Jon Lester gave up five runs in the first, and six earned runs overall, before he was done in an afternoon matchup with the Baltimore Orioles in Nationals Park. Washington rallied with a run in the second, and fourth in the third, then tied it up, and overtook the O’s in a four-run fourth which featured a Josh Harrison grand slam. Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run HR in the sixth that gave the home team a 9-6 lead in what ended up a 12-9 win.
Lester vs the O’s: “He was amped up, obviously, the first couple innings, then he settled down. I thought he threw the ball well. He kept us in the ballgame, that’s all you can ask,” Davey Martinez said after Jon Lester’s start against the Chicago Cubs earlier this week in Wrigley Field.
Lester was, of course, going up against the team he’d played for over six seasons between 2015-2020, and he was part of the club that broke the Cubs’ 108-year World Series drought, so it was an emotional night for the southpaw.
“He did something that these fans waited 108 years for, was part of it. So it was a big day for him, and then to go out there and just pitch. And like I said, he came out, he was amped up the first couple innings and then he settled down.”
Back in his new home, Lester got off to a tough start, with two soft hits falling into short-right and left field, off Cedric Mullins and Freddy Galvis’s bats, respectively, with Galvis’s double driving Mullins in after a leadoff single, 1-0 Orioles.
Two walks followed, but then Lester struck out two batters, with the bases loaded, and was one out away from an escape, or going behind big, when Ryan Mountcastle hit a 3-1 heater up over the middle of the plate out to left for a grand slam and a 5-0 O’s lead.
Anthony Santander lined a double to right with one down in the third, on a 1-2 fastball from Lester, and scored in the next at bat when Pedro Severino poked an RBI single to center, 6-1.
Josh Harrison’s grand slam in the bottom of the third made it a 6-5 game, and Lester retired the Orioles in order in an 11-pitch, shutdown inning in the top of the fourth before his outing ended...
Jon Lester’s Line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 79 P, 50 S, 3/1 GO/FO.
Not That Zimmermann: Bruce Zimmermann, a 2017 5th Round pick by Atlanta who was acquired by Baltimore in a 2018 trade, made his major league debut in 2020’s 60-game COVID campaign, and in seven games (six starts) this season, the southpaw had put up a 4.79 ERA, a 5.57 FIP, 11 walks, 28 Ks, and a .293/.348/.521 line against in 35 2⁄3 IP before today.
Last time out before this afternoon, Zimmermann held the New York Yankees to a run on two hits in 5 2⁄3 IP, snapping a five-start winless streak, which followed a win in his 2021 debut in a relief appearance that lasted 5 2⁄3 innings.
Given a 5-0 lead to work with before he took the mound in Nationals Park, Zimmermann retired the side in order in a quick, 14-pitch first, but the Nationals made him throw 29 in the bottom of the second, as they got a run on the board with three singles and a run-scoring, Yan Gomes’ groundout, 5-1.
Juan Soto grounded into a force, but beat out a double play after Trea Turner singled his way on in the bottom of the third, and Ryan Zimmerman hit a one-out single to left field, putting two on with one out in the inning. Kyle Schwarber took a two-out, base-loading, walk from Zimmermann, setting Josh Harrison up with a big opportunity that. he. cashed. in, like really cashed in, with a grand slam on a 2-2 changeup from the Orioles’ lefty, 6-5.
Harrison’s 4th of 2021. And his first career grand slam.
Bruce Zimmermann’s Line: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 82 P, 48 S, 3/1 GO/FO.
Davey Martinez Points to Head: Davey Martinez gave Josh Harrison his first career start in center in the majors because he wanted Harrison’s bat in the lineup against Orioles’ lefty Bruce Zimmermann.
“We want to keep [Harrison’s] bat in the lineup. He swung the bat well yesterday. We’ve got a left-handed pitcher today that’s a little bit tougher on left-handed hitters, and I thought it would be a good day to put him out in center field.”
944 career games— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 22, 2021
0.1 innings pitched
2 All-Star Games
With today's start in CF, Josh Harrison has now played every defensive position but catcher over the course of his 11-year @MLB career.@jhay_da_man // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/tVs2jiTp3W
Harrison hit a grand slam in the third to get the Nationals within one, 6-5.
Josh Bell had a three-hit night on Friday, but with a lefty on the mound, the switch-hitting first baseman (who has a .083 AVG from the right side against lefties on the season) sat.
Ryan Zimmerman started and hit a three-run home run in the fourth as the Nationals took the lead after falling behind 5-0 and 6-1 early.
Bullpen Action: Adam Plutko took over for the Orioles in the bottom of the fourth, with the score 6-5 in the O’s favor, and gave up a leadoff single by pinch hitter Andrew Stevenson, who took second on a wild pitch, and scored on an RBI double to left-center by Trea Turner, 6-6. Juan Soto lined a 1-1 fastball into left for a single in the next at bat, sending Turner over to third, and both runners scored when Ryan Zimmerman crushed a hanging-a$$, 1-1 slider, sending a three-run shot out to left field, 9-6 Nationals.
Austin Voth retired two batters in the fifth before he gave up a home run to right field by Anthony Santander, who hit a first-pitch fastball over the GEICO wall, 9-7.
A walk and double followed, with Pedro Severino taking the free pass, and then third base on Maikel Franco’s double, but Voth got a swinging strikeout from Ryan Mountcastle to end the threat. Still 9-7 Nationals.
Back-to-back, 1-2-3 frames, for Plutko and Voth, got it to the bottom of the sixth.
Juan Soto doubled off lefty Tanner Scott to start the home half of the sixth, and Ryan Zimmerman singled in the next at bat, sending Soto around to third. Starlin Castro stepped up next and hit a sac fly to right field, 10-7. Yan Gomes reached on an error by Maikel Franco later in a long sixth, that allowed another run to score, 12-7.
Kyle Finnegan got the ball in the top of the seventh, and worked around a two-out single in an 11-pitch frame.
O’s righty Cole Sulser worked around a walk to Juan Soto (and a wild pitch) in a scoreless bottom of the seventh.
Will Harris gave up three straight hits, a single and two doubles as the Orioles added two in the top of the eighth, 12-9.
Daniel Hudson took over on the mound and got the first out before a Cedric Mullins’ single put runners on the corners with one out, but a pop to short and swinging K ended the top of the inning with the Nationals still up by three.
Shawn Armstrong retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the eighth.
Brad Hand came on for the save opportunity in the top of the ninth, and retired the side in order to end it. Ballgame.
Final Score: 12-9 Nationals
Nationals now 19-23