Zimmerman’s Heroics Help Nats Split Doubleheader


Ryan Zimmerman had just two home runs at home this season. He picked a good time to hit his third.

Ross Ohlendorf went toe-to-toe with Mets ace Matt Harvey, and Zimmerman’s walkoff helped the Nats (50-54) avoid falling into a three-way tie for fourth place as they beat the Mets, 2-1.

Jul 25, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (11) hits an infield single during the second inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Ohlendorf has been a pleasant surprise for the Nats this year, having yet to allow more than two runs in an appearance since being called up to make a spot start for Dan Haren in Colorado. He has mainly been a long reliever since, and has saved the Nats’ bullpen more than once, including throwing six innings of relief after Jordan Zimmermann pitched just two innings against the Dodgers. He continued to stake his claim for an extended stay in the rotation today.

He subdued a Mets offense that exploded for eleven runs in the first game of the series, holding them to just one run on six hits and two walks in seven innings while striking out eight. His only slip-ups were a pair of fourth-inning doubles by Marlon Byrd and John Buck that scored a run. Many reports have had the Nats seeking a starter at the deadline, with Taylor Jordan on an innings limit, Dan Haren struggling, and Ross Detwiler‘s health uncertain, but perhaps Ohlendorf could be just what the Nationals need.

On the other side, Harvey pitched better but was let down by his offense. He allowed just five hits and a walk in his eight innings, striking out seven, but also gave up an unearned run thanks to some defensive troubles. The Nats had runners on first and second with one out when Wilson Ramos grounded to short. It looked like an easy double play ball, but after making the out at second, Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy missed with his throw to first, allowing Jayson Werth to score from third and leaving Ramos safe at first.

Jul 26, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth (28) reacts after striking out in the third inning against the New York Mets at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

It got hairy for Rafael Soriano in the ninth, with a double, wild pitch, and walk putting runners on the corners with one out, but he wriggled out of the jam with a foulout and a flyout to send it tied to the bottom of the ninth. In the home half of the inning, Ryan Zimmerman decided 18 was enough innings of baseball for one day. He homered to right off of LaTroy Hawkins, giving the Nats a walkoff homer for two straight days.

The offense’s absence can be excused when facing an ace like Matt Harvey, so that storyline can be pushed back a day or two. Meanwhile, the Nats have won two of three after losing six straight. Things are not so dour as they were in Natstown, but today’s big news was the optioning of Drew Storen to Triple A Syracuse after the game, with the return of Ryan Mattheus from the disabled list. To say the least, Tyler Clippard was not happy. Check out the post I wrote earlier today for more on that.

Next Game: Saturday in DC, 3:05 PM. Gee (7-7, 4.07) v. Haren (4-11, 5.79)