At least right now, it’s quite fair to say that the Nationals best pitcher is Jordan Zimmermann, and no one would contest that Bryce Harper is the team’s best hitter. Both of them starred for the Nats tonight, as the team accomplished a pair of firsts: they gave Anibal Sanchez his first loss in 20 (?!) career starts against the Nats, and beat the Tigers for the first time since coming to DC. The Nats were previously 0-6 against Detroit, but had not played them since 2010. With tonight’s 3-1 win, the Nats are 5-1 in May, and look ready to take the MLB by storm with a reinvigorated offense and a powerful pitching staff.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Bryce Harper’s solo homer (+12.0%)
May 7, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) hits an RBI sacrifice fly to score Denard Span (not shown) during the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Harper had been struggling with an injury for the past week, a result of his embarrassing collision with the right field fence in Atlanta that allowed Tim Hudson‘s homer to get over the fence, and consequently was a paltry 3-26 since the beginning of that series. He rebounded tonight, however. With two outs in the fifth inning, as the Nats led 2-1, Harper took a Sanchez pitch deep to double the Nats’ lead. He finished 1-3 in the game, with an RBI sacrifice fly that tied the game earlier to go along with his solo blast.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Miguel Cabrera‘s RBI single (-11.4%)
With two outs in the top of the third, Zimmermann allowed a double to Torii Hunter. This brought Cabrera to the plate, and allowed MASN to show a terrifying statistic: Cabrera is hitting .615 (10/16) with runners in scoring position and two outs, including three home runs. Unsurprisingly, he got another hit, singling Hunter in to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead and upping his two-our RISP average to a flabbergasting .636. It is no surprise that he won the Triple Crown and MVP last year, and is putting on a similarly impressive show in 2013, hitting .381 and on pace for 193 RBI.
Champ of the Game: Zimmermann (+16.0%) may have had his scoreless innings streak busted at 20, but he still pitched an incredible game. Against the extremely potent Tigers offense, he allowed one run off seven hits and two walks in seven innings while striking out seven. Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta (+7.0%) was 2-3 with a walk.
Chump of the Game: Ian Desmond (-9.1%) was hitless out of the two hole, going 0-4. Since his eight-game hitting streak was snapped, he is hitless in two of three games. For the Tigers, Alex Avila was 0-3 with a walk, two strikeouts, and a ground into double play.