to work with, Zimmermann retired the side in order in a 10-pitch second. 31 total after two. A 16-pitch, 1-2-3 third left Zimmermann at 47 pitches.
Carlos Gonzalez shot a grounder through the right side for a two-out single in the Rockies' third, but he was left on base when DJ LeMahieu sent a fly out to Michael Taylor in center for out no.3 of a 12-pitch fourth. 59 total.
With the score 2-0 Nationals, Zimmermann retired the Rockies in order in a 14-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth. 73 total. Another 1-2-3 frame in the sixth ended after 16-pitches. 89 overall. 16 of 17 set down after Nolan Arenado's two-out single in the first.
Nolan Arenado lined a 1-1 slider to right-center for a leadoff double in the Rockies' seventh, and two outs later scored on an opposite field single to left by Ben Paulsen. 4-1 Nationals. That was it for Zimmermann...
• Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks, 106 P, 74 S, 7/4 GO/FO.
4. De La Rosa, Jorge this time: Colorado Rockies' lefty Jorge De La Rosa, 34, bounced back from two straight six-run starts with a 6 ⅔-inning outing against the St. Louis Cardinals last time out, in which he gave up seven hits and two runs in what ended up a 6-2 win over the Cards.
De La Rosa's win, his first since July 5th, ended a winless stretch of four starts over which the veteran of twelve major league seasons was (0-1) with the Rockies 1-3. He had a 6.97 ERA, nine walks (3.92 BB/9) and 22 Ks (9.58 K/9) in 20 ⅔ innings pitched during that period, with opposing hitters putting up a .247/.330/.481 line against him.
The Rockies' starter took the mound tonight in the series opener of Colorado's three-game set in Nationals Park (7-4) in 18 starts with a 4.87 ERA, a 4.41 FIP, 46 walks (4.22 BB/9) and 92 Ks (8.45 K/9) in 98 IP in 2015.
He was facing the Nats for the first time in over a year since he held them to eight hits and two runs, one earned, in 7⅓ innings last July in Coors Field, over which he struck out eleven batters.
"He knows how to pitch here," Matt Williams told reporters after the loss. "He's [got] a surprising fastball when he needs it, but he relies on his changeup a lot, and that's a great strategy here.
"He has the ability to throw it for a strike when he needs to and [out of] the zone when he needs to. I've seen that a number of times, unfortunately."
In the second at bat of De La Rosa's start in the nation's capital tonight, Danny Espinosa doubled to left on a ground ball by third and took an extra base when Rockies' left fielder Kyle Parker misplayed it in the corner. Bryce Harper's groundout to second in the next at bat brought Espinosa in for the first run of the game. 1-0 Nationals after a 19-pitch first by the Rockies' lefty.
The Nationals went down in order in a 15-pitch second that ended with a slick barehand play and strong throw by Nolan Arenado on a dribbler toward third off Michael Taylor's bat. 34 total for De La Rosa after two.
Jordan Zimmermann reached base on a swinging bunt toward third in the first at bat of the Nationals' third, but he was doubled up on a grounder to short by Yunel Escobar in the next at bat. A lineout to right by Danny Espinosa ended a quick, 8-pitch, 1-2-3 third that left De La Rosa at 42 pitches.
Bryce Harper sent an 0-2 fastball to left for a leadoff single in the Nationals' fourth, then scored on a double to the right-center gap by Ryan Zimmerman to make it 2-0 Nats. 12-pitch fraome for De La Rosa. 54 overall.
A 19-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth left De La Rosa at 73 pitches.
Danny Espinosa reached on an infield single in the first at bat of the Nationals' sixth, and moved into scoring position when Bryce Harper walked in the next at bat. (Walk no.80) Ryan Zimmerman stepped in with two on and no one out and moved both runners up with a one-hop liner to second that DJ LeMahieu handled. Jayson Werth's sac fly to center put the Nationals up, 3-0.
Ian Desmond followed with a line drive double to left on a 1-1 fastball and Harper scored from third to make it 4-0 Nats. 28-pitch sixth, 101 total.
• Jorge De La Rosa's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 101 P, 63 S, 11/2 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: After yesterday's win over the D-Backs, the Nationals are 30-21 at home in the nation's capital this season. Their .588 winning percentage at home in the 5th best in the NL.
Almost time. pic.twitter.com/YbKcUNSNQa— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) August 7, 2015
• The Rockies start the three-game set in D.C. 20-32 on the road this season.
• Colorado infielder DJ LeMahieu went 36 for 90 in July (.400 AVG).
• Drew Storen's scoreless inning of work yesterday gave him a streak of 14 appearances and 13 ⅓ innings pitched since he last gave up a run in a June 24th game against the Atlanta Braves.
• D-Backs' C/1B Jarrod Saltalamacchia's walk in Arizona's loss on Thursday snapped a streak of 19-straight batters retired by the Nationals' set-up man.
• The Rockies were 1-5 in six games with the Nationals last season.
• With Bryce Harper's walk in his first at bat in the Nats' win yesterday, he's reached base in 32 of his last 33 games.
• Harper's .461 OBP leads the majors.
• Jordan Zimmermann started the night (5-0) in eight career starts against the Rockies, and four of them have taken place in D.C., where he's (3-0) with a 0.99 ERA in 27 ⅓ innings pitched against Colorado.
• The Nationals and Rockies will play all six of their games against one onther this season in the next two weeks, with three this weekend and three in Coors Field between August 18-20.
2. Turning Point(s): Danny Espinosa got the start at second today, and made a difference immediately, speeding around the base paths on a grounder by third base and taking an extra bag when Rockies' left field Kyle Parker misplayed the ball in the left field corner. Espinosa's one-out double in the first, his 17th of the season, and Parker's E:7, set Bryce Harper up with a man on and 90ft from home and Harper's groundout to second brought in the first run of the game. 1-0 after one.
• Bryce Harper was fooled pretty badly on a 73 mph 0-1 curve outside, but when Jorge De La Rosa went back there with an 0-2 fastball, Harper punched it out to left for a leadoff single in the Nationals' fourth. Ryan Zimmerman came up next and lined a 2-1 splitter into the right-center gap for an RBI double that made it 2-0 Nationals.
• An infield single, walk, groundout and sac fly by Danny Espinosa, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, respectively, gave the Nationals a 3-0 lead. 4-0 after Harper scored on a two-out double to left field by Ian Desmond in the next at bat.
1. The Wrap-Up: Casey Janssen took over for Jordan Zimmermann with a runner on first and two out in the top of the seventh and got the third out of the frame with one pitch when Nick Hundley lined out to center.
Scott Oberg walked Yunel Escobar and hit Danny Espinosa to put two on in front of Bryce Harper, who took his second walk of the game and 81st of the season, but Ryan Zimmerman grounded out to end the frame.
Drew Storen came on for the Nationals in the eighth. Daniel Descalso walked with one down on a 3-2 fastball up high.
One out later, Jose Reyes singled through the right side to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Rockies' third baseman Nolan Arenado, whose swinging bunt loaded the bases for Carlos Gonzalez, who hit a 1-0 fastball out to right for a go-ahead grand slam. 5-4 Rockies after seven and a half.
John Axford gave up a one-out walk to Ian Desmond in the home-half of the eighth inning. Desmond stole second base with Wilson Ramos at the plate and Ramos grounded out to short, allowing Desmond to take third. Michael "RISP" Taylor stepped in with two out and worked the count full before striking out on a 97 mph fastball up high.
Felipe Rivero gave up a one-out double by Nick Hundley in the ninth, and a two-out walk to Drew Stubbs, but got out of the inning without and damage.
Tommy Kahnle came on for the Rockies in the ninth and issued a one-out walk to Yunel Escobar. Danny Espinosa popped out on the first pitch he saw, leaving it up to Bryce Harper, who K'd swinging over a 1-2 change. Ballgame.