That thin Colorado air has been good to the Nationals hitters over the past few days. Washington scored 12 runs on a franchise-best tying 21 hits on Tuesday. Wednesday’s game proved to be more of the same.
Washington got started early off of Rockies starter Edwar Cabrera.
With one out in the 1st, Bryce Harper singled to center and then promptly stole second base, his 8th steal of the season. A throwing error by Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario allowed Harper to advance to third on the play. Ryan Zimmerman hit a ground ball to second, allowing Harper to score the first run of the game.
In the 2nd, again after the leadoff batter made an out, Tyler Moore came to the plate after a Mark DeRosa walk. Moore connected on a 1-0 pitch for a two-run homer to center field, his 4th of the season. Jhonatan Solano followed with a walk and then advanced to second on what should have been a sacrifice bunt by Jordan Zimmermann, but Rosario made a second throwing error on the play. With the inning prolonged, Danny Espinosa came to the plate for his second time on the game and singled to right, scoring Solano. Cabrera would finally get out of the inning after inducing a double play by Harper.
Zimmerman and Ian Desmond each connected on solo home runs in the 3rd, making the score 6-0. He then walked DeRosa for a second time and that was it for Cabrera.
Cabrera had been 8-4 with a 2.94 ERA for Colorado’s Double-A Tulsa affiliate prior to being called up to make this start. He jumped from #30 up to #18 in Baseball America’s 2012 Prospect Handbook after a strong 2011 season in which he went 8-3 with a 3.34 ERA and 11.9 K/9. His 217 strikeouts between Class-A and High-A led all minor league pitchers on the season.
But the jump from Double-A to Triple-A is a big one and it was a disastrous MLB Debut for the 24 year old left-hander. He was taking the rotation spot of Alex White, who’s recent struggles have led to a demotion to Triple-A. His final line: 2.1 IP, 7 R (5 ER), 5 H, 3 BB, 1 K, 3 HR.
Mark Reynolds relieved Cabrera in the 3rd inning, but couldn’t immediately shut down the Washington offense. Moore doubled to left, putting runners on second and third for Solano. He’d hit a double of his own to left center, scoring the pair and making it an 8-0 game.
Colorado picked up a run in the bottom of the 3rd on a Marco Scutaro single. Zimmerman came back in the top of the 4th with a double to score Harper in response. That’d be it for the scoring until the 7th inning came around.
With Jeremy Guthrie on the mound for the Rockies, Michael Morse singled and moved to third on a Desmond double. DeRosa hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Morse and moving Desmond to third. Two batters later Solano would single to right, scoring Desmond and making the score 11-1.
Meanwhile, on the mound for the Nationals Zimmermann was cruising along. He scattered 8 hits over 7.0 innings of work, walking three and striking out one, but strong defensive work behind him (despite a pair of outfield errors by Morse and Rick Ankiel) kept the Rockies from pushing across anything more than the one run against him. The victory was just his fourth of the year, as he’s struggled for much of it with run support.
Chien-Ming Wang took over in the 8th and allowed a pair of runs. Carlos Gonzalez doubled before advancing to third on the aforementioned Ankiel error. Tyler Colvin doubled two batters later, scoring Gonzalez. He’d score himself when Jordan Pacheco followed with a single to center.
Mike Gonzalez started the 9th and didn’t fare much better. He walked Jonathan Herrera before allowing back-to-back hits to Dextor Fowler and Scutaro, making it 11-5. Ryan Mattheus came in and got the final two outs to end it.
Champ of the Game: Zimmerman, Solano, and Moore all had big games – combining for 7 hits (4 for extra bases) and 8 RBI.
Chump of the Game: Gonzalez entered the game in a non-pressure situation and promptly allowed two runs to score on a walk and two hits.