Jordan Zimmerman turned in another stellar performance against the fearsome Detroit Tigers lineup, and the Nationals beat the Tigers 3-1 in the first interleague game between the teams.
The game was delayed for an hour due to rain, and Zimmermann had to wait an extra day for his start, but none of that seemed to bother him as he pitched seven innings in a quality start. Zimmermann gave up one run in the third inning on a single to Miguel Cabrera which scored Torii Hunter. Jordan scattered seven hits over seven innings. His ERA is down to 1.59.
Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez has been a Nats nemesis in the past. When he was with Miami, the Nationals could not beat him no matter what they tried. Sanchez’s record against the Nats coming into this game was 10-0. Sanchez was not the better pticher on this night. He gave up three runs (two earned) over six innings. The Nationals had plenty of opportunities to break the game wide open, but rarely scored on those opportunities, continuing their RISP woes.
The Nationals scoring started in the bottom of the third, answering the run the Tigers had just put up. Denard Span tripled and came home on a sacrifice fly by Bryce Harper, tying the score. The Nats went ahead for good in the fourth inning on a bizarre play. Adam LaRoche and Danny Espinosa singled. With runners at first and second and one out, Kurt Suzuki hit a deep fly ball, and both runners tagged up. Hunter fired the ball to third after the catch, and the ball ended up bouncing into the camera well and then bouncing back onto the field. The umpires ruled the ball left the field of play, and LaRoche and Espinosa were awarded an extra base, which scored LaRoche.
Bryce Harper put the icing on the cake in the sixth with a solo home run, his tenth of the year. Harper looked much better at the plate, going one for three and adding two RBI’s to his stats. The enforced rest from the ejection and the rainout may have helped Harper’s injured side heal.
Tyler Clippard pitched the eighth inning on what was a roller coaster of an appearance. He got two quick outs against Cabrera and Prince Fielder, but then struggled to get that third out. He walked Andy Dirks and Jhonny Peralta, but finally got Alex Avila to strike out swinging to end the inning. In Tyler’s defense, the home plate umpire, Hunter Wendlestedt, appeared to be reluctant to call strike three on batters the entire game. The crowd was chirping during the Dirks and Peralta at bats, when Clippard would get to two strikes and then could not get that strike three call. Avila struck out swinging or we might all still be at the park waiting for that strike three call.
Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth inning for his eleventh save of the year. He owes the save to Roger Bernadina. Davey Johnson put him into left field for defensive purposes in the top of the eighth. That move paid off in the ninth. Omar Infante hit a line drive to left-center, which appeared to be destined to be a double. Bernadina made a spectacular diving play on the ball, catching it cleanly and robbing Infante. The crowd started doing “The Shark”, which made its appearance again on the next batter, when Bernadian caught a fly ball to left off the bat of Victor Martinez. I had to explain “The Shark” to the Detroit fan sitting next to me, who had never been to a Nats game. He thought the crowd was being alligators, but I straightened him out. Fittingly, Harper caught the last out of the game, a fly ball from Austin Jackson to end the game.
Game Notes: Jayson Werth sat out the game continuing to nurse his ankle and leg problems. Tyler Moore played in left field for most of the game, and Harper was in right. Adam LaRoche went 2 for 3, continuing to show signs he is heating up at the plate. Danny Espinosa also had a good night at the dish, also going 2 for 3. On the other hand, Moore was 0 for 3, and Ian Desmond was 0 for 4. Desmond contributed with his glove, making several great plays at short.
Next Game: Thursday, May 9th at Nats Park at 4:05. This is the makeup for Tuesday night’s rainout. Dan Haren ( 3-3, 5.01 ERA) will start for the Nationals, while the Tigers send Doug Fister (4-0, 2.48 ERA) to the bump.