Where are the Homestead Grays uniforms when you need them?
Sporting a throwback windup with a drop step and arms raised high, Ross Ohlendorf made his Washington Nationals debut Wednesday night in Colorado, facing the potent Rockies lineup at spacious Coors Field. Going against the script, Ohlendorf and his old-time mechanics shut down the Rockies, allowing only one run on two hits in six innings as the Nationals evened the series with a 5-1 win.
Called up earlier in the day to replace Nathan Karns in the rotation — and expected to make just the one appearance before the Nationals start getting some injured starters back — Ohlendorf made the most of his spot start, getting late movement on his pitches and keeping the Rockies off-balance with his exaggerated windup, which looks like the kind you see pitchers using in the black-and-white World Series films from the 1950s. The former Pirates hurler was so effective, Nationals manager Davey Johnson intimated that Ohlendorf’s planned one appearance might have just grown into more.
“I’m looking forward to seeing more of him,” Johnson told Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. “I’m gonna try to find a way to keep him around.”
In other words, watch your back, Dan Haren.
The only run Ohlendorf surrendered came in the sixth inning, thanks to an RBI triple by Carlos Gonzalez, but by that time, the Nationals already had more than enough support for the righty. Ian Desmond was the primary catalyst, breaking the scoreless tie with a single in the fourth inning that not only plated Ryan Zimmerman, but extended the shortstop’s career-high hitting streak to 14 games.
The Nats tacked on in the sixth, driving Colorado starter Jorge De La Rosa (7-4) from the game. Zimmerman was involved again, hitting a bomb to the deepest part of the ballpark in left-center that Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler both almost got to, but the near-collision between the two allowed the ball to drop on the warning track and Jeff Kobernus scampered home to make it 2-0 Washington.
After a groundout by Jayson Werth moved Zimmerman to third, reliever Adam Ottavino intentionally walked Adam LaRoche to pitch to Desmond. Despite throwing a wild pitch that moved LaRoche to second and opened up a base, the Rockies elected to pitch to Desmond and he made them pay, lining a single up the middle that scored two runs.
Anthony Rendon had the last RBI for Washington, on one of his two hits in the game. Since taking over at second base during his second go-round with the Nats, Rendon is hitting .375 and slugging .542 with four RBIs, which makes the news that Danny Espinosa is beginning a rehab assignment at Syracuse on Thursday less of an A1 item.
The Nationals will look to take the rubber game of the series and build a winning streak in a getaway day matinee on Thursday. Ross Detwiler (2-4, 2.76 ERA) will make his return from an oblique strain in his first start for Washington since May 15. On the hill for the Rockies will be fellow lefty Jeff Francis (2-4, 6.30).