The Washington Nationals (24-17) and New York Yankees played the second game of their abbreviated interleague series with Jordan Zimmermann facing Adam Warren. It was a tight game due to good pitching by both starters, but the Nationals pulled out another come from behind victory to win 3-2. They have now won five straight games, seven straight series, and are now in first place in the NL East.
The night did not start well for Zimmermann. The Yankees were ahead by two runs by the end of the top of the first inning. Brett Gardner led off the game with a single, followed by a double to right by Carlos Beltran that scored Gardner. After Mark Teixeira grounded out to first, Brian McCann cranked a sacrifice fly to center that scored Beltran to make the score 2-0.
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Zimmermann figured out that the Yankees strategy was to swing early and adjusted quickly to the plan. He mixed up his pitches so that the batters did not know whether to expect a fastball, offspeed or breaking ball for that first pitch, which kept them off balance the rest of the way.
The game rolled along with the score 2-1 until the bottom of the third when home plate umpire Marvin Hudson made the game about himself.
Harper took the first pitch from Warren which was low and, according to pitch track, out of the zone. Hudson called it a strike. Harper gave Hudson a look and stepped out of the batter’s box. He stepped back in. There was chirping from the Nats dugout about the call and Hudson turned to address the shouting coming from the dugout. Bryce stepped out of the box while Hudson was telling the dugout to pipe down.
Hudson told Harper to get back into the box. Harper asked him if he was talking to him. It isn’t known what Hudson said, but Harper got back in the box. Apparently, he didn’t get there fast enough to suit Hudson, who ejected him.
That’s when Harper started yelling at Hudson, and Matt Williams came out of the dugout absolutely irate. He and Hudson yelled at each other for a while. Williams was eventually ejected as well. Williams even kicked dirt on home plate–which I believe is a first in the Matt Williams era.
Next time the Nats came up to bat, Ryan Zimmerman was called out on a pitch that was inside and not in the strike zone. He went back to the dugout shaking his head. It was clear Zimmerman knew he had been called out on a pitch that was a ball.
Wilson Ramos batted in the bottom of the seventh with his hitting streak on the line. He hit ground a ball toward third baseman Chase Headley. The ball had a lot of topspin on it and came up on Headley when he tried to corral it. Then, Headley tripped himself trying to get the ball and fell down without being able to make a throw to first. Ramos ended up on base, but the play was ruled an error. No hit for Ramos. Moore then drew a walk.
With two on and no outs, Danny Espinosa was instructed to bunt the runners over. Danny made a terrible bunt attempt on a high pitch, popping it up. Headley then redeemed his error by catching the pop up on a tough play. That brought up Dan Uggla, who was pinch hitting for Zimmermann. Uggla walked to load the bases. That put an end to Warren’s night.
With Denard Span coming to the plate, Justin Wilson, a left-handed reliever, was brought in to face Span. That move didn’t work out for the Yankees. Span singled to drive in a run and left the bases loaded in the process. The Nationals were ahead for the first time in the game, which put Zimmermann in line for the win. Desmond struck out on a pitch up around his eyes and Escobar grounded out to end the inning. The Nats left the bases loaded.
Lefty reliever Matt Grace took over pitching for the Nats in the top of the eighth. He struck out Gardner, induced a groundout from Beltran, and then had to face Teixeira, who was hitting from the right side, but Grace walked him. That might have been an unintentional intentional to get to the left-handed Brian McCann. Teixeira was replaced for pinch runner Slade Heathcott, who was making his major league debut. Unfortunately, Grace walked McCann also. He got Headley to ground out to short to end the inning and preserve the Nats lead.
Yankees reliever Esmil Rogers worked the bottom of the eighth. Michael Taylor ground out to start the inning. Zimmerman drew a walk. Ramos came up to bat in the bottom of the eighth and worked the count to 3-2 before striking out, which ended his 19 game hitting streak. McCann couldn’t handle the pitch on the strike out s Zimmerman went to second. However, Moore would strike out to end the inning.
Drew Storen was called on to get the save. He got the first two outs, but then Didi Gregorius singled. That brought Alex Rodriguez to the plate to a shower of boos. It was deja vu all over again as Storen got Rodriguez to strike him out to end the game for the second night in a row.
Who needs Bryce Harper to play? The Nationals have won both games in which Harper was ejected. Tonight, Span was the hero, as he drove in the winning run in the seventh inning.
Next Game: After a day off, the Washington Nationals start a three game series on Friday night against the Philadelphia Phillies (17-24) at Nationals Park. You can catch the game at 7:05 PM ET on MASN. The scheduled starters for this game are Max Scherzer (4-3, 1.75 ERA) for the Nationals and Sean O’Sullivan (1-2, 3.68 ERA) for the Phillies.