The Washington Nationals (71-68) were able to leave Philadelphia with their faint playoff hopes still intact after battling their way through a hard-fought series to take two of three games over the scrappy Phillies.
Pitcher Jordan Zimmermann won his NL leading 16th win in the series finale and teamed up with second baseman Stephen Lombardozzi on a great play to snuff out a potential Phillies rally in the bottom of the seventh. Zimmermann had to come off the mound to cover first base after Ceaser Hernandez hit a ground ball to the rightside that Lombo had to go a long way to get and with his momentum carrying him out into right field, he spun around and bounced a throw to first that Zimmermann scooped right in time to get the speedy Hernandez out.
That Lombardozzi-Zimmermann play wasn’t the only defensive gem of the night for the Nats. In the eighth inning the Phillies were threatening to tie the game or worse with runners on first and third and only one out. Pitcher Craig Stammen struck out Darin Ruf, but the ball got away from catcher Jhonatan Solano and Chase Utley came barreling down the line to score the potential game tying run, but the young catcher was able to retrieve the ball and dive back towards the plate to tag Utley out. It was a great play and more than likely saved the game. I’ve got to give home plate umpire Chris Conroy credit for getting the call right because it was a bang-bang play that was so close that at first glance of the replay it looked like Utley beat the tag.
The Nats are off tonight before starting a three game series in Miami on Friday night. With 23 games remaining the Nats are trailing the Cincinnati Reds by 6.5 games in the NL Wildcard race going into tonight’s MLB action. The Reds will be finishing off their series with the St. Louis Cardinals tonight and then playing a three game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. This could be a nice opportunity to pick up another game or two if the Nats can get a sweep of the Marlins this weekend. They lead the season series 9-3 over the Marlins and need to take full advantage of this opportunity because time is running out.