Zimmerman(n)s shine in Nationals’ win over Marlins

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Sep 20, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera (3) celebrates with teammates after defeating the Miami Marlins 3-2 at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals had a comeback victory over the Marlins on Saturday night, but Ryan Zimmerman was the most important thing that happened on the field. Zimmerman, who had not played since injuring his hamstring July 22, returned to the lineup in glorious fashion. He went 2 for 3 at the plate, smashing both of his hits to right field, including an RBI triple.

Zimmerman’s return once again gives the Nationals a full lineup, and it could not have come at a better time. The win was the Nationals 90th of the season, and they now have a magic number of 5 to clinch the best record in the NL.

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Jordan Zimmermann took the mound for the Nationals and provided six strong innings. He allowed five hits, two runs —  only one of which was earned — and got his 13th win of the season.

Offensively, the Nationals scored just three runs, all of which came in the seventh, but when you have the best staff in the National League, that can be enough.

The Nats grounded into inning-ending double plays in each of the first three innings, and struggled to figure out Marlins starter Jarred Cosart for most of the game.

But finally in the seventh, the Nats broke through. Ian Desmond led off with a single to center. Ryan Zimmerman followed and gashed a 1-1 pitch down the line in right. Right fielder Reed Johnson took a chance on the low line drive and dove for it, but he was too late and the ball trickled past him, rolling to the wall. Desmond scored easily from first, and Zimmerman ran, not sprinted, into third.

The Buffalo, Wilson Ramos, then came to bat and chopped a high bouncer off of home-plate to the Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee. Zimmerman broke from home on the play but McGehee’s throw beat him. The umpires decided to review it, but did not overturn the call.

Asdrubal Cabrera was next in line, and after fouling off three straight pitches, he ripped a triple down the right field line that scored Ramos to tie the game.

After a Bryce Harper pinch-hit groundout to the pitcher, Denard Span stepped to the plate. Span patiently waited, working the count full, and on the sixth pitch of the at-bat lined a base hit over the second baseman, scoring Cabrera from third, and giving the Nationals the lead for good.

The bullpen, as they have been the last couple of weeks, was dominant. Matt Williams used Aaron Barrett for the seventh, Tyler Clippard for the eight, and Drew Storen in the ninth.

Barret and Clippard each had perfect innings, and if Barret performs well in the seventh down the stretch, that could be his spot come October.

Storen gave up a couple of one-out singles, but was able to induce a double-play ball to seal the victory.

The Nationals will send Stephen Strasburg to the mound on Sunday as they go for the four-game sweep, before a much-needed off-day on Monday.

We do not know what the Nationals lineup will look like in the postseason, but either way, Ryan Zimmerman makes this team better, and he proved that once again on Saturday night.

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